FMN adventures 03/10/2017: ‘Longtusk Cub’ control (3-1)

This week I played a rather bizarre deck. It’s a list I had tested every now and again and that I thought could work, given the current meta game (lots of Temur and Sultai energy decks).

It’s a Temur Control deck, splashing black for Nicol Bolas. Here is the list:

Main

Creatures
1 x Kefnet the Mindful
3 x Torrential Gearhulk

Spells
1 x Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
4 x Attune with Aether
4 x Glimmer of Genius
3 x Opt
3 x Censor
4 x Disallow
4 x Essence Scatter
1 x Commit / Memory
1 x Confiscation Coup
2 x Magma Spray
3 x Abrade
4 x Harnessed Lightning

Lands
4 x Botanical Sanctum
4 x Spirebluff Canal
4 x Aether Hub
1 x Rootbound Crag
4 X Island
3 x Forest
2 x Mountain

Sideboard
4 x Longtusk Cub
2 x Bristling Hydra
1 x Glorybringer
1 x Confiscation Coup
2 x Negate
4 x Aether Meltdown
1 x Nissa, Steward of Elements

 

Before sideboards, it works very much like a classic blue-red control deck. It only uses green for Attune with Aether, which thins tor library and gives you some energy – nothing spectacular. However, after boards, the strategy might change quite a lot, by bringing in Bristling Hydra and, especially, Longtusk Cub. I just love Longtusk Cub. It’s been compared to Tarmogoyf, in the context of Standard, and I think the comparison is quite fair. He cannot only block but he can win you the game all by himself. He is quick and versatile. With the Cub, often your game plan shifts to a ‘protect the queen’ strategy. Keep him alive, generating energy to make him bigger, until you win. Nothing better than tons of blue counter magic to achieve that.

The deck is inspired by the one that the great Victor Silva played to win Grand Prix Porto Alegre 2016. After boards, he would take out ‘slow’ cards like Dynavolt Tower and Torrential Gearhulk, in favour of Longtusk Cub and Tireless Tracker (no longer in Standard, sadly!).

 

Round 1: black-white vampire tokens

2-1. He was playing the likes of Queen’s Commission and Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle to generate a bunch of tokens, with the additions of vampires such us Glorifier of Dusk, Duskborne Skymarcher, etc. I wasn’t playing any sweepers and feared things could get out of control. I was keeping the board fairly clean and then started swinging with Torrential Gearlhuk. However, I was lacking counter spells and had to let a first Gearhulk go to Dusk/Down, and a second one to Ixalan’s Binding. That hurt. Got crashed in the end.

Game 2 and 3 played out differently thanks to Longtusk Cub. In game 2 my opponent struggled to find lands, and game 3 was won by a 8/8 Cub.

 

Round 2: blue-black control

2-1. I didn’t know how this match up would be. I thought I could be in a good place with cards like Confiscation Coup or Kefnet The Mindful, and that my side board plan was strong, but wasn’t sure at all.

The first game was tough and long. The key card was Confiscation Coup, which I had in my hand from early on. After a bunch of Opts, Glimmers, a Kefnet that was exiled by Vraska’s Contempt, and a couple of Gearhuks that were countered from both ends, he cast The Scarab God and tapped out enough mana for me to steal it. He then cast Gearhulk and I used the God’s ability to bring his other Gearhulk to the battlefield, targeting one of my Disallows. That was it. Very big battle.

In game 2 he killed me with Gifted Aetherborn and Scarab God, as Duress kept me in order. I didn’t see any of the Cubs, just a Hydra that got countered in turn 5…

We run out of time for game 3 and he kindly conceded, but that was totally a draw (and ‘karma’ would make me concede on the last round…).

 

Round 3: 4 colour energy

2-1. Game one work out perfectly for me. Along the game I cast about 3 Essence Scatter, 2 Disallows and 3 Glimmers, flash them back with Gearhulks and finish the game with them. He put quite a bit of pressure, but I was lucky to have huge counter magic.

Game 2 didn’t work out that well. I brought in my creatures, though he had a very strong start. I stole one of his Cubs with Confiscation Coup and tried to hang in there, but it wasn’t enough. At some point he had The Scarab God, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, lots of energy… I got destroyed.

In game 3 he cast a couple of Rogue Refiners but didn’t put the same level of pressure. He drew way too many lands. I played Longtusk Cub in turn 2: all I had to do was clearing any blockers and protect him. He grew to a 7/7 body to win the game.

 

Round 4: blue-black control, again!

1-2. It was nice to see 2 control decks face to face in the final round. It feels like playing control is finally viable in Standard.

Game 1 was a tremendous duel. In turn 2 he cast Search for Azcanta and I responded playing Kefnet in turn 3. I knew that, if I could keep him alive, he would win for me. I managed to start swinging but my opponent eventually found Vraska’s Contempt and I couldn’t save Kefnet. Then a succession of Gearhulks and Scarab God got countered or killed. He was digging deep for win conditions with Azcanta, while I was somehow managing to keep things together despite his card advantage. At some point, the question was who was going to mill himself out of cards. I was down to 23 cards in my library, and he went down to just 10. At that point he gave up and conceded. Oh boy, that was a loooooooong game.

In game 2 I struggled to deal with Gifted Aetherborns, once again. It turns out that they were very good at stopping my Cubs. I should have learned the lesson from round 2. I managed to resolved Nicol Bolas when it was too late. He went up to 37 life and killed me.

Game 3 was looking OK but we didn’t have time to finish it. After my opponent’s gesture in round 2, it was only fair that I conceded this one. The karma of Magic: The Gathering 😊

Confiscation Coup: things to know

Confiscation Coup has been one of the best sideboard cards in Standard. Perhaps slightly slow, yes, but incredibly effective against decks that are full of beefy creatures. The joy of killing your opponent using their own Rhonas the Indomitable can’t be described. More recently, it has been included in the main of Temur Energy lists, with a very specific target: grabbing your adversary’s Scarab God. That was one of the elements of William Jesen’s plan at the 2017 MTG World Championship, which he won.

I’ve found that there are a few important remarks to consider when casting Confiscation Coup… Here are my notes:

1/ You take over a target creature, but it can’t attack this turn, as it suffers summoning sickness. The ruling about summoning sickness is clear in this regard: 302.6. A creature’s activated ability with the tap symbol or the untap symbol in its activation cost can’t be activated unless the creature has been under its controller’s control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. A creature can’t attack unless it has been under its controller’s control continuously since his or her most recent turn began. This rule is informally called the “summoning sickness” rule.

2/ If the creature had counters or an aura on it, those remain.

3/ If the creature was tapped, it comes under your control tapped.

4/ If the creature dies, it goes to your opponent’s graveyard, not to yours!

I hope this helps 😊

FMN adventures 06/10/2017: white-blue Approach (2-2)

After last week’s success I thought I would just play Approach again. Call me lazy! This time it didn’t work as well, as I struggled against my opponents’ counter magic. Here is the deck list (all I changed from last week was the one copy of Jace’s Defeat in the sideboard, replaced by Essence Scatter, anticipating that lots of people would be playing Sultai Energy):

Main 

Spells 
3 x Approach of the Second Sun 
2 x Fumigate 
4 x Cast Out 
3 x Settle the Wreckage 
1 x Gideon of the Trials 
2 x Farm / Market 
4 x Aether Meltdown 
4 x Supreme Will 
4 x Glimmer of Genius 
4 x Opt 
4 x Censor 

Lands 
4 x Irrigated Farmland 
4 x Glacial Fortress 
9 x Island 
8 x Plains 

Sideboard 

3 x Torrential Gearhulk 
1 x Kefnet the Mindful 
2 x Negate 
2 x Disallow 
1 x Essence Scatter 
4 x Authority of the Consuls 
1 x Fumigate 
1 x Gideon of the Trials

 

Round 1: B/U Tezzeret

0-1. In the first game I got severely stuck with 2 lands until turn 5, and that was it, really. I managed to put a good fight though and it turned to be quite a long game. He ultimate Tezzeret the Schemer and I survived multiple attacks by 5/5 artifact creatures… Eventually he killed me with Marionette Master, putting a bunch of artifacts into the graveyard.

Game 2 was a different story, although we didn’t have much time left. With ‘time on the round’, in the last turn, I cast a second Approach, but he countered it with Spell Swindle. Almost a draw.

 

Round 2: Sultai Energy

1-2. The first game is a very favourable match up for Approach. It’s a case of fumigating things and finding Approach quickly enough. Nothing can really stop you. After boards some cards drastically change the dynamic: Negate and Duress can be very disruptive for your game plan. Under that assumption, I took out Approach and relied on Gearhulk and Kefnet to get the job done. However, I couldn’t find the right answers in neither game 2 nor 3…

 

Round 3: G/R Ramp Dinosaurs

2-0. This was fun. On paper it was a very good match up for me, as he was playing big dinosaurs that were expensive to cast and wasn’t going to have answers to Approach. Nevertheless, it turned out that he was able to land the likes of Carnage Tyrant and Gishath, Sun’s Avatar pretty quickly, thanks to cards like Gift of Paradise. Ripjaw Raptor seemed pretty good too, though Aether Meltdown was a perfect answer. In one of the games he attacked twice with Gishath – I didn’t even see it coming (a massive T-Rex with haste? Look up 7 cards and grab more dinosaurs? What?!). I was glad to beat those dinos in the end 🙂

 

Round 4: mono blue ‘mill’

2-0. My opponent’s strategy was to mill my deck, using stuff like Fraying Sanity and Fleet Swallower (very scary). It was a good counter spell’s battle that I was lucky enough to win before running out of cards! Once again I left Approach out after boards, since they could have ended up in the graveyard very easily.

In ‘beta’ mode

After a million thousand long evenings and weekends, LilianaMarket is live! This is very exciting, as we can finally share this first beta with the MTG community, listen to your feedback and keep improving it.

The other thing that we’ll be doing during the next few weeks is start listing as many singles as possible, beginning with our own collections! If you have any singles that you’d like to sell, do give it a go!

Please contact us at support@lilianamarket.co.uk to share any feedback; you can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

FNM adventures 29/09/2017: white-blue Approach (4-0)

This time I played a ‘classic’ white-blue Approach of the Second Sun deck, updated with some of the new cards from Ixalan. Here is the deck list:

Main

Spells
3 x Approach of the Second Sun
2 x Fumigate
4 x Cast Out
3 x Settle the Wreckage
1 x Gideon of the Trials
2 x Farm / Market
4 x Aether Meltdown
4 x Supreme Will
4 x Glimmer of Genius
4 x Opt
4 x Censor

Lands
4 x Irrigated Farmland
4 x Glacial Fortress
9 x Island
8 x Plains

Sideboard

3 x Torrential Gearhulk
1 x Kefnet the Mindful
2 x Negate
2 x Disallow
1 x Jace’s Defeat
4 x Authority of the Consuls
1 x Fumigate
1 x Gideon of the Trials

 

I went 4-0 and brought home the sweet Fatal Push promo. The deck was good and fun to play, but I must admit I got very very lucky, you’ll see. All the new cards from Ixalan felt great. Opt was just incredible; for once Gimmer of Genius didn’t seem that essential. And Settle the Wreckage was remarkable too: I wiped 3 to 4 creatures with it in a few occasions and, when opponents saw it coming, at times they stopped attacking, which was exactly what I wanted!

 

Round 1: green-red energy & dinosaurs

2-0. Game 1 didn’t start very well. Being on the draw, on turn 3 I went for Gideon of the Trials. My opponent only had an inoffensive Servant of the Conduit and a Channeler Initiate, so I thought I’d get Gideon out and do my thing. Next turn, he hit his fourth land, tapped for 6 mana using the Servant and the Channeler, and, BOOM, cast Hazoret’s Undying Fury out of nowhere. With Supreme Will in my hand, surely Gideon wasn’t my best play. He found Charging Monstrosaur and something else and killed Gideon. Somehow I managed to keep it together and came back to win the game (he got me down to 2).

Game 2 was less complicated. I recall Prowling Serpopards and Bristling Hydras from his side and lots of Fumigates from mine (I brought in the extra one I had in the sideboard).

 

Round 2: Mardu Vehicles with planeswalkers

2-0. He was playing a tuned version of Mardu Vehicles, with Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Nicol Bolas in the main. I was so incredibly lucky on game 1. At some point he attacked with 3-4 creatures, one of them being Heart of Kiran, that he had crewed with Chandra. I wiped the board at instant speed with Settle the Wreckage, and of course he searched in his library for a bunch of basic lands. In my next turn, as I really didn’t have much going on, I cast Approach. Back to him, he resolved a Nicol Bolas, thanks to the lands I had just given to him, and made me discard 2 cards. He also cast Scrapheap Scrounger, using Chandra, if I recall it well. It wasn’t looking very good for me, not at all. In his next turn he dealt 2 damage to me using Chandra, 3 attacking with the Scrounger, 7 with Nicol Bolas, and then cast a second Nicol Bolas to deal another 7 damage. Holy s***, that was 19 damage in total. I was down to 4 life and it was looking really really bad. What happened next is about the best luck I’ve ever had playing magic: I top decked another copy of Approach (not the one I cast before, which was still far away). It was brutal.

The second game was less stressful. I took out Fumigate, as he had lots of vehicles and planeswalkers, and decided to bring some Negates.

 

Round 3: Mono Red

2-1. This was going to be a tough one. I knew that the first game would be difficult to pull off. Indeed, I couldn’t cast Approach on time, though at least I presented a decent battle.

After side boards thinks were going to change significantly thanks to one card: Authority of the Consuls. It just destroys Mono Red, full stop. So in the second game I literally went ‘Plains, Authority of the Consuls, go’. It took me a while to win as I struggled to get to the seventh land, but with Authority and Gideon I just couldn’t loose. And in the third game I cast Authority of the Consuls in turn 1, and a second copy in turn 2. That was pretty much it. We run out of time to finish the third game but my opponent very gently conceded.

 

Round 4: Grixis control

2-0. I think that before boards this wasn’t a particularly good match up for me. I felt like I was just bluffing, as I knew I wasn’t playing any hard counter spells, while my opponent had Disallow and Negate in the main. I knew I had to persevere and find a chance to resolve a second Approach, which I eventually did. Targeting his Torrential Gearhulk with Aether Meltdown was kind of funny. Aether Meltdown actually performed much better than other times, certainly better than Farm / Market, which felt a bit too slow.

Winning that first game was a bonus, as after boards my deck was going to get much better. I got rid of all the sweepers and Aether Meltdowns and brought in Kefnet The Mindul, Disallow, Negate, Jace’s Defeat and the 3 Gearhulks… In turn 4 I cast Kefnet and it resolved. Since then my job was to protect him and not messing up. For some reason I thought of Wing Chun trying to attack with Hazoret with 2 cards in hand… All I had to do was keeping 7 cards in hand and attack 4 times. I let a first Gearhulk resolve, and a second one, and a Chandra. It was a race and Kefnet was attacking in the air, so why would I waste my counter spells or just do anything at all? It worked. I didn’t cast a single spell after Kefnet and he got the job done. My hand was full of counters, just in case 😊

I don’t know what to play next week… Approach again?

More soon!

FNM adventures 25/08/2017: Blue-red Approach

This week I played a typical blue-red control deck, but splashing some spicy stuff: 2 copies of Approach of the Second Sun. Here is the deck list:

Main

Creatures
3 x Torrential Gearhulk

Spells
2 x Approach of the Second Sun
3 x Magma Spray
3 x Abrade
4 x Harnessed Lightning
2 x Hour of Devastation
2 x Essence Scatter
3 x Censor
3 x Supreme Will
2 x Disallow
4 x Glimmer of Genius
3 x Hieroglyphic Illumination

Lands
4 x Spirebluff Canal
4 x Aether Hub
3 x Wandering Fumarole
2 x Irrigated Farmland
7 x Island
6 x Mountain

Side board

1 x Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
1 x Kefnet the Mindful
1 x Glorybringer
3 x Kozilek’s Return
1 x Chandra’s Defeat
2 x Whirler Virtuoso
2 x Sphinx of the Final Word
2 x Dispel
2 x Negate

 

It generally felt OK and Aether Hub and Irrigated Farmland allowed me to cast Approach every time I needed it, though I didn’t play my best. Won 2 rounds and lost another 2. It was really cool to have Approach and surprise my opponents with it.

 

Round 1: mono red

I lost 2-1. I felt I should have won easy, though I misplayed a few times and that costed me the game. For example, at some point my opponent had 2 Soul-Scar Mage, I happily cast Kozilek’s Return to wipe them, and he responded shocking me to deal 2 damage and trigger progress, so they could survive. That hurt, but I should have seen that coming. As I should have seen that, in response to my Torrential Gearhulk entering the battlefield, he was going to crack Scavenger Grounds and exile all instants in my graveyard.

Hour of Devastation felt slow in this instance; perhaps I was missing a couple of Sweltering Suns in my main.

 

Round 2: some weird black-blue control

2-1 to me. On game one he resolved Liliana, The Last Hope in turn 3 and I couldn’t get rid of her. That’s too bad, trust me. He ultimate Liliana and killed me with like a million zombies. Perhaps the most interesting game was the third one. I had two copies of Approach in my hand: cast the first one, which he negated, so it went to my graveyard. I thought: ‘thanks, dude’. He essentially wasted that Negate. In my next turn I cast the second copy of Approach to win the game, having left 3 untapped lands in case I had to Disallow another Negate.

My opponent got a bit confused, as he thought that Approach had to resolve the first time too. The ruling on this is clear though: ‘As your second Approach of the Second Sun resolves, it checks only whether the first one was cast, not whether the first one resolved. If your first Approach of the Second Sun was countered, you’ll still win the game as your second one resolves’.

 

Round 3: mono white Eldrazi

I lost 2-0. Got absolutely destroyed. I drew rather slow hands and couldn’t do much to stop the likes of Eldrazi Displacer and Thought-Knot Seer. Dealing with creatures that have and effect when they enter and leave the battlefield can be pretty tough for control.

 

Round 4: horses

I won 2-0. This was a good match up for me. My opponent’s strategy was to gain life with almost every single creature (in one game he went up to 37 life) and hitting me with indestructible horses (the awesome Crested Sunmare), but I had the right answers. Hour of Devastation was really good in this scenario. After sideboards I suspected he was going to use Gideon’s Intervention to target my Approaches, so I decided to take them out and rely on Nicol Bolas. And oh boy, that dragon got out of hand!

Any feedback on my list or suggestions for next week?

More FNM soon!

What’s in Standard?

Magic: The Gathering cards that belong to the following sets are currently legal in Standard:

  • Kaladesh
  • Aether Revolt
  • Amonkhet
  • Hour of Devastation
  • Ixalan
  • Welcome Deck 2017

 

Banned cards

A number of cards have been banned by Wizards of the Coast, and therefore they can’t be used in Standard tournaments.

  • Aetherworks Marvel
  • Felidar Guardian
  • Smuggler’s Copter

The restrictions seek a more enjoyable and healthier format, and Wizards of the Coast has justified these always polemic decisions using its own data (from Magic Online) and the feedback gathered from players. In recent times, when a deck has become too dominant, their key cards have been under scrutiny and have eventually been banned.

The downside is that many players that bought the cards affected by a banning before the banning see how their value plummets in a matter of hours. These normally includes not only the actual banned cards, but also other key cards from the dominant deck. For example, when Aetherworks Marvel was banned, the price of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger dropped.

 

Standard legal cards that were printed in older sets

Often new expansions re-print old cards, changing the art work and perhaps the text. If that is the case, you can play the previous version of the card in any Standard competition. For instance, you might play a copy of Negate from the Magic 2010 core set, as Negate was included in Aether Revolt and Oath of the Gatewatch.

 

How does rotation work?

Once every year, when the fall set is released, the 2 oldest Standard-legal blocks rotate out. This means that cards can be played in the format for about 2 years. At some point Wizards of the Coast tried a twice a year rotation, but players disliked it as the lifespan of their cards was just too short.

Now that the model based on blocks is changing, the four oldest sets will rotate once a year. That keeps things very much as they are with regards to rotation.

 

Characteristics of a Standard deck

Your deck should have a minimum of 60 cards. There is no maximum number of cards, as long as you can shuffle the deck in your hands.

You might include up to 15 cards in your sideboard, but this is optional (although recommended if you want to tailor your strategy to your opponent’s game plan).

Main deck and sideboard cannot include more than 4 copies of any card, except for basic lands (island, plain, forest, mountain, swamp).

Shit happens

 

Shit happens, and Yam Wing Chun knows it. The Hour of Devastation Pro Tour Semi-final between Damo da Rosa and Wing Chun, featuring a Ramunap Red mirror match, had a dramatic end.

In the fifth and decisive game, with a Hazoret the Fervent on the battlefield, Wing Chun draws an Incendiary Flow, having a total of 2 cards in hand. Damo da Rosa was at 11 life, therefore the Hong Konger had precisely what he needed to win: cast Incendiary flow to deal 3 damage to his opponent, move to combat and attack with the red God, and finally discard the only card left in his hand to deal another 2 damage, using Hazoret’s ability. Instead, he drew and moved to combat straight away, tapping Hazoret to attack. But she couldn’t attack, as Wing Chun had 2 cards in hand. Ouch.

When Damo da Rosa pointed that out and Wing Chun realised what a mistake he had just made, well, he was of course upset, as you can see on the video (the relevant scene starts at 1:00:35). It was brutal. Magic can be a cruel game indeed. If you get overexcited and lose your concentration, even for one second, that might be it. We can only learn from our mistakes. Wing Chun won’t forget this one, but we should all congratulate him for his outstanding performance throughout this Pro Tour.

Damo da Rosa didn’t waste the opportunity and made it to the final, which he won. Second Pro Tour title for the Brazilian (and 12th Top 8), who showed extraordinary calm and knowledge.

Liliana Market: for the players

MTG-players

Liliana Market is a marketplace (under construction!) where individual players and game stores can sell and buy magic cards. In this post I’d like to explain our views as MTG players, as we’ve observed different situations where we believe Liliana Market can help the community.

  • You accumulate way too many cards. Inevitably, by attending to FNM and other events on a regular basis, you accumulate hundreds (if not thousands) of cards. The vast majority of them don’t really have any value to you, since you won’t play them. However, other players would use them in their decks, and here is where trading comes into play.
  • But trading cards it’s not that easy. First, you might be interested in a card someone’s got, but they might not be interested in any of the cards you have, or vice versa. This sucks, especially for new players. Second, trading takes time and effort, and often you just end up buying the cards instead, as you need them as soon as possible to build your new deck. And when you buy them, you wished they weren’t that expensive.
  • At least you’d like to cover expenses to a degree. MTG is not cheap. You need to keep investing in cards to tweak your decks. Even more, you might be travelling to PTQs and Grand Prix events, perhaps outside the UK. Again, wouldn’t it be great to be able to sell some of the cards that you don’t use and offset some of these costs?

As oppose to eBay, Liliana Market has been specifically designed to sell and buy MTG cards. As a seller, you can upload your entire collection if you wanted, and get some cash from all those amazing cards that you will never play. As a buyer, you can securely acquire cards from other players just like you, potentially for a more affordable price.

Initially, we’re working to have the best possible inventory for Standard. We’d like to be expanding to Modern and other formats as quickly as we can, but let’s go step by step. This will be a major task and we’re going to need your help to make it happen: Liliana Market is a tool made by and for the MTG community.

Please contact us at support@lilianamarket.co.uk to share any feedback; you can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo attribution: By U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons