Thursday, March 10, 2011

How not to lose at Magic the Gathering

Play better.  

It is really that simple.  I made a series of mistakes last night at my local Wednesday night standard tournament that I would like to share with you today in the hopes that you might not make the same mistakes.

I've been playing RUG for the last two or three standard tournaments I've gone too.  This deck is a load of fun because it powers out powerful effects and takes the game over in a punch.  It doesn't seem to have many week match ups minus Kudultha Red game 1 and many of the outcomes are strictly determined on the choices you make with the deck.  This is my type of deck. 

Games 1 and 2 I won, thus no discussion is really needed.  What is there to learn from stomping your opponents?  Not a ton.  Game 3, I should have have won, or at least had a high chance of winning.

My opponent is a decent player that can slam cards with the best of them.  He's playing Valukut Ramp and is on the play.  I accelerate turn two, he accelerates turn 3.  I miss a few drops, he doesn't and gets there with a primeval titan.  Happens right?  Yea, but you got 2 more games to shore this up because the match up isn't typically bad.  I side in some more counters, side out some bolts.  We both get rocked by some sore draws off our starting hand.  He's attempting to accelerate with 2 land and a bunch of Overgrown Battlements and a viridian emissary, then am able to resolve a Jace.  From here I just bounce the Overgrown Battlement and viridian emissary to prevent him from ever getting up to 6 mana.  We are tit for tat for drops, I get him down to 11 and I am at 14.  With Jace, I smooth out my draws to get 7 land and this is where I fail. I slam down a Avenger of Zendikar and play a fetch and pass the turn.  His response?  Slagstorm + Lightning bolt on the Avenger of Zendikar.  Now what did I do wrong?

Pay Attention to the Board state:
I could have gotten in for 4 additional damage.  Instead of resolving a Avenger of Zendikar, I could have just attacked in for 4 damage with my Raging Ravine.  I already had a Baloth in play, thus swinging in for 8 would have been great.  It'd bring him down to 3 with his only out being to Slagstorm + Lightning bolt my baloth.  A resolved titan would do nothing to that state.  Would I have won that round?  Maybe.  Atleast I would be able to play game 3 and have the chance to get there.

Round 4
Another person I know was playing his version of "Big Red",  Now I am not a fan of his deck, but he only needed to resolve one card against me both games. 

Don't Stick with Plan A if it's going to lose:
Kargon Dragonlord.  That's it.  Loosing to this guy is like a swift kick in the pants.  Unanswered, he will kill you in 2 turns. 

Both games what did I do?  Turn 2 accelerate.  Did I need to?  No, but rather than sit back and play the "Control" RUG, I fliped cards over like a noob and attempted to be flashy.    What I should I have done? Sat back with my mana leaks and Flashfreezes to win the game like a pro. 

What does last night teach me?  I need to be more focused on my game and take a bit more time with my decisions.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mirrodin Besieged Game Day: Mini Master

I wasn't able to participate  in the main Magic Game Day for Mirrodin Besieged event due to the Emerald City Comic Con, but I was able to squeeze in a Mini Master Tournament for Game Day! 

For those of you who do not know what mini master is, it basically boils down to the MOST limited event you could play in.  You get one booster pack and are told to make a 25-card deck consisting of the cards that you open in your single booster.  For every round you win, you get and additional booster pack to add to your pool.  Every match is a single game, every match is single elimination.  You may use a full 7 card mulligan once.  After 4 rounds, when you receive your 4th booster, you must play best of 3 games and have a 40-card deck using the cards from your boosters. 

These events are always fast paced, exciting and very fun.  I qued up for my first mini master which 1st was a prize of a factory sealed foil set.  My pack consisted of Kemba, an equipment and various playables.  Sadly even with getting Kemba in play with an equipment on her, she just couldn't get there.  So what did I do?  Que'd up for another one!

What did I get in this pack?  Something dreadfully worse!  Seachrome Coast!  When opening a mini master booster, you do not want a non-bomb rare.  Even so, I was not about to let this keep me down, as the commons and uncommons were very good.  The pack consisted of three pieces of equipment- Darksteel Axe, Accorder's Shield and Sylvok Lifestaff and the best partner to go along with them Trinket Mage.  I also had a few good men such as Sylvok Replica, Blight Mamba, Fume Spitter, Neurok Invisimancer, Alpha Tyrranax, and Blade-Tribe Berserkers.  The rest of the fray seemed to be lackluster: Vigil for the Lost, Whitesun's Passage, and Turn Aside.  All in all, I played every single card in my deck because I wanted to play with 27-28 cards. 

ProTip:  When playing mini master, a large number of games come down to who can survive before the the first person draws the last card in their deck.  If you can out survive your opponent, you can win games!  Build decks that have a higher number of basic lands than needed for the 25 card minimum.  This is especially true if you have card drawing effects. 

As good as this gets for my first pack, it didn't even come to what my round one opponent had opened.

Round One... FIGHT!
My opponent won the dice roll and decided to play first.  We both took our free mulligans to see if our hands could get better.  Mine was about as good as it was going to get, had a few critters and land to play them.  He started off with a Glit Hawk Idol and an artifact to get the damage started.  Thankfully he never landed a plains to keep it going or it would have been game fast.  We both spit creatures into the game and I landed a Blight Mamba with Darksteel Axe and Sylvok Lifestaff.  At this point I was pretty sure that I was going to win this game.  To my surprise he tossed down his SECOND rare, a foil Engulfing Slagwurm.  At that point, his creatures outnumbered my own and he had a blocker that would never let anything of mine get through.  Luckily, I drew the card I never thought would help me win an event.... Vigil for the Lost.  In this game state, it saved me.  I was at 9 life and my opponent went all in and attacked me with everything minus one blocker.  That blocker was not Engulfing Slagwurm and had it been, I may have lost that game at that play.  I was able to block Engulfing Slagwurm with my Blight Mabma choose not to regenerate it to gain 3 life off the Sylvok Lifestaff and tap out to gain 7 life with my Vigil for the Lost.  The 10 point gain put me out of death range and allowed me to kill several key critters he had.  After that, it was stay untapped and play land.  He eventually drew all his cards in his deck and I claimed the victory. 

Round Two
My second booster was just ridiculous.  I mean, it was just not even fair for anyone else to play me.  I cracked a Wurmcoil Engine, Leaden Myr, Myr Galvanizer, Exsanguinate, Horizon Spellbomb, Corpse Cur, Vector Asp and a couple other cards.  This made it so I could make a 34 card almost pure colorless deck with cards that double green and double black with a splash of blue for trinket mage and turn aside.  I curved out with Vector Asp, Leaden Myr, Myr Galvinizer, Trinket Mage for Darksteel Axe.  My opponent just could not survive the quickness of my deck.

Round Three
We were given our first Mirrodin Besieged booster, to which I kept playing GBu.  Tons more artifacts, more beats, more accell.  With over 70% of my deck being colorless, playing 3 colors with methods to fix was no issue at all.  This game resulted with me accelerating my fatties and playing the limited removal that I did get.  I slammed down a wurmcoil engine and there was little my opponent could do.

Round Four:  Revenge of the Mini Master
This opponent knocked me out of my first que and I needed this win.  We also had to play 3 games, so I had some room for designing a less consistent but more powerful deck.  I switched up the deck a bit and took out blue for my 4th pack bomb: Sunblast Angel.  Now this set me at quite a disadvantage as I was playing again a deck with 3 colors, but I increased the around of colored spells.  We ended up playing all three games, as game one and two were blowouts in each direction.  I was able to shore up the final win after running his two tumble magnets dry. 

Round Five:  The Draw
My buddy ended up facing me in the final round and we just drew and split the Foil and Non-Foil set.  We're just putting both on ebay and splitting the cash.  We spent more time deciding what set we wanted then deciding for a draw.  This has to be the best ending for a Mini Master Tourney!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I know some of you call it Naya, after the Shard from Alara... but I wish to dedicate this deck to our brothers south of the borders.... to the red, the white, and the Green...  IT IS MexiCAW!!!!


4x Arid Mesa
4x Copperline Gorge
4x Raging Ravine
4x Razorverge Thicket
3x Forest
2x Mountain
2x Plains
1x Misty Rainforest

4x Birds of Paradise
4x Fauna Shaman
4x Squadron Hawk
4x Stoneforge Mystic
4x Cunning Sparkmage
4x Vengevine
1x Acidic Slime
1x Goblin Ruinblaster
1x Manic Vandal
1x Hero of Oxid Ridge

4x Lightning Bolt

1x Basilisk Collar
1x Sword of Body and Mind
1x Sword of Feast and Famine
1x Bonehoard

So the basic idea with this deck is the continue to abuse the Squadron Hawk/Stoneforge Mystic package with all sorts of equipment but also give you some additional reach with Fauna Shaman/Vengevine package.  It's like "You got peanut butter on my chocolate" "No, you got chocolate on my peanut butter"(see this).  Blending these two flavors together just comes together so easily.

You want an opening hand with this deck to be pretty aggressive, but anything containing a Stoneforge Mystic or Fauna Shaman seems more then acceptable.  With Stoneforge Mystic you will be wanting to get up a Basilisk Collar if you have a Sparkmage and the rest of the time SoFaF, if you do not.  With Fauna Shaman, you will want to start getting your pieces together for some serious crushing.  What you get will really depend on the board state.  If you are just set up to do some awesomeness, grab venge's and go for it.  If you need to catch up, Stoneforge and Sparkmage seem like perfect answers. 

Doesn't this just sounds like last years standard?  Except with a more amazing equipment?  Nothing too creative here, just rehashing old ideas with new cards. 

Here are some sideboard considerations:

Goblin Ruinblaster
Might as well fill up.  You are going to need to deal with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle some how post board.  This seems like the cheapest answer without going to crazy with Tectonic Edges.  Fetchable with Fauna Shaman.

Obstinate Baloth
This guy is a house against red decks.  Need life and a blocker?  Here you go!

Crush is becoming one of my favorite sideboard cards for red.  It is really cheap and can do some crazy things against your opponents.  Ideal against Caw-Blade and Tezzy style decks.

Elspeth Tirel
I am love'n this lady.  Sometimes you just need to get rid of the game state.  You are lined up with dudes to block and they are in the same situation.  She fixes that.  She says, lets gain a bunch of life and start over.  But you run Vengevines!  So its Squadron Hawk into to Squadron Hawk for an amazing amount of damage. 

Ratchet Bomb
If you are concerned with a lot of Kuldotha Red, and you should be, this is the card for you.  Get rid of those tokens and 0 drops.  With the release of the Event decks, these will be played by many a player at FNM.

Thrun, the Last Troll
"Don't Leak Me Bro!"  Yea this guy solves that issue.  No need for concern of mana leak.

Kor Firewalker
Another solution to red if you are seriously concerned about it.  Throw either sword on him, and hes pro 3 colors dude.  Yea, he can be pro-RUG

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
There seems to be this deck that plays Pyromancer Ascension and Archive Trap.  Yea, that deck is not very good, but play this as a 1 of, and you are auto immune to that deck.  Seriously.... Mill strategy is just bad when there are auto one of solutions to them. 

Hopefully you have fun and enjoy your FNM!  Tell me how it goes if you run this.