I woke up at 6:00 AM Saturday, after about 5 hours of sleep, hoping to make it to the Rennaissance center early enough to register and get in a game or two before 10:00, when the GP was scheduled to start. Until I actually got into the city, I was making great time, but then I spent nearly an hour driving around Detroit getting lost/etc. I arrived finally at 10:18 AM, wondering if I could even register for the main event.
"Please tell me this isn't the first time in history one of these things started on time," I said.
"You want to register for the GP?" I nod. "Okay, here are the forms, fill them out quickly. They're still working out some kinks with the byes, so you have a couple minutes to register."
About 1 minute later, I have all the forms filled out and am wandering about the floor. The tournament starts several hours late, which is no surprise to me because of the record attendance (641 people!). I am well aware of the logistics of handling 600+ people, so I'm not even upset about it, although there was some grumbling amongst players.
I register a mediocre deck and pray I don't get it back. Luckily, I don't, but I do get an even more mediocre deck. Here are the contents of the deck and packs I received. See if you can do any better than I did constructing (hint: you can). I've listed the casting cost, p/t, colour of any off-color kickers, and any evasion abilities to help you out.
Gaea's Might G
Explosive Growth G
Quirion Elves 1/1, 1G
Quirion Dryad 1/1 1G
Quirion Sentinal 1/1, 1G
Scouting Trek 1G
Wandering Stream 2G
Amphibious Kavu 2/2 2G, x2
Thornscape Battlemage 2/2, 2G (R and W kickers)
Pygmy Kavu 1/2, 3G
Serpentine Kavu 4/4, 4G
Stone Kavu 4/4, 4G pumpable
Alabaster Leech W, 1/3
Sunscape Apprentice W, 1/1
Orim's Touch W
Obsidian Acolyte 1W, 1/1
Aura Blast 1W
Sunscape Familiar 1W, 0/3 wall
Ardent Soldier 1W, 1/2
Prison Barricade 1W, 1/3 wall
Aurora Griffin 3W, 2/2 flying
Strength of Unity 3W
Razorfoot Griffin 3W, 2/2 flying, first strike
March of Souls 4W
Scarred Puma R, 2/1
Savage Offensive 1R
Firebrand Ranger 1R, 2/1
Lightning Dart 1R
Rogue Kavu 1R 1/1
Thunderscape Battlemage 2R 2/2, B and G kickers
Kavu Scout 2R 0/2 (+1/+0 for each land type you control)
Mire Kavu 3R 3/2 (+1/+1 if you control a swamp), x2
Essence Leak U
Dream Thrush 1U, 1/1 flying
Barrin's Unmaking 1U
Phantasmal Terrain UU
Traveller's Cloak 2U
Rushing River 2U
Probe 2U (B kicker)
Shifting Sky 2U
Sea Snidd 4U, 3/3
Zanam Djinn 5U, 5/6 flying
Duskwalker B, 1/1, (kicker 3B makes it a 3/3 with fear)
Ravenous Rats, 1B, 1/1
Bog Down 2B
Agonizing Demize 3B (red kicker)
Death Bomb 3B
Volcano Imp 3B 2/2 flying, (1R gains first strike until EOT)
Phyrexian Bloodstock 4B, 3/3
Dromar's Attendant, 5, 3/3
Planar Portal, 6
Alloy Golem, 6, 4/4
Shivan Zombie BR 2/2 Pro white
Horned Kavu, RG 3/4 gating
Llanowar Knight, WG 2/2 pro black
Cavern Harpy UR 2/1 flying, gating, pay 1 life: bounce it.
Daring Leap 1UW
Riptide Crab 1UW
Crosis's Charm, UBR
Treva's Charm, GWU
Kangee, Aerie Keeper 2UW, 2/2 flying
Ordered Migration 3UW
Plague Spores 4BR
Steel Leaf Paladin 4GW, 4/4 first strike, gating
Space to think
Okay, done thinking?
Here's my thought process while constructing this deck. First, I noted immediately that there was no way in hell any deck I built from this would have any concept of a mana curve. There are too few 1-drops and inferior 2-drops. That left me looking for Gray Ogres.
Green would give me Amphibious Kavu x2 and Thornscape Battlemage, Quirion Dryad and a couple weak 2-drops. White had really nothing but some inferior 2cc creatures and a couple 2/2 flyers. Red had Firebrand Ranger, Rogue Kavu, Thunderscape Battlemage, and Kavu Scout in the 2-3cc range. Blue had uh, Dream Thrush, and Black had Ravenous Rats and Duskwalker.
Based solely on this logic, I should have picked R/B/G, but the gold cards shoved me toward R/B/U. Recoil, Crosis's Charm, Shivan Zombie, and Cavern Harpy all seemed too good to give up. So, I went R/B/U.
Here's what I constructed:
Zanam Djinn (MVP)
Mire Kavu x2
Do you see any of my obvious mistakes in deck construction yet? Well, here they are:
First, I should have played Agonizing Demise over Plague Spores. Second, I should have played Firebrand Ranger over Rogue Kavu, even without being able to use the Ranger's ability. Third, I should have played Probe somewhere. Fourth, I should have played Dromar's Attendant over either Sea Snidd or Phyrexian Bloodstock, most likely the Snidd.
Anyway, none of these mistakes really bit me badly.
Round 1 vs Luc Bourdeau. Luc is a Canadian and a real class act. Luc's deck was also R/B/U. He played well and built a better deck than me, so I feel he deserved to win this round. However, it was not to be.
Game 1: This game was 30 minutes long. I got out some early beatings, and then we stalemated on the ground for a long time, with one or the other of us occasionally getting through a hit or two. Finally, I go to the air with Zanam Djinn and a Cavern Harpy, start swinging for 5 a turn, and he concedes.
I play more quickly game 2 so I don't win 1-0.
Game 2: He comes out early, removes everything I try to put in his way, and runs me over.
Game 3: We stalemate the ground again, and Zanam Djinn comes out as the only blue permanent in play. I swing for 5 a turn until he is dead.
Round 2 vs Kellen Wellington.
Games 1 and 2: I get run over by a horde which includes a couple 2/2 fliers. It's not pretty.
Round 3 vs Matt Fox.
See round 2.
Round 4 vs Adam Miller.
Boy, this one was exciting. A real nail biter! I win 2-0 by default because my opponent doesn't show up.
At this point, I drop out to play in the type 1.
Overall, I enjoyed my GP experience. Some highlights included trading a spare Mox, 2 Mana Drains, and an Italian Abyss for a big pile of $5 cards, and picking up an AQ Triskelion for $2. The T1 tournament itself was also a highlight-- when do you ever get the chance to play 4 rounds of sanctioned T1?
I'd like to give my props to all my opponents, especially Luc B. My slops go to WotC/Carte Mundi for giving me the horrible deck I had. ;-)
Wow, I think your cards were actually pretty decent. Obviously it would be nice to have a super rare or a flametongue, but you did okay. It took me a several minutes to decide what colors to play, and then I realized I would be cutting good cards out of the deck. It isn't real strong for creatures, but should be okay.
mire kavu *2
That turned out to be difficult. When I made the decision to emphasize the red instead of splashing it, the deck really came together.
The last card I put in was the mourning. I would have liked the rushing river though. They both can slow down the early rush, but the way I did the land, the mourning is easier to cast early on.
The mana curve turned out okay I think. I chose to play only one of the 6 casting cards even though they are strong. If you realized your opponent had a slow deck, I could see siding in the alloy golem, plague spores, and maybe lobotomy. The scarred puma comes in to block against any speed decks. Rushing river would come in for lightning dart against decks with no white or blue.
I really like the way this turned out. I see now that yours isn't too different. Missing the bog down probably hurt. The red direct damage spells are nice for killing random 1/1 guys with special abilities. Without as many high end spells I also was able to cut a land.
At such a large tournament, you have to assume that a decent number of people will get insane decks. I figure half of them will build their deck wrong or lose games due to play errors, so any well designed, well played deck has a shot at day two.
I just reread your report and want to say one more thing. You mention that you had too few one drops and inferior twos. I can only think of two one drops out of both sets and I wouldn't maindeck either. The four 2cc creatures were all fine.
I hope you got something out of this, I didn't mean for it to get this long.
Thanks for the input! Before the tournament, I didn't really practice and wasn't completely familiar with the set. I'm glad to see I came so close to your build, since you seem a lot more familiar with it.
You really think Bog Down was a key omission? I dunno, granted it is good and everything, but is it the straw that breaks the deck's back? I found the Alloy Golem to be an MVP the two games I drew him. Without fail, he either sealed the ground up for me so I could swing with my fliers, or just smashed through enemy lines.
I also have to agree about the red damage spells. Twice I got killed because of Apprentice tricks. Then, again, they were the white and black Apprentices, with the "put target creature on top of your library" ability, so it wouldn't really have helped.
One thing I would question, though, is your playing Death Bomb with only 13 creatures. I strongly considered going with high amounts of removal and low amounts of creatures, but I didn't think the deck had enough "meat" to it that way.
BTW, I didn't see my Crosis's Charm and mana to cast it simultaneously all day. ;-( Overall, though, I was happy with the mana.
Even though you have to let the white and black apprentices do their thing once, when they are tapped you can go ahead and fry them.
I realized that same thing with the death bomb, but felt it was worth it. As long as you wait until lethal damage is on the stack, you aren't actually losing a creature. If you think it would be a problem anyway, you could use the plague spores instead. Against a 4 or 5 color deck, the land destruction is nice, but otherwise I would prefer to do 2 damage.
If I was going to play the alloy golem, I think I might have also played plague spores and added a land to the deck. I wouldn't know what to take out though besides some of the little red creatures, and I think they need to stay.
Generally, you have to figure your opponent has some super card when you get up into six mana. Alloy golem is pretty good because he can be black, but most other cards for that mana cost are better than he is. Off the top of my head right now, I'm not sure I can think of a creature for six mana that isn't better than him. Hmm...
oh, razing snidd, but I think you see the point.
Hmmm, my first thought was that your RBU wasn't going to be good enough and you might be able to make a WGR anti-deck. But, my second thought was that none of your potential builds have a great creature base, and so its probably best to go back to RBU where your tricks are better. (A WGR build might be an interesting exercise though.)
I think JoeTzu's deck is pretty good, the overall card quality is higher than I expected based on first impressions. I'm not a big fan of things like Kavu Scout, but, well, creature quality is going to be the difficult spot. "Bring in the warm bodies! Step right up Kavu Scout!"
Also, I think Joe is very right about Bog Down. Its not absolutely necessary if you were playing Probe, but you do want to be able knock those potential Bombs out of your opponents hand before he can play them. I'd play both in a heartbeat, especially since you have a Recoil & Crosis' Charm. Anyway, this kind of early-midgame discard is one of UB's best tricks IMHO.
I agree with him about the Zap and the Lightning Dart as well. You desperately need removal here. Agonizing Demise is first quality removal, but you need the little Red spells to fill out your deck. I'd be tempted to play Plague Spores instead of the Death Bomb, but I'd probably play Rushing River over both since its so darn good and it retains its effectiveness in the later game.
I'm not going to argue the decision to play rushing river over the other two, because it is a very strong card, but I am curious what you mean by "retaining its effectiveness in the later game." Do you mean in comparison? If so, could you explain.
I was thinking about the mana situation and trying to say that you dont have to worry about your low Island count because Rushing River will still be effective in the late game. Some people think of it just as a tempo card, that you want to cast Rushing River ASAP and push your attack, but (especially with this decks low creature quality) I like it anytime to screw up blocking math, to fizzle a troublesome enchantment, to do silly tricks with you Bloodstock. :-)
- scarred puma
- rogue kavu
- sea snidd
- plague spores
+ Bog down
+ Firebrand Ranger
+ agonising demise
+ death bomb (this is MUCH better than you think, tons of timing tricks)
and against aggresive decks, I would bring in zap and dart for some of your blue tricks.
This is actually a high quality deck. It is fast with good removal and decent evasion.
I took out scarred puma because it is junk, and rogue kavu because you have better early drops available. Sea snidd is rather slow and ineffectual. Plague Spores is removal , but doesnt hit black creatures and has a very high cost, and while I would like confound in the deck, I needed to make room.
The key concern for your deck is bombs, as you have only one (zanam djinn), so as the game progresses your chances of winning get hurt. With both bog down and probe (and battlemage) in the deck, you can put on early pressure, then take out their key bombs before they hit you, which should give you enough tempo to push through. Ranger is just a better offensive creature than puma or rogue (rogue is actually decent but with all your early drops you'll want to swarm). The other two are somewhat no brainers as agonising demise is your best common by far, and death bomb is a very underrated card, especially with your aggresive creature base. The 2 life can throw off their math and there are several ways to get around the card disadvantage aspect.
I like plague spores, but at 6cc, I dont find this does enough. Dart and Zap could get in many of my decks, and against good , FAST decks , I would bring them in for charm and rushing river, as this would also let you run a more solid mana base.