Having tired of playing UB control I really fancied playing a different deck this week, but not having much time (or much of a card pool) available for innovation I once again turned to my Green Black Birthing Pod build. The only real addition that Avacyn Restored has provided me with is Borderland Ranger, which in truth is actually a card that I’m really grateful to have back! He was a key component in my original Pod deck; losing him with rotation hurt quite a lot and I hoped he would straight back into place and e brilliant once more. Heading along to the store, I felt so tired that I wasn’t really sure I even wanted to play this week. But I’m glad I decided to give it a go…
Green Black Birthing Pod
Three things to note. Yes, its a 61 card maindeck. This is because I wanted to run a single Beast Within but couldn’t decide what to cut. As it turned out I didn’t see the card all night, so never mind! Second, the Sideboard is a bit strange. As I said before, I didn’t have a lot of time to work on it so I just include a wide range of tech, mostly stuff that was just left with the deck from the last time I played it. Finally, I have included the (first) names of my opponents this week, as a few of the people in my regular play-group now read my blog it may be beneficial for them to know exactly who my opponents were.
Warning, the report for Round 1 is LONG! (but awesome!)
I faced David Remon, who was running his take on the UWr Miracle deck. As we sat down, he mentioned he was running 3 copies of Torpor Orb. “Sideboard?” I asked. “Nah, Maindeck”, came the reply, “It stops Messenger, Soulbond, and a whole load of other things”. “Yeah, like my entire deck!” I laughed. This matchup was going to be tough, perhaps even nigh on unwinnable for me. So.. into the first game we go!
I started out well enough, until an Orb came down on turn three and making innefficient weenie-beatdown my only option for now! I lead with Strangleroot Geist and Phyrexian Rager. Knowing I could be facing Terminus at any moment (which I eventually did) I didn’t want to over-extend and so held most of my creature cards back. Once I managed to play a Birthing Pod and unable to find Sylvok Replica with it, I decided it best to race up through my mana curve into the big dudes and attempt to hit harder.
Dave cast his first Entreat the Angels for 2 of the flyers, but fortunately I was able to answer it with Sever the Bloodline and to continue beating down. I managed to get Sheoldred, Whispering One into play, but she was quickly met with a Terminus.
And then Tamiyo, The Moon Sage arrived. +1′ing every turn she kept either my Pod or a lone creature locked firmly in place. She was soon joined by Gideon Jura, drawing my attacks for a couple of turns. And then as if that wasn’t enough, a second group of angels arrived! Forcing me to attack into the wall of feathers, I found a Land waiting on top of my library; allowing me to flash back Sever the Bloodline and swing through, thankfully with just enough power to take out the White ‘Walker. Tamiyo continued up to 9 counters to survive an Ultimate activation. Fighting through unlimited cards could be difficult, especially when one of those was Feeling of Dread.
With the game going long both of us were struggling to find a way to close it down, but finally finding my only answer to the Orb in Sylvok Replica allowed me back in the game. I Podded into Sheoldred once again, and used her to bring back Brutalizer Exarch to finally get rid of Tamiyo before yet another Terminus once again dealt with the Praetor. Terminus isn’t the greatest card against me, I’m sure had all these been straight-forward Day of Judgments instead then Dave would’ve had a much easier time of it, but being able to re-use most of my creatures with Birthing Pod is a huge bonus.
My constant flow of creatures had just about managed to put Dave down to 6 life, and with the game going long we both really needed to find something to tie up the match. With that, I managed to rip a Birds of Paradise from the top of my deck. Pretty underwhelming, but playing it allowed me to immidiately upgrade into Strangleroot Geist and get in for another 2.
I tentatively passed the turn, fully expecting another Entreat the Angels to take the game. And there it was. I was on 16 life, but no matter, with no way to punch through I was all but dead. Into my final turn I was looking for any way to deal that final bit of damage. And then I actually felt my heart skip a beat as I layed eyes on a card in my hand. Tragic Slip had been a dead card for me all game. But now there was nothing I’d rather of had, as I remembered one more creature in my deck that I had so far not seen this game. Podding the Geist into Geralf’s Messenger, the Slip was exactly what I needed to kill him, triggering his life-loss effect twice and take my opponent to 0!
And with that, Game 1 was over. And what a game! It had taken over half an hour to play, and finishing the round within the remaining time looked unlikely, but we didn’t care. I came unsure if I wanted to even play FNM, but even if this were to be my only good game tonight then it had been well worth it!
Onto game two. Fortunately Dave didn’t find Torpor Orb this time. I did wonder if maybe he had even sided it out, but doubting that I continued to play “around” it slightly (or at least play with it in mind, being sure to hold the Replica and Bramblecrush to deal with it (or potentially hitting a Planeswalker with the latter).
Dave’s deck didn’t seem to do much for a while. Until, from nowhere, a Sun Titan arrived on turn 6! Dave hoped this guy would prove to be some kind of awesome Sideboard tech, assuming I would side out most of my removal (which was more-or-less correct, the 3 Slips were gone but Sever remained). And he was right. I played Garruk Relentless to churn out 2/2 Wolf chump blockers, but the Titan was quickly copied by a Phantasmal Image! Balls…
(Now at this point, it turns out that I could have used Garruk’s second ability to fight the Image and have Garruk still survive. However, at the time I believed it would work in the same way as actually Fighting and I assumed I would lose Garruk by doing this, and so unfortunately missed that play.)
I managed to get a Titan of my own, through Phyrexian Metamorph, which quickly traded with one of Dave’s as I continued to chump the other. Finally able to answer the Image-Titan by Podding into Morkrut Banshee, there was not a lot of time left on the clock.
I upgraded into Massacre Wurm and Wurmcoil Engine, with Glissa, the Traitor allowing me to return Sylvok Replica to deal with more Torpor Orbs. With me on the beatdown, the game went to time.
Credit to Dave here, he did offer to scoop and award me the Round 2-0 in the case that we went to time. This wasn’t something he had to do, but I would be much happier with the victory were I able to beat him properly. Going into the extra turns, Dave was unable to come up with an answer and I finally got in for lethal damage on the third.
Satisfied with the victory, I was more happy with the fact that both of us agreed that this had been the most amazing games/round of Magic either of us had ever played. I know I’m unable to convey here just how great it felt to play (and in hindsight i do really wish we had set up a camera to record the whole thing, not least because my memory of the game is far from perfect) but it really was an immense round. And I’d just like to take a moment to thank Dave for being such a great opponent. It’s always a pleasure to play with (/against) you, I love that you brew your own decks and tech; the sideboard Sun Titan here yet another fantastic example!
In Round 2 I faced Ben, piloting his usual Frites net-deck (ugh..). Unfortunately Game 1 didn’t start on the most positive note. My opponent is known to be a fairly sloppy player, so when I was sure I saw him draw “one” card (which seemed to split into two in his hand) followed by a second card, before discarding two after casting Faithless Looting, I pulled him up on it. My opponent seemed pretty flustered, but as far as he was willing to show me the cards added up so I let it go. Although I’m still pretty sure something dodgy went on here, I didn’t really want to push it any further.
I possibly should have taken a mulligan this game, relying a bit too much on a pair of Birds of Paradise in my opening hand. After seeing a third, I thought I might be ok given I was holding Sheoldred, Whispering One (I’m pretty sure She would have locked down the game had I been able to cast her) but stuck on three land I was unable to do anything. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite came down and we went to Game 2.
Irritatingly in Game 2 another frustrating situation occurred, as my opponent cast Mulch and resolved the spell before deciding what lands to tap to pay the cost. Potentially an innocent mistake, but again dodgy given he hadn’t yet made his land drop for the turn. I didn’t comment on this one at the time, though perhaps I should have. I was able to Surgically Extract Unburial Rites, forcing my opponent to play on even terms (against Pod.. yeah I know ;P). I feel I played really well in game two, notable using Acidic Slime to keep him off the right colours of mana for casting the big guys like Inferno Titan. As it turned out I was bang on here, as he was holding two as I destroyed his second red source (ignoring my opponents attempts of suggestion at which land I should destroy, lol). This allowed me to take the game fairly easily once I got to my big guys.
Game 3 I also took as my opponent complained of “his deck not giving him what he wanted”. The thing that irritated me most though was his short attention span. As I was closing down the game with Vorapede and some other creatures, my opponent became “distracted”, looking everywhere but the battlefield, including through his sideboard whilst trying to claim that his deck was a card short, possibly as if to suggest that because his deck might be illigal we should re-start the game? Worst of all, he “accidently”(?) knocked a Spirit token onto his side of the battlefield. Now, thats not a problem in itself, but he proceeded to pick up the token as he decided how to block, and then attempted to try and block with the token! After questioning where the token came from, he simply replied “oh yeah…” before instantly putting it to one side (not even questioning the fact, implying that he knew exactly what he had done) and took the lethal damage.
It was a bit of a shame afterwards to actually have to tell my opponent that he really needs to learn to focus on the actual game better and not get distracted. Especially having to say this to a player who has played for a good number of years but just seems to refuse to learn. This almost definitely annoyed him, I think this is perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to making an opponent “tilt out”, lol, but in the vague hope he will learn for next time then all the better!
He continued to blame his loss on “mana screw / mana flood / etc”, but I’ll admit, it was satisfying to (once again) beat this guy who (due to the fact our FNM is mostly made up of home-brewed decks) tends to do rather well by averagely piloting a net-deck week on week
Round 3 pitted me against Ian’s UB Zombies. I knew this would be a bad matchup for me before we started, and I wasn’t far wrong. In Game 1 a Blood Artist backed up by a lot of aggressive creatures took me down fast. In Game 2 however, I managed to Pod into Tree of Redemption just early enough to save myself. Making the Tree a 0/1, I took the 13 life and ran with it. Once again, my favourite removal spell in standard (and I think also the most under-rated/played) Sever the Bloodline, saved me from first one and then a pair of opposing Geralf’s Messengers. Once the big threats came into play the game was, more or less, safely mine for the taking.
In Game 3, Tragic Slip quickly dealt with a Blood Artist but only able to cast one chump creature a turn from then on, facing down a pair of Gravecrawlers did not end well. My opponent did find himself stuck on two land, which became just one after I cast Acidic Slime, but I was unable to permanently deal with early Zombie prescence. If only M13 had already been released and that damn Hollowhenge Scavenger I was holding could have been a Thragtusk…
Afterwards we discussed whether I should have sided in my Witchbane Orbs, the conclusion being a resounding yes. I was aware of the possibility that I could do this at the time, but for some reason, I forget why, I decded against it. And that decision may have cost me the round.. who knows!
Round 4 I faced Brian’s RW Myr/Token deck. Im not quite sure what the deck was really aiming to do, it never seemed to get going. Glint Hawk Idol and Inkmoth Nexus seemed to be the main threats, although the latter was never activated. I was able to play my deck relatively unhindered, although in Game 1 my Wurmcoil Engine found itself Oblivion Ringed no less than three times! The first was dealt with by Brutalizer Exarch, the second with an Acidic Slime and the third by Sylvok Replica. Finally getting to attack with the Wurmcoil brought my life total up to a comfortable level; the game took a while to close down but I never felt on the back foot so it was really just a matter of time. Timely Reinforcements was cancelled out by Massacre Wurm in Game 2 and again I took that one relatively easily.
So overall I went 3-1, pretty much my standard FNM result. But at least this week I felt that in the round I lost I was actually beaten by my opponent, rather than by my own deck failing as has happened frequently with UB control. Best of all, it felt really good to be playing with Birthing Pod again! With Thragtusk coming soon I’m looking forward to perhaps going back to this deck for a while, although do I have a couple of other ideas to try out first…
I don’t normaly write full FNM reports any more but I felt this week definitely deserved one. I hope it was a good read; I certainly enjoyed writing it, and I’m really glad that I decided to play in the end
Until next time. Ed.