Friday, April 10, 2009

MTGO: Losing With Dark Bant

With the cards I purchased at MTGO Traders, I threw together a half-decent version of the Dark Bant deck that Brian Robinson earned fourth place with at Pro Tour Kyoto. His version can be found here. This is my version:

Artifact Creatures
4 Tidehollow Sculler

Creatures
4 Birds Of Paradise
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Rhox War Monk
3 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers

Instants
4 Path To Exile

Legendary Creatures
4 Doran, The Siege Tower
3 Gaddock Teeg

Tribal Instants
4 Nameless Inversion

Basic Lands
1 Forest
1 Plains
1 Swamp

Lands
1 Adarkar Wastes
4 Ancient Ziggurat
2 Brushland
1 Caves Of Koilos
1 Llanowar Wastes
4 Murmuring Bosk
4 Treetop Village
2 Yavimaya Coast

Sideboard
4 Guttural Response
4 Scattershot Archer
4 Oblivion Ring
3 Relic of Progenitus

To sum up the differences between his list and mine, I have:
  • Extra copies of Kitchen Finks, Path to Exile, Treetop Village, and Nameless Inversion
  • Added Gilt-leaf Cavaliers 
  • No Wilt-Leaf Liege, Loxodon Warhammer, or Rafiq of the Many
And that's about it. My version has a lower average mana cost but I'm definitely not as powerful card-for-card. Because I increased the counts of both Nameless Inversion and Path to Exile, my version is also a little more disruptive, but I think I'd go with better threats if I had the money to afford them.

I've logged seven full matches with the deck so far, and I'm leaving out matches in which people lost the connection or conceded randomly. One opponent conceded on the first turn when I played Yavimaya Coast and a Birds of Paradise! It isn't like I was burning up the casual room or anything... I was in the tournament practice room!

Enough of that, though. Let's get on to my shortcomings as a Magic: The Gathering writer. Unfortunately, I haven't kept very good records on the matches so this will consist of quick summaries. I didn't even record the user names of each of my opponents. That's pretty pathetic, especially considering the fact that I knew I'd be writing about it all.

Match #1: Faeries
Both games went the same way... he had chump blockers or counters for everything I threw at him, and each game ended with him at less than 10 life but mostly from his own Bitterblossom(s).

Match Record: 0-1

Match #2: Some kind of control deck?
I won this match pretty handily and I never actually got to see what he was playing other than a ton of vivid lands, some planeswalkers (Jace Beleren and Ajani Vengeant), and some spot removal. At least one win was purely due to Ajani Vengeant's inability to kill Treetop Villages (because they aren't creatures on his turn). He could only keep one tapped down while the other was swinging for the win.

Record: 1-1

Match #3: Elves!
I was really caught off guard the first game. Who knew how explosive Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinels can be? Actually, its probably pretty well known, but it was new to me and I got blown away in the first game. Once I realized which cards were most effective, winning the next two wasn't too difficult.

Record 2-1

Match #4: Blue/White Control
This guy's deck was a rogue deck, and I respect that. I used to take pride in my rogue creations back when I had the time to playtest all the time. Nowadays I just grab whatever list looks fun, tweak it, and run with it. I managed to get a second turn Gaddock Teeg in both games, and his deck full of Wrath of Gods and Cryptic Commands just couldn't hold him off. In the second game, I countered several attempts to remove Gaddock with Guttural Response (which is becoming one of my favorite sideboard cards).

Record: 3-1

Match #5: Mono Blue Decking Combo
Similar to the elf deck I played against earlier, I had no idea what this guy was doing until he hit me with Sanity Grindings and Twincasts. I don't know how many he pulled off, but I died on my draw step. Again, Guttural Response saved the day and I managed to win the match even though I was blown away in the first game.

Record: 4-1


Match #6: Cruel Ultimatum
Just when I was starting to gain some confidence, this Blue-Black-Red control deck swooped in and just hurt my feelings. In the first game, he had an answer for everything I threw at him and he won easily. The second game was closer, but came down to one of those "I managed to get him down to 2 life and he came back to win" scenarios that we all hate being on the losing side of.

Record: 4-2

Match #7 (2-man Que): Cruel Ultimatum
Despite the loss, I decided that it was time to test the waters in a little more competitive setting, so I loaded up a 2-man Que. And what do I face? The same freakin' deck that just beat me piloted by a different player. And what happened? Pretty much the same thing. I either got stomped, or just when I felt like I was about to win the tide would turn and I'd wind up losing. And I lost two tix in the process.

Practice Record: 4-2
"Real" Record: 0-1

Conclusions
I like the deck. It has potentially explosive starts that can be crippling. It has just enough disruption to be annoying to opponents but not so much that it starts to feel like I'm running a control deck. There are some things about the deck that I intend to change. For one, the Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers have got to go. My three mana spot is clogged (15 cards) and needs to be cut down to size. I also realized that since I cut Rafiq of the Many, I'm now splashing blue for only one card, Rhox War Monk, and I'm not sure he's good enough to warrant a splash. I need to either find more ways to use blue to my advantage or cut it altogether.
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