FNM adventures 19/01/2018: Abzan Tokens (4-0)

The first FNM of a new magic set is always a slightly awkward one, as you patiently wait for your shiny new cards to arrive in the post. That’s why this week, I decided to re-visit a deck which has been popping in and out of the meta for the last 4 months – Abzan tokens!

Having opened 2 Profane Procession (arguably the most annoying Rivals of Ixalan cards to face in a sealed format) at the pre-release, I jammed them straight into a (mostly) stock Abzan Tokens list to see what would happen. For science!

The deck list was as follows:

Creatures (4)
4 Anointer Priest

Planeswalkers (3)
3 Vraska, Relic Seeker

Spells (8)
4 Fatal Push
1 Settle the Wreckage
3 Fumigate

Artifacts (5)
3 Renegade Map
2 Treasure Map

Enchantments (18)
4 Legion's Landing
4 Hidden Stockpile
2 Profane Procession
4 Anointed Procession
4 Ixalan's Binding

Lands (22)
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Evolving Wilds
1 Forest
6 Plains
2 Shefet Dunes
5 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
2 Authority of the Consuls
3 Duress
1 Crook of Condemnation
3 Lost Legacy
2 Sunscourge Champion
1 Settle the Wreckage
3 Crested Sunmare

Round 1: Temur Energy (2-0)

This was my first experience of Temur energy post-ban and while I was mostly sure what to expect, I was sure there would be a few surprises. Going into this match-up and having played Abzan Tokens before, my only goal was not to die to a Glorybringer, so I made sure to keep tools available to deal with those when they inevitably arrived. Game 1 was very close, but eventually I managed to stabilise and win the game, but not before my Anointer Priests were slowly sniped off from the skies by a couple of exerting Glorybringers. Game 2 I side-boarded in all 3 Crested Sunmare, mostly for fun because I love that card. Combined with an extremely well timed Settle the Wreckage that took down an ultimated Nissa, Steward of Elements and 3 other creatures in one fell swoop, I stole the game. Horses yay!

Round 2: Jund Energy (2-1)

Blooming Marsh came down turn 1, and I knew instantly I was in for some snake shenanigans. This matchup I faced a playset of the Rogue Refiner substitute, Jadelight Ranger, which in this instance turned out to be slightly underwhelming. The first one saw 2 lands come to my opponents hand which he was slightly disappointed with, while the second one let me know about a Vraska’s Contempt going to his hand, which turns out is pretty darn useful information when you have a Vraska, Relic Seeker in hand. I took over pretty quickly in game 1. Game 2 my opponent absolutely destroyed me with the classic Snake/Walking Ballista combo. Game 3 I drew very well, and a series of Ixalan’s Binding one after another locked my opponent out of most of his key cards.

Round 3: Temur Energy (2-0)

Game 1 was very hard work, however I managed to answer all of my opponents key threats thanks to a steady stream of sacrificial servos and the Profane Procession I slammed on turn 3. Having played with the enchantment quite a bit now, it can be quite slow, but if you’re able to stabilise past turn 6 or 7, you very quickly start taking over the game. I will say that looking back it’s almost certainly a sideboard card, however once on the battlefield it puts your opponent in a very awkward position, where they are scared to play their key threats knowing they will be exiled straight away at instant speed. My opponent after the games described their reformed Temur Energy deck as a ‘Glorybringer delivery machine’, however I managed to take game 1 fairly decisively. Game 2 my opponent mulliganed down to 5 and kept a 1-lander – we’ve all been there, but it didn’t end well for them.

Round 4: Red-Black Control (1-0)

These might have been the most absurd games of magic I’ve ever played. My opponent had brewed a very janky Red-Black control deck, featuring The Scorpion God and a flipped Azor’s Gateway/Torment of Hailfire as the two main win conditions. Game 1 took a while, but I managed to quickly shutdown his combo with Ixalan’s Binding on both a Scorpion God and his turn 2 Azor’s Gateway. Game 2 we both side-boarded in 3 copies of Lost Legacy for good measure and both managed to resolve all 3 of them… leaving us in a fairly awkward spot where all of our win conditions were exiled. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have 4 x Anointed Procession in play and only have 1 token producing card left in your deck… however it did feel great to eventually drop a single Legion’s Landing and create 16 Vampire tokens. Game 2 went to time, but not before my opponent ended on 114 life points and used Mastermind’s Acquisition to grab a card from ‘outside the game’ (i.e. his Scorpion God I exiled). A totally bizzare but fun match.

This was my first ever 4-0 at FNM which feels pretty great, but more than anything I’m just exited to continue brewing decks now that we have a brand new set full of crazy cards and a meta which has been blown wide open by the latest banned and restricted announcement. This deck has been a lot of fun to play, but next time I’ll definitely try something new and spicy… maybe a playset of Golden Guardians to spice things up and create an army of golem tokens.

Until next time!

Hour of Devastation box opening

Now it was the turn for Hour of Devastation, a ‘low value’ set, in theory. However, I think I got very lucky, mainly because I opened a Scarab God, YES! Then I got a bunch of decent mythics and rares. Here is the list of all the cards worth over £0.5.

Mythics & rares:

1x The Scarab God £32

1x Crested Sunmare £3.5

1x Bontu’s Last Reckoning £3

1x Razaketh, the Foulblooded £3

1x The Scorpion God £2.5

1x Torment of Hailfire £2.2

1x Ramunap Excavator £2

1x Earthshaker Khenra £2

1x Solemnity £1.7

1x Hour of Devastation £1.4

1x Fraying Sanity £1.3

1x Scavenger Grounds £1.3

1x God-Pharaoh’s Gift £1.2

1x Hour of Promise £1.2

1x Overwhelming Splendor £1.2

2x Ammit Eternal £0.8

1x Adorned Pouncer £0.8

1x Nimble Obstructionist £0.7

1x Hour of Revelation £0.55

1x Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign £0.5

 

Uncommons

2x Abrade £1.5

1x Supreme Will £0.9

1x Ramunap Ruins £0.55

 

Total value of cards over £0.5 = £68.1

FNM adventures 15/12/2017: Blue-green Electrostatic Pummeler (4-0)

I used to play Magic 20 years ago, when I was a kid. Now I’m back. Things have changed… a lot. On these blogs I share my FNM adventures and learnings playing Standard. Stay tuned!

I thought that I’d end the year playing something very similar to what I started playing at the beginning of the year: the Electrostatic Pummeler deck. It’s fun to play and it wins. Using blue instead of red means that you can make your creatures fly, thanks to Cartouche of Knowledge, and that you don’t lose intensity that easily, as Cartouche and Rogue Refiner allow you to keep drawing cards. It felt really good, even though I wasn’t playing control this time 😊

The deck list was the following:

Main

Creatures
2x Greenbelt Rampager
4x Longtusk Cub
4x Servant of the Conduit
4x Electrostatic Pummeler
4x Rogue Refiner
1x Rhonas the Indomitable
4x Bristling Hydra

Spells
4x Attune with Aether
4x Blossoming Defense
1x Dive Down
4x Larger Than Life
4x Cartouche of Knowledge

Lands
4x Hashep Oasis
4x Aether Hub
4x Botanical Sanctum
2x Island
6x Forest

Side board

2x Spell Pierce
4x Negate
3x Unsummon
2x Censor
3x Essence Scatter
1x Confiscation Coup

 

Round 1: mono red (2-1)

It was incredibly close. He destroyed me in game one, but I managed to come back. Rampaging Ferocidon and Harsh Mentor were pretty dangerous after sideboards, as he was dealing damage to me ‘for free’. Every single life point counted. Game 2 was decided by a 20/20 Pummeler – so brutal. In the third game, he attacked with everything and got me down to 3. I said: «I’m so dead, right?». Miraculously, I lived another turn, and that was all I needed. I attacked in the air with Rhonas the Indomitable and Greenbelt Rampager, bumping Rhonas with Larger Than Life. 16 damage and victory. Before damage though, he still shocked me and got me down to 1… What a game!

 

Round 2: white-blue cycling (2-0)

This was a good match up. I thought he would have plenty of counter magic ready, but I managed to resolve all the key threats, including an Electrostatic Pummeler that became a 40/40 with trample. The most important thing was playing around Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage, keeping high pressure on my opponent but saving some bullets.

 

Round 3: Mono red dinosaurs (2-0)

I won both games exactly the same way: Pummeler + Larger Than Life + lots of energy. My opponent focused on dealing as much direct damage to me as he could, instead of taking care of my creatures. Anyhow the likes of Charging Monstrosaur, Rampaging Ferocidon and Otepec Huntmaster were pretty scary…

 

Round 4: Sultai energy (2-1)

This was hard work, and we actually drew, but he gently conceded when we run out of time (I own him now!). I won the first game, and he won the second one, but both were fairly close and long. Just to give you an idea, at some point he blocked a 28/28 Electrostatic Pummeler with a 21/21 Longtusk Cub – he accumulated tons of energy with 2 Winding Constrictor. It was insane.

 

More FNM soon and Merry Christmas to everyone!

Amonkhet box opening

I’ve kept cracking booster boxes. It feels good, what can I say. It was time for Amonkhet, one of my favourite sets for Standard, in the sense that it’s well balanced and not overpowered.

I’ve listed the cards worth more than £0.5, a total of 21. This was a low value box. I needed to open the likes of Hazoret the Fervent or Gideon of the Trials to get proper value! Instead I got some nice cycling lands, Anointed Procession and Nissa, Steward of Elements, which are also very welcome. I also got 10 full art basic lands, which are great to have.

Rare cards

1 Anointed Procession £7.5

1 Fetid Pools £7

1 Nissa, Steward of the Elements £6

1 Irrigated Farmland £3.8

1 Vizier of the Menagerie £2.5

1 Angel of Sanctions £2

1 Sweltering Suns £2

1 Scattered Groves £1.75

1 Bontu the Glorified £1.6

1 Dusk / Dawn £1

1 Pull from Tomorrow £0.90

1 Dread Wanderer £0.85

1 Liliana’s Mastery £0.80

2 Channeler Initiate £0.75

1 Plague Belcher £0.60

1 Cruel Reality £0.55

1 Aven Mindcensor £0.5

1 Cut / Ribbons £0.50

Uncommons

1 Censor £1.20

1 Cast Out £0.95

1 Lord of the Accursed £0.6

Total value of ‘top cards’: £43.35

 

Do you think this box was as bad as I think it was?!

Aether Revolt box opening

Right, so I couldn’t resist the temptation and I have decided to crack a few MTG booster boxes (with @eluctweets‘ help), one per legal set in Standard 😊

I’ve started with Aether Revolt. Below I’ve listed the cards that are worth over £0.5: only 21, and just 3 Mythics! I was very happy to see Metallic Mimic and Walking Ballista though. And a couple of Fatal Pushes always help to get some value back. The good thing about Aether Revolt is that, although there are not many ‘super juicy’ cards, you can always open Fatal Push, the most valuable uncommon in the current Standard (not to mention if you see a foil one!).

Rare cards

1 Walking Ballista £11.90

1 Metallic Mimic £8.75

1 Disallow £4.90

1 Heroic Intervention £3.50

1 Herald of Anguish £3

2 Spire of Industry £2.40

2 Aethersphere Harvester £1.80

1 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner £1.40

2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider £1.30

1 Rishkar, Peema Renegade £1.20

1 Yahenni, Undying Partisan £0.90

1 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary £0.70

1 Exquisite Archangel £0.70

1 Yahenni’s Expertise £0.60

1 Lightning Runner £0.55

Uncommon cards

2 Fatal Push £6

2 Gifted Aetherborn £1.90

Total value of ‘top cards’ £64.9

What do you think? Was it an OK box? Now I have to work out which cards I keep, and which ones I ship on LilianaMarket…

When do I have to declare damage dealt by Harnessed Lightning?

Harnessed Lightning is still my favourite removal spells in Standard. It’s universal and kills pretty much anything, as long as you have enough energy to spend. At the beginning I found it slightly confusing, as I wasn’t sure about when I had to spend the energy.

According to The Gatherer, ‘You choose the target creature as you cast Harnessed Lightning. You don’t choose how much energy to pay until Harnessed Lightning is resolving. No player may take actions between the time you choose how much energy to pay and the time the creature takes damage equal to the energy paid this way.’ Therefore, when you cast it you have to indicate a target creature, but not how many energy counters you pay. It’s up to your opponent to respond first.

That response might entail that Harnessed Lightning misses its target. In this case, The Gatherer explains that ‘If the target creature becomes an illegal target, Harnessed Lightning is countered and none of its effects happen. You won’t get 3 energy counter or be able to pay any energy’. For instance, if you targeted Selfless Spirit, your rival could sacrifice it and you won’t get any energy from Harnessed Lightning. The same if you tried to kill a Bristling Hydra and they responded by giving it hexproof, or if they used Blossoming Defense to protect the creature.

Featured card: Approach of the Second Sun

Approach of the Second Sun is such a great win condition for a control deck. In theory you don’t need any creatures or planeswalkers. You just need to stay alive and rely on Approach to win.

The text on the card might be slightly confusing, though. It reads as if you win the game as soon as you cast a second copy of Approach from your hand, regardless of whether any of the copies got countered. Luckily, the specific ruling clarifies the issue: ‘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’. Hence, is the second copy the one that you need to resolve to win the game. Cards like Duress or Negate are going to be your main obstacles to take the victory this way, especially after boards.

If you’re playing against Approach, the question is whether you should counter the first copy at all. My opinion is that normally you’re better off letting it resolve. Leave your Negate or Disallow to stop the second one, the decisive one. I’ve seen people countering the first copy, and then dying to the second one, as they had wasted their counter spell. The deck not only plays 1 copy of Approach, but often 3 or 4. Okay, there are situations in where you do want to counter the first one. Say, for example, that you have lethal damage next turn and you don’t want your opponent gain 7 life…

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.