Intro Decks to FNM: The Road to Nowhere by Mark Pinder

£20 PTQs & Dinosaurs by Magic by Mark Pinder

Intro Decks to FNM: The Road to Nowhere by Mark Pinder


Well another week has gone by with the Path to Victory deck including an early run out at FNM, with no major events to attend in September I am a bit more open to playing an experimental deck. Sure I am also having a final fling with poison and enjoying the Wild Defiance Green decks and running Mono Black poison control which is also strong, I’ve won FNM’s with both these decks.

The good thing is that the FNM showed the deck has the potential to do better, it’s two losses were at the hands of spells that will rotate out; but things were close in the other games. At least I have seen Odric, Master Tactician be an utter beating so it definitely can be an impact FNM card.

I do find things frustrating and I do like to win, only this year I’ve designed and built decks capable of winning FNM; Green/Black Heartless Summoning running a Glissa the Traitor and Perilous Myr machine gun combo; Black/Red Olivia VoldarenHeartless Summoning control in conjunction with a friend Callum Bilbe. We both worked on the deck to win in Doncaster, Lincoln and Grimsby between us.

Mono White Tokens dominated Grimsby during late December and early January. I had a deck built up but never got round to play but one night Josh Howell borrowed it as late from work and needed a deck.

I narrowly won the final with one of my Heartless Decks but it did allow for some collaboration or a few weeks as we tore up the club for a few weeks until people started bringing in token hate. Was quite funny when Lingering Souls and Gather the Townsfolk appeared and Black White tokens evolved a month after we’d built the core of the deck ourselves pre Dark Ascension.

Ultimately I can foresee an FNM victory early on next season before new decks are established and decks built from the previous block are in ascendance. Until then though I will be a little bit frustrated at the power level of the deck, with me not using current answer’s e.g. Dismember, it is making life a challenge.

Acquiring Cards For Your Decks

Although designing the deck is one thing, acquiring the cards for it has been extremely difficult once I migrated from getting cards on colour for the deck, to getting quality playable cards. To be fair I’ve been able to acquire cards and borrow cards quite easily, however, just acquiring the cards has been hard as there are some very hard nosed players at Magic events. These are some of things that I have come up against when travelling to events and trying to get trade deals.

“I wanted several cards for the deck and the valuations sounded fine on either side, then the bombshell of the postage for each of these individual items would be ……”

 “Quoting some English prices for my cards and then using an American site to get prices for his converting straight to sterling”

 “Immediately telling me my cards were worth no more than this to him.”

 “Refusing to a deal as no internet connection and not willing to risk making a bad trade !”

“I will sell you it, okay how much ? Quotes direct price from expensive website and says at least I don’t have to pay postage !”

Quite frankly I have been shocked and appalled, it seems virtually no one is willing to make a trade unless they know it is in their interest, another significant majority have seen all the online trading advice and think they are dealer’s. It seems that many have forgotten Magic the Gathering is a community based game and are looking to rip people off at the first opportunity.

Many Magic Finance authors think they are helping the community with their articles but it is just creating an even bigger second generation of rogues and bandits. Many players now seem to have short memories, in the past you may have done a deal that either slightly or just favoured them on the unwritten understanding you will get a favour back later, out of curiosity I did broach the subject of previous deals and it was treated with contempt or an attempt from myself to blackmail them into doing a deal.

How have times changed? It does however mean I have greater admiration for my play group consistently having to build decks on a limited budget.

 The past month has been difficult so how have I acquired cards?

  • Couple of my local shops do sensibly priced singles so have used them.
  • I’ve used Ebay more than usual, I even bought a couple of bulk lots I knew the contents of.
  • I’ve gone further afield to buy cards, even with postage it can be cheaper to order cards from Europe and the States.

I feel the last statement is the most worrying, unless cards are competitively priced things can only get worse, traders may go under and those that are left will have the potential for a monopoly. We’ve already seen the traders reduce trade in prices for cards, many used a model of a third for a cash price and two thirds store credit price but have switched to a cash price model with maybe 10-25% on top if you buy from them. This has led to me on several occasions taking the cash and going over to another stand at a bigger event as the cards I want are cheaper.

I now have a nice pool and a deck that has some holes in it as I am loaning in cards, acquiring them could be difficult but at least I feel the deck has synergy and not a jumble of good cards. I recently won 4 Riders of Gavony for £0.99 plus postage with an opening and subsequently final bid.

So with an FNM under its belt I have decided to review the deck card by card.

The Creatures

Delver of Secrets

Delver of Secrets is certainly a good card but it hasn’t converted to a 3/2 with any degree of consistency. Doomed Traveller may be able to replace the Delver as it is still a human or we could go for Champion of the Parish.

Nearheath Pilgrim

On balance he is probably the weakest human in the deck but when he pairs he can help swing a match or delay it long enough for Odric, Master Tactician to win the game.

Knight of Glory

An awesome addition, when I had a flipped Delver and dropped this bad boy turn two it was such a strong combination, even if he attacks lone he is tough to beat and when paired the swing can be lethal.

Silverblade Paladin

I was thinking this card was hyped and wasn’t strong enough, however, with Exalted he is even more of a threat or makes another creature awesome, a double striking flipped Delver when it comes off in not a nice thing to see.

Odric, Master Tactician

I feel Odric is the real deal, the deck does allow you to get enough creatures out to swing as a team and when he gets that attack in it is usually game breaking with the soul bonded options from the rest of the team.

The Spells

Gather the Townsfolk

As we want lots of guys on the board and that this card flips Delver this card is currently solid.

Mass Appeal

There are plenty of card draw options currently available and I have tried Thought Scour, Divination and Think Twice but Mass Appeal can be that bit better, turn three with two creatures out is no worse than Divination, Delver into Gather the Townsfolk nets an extra card and later game when stalled it can turn round a game. I have though been toying with maybe giving Tandem Lookout a run out to make every creature potentially a Scroll Thief.

Faith’s Shield

The card is cute, maybe too cute but as it protects a permanent rather than just creatures it still feels useful.

Oblivion Ring

A solid card that answers many problems.


I added the card to sneak through extra damage and keep up the sorcery count for Delver of Secrets. So far the card hasn’t made a significant impact. As many players play tribal decks Riders of Gavony may yet be the better choice, this would mean sacrificing the Delver’s.

The Lands

Moorland Haunt

Two seems fine in the deck but its use has been limited. Without something to attach to the spirit they hardly make a difference but have been that extra source of a creature to help Odric.

Cavern of Souls

This is a tough one, one of the decks weaknesses is when creatures get countered, the Cavern doesn’t really fix the mana base for spells but sometimes turn three of turn four you need the second white mana source for Silverblade Paladin or Odric, Master Tactician.

Cathedral of War

I am not sure whether I need this card or not, certainly Exalted can make a difference but at the cost of a colourless mana source that comes into play tapped ? I’ve seen it work in Mono Green Infect and my partners Mono White Humans.

The Sideboard

4 Restoration Angel

These are only loaned in at the moment and would be a major financial acquisition.  They have been useful to save my guys and set of a new pairing.

2 Clone

The original Phantasmal Image and sideboard still has plenty of uses.

4 Riders of Gavony

With tribal decks being heavy in Grimsby it certainly has the potential to wreck decks.

1 Butchers Cleaver

Nice life gain and beefs up any one equipped too.

2 Tormod’s Crypt

A solid answer to graveyards.

Fiend Hunter

I always find Fiend Hunter to be one of those cards that is awesome when an opponent plays it but awful when I play it, I just see removal taking it down and the threat is back bigger than ever.

What could else could be added?


Could this old favourite act like Ponder to set up Delver, before you laugh though just consider that whilst Unsummon has not played Vapour Snag was.

Sublime Archangel

Although Exalted attacks are with one creature, this deck would generate multiple creatures for Exalted triggers. The only issue is the £15 each cost.


As a sideboard option on the draw this could be a useful addition with Day of Judgment rotating out.

Angel of Jubilation

The Angel hasn’t really seen play yet but with multiple guys on my team this could be what is needed to do the final extra damage for the win.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

If I switch out the Delver’s this lady may yet be a worthy addition.

Final Thoughts

After reviewing the deck I do like it, I thought Delver may be an issue but we have instants or sorceries which is one quarter of the deck, Champion of the Parish may be more consistent long term. The most interesting suggestion has come from my friend Josh who thought Green White humans would be better than blue as Revenge of the Hunted, Rancor and Wolfir Silverheart could make a difference.

I must admit I would prefer to keep the deck White and Blue like the intro deck but switching colours should be something I shouldn’t discount or maybe even with the right manabase aim for three colour Bant as a paired Silverblade Paladin with Rancor on it would be awesome.

Thanks for reading, and 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.