Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quick FNM Report + A Boycott?

The New York City Magic scene around Manhattan has been on the rocks since Neutral Grounds closed. There's no place for players to just go, hang out, find where the Magic is at. Neutral Grounds was a famous, old store that closed down many months ago. I got asked about it a lot while I was in California for GP Oakland and PT San Diego, and many expressed surprise that it was closed. I arrived in New York too late to see it while it was still alive, but the memory of the store was still alive in the minds of NY players. Folks enjoyed talking about the place.

Fortunately, there is still a place that hosts FNMs in Manhattan, Jim Hanley's Universe. Unfortunately, this store primarily sells comic books, and they host Magic events very grudgingly. The primary complaint is poor and inconsistent prize payout. First place at a Standard tournament gets 6 or 8 packs, and there are prizes for the Top 4. For many weeks, however, they didn't have the packs to give out and ended up owing players pack credits. The draft payout is better since first place either gets 6 or 8 packs as well, but it costs $5 more to enter a draft, and the prize payout changes sometimes for no reason.

The second complaint is that they don't sell singles, just packs. The third complaint is that if you arrive early for a draft or Standard, they don't let you go downstairs to just playtest. They make you stand and wait in the main store area, which ends up making it rather awkward for people in the store since it's crowded with a bunch of idle Magic players.

However, it was really the only option for people that wanted to play Magic and not travel an hour away from their home. Until Brooklyn Gamers started hosting FNM. That's where I went to play tonight, and it's certainly going to be THE place to go for FNM now. (Unless they change locations to somewhere farther from Manhattan.) First place gets a box, and there are prizes for Top 8. They sell singles and snacks. My only complaint is that they start pretty late, at 8 PM, and thus I end up getting home past 1:30. But that's not the end of the world.

I didn't see how many players there were exactly, but it looked like at least 30 players showed up for Standard; and there were another 8 drafting.

My Jund list was nothing too special. Geared to look more like Gortzen's list from PT San Diego. It basically looked just like it except I ran 26 lands, 3 Putrid Leech, 2 Broodmate, 2 Terminate, 4 Siege-Gangs. The sideboard had 4 Stag, 4 Deathmark, 1 Pulse, 2 Malakir, 2 Thought Hemorrhage, 2 Master of the Wild Hunt.

Round 1 vs Mono-White Tokens
Amusingly, at my table, there were 4 Jund players sitting in a row next to one another. The opposite side had 3 Vamps players and my opponent, running mono-white. I love tokens decks, and his was certainly the kind that I like to play -- the kind that beats Jund. Ranger of Eos, Conqueror's Pledge, Eldrazi Monument, Brave the Elements, and early pressure. If you want to beat Jund, the trick is to apply a lot of early pressure and then just have overwhelming card advantage in the later stages of the game. (This is essentially how Boss Naya works.)

Anyway, I drew nothing but land game one, and then I got stuck on four lands in game two. So I didn't really do much of anything in either game. He got stuck on mana in game two as well but managed to pull out of it before I did.

What was more awkward was how many random mistakes my opponent made. Like Rangering for two Kazandu Blademasters. And swinging with creatures with summoning sickness. He also stacked all his lands to prevent me from seeing how many he had. It was just odd because he wasn't, by any means, a new or inexperienced player. He was just one of those sketchy guys you have to keep an eye on all the time in case they tried something weird.

0-1 / 0-2

Round 2 vs Vampires
My opponent's deck was an odd version of Vampires; it might've had Abyssal Persecutors, but I never saw one. Either way, he ran Fleshbag Marauders and LOTS of removal. I lost game one after getting flooded again. Game two, I Thought Hemorrhaged out his Mind Sludges, which I was surprised to see only 2 in the deck... Meanwhile his hand was full of removal and Fleshbags. Which was funny, really, because that meant he was holding a bunch of dead cards against my creatureless board. Either way, it wasn't much of a game since he was stuck on three lands. I Thought Hemorrhaged him a second time for his Fleshbags. He ended up taking a lot of damage.

I think game three was closer, but maybe not. I got Mind Sludged for 4, which was awkward. But I guess manlands and topdecking got me there.

1-1 / 2-3

Round 3 vs Jund
Yay mirror. I barely eked out the first one. We both got Blightning'd. But I think I put more of a strain on his resources after playing two Siege-Gangs. I do love Siege-Gang in the mirror.  In the second one, he kept a hand without green mana and just died.

2-1 / 4-3

Round 4 vs Mythic
These games weren't that exciting, but I did keep a pretty silly hand in game one. It had 3 Blightnings and a Pulse, or something. Which is actually not a very good hand because the third Blightning is definitely a dead card. And a first turn Noble or Birds would have put me way behind. (I knew he was playing a Bant or Junk deck of some sort.) However he kept a pretty bad hand, too. After I Blightning'd it away, it was game over. Game two, I had 4 Deathmarks waiting for him. So he couldn't quite get that early start he needed to get going. Since he basically didn't have "real" removal, he awkwardly had to Mind Control my Siege-Gang Commander.

4-1 / 6-3 (4th place)

I'm still trying to think of how Mythic beats the Jund deck. I think it really just wants Emeria Angels. But they fit rather awkwardly in the overall plan. However the Angels beat Jund almost single-handedly. Beating Jund, to me, is all about making tokens. Or using Ranger of Eos for more threats. Post-board, Jund has so much removal it's very hard to keep a creature on the board. (I have 14 removal spells after boarding. Ten of which kill Baneslayer.) And the Mythic deck certainly doesn't have enough removal to deal with Jund's threats, many of which can be quite problematic -- Siege-Gang, Master, Malakir, Broodmate, and manlands.

It's tokens that worry me. I will probably have to alter my sideboard again.

As for the Naya and Bant decks people are playing nowadays, I've noticed their mana is super awkward. Possibly worse than Jund's. More so when people try to tweak the decks themselves and put in different spells or a different sideboard. That's one of the reasons I'm avoiding running those decks myself. If Knight of the Reliquary just didn't specify Forest or Plains, deckbuilding would be a lot easier... but I don't know if Knight needs an excuse to be even more Boss than it is right now.