Sunday, 30 June 2013

Playing Magic (Standard)

It has been a fair while since I last played Standard (I play less Magic in general now I have Kaleb to look after, and when I do it is usually draft/pre-release sealed), but I made the effort to go and play at the St Albans comic shop at their Friday Night Magic event.

Even though I haven't played Standard in a while, I still had a deck in construction, mostly made up of cards from draft decks. Part of me thinks I enjoy deck building compared to playing more than usual (which would explain why I like draft), so I didn't have to rush to get something ready to play (although I did make a last minute adjustment while getting ready to go). 

There were two tournaments ongoing on the night; one with prizes, and one without (it was free). The one with prizes would be more competitive, so I opted for the free one (like I said, haven't played Standard in a while, and certainly not the current standard environment). 

The deck I put together was originally based around Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, but evolved while I was tinkering with it. The main premise is playing out creatures that have dual use (bloodrush or scavenge), which act similar to spells, but don't trigger Ruric Thar's ability. Here is is:

Two drops
4 Zhur-Taa Druid: No one drops in the deck, and I start ramping on turn two. Not as fast as some other decks, but my curve gets better at 4 anyway, so I'd rather play a 4 drop on turn 3 than a 3 drop on turn 2. I did have the one drop elf that untapped lands for a while, but added things like Rootbound Crag, so I might not always have a forest to untap. I think if Llanowar Elves or similar was legal, I would consider playing one of those instead. 

2 Scorned Villager: Put in when I took out the one drop elves. I tried a couple of other mana generators, but liked this one the best. 

4 Lotleth Troll: Doesn't work as well with bloodthirst, but alight with scavenge. I mainly added it in for the regeneration more than anything else. 

4 Mayor of Avabruck: This was the last minute change I did. I realised that, while I wasn't anywhere near Human or Werewolf tribal, I had just enough humans to make it useful. Plus getting a couple of tokens would help. 

Three Drops
1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped: I really liked this one, but only have the one. Would add a couple more if I get my hands on them. Good to use with bloodrush creatures, and lowers the actual scavenge cost of some of the creatures that normally have it. Also regenerates which is nice (I think I was worried about Day of Judgement style effects)

4 Dreg Mangler: Quite handy to have a couple of things with haste really. Efficiently costed too, plus the scavenge is a decent amount. 

1 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker: Can get a couple of creatures in the deck, plus a couple in the sideboard. Might have played more, but I only have the one. Still undecided on this, it did let me get a useful creature the one game I did play it, but that creature was not needed to win in the end. 

Four Drops
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager: Would play another one of these if I had it. Saved some of my creatures a couple of times, big on its own, and a nice scavenge target. 

3 Deadbridge Goliath: While I only have 3, I'm not sure whether 3 or 4 is the right amount. I think I would like to try the deck with 4 as it is a big creature and always welcome. While I didn't get to do it, Varolz lowers its scavenge cost, which is nice.

2 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch: I started the deck with more Unleash creatures, but took them out in the end. Haste is nice, first strike is good, if I can play a creature and scavenge something onto it in the same turn it randomly also gets haste. A human so gets pumped by the mayor. 

Five Drops
1 Wolfir Silverheart: Only played it the once, but was good when I did. I have a second one now so will put it in (whether I play standard again before rotation I don't know, but if I do I have a second). 

1 Vorapede: Seems good, anti-combo with scavenge the first time it is played, but when it comes back with a counter from undying, Exava can give it haste. This was just a card I threw in as it seemed big and fairly resilient. 

1 Bloodgift Demon: This was a last minute addition to allow be to gain a little bit of card advantage later on. Never drew it, so I don't know how well it works in the deck. 

1 Wrecking Ogre: I don't think this is rated highly for constructed, but I like it. Did have two in at one point but took one out, might see if it will squeeze back in. 

Six Drops
2 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed: I had three (possibly four) in the deck at once. Took some out to lower the top end of the curve slightly. Nice creature to play, works well with scavenge (and bloodrush too), puts a bit of hurt on control decks (and none in this deck as it is all creatures and lands)

1 Sire of Insanity: Really helped me come back from a bad board state one game. I lost that game in the end, but this made it a close game, as opposed to me being trampled over. 

Lands
I basically played the on colour lands I had access too: 
4 Stomping Ground
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Overgrown Tomb
2 Woodland Cemetery
3 Blood Crypt
2 Kessig Wolf Run: Another way to use mana in a spell-like way, without actually casting a spell
3 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Swamp

Sideboard
The sideboard was me just guessing as to what the meta game would be. I had read about control decks and re-animator decks, so had a few aimed at those, but also some generally useful cards:
1 Predator Ooze: A bit harder to cast in a three colour deck, I had Supreme Verdict and Putrify in mind with this

1 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord: The double black is a bit tough here. Some good reuse, which is nice, and pumps with bloodrush. Anti-synergy with scavenge (and Varolz). This might be useful against decks that also run a lot of creatures, as I can win without having to attack. 

2 Crypt Creeper: Might be useful against Snapcaster Mage, but mainly there in case of reanimator

1 Ash Zealot: There for Snapcaster Mage, plus first strike is always handy, nice if this can get counters. 

1 Skylasher: I would put 4 of these in the sideboard if I had them. Maybe I just dislike blue...

4 Acidic Slime: When I was putting a sideboard together, that deck that won with Mazes End kept on appearing online, which is my main reason for wanting this. Hits a lot of other permanents as well, which is always good. 

1 Glaring Spotlight: The creatures losing hexproof isn't as useful as I have no spells to target anyway, but making my team unblockable is always nice. 

1 Creeping Renaissance: One of the few non-creatures. If everything else I have is a creature, this could restock my hand very well in long games. 

3 Pithing Needle: Really like this card. I remember a deck that used this and Goblin Guide together

Matches
There were three rounds in the free pod, as it was the smaller one. I was not doing great in the first game, after a bit of a slow start. My opponent had some largeish creatures, and some I couldn't block. I was one turn away from losing to something I couldn't block, but had a lot on the board. My opponent played two spells which flipped back the Mayor to its human side on my turn, which pumped a couple of my creatures. That and an Exava pushed the damage up to a big swing which won the game. I had a more aggressive start to help win the second game. 

In the second round, I lost the first match, but stabilized (just not enough) with Sire of Insanity (they topdecked a Huntmaster of the Fells which helped them a lot). I boarded in a couple of cards as my opponent was playing Snapcaster and counterspells, and won the next two games. 

In the final round, my opponent had an interesting spell based deck, I won the first game with some larger creatures (but was on 1 life when I won, so a close game). In the second game, I got out a lot of big creatures quickly and there wasn't much my opponent could do about it. 

Even though it was the free pod and there were no prizes, I got some promo cards for winning, and one of the leftover badges from the Dragons Maze prerelease (which is nice, as I wanted a Gruul one but didn't have one yet). 

Modifying the deck
I'm not sure where to start modifying the deck. In theory I should take out all the Innistrad cards as they'll rotate out soon, to see how well it will do in Theros standard. That being said, I did get a Wolfir Silverheart and Huntmaster of the Fells for trade, so might pop them in while they're still legal. I now also have one Dryad Militant, so might look out to get some more. I prefer this one over Rakdos Cackler, even though the Cackler might have a bit more toughness if unleashed, and can be cast by both halves of the hybrid cost in this deck, I get an extra counter if I scavenge the Dryad with Varolz. Plus, I don't care about the cards it exiles as I don't have any in the deck. The sideboard could also do with a bit of work, I want more Skylashers, but that's just me. I don't really have a sideboard plan (i.e. what to take out against certain matchups, which I know you're supposed to), so the sideboard is less of a priority; its more just some cards that might be good in certain cases.