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

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Best Laid Plans

By Norman Ralph

My first FNM with my Izzet Blitz deck was at my local games store, Travelling Man. They offer a relatively good prize structure of two boosters in the prize pool per player and will pay out store credit in lieu of boosters if so desired. They charge £3.50 for entry, so I needed to get two booster's worth of prizes to make my first profit.

The list I took to FNM was slightly different to the list I posted last time due me to having some excellent luck on eBay in the first half of the week. I managed to pick up my Steam Vents really cheaply, which meant I could also splash out on a Hallowed Fountain and a cheap sideboard plan.

+1 Hallowed Fountain
-1 Plains

My sideboard looks like this:

2 Izzet Staticaster
3 Electrickery
2 Faith's Shield
2 Turn // Burn
2 Wear // Tear
2 Shock
2 Skullcrack

Some of that is redundant, some of it is just space filling, but having tested thoroughly online for the last week I decided I needed some answers to Bant Hexprood (Wear // Tear for the enchantments and Electrickery for the Invisible Stalkers). I also found that my Jund match up was awful due to their plethora of removal. I decided to try out Faith's Shield in the sideboard to try and use up their removal before I combo'd out.

I also picked up some sleeves and a deckbox. You can see the most up to date list and transaction tracker here.

There were four rounds of standard at the FNM and I did OK going 2-2 with a bye. I only faced one T1 deck, RWU flash, against which I made a good fist of both games. My sideboard plan definitely needs to include some number of cpopies of Nevermore as in all the match ups I was dead to pretty much a single card.

R1: RWU Flash, lost 2-0
R2: BUG Control, lost 2-0
R3: Bye
R4: RG Aggro, won 2-0

Round 1
A tough match up against Warleader's Helix and Snapcaster Mage as the 4 damage is pretty much the only card that kills Nivix Cyclops. Saw all of my opponents copies of these plus saw them flashed back with Snapcaster Mage. Warleader's Helix is definitely a Nevermore target.

Round 2
This was an un-winnable match up against a hard control deck running at least 16 removal spells plus a set of Liliana of the Veil. There was no point in this game that I felt I had a chance.

Round 4
The aggro match up feels my most winnable as unless they hit their nut draw I can just combo faster than they can kill me. I got to combo twice in my 2-0 win, the second game saw me hit my nut draw and combo'd off turn 4!

Cost to enter: £3.50
Prizes: £2.50