MTGO Hero – Drastic Measures

Things had been looking very bleak for the MTGO Hero over the course of the past couple of weeks. It’s true that I achieved a barely winning record of 5–4 in the SCG: Seattle tournament last weekend, but that was with a highly modified and far superior deck. Even the Tournament Practice rooms on Magic Online had become practically worthless for playtesting—mostly because there is such a wide variety of decks that you never see in the actual Daily Events.

One of the biggest problems—which I have stated in previous articles—is that I am growing increasingly concerned about the viability of playing Humans in the current Standard meta. I’ve had several players suggest adapting my deck for Block Constructed, which would be a simple and inexpensive solution. I really liked the idea until I began doing a little research into the format.

Homework Time

I looked at the website MTGO-Stats.com, where I was able to see a breakdown of winning decks in recent Magic Online Daily Events across multiple formats. It may be true that R/W Humans is considered a top-tier deck in Block, but looking at the results told me there was really only one deck in the format. R/W Humans was holding onto the title of second-best deck, making up 18% of the winning decks in the ISD Block Daily Events. A majority of the winning R/W players had achieved a 3–1 record, although there had been occasional 4–0 records scattered among them. Unfortunately, those numbers are not even close to the leader of the pack.

Huntmaster of the Fells
The ISD Block Constructed leader—which was 3–1 or better in a mind-blowing 57% of the Daily Events—was R/G. That deck had the most success going 4–0 as well. With those numbers, it was difficult to imagine why anyone would play anything else. The Standard format, in comparison, was much closer, with W/U leading the pack at 34% and R/G relatively close behind at 23%.

Regardless of the statistics, I wanted to see the results for myself. I watched several matches with various G/G or Jund builds facing off against R/W Humans. The results were very similar to those I had seen in the stats. R/W had its explosive games in which the R/G decks were on their heels, but those were usually just single games. Over the course of the match, the R/W decks usually ran out of gas, and the R/G decks quickly outpaced them with better creatures.

After much consideration, I didn’t think the best idea would be to make the move into Block Constructed. I knew that Delver had been dominating Standard, but it wasn’t even close to the R/G dominance in Block.

I was once again faced with the decision to continue playing Humans or to find a new, inexpensive deck to build. Most of the feedback I had received was in support of my continued efforts with playing the Humans deck, so I decided to try a couple of last-ditch options.

My plan was to take a gamble on combining the most powerful components from various Human decks—while maintaining a tight budget—to create the best hybrid Humans MTGO Hero deck possible. It seemed like a recipe for complete and total disaster. I couldn’t wait to get started!

The Perfect Build

Riders of Gavony
There are several staple cards that I couldn’t foresee ever leaving out of the MTGO Hero deck, and there were others that I wanted to try out. Mirran Crusader, Riders of Gavony, and Champion of the Parish weren’t going anywhere. Those cards had become the foundation of the deck—even if the Champion rarely survives past turn one.

I also wanted to continue on with Honor of the Pure, Doomed Traveler, and Gideon's Lawkeeper. Honor is invaluable whenever I have white creatures in play. The Doomed Traveler and Lawkeeper both have their shining moments by keeping my opponent’s creatures at bay.

After the SCG: Seattle tournament last week, I realized how much I missed Fiend Hunter when he wasn’t in my deck. He would be going back in, and so would Moorland Haunt. I definitely need the card advantage that it generates, especially after board wipes and in the late game.

I was incredibly impressed with Feeling of Dread’s performance this past weekend, so I wanted to give that card a try. I also gained a new appreciation for how powerful Avacyn's Pilgrim could be. Tapping the Pilgrim to play a turn-three Mirran Crusader can be a very powerful thing—and pumping him with Gavony Township a couple turns later is even better.

Mayor of Avabruck
I still wasn’t sure how I felt about Mayor of Avabruck’s frail body, but I wanted to give him another chance. His anthem effect had been very powerful when he had survived, and transforming him for free Wolf tokens was a great bonus.

I realized that using both Gavony Township and Moorland Haunt would cause my early aggression to be less consistent. There would be too many lands that produced colorless mana—or that might enter the battlefield tapped—to guarantee that I could play a creature on turn one. Regardless, I wanted to try this slightly less aggressive version in hopes that it might give me a stronger later game without sacrificing too much aggression.

I continued tweak the deck until I came up with a build that was consistently dominating the Tournament Practice room. I knew that would be almost irrelevant when it came to an actual tournament, but I needed to start somewhere. Here is the deck that I finally decided on:

Feeling confident and energized from my epic battles against Janky Scrub decks in the practice room, I once again entered into the Daily Event queue.

Standard 4-RND (Event #4061107)

Round 1 vs. Naya Humans

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Game 1 – My opponent won the die roll and elected to go first. He had no turn-one play, but I was able to drop a Doomed Traveler on my turn. I was surprised to see him play Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on turn two. That shut down my ability to attack, so I played Gideon's Lawkeeper and passed the turn. Over the next few turns, two Blade Splicers, a Huntmaster of the Fells, and a Restoration Angel joined my opponent’s army, and I was outgunned in every way. I held him off as long as I could, but could never stop his board full of threats.

Game record: 0–1

Sideboard:
+2 Leonin Relic-Warder
+3 Suture Priest
−4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
−1 Feeling of Dread

Game 2 – I opened a pretty sick hand of Champion of the Parish, Mayor of Avabruck, Suture Priest, Honor of the Pure, two Razorverge Thicket, and Glacial Fortress. I played Champion on turn one, and my opponent responded with a Birds of Paradise. I felt good playing my Mayor of Avabruck to put my Champion out of the range of Pillar of Flame. Of course, I should have expected the total blowout that was coming from my opponent’s Arc Trail. The two-for-one was pretty heartbreaking and left my board empty.

Suture Priest
I played Suture Priest and followed that up with a Mirran Crusader. He played Huntmaster of the Fells and the following turn cast Bonfire of the Damned to wipe my board once again. I responded with another Suture Priest and a Mayor of Avabruck. My opponent passed the turn to transform his Huntmaster and use the Ravager of the Fells to kill my Mayor. By this time, I was nearly dead, and I drew a Gideon’s Lawkeeper, which wasn’t going to be enough to save me, especially considering he had multiple Birds and a Kessig Wolf Run in play.

Game record: 0–2

Match record: 0–1

Well, that was nowhere near as good as I had hoped it would be. R/G was once a pretty solid matchup for me, but now that some versions have evolved into Naya, it is my bane. Blade Splicers and Restoration Angels once again were too much for me to overcome.

Round 2 vs. Zombie Pod

This was my first experience playing against Zombie Pod, and it is much more difficult than playing against any other build of Zombies. Unfortunately, the recording of this match was lost when my computer decided to shutdown in mid-save, and I don’t have all the details. I can say that Skinrender and Massacre Wurm made life very difficult for my Humans. The match went to Game 3, and I did at least put up a fight this time. In the end, the Zombies won the day, and I was left to pick up the pieces of my shattered pride.

Wrapping Up

Feeling of Dread
This epic failure left me feeling that it is time for a change. It may be that I have simply grown tired of trying to force the Humans to succeed when they seem hell-bent on failure. I would like to work toward a better Humans deck, but I may need to go about it a different way.

I am going to look at budget-deck options and determine how much I can get out of my current deck. I had 38.73 in tickets and two unsold Avacyn Restored booster packs for funds going into the week. After purchasing four Feeling of Dread (0.02 tickets each) and four Avacyn's Pilgrim (0.06 tickets each), I was left with 38.41 tickets. Once I deducted the 6-ticket cost of the tournament, I had 32.41 tickets remaining.

One option on the table is using some cards that I currently have and build a deck with my funds, which would allow me to have a second deck and still keep the Humans around. I could then sell off cards if I needed to, but I wouldn’t need to be fully committed to the new deck. I think this would be the best option if it would be affordable to do so, and it will be a great story for another week.

Until then,

Tangent was here . . .

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