Having participated in two Avacyn Restored drafts this week, taking both quite seriously and resulting in two victories, I decided that I wanted to do let my hair down a bit at FNM. It was an alternate format this week, Innistrad Block Constructed. Looking at the format and given the cards most of the local players were likely to have available, you’d quickly realise that it was going to be a very creature-based aggressive format. I really didn’t want to just play dudes and swing, so I had to come up with something else.
With no real “combo” decks that I’d enjoy playing, I took a look at my usual standard UB control deck to see what inspiration I could draw from it. One card that stood out was Increasing Confusion, and as I’d had a LOT of fun winning games through milling my opponents in recent weeks, I decided to run with it!
Borrowing a bunch of cards I essentially built a mill strategy into the best UB control shell I could. Realising this was likely going to be a rediculous deck, and fully aware that I might stuggle to win so much as a game, I went for broke. I splashed green for a single Garruk Relentless, just ‘cos I love him. The Planeswalker team was completed with single copies of Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Liliana of the Veil. A set of Curse of the Bloody Tome seemed “good” (for sitting back on with a control deck), so they completed the Mill strategy alongside 2 Increasing Confusions and 3 Nephalia Drownyards. 3 Dissipates were about the best I could do for counter-magic, and the rest was basically made up of removal, although with no decent mass-removal spells I wasn’t holding out too much hope for it being effecting. Oh, and I also included a single copy of Griselbrand. Just because I could. Unfortunately I never had the chance to cast him all night though, sad times.
Strangely though, I was really looking forward to playing with this terrible deck! I think mainly just because it was so “different” and I just really wanted to have a good laugh messing around a bit. I even told the store owner and friends that if I won just a single game, I’d come away happy.
In round 1 I faced Red/White Humans + Angels. Game 1 I found very difficult. Only able to 1-for-1 his aggressive creatures my control deck was unable to keep pace. Game 2, however, went very differently. It turns out that my millin strategy helped my opponent quite a bit as he was able to use Defy Death to great effect. With 2 Herald of War in play I thought that was game, but then remembered I had a Sever the Bloodline sitting in my grave, and 7 mana to cast it with! That evened up the board and a combination of Curse and Drownyard did the rest. So with that, I’d managed to win a game, and was already very happy! Game 3 again was awesome, went in a simialr fashion to number 2, except this time it turned out he had a Gisela, Blade of Goldnight in his deck, which I kindly assisted into my opponent’s graveyard for him to target her with Defy Death. With no answer, I died, smiling 1-2.
Aside: After round 1, another player approached and asked what I was playing. I explained the idea behind my deck, resulting in laughter and a comment of “Your deck is terrible”. He then went on to explain that he had built a life-gain deck to go against all the aggro. Upon pointing out that I had no care for how much life my opponent gained, he then came out with “Yeah, your deck would probably beat mine”. I didn’t call him on this, but instead just took a moment to smile to myself
Round 2 I faced a vicious combination of White and Green. The deck focused on Soulbonding, backed up by cards like Restoration Angel and Cloudshift to evade removal. Game 1 went very quickly to my opponent, seeing as I had zero ways to deal with Sigarda, Host of Herons. She also got the job done in game 2, this time bonded with Wolfir Silverheart! Even when I managed to kill one Wolf, a second came down the following turn and the Angel swung in for lethal. 0-2.
Round 3 was against Green/Blue Dredge. Seeing how my win strategy assists this deck so well, this was the one matchup I had been dreading all night. And I was right too. Game 1 my opponent hit a turn 3 Splinterfright, which rapidly grew in size and ended the game. Game 2 was just as fast. This time I did have the removal to deal with a Kessig Cagebreakers.. but not the land, and I died to about 20-power of Wolves. Having lost 0-2 we then played a third game just for fun. This time, my deck ran smoothly! Unfortunately we never got to finish because the standings for round 4 were called, but my deck actually managed to work to the point where I had the board fairly well locked down, and had we have played the game out I’m fairly confident I would’ve won.
And so to Round 4, the last of the night. 3 rounds gone and only one game win to my name so far. Honestly, I was not at all fussed how this round ended, because I’d had such a good night already playing my ridiculous deck
My opponent was running WB Humans. He opened with a number of tokens, promptly taken care of with a Devastation Tide. Curse of Death’s Hold ensured that most of is creatures were useless, meaning my spot-removal spells could focus on the bigger guys. Once again, I rode a Drownyard to victory. Game 2 was another incredible one. Turns out his deck had Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. An aggressive start with a couple of guys being pumped by emblems soon saw me down to just 2 life, but here I was able to stabilise. Once again Curse of Death’s Hold locked his smaller guys out. I was a bit short on Black mana at this point, which made playing with a hand full of Black cards very frustrating. With Liliana of the Veil in play on my side, all my opponent could do was slowly increase Sorin’s loyalty by creating instantly-dead vampires. Eventually (after at least one Devastation Tide) Sorin was able to go Ultimate, but only able to steal Liliana. By that point it was already too late for my opponent, once again the Curses and Drownyards had done their job.
And so with my terrible INN-block mill deck, I had actually managed to win a whole round! I was incredibly happy about this, but also a little disappointed because it meant I wouldn’t be coming bottom of the standings as I had joked about all evening
Ive gotten used to turning up to FNM with solid, tuned decks. So it felt really good, just for once, to go along with something completely ridiculous, expecting to lose (but have a lot of fun doing so) and be perfectly okay with it. I thoroughly enjoyed every single game (except for the mana screw in round 3, that wasn’t much of a game); especially the ones where my opponents were able to do some serious overkill, be it via a 7/7 Gisela, 9/9 Sigarda or a 15/15 Splinterfright. It was nice to see awesome things happening and be able to laugh about it rather than getting frustrated because I “didn’t top deck the card I needed” or whatever.
And so I have to say, this is probably the most fun I have ever had losing at magic.
Until next time, Ed.