Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vintage Daily

UR Delver
It's been a little while since Lodestone Golem was restricted so I was wondering what deck I want to play. I'm trying my best to learn to play URw Control or Grixis Control. But I lose concentration fast with those decks and one misstep and the game is over. So I decided that in the upcoming tournaments in the following 1-2 months I would still be piloting UR Delver.

The deck though needs to prepare for other match ups than Ravager Shops while still keeping in mind that MUD deck can still be a viable choice. I personally think that Shops or other kind of MUD/Eldrazi build is viable. The deck to choose seems to be Mentor though. Since my losses from tournaments are usually against these decks I decided to switch Lightning Bolts for Sudden Shocks. This is probably very straightforward and clear to most of you but for some it might not be. The reason why I did not like Sudden Shock before was the fact that it does not kill Lodestone Golem. That alone was such a big problem that I decided to run 4 Lightning Bolts in my deck. But since the biggest offender is gone (3/4) Sudden Shock is the card I prefer now. The fact that it can kill Mentor or Pyromancer without me worrying if my opponent has more counterspells than me is what is needed now. Doomsday is another match up that is pretty bad for me but Sudden Shock can deal with Laboratory Maniac. I still have yet to win over Doomsday (rather skilled Doomsday player) but this is a little bonus. The card does not help against Oath though. But since Oath was good when Shops was around we might see less of that as well.

Since I expected a resurgence of Dark Petition storm I put another Flusterstorm in my deck. It is a card I always wanted main deck in two copies because of mirror match and Mentor but I couldn't afford it since the card was dead against Shops. Against Mentor, Storm and other blue decks that really need something to resolve it is a very good card. It does not counter Time Vault or Oath but helps win a counter war.

Since Oath, Belcher and more Vault/Key decks seemed to appear I have 2 Wear//Tear in my sideboard. Because the need to destroy something at instant speed (or enchantment) became important and I'm even more inclined in running 3 of these if MUD decks would be less prevalent. I still like my Ingot Chewers but the reason why to play them (costing one mana, being a creature) is less and less relevant. Adding few cards that cost 2 mana to the deck make it a bit slower though. I haven't really seen a problem in that so far but I can see it clearly in my games. Having one more mana open when finding an answer to something is actually a pretty big deal - especially if you need to play few Gushes in order to find the answer.

Anyway all this was rather theoretical and it was time to test it a bit. I entered Vintage Daily and wondered what I would encounter. I encountered Dredge and Storm. I was surprised that game 1s for some reason weren't so utterly bad but that might also be the reason why I lost one of the deciding games against one of the dredge players - who practically won on his t2 after I finished my t1. Anyway what was a wake up call for me was Rending Volley and Serenity that all those players sided against me. It seems that not only me was prepared for Monastery Mentor (Cabal Therapy naming Monastery Mentor against me was also something telling me that Mentor is obviously a problem). Unfortunately Rending Volley also hits my Delver of Secrets and Containment Priest. I also saw Wispmare and Ingot Chewer. These cards weren't such a surprise but certainly this 1/3 Flyer not only wrecks my Rest in Peace plan but can also block Pyromancer and Elemental tokens all day (and chump Delver which can be relevant since I don't usually win Elemental vs Zombie fight unless I have flipped Delver in play). I even sided in Wear//Tear to deal with Serenity or Nevinyrral's Disk. Sounds odd but Serenity killed me...

I played only one match against DPS and I seriously have no idea how the game could have proceeded if I would have chosen a different path. Anyway after this match I decided to play with DPS myself (not in a tournament but at least play few dozens of games...against different types of decks).

The Daily was won by Lexor19 with his Eldrazi MUD. If interested you can watch the replays I recorded and uploaded to youtube.

The next Daily went way better for me so I bring you a short report^_^.

Round 1
In round 1 I wasn't even sure what I play against for a while since my opponent started with Ancient Tomb and Sphere of Resistance. I expected some Eldrazi but later found out that I was wrong. Next he played Thorn of Amethyst but I wanted to play a creature on t2 anyway so I didn't mind. Later he played Hangarback Walker confirming me that he's not on Eldrazi and rather plays Ravager Shops. I already had a bunch of creatures on my side of the table so I easily won (since he was rather mana screwed). In the second game I had to let Hangarback Walker resolve since I did not have a blue card to pitch. I played Stony Silence on my turn 1 making Hangarback 1/1 but I suspected that Ravager would follow sooner or later. Ravager and Phyrexian Revoker followed along with Mishra's Factory. So I started killing the creatures hoping that the flying 2/2 that would come out of Walker/Ravager wouldn't kill me. I felt safe since I had about 8 removal spells for that card and Dack Fayden as well (Revoker 'needled' Mox Sapphire). I had Young Pyromancer to deal with the non-flying creatures and in three turns I indeed found Dack Fayden and stole the Thopter.

Round 2
In the following round I played against kingofcube that beat me in the previous Daily. The initial shock that was caused by my opponent siding in Rending Volley subsided so I tried to concentrate on the game and count with the card. In game one it seemed that I would either stare at an army of 2/2 Zombies or 4/4 Zombies. I conceded after countering Dread Return but since I couldn't deal with neither Bridge, Zombies nor four Bloodghasts it clear I wouldn't win this game no matter how I tried (should have conceded a bit earlier). In game 2 I had Young Pyromancer, Containment Priest and Sudden Shock to possibly deal with Bridge from Bellow. None of the cards got discarded so it was quite a 2/2 beatdown. In the deciding game I made certain strange plays and hoped that sacrificing Containment Priest wouldn't end up in me losing the game. I could only think of losing to Elesh Norn but that does not mean that something else could have happened. I just hoped that Delver, Pyromancer and some elementals would be win the game (they did). This shows that my knowledge of Dredge is limited and it would be good to play with the deck someday (I don't have cards for it though so I will have to proxy it somehow).

When you play Cabal Therapy because you are afraid of one particular card - Time Walk - and don't hit it. That's exactly the moment when your opponent top decks it. I made it even worse. I chained some spells, found the Time Walk and won^_^.

Round 3
In Round 3 I played against Montolio so I expected to play against Mentor. I was wondering if I really should play accordingly or just wait till my opponents plays something to see if he really is on Mentor. I mulled to 4 though and I wasn't sure if I can possibly beat a deck that can do anything better than my deck. It was a long game and it seemed winnable though. But when Dack Fayden joined Jace, the Mind Sculptor I was doomed. I tried to deal with few Mentors and I managed to deal with them but my removal ran out and I just couldn't deal with 20+ card advantage on the other side of the table. I conceded and wondered if I can possibly win. Anyway for four card hand it was actually pretty impressive. I hoped for an aggressive hand in the following game. My hand was actually fine but my opponent's hand was better and once again I faced these two walkers and Mentor and conceded. Since I wanted to see how game 1 would end and how much chance I could have we spent majority of the time we got for the round and this exhausted me. I learned what I wanted though so that was a good thing. On the other hand I was too tired to play against another Mentor deck.

Round 4
In the last round I was paired against another Mentor deck. This time Princess_Power deck from P9C he won. I suspected this because I faced Young Pyromancer early but I dealt with it. It cost me a Sudden Shock that I wanted to save for Monastery Mentor but even the Pyromancer would kill me so I just had to play it. One of my lands got Wasteland'ed which also seemed to point to Princess_Power Mentor deck. I looked at my opponent's hand having all the counterspells in the world but he had no way how to kill me or draw more cards. Eventually my Dack Fayden resolved. I wasn't really sure if this card alone could win the game but obviously drawing three cards a turn is something that win games. After looting for something that seemed like eternity I managed to play few creatures and one finally made it and stuck in play. In game two my opponent played Young Pyromancer on t1. I played mine on t1. He Bolt'ed mine and the Pyromancer died. I tried Bolting his but the Pyromancer unfortunately survived. From there it was quite easy to see that I won't win that game^_~. In the deciding game it got to a moment in which I had Delver in play and I had nothing else in my hand except Mental Misstep that I wanted to use for Lightning Bolt/Swords to Plowshares. The Delver had a long way to go though (14 life). When my opponent was down to 1 life he played Ancestral Recall, Gush and few more cantrips. I was expecting my creature to die since he had so many cards in hand. He played Bolt, I Misstep'ed it, he countered that, I Misstep'ed the Bolt again. He conceded. But I certainly did not deserve to win. I messed up (this wasn't the only moment in the tournament I messed up^_^ Not looting against Montolio as much as I could was also a huge mistake! Especially after I mulled to 4) by not playing my Moxen and Black Lotus because if I would have had those in play I could have just paid for Flusterstorm/Spell Pierce etc and still keep the two Missteps...

After my opponent conceded I stared at BFZ/OGW packs I received wondering what went wrong but I was too tired to file a report. We played few games with my last opponent instead but we were both pretty tired and it showed in our games. After totally screwing up not countering the ONLY card that would kill me I decided that it is time to go to sleep^_^.

This Daily did not really show anything new to me except that everyone fears Gush decks which is understandable. My deck was viable but well I just played 4/8 rounds against decks I could have normally played against pre-restriction. Anyway I received 6 booster packs and some PP so I should use them well - to learn something about Legacy or Vintage. Winning something will be nice since I can't spend much money on tournament fees or cards. But paying for tournaments is really better than just playing in TP room.

After doing changes to my Delver deck I made changes to URw Control and TPS deck as well. These slight changes helped me play URw Control better and I even put Sudden Shock there. Unfortunately I'm not entirely sure what this deck can possibly do against Eldrazi so I decided to keep it as my pet deck and possibly come up with either something else - for that I got 4 copies of Thing in the Ice - or learn more about other decks. I have a lot to explore in order to become a better player and the best way to learn at first it to play with the decks I can encounter (if possibly in tournament environment). To play the deck means that I can discover how the deck behaves, what cards it is actually weak too and how it can win which also helps me figure out how to sideboard or in general play against it.

In one of the Daily Events this weekend I got crushed by Storm and I wasn't really sure if I played well against it or not. I was wondering what the odds were but I couldn't come up with them. So I decided to give DPS a try. I have the deck online but since it was already past 1 am and I had to get up for work I would have to play with paper cards that day. I already agreed to play some paper Vintage that day. So I took more or less the cards needed for the deck and hoped to play some games with it at our testing session. It seems the group was actually glad to play against it^_^. After calling me a coward not playing with it I just beat them all^_^.

Dark Petition Storm
I played some games against the wall to figure out if I can count to ten (20). There was a player with Oath, Remora Mentor and Vault/Key control. My first opponent was on Oath. That sounded as a good match up unless I would face Oath t1 and I couldn't win on that turn myself. Anyway I don't know anything about the match up so I just tried playing against it. I kept a strange hand at first and lost to t1 Oath. In game 2 I mulled to 4 most probably not being able to win anyway. Since game 3 everything changed. My draw was better. I could see my opponent's hand and get rid of his Flusterstorm and Force of Will. I needed him to waste his Mana Drain then and decided that Necropotence would be a good card to get countered. It did so I went off and won. The following games went also in my favor no matter how many counterspells my opponent had. When Oath landed on the table I just had to try to win and it worked out in those cases.

Next I played against Remora Mentor build. At first I was horrified by the Mystic Remora. But I still had a way to go around it...or rather I had Defense Grid in my deck and in some cases I just needed to play my spells and hope. I have to say that I was more successful than I would expect which can only be due to variance (I need to play way more games). Mindbreak Trap and Flusterstorm gave me a hard time but the Mentor is not really that fast. It's not like facing Griselbrand on t2. There is usually some time that I can just hoard my cards and then play them (Time Walk is a problem though with Mentor in play).

After this I played few games against Key/Vault deck. I was already pretty tired because games against Mentor were usually quite exhausting. I could see that there are ways how to win against Key/Vault. It was tricky and not really easy though. My opponent though had a different opinion thinking he can't really win. But I had to see for myself. In those few games we played I was the one favored (rather my deck...not me).

A contest of whose hand is worse...

While playing DPS I realized that I actually mulligan in a different way. Usually when playing a new deck I keep all hands that seem to be at least a little bit playable. But in this case the hand either really had a way how to win or was likely to win if I get card A or B or was totally unplayable. I'm not sure if that it is because the deck is a combo deck or because I have some experience playing Storm in other formats. I kept two very strange hands though that day after mulliganing to 5. One was 3 Moxen, Crypt, Mind's Desire. I won with this one playing few Moxen, land and Desire (I tried it because I had to..I would be dead next turn). With the second hand 2 Duress, 1 Cabal Therapy, Lotus Petal, Polluted Delta I lost. But I would have lost the game even while having nuts.

It was actually enjoyable to play DPS but I'm not entirely sure if it helped me much in exploring what the deck can do or cannot do. I learned that even Mind's Desire for 4 was usually enough even though I'd prefer 6 to be the number. After seeing my hands and plays I realized that there isn't much choice in countering certain spells. Those cards I used as bait were always cards that would lead me to victory as well.

So now back to figuring out what to do with Things in the Ice. So far it seems that it needs to get teamed up with something that can also deal damage. Snapcaster Mage is not sufficient...

Here is a funny screenshot for those who managed to read the whole post...Thing in the Ice meets Planeswalker control in Vintage. The first Thing got stolen by Nicol Bolas and the second one was destroyed by Garruk!