Sunday, 20 June 2010

"All Shall Smolder in My Wake"

Went along to the M:TG Archenemy [1] release event in London yesterday; it's a fun format. The Archenemy has a slight upper hand, even though they have multiple opponents working together to defeat them, with some additional powerful effects happening each turn benefiting them. All is not lost for the team, as there are multiple people (and resources) working together to try and defeat their powerful opponent. 

By the time me and Liz got to the London venue, there had already been a few Archenemy games started, with two waiting to start so we joined one each. With four of us getting to an empty table, the Archenemy was randomly assigned (it wasn't me), as were the Archenemy deck packs (I got the Dragon one). 

Archenemy Game
The first few turns were mainly playing lands and the signets from Ravanica (I think each of the four decks has at least one signet, apart from the mainly green one which has mana fixing anyway). One of my teammates played an early Avatar of Discord, while I played a Fierce Empath, looking through the deck, figuring out an awesome dragon to find, settling on Kilnmouth Dragon, because it had the potential to be AWESOME. 

The next turn, I didn't play anything because I was one land away from playing the dragon (I had two signets) as I had three other dragons in hand. The Archenemy turned over a scheme card that allowed him to put a creature from their hand into play, chose Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, and pumped up a load of saprolings to take out the Zombie player with one swing, leaving only two against the one. Kamahl was killed before it got too silly (again), and I played the Kilnmouth Dragon, revealing three dragons, and putting 9 counters on it (a 14/414 Dragon is nothing to be sniffed at...). The next turn I played out a Hellkite Charger (which is fairly handy with a team, as it would untap my opponents attacking creatures as well), and attacked with both big dragons. Next turn, the Archenemy turned over a scheme card that put a plant into play blocking any unblocked creature, minimising the effect of attacking dragons. Luckily, the way to get rid of this scheme was to have four of the Archenemy creatures killed, so a big attack put out enough plants to be killed to get rid of it, and the second attack provided by the Hellkite Charger was just enough to defeat the Archenemy! 

...and he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for us meddlin' kids!

We played another game after, switching the Archenemy. This game we did see some powerful schemes set in motion, one destroyed all my permanents allowing the Archenemy to kill me with a big alpha strike, I had a Seething Song into a Fireball next turn, but that was a turn too late...

After some fun with Archenemy, Liz went off to do some shopping in London, and I stayed to play a bit of Standard. I had my Goblin deck with me again, similar to the one I had at the Game Day, but with a few modifications. 

Decklist: Main Deck

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Goblin Guide
2 Pithing Needle
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Dragon Fodder
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Staggershock
4 Goblin Ruinblaster
3 Spire Barrage
2 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Voracious Dragon
1 Earthquake
23 Mountain

3 Tuktuk Scrapper
3 Banefire
1 Earthquake
1 Voracious Dragon
2 Pithing Needle
4 Relic of Progenitus
1 Punishing Fire

From the last time I played it, I have lowered the number of cards at the top end, taking out a Siege-Gang, and Dragon, as well as a Spire Barrage, hoping to speed up the deck a bit. Another major change is the switching of Raging Goblins to Goblin Guides, so I got to test those out a bit. I was never too keen on playing the Guides as it can randomly fix my opponents mana, but decided to give it a go, and play Pithing Needle's maindeck with them. 

Goblin Guide-Pithing Needle synergy
The last time I played Standard, I saw a fair few planeswalkers and other cards with activated abilities, so thought that a few Pithing Needles in the main wouldn't be too bad as there would often be a target for them. Playing with the Goblin Guides meant that I could see some of what my opponent was drawing, so could pre-emptivly name some cards revealed with the guide. And if I was really lucky, I could attack with the guide, see a sac land, then play Pithing Needle naming that sac land (they don't tap for mana, and have an activated ability, shut off by Pithing Needle makes it a dead card). 

The first match I played was against Elves (Goblins vs. Elves, yay), and got beaten in the first game after a Eldrazi Monument came down and flew over me for lots. As they were playing mainly forests, I took out some Ruinblasters, and added an Earthquake as they could get out a few creatures at a time, usually bigger than goblins. I also put in the Tuktuk Scrappers as a way to destroy a monument if I saw it again. I managed to win the next two games, usualy down to some early lightning bolts on Lanowar Elves to keep the mana ramping down as much as I could. 

The second match I played was against a Vampire deck. In the first game, I did get to use some synergy with Goblin Guide and Pithing Needle, seeing a Sorin Markov revealed, and naming it a turn or so later before it hit play. It was also handy to see what my opponent would be drawing so I could play around it (I remember seeing a Doom Blade once and keeping note until it was played). I lost the first game after a Nirkana Revenant got huge. For the next match, I sided out the Ruinblasters again (second mono-coloured deck played), and adding in a Relic or two in case of a Bloodghast (or the Ultimate Ability of Liliana Vess, which I did see in the first game). I ended up loosing the match, after a crippling Mind Sludge (I've played one in draft and it was awesome then, and still awesome in constructed). 

As it was knock-out, I signed up for the next Standard tournament that would run, and waited around for that to start, talking with the tournament organiser and the card dealer who were there, finding out more about the Great British Nationals event happening in August [2]. Apparently it's a big tournament that there have been events allowing people to qualify for for the last month or so, but I'm mainly interested in the huge amount of side events; Elder Dragon Highlander! Pauper! Drafts! Two Headed Giant! Looking to be a fun four days. 

The second tournament started just after Liz got back from shopping, the first match I played was against Elves again. The first game went fairly similar to the last time I played Elves; being overrun with big creatures. The second game, I came out really fast and won very quickly. The third game was quite close, with us both having a fair few creatures out (one of mine was a Siege-Gang), and even though they gained some life from Nissa, a fairly big Spire Barrage followed by big attack managed to win it for me. 

The second match I played was against Mythic Conscription (I think that's what it's called anyway), and was killed quite quickly in the first game by a Lotus Cobra into Fetchland into Sovereigns of Lost Alara, attacking and searching for Eldrazi Conscription, so got hit with a huge snake. The second game I managed to get a lot of goblins and damage dealt fairly quickly before anything silly could happen. The third game started with my opponent having two bigish lifegaining creatures that put my opponent ahead quite a bit before I hit them with a big earthquake. A few attacks later had me dead, so me and Liz headed home. 

All in all it was a fun day, with a fair amount of Magic being played. Looking forward to the M11 pre-release in a few weekends time! 

End: Thoughts on changes to the deck
I think the Goblin Guides aren't as bad as I initially thought, it can be handy to know what my opponent is drawing so I can play around it with that knowledge. Almost every deck I played had a planeswalker in it, so a maindeck Pithing Needle isn't always going to be a dead card. The only deck I remember that didn't have a plansewalker was the last one I played, and that had Knight of the Reliquary, which does have a potentially silly ability that I wouldn't mind shutting down. It also has the fetchlands, so can be handy if I can name them before they get played (which shuts down the Lotus Cobra a bit as well). 

I'm not completely sure about the ruinblaster main deck, I don't think I saw anyone playing Jund, and while I did see some non-basics in most decks, it was mainly basic lands sitting across from me. I think two might be aright, still not completly convinced on four, but I'll keep it like that for now (at the least, it attacks for two with haste for three, so not too bad). I never used the Banefires in the side board, partially because I didn't see any control decks, but also I need 6 to make it uncounterable, and getting to 6 is getting into the long game where the Goblins aren't as good, so something quicker might be something to look into. I think the 3-2-1 for Barrage, Siege-Gang and Dragon is OK, as it means I'm not going to draw lots all the time without enough land. I did drop the land count down one to 23 as I had lowered the top end a bit. The maindeck Earthquake was only really there because I didn't want to run three main deck Pithing Needles, so I've got to think of something to replace that with. The four Staggershock is fairly new (two last time), and I think they're good enough to keep all four, but I'm still not completely convinced yet, so will see. 

After seeing how nice the Eldrazi Monument works with the Elves, I might give one a go with Goblins, to see how it works. Also considering putting in a Warren Instigator, initially cut from when I first started making the deck because of a low ish goblin count, but it has double strike, so might not be too bad. I've been playing a cheap version of the deck on Magic Online, with Raging Goblins and Goblin Arsonists, so might try with some of those back in (the Arsonists aren't too bad for chump blocking, and I don't mind sacrificing one to an Eldrazi Monument). 


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