Last time out I tried blue-black Vampires, and said that next time I would work on Jim Bowie’s SuperShock, and that’s exactly what I did. For those of you not in the know, the deck runs red for Koth of the Hammer and burn, and the black for removal (Go for the Throat and Doom Blade) and card drawing (Dark Tutelage being the choice of Misteh Boweh here, seeing as most of the spells run in the deck are pretty damn cheap). So I looked at the deck and ran it a few times. This was my exact though process.
- Koth adds an awful lot to the deck, he’s better than I thought he was, but I don’t want to see him in multiples. 3 is plenty.
- Hold on, what does black actually add to the deck? Sure, Go for the Throat is nice, but I’d rather just counter the damn spell with Mana Leak.
- Hold on, there’s better card draw than Dark Tutelage in the format, especially in blue (see where I’m going with this, folks?). Preordain and Jace’s Ingenuity are both far better draw cards than Dark Tutelage.
- Why the hell is this deck not running Pyromancer Ascension?
- Wait a minute…
I enjoyed running the deck, I really did, but I just thought that did the same job, but better. It also offered much better protection in the form of Mana Leak and Spell Pierce. (1) This is the 75 I sleeved up for the final FNM before I jetted off to Barca.
Just a quick note on three of my card choices. Kiln Fiend was an experimental choice, just to see if I could make it work in this deck. Jace’s Ingenuity is actually a personal choice, I prefer it to Foresee because it’s instant speed, and against CawBlade when opponents are tapping in their precombat main phase to make the most of their mana, it seemed a solid choice as it’s much harder to counter than Foresee (in my experience, Foresee always got countered so although it’s ‘this is what I do’ bit is actually better, I think Jace’s Ingenuity is the better card). Koth of the Hammer is an alternate win condition, because in my experience, relying on just one win condition with Memoricide in the format seems a pretty bad idea. (2)
Round 1 – Boros.
Game 2, I sideboarded incorrectly and quite rightly got my arse handed to me.
Game 1 I strolled through, killing of all his small critters (including Necropedes with no targets. Psyche!) before Kothing my way to victory.
Game 2 looked as though it would be a case of same old, same old. Until Memoricide resolved. After sideboarding out all my counters. Naming Pyromacer Ascension. Oh dear. I continued to desparately dig for Koth with See Beyonds and Preordain, but it was not to be.
Game 3 my counters came back in, and I was genuinely worried I would lose. I got off to a pretty fast start, once again burning all his threats, and then Memoricide struck again. I sighed, I hadn’t even seen Mana Leak or Spell Pierce in this game. Next turn though I ripped out a Koth and started swinging with Mountains. Then time on the round was called. I did some maths and reckoned I couldn’t do it with normal draws, and I only had one card in hand. At the end of turn zero, I cast Jace’s Ingenuity, and promptly drew Burst Lightning, Mountain, Jace’s Ingenuity. I managed to get Koth to 6 on turn one, then use Koth’s ultimate and Burst him on turn 3, before pinging him and swinging him with a Mountain on turn five. Bullet. Dodged.
Game 1 I simply got swarmed with double Goblin Bushwhacker by turn 5. I did keep a dodgy seven-card hand so I pretty much got what I deserved. By the way, a turn 3 Kuldotha Rebirth/Goblin Bushwhacker combo versus a virtually creatureless deck is a bit of a house, I hear.
Game 2 was very tight, my opponent once again got off to an explosive start, and I had to use all my burn in my hand to deal with him. However, there was an advantage to this as I got down Pyromacer Ascension on turn 2, and had it active by turn 5 thanks to multiple Preordains, Lightning Bolts and Burst Lightnings. I managed to stabalise on a fairly healthy life total (8, according to my notes) before playing a copied Jace’s Ingenuity versus an opponent with an empty hand and board.
Game 3 started in the same vein as Game 2, except this time my win condition would be Koth of the Hammer. Except time was called. My opponent was drawing dead, but so was I, the difference literally being that the only non-land permanent in play was Koth of the Hammer. And he belonged to me. With both players drawing lands on turns one to four, my turn five, would be the difference between a draw and a win for me. Koth was on 6 but due to my land setup I couldn’t win with his ultimate as my opponent was on 8. I needed Burst Lightning or a card that would allow me to draw it and kick it. But three of them were in my bin. So naturally I topdecked the fourth and won.
I didn’t dodge a bullet, I dodged a frickin’ cannonball.
What is usually a very weak matchup game 1 went massively in my favour as my opponent mulliganed to 5. Despite getting Pyromancer Ascension active, I did nothing for three turns as I began to draw dead. However, Valakut runs no enchantment removal main so I managed to get Jace’s Ingeunity copied, and get a second Ascension active. The turn after this, he played Primeval Titan, which unfortunately came too late for him as I burned him to the ground next turn.
Games 2 and 3 were very similar, unfortunately for me. Valakut did what it was supposed to do, and I didn’t see any of my sideboard Flashfreezes or Mark of Mutiny. I also might have have won the next turn in both games as I had one active Ascension running, but only a Jace’s Ingenuity and some lands to go with it in my hand. Sigh.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the deck once again, but it felt like a last hurrah to me as I felt it simply just wasn’t good enough anymore. It simply didn’t seem to be able to beat the Tier 1 decks (3), and I now shudder to think of the matchup versus CawBlade. Without Time Warp, the deck is simply too slow. Kiln Fiend was really useless by the way. If you ever run this deck, take these out and put Staggershocks in.
However, a monored deck WAS proving good enough, as Pat Sullivan had recently won an SCG Open with it. I looked at the list, and immediately knew. Playing Pyromancer Ascension had brought out the Burnny McBurn (4) in me. I was going to play Red Deck Wins in Barcelona.
But that’s for next time, which will come a lot sooner than you think. Mainly because it’s already been written!
(1). I think it’s great that Jim has continued to tweak his deck and try to find the right build for the current meta. However, when I tried this, Pyomancer Ascension just seemed like the better choice. With all this said, I think Jim’s new SuperSaiyanShock is actually pretty damn good, and that this segment of the article was actually written long before that went up. Yeah, that’s how long this article has been sitting around here for.
(2). These are all my personal opinions, and I am not saying I am definitely right. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is an article about my magic exploits, not somewhere to read about the latest tech.
(3). Tier 1 is always a debatable subject, sure there are some certainties like CawBlade, but there are others out there just waiting to be discovered, like Kibler’s Infect and Leeds the Stampede. MonoB Infect and Kuldotha can be good decks, but I don’t think they have Tier 1 potential (2)
(4). Nope, I don’t know where that came from, either O_o
Thanks for reading,