1.14.04 Plugging a
Iíve played a lot of extended through my career.
Somehow, itís always been a format that Iíve been
interested in, regardless of how ridiculous it became at
times (I attended PT-Rome and saw Academy in its glory).
Iíve always managed to take the time to play in a
qualifier or two, even if the PT that was involved was
in a very distant land.
And somehow, through the years, Iíve consistently
managed to play a deck that was never really considered
the ďbest deck.Ē It was always something I cobbled
together from stuff I found on the net, or an obscure
deck from a PTQ, or the weird top 8 deck that had no
business being there. Itís always been one of those
things for meÖI never played Donate in a PTQ, never
played High Tide, never played Oath. I justÖplayed other
stuff. No explanation, other than, ďI liked it.Ē
So, this last weekend I decided to play at the PTQ in
Dallas. Not having extensively tested a deck, I decided
to look at what the field was probably going to be. With
the decks from the previous weekís PTQ posted over on
StarCity, I looked and saw what I considered to be a
possible hole in the metagame. Maybe not a giant glaring
hole, but something that could be exploited.
With Tog, U/G and some various green beatdown builds
flourishing around the state, I looked at what I thought
was a relative lack of counters in the environment (not
really more than 8 in any deck). The Ponza decks could
be extremely fast, but appeared to be smashed out of the
metagame by Tog and the green decks (put Cloak on a
Troll Ascetic, it feels dirty). And Rock, the consistent
performer that always shows up, didnít really worry me
at allÖIíve become really opposed to the deck in
general, seeing it just get taken out of games too
frequently due to mediocre draws. SoÖ
At my team practice (those good olí Texas Guildmages,
fighting, and sometimes striving!), Jeremy Simmons was
beating up on the playtest decks with his build of
Aluren. Not being able to get the deck together quickly,
I spent Friday evening digging around trying to find the
cards I needed.
Saturday morning, I was still digging. Thanks to Robert
Moore and some other friends at the event, I was able to
find the last few cards that I needed. I also was able
to throw together a sideboard that certainly wasnít
terribly well thought-out, but had the necessary tools
to get through the day (or so I thought).
To make a quick point, you really should avoid coming to
an event without having your deck and/or sideboard put
together. Running around frantically ends up causing you
to start the tournament in a frantic state of mind, one
that really isnít conducive to playing Magic well. Iíll
describe what happened to meÖI think that if I was
prepared for the event, things would have worked out
differently. As it wasÖwell, youíll see.
In any event, hereís the decklist. THIS IS NOT AN
OPTIMAL BUILD OF THIS DECK. There were mistakes made,
simply due to the haste that I had to use while building
the deck and the lack of testing on my part.
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Living Wish
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Wall of Blossoms
3 Cavern Harpy
3 Raven Familiar
1 Wirewood Savage
1 Cloud of Fairies
1 Soul Warden
4 Polluted Delta
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Hickory Woodlot
3 City of Brass
3 Pernicious Deed
2 Orimís Chant
1 Academy Rector
1 Cavern Harpy
1 Raven Familiar
1 Wirewood Savage
1 Soul Warden
1 Maggot Carrier
1 Gilded Drake
1 Monk Realist
1 City of Brass
There are magnificent holes in the sideboard and main
deck. I think there needs to be some number of Vampiric
Tutors in the deck, and I am not completely certain that
the Walls need to be in the deck any longer. Chrome Mox
may also have a place here, making the Cloud of Fairies
obsolete. I ran out of room and time to realize there
had to be *some* form of removal in the sideboard as a
Wish target, either a Bone Shredder or a Ghitu Slinger.
Barely managing to get the deck sleeved up, I wander
over and find my pairing.
Round 1: Ben Swafford, Star Spangled Slaughter (U/W/R
with Meddling Mages, Lightning Angels, FtKís, Fire/Ice,
Fact or Fiction)
Game 1 sees a magnificently poor draw on my part turn
into a series of mistakes as I incorrectly Wish for the
wrong creature, getting a Gilded Drake when I should
have been trying to win with an Academy Rector. The
Meddling Mage naming Aluren didnít help matters, but it
was my mistakes that cost me the game. I quickly realize
that my deck really needed a Slinger or Shredder in the
board to be able to kill the Mages, and I donít realize
my mistakes until right after the round ends.
Game 2, I Therapy him to see a counterless hand and
combo out with relative ease. Game 3, however, is an
absolute disaster as I incorrectly Wish multiple times
in order to force an Aluren into play. I very nearly
manage to win the game anyway, if it hadnít been for his
drawing 3 Meddling Mages, ending the game with 1 naming
Aluren and 1 naming Pernicious Deed (Iíd managed to Deed
once, but had been unable to force an effective turn).
Seeing 1 Therapy in 3 games (in the game I won) didnít
help, but the loss falls squarely on my shoulders.
Swafford ends up going 1-3 drop to finish out his
tournament. I felt special.
Round 2: Nagi Hassan, Standard mono-U control
Nagi plays regularly at the store I run events at. Heíd
come to the event running his standard deckÖwhich,
humorously enough, actually worked out fairly well in
some matchups (he ran something like 16 counters, which
gave Tog fits). Decree of Silence wasÖfunny.
In our games, though, Iím able to force through Aluren
with the help of Cabal Therapies, and combo out pretty
easily in 2 games. His expensive counters canít really
deal with this deck, and his unfamiliarity with the deck
made him uncertain about what to even consider
countering. It wasnít really a fair matchup.
Round 3: Israel, The Rock
I havenít seen Israel in quite a while, and we exchange
a few pleasantries before the match begins. Heís playing
Rock, which can be a bad matchup if they manage to rip
your hand apart early. However, he again isnít really
familiar with what Iím playing until he Therapies me and
names an incorrect card. With a pretty solid draw, Iím
able to go off relatively easily in game 1.
Game 2, I donít get a particularly explosive draw, but
my Therapies manage to keep his hand from doing any real
damage to me. He resolves a Deed that Iím not able to do
any thing about; I throw away my first Aluren in order
to resolve the second. He goes to do something at the
end of my main phase; I ask very carefully if thatís how
he wants to proceed; when he says yes, I proceed to do
tricks with a Harpy and a Raven until I draw a Wish,
then (because Iím still in my main phase) Wish for the
Soul Warder and Maggot Carrier to finish him off.
Round 4: Jeremy Simmons, Aluren
This is the teammate that first put me on to the idea of
playing the deck. I know that this mirror can be one of
the most grueling mirror-matches currently in extended.
While Tog can be slow, this one is about stress and
paranoia. Casting Aluren can simply end the gameÖbut not
necessarily for you.
Game 1, I make a critical mistake (again). When he plays
Aluren during his turn, he casts a Raven Familiar; I
proceed to go off, not realizing that I canít finish the
job during his turn (due to needing a Wish). When he
plays his Rishadan Cutpurse, I fail to see that I can
generate mana with my Cloud/Harpy combo, and scoop the
game to him. Another failure due to lack of testing; I
really donít know what would have happened if I had seen
it, as I am not sure that I could have really won the
game at that point.
Game 2, I Intuition for Therapy and absolutely rip his
hand to shreds. My only creature that I have is a Cloud
of Fairies, though, which I use to flash back a Therapy.
I draw a Wish, though, and Wish for Genesis; I then
proceed to use the Fairies over and over to finish
completely stripping his hand before I start to beat
down with the Cloud and Genesis. He doesnít draw
anything else relevant to the game and eventually
Due to a lack of time, game 3 doesnít happen. At 2-1-1,
I know I have to win out in order to really have a
chance to move into the top 8.
Round 5: Ryan McKenna, non-Scepter Tog
Without the Scepters, this matchup becomes so much
easier. If the Tog deck puts Counterspell on a Scepter,
the game becomes painfully difficult to win; itís almost
easier to move on to the next game. It takes the ability
to resolve multiple spells in a turn, and the prayer
that they donít have any additional counterspells to
disrupt your efforts to go off.
Game 1 was a solid game, though his hand seemed a bit
heavy on removal and lighter on counters. At one point I
was using Cloud of Fairies with Cavern Harpy in order to
make sure I had a blocker for his lethal Tog; however, I
was eventually able to resolve Aluren after tapping him
out with a Therapy, then combo out. Game 2 was a
non-game; he failed to draw more than red and black mana
to go with his full grip of counterspells. Unfortunate.
Round 6: (I didnít write down the name, oops!), Rock w/
Evidently, the newer versions of Rock sport Troll
Ascetic in order to go on the beatdown. This is
definitely a nice addition to the deck; Tog has to have
a Wish in order to punch through him, if need be, but he
also swings right from the heels. Regenerating from Deed
is also a plus.
Game 1, heís once again confused by my deck; he said
that he didnít know what the Woodlots were there for. By
the time he really gets a grip on whatís going on,
Aluren is in play to stay, a Harpy is occasionally in
play, and I pick up most of my deck before I find the
Wish I need to kill him.
Game 2, I side out most of my walls in order to bring in
Deeds, just in case. However, this ends up being a bit
of a mistake as his Trolls are now free to wreak havoc
all over my face. I get beaten down quickly after some
disruption, ending up unable to find an Aluren to go off
For game 3, I bring back the Walls and take out a spread
of other cards in order to have some defense against his
beats. The Walls end up buying me some time against his
Trolls, though the game comes down to the wire; heís
able to get me down to 7, with a Deed in play. However,
he taps below four open mana in order to cast something;
on my turn, I am able to resolve Aluren, and heís unable
to stop me from going off as I have Raven and
double-Harpy in hand.
So, climbing through the bottom of the bracket, I end up
4-1-1 in a field of 54 (I believe) players. And my final
result wasÖ..9th. Ah, the 2nd worst place to finish in a
PTQ that you actually want to win, heh (the worst being
2nd). Bad tiebreaks, due to Swaffordís miserable
performance and the consequences of being in the 0-1
bracket, lead me to my doom.
From all of this, we can take a few things. Aluren is
still definitely viable in the format right now; I would
strongly recommend playing it, if you can find all of
the cards for it (I know Aluren itself can be pretty
difficult to find). Itís something that, with the low
number of counters that most decks run, you can run
through the metagame as it currently stands. Scepter-Tog
is probably the most difficult matchup currently, though
Ponza can give you a few issues due to its speed. Since
itís still relatively fresh, people arenít really
prepared for it; that gives you a strong advantage in
just about every matchup, simply due to the power of
knowledge. What they donít know will hurt them.
As always, please feel free to comment to me regarding
anything here. Talk to you all again next week.
Sigmundí on IRC (EFNet)
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