We’re between rounds in the top 8 of a Grand Prix Trial for Grand Prix Toronto at Midgard Gaming. I’m heading up to the counter to tell Flemming (the store owner) to pair the next round when Shang Tsung yells from the breast pocket of my swagtastic black judge shirt.
That meant a Facebook notification, which I would usually ignore. But hey, I had a spare minute. The identity of the sender was an eyebrow-raise for sure, but the contents induced a genuine double-take.
“Go win FNM.”
These were the words that preceded possibly the sweetest-looking decklist I’d seen in some time. A decklist from none other than Michael J. Flores, for that matter. At my prompting Mike had read the most recent instalment in the series and enjoyed it, and now was challenging me to play his latest concoction and to succeed with it. My eyes grew wide as I scanned the list, scrolling back to the top a couple of times to truly absorb what I was reading here. I am told a rather creepy grin was spreading across my face like spilled juice across the table. I started to chuckle to myself. It wasn’t a cheap deck but I thought I could put it together with minimal trading.
It would take a few days before I had the energy and motivation to actually build the deck and goldfish it. I did so late Tuesday night, trying to figure out why I only had 2 Increasing Ambition and where I had put my Temple Gardens. It was hilarious! Mike said he had been crushing everything with the deck, and it fit my play style to a tee as a combo ramp deck with several other avenues to explore.
In addition to sending me the sweet, sweet list (we’ll get to it in a moment, settle down kids), Mike also sent me some achievements to go along with it! What a considerate, benevolent guru he is. We’ll take those as our primary targets:
Target 1: Win an FNM – He didn’t actually couch it as an achievement to unlock, but it was a challenge to go forth and conquer. Playing creative decks is fun, but winning is WAY more fun. Going 3-2 might not be terrible, but I am done with “not terrible.” I want to win. This achievement will be on my list from now on until it doesn’t need to be any more.
Target 2: Blink Thragtusk with Restoration Angel – This is pretty straightforward and kind of easy, but after last week’s spectacular failure I am looking for something slightly easier. Plus when we get to the decklist, you’ll see that it might be a little more challenging than it looks…in this deck.
Target 3: End of turn Cyclonic Rift, untap and cast Rakdos’s Return – I’ve sadly never done this in paper Magic, though I did it online multiple times. It’s a one-sided Planar Cleansing in two steps, and people will generally concede once it happens.
Savvy readers will have noticed that this deck has WUBRG in the colour requirements for the three achievements we have so far. Correct. Wait until you see the rest of the list! OK, I’ve kept you waiting long enough.
Here it is…The Rainbow Door.
1 Rakdos’s Return
1 Cyclonic Rift
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Chromatic Lantern
4 Borderland Ranger
1 Supreme Verdict
4 Restoration Angel
4 Ranger’s Path
3 Increasing Ambition
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Door to Nothingness
2 Diabolic Revelation
I know, right? On the face it looks like a crazy collection of singletons with the RestoThrag “engine” jammed in. Then you dig a little deeper and it becomes obvious that Mike is trying to bring Napster back. The fact that the deck contains Door to Nothingness is what instantly caught my eye, and lets me add these to the list:
Target 4: Win a game with Door to Nothingness – I’ve wanted to do this ever since my friend Garrett opened two in his M13 prerelease pool and won games with it. With all the ramp and fixing in this deck, hitting 10 mana shouldn’t be a problem.
Target 5: Win a game with a card of each colour in play and/or the graveyard – Travis suggested this one when I first started work on this series, and this deck offers the perfect opportunity to make it work.
The sideboard offers answers to a whole bunch of problems. Essentially what we have here is a toolbox deck with a wide range of tools to fix whatever is blocking your route to victory. The prospect of playing this decklist was making me look forward to FNM even more than normal, though the inability to test it and get used to the inevitable nuances was a minor annoyance.
Goldfishing was proving frustrating. Oh sure I was getting up to 10 mana at ridiculous speed, but without an opponent I had no idea which answers to fetch with a tutor or whether I could go for the win. Well, guess I’m going in blind!
I’m not sure if it’s lucky or unlucky, but I have never received the round one bye at FNM. Until this week, that is. Great for the record, terrible for the article. If I had been playing a deck or even archetype with which I was familiar it still wouldn’t have been too bad, but I needed every round I could get to learn the ins and outs of this thing. Ah well, I managed to hook up some sweet trades while I was waiting, picking up 3 Slaughter Games, 2 Precinct Captains, a Lotleth Troll, a Sulfur Falls, a foil Inaction Injunction and a Sphinx’s Revelation for a Thragtusk. I had traded for the Thragtusk earlier in the week, shipping a bunch of Modern-legal fringe cards to someone building a cube. Trash into treasure into speculation…wonder to whom I’ve been listening?
Round 2 – Andrew Connors with UWR Midrange
The Twinja was once again playing a borrowed deck, since he’s trying to build Modern Storm. This wasn’t close. Even my attempted end-of-turn Thragtusk (via Alchemist’s Refuge) ran into a Syncopate, and he just always had the counters for my threats. I never saw a tutor across the two games and never saw any of my sideboard. When that sort of thing happens, decks like this sputter and fail. Never saw a Restoration Angel or a Cyclonic Rift to get either of those achievements either.
Round 3 – Jens Hansen with GW Aggro
It still surprises me whenever Jens plays a deck that isn’t Zombies. Game 1 I got smushed by a turn 2 Smiter that got a Rancor and started a relationship with a Silverblade Paladin. I dunno about any of that kinky elephant lovin’ but it disposed of me in short order. Game 2 however showed me what the deck could do when it DID find the answers it needed. Early ramp enabled me to cast Increasing Ambition for a Supreme Verdict, which set him back long enough for me to ramp into the flashback cost. I fetched Cyclonic Rift and Door, passed the turn and he cast a Smiter. I played the door and cast another Verdict, just in case. I hoped he wasn’t running a Sundering Growth but had Rift for the Oblivion Ring…which never came. I untapped and…DING!
Sadly in game 3 he paired Wolfir Silverheart with a Smiter and made short work of my face.
I dropped at that point, thoroughly cheesed off and ready to draft. How did that go? Well, if there was an achievement for LOSING to Azor’s Elocutors, you could say it went well. There isn’t, and it didn’t. Four people at the table were in GW and I was getting hooked out of blue, leaving me to scrape together the dreaded mill deck. Let’s not talk about it, OK?
I think if I had had some time to practice with the deck, I could have done better. The entire day went poorly for me so I just need to wipe it from the memory banks and move along. I wish I could tell you what the deck needs or even recommend some changes, but I didn’t get anywhere near enough time to answer that.
This week I will be playing GB Midrange, aiming for the Vraska Assassin achievement. That is unless I decide to play something…slightly spicier. The midrange deck WILL happen at some point though, I enjoy playing it too much to dismiss it just yet. The week after that will be the Flayer of the Hatebound deck, so please suggest some achievements for that one.
Some newly-suggested achievements:
Go at least 2-2 with a deck in which the only creatures have Defender – This doesn’t seem too challenging, but fun nonetheless. Thanks to Joshua Lemish for the suggestion.
Tenthtechpriest had several suggestions:
Fling a 10/10 (or larger) Desecration Demon for the win – Going to change this slightly and add Essence Harvest and Jarad to the things I can do with the fat Demon, just because it gives me a little more flexibility.
In a single turn, cast Rakdos’s Return and Rakdos, Lord of Riots. (Bonus points: cast Return then reanimate Rakdos) – I had been looking for a reason to run Rakdos in a deck, and now I have that reason. If only I had a Rakdos…
Transform Elbrus, The Binding Blade – I actually don’t own one of these either, but I should be able to get a couple for the sake of this achievement. It would be worth it just to see the look on people’s faces when I make a 13/13…
That does it for another week, guys and gals! Thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to leave your achievement suggestions, along with any other feedback, in the comments!