Intro Decks to FNM by Mark Pinder

£20 PTQs & Dinosaurs by Magic by Mark Pinder

Intro Decks to FNM by Mark Pinder

Well here we are, Return to Ravnica is upon here and my journey is hopefully going to come to an end, I started with the Path to Victory Intro deck and have been working towards getting a competitive deck for FNM but at budget prices. Recently I’ve moved house and had some really busy weeks in my day job, much to my surprise I have found an article I had written but never uploaded for some strange reason. So I want everyone to picture it is September and Return to Ravnica is just around the corner…

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

I’ve discovered some very interesting facts, even getting hold of some uncommon cards can be fraught, whilst it can be easy to click on a website for a play set of cards not everyone has this opportunity; and if a play group is small, the number of cards can be limited too.

Acquiring cards primarily from boosters is not as bad as I thought, prizes I have gained in my time playing earlier versions have been useful enough to trade away, Magic Celebration for me was good as I only lost in the finals of the events I played so half a dozen boosters added to my deck, especially when I pulled a Garruk, Primal Hunter and Ajani, Caller of the Pride. Others were not so lucky though, getting such stalwarts as Battle of Wits.

This is my pool of cards, pre Return to Ravnica. What deck would you build?

4 Evolving Wilds
1 Ghost Quarter
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain from Dissension first printing
12 Islands

Arctic Aven2 Moorland Haunt
12 Plains
4 Shimmering Grotto

4 Artic Aven
2 Clone
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Doomed Traveller
4 Drogskol Captain
4 Fiend Hunter
4 Knight of Glory
4 Nearheath Pilgrim
4 Odric, Master Tactician
4 Riders of Gavony
4 Silverblade Paladin
Silverblade Paladin 1784 Tandem Lookout
4 Thraben Heretic
4 War Falcon
4 Warpriest of Thune
4 Aven Squire

4 Angels Tomb
1 Butchers Cleaver
4 Cloudshift
4 Divination
4 Downpour
4 Elixir of Immortality
4 Essence Scatter
4 Faith’s Shield
4 Favourable Winds
4 Gather the Townsfolk
Lingering Souls4 Glorius Charge
4 Intangible Virtue
4 Lingering Souls
4 Mass Appeal
4 Midnight Haunting
4 Negate
3 Nevermore
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Purify the Grave
4 Rain of Blades
4 Righteous Blow
4 Safe Passage
4 Sleep
4 Spectral Flight
4 Think Twice
4 Thought Scour
4 Tormods Crypt

This is where I decided I would go:

Main deck

10 PlainsMoorland Haunt
4 Islands
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Moorland Haunt

4 War Falcon
3 Nearheath Pilgrim
4 Silverblade Paladin
4 Knight of Glory
4 Odric, Master Tactician
3 Riders of Gavony

4 Spectral Flight
3 Mass Appeal
4 Faith’s Shield
3 Oblivion Ring


1 Oblivion Ring
2 Clone
3 Tormods Crypt
1 Butchers Cleaver
3 Warpriest of Thune
2 Fiend Hunter
3 Nevermore

So first FNM of the new season and battle was ready to commence. Whilst I had a few ideas for cards I wanted to add to the deck, I hadn’t really managed to acquire them and decided to run with my core deck to see where improvements could be made.

Vampire Nighthawk

Round One – Danny Clark

Game two was awesome with a Knight of Glory followed by Spectral flight hitting for five and then pairing with a Silverblade Paladin. As combinations go, those are two of the best!Game one was an interesting game but one that worried me as I lost the race, an Exalted Vampire Nighthawk proving to be the key to the match.

Game three is a walk over due to Danny not getting his third land, Riders of Gavony naming Vampires was a killer.

Round Two – Dan Preston

Game one was over very quickly as multiple Knights of Glory were able to evade for the win. The deck felt a lot stronger than in the first match.

Game two saw Dan sideboard really well and Cower in Fear took out my whole team and swung the match as he has two Blood Artists in play.

Game three was pretty cat and mouse and a spread of creatures made choices with Riders of Gavony hard. Luckily was able to Oblivion Ring the Skirsdag High Priest before it could become active. I certainly enjoyed the match and feeling more comfortable with the deck but nervous of the inherent weakness of the deck.

Acidic SlimeRound Three – Ken Smith

Game one was a disaster as Ken accelerated away and a key Acidic Slime on my land stopped me from doing anything meaningful.

Game two was perfect, hitting every drop and a turn four Riders of Gavony to make my guys unblockable was key.

Game three was Knight of Glory then Silverblade Paladin, followed by a win from a Spectral Flight on each, 4/4 flying double strike is not nice to deal with.

The deck was feeling strong.

Round Four – Sam Engledow

We took an ID, we did however play out the match as a friendly.

Game one was a mana flood and things were going well until my opponent took out all my guys with an Angel of Serenity.

Game two was a mana screw and I couldn’t come back.

I did draw a couple of Oblivion Rings and if they had been Detention Spheres it would have turned the game as it would have become mass removal!

I enjoyed playing the deck, it could compete effectively but certainly has room to get better.

Final Standings

Pos            Player                                     Deck                                               Points

1..              Sam Engledow                     Esper Spirits                                10

2..              Mark Pinder                         UW Humans                               10

3..              Cecile Sutherst                    Mono White Humans             9

4..              Jake Stephens                     B/G Zombies                              9

5..              Dan Preston                         Mono Black Control                 6

6..              Seth Wilkin                            Azorius Aggro                             6

7..              Josh Stephens                     Selesnya Aggro                          6

8..              Tristan Fisher                       RG Aggro                                      6

9..              Danny Clark                          RB Vampires                               3

10.             Ken Smith                              Selesnya Ramp                          3

11.             Ethan Wilkin                         Mono Green Aggro                 3

12.             Luke Kirk                                Mono Black Vampires             0

Well I was really pleased at playing in the final and seeing the deck had progressed to the point it was poised to win FNM, sometimes using the best deck on the net is not always fun and being able to develop something yourself provides added enjoyment. I’ve certainly had more enjoyable nights fighting for wins with this deck and using my skills over going 4-0 with a net deck.

Azorius Charm

There are plenty of cards I can see making an immediate impact into the deck

Azorius Charm

The card looks to have plenty of applications and a solid sideboard option.

Azorius Arrester

A solid human and with a detain effect for good measure.

Detention Sphere

After the tournament the card certainly looks like it would be stronger than Oblivion Ring, I can several opportunities where it would be good.

Lyev Skynight

A human flying beater and with a detain effect to maintain tempo.Lyev Skyknight

New Prahv Guildmage

I’ve always liked guild mages and the options on this guy are quite solid.

Rest In Peace

A graveyard hoser and can help shut down several cards including undying and flashback.

Supreme Verdict

An uncounterable wrath of god for the sideboard.

I am currently looking on how to improve the deck further using the new cards at my disposal and also looking at how I could turbo charge the deck to be more effective. I actually am enjoying the white blue aggro combinations so will be looking to improve on that aspect going forward.

Thank you for reading.


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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.