Rock-Walkers, My Rise, My Fall, and learning to Dust Myself Off

Hi guys!  I haven’t been chatting much because, well, I haven’t been doing much.  After surgery I re-injured my foot and was put back on restricted activity, which limited the number of events I could go to and how far I was really willing to travel.  Having a big black boot of junk all the time is not the most comfortable way to take part in events.  So mostly I did things at my LGS like GPTs.

However, last Friday I got the go ahead to drive and walk around a bit more, so I high tailed myself over to SCG Open Richmond.  It is only about an hour to an hour and a half drive from where I live, so I figured it would be a good test of both my physical capability and where I was at in the rat race since the release of M14. I got there early, asked for fixed seating(which if you are ever injured or disabled, you should totally ask for at a large event. They are normally more than accommodating) and looked through my deck and deck list one more time.  The guys from my shop who had been there the previous day for Team Sealed and I made some final tweaks before the player meeting and then we were off!

It wasn’t so good.  Everyone had Jund at this event.  Or at least it felt like it.  And while I was able to pull ahead in one Jund match-up, the others I just couldn’t.  I wound up 2-4 and then dropped for the day.  It was already 5 pm and I didn’t want to push myself driving home during the times when I-95 construction is going on.

However, looking at the deck as it was before M14, and what it turned into after M14, I think I have found a pretty steady compromise.  So for the rest of the blog post I am going to talk about the 3 iterations of the deck and how I think it will continue to change.

Original

4 Deathrite Shaman

4 Strangleroot Geist

4 Dreg Mangler

2 Disciple of Bolas

4 Desecration Demon

2 Garruk Relentless

2 Liliana of the Veil

2 Vraska the Unseen

2 Curse of Deaths Hold

3 Abrupt Decay

1 Tragic Slip

3 Golgari Charm

3 Putrefy

2 Golgari Guildgate

4 Overgrown Tomb

4 Woodland Cemetery

1 Rogue’s Passage

7 Forest

6 Swamp

This deck was solid.  It had consistent answers for everything while still being able to delivery punches.  I played this a lot at Monday Night Standards and FNM at the shop with many fantastic results.  I don’t think I had ever been so happy playing a deck.  Whatever I couldn’t get rid of via Abrupt Decay, Putrefy, or Liliana, Vraska would take care of.  Curse of Death’s Hold really put people a turn back since their mana dorks died or on a very strict counter of what they could play.  This deck was amazing in my eyes and it could do no wrong.

Then M14 came along and this is what I wound up with the morning of the Open:

V2

4 Deathrite Shaman

2 Scavenging Ooze

2 Lifebane Zombie

2 Varolz, the Scar Stripped

2 Disciple of Bolas

4 Desecration Demon

2 Thragtusk

2 Garruk Relentless

2 Vraska the Unseen

4 Liliana of the Veil

1 Curse of Death’s Hold

2 Doom Blade

2 Golgari Charm

2 Putrefy

3 Abrupt Decay

2 Golgari Guildgates

4 Overgrown Tomb

4 Woodland Cemetary

1 Rogue’s Passage

4 Forest

9 Swamp

This deck was not consistent enough to really get a good idea of the decisions you need to make. I would constantly have one piece without the other or be stuck with something that I couldn’t use.  The biggest flop this past weekend was Doom Blade.  I was expecting much less black in the field then there way, and having Doom Blade in your hand while trying to take control of a crazy board state was not helpful.  Varolz is not enough of a threat against many of the decks that are out there, not the same way that Dreg Mangler is.  Scavenging Ooze and Lifebane Zombie did work, but adding in Thragtusk messed up the curve just a bit too much.  I realized that in my deck I don’t want creatures, perhaps the most vital thing, to cost over 4.  D-Demon should be the top of my creature curve.  Having Vraska in my hand isn’t the worst thing if I can’t cast her because she is a free card to toss.  Thragtusk means I can’t play him, and it is going to be awfully hard to scavenge for him too. If I can have a Varolz out long enough.

So I have been mulling it over this week, really thinking about the changes I made between the two decks and if they can reconcile.  I think they can.  Doom Blades are coming out for a bit, although I think they will be useful in the future, and Putrefy is going back in.  The two Thragtusk and Varolz will be coming out.  I’m going to be going up to 4 Dreg Manglers again and 3 Lifebane Zombie. So the final product for testing this weekend will look like this:

V3

4 Deathrite Shaman

2 Scavenging Ooze

3 Lifebane Zombie

4 Dreg Mangler

2 Disciple of Bolas

4 Desecration Demon

2 Vraska

2 Garruk

4 Liliana

3 Abrupt Decay

3 Putrefy

2 Golgari Charm

1 Curse of Death’s Hold

2 Golgari Guildgates

4 Overgrown Tomb

4 Woodland Cemetary

1 Rogue’s Passage

5 Forest

8 Swamp

I’m going to play with the mana base a bit more, thinking about two more Golgari Guildgates to throw in.  But I feel that this is much more solid.  And working with the same deck for so long has really given me a new level of focus and analysis capability.  So despite doing piss poor at an event, the whole drive home I just realized, even above the searing pain in my foot, that I had reached a new level.  I had transcended.  I could indeed, rebuild it to make it bigger, stronger, faster.

And I would do so as soon as I got some sleep.

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A total disaster

Yesterday I went to the Star City Open in Washington, D.C.  This was an ideal location for me since it is like a 20 minute drive to the Metro and then a pretty relaxing ride into the city and there is a stop right at the convention center that the tournament is at.  Also, I love going to Opens.  They are small and intimate, somewhere that I can meet up with friends, actually talk to the artists, and watch other matches.  I also tend to do relatively well there.

This time around, the doing well was missing.  My normal Golgari Graveyard deck was not doing well in the format and my testing of other decks was providing less then desirable results as well, as I’ve been talking about.  I decided to go with Brian Kibler’s Predator Ooze deck and modified it a bit over the course of the week.  Such as putting in Grafdigger’s Cage in the sideboard and taking out the Lotleth Trolls and putting in Vampire Nighthawks.

I’m going to say that these were good moves on my part, but I’m also going to say that the deck still needs a lot more work.  22 lands is not quite getting there consistently.  Wolfir Avenger is having issues finding his place in the deck. He is great for the surprise block, but I never have the mana online to regen him as well.  When Predator Ooze gets out it is fantastic, when he doesn’t, well, there are issues. There is no way to stabilize if I fall behind.  Abrupt Decay is either the entire answer, or just needs to be removed entirely, and for that reason I am happy I put Appetite for Brains in the board.

There was a lot of B/G down in the X-4 of varying kinds.  We all were quite miserable together, but laughed in our hasty zombie goodness.

I ultimately when 3-5 in the tournament before dropping.  While it was my worst performance in a standard event such as this, I had a lot of fun against most of my opponents.  There is always the one you go against though.  They guy who is a mess, plays messy, can’t keep himself organized, doesn’t quite keep things clear and turns the game into work rather than a game.  These games bother me.  They get to me a lot deeper then they should and it is something that I should probably work on.

I did not get my bye for next season, but I got an idea of how much more work I need to do.  I’m going to start practicing Modern and Legacy with some friends who have decks to lend me.  I in no way have the money to own such decks right now, but if they trust me enough to let me borrow them, then I will trust them enough to teach me well!  There are also more events starting up in my area with two stores firing things off nightly, so I have some options if I can’t make an FNM due to work or whatnot.

Outside of playing, I had a lot of fun.  I hung out with the wonderful Cynthia Sheppard a bunch and caught up.  For living so close I don’t nearly get to see her enough.  So a bunch of friends from all over and talked to people who I had sat with at GP Charlotte, Escapist Expo, and other such events.  I also got to meet Lindsey Burley of Hurley-Burley Alters and get some information regarding the article I’m writing.  And I think that is why, while I’m upset with my performance, I’m not upset with the weekend.

That is all I really have to say.  Giving you a blow by blow of loss after loss seems kinda pointless.  I will tell you that I now have a twitter account mostly dedicated to Magic: The Gathering at mtgreiunicorn and I’m always up for talking 😀