When I walked into my LGS on Friday, it felt like I’d been gone forever. In reality, I’d only missed the previous week and the first FNM in July, but still. I haven’t been playing as much Magic this month as I’m used to. It was pick-a-pack, so I decided to buy M13, M14 and Dragon’s Maze to open. I also got some nifty sleeves, coincidentally the same ones Melissa De Tora used during one of the matches featuring her during GP Vegas. Maybe it was the new sleeves, or maybe it was the little break, I don’t know. But I rocked it.
As usual during pick-a-pack, I wasn’t that confident during draft. I tend to feel a little overwhelmed; I have to read the majority of the cards because the only set I’m really familiar with is the RTR block. At my table there was some RTR stuff, but a lot of older sets and M14 as well. But my card judgement is strong, and I tried to keep in mind the “BREAD” draft strategy. (BREAD stands for bombs, removal, evasion, aggressive/ card advantage and duds. The idea is to draft those types of cards in order.)
I opened Dragon’s Maze first and got a really crappy rare (Plasm Capture), so I first picked a Warped Physique. I figured quality removal is always good. I second-picked a Teleportal because it shared a color with it and can straight up win games. My third pick was a blue flip card called Ludevic’s Test Subject. It’s a 0/3 defender that you pay to put counters on and when you remove five, it flips and becomes a 13/13 creature with trample. It seemed like it could be fairly strong, even though I had never seen it before. From there I focused on getting a solid blue base, and noticed some really strong red coming my way. Since I had Teleportal, I ended up going the Izzet route, instead of Dimir. I don’t actually remember what my second and third first picks were, but neither of them was the rare in the pack. One was double black, so I knew I wouldn’t play it… but I don’t remember anything about the other. That said, I picked some really strong cards that were awesome all night: Turn// Burn, Archaeomancer, Shock, Claustrophobia, Hands of Binding, Crimson Mage and several fliers. I picked the Archaeomancer over an Awaken the Ancient, choosing the double blue casting cost over the triple red. The Ancient ended up coming back to me, and I did end up running it in my deck with some really good results. A 7/7 on turn five is pretty good, if it works out. As I was building my deck I felt pretty good, but wasn’t sure how it would hold up. I had several double blue or double red casting costs and the triple red card. I decided to run 10 mountains and only seven islands, which ended up working most of the time. I didn’t get color screwed all night. I also had a couple bombs… not crazy ones, but really strong cards nonetheless and some really good removal. I even had evasion creatures! I followed the BREAD strategy pretty successfully, and it paid off.
The tournament was five rounds, and I ended up 4-1 and in second place. Top eight played it out for the foil, but split the packs so I walked away with five packs. I lost my last match, so I didn’t get the foil… but even after playing it out I was in third or fourth. It was a good night.
My matches were fun. I started off actually losing my first game. I seriously misplayed my Teleportal because I forgot one of my creatures had been detained by my opponent playing Azorius Arrester. He offered to let me take it back, but I didn’t. If I want to get better I have to feel my mistakes… and that one cost me the game. He killed me the next turn. The next two games were much better — I didn’t even drop below 20 life. They were over fairly quickly. I felt kind of bad because my opponent had to mulligan to five game three and never had a chance to get back in it.
My second match was my loss. I played Steve, and got seriously mana screwed the first game. The second game I got kind of mana screwed, and might have been able to get back in it, but he’d completely locked down the board with some ridiculous creatures. He had Soratami Rainshaper, Galvanic Alchemist and Soul Seizer equipped with No-Dachi all on board. The Rainshaper could make any of his creatures hexproof, so my removal was pointless. He’d soulbonded the Alchemist and the Seizer, so he could untap them at any time, making my Claustrophobia useless as well. It was incredibly frustrating because I couldn’t attack, I couldn’t really block and none of my spells mattered. Talk about controlling the board state. Steve didn’t lose a game all night, and drew into the top 8, so I technically finished higher than him, but he had a really strong deck. Also Izzet, I might add. (And I beat him in the one casual match we’ve had since FNM… so far.)
My next match was against a fairly new player. His deck seemed pretty good, but he was running three colors with no mana fixing, which made it hard on him. I successfully play my Ancient against him the first game, and he had an answer to it — a card that sent target permanent back to its owners hand — but he played it on my other creature, not the enchanted land. I explained after the game that that would have been the better move, but I didn’t mention anything at the time. I felt slightly guilty because the game ended fairly quickly after that, but I wanted to win! The second game was over pretty fast as well, but we had a good chat after, and I think he’s going to keep coming. So that’s good! It’s exciting playing newer players than me (weird, though). It’s cool to see them excited about the game. He said later he took out the third color and he did better after that. Yay!
I also got my next match 2-0. The first game I got lucky with Molten Birth and won the coin flip twice, so I got to cast it three times. So by turn six I had six 1/1 creatures on board, along with another 2/1 creature (my Crimson Mage) I’d hit him with along with my tokens to get him down to 12. Then I cast Teleportal to win me the game. The second game I successfully got my Ancient out again and he didn’t really have an answer to it, so it won me that game as well. I also had my Mage out again, so I was able to give my other creatures haste… a very handy ability.
At this point in the night I was 3-1 and in 10th so I had to win my match to make top 8. The first game went well for me — I got Stealer of Secrets out on turn three and was able to cast Claustrophobia on the wall he’d cast in response. He was kind of mana screwed, so that was a quality move — my Stealer got through several times and gave me serious card advantage. My opponent didn’t even hit me all game. I wasn’t so lucky the next game, though. It was pretty close, and even though I was successfully locking down his board somewhat with Hands of Binding, I missed two points of life he gained from a Verdant Haven and attacked for what I thought was lethal using an overloaded Weapon Surge, but only hit him for six, not seven because I thought he was at five. I had a lot of mana out, though and Steve, who was watching, said I could have won by playing the Weapon Surge mainphase, then casting Archeaomancer to get it back and recasting it. I didn’t think I needed to, though, and I lost the next turn. (I was actually at five.) Game three was stressful just because we were running out of time. We went to time, and I ended up winning it by successfully flipping my Test Subject and Turn// Burning his 5/4 regenerate creature when he was tapped out. There was a little more to it than that, but I was running on adrenaline at that point and it’s kind of a blur. Winning that match meant I was going to top 8 for the second time, and I was really anxious. But it all worked out, and I ended up in second place!! I got my five packs and decided to try to play for the foil.
I actually did dominate my first match for the foil… I flipped my test subject and won even though I kind of misplayed. Instead of casting my Hands of Binding on my 13/13 and ciphering to lock down his flier, I cast a weenie 1/1 flier to block instead. It worked out, but since I was at four if he’d had one removal spell I would have died. But I won anyway! And the second game I got my Ancient out and got to cast Molten Birth twice. It was pretty fun. The match I lost for the foil was frustrating because I would be ahead, and then all of a sudden he’d take over the game and I wouldn’t draw any of my late game cards. Oh well, I didn’t really want the foil Rakdos Cackler… I swear…
Next week I think I might go to FNM at a different LGS. I’ll be two hours away, so I might drive back, but I’ve found a store I am planning on going to if I don’t. It sounds similar to my LGS, and it could be fun to play some different people. We’ll see, though.
All for now,
Did you go to FNM? How’d you do?