MTGO Hero – I Want My M13!

I must admit that I had been feeling a little bit jealous that the offline members of the Magic community could play with all of their shiny new cards already. The release of Magic 2013 on Magic Online was still two weeks away, and I was definitely feeling the need for some Rancor love.

I wouldn’t say that mono-green is a bad deck if it doesn’t contain Rancor, but I was definitely struggling to win consistently without it. Most of my wins were directly related to whether I was able to cast Revenge of the Hunted. I wasn’t happy about the fact that I had to rely so heavily on a single card, and knowing that Rancor was still weeks away from availability wasn’t helping my mood.

The original mono-green deck that I had built simply wasn’t going to cut it. If I didn’t do something to improve it—at least until the Magic 2013 release—I would basically be throwing my tickets away. What I needed were options . . . and the help of Green Sun's Zenith.

Green Sun’s Toolbox

Green Sun's Zenith
I had been listening to several players’ opinions regarding additional Zenith targets—some good and some not as good. I also looked at the mono-green decklist by Michael Alakayleh that took third place at the Star City Games Open in St. Louis, Missouri. I knew it included Magic 2013 cards—which I wouldn’t be able to play on Magic Online yet—but it did give me a couple of ideas that I wanted to test out.

Here are the cards I decided to test out and my thoughts behind them:

Blunt the Assault Go ahead and laugh . . . I know I would. There is actually some logic—however flawed it might be—behind this card selection for my sideboard. The biggest weakness of my deck is that it was weak against aggressive decks. This card would never be anticipated, but it would allow me to fend off an alpha strike and provide valuable life-gain.

Champion of Lambholt It was a relatively low-cost Zenith target that would eventually make my army unblockable if left unanswered. I didn’t know how well this would work, but I decided it was worth a try.

Dismember The SCG: St. Louis decklist had Dismember in the main deck with Prey Upon in the sideboard. I loved Prey Upon, but there were definitely advantages to instant-speed removal. Also, it killed opposing Predator Oozes, which could prove valuable in a mirror match or against opponents playing Phyrexian Metamorph.

Mental Misstep
Mental Misstep I wanted this in my sideboard to slow down decks with important 1-drops and to counter Gut Shots and Vapor Snags.

Stingerfling Spider It had a higher casting cost than I would have liked, but the ability to Zenith for this in the late game could really save the day. There is nothing worse than being stalled out on the ground while my opponent smashes my face with a Restoration Angel. Problem solved . . . I hoped.

Ulvenwald Tracker I wasn’t willing to play too many copies, but a single Tracker that I could tutor into play was perfect. Some decks could kill it easily, but it would punish opponents who didn’t deal with it right away.

I wasn’t sure if I could afford the cards, so I needed to check my funding and head to the marketplace.

Shopping Spree

After last week’s purchases and tournament entry fee, I was left with 8.24 tickets. I wasn’t too hopeful that I would be able to make my purchases for 2.24 tickets or less, and realized I needed to sell more cards. I went to the bots and looked at the prices of the cards I needed.

Card quantity and nameTicket cost per card
2 Blunt the Assault0.02
1 Champion of Lambholt0.30
2 Dismember1.39
3 Mental Misstep1.50
1 Stingerfling Spider0.05
1 Ulvenwald Tracker0.30
Total cost:7.97 tickets

After determining the ticket costs, I required 5.73 additional tickets. I sold my play set of Glacial Fortresses to the bots for 1.64 tickets a piece. That gave me 14.8 total tickets. After making my purchases, I was left with 6.83 tickets—just enough for another Daily Event. I really needed to make something happen.

It was time to build my deck and stomp some faces—if I didn’t get mine stomped first that is.

It was time for the moment of truth. I didn’t want to sell off any more cards, so I needed to win. I entered the Daily Events determined to make it happen.

Standard 4-RND (Event #4109721)

Round 1 vs. B/R Zombies

Diregraf Ghoul
Game 1 – My opponent won the die roll and elected to play first. I had to mulligan a one-land opening hand, but I kept a solid six cards: Ulvenwald Tracker, Strangleroot Geist, Dungrove Elder, Revenge of the Hunted, and two Forests.

Turn one, my opponent played a Diregraf Ghoul, which I would have loved with my Humans deck, but I wasn’t sure how I would matchup against it now. I answered with an Ulvenwald Tracker. He responded with a Mortarpod and sacrificed his Germ token to kill my Tracker.

I would like to pretend I didn’t throw away the game here, but I did. I pressed the F4 key to skip through the remainder of my opponent’s turn, and I accidentally pressed it twice, which skipped my turn as well. I hit F3 to remove the auto yields, but it was too late, and the damage was done.

He played Geralf's Messenger and a Falkenrath Aristocrat on the following turn, and I drew no answers.

Game record: 0–1

Sideboard:
+2 Blunt the Assault
−1 Ulvenwald Tracker
−1 Avacyn's Pilgrim

Revenge of the Hunted
Game 2 – I had another one-land opening hand, which was becoming frustrating already, but I had an acceptable mulligan to six. I kept a Llanowar Elves, Dungrove Elder, Wolfir Silverheart, Blunt the Assault, and two Forests.

My turn-one Llanowar Elves was answered by a Pillar of Flame. Fortunately, I drew a Strangleroot Geist so that I could have something to play, and I was able to start with my early aggression. He played a Blood Artist and passed his turn. I didn’t draw a third land, but my opponent did let me swing in a second time to put him down to 16 life.

He played a Geralf's Messenger, which came into play tapped but put me down to 18 life. I then caught a break and was able to pay the miracle cost and cast Revenge of the Hunted. He was forced to block with his Blood Artist and was dropped to 10 life.

After a few turns, he had me down to 3 life while he was at 2. I had a Dungrove Elder—being pumped by four Forests—and a Strangleroot Geist in play, but he looked much better off with Geralf's Messenger, Cemetery Reaper, and Falkenrath Aristocrat. Fortunately for me, he attacked with both the Aristocrat and the Messenger, which allowed me to blow him out with Blunt the Assault. I went to 8 life, and his one remaining blocker wasn’t able to stop me from delivering the killing blow.

Game record: 1–1

Predator Ooze
Game 3 – I was fortunate that two Predator Oozes and a Wolfir Silverheart locked up the game for me. I hadn’t been concerned about his Aristocrat that time because my creatures were larger and I was holding Blunt the Assault, which I used when he had me down to 7 life and attacked with the Aristocrat. I prevented the combat damage, went to 12 life, and attacked for the win on the following turn.

Game record: 2–1

Match record: 1–0

Blunt the Assault came through in a big way for me during that round. I can’t guarantee it would do that every time, but without it, I wouldn’t have won this match.

Round 2 vs. R/U/G Pod

Dismember
Game 1 – I made the correct choice of using Dismember to kill my opponent’s turn-one Birds of Paradise. I was able to put on the early pressure with a Strangleroot Geist and Predator Ooze. He never recovered from me killing his mana producer, and a few turns later, he conceded.

Game record: 1–0

Sideboard:
+1 Crushing Vines
+2 Prey Upon
−1 Bellowing Tanglewurm
−1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
−1 Viridian Emissary

Game 2 – My opponent quickly overwhelmed me with hoards of creatures and used Huntmaster of the Fells shenanigans to build his army and kill off my creatures. I had two Dungrove Elders holding him off for a long time, and I was praying for a miracle that never came.

On a side note, I was able to Zenith into a Stingerfling Spider to kill his Consecrated Sphinx, which was the only high point of the game for me.

Game record: 1–1

Birthing Pod
Sideboard:
+2 Blunt the Assault
−1 Crushing Vines
−1 Avacyn's Pilgrim

Game 3 – A combination of my aggressive start and my opponent being mana-screwed put him on the ropes early. He had to sacrifice his mana-producing creatures to Birthing Pod just to find something to defend with. This game didn’t last long and wasn’t much of a battle, unfortunately.

Game record: 2–1

Match record: 2–0

I was 2–0 once again, but that didn’t always turn out to be a good thing. I just hoped my luck would continue.

Round 3 vs. W/U Delver

Blade Splicer
Game 1 – I was forced to mulligan to five cards that game. Despite the fact that my opponent was willing to trade a Delver of Secrets with one of my chumps early, he still had me locked down the entire game. Blade Splicers were quick to finish me off.

Game record: 0–1

Sideboard:
+2 Crushing Vines
−1 Viridian Emissary
−1 Predator Ooze

Game 2 – Vapor Snags, Snapcaster Mages, and Mana Leaks for the win! Once again, he had me locked down the entire game with Blade Splicers and punched me in the face with a Delver and a Restoration Angel.

Game record: 0–2

Match record: 2–1

This seemed awfully familiar, as I was pretty sure I had the same record the previous week at this point. I knew this deck had a relatively decent matchup against Delver, but I wasn’t able to make it work that match. I really hoped it would get there next round.

Round 4 vs. W/U Delver

Sword of Feast and Famine
Game 1 – I was able to turn up the aggression early with a Strangleroot Geist and Predator Ooze, but my opponent’s Sword of Feast and Famine leveled the playing field. He then began using Spirit tokens from Moorland Haunt to chump-block my bigger creatures, and I never was able to push through for the win. His Sword-equipped Restoration Angel was more than enough to finish me off.

Game record: 0-1

Sideboard:
+2 Crushing Vines
+3 Mental Misstep
−1 Green Sun's Zenith
−1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
−1 Viridian Emissary
−2 Predator Ooze

 

Dismember
Game 2 – This game, I was very short on lands with only two, but I had two Llanowar Elves. I also had a Strangleroot Geist and an Ulvenwald Tracker. My opponent had no creatures with four lands in play, and I suspected that he had a Restoration Angel. I attacked with the Geist and the Tracker in hopes of drawing out an Angel. Sure enough, he flashed in his Angel, which I Dismembered before he could block. That put me down to 13 life, and my opponent went down to 15 life after taking combat damage. I attempted to play a Dungrove Elder, and my opponent conceded.

Game record: 1–1

Game 3 – The only creatures I saw were a Tracker and an Elder, but my opponent had a Geist of Saint Traft in play. He attacked three times in a row with it—using Vapor Snag to bounce it back to his hand each time I blocked it—and I was forced to leave my Dungrove Elder back as a blocker. He also bounced my Tracker on one occasion, which prevented me from removing one if his creatures, and he then killed it with Dismember after I replayed it. Fun times!

Game record: 1–2

Match record: 2–2

Wrapping Up

Rancor
Not only was I disappointed that I had failed to win prizes yet again, but that loss meant that I would need to sell more cards in order to continue on with my mission. With my resources dwindling, I found myself looking for backup solutions.

There was still the option of switching to another inexpensive deck, but I didn’t want to do anything drastic until I had a chance to test Rancor in my current deck. Fortunately, some Twitter followers brought up another option that I had been considering for quite some time: Pauper.

I only wanted to sell off my deck and move into Pauper as an absolute last resort, but it would be the cheapest way to give myself one last shot to succeed. I was able to gain some valuable information from Gabo of the Pauper’s Cage Podcast. He has been very helpful, and I definitely recommend his podcast to anyone who is interested in the format.

I also want to thank Chris Plummer of the Pauper to the People Podcast, which is another great show for anyone interested in Pauper. He gave me the information that I needed regarding my choice of decks should I need to purchase one.

In the meantime, I will be battling on in the Standard Daily Events!

Until next week,

– Tangent was here . . .