Faith's True Light
Original Build by Sami Falah
Piloted by Tareq Falah
Halftime Cards--Black Rose Tournament*Type II*
Clearfield, Utah--March 10, 2001
5 Rounds of Swiss, Top 8 Advancing On
Friday night, Nethead Cards, a discussion arises. "No, Counter Rebels is just not consistent enough against the rest of the field to play." "Why would you cast a 2/2 Rebel when you can cast a 5/5 fattie? Okay, then. Play Fires!" With all of this talk going on, there was going to be no way that I could come up with a deck to play the next day for a Type II tournament to be held at Halftime Cards.
I talked to my brother, and he recalled that he had played his Blinding Angel deck to a 3rd place finish in the recent JSS. I told him, "Yeah, but everyone else will be playing with U/W, and I just auto-lose to Skies." However, he soon informed me that the deck had re-shaped itself and was in a new form. Now, the deck still had its original U/W build, but it added Red for a splash of Ghitu Fire, or "Ghetto Fire" is it's commonly called around here. Sounded good, but I needed to playtest. After getting my head smashed in several times by his deck while playing Skies and then switching to Fires, I was convinced to play the deck:
Faith's True Light
4 Blinding Angel
4 Accumulated Knowledge
4 Fact Or Fiction
2 Dismantling Blow
4 Wrath of God
2 Story Circle
2 Ghitu Fire
4 Coastal Tower
Sideboard(In retrospect, this thing is REALLY awful. I didn't have enough time to mess with it, but I'll explain options to configuring it properly later on.)
3 Last Breath
2 Mageta, the Lion
2 Teferi's Moat
2 Tsabo's Web
1 Ivory Mask
The main difference between this U/W deck and all the rest right now is the splash for Red. And trust me, this is a splash in the right direction. In a field heavily dominated by Islands, and surrounded by Plains, the Ghitu Fires help you to come out on top at the end. Let me explain:
In a mirror matchup, neither opponent wants to let a Blinding Angel hit the board, for when it happens, they start to lose control. Therefore, many, many counters are spent endlessly to get rid of opposing threats. Eventually, one player will start to slip, and the other will cast a Wrath or a Rout to reset the battle field. This is where the Ghitu Fire gets really good. In the late game, both players are very low on cards, and have spent most of their resources trying to keep or gain control. By the end of the game, all of your land should be out, unless an Armageddon resolved for some strange reason. Anyways, this buildup of land and depletion of counter magic allows for an X spell to wipe the opponent off the board.
Also, it was highly debated at this tournament whether I should run Ghitu Fire or Urza's Rage. Both cards should theoretically work fine in a U/W/r build, however, the Fire has proven better. It is basically better for a few simple reasons:
1-It is simply not a 2R casting cost spell. This means that if you lost a mountain to a Fact or Fiction or something else, then you pretty much are screwed when only running 2 Mountains. You can of course add in more mountains, which would drop mana consistency, or you could add City of Brass, but that has tested poorly.
2-Many times, you will want to burn for X, rather than a set number of 3 or 12. You may want to kill an Angel, or burn a Spirit. Rage doesn't allow you to do this until you have 12 mana, which means you would rather burn the player for 12. Ghitu Fire is an X spell, thus it is what you want it when you want it.
The deck performed very well, and as I expected, it's only tough matchup of the day would prove to be Skies. The Fires would be more than just "some good" all day long and would eventually lead to wins. Here is how the tournament went.
After deck registration, I look around in a room that is filled with Islands and Plains.....great, as I was expecting. There were plenty of Turbo Chant, U/W Angel, Nether-Go, and Skies to make you want to vomit. But how can I complain, I am after all playing Blue...what a sin. Time to start...
Round 1--Tony Lau Counter Rebels
As I began Round 1, I was rather worried. I knew Tony Lau was one of the best players in the state, and that he was also playing one of the toughest decks in the field, Counter Rebels. I would have to play very smart to win this matchup.
Game One: Game One begins with him playing first, and making the most broken play ever: "Plains, Sergeant, go." I hate it whenever those words are uttered. I continue on and Opt and Knowledge looking for Dominates or Wraths. However, his forces start to mount and I am quickly looking at an army of 3 Seargents, 2 Falcons, 1 Lin-Sivvi, and 1 Defiant Vanguard. As he taps at the end of my turn to search, I respond with a Fact or Fiction, hopefully to find a Wrath. It resolves, and I pick up the Wrath. However, he makes a very surprising play as he casts Armageddon on his next turn, to which I quickly scoop.
Sideboard: I put in Magetas and Last Breaths, which should be enough.
Game Two: He starts out slowly by not casting a Sergeant on the first turn, while I cast an Accumulated Knowledge on his end step. I am holding 2 Wraths, 1 Counterspell, and an Absorb which should be enough to stop his army. I Wrath twice quickly removing some Sergeants and Falcons that hit the board. A Rout was also very key in this match as I responded to his searching with Sivvi and the crew and he was forced to look at a board with 1 Sky Marshall on it. I Wrathed again and next played out an Angel, which I won the ensuing counter war over. After several turns of attacking, he scoops.
Game Three: Game Three was a very fun game. I Wrath at critical points in the game, and Last Breathed a Lin-Sivvi and a Sergeant. It was also fun seeing the eyes of the spectators as I Wrathed away a single Sergeant on the board. Towards the end of the game, I had out a Blinding Angel to his nothing. On his turn, he cast Armageddon to which I replied, "In response, cast Ghitu Fire as an instant...take 10." His faced looked surprised, and I rode the Angel to victory in three more turns.
Round Two--??? Five-Color-Jank
To be honest, I really don't know how he won his first match. His deck consisted of Tribal Flames, Harrows, Stratadons, and Dracos. It looked to be a Pre-Constructed Deck, and the deck even received comments of, "Your playing that in the tournament??? I thought that was a Draft deck!" My deck even seemed to talk to me with comments such as, "I'm really hungry. I could sure go for...wait, what's that? An unsleeved deck! Oh, that just has to be scrub-o-licious!!!"
Game One: I mulligan down to 5, and am not worried the least as he goes down to 5 as well, and is playing with his jank.dec. I Wrathed once, and then cast a Blinding Angel to which he responded, "What does that do?" "It wins me games," was my only response. I quickly rolled to a victory.
Sideboard: Do I really have to???
Game Two: He plays rather slow, making it even more of a tedious task to move on. I cast 2 Blinding Angels consecutively, yet he still plays on. To his credit, he did get me to 7 by casting a couple Tribal Flames. Oh well, you live you learn.
Round Three--John Tan Blue Skies
This is the only matchup that I was honestly concerned with. I felt that if a couple of Hatchlings hit the board, and he had multiple Rishadan Ports in play, it would be over quickly. Boy was I right.
Game One: He moves very quickly with a second-turn Spiketail, followed up by Porting me on my upkeep. His next turn he drops a 2nd Port to which I reply, "Is that a legal play?" He begins to come over with Idols, and soon drops a Rising Waters which I can not recover from.
Sideboard: Disenchants and Tsabo's Web.
Game Two: I cast a Tsabo's Web on turn 2, which is easily Dazed. He follows up with a Hatchling and a Port to which onlookers call him the "Port Master." Again, the match moves too quickly as I am not able to keep up with his free counter-magic and card-drawing.
Round 4--Ben Sellers Rebels
I was eagerly awaiting to see who my 4th round opponent was and was delighted to find out he was playing with Rebels. Contrast to many people's belief, this deck has a very easy time with Rebels, with the matchup favoring me highly.
Game One: He uses the most broken play in the game, a first-turn Sergeant. However, since he has no blue mana sources in his deck, I know that my Wraths will come over successfully. Towards the end, there is nothing on the board and he begins to shoot me with Rath's Edge for 1 point a turn. Riiiiigggghhht. I Dominate a Sky Marshall, then cast a Blinding Angel. He uses a Kor-Haven to slow the bleeding, but it is already to late. I Ghitu Fire for 8 on my turn to finish things off.
Sideboard: Last Breaths, Tsabo's Web, Magetas...Boy, I love Rebels!!!
Game Two: Again, I Wrath all of his threats away, and even have to Wrath a lone Sergeant to the reply of "Was that really necessary?" A Mageta hits the board, and he knows it is already over as Mageta, followed by an Angel begin to tear him to pieces.
Round 5--Patrick Selk Ankh Tide
I don't know much about this matchup, so we decided to intentionally draw. As we go to play for fun, I start to understand how hard of a matchup this is for me. His arsenal of Veteran Brawlers, Ports, and Hoodwinks just really disrupt the deck enough to cause it to falter easily. I know that I have to avoid this deck and Blue Skies to make it to the final game.
Standings(in no particular order):
Bryce Shreeve(I believe)
Round 6--Bryce Shreeve Counter Rebels
I am again worried about this matchup because I had such a hard time last go-round against Counter Rebels. However, his version seemed to be running weaker counters than Lau's version and it just seemed to not have that kick.
Game One: I quickly Dominate a Lin-Sivvi, then realize he is starting to mount an army. I am surprised to see a Wrath of God quickly resolve. When I try to cast a Blinding Angel, it is met by a Power Sink, to which I can not pay the cost. I do a lot of searching in this match to find another Wrath, and a Rout suffices. I attempt a second Blinding Angel, and he can not keep up with it as I slowly counter all of his Rebel attempts. But once you have Wrathed away many creatures, the only thing you really have to worry about is the Sivvi. I ride the Angel to victory, while throwing a Ghitu Fire along the way for 7.
Sideboard: Last Breath, Mageta, Millstone. I decide to try the Millstone out to see if it will help at all. I doubt it will, but it's worth a shot.
Game Two: I draw my opening hand and am rewarded with a Last Breath, Wrath, Mageta, and counter magic. He lays a plains and is done. Ahhh, no broken play. He casts a Falcon on Turn 2, and I Opt in response. It looks as if I will take another game easily as I Wrath away a Falcon and Sivvi, then Last Breath a Sergeant. On one of my ensuing turns, he looks up towards the door, then at me. With a frown, he says he has to go. His mom has come to pick him up and he can't play any longer. Wow, that really sucks. Oh well, he did make Top 8 so he should be proud of that. However, there was no way he would have won this matchup.
Round 7--Sammy Batarseh U/W Control
I know that we are running very similar decks, except for that I believe his is running main deck Thwarts, and possibly Foils. I also saw a deck he played which had Trade Routes in it, so those could possibly be in the deck as well. Oh, well, time for a counter-war.
Game One: If you want to know how boring Magic can be, just play a Blinding Angel deck vs. a Blinding Angel deck. Time passed so slowly in this game and the only real fun was seeing who could use more counters. I eventually got out an Angel, which was met by an opposing Angel. He then dropped another, to which I Wrathed, successfully. Sticking to my original strategy, I allowed him to play more counters than I did, however, my deck was significantly smaller. I was worried that I would deck, however, I did have a Ghitu Fire in my hand. I knew I could not fire him once for the win, because he was at 22. I drew my next card, which was my 2nd Fire. Mized. I could finally take control. On my turn, I attempted to Ghitu Fire him for 11, which came through. I was surprised, but I thought he might just be saving his counters. He drew, then passed. With 4 cards left in my library, I attempted to cast Ghitu Fire for 11 again, this time with 4 Islands available for the 2 Counterspells in my hand. This 2nd Fire resolved like the first one, and I was utterly surprised. "You mean, you don't have a counter???" He said that he had burned through too many in the early game. Indeed, indeed.
Sideboard: Millstone, Tsabo's Web, and Mageta.
Game Two: I was quite surprised, as I know Sammy is one of the best players in the state. However, when I open my hand and look to find the lone Millstone that I sideboarded in, I am very happy. On my fourth turn, I attempted to cast a Millstone with counter back-up. He let it resolve, much to my surprise. Earlier, he had cast a Meddling Mage naming Wrath of God, and had attempted to cast a Rootwater Thief, which was Countered. After my Millstone resolved, I didn't think once that it would go all the way. I milled him constantly during the game, and also played out 2 Blinding Angels. He too had attempted an Angel, which was Absorbed. However, when an Air Elemental was cast, I was truly afraid. Yet, he could not attack, for I would simply double-block, then let him kill one Angel, and keep going over for the win. He stood back with his one Elemental staring down the two Angels, and the Millstone continued on. We both watched as both Dismantling Blows met the demise of his graveyard. The last card he drew was a Last Breath, which he could have used to remove one of my Angels, allowing him to come over with the Elemental. Because the Meddling Mage had resolved I only had Rout or Dominate to get rid of him, both of which I did not see. In the end, the Millstone would pull through for the win. Sorry Sammy...both of the games gave you some really awful hands and matches. How random am I...1 Millstone in the sideboard.
Final Round--John Tan Blue Skies
Well, I had stayed away from the inevitable for as long as I could. The odds were really against me in this matchup, and the only thing I could hope for was serious mana-screw on his part, and for him to not draw multiple Ports....yeah right.
Game One: He plays first, and casts the usual Hatchling. This has to be one of the worst creatures to resolve against U/W for it sets you back one more turn, and makes it just that much harder for you to escape Dazes. The game lasts a lot longer than the previous ones. And I am able to keep up, only taking shots now from a Rishadan Airship, as I had Dismantling Blow'd an Idol, and Ghitu Fire'd another Airship. However, after my attempt at an Angel was unsuccessful, and a Wrath was Thwarted, he took Game One.
Sideboard: Tsabo's Web, Disenchant, (possibly a Last Breath?)
Game Two: This game, he keeps a one-land hand, which would cost him to suffer horribly. Because he was so light on land, he was not able to keep up with the card drawing I was using, and the only counters he could muster would be Foils, which only made it harder for him to access mana. Eventually, 2 Blinding Angels resolved after I misdirected a Foil, and it was soon over.
Game Three: Game Three was a heartbreaker for the deck. After getting two Hatchlings on the board, he was able to counter early things by me. A Tsabo's Web slowed his mana development down, and the Ports were useless, except for one turn. Afterwards, he laid an Air Elemental, with a Rishadan Airship in play. I was surprised to find out that on my next turn, he allowed a Wrath of God to resolve. I know knew that this was my chance to win. I disenchanted a Waters somewhere in between, which was not countered. He played out another Hatchling, with a Chimeric Idol already on the board, much to my chagrin. On my next turn, I failed to realize that he still had the Hatchling, and attempted a Blinding Angel. He simply discarded the Hatchling and my Angel fell to the discard. I knew now that it would be hard to come back, as he Gushed on my end step. As he attacked the rest of the game, I could find no cards to recover with, and eventually lost.
This tournament was very fun for me. I walked away with $25 store credit, with which I bought 2 Ball Lightnings, some Deck Sleeves, and a Winter Orb. The deck proved to work very well, and the Ghitu Fire was simply amazing vs. any Control deck. Even against Skies, it can destroy the Hatchlings or Airships for a very cheap cost. I realize that a single mistake cost me the tournament, and I will have to be much more careful in the future. Oh yeah, the janky sideboard. Well, like I explained, we had to throw it together rather quickly, and couldn't find what we were really looking for. The sideboard should look something like this:
3 Last Breath
2 Mageta, the Lion
2 (Secret Tech to beat Skies....MWAHAHAHAHA!!!.....Yes, I do have tech, well, kinda, maybe)
2 (Uhhh... More secret tech against Skies!)
Sami Falah--Thank you for creating the deck. The Red splash was excellent and I couldn't have won without it.
John Tan--All the playing that we have done recently let me see just how powerful Skies really is. It was also very fun talking to you and competing against you in the tourney.
Chris Scanlon--Again, you managed to put up another excellent tournament. Keep up the great work.
Halftime Cards--I have only recently begun to play here frequently, and it is the greatest in the state!
Eric Smith and Nethead Cards--Thank you for all of the cards you have let me borrow recently. Also, I appreciate you guys keeping the shop fun and the tourneys great.
Rebels(in general)--I'm looking to you Ramosian Sergeant, and you Lin-Sivvi...
Wizards of the Coast--Recently, I have been having many problems with their DCI system, and it has led into somewhat of a soap opera. The latest installment involves my brother having my account and his account merge into one, with him being the beneficiary. Stay tuned for the next episode.
I am still looking for a way to deal with Skies. The only real problem is the deck moves a bit too fast for U/W, and the free counterspells hurt it tremendously. I am going to be testing some possible ways to handle U/W, but right now I don't feel like disclosing that much tech, as Skies causes troubles for all players. If anyone out there has any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. If anyone wishes to use this deck, please remember who created it, and try to give them credit for it. Good luck to all, and my Faith's True Light shine on you!
Tareq "Qin" Falah