Last time I left you all on a bit of a cliff-hanger, partly because I thought it would an awesome way to end the article, partly because sometimes I can be a bit of a douche, sorry about that…
The deck I discovered was in fact a variant on a Vampires build. I was fully aware of the capabilities of B/r Vampires, but I wanted to try something different, after all there’s a way to go before I fly out to Barca, so I thought why not try something new today (1)?
This particular variant on Vampires splashes blue. Yes, yes, I can hear the cries of outrage already, and I can imagine Wagz with his head in his hands thinking, well, God knows what! But with the splash for blue, you get access to Unified Will, Mana Leak, Spell Pierce, Creeping Tar Pit and Preordain. The latter two are two of the best cards in the current format, and the other three are all good counterspells (Mana Leak and Spell Pierce especially Unified Will seems good in this deck as it runs a fair amount of creatures). I came up with an original 60, and this time I will publish the list, because I thought (at the time) that this archetype has a lot more potential than Kuldotha Red.
1 [card]Unified Will[/card]
3 [card]Mana Leak[/card]
2 [card]Spell Pierce[/card]
2 [card]Doom Blade[/card]
2 [card]Into the Roil[/card]
4 [card]Inquizition of Kozilek[/card]
18 Non-creature spells
3 [card]Gatekeeper of Malakir[/card]
4 [card]Kalastria Highborn[/card]
4 [card]Vampire Nighthawk[/card]
4 [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card]
4 [card]Drowned Catacombs[/card]
4 [card]Darkslick Shores[/card]
4 [card]Verdant Catacombs[/card]
Words of warning before you comment about this deck (and please, do comment. I’m sharing this experience with you, and I want to make it as interactive as possible, so get involved!). It is in its very early stages, and yes I am aware that there is one fundamental flaw with it (certain people would say there are many, but we’ll go for the obvious one.) There is no Blade of the Bloodchief. In fact when I asked my good friend Jon Slack, with whom I share a collection, to build this deck for me, he pointed out the lack of Blade straight away (2). He also said I should have gone for the more obvious Red splash as Blue just didn’t look that convincing. I told him to build the deck anyway, as I wanted to try out this particular variant.
He didn’t build the deck. I had to, whilst he continued to make comments (mainly negative) about my deck choice, and the cards in the deck. I eventually lost count (3) of the number of times I said ‘it’s just for playtesting, we have plenty of time to tweak the deck.’ Eventually I built up the 60, and got right down to the first match up.
Game 1 – Vampires wins 5-1 (3-0 on the play, 2-1 on the draw)
Creeping Tar Pit and Vampire Nighthawk were, by far and away, the MVPs for this matchup. Against a deck that runs Contested War Zone, and not a lot of lands, Creeping Tar Pit did the job perfectly, and I would say singlehandedly won 3 of the 5 matchups. Also, Vampire Nighthawk can block Signal Pest and has lifelink. Just saying.
In the one game Kuldotha Red DID win, it was a turn 3 kill, and I only had a Drowned Catacombs, a Swamp and a Bloodghast in play (it was the only playable creature in my hand). Blocking fail. Speaking of Bloodghast, it is very poor in this matchup, for the simple reason that it CANNOT BLOCK (have I mentioned this already?), and I would almost certainly take it out for games 2 and 3.
Game 1 – Valakut wins 5-1 (Vampires 1-3 on the play, 0-2 on the draw)
Very poor matchup, but nevertheless I got trounced. Green Sun’s Zenith and Overgrown Battlement do this deck’s head in. I didn’t even get close in the first three games, so I went to the internet to look for some improvements. I made the following adjustments.
-4 Bloodthrone Vampire, -4 Kalastria Highborn
+4 Pulse Tracker, +4 Vampire Lacerator
Bloodthrone Vampire is just terrible without Blade, and with the last sac engine taken out, Kalastria Highborn had to go. In its place were two staples of every Vampire deck at Worlds. Don’t ask me why they weren’t there in the first place, because I simply don’t know. Deckbuilder’s oversight on that one, I’m afraid.
The next three games were much tighter, despite losing 2 of the next 3. My opponents life totals at the end looked like this: 2,0,4.
So I took this deck to a York FNM, hoping for some results to convince me that this deck was the right choice. Prepare to be bitterly disappointed.
For reference, this was my sideboard:
4 [card]Vampire Hexmage[/card]
2 [card]Dark Tutelage[/card]
2 [card]Spell Pierce[/card]
2 [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]
Round 1 – MonoB Vampires
Game 1 started off with a turn 1 Inquizition. It revealed a Malakir Bloodwitch, which I was slightly wary of but was sure I’d have an answer to it early on. I took away a Kalastria Highborn, despite there being another in his hand.
My opponent cast three Sign in Bloods throughout the game, which lead to him drawing and playing all three of his Malakir Bloodwitches. I couldn’t find any way to deal with them in time (in fact, I didn’t have anything to deal with them apart from Vampire Nighthawk) and promptly scooped.
SB – -2 Doom Blade, -1 Unified Will, +2 Dark Tutelage, +1 Spell Pierce
Game 2 I countered all his early threats, and then lost to him finding all three of his Malakir Bloodwitches again. At least, that’s what it looked like to the spectator. The truth was that I kept a hand of 5 land and 2 Mana Leak. I should’ve shuffled it away, but my thought process was that I’m the control player, I’ll find threats later on. I never found threats, I drew three more land in opening 3 turns. Ben Heath, making the mistakes so you don’t have to!
This deck was so bad, I’m amazed it won even this.
I took time out to watch a deck built by a local player and a good friend of mine, Womble (4), which was basically U/R Artifact control, using proflierate on cards such as Tumble Magnet, Lux Cannon and Everflowing Chalice to pretty much lock down the opponent. Don’t diss it, it went 2-2 and with a little bit of tweaking (i.e. taking less than 5 turns to set up) it could become a more viable deck.
Round 3 – Valakut Ramp
This version played Summoning Trap, something I wasn’t actually expecting since most lists now leave it out and prefer to play Green Sun’s Zenith (which is correct, in my opinion, but I wouldn’t listen to me for deck advice if I were you!)
So, Game 1…Primeval Titan, countered, Summoning Trap, Primeval Titan, opponent in a really strong position. Scoop.
SB – +2 Tectonic Edge, +2 Flashfreeze, -2 Into the Roil, -2 Swamp
Game 2. See above. Replace second Primeval Titan with Inferno Titan. GGs.
The fact that I drew Inquiziton of Kozilek in multiples didn’t help me, because I never saw Summoning Trap in his hand, even when he played Oracle of Mul Daya, he just seemed to draw it before or after Oracle of Mul Daya was there. I won’t bemoan his good luck though, I deserved to lose based on deck choice alone. If you can’t yet gauge my final opinion on this deck, you will soon.
Game 1 I was in complete control, I had him down to 6 and had counter mana up and lethal on the board next turn.
Genesis Wave for 5. Can pay for Mana Leak. Bugger.
Nissa Revane is revealed along with a load of Elves. He gains 16 life putting him up to 22. I know I’ve lost at this point as I’ve run out of gas. He doesn’t though and promptly goes on to Genesis Wave for 6 next turn. He drew both his maindeck Genesis Waves in his opening hand. ‘Why didn’t he mulligan?’ was my initial thought, but he won anyway so I guess it doesn’t matter.
SB – -2 Into the Roil, +2 Flashfreeze
He has a pretty slow start, with all the gas but none of the big stuff. I try to clear his board but double Joraga Warcaller with no counters in hand is awkward. The Gaea’s Revenge comes along. The Scrubout scoops.
Final thoughts on this deck? My deck is different, and more-than-likely worse than Christian Calcano‘s build. Having said that, I don’t see how he went 7-3 with it in the Standard portions of the Pro Tour. Unified Will is a terrible choice in that deck, it only helps against control, and even then they’re likely to have more creatures than you thanks to Squadron Hawk! Maybe his deck was the right build for the Pro Tour, but in Grand Prix mode? Definitely not.
So Jonathan Slack (and probably everyone reading this) was right, the deck is a terrible choice, and my optimism was very much misplaced. But I tried it anyway, and I now know the deck is useless. Sure I could have made that assessment before-hand, but you don’t truly know until you give it a go. And I know I said I wanted my first decklist to be good, and it turned out to be trash, but that was my honest way of thinking at the time of me building it, so I’m gonna keep it in there as a lesson both for you and, more importantly, for me.
I’m having a playtesting session on Friday, which is perfect for trying out a deck I’ve always wanted to try, and this seems like a good environment to do it in. The report for it will be up over the weekend, with any luck.
The deck itself? Jim Bowie’s SuperShock. I’ll keep my optimism firmly locked up, but it looks like fun and I can’t wait to try it out myself. Besides, don’t read this article expecting stories of great plays and the latest tech. It’s supposed to be an entertaining journal of my magic adventures and mishaps, and trust me there will be a lot of mishaps along the way.
Thank you for reading,
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P.S. Thank you to everyone who read and liked my last article, it made me smile and gave me the confidence to carry on writing. It also spread the word about Magic and mtgUK, so it can only be a good thing. I’ll echo what I recently read in an article on Star City. Be proud to be Magic player, not ashamed. You can find the excellent article, written by GB’s own Dan Barrett, in full here.
(1) I worked in Sainsbury’s for two years. When I was being trained, this phrase was hammered into my head for two days straight, no word of a lie. So every now and then the phrase just pops up randomly in conversation. Cantelpit.
(2) Actually, the first thing he said was ‘It dies to Blightsteel Colossus’. I had to refrain myself from facepalming right there and then.
(3) I didn’t lose count. I can count to three. That’s not the point here!
(4) His real name is Simon. Why is he called Womble? You have to have been on the team long enough to know. What team? Well, you’ll have to figure that out for yourself…