Everyone around here has gone hog-wild for Mirrodin-block. It’s actually gotten to a point where people are refusing to play in Standard tournaments, putting their energies into block-constructed and little else.
Why? Well, for starters, the metagame shift since the banning of Skullclamp seems to have made people extremely wary of playing Standard; the only reason folks seem to want to emphasize Block is because of the upcoming PTQ’s. It’s almost a hypocrisy that people want to wander around Mirrodin-block trying to find reasonable decks, but won’t put in the energy to play in a Standard environment that is actually reasonably fresh for a change.
Here are a couple of lists, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention to standard:
DECKS THAT AREN’T AS AMAZING AS BEFORE, BUT ARE STILL GOOD
THINGS THAT DON’T SUCK AS MUCH ANY MORE
Tooth & Nail
Green LD (whee!)
In short, what you’ve got here is a complete rejuvenation of the control archetypes, which can now deal with the aggressive decks without being forced to go to extreme measure to deal with the hated Skullclamp. More exciting is the new viability of aggro/control decks, such as Ponza and other midrange strategies; this is, in my opinion, a sign of a much healthier environment where a wide range of decks can coexist and more people can actually enjoy playing. It’s a good thing for most people.
So back to the point here…I was able to take a new version of last week’s deck out for a spin on Saturday in a small tournament. By small, I mean very small…like, thirteen people. Considering it was one of the Texas Magic League qualifiers for their $5,000 tournament, I was pretty surprised at the whole thing; regardless, I suited up and played.
Before we go, I’ll provide you a revised list for the deck; it seems to have smoothed out considerably, though it’s still open to changes (as you’ll see).
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Plow Under
4 Guardian Idol
4 Vine Trellis
4 Eternal Witness
4 Creeping Mold
4 Ravenous Baloth
2 Soul Foundry
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Reap and Sow
2 Stalking Stones
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Oblivion Stone
2 Viridian Shaman
2 Viridian Zealot
Changes from last week included going up to four Reap and Sow and down to 22 lands, including the four Nexus and down to two Stones. I found this to be tight on the lands, but any sort of reasonable draw made for fantastic performance from the deck. The sideboard was far from optimal; the Stones were for Goblins and other random decks, but ended up sucking up sideboard space. The Duplicants were great, and the others were mostly for Ravager, but the Shamans and Zealots showed up a fair amount of time in other matchups.
So, on to the rounds…
Round 1: R/G Beasts/LD
This turned into a bit of an ugly match, due partly to some ugly draws on my part, partly due to the fact that LD mirrors are very frequently about as much fun as choking yourself with a phone cord. I lose game one when, after we takes turns blowing up most of each other’s land, I never draw a Baloth or Troll. Game two is mine when I blow up two lands and he doesn’t have any more; game three basically comes down the same way, but I’m the one on the wrong side of the mana issues. I die with two Witnesses in my hand, unable to get to GG1 in order to start putting land back into my hand.
An inauspicious start. Blech.
Round 2: U/G Bringer deck
I was amused at this deck; it’s a block deck designed to draw into and (hopefully) play a Bringer of the Blue Dawn on turn three or four. He never gets to five mana in game one, especially after I Plow Under his lands twice, then start blowing them up. Game two, he gets a turn three Bringer, followed by another on turn five, then another on turn six. We both mulligan to start game three, but his turn five Bringer is met with a Duplicant from me. He doesn’t drop another, and I start to blow up his land, thus ending his chances.
Round 3: G/W control
Ah, one of the matchups I’d been hoping for…until I mulligan down to five in the first game in order to see two land, then fail to draw another mana-source that stays in play (I think he Oxidized an Idol). Games two and three are pretty relentless beatings, however; I manage to Plow him Under three or four times in the second game (I can’t remember exactly; there were multiple Witnesses involved in that event).
Round 4: U/W control
This is where my day goes confusing:
Me: “Hey, we’ll both get in. Let’s draw and take a break.”
Him: “Ummm….no, I’d like to play.”
Me: “Alright…umm...you know
we both get in, right?”
Me: “….’kay. Hope I crush you.”
Getting past the first rush of frustration, the fact that my tiebreakers are awful puts me into an extremely poor predicament. Fortunately, he starts game one by putting a Coastal Tower into play; it’s even more fortunate when he Condescends my Vine Trellis on turn two. The Idol that gets Condescended on turn three is equally irritating, but that allows me to start to cast my Molds and Reaps with a little less fear; when they start resolving, things take a severe downturn for him. Some Plow Unders and Witnesses later, we’re sideboarding. I offer the draw again; I’m rebuffed again. Game two goes a whole lot like game one, including the Condescend cast on my Vine Trellis on turn two; his lands blow up, or end up on top of his library, then I get a Foundry into play making copies of Jens Thoren. I beat him up with a horde of Nexi and Stalking Stones to go with the robotic Invitational-winner.
I slink into what has become a top eight.
Top 8: Ponza (Jeremy Simmons driving)
Me and Jeremy play together quite a bit, and are both pretty familiar with our decks. Game one ends up being pretty absurd as he plays three Slith Firewalkers over turns three through five; I simply don’t have a way to deal with them. I bring in the Shamans and Zealots along with my Duplicants to deal with his Sloggers. Game two, I manage to draw three Ravenous Baloths that he simply isn’t able to deal with in any sort of efficient manner, along with a Duplicant to take care of his Arc Slogger. On drawing our cards for game three, we both mention that probably shouldn’t draw three of a single card; he kept his promise, while I had three Eternal Witnesses in my hand at the end of turn one. Turn two I dropped a Trellis; he Stone Rained one of my lands. My turn three involved casting Witness to get my land back along with some muttered curses under his breath; turn four seemed to go the same way. I get some Trolls out, then a Baloth or two to ensure that I don’t get burned out.
Top 4: Goblins
I’d avoided what I had taken to be my worst matchup until this point. After I started the tournament, I realized that this had potential to be a truly horrendous matchup. Nevertheless, I am almost able to stabilize in game one with Solemn on a Foundry when he drops two Sharpshooters into play and is able to keep me from blocking as a result. Game two, he doesn’t draw a lot of land and I blow up the ones that he does play. I realize that, going second, I’m probably wrecked in game three, but I do what I can; however, he draws Clickslither and a Siege Gang, and that kills me before I can really set up any sort of real defense.
Thus ended my day, beset by Goblins and the gibbering of my opponent who managed to beat the G/W control deck in the finals by drawing a Clickslither off the top the turn before the G/W player was going to stabilize. Good work!
In the end, I saw the weaknesses in the deck against Goblins, and the need to emphasize some form of removal in the deck. I also noted the relative weakness of the Idols (though I’m giving them a bit more time) and the mediocre nature of the Foundry. The Idols stay for now, though the Foundries have both been removed in favor of Triskelions, in the hopes that they will help to stunt the speed of Goblins. The Stones are far too slow, being switched out in favor of Pulse of the Tangle, perhaps, though I’m still looking at other options here.
Next week? It’s possible I’ll be looking a little more at the power of the Witness in block; Grand Prix - Zurich gave us a ridiculous view of what you can do when you combine the Witness with a Crystal Shard. We might also do a little investigative journalism as well. Until then…
Copyright 2001 Pojo.com
Gathering is a Registered Trademark of Wizards of the Coast.
This site is not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast and is not an Official Site.