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28 November, 2006

The FNM Diaries, November 2006 - Part IV – RaW burn power!

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006
Matteo Orsini Jones



Well we’re now officially into the fourth and last week of my first (and possibly last) month as the official Bishop Games FNM reporter, and as any regular readers will know, my past 3 weeks have been somewhat riddled with bad luck, bad plays, bad decks with missing cards and bad results. Regular readers will also know that last week I made a promise (a real one this time) that they would be reading a winning report by the end of the month, so the pressure was on to find a deck that I would be able to play well, and a deck that would be able to tear apart the field at Bishop Games. Having recently found out that control wasn’t really my thing, failing to win more than 50% of my matches with the last 3 decks I piloted at FNM, this week I decided it was time to go back to the world of land, creature, land, creature, burn burn burn (AKA aggro).
   I was tempted to go back to an old favourite, zoo, but it seems like the deck just runs head first into a hierarch or a wrath, then rolls over and dies. I wanted a deck that would show better consistency than zoo, while retaining its speed and power. Looking at one of Flores’ weekly/ biweekly/ however often they are published articles, I saw a RW 20-20-20 list that took my fancy. It has anti-burn, anti-Wildfire creatures in the form of Paladin and Soltari Priest, dodges big fat blockers with Griffin Guides and Priests, and keeps some Griffins after the board gets swept. Some changes to the sideboard to make it a tad more anti-control (the original list had 4 cards that don’t even come in for all control matchups), and a fairly long list of needs posted on the forum, and I was ready to go. Here’s the list I used:


“Thinking is for losers”

Designed by Gerard Fabiano (sideboard by me, sort of)


4 Savannah Lions
4 Icatian Javelineers
4 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
4 Soltari Priest
4 Paladin en-Vec

--20 Creatures—

4 Volcanic Hammer
4 Lightning Helix

4 Char
4 Rift Bolt
4 Griffin Guide

--20 Other Spells—

4 Sacred Foundry
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Boros Garrison
4 Gemstone Mine
2 Flagstones of Trokair

2 Plains
--20 Land—


3 Ronom Unicorn
3 Pacifism
3 Honorable Passage
3 Cryoclasm
3 Worship




Another thing of note about the deck was that I actually managed to find all of the cards I needed for it! Unlike my Tron without win conditions, I had a full list, and didn’t have to resort to using Tivadars over Paladins as I had pre-empted. 14 of us turned up for the tournament, which was quite a large turnout, and here are the other players and the decks they were playing (note that once again, there was not one repeat of deck, which makes for a fun and diverse field to be playing in).

FNM4f Adam – Playing (slow) zoo. Adam has been playing the same Gruul beats deck forever now, and it seems like this time he decided to add white, presumably for Watchwolves and Helices. I say slow zoo because it wasn’t the traditional ‘mana curve stops at 3’, as I saw Stonewood Invocations and Rumbling Slums hitting play.

Callum Rose – Playing Mishra! Callum often pilots fun decks to varying results, and his past ventures have included a red-white Shoal deck (which I even lost to!). This week he was playing a Mishra deck, with everything you’d expect from it – Mishra and a load of artefacts to search for, like Manipulator, Totems, Signets and Ironfoots.

Darren – Playing URg Tron. Darren played Tron for quite a while last year, recently moving to UGW counterpost until decided Tron was the only deck for him. It was basically just a standard Urgatron build, with Wildfires, Sky Swallowers and Demonfires.

Ding – Playing Dimir Mill. Ding was playing the same deck as last week – a UB control deck with Jester’s Sceptres, Glimpse the Unthinkables and Induce Paranoia for the win. It also has a sort of artefact theme, with Academy Ruins to get back Plague Boilers, Triskelavi and Jester’s Sceptres.

FNM4g Fang – Playing Tron with Walk the Aeons + Mirari Combo. Fang was playing a really fun deck today, which aims to go infinite with Walk the Aeons, Mirari and cards like Recollect and Reclaim. It basically goes ‘I get two extra turns, first free turn I cast Recollect with Mirari to get back another Recollect and Walk, then go Infinite’, while making a factory token per turn. I can’t see it holding its own against a deck that goes Turn 1 creature, but it seemed fun and he managed 2-2 with it.

Marco – Playing Momentary Blink. Being the boring person that he is, Marco decided to stick with the Blink deck he went 3-1 with last week, though it seemed it didn’t do too well for him today as he only managed 2-2 with the deck.

Matty Norton – Playing random 4-colour jank (quote Matty). His deck was basically 4 colour burn, with Psionic Blasts, Chars, Stormbind, and some other good cards like Call of the Herd and Hierarch thrown in. Though not really competitive, it seemed rather fun to play.

Nigel – Playing Ghazi Glare. What? Nigel changed deck? Surely not! It seemed that Nigel finally decided that his BGWu wasn’t giving him the results he wanted, and so switched to a traditional Selesnya Ghazi-Glare. It turned out Nigel made the right choice to change, as he managed 3-1 with it.

FNM4h Ollie – Playing UW control. Ollie has been playing this deck for quite a while now, and managed 4-0 with it last week. It’s basically a deck pumped full of counterspells, with Akroma, Sacred Mesa and Windreaver to deal the final killer blow.

Ruadraidh (rory) – playing Rakdos Aggro. As mentioned last week, Rory builds decks out of the cards he has, as he’s a casual player more than a competitive one like most of us. His deck today was basically the best red/black cards out of his collection, but showed his limited resources as he was playing cards like Stinkweed Imp and Fallen Ideal.

Scott – playing KarstenBot BabyKiller. Pete Turner, who is usually a strictly limited only player (and therefore doesn’t do FNMs) has been doing surprisingly well with this deck recently, so Scott decided to give it a whirl. The deck is basically RG land destruction, with Birds n Elves helping him accelerate into Stone Rain, Cryoclasm or Avalanche Riders.

Tony – Playing Pox. Before I start, I’d like to apologise for suggesting in my last report that Tony copied Chris’ deck idea – he came to me this Friday very upset as him and Chris both played the deck at Champs, and they both therefore thought of it at the same time. The deck, which wasn’t copied off Chris, keeps attackers at bay with Small Pox while recurring Knights off Haakom or reanimating a discarded Akroma or Angel of Despair.

Wen – Playing RGW multicolour madness. At first glance, I thought the deck was a sort of ‘slow zoo’ (like Adam’s), but it turned out Wen was building on a multicolour theme, with all multicoloured creatures (Hierarch, Skyknight Legionnaire, Watchwolf etc), and cards like Psychotic Fury and Might of the Nephilim.

4 Rounds of Swiss as usual, pairings up and we were off to our first round.

FNM4i Round 1: Vs Callum

  At the time I wasn’t aware that Callum was playing his Mishra deck, but I had a sneaky feeling he was playing some kind of fun combo deck, what with him being Callum and all…
  He won the roll and chose to play, and we were off. Game 1 I led off with a turn 1 lions into a turn 2 Soltari Priest. Aside from the odd Signet and Totem from Callum, he did a whole lotta nothing, amidst complaints of mana screw. It wasn’t long before the 2 critters beat him down to 0, helped along by the odd burn to the head.
   Game 2 wasn’t looking any better for Callum as he started off with the dreaded double Mulligan. It didn’t, however, stop him from accelerating into a turn 3 Mishra off a turn 2 Signet, then searching for an extra Manipulator turn 4, which wouldn’t have happened if I played correctly and Charred the Mishra when I had the chance (before he untapped). The fact that I had a massive 4 (4!) Griffin Guide wasn’t helping the Manipulator situation, as every tap effectively tapped down 2 cards, and when he Sudden Deathed my Priest in response to the fourth Griffin Guide it was time to enter scoop phase, as I couldn’t stop the Totem and Mishra beats.
   Game 3 I was on the play and led off with Lions and Soltari Priest, but then stalled on 2 lands doing not much for at least 3 turns. Luckily, however, Callum was land short too, and as soon as I got the 3rd land to Char his Mishra, the game was as good as mine. 2 Sudden deaths from Callum meant I couldn’t build up a huge army, but Griffin Guides left me behind 2/2 flyers to beat him down with.

Current standings: 1-0. Hurrah! Finally I’ve broken out of my unlucky first round lock and managed to start the day on a positive result! Now the world is my oyster, and winning out is the only option! Sort of…

FNM4j Round 2: Vs Darren


   Darren had already told me he was playing Tron before we started, and so I was understandably confident going into the match. Zoo, the deck that gets absolutely demolished by Wildfire, has a good matchup against Tron, so surely a deck that runs along the same principles, but with regenners (Holy Nimbus) and pro-red guys (Priest and Paladin), should spread Tron on its toast for breakfast.
   Game 1 I lost the roll again, and didn’t exactly race out of the blocks, as my turn 2 Lions (no prizes for guessing what I drew turn 2) was remanded. I did, however, resolve a priest and paladin in a row after that, followed up by a Javelineers, and rapidly beat him down with them. A Sky Swallower on Darren’s Side jumped in the way of a Paladin, but a Helix and Hammer to the head meant the Priest would have been lethal the turn after, and we ended the game with Darren complaining that he did have an answer, that is if Priest weren’t on the table. In my notes, I have written “Priest > Wildfire”.
   Game 2 I led off with a Lions, and then proceeded to slowly beat him down with it while a Soltari Priest and a Knight of the Holy Nimbus got Runesnagged into the bin. After realising he was going to lose to the Lions Darren cast a 1 for 1 Pyroclasm, then did the same again the turn after on my Icatian Javelineers. A double Helix and Char, however, were enough to seal the deal, and the match was mine.

   Once again, I shall share my insightful notes with you: “DIDN’T TAKE 1 DAMAGE!! SUCKS TO BE DARREN!!”

Current result: 2-0. w00t! It seems I truly have broken out of my ever-losing lock. Well I suppose I could always go 2-2 from here, but at least it would be a moral victory on my side!

FNM4k Round 3: Vs Nigel

   What? Nigel at 2-0? I check the pairings again, and yep – they were correct. It seemed Nigel had finally found success in his shiny new Ghazi-Glare deck, and was at 2-0 like me. Another funny thing was that when I used to play zoo, I’d be cursing the gods of fate for pairing me against a Glare deck, but with RW the hierarchs don’t really damage me that much – I either fly straight over or sneak past them through the shadows.
   Game 1 and I won the roll this time, starting off with a Javelineers, prompting me to say ‘go on then, play your Birds’. Nigel decided that he wanted to get the counter off my men and did exactly that, and to nobody’s surprise I hurled my javelin straight at his Birds. It then turned out that killing the birds was exactly the right play, as Nigel managed to only play 2 Guildmages off his 2 lands, while my Javelineers, which recently had 2 Griffin Guides attacked to it, flew straight over the Guildmages to Finish Nigel in just a few turns. ‘Well I did okay off 2 lands’ were Nigel’s first thoughts.
   Game 2 wasn’t really a game – Nigel mulled to 4 cards, keeping a hand of 4 land (hoping to draw something useful), but promptly scooped after I dropped a lions turn 1 and a Knight turn 2, and he drew another 2 lands. We did play another game to see what would have happened, but a turn 4 Worship on my side meant Nigel scooped once again, as he hadn’t expected any enchantments and therefore didn’t board in any removal.

Current standings: 3-0. Muahaha! I kept my promise! You are in fact reading a report of a winning record! Make the most of it while you can!

FNM4l Round 4: Vs Wen

Wen was playing, as I thought, a rather slow version of zoo (I hadn’t seen the ‘multicolour’ theme at this stage), so I was fairly confident going into the round. Most of my critters are a Bitch to remove, and his manabase is WAY more painful than mine. Also Griffin Guide > opponent’s creatures.
   Game 1 I won the roll, and after 2 mulligans from me and 1 from Wen, we started. My first play was a turn 2 Priest, which he followed up with a Saffi, which got Hammered (no, not drunk) by me the turn after. I took 5 life off a Browbeat while Guiding up my priest, twice, and beating him round the head with a 6/6 flying, shadow, pro-red Priest. He attacked with a hierarch and gave it the Might of the Nephilim (probably Glint-Eye), then played a Skyknight Legionnaire after combat. This showed that he was probably hoping to block my priest and maybe live the extra turn he needed to kill me, until I pointed out ‘this has shadow’, followed up by a comment my Marco who was watching of ‘and pro-red’.

FNM4m   Game 2 there were only 2 mulligans – one from each of us, and the first play of the game was a Javelineers on my side, which was Helixed during Wen’s turn. I followed it up with a Lions and a Garrison, then a Paladin after Wen had no turn 3 Play. The next few turns were spent with me beating down the life he gained off a Helix and Hierarch with Paladin (he sensed the obvious Helix in hand after I attacked into his elephant with my Paladin, while I bolted down an Enforcer and a Saffi. My Paladin eventually had to switch to blocking mode, and I traded a Paladin and a Helix for his Hierarch and Psychotic Fury, then then we both switched into topdecking mode.

He got Legionnaire, I got Helix, he got Swiftblade, I got Pacifism, He got a Hierarch, I got a Worship, then a land, then a land, then a land…
   Game 3 and there were 2 mulligans again (!!!), but unfortunately this time they were both on Wen’s side, and added to this I was on the play. I didn’t, however, exactly put the pressure on from the word go, as I went land, garrison, turn 3 Paladin. Luckily, however, Wen didn’t have any play either so I Guided up the Paladin and starting flying at him with a 4/4. Wen threw a Helix at me to get a bloodthirsty Mauler out, which got Hammered, as did Wen’s next creature in the form of Mystic Enforcer. When I then stuck a Pacifism on Wen’s next Enforcer he was ripping his hair out, and the game was mine.

Current and Final Result: 4-0

YAY! I guess I did keep my promise, and have managed to report a 4-0 FNM. I guess I can draw a valuable lesson from this experience, which is STAY AWAY FROM CONTROL. Whether it be because I cant play it, or I just choose the wrong control decks, it just doesn’t seem to work as well as aggro does for me. Speaking of which, I shall end with a quote off the forum, which couldn’t be more true…

Dan_G: I suggest matteo that you should play a red deck and go back to what your good at.
(forgive the grammatical errors)

Signing off,

Yours Sincerely,

Matteo ‘finally free of his 2-2 lock’ Orsini Jones




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