Crush You With BUG
GP Vancouver was amazing. The whole experience was made even better by the fact that it was the generosity of the Magic community that enabled me to be there. I cannot thank you guys enough for that. I met a lot of podcast listeners and several of the people I look up to: Marshall and Jon from Limited Resources, Rich Hagon, even Jay Boosh. Although nobody really looks UP to Boosh, dude is short.
I had planned to play in the Friday night event at the GP, which was a sealed event at GP Montreal. Alas in Vancouver it was Standard, and the only deck I had with me was the Weeping Angels deck. It hadn’t been changed in a while and as expected, I got beaten a fair bit. I think my final record was 1-2-1 with the two losses not being particularly close. Still, I had fun and got to experience the novelty of having people crowded around me watching my match.
On returning home I was greeted by my Horde of Notions playmat which unfortunately didn’t make it in time for the GP itself. Still, it would be something fun to show off at FNM!
Ever since Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas was printed, I’ve wanted to play it. For some reason I’ve never actually owned one, let alone four. With soulbond, Zombies, Birthing Pod and Snapcaster Mage all being really good right now it doesn’t seem too bad to maindeck Torpor Orb and/or Grafdigger’s Cage. That is, if you can reliably find them and make sure they’re not dead cards in any matchup. Tezzeret fills both roles. I also really wanted to play with certain artifacts that have caught my eye since Scars block: the Wellsprings, Kuldotha Forgemaster and Spine of Ish Sah. They all seem like toys for Tezz, and it felt like the deck was well-positioned for this meta. How wrong would I be?
How Did I Do?
Considering the beautiful weather and the fact that it was Canada Day weekend, we had a big turnout. Six rounds with this deck would be a challenge for sure, but I was here to have fun. Worst case scenario, 0-3 drop and draft.
I was already tilted when I arrived at the store, as the bus schedule has recently changed and I don’t have it quite figured out yet. This led to me arriving with scant minutes to spare before round 1 got paired. I hate that, it gives me no time to down my traditional pre-event Gatorade or to chat with my friends before starting to crush them. Things would only get worse. I was sitting next to my good buddy Shane all night, who was playing Goblins. More on that later. Here’s the list:
I never drew the Steel Hellkite but there were times it would have been awesome for me. Amass the Components is REALLY good and probably should be seeing more play in Standard. Anything that says “draw three cards” on it is worth a look, and the ability in this deck to put a Blightsteel back on the bottom of the library is important. With a more stable metagame some of the hate cards can come out of the main deck, but the only card I consistently sided out was Nihil Spellbomb. I considered Phyrexian Revoker, but figured I had enough to stop planeswalkers between the main and sideboard. Wall of Tanglecord was REALLY good and should have had more copies. It shuts down so many creatures and still acts as ammo for Tezz or a sacrificial lamb for Forgemaster.
Round 1 – Shawn Ludwig with Awesome Jank
I really don’t know what else to call this deck. Every now and then Ludwig gets tired of netdecking and brews something up that is just sweet. Normally this happens towards the end of a constructed season, and here we were again. This time? Quicksilver Amulet with Griselbrand, Jin Gitaxias, Elesh Norn and a control shell. How do you complain about losing to turn 5 Amulet in Griselbrand? I didn’t have the greatest of draws in either game and had no real sideboard hate against it anyway, but still I was laughing and having a blast while being smashed. My only real answers were Phyrexian Metamorph, and he had the counter or discard spell to take them every time.
Round 2 – Chris “Extra Balls” Stoyles with Esper Walkers
There was a stretch where Stoyles and I would play round 1 every week, and the matches would always be epic, grindy affairs. This one…wasn’t. Despite Black Sun’s Zenith being incredible in the matchup, I sideboarded very wrong (leaving out Curse and bringing in Cage thinking he was on Solar Flare) and in game two I kept back my 2 Wurmcoils thinking he would swing with everything and the 12 life I gained would keep me alive. I completely missed that he had lethal in the air and didn’t need to swing with anything else. Just a bad match all around from me and one I likely could have won. No offense to Stoyles or his play skill, but the matchup should have been better for me.
So, 0-2 and being asked to drop and draft by a bunch of other people who had started 0-2. I was seriously tilted by the stupid, inexcusable error I had made to cost me game 2 and tilt drafts are generally a bad idea for me. Also in the back of my mind I was thinking that a draft would make for a lousy article, though that might not be the case. Mostly, I wanted to redeem my deck and my ridiculous misplay from the previous round, so I told Garrett and company that I would drop if I lost round 3. I figured it was fairly likely given the way I was playing.
Round 3 – Stephen Dillon with Bant Life Gain
This wasn’t really a match. Lifegain decks aren’t generally good, we know this. However they are even worse when one of my main win conditions is poison. Game 1 was won on the back of multiple Wurmcoils, game 2 he got his lifegain going early and the Inkmoth plan won out.
I feel bad that I neither got my opponent’s name nor helped him with his deck after winning. I was in such a bad mood before the game and so relieved to have won after it that it just didn’t occur to me. Completely out of character for me, though I do remember we had a brief chat about adding Rhox Faithmender to his deck.
Round 4 – Stephanie Gosse with GW Aggro
You can always tell when I’m on a mission, because I start including a mental game at FNM. You can say what you want about FNM being casual and for fun and what have you, but it really is the only competitive Magic I get to play. Steph’s deck is incredibly aggressive and can win early with a combination of Silverblade Paladin, Champion of Lambholt and Champion of the Parish. The deck also runs Angel of Jubilation, which is VERY scary for my deck as I would find out in game 2. So much of the deck relies on me being able to sacrifice permanents.
Game 1 I got an early Torpor Orb. That card is SO GOOD against RG/Naya/GW Aggro builds that rely on soulbond and Champions. With a bunch of overcosted creatures, Steph had a hard time beating me down but still had enough defense to keep me back. Angel of Jubilation was threatening to do a number on me until I realized how many artifacts I had in play. One -4 on Tezzeret later and I had drained her for 14 and won game 1.
Game 2 I had no Torpor Orb and lost. On turn 5. A Black Sun’s Zenith would have saved me, but that’s about it. Just got blitzed. I said to Steph “I guess I mull until I have 2 lands and Torpor Orb.” She laughed and dismissed me, but I repeated it and said I was very serious. And I did consider it, simply because it felt like my only hope. But when my opener had all my colours, a Wellspring, Tezzeret and BSZ I knew I was keeping. I called over Shane and showed him my opener. “I said I was mulling til Torpor Orb and 2 lands check it out.” Shane wisely said nothing as I knew he would, and Steph gave me a slanted glance and mulled. Then mulled to 5. I knew she was going down to a hand with either an answer to Orb or a threat that didn’t have an ETB trigger. She caught on when turn 4 hit with no Orb, but I was sitting behind Walls at that point. One Tezz ultimate for 20 later and I was 2-2. Recovery!
It’s been said many times: your opponent does not have your best interests at heart. Your opening hand should not be kept or mulled based on what they say they have, because that road leads to madness. Even Julio, who was sitting next to us and watching, said I was full of it. Granted I had gone up to 4 Orbs post-board, but still: play your deck, don’t try to second-guess mine.
Round 5 – Julian Smith with GW Ramp
Ahh Julio. I know Julio’s deck; he’s been tweaking it for a while. I also know that Orb is going to be very important here again. Furthermore, there is no way he falls for the same trick as Steph. Sadly this match was short and decisive: I saw no Torpor Orbs and he had Oblivion Rings. Not much else to say really!
Round 6 – Jonny Manuel with Esper Walkers
Initially I was paired against a guy who had gone home, but the TO realized he had dropped the wrong guy and re-paired, leaving me with Jonny.
Jonny is a good guy. He’s also very, very tall. His Delvers are allergic to transforming but he puts up good results and was in the top 8 of Provincials last year. He’s also one of the three other local TurboFog fans, which automatically makes him a top-notch fellow.
He has an unfortunate habit of getting mana screwed when playing against me; however that wouldn’t be the case here, as we had a pretty epic matchup. Game 1 saw me behind the eight ball with Sorin pumping out dudes and Karn exiling my Forgemaster. I played Spine of Ish Sah to take out Karn, then next turn Metamorphed it to kill Sorin and animated a Wellspring to kill the freshly-played Tamiyo. With that sort of control on the board Jonny scooped.
Game 2 I was on a land-heavy draw with a Forgemaster in hand, so I kept swinging in with Inkmoth to draw out his removal. He didn’t seem to have any, and he had Liliana and Tamiyo out to tie me up, so I kept on the Inkmoth plan. I found a Ratchet Bomb and ticked it up to 3, dropped Forgemaster and won from there.
It was during this round that I heard a tremendous interaction between Shane and Fudge, sitting next to me. Shane asked what life Fudge was on. Shane had Goblin Fireslinger, Goblin Chieftain and another Goblin out. Fudge said he was on 16. Shane says “I think you’re dead,” and taps the Fireslinger to ping, double Goblin Grenade, Brimstone Volley. Dang.
What Did I Learn?
Tezzeret can be good, it just needs practice.
My assortment of main deck hate was wrong for the meta. I need to focus more on winning game 1, and then if I need to I can worry about not losing the sideboarded games by bringing in the hate.
Examine the board. Think through every scenario. Consider what you do if your opponent is very good or very bad. Also sit back and figure out what you would expect an opponent to do in your position.
Beast Within should probably be in the main deck. It does everything the deck needs and can blow up a Wellspring for value in a pinch.
People fear Glissa.
Goblins are freaking terrifying.
What’s On Deck?
More Tezzeret! I have a brew featuring Unwinding Clock (yes really) that has been testing pretty well but is hilarious to play. Also on my list are RUG Titans, some sort of Reanimator list and a return to my old favourite, Junk Pod. Expensive times ahead!