Good ‘morrow Sir/Sirette and welcome to the first of a (hopeful) series of tournament reports by your friendly, neighbourhood Blue-White Control player. Before I delve into the complexities of my card slinging on friday night I should probably talk to you a little bit about my deck and why I chose it.
UW Titan Control
So thats the main deck, I’ll get to the other 15 cards shortly. The main thing that attracts me to this deck are three principle cards; Sun Titan, Kitchen Finks and Cryptic Command. Kitchen Finks, in my opinion, wins games. All the time. The fact it needs to be blocked twice and will almost always kill one of the opponents creatures the first time it blocks or is blocked WHILST gaining you 4 life in the process makes it one of my favourite creatures ever printed. If you stick a finks the turn after a jund player plays a Putrid Leech then you have, more often than not, just gained yourself a 6-8 point life swing in your favour. And in that same matchup, a mere three turns later, you’ll get another 4 point life swing when you cast the Sun Titan! Which ofcourse brings me to my Big White Beasty of Choice in this deck, Sun Titan has a LOT more viable targets in Extended than in Standard, you could argue this is to be expected with a larger card pool but I digress. This deck picks some of the best of them in our colours and uses them to good effect. And finally you have Cryptic Command, which from here on in I will refer to as ‘CC’. I don’t need to say anything about ‘CC’ as it has all already been said by people far more qualified than me to do so. But I can tell you that on turn 4 in any matchup I would rather pass and threaten ‘CC than I would play Jace, The Mind Scupltor. Yeah, thats right. I DID just say that! What you gonna do about it turtle neck?! So what if Jace is the current staple of Standard? He’s not as good as ‘CC’, ok?!
After that little outburst I think its time to talk about my sideboard.
I have to admit this is more tuned to my FNM than it is to the Global meta but there is one card I would like to talk about; Wispmare. I actually can’t claim to be the genius behind this tech, I reserve that prize for Manaleaks in-house tech Master Simon ‘The Bainbridge’ Bainbridge, but he pointed out that Wispmare does the exact same thing as War Priest of Thune, has the same synergy with Sun Titan and has two things that the War Priest can’t; it flys and it has evoke. This is relevant in the one matchup that you really NEED the disenchant effect, namely Fae. Being able to evoke and kill a Bitterblossom for a single white mana on turn two whilst leaving one blue mana open to Spell Pierce to counter its replacement is really relevant in the Fae matchup. Above that is the fact it can block the tokens made by Bitterblossom all damn day as long as your opponent doesn’t resolve two Scions of Oona or an Agony Warp. I’ll prove later how relevant all this is when we get to my card slinging…..
Which is now. FYI.
Round 1. Derek playing Jund.
The thing I love about FNM is how friendly it is. And the fact that I know almost all the players so you feel more like you’re hanging out with friends than playing in a sanctioned tournament. Derek is a recent addition to our FNMs and he’s a really nice guy, I had a good laugh playing him. I like to give a bit of friendly banter whilst I play in FNM, rather than the stoned faced performance a control player has to give whilst at a PTQ or Grand Prix for example, and he gave as good as he got.
I win the dice roll and opt to play. My first hand is devoid of land so I ship it back and find a much better hand of 3 Lands, a Kitchen Finks and a Preordain. My first turn play is to ‘live the dream’ of playing Preordain turn 1. I see a Wall of Omen and a Land. I decide to keep both as Wall is good in all matchups bar Control on Control and I love getting to 4 mana so I can cast ‘CC’. I pass and he makes a Savage Land before telling me he’s playing Jund, albeit slightly budget. I suddenly feel glad I kept the Wall. I make wall on turn 2 and he predictably makes Putrid Leech on his turn. I make the decision to curve out and make Finks, I find Finks is really good against Jund. I also find being more proactive against Jund is a good plan, always playing threats and setting the pace of the game rather than making a wall and sitting behind counter spells. He suprises me by making Sprouting Thrinax. I didn’t expect it so I don’t really know how I’m going to deal with it, seeing as my plan is to chump block all his guys with Kitchen Finks for value and the Thrinax erradictes that value. I’m lucky in that I draw Path to Exile to get rid of the Thrinax and with my Wall blocking the Putrid Leech I’m free to smash face with Kitchen Finks (Did I mention earlier whilst gushing about Finks that it can turn sideways and beat face?) until a Clique in his turn reveals he doesn’t have Demigods of Revenge but instead runs Torrent of Souls in its place. That could be a problem if I dilly-dally but making Sun Titan on turn 7 seals the victory and we go on to Game two.
My sideboard plan against Jund is always the same.
-2 Jace, The Mind Sculptor
+2 Day of Judgement
Jace will just get Maelstrom Pulsed and because Jund tends to lend itself to board pressure Day of Judgement will almost always get you a boatload of value. The only problem I have in this particular matchup with Jund is that his Thrinaxs bring down that value. But this is hardly a perfect world so I stick to the plan.
He goes on the play and keep my first 7 of Mana Leak, Rachet Bomb, Kitchen Finks, Sun Titan and 3 Land. I figure the Bomb will deal with the Saproling tokens if push comes to shove. His first play is Thrinax and I Mana Leak it so I can make Finks on turn 3. By this point I’ve topped my fourth and fifth land and a second Finks. Being proactive seems to be the ticket here so I make a plan to make a second Fink on my next turn and play a Colonnade as my fourth land drop. What follows is an example of what happens when you’re an arrogant douchebag at FNM…
He follows my turn three with a Bloodbraid Elf that falls into a harmless Sylan Ranger. I block the Elf with my Finks because I have a backup and proceed to top deck a ‘CC’. I could make a land drop that would allow me to cast my Command on his next spell but I arrogantly think the following ‘Whats the worst that can happen?’. Well, in answer to my question, Memoricide naming Sun Titan is the worst that can happen. I know this because it happened followed by a Lightning Bolt on my persisted Finks. A few turns later after I’ve stopped him making a threat with ‘CC’ he Memoricides me again naming Kitchen Finks, leaving me with only the one on the board, the Vendilion Clique in my hand and my Celestial Colonnade as beatsticks. Awesome. I notice he keeps leaving Termiate mana open so, after finding a Tectonic Edge or 3 thanks to my topdecking skills (read: luck), I mess with his land to stop him being able to cast any threatening spells and use my Clique to rid him of the one creature in his hand before eeking out the victory using the aforementioned 3 beatsticks. I’m a very lucky guy. That could have gone VERY south, VERY quickly.
Record so far. 1-0-0
Round 2. Jono Randle playing Fae
I had faced Jon the previous week and had taken an utter beating, after all the guy did go to worlds, so I’m a little nervous around him. I show this by throwing insults at him. Mostly accusing him of lying to me when he told me he wasn’t playing Fairies, luckily for me Jon’s one of the nicest guys around and he knows to expect this from me. I shuffle up, draw 7, win the dice roll, opt to play and settle down for a tough one.
My opening hand is a bit open, 4 lands, an Oblivion Ring and a Sun Titan. I ‘live that dream’ and Preordain looking for gas and find it in the shape of Finks and Jace. His turn 2 brings out the dreaded Bitterblossom whose only purpose is to sit under my Oblivion Ring/card]. His turn 3 brings a second copy of that dreaded enchantment but, most notably, no land drop. I make Jace in my turn and use the +2 ability to stop him getting land. But theres a problem with this strategy, every card I look at when I ‘Fateseal’ him is a card I don’t want him to have, meaning I don’t get as much control over his game as I would like and eventually I feel like I blink and I’m staring and 6 Tokens and a [card]Mistbind Clique. I feel a bit robbed because I swear I could have won that game. But I move on to game 2 nonetheless.
Sideboard plan for Fae is this
-3 Wall of Omen
-1 Mana Leak
-1 Day of Judgement
-1 Kitchen Finks
+3 Spell Pierce
The Wall is useless as is Day really. Finks is a tough cut but I need all four to ensure those Bitterblossoms die a horrible death!
I keep my opener because I have Wispmare and Kitchen Finks in my hand. He makes Bitterblossom and says to me ‘I hope you’re not the sort of person that sides in War Priests against me Stokes’ ‘I’m not Jon’ I reply whilst untapping my lands ‘I sideboard in Wispmare instead…Speaking of which..’ Jon sighs and puts his Bitterblossom in the graveyard before making card]Jace Beleren[/card] on his turn. I make Finks, thus deciding its time to be aggressive, and swing into his Jace to either guarentee me a card in his turn or force him to kill it. He makes Glen Elendra Archmage, makes us both draw with Jace. Now I’m going to take a MASSIVE shortcut here, because this game goes to time and its the end that is the interesting part…Mostly because I win (SPOILERS!!) but the way in which I win is interesting. We trade back and forth all game. Wispmare shines and I eventually resolve a Sun Titan. He has a Bitterblossom, a Mistbind Clique and 2 Scion of Oona and I’m holding a Wispmare that needs those Scions to die before I can win. I get the first turn of the 5, which is advantageous, but do little with it as we’re at stalemate. He draws, Thoughtsiezes seeing Cyptic, Rachet Bomb and my Wispmare and forces the ‘CC’ to the bin. I take a deep breathe and draw my card. I do some combat math and realise that if I attack I can kill his Scions and his Mistbind if I aminate Colonnade but only if he doesn’t have a removal spell and as long as my Rachet Bomb is allowed to resolve so I can kill all his Bitterblossom tokens. His life total means that the Wispmare in my hand plus the the Finks I will get back with the Sun Titan will give me victory on Turn 5 as long as I predict his blocking correctly and he does’t topdeck a Cryptic Command. It’s my only out so I turn the cards sideways and luckily for me my plan works and he doesn’t draw a Cryptic of his own during his turn to stop me winning. I earn myself a draw in what is one of the hardest fought FNM battles I’ve ever played.
After the game he quips that he let me win and I tell him his face stubble looks ridiculous. We’ve just spent the last 45 minutes stone faced, as Jon is one of the few players I can’t banter with as I’m too busy soiling myself, yet we still manage to share a joke after. I told you I loved FNM.
Round 3. Mark Biddle playing ‘Animal’ Jund.
For the past three weeks I have always been paired up against Mark Biddle in the 3rd round. Either it’s a testiment to his playing skill or me and him just destined to sit opposite each other in round 3. We both already know what the other is playing, or so I thought. Turns out Mark had a little suprise for me.
This is the only round where I lose the dice roll. I know Mark is playing Jund so I keep a hand with a Wall and a Finks in it. These are both excellent cards against Jund. Then I was hit in the face by Marks little suprise, consecutively over the course of about 7 turns. You see that morning Mike Flores had posted a new Jund list up called ‘Animal Jund’. Animal Jund doesn’t play any non-creature spells. It plays ]Vengevines, Chameloen Collossus‘ and Boggart-Ram Gangs instead. I didn’t it coming and couldn’t stem the bleeding and he beat me to death.
Sideboarding for Jund remains the same. Day of Judgement is more important here in fact. Seeing as you’ll need the extra removal tenfold.
I keep the opening 7 and decide not to make Wall of Omens on turn 2. Instead I decide to Mana Leak his second turn play and THEN make Wall. Turns out my plan was perfect, as his turn 2 play is Fauna Shamam and that card absolutely destroys me if not dealt with within 2 turns. From there I manage to keep him under pressure long enough, playing Cliques in his upkeep and sitting behind a ‘CC’ and Sun Titan. He mounts a small amount of pressure my way but, with his lack of non-creature spells, I know I don’t have to play around Terminate/ and thus Sun Titan helps me kill him whilst erradicating his attacks with recurring Kitchen Finks.
In honesty this game goes much the same as Game 2. I curve out nicely and Make Sun Titan turn 6. It turns out he had sideboarded in non-creature spells after all. He just hadn’t drawn them.
Round 3. Tu Nguyen playing UWb Control.
I’m not actually going to tell you about round 4. Mostly because I lost in a COMPLETELY non interesting fashion; I was loose and kept two AWFUL opening hands. I’m not about to make excuses; by which I mean that I’ll blatantly make excuses; I was tired and not thinking straight.
Final Record 2-1-1
To be honest I was happy with the record, I only just missed out on prizes and I’d had some really good games. I learned a lot about the Jund match up in particular. I nearly always make the Wall on turn 2, on the play, above sitting back to cast Mana Leak on their 2nd turn threat. Casting the Mana Leak won me the game. And thus concludes this tournament report. My name is actually Stokes, FYI. Not ‘your friendly neighbourhood Blue-White Control player’. That’s far too much of a mouthfull.
Thanks for reading, let me know what you think.