Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Duress: A Replay

I am playing in an online tournament hosted on the WOTC (Wizards of the Coast) Standard General forum. I played my match for this week versus greg_the_egg today.

I was playing Jund versus his American Control. And I really didn't feel on top of my game. I didn't feel like I was playing a real game of Magic. Playing over the internet does that to me a lot. Not to mention I had gotten pretty crushed playtesting earlier versus Dredge, Naya Landfall, and Spread 'Em. (All decks basically designed to beat Jund game one.) The Spread 'Em deck was particularly brutal. I felt I had no chance of getting back after playing tapped land after tapped land. Or was it because all my lands were Islands... yeah, that, too. Ajani Vengeant sealed the deal.

Anyway, those were different games, but they infected my playing for this match versus American Control. I'm going to go back and look at one particular decision I made during the third game.

I hate making decisions over MWS because I feel rushed, like the opponent is getting impatient, and I need to hurry. In person, I don't get this feeling as often because I can see the opponent's expression. I really do need to learn to clear my head in those times, though. Feeling rushed always leads to poor decisions.

The decision was simple: what to Duress. His hand was this:

Lightning Bolt
Oblivion Ring
Spreading Seas
Glacial Fortress
Jace Beleren

My hand had: Sprouting Thrinax, Bloodbraid Elf, Malakir Bloodwitch, Rootbound Crag, and Lightning Bolt (I think).

I had out Savage Lands and Dragonskull Summit. If he Spreading Seas'd me, it would be like taking the Thrinax out of my hands, too. But he already had too many answers for it in the form of Flashfreeze and O-Ring. Was Flashfreeze the real annoyance?

It probably was, now that I think about it. Although if I didn't draw a land, my position would be incredibly awkward. With or without an Island. But more so with an Island. I think I was really annoyed with Spreading Seas, so I took it after some time. I just don't feel I really thought about the decision. Didn't reason it out fully. I went with a gut pull.

It wasn't a bad pull, and it may have been the right one. Duressing Seas is like taking away two cards for one, since the Seas cycle. But Flashfreeze answered all my cards (minus Witch). I think Flashfreeze was the correct choice there, truthfully.

If I'd taken the Flashfreeze, his game wouldn't have played out as him answering everything I had. And he would've had to take a more proactive stance, running out Jace or Seas or Oring -- all these sorcery speed things that I probably don't care about nearly as much as a hard counter. I have answers in my deck for all of these except Flashfreeze.

I better not play poorly at States is all I'm saying.

I should probably add I won the match here. Yeah, I won, but that doesn't change the fact I feel I didn't play my best. He had many draw steps to find an answer to Malakir -- Wrath, Martial Coup, Sphinx of Jwar Isle, Baneslayer whatever was in his deck. He didn't find one and died. I had basically nothing else left because he had dealt with the rest of my hand handily. So it goes.