Hello again everyone, how ya doing? Does that title get you reading this article or what? You come for the something naked and girlish but all you get it is me, clothed and non-girlish. My apologies for the bold-faced lie. It was all a ploy, I admit.
Nevertheless, Should The SCG Gods Allow It, this here article will feature complete video coverage of this week's awesome Battle Royale! The first video coverage ever included in an SCG article, too!
I'm just happy and proud to be the one who brought it to you.
While I knew I had a serious advantage going in (Karoos versus Tidespout Tyrant… ouch), but I also got foolhardy and lost a game because of it.
Let's take a look at the games themselves, and what went right and wrong with each. For those who don't wish to partake in the video goodness, a rundown for each is still included.
Watch the Magic happen:
Bleh. One-land hands are almost auto-mulligans for any deck, but considering the explosiveness of this one, and the match at hand, it may not be too terrible for me to keep a one-lander.
I was actually going to keep this hand. While it's another one-lander, any land-based mana source (Dimir Aqueduct, et al) would set this hand into the stratosphere. Even a few turns of drawing dead would let me put Simic Sky Swallower in the yard, a creature from which he has only two outs: Kill me first, or Arashi it away.
While it may not seem ridiculous, this hand gives you everything you need: Four mana, a counterspell, and a reanimation spell. Virtually any other nonland card should further your winning strategy (draw spell, Thought Courier, countermagic, monster).
On the other side of the screen, Craig is busy playing Sakura Tribe-Scouts and various Karoos.
Then he ramps to six mana, only to watch Mahamoti Djinn make nice with Remand.
Finally I get a chance to Zombify Tidespout Tyrant, fully expecting it to die a terrible death.
Then, he drops Meloku. Ouch. I guess he's going to have to win with a swarm of Illusions…
Thanks to the Sakura Tribe-Scouts, he gets out three Illusions into play and I untap with a Tidespout Tyrant on the board.
Let me say that anytime you play with this deck and you untap with Tidespout Tyrant on the board, you've most likely won the game.
“Most likely” equals Shadowing to the ‘Fore. You know what I'm talking about.
But in this one, it held true. Suddenly I had six mana sources on the board, dropped a seventh, and began the bouncing process. Compulsive Research bounces his Izzet Boilerworks, and a Thought Courier takes care of Meloku. With double Remand backup, his Remanded Meloku on the following turn (bouncing a Simic Growth Chamber) puts in what is basically the fatal blow.
The following turn I get another Tidespout Tyrant into play, and you know how stupid that is.
I'm not a good sideboarder, but even I recognize how horrible this sideboarding was. It gets better, I promise (I sideboard different in each game), but as for this one I felt that ‘Mortis was clogging my hand, and Graverobber was fairly useless.
Unfortunately it took another game for me to realize that Graverobber was really useless in this matchup, but at least I did realize it at some point.
Did I mention I never tested this matchup?
See the sideboarding and the play:
I actually get some really fantastic draws on this one. First, I rip a Compulsive Research; and second, I rip Blazing Archon, quickly discarded as I play the Dimir Aqueduct and am left with eight cards.
Did I have a Remand? Yes I did. However, I also had no reanimation spells, and that Vinelasher Kudzu seemed like something I need to draw out of quickly, and Remand was secondary.
Of course, of all the damn spells…
Oooouch. Suddenly I'm a turn or two away from being alpha striked (strikened? Strickened?). Where's that damn reanimation spell? Finally I draw one, but not with enough mana to use it. Kudzu gets to an incredibly scary 7/7, and he takes me to five with a massive swing.
Crunch time. Game time. The game is won and lost by the following play:
Tap Aqueduct, Swamp, Simic Signet. Play Zombify targeting Tidespout Tyrant. This leaves Swamp and Dimir Signet untapped.
Fearing the worst (Repeal?), or out of sheer headiness, I play Thought Courier and tap out.
With two Remand in my hand. Just to bounce a 7/7 Vinelasher Kudzu that I could've chump blocked with Thought Courier instead of using it and finding the second Remand I couldn't play.
Craig untaps, replays the Vinelasher, and then Meloku the Clouded Mirror. Then, instead of making three Illusion tokens, he makes one and replays a Simic Growth Chamber twice to make his Vinelasher bigger.
If he was doing this in a Jedi mind-trick kinda way, allow me to express my awe. Because the boy had me fooled. I had completely (and I mean completely) forgotten that Blaze could kill me. Suddenly I got it in my head I needed to bounce Meloku and Vinelasher so I could swing in for a bunch of damage and eventually finish him off with a second free turn of Tidespout shenanigans.
Never got that second turn.
I untap and do the following ridiculousness with all of my mana: Play Nezumi Graverobber (bounce Meloku), Remand Graverobber (bounce Vinelasher), Remand my Remand (bounce Azusa).
Had I bounced a single Karoo, I may have had a chance. But I don't think so.
He untaps, casually taps all of his mana, and Blazes me to death.
Oh Remand, thou art a harsh mistress!
After that last beating I was incredibly aware and fearful of Blaze. I walked right into it and I knew it. Something had to change, so I brought in the juicy discard and Vinelasher Killers (a.k.a. Last Gasp).
And now, for our third installment:
I start off with a great opener: two Last Gasp, two Swamp, Thought Courier, Compulsive Research, and Dimir Signet on the play. Keep this? Yes I will! (And no damn misclicks!)
Three mana later, I play Compulsive Research and now have Blazing Archon and Tidespout Tyrant in my hand ready to discard. Doesn't get much better than that.
Well, it does if you can draw Zombify or Vigor Mortis. Which I don't seem able to do. So I play out the double Thought Courier and pass the turn.
Meanwhile Craig seems a bit land screwed, as he's played nothing but a Forest, Mountain, and Simic Growth Chamber. He plays Vinelasher Kudzu and Izzet Boilerworks, both of these slow-rolls that I should be able to handle. His slow start is a blessing, of course, as my double Thought Courier just doesn't seem to be producing anything.
Nevertheless, I kill the Vinelasher Kudzu at the end of his turn.
Draw… another Island. Tap Courier, draw Island, discard Island. Last Courier tap…
… wait for Craig to hit OK…
… another Island. Ugh. Discard Island, pass the turn. And people say 21 lands are too few!
I'm getting anxious.
He then plays a Compulsive Research, swings with his three Tribe Snipers, and Repeals one of my Thought Couriers.
And of course I rip the Zombify off the top, now with three cheap spells with which to abuse it with.
I'm sure you can see with this is going.
I Zombify up Tidespout Tyrant, then activate Thought Courier. In play are three untapped lands: Two Swamps and an Island. In my hand are double Last Gasp and the Thought Courier he Repealed.
I pull Blaze from it so quickly I don't have time to remember each land in his hand. Also, if I had done the math, I would've realized that there was nothing saving him at this point. But still, Blaze is the most dangerous card in that hand, and while I don't know what he could've drawn that would've changed anything, I didn't want to risk it.
I pass the turn and he does nothing of consequence other than tapping down my Tidespout Tyrant and swinging for two.
I untap and draw an Island. Thought Courier turns this into another Thought Courier. Three spells, his three lands. I go through the motions:
Play Last Gasp targeting Sniper, bounce Karoo.
Play Last Gasp targeting another Sniper, bounce the other Karoo.
Play Thought Courier bouncing his final land (Mountain).
On the board he has a Matsu-Tribe Sniper. He concedes.
At this point I'm pretty confident that I don't completely lose my marbles and tap out while I have a Remand in my hand, I'll be fine. With the realization that he really can't stop my Thought Couriers (the only way I won that match), i.e. he didn't sideboard in Volcanic Hammer, I sideboard as such:
Sideboarding: In this game we had to restart the match and as such our sideboards were set back to normal. Knowing what I know now, I take out the four Graverobbers for four Mana Leak. Seems like a fair trade. Pretty much every time I've been able to play Remand a Mana Leak would've stopped the spell in question dead, so I figure I'll use that advantage (his not playing around ‘Leak) to seal game four.
However, I forget to sideboard in the Last Gasps. Ack! Will it wreck me?
Finally, I am victorious!
I get a solid opening hand: Blazing Archon, two Island, Thought Courier, Simic Sky Swallower, Dimir Aqueduct, Compulsive Research.
Who am I kidding… that's not solid, that's amazing. Particularly for going second, because I've got the built-in discard outlet for Simic Sky Swallower (i.e. Dimir Aqueduct going second).
The game goes as planned: I discard the Simic Sky Swallower, I accelerate into Simic Signet and drop a Thought Courier with Blazing Archon, Compulsive Research and lands in my hand.
Then it begins to get… absurd.
I draw a Dimir Aqueduct. Tap Courier, draw Swamp, discard Island. At this point my hand is Blazing Archon, Compulsive Research, two Swamp, Island, Dimir Aqueduct. I play Compulsive Research and draw…
… Island, Swamp, Simic Growth Chamber.
After discarding Blazing Archon and an Island, that leaves me with an entire six-card land-filled hand. Ugh!
Twenty-one lands people! Twenty-one!
I play a Simic Growth Chamber, pick up my lone Island, and pass the turn.
I rip… Zombify. I tap Thought Courier to draw and discard Tidespout Tyrant.
I then had a decision: Take the Tyrant and begin bouncing stuff if I draw something other than the land I'm flooded with, or take the automatic win via a creature he has a single out to?
I take the assured win and play Zombify targeting Simic Sky Swallower.
Scouseboy: that's game boys
Enter a big smile on my face. I can't help it. I beat the English National Champ in a budget deckbuilding contest!
But then I feel a pang of guilt. I beat him with almost the anti-thesis to his deck. Had I not been using such a “lucksack” deck (Tidespout Tyrant) I probably would have lost. Time of Need and Meloku alone beat most of the Budget creations out there. The irony is it wasn't even my four-of star that won this game, it was the fatty boom-booms that are normally seen in Summer Bloom.
To his credit he played it out, dropping Azusa, Lost but Seeking but with no lands with which to “find” her. I draw Mana Leak and Vigor Mortis bringing back a Tidespout Tyrant for good measure. I then throw down Ideas Unbound (bounce lone Dimir Aqueduct), draw three nonland cards (shock), play another Thought Courier (bounce Azusa) and discard all of that extra land.
After a cursory turn of playing some lands with Azusa, he passes the turn and I swing for the win.
Post Matchup Thoughts
Well, I'm sure any well-versed Magic player could see I had the edge in this matchup. There were no big sideboarding mysteries (except the fact I had no sideboard strategy), and the scales were fairly well tipped in my favor.
So - does this deck work? Hell yes it does. Do I still like Nezumi Graverobber? Yes! While he was sub-par here, he truly shines in a deck with a lot of removal.
Would I change anything from my current configuration? Eh… depends on the “meta” you expect. I didn't expect anything so I tried to bring a well-rounded Reanimator that did nothing but reanimate well. My deck reanimates or loses. Against a more aggressive deck I could've been in a lot of trouble. I don't think I could've asked for a better deck to play against.
Thanks again to the great StarCityGames for this awesome series. Next week I'll get to do this again, making the budget Magic happen (or re-happen with this deck) and you'll be reading all of it here, as always.
It's a small victory, but even the small ones are worth celebrating.
Thanks for reading,
Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
Written while listening to The Long Winters album “Putting The Days To Bed”