Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Changing it Up

By Norman Ralph

Weeks 3 and 4 of my FNM story have shown me how difficult a challenge this is going to be. Having missed a week to play Modern at FNM in order to prepare for a couple of big modern events in Chesterfield and Manchester, I went back to the standard tournament at Travelling Man with high hopes of another top 4 finish and another profitable evening. I went 1-3 and cam second last. I should have gone 3-1 and come in the top 4 but I punted a game where I had the win in hand and discarded a mountain to Faithless Looting when I should have pitched the Island that I kept. In the other game I lost that I should have won I just screwed my maths up and ended up being a spell short on the killer blow. Though the maths was made complicated with an on line Trading Post there was really no excuse.

I am not going to go into a long tournament report for week 3 as most of the decks and match ups are ones I've spoken about before and my own deck's weaknesses and strengths haven't changed. I still would really want a set of Boros Reckoners or Geists of Saint Traft in the sideboard to beat a control deck and I am still really wanting to upgrade some of the Guildgates into other lands, but with rotation so close I don't think either is a good plan just yet.

Speaking of rotation, week 4 saw me change tactic and eschew the standard event for an M14 booster draft. The main reason for this change was the fact that I need cards in my pool for post rotation and also some trade/sale fodder to fix my deck when Theros hits at the end of September. With a steep entry cost compared to prize credit (£11.50 in and max £10 credit) it was a risky manoeuvre but essential if I want to take FNM Hero into the new set.

My gamble paid off as I drafted a very solid UW deck with 2 Scroll Thieves, a couple of Air Servants and Divinations, 4 Celestial Flare and 2 Pacifism. The big win for the draft was a foil Archangel of Thune. Not only is it a high value card in terms of money, but also won me the game every time it resolved.

This was my final 40:

1 Archangel of Thune
2 Scroll Thief
2 Master of Diversion
2 Griffin Sentinel
2 Charging Griffin
2 Air Servant
1 Wall of Swords
1 Trained Condor

3 Celestial Flare
2 Divination
2 Pacifism
1 Cancel
1 Disperse
1 Claustrophobia

8 Islands
9 Plains

Unsurprisingly I went 3-0 and came top.

Entry: £11.50
Prizes: £10 + Dimir Charm FNM Promo

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Playing to your (meta) Strengths

By Norman Ralph

Week 2 of my FNM Hero series was a roller coaster ride. I again ended up going 2-2 but this time without the help of a bye and yet still managing to come fourth in the Swiss, meaning I made my first ever FNM Hero profit!

My sideboard is still causing me headaches and removal heavy decks are still trouncing me in every match up, but against mid range and aggressive decks that are light on removal I have the edge pre-board and on the play, so winning 2-1 is my usual course.

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt so far in FNM Hero is that I really should have considered the local meta when deciding on my deck. My main deck Pillar of Flames are the cards I take out most often, along with my Guttersnipes. Pillar comes out as we have a Voice of Resurgence light meta (although Strangleroot Geist appears in a couple of local decks) and getting red on turn 1 to kill the mana elves is awkward the majority of the time. Making the decision between turn 1/2 Pillar of Flame and Thought Scour/Izzet Charm/Faithless Looting is also a really tough one against a lot of match ups. I wonder whether this would be better as an Unsummon or similar. or even a set of Mizzium Skin across the main deck and board. I am always disappointed to draw a Guttersnipe as I feel that if the game goes long enough where the damage from Guttersnipe is relevant, then I have already lost. In an ideal world, I would swap these out for Geists of Saint Traft, but seeing as I have £20 to play with, I doubt that I could manage that, even if I got super lucky on eBay. The other priority is the mana base. The Guildgates are great and help fix the mana better than basic lands, but after turns 1 or 2 I usually prefer to throw them away to a Faithless Looting than a basic. Ensuring a more stable access to white to allow me to play cards like Nevermore or Blind Obedience is something that I am considering too.

R1: UG Tempo, won 2-0
R2: Jund, lost 2-0
R3: Bulletproof Eggs, lost 2-1
R4: RG Aggro, won 2-0

Round 1
I was playing a brand new player and it was barely a contest. In game 1, I won with Young Pyromancer and Elemental Token beat down. Game 2 saw me combo off turn 5. In neither game did my opponent play a threat. 

Round 2
This was the match up I had been fearing since I picked this deck. The combination of efficient threats and excellent removal package is tough for me to fight through. In game 1 I was in with a shout, despite multiple Huntsmasters of the Fells, until he found a Mizzium Mortars with enough red up to overload it. I had the combo in hand to win the next turn. With a flipped Huntmaster on the table and no bodies in my hand I scooped in my draw step on hitting a blank and being dead on board. Game 2 was not as close, my opponent kept the nut draw for Jund and won at a canter.

Round 3
This was a match up that I wasn't expecting in our local meta, but the Bulletproof Eggs deck should be a good match up for me as I actually benefit from having Electrickery in the sideboard and being a turn faster to win. This was borne out in game 1 where I won the race comfortably. After sideboarding in Electrickery's and Wear // Tear I was confidant of game 2. I was even more confidant when my opponent then mulliganed to 5 on the play. Unfortunately, the 5 he kept was 3 land, hexproof 1 drop and Unflinching Courage. The lifegain was just too much for me to race and I drew my Electrickery turn 3, a whole turn too late. Game 3 was just a horrible draw for me and I lost the race after flooding out.

Round 4
My favourite match up, RG Aggro. I won quite comfortably in 2 games after my opponent kept a 1 lander in his 6 cards after a mulligan in game 1 and then he drew no red mana in game 2.

Cost to enter: £3.50
Prizes: £5.00