It’s funny how we can sabotage ourselves sometimes. Having had more success at FNM in the past couple of weeks with decks that I had built and played with before Friday afternoon, I decided to show up at Midgard this week with no idea what to play. People were suggesting things to me, but nothing jumped out and yelled “PLAY ME!”
My problem is that during the week I can rarely force myself to spend time building decks. There’s just too much else that I should be doing, and I can’t make myself take spare time to build a deck most weeks. Even this week, knowing that I perform better when I don’t leave things to the last minute, I sauntered over to the bus stop with no deck built. Sure, I knew this was a bad plan. Did that stop me all week when I was lying on my couch doing nothing? Heck no it didn’t.
The usual suspects were at Midgard when I arrived: the Twinjas, Extra Balls and Mike. As usual they were jamming Modern games and wanted me to join in, but I had a deck to build. I thumbed forward and backward through my binders but still nothing was coming to mind. I went through a mental list of outstanding achievements and remembered all the tribal decks I wanted to make and never got around to making. One of the Twinjas (let’s say it was Evan, though I can only tell them apart in person and not in memories) suggested I go with Angels, and we were off. That gave us the following achievements to aim for:
Go at least 2-2 with an Angel deck The achievement that lead to the deck being built. Anyone can build a tribal deck and go 0-4, but actually winning some rounds with it is a different proposition entirely.
Attack with Aurelia and Gisela together for the win Boros-coloured sisters that conveniently deal enough to kill someone even after 2 Thragtusks is something I want to do. If you’re lucky enough to Defy Death one of the pieces, you don’t even need the second swing barring any lifegain on the opponent’s part.
Have 3 Legendary Angels in play at once Sigarda, Bruna and Gisela was the original inspiration for this achievement, though that requires playing four colours and Bruna is bad unless you build around her. Any host of angels I can combine in play should be enough to win a game, and even if they don’t…it will be awesome.
If we’re going to be playing Angels, we’re playing White. We started by pulling out all the playable angel cards:
- Restoration Angel
- Angel of Serenity
- Entreat the Angels
- Sigarda, Host of Herons
- Aurelia, the Warleader
- Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
- Akroma’s Memorial
- Avacyn, Angel of Hope
- Defy Death
- Herald of War
- Emancipation Angel
- Scroll of Avacyn
Since the plan for the deck is to jam Angels and win, Restoration Angel is likely ill-suited here. Similarly, Emancipation Angel seems poor as we’re not going to want to bounce most things in the deck. We considered Scroll, especially as a sideboard card against aggro, but ultimately dismissed it…mainly because I didn’t have any with me.Herald of War seemed really good, however. Attacking with it on turn 5 (if we’re going to ramp) enables us to drop Gisela that turn, and that card just ends games. A card that Mike suggested was Descendant’s Path, and I thought I might as well give it a shot. Entreat without instant-speed card draw and in a three-colour deck doesn’t seem to be worth the risk. Farseek was an auto-include, and Avacyn’s Pilgrim wasn’t far behind. If we’re reanimating with Defy Death (and we almost definitely are, for the sake of speed) then Faithless Looting is definitely coming in. I couldn’t find room for Akroma’s Memorial; as powerful as the card is, it’s not what I want to be doing at 7 mana. Here’s the list I ended up playing, along with the incredible puntastic name. It was the birthday of Dr Maya Angelou this week, and so I give you…
Dr Naya Angel-oooo by Chris Lansdell
It might be considered cheating somewhat, but I wanted to be able to side into a real deck in case it ended up being impossible to do anything with the cards I was running. I had next to no confidence in the list but it would certainly be fun and theoretically capable of some explosive early wins. Somberwald Sage was another suggestion from Mike, and I added the Wolf Run as a hedge against ramping into nothing. A couple of test games with the deck before the tournament started proved that it could indeed win in a hurry, and also that it was fun to lose with. A good combination for a fun evening!
As I got a bye in the second round of the event, and also because I didn’t remember my notebook. Smart, huh? I’ll do what I can to remember something from each round.
Round 1 – Josh Blanchard with Mono-Red
This wasn’t close: I got run over. I thought in game two I might be getting back in the match, but Thundermaw Hellkite got paired with a Stonewright and I just died. Just getting to game 3 would have been an achievement in this one, but alas no such luck.
Round 3 – Stephen Jeffers with UB Mill
Stephen is new to the FNM scene (welcome!) and has only been playing for a few months. This was actually his first event. He was playing a Dimir mill deck, which was not likely to fare to well against a deck that WANTED creatures in its graveyard. Game one took a little while to win as I couldn’t find a Defy Death, but I started with them in hand in game 2 and his turn 1 Thought Scour hit both Aurelia AND Gisela. I brought back Gisela first, and when I drew into a second Defy Death on the next turn that…didn’t end well for Stephen.
Round 4 – Nick Crocker with Fognibor
There was just no way I could win this match with all his lifegain and ramp unless I got the dream draw. I didn’t, in either game. In game two I thought I was drawing live for a Gisela to survive the Omniscience-Enter the Infinite-Borborygmos draw, as he wouldn’t have enough lands to just dome me for the 22 life I was on. He could, however, throw 5 lands at Gisela and 8 at me, which I hadn’t thought of at the time. No matter, as I drew a Cavern, but knowing that even my one perceived out was not an out is for some reason comforting.
Round 5 – Marcel Warr with Esper
I don’t remember much of what Marcel was playing, because this game was over in a hurry due to Somberwald Sage powering out fast Giselas and her cohorts. I believe the wins were on turn 4 and 5, and Marcel was a great sport about the whole thing. Good to know that the deck could actually do what it was meant to do, even if it only did it in two matches.
So we ended with a winning record, although that includes a bye. I can’t control the pairings of course, so I think we can count it. Who’s to say I wouldn’t have won that round too?
Well, that was fun. The deck did very powerful things and wasn’t anywhere near as terrible as it probably should have been, but I think with some changes it might even have been good enough to win the event. For one thing, Descendant’s Path was useless. I didn’t have enough Angels in the deck for it to hit regularly, and I often had something I wanted to do more than cast it. Herald of War was a removal magnet all night, kind of funny when you consider that most people would call it unplayable. For that alone it might be worth keeping in the deck, though I think some Gavony Township action might help out here.
I’m not sure the reanimation option was worth adding. Faithless Looting was a dead card late game, and would have been better as some sort of removal. Defy Death might have been OK to keep in as a value option for resiliency later on, however. In general the deck was fun as heck and can win early with the right draws, so if you want something fun and themed to play…give it a shot.
My deck for next week is already built, and in fact I am planning a Modern article for the week after that. What, planning and foreshadowing? Who is this impostor and what has he done with Lansdell? Well…you’ll enjoy it I think. In the meantime, please do let me know if you have ideas, suggestions, thoughts, opinions…I want your feedback! Thanks for stopping by folks!