Before we get to the tournament report, I'd like to start this week's post off with a few things. First, I've been noticing a lot of tournament reporting and event blogging on the Pox Primer thread, which is totally awesome! Keep it coming folks. I personally feel that these reports are an asset to magic players, both readers and writers. It creates an environment where people can see lines of play they may have never thought about, and gives writers time to reflect on their play and decision making. The result should be playing better magic, which should be a goal for all of us.
Next, as the title vaguely suggests, I'd like to start a discussion about the person on the other side of the table, and the general feeling the community has towards our deck. Feel free to skip this if you're not interested or are scared by walls of text.
We play what many consider to be a very annoying deck to play against. One the core resource denial strategies we use is land destruction, which is something that Wizards acknowledges as the most unfun thing in magic. This is why that any spell Wizards has printed with LD on it any time recently, is costed so high, it's not even playable (I think acidic slime and smallpox might be the only two exceptions). Combine the LD with the slow grindy speed of our win cons, and people can get very frustrated against us pretty easily. I think as pox players, this is something that we understand, and some secretly enjoy. However, I do not feel that playing against our deck is any different than playing against any other control deck, and we certainly shouldn't merit the hate that we get. Other control decks prevent you from playing spells (see any of the numerous undercosted counterspells). Other control decks seek to lock you out of the game (see counterbalance top). Other control decks, can take a long time to kill you after they've stabilized. Our deck is no different. If there was a win con available for us to win faster than 2-4 damage per turn, we'd gladly play it.
This week, we changed the list around a bit, and I'm quite happy with the changes.
Lets now talk about the persons who sit across form us. At large tournaments (like SCG events), our opponents are single serving friends (go watch/read Fight Club). We meet them on the spot, play two to three games of magic, and move on. In an overwhelming majority of the matches I've played, my opponent has been a friendly person, and we have a great time. Sometimes they're nice people, but just end up becoming a victim of the pox frustration. And in a few rare cases, you get the guy who thinks he's on his way to becoming a pro magic player, and is just a jerk in his general demeanor (they tend to look down on you for playing pox and not a "tier 1" deck). All in all, this makes for a very enjoyable environment at large tournaments.
But what happens when we bring our pox deck to the local gaming store, week after week? Do the pox frustrations ware on the other local players? In my case, it has. I've become the deck that nobody wants to get paired against. I'm ok with that I guess, but I'm not ok when I end up getting treated differently because of it. I get looked down on for my choice to pilot pox. A few people don't even take me seriously as an opponent when they sit across from me, and when they lose, they shrug their shoulders and say, "At least that's over with." Now, I'm not trying to come across here as complaining. I believe that this is just flaw in their character as people, but it does bother me a little. All I can really say to all of you, is please make sure that you are not one of those people. We will all be better off for it. I'm also curious if anyone else has experienced anything similar.
All in all, I love my deck, and I love playing my deck. When people complain, and they will, well that's just tough. Would they like some pox with their whine?
Enough ranting, more reporting!
The List on Deckstats.net
If you've been following this blog, you'll notice that a card I've been advocating a lot recently is missing from this deck list. I really like dark ritual, but I just don't think that there's the room for it. The deck needed Innocent Blood, and ritual was the easiest to cut. Trinisphere has also been replaced by crucible of worlds, and I trimmed down to 3 Liliana and 3 Sinkhole to fit in another mox diamond, and an SDT.
The sideboard is different as well. White leyline is out. I found that it really wasn't stopping the decks that I needed it to. Bitterblossom is in there as an alternate win con against decks that can hate on us hard. I also want to try out luminarch ascension eventually.
**Note, I'm going to steal a tactic from Ryan Spain's old articles, Waiting for Godot, and refer to my opponent as "Villain" for now on.**
Round 1: VS Metalworker
Game 1: I lose the roll and am on the play. I keep a hand with 3 vindicates, a wasteland, and 3 lands I plan on using for mana. This was a long game. Villain plays a metalworker and activates it before I'm able to start throwing vindicates around. The vindicates find their way to the Wurmcoil Engine Villain snuck into play. One on the main guy, and the other for the deathtouch token. I kill the lifelink token with a Mishra's factory, who gets pumped by itself, and another. I manage to stabilize at one life. Villain has a trinisphere and a metalworker, and I found a Nether Void, so spells are expensive. I find a liliana, and she takes over the game. I ended up using her ultimate twice before the games end. It would have been a faster game, but Villain kept drawing wastelands for Mishras.
SB: -3 Sinkhole, -2 Nether Void, +2 Ensnaring Bridge, +2 Pithing Needle, +1 Humility
Game 2: Villain managed to land a phyrexian revoker on my mox diamond, and wastelands for my other two lands. A few turns later, wurmcoil joins the party, and I scoop.
Game 3: I play a land and pass. Villain leads off with ancient tomb and revoker, naming mox diamond. I smallpox away the pesky critter, and play my mox diamond in defiance. From there I'm pretty much able to maintain answers for everything villain can play. I establish a lock with liliana, nether void, and cursed scroll, but time on the round ends and we go to turns. Villain is at 14 life, and the cursed scroll can't kill him quickly enough. Villain scoops during turns because he could not have won, and he felt bad about taking so long game 1 (he refused to scoop for like 20 turns).
Round 2: VS Zoo
Game 1: I win the roll and lead off with an IoK, taking a Thalia. Villain plays the nacatyl from his hand, but I power out a turn 2 Liliana with the help of a mox diamond, and she dispatches the cat. Villain follows up with a loam lion, but the cat dies to innocent blood. Liliana dies to villain's bolt. I start vindicating lands, but opponent gets two grim lavamancers into play. Liliana eats one, and dies to the other. I manage to blow up the rest of villain's lands, and he scoops after nether void.
SB: -3 Sinkhole, -1 Nether Void, +2 Ensnaring Bridge, +1 Engineered Plague, +1 Humility
Game 2: Villain has a quick start, but I'm able to kill the creatures off with 8 life left. Villain then casts a price of progress that hits me for 12.
Game 3: Villain has another onslaught of creatures and burn, but this time I'm able to stabilize at 3 life, thanks to cursed scroll, ensnaring bridge and nether void, I take control of the game. I actually had to cast spells into nether void, to maintain a 1 card hand for cursed scroll. I find a second cursed scroll, and a top, and 4 a turn clock ends things pretty quickly. Villain had an early thalia, which actually ended up helping me more than him once ensnaring bridge was on the table. I left it alive all game, and it probably saved me from lethal burn or artifact removal.
Round 3: VS Punishing Jund
Game 1: I IoK and Thoughtseize villains early plays, but he draws a turn 2 gyof to make things pretty bad for us. He wastelands away our lands, and we don't see any for the rest of the game. A Hymn throws our crucible into the yard, making the gyof 5 power, and a quick clock.
SB: -3 Sinkhole, +1 Pithing Needle, +2 Ensnaring Bridge
Game 2: Villain keeps a hand that needs lands, and I keep a hand that blows up all of his lands. I lock him until a turn 4 nether void yields a scoop.
Game 3: I start off with two thoughtseizes turn 1 taking two abrupt decays. I follow up with a turn 2 lily, who eats a deathright shaman. Villain plays his own lily, to kill mine in a paradox of flavor. I land another lily, and a nether void. I draw a cursed scroll, and ping him to death.
Round 4: VS BUG Delver
Game 1: I lead off with an IoK, and the hand I see compared to the hand I have spells trouble. Specifically, the two wastelands. I take an abrupt decay, play my mox diamond and pass. Villain plays a delver. I drop my third land, innocent blood the delver, and pass. My next few draws are nothing of note, but I get double wastelanded, and am stuck on just a mox. Tarmogyof kills me.
SB: -3 Sinkhole, -1 Mox Diamond, -1 Nether Void, +2 Humility, +2 Ensnaring Bridge, +1 Engineered Plague
Game 2: Opponent starts with Two delvers, but I kill the unflipped one dropping an engineered plague naming humans. The plague gets decayed, and the bug swings in. Smallpox takes care of the delver, and Cursed scroll is available for any other targets. Villain plays a tombstalker, and I shrink it down to size by playing humility. Villain plays another tombstalker, and I start killing them with the scroll. Scroll eventually takes the match.
Game 3: Villain has a strong start with 2 Delvers and a Gyof. I fend them off with an ensnaring bridge, but have to quickly find answers to the creatures as an abrupt decay will lead to an abrupt ending to the game. I manage to wasteland villain off of green sources, and top helps me find a cursed scroll to ping away a delver. I then proceed to punt the match. There is a flipped delver, a 5 power gyof and a fetch on board. I am at 5 life. I have cursed scroll which was just used to kill a delver, ensnaring bridge, and top. I topped, and left a nethervoid on top of my library. There was a smallpox too. I should have left the smallpox on top, used the scroll to kill the delver, and pox away the gyof, which would keep me alive in the likely event he draws an abrupt decay. Instead, I draw void, scroll away the delver, and die to the inevitable topdeck from villain.
I think I could have ended the night 4-0. The game wasn't guaranteed if I didn't punt, but I shouldn't have lost the way I did. I'll make a mental note to improve my SDT memorization skills, and to really consider the order I put cards back in.
Here's our Match results after 5 Weeks of Holy Pox! 15 wins 13 loses 2 Ties
Sneak and Show: 2-1
Esper Stoneblade: 2-1
MonoBlue Stompy: 0-1
UWR/UR Delver: 1-1
Mono U Show: 1-0
BUG Delver: 0-2-1
High Tide: 0-1
Modern Zombies: 1-0
Thanks for reading, and I apologize for the wall of text at the begging of this post.