I treated this FNM as a total free-roll because I’m playing an Event Deck, and I just felt like being the unofficial Magic: The Gathering sheriff, keeping Wizards honest and making sure they’re not printing decks that are just the complete stains. YEE HAW.
Quick Aside – I had a very, very short tenure as a writer for Evan Erwin’s The Magic Show. I helped write a couple episodes. EVERY time, I tried to stick a “YEE HAW,” or some other Southern colloquialism in there, purely for the joy of hearing Evan say them aloud. He detected every last one and edited them out. Every time. That always bummed me out. It was an awesome opportunity, and I appreciate and love Evan Erwin, but I always wished he’d just throw me a bone in the form of a “WELL, PAINT ME RED AND NAIL ME TO THE BARN,” or something like that.
Oh well. End aside.
For those curious, this is the list for Deathfed, the Innistrad Event Deck:
- Creatures (21)
- 1 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Splinterfright
- 2 Acidic Slime
- 2 Merfolk Looter
- 3 Viridian Emissary
- 4 Armored Skaab
- 4 Boneyard Wurm
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- Spells (15)
- 1 Gnaw to the Bone
- 4 Forbidden Alchemy
- 1 Green Sun's Zenith
- 2 Spider Spawning
- 4 Mulch
- 1 Ratchet Bomb
- 2 Bonehoard
Round 1 – Kevin Poncelet
There’s something at work in the matches between Kevin and me where he knows he’s crushed me a thousand times, yet he’s still pretty humble about it all. I hate this display of poise and sportsmanship about a thousand times more than if he rubbed it in my face—only because I know I’d rub it in his face ad infinitum if he could never beat me. Basically, the fact that K-Ponce is a better person than I am really pisses me off.
I have an early Ratchet Bomb in Game 1, which makes both of us laugh, because the two of us understand, however implicitly, that I am not playing an actual deck . . . but starting on a Ratchet Bomb would go a long way toward tricking someone that I am.
So, I start on Ratchet Bomb, which makes me look like I actually have a real Standard deck. Kevin curves out with Champion of the Parish, Elite Inquisitor, and Honor of the Pure, and his fourth play is Grand Abolisher, which forces me to blow my Ratchet Bomb in order to save some life. In the meantime, I’ve been trading blows with a pretty big Splinterfright of my own, all while milling myself and trying to get up to the mana for a big Spider Spawning. I also cast a Green Sun's Zenith on turn six, fetching the Acidic Slime for his second Honor of the Pure, further keeping up the false illusion that I’m playing a real deck.
During the shuffling between games one and two, I start giggling. A lot. Beating someone who usually wins a lot with an Event Deck is fucking sweet.
Kevin tanks for a veeeeerrrrrrrrry long time (they don’t call him “Slow-Play Poncelay” fer nuthin’) before deciding to keep his hand in Game 2, and he goes turn one nothing, turn two nothing, turn three Mirran Crusader, turn four Mirran Crusader. Looks like those Mind Controls in the ’board aren’t so bad after all. On to Game 3!
Game 3 reveals itself to be a tight game of attrition almost instantly. We trade creatures a lot, which aids the both of us: Kevin makes flying Spirits out of the deal, while I’m able to fuel the Spider Spawning I haven’t drawn yet. I have one in my graveyard, but I’m nowhere near being able to cast it. I also have the Naturalize for his Honor of the Pure, but he’s whittling away at my life total with flyers while I Mulch a bunch.
I’m eventually at 3, staring down lethal attacks on the next turn. I have some cards in play and in my hand, but none of them interact with flying Spirit tokens, so I untap, draw, and cast a Spider Spawning, because that is how I drew that shit up.
Kevin doesn’t show it much—because he’s a good person—but he’s justifiably pissed. He tanks on his turn, and then snorts and shakes his head, which drives me to another fit of the giggles; this game clearly matters to Kevin much more than it does to me. I’m not saying it’s wrong to care about a match at FNM, because it’s not, but, hey, Kevin kicks my ass at FNMs all the time, and we’re friends. I think I’m entitled to those giggles.
Kevin draws and says go.
I draw an Acidic Slime. I could play it this turn and nuke a land or wait for him to draw a target for it. I decide to play the waiting game and get value. It’s at this point when I realize every single card in my deck is live; I’m in top-deck mode, but thanks to the pair of Spider Spawnings in my graveyard, I’m trying to make enough mana to flash back—I have no bricks.
I say go. Kevin draws, casts a Sword of War and Peace, equips it to a Spirit token, and, upon realizing that a 3/3 Spirit still only trades with one 1/2 Spider (upon seeing Kevin realize this, I started giggling a lot again), he passes the turn.
My next card is a land, and I play it and cast the Acidic Slime I sandbagged for an entire turn.
There are games when you’re just never in it; it’s easy to feel as though your opponent just drew whatever he needed to, when he needed it, to destroy you. Those games suck, and they make you feel like running out to the parking lot and punching out car windows afterward. Conversely, the games when it feels as though you just drew exactly what you needed, when you needed it, are awesome, and they make you feel like running out to the parking lot and punching out car windows afterward. These rare cases are important to note because the definition I just presented of them is bullshit. Along the way, there was probably something you or your opponent missed, and the opposite saw that the mistake turned the game the way it did. Not every game is a lesson, but the vast, vast majority of them are.
Round 2 – Ryan Kilpatrick
Ryan’s eyes widen and his head falls slightly. I giggle again—a lot. It turns out that Ryan couldn’t get past an Armored Skaab, and he died to some Spiders.
At this point, I might as well group rounds two and three together since both matches were against mono-red and I ’boarded strangely for them, and I’m convinced that the words “strangely” and “incorrectly” are interchangeable words in that last phrase. Here’s how I ’boarded against the two mono-red decks:
+2 Mind Control
My mentality was that I wanted to blank their Gut Shots, but I have a feeling I slowed my deck down enough to just die to their onslaught. I don’t have much of a sample size to work with, but I do know that I won my one game (out of five total played) against mono-red because I had a turn-two Armored Skaab, aided by a turn-one Llanowar Elves. I’m not sure which is right.
It also might be worth noting that I was up against turn-one Stromkirk Noble all five games against mono-red. That was a bummer.
Round 3: Ben Cohen
The only interesting thing about this match was Game 2. I’m at 3 life, and Ben untaps, looks at his card, slowly says, “I think that’s, ‘Good game,’” and attacks with his Chandra's Phoenix and Stormblood Berserker, the latter of which I block with a bunch of random ground dorks. “Oh,” Ben says, “Well, I have this Arc Trail, so . . . ?”
Round 4: Louis Solomon
He scooped to me so he could leave, leaving me at .500 for the night with a $20 deck. I’ll take it.
What Is the Merit of Playing an Event Deck and Talking about It?
Upon the launch of the Event Decks and seeing that they marketed themselves as “FNM Ready,” I couldn’t wait until I could prove that slogan wrong . . . because I am a vengeful idiot.
It’s clearly not about that. I can say, with a lot of certainty, that Deathfed is a great launch pad for a player to make the transition from the kitchen table to FNM. That’s what the point of the Event Decks is. But that’s not why Deathfed is an excellent product.
If you hand a fairly new player a copy of Deathfed an hour before an FNM and tell him, “Hey, you have an hour to figure out how this deck works before FNM starts. Then you’re gonna play it in FNM,” he might win a couple of games, but with Deathfed in particular, he’s going to have fun. That’s the special thing about Deathfed, and maybe you could say this about Innistrad as a whole: The cards are fun! Spider Spawning is a strong card, and it’s really fun to have a bajillion Spiders! At FNM, when I cast Spider Spawning (and in past weeks, things like White Sun's Zenith), I used cards from my wallet—credit cards, student IDs, ATM cards, my Subway rewards card, and so on—and lo and behold, it made people laugh. I don’t think using cards from your wallet to make creature tokens is inherently funny, but the absurdity of having a shitload of creature tokens in play, alongside a little ingenuity on my part, makes for a fun little situation both for my opponent and for me—even though one player is clearly ahead of the other.
Starting to play Magic at this time must be daunting. I thought I loved Magic when I started out, and I was playing with fucking Masques block cards. I can’t imagine how overwhelmingly fun the game is to newcomers now, but the massive influx of new players in the game is not only good for Magic, but it’s fun and exciting. A newer player at my LGS texted me this afternoon about his experience at a release event over the weekend, and particularly how sick Briarpack Alpha was for him, which was really exciting for me . . . it’s not every day you get to drop Briarhorn knowledge on someone.