I have to say my dabbling in OBC ended rather unspectacularly. Leading up to the season, I was all jazzed about Ferrett's Team Diaspora experiment - but with he taking on a ton of time-consuming responsibilities, he could simply not fulfil his leadership role, and without a leader Diaspora's herd of cats slinked off in their individual directions, occasionally sharing some tech along the way.
But for most of the season, there didn't seem to be much tech to find.
Blue/green builds and monoblack control stood at the top of the tiers, unshaken by any metagaming. The OBC results at Worlds told us the pros couldn't find anything to"break" the stagnant format, either. It was rather depressing.
Then along came GP - London and things loosened up a bit. I stumbled across a new deck that seemed tailor-made to fit my playstyle, and it seemed to be performing well in the environment, named"Pirates" by its creator. Ugh - what a terrible name! Personally, I took to calling it Millikin Braids. I made a few changes to the sideboard (adding three Mutilates) and played it at a small local tournament, and ended up winning it all, beating all the major archetypes along the way. At the same time, Dave Williams piloted the deck to the top 8 of GP Cleveland, also adding the Mutilates in the board in addition to three Rancid Earths - another change I liked. Impressed with the deck's performance, I combed the net for any coverage on the deck, but found precious little outside a quick write up in the London coverage, and Brainburst's Dan Paskins' quick mention.
Still, the deck seemed powerful, capable of Zvi's fabled"unfairness," and it fit my playstyle. I decided to play it at the Richmond PTQ. I spent the next week thinking about the deck, looking hard at the list of cards to determine any weaknesses. I eventually came to the conclusion that Zombie Infestation is a weak link in the deck. Sure, it's capable of cute plays with Ichorid and it can occasionally wreck MBC, but I decided that maindeck Rancid Earths would be better. Mana disruption is a strong strategy in OBC, so I decided to shift the deck's focus towards Braids.
At the PTQ, my first matchup of the day was against four-color Wake. A cakewalk matchup, right? My deck's heavy disruption and early beats, combined with a strong LD theme has got to wreck such a pathetic mana base. Well, my deck gives me the beatdown draw, with only a turn 2 Fiend as disruption (and he had a fist full of mana fixers at that point). So I start to beat down, and he proceeds to draw all four Moment's Peaces - sure, he did draw one Deep Analysis and flashed it back, but still. All four Peaces?!? Obviously, I can't kill him before he goes off.
Game 2 should be even stronger, with a full four Earths and Cabal Therapies... Again, I draw the beatdown hand with a lone Fiend as my disruption... When I peeked at his hand, he had no blue mana and only two lands, so instead of snagging the Compulsion I grabbed his early mana fixer - but of course he top decked into a bunch of blue, started churning through his deck with Compulsion and set up his combo.
Hel-lo - Braids? Hel-lo Rancid Earth? Therapy? ANYONE?!?
I proceed to smash through the rest of the Swiss, beating a mirror, two UZI decks and drawing a hard-fought battle against W/G (packing 6-8 Phantom Centaurs it seemed). So I'm in the sixth round; the winner gets into the top 8, and we get deck checked. My opponent starts fretting that he was half-asleep when he registered the deck, so he just knows he screwed something up. Sure enough, he gets called up there and turns out he wrote 4x Mental Note twice instead of recording the four Careful Studies (he was playing UG Threshold).
So he comes back with a game loss... All good, right?
Against most any other deck, maybe... But the way they fix misregistered decks is to replace the wrong cards (in this case the Careful Studies) with lands. So he goes from a mana-light (and vulnerable to Braids/Earth) 22 lands to a mana-glutted twenty-six lands. So of course my deck hands me the perfect early Braids/LD game, which I play out... But when Braids is supposed to be your beatdown and your opponent keeps topdecking land and your Braids is helping him to get threshold with a Werebear and Mongoose on the board, it's all bad for the home team. My deck tries - but with a steady supply of lands and cheap threshold beasts, it's an impossible battle.
Last game what in the world do I do? I'm going first; do I keep in the LD theme? My opponent is saying he's boarding out land... But is he bluffing? To be safe, I board out the LD theme and board into a setup with tons of critter control, but it never comes together in time and he just smashes me.
So my first top 8 at a PTQ was within my grasp, and snatched away by some cruel twists of fate. Either that or I just plain suck. Maybe both? At any rate, the deck is good and if I were playing in another PTQ I wouldn't hesitate to play the deck.
For reference this is what I played:
Monoblack Millikin Braids
Original concept by Johnny Chapman
4 Braids, Cabal Minion
4 Faceless Butcher
3 Crypt Creeper
4 Mesmeric Fiend
4 Nantuko Shade
3 Slithery Stalker
4 Chainer's Edict
3 Rancid Earth
Alex Shvartsman finally got around to covering the deck on the Sideboard, and he suggested moving the Earths into the main as well - so it's nice to see I was on the right track.
On a related note, Laura Mills on Brainburst listed the top 8 at a Q in Denver where one player took the Pirates deck in the completely opposite direction. A seriously dedicated Ichorid/Infestation approach, he wielded the deck to a top 8 finish; heh, the thing ran Putrid Imps to help pitch Ichorids, and ran Strength of Lunacy to blunt the hand-depletion affect of Zombie Infestation. A local kid here built it and played it, going something like 3-2 with it.
Simon Million - Semifinalist PTQ in Denver
4 Strength of Lunacy
4 Zombie Infestation
3 Crypt Creeper
4 Chainer's Edict
4 Putrid Imp
4 Faceless Butcher
4 Nantuko Shade
3 Slithery Stalker
4 Cabal Coffers
Kudos to Simon for this innovative spin on the Pirates deck!
Anyway, the day after the PTQ, Pete from StarCity needs my help to run a GP Trial, which my wife graciously allows me to do. Unfortunately, this leads to Small Children Overload, and the poor thing freaks out at 2 a.m. Sunday night, exhausted and frustrated with having to deal with both rugrats the whole weekend with little to no help from her wayward Magic man. I guess it would be a bad time to ask if I can run up to Maryland for the PTQ next Saturday?
As someone who tries to be a good husband, I decide that for me, OBC is over.
Luckily for me, there's a brand new format to explore: The new Type 2 with Onslaught! With the spoiler widely available on the net, we can really hunker down and explore the environment for States, just six weeks away! The Star City mailing list is starting to buzz about the new Type 2, and then this little list pops up from Steven"Hackseyeview":
Fire Marshall Bill.dec
4 Goblin King
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Raging Goblin
4 Goblin Taskmaster
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Raider
4 Goblin Piledriver
3 Goblin Matron
2 Spitfire Handler
2 Brightstone Ritual
1 Skirk Fire Marshall
1 Goblin Pyromancer
4 Karplusan Forest
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Bloodstained Mire
Now, my first impulse when looking over the Onslaught spoiler and casually observing the available Goblins was,"nice try, Wizards, but..." But Steven's deck made me take another look. I may not be King of Beatdown, but it seems to me that a red goblin deck can really dish out some major damage.
Let's look at what's available to us in 7th edition and Onslaught for a goblin deck, arranged by casting cost:
Goblin Elite Infantry, Goblin Glider, Goblin Raider, Okk, Goblin Piledriver, Sparksmith, Spitfire Handler
The Piledriver, Raider and Sparksmith are high quality (for goblins); the Infantry is a possibility, as is the Handler.
Goblin Chariot, Goblin Matron, Goblin Spelunkers, Flamestick Courier, Goblin Sharpshooter, Goblin Sky Raider, Nosy Goblin, Skirk Commando,
Goblin Matron offers some interesting possibilities, since we've got a few"specialty" goblins we could flesh our deck out with. Sharpshooter is going to be a beast, especially since plenty of creatures are bound to be dying on both sides of the fence. Flamestick Courier may be decent, letting you build a better goblin.
Goblin Gardener, Embermage Goblin, Goblin Pyromancer, Reckless One
Pyromancer just screams finisher, though it kinda sucks that all your goblins are going to die. The Gardener gives you some LD potential, combining nicely with perhaps Pillage in your deck. Running four Embermage Goblins seems cute, but I'm not completely convinced. And why do I keep having visions of Mr. Reckless showing up and ending up being a four mana Raging Goblin?
Other Cards to Consider
Skirk Fire Marshal: one of those"specialty" goblins I mentioned with the Matron; too bad they didn't reprint Mogg Maniac! If you happen to have four other goblins sitting around doing nothing when the big Marshal shows up, it should be mostly game over. Pack one of him and one Pyromancer along with three Matrons, and you should be able to custom-tailor your endgame.
Brightstone Ritual: I find this card very interesting. It doesn't give you the explosive start that Dark Ritual could give you; instead, it gives goblin decks an explosive turn 3 or 4. The presence of a goodly amount of early-drop goblins, along with some quality higher-cost spells to back them, makes this a spell I want to try out.
Goblin King, Goblin Burrows, Gratuitous Violence: Making crappy goblins better everywhere - the trick is, which ones to use? Are the Couriers (see 3cc above) worth trying instead of these? I tend to lean towards Gratuitous Violence, since the casting cost is not nearly as prohibitive in a deck with Brightstone Rituals. The Burrows seem decent, if a bit mana-intensive.
Slate of Ancestry: Another nice thing to sink your Ritual into, this card seems like a perfect fit for a deck that overextends itself as quickly as a goblin deck probably will. I used to use Fool's Tome way back when I first dabbled in Sligh, this feels like a better card.
Cabal Slaver: He's not a goblin - but boy, can he make your goblins scary! I've been debating splashing black into a goblin deck anyway simply for Smother, since Wild Mongrels, 6/6 Wurms and Pychatogs are all major nuisances for us. Maybe a few of these wouldn't be a bad idea - especially since you can cast it first, then attack with a few goblins that hopefully have a clear path ahead.
So, here's my first stab at a Goblin Deck:
DON'T CALL US MOGGS.DEC
4x Goblin Sledder
4x Raging Goblin
4x Goblin Piledriver (great name!)
4x Goblin Raider
2x Goblin Matron
4x Goblin Sharpshooter
1x Goblin Pyromancer
1x Skirk Fire Marshal
4x Chain of Plasma
3x Brightstone Ritual
2x Gratuitous Violence
4x Barbarian Ring
3x Goblin Burrows
This is just a straight-up monored version. The Sparksmith and Sharpshooter give some great board control, helping your smaller, faster attackers to keep punching through the bigger blockers that are sure to come. Sharpshooter just seems insane since there's bound to be a ton of creatures dying whenever you play this deck.
The great Alan Webster used to write some fantastic tournament reports giving us great insight into how it felt to play mountains and leave your opponent in flaming ruins. This deck seems perfectly capable of capturing that pit-cooked flavor. Mmmm, crispy.
Next Up: Dancing Dead Things is Back!