Sunday, January 23, 2011

Extended and RUG

Wow! A new blog post! It's been quite a while since I've even looked at my blog, let alone made a post on it. But thanks to the constant badgering of Kyle Sanchez, I think I'll start posting things regularly on here again. The topic for today is Extended. Ever since the new format was announced I've been extremely excited about the format. I began playing Magic when Lorwyn was released, and started playing competitively around the time Shards of Alara was released, so this Extended format is like a "Greatest Hits" of my Magic playing career. I've been spending a lot of time on MTGO trying to grind out the format and find a deck that really suits me well. I started with RG Scapeshift (being almost a direct port from Standard Valakut so no new cards needed to be purchased other than Scapeshift). The deck did well for me but I wanted something more. This format is wide open and so many strategies are viable so I wanted to keep trying new things. When the Wargate deck started getting big, I purchased Omens and Cryptics and started playing that, but had pretty dismal results. I then moved to GW Trap, and then GW Little Kid, Aggro Scapeshift, and even the RUG Pestermite deck that Top 8'd a PTQ. Nothing satisfied what I wanted to do in this format. I even toyed around with Reveillark decks (Lark being my favorite card ever printed). Finally, with the MTGO PTQ looming nearer and nearer, I noticed Craig Wescoe playing a RUG Control deck that was very similar to the ones seeing play in Standard. Some research and tweaking and I ended up with this list:

At the time of this writing I am a dismal 4-3 in the MTGO PTQ with this exact list. All 3 of my losses came from RG Scapeshift, which happens to be a horrible matchup. Other than Scapeshift, this deck is extremely well positioned in the Extended metagame. The deck has access to some of the most powerful spells in the format and can gain card advantage in all sorts of ways. Against aggro you have a plethora of removal to hold them off early and force the late game where you take over with Titans and Jace. Against control you have plenty of fast beaters to wither away their life total while still having access to Cryptic and Jace to keep them from stabilizing. The Spreading Seas package is great in Extended right now because so many decks are reliant on non basic lands and Seas can put a hurt on some of the 3+ color decks that are popular at the moment. Seas can also deal with Valakuts, making them harmless islands, unable to deal you any damage.

Though my results at the PTQ dont show it, I believe RUG is a great contender for this new Extended format. It has plenty of tools to attack the format from many different angles, and there is a lot of room to make changes and adapt the deck to whatever challenges evolve from this wide open format. Give the deck a try and feel free to comment or ask questions either on here on on Twitter (follow me @dcampa93)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

UGR Destructive Force

As many of you know, the release of M11 has brought with it a slew of new deck archetypes. Probably the most influential card in the set has been Primeval Titan. This 6 mana 6/6 has brought with it the resurgence of the Valakut Combo deck, and has also aided in the creation of a (semi) new archetype based around the card Destructive Force (a.k.a. Wildfire 2.0). This archetype uses Primeval Titan and the abundance of mana ramp available in Standard to accelerate up to and past 7 mana, at which point casting Destructive Force will destroy most, if not all, of your opponents lands and leave you in control of the game and able to restabilize (once again, thanks to the Titan's ability to survive the sweeping effect of D-Force and give you an additional 2 land drops each turn). Early versions of this deck have performed very well, with a list appearing in the Top 8 of a Japanese PTQ as well as taking down a tournament or two on UGR has always been one of my favorite color combinations in Magic, and with a local PTQ coming this weekend, I've decided to sleeve up Destructive Force and see if I can "destroy" my way onto the Pro Tour.

For reference, here is the list I will be playing:

(note that there may be a few changes made to this list between now and the day of the PTQ. The SB will likely be modified to answer my local metagame).

Deck Breakdown:

3 Primeval Titan: Primeval Titan is an important piece of this deck. As mentioned earlier, Titan not only helps you get to 7+ mana in order to cast Destructive Force, but also aids in restabilizing after casting Force. Other Destructive Force decks have played anywhere from 2 to 4 copies of this Titan, but from my testing I feel that 3 copies is just enough to ensure you draw one but dont end up clogging your opening hand with too many expensive spells.
1 Frost Titan: Frost Titan has gotten alot of hate from the Magic community since it was spoiled, often being called the weakest member of the Titan cycle. However, Titan plays a key role in this deck. After casting Destructive Force, it is likely that your opponent will have only 1-2 lands left on the battlefield. This is where Frost Titan shines, as he can keep your opponent further "screwed" on mana which buys you time to completely take over the game.

3 Destructive Force: The card the deck is named after. Casting this spell is your primary win condition. Similar to Primeval Titan, 3 copies is plenty, as you usually only have to cast Force once to win the game, and you dont want to have multiple copies filling up your opening hand.
4 Lightning Bolt: The best 1 mana spell in Standard at the moment. Bolt takes care of early, aggressive creatures and can also finish off an opponent who is low on life.
4 Mana Leak: Mana Leak is BACK! Being a "control" deck of sorts, Mana Leak is a great way to slow down your opponent's early threats, as well as counter any spells that may hinder your chances of resolving Destructive Force. Leak also shines after casting Destructive Force because it is unlikely that an opponent will be able to pay the additional 3 mana for their spells after having their lands destroyed.
4 Rampant Growth, 3 Explore, 3 Cultivate: Mana ramp is the key to this deck winning. This 10 card ramp package will ensure you get the mana advantage over your opponent both before and after Destructive Force.
2 Into the Roil: Into the Roil is a great way to get rid of any surviving creatures (or even Planeswalkers) after you cast Destructive Force. If an opponent has an opposing Titan or other large creature that wasn't killed by Force, simply bouncing it is usually as good as killing it because it is unlikely your opponent will have the mana left over to replay the creature. Into the Roil also deals with Planeswalkers, which is never a bad thing. Oh, and it can draw you a card, which is nice.
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor: Jace is the best Planeswalker in the game. The goal of the Destructive Force deck is to keep an advantage over your opponent at all times. Jace does this both before and after Force. Before Force, Jace is used to dig for your win conditions (Force and Titan). After Force, Jace is used to Fateseal your opponent to keep them from drawing mana and to bounce any remaining threats (similar to Into the Roil).
3 Garruk Wildspeaker: What better to have in a Mana Ramp deck than a Planeswalker who can accelerate you by 2 mana each turn. After Force, Garruk can be used to either aid in playing your mana ramp spells to restabilize, or by creating Beast tokens to beat down your opponent's (hopefully) empty field.
2 Mind Spring: Once again, this deck is designed to continually gain advantage over your opponent. With 13+ mana ramp spells, Mind Spring can be used to draw lots of cards. Mind Spring also helps refill your hand if you start to run out of cards or you arent drawing the spells you need to finish off your opponent.

The land package is fairly simple. You have 6 fetch lands to ensure you hit every color you need, as well as 4 Raging Ravines which both fix your mana and function as an attacker (or blocker) if necessary. The deck also plays 4 utility lands (2 Halimar Depths, 2 Khalni Garden). Depths often fetched up by Primeval Titan so you can order the top 3 cards of your library after shuffling. Khalni Garden is for the aggro matchups, providing a blocker to help protect your life total while you ramp up for the win.

3 Negate: Negate is primarily for the UW Control matchup where the majority of their win conditions are non-creature spells. Negate also helps you deal with opposing counters so you can safely resolve Titan and Destructive Force.
3 Obstinate Baloth: Obstinate Baloth is for the Aggro matchup as well as any deck still playing discard (most notably Blightning in Jund). Baloth is a solid blocker that can come down on turn 3 and also gain some life back that you may have lost from an early barrage of Goblin Guides and Ball Lightnings.
2 Earthquake: Earthquake is also for the Aggro matchup. Decks like Mythic and Naya often play alot of small X/1 mana ramp creatures that Earthquake can dispose of before they cause any problems. Earthquake can also function as a burn spell to finish off your opponent if necessary.
2 Mind Control: After casting Destructive Force, there is a chance that your opponent may still have a creature on the board. Instead of bouncing this creature with Jace or Into the Roil, why not just steal it and use it ourselves?
2 Pelakka Wurm: Pelakka Wurm is also for the Aggro matchup (you might notice a trend here, fast Aggro decks are Destructive Force's worst matchup). Pelakka Wurm not only survives Destructive Force, but also gains you a massive amount of life and if killed will also draw you a card.
2 Lavaball Trap: With the increasing amount of Mana ramp in Standard, Lavaball Trap is a great way to fight the mirror match as well as decks like Valakut and Turboland. Playing Trap in response to a Harrow to destroy an opponent's 2 Valakuts and wipe the board of any pesky Plant Tokens is absolutely amazing in the Valakut matchup, as well as the Turboland matchup.
1 Destructive Force: In some matchups (usually the Mirror) you need to draw Destructive Force as soon as possible. Adding one more Force to your deck increases your chances of drawing it before your opponent does.

So there you go, UGR Destructive Force is a very viable archetype and hopefully it will do well for me at the PTQ this weekend. I'll be sure to post a tournament report sometime Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. Let me know what you think of the deck in the comments or on my Twitter account (@dcampa93)!

Thanks for Reading!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vorosh EDH

A few weeks ago a few of my friends convinced me to build an EDH deck. At first I was reluctant, as building a good deck in EDH usually requires knowledge of many many cards and I've only been playing Magic since Lorwyn was released so, of course, my knowledge is very limited. I'm still learning the format but have discovered many things so far. The first thing I noticed is that there are some AMAZING cards that are only show their true strength in casual or multilayer formats (EDH being a combination of both, usually). I have dug through boxes of cards and scoured the internet finding cards that on the surface seem less than optimal but become pretty insane in games that last countless turns and let you have access to much more mana than usual. Ive also discovered my inner Johnny/Timmy, as Ive been playing cards that may not help me win, but have a fun effect on the game and make the experience more fun for everyone playing. But even with all the fun cards and interactions that Ive been experimenting with, Im still a Spike at heart and have built what seems to be a strong EDH deck based on my general Vorosh the Hunter. Quick backstory on my general, Vorosh is known to be one of the less powerful Elder Dragons that are available for use in EDH. His ability has little to no effect on the overall game, and often seems like a waste of mana as Vorosh gets killed before Ive ever had a chance to attack with my freshly pumped 12/12. So how did a Spike like me end up with a less than broken general? Well, he was $1 in the bargin bin of my local gaming shop. Yes, I picked my general because he was the first legend I saw and cost me less than a meal at McDonalds. However, I have been nothing but happy with my choice. Vorosh is the only general in the color combination of UGB. This gives me access to Green for mana ramp, Blue for control and draw, and Black for mass removal (or just removal in general). This powerful combination has led to many wins with my new deck. Though the newest version has yet to be tested, 2 similar builds (one on MTGO and one in RL) have been extremely resilient and fast. Without further ado, here is Vorosh EDH:

Here are some cool cards and interactions in the deck:

Sensei's Diving Top + Magus of the Future: This combo lets you draw cards as long as you have a mana untapped (and it's your turn). You simply cast Top, tap to draw a card, and then cast Top off the top of your library (rinse and repeat for massive card draw).

Crystal Shard: Many creatures in this deck have "Enters the Battlefield" abilities that can do some pretty serious things (Eternal Witness, Reiver Demon, Body Double, etc). Crystal Shard allows you to exploit these abilities by bouncing your own creature so you can cast it at another time to "reuse" the effect. This has worked especially well with Body Double and Vesuvan Shapeshifter because they can trigger "EtB" effects that you dont control making for even more shenanigans. Mystic Snake has also been powerful with this combination as long as you have the mana to bounce and recast the card. Nothing seems greater than a reusable Counterspell. Ive also considered Vensur for this combo but have yet to find a spot in the deck for the powerful Wizard.

Winding Canyons: For the longest time I had Teferi in my "RL" (real life) version of Vorosh EDH. The ability to cast creatures (especially those with EtB effects as mentioned earlier) at instant speed is extremely powerful and had given me a strong advantage in many games (Ulamog during your opponents End Step is pretty ridiculous). However, I wouldnt always get to abuse this power because Teferi would become Public Enemy #1 as soon as he'd hit play. Winding Canyons allows me to have this powerful instant speed effect essentially "on demand" without having to worry about protecting the card giving me this advantage (though Tectonic Edge and other LD spells can cause problems). Either way I have enjoyed this land and I think it fits quite nicely into my deck.

Hall of the Bandit Lord: Here is another land that grabbed my attention when I first saw it. Haste is a huge ability, and losing 3 life to give a card like Ulamog or even Vorosh haste is absurdly powerful. This land, while fairly mediocre early game, has been a huge success and I would definitely suggest fitting a copy into your deck (if you havent already, Im sure thousands of people already know about this "tech" card so Im definitely late to the party).

Rhystic Study: For the longest time I wanted to test Mind's Eye in this deck. Paying 1 mana to draw a card every time an opponent did seems pretty fun, but I would often see myself holding back on playing spells just so I could draw a few extra cards (I value card draw highly in Magic and will jump through hoops to get an extra draw or two). While doing some research I found Rhystic Study and have been impressed so far. Study hits play on turn 3 (if Im lucky of course) and not only provides card advantage but has the ability to lock down an opponent from doing anything too crazy early on. While this card has less relevance in the late game where 1 extra mana wont harm a person's situation, the early game effects of this card are definitely worth considering. Plus, in non-MTGO games people will often forget about the Enchantment and therefore "forget" to pay the extra mana, giving me the occasional free card or two.

So there's the deck, I hope you all enjoyed this post. I look forward to playing this deck at my local card shop as soon as the rest of the cards come in the mail (big thanks to Star City Games for having all these cards in stock and at... decent prices). If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the deck, please let me know by either commenting this post or sending me a message on Twitter (@dcampa93).

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

MTG Fanatic 2K Tournament Report **5th Place**

This weekend I played in a local 2K Tournament sponsored by the website My deck of choice for the tournament was Sovereign Mythic. Here is the list I sleeved up:

As you can see, my Sovereign Mythic list is a bit different from the lists that have won a few recent PTQs and other tournaments. The main difference is the inclusion of Rafiq of the Many and Sphinx of Jwar Isle. While testing I discovered that Sphinx makes so many match-ups even better than they already are. And Rafiq makes Eldrazi Conscription even better because Trample AND Double Strike is stupidly good. As for the sideboard, I'll explain my choices and a recommended SB plan for different match-ups during the actual tournament report.

Tournament Report:

Round 1 vs Time Sieve Combo
Round 1 I played against a good friend of mine running his version of the Time Sieve Combo deck that was popular before Lorwyn rotated. The new cantrip artifact from Rise of Eldrazi makes Time Sieve a viable deck again and I wouldn't be surprised to see it grow in popularity. Game 1 my opponent had to mulligan to 6 and didnt do anything relevant for the first few turns. As for me, I went Turn 1 Birds, Turn 2 Knight of the Reliquary, Turn 3 Rafiq, attack for 10. My opponent drew his card on turn 4 and then scooped up his cards. I sided in 3 Negate and 3 Bant Charm, taking out 3 Dauntless Escort, 2 Rhox War Monk, and a Lotus Cobra (or other mana dork). Game 2 he cantriped a few times and then floated 6 mana before sacrificing most of his manabase (he had 3 borderposts) to Time Sieve and then cast Open the Vaults. I had a Negate in hand to thwart his attempt at starting the combo. He took his extra turn, thought for a bit, and then scooped up his cards.

1-0 (2-0 in Games)

Round 2 vs Naya Allies
Round 2 wasn't very exciting. Not knowing what my opponent was playing I kept a fairly slow opener for Game 1. I proceeded to get blown out by the Allie "god draw". I sided out 3 Dauntless Escort for 3 Bant Charm. Game 2 I kept a blazing fast hand and my Turn 3 Baneslayer Angel stopped him from doing much of anything. Game 3 my opponent mulliganed to 6 and kept a 1 land hand. Needless to say I won that game pretty easily.

2-0 (4-1 in Games)

Round 3 vs Open the Vaults
I dont remember this round too well. Game 1 he kept me off of double white with Spreading Seas so I had 3 Baneslayer Angels stranded in my hand and no way to cast them (Day of Judgement got rid of all my mana dorks). He resolved Open the Vaults with Sanguine Bond in play and 2 Filigree Angels in the graveyard. I sided out 2 Rhox War Monk, 2 Lotus Cobra, and a Sovereign for 4 Negate, 1 Deprive and 1 Oblivion Ring (I decided not to bring in Bant Charm because destroying his Artifacts isnt really helpful when he can get them back). Game 2 I got a quick Sovereign out and with 2 attacks ended the game. Game 3 I got greedy and it almost cost me the round. It was turn 6 and my opponent had set up for Open the Vaults perfectly (Sphinx, discarding double Filigree Angel and Couriers Capsule). I had Negate and Jace in hand. I thought for a minute and decided to play Jace, Brainstorm, and hopefully find a land so I could Negate the Open the Vaults. Needless to say, I didn't find the land and watched helplessly as my opponent went from 2 life (I had dealt him alot of early damage with Rafiq and Knight of the Reliquary) to almost 30. However, my luck turned around as I drew double Baneslayer Angel and a Sovereign to finish the game. Talk about luck.

3-0 (6-2 in Games)

Round 4 vs UWR Control (aka Super Pals)
I knew I couldn't escape it forever. UW Control is a terrible match-up for Mythic, and the addition of Red for Ajani makes it even tougher. It was this round that I learned the true power of Gideon, as he can single-handedly shut off Exalted therefore making Sovereign a plain 4/5 for 6. Game 1 was pretty much an auto loss as Mythic really has no way to answer UW once it takes control. I sided out 2 Rhox War Monk, 4 Baneslayer Angel, and 1 Lotus Cobra for 4 Negate, 1 Deprive, and 2 Oblivion Ring. Game 2 was very interesting. We both did nothing for a few turns. I had double Hierarch and he had double Wall of Omens. The game went on and on, both of us essentially saying "Land, Go". I finally drew something relevant, Eldrazi Conscription. My opponent had tapped out the previous turn for Mind Spring so I seized my opportunity and attacked with a 12/13 Noble Hierarch that destroyed both his blockers (he saced them to Annihilator for some reason). He took the 12 damage, untapped, cast Gideon and killed my (now tapped) Noble Hierarch. However, on my turn I cast a freshly drawn Sovereign and we were on to Game 3. I boarded out one of my Sphinx's for the Lotus Cobra that I had taken out before Game 2 to lower my curve (time was almost out so I knew I had to win quickly). My opener was less than perfect (5 Land, Cobra, Escort) but I decided to keep it hoping I'd draw something relevant. I drew 2 Negates in a row and was able to win the game in a few turns by countering 2 Ajanis and attacking with my Cobra and Escort. Luck was definitely on my side.

4-0 (8-3 in games)

Round 5 vs Jund w/Persecutor
Round 5 was against my friend (also 4-0) who was playing his version of Jund which included Abyssal Persecutor. Game 1 he got off to a quick start and had be below 10 life when he finally dropped Persecutor. On my turn I played a Baneslayer and passed the turn. He thought for a minute and then attacked with his team (Leech, Bloodbraid, and Persecutor). I blocked the Persecutor and took 2 damage (he pumped the Leech). He then said "your Baneslayer is dead." I laughed and pointed out that Baneslayer has protection from Demons and his Persecutor is, in fact, a Demon. "That ability is NEVER relevant!" my friend said with a slight smile on his face. I untapped, cast Sovereign, and killed him with a 16/16 Baneslayer. I boarded out 2 Rhox War Monk, 3 Dauntless Escort, 1 Lotus Cobra and 2 Jace for 3 Kor Firewalker, 3 Bant Charm, and 2 Thornling (in case you dont know, Thornling is nuts against Jund). We shuffle up for Game 2 and he smashes me with double Blightning and double Bloodbraid. Game 3 went much better for me as I was able to get the "god hand" and attacked for 14 on turn 3 (Birds, Cobra, Sovereign, GG? lol).

5-0 (10-4 in Games) **Essentially locked for Top 8**

Round 6 against UWR Control (aka Super Pals)
After Round 5 I was the only undefeated player left in the tournament, so I got paired down with a 4-0-1 player who needed a win to guarantee his spot in Top 8. While shuffling he dropped a Wall of Omens, so I immediately put him on UW Control. Just like my previous match against UWR Game 1 was an auto loss. I stuck with my sideboard plan and while we shuffled up for Game 2 I started to doubt myself and my deck. But I quickly regained my confidence when he mulled to 6 while I powered out a quick Sphinx. He scooped a few turns later. Game 3 was almost identical to my previous Game 3 against UWR. He stumbled on his mana a bit and couldn't get WW to cast Day of Judgment. He finally drew the Plains the turn before I would have killed him, but I had Negate waiting to save my creatures. My opponent was pretty upset that he lost and spent quite some time rambling on about how "Mythic shouldn't beat UWR. Mythic is auto win for UWR!" Maybe my UWR match-up is better than I thought. Negate is definitely good in the match-up.

6-0 (12-5 in Games) **Locked for Top 8**

Round 7 vs Sovereign Mythic (Mirror)
My opponent and I talked for a bit and we determined that if I scooped to him he would make it into Top 8 and we would end up on opposite sides of the bracket and wouldn't have to play each other in the first two rounds of Top 8. I happily signed the match slip and spent the rest of the round talking to the representative from MTG Fanatic about how awesome the tournament was.

6-1 (Still technically 12-5 in Games) **Locked for Top 8**

After Round 7 Top 8 was announced and I was placed 2nd overall. After about 30 minutes of waiting around (the head judge deck checked each member of Top 8 which took some time since the other judge was busy helping with a side event) I finally sat down in front of my Top 8 opponent. Turns out he was also playing Sovereign Mythic. I honestly had no idea how to play the mirror match, which led me to keep a seemingly good opener. Long story short, I got rolled Game 1 as he quickly cast Sovereign and took over. I boarded out 3 Dauntless Escort and 2 Rhox War Monk for 3 Bant Charm and 2 Oblivion Ring. Game 2 I was able to knock my opponent down to 7 with Knight of the Reliquary and Rafiq but made a horrendous misplay that cost me the game. I had Sovereign in hand and would have been able to cast it, attack with Rafiq and have Knight to back him up if my opponent had removal. I had double Bant Charm in hand so I was pretty confident that I could remove any possible threat. On his turn I cast Bant Charm targeting his Birds of Paradise (I had a feeling he had Sovereign and I had no way to block the Bird). In response my opponent tapped his Knight of the Reliquary to fetch a Sejiri Steppe and protect his Bird. He then cast Sovereign and went to attack with the Bird. In response to declare attackers I was going to Charm the Sovereign. I tapped Forest and Island, then tapped my Knight to fetch out a Plains for the white I needed for the Charm. However, I had a momentary brain fart grabbed a Verdant Catacombs and immediately put it into my graveyard. I realized what I did but by then it was too late to go back and fix my mistake. My opponent attacked and I scooped up my cards, angry at myself for making such a dumb misplay. Top 4 ended up splitting the rest of the prize money and all walked away with $320. 5th through 8th got $60. Needless to say, I was happy that I walked away with $60 but I was mad that one misplay cost me the chance at $320. Oh well, everyone makes mistakes, and I definitely learned from it.

After Thoughts
This tournament really helped me get a better feel for Sovereign Mythic. I feel like I sideboarded correctly in every match and I learned alot about each match-up, especially the mirror and UW(/r) control matches. I can honestly say that Sovereign Mythic is one of the strongest decks in the format and I will happily continue playing it at every Standard tournament I attend.

Suggested Sideboard Plans:

UW(/r) Control:
This match-up is by far the toughest for Mythic. Mythic usually wins by overextending and Day of Judgment puts the deck so far behind that it's often difficult to catch up before Jace or Gideon comes down and takes over the game. Rhox War Monk and Baneslayer Angel are pretty mediocre in this match-up. Lifegain is almost never relevant and Wall of Denial blocks Baneslayer all day. Here is what I'd suggest: -4 Baneslayer Angel, -2 Rhox War Monk, -1 Lotus Cobra/Bird/Hierarch, +4 Negate, +2 Oblivion Ring, +1 Deprive. Negate is insane in this match-up and Deprive acts as either a 5th Negate or an answer to Sphinx of Jwar Isle or any other finisher.

You generally have a pretty good match-up vs Jund. Your creatures are generally bigger than theirs and they all demand removal right away. Rhox War Monk really isnt amazing in this match-up and neither is Dauntless Escort. Escort might stay in because he can protect from removal, but I've found that boarding in something like Bant Charm and Thornling make up for it. Here's my suggestion: -2 Rhox War Monk, -3 Dauntless Escort, -1 Lotus Cobra, -2 Jace, +3 Kor Firewalker, +3 Bant Charm, +2 Thornling.

Allies/Mono Red/White Weenie:
These match-ups can go either way. Each of these decks is blazing fast and you have to match their speed or interrupt their tempo if you want a chance to win. This is one of the few match-ups where Rhox War Monk isn't boarded out because each of these decks has trouble dealing with a 3/4 Lifelinker (although Flame Slash gives Red a better chance). Bant Charm is an MVP out of the SB as it acts as a counterspell and creature removal. Here's my suggestion: (vs Allies/Mono White) -3 Dauntless Escort, -2 Jace, +3 Bant Charm, +2 Oblivion Ring (vs Mono Red) -3 Dauntless Escort, -2 Jace, -1 Lotus Cobra, +3 Bant Charm, +3 Kor Firewalker.

Sovereign Mythic: (mirror match)
This match-up is interesting. Generally speaking, Game 1 is determined by whoever gets Sovereign out first. Games 2 and 3 are much different though. Tempo is the most important thing is this match-up, so mulligan aggressively. If your opener doesn't have a Turn 1 Bird or Hierarch, it's probably too slow. As for sideboarding, you want to bring in as much removal as you can. Here's my suggestion: -2 Rhox War Monk, -3 Dauntless Escort, +3 Bant Charm, +2 Oblivion Ring. If possible, I might suggest finding a way to fit the Deprive in as well so you have another answer to Sovereign. I talked to a few people also playing Sovereign Mythic (3 of the Top 8 decks were Sovereign Mythic) and there was some discussion about whether or not to board out Jace. I suggest leaving Jace in simply because he can throw off your opponents tempo and also help you dig for answers or a Sovereign.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the deck.

-David Campano (@dcampa93 on Twitter)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sovereign Mythic

Recently I've been bouncing between decks alot. Every week I play a different deck, whether it be a crazy homebrew list like my Grixis Machine Head deck or my Gearbox Control deck, or a simple net deck like Boss Naya or UW Tap Out. Though switching decks has kept my interests fresh and has been alot of fun, my results haven't been as good as I've wanted. I always make Top 8, but I usually end up losing in the first round because of my lack of knowledge of the deck. A week just isnt enough time to fully learn how to play a good deck and how to sideboard correctly. To fix this problem I've decided to build one deck and learn it in and out and continue to play the deck each week at FNM and in any Standard tournaments. My deck of choice was Mythic. But not just regular Mythic, Sovereign Mythic. Here is my current list:

A few side notes about the deck and card choices:
-2 Dauntless Escort MB: DoJ ruins this decks day. Escort helps protect your little guys and even the final BIG guy.

-1 Finest Hour: I personally like this card as a 1 of. It can occasionally win games and makes even a Birds of Paradise a viable threat.

-1 Baneslayer Angel/Thornling & Sphinx Package: I currently only own 1 Baneslayer, so the Thornlings and Sphinxes make up for the absence.

-3 Birds/Hierarch: Just like Baneslayer Angel, I dont own the 4th of each card. I also dont really think the deck needs all 8 "mana dorks".

SB Info:
-3 Negate: Negate is insane in so many matchups, especially vs UW and the new UWr Control decks.

-3 Bant Charm: Bant Charm is my personal replacement for Pridemage. Pridemage would be used to deal with Basilisk Collar and other pesky Artifacts. Bant Charm does that and also doubles as removal and an additional counterspell against UW and UWr

-3 Oblivion Ring: More removal. Deals with every (nonland) permanent. 'Nuff said.

-2 Celestial Purge: Helps versus the Mono Red matchup and against Jund.

-1 Rhox War Monk: Not sure what else to put in this slot. I figured the 4th War Monk would come in against Mono White and Mono Red decks that cant deal with the combination of Lifelink and 4 toughness.

-3 Kor Firewalker: For the Mono Red and Jund Matchup. 'Nuff said.

Sovereign Mythic lists have already won multiple PTQ's so the deck is definitely solid. Let's hope the deck works at FNM this week and at the WPN Qualifier this Saturday!

Feel free to comment on the deck.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Extended GPT Tournament Report **2nd Place**

It's pretty late here (past midnight) so I wont bother writing a fancy introduction about how Grand Prix Houston is a week away and how I decided that a local GPT would be my chance to get a feel for the Extended format first hand and possibly take home some free wins. Instead I'll just cut to the chase. I spent most of FNM testing various extended decks, unsure of what I wanted to sleeve up, but in the end I decided on Martyr Lark (for two reasons: 1) Card availability and 2) It was the only deck I knew well enough to not misplay very often). So I went home, slept, and woke up ready to take down the tournament. To be totally honest, I did not expect to make it into Top 8, let alone be 1 card away from winning the whole thing (more on that to come... lol) so when I got to the store I took a quick survey of what people were playing and sleeved up this list:

Martyr Lark:

So there's the deck. I wont take the time to explain things because this deck is actually pretty deep. There are so many sick interactions that just take over the game. This deck has an auto win against pretty much every aggro deck in the format (Zoo, Boros, RDW, Scapeshift, etc) and can hold it's own against Dark Depths (survived 2 attacks from Marit Lage before finally losing to a Rite of Consumption). I personally think this is the best deck to play in Extended at the moment. The sideboard let's you tweak things even more in your favor. Thada Adel is insane and demands a removal spell (she comes in against Thepths to steal their Thopter Combo and use it myself). Teferi makes the control matchups significantly better, Crovax stops Thopter Combo and Dark Depths (even though he is usually too slow), and of course Chalice and E.E. are good as well.

On to the report.

Round 1 vs Red Deck Wins (Auto Win #1)
When the pairings for the first round went up I was both extremely happy and pretty bummed at the same time. I was happy because I knew my opponent was playing Red Deck Wins (which is essentially an auto win for Lark) but I was bummed because the reason I knew my opponent was playing RDW was because my opponent was a good friend of mine. We shuffled up and the beatings commenced. Game 1 I had Martyr of Sands in my opening hand which single-handedly negated all of the damage my opponent dealt me that game. I quickly took control of the board and my opponent scooped up his cards, knowing he couldn't restabilize in time. Game 2 was just like the first, Martyr of Sands negated all the life I initially lost and gave me a chance to overrun my opponent with 1/1 Illusion tokens (thanks to Meloku).

Record: 1-0 (2-0 in games)

Round 2 vs Living End (Auto Win #2)
Round 2 was another round where I knew what my opponent was playing ahead of time. He had been sitting next to me the previous round so I knew he was playing Living End (yet another amazing match for Lark, seeing as Lark WANTS spells to come out of the graveyard). Game 1 I use Wrath of God to restabilize post Living End after a fairly uneventful start. I quickly amassed too many good spells in my graveyard to make Living End a profitable spell and my opponent scooped up his cards. Game 2 my opponent started off with a Leyline of the Void in play (ouch) but it was no match for Martyr of Sands (MVP of the Tournament). I hold off all his threats and swing for the win in the air with Lark and Mulldrifter.

Record: 2-0 (4-0 in games)

Round 3 vs Hive Mind Combo (aka WORST MATCH UP!)
Round 3 I was paired up against Hive Mind, the one deck I DIDN'T want to see. Lark has no outs once Hive Mind hits the board so the plan is to keep them off of Mind with Meddling Mage while amassing a small army of creatures to try and deal 20 damage before they finally find a way to bounce/kill Mage and resolve Hive Mind. Game 1 goes pretty badly (as expected). I land a Meddling Mage, but after a few turns of "Land, Go" my opponent Slaughter Pact's my Mage, plays Hive Mind, and then Pact of the Titan to seal the deal. Game 2 is much of the same, except this time it's Summoners Pact that wins it.

Record: 2-1 (4-2 in games)

Round 3 vs BG Depths
My opponent had been paired down, so I tried to convince him that scooping to me would put us both at 3-1 and therefore guarantee that both of us would get into Top 8. He declined my offer and we played it out. I honestly dont remember much about this match up, other than that in Game 3 he double Thoughtseized me to get rid of both Paths I was holding and then swung in with a 20/20 the next turn to finish the game.

Record: 2-2 (5-4 in games)

At this point I was pretty bummed because my friend had been told that there was no chance a 2-2 record would make it into Top 8. I shuffled up my cards and sat there sulking in my defeat. But when Top 8 pairings were posted I was informed that I had made it in. I literally fell out of my chair in excitement and ran over to the list to see who I was playing. To my dismay it was going to be a rematch vs Hive Mind. "Well," I thought, "at least I made it to Top 8."

Top 8 Round 1 vs Hive Mind Combo
Game 1 was by far the greatest win I've ever achieved. I had 4 land on the board, a Meddling Mage naming Hive Mind and a Martyr of Sands. My opponent draws his card, thinks, then procedes to Slaughter Pact my Mage. He then combo's Seething Song's and Desperate Rituals into enough mana to cast Hive Mind. He then plays ANOTHER Seething Song, but counters it with his own Pact of Negation. "GG?" He asked as he stared at my 4 mana, thinking I was going to be 1 short of playing the 5 mana required to stay alive. "Not quite" I said as I played Path to Exile on my Martyr, getting my 5th land and winning me the game (my opponent didnt have enough mana to pay for both Slaughter Pact and Pact of Negation). Game 2 I got destroyed (as expected). Game 3 rolls around and my opponent has to mull to 4. We play a few turns as he's stuck on 2 islands. He draws his card for turn then proceeds to cast Manamorphos and immediately draws a card. I point out that he didn't have a Red or Green mana to pay for the Manamorphos. I call a judge and he scooped up his cards and walked away.

Top 8 Round 2 vs Kyle Sanchez playing Scapeshift Landfall Zoo (the deck designed by Jon Loucks from Channel Fireball)
I sit down for Round 2 and begin to realize that the tournament could be mine to win. I looked at the 3 other decks that remained, and all of them were very good matchups for me (Zoo, Boros, and Depths). I ended up against Zoo. But this wasn't your ordinary Zoo list. This was the Zoo list designed by Jon Loucks from Channel Fireball. The point of the deck was to pump out a bunch of small landfall creatures and then Scapeshift for 5 or 6 in order to make all the tiny 0/1's and 1/1's into massive 14/15's and 19/19's. However, Zoo is an easy match up for me, and so is Scapeshift, so I wasn't too worried. Game 1 I take control with 3 Martyr of Sands and win the game with at least 10 creatures in play (thanks to the always awesome Martyred Rusalka + Body Double combo). Game 2 I stall on land and he bashes my face in with a 19/19 Plated Geopede. Game 3, like the first, is dominated by life gain and I win when my opponent runs out of options and scoops.

Alright, Top 2. I made it. I learn from the judge that my opponent is playing Brozek Boros. Sweet! An easy matchup! This tournament is in the bag! Well, as it turns out, the tournament wasn't as "in the bag" as I thought It would be...

Top 8 Round 3 vs Brozek Boros (THE FINALS!)
Games 1 and 2 were nothing special. Game 1 I get the nut draw and curve out perfectly. My life total never drops below 15 and I end the game with a few fliers. Game 2 I have to mulligan down to 4 and get my face stomped in. Game 3 is where all the action happened. My opponent and I both started out slow, but he manages to get my life total down to 7. I Chalice for 2 (which apparently made every card in his hand dead) and start to take control with a Meloku making a token or 2 every turn. I finally draw Lark, and I have a Martyr of Sands sitting in my graveyard just in case things get ugly (I also have Venser in hand so I can bounce the Lark if I need to get Martyr in play). I swing my opponent down to 3 life and decide to get greedy and play a second Lark instead of leaving 7 mana open and just passing the turn. My opponent proceeds to Shard Volley me at end of turn, putting me at 4 life. "I need to draw Char." he told me, "It's my only out". The rooms is silent as he slowly reaches for the top of his deck. He looks at it and his friend (standing behind him) freaks out and screams "NO WAY!!!". My opponent shows me the Char he ripped off the top of the deck and everyone goes nuts! Unbelievable! The one card he needed to win the game was on top. Words cant even describe the feelings I had. I realized my horrendous misplay and how it ultimately cost me the tournament (and $100 and 3 Byes at GP Houston). I shook hands with my opponent, congratulating him on his win and packed up my things. I walked away with $100 in store credit, but I still felt cheated by my bad play.

Overall I think the deck preformed very well. Martyr of Sands is probably one of the best cards to play in Extended at the moment. The ability to erase 15 points of damage for 1 mana is absolutely absurd, especially when you can essentially do it as many times as you want thanks to Lark and friends. I would strongly encourage everyone to at least test with Lark and experience the sheer power and card advantage the deck has. Aethermage's Touch was a beating in every game, and the fact that it bounces the creature you find back to your hand makes the card even better when paired with Lark or Mulldrifter or other creatures with "come into play" abilities. You can expect me to be rocking this deck at GP Houston in a week and hopefully I can avenge my terrible misplay.

Thanks for Reading! I apologize if there are spelling or grammar mistakes. As I stated in the beginning of the article, it is well after midnight here and I'm both physically and mentally exhausted from a long day of playing Magic.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some "Junk" for FNM

FNM is tomorrow and while I had planned to play Boss Naya again, I came across a fun looking deck while reading one of Channel Fireball's articles this week: Stoneforge Junk. I played a GWB "Junk" deck at the Star City Games Dallas 5K, so I was intrigued when reading over this "updated" list. I made a few personal changes, and here is what I hope to play tomorrow night!

Stoneforge Junk:

3x Noble Hierarch
1x Birds of Paradise
3x Stoneforge Mystic
4x Qasali Pridemage
4x Knight of the Reliquary
2x Borderland Ranger
2x Wolfbriar Elemental
4x Emeria Angel
2x Baneslayer Angel

4x Path to Exile
4x Maelstrom Pulse
1x Behemoth Sledge
1x Basilisk Collar
1x Elspeth, Knight-Errant **(Might drop for a second Sledge)**

4x Marsh Flats
4x Verdant Catacombs
3x Stirring Wildwood
2x Sunpetal Grove
4x Forest
3x Plains
2x Swamp
1x Tectonic Edge
1x Sejiri Steppe

2x Baneslayer Angel
1x Basilisk Collar
3x Kor Firewalker
2x Grim Discovery
2x Day of Judgement
1x Martial Coup
2x Thornling
2x Relic of Progenitus

As noted, I made a few minor changes compared to the list from Channel Fireball, mainly due to card availability and personal preference (the deck NEEDS Baneslayer, even if 2 are out of the sideboard). The sideboard is open for change at the moment, and will probably change depending on what my local metagame looks like. I like the additional Collar in the board, and might want a second Sledge if I don't decide to drop the Elspeth from the main deck. If I cant fit the other 2 Baneslayers into the main deck, then they will have to take up 2 of the sideboard slots. As for the other 11 slots, I like Grim Discovery against Jund, and Thornling is great in alot of matches. I might change the 2 Day, 1 Coup to just 2 Coup, and Relic will go if nobody plays Open the Vaults or "Standard Dredge". Kor Firewalker will probably end up on the chopping block in favor of either another late game bomb, or some O-Rings to deal with Jace and other pesky planeswalkers. Or, on a completely unrelated note, I could make the sideboard a complete discard package with Duress and Mind Rot, as well as Bloodwitch. However, that would mess with the manabase and I dont want to take the time to fix it.

Hopefully the deck does well, and I encourage anyone looking for a fun deck to sleeve up this list.