FNM Report—American Miracles to an Empty House

Let me preface this post by saying I spent the day traveling to New Jersey and back, to get Li some cards for his RB Aggro deck and to get some stuff for myself. I rolled into 20ss around 4:30 figuring I’d get in some reps with my American Control deck. Here’s the list.

American Control
75 cards, 15 sideboard
1 Desolate Lighthouse
2 Cavern of Souls
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Steam Vents
4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Hallowed Fountain
1 Plains


24 lands

2 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
2 Snapcaster Mage


4 creatures

1 Devil’s Play
2 Terminus
2 Think Twice
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Pillar of Flame
4 Entreat the Angels
1 Izzet Charm
4 Supreme Verdict
3 Azorius Charm
4 Dissipate
3 Detention Sphere
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage


32 other spells

Sideboard
2 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Dispel
2 Pithing Needle
1 Magmaquake
1 Elixir of Immortality
2 Terminus
3 Negate
2 Purify the Grave


15 sideboard cards

This is the list I’ve been running for the last couple of weeks (since my return from Lisbon). I decided that Jace, Architect of Thought is good but not for this deck. There was a talk I had to have with myself about how, “Sure I have a playset and yes I own a foil one… but the card isn’t for this deck.”  I need room (remove four new Jace) for better cards (now a full suite of Sphinx’s Revelation) and another win condition (two Niv Mizzet, Dracogenius). Niv has just been dominating in games he hits the board. I’ve learned to time him so that he’s not going to die as often.

So let’s talk about this board I’ve been hiding from you for a couple of weeks.

3 Negate
Vs Bant Vs Esper Walkers Vs match-ups where my creature removal is worthless

2 Dispel
This card (for a limited time only) houses Bant and other decks that run Sphinx’s Revelation. I was doing Counterflux and just ended up being able to cast this when it counted. It backs up our Entreats for one mana. That means more angels! It hits Selesnya Charm (that kills Niv) it’s well positioned right now but that could change.

2 Purify the Grave
Vs decks that use the yard. May switch to Rest in Peace. It’s good in someways in other ways it’s not good enough, but it doesn’t hit my yard. I’ve got flashback and Snapcasters – so there’s that.

2 Pithing Needle
Naming Pike, naming Garruk, naming Jace, naming … well, you name it. This card is an all-star in the board. I run this out on turn one and then protect if if I feel like I need to. Mostly they stick and stay as my opponent is not excited to waste removal on removal. Mainly it allows me to deal with threats that hose my deck without wasting a turn countering or a Detention Sphere.

2 Jace, Memory Adept

Honestly, I’m winning so many games with this guy I’m not sure he shouldn’t just be in the main deck. With Jace, Architect of Thought on the outs he’s a really great win condition. That means, maybe, a main board Rest In Peace though. When he hits the board and I have one counter spell the game is virtually mine. Supreme Verdicts and Terminus are just keeping my opponent from attacking him while I deny them of their answers for him. Jace is sofa king good.

1 Magmaquake

It’s one more board wipe and it handles Planeswalkers. Sure I have my own Planeswalkers to be hurt by this spell but those cards generally aren’t even on the board or hurt much by this card if it’s being used for 2-3. It’s a must add vs RDW and Humans.

1 Elixir of Immortality
It’s solid vs aggro decks for a little extra life, but in the looooooooong game vs Bant it’s quite good too. Nothing says lovin like going infinite with Sphinx’s Revelation. It’s a really good card, but truthfully it may not make the cut come Atlantic City. It’s worth testing out.

2 Terminus
This is self explanatory right? Some folks will say, 4 main and 2 Verdict in the board, its a meta call really. But with so many Counterfluxes going around the Verdict is better main for game one.

Right, so pairings go up! As they tend to do. Li is out. Matt Jones is playing in Rochester, Jess isn’t around and Giaco is register jockey . Looks like its just me repping Team HotC tonight.

Round One vs Dan Brown – Naya midrange

Dan Brown who is not an author (thankfully as those books are terrible, right up there with 50 Shades and Twilight … READ SOME HEINLEIN, PEOPLE!) is playing me round one. He wins the roll to play. He mulls to 6. Not much action in my hand – 5 lands and some high end spells, I follow his lead and mulligan. He mulls to 5. I’ve got a one lander and I, too, mull to 5. We both keep. I still have a one lander. I play it out but never really get going he ends me quite handily as I never reach three mana. His Huntmaster does the killing blow.

Game two we both keep at 7. I’ve got three lands but they all come in tapped :/ that’s not great. Verdict, but nothing before that.

His first three turns go like this as I play tapped land after tapped land after tapped land.

Turn 1 Avacyn’s pilgrim
Turn 2 Borderland Ranger
Turn 3 Huntmaster of the Fells swing for 2
My turn four I do NOTHING
Turn 4 Hello Ravager of the Fells, ouch 2, ouch 9 more damage, I’m at 9.
He casts another Huntmaster I cringe. I need either a Terminus or a land that doesn’t come into play tapped to pull this out of my ass.
My Turn 5: Untap my already untapped land. Upkeep the no effects during my upkeep. Draw …

STEAM F€*^€ING VENTS!

Wipe the board. After this the game pretty much goes in my favor. All off that from a top deck of (that’s right say it with me) land! Niv Mizzet does it for me. He casts a Selesnya Charm on him but I dispel it and untap to swing and draw more cards. The game actually does go long because Dan doesn’t want to scoop and I’m being careful.

I’m worried about time during game 3. I don’t hesitate to let Dan know how much drawing sucks. “Let’s crush this last game! I’d rather lose than draw.” Dan agrees and we play all of the the final game. It’s not as epic as the 2nd and it goes in my favor, once more Niv Mizzet making the killing blow. I was pretty sure and later he confirmed it, he wasn’t playing any burn. This prediction allowed me to make some plays that would have seemed risky otherwise. It was a solid read I really luck out that Dan just got back in the game. He had the skill to take these games, his card pool still being limited didn’t allow him to have some options he needed to beat me.

Games 2-1 Match 1-0

Round 2 Richard Tan – Naya w/ Revelations

Standard used to be decks with Thragtusk vs decks that could beat decks with Thragtusk. Now it’s shifted to decks that run Sphinx’s Revelation and decks that wish their opponent didn’t have access to Sphinx’s Revelation. Seriously, that’s not a joke. That card is just terrible to have cast against you unless you have an answer. Richard went out and said, “Screw it! Naya runs Farseek, Naya can run Revelation!” Richard Tan lost to me while on Jund a few weeks back, he got severely mana screwed. He’s a formidable player and not prone to making many mistakes in games. Needless to say I’m not excited to be playing him this round, since he’s on the REVENGE plan.  At the same time I’m interested to see how I play against a deck piloted by one of the shop’s younger Spikes.

Game one he pummels me with Thragtusk as I stumble on mana and I die thinking he’s playing Bant with Red for Wolf Run. I side accordingly.

Game two goes more to my plan. We both get off to slow starts. There’s a couple of board wipes and I hold off a pair of Thragtusk with some Angel Tokens. I Revelation once I realize he’s not on Bant (After I see Huntmasters I’m convinced). I Rev for four. There’s a Terminus for some beast tokens. Niv-Mizzet hits the board. Dispels I sided in (thinking he was on Bant) save Niv from a Selesnya Charm. More Tusks from Richard more Revelations from me. We get to 29 and 37 life and I now have a Tamiyo emblem. With Niv in play, plenty of mana, and a Rev in hand, Richard scoops. It’s only a matter of time til the board is mine.

I look at my board then decide I’m good. We play game three. At some point I’m starting to pull ahead, though I’m now at 8 life after some burn and Thragtusk beats. I’ve got two angels (hardcasted) on the board holding back Richard’s Tusks. Detention Sphere in hand and a Supreme Verdict. I’m hiding behind Jace, Memory Adept and trying to mill Richard out. Negate is also in hand. I know a Thundermaw will rough me up bad so I’m repping counter magic hard (I don’t think he cared/noticed). Richard has a Gavony Township open and active. I decide that’s ok. I can block (not trade) lull him into a sense of dominance, hopefully he over extends, then Verdict clearing the board and Detention Sphere his beasts. This plan works if he doesn’t top deck (or play a Thundermaw). His turn comes and (YES!) no Hellkite. He swings using the Gavony to keep his guys and passes. I draw an Azorious Charm (Which I can still cast after Verdict and Detention sphere. Jace mills his last Hellkite and he extends the hand. What an exciting game! Richard showed me no quarter the whole time. We make for round three and I wish him the best in it. That cat is a pleasure to play against and, when he doesn’t get land screwed, I have to be on the top of my game to take him.

Round three I’m not going to mention my opponents name. – Junk Mid Range

Mostly I don’t wanna mention his name because I want to rant a little about hubris. John Medina said the same thing in one of his FNM Hero posts. Here’s the situation: I’m on the bubble for the Twenty Sided Store League. I’m in 20th place just out of the top 16. I’d like very much to play this tourney.  If I don’t it’s not the end of the world. HotC has a pretty strong presence in the “definitely in” section and if I don’t make it I certainly want to cover it for the blog. Almost all the top 16 either read or contribute so I’m sure they’d be happy if I made it but probably even happier if I covered it. I’m excited about it either way.

Now my round three opponent’s psychology boggled my mind. I look at the standings he like 30th. No chance this late unless some string of Miracles happens. I offer him tho winners packs (12) if he gives me the win, we can definitely still play, mind you, I do want the practice. All this goes on while he’s finishing up a trade. He tells me he’ll think about it.

“Word.” I say. And wait patiently, well past the time an opponent would normally get a game loss, for his trade and for him to make a decision.

Finally, we sit down and he wants to play it out, “I really like my deck and I think I can take it.” I’m a little confused about the EV of this move.  As I’ve just offered him the “win” minus store points and PWPs. Both of which he won’t need (it’s too early in the season to worry about three PWPs, it just started last week!).

What I’m hearing is: “I think I’m better than you, Zac Clark.” I smirk, hiding my rage at a hand extended in friendship that feels slapped away. I prolly could have pointed out that he wasted my time for 10 plus minutes while I waited for him to make a trade during our match time. But I’m not gonna make him feel guilty or try to win on a technicality. I WANT THIS WIN, NOW, and I want it fair.  I will play my tightest Magic to get it. I will aggressively mulligan and I will miss no triggers and take no prisoners.

I shuffle up, “You’re a gambler! I like that. The man is a gambler.”

“I just really like my deck.”

Right, so game one is his. Garruk (both) hit the board at different times Thragtusk was a problem and Loxodon Smiter got some work. There was a lingering souls w/ flashback on his fourth turn (he Farseek’d). My fourth is a very predictable Supreme Verdict. I combatted with board wipes and some stalls but he overran me with a late game Craterhoof Behemoth.

I saw no reanimation, but wasn’t sure if it was there. In came Purify, Terminus, Jace, Magmaquake and Pithing Needle.

Last second I took then Purifies out and put back two Dissipate, which is just as good vs Rites, and not dead to everything else.

Ok, game two. He mulls to six, I like my hand.

I played some of the most diabolically patient (in game terms) Magic here.  This deck and I are really starting to understand each other.  My opponent commits and commits and I stall with some one shot removal and it’s turn eight I’m at 4 life, sandbagging 1 Detention Sphere and 2 Supreme Verdict as well as a Sphinx’s Revelation and a Dissipate (which is why I have waited so long to Verdict. I do and the full and crowded board clears. He end of turns a Restoration Angel, Dissipate.  He plays an Avacyn Pilgrim and passes turn.  I draw and pass. He attacks and passes.  Sphinx for 6. My hand is full I’m at 9 and I drew my Jace.  It hit the board I mill for 10.  My opponent excitedly casts a miracled Entreat the Angels… “Sure, looks like you’re tapped out, is that it?”  He shrinks a bit in his chair.  Is it that obvious I have the answer (several actually) in my hand? (Snicker.) I nonchalantly play Detention Sphere.  And mill for ten.  A few more turns and it’s over after another EoTRestoration Angel is countered or Azorius Charmed.  Jace takes it down.

Game Three I’m pretty happy with my sideboard choices and I vigorously shuffle and draw my 7.  Three land, three Detention Sphere, one Pithing Needle.  Keep!  He likes his 7, I believe.  This game was over much faster than the previous two.  I slam a Needle for Garruk, Primal Hunter.  Draw a Supreme Verdict.  He plays Lingering Souls on turn three, I dissipate.  Turn six I play Jace to a clear board, after a miracled Terminus. Then the mill train gets working.  I play a Tamiyo and he Oblivion Rings it.  I let that resolve without much worry.  If I need her I can just D-Sphere an O-ring.  I spend the next few turns protecting Jace from souls tokens (flashback) via Verdict or Detention sphere.

I won’t lie.  That match was one of the most satisfying I’ve had since I came back to the game.  While he likely didn’t mean to offend me, or maybe has some personal rules about conceding for the finals (hell, maybe he just wanted to win a tourney) IT FELT GOOD to run it back in games 2-3.  There’s a punk ass kid in me that does not like to be called a scrub even if it’s just insinuated.  I felt like Ivan Drago at the start of the fight in Rocky IV, “I must crush you.” After writing this I’m almost positive all that was in my head.  This game and its social “danse macabre” can have that affect on you at times.

Part of the reason I left his name out is because I wanted to write the more fun post, without hurting anyone’s feeling or having him feel all butthurt after the loss.  dear round three opponent – if you read the blog and you want the recognition I’ll gladly add your name to the report.  I bare you no ill will.  AND those were some close games.

Added to that feeling was the, “man I should have just got those packs.” YEA? Ya THINK?  I almost felt bad, but I do that to myself all the time. I did open a foil Temple Gardens in my prize packs.  That was cool.  I hear they see play in John Fung’s foil version of Jund, which I hear is better than regular Jund.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed and if I came off as a bit of a bully, tell me to knock it off.  I try to be a good winner and a good loser.  I don’t want to ruin the spirit of the blog or the level of fun in the store.

Happy Holidays! May you open packs like Jason Chan!

Z

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