Friday, December 25, 2009

STsung's Naya Aggro

I'm not a competitive player but I'm not a bad player either. At last tournament I got pretty angry because well it's been quite some time that people are having bad comments about my deck and its build. I have a story for you out there reading this. This will help you understand why I start to be pretty upset and occasionally yell at someone who's not even to blame.

It all started with Alara Reborn and the time where everyone was testing for the National Tournament in Magic: The Gathering. My poor self decided to go for constructed FNMs at that time as I had already enough of limited (I'm no good at limited). I build a Naya deck meant for fun primarily but a deck that would be able to survive a "FNM competitive" play. It looked something like this:
4x Woolly Thoctar
4x Bloodbraid Elf
4x Boggart Ram-Gang
4x Mogg Fanatic
3x Hellspark Elemental

//other spells
4x Incinerate
4x Naya Charm
3x Path to exile
3x Oblivion Ring
2x Colossal Might
2x Double Cleave

It was first build and I had no idea if this could work or not. It was sufficient for local play, but it was far from being playable at Nationals. I was capable of winning with some tricks and the weirdest sideboards card ever. My deck continued to evolve though. Playing Colossal Might when you don't have access to R and G mana on round 2 is not that good as creatures die quite easily to removal and it's another lost card. Same goes to Double Cleave. That card is fun but not for a field with lots of removal. I dropped Oblivion Rings as well and decided to add Volcanic Fallouts instead.

Some time later the format has changed. I had to drop shadowmoor cards and I could add Lightning bolt. I did that. At a certain time I kept Incinerate and Lightning bolt in my deck. I dropped Mogg Fanatic which was replaced by Qasali Pridemage. Ram-gang became unplayable as well so I wanted to try my luck with Behemoth Sledge. This card is not a creature and is not good in "bigger" numbers so I triedto find a creature that would help me. I did not come up with any but since I slowed the pace of the deck by quite a lot I decided to add Ajani Vengeant instead. This card could be a "Lightning Helix for 4 mana" or it could keep something tapped. The deck became less aggressive. But Ajani helped the deck and worked pretty well in Type 2. I had enough life gain, enough removal - both global and spot - and I could control the game to some extent. Naya Charm and Ajani were cards that could easily win the game.

Later there weren't much of Type 2 tournaments and there was Extended rotation which meant that my Sliver deck was no longer playable. I decided to rebuild my Naya Aggro deck so it would be playable in Extended.

4x Woolly Thoctar
4x Bloodbraid Elf
4x Boggart Ram-Gang
4x Qasali Pridemage
4x Tattermunge Maniac (Fanatic wasn't that good already)

//other spells
4x Lightning Helix
4x Naya Charm
4x Lightning Bolt
2x Path to Exile
2x Ajani Vengeant
3x Volcanic Fallout

I played mostly against Elves, Burn decks and other kinds of tribal and aggro decks. I usually had to play the control part (being the one in defense) in order to win. At one point I even decided to stop playing white and just come there with RG aggro deck. I did that and I won, but the deck was really dull and not fun to play (not that my contemporary deck wouldn't be dull as well). My RG deck was pretty fast and worked fine (purely aggro with some burn) so I started wondering about my Naya deck. Pridemage, Naya Charm and Ajani were slowing me down. Bloodbraid Elf is an card advantage but I found out that this card is too expensive as well if I want to speed the deck up. I realized that when drafting naya colors I always go for Wild Nacatls so I realized that this card is kind of a must. That replaced the stupid goblin. I decided to keep Pridemages in some number and Ram-gangs as their ability is too good. At that time I wanted to play Kird apes along with Wild Nacatls as that would would give me the speed I needed and some good blockers if something would go wrong in the worst case scenario. But I did not put them in the deck yet as I had to fix my mana base first. That's the time when I decided that Wooded Foothills would do me good and that all I would need to care about is white but I wouldn't need that much of it. At this moment I was experimenting with the number of Bloodbraid Elves and Path To Exiles and I finally came down to a conclusion that Bloodbraid Elves are bad for this deck. Having a playset of Path to Exiles was much better. But the question 'what to play instead of the BBE?' arose. I knew I would need something good to replace the elves but couldn't come up with anything. I also had problem with Volcanic Fallouts. They weren't good against Merfolk (too big) or Elves (too expensive). So I added more "spot removal". What I found at home. It did not really work but I did not come up with anything better. All the cards that came to my mind were expensive and not really Extended playable (Banefire, Snakeform, Oblivion Ring...). I knew I would need something with CMC 2 at most.

4x Woolly Thoctar
4x Boggart Ram-Gang
4x Kird Ape
4x Wild Nacatl
2x Bloodbraid Elf
2x Qasali Pridemage

4x Path To Exile
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Lightning Helix
2x Oblivion Ring
2x Snakeform

Now we are getting to the time when people started to play different decks at our store. All the decks were much faster. Many came there playing some tokens GW, BW and even RW. These decks were fast but Fallout was a key. I did not really need to change my deck (I did start to play Pyroclasm along with Fallouts and this is the time I dropped Oblivion Ring altogether it wasn't needed anymore as no one bothered playing Enchantments or Artifacts). After this pretty short period people started playing all kinds of Bant decks. My deck was much worse against these decks so I went back to a more "control" version. That's the time I decided to finally play Umezawa's Jitte and wanted to buy Knights of the Reliquary. It was quite a difficult hunt for these cards though so I got them quite late. But Umezawa's Jitte was the card saving my a** quite often. Also I started to think about adding black for Deathmarks as I was overhelmed with Dorans, some goddamn angelic beings and other GW(U) creatures. Giving these decks another mana source for free was NOT a good idea. I also had Meddling Mages in my sideboard for my T2 deck and I started to miss the card in my Naya Zoo. But I discarded this idea as I had no good fetch lands for Blue/Black and who the hell would play Five Color Naya AGGRO deck? (me, obviously)

The time went by and new expansion set was released and to our surprise we got a new load of fetch lands that we could use and Arid Mesa seemed promising^^. Exactly what I needed.

Later with time my deck changed a bit as I got both Knights of Reliquary and Jittes.

4x Woolly Thoctar
2x Knights of Reliquary
2x Bloodbraid Elf
4x Kird Ape
4x Wild Nacatl
4x Qasali Pridemage

4x Path To Exile
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Lightning Helix
2x Umezawa's Jitte
2x Naya Charm

Well, at this point many people started to play Naya Zoo of all kinds. (it probably started earlier but at this point there were other people starting to play Naya Zoo in our store and people started to call the decks in some way and started asking questions like "is that Juzam's Zoo?"). I'm not checking internet sites and forums about what people play at pro level and I don't go to big tournaments. But I realized that there's something serious going on. The first person to talk to me about Naya Zoo was Petr who proposed that I should play some pretty weird land from Future Sight (Grove of the Burnwillows) + Punishing Fire. It looked as a good idea to me but having such a combo in my deck wouldn't really help its aggro plan. I ignored that proposal.

Anyway as this was the time of Landfall I started experimenting with that. Naya colors offer two possibly good landfall creatures that come into my mind - Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede (both creatures that I drafted with joy). I started experimenting with those adding thus more fetch lands to main deck. At first I played with 4x Arid Mesa, 3x Marsh Flats, 3x Verdant Catacombs. I put Steppe Lynx and Geopede in the deck discarding few Pridemages, Bloodbraid Elves and Naya Charms. I realized that the deck does not work THAT well with that. Harrow came to my mind as one of the landfall enablers but I did not even get to the point of testing it. Too much of a drawback and I did not plan to play too many basics anyway. In the end I wasn't satisfied with Steppe Lynx and rather put Goblin Guide in my deck. This card is a double edged sword though. It can give a card advantage to my adversary but it can also deal some damage early in the game which is what my deck needs. For a while I kept switching Steppe Lynx and Goblin Guide trying to figure out which card is better. (I had two periods of testing that). It all came down to Steppe Lynx is bad and Goblin Guide is better.

Landfall and fetch lands brought a new possibility though. I did not need to limit myself to three colors. So I added Hallowed Fountain and Meddling Mage so I could stop some decks combo decks. Meddling Mage actually came handy and helped me many times. Even at times when it was the only NON-red creature in my deck.

At one tournament I managed to mix my sideboards and ended up with my Jund deck sideboard there. I was wondering what to do with Thought Hemorrhages, Death Marks, Ruinblasters and Pithing Needle and such. Well I thought for a moment and remembered that Deathmark could actually come handy. I played 7 Swamp fetching lands in main deck already so adding a swamp shouldn't be an issue, shouldn't it?

I had few funny games at that particular tournament. Because one player decided that making an island of my dual land is a good idea. Meddling Mage arrived and screwed up the game for him pretty much. Some other guy got caught of guard when his creatures died to lightning bolt, path to exile and Deathmark in the same turn.

After this tournament I realized that five color naya aggro is not bad after all.
My sideboard was changing a lot at that time and my main deck stayed mostly the same. I started looking for an alternative for Woolly Thoctar though.

4x Woolly Thoctar
2x Knights of Reliquary
3x Goblin Guide
4x Kird Ape
4x Wild Nacatl
3x Qasali Pridemage
3x Plated Geopede

4x Path To Exile
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Lightning Helix
2x Umezawa's Jitte

At this time many people started to have bad comments about my deck. It all started with 'what type of deck do you play?', 'Kibler zoo, Tribal zoo, Juzam's zoo?'. I had no idea what these decks are about and was lazy to google (or deck check. I won't say that I don't know about sites where I can get the information). For me at that time there were two types of Zoo - a creature one and landfall one.

People were always picking on me, claiming that I play a really bad build. 'Who would play Jitte in a Zoo deck?', 'oh you don't play steppe lynx?', 'where's Tarmogoyf?', 'I don't see any Baneslayer angels', 'you don't play the Punishing fire combo?'. Many people were borrowing my deck and couldn't win much with it. Not that I would do much better but still I could win games against Dredge, Valakut/Scapeshift combo, aggro Bants and some Zoos. When playing against Zoo decks I realized few things and discovered few things.

- Umezawa Jitte slows the game down, but is good when it arrives in the game (3 is too much in main deck but 2 is good - even though sometimes both show up in my hand.)
- Goblin Guide is a 2/2 that easily dies and can't even kill something and when it can attack it would end up blocked, killed and giving my opponent an advantage
- my deck usually gets my opponent to 4-1 life and there the game is stuck. I loose because of those few damages I couldn't deal
- I need more life gain or get the deck more effective in its aggro rush
- pridemage is good in mirror
- tarmogoyf is much better than vinelasher kudzu but when this card is played in a different landfall zoo it can work nicely

When playing against different decks I realized few more things

- deathmark COMES in handy often even though when you don't want an overload of them in your hand (two or three in a deck would be good)
- wrath of god/day of judgment would make a difference. the decks are trying to convince me that playing DoJ is actually a good thing (two or three in SB would be nice)
- scalding tarn was a better choice for my earlier deck, marsh flats is better for my current deck
- there are more and more games in which gaddock teeg would make a difference
- having a mountain in my deck is not that good idea...the need is more for plains and forest

Ok so now I present current version of the deck.

STsung's Naya Aggro
4x Kitchen Finks (life gain, I don't have goyfs so...why not put this in. Kudzu is a bad creature for my deck)
2x Knights of Reliquary (I have only two, one more would come handy)
3x Qasali Pridemage (good in mirror, can get rid of Jitte if I don't get mine)
3x Meddling Mage (good for many reasons, but probably bad for others as well...but hell with BANT!!! - I need to test this)
4x Kird Ape
4x Wild Nacatl

4x Path To Exile (I still don't like to play 4x path to exile but it's needed)
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Lightning Helix
2x Umezawa's Jitte
4x Tribal Flames (can kill a goyf or it can finish the player. it solved my 4-1 remaining lives problem)

4x arid mesa
4x marsh flats
3x verdant catacombs
1x Stomping grounds
2x sacred foundry
1x temple garden
1x overgrown tomb
1x bloodcrypt
1x hallowed fountain
1x steam vents
2x plains
1x forest

2x Gaddock Teeg
4x Ancient Grudge
3x Deathmark
2x Day of Judgement
2x Ravenous Trap
1x Relic of Progenitus
1x Tormod's Crypt

Ok, so now...if you ever start complaining about my deck or trying to tell me how bad it is I'm probably going to yell at you. I'm already fed up with all those comments and remarks and everyone being so clever and such a good player at Magic: The Gathering. I started with this deck a long time ago and it is now that I'm close to finishing it. I never asked for help and never asked for opinions. I'm the one who wants to find out what is good and what is bad and I need to realize that myself. (and the main problem is that I'm a control player and that I can't just play aggro decks)

It seems to me that many of you guys did not really go through deck building and play testing. I'm used to build my own decks from a certain pool of cards usually those I own or can get easily by. I'm angered when I see people come to a tournament with a net decked deck and doing silly plays. This can really upset me. Also opponents telling me that they net decked the cheapest deck and want to win with it (especially against someone with non-competitive deck that I build myself). Sorry guys but I take this as an offense. And if you wonder why it took me so long to build this deck then here it is...

I don't have a play group and I don't want to play online nor test my decks on MWS even in offline mode. I would like to play with different people, different formats and learn from it and build my decks accordingly. That's what I've been doing all the time. Do you understand that? For me that is play testing and I think that these two words are not understood well. The context has changed for many.

I wrote hell of a text for my blog and even for a deck analysis article so that's where I will end.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Borderless zombies

After spending half of my day trying to figure out what cards to put into my EDH deck I decided to try altering some cards. My creativity is as at point zero right now so I just wanted to make some cards borderless. I did not want to start with Liliana or some other a bit more expensive card. I went through the deck and three cards stood out - Death Baron, Viscera Dragger and Infectious Horror.

I took out Dragger and started erasing it. After a while I started mixing the colors and that made me want to go for this card. I like the colors used on this card very much.

After this card I started painting on Infectious horror not really caring how it would turn out. Not that I would have much patience today. But it served my purpose I got rid of that terrible new design border.

So next time, more zombies? (who knows...)

Korlash, the big black creature...

It's been a while that I've been thinking about constructing a highlander deck. I had 3 ideas. One is a blue/black control that if survives the early game then can get whatever it needs (in late game) and kill the opponent with it. I did not manage to find some cards for it and well the deck is slow and probably pretty boring for MP games. (I have the base for the deck so I might finish it one day, sooner or later)

The second idea was Esper control that would be killing with artifact creatures (the sphinxes). For that I would need to get the artifact creatures though so I discarded that idea as well. But it would have everything counters, removal both white and black, "reanimation" of artifacts and such. It could work well...somehow.

The last idea was purely aggro deck (that would be fun as many players play aggro decks - goblins, elves, merfolks etc.) I decided to have a tribal deck that would have some combos in it and finally it came down to Zombies. Black can tutor, has removal, reanimation and that's all I should need (I will be lacking artifact/enchantment removal which might be a problem).

At first it seemed to be Zombie's deck with discard but later I decided against it because it was slowly starting to be a control I ended up with something that looks like this for the time being. There are many cards I would exchange but I have to come up with better ideas later...I haven't tried the deck yet so who knows if this is going to work or not. We will see next time we have a session.
//creature spells
carrion feeder
festering goblin
putrid imp
withered wretch
viscera dragger
cabal interrogator
cemetery reaper
zombie trailblazer
nantuko husk
lord of the undead
death baron
smokespew invoker
frightshroud courier
graveborn muse
infectious horror
vengeful dead
soulless one
undead warchief
corpse connaisseur
corpse harvester
gempalm polluter
grixis slavedriver
twisted abomination

//tutors and some other stuff
demonic tutor
vampiric tutor
sensei's divining top
hymn to tourach*
sign in blood
mind stone*
funeral charm*
drain life

cover of darkness
call to the grave
phyrexian arena
tortured existence

rise from the grave
cruel revival
oversold cemetery
ashen powder

liliana vess
sorin markov

death pulse*
diabolic edict*
last gasp*
unmake* (removes from the game)
sudden death (hehe split second)
nameless inversion (yay it's a zombie)
tendrils of corruption
plague wind
nevinyrral's disk (only way of getting rid of other stuff than just creatures)
doom blade*

Mishra's factory
Cabal Coffers
Crypt of Agedeem
Volrath's Stronghold
Unholly Grotto

The cards marked with asterisk are cards that I would prefer to change for something better suited. But I will just test the deck as it is next time and see how it goes. Hopefully it will be playable.

The general for this deck would be Korlash, Heir To Backblade.

There's just one thing I'm missing and that is something/some creature that would generate some zombies or creatures. Cemetery Reaper comes to my mind but that removes a creature from my graveyard and I need to have those creatures there.
But we will see...oh yeah it seems that I should play pithing needle if I want to defend my graveyard from crypts or relics hm.

So what do you think about it?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where to enjoy some tea... - Bily Jerab

It is quite unusual but Czech Republic has many tea rooms, a place where you can drink high quality tea from Asia. I used to go to a tea room once, twice a week. I visited many tea rooms across the Czech Republic. Some I visit still (U dvou salku - Namesti Miru) some I don't (Dobra Cajovna, Vaclavske namesti) and some I never wanted to go again (Ruzova cajovna, Mesicni kocka).

Lately I give my preference to Bily Jerab located at Svandovo Divadlo tram station (Stefanikova, Prague). The tea room is in the basement. The place is welcoming and calm (the capacity is not big). The people are nice and the choices of teas are good. They have high quality Chinese and Japanese teas (they have the milk fermented oolong for example which is quite rare to get here). You can get taste some Vietnamese teas, get the classical Indian and Turkish teas etc. There are also flavored teas, mates and sahleps. They serve several kinds of couscous and some cookies (even macha cookies - cookies made from the 'tea' macha).

If you like good teas and calm places where to chat or spend your time, pay visit to this place (if you haven't done that already). It's quite hidden but when you find it I think you will enjoy it the same way I do.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Faerie Power!


Spellstutter Sprite - I wanted to try this faerie because well it uses really light colors and I wanted to know if I can manage to paint in "similar" manner.

Mana Leak - ugh I wanted something more... dark ... but it seems that I can't draw a tendril ugh -_-

Vendilion Clique - even though being it pretty messy I like the outcome of it.

Mutavault - just wanted to try painting it...not that I would be any good at that...hehe but it should be recognizable. ^^

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cafe Imperial

Czech people most probably know Zdenek Pohlreich. Foreigners might not. Pohlreich has become very famous because of one TV show where he is criticizing and giving advices to different restaurant managers.

He is working as a chef at Hotel Imperial and that is were we were headed today.

Hotel Imperial is a 5 star hotel in a Art deco building in the center of Prague (Na Porici 15, Prague 1). From the outside the building does not really look inviting but inside you will find out that the building is still decorated in the original art deco style and that makes it unique and special in a way.

In the restaurant you can choose from not so varied menu which (as Polhreich says) is not a disadvantage but a good thing to have if the food is of a high quality and tastes really well.

This is one of the places where you can go and order a delicious Czech meal (of course other meals are delicious too).

The food has a lot of flavor and is well prepared. It is the taste/flavor that is the most important for Pohlreich. Not the way it looks (why decorate a meal with something that does not go well with?).

The coffee served there comes from Lavazza company and I really like this kind of coffee (as you probably know from previous post). So that's another plus^_~.

If you are looking for a good place to have a really tasty meal that you can enjoy I advise you to try this place. The place is full all the time so you need to reserve your place though.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Where to get a coffee? Lavazza Cafe

It's been some time that I go to Lavazza cafe at Metropole Zlicin, Prague to have a good coffee or desert. The place is nice and is actually quite calm which is surprising (especially now when so many people "go out" shopping). You can either sit on a sofa or a chair as you like.

They have a wide variety of coffees and each cup of coffee is a small miracle^_~. The company is not afraid to do experiments, to do extensive researches and come up with what people desire. Thus you can try out different kinds of coffee that you haven't tasted yet. All coffees can be served decaffeined.

They also invented their own kind of 'subdivided' cup into which certain foams would be inserted (thus individually) - hazelnut, chocolate and whole milk (check it out, it's at least interesting if you don't want to try it). These would be then served along with the coffee.

What I would like to point out is also their design. Always renewed and really good - modern and innovative.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanks for inviting me to play EDH

Thanks to the guy who invited me to play EDH. It was fun even though I can imagine that one player being almost asleep and not really paying attention to anything (well, I wasn't alone^^ - goblins seemed to be asleep) isn't that fun to play with.
Thanks for a short chat.
Thanks to Tank as well for the Chocolate (now we will see if he pays attention to FB notofications, hehe)

Also today my zoo deck showed me that 4 fetchlands on opening hand. First four cards drawn = 4 fetchlands. why not...what is the probability for this (counting in the fact that I shuffle my library after I sacrifice the land...)?
(I have to find out...what the probability is more or less)

And of course my control deck running 25 lands starts almost ALL the time with 2 lands and sometimes does not even draw the third one. On the other hand my cool Zoo starts with 4 lands running 21 lands and I even tried going down to 19. but decided against it as I need some nice landfall...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Subway (Czech Republic)

I've always enjoyed Subway 'restaurants'. In US it was one of my favorites and I still enjoy their food in the UK, Germany and Austria. For the past month I've been passing by Subway located at Narodni Trida. I decided to go there today.

I asked if I can order what I want. Not that anyone would actually tell me from what I can choose. Anyway I ordered chicken teriyaki, then I wanted some bacon and chedar cheese. The girl doing the sandwich for me did not hear me even though I tried telling her what I want several times and quite loudly. She just went on ignoring my order.
They did add what I asked for later though.

What I did not appreciate much was the choice of the sauces. In general the primary choices were ketchup, mayonnaise and two different kinds of mustard - not something I would expect at Subway. Not to mention that usually there are more choices of what you can get in Germany and UK (at least what concerns types of cheese and vegetables).

There's not so much place in the restaurant at Narodni Trida and I did not even like the setup.

Anyway the last issue is the price. I ordered a half of the sandwich and it cost me 125CZK which I find a lot for something like that when it can't even reach the quality of Subway in neighbor country.