*Deep Breath* It is good to be back!
Sorry to disappear for a couple of weeks. I thought I would be able to juggle my time well enough on my business trip to be able to get an article out, but things were crazy busy and I was physically and mentally drained after long shifts. During my time in the Cleveland area, I was able to play a couple of Modern Masters drafts on MTGO as well as a live one for FNM. The FNM draft was at a wonderful shop called “Recess” in North Olmstead where I pulled a Vendilion Clique in my first pack! Immediately following that trip was a family camping vacation to Sawyer, Michigan with my wife and her family. It was quite wet, but enjoyable nonetheless and it felt wonderful to get away for a little while.
I survived both Corporate America and Mother Nature and made it back to my local shop for Monday Night Modern with my trusty Mardu Young Souls deck. I meant to tweak a few cards before the event began, but ADD kicked in and I was too busy socializing. So, I ended up running the exact list as before.
Round 1: Dimitrius – Decepticons
I was pleasantly surprised to see my opponent for round one. I see him every week at the store, but he’s always been playing Yu-Gi-Oh and not Magic. Welcome to the big leagues, Dimitrius! Used to playing at the top level of the other game, he immediately invested in a top-tier Magic deck, Decepticons. Game one he opened up with an aggressive start, dropping most of his hand on the first turn. I was ready for an onslaught of Artifact creatures and kept using spot removal on whatever dude was wearing a Cranial Plating. Things were looking up until he drew into an Etched Champion. Without a Kolaghan’s Command for the Equipment, and no Crackling Doom for his Metalcraft-Protectioned dude, I was quickly dispatched. I do want to note for posterity (it ended up not mattering but that doesn’t matter) I did misplay in this game, forgetting I had a Lingering Souls in my graveyard I could have Flashbacked. I guess I was a little rusty and a little too excited to be playing again. Our second game was incredibly close. I was narrowly able to get the win with Butcher’s Lifelink and Lightning Helix giving me just enough life buffer to kill him in the air with my life at a measly 1. Game three began a lot like game one, but this time I was able to Doom his Champions and remove his other guys until he was left with no creatures and no cards in hand. I had a Butcher and two Lingering Souls ready to Flashback, but we were already out of time and in turns by this point, so the game and match ended in a draw.
Board: -2 Planeswalkers, -2 Young Pyromancer, -2 Thoughtseize, +4 Rakdos Charm, +2 Anger of the Gods
Round 2: Duane – Combo Soul Sisters
This deck was crazy cool! What I thought was a simple Soul Sisters life gain deck turned out to be a formerly Birthing Pod driven combo deck with synergy levels over 9000! I took an aggressive approach to start game one, aiming a removal spell at his early two creatures. I tried to switch modes on the Young Pyromancer into Butcher plan, but he started a combo with Suture Priest + Leonin Relic-Warder + Phyrexian Metamorph. I did not see the combo initially, but he demonstrated it one time and my eyes went wide. The Metamorph enters the battlefield as a copy of the Leonin, Suture Priest triggers to gain him a life and the Meta-Leonin triggers to exile an Artifact targeting itself, its leaves-the-battlefield trigger goes off and returns itself once again as a copy of the Relic-Warder. Left unchecked, he would have had an arbitrarily-large life total. Luckily for me, one time through the motions was all I needed to see and a Lightning Bolt killed his Warder. Despite his incremental life gain, three Crackling Dooms and his lack of Flying blockers for Butcher gave me the victory. Game two was quite another shock. I sideboarded as if I was facing a Creature-based combo deck. Instead, he plays a guy on both of the first two turns. The second guy eats a Path to Exile, allowing him to then play a Wilt-Leaf Liege on both turns three and four. Aggressive much?! Luckily I had answers for them and he never saw all of his combo pieces. He missed some life gain triggers which may have changed the result of the game, but didn’t notice them until after a Souls-drunk Butcher flew to victory.
Board: -2 Planeswalkers, +2 Anger of the Gods
Round 3: Will – 4-Color Gifts
I have never played against a Gifts Ungiven deck before, so I had no idea what he was up to. Luckily I was able to keep him off of casting one with ample usage of Thoughtseize in game one. We played a pseudo-control mirror with some draw-go turns and threats being answered immediately on both sides. Chandra, Pyromaster was an All-Star! She single-handedly kept his Lingering Souls under control while whittling his life total down. I activated her Limit Break ability with my opponent at six life and was able to copy a Lightning Helix three times over for the win. Game two was a grindfest. I landed a turn three Blood Moon locking him out of two of his colors, but he had already played a Geist of Saint Traft. I could not find a blocker and, after taking six damage to the face on back to back turns, was forced to use Path to Exiles on his Angel tokens – unlocking his colors. Colors did not end up mattering, though, as a Batterskull came down to suit up the Hexproof Geist and game two was in the books. I corrected my mistaken sideboard errors and we started game three. I had a turn one Duress to protect my Blood Moon from his Inquisition of Kozilek. Locking him down to just green and blue mana proved exceedingly efficient, and more targeted discard spells kept him mostly threat-less. We went to time with empty boards. With Unburial Rites in the yard with Geists, but no white mana to Flashback, he cast the first Gifts of the match. He tutored up Batterskull, Tarmogoyf, Plains, and Swamp. I gave him the Swamp and the Goyf knowing I had double Bolt to answer it and keeping him off of white. He went to his turn, turn three of five, and cast a Snapcaster Mage to Flashback Unburial Rites for its black cost! He passed back to me feeling safe with Goyf, Snap, and Geist on the table and me at a measly six life. His Goyf bit the dust with two Bolts and Snap took a Kolaghan’s Command. I’m still dead to the Geist at this point, but I have one final draw step to play into the draw for the match. Crackling Doom saves the day and we both end up with double draws on our record for the night.
Initial Board: -2 Kolaghan’s Command, -4 Crackling Doom, -1 Ajani Vengeant, +4 Duress, +3 Blood Moon
Corrected Board: -1 Ajani Vengeant, -2 Lightning Helix, -4 Path to Exile, +4 Duress, +3 Blood Moon
Round 4: Dakota – Mono White Aggro
Dakota was a new player to the shop. I came to find out, he was pretty new to Magic as well. Before the game started, he asked me how long I had been playing. I answered about 12 years and asked him the same question. His answer was three months. Dakota was a great kid and really had a passion for Magic. I am very glad to have met him and hope he keeps coming back. Our game one wasn’t much of a game as I only ever saw the two Lands from my opener. He threw down a Serra Angel on turn four thanks to a free Land from Path and rode her to victory. Game two went a little better for me, curving out with Pyro into Souls into Butcher. He never saw any of his Pacifisms and we went to game three. Things were looking icky when we both had to mulligan down to five. Unfortunately for him, my five was amazing and his misfortune continued until he had to keep a starting hand of two cards. He never had a chance. Like I said before, Dakota was an awesome opponent. He never once let it tilt him and continued to smile the whole time. With help from the store donating some cards, I helped him piece together a mono-red Burn deck for the future that should be fairly competitive.
Round 5: Scott W – UW Superfriends
Both games went exactly as I drew them up. Game one was over quickly when Pyro, Souls, and Butcher came down in succession. Game two saw me cast three straight Young Pyromancers, the last one finally sticking. I wasn’t able to use any of the three discard spells in hand, though, because he had a Leyline of Sanctity in his opener Lingering Souls created a token army and he never saw a Supreme Verdict despite drawing cards with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage.
Board: -4 Lightning Helix, +4 Duress
Another undefeated night! Unfortunately, it was only good enough for 4th place. I think I’m onto something here, though with this deck. In my three events with v2.0, I am 9-1-4. With quicker play and a few tweaks, I’m sure I can iron out those unintentional draws into wins.