Coming off a bit of a hot streak last week, I decided to stick with the same American Gatekeeper Control Brew, but with a few changes: -4 Goblin Electromancer, +1 Deputy of Acquittals, +2 Frostburn Weird, +1 Sunspire Gatekeepers. The Electromancers weren’t pulling their weight so I replaced them with the more defensive FBW, the Deputy to allow me to bounce Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers so I can steal more creatures or protect anything against removal spells, and the Sunspire Gatekeepers to throw more bodies into play to exhaust our opponent’s removal.
Week #3 Tournament Report
This is gonna be a quick one. Some of the more frustrating games of magic I’ve encountered recently.
Round 1: Izzet Combo
Playing against the same guy I beat in the finals of week 1. Game 1 I mulligan into 2 lands and never get to 4 mana. Game 2 I mulligan into 2 lands and every relevant spell I play gets countered while I am beaten mercilessly by a squadron of Delver of Secrets, Frostburn Weird, and Nivix Cyclops.
Lesson learned: Gatekeeper Control decks not only need to hit 4 mana to have a chance, wouldn’t you know they need half of those lands to be gates, too. The red gatekeeper was especially bad when I was behind on board.
Round 2: Bant Flicker
Game 1 I lost on about turn 15 having only played Deputy of Acquittals and Think Twice. The top 21 cards in my library included 3 lands. By this ratio you might think that I had less than 9 total lands in my deck. I still can’t believe how much time I had to draw out of it and how hard I bricked. Maybe Electromancer would have been good so that I could have cast an Amass the Components. It seems like I should get punished for running too many 4-drops eventually.
Round 3: Colin playing Beast Pants a.k.a Junk Hexproof
Game 1 he doesn’t draw a Hexproof creature, but it’s ok for him because I didn’t draw a removal spell. He bites the bullet and suits up with Elvish Visionary with double Rancor, and Ethereal Armor, making it a ten-power, 2 turn clock (he also had 2x Abundant Growth). I almost pass my turn 5 without making the only play that I have that stops me from dying the next turn. I have 2 gates and play Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers, bash him for a lot, and then Cloudshift his Elvish Visionary to control it forever, draw a card, and send his enchantments to the bin. Value badge earned! He got his Rancors back but I was able to attack for the last few points without any resistance.
Game 2 he develops his mana well early with Abundant Growth and Evolving Wilds and Avacyn’s Pilgrim. He lands Seraph of Dawn and Primal Huntbeast on consecutive turns, and things almost look bad for me. I have a Angel in play to match his but a Rancor followed up by a Shadow Slice on his Beast put me under a pretty quick clock. I’m able to offset the damage by killing his Angel and swinging with mine. He even has Midnight Recovery to get his Angel back in action, but by then I can Smelt it and Flicker it, gaining dominance in the air. I’m taking 8 per turn from the Huntbeast but I can chump some of the damage with my Gatekeepers and I continue to bash in the air since he can’t stop it.
Round 4: Orzhov
Both games were not really close games. Every single creature that I let come into play had 2 or less toughness, which means I burnt it with Pillar of Flame. At one point in the game he had 0 cards in his graveyard but 5 creatures exiled. Not once did I let him extort with Syndic of Tithes, Tithe Drinker, or Kingpin’s Pet. Archaeomancer getting back Pillar upon Pillar was brutal against him. Every Seraph of Dawn was Essence Scattered and when he finally exhausted me of counters I was ready to Control Magic his Angel with Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers and Ghostly Flicker.
Overall I feel like this deck is fatally flawed. Maybe adding Prophetic Prism would be a good idea for the added card draw and mana fixing. Maybe 2 Goblin Electromancers are fine to help gain some mana advantage so that we can play Amass on 3 or Think Twice on 1 or 2 with the flashback. Maybe cutting a Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers or two would be wise since it’s not a good turn 4 play.
Week #4 Tournament Report
This week I decided to try out a Grixis Control Brew that was designed to crush creature decks and then have some recursion with Gravepurge to go long against decks that can kill all of my creatures.
Round 1: Dimir Mill Control
Game 1 he leads with Pilfered Plans on turn 3, choosing to mill me. I landed some creatures but they all died to Victim of Night or Devour Flesh. Every time I went to protect a creature with Ghostly Flicker it would slapped with Negate or Psychic Strike. With 20 cards left in library I had 2 Archaeomancer and 1 Gravepurge left that would’ve likely led to a win, had I drawn them. I would have been able to stack every deck creature back on top and exhaust him of resources. Eventually he incidentally milled my Gravepurge off Pilfered Plans and I never drew an Archaeomancer until my library was gone.
Game 2 I boarded in my 4 Curse of the Bloody Tome and beat him at his own game. He luckily did not have Curses, so I was able to mill him out faster than he could mill me. He actually switched into an aggro role by boarding in Sewer Shambler to complement his Crosstown Courier, but I still had a couple Pillar of Flame in post-board to banish them forever. He was able to bash me down to 2 life before I was able to land a Crypt Incursion exiling 6 creatures in his yard to net me 18 life. With that cushion my Curses were able to hex him out.
Time in the round was called immediately after I won game 2. Game 1 took a lengthy 40 minutes. My opponent decided to scoop to me. Nice guy – he did play fairly slow and stopped to read a lot of my cards (which were also in his deck or at least in his colors), so I appreciated the courtesy.
Round 2: Mono Blue Tempo
Game 2 I boarded in Murder, 2 Thunderbolt, 2 Negate, 1 Dispel. We had some interesting counter-wars, one that involved my Goblin Electromancer -> her Essence Scatter -> my Negate -> her Cancel. Even though I lost that battle I felt pretty good because that meant I was going to more likely be able to resolve relevant creatures like Archaeomancer and Mist Raven. She attempted to Essence Scatter my Archaeomancer but I had the Dispel waiting. Getting back the Dispel meant she wasn’t able to counter again and I had just about run her out of cards. I finished the game with the famous 2 card, 7 mana Control Magic combo to whisk away her Stitched Drake.
Round 3: Boros Aggro
Game 1 I play Rakdos Guildgate, he plays War Falcon. I play Swamp and pass. He resolves a Wojek Halberdiers and attempts to attack for 2. I Victim of Night his 3/2 on his declare attack step and save 2 life. I continue to ignore the War Falcon and proceed to Pillar of Flame or Ubul Sar Gatekeeper every other creature he plays, taking an occasional hit from Skyknight Legionnaire. Archaeomancer comes online, which finishes the rest of his team with Devour Flesh and Pillar of Flame, and I slowly beat him down with 2/4s and 1/2s.
Game 2 I side in 1 Murder, 2 Electrickery, 2 Negate (anticipating Searing Spear, Brimestone Volley, and/or Oblivion Ring. His start isn’t as fast this game and I have plenty of removal and even 2 for 1’d him with Electrickery, taking down a War Falcon and Daring Skyjek. Ubul Sar Gatekeepers blanks his Mogg Flunkies, which always has Pacifism on it anyway since none of his friends stick around for more than a turn. At a healthy life total and after drawing Prophetic Prism, Think Twice, and Ghostly Flicker I finally get ahead enough on cards and find an Archaeomancer to lock him out.
Round 4: Esper Control
Game 1 was awesome. I Essence Scattered his turn 4 and 5 Seraph of Dawn. He then plays end of turn Gravepurge + Think Twice to get both of them back after I resolved Amass the Components. I have Essence Scatter #3 but I don’t have the fourth, and finally his Angel graces it’s presence on the battlefield. I get beaten all the way down to one life from that Seraph + Ravenous Rats. I used almost all of the removal I had trying to get rid of that creature. He had a Ghostly Flicker to protect it along with a few Negate and Essence Scatter, but without an Archaeomancer to get back his cards I was able to slip a Victim of Night in on the Seraph. An Archaeomancer of my own gave me the edge, getting back an Essence Scatter. I was screwed if he drew removal since for one turn I planned on blocking his Rats with my 1/2, but he bricked. I got Goblin Electomancer online, and with that the dual Mancer combo with Flicker let me draw a card for every 2 mana that I paid by flickering Archaeomancer and Prophetic Prism. End of turn Opportunity? Don’t mind if I do. From there he bricked four turns in a rows and I played a bunch of creatures to widdle his life total down from nearly 40.
Game 2 I boarded incorrectly for the situation we were in. Game 1 took nearly 40 minutes to complete. I brought in all 4 Curses, but took out some removal to do so. I also brought in the counterspells for his removal and counterspells, which didn’t help when he curved out Ravenous Rats into Rats #2 into Ubul Sar Gatekeepers. I attempted to Pillar of Flame each rat but he had 2 Ghostly Flicker in hand, saving each one. I got flooded and discarded a bunch of land. I had a turn 3 Curse on him and got another Curse going, but not until I was 2 turns away from facing down lethal damage. He still had plenty of cards in library, so we ended that game with close to no time on the clock.
While we technically ended in a draw, neither of us would receive a prize pack for signing the slip 1-1-1. So I conceded the match to him and gave him the extra pack for his effort. I was rewarded with a concession in Round 1, so I figured I might as well pay it forward. I also like inflicting a minor punishment on myself for the sideboarding error that I made. Next time I’ll think about bringing in cards that can stall to the max, since I didn’t need to win the game to win the match.
Sperling’s “Sick of It” Moment
The store runs the event at $5 entry, 1 pack per match win, whereas every other constructed format has a $6 entry and payout of 4-0 (12 packs), 3-0-1 (9 packs), 3-1 (6 packs), and 2-1-1 (3 packs). They say it’s to foster a more casual crowd. They say it’s to help attendance. I think it’s crippling attendance compared to their normal standard constructed events and I’m sure their stats would agree.
Why would you expect someone who plays standard or Modern to come out to standard pauper night when there is little incentive to do so? If someone enjoys playing standard pauper so much then they can make a deck or two and play with a friend outside of a tournament setting or on MTGO anytime.
A tournament inherently has a competitive aspect to it – I think that should be embraced and reflected by the prize support. Every person that I have played in the events has built competitive decks. Some are better than others, but many are match-up dependent.
I don’t think the store should worry that is has a reputation of catering to only competitive players – that just means you have a player-base who cares about their results and consequently being able to compete. The format is so open right now – I rarely see two of the same archetype on any given night. To me that means there’s room for people to choose from a variety of decks, room to brew new archetypes, room for new players to join, and hell, even room for reasonable prize support.
Bonus Section: Full RTR Block Rotisserie Draft Picks
Follow the link above to view our picks. We planned on drafting with 10 people, one to cover the spread on each guild, but we ended up one man short with 9 of us waiting to draft. The last person eventually showed up, and we let him build a deck with what was left after we had drafted. Surprisingly, he was able to cobble together a decent Dimir deck. Had he been a part of the draft and been competing for removal spells I think his deck could have been one of the best.
The first rule of Rotisserie Draft is that you cannot predict what anyone else will pick. Someone adjacent to you will unwisely fight you for a color or strategy. Be prepared for it and be flexible enough to shift gears. On the other hand, committing to a powerful, mana intensive card early could be a strong enough signal to make people stay out of your way. Having the wheel and being able to react to picks is a huge edge if you can predict what you think people will pick.
The ability to stay open to what is underdrafted is a strategy that few implement, since most people place substantial weight on their first few picks and thereby create an unwanted marriage. Take a look at the picks and see how good or bad you think they are. I know I disagree with a lot of the picks made (even some of my own picks). I challenge you to build the whole set, sleeve it up, get 10 people together (minimum), and draft it up and see what happens. The format is crazy fun and there is no way to really “figure it out”.
Looking at the decks, do you think you can spot the champion? I’ll post the results in the next article.
Thanks for reading. Comments and further discussion is appreciated!
Dr. Chris Baker, D.C. | Sports Chiropractor
ChannelFireball Team Chiropractor