Intro Decks to FNM: Further Along the Path to Victory with Mark Pinder

£20 PTQs & Dinosaurs by Magic by Mark Pinder


Welcome to the second part of the Path to Victory series where I am transforming a humble intro deck into something that could compete at FNM but on a limited budget, the first part can be found here.

I’ve been playing the deck quite a bit, playing opponents between rounds or before events, luckily in Grimsby most of the players have read my article and are supportive. The deck is struggling at the minute as it is seriously under powered and has very little synergy, it seems just like a bunch of white and blue cards without much to build from.

I’ve been looking hard at acquisition of cards and have been busy acquiring playable commons and uncommon cards, community is a big thing and when it comes to commons it is quite easy to pick up a few cards. The Grimsby club have a commons box, when a new player joins the club they are encouraged to take whatever they need from the club box, when they have become more established then they can support their successors by donating cards.

We also have players who will offer out commons and uncommon cards after cracking boosters, which is a pretty common occurrence and how often can you trawl the tables bigger events sweeping up discarded cards. Like with many new players in Grimsby we give them favourable trades to start out, advice on cards to help their decks and sometimes a few spares to get them on their way. I’ve picked up a few commons from the club and a couple of players have passed over some uncommon cards to help the deck.

I decided that rather than cracking boosters I would look at the singles market to support the deck. I am using, Ebay, my local shop Stamp Corner in Doncaster and Magic Card Market which is a European trading card site. Whilst I could use some of the bigger sites for specific cards at the minute I am looking at bargains to get established, though many sites do have budget offers or bulk cards for sale. My local shop is a god send, they have a pretty flat pricing policy for commons, uncommon and rare cards, so as long as they have the card in the folder you can build a deck relatively easily, in my case it was two Glacial Fortress, two Oblivion rings and several other uncommon cards.

One of the key aspects to consider when building a deck is supporting your local play areas, no one truly expects you to buy 100% of your purchases from them but do try and contribute to your community to ensure organised play continues, however, at the same time stores should really try to accommodate their local customers too, I know of several shops who use American sites for prices directly porting dollars into pounds or quoting the highest price from the UK online sites. Another local shop has had a Cavern of Souls sat in their singles binder since the set came out, with a more realistic price for the local environment a comparatively more competitive player than the rest in the area may well have purchased that by now.

I had hoped that there would be an opportunity to locally draft M13 as it can be extremely beneficial drafting the same archetype of deck that you will be playing in constructed. In Lorywn block is was quite common to draft a tribe to build around going forward, with M13 there is potential to get white Exalted cards which may yet become an option. The opportunity to grab a money rare and trade it in for good stuff still remains, this year in Grimsby one of the locals pulled a Sorin, Lord of Innistrad which they managed to trade for four Mirran Crusaders which slotted straight into his deck making is significantly stronger.

Things started to brighten up a little with the deck, it was nice playing with old favourites like Serra Angel which I remember fondly playing when Standard was called “Type 2” at the time of Revised,  Captain of the Watch didn’t feel the same without Emeria to bring it back and finally I have a new friend in Artic Aven to stabilise in tight matches providing an aerial threat and life gain.

However, the issue with the deck is that a lot of other decks are much quicker and loaded with removal. The deck doesn’t feel though that it has an awesome win condition, the times it has won matches has looked more like my opponents lost due to bad luck e.g. land or colour screw being the most common. Unfortunately, whilst is nice to reminisce playing Serra Angel it is usually dropping to late to be useful and for the same converted mana cost white had Baneslayer Angel and now red has Thundermaw Hellkite, sadly power creep  may have laid an iconic card to rest in constructed formats.

After realising how disjointed the deck was and decided to look for some synergies, I decided to look at Blue White humans, I’m using another useful way to improve your deck as I am currently loaning four Silverblade Paladin.

11 Plains
5 Islands
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Evolving Wilds
2 Moorland Haunt

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Nearheath Pilgrim
4 Silverblade Paladin
3 Attended Knight
2 Odric, Master Tactician

1 Runechanter’s Pike
4 Gather the Townsfolk
3 Mass Appeal
4 Faith’s Shield
3 Oblivion Ring
4 Cloudshift

The idea is to pair the humans then protect them with Cloud Shift and Faith’s Shield. Mass Appeal has synergy for Delver of Secrets and provide some card advantage.

Well results did not go as expected so far :-

Mono White Humans

Well first game was a blow out with a Mirran Crusader with Angelic Destiny, okay upon rotation neither card will be a problem but that doesn’t help now. Delvers fail to flip and that proves to be disastrous in the second game with Thalia thwarting protection plans for my opponents Fiend Hunters and Oblivion Rings.

Mono White Tokens

This match was by far much closer as a two one win, paired Nearheath Pilgrim and Silverblade Paladin is awesome when it works, as is a paired Insectile Aberration with a Silverblade Paladin but Intangible Virtue making vigilant bigger guys is.

Red/Green Aggro

Another close two one loss, the key being the red removal burning away all my creatures.

Red/Black Vampires

After a good early start with some life gaining Insectile Aberration with Nearheath Pilgrim removal proved to be the biggest issue taking down my team.


I thought this match would be bad with recurring threats in Gravecrawler and Highborn Ghoul, apparently though flipping Delver is awesome, when the Delver gets paired with a Silverblade Paladin it’s quite devastating. Second game was not a real match up, my opponent colour screws early on Knight of Glory makes an impact from the board and by the time my opponent hits double black to be able to use his Geth’s Verdict I also have an Attended Knight who has brought along his buddy.

So what was Good?

The pairings when they held were impressive, Mass Appeal was useful when it actually had enough humans to make it worth while and Odric was a blow out card. Attended Knight with Cloudshift is fun play.

So what was Not so Good?

Always seemed to have tokens with Cloudshift and Faith’s Shield only saved my guys from being chump blockers. Captain of the Watch always seemed slow and was probably the right choice but need to make the deck faster as would run out of steam as opponent stabilised much sooner. Runechanter’s Pike just seemed so slow and mostly ineffective, giving serious consideration for Butchers Cleaver for its Human synergy and lifegain swing.

It is my girlfriend Cecile who made the most telling comment “Your deck doesn’t seem to have good cards.”. I actually disagree even with the results, I feel the deck has worked but is maybe a few cards short of being a 2-1 rather than a 1-2 deck

Where are we going?

Well the deck needs to be faster and needs to be able to have Odric as a finisher, not just a big blocker as he turned out to be. Maybe I am relying too much on Odric but as the main component of the Intro deck I would like to be able to make him work.

Sadly the cards I would add at this point are rotating, Honor of the Pure would be awesome right now whilst Favorable Winds and Intangible Virtue haven’t enough cards in the deck to support them. Now these two enchantments could be awesome, we could switch to blue white tokens as Lingering Souls and Midnight Haunting to support the deck. This would mean we have the potential to keep Delver of Secrets within the deck.

Also, I can see Drogskol Captain being back in the mix and we have Esper Spirits without Phantasmal Image. The only reason why I still consider an old archetype is that all the spirits would satisfy the criteria to get Odric working.

Any other options, I have considered local enchantments, Spectral Flight could make any early drop a monster. I don’t usually like enchantments as if your creature dies you lose two cards to their one.  That being said locally I have seen how devastating a pumped up creature can be if left unchecked, e.g. Elite Vanguard with a Furor of the Bitten like Seth runs in Grimsby is quite a handful or with call to Serve it becomes a flying menace.

I was reviewing my card pool after I had written most of this article reflecting on where the deck is now, staring back at me was “Sleep”, I had previously dropped the card from the deck but actually it could well be an answer, several of my losses were in tight matches where I couldn’t get through their defenders, especially those vigilant tokens and maybe this humble uncommon can yet again be able to make a difference.

It is a little frustrating at the minute, the deck has potential but is struggling to do what is needed to win consistently. Hopefully, when you catch up on the deck results should have started to turn.

Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing.




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Mark Pinder
I have competed twice at GB nationals in 2010/2008, was Runner Up at Senior Nationals 2010, Won a Grand Prix Trial which took me to Paris 2009. My love of the game was such that I did previously win a writing competition on MTG Twincast which led to me being a Feature Writer for around a year until the Sponsor sold up but still did the occasional article. There is also a verb "To Pinder"colloquially used in northern magic communities which means "to gain life", I was a solid fan of Martyr of Sands/Proclamation of Rebirth combo and many players have heard those fateful words, Sacrifice Martyr of Sands, gain 21 life against me to see the game go out of their reach with lethal damage available to them next turn.