Grand Prix Trial Reports
Creatures + Red Burn= Killer Deck?!?
Such a basic formula... one that even newbies can
handle. Certainly not a new strategy... that's for
sure! Going back as far as '95 I can remember the
brute power of "Taiga, Kird Ape, Go!"
Since that time this game has evolved and changed
seemingly at a breakneck pace. Banned/Restricted
cards, new formats and cardpools, Paris Mulligan, not
drawing an 8th card if you go first (yes... we used to
get to do this!!), the "Stack," Necro Summer
and Combo Winter... and thru all that one thing hasn't
changed. Green's efficient creatures and Red's
efficient burn make on heckuva team.
Since my last article "Regionals
for Dummies" I've got to pilot my R/G build
thru 2 GP Trials and have done better than I'd hoped
for. Check out the article if you want to know
what I played at the first tourney on April 6th.
Here's the scoop on how the games went:
Round 1: Fires
I win 2-0
While I don't think his deck was optimal (no Llanowar
Elves?!?!) I don't see why more people aren't playing
this deck! While we don't have Saporling Burst
around anymore... we do have some pretty good creatures
in this field. FTK, Call of the Herd, Beast
Attack, Shivan Wurm, Shivan DRAGON, Jade Leech,
Gurzigost, and especially Spiritmonger all come to mind.
Anyway, both matches I use my cheap burn early to deal
with his mana acceleration allowing me to get my beats
up and running. By the time he is able to slow my
attacks with his bigger creatures my creatures already
did more than the 10 damage I need them to do... and I'm
able to burn him out. I believe Grim Lavamancer
did 8 damage all on his own to win game one for me.
Actually I think I drew like 3 Firebolt AND 3 FTK game
2... I think that pretty much says it all. There
were a few tricky points to this matchup as the opponent
was able to save some of his creatures from my burn by
sac'ing his Fires of Yavimaya... be careful if you run
into this situation!
Round 2: B/w Braids
I win 2-1
You all should know the basis of this deck by now.
I'm prepared for this matchup as it's all over the
internet... although Spectral Lynx is really scary.
I WAS NOT ready for Spectral Lynx to be as good as it
was. All thru Invasion Block Spectral Lynx saw a
lot of play in multicolor decks... usually you were
lucky to have 1 black mana available to regen... let
alone any! Not the case in this matchup... a
patient Braids player knows they have access to TONS of
black mana... making it very difficult for a burn player
to kill the Lynx. Even still... the deck DOES have
red creatures as well as Kavu Titan that can trample
over Lynx so I was able to win game one... Braids is
usually never a factor as my deck has literally 23 ways
maindeck of killing it... most at instant speed and that
number isn't including the Flashback of Firebolt!
Game 2 he gets down 2 Spectral Lynx early with
regeneration mana... I die.
Game 3 looks bad at first as once again Spectral Lynx
shows up early... but I'm able to squeak out the win by
just throwing tons of creatures down early... then using
my burn before I attack to tap Spectral Lynx so my
creatures can come thru for the kill.
Round 3: Psychatog
We draw 1-1-1 on time
He's running an "older" version of Psychatog...
more counters/control and no Standstill. Because
of this our games are very long. I use my
instantaneous burn a lot to try to throw off his "psychatog
math". This combined with FTK makes it very
difficult to keep any cards in his grave or in hand...
so he can't really win by making Psychatog huge and
attacking me and once he sees this he concedes game one.
Game 2 again goes long but I think he's able to get a
few Fact or Fictions off early and gets to beat me with
Game 3 time gets called early... and I would have easily
won had I got just one more turn. I had him down
to 2 life and had Rage in my hand that would've
guaranteed the win... oh well.
4th round: B/w Braids
I lose 1-2
I played a guy who spoke broken English... and this was
a factor in game 2. First game however things
appear to be fine as I'm able to deal with his Mesmeric
Fiends without too much trouble (God bless you FTK) and
am able to deal with early Nantuko Shades thanks to
instant burn after he pumps.
Game 2 however I get really upset. He has a
Spectral Lynx and Nantuko Shade on the board with 5
black mana available and I have Shivan Wurm. It is
my turn and I attack with the Wurm... he blocks with
both Lynx and the Shade and pumps his shade three times.
I respond by Raging the Shade. He claimed that his
three pumps each resolve immediately... even though he
gave me no chance to respond to the supposed
"separate" pumps. He didn't declare he was
doing this, so a judge is called over. The judge
takes literally 10 minutes listening to both sides of
the story... mainly because the opponent's English was
no good and eventually rules that he can go back and
declare the pumps and let them resolve individually off
the stack. This of course screws me over as now he
has the knowledge of the Rage in my hand... and as a
result I lose.
Game three he goes Turn 1 Duress grabbing my Compost...
then drops 2 Spectral Lynx. Nothing I can do about
Round 5: Standstill Psychatog
I lose 0-2
If only I knew then what I know now. This is a
good matchup for my deck... but you have to play smart.
Game one I go turn 1 Rootwalla. My thought was I
should try to deal as much damage to him as possible so
on turn 2 I pump Rootwalla instead of casting another
creature. BIG mistake! He Aether Burst my
Rootwalla and I'm tapped out... so he can untap play
Nightscape Familiar AND Standstill. I try the idea
of playing the waiting game until he has 7 cards in hand
and then "popping" the Standstill at the end
of his turn so he has to discard the extra cards.
It doesn't work as this is exactly what they hope for
because it buys them time to build up enough mana to do
the Upheaval/Psychatog trick.
Game 2 he is again able to bounce all my early threats
(I don't see Blurred Mongoose unfortunately) or at least
hold them off with a regenerating Familiar. This
time I try to be aggressive and keep casting spells when
he has Standstill on the board. Again this doesn't
work... he drew 9 cards because of this strategy and
simply overran me on card advantage. =(
Round 6: Standstill/Psychatog (AGAIN!!)
I win (woohoo!) 2-1
Pretty much a carbon copy of the last round Psychatog...
I am not thrilled. However I learn from my mistake
and NEVER miss a chance to play a creature... thus
making it hard for him to bounce all my threats and then
play a Standstill. This strategy really pays
off... in our final game I'm able to be aggressive right
from the start and when I finally win my first full
match against Psychatog my opponent shows me his hand...
4 Standstills. Because I was able to keep plenty
of creature threats on the board... those Standstills
were dead draws! Unlucky for him but I'll take it!
Round 7: B/G/U goods
I win 2-0
By now my record is 3-2-1 and I'm pretty much not able
to make top 8 but I play for the experience. My
opponent is playing his own creation. It uses all
the "good" cards from the three colors... Fact
or Fiction, Repulse, and Counterspell from blue.
Chainers Edict, Spiritmonger, Pernicious Deed from black
and green. There was even Anavolver and Mystic
Snake! Kind of a hodgepodge that I'm able to beat
quickly thanks to mana screw on his part.
I end up finishing 4-2-1 and get 16th place, well out of
any prize but I'm really happy because I've found out
the deck CAN do well against the 2 main decks on the
'net... Psychatog and Braids.
Even though practice shows me some tricks to improve my
odds in these matchups... I make a slight tweak to the
deck to improve the odds even more. I replace
Fire/Ice with Scorching Lava. Scorching Lava kills
dead Spectral Lynx and Nightscape Familiar... my decks
worst enemies. It will also help against
Spiritmonger... which in this wide open environment is
seeing play in several very good decks! Fire/Ice
was in the original deck as a good answer to "Frog
in the Blender" but the deck as of late has been
very unimpressive... not to mention the fact my deck
performs very well versus a weenie matchup anyway.
So, on the very next weekend I play in another GP trial
with my Scorching Lava "tech". I'm much
more confident with the deck... and it shows as I make
top 8! WooHoo!!
Round 1: B/w Braids
I win 2-0
A lucky topdeck seals the game early for me. He
goes turn 1 Duress and takes my only burn spell in my
hand. He follows it up with a turn 2 Spectral Lynx
trying to be aggressive as he thinks I don't have any
removal for it. I peel a Firebolt off the top of
my deck and win because of it. I felt kinda bad
but not really... my deck has a TON of removal/burn.
Game 2 I bring in the Compost. He of course
predicts this and brings in Aura Blast. This gives
him a slight edge as he's always able to deal with my
Compost "for free" but luckily I get 2 Kicked
Titans on the board and even Spectral Lynx can't help
him out of that predicament. Because of the whole
Compost/Aura Blast thing... I wonder if it would be
smarter to NOT bring in Compost against this matchup?
By doing this if they still bring in Aura Blast they end
up in a bad situation. Worth trying.
Round 2: Mono black Control (may have a splash of white)
I win 2-0
His deck is creatureless. This is where my deck
really shines due to the flexibility of burn.
While other decks are gonna have wasted cards main like
Chainers Edict... all my burn can go straight to the
dome if there's no creatures to be dealt with.
This is exactly how I win game 1... and a good thing as
he's able to deal with all my creatures due to his 12
"edict" spells if you count Flashback.
Game 2 luck is on my side again as I pull of a rather
amazing win. During the midgame his deck works
just as it should. He strips my hand with Discard
and deals with my creatures via removal. With him
at only 2 life he plays Haunting Echoes. I reacted
pretty casually and handed him my deck... but quickly
noticed I had one of every creature in my Graveyard.
Panicked at first... however I was still OK since I
could just burn him out. Then my testicles recoil
inward as I notice that both Urza's Rage and Firebolt
are in the grave as well!! My only spell left in
the deck was Scorching Lava... and thanks to
sideboarding I only had 2 of them in my deck!! So
with no cards in hand and no threats on the board... my
opponent hands me back my deck that has 18 cards left in
it... 16 of which are land. And what do I topdeck
for the win? Yeah Baby!! It mattered since
he could have gained life via Corrupt the next turn
making it impossible for me to kill him.. What can
I say... I was very pleased to say the least!
Round 3: Meteor Storm, Ensnaring Bridge, Grafted
he wins 1-2
He wins game 1 due to Bridge lockdown. Game 2 I
take out the Bridge and Meteor Storm with all at once
thanks to Hull Breach and win. Game 3 he deals 10
damage in one shot by discarding 2 Fiery Temper's to
Meteor Storm. That's a lot of damage!!
Round 4: Psychatog
I win 2-0
I'm prepared for this matchup. Game one I get
generous amounts of creatures and make his Standstill
worthless in his hand. Wild Mongrel is nice to see
early as you can play your Rootwalla's for nothing...
freeing up your mana for other stuff. Game 2 I
side out 4 Call and side in 4 Blurred Mongoose.
This means I have 8 1cc creatures and 12 2cc creatures!
This is simply too many early creatures for the opponent
Round 5: Psychatog
I win 2-0
Last tourney when I played Psychatog 2 games in a row I
shuddered... this time around I'm happy. The
opponent at one point is able to bounce 4 of my
creatures at once thanks to Aether Burst... and I still
win. Counting Barbarian Ring and Urza's Rage...
the deck can deal 18 points of damage that CANNOT be
Round 6: G/B beef
Top 8!! I play the guy for fun as we end up having
a mutual friend. He wins 2-1, Spiritmonger is F'n
HUGE!! I've been playing a version of his deck on
Apprentice lately and have had a lot of success.
Round 7 R/G/u
I lose 0-2
Oh well. His deck is very similar to mine...
although his deck splashed blue for Repulse and ForF.
He got some pretty good draws and seemed to always be
one step ahead. City of Brass gave him access to
all the colored mana he needed and as a result he won.
Oh well, can't complain as I got a 1/2 box of foreign
Torment. Even more important to me my DCI
constructed rating went up almost 100 points thanks to
I've made a few tweaks since to the deck. After
playing quite a bit... 4 Grim Lavamancer isn't necessary
main. Three seems just about right since he's best
in the mid game when you've got plenty of cards in the
grave for him to remove. I also have replaced the
Scorching Lava with Fiery Tempers. Now the deck
has 8 madness spells which makes it much better against
discard. It also increases the amount of sheer
damage I can dish out... not to mention it makes Wild
Mongrel even better than he already is.
As I said in my last article ... this is a good time for
constructed Magic. The environment is balanced and
there's plenty of good decks to be played. I
really enjoyed the past few tourneys I've gone to... and
this is from a guy that swore off Constructed Magic not
too long ago! =)
Hope this helps... have fun!