Posted in Magic The Gathering

My Magic December (2017)

As is expected, the end of the year is a time for reflection, particularly when writing a handful of hours into 2018. So this will be a fairly introspective look at the year as a whole, but within this month actually plays a fairly pivotal role and a positive note to end on! The two intertwine fairly heavily.

So, let’s begin with Unstable, which was probably one of the more positive surprises of the year for me – I’ve never played an un-set and on the first day of spoilers, everything was about Contraptions. Boy, was I not happy about Contraptions. They seemed complicated and which a bunch of effects that were just plain and normal, rather than anything particularly interesting or fun. Honestly, I’m still in that boat – while they are nowhere near as bad as I was hoping, I thought they didn’t bring much to the table for a lot of added weight. The rest of the set though, is just excellent. There’s the right mix of plain goofiness, but actual gameplay to it.

 

Thankfully, there was plenty of other nonsense to go around to make up for their presence – Augment is a neat mechanic and dicerolling is a great pastime of mine, so I was more than happy to get in on that action, as I did in every. single. draft.

 

What sticks in my mind about the set is the first draft I did on release day. Firstly, just the atmosphere around the table. There’s no stakes, no investment – and everybody’s getting their three lands for the entry fee, with all the super valuable cards requiring an opening of a foil – so there’s nobody expecting anything. Secondly, most of the spikier players are doing Modern, which just means everybody sitting around the pod is there to have fun and goof off. My flavour of goof was ‘Dice Rolls a la Bombs’. The bombs wasn’t intentional, just cards I found cool and wanted to jam, like Very Cryptic Command, Animate Library and X. The dice-rolling was just something I like to do.

Image result for animate library mtg

This resulted in a very strange night, involving three sub-games (at a 2-1 record), Five Finger Discounting a Grusilda and then combining all manner of things and almost, almost combining dice re-rolls with the mill ability on my version of Very Cryptic Command for a quick instant speed decking. All in all, it was a 3-0 – but best of all was just being able to play Magic loosely, with no fixation on winning – which has been a problem all year, trying to put aside my Spike side in aid of just having fun. My second draft was not as successful (involving a bye, sadly), but the fun was still there.

 

In the realm of constructed, I’ve had a very unusual, but successful month. Firstly – I have barely touched Modern. One of the problems I’ve had this year is that Modern is my favourite format by a country mile, but I’ve been a little disaffected with my weapon of choice, Merfolk. I’ve got a lot of mileage with the Fish (250 matches recorded, but probably closer to 400) and just need an extended break, but haven’t found the right deck for me yet. Across the year, I’ve toyed with Ad Nauseum, Eldrazi D&T, Grixis Death Shadow, Jeskai Tempo, UG Fish and UW Control – but none of those have clicked with me. Combined with the very public Standard issues and not playing other constructed formats, its partly while this hasn’t been a great MTG year for me.

 

December has provided some salvation to the issue though. I know this will sound ludicrous to most given the prevailing zeitgeist, but I have found so much fun in Standard this month. All thanks to what I call, ‘Glorious Grixis’.

 

grixis.JPG

Okay, so my name aside, this is basically Grixis Midrange (some people go for Grixis Energy, but I feel that it’s more of a sub-theme than anything.) and I this is probably the most fun I’ve had with standard in the past year. Honestly, it’s mostly a good stuff deck, but which a bunch of my favourite good stuff – Torrential Gearhulk (or as I call it, Sploosh), Scarab God (Scabby G), Glorybringer (hence the name) and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner (My favourite card in Standard.) In the space of a few weeks, I’ve gotten in seven leagues with the deck, at a 66% win percentage, which is pretty good for me – and I’d have played it more if I had the deck together in paper. Honestly, its been refreshing to put together some decent results with a deck, including a couple of 4-1 leagues.

 

The success is also nice because it feels I’ve been playing better with the deck. I’ve played slower, had better gameplans and taken better lines – in particular I’ve found success in not just deploying GSS T2 in order to Harness/Abrade an opponent’s first play, then drop it to get ahead. Taking a more tempo oriented route with the deck, rather than controlling has worked wonders and suits my play-style more. I end up either being the control, but with a bunch of haymakers to drop, or sitting behind my threats and taking early momentum and riding it to victory. It’s nice to win for sure; but much nicer to win because you played well.

 

As for the deck, my biggest hope for Rivals of Ixalan is that the deck survives rotation. I struggle to see why it wouldn’t – it still plays many of the best cards in Standard and its hard to think of a particular effect or creature that could really cause it issues. If Energy does eat some sort of ban, it could hurt – but it would need to be specifically Aether Hub, Harness Lightning or Whirler Virtuoso (I don’t think GSS is in any threat of banning.) The top-end in particular is a series of cards that just end games. What could improve the deck? That’s tricky – I’m still not thrilled with Supreme Will, so maybe any addition that could fill that slot, or provide flexibility would be excellent. Mana Leak would be the dream, but let’s be realistic. Anything that could help the mana would be extremely welcome, but given how could Standard mana already is, that seems unlikely. I’m excited to find out either way, but the deck has given me a renewed vigor for the format.

 

The other shining light at the end of the year has been Legacy. Specifically, Legacy Burn. I was not expecting to have gotten in a bunch of time with the deck by years’ end, but after picking it up early December, I’m a little bit hooked. The deck feels more powerful then any other collection of red spells I’ve ever seen, often Goldfishing a kill by turn 3. It also gets the ability to shut down a bunch of decks with Eidolon, or slowly wear them down with a Sulfuric Vortex. Fireblast is one of those cards I had to play with to understand, a sudden ‘four damage out of nowhere’ for zero mana carries a bunch of weight. And Damage. It’s likely not the deck I’ll be taking to this year’s Legacy GP as my partner is – besides, I have a brew in mind that I’d like to try.

legbrn.JPG

Overall, 2017 wasn’t the best year in Magic for me – largely because the majority of our local friends took a long pause from the game that they’ve only just returned from, which did put a dampener on things – I’ve also found less fun in limited as of late. But things are looking up and I’m hopeful for 2018. In short, here are my goals:

 

  1. Have a playable deck in every format online that I enjoy (Modern, Pauper and Vintage are the targets here!)
  2. Stream once a week, every week
  3. Write a monthly re-cap on here throughout the year.

 

Happy 2018!

 

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Posted in Magic The Gathering

Aether Revolt Game Day Victory!

I’ve been playing a fair bit of standard in preparation for some upcoming PPTQs and one deck I have particularly enjoyed the heavy Energy Variant. Although missing some of the cards, I was able to settle on the version below:

EnerBG Game Day.PNG
The deck is enjoyable to play and has a fair bit of interesting decision making and power, both early on and late in the game. The deck has two key axis it plays on. The first is the now well-established Black/Green counter synergies, relying on Winding Constrictor, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Walking Ballista and Verdurous Gearhulk to make creatures huge, or in the case of Ballista, make a machine gun that mows down the opponent’s board. The second key axis also leans on the Constrictor a bit, but tries to take advantage of the Energy mechanic with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Greenbelt Rampager and Longtusk Cub to get creatures well above rate for their mana-cost or draw a bunch of extra cards.

 

The first game day ended up with a fourth-placed finish with some interesting results. In one game, two Walking Ballistas ended up so huge I won by removing 18 counters in one go to burn out the opponent. In another, I was able to attack by opponent down to 2 life by the end of the fourth turn. As you can see, the deck goes a variety of ways! The explosive starts were the main route to victory on Saturday, but a loss to CopyCat in the Swiss and the Semi-Final put paid to my hopes.

 

Today’s game day had fourteen players, so it would cut to Top 4 – these situations are always rough, especially with friends – I prefer to haveas many buddies in the Top 8 as possible (had it cut as usual, half the field would’ve been close friends!).

 

The first round I was paired off against a UB Zombies deck. Those decks can always be scary due to the sheer amount of 2/2’s that can be made by Cryptbreaker and Diregraf Colossus. The deck also had some quite terrifying plays at times – off a Gisa and Geralf, a 5/5 Diregraf Colossus was played, bringing back two Prized Amalgams, turning an empty board into a fairly scary one. However, the deck’s lack of interaction with my board state allowed for me to get some massive blockers out and an Aethersphere Harvesters were able to chip away effectively. For the second game, it was simply a case of a quick start involving Constrictor (hereby known as ‘Snake/Snek’) into a Rishkar and Gearhulk.

 

Second up was a sort of mirror match. Up against a strong player with a Jund Energy deck – although some of the synergies are the same, the red allows useof energy focussed cards like Harness Lightning and Voltaic Brawler. The deck also eschews the Snake in lieu of the recursive power of Scrapheap Scrounger and the card advantage and versatility of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The latter would prove to be a problem in almost every game. It is hard to remember the details of these first games, as all three were intense back and forth games. The pivotal third game highlighted the strength the Jund version had in the mirror – although both decks removed the early threats, a resolved Chandra caused a big issue and put me very behind in card advantage. Eventually it ended up with my Skysovereign and various creatures working together to take down some creatures before the crewing creatures would get removed, but Scrapheap Scrounger could keep coming back to apply pressure. Eventually, one of his creatures survived a Skysovereign hit with a Blossoming Defense, leaving me dead on the swingback.

 

The next couple rounds provided good match ups for us – a GW Modules deck was up first and it was another deck that struggled to deal with the aerial threat of Skysovereign. A mulligan to five for them in game two didn’t hurt our chances. The win and in for the top 8 was against a Red White humans deck that was extremely explosive – as evidenced by having three 2/1’s out on turn two! However, a deck relying on one-power creatures tends to fall prey to Walking Ballista, as was the case. Kalitas in game two was also particularly effective, providing plenty of chump fodder and gaining enough life to get well out of reach. That was enough for the Top 4.

 

The first game of the Top 4 was a little daunting – I was against a BW Midrange deck that knocked me out of both Kaladesh Game Days. It utilises Cultivator’s Caravan, Scrapheap Scrounger, Eternal Scourge and Ayli to grind most decks to a fine paste. I feel fortunate to have escaped that one with a 2-0 – in the first game I had a the typical quick start with Rishkar and a Gearhulk that was too hard to come back from. Game two I felt I won on the first turn – I had played Greenbelt Rampager on turn one, which got fatally pushed in response to the bounce effect. I then rolled out two Glint-Sleeve Siphoner that couldn’t be removed. Left unchecked, they regularly drew two cards a turn and overwhelmed a land-stuck opponent.

 

The final pitched me back against the Jund Energy version again. These games ended up a little less grindy and simpler. One game was another in which having two active Glint-Sleeves drew plenty of card advantage and I was able to win the removal war off the back of it. This meant my pressure ended up too much to keep up with. Aethersphere Harvester again played a strong role in the other game, due to a lack of flying defense – the key play being a Blossoming Defense pumping it to take out Chandra before it could generate enough card advantage,.There was never an answer to the Harvester and that sealed the win.


This is a bit scattered and rushed, but it’s always good to share. If you like powerful decks that are a blast to play and can do silly things, do try BG Energy!