Friday, November 16, 2007

1st Place North Carolina States Report

For starters, here’s the list I played here at NC champs in highpoint, attendance 194:

Blink Riders

4 Momentary Blink
3 Avalanche Riders
4 Riftwing Cloudskate
4 Lash Out
4 Mana Tithe
4 Coalition Relic
4 Lightning Angel
3 Seige-Gang Commander
2 Disintegrate
2 Aven Riftwatcher
1 Akroma, Angel of Fury
2 Venser, Shaper Savant
4 Nimbus Maze
4 Shivan Reef
2 Battlefield Forge
4 Island
4 Terramorphic Expanse
3 Plains
2 Mountain

3 Aeon Chronicler
1 Avalanche Riders
3 Cryoclasm
2 Teferi's Moat
1 Fortune Thief
2 Return to Dust
2 Aven Aiftwatcher
1 Akroma, Angel of Fury

My roommate Ryan and I show up, after almost not being able to find a ride to highpoint from State (that would have sucked….). Thursday night of that week I was reviewing some of Shaheen Soorani’s blink riders lists from old standard and Yokohama, and threw it together. Gotta throw a big thanks out to him while I’m here.
Anyway, Lash Out was my new lightning helix that just so happened to kill creatures and planeswalkers, all while “scrying” through my deck. Mana tithe helped with the curve, surviving to my bombs, and coalition relic quickly replaced prismatic lens/azorious signet for the same reason… that card is just sick, especially in this deck.
Back to the tourney, after receiving jokes about how horrible my list is from friends from back home, the shindig gets under way promptly. Props to the judges and shuffle-up events for another awesome one by the way, not even a single re-pair and 8 rounds were over by 8 pm. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Round 1
John Campbell with r/b/x elementals

Game 1 I play, start out with a riftwing suspended, relic + mana tithe on the next turn, and aven riftwatcher + blink backup from there. Easily win on 20 life.

Game 2, he keeps a mana-lite hand relying on smokebraider. That thing is dangerous, so I disintegrate it for 1. He stalls on lands for a few turns, but plays a harbinger getting smokebriader when he hits 3 mana. Following that he plays it and another harbinger getting the 4 mana 5/3 hasty champion elemental. Im holding lash out, wait until the end of his draw phase and lash out his smokebraider so he cant clash the 4 drop to the bottom. Now hes drawn dead, and I can ride siege gang ftw.


Round 2
William bingham with g/b elves

He’s playing the exact star city list. Game 1 he finds very quick beats on the play and I am dead fast when I don’t draw a 3rd land after I keep 2 land + relic on the draw.

Game 2, I simply play a riftwing cloudskate off of suspend and have 3 mana tithes. He kept a low land mana elf hand which didn’t work out because of this. Cloudskate goes the distance. I intentionally do not play my relics or teferis moats here though I could have, so he doesn’t have a reason to bring in disenchant effects

Game 3, my draw is bad but I manage to hang in there long enough to drop teferis moat on green with a cloudskate in play and blink in hand (so I can bounce my moat if he attempts to kill it). The look on his face indicates that he didn’t board in any kind of removal for it, and he concedes when I drop a lightning angel.


Round 3
Erik Lundbald playing U/b/w Faeries

This is a very interesting deck, and Erik is a cool guy that I’ve always seen at the top tables but have always dodged having to play. Game 1 he uses his life total as a resource while developing enough mana through storage lands to drop teferi and have cryptic command backup. He then begins to chain the mana short faeries through championing one into the other and vensering, quasi pickles locking me. Thus, im tapped out every turn and succumb to beats. Finally get to go to the control package out of board.

Im on the play and my hand is 4 lands, cryoclasm, avalanche riders, blink. KEEP. He concedes 3 minutes later.

Game 3, I finally see a mana tithe in my opener against him. Turn 3 I drop a relic, he charges a storage land for a second time. Turn 4 I drop another relic and he responds with teferi when I don’t have 2 mana up. DING, counter. The look on his face says it all, he was relying on that play. I drop avalanche riders the next turn when he has to tap 3 lands to charge and remove a counter, to pull from eternity my cloudskate. He never recovers.


Round 4
Peter Akeley with G/R beats

I’ve gotten to be good friends with the UNC team from down the road, and know that they are all playing r/g beats of a more resilient variety than we tested, 2 of them with maindeck beacon of destruction and troll ascetic and the like. I ‘m on the play, and mull into the 2 land + relic opener again. Bad news, as I again don’t draw the 3rd land in time. I quickly scoop to board.

Game 2 I play a fast lightning angel when he has a slow-ish start when he pays echo for his mogg war marshall. I don’t block his 1/1’s so my angel doesn’t get incinerated, and easily win.

Game 3 is very close, even after my life total reaches 26 from aven riftwatcher tricks. Im playing offense because of this, but run out of steam with him at 7 and he’s gaining momentum. I take a gargadon hit before I can untap to riftwing it back to his hand. I drop precariously low to 4, but draw teferi’s moat. He doesn’t have the immediate answer, which allows me to disintegrate him out 2 turns later.


Round 5
Tyler Mollencompf playing nearly the same g/r beats

Tyler is one of the other team UNC kids, and I had to play him in the finals for PTQ Yokohama here. Funny story, as I am now again playing a r/w/u deck (scepter chant before), and he is playing a r/g beats list again. Unfortunately for the stage, this one is very anti-climatic as game 1 he mulls on the draw and keeps a 1 land hand. I find a quick avalanche riders and were on to game 2.

Char isn’t legal. Double lightning angel. Enough said.


Round 6
Ken Du with G/w aggro

How lucky, my best matchup and im 5-0. he has a troll ascetic. I have a turn 3 relic, turn 4 morph akroma + blink in response to his crib swap. I purposely don’t leave Blue mana up so that he thinks I misplayed a vesuvan shapeshifter and he bites. Akroma very quickly ends the game in chunks of 10.

He has a fast start, and drops a garruk early. I riftwing it back to his hand when it un-suspends, since he chose to untap lands. He replays it, this time making an elephant. I lash out the elepant, win the clash, and kill his garruk with the 3 damage. Talk about efficient. The card I reveal is another riftwing, while he has another garruk on top. I draw the riftwing and cast it, being able to finally take the offensive. He plays the garruk, and I rip another lash out off the top. Wash, rinse, repeat. I win the insuing damage race thanks to an aven riftwatcher.


Round 7
Ryan Gerleve with g/r beats


Ryan is my roommate here at NC State, and is 5-0-1 at this point. This puts us in a tricky situation, as if we draw he has to win his next one to make top 8. We go with that, and he does end up beating g/b elves in the next round thanks to martyr of ashes.


Round 8

ID with my opponent that I would eventually face in the finals.

6-0-2, finishing the swiss in 3rd.

Top 8

Quarters playing Chris with G/R elementals

Chris is the last of the UNC crew, playing a very different G/R list than the others. One maindeck heat shimmer? Well, they told me it was janky, but the man top 8’ed!

Game 1, I get a fast lightning angel and take damage instead of blocking with her to race and avoid having her incinerated post combat. Siege gang easily provides enough blockers for this.

Game 2, he gets down an early goyf and swings with it and a treetop village into my lightning angel. I think hes bluffing the incinerate, so I block the village. Im correct in my assumption, and he never really recovers when my riftwing comes in to further tempo. I play siege gang, he plays timbermare, and I blink after. He scoops to that.

Semis against Steven Grueshaber and goyf rock

He plays, and has the thoughtseize into auger of skulls into stupor draw, but only a treetop village on offesnse after. I have no hand but do have 5 mana in play. Rip avalanche riders to deal with treetop village, but he finds a goyf the turn after I pay echo. Draw and cast a riftwing, continue pressure, draw a land and take a goyf hit, then draw a venser. The tempo is too much and I swarm with 2/2’s.

Game 2 I lash out his turn 2 auger and he has no stupor to follow it up with. My mana base is horrible, with 3 pain lands and a nimbus maze, but I take the hit and drop a lightning angel, expecting it to get slammed with some kind of shreikmaw, deathmark, anything. It doesn’t, and actually goes the entire distance. He must have just drawn a ton of lands, because by the time he found a relavant play I had already found siege gang commander and had a full stacked hand.

Finals vs. goyf rack

Game 1 wasn’t a good sign. He wrecks my hand early before I can muster much defense, and then plays 2 goyfs. I know I’m dead after that, so I quickly scoop and move to the 2nd.

I notice his list is land-lite so I board in avalanche riders #4, chronics, 1 return to dust, and teferi’s moats. He’s packing extirpate, so I take out a blink and some other random 1-ofs. This game doesn’t go smoothly. Here’s the situation late: Im on 4 lands and 2 relics, no cards in hand, no board, and 13 life. Im staring down a huge tarmogoyf, an elephant token, and 2 Oona’s prowlers… I count my mana and decide that the only way I’m going to be able to do anything is to just rip siege gang commander, so I charge the relics and pray. Well, I rip the siege gang! After nearly jumping out of my seat, I go into the think tank. Block goyf, before damage shoot a prowler, absorb 6 to go to 7 life. He cant kill my commander, so I know I can make some more profitable blocks and live to dig deeper into my library. Block block, shoot shoot, untap, draw. He has no cards in hand now, and I then procede to rip teferi’s moat off the top! Yes, ok, my deck now officially loves me. I play it on green, and stabilize. 2 turns later I have an aeon chronicler suspended to start the flow of cards, and rip a second moat and play it also on green, just in case. Disintegrate for 8 to his dome ends it some turns later.

After that come back, game 3 ends in slightly faster fashion. He runs his auger of skulls into my mana tithe on turn 2, and doesn’t have the stupor on turn 3. I just play relics and bide my time, holding a full grip of powerful cards. Charge up, play siege gang with blink back up, blink in response to his attempt to kill, all the while he’s stuck on 3 lands. Untap with 6 tokens and the mega man, all the while with double venser in hand, and this game is over very very fast. Blink with red brings it home!


G/R aggro: ive seen 2 versions, one very fast with keldon mauraders and inner-flames like my roommate ryan gerleve top 8’ed with and the other one with an elemental theme. This is generally a 70/30 is your favor, even better if they are the elemental version which is so much more susceptible to mana tithe and bounce. A quick lightning angel wins races, lash out is awesome esp vs treetop village, and siege gang is just I win. Bring in riftwatcher, thief, and moats, drop avalanche riders and the akroma.

Blue based control and teachings: They have to deal with your threats one at a time, so make them. If you manage to get an avalanche riders online, you’re golden. There are really 2 routes to victory, tempo or single threat bombs. Use relics to play around early counters, red akroma ftw if it actually goes that long. If they are trying to 1 for 1 you on threats, they will lose to blink alone. Cyroclasm + aeon chronicler + 4th riders come in for lash outs and choice of other cards that change per matchup, return to dust comes in against teachings.

Goyf rack/rock: Played this twice in the top 8, its annoying but not bad. They start on turn 2, which means mana tithe is so good. Watch the sad faces when u counter auger of skulls/tarmogoyf while u were on the draw, even better on stupor. Better yet, hit them with lash out. You have so many bombs that you recover well after discard, as long as huge goyfs don’t eat you alive you’ll be fine. Chonricler and moat come in, out a blink if u think extirpate is coming in, as well as random other 1 ofs, as generally your whole deck is good against them. Return to dust for rack if they play it.

g/b elves: Lash out or disintegrate a mana elf if able on turn 2, mana tithe their 3 drop if you have it obv. If u can do either of these things, the bounce will clean up the rest. They don’t have much removal, so any guy you draw is sick. Siege gang will single handedly win this matchup, with or without blink. Board the same as for g/r

g/w, doran, and other midrange: you cant lose this matchup, seriously. A single riftwing cloudskate is enough to slow them down, much less anything else you do. They often can’t even handle akroma, so you board in the extra one. They really have no board for you, so enjoy the free win.

Other tempo decks: your bombs are just better when you play red. IMO, blinking a siege gang is so much better than blinking a mystic snake, as you can just win the game instead of being so reactive all the time. Lighting angel just wins occasionally too, she is just so efficient.

Deck is insane in the meta-game, I really wish more relevant tournaments were coming up so I could play it again. IMO, mulldrifter isn’t very good, as you really need blink to make it worth much. Is it better than aeon chronicler in the board? If you have any suggestions, comments, randomness, testing here in North Carolina, etc. post them in the forums or in email/AIM. Thanks for reading and maybe I’ll be around for some limited action ptq’in next weekend in highpoint.

Davin Frankosky