New Phyrexia Game Day Tournament Report

I've been playing a lot more Magic lately, if you couldn't already tell from the sudden surge of Magic-related posts. I really want to get back into the game seriously, but I don't have the time or money to be as competitive as I'd like to be. Fortunately, I can still play in the local weekly tournaments. Last Sunday, knowing very little about what cards are in Standard right now and even less about the metagame, I decided to give Standard a go anyway and see how things went. I've been relatively successful in drafts lately, so between my winnings, some borrowed cards (Thanks, John!), and a $10 purchase, I managed to piece this deck list together:

Lands (24)
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Raging Ravine
3 Copperline Gorge
3 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
9 Mountain
1 Forest

Creatures (15)
4 River Boa
4 Viridian Emissary
4 Ember Hauler
3 Thrun, the Last Troll

Equipment (6)
4 Darksteel Axe
1 Sword of Body and Mind
1 Sword of Feast and Famine

Spells (15)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Staggershock
4 Burst Lightning
3 Pyroclasm

4 Manic Vandal
4 Burn the Impure
1 Pyroclasm
1 Fresh Meat
1 Creeping Corrosion
2 Forest
1 Mountain

First things first, I realize that the maindeck is kind of a wreck. I also realize that the sideboard is a true tragedy. Let me explain a few things before you go judging my deck building decisions.
  • The game plan is to play a guy or two and burn away blockers while they swing for the win or trade threats until the board is stabilized and then attack with a tough-to-kill equipped creature.
  • I didn't like Viridian Emissary from the beginning, but I couldn't think of a better replacement so I just ran with it.
  • Pyroclasms were a late addition, after I realized that I didn't have all the cards I wanted for the deck. A trip to Magic Workstation had me scrolling through Standard legal cards in search of something I already owned, and Pyroclasm was the strongest option I could find. It actually isn't as bad in this deck as it sounds... every single creature in the maindeck either regenerates or gives me some effect when it dies, so I never lost anything relevant.
  • What's with that horrific sideboard? Well... Creeping Corrosion and Fresh Meat were cards I purchased on the cheap right before the tournament. The lands are there just to fill space... and so if I start to get majorly mana screwed I can make adjustments after each game one.
Okay, all other excuses aside... I just don't have a very deep card pool for Standard, so I've gotta do with what I've got and what's cheap for now. On to the report!

Match One vs. Mono Red Beats
This match went exactly as planned. In both games, he came out swinging and I burned stuff away until he ran out of threats. Pyroclasm and Staggershock were the MVPs here, as they generated consistent card advantage for me. Game two was made interesting by the fact that he started stealing my creatures and hitting me with them! We had a little disagreement about how my Sword of Feast and Famine would trigger when he gained control of the creature and then hit me with it, but another player sided with me and we ended up playing it my way (rules inquiry here). It was a lot closer than the first game, but I still managed to pull out the win. 2-0 win, 1-0 overall

Match Two vs. Mono Black
I was feeling pretty good after my first match, but I was soon humbled. I played a little conservatively in the first game, dropping an early creature and swinging but holding back most of my burn. Then he dropped a Phyrexian Obliterator. He didn't try to race me with it... he just let it sit there as a blocker while he put me on a short clock with a BIG flying lifelink guy that I couldn't kill because it was equipped with Lashwrithe. Game two, the race was on. I burned him every chance I got in hopes that I would be able to pull out a quick victory and a chance to win the match. Unfortunately, he dropped a Phyrexian Obliterator on turn four and then another one on turn five. Considering how difficult (impossible!) it was for me to get rid of those stupid things, I think I did fairly well. But it was a losing battle. 0-2 loss, 1-1 overall

Match Three vs. UBR Artifacts (control)
These games seemed to take forever. His deck was slow and controlling, and mine wasn't fast enough to beat him on speed alone. He played all kinds of card advantage with Tezzeret and little Jace, but he couldn't block my boas and he couldn't tap Thrun with Tumble Magnet (my new most-hated card). He won game one and I won game two... and then we ran out of time in game three. As soon as time ran out, I started throwing all the burn I had at him. On the last turn, when I figured that I could only get him down to six, I started picking up my cards and realized that I should have been attacking with my Raging Ravines instead of spending so much mana paying the kicker costs of multiple Burst Lightnings. It was also pointed out to me that I missed a Valakut trigger... but I only had five mountains in play at the end of the game, so I don't think so. The Valakut trigger wouldn't have made a difference either way... but to think that I spent several turns burning four mana for two extra damage when I could have been swinging with trampling fatties... well, let's just say that's a little embarrassing. 1-1 draw, 1-1-1 overall

Match Four vs. UWB Artifacts (aggro)
When my opponent played a Stoneforge Mystic and searched for a Darksteel Axe, I knew I wasn't up against a "normal" CawBlade deck. Over the first few turns of the game, my opponent proceeded to play multiple Darksteel Axes while I burned away his Stoneforge Mystic and swung at him with some guys. Then he dropped multiple Etched Champions, and I realized that I didn't have much hope aside from pushing Islandwalk creatures through... but he never played an island. Game two was very similar, except that he also had multiple Tumble Magnets in addition to the cards that shut me down in game one. 0-2 loss, 1-2-1 overall

I have to admit that I was really disappointed. That's the worst showing I've had in a tournament in quite some time. At least I came away with the giveaway card: Priest of Urabrask

Buy this card.

Lessons Learned:
  • I like the idea of Valakut as a way to make topdecking a land in the late-game useful. I never got to use it. Having three extra more that come into play tapped hurt me a lot more than I expected. I would need to lean heavier toward the red side for more mountains or play more land searching cards to make them relevant... but I'll probably just drop them altogether.
  • I really want Manic Vandals in the maindeck. I boarded them in for every single match and I was never disappointed with them. After playing four Viridian Shamans maindeck during the 2003-2004 Mirrodin block, I guess I should have known better.
  • Ember Mauler was a disappointment. I really miss the days of stacking damage and then sacrificing creatures, although the new system does make more sense.
  • There isn't a disadvantage for making too much mana anymore... asking, "Burn for one?" makes you look like an idiot nowadays.
  • Tumble Magnets are a serious pain in the butt for this deck. When they show up on the other side of the table, I want to throw temper tantrums. 
  • I really need better ways to get rid of problematic stuff. Manic Vandals in the maindeck will help, but I'm thinking about running some number of Beast Hunts.
  • I really like Creeping Corrosion. I'm going to scoop up a few more sometime between now and the next time I play.
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