MTGO Hero – Zombie Apocalypse

I was in my car, listening to the latest episode of Limited Resources podcast, when I realized that the discussion Marshall Sutcliffe and Jonathon Loucks were having really struck home. The topic they discussed was results-oriented thinking, which is something all players need to focus on for improvement.

Divine Deflection
Lately, I have been trying to keep my focus on giving myself the best possible opportunities to win. I’ve been asked why I move away from a card when it seemed to do well for me. It is somewhat difficult to answer, but what it usually boils down to is a lack of consistency. A card such as Divine Deflection may be a blowout win for me in one game and practically worthless in the next. I have been trying to see the reality of every situation rather than have a best- or worst-case scenario mentality. The fact that a card wins a game for me doesn’t mean it’s a good card. On the other hand, the fact that a card is good doesn’t mean it’s a good card in every deck.

I had won matches in which I misplayed badly, and I had lost matches that I couldn’t have played better. “A win is a win” may be true when it comes to tournament results, but it is complete bullshit when trying to become a better player. Good players look for the mistakes they made in the games they won as well as in the games they lost because the end result isn’t what matters. What matters is how we got there.

The reason this was so important at that moment was that I had been considering scrapping my deck as a result of my mounting tournament losses, and I decided to do a self-evaluation before I did. I needed to know whether my deck was no longer competitive or whether it was my play skills that had slipped.

Self-Diagnosis

The important thing was for me to recognize my areas of opportunity. I needed to decide whether Magic Online had truly shifted to a more control- and midrange-heavy meta. If that was the case, Was there anything that I could do to make my deck viable in that environment? I know for a fact that my win percentage against aggressive decks is over seventy percent, while my win percentage against W/U Delver alone is around ten percent.

I know that the three big concerns for my deck are Lingering Souls, board sweepers, and Restoration Angel. Here is what I decided my options were for each:

Lingering Souls
Lingering Souls The annoying Spirit tokens had been my nemesis since I began playing Humans, and nothing seemed to be a particularly good option against them. I used Corrosive Gale to some effect, but I cut it when I saw less of the Souls being played. Also, Gale is great against the first wave or two of tokens, but what about waves three through eight? Thankfully, the Riders of Gavony had come through in a big way for me when it came to plowing through Spirit tokens.

Board Sweepers – The problem I’ve found with playing a deck filled with small, inexpensive creatures is that it’s difficult to play around sweepers. Playing only a threat or two in attempts to draw out hate isn’t as effective as it is when playing a deck filled with large, powerful creatures. Even a Champion of the Parish requires me to play more creatures or leave him as an insignificant 1/1. If I play slow, my opponent buys time for his bombs. If I overcommit, he blows me out with a Day of Judgment. Doomed Traveler and Loyal Cathar have helped a little in this area, but Moorland Haunt was usually better—especially if I had an Honor of the Pure or three in play.

Restoration Angel
Restoration Angel With or without the Blade Splicer package, the Angel is insane. The closest thing to this kind of blowout card I had faced in the past was Plumeveil , and that wasn’t even close. The Angel changes a very favorable board state into an unfavorable one very quickly. My opponent flashing in the Angel to bounce a Blade Splicer usually leaves me with few if any creatures, while he has an army ready to counter-attack. Protection spells for my creatures or Nevermore for Restoration Angel seemed to be my best solutions.

I nearly gave up on the deck until I heard Jonathon Medina mention a card from Avacyn Restored called Bower Passage—a janky little enchantment that would allow my army to sneak past Angels as well as Spirit tokens unhindered. That card alone gave me renewed hope and also would force me into playing green. That would give me an opportunity to play Mayor of Avabruck and Gavony Township. It definitely seemed to be worth a shot, but first, I needed to buy some more cards.

Shopping Spree

After last week’s thrilling tournament loss, I was left with 29.17 tickets. I checked my favorite bots, and here is what I was able to purchase:

QuantityCard nameTicket cost per card
4Bower Passage0.03
4Mayor of Avabruck0.07
4Sunpetal Grove0.83
4Razorverge Thicket1.08
2Gavony Township0.20
Total ticket cost:8.44
Remaining funds:20.73 Tickets

After my purchases, I was left with enough for three more Daily Events. This was taking a chance that I wasn’t sure I could afford, but I still had an alternative deck option in mind that would be very inexpensive if this failed.

It was time to build and once again enter the tournament rooms. Here are the changes that I decided on:

I removed Moorland Haunt and the blue splash for a more aggressive strategy. I assumed that I would face a barrage of control and midrange matchups, and I wanted to test my deck as much as possibly before spending my tickets. The Tournament Practice rooms didn’t give me very favorable results, but I was suddenly facing a myriad of decks that I had never seen as part of the recent meta. This included a crazy Liquimetal Coating deck. If those matches were a preview of what I would be up against in an actual event, I was really going to have a difficult run. Fortunately for me, they weren’t.

Standard 4-RND (Event #4002885)

Round 1 vs. B/U Zombies

I have played dozens of matches against Zombies, and I have realized that unless I am very unlucky, my deck doesn’t lose to them. I don’t want to get into the details of playing against them because it all boils down to one thing: Mirran Crusader FTW.

Match record: 1–0

After facing some form of W/U every match last week, I was really expecting to battle a control or midrange Delver deck. The Bower Passage tech didn’t come in handy this round, but I knew it was only a matter of time before it did.

Round 2 vs. B/U Zombies

Mirran Crusader
Once again, Mirran Crusader FTW. I do want to give a special shout-out to Suture Priest as well. The Priest allows me to gain small amounts of life and punch through a little additional damage when my opponent brings his Zombies back from the grave. Both are useful against Zombies in my opinion.

Match record: 2–0

I really couldn’t believe my luck at seeing another aggressive Zombies deck. This was a mirror of the week that I had gone 3–1, and I was really hoping to continue with my good fortune. The only downside at this point was that I hadn’t been able to see how I fared against Restoration Angels and Lingering Souls. I appreciate the fortunate matchups for the sake of earning more tickets for MTGO Hero, but I need to know I can win more difficult matches as well.

Round 3 vs. W/U Midrange

Blade Splicer
Game 1 – I felt really good going into this match despite my opponent’s turn-one Ponder. I played a turn-two Bower Passage and was answered with a Blade Splicer. I was able to hold my opponent off with Gideon's Lawkeeper and lay additional threats, but his flashed Restoration Angel was able to bounce Blade Splicer to create additional Golem tokens. I played two Riders of Gavony and chose Golem for each to avoid being blown out by a Vapor Snag. My opponent played two additional Blade Splicers and was pounding me in the air with Angels. He finally cast Gideon and killed one of my tapped creatures. Then, he bounced Gideon with another Angel and used Gideon’s ability to force my creatures to attack during my next combat step. A turn later with my board tapped down, he swung for the win.

Game record: 0–1

Sideboard:
+3 Silverblade Paladin
+1 Bower Passage
+1 Honor of the Pure
+3 Suture Priest
−3 Mirran Crusader
−1 Mayor of Avabruck
−4 Doomed Traveler

Game 2 – This game was much less interesting. I tried to go ultra-aggressive and paid the price. My opponent was more than willing to sacrifice his Blade Splicer to a Day of Judgment and slow me down. I began building a board again, and a second Day of Judgment once again wiped it clear. My opponent’s Blade Splicers and Snapcaster Mages finished me off while I was helpless to resist.

Game record: 0–2

Match record: 2–1

That was more what I had expected to see, and I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I am aware that board sweepers are my biggest downfall; however, I wasn’t going to let it get me down. I could still win prize if I could take down the last round.

Round 4 vs. U/B Zombies

I was thrilled to see my last round was one of my best matchups after the beating I took from the W/U player. Not that I need to say it again, but Mirran Crusader FTW!

Match record: 3–1

Wrapping Up

Progenitus
I had to get lucky with great matchups three out of four rounds, but in the end, I was able to collect my six booster packs. I wasn’t happy about flaming out against W/U again, but I needed the resources to buy me the time I need if I am going to find a way to win the more difficult matches.

I was also the lucky recipient of a premium Shards of Alara booster pack courtesy of the Magic Online ten-year celebration. I decided to crack it open, and I was rewarded with a premium Progenitus, which I was able to sell to another player for 10 tickets. In addition, I was able to sell four of the boosters for 3.50 tickets each. After deducting the cost of the event and adding my profits, I was up to 38.73 tickets and two unsold boosters. Finally, another successful week for MTGO Hero!

Now to see how badly I can do in the real world. Next week’s article will be a break from the online scene as I attempt to take a paper version of the MTGO Hero deck to SCG: Seattle. Check back then to see how I did.

Until next week,

– Tangent was here . . . 

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