Argothian Treehouse
Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Tuning and Tourney - 09.16.04

This is a follow up to my prior article, EEEternal Witness.  I've playtested
and tuned quite a bit, and while this may come a bit late to be useful to
most people,  I figured it'd be best to include it for general knowledge. 
To start with, the improved list (things marked with a + or - have been
increased or decreased in number from the previous list, those with an * are
new additions:

4 Eternal Witness
4 Viridian Shaman
4 Trinket Mage
3 Vedalken Mastermind+
3 Pyrite Spellbomb*
1 Aether Spellbomb
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Wayfarer's Bauble-
2 Pentad Prism*
4 Condescend
4 Serum Visions
4 Oxidize
1 Viridian Longbow*

10 Forest+
9 Island
1 Mountain
1 Great furnace*

3 Plated Slagwurm+
1 Memnarch
2 Last Word-
2 Vex*
4 Tangle Asp
1 Chalice of the Void*
2 Aether Spellbomb

An extra mastermind because, while I thought he'd just be good once control
was established,  it turns out he's absurdly amazing before then, too. 
Against affinity in particular, turn 2 mastermind, turn 3 viridian shaman is
superb,  giving me a bouncing blocker next turn who repeatedly kills their
stuff.  Pyrite's in place of hoverguards, because it accomplishes the same
thing- unblockable damage, deals with blinkmoth, sombers, and furnace
whelps,  but not only can I search up Pyrite,  but it's also cyclable and,
most importantly, kills disciple of the vault.  Similarly, viridian longbow,
once you've established control, is optimal,  since it kills disciple,
blinkmoth, ravager, and worker.

I felt I kept overlanding, so I dropped one land for the longbow, and one
bauble for the mastermind;  then, in playing, I determined that the 2 cards
I didn't like seeing against affinity were bauble and condescend.  I can't
take out condescend or I concede all non-affinity matchups in the first
game.  The breakthrough is changing 2 of the baubles to Pentad Prism.  This
gives me better acceleration, allows stronger condescends against other
decks, and smooths my mana- I get to remove the bad off-color land for more
relevant slots, and a more stable deck overall.  A used prism can be
returned with a mastermind,  and I can still potentially kill arc-sloggers
with a 5 point explosives.

Vex's are more mana friendly, can counter earlier sloggers more
consistently, and allow me to cast spells and still have a counter easier
than last word.  Last word is still good, and somewhat necessary in some
situations, so 2 and 2.  Chalice of the Void comes in against affinity, they
should side in shrap blasts, you set chalice to 2, and 90% of their real
threats are nullified.  Disciple isn't so strong without ravager or atog to
back him.  Claws got cut,  since COG isn't so popular, claws isn't necessary
to win, and against crystal witness, you can kill their recursion, they
can't kill yours.

So I played this in the last PTQ I could, in houston this weekend.  Here's
my brief report,  if I remember wrong, feel free to correct me:

Round one: Big Red
I've played against the guy before, John, he's very friendly.  He mana
stumbles slightly both games that I win,  I help the situation by killing
great furnaces and Talismans.   One game he gets slogger down, it's bounced,
it comes down again a few turns later, and I have the counter, but let it
down anyways because even though he can block one guy and shoot two others,
I still have lethal.  The other game he casts 2 solemns, I lay a turn 5
slagwurm (yay prism!).

Round two: Affinity
He doesn't get the nuts draw either game, I lock him out of non-blinkmoth

Round three: Tooth and nail
Nice guy from (I think) the austin area.  He gets a game loss for something
minor when we get deckchecked,  "game 2" I don't have a condescend and he
casts a turn 5 tooth and nail,  but I have beats and recursion,  I take one
hit from collossus before I can bounce it,  then I swing and have lethal
next turn between pyrite and my attacks, plus I have aether + eternal if he
tooths for angel/abunas... but when he taps his land he casts Rude Awakening
instead.  Third game he pauses for a couple of turns on 2 mana, and I have
double condescend, double Witness anyways... condescend his land fetching
spells, yadda yadda.

Round four: Mono-black Deathcloud
He needs to deathcloud early to cripple my mana and hand, he doesn't, my
deck generates more card advantage than his, and I make sure to try and keep
my land drops consistent with trinket mages and serum visions, so he loses.

I'm 4-0 at this point

Round five: Affinity
I stop his early beats and gain control first game.  Second game, I keep a
green spells+ islands hand because I have 10 forests, 2 prisms, wayfarer's
bauble, trinket mage, and potentially serum visons to get me a green land,
and since I don't have oxidize in hand, I have two or three turns to get one
of those.  I take the odds slightly in my favor for getting a source in
time,  it unfortunately takes 5 turns.  Third game, he has multiple
disciples and a shrapnel blast,  I'm down to 9 before I take control,  but I
do take control, remove all his black and red lands, and am recursively
busting him up,  then in 3 turns he draws two shrapnel blasts and a
glimmervoid-  the only red source I can't kill, and the only cards that
salvage the game, since I can longbow disciples that come down.


Round six: Pristine angel/Salvagers Cog
He pauses at 4 lands for 2 turns,  I have condescend for his salvagers, and
then his pristine angel when he does get to six mana.  Second game is really
long,  He has salvager engine,  but I have last word recursion lock,  I'm
slowly working to bounce and counter the salvagers,  I'm slowed down by
having to counter another salvagers,  I error by leaving my prism as half my
open mana, and he echoing truths it and gets pristine down.  I'm still ok, 
I'm just working to get aethers down to bounce it,  he has too many cards
and I waste another turn countering a second angel,  I think I might be ok
when I get him down to three cards in hand, but he has the truths and
engineered explosives for my aethers, and eeks out the game.  We time out at
the very start of the third game.


Round seven: Affinity
He can't make top 8,  I ask him if he wants to concede, he says no and asks
if I want to concede, I explain that I actually will make top 8 with my
tiebreakers, he still wants to play.  I'm ok with that,  he doesn't know me,
  he's entitled to crush my hopes and dreams, I guess.  ;)   game 1 is a
fight,  I need him to draw one more land than he does, so I have to take one
turn longer dealing with his triple myr enforcer/double cranial plating
before I can kill his disciple... and he empty-handedly topdecks ravager
during that turn.  Ah well.  Game 2 I overland heavily during the first 4
turns,  but asp slows the bleeding,  I lay aether and chalice of the void
for 2, bounce his ravager, and stablilize.  Everything's going fine, then he
casts VIRIDIAN SHAMAN targetting my chalice.

(pause to review a parody of his thought process with that sideboard choice:
"Hey, this guy's playing a bad deck with spellbombs and engineered
explosives,  I should side in artifact kill so that I can have useless gray
ogres slowing down my draw against him, since he can sac his artifacts in
response to it.")

So I figure I'm dead to shrap blasts or ravager/atog/disciple,  he instead
just lays 2 atogs and a ravager and says go.  I tinker up explosives, wipe
his board during his attack phase, and re-stabilize at 1 life.  Tinker up
longbow.  We sit basically at parity for a while,  both in topdeck mode.  He
draws Thoughtcast after several turns, giving him another Viridian Shaman
(he apparently didn't have blasts at all, or didn't side them in.  Even if
he anticipated chalice, he should have oxidize+blasts, not shamans, but I
digress,  I've only got sour grapes) and Blinkmoth Nexus.  Shaman my
Longbow,  I fail to draw an answer, his nexus flies in for the kill.  He
makes 10th, I make 20th.

Got a room at the Marriot that the tourney was in, very nice beds.  Watched
Cartoon Network (Teen Titans and Justice League).  Took a shower and slept
for 12 hours.  Drove home- very boring, I didn't have any of my regular crew
with me, we don't like going to Houston normally.

I still believe in this deck, and really wish I had more chances to qualify
with it.  I will boast a roughly 60% favorability against affinity, against
the average build based on World's decks.  This is basically a 80% if I'm
going first, 20% if they are, kind of thing.  I've put in quite a few games
in this match,  these are actual numbers.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an email.

You can reach Andy at:

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