Power and Toughness

The weekend started off well. I x-0’d the early draft (thanks for the scoop, Joe Shi) giving me as many store points as I’d acquire normally over an entire weekend. At FNM I ran (something like) the following Dark Naya list and a fever of 101:

4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
2 Blood Crypt
4 Bonfire of the Damned
3 Clifftop Retreat
1 Dragonskull Summit
4 Farseek
3 Forest
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Isolated Chapel
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Rakdos’s Return
4 Restoration Angel
3 Rootbound Crag
2 Selesnya Charm
1 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
4 Thragtusk
2 Ultimate Price

Sideboard
1 Abrupt Decay
3 Duress
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Olivia Voldaren
1 Pillar of Flame
1 Rakdos’s Return
3 Rest in Peace
3 Slaughter Games
1 Underworld Connections

Round one I beat the ever mana screwed Brayan Rodriguez in two games. His Grixis list is pretty mana intensive and wasn’t providing the energy his spells needed. It’s always fun to play Brayan and hear the various voices, tones, and volumes he uses to describe the pain he feels whenever a green, red, or white creature hits him for damage. “Ouch” for Brayan may come off as a “I don’t give a fuck about your piddly little creatures and their tiny points of damage”, but I know it’s the emotional bruising wolf tokens cause that’s the real cause of his painful utterance.

We play another for “fun” and his early Olivia crushes me.

1-0 in matches. 2-0 in games.

I must’ve played control of some kind round two because I don’t remember the match and lost.

1-1 in matches. 2-2 in games?

Round three I play against zombie flavored BR aggro. I got to very low life totals both games and top decked Thragtusks to come from behind and win. As I write I’m thinking about the matches with Li, testing Naya Humans vs his UW list, and how well Humans did and how I don’t know that I prefer playing Humans to Dark Naya. I feel excited writing about Dark Naya but not at all about having to write about the Humans version of Naya. That’s the main question going into this weekend’s GP. Do I play a Dark Naya or Naya Humans?

Anyway, 2-1 matches. 4-? games.

Round four I face Dave “Bones” McCoy’s mana starved Red Deck Wins. I suggest we split packs and play for the fun of it. Dark Naya cruises through this matchup so I was surprised Bones resisted the split. He caved, as non-medical doctors often do, and he decides to not play any lands and lets me run him over. In my prize packs I open a Snapcaster Mage and promptly turn it in for $1000 store credit. Dave opened a Geist Honored Monk or something.

3-1 in matches. 6-? In games.

This deck is primed to beat any version of BR aggro and RDW. I’m not sure how it does against GW aggro builds but probably does pretty well as Bonfire ruins those guys. I like the versions that run more Bonfire better. Earlier in the day I tried a list with Deathrite Shaman in a daily and found them to be rarely awesome. I’d rather side into a Rest in Peace and not have to worry about turning off my Deathrite Shaman. Also Shaman doesn’t ramp for shit unless your opponent Thought Scours or something like that. Anyway, I like most versions of this deck.

I’ve been playing it a lot on MTGO and 3-1’ing – my only loss coming from Bant. So … it’s probably pretty shitty against Bant but WTF? I’m not willing to play BR aggro so I can lose to mid-range decks all day and beat Bant occasionally. If I see a Rakdos Guildgate in my opening hand outside of a limited match ever again I’ll probably puke.

Saturday Kadar and I try to come up with a Jund list splashing white for Restoration Angel. I sign up for a daily, lose round one to GW aggro and drop to go with Kadar to Twenty Sided for the early draft.

I sit with Richard “I draft all colors and fuck you over” Tan on my right. It was the most confusing draft outside of the City of Rochester I’ve been a part of. I start out UR and end up Grixis, go 2-0 (including a game three bluff round two that had me dead on board and I more or less silently convinced my opponent to not attack me with a flyer for exactsies and killing him on the return) prior to losing to Johnny in the finals. We split packs and I opened every rare non-dual Innistrad land.

That was enough Magic for the day so I go to Jen’s and watch three documentaries with her on Netflix. One is about a senior NJ Nets dance team, another about the people that dress like super heroes and walk Hollywood Boulevard (sad), and the final one is about the lives of former pornography stars.

I wake up early, go to the studio, put my Maverick deck back together, and throw Ben Weinberg’s Naya Humans deck together.

Twenty Sided isn’t packed nor empty this Sunday morning. Li wants to test a Dredge deck he’s borrowing from Jess against my Maverick deck. Hatred swells inside my body as memories of the first Legacy tournament I played in blast through my mind. In that tournament I faced Dredge and while my poor opponent did his dredging I grabbed my iPhone and played Super Street Fighter 4. These test games with Li feel the same. Li decides he’ll play a UW deck borrowed from John Fung instead only to default back to Dredge when three cards are found to be missing from John’s UW. Here’s the Maverick list I copied from its last good showing at a Star City tournament back in November:

3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Scavenging Ooze
1 Batterskull
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Fauna Shaman
2 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Qasali Pridemage
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Scryb Ranger
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Windswept Heath
1 Plains
3 Forest
4 Mother of Runes
4 Wasteland
1 Maze of Ith
1 Karakas
1 Sylvan Library
4 Savannah
4 Swords to Plowshares

Sideboard
1 Rest in Peace
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Path to Exile
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Pithing Needle
1 Choke

Round one I lose to Jason Chan’s Goblins. The match includes lots of unneccesary thinking on my part, quite a few head shakes from Dana after she finishes her match and many mistakes from me. Legacy is the most frustrating format that I am interested in playing. Jason excitedly explains all of the mistakes I made and Dana patiently clarifies. I am guilty of bad Fauna Shaman fetches and bad Stoneforge Mystic fetches. Pft. Jason and Dana convince me not to drop and then Dana crushes me round two with BUG Shardless Agent. She and Garret, a Legacy regular and all around super guy, convince me to stick around and play round three. The desire to cut my losses and go to my studio and draw is strong. Getting housed as badly as I’m getting housed is embarrassing, but, whatever, I like the people playing and need to learn more about this challenging format. I’m rewarded with the bye and talk shop with Luis for the endless minutes of my gameless third round. Li graciously loses to Zac, setting up our usual Legacy Round Four Battle of Losers.

He dredges me out of game one. I side in Rest in Peace, Bajuka Bog, and Path to Exile. Game two I keep Savanah, Bog, Rest in Peace, and some other cards. Turn one I play Savannah and Li dumps his hand. Turn two I play Bog and Li’s bummed but carries on, draws something and yarding it. Turn three I play Rest in Peace and he scoops. Game three I mulligan to land, Hierarch, land, Scavenging Ooze, Hierarch (or close to that). The first two hands would’ve been great in most other matchups but are total super scoops to Dredge. I had to mulligan to hate cards. I play a turn two Ooze with a mana up to eat his Ichorid (though I missed eating a Golgari Thug which he dredges into nothing but more edible delights the following turn). Li scoops noting that Ooze is hard for Dredge to beat. 2-2 in Legacy earns me two packs and I turn a Hinterland Harbor into less than $1000 store credit. WHAT A FRUSTRATING FORMAT – this is probably due to lack of information about Legacy that I posses and this information is easily acquired by playing more games in more tournaments. I will carry on.

The 5pm GP Atlantic City practice Standard tourney goes much less well. I’m on Naya Humans (as previously stated). It looks something like Ben Wienburg’s list from LA though I didn’t play Knight of Glory. The deck playtested really well earlier in the day against Li’s UW Flash deck. I almost always get to draw my “hate cards” against Li though, making those games not exemplary proving grounds.

4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
3 Borderland Ranger
4 Champion of the Parish
2 Fiend Hunter
3 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Knight of Glory
4 Mayor of Avabruck
4 Restoration Angel
2 Silverblade Paladin
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Zealous Conscripts
3 Selesnya Charm
4 Cavern of Souls
2 Clifftop Retreat
3 Forest
3 Gavony Township
1 Mountain
3 Plains
2 Rootbound Crag
1 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden

Sideboard
1 Angel of Glory’s Rise
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Intrepid Hero
3 Nevermore
3 Rest in Peace
2 Sigarda, Host of Herons
2 Silverblade Paladin
1 Zealous Conscripts

There are eight of us playing three rounds. I get paired up against Nick Heppding and he’s on Bant Control. He casts Supreme Verdict a few times and eventually announces (upon casting his third or fourth Sphinx’s Revelation) that he’s found a win condition and we move to game two. I side into a very helpful Nevermore, have it opening hand, and cast it naming Supreme Verdict the turn before Nick was due to cast one. We go a bunch of turns where I attack with humans and wolves whilst Nick Farseeks or something. He eventually draws into a Detention Sphere and, while at one life, D-sphere’s my Nevermore, Wrath’s, and wins. What a fun game.

Round two is against James Rosenblum’s GW deck. We race a bit game one and he gets far ahead and I scoop’em up. Bonfire is brought up several times during our match. James is petrified of it. I side in two. He asks me somewhat awkwardly how life’s going (I don’t think I’ve talked to James much so the question caught me off guard) and I tell him it’s pretty sweet. He asks me if he’s right in thinking I’m a graphic artist to which I reply “oh no no no no, I’m an artist artist, I make art”. The t-shirts with my name on them had him guessing that graphic design was my jam and I tell him that it’s all part of my art practice and he smiles and nods. I mistakenly decide to keep a two lander and don’t draw a third land within three turns and withdraw from the tournament. I’m probably set up to play the kid Jess played round one (which Nick and I watched – she hooked him up with sleeves and a Duress to replace his Despise – it was very sweet) and call Jen to see if she wants to watch a movie or something, she does, and I drop to join her at home.

What I learned: Dark Naya, if even slightly dark, is more fun for me to play than Naya Humans; unknown/lesser known formats are difficult especially when most other people in the tournament know the format much better than I do and I’ll always enjoy playing Li round four in these situations; quitters never win and winners never quit (or maybe that you’ve got to be in it to win it – I can never remember which is true).

Tonight I’m gonna run a list probably identical to this:

Donkasaurus Rex (4-0) BGRW

4 Thragtusk
4 Temple Garden
4 Restoration Angel
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
4 Farseek
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
3 Rootbound Crag
3 Loxodon Smiter
3 Forest
3 Borderland Ranger
2 Sunpetal Grove
2 Selesnya Charm
2 Searing Spear
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Kessig Wolf Run
2 Clifftop Retreat
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Angel of Serenity
1 Rakdos’s Return
1 Plains
1 Mountain
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Blood Crypt

Sideboard
1 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Rakdos’s Return
2 Slaughter Games
3 Centaur Healer
2 Triumph of Ferocity
2 Rest in Peace

I’m 100% sure that I’ve picked this deck because it was played by the Donkasaurus Rex, my favorite of the Donkasaurs.

See you tonight or in Atlantic City this weekend. Good luck to all.

Much love,
Matt “The Obliterator” Jones
www.mattjonesrules.com

PS – I’ve got a painting in an exhibition opening Thursday night. If you’re free and into art come check it out. More information is here.

***UPDATE***

Personal distaste for the few Naya Humans games I played led me to Dark Naya for TNM. Here’s the exact 75:

Creatures:22
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
3 Borderland Ranger
3 Loxodon Smiter
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
4 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk

Spells:15
2 Bonfire of the Damned
4 Farseek
2 Rakdos’s Return
2 Searing Spear
2 Selesnya Charm
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Staff of Nin

Lands:23
1 Blood Crypt
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Clifftop Retreat
3 Forest
2 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mountain
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
3 Rootbound Crag
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden

Sideboard:15
1 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Pillar of Flame
1 Rakdos’s Return
1 Ray of Revelation
2 Rest in Peace
2 Triumph of Ferocity
2 Rhox Faithmender
2 Slaughter Games
2 Sigarda, Host of Herons

Staff of Nin is Hugh Kramer Control’s idea, one I felt was sound, as the Bant matchup (or any control matchup) can always use more of an edge. We switched some cards from Donkasaurs Rex’s 4-0 list. Hugh ran the same 60 with a different sideboard. I’ll make the report quick.

R1 vs. new Will’s Bant

Will gets the best of me after a three hour game 1. I side into the usual (Slaughter Games, etc.) and side out the usual (Bonfires, etc.). g2 Will is stuck on three lands or something like that and I smash – I may have Slaughter Games’d his Sphinx’s Revelations, too. “Fuck that card,” I say. g3 Will mull’s an undesirable seven that he should’ve probably kept and mulls one landers until he’s at four cards. He scoops turn 3 and we play a “for fun” g4 which I have to tag David “Bones” McCoy in so I can report. I came back to the game with almost every card of mine in play, news of a successful Rakdos’s Return for ten hitting all of Will’s gas, sends me happily swinging for lethal with a Wolfrun bonus.

R2 vs. Monique “Nemesis” Garraud’s BR Zombies

I live for this matchup. After weeks of playing turn 1 Rakdos Guildgate -> go (aka self-Timewalk) I feel like I’m regaining strength and energy from the time I wasted playing BR Zombies. It’s appreciating a new relationship after an abusive one. Hot damn. My memory is not so good other than I won in two games and Monique and I laughed a lot. I think an irrelevant attacking Thundermaw was involved, a Tusk or two, and a Rakdos’s Return g1. G2 “Nemesis” had me at three life, didn’t draw burn, saved her Aristocrat like ten times, and couldn’t survive my swing after I flipped a Huntmaster to attempt to kill her Aristocrat again (successfully this time).

R3 vs. Aldric’s Lich Pin (as he titles it)

Aldric makes crazy decks. I lose g1 and win g2 and g3 off of top decked Bonfires. As Nick Heppding says “you’re not only playing with bonfire, you’re winning with it.”

R4 vs. Brook Li’s UW Sublime Archangel and other dudes deck

g1 Brook mulls to three which allows me to make 30 mistakes and still win. g2 Brook Archangels seven times and I lose. g3 I side in Slaughter Games due to Archangel fears, get them all on t4 (had to pay 5 – thanks Thalia) and then try to sneak in damage when I can vs. Brook’s ever growing army. The turn before I should’ve died I go all in with two 3/3s and a Tusk. Brook makes a strange block thinking maybe I have a Selesnya Charm in hand (I have Clifftop Retreat), chumps a 3/3, lets one through, and chumps Tusk with a 1/1, I Wolfrun, and Brook admits to not realizing I had one in play (several turns ago). We shake hands. I open up nothing awesome in my prize packs and head home with a feeling of euphoria.

Changes I’ll make for GP AC: -1 Staff of Nin (never wanted it, always sided it out), +1 Big Garruk, and I’m considering -2 Spear, +2 Ultimate Price. Rakdos’s Return can be s0 good. It semi-randomly crushes evil people’s dreams. It’s great. I played it like a Bonfire one game, drawing it, flipping it, and tapping out for it. Huntmaster, Smiter, Tusk, Angel – they’re all fantastic. I can’t say enough about Big Garruk, too. He’s a house. Sorry Orlando but he just fucking rules.

***Update again!***

No second Big Garruk. After chats with Nick Heppding asking me how I deal with Olivia and Trolls, Garruk has become a one-of Sever the Bloodline.

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Comments
12 Responses to “Power and Toughness”
  1. Thank you Mr. Jones, for posting enough lists that maybe I’ll have an idea of what to play in AC. I’ve played like one standard tournament in the current format and have no byes. THAT GUARANTEES SUCCESS.

    • Matt Jones says:

      As far as I understand it’s like this (as explained by Josh Fettoblaster): if you play BR Aggro or RDW you beat Bant and other control decks; if you play Bant or other control decks you beat GW, Jund, and the Naya variants pretty consistently; if you play the mid-range Jund/Nayas you beat BR Aggro and RDW pretty consistently; GW wins sometimes against anyone though it mostly sucks.

  2. Chase says:

    From what I’ve played, Naya humans has a pretty solid matchup against Bant, with very different playstyles from draw to draw. If you’re on the play and you get the nuts (aka T2 Thalia) you can just roll over them before they can resolve their first verdict. If you’re on the draw, Mayor/Huntmaster/Township can let you just play through their wraths–just play minimal threats, flip a mayor, repeatedly pump with township, etc. and grind through all of their verdicts. As soon as you see an opening, then you can commit more and win, or just grind them out. Your only real clock is them milling you out with drownyard, and that takes a while to assemble. If you’re on that game-plan, I’m not sure if nevermore is even the right thing to do at all–I’d rather have two siguarda and a angel of glory’s rise to be single-card threats that can win me the game by themselves. Anyone else have thoughts?

  3. The list I’ve picked up is pretty much that Dark Naya list, -1 Staff, -1 RR, +2 Angel of Serenity main deck. Have you tried the Angels? I could see how they’d be shut down easily by dissipates or you being dead too quickly.

  4. Matt Jones says:

    Angel is too slow. I used to like it, i don’t understand it now though. I don’t get how it’s in the non-dark naya lists. maybe it’s there b/c they don’t run the same style of deck … yeah that’s prob it. I just think it’s so bad. Get back my dudes? Kill yours? you kill angel right away IF I’m able to land it in the first place? Seems bad against bant/control in general.

    • osoamazing says:

      Sever and ultimate price cut Spears they suck…. Ur spells should be 2 Selesnya Charm, 2 Ultimate Price, 4 farseek, 2 Bonfire, 2 Rakdos Return, 1 Sever the Bloodline if ur playing mana dorks u can play 1 triumph of ferocity but I’m playing Deathrite Shaman maindeck so I’m not running it but ur like guaranteed to draw cards after a turn 2 Smiter or turn 3 thragtusk. Also gonna cut angel of serenity for 1 big Garruk.. Angel is too slow its not needed

      • Matt Jones says:

        Deathrite is bad. I hear you on all other points. Triumph main is interesting.

      • osoamazing says:

        Deathrite and bad don’t belong in the same sentence man. She’s arguably the best 1 drop every printed

      • Matt Jones says:

        In general Deathrite Shaman is awesome, yeah. Good cards used optimally are awesome. This deck isn’t the optimal place for them. In this format they are very rarely ramp. They remove spells from the yard and do damage or gain life once per turn but require one mana which is often too much in the early turns when you’re trying to cast turn two 3 drop, turn three four drop, etc. Late game, sure, but you’ve got other stuff for the late game and probably hope not to even get there.

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