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By: Westane, Jeff Torres
Nov 08 2011 12:20pm
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My New Writing Schedule!

I can no longer keep a writing schedule... moving on.

It was always nice knowing that my articles would be posted on a Monday, usually with those shiny orange letters. It was like my way of starting the week, sifting through criticizing remarks and hateful comments... The little things that let me know you cared. Alas, now I'm on Baby Time (-7:00) so any hopes of maintaining a solid writing schedule outside of posting one a week are out the window.

Really this doesn't mean anything to you guys, just me and my OCD.

 Filling The Gap

I've been playing a lot of ISD Block over the last few days. Well, a respectable amount anyway. Last Thursday I finally hit my first DE with my homebrew GB Rock deck, and met a disappointing 2-2 finish. I played some UR Burning Vengeance, but I couldn't get a behind the deck 100%, it just felt too fragile. After scanning the DE's there were two decks that caught my eye, both midrange. The first was BUG and the second was Jund. Both decks were doing well, and both seemed well positioned in the meta, but really it ultimately came down to one deck having Islands and the other not.

LandsL: 27
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Island
3 Nephalia Drownyard
4 Shimmering Grotto
8 Swamp
4 Woodland Cemetery

Creatures: 3
3 Bloodgift Demon

Other Spells: 30
1 Army of the Damned
3 Dead Weight
4 Forbidden Alchemy
3 Garruk Relentless
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Sever the Bloodline
3 Silent Departure
4 Think Twice
1 Tribute to Hunger
3 Witchbane Orb
Sideboard: 15
2 Bloodline Keeper
4 Curse of Death's Hold
4 Naturalize
3 Tree of Redemption
2 Tribute to Hunger

I actually took this deck to two DE's, and will be reporting on the latter. Here's the condensed version of the first DE...

Round 1: 2-0 vs GW Tokens (G1, G2)
Round 2: 2-0 vs UR Burning Vengeance (G1+G2)
Round 3: 0-2 vs UR Burning Vengeance (G1, G2)
Round 4: 2-1 vs GW Humans (G1, G2, G3)

That event put me in high spirits, so I looked forward to the next!

Round 1 - UR Burning Vengeance

I feel favored against Burning Vengeance in game one thanks to the mainboard Witchbane Orbs they seldom see coming. In the end not even a damned army of 13 zombies can knock me out as double drownyards mill for the win. A surprise appearance by Olivia causes a game two loss, but this deck was designed almost specifically to beat UR, and in the end that's exactly what it did.

Round 2 - UR Burning Vengeance

I'm finding with this deck that just about any opening hand that has blue mana and a Forbidden Alchemy is a hand worth keeping. I should have played game one a little differently, waiting to play Liliana and Witchbane Orb in the same turn, but luckily things still worked out. Game two was pretty much decided from the get-go. You can't argue with an opening hand like that, and I would have had to have been trying to lose to throw that game away.

Round 3 - GW Humans

In my last article I pretty much lumped all GW decks together, and that was wrong of me. There's a very big difference between GW Humans and GW Tokens, and I truly feel the Humans version to be significantly weaker than the Tokens version. For game one I draw what I thought was a solid hand, and then proceed to never draw any more lands from 20 to 0. Inversely, games two and three are over in a blink!

I always feel really good after winning round three, and it helps me breath much easier for round four. Knowing I'm in the money regardless is very calming for me.

Round 4 - RDW

I knew I was up against RDW, but honestly I had no idea how it would turn out.

As it does turn out, the match up is pretty easy, and a swift 2-0 wins me 11 packs! Huzzah!


BUG is definitely within my comfort zone, and as it turns out a Jund deck and a slightly different-from-mine BUG deck also went 4-0 in the same event, as well as another RDW player. I can't find any inherently bad match ups for BUG, except possibly Jund, though I haven't had the misfortune pleasure of testing against it. As usuall, I'll put my thoughts in list-form, 'cause that's just the kind of guy I am!

  • Burning Vengeance will NEED to adapt to survive, either by finding more creatures to run or by splashing green for Garruk.
  • Weither I was discarding them to Liliana, or using them to shutdown RDW and Burning Vengeance, Witchbane Orb was always solid.
  • I'm pretty sure I mentioned Garruk was good, but if I didn't, Garruk is good.
  • I'm starting to think that if Garruk's not in your deck, you're doing it wrong. RDW being the only current exception.
  • Tree of Redemption was overall underwhelming. I'm considering replacing them with Dissipate and/or Memory's Journey.
  • I want to fit another creature in the main 60, but it just may not be possible.
  • Hell, it may not even be necessary. The 'walkers and Drownyards are both fantastic win conditions, and Army of the Damned is a real threat.
  • Bloodline Keepers in the board were also not very impressive. Perhaps a fourth Witchbane Orb and Bloodgift Demon for the UR match up.
  • I was running three Garruks, I think it should have been four.
  • I so hope we get some allied color land in DKA...

That's it for me this week. I plan on playing in the first ISD Block PE this Friday (Thanks Veteran's Day!) so hopefully I'll have a fun report next week!

Until next time.

-Jeff Torres


Man, I thought I was the only by ricklongo at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 12:48
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Man, I thought I was the only one who played with those sound effects! :)

I remove them before recording my videos because they kinda get in the way of the narration, but I still feel they convey so much flavor.

The deck looks pretty good. I am probably gonna try it soon - my experiences in block so far, playing UR Vengeance, have been less than optimal.

I'm legally blind, so I kind by Westane at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 12:52
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I'm legally blind, so I kind of rely of the audio cues to play effectively. I also can't find a quiet room anymore, so I don't narrate my videos. Finally, I'm lazy, so I don't pull an audio swap on my videos for some decent indie music... So I leave the sounds in!

Ok, ailments aside, does by Alternate at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 19:06
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Ok, ailments aside, does anyone else think the music sounds just like either the original Mario or Legend of Zelda? I mean they couldn't put an extra $50 in the budget for a guy to make better sounds? Now I know why my computer is always on mute.

But to Westane, nice job walking into an ISD Constructed and not playing Burning Vengeance or GW Humans. Your deck is a classic control deck minus the mass counterspells, but you can't help that in ISD.

To be honest I wish you would have had a better match against the GW Human deck. It seemed like you guys had 1 good game and then the next 2 games were decided by mana problems, which we all know who to thank for that, our lovely shuffler.

The 5 red balls are for jumping into the ISD Con. with a deck probably nobody saw coming since it's rare in the ISD tourny's that I haven't played someone that either played a Island, Mountain, or Sulfur Falls on their first turn.
The second thing is the sideboard. You might have put together one of the best block sideboards I have seen. It just worked to perfection and you got to use it, unlike me who will have cards in the sideboard, put them in the deck and they would never show up in the game.
The Tree was insanely perfect against the "Poor Mans RDW", the Curse was perfect against the GW deck which didn't really have an answer for Lilliana/Garruk, it just seems like one of those times where everything worked just the way you imagined it when you put the deck together.

*My only issue is one that is completely unavoidable. I would give up one of my balls rather than be forced to play Shimmering Grotto. I think that is my least favorite card of all time but it needed to be played.

- And for those looking at ISD block, I told y'all, Burning Vengeance is a bad deck overall. It has Nevermind, the Hexproof artifact, Urgent Exorcism and Naturalize to deal with. I would like to see in the future Burning Vengeance being used in a deck like vampires or R/W/G (Kessig Wolf Run and Township) as an add on, and not as a sole win condition.

Thanks for the compliments by Westane at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 19:21
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Thanks for the compliments :)

This was one of the first times a sidebaord has ever made absolute perfect sense to me. I know exactly what comes in, and what goes out, and how I need to tweak those decisions per match. I'm still not sold on the trees though...

As for Shimmering Grotto, while I hate the card just as much as the next guy, running a set in this deck wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Still, I'd much rather have allied lands.

As for Burning Vengeance, I still think there's a deck there, but no way as it is. If I were to pilot a deck with Burning Vengeance in it it would almost definitely be URB/g, splashing for Garruk. The deck just needs better threat diversity, using BV as a tool rather than a full on win condition. Of course as more sets release sideboards may not have room for Witchbane Orb, Naturalize and whatnot anymore, so who knows...

Hey, i've been playing this by schizoidman at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 19:24
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Hey, i've been playing this deck quite a bit recently. I agree with you that Garruk is awesome and went up to 4 in the mainboard. I also cut Silent Departure, but watching your replays, that was probably a mistake. I also cut the Tree of Redemptions because i likewise found it underwhelming in many matchups or I already wanted to board in too many cards, like against tokens. Instead of them i added dissipate.

I think that, in general, BUG has a good matchup against any of the control decks, like UR Burning Vengeance, though I have played against some that are playing Snapcaster Mage which gives them a lot of redundancy on their dissipates and Naturalizes. The hardest matchups for me have been G/W tokens and Mono-Red. If you don't have an answer to Stromkirk Noble on t1 it can get out of hand pretty fast.

In your match against G/W tokens if you noticed the person kept a no-green hand g1 and couldn't curve out very well. However, in g2 you just straight up beat them. Maybe Silent Departure helps this match-up enough. I always find that I'm too behind when I play them such that the Curse of Death's Hold are almost ineffectual by turn 5.

In your match against G/W Humans your opponent had a bad draw g2 and mulled to 5 game 3. The deck does do that, however, I'm not convinced that it's favorable. Both BUG and G/W can stumble on mana, and I think that an average G/W tokens or humans hand will beat an average BUG hand.

In both the G/W matchups Sever the Bloodline is awesome! How do you feel about Liliana? I am somewhat underwhelmed by her in matchups other than UR Burning Vengeance.

Even with Snapcaster I feel by Westane at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 19:41
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Even with Snapcaster I feel favored against Burning Vengeance. If they want to spend 5 mana and two cards to counter a spell then so be it. As for the aggro matches, Silent Departure just gives us so much tempo it's a amazing, which is why I'm running them instead of dissipates.

Maybe I'm cocky or maybe Silent Departure is that good (or maybe the shuffler hates my opponents jsut enough) but I'm just not worried about the GW match up... either of them. If it becomes a real issue I've given some thought to adding a couple Sulfur Falls to the main, and a few Blasphemous Acts to the side.

I cut three Lilianas against any aggro deck, and leave them all in against any control or midrange deck. I like her a lot, and she's never a dead card. I might consider going to three, but I find it unlikely.

Awesome by apaulogy at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 20:24
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Good work!!

I enjoyed the videos. The game play was mostly quality stuff, despite the mana screw matches (I don't think anyone likes those). Your write up did the deck justice. I was left with one burning question, however: Did you like Garruk at all? (lololol)

I want to build this. About 4 Garruks short, but I am going to shore up on that soon (I hope).

Haha. I have gotten so far in by Alternate at Tue, 11/08/2011 - 20:55
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Haha. I have gotten so far in drafts 12 Garruks and about 15 Snappy's, but I haven't gotten a Lilliana since the Pre-release and don't feel like paying the $80 for a playset since I like the idea of the Heartless Summoning deck.

Once again Kudos on the 4-0. Expect your deck list to be copied about...um...yesterday and get play. I even think I ran into a version of it today. I guess I'm not the complete D-bag everyone thinks I am. Or maybe I just haven't slept in 2 days because I was on line at Best Buy last night at midnight to buy my pre-ordered copy of COD:MW3 (Which is amazing btw), so maybe I'm just over-exhausted because this is the first time I have stopped playing it.
**Shhh I'm up to level 42 already**
But to be honest I just appreciate people playing new stuff, playing it right, and showing that new formats have a ton of diversity and on "Any Given Sunday" anyone can walk into a large tournament with a new deck and play it to perfection. And hey, you didn't need even 1 Force of Will, haha.

You know, look over the decks going 4-0 and 3-1 in STD daily's. I don't think there has ever been this much diversity in the winning decks. Sure some look the same, but no two are completely alike. I mean there are Infect decks, W/G ramp, R/G Ramp, W/B/U (Solar Flare, such a retarded name), an illusion deck, a snapcaster mage deck, an invisible stalker deck + Butchers Cleaver went 3-1.

To be honest I think Innistrad is one of the best things to happen to Magic since I stopped playing against Tolarian Academy in Type II.

And even in Block, there are so many different decks out there. Of literally every color combination. Including the Burning Vengeance deck that is U/B/G/R/W.

I am loving this. I mean there is no consensus #1 deck, and to make things even better??

Just think of this:

What would the price of Snappy the Casting Mage be is he was a Mythic?
50? 60? They were smart enough to make it a rare so there's a fairly good chance you get a playset easily after a few drafts (by a few, I mean a minimum of 10ish).

I am so happy that there are only really 3 cards in the set around or above the $15 mark. That means that ISD Block constructed is open for everyone, and STD has so many new options that it's insane.

*I do a ton of drafting and I have been on an 8-4 massive winning streak (9 in a row) where I haven't lost in a while. I have either won or split. I have them all on my Youtube site but I think any link would be banned and all memory of me would be wiped from the face of the earth. Nothing made me cringe more than that draft posted yesterday where the guy passed like a potential playset of Travel Preps and I think I died a bit inside.