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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Jan 14 2008 12:33am
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Strap in, we don't have much time and there's a lot've ground to cover.  We're going to look at an update of Pale Ale, tested and teched out, an interview with JXClaytor and a look at DragonStompy, a Legacy Port of craziness!

First up, soon after I posted my list of B/W Pale Ale, I was playing in the Tournament Practice room, and a match that went approximently like this:  I lay Godless Shrine, he lays Godless Shrine.  I drop
Samurai of the Pale Curtain and he drops one.  I Smother his dude and beat down, and he Edicts me.  At first I thought there were just a resemblence, but then I realized we were playing a virtual mirror.  Afterward, (I think he won?) I asked him if he got the list from the Classic Quarter.  His name was Uncle.Istvan and he said he had, and then modified it some.  I tested with him a little afterwards, and kept up on brainstorming ideas with him, and continuing to test.  The results of our discussions for the first day were posted at the end of my last article.  However, he continued to modify the deck, and took it in a slightly different direction.  He said it was posting very good results for him, and he had some key changes that he'd made.  I wanted to share the direction that he'd gone with the deck.

The easiest, and probably the smartest change that he made were to essentially go to 4x almost everywhere, which is probably better that my randomly 3x, 4x, and 2x list.  This allows him maximum consistency in effect.  The exception is that he still has a 2/2 split on Smother and
Chainer's Edict which is fine, as they're the same card, but one beats Threshold and the other is instant-speed.  He went up to 21 lands from 19, allowing him to hit his drops more often and to take less dmg as he has 2 more basics.  Next, he dropped Samurai of the Pale Curtain, a cut that I disagree with, but not necessarily a bad cut.  He also cut all the Gerrard's Verdict for a full set of Hymn to Tourach, which has a little synergy with his last change, as it allows him to only need to fetch one Shockland, and then fetch swamps the rest of the game.  He also dropped Aven Mindcensor and Serra Angel (Bye-bye WW cc) for Dark Ritual, Hypnotic Specter, and 3 Nantuko Shade.  Finally, to break Dark Confidant, he added Sensei's Divining Top.  His list isn't perfect, but neither was mine, and he has some of the other reasons to run B/W that I had avoided.  Turn one Dark Ritual into Hippie anyone?  Turn one Ritual, Duress, Hymn?  Attack with Shade, cast Dark Rit as a Giant Growth etc. 

What are the reasons to run this deck over my previous build?  Well, there's several points to consider.  The mana is slightly better, as there's more, and you have Dark Ritual and Top to fix/accel you.  To build on that, Dark Ritual will give you some more explosive openings that can be backbreaking if your opponent doesn't have lots of protection.  Unless they WIN on their turn one, it's not even bad if they Force of Will your turn one Dark Ritual.  Top also has very nice interactions with Dark Confidant (always hit your land, get the card you want, and minimize damage from him) while allowing you to get a new top 3 with fetchlands.  The heavy black focus visible in the main (everything but Swords and Jotun Grunt are black in the main, and they only require 1 W mana) allow you to be more consistent, and furthermore, make the Factories more playable as they don't hurt you by not being colored mana as often.  This build has some better tools against controlling builds than my build, with a turn 1, 2, or 3 Hyppie easily doable to pressure the opponent, still plenty of discard, and Dark Confidant as a trump card advantage engine.

The deck does take some hits in it's change though.  Combo has a better game one against you, as while you have essentially the same gameplan for turn one (Duress/Thoughtseize in my build, Duress/Dark Ritual nonsense in his), on turn two my deck takes a large lead.  Many of the combos in this format are graveyard-based, and my decks will often try to drop a turn 2 Samurai of the Pale Curtain to combo that brokeness.  His has strong plays, but I feel that that is one of the best reasons to add white to a black deck.  

Against aggro, I feel my list was stronger pre-board (Hello flyers, more removal, less lands, etc), but that he had a strong trump post-board in the form of some number of
Umezawa's Jitte.  His Nantuko Shade have the potention to rumble with the bigger creatures in the format also, and can cause trouble for plenty of decks as a pseudo-Tarmogoyf.

I'm not certain of his sideboard.  We'd discussed some numbers of artifacts and
Enlightened Tutor, or maybe even squeezing that package in MD to complement the Tops and anything else you want in there. 

Listy goodness - Uncle.Istvan's B/W
4 x Swords to Plowshares
4 x
Dark Ritual
4 x Duress
4 x Sensei's Divining Top
4 x Dark Confidant
4 x Hymn to Tourach
2 x Smother
2 x Chainer's Edict
4 x Jotun Grunt
3 x
Nantuko Shade
4 X Hypnotic Specter
8 x Fetchlands
4 x
Godless Shrine
4 x Mishra's Factory
3 x Swamp
2 x Plains

After my discussions with UI, and my many mulls to try to find a decent 2-land hand, I conceded that I might be running too few land, and decided to add one more, a basic swamp.  This doesn't seem like a groundbreaking change, but it sure felt like it.  I may have just been unlucky before-hand, and luckier afterward, but I was hitting "keeps" a lot more often. This meant that those 7 card hands with 2 lands and all gas were keepable slightly more often.  

I figured out I'd be able to play again on Sunday the 6th of Jan, as my shift from night shifts to days was allowing me a window to play in one PE.  I began planning for it again.  First I put together Red Thresh, and played it for a couple days, but I don't really like that deck.  It's very good, but just does nothing a little too often.  It is really fun to stick a turn 1/2 threat and ride it all the way, countering all their key plays and holding on JUST LONG ENOUGH to win, but sometimes that doesn't happen, and that is not a happy-fun-time.  It rewards tight play, but I just didn't like it as much as I hoped.  Next I tried out a U/wg Landstill build that ended up pretty bad.  IceAge4Life has a better U/W build, with 8x manlands, Eternal Dragon, and a landbase built to minimize pain.  I like it alright.

I move back to B/W despite some dismal testing.  Worse, every 5th game or so I play in the Tournament Practice room is some random B/W build, and I haven't tuned my list for the mirror at all really.  Jitte is a huge card in the mirror, and I didn't have it in.  Very worrisome.  I had to make some more changes.

/Flashback mode on
After the last PE, Dangerlinto and I were watching a match, and one player dropped a quick
Tombstalker and proceeded to Just Win.  I mentioned to DL how good the Stalker seemed, and he said something like, "Yea, I run 1 in my B/W build, and 2 in the side to swap for Dark Confidant in aggro matches."  Now, I've never really believed in swapping out Bob vs Aggro.  Sure, sometimes you just have to, but most of the time, he'll flip a 1/2CC removal spell and you'll start killing their team and ripping their hand apart.  I had a couple in my collection, and figured I would try them out.

They are very strong.  I can't really overstate their strength in the deck.  In the abstract, a 5/5 flyer for 2-3 mana is crazy, but we often lose sight of that in a format with 3/3 Shrouded 1 drops, Tarmogoyf, 12/12 Trampers for 2 mana, etc.  Those cards are all strong when looked at alone, but what really pushed them over the edge is how well they fit their deck. 
Tombstalker is on a similar power scale in this deck.  You'll see it later, but it turns out that a 5/5 flyer is pretty broken when it only costs 2.  I have yet to flip-eight off of Bob, although I'm sure it's coming.  This card is key as a finisher, and as a huge fatty that make their Goyf smaller.

My final change was to drop
Isamaru, Hound of Konda because too often, he was just a cheap 2/2.  This deck isn't really interested in paying 3 life on turn 1 to drop him, and later on he's better than any other 2/2 you can name, and can be worse due to Legendary status.  I'd seen a lot've BW in the Tournament Practice Room, and while that isn't the best meta-indicator, I hadn't really seen any previous to my PE Top 8, so I wondered if maybe I'd talked people into playing what was already a viable deck that just needed some results to convince them to run it.  I decided on 2 Hand of Cruelty as a decent beater who trades with 3/3s.  He's probably inferior to some Black Knight variants, but who doesn't like Samurai?  I shoulda just called this Samurai.dec.  So, they should be something else I guess, but I wanted to play them.  Probably one more Serra Avenger, and a miser's Jitte.

So, the night before JXClaytor confirms that he will participate in the PE also.  He saw Largebrandon's DragonStompy list on ClassicQuarter.com and thought it looked absurd, fun, and apparently competitive.  He put it together and we tested it some.  It wasn't working great at first; too many mulls for him, good hands for me, etc.  He seemed a bit discouraged, but was still determined to play it.  After a few games though he went on a 4-game winning spree and began to feel better about his deck-choice.  I have an interview with him regarding his deck, which he piloted to a 3-3 finish, and was in contention for Top 8 until his final round loss.  (Editor's Note:  Please take this interview with a grain of salt.  I'm still very new to the Classic format, and did not test as much as I should have.  I may be really off base in regards to matchups and such.  Thanks!)

So, Dragon Stompy. What drew you to this Legacy psuedo-port?

I like decks to do something splashy whenever I have the time to play. DS is capable of some really stupid stuff, like first turn Arc-Slogger, or Dragon. It plays like a combo deck with it's fast mana into stupid things, but is far from a combo deck. It helps that I already had most of the deck from Extended season, so I really only needed to invest in Sloggers and Pit Dragons to make the list from largebrandon. Had it not been for his work, I would have never played the deck.

Did you feel it had the power to compete with the other decks in the format?

Yeah, I thought it did. Of course, I know precious little about the Classic format on MTGO, and am wrongly comparing it to paper's Legacy. The two format's share cards, and that is sadly about it. When you are missing three entire blocks it is incorrect to view a format as similiar to one of paper's formats.

What decks did you feel you had a strong matchup against.

I do not really think that I have many strong matchups with anything in the format. If I get a Chalice for one against Threshold I feel pretty good against that matchup. I like to think that Dragon stompy has no true good matchups, but because of the disruption that the deck runs can make coin flip matchups out of poor ones. Affinity is almost like a bye after board bringing in Spree. Chalice for two shuts down most of their important spells. 

List your bad match-ups.

Pale Ale, Flash, Bomberman, (I think that is what the Auriok Salvagers deck is) Threshold.
Outside of flash none of these decks are unbeatable with DS, it takes a clever mulligan plan, and a large amount of knowledge about the format so you can make the most optimal play ever turn. Dredge However, is prolly terrible for this deck.

Where did you get you list/how did you build it.

I got the list from classicquarter.com, it is largebrandon's list.

What cards were MVPs?

Arc-Slogger was the MVP all day long. he allows me to beat most aggro matchups and provides a solid body that lives past Threshold's creatures unless they

What would you change about the list, given some experience in the Classic environment.

I still have too little expirence to say in the format. having played less than twenty matches with a given deck does not make me an expert. I missed having more Pyroblasts in the deck, with only three in the board, I would like to find room for a 4th.

On a broader scale, did you see any decks that seemed exciting?

I like Dredge, I need to pick up some LED's for it, and learn to play it, since I have plenty of expirence with the deck already. The Salvagers deck looks like fun too, but I'm in no mood to buy FoW's at this point in time. I should pick them up though, as I plan on playing a lot more classic. 

How awesome are Geckos?

When you are peddling car insurance you have to wake up and ask yourself, did I sell out? Geckos are sell outs.

Did you find the Classic PE experience enjoyable, and do you plan to play in them again?

Yes, I would play in it again, however, I will be taking a much more serious look at the format.

Did you have anything else you wanted to say about DragonStompy or Classic in general?

Dragon stompy is fun, It will be a lot better when we get Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors. of course by then, Classic will be a lot closer to Legacy, so porting decks from paper magic will be easier.

I have a fear that with MED going off sell, and StP (rumored) card prices for the staples of Classic are going to get ridiculous. keeping stp at 11 and FoW at 30 is going to be a turn off to people who want to enter the format, but want to be competitive.

I appreciated the time JX took to answer these questions, and now I'd like to share a replay from one of his games. 

 2:40pm:   JXClaytor joined the game.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor chooses to play first.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor mulligans down to 6 cards.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor keeps this hand.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 keeps this hand.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor skips their draw step.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Mountain  121432,435:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 1: Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Darksteel Citadel  587277717,424:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Chromatic Star  197517,441:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 2: JXClaytor.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Crystal Vein  503318322,436:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 2: Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Vault of Whispers  570476352,444:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 3: JXClaytor.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Mountain  121432,446:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Rite of Flame  196953,448:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Arc-Slogger  570476419,451:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 3: Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Vault of Whispers  570476352,423:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Chromatic Star  197517,454:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,455:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 4: JXClaytor.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Mountain  121432,456:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Shattering Spree  654403267,458:   (Replicated 2 times) targeting   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,455:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays triggered ability from   Shattering Spree  654403267,458:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor changes targets of   Shattering Spree  654403267,462:   to   Vault of Whispers  570476352,453:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor changes targets of   Shattering Spree  654403267,461:   to   Vault of Whispers  570476352,445:  .
 2:41pm:  No legal targets to choose for   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,455:  's triggered ability.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 is being attacked by:   Arc-Slogger  570476419,451: 
 2:41pm:  Turn 4: Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Great Furnace  570476353,469:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 5: JXClaytor.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Rite of Flame  196953,473:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays   Arc-Slogger  570476419,475:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 5: Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Tree of Tales  570476490,420:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Atog  570475594,478:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Myr Enforcer  570475568,479:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 6: JXClaytor.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays a card face down.
 2:41pm:  Turn 6: Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Ornithopter  570475558,483:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays activated ability from   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays triggered ability from   Chromatic Star  197517,441:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays activated ability from   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays triggered ability from   Chromatic Star  197517,454:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Seat of the Synod  570476351,493:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor is being attacked by:   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471: 
 2:41pm:  Arc-Slogger  570476419,451:   blocks   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Arc-Slogger  570476419,475:   blocks   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Face down creature #1 blocks   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays activated ability from   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays activated ability from   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays triggered ability from   Arcbound Ravager  587277773,471:   targeting   Ornithopter  570475558,483:  .
 2:41pm:  Turn 7: JXClaytor.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays a card face down.
 2:41pm:  Turn 7: Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Tree of Tales  570476490,488:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays   Myr Enforcer  570475568,508:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor is being attacked by:   Ornithopter  570475558,483: 
 2:41pm:  Turn 8: JXClaytor.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 is being attacked by: Face down creature #2, Face down creature #1,   Arc-Slogger  570476419,475: 
 2:41pm:    Atog  570475594,478:   blocks   Arc-Slogger  570476419,475:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor discards   Rite of Flame  196953,510:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor turns   Gathan Raiders  318867803,480:   (Face down creature #1) face up.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor discards   Rakdos Pit Dragon  194660,432:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor turns   Gathan Raiders  318867803,504:   (Face down creature #2) face up.
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays activated ability from   Atog  570475594,478:  .
 2:41pm:  Ringtailed79 plays activated ability from   Atog  570475594,478:  .
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays activated ability from   Arc-Slogger  570476419,475:   targeting Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays activated ability from   Arc-Slogger  570476419,475:   targeting Ringtailed79.
 2:41pm:  JXClaytor plays activated ability from   Arc-Slogger  570476419,475:   targeting Ringtailed79.
Fun times with 5/5 beatdown and
Arc-Slogger burn.

So, onto my tournament.  The night before, I'm talking with Java, and I say, "Man, I kinda just wanna run Affinity.  I'm tired of playing a deck that has plenty of game against combo and jank, but looses to Affinity."  He asked what deck I'm beating combo with that easily, and I replied that BW was my poison of choice.  He suggested adding Kataki to my sideboard again, which I had done previously but only as a 3-of, and maybe Serenity if I wanted more hate.  I took his suggestion to heart.  I didn't have any Kataki, and I didn't really want to get any, but I had just completed my set of Null Rod which is essentially just as big a bomb, and I did pick up 3 Serenity to pack in the hate.  I then looked at what decks I just didn't want to lose to ever.  RDW was no. 1 on my list, so I squeezed in 3
Circle of Protection: Red into my sidebaorda also.  After my obligatory 4 Leyline of the Void I decided to take notes from Uncle.Istvan and put 2 Jittes in the side.  I ended up running just 2 of the Serenity, but that gave me 6 cards to bring in against Affinity, and I was fine with that.  After all changes, here's my list.


4 x Swords to Plowshares
4 x
2 x Thoughtseize
4 x Dark Confidant
4 x Jotun Grunt
4 x
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
3 x Serra Avenger
3 x Hymn to Tourach
3 x Gerrard's Verdict
3 x Chainer's Edict
2 x Smother
2 x Hand of Cruelty
2 x Tombstalker

4 x Windswept Heath
4 x Bloodstained Mire
4 x Godless Shrine
4 x Mishra's Factory
2 x Swamp
2 x Plains

Look at the size of him!

The "Awesome for the PE 2 weeks ago sideboard".4 x Null Rod
2 x Serenity
4 x
Leyline of the Void
2 x Umezawa's Jitte
3 x Circle of Protection: Red

My wife had been sick all weekend, so I made sure she had plenty of good food and medicine and whatnot before I settled in to play.  I got my tickets from MTGOTRADERS, finalized the sideboard, ran half of a test-game with Ferrers before I had to go check on April one last time.  Everything is set.  Ferrers catchs the fever, and decides to play, apparently with Enchantress (although we tried to talk him into Stiflenought), Javasci was running Star-Spangled Slaughter (URW aggro-control with FoW and Samurai and the like), and JXClaytor had DragonStompy of course.  A pretty solid turnout for a 2X PE, with 37 players, and 6 grueling rounds.

Round one starts, and I'm facing off against Angel of Righteousness.  I have a
Bloodstained Mire, and he plops out a Faerie Conclave.  The alarms go off.  This looks possible like it might be Landstill... a matchup I can't win ever even with Godmode and wallhacks.  I get a Shrine EOT, and drop Plains and Bob.  On his turn, he plays Mishra's Factory and my fears are all but confirmed.  I reveal Chainer's Edict to Bob, play a Factory of my own, and Duress him, seeing Standstill, Counterspell, Haunting Echoes, (whaa?) Godless Shrine, 2 x Spell Snare, and Crucible of Worlds.   I take the Standstill, which felt right since he had 2 manlands out to abuse it, but the right play may actually have been to take Crucible.  He plays Shrine, and drops Standstill.  I'm fine with this.  I have a source of card-advantage in Bob, and while he does have 2 manlands, I have a Factory in-hand and another in play, and 2 more in my deck, drawing twice as many cards as him.  Plus, I can always just draw enough cards off of Bob to make it worth cracking his Standstill.

On my fourth turn, I reveal another Edict to Bob, and drop a Factory.  I attack with Bob and my Factory, and pump it with my other Factory.  He says at this point "I almost know how to play this format."  I'm a little nervous still that he'll out man-land me, and respond "Doing fine so far."

He plays
Flagstones of Trokair and does nothing.  I reveal a Shrine to Bob and play it.  I beat in with a Factory, and we trade 3/3s.  He does nothing on his turn.  I reveal Hymn to Tourach, play another Factory (how lucky!) and beat down with my guys, pumping the Factory of course.  At this point he can't even block with his Conclave, lacking enough Blue mana to activate it and leave it untapped.  My hand is too full, and I pitch a Hand of Cruelty (SAMURAI!!!!!) on my EOT.  He plays another Factory to get back in it.  I reveal Swords to Plowshares on upkeep.  I attack with the Factory and he Swords it, breaking Standstill.  I'm pretty psyched about that...  I Hymn him after combat, and he blow it away with Spell Snare.  I drop a Dark Confidant, then discard (Jötun Grunt) and Samurai of the Pale Curtain (SAMURAI!!!!!).  He plays a Crucible of Worlds and puts a Factory back out from his graveyard.  I reveal Duress and Smother to Bobs and attack with 2 Bobs and a Factory, ready with Swords/Smother for his man-lands.  He takes it.  I then Duress his hand, getting a Spell Snare, leaving Brainstorm, Haunting Echoes, and Counterspell.  I drop Serra Avenger.  He Brainstorms and concedes.

I side nothing as I had foolishly dropped my
Ronom Unicorn/Kami of Ancient Law package from my sideboard.  I keep a 1-land, 2 Duress hand on a gamble.  He leads off game two with a Flooded Strand into a Shrine.  I mimic his open, casting Duress.  I see Engineered Explosives, Swords to Plowshares, Faerie Conclave, Nevinyrral's Disk, Island, and Wrath of God.  Wow.  He didn't like my guys I guess.  I take the EE as they are too good.  He can drop them for little investment and they're as much as Wrath as his other cards.  He plays the Conclave.  I play Duress again, as I didn't draw a land, and see the same ccards plus a Hallowed Fountain.  I take Swords to Plowshares, as he can really make me overcommit to do anything through a removal spell, a man-land AND Wraths in-hand/on-board, plus he can't use the Wrath effects til turn 4/5.  He comes back with another hit, Mishra's Factory, and beats down with the Faerie.  I draw a Bloodstained Mire and take advantage of his tap-out to drop Bob.  

He plays an Island, and drops Disk.  This isn't particularly worrisome to me.   I will get a card off of Bob at the least, and free damage to boot.  I reveal a Factory, and then play a Plains and hammer him with
Hymn to Tourach.  He looses a Gemstone Mine (Not sure why that's in his deck, maybe just for lack of some needed cards.) and Wrath of God.  Good.  I hit him with Bob, and play out Serra Avenger to "over-commit".  He pops the Disk, then attacks with his Factory.  Cool, he tapped out again.  I RFG some cards from my graveyard and drop a Tombstalker.  He plays another Factory.  I attack twice and he concedes.

After the round, I deduce that he may well not HAVE FoW, which meant that I had a lot better chance in the matchup.

Round 2, I'm matched up with moranl, a Classicquarter member, and a strong player specializing in shiny decks.  I win the flip and choose to play.  I drop a Godless Shrine into Duress of course.  I see Lightning Bolt, Grim Lavamancer, Fire/Ice, Bloodstained Mire, Spell Snare, Mogg Fanatic, and Island.  I take the Bolt.  He plays his Mire and Grim.  I play a Mishra's Factory, and Duress again, seeing the same hand plus a 2nd Grim.  Nice cards.  I take the Fire/Ice.  He attacks me with Grim, and drops a Fantastic and an Island, leaving Snare mana up.  I drop a Swamp and Swords his Grim.  He Brainstorms EOT.  He drops another Mire, attacks with Mogg.  I take, not wanting to lose a Factory to a Bolt.  He plays the second Grim Lavamancer.  I play my second Mire, and attempt to hit him with Gerrard's Verdict.  He Snares it, and cracks his Mire.  On his fourth turn, he attacks with Mogg, and I activate my Factory, confident in my hand.  He Bolts it and I take my damage.  

I gamble a little, removing 6 cards from my graveyard to drop a
Tombstalker.  He burns me with Grim at EOT, then Brainstorms, looking for a piece of burn I imagine.  He plays a Flooded Strand and passes back.  I attack with Tomby, then drop a Samurai of the Pale Curtain (SAMURAI!!!!!) as a diversion (A.E. Quit shooting at me, my life is low.).  He kills it EOT and cracks his strand for a dual.  Mogg bashes me again.  I cast Gerrard's Verdict, getting only an Island.  Oh, wait, that's 3 life in the burn race.  Cool.  I keep attacking.  He burns me with Grim.  Another point ground away by Fantastic.  I follow up my next beat in the air by dropping a Serra Avenger... wait, no he plays Counterspell.  I play Bob.  I am Lavamanced at my EOT.  He sits back with both creatures.  I reveal Jotun Grunt to on my upkeep, and attack him... and he concedes.

Game two is another back-and-forth affair.  He leads it off with a fetch.  I drop a Godless Shrine and play a shock on myself so I can play a Duress on him.  I see
Sand Golem (why not Dodecapod?), Island, Mishra's Factory, Tarmogoyf, Steam Vents, and Ninja of the Deep Hours.  Crap, I whiffed.  Still good information to have since I had a Gerrard's Verdict in-hand.  He plays a Factory AND a Tarmogoyf.  I send his Goyf off to the farm and drop another Shrine.  He plays a Steam Vents (gogo Rav-lands).  Samurai of the Pale Curtain enters the field of battle on my side.  He Brainstorms and lets it go.  On his turn, Factory no. 2 joins no. 1.  He activates no. 1 and attacks.  I make the easy choice to have my Fox take the fall, blocking, and trading with the pumped Factory.  

I make no changes to the state of the board and let him go again.  He plays an Island and turns on his Factory.  I try to convince it to become an Automaton Farmer, but he has a Countspell to prevent that thought from taking hold.  Previous weakened by my dogma, the Worker is vulnerable the second time I ask him to go farm with my second copy of Swords to Plowshares.  I drop pure jet fuel in the form of Jotun Grunt and a Factory of my own.  He has no answers on his turn, and I beat down with my Threshold hatin' little giant.  I try a Serra Avenger after combat, which he pops a Counterspell into.  He has a Grim Lavamancer as his only play.  I
Smother the little guy, and attack with my Factory and my Grunt.  Nothing from him on his turn.  My Grunt dies to upkeep, I play another Factory, and he burns my activated Factory with Lightning Bolt.  I'm not sure why I didn't pump my Factory twice here... I think it's simply a mistake?  Again he has nothing on his turn.  I attack with Factory.  Attempting to play Hand of Cruelty (SAMURAI!!!!) meets a Force of Will.  He plays a Steam Vents and hardcasts a Ninja of the Deep Hours.  That's not right... you're supposed to SNEAK them into play.  That's why they're ninjas.  I make a sloppy set've plays on my turn, playing Jitte and Circle of Protection: Red.  This allows him to beat for 2 on his turn, and more importantly, draw a card off of ninja.  Ninjas are sneaky.  They talk you into bad plays. 


Back on my turn, I attack with a Factory, then drop a Grunt.  A rather puny Tarmogoyf joins his team.  I equip Grunt and hit him.  He blocks with Ninjaman.  With damage on the stack, he (Lightning Bolts) my Grunt.  I play Dark Confidant.  Nothing on his turn.  I reveal Bloodstained Mire to Bobby.  I play Mishra's Factory, equip it, and beat down with it and Bob.  He blocks the Jitted up Factory with Mr. T, and I pump Factory with Jitte to kill his guy and keep mine alive.  At this point I'm killing his cards for free and whatnot, and feel that the end is drawing near.  He plays a Sand Golem, desperately seeking to buy time with blockers.  I reveal ANOTHER Bloodstained Mire to Mr. Maher, and turn on both Factories, able to swing past his singleton blocker for lethal.   Concession occurs.

At this point I'm flying high.  2 quick wins, 2-0, in relatively close games have me excited, and with plenty of time 'til the next round.  I catch up on other's decks, new tech and whatnot.  I see Largebrandon is also running a deck with Grim Lavamancers and Force of Will among other cards, and I chat it up with him.  He said that he and moranl came up with the deck together, but he stayed Blue/Red to fit in a
Trinket Mage package, while moranl went Blue/Red/splash green for Tarmogoyf, dropping the TM package.  I liked the deck overall, as it's essentially Red Thresh, but with different equally good creatures and as a relative unknown quantity is harder for other decks to be prepared for.

Round 3 starts and I'm paired with Gainsay.  I go first, as I deserve (heh).  I have the
Thoughtseize of the Swamp, and see an interesting hand.  Slaughter Pact, Overgrown Tomb x 2, Windswept Heath, Eternal Witness, and of course, Skullclamp are his grip.  I saw his deck earlier and know he is with Rock with an ElfClamp engine for CA.  I take the EWitness, as I have instant-speed removal to keep him off of Clamping me out quickly, and if I don't, he'll just get it back on his 3rd turn.  He drops a Gilt-Leaf Palace.  I play Bloodstained Mire, and Duress him, getting a Hymn to Tourach.  He drops Skullclamp and a Windswept Heath on his turn.  I crack my fetch-land for a dual at EOT.  I drop a Hand of Cruelty (I mean, I'm playing a Samurai theme-deck) and another fetch and pass back.  Hecracks his fetch EOT.  He plays Heath again, and passes back. 


I beat down with a fearsome 2/2.  I then bash him with Gerrard's Verdict.  He tosses 2 land (B/G Dual and Urborg), then cracks his Heath.  He drops a second Skullclamp, and I chuckle looking at my 2 x Swords and a Smother in-hand and after he drops another dual land.  I keep the katana cutting up, then follow up with a Grunt.  He Duresses me, getting Hymn to Tourach.  Not a big loss as I still have Serra Avenger and a Pale Curtain.  I beat down with both guys, drop Serra, and he concedes after his draw.

I sided in Jittes to eat up his elves.  He led out with an Overgrown Tomb in
Llanowar Elves.  I'm relieved he didn't have Duress there.  I have a Bloodstained Mire.  He plays out a land and Robert Maher, the Great One.  I have a lousy land and Chainer's Edict for him, and of course, he loses the elf.  He reveals a Goyf to Bob, then hits me with Hymn.  I lose Gerrard's Verdict and Umezawa's Jitte, which isn't great, but he left me with Serra Avenger and Tombstalker who I am close to being able to cast.  Bob hits me like a football player.  I plop out a Mishra's Factory and a Hand of Cruelty (ah... evil samurai, fighting for the forces of JUSTICE!).  He reveals a Forest to Bob and goes nuts, dropping it, Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, and Tarmogoyf in succession.  I pray he doesn't have Overrun.  I crack a fetchland on my turn and go equally nuts dropping, well, Tombstalker.  He shrinks Goyf down to a 3/4.  Here I think he went into an overly cautious mindset.  Elves to Bob, drop Forest, Ravenous Baloth, and Llanowar Elves.  This turn may not be QUITE the right turn to beat down, but you have to consider it right?  I smack him with TS, drop Pale Curtain and pass back.  He plays reveals Eternal Witness to Bob, plays a Forest and a Skullclamp.  At this point you have to consider turning the team sideways right?  Instead, he Clamps up Baloth and attack ONLY with a now-three-toughness fellow into my 2 Bushido Boys.  I block with Black Hand, he stacks damage and gains life, and we trade duders.  He plays an Eternal Witness and gets back Hymn to Tourach, and Hymns away my last card, a dual land.  I hit him with Tombstalker and he concedes.

Afterwards I'm talking about the game with the clan, and they say he used to be a member of CMU.  His rating was over 1700 in both formats, but I couldn't understand why he didn't let attack with the entire team, without Jitt on anyone (except MAYBE Goyf, but even that seems bad).  If he attacked with his team, I had to deal with 2 4-toughness fellas, PLUS all his little 1/1s and 2/1, putting plenty of pressure on me while buying himself time.  By attacking with just his Baloth, he let me get rid of my weakest guy for a 4/4... The only thing I can figure out is that Pale Curtain owned him when he forgot about it, thinking he could drop it into the graveyard, get 2 cards AND the 4 life from it, and then Witness it back again.

Time for Round Three.  Bingo_bongo is my opponent, and I get to go first.  I mull once and get decent gas.  Bloodstained Mire into a Duress.  I see Forest,
Thoughtseize x 2, Polluted Delta x 2, Oblivion Ring, and Nantuko Shade.  My first impression is a slightly bad version of BW with Green for Goyf or something, much like my Like a Rock.  I take a C@shseize and let him go.  He cracks a Delta for land, then Seizes one of my Thoughts.  He sees Hymn to Tourach which he takes, Hand of Cruelty, and Samurai of the Pale Curtain.  I play a Godless Shrine and drop out a Samurai of the Pale Curtain, threatening foxiness.  A Black Hand might've been better, as he does evade the only removal I saw in his hand.  He cracks another Delta to play a Nantuko Shade.  Hmm, potentially big, but kind've a wuss right now...  I have an attack and a Bob on my turn.  He plays land, and then O-Ring, taking Bob, then whacks me for 2.  I hit him up for 2 damage and play my Hand.  Shade beatdown and another Shade to keep him company comprise his activity during his sorcery-speed playing time.  I hit back with both fellas.  He takes and I have a fetch-land, but no other gas.  He attacks back, pumping a Shade once, then dropping Goyf as a followup.  I laugh (I do this a lot when playing with Swords.  It's the Gin to my Juice) and Swords his Tarmogoyf.


As an aside, aren't the goyfs the single best tribe ever?  It used to be Goblins, but then one member of Vores by himself made them obsolete. Then you have Terravore, who was big in Tings and various Flow decks. Magnivore was part of one of the best decks in STD for a year or so (might be a little generous). Detritivore was crazy last STD and Block season.  The original isn't exactly awesome, but he and his black counterpart have both been a bomb in many a casual game, and as is the case in Magic most of the time, the white version is awful, aside from the occasional fun deck.  Goblins TRIBAL is better, but what tribe has had such a high quality on a per-card basis?

Back to the game.  I crack my fetch at his EOT, then hit him again on my turn.  In this game, the Thoughtseize damage was relavent, allowing me to race his faster Shades a little.  He attacks me, and after he pumps a Shade, I
Smother it.  I take damage from the other.  He has nothing else, and I beat down.  He dies a horrible death to SAMURAI!!!! 

I make the brilliant SB decision of moving Jittes in for discard (Verdicts I think).  He's on the play, mulls to 6, and drops a Shrine into Thoughtseize, seeing Jitte, Duress, Serra Avenger, Plains, Godless Shrine, Bloodstained Mire, and Tombstalker.  Some gas against decks with men.  He takes the Duress (which felt like the worst pick of the four UNLESS he had tons of answers or a big Hymn to Tourach next turn).  I play a fetch.  He does nothing.  He's landscrewed and wanted to protect that knowledge a turn and of course, hide his hand.  I draw
Thoughtseize (obvs) and decide to look into what he is hiding.  His hand is Hypnotic Specter, Goyf x 2, Bob, and Hymn (so he was hiding it, fine play on his part then).  I take the Hymn so he doesn't wreck me off a topdecked land.  He has a Swamp and a Bob.  I play a Mishra's Factory and Umezawa's Jitte.  He reveals Thoughtseize to Bob and goes nuts, Dark Ritual into Hypnotic Specter) into Thoughtseize.  He sees Plains, Serra x 2, and big Tombs, taking Tomby, and Bob lays on the hurt.

I drop an Avenging angel, and give her a Jitte imbued with much magic.  He reveals a
Nantuko Shade,  plays a fetch, and drops a fatty Goyf.  I hit in the air and get 2 Jitte counters... it's like cheating!  I summon a sister Avenger.  He reveals Swords (Oh crap, he has Gin to his Juice too!) to Dark Confidant and beats down with Goyf.  I Swords the threatening monster.  On my turn, I hit my oppoent with an odd Hymn to some fella named Tourach.  In fear of the impending song, he blows his Swords on my Jitte'd Angel, then loses two Insect Shades to my little ditty.  I equip to the other Angel and attack him!  I pump her with Jitte.  He reveals a land to Bobby, then attacks with Goyf and Bob.  I take the damage as he's dead on board.  I turn on Factory and hit with it and the Angel, and he's toast.

Afterwards, I mention to him that the BW build is probably stronger until we have painless duals, because otherwise you're in green for Goyf, but taking more pain to be there, weaking the aggro matchups that you strengthen by adding him in the first place.  I do a run around the room and then get ready for the next match, which I should be able to draw in, but I'm not sure.

My opponent is Largebrandon, who is the only other un-defeated, and after a double-check of the math, we draw in.  Another draw occurs in Round 6, and I've swept my second straight swiss in my only two PEs.  I'm really pumped up, tempered by my buddies having rought tournaments, but they seemed happy for me.  

My first round in Top 8 was stupid.  I was playing IKEDUDE2.  He timed out his first game, and we went to SB without him seeing my deck (he probably had a chance to check replays, but he may not have).  I KNOW he is with Dredge, so I obvs side in 4 x
Leyline of the Void, and he gets back without even getting to side in.  I see an opener of 4 land, Duress, Bob, and Pale Curtain.  I make the AWFUL decision to mull this hand.  I was blinded by Leyline Greed.  This hand was perfect too.  His only out against it was a creature bum-rush AND a very slow start by me, OR maybe a quick (turn 2-3) Akroma, Angel of Wrath AND me drawing NONE of my 7 cards that can kill her outright.  These are odds I SHOULD have been happy with.  I mull playable hands all the way down to 1 card, and concede game two.  So, bad beats both ways. 


Game 3 I'm on the play, and have the Leyline hand.  Hey, it only took 8 hands to get. I also have 2 swords, 3 land, and an Edict.  Not the PERFECT hand (Involving say, Pale Curtain, Duress, Bob and 3 lands to go with the Leyline) but very playable.  I drop my LL into play, and he makes the foul accusation that, "u know what I'm playin,".  I'm slightly amused by this (what, people HAVE to give dredge players a 1-game lead because they don't see it coming?  This isn't the Spanish Inquisition).  I later point out that I gave away game 2, and if he'd asked I'm sure we could've just worked a split before game 3, and this seemed to mollify him somewhat.

He leads off with that old stand-by of MTG winners, Island, casting
Careful Study pitching Golgari Grave-Troll and Tolarian Winds.  I have a... Godless Shrine untapped to react with Swords in case of any shenanigans.  He studies again, losing another Troll and a Dread Return.  I Thoughtseize him, taking his Stinkweed Imp to get rid of a Dredge outlet for later (if he can bounce LL), and see Cephalid Coliseum, another Stinkweed Imp, and Tolarian Winds.  He drops a Stinky and I Swords it.  No beatdown for you!  He runs a Breakthrough for 3, losing Winds, Dread Return, and Bridge from Below.  I have no plays, and he tries a Putrid Imp.  I Edict the Imp.  I've gone through like 1/3 of his win conditions... He Breaks through for 4, discarding a Bridge from Below.  He hardcasts Narcomoeba and I Edict it too.  At this point he mentions that, "if I had chain of vapor in, I couldn't lose."  I tell him I know, but I mention I'm not exactly getting gassiness this game, and I greeded-screwed myself G2.  I Smother his next fellow, then drop Jotun Grunt, and he scoops them up.
The semis were pretty close.  I was against whiffy penguin. He has Red Thresh.  Game one, I lead out with a fetchland.  He plays a fetch, cracks it, and plays
Ponder.  I have Swamp into Bob.  He has Breeding Pool into Fire on myself and Bob.  I Thoughseize him.  Our options are Force of Will x 1, no 2, no THREE, Werebear, Ponder, and Brainstorm.  I take away Brainstorm, and then put a Gerrard's Verdict on the stack.  He throws FoW and Werebear.  He Ponders his next play, then lets me take another swing at him.  I offer up a Hymn for his perusal, and he decides a Counterspell is the correct response to that proposal.  He does nothing on his turn.  I have a Mishra's Factory preparing to fight next round.  He Brainstorms EOT, then plays land on his turn.  I have a Gerrard's Verdict, and he discards Force of Will and Force Spike.  Factory whacks him.  He has nothing, and I rinse and repeat.  He has a Nimble Mongoose and I have a Jotun Grunt to answer.  Grunt grimly grinds him down, and the Mongoose, while particularly strong, holds back in fear.  I play Bob, and he has Spell Snare.  Goyf enters play, and is Smothered in the crib.  Grunt attacks and he lets him through.  No plays on his part.  I have the Edict for him, and the Grunt is lethal.

Jitte sides in due to being able to win me the topdeck game (His burn doesn't slowly chip away, but instead becomes obsolete).  He mulls to 6 on the play, then drops out a Nimble Mongoose.  I Duress, taking Brainstorm and leaving Fire/Ice, Tarmogoyf, and Flooded Strand.  He attacks, drops Goyf, and passes back.  I aim a plea to join the FFA at Goyf, and he has the FoW for my Swords.  I eat beatdown.  I have a Factory and Pale Curtain on my third turn.  He attacks only with Goyf and I take the damage.  I Edict him and he sacs Mongoose.  He attacks again.  I play a Jitte and hook up Pale Curtain, attacking.  He swings back with Goyf.  I attack with Samurai, then have a Serra Avenger Spell Snared.  He then has Threads of DIsloyalty for my Samurai, which wrecks me.  He attacks with Goyf.  I make a bad play, hitting him with a Verdict to knock out his possible burn spell, but he only had FoW, and I follow up with Bob.  He swings again, and I use Jitte counters to stay alive, gaining life.  At 2 life and about to stablize, I reveal a Jitte to Bob and die.

I lead off game 3 with Duress.  His hand reads:
Nimble Mongoose, Ponder x 2, Brainstorm, Spell Snare, Island, and Tarmogoyf.  I take the Brainstorm.  He Ponders then shuffles, looking for land.  I PROBABLY should've let him keep the 'storm, and hoped to screw him if his top 3 weren't lands, as he had a gassy hand, and it wasn't going to get all that much better with a Brainstorm and fetchland activation afterward.  I have a land, and nothing more.  He plays a land and a Goyf.  I Verdict him, and he discards Spell Snare and Ancient Grudge.  Odd but possibly correct play here.  He loses 2 cards rather than just countering and losing one, but he does get Grudge available for less mana.  I dunno.  It seems alright as I have a Mishra's Factory as a followup.  He Ponders, then attacks with the team.  I play a Shrine and a Grunt.  He Brainstorms, then does nothing.  I put the Grudge on the bottom and procede to make an AWFUL mistake.  I attack with Grunt, and he teamblocks, losing Goyf.  I should've just kept Grunt back until he didn't have Thresh and had a smaller Goyf.  This lost me the match.

I try Pale Curtain, and he Counterspells.  He plays another Goyf.  I play Serra Avenger and Bob.  He attacks with Goyf and I take it.  I reveal Jitte to Bob and play and equip it to Bob.  He attacks alongside Serra, and whiffy Bolts Bob.  He attacks with Goyf, and I have Factory chump.  He plays ANOTHER Goyf.  I Jitte up Serra and attack, and have a Bob to complement her.  He plays Threads of Disloyalty on my Jitted creature again... He attacks with all his green guys, and I have a Factory and Bob both do seperate Goyf Duty, the use Jitte counters to finish the Factory's Goyf.  I don't draw removal or Tombstalker, and he has me.

This was a slightly frustrating way to end, but I did have a few mis-plays I discovered after going back and watching replays.  I did complain a little about never seeing a Tombstalker either game, but whiffy did (and does) play Thresh like a champ, and earned the win.  He was slightly lucky to have draw Threads and 3 Goyfs during game 3, considering I didn't let him manipulate his library very much, but it was a great match.  This was a slightly disappointing end, but a good run, and between this and the other PE, my rating jumped 100some points. 

That'll do for this week.  I know it was horribly long, and probably a little boring towards the end.  If you have suggestions on the best way to describe matchs, please let me know!  I try to include the landdrops as long as they're relevant (first few turns at least), and what each player has in hand when it's revealed because it can be enlightening, but give me feedback, positive or negative.  Thanks to everyone who showed up at the PE, the Puremtgo clannies for their support, Java for the SB tech, and anyone I'm missing.  See you next time. 


Thanks guys by walkerdog at Mon, 01/14/2008 - 12:36
walkerdog's picture

Thank you guys for your kind words.  I missed the interaction with Smallpox, very nice.  Cyrrix, keep reading and I'll keep writing.  Thanks again!

Sand Golem (why not Dodecapod) ? by moranl at Mon, 01/14/2008 - 12:14
moranl's picture

nice artical - I liked it - very informetive

The reason I played sand golems and not dodecapods is smallpox.

If you have no creature in play and you opponent plays smallpox - you first discard the dodecapod and then you sacrifice it.

on the other hand, if you had sand golem in you hand, it comes back to life at the end of turn, as he never hit the ground till the smallpox resolved and the turn is over.

 other then that, as I said , nice artical - I liked it :)

great by Cyrrix_chipset (not verified) at Mon, 01/14/2008 - 09:39
Cyrrix_chipset's picture

Boring??  Hardly!  I enjoyed this article quite a bit.  I am planning on getting into classic on MTGO and was amazed to find this and classic Quarter websites.  Problem being I need lots of the classic cards still, but I got the time and money to invest so if you got extras I am looking at playing bomberman since I have been rocking a similar deck in Vintage to win 1 mox and 2 cash prizes.  Good stuff and PLEASE keep it up.


Cyrrix_chipset everywhere on the net