Well everyone I decided to write up another one with some entertaining information that could be perceived as good or bad depending on how you look at it. Let's start with the Grand Prix Trial and how that whole thing shook out. Let me start by saying it was probably a good thing I was using it as playtesting, because I came to learn that Pod decks just wreck my skull. By that I don't mean it's impossible for Delver (difficult but nowhere near impossible), but my draws just seem to get progressively worse against Pod decks.
It was only four rounds with a cut to top 4 since we just had fifteen show up, just missing the next level of rounds and cut to top 8. Going into things I noticed five Delver decks sitting around, along with 3 Pod decks and a few homebrews. This seemed about what I expected, thirty percent or so still on Delver and a few people jumping on the Pod train. I wanted to get some testing in against Pod since I couldn't find anyone with one or with time to proxy on prior to this...so it’s a matchup I really wanted. Yeah...you know that saying be careful what you wish for? Here is the run down:
Round 1 - Larry w/ Bant Pod
Larry has been playing many different iterations of Pod since it was legal to play in Standard. Being that as it was, I knew he was on Pod, I just didn't know what variant since he likes to go against the grain. Game 1 I try to keep him at bay with a couple Blade Splicers and Vapor Snags, but he eventually just stabilizes and I stall out pretty hard on drawing gas. Game 2 I went into the tank for my Super Secret Pod tech... and it actually kind of worked...kinda. By turn 2 he has out an Avacyn Pilgrim and a Birds of Paradise, and I Twisted Image his bird. Then later in the game, I have Golem tokens swinging in with first strike, he lands Restoration Angel, moves to block - and what do you think I do? Dang right I Snapcaster my Twisted Image and kill off the Angel. This got him to just grin and go “Now that was tech, very nice, very nice”. But Silklash Spider every game makes it very hard to win with fliers, ya know, just incase anyone didn't already realize spiders that spit hurricanes means bad news for fliers. That unfortunately was the extent of my highlights, this match was like watching a Washington Wizards game.
Round 2 - Mike w/ U/W Delver
So I figured I couldn't get paired up against all the Pod players, it's just not mathematically probable. So I was very happy that even though I lost the dice roll, a turn one Gitaxian Probe revealed a rather stock looking Delver list. Highlight of this match is when I resolve Midnight Haunting and Runechanter's Pike. This is important because as I equip and swing in for lethal (he had no flying blockers), he plays Snapcaster Mage, targeting his Vapor Snag. So in response I thought scour myself and watch Ponder and Blade Splicer hit the bin, draw for the Scour...and what do you know, I draw Mental Misstep. So he tries to Snag, I say no and we move to Game 2. Game 2, yea that didn't really happen, I mulled to 6, should have mulled to 5 stuck on 1 Plains and just said lets move to Game 3. This was a much closer game that I had to claw my way through ending the match at 4 life. At one point he was at 20 and I was at 6...but chump blocking Augurs of Bolas with pikes gets there.
Round 3 - Martin w/ U/W Miracles
This matchup confused the hell out of me, especially when he resolves an Entreat the Angels prompting me to Gitaxian probe after he resolves it thankfully only creating one Angel. I probe and see Temporal Mastery, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Entreat number 2 and a Thought Scour. This causes me to just do everything possible to kill him, and thank god I outraced him by about a turn before he just exploded all over the board. Game 2 I made sure to bring in my one of Negate and Oblivion Ring and hope he doesn't go too crazy. Good way to stop Miracle decks, drawing your one of Negate in your opening hand.
Round 4 - Devin Jones w/ Naya Pod
Now this really sucks, because I wasn't able to playtest against this...but after we discussed things from playtesting he wanted to give it a shot. So I lent him a few cards and it figures I have to play him after getting thoroughly crushed by the non-Bonfire version, so I foresaw only bad things from this. Game 1 I had a normal kind of Probe/Ponder/Delver start, but couldn't get there in time, never saw any Pikes or anything to speed up the pressure, so Thragtusk and Geist Honored Monk sealed that for him. Game 2 I mull to 6, keep something like Splicer, 2 Snags, Twisted Image and 2 Lands and it's not great, but I can't see a much better 5. And this turned out the same way Game 1 did, not enough pressure, and then he stabilizes.
Well prizes went down to 8th, and I ended up 7th, so I at least got two packs out of my mediocre performance. This however was exactly what I needed it to be, solid testing telling me where the deck chokes. So the list I took was close enough to the last one without me boring everyone with typing it out again. But since my last minute tweaks just turned out ineffective, sideboard planning will need to go differently this time though.
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
2 Timely Reinforcements
2 Day of Judgment
2 Phantasmal Image
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Divine Offering
1 Restoration Angel
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Celestial Purge
Obviously Twisted Image was something I was playing with, and the cantrip along with the combat trick was nice, but all in all it's too situational and cute. I also wasn't running Day of Judgment sideboard mainly because I wasn't sure how effective Talrand would be on the board state and I figured it might leave too many awkward situations where it's detrimental to DoJ...but yeah I was totally wrong. The situations where Talrand makes it weird, are far less than the times when I'm just dead on board because Silklash Spider comes along and hurricanes away my threats.
The new board gives me a few options, and against Pod I think I'd board out two Talrands, two Runechanter's Pikes, one Midnight Haunting and the one Mental Misstep and board in the fourth Restoration Angel, two O-Rings, two Day of Judgments and Negate. Just taking from how badly beaten the main deck got and watching Pod just gum up the board and blow people away with Bonfires makes me value Day of Judgment much much more.
So if anything the trials were successful because I figured out what I just suck against, and also slightly validated Midnight Haunting a little more since it was an integral path to victory. See how much more testing I can get done prior to the SCG IQ just to find out if I'm totally crazy or if it's at least got a shot for Top 8.
Now let's get to the second aspect of the article and why I had the Kamigawa question at the end of the last article. A buddy of mine in a new player and enjoys flavorful games, so he picked up a bunch of Kamigawa cards. Now the problem with this is well...when the set came out, it was during my hiatus from Magic (there was a solid five years where Affinity coupled with college made me forget Magic existed), so I'm clueless to the set. We've tried to tweak around and sadly with the exceptions of very few cards, Kamigawa is very...well focused on Kamigawa.
So to utilize his card pool he's attempted a white and green spirits deck and a red and white samurai one. Green and white is actually very solid save for the fact that there is no really big bomb. His big win condition seems to be Waxmane Baku going tap crazy, Faithful Squire flipping and causing a nice stall situation, Kami of the Hunt...and I convinced him to add a Garruk Wildspeaker cause well, it's good.
As far as the Samurais go, when you're paying 5 for a 2/2 like Ronin Cliffrider and 6 for a 3/3 like Godo, I'm not sure if the pool is just sub par...but seems bad. If I were to take a stab at a Kamigawa block deck that isn't too expensive I would do something like this:
4 Mistblade Shinobi
2 Sooratami Savant
3 Ninja of the Deep Hours
2 Cunning Bandit
2 Ire of Kaminari
1 Higure, the Still Wind
2 Toils of Night and Day
2 Walker of Secret Ways
1 Ideas Unbound
1 Oppressive Will
1 Hidetsugu's Second Rite
2 Into the Fray
4 Battle-Mad Ronin
1 Blood Rites
2 Veils of Secrecy
1 Feral Lightning
2 Shinka, Bloodsoaked Keep
1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
You see… I'm partial to ninjas, Ninja Turtles, 3 Ninjas, Hattori Hanzo from Samurai Warriors... I mean you get the point. Not to mention I think Ninjutsu it one of those fun abilities within the realms of being fair but can lead to some nearly broken outcomes. Many of these cards I've played with either in EDH or Cube and they're fun cards, so given that the set isn't very powerful, I think fun and interactive could get there.
Going to have to give this a shot obviously and see what it brings to the kitchen table. But I thought it'd be an interesting topic to bring up due to relevance.
Well I'm off to try and qualify for an SCG Invitational, but let's end things with one more question.
Is it better to be too aggressive or too cautious while playing Magic?