Last week’s ZedGames segment on Magic: The Gathering had me primed up for some tournament play. So, I went along yesterday to the Friday Night Magic (that actually happens on Saturday afternoon) at Ace Comics & Games in the Queen St. Mall. As a relatively new player I’m used to getting my butt handed to me at tournaments; but I’m pleased to announce that yesterday was my best result to date. I won two games (out of four) to place fifth out of fifteen players!
This follows my last tournament a fortnight ago where I placed third last (one win out of three) and the one prior to that where I placed second last (drew two, lost two).
A major reason I did better this week was because the last time I turned up to FNM I did an awesome trade with some totally rad dude who basically gave me his entire Ally deck in return for two pretty decent cards I had (Time Sieve and Student of Warfare). Because Allies is seen as a fairly un-competitive deck build, it’s pretty easy to get your hands on Ally cards that other players don’t want. Personally I’ve always brought Ally decks to FNM tournaments because the cards are cheap (monetarily speaking) and it’s easy to put a deck together, despite having a few glaring weaknesses. The main problem is that you need to play an Ally every turn to get the full benefit of their abilities, otherwise you have a battlefield full of easy to kill/block little men. Playing the optimum number of Allies (28-32) means that you have to sacrifice useful other non-Ally cards in your deck, like creature removal. The fact that I didn’t have four copies of common card Join The Ranks, which lets you drop two Allies at instant speed, was also a major weakness of my previous decks.
So finally last week I was able to build a proper White/Red Ally deck using four copies of all the different Ally cards I wanted to play. Play-testing at home, it seemed like it could at least be semi-competitive. I added four copies of Splinter Twin, which has the same converted mana cost (CMC) asJoin the Ranks but lets me tap to put a token copy of the enchanted Ally onto the battlefield anytime I want (token gets exiled at end of turn), including during an opponents turn. It seemed that if it all worked out, this would let me work around the weakness of Allies by letting me trigger my Allies anytime I wanted!
Splinter Twin works fantastically with an Ally deck for a bunch of reasons: First, it lets you create an Ally token the turn you cast it. This is rad as you don’t have to worry about the fact that it’s not an Ally card. Then you get to trigger all your Allies for free every turn thereafter! If you can also cast an Ally and activate Splinter Twin in the same turn, it’s double the fun! (not for your opponent) And here is something that is sure to wipe the smile from your opponents face: Wait until they attack, then cast Join the Ranks and activate your Splinter Twin in succession! You instantly get three chump blockers AND you trigger all of your Allies thrice! In addition to this, you can choose which Allies effect you want to double depending on your situation. If you are playing against a multi-coloured deck, attach Splinter Twin to Kabira Evangel for instant protection from two colours. If you’re in a position to be aggressive, attach Splinter Twin to Akoum Battlesinger to give all your Allies (including the token) +2 to their attack. If you need some life, attach it to Ondu Cleric to instantly gain life equal to double the number of allies on the battlefield. Putting it on Kazandu Blademaster works a treat because of his vigilance; you can attack with him on your turn and then wait until its your opponents turn to tap it to create the token! And probably the best combo: putting it on Kazuul Warlordinstantly gives all your allies two +1/+1 tokens each, plus a 5/5 creature that can attack or block without consequence!
One of the most exciting moments in my Magic playing career thus far was at FNM yesterday, playing against a mono-green elf deck. He flooded the board with mana-generating elves and had a couple of huuuge creatures, including one elf who was pumped up to be a 15/15. He kept swinging with his big dudes, and on my side of the board I had two Splinter Twins attached to both an Ondu Cleric and a Kabira Evangel that I activated as needed. The fact that I had a second Ondu Cleric (in addition to the one that was enchanted) on the board meant that everytime I created a token to use as a chump blocker, I gained life equal to THREE TIMES the number of allies I had, which was five (life gain per activation: fifteen). I kept chipping away at him with my 2/3 token that had protection from Green and eventually after six or seven turns got him down to 1 life. Meanwhile I had gained so much life that I had to borrow more dice to keep track of my life total (seriously, about 12 dice). Finally he thought he may have gained the tools to turn the tide when he cast Beastmaster Ascension which activated straight away, giving all of his creatures +5/+5; and then quickly cast Overrun the turn after that, giving all of his creatures a further +3/+3 for the turn plus trample. So with 1 life point remaining he put it all on the line and swung at me for a grand total of 82 damage across 9 or 10 creatures, with trample. 82 damage! With trample! HOLY CRUD! Considering that you only start with 20 life, swinging for 82 is huge by anyone’s standards. To block, I had a measly two 1/1 Soldier Allies that were untapped. So, I was up for a total of 80 damage. We each held our breath as we counted the pile of dice that represented my life total to see if he had done enough damage to kill me. It turned out that I had 87 life, which meant that I had survived to inflict lethal damage the following turn! I didn’t have to though; my opponent conceded. Following this tense and extremely mathematical battle, we shook hands and agreed that surviving a swing for 82 trample damage with only two 1/1 blockers was pretty freaking amazing.
The next two matches didn’t go so well. Both were against aggro decks (like mine) that are designed to hit hard and fast for a win within six turns. However, I didn’t get completely whooped as usual. Both of the matches came down to a few life points and critical plays that happened at around turn six. Actually, in retrospect I probably could have won my third game if I had chosen to attack rather than hold my guys back at the endgame. Ah well, you play and you learn. I’ll definitely be bringing my W/R Ally deck back to FNM for another couple of plays before I try a different build.
If you’re interested in competitive magic, I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to this event:
Magic The Gathering: PTQ Amsterdam – Standard (Type 2)
Date: Sunday June 27, 2010
Format: Standard (Type 2)
Time: 9am Rego for a 10am start
Finals: Top 8
Main Event – Main Prizes
1st: Flight to play at pro Tour Amsterdam (or US$375)
2nd: 24 Boosters
3rd – 4th: 12 Boosters
5th – 8th: 8 boosters
Deck Rego’s required
Rules Enforcement: Competitive
Woolloongabba Bridge Club
67 Ipswich Rd
WOOLLOONGABBA QLD 4102