It's that time of the week again. Thank god it's Friday, or as the title says, thank god it's FNM. As I promised last week, I battled with a U/R Miracle Delver deck. My performance was very subpar, but the deck was a lot of fun. Here is the decklist for your reference.
This list was probably one of the roughest lists I've ever played in a sanctioned tournament. I want to list out the problems it had in a nice, neat bulleted list for your convenience.
- Not enough blue sources. I had trouble playing a blue card turn 1, and Snapcaster Mage + blue spell was difficult to do.
- Faithless Looting was terrible. I figured that drawing Thunderous Wrath would be bad, but it really wasn't that bad. A lot of time you got to enough mana to hard cast it.
- Not enough creatures. We knew this going in, but there were not enough creatures. Sometimes I was doing a whole lot of nothing and playing draw-go.
- Needed more Bonfire of the Damned! This card should be a four-of in the deck. A lot of times I just got overwhelmed and couldn't do anything.
- This problem coincides with the lack of creatures, but I had trouble winning without performing some Thunderous Wrath / Noxious Revival shenanigans.
- Vapor Snag was unnecessary. It did some sweet stuff at times, but the effect was not really something I was looking for too often.
- The sideboard needed a lot of work. There is nothing specific I want to say about it, but it definitely had some holes in it.
Now I want to list out some sweet points of the deck. Comparing this with the issues the deck had will help us figure out where we want to go with the list. This is a technique I recommend when trying to fix a list that hasn't been performing well.
- Grim Lavamancer was sweet. The card fell out of favor when the fetchlands rotated, but this deck does not have too much trouble activating it. It interacts less than optimally with Snapcaster Mage, but that was also rarely a problem.
- Bonfire of the Damned was awesome! This was highlighted in the problems section, but I figured it was important to point out again. It was what I needed to get out of most of the situations I was in.
- Thunderous Wrath + Noxious Revival was sweet! I was consistently able to deal fifteen to people with a combination of the two aforementioned cards and Snapcaster Mage.
As you can see, the problems outweighed the things it did right. After I go through my matches, I will give you guys an updated list as well as explanations for the new card choices.
Round 1 - Tom with Naya Pod - Loss 1-2
Tom has been a fan of Birthing Pod since its release, so I figured that he was playing some version of Pod. I also thought it might be Naya Pod since we had previously talked about how awesome Restoration Angel is.
I was on the draw in game 1. I took a mulligan to six and did not have much action. He had an early Blade Splicer and Acidic Slime cutting off the blue mana I needed. A Vapor Snag on his Golem token slowed the beatdown and I did flip a Delver of Secrets on a Thunderous Wrath the turn before Acidic Slime, but I fell behind in the race when he played a Restoration Angel. I had a Mana Leak for it but not the Island to cast it.
In game 2, I took the early beatdown with Delver of Secrets and Grim Lavamancer. He kept a mana-heavy hand, and unfortunately the only threat he drew was Mana Leaked. Quickly enough we were on to game 3.
He started the beatdown with a Strangleroot Geist into Blade Splicer. Meanwhile, I combined Thunderous Wrath and Noxious Revival to put him to ten. My mull to six didn't have much more action. I flipped a Delver of Secrets the next turn, but his Birthing Pod that over two turns found two Huntmaster of the Fells was too much for me to handle.
Round 2 - Sam with Esper Singleton Control - Win 2-1
Sam is another kid who I believe is the same age as me. We have a long running joke that he cannot win a match against me. In fact, I'm X-0 against him and I've lost count of what X is, probably like 7 or 8 at this point, but he felt this was time to make it X-1. He threw together a deck of all singletons except for basic lands, and it was sure to be a good time. In sideboarding between games, we laughed about whether or not he should bring in his postboard Elbrus, the Binding Blade.
I was on the play for game 1, and I was able to get him low with a couple of unflipped Delver of Secrets and a Thunderous Wrath. Unfortunately, I died to a Lingering Souls that I couldn't find an answer to.
Game 2 was a sweet one. I took the early beats with a Delver of Secrets, a Thunderous Wrath, and a Snapcaster Mage. He was trying to race me with some Snapcaster Mages, but a Bonfire of the Damned shut that plan down. He eventually played another Snapcaster Mage and equipped Elbrus, the Binding Blade to it. I let it flip, so he unlocked that life achievement, but a Vapor Snag made sure it was irrelevant. We were still in a close race, but I Fireballed him for five with a Bonfire of the Damned to make sure I won it.
For the final game, be prepared for a long read. This game took about 35 minutes and was quite the grind. He attacked me with some Lingering Souls tokens to start the game, and I did nothing but deal with the four tokens and Thunderous Wrath him. I soon added a Snapcaster Mage to the board, but he had a Druidic Satchel. I was pretty sure that I might just straight up lose to that card.
Over the course of the game, he gained fourteen life with it. He dealt with my creatures, but I soon added a Delver of Secrets to the board. At this point he was at seventeen life from an Elixir of Immortality and the Druidic Satchel. I attacked with my Delver into his untapped Satchel. His deck played very few creatures, so I assumed it was safe.
To my surprise, he flipped a Snapcaster Mage off the Satchel. The token made a trade with my Delver, and we were once again stalemated. I added a quickly flipped Delver to match his Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. He drew Lingering Souls again, but I was able to counter the first half.
I was left with some tough choices. If I attacked Sorin I could kill it in two turns, but I figured I would lose the race. If I attacked him it would be close, but I might fall behind to his life gain and emblems. At this point, we were both sure he might actually win this game, offsetting my record against him. This made me try even harder to find a way out of the situation. I decided to ignore Sorin for the turn. If he made more tokens I could still win the race, and if he made one emblem, I could kill it next turn and still win the race.
This whole time I had been Looting with Desolate Lighthouse trying to find a Bonfire of the Damned (my Thunderous Wraths had been hit with Surgical Extraction) to make it easier, but so far no dice. My notes run pretty thin towards the end, but I was able to Vapor Snag his lifelink token to pull ahead. He activated his Satchel in his upkeep and hit Griselbrand the turn before he died. Griselbrand would surely kill me, but I happily flashed him the Dissipate in my hand.
At this point he was at five life, so he decided not to cast Griselbrand into my Dissipate. I decided it was time to go for the kill. I Looted end of turn and hit Vapor Snag, so I pitched Dissipate. I drew a blank for turn, but I Looted it away and hit Vapor Snag to end the game.
He was pretty disappointed that he lost that game, and I was pretty relieved that it was over. Sorry if that game was longer than you wanted to read or if it sounded jumbled up, but I really wanted to put it in here for my enjoyment and hopefully yours.
Round 3 - Kevin with RUG Pod - Loss 1-2
Game 1 saw me on the draw and taking early beats from two Strangleroot Geists. Luckily, a Vapor Snag, Thunderous Wrath, and Grim Lavamancer helped me deal with the problem and pull ahead on damage. Unfortunately, a Huntmaster of the Fells and third Strangleroot Geist went unanswered, and I was quickly dispatched.
In game 3 I mulled to five and kept a hand that did nothing. He played some Strangleroot Geists, and all I did was play a Devastation Tide. That was that. Much shorter than what I fought through the round before.
Round 4 I lost the paper that had my notes, but I know I lost to W/R Humans in a close one.
Round 5 - Garret with Red Deck Wins - Win 2-0
This match truly highlighted the fun stuff this deck can do. Both games, I flipped a Delver on a Thunderous Wrath then used Noxious Revival to kill him. I do like interactive Magic, but I also like dealing my opponent ten damage. He unsuccessfully tried to race me, and I Mana Leaked his burn spells targeted at my Delver of Secrets.
I unfortunately did not make Top 8, but that gave me extra time to discuss with some friends about where to take the deck next. After some discussion, here is the list we want to try out next:
This list is still rough, but I do believe that it is an improvement. We are not sure if we like Vexing Devil or Stromkirk Noble more. Vexing Devil gives the deck more of that burn feel and Noble is weak to the plethora of Gut Shots running around, but Stromkirk Noble still might be correct. It may even be correct to add both if lack of creatures is still a problem. As described in the problem section, I wanted more Bonfire of the Damned and Vapor Snag was not necessary, so the appropriate changes were made.
The sideboard is still rough, but I cut some of the cards I didn't like and added some more of the ones that I did. Phantasmal Image wasn't really necessary mainboard so I relocated them all to the sideboard. I added Gitaxian Probe just because it is a decent card with Snapcaster Mage and it helps better sculpt our game plan around what our opponent plans to do.
I didn't say this in the problem section, but Pillar of Flame was mediocre to me. It dealt with the many Strangleroot Geists I played against, but I usually wanted more versatile burn spells. I figured Gut Shot and Incinerate would do what I needed.
That is about it for the relevant changes. I also added two more lands. 22 may be too many, but I figure that more lands may aid in solving the mana issue. I added Cavern of Souls as well. Most of the creatures are Humans except for Vexing Devil, but Cavern makes playing a creature on turn 1 a lot easier. The new mana base makes drawing a miracle without the mana to cast it more frequent, but I'm willing to sacrifice that for a more consistent mana base. Just like the rest of list, the mana base is rough and needs some work. I plan to give the new list a try, and in the future I'll let you know how it goes.
Something to keep in mind is that when I play a deck that I have never played before each week, it can be tough to give pointers on how to play the deck or how to sideboard. If there is something specific that you are wondering, you can feel free to email me or ask in the comments and I will do my best to answer.
Another thing to note is related to reader submitted decks. If you send me a deck that is similar to something I've played recently (for example, an Infect variant or a Miracle deck), it may be a while before I play it, if I play it at all. This should not discourage you from sending in decks like that, but just keep it in mind. When submitting decks, please make it clear if I can make changes or not. I may change a thing or two because of card availability (another reason I may not be able to play a deck), but I will also change things just because of preference. I will add or remove some cards for the decks I expect to play against and to make more fun for me to play. You can also feel free to message me on Magic Online if you have any questions about decks or just want to have a chat.
Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend FNM this Friday. I have a baseball game that starts just before FNM starts, and I can't do both at once. I decided to record a Magic Online Daily Event with a B/W Zombies deck that I found online instead. The mana base is terrible, but the synergies are endless. Look for it next Friday, and let me know what you think of that format for the FNM articles. While I will still stick to writing articles when I can attend FNM, it seems like that will be a good option for the occasions that I can't.
As always, thanks for reading, and thank god it's FNM!
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