Friday, December 4, 2009

FNM Report: I am a winnar!

I actually rarely win at FNM. Partially because I am not the best Magic player. Partially because I rarely attend FNM. This is my third time going in NY. That's like a rate of once per month. Jim Hanley's Universe (JHU) has its Standard tournaments on Thursdays. They have draft on Friday, and I have been drafting a lot more than playing Standard.

But I've been getting more and more involved in Standard, and despite all the hate, I do love my Jund deck. I like wielding powerful decks. And Jund has a lot of raw power.

Technically I didn't win since I split with my final opponent. We played out the match, though, and in the end I took the cake. So I still feel like a winner... in my heart. :)

I faced two Boros and two Jund matchups. I will describe them here. From memory because I'm feeling lazy.

Match One
I've become fairly familiar with the crowd at JHU since I've been going there frequently, and I was honestly expecting a Vampire deck from my opponent. Apparently he switched after realizing "Vampires suck." Yes, yes they do. (See what I did there?) Although I could have told him that myself. (Sorry, Vamp fans.) His Boros deck was basically an exact copy from a Worlds build. Traditional build. With Kor Skyfishers, no Hellspark Elementals, Baneslayers in the side. No big surprises. On top of that, he wasn't too familiar with the deck, so was a little shaky in playing it out.

Without Hellspark Elementals, the deck was fairly simple to beat. Particularly because I was sporting four Terminates in my main. And of course Leech. My favorite start from the Boros deck also happens to be turn one Goblin Guide. I can't help it. I love drawing lands. Not to mention it's way easier to deal with the Guide than a turn one Steppe Lynx, scariest cat in the neighborhood.

It was a stomping both games. He didn't know how to properly sideboard. I recommended he run Hellspark Elementals. In fact, I would run Boros closer to how Brad Nelson runs Boros. This article has two of his lists. I would modify them a bit, but getting rid of Kor Skyfisher seems like a good deal. The closer the list gets to a mono-red type build, the better its matchup against Jund. That's the theory.

Sideboard: +3 Jund Charm +2 Burst Lightning. I don't remember what I sided out. It really does depend on what their deck looks like, though. I would be okay siding out one or two Thrinax if they add a bunch of Celestial Purges/Paths/Journey to Nowheres. Leech is probably the first thing that has to go however. On the draw, creatures become a much worse answer to the Boros plan. Would rather just deal with their creatures using hard removal. And play around Harm's Way.

Match Two
Another Boros! Again, I began knowing he would be playing Boros. But it was all fair. I'm pretty sure everyone in the room knew I was a Jund player. Apparently being a female means people tend to remember what deck you're wielding. Also I playtest Jund all the time out in the open. I guess that also gives it away. ;)

This Boros deck was more challenging. Hellsparks, for one thing. But otherwise still very traditional with Teetering Peaks and Kor Skyfishers. And this time my opponent was more familiar with the deck and knew what to play around in the Jund matchup.

Game one I still stomped him, however. My mainboard is geared a little better for this matchup. After sideboard, though, the Harm's Ways would come in, which would be a pain in the neck. I'm not entirely sure what else his sideboard plan was. But game two, it was a blow out in the other direction. I believe I made the serious mistake of keeping in my Leeches. (Why? I am not sure. My sideboarding process tends to be rather dynamic.) But he had the Harm's Way when I needed to Jund Charm. Although, looking at it, it was rather awkward because most of his guys had 1 toughness. He could only really save his Ranger of Eos, but the two damage redirected to my face, and that made the difference. (Well, I had BASICALLY lost already, but it was definitely THE finishing move.)

So, game three, I fixed my sideboard to be less dumb. Was on the play. That helped. It would have been closer had he found his fourth mana sooner. He told me afterwards that he had prematurely used his Harm's Way to redirect Burst Lightning from his creature onto my Bloodbraid Elf. At the time it looked like a devastating play. But I would later cascade into a Jund Charm that ended up being worse for him.

Match Three (vs Sean McKeown)
Jund Mirror! Yay! I had no idea he was Jund, but it soon became evident. To both of us, what we were up against. However there were some UNUSUAL things about his Jund build.

1) He ran Vampire Nighthawk main.
2) He ran Mind Rot main.

Nighthawk in particular felt weak. What could he have cut for it?

It still played out like a Jund mirror. Blightnings left and right. Sprouting Thrinaxes sprouting. We both had Leeches, too. But the first game the luck was in my favor. I had two Blightning for one thing. I also appreciated greatly my Oran-Rief. Yay for 2/2 Saprolings swinging in for 6 damage! (Seriously, they did 12 damage.)

I implemented a rather different sideboard plan in this tournament. Different in that I hadn't tried it before. But I took PV's advice to a certain end and decided to be as aggressive as possible. By removing all my "controlling" cards I could focus on dealing damage and hitting harder.
-4 Terminate -3 Maelstrom Pulse +3 Great Sable Stag +4 Goblin Ruinblaster

It may not have been exactly that in all my matches. I think once I boarded out a Lightning Bolt instead, but then I realized I needed them to hit opposing Great Sable Stags. And dealing three to the face seemed more useful than not.

The plan was to pour as many threats out onto the board as possible while ignoring the opponent's board. Awkward if they have Broodmates. In the future I may keep in a Terminate or two. But the more Great Sable Stags and Sprouting Thrinaxes I put on the table, the better. Since those are the two creatures Jund has the most trouble dealing with. Leech was still a fine member of the team. I didn't have to pump him when I didn't want him to die. I could pump him when I wanted him to die, say, instead of the Stags in my hand. He could combat with Thrinax and Elf and live. More importantly, he fit my curve better. Less importantly, I could pump him with Oran-Rief.

I think a better plan may be to just take out Garruk and keep in two Terminates. Garruk takes too long to be good.

Match Four
Jundy Jund. With Leeches. No Growths. Everything else looked normal, too. We slung spells at each other. Lands were awkward. I used the same sideboard plan. In the end I think I was lucky. That's how Jund mirrors simply are.

I had excellent Cascades in my Jund mirrors. And silly things like double Broodmate. Or 2/2 Saproling tokens after I double Blightning'd. Or multiple Sable Stags. Strangely, the Ruinblasters never played a huge role on either side of the table. The more I play with Ruinblasters, the more I begin to dislike them. They fit a very awkward place in the curve. The 2/1 body is puny. Double red mixing with double green is incredibly awkward.

But I'm not going to get rid of them. I have also played with them and against them enough times to know they are game breaking. If they aren't owning, they function to keep opponent's off Time Warp/Broodmate mana. Sometimes that's enough.

I think my matches went 2-0, 2-1, 2-0, 2-1. I'm looking forward to lucksacking similarly on Saturday. And not face any Jacerator decks! Woohoo.

I had a lot of fun. I think that's the best part of today's matches. I love winning, but in the end, I don't really mind losing if I had a good time. I got a lot of playtesting in between matches also. And a bit of trading. And tomorrow I will prepare even more for States.