While I am excited to see what M14 has in store for my FNM Hero deck, I still have some catching up to do. I played in quite a few tournaments before M14, so today we'll be looking at some of the pre-M14 tournaments I played in and take stock of where I'm at in my quest.
In case you're one of the few people that don't obsess over my decklist, I GUESS I can show my decklist again.
Oh wait. Not everyone memorizes every decklist? I guess that was important then!
The first tournament I played in was on a Wednesday night at Game Swap. Game Swap runs the "Daily Event" style tournament, which is four rounds with prizes based on record. They've upped the prizes a tad so that a 3-1 record is worth $20 instead $15 in store credit. A 4-0 record is still worth $30.
Current Balance: $38.04 - $5 tournament entry = $33.04
Round 1: Human Reanimator - W
Round 2: Peddle to the Metal - W
Round 3: Junk Aristocrats - W
Round 4: Bant Hexproof - Split
My first round was against Pro Tour competitor Billy Comminos, who was playing one of my favorite decks: Human Reanimator featuring Angel of Glory's Rise. Once he played Burning-Tree Emissary into Farseek on turn 2, I knew exactly what was up. The matchup can be scary, but I was able to capitalize on some poor draws on Billy's part. If we look at how the matchup plays out, most of my creatures will be unable to attack profitably. The Human Reanimator deck is very capable of throwing out a bunch of random ground guys to make attacking with my own creatures relatively inefficient. On top of that, my deck is largely set up to kill two-toughness creatures, and Undercity Informer and especially Fiend Hunter have that annoying extra toughness to take them out of Turn // Burn and Pillar of Flame range.
In addition, I have to be relatively quick because the threat of Cavern of Souls + Angel of Glory's Rise into a kill looms with the seventh land drop. Finally, I really wanted to get milled out by Undercity Informer but win on my upkeep by flashing back cards and dealing damage with Guttersnipe. I was crestfallen when it didn't come up.
The second round was another pretty scary matchup against another non-tier 1 deck in Nightshade Peddler + Izzet Staticaster, but I was able to navigate things successfully. I did drop a game to my opponent's double Izzet Staticaster against my full house of Delver of Secrets over Goblin Electromancer, which was really unfortunate. However, playing this round and the previous one made me realize how much I love my local Magic scene for the most part.
For the most part.
My round 3 opponent was a "local superstar" that I absolutely loathe being around. He will remain nameless, but I am not a fan of the way he conducts himself.
In our match, a few exchanges left me with a sour taste in my mouth and did not help his reputation at all. In the first game, a Pillar of Flame killed one of his creatures, and I had to remind him to exile it. I also had to remind him that his Tragic Slip was not morbid and that it would not kill my creature. Perhaps an honest mistake.
The second one was not. A critical exchange involved me killing one of his creatures (with a Turn // Burn I believe) and my opponent RESPONDING with a Tragic Slip on one of my two-toughness creatures. Of course, it was not morbid (quite yet). I confirmed that the Tragic Slip resolved, and he put the Slip in his graveyard. At this point, he tried to get me to put the creature in my graveyard, saying that his creature targeted by my removal spell had died. He did not care for the fact that his Slip was in his graveyard and his creature was still on the battlefield with my spell on top of it (a clear indication that this is still on the stack). When I went to recollect the events that happened, my opponent flat out lied to me and said that his creature had already died. I called the judge/storeowner over and we resolved things in my favor, but I was happy to get out of this match.
I decided to split my final round with one Jason Morgan. He'd crushed me with his Bant Hexproof deck before, and I was happy to get some extra money. After watching what had transpired in my previous match, Jason was happy to give us each $25 in store credit. Deal.
Current Balance: $38.04 + $25 tournament winnings = $63.04
Wow, look at that balance! Time for a little shopping. I just had to decide what to buy. Did I want Sulfur Falls? Four copies would set me back $32, leaving me near the $20 mark. With M14 on the horizon, I didn't want to go that deep. Instead, I made an investment into my deck. From the moment I started this project, I looked forward to this day. I would like to proudly announce a purchase that I simply couldn't wait to make!
Let me tell you, playing without sleeves sucks. Maybe the past tense is more appropriate. Playing without sleeves sucked.
I can't remember when I bought my first set of Green Dragon Shields, but I'm sure it was a glorious moment. I hate whenever I need new sleeves and Green Dragon Shields aren't in stock. I don't know the last time I've done well in a non-local tournament playing with other sleeves. There's something about playing to your comfort level.
Also, I'll be honest. My cards were starting to get really cruddy despite my best efforts to wash my hands every other round or so. I know that my cards/sleeves can accumulate those specks of black dirt if I'm not careful. In any event, I'm super excited to play with my favorite sleeves. In case you were wondering, paying for quality is worth it in my opinion. As for green, don't ask. I couldn't tell you.
Purchase: Green Dragon Shield Sleeves - $9.99
Remaining Balance: $53.05
The next tournament I played in was Monday Night Magic at Twoheaded Games/Illuminaudi in North Kentucky.
For this tournament, I made a small change. The Aetherling that I tried just wasn't working out on average. I took it out of the deck, replacing it with the third Talrand, Sky Summoner again. As it turned out, this was quite a mistake. Nonetheless, I decided to go with the third Talrand again.
Current Balance: $53.05 - $5 Tournament Entry = $48.05
Round 1: Esper Tokens - W
Round 2: U/W/R - L
Round 3: U/W/R Hexproof - W
Round 4: Nivix Cyclops - L
The store has started streaming some of their matches, albeit without commentary as of yet. There is still some technical stuff to be worked on, but I think it's pretty cool to get a glimpse into the local store. As fate would have it, my first round was on camera!
You can check it out here.
In case you were wondering about those tokens, they are tokens from the In Contention podcast. When I was doing coverage with Joey Pasco and Reuben Bresler, I saw Reuben giving away a bunch of tokens. Of course, free is my favorite price to pay for something, so I picked up a set for the FNM Hero. I had Reuben and Joey sign them in St. Louis, and then Matt Kranstuber (and the hidden Sam Stoddard) completed my set a few weeks later. The perfect tokens for my FNM Hero deck.
The first round itself was somewhat interesting, primarily because of how I wanted to sideboard. My opponent mulliganed to five, played a Plains and an Isolated Chapel, and then conceded. I wasn't quite sure what kind of cards to expect, so I sideboarded lightly and kept my deck relatively intact. The second game showed the true power of Talrand, Sky Summoner. He was fantastic that game and really showed that this deck demands actual removal spells for many of its creatures.
The second round punished me for not having an Aetherling in the deck. I basically drew most of my deck, doing my best to keep his Sphinx's Revelations to a minimum. In the first game, a Revelation for five basically killed me. In the second game, I was able to use more permission to keep his resolved Revelations to a minimum, and I was actually drawing more than he was but didn't have anything that could stick. I conceded game 3 when I ran out of ways to actually kill him. Pretty unfortunate, and a reason why I wanted the Aetherling in the first place.
The third round put me in a sour mood. I was the last match to finish in the previous round, and my opponent in this round was taking forever to make some pretty basic plays. I managed to pull this one out because U/W/R Hexproof is just a trillion times worse than Bant Hexproof and I had much less to fear. I won a game because he tried to suit up a Fencing Ace and another because Electrickery picked off an Invisible Stalker and a Madcap Skills.
The fourth round I punted. I basically made the same mistake twice. I let a Nivix Cyclops live. A flurry of Artful Dodges, Faithless Lootings, and such later, I was taking lethal or nearly lethal damage. At 2-2, I decided to drop and head home early.
After the U/W/R debacle, I came up with an appropriate Aetherling solution: put a pair of them in the sideboard. Of course, this required actually buying one, but I could afford it. The final Electrickery in my sideboard bit the dust. Izzet Staticaster is better anyway.
Purchase: 1 Aetherling - $3.99
Remaining Balance: $44.06
Finally, Mizzium Mortars and Turn // Burn have been very close in their effectiveness. I might as well play three of each main and the fourth copy of each in the sideboard. After some light reconfiguration, my deck looked like this:
Finally, I had one more tournament to play in before the M14 release. Epic Loot decided to run a free FNM with some door prizes the entire month of July. This is the type of tournament I can't pass up on!
Current Balance: $44.06 - NOTHING! It's FREE!
Round 1: Aristocrats - W
Round 2: U/B Breaking - W
Round 3: Boros Battalion - W
Round 4: 4c Reanimator - L
Round 5: Naya - L
My memory is a little hazy with my first round. I do remember some amount of small creatures, but I wasn't sure how much Aristocrating was actually going on.
The second round began with a nice surprise. I won a door prize! In quite the ironic twist, I won this:
I found it amusing that I just purchased sleeves and then won them as a door prize. Nonetheless, I'll be happy to trade them when the opportunity arises.
As for the match, I played against a nice brew. Basically, it had a ton of unblockable creatures like Latch Seeker and Tormented Soul on top of Breaking // Entering and Jace's Phantasm. Honestly, the deck looked like a piece of crap until I saw him absolutely dismantle his first-round opponent. Fortunately for me, his deck happened to be very soft to my burn-heavy removal package, and he was basically drawing dead to Izzet Staticaster. So I played one.
The third match was excellent if you like Craig Jones and/or Lightning Helix. My opponent played so that he would sacrifice cards for damage, and I found myself low on life in all three games. In the first game, I was on exactly four life and threatening lethal with another turn. His draw???????
It's a common mistake to say that I lost to the Boros Charm; in reality, the rest of his cards did sixteen damage. If I was under the mindset that only Boros Charm killed me (it was the only card in that spot in his deck that would have killed me off the top), then I could be tricked into siding in Negate or something along those lines. This is a fallacy, as Negate will do nothing to stop his creatures. If I can stop the main portion of his deck—the creatures—I don't care much about Boros Charm taking me from thirteen life to nine.
In the second game, I was much more careful about my life total. He had a reasonable start but began flooding out once I was in single digits, and I stabilized. He needed a pair of burn spells to finish me off, but he only found one before I could kill him. He regretted not using Searing Spear to kill my Guttersnipe (who did in fact kill him quickly), but I actually like his play. His deck is built for the early game, and his cards don't do much at that point in the game. Basically, his Searing Spear put me in range of lethal, whereas killing my Guttersnipe makes his draw steps much less scary even if he gets a few more of them.
The third game was very similar to the first two. His creatures put me at eight before I killed them all with cards to spare. Once again, I started pressuring him. His draw step?
I was at four. More pressure from my side. I'd finish him off soon, but he got one final draw step.
Unfortunately, that was my final win of the night. My fourth round was against Executive Producer John Douglass, and he was playing my Four-Color Reanimator deck with Boros Reckoner. It's a bunch of nightmare cards for me. Thragtusk and Boros Reckoner are scary cards and overwork my Turn // Burns. Angel of Serenity is basically unbeatable for me, as it undoes almost all of my good work and I don't really have a solid answer to it other than preventing it from coming into play.
The fifth round was similarly a beating. I played against a Naya deck, and I made the mistake of not having a kill spell for a Loxodon Smiter. Attack, bloodrush Ghor-Clan Rampager. Boros Charm gives it double strike. Take sixteen. Thanks for playing.
But not all was lost! Thanks to my good start, I ended up in 7th place, which was good for $5.
Current Balance: $44.06 + $5 tournament winnings = $49.06
After FNM, Executive Producer John Douglass and I headed up to see DJ$10K in action. You see, when Lauren Nolen is not winning on the fifth turn of extra time in StarCityGames.com Opens, he is quite the assistant DJ. I'd never seen a $10K champion carry such a mean clipboard of song requests. My life is now complete.
As for the immediate future, the FNM Hero is likely going to succumb to his alter ego Adam Prosak. You see, there's this small tournament coming up: the SCG Open Series featuring the Invitational in Somerset, New Jersey. Poor Adam has no idea what he wants to play! Enough talking about myself in the third person. I'm going to spend this weekend testing both Standard and Legacy in preparation for the Invitational. I'll definitely be tuning in to @SCGLive this weekend as it travels to Richmond, hoping to pick up some information on Standard. I will likely be writing about my preparation for the Invitational next week. Expect the FNM Hero to be back with a vengeance (and some Young Pyromancers) in two weeks!
Thanks for reading,