Sit Back and Unwind

Normally when I am brewing decks for these columns, I search the TCGPlayer decklists to see what others have done with the cards around which I am building. I went over to the site, typed in the card name…nothing. Only EDH decks. Not even casual Standard decks. Well then. As a brewer, I am used to navigating uncharted waters, but never THIS uncharted. Was I really about to head to FNM with…an [card]Unwinding Clock[/card] build?


Weapon Selection

The fact that I would be going from FNM right into the midnight M13 pre-release made me want a deck that would be fun to play, capable of winning but not requiring too much thought. How many of those criteria would a deck built around Tezzeret and a junk rare end up meeting?

I was first turned on to the deck by Arthur Halavais on episode 41 of Horde of Notions. Although I didn’t have a full list, the idea seemed fairly easy: lots of artifacts that tapped to produce an effect (or many effects), some [card]Unwinding Clock[/card]s…and four Tezzeret. Here’s the list:

[deck title=Unwinding Tezzeret]
3 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Mox Opal
2 Go for the Throat
2 Sphere of the Suns
3 Contagion Clasp
1 Ichor Wellspring
1 Mycosynth Wellspring
1 Throne of Geth
4 Pristine Talisman
3 Tumble Magnet
2 Unwinding Clock
2 Lux Cannon
4 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Contagion Engine
1 Spine of Ish Sah
3 Black Sun’s Zenith
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Inkmoth Nexus
2 Phyrexia’s Core
5 Swamp
5 Island
2 Doom Blade
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Curse of Death’s Hold
4 Torpor Orb
2 Witchbane Orb
1 Grindclock
1 Life’s Finale
1 Spine of Ish Sah

[card]Grindclock[/card] was largely for the control matchup, especially stuff like Solar Flare. I never needed to bring it in but I think it would have been good. The hate has moved to the board this week since the deck needed other things in the main deck. Tamiyo is possibly the best planeswalker to use in a deck that proliferates and needs to keep creatures off its back. The main wincons are going to be Wurmcoils, Inkmoths and the Tezzeret ultimate. Proliferating a poison win from one poison is completely viable.

I’m not quite sure when I became Jack LaCroix, my former Horde of Notions co-host and troll/griefer when it comes to deck building, but something about the prospect of grinding out 5 or 6 rounds of “Lansdell in one” tickled my funny bone. Did that actually happen though?

How Did I Do?

The ever-awesome and newly-employed Mark picked me up to head down to Midgard. It’s not that I don’t want to walk or take the bus, but we were having one of those days where I felt like I had missed a memo about collecting two of every clean animal. With it being prerelease weekend and with the weather I wasn’t expecting much in terms of turnout, and I was right. We had enough for 5 rounds though I don’t know exactly what the number was. There was a good smattering of the better players nonetheless, so I was pretty sure I’d get a good chance to test the deck. I’d like to say the players were abuzz about the Prerelease, but only the real die-hards (myself, Extra Balls, Dustin) had committed to staying for the midnight event. There was still plenty of time to convince everyone though.

Round 1 – Cory McLeod with RB Vamps

Cory is predominantly an EDH player who is starting to show an interest in Standard. He’s a really nice guy too, but I had not played him before. I wasn’t completely confident how the deck would hold up against the better decks in the format, specifically Delver and Pod, but I chose it to have fun. Cory always seems to be having fun, so he was a good first-round opponent for me.

Game One I got an early [card]Tumble Magnet[/card] and followed it up with a [card]Black Sun’s Zenith[/card] for two. [card]Contagion Clasp[/card] took out his first post-Zenith threat, and then I found Tamiyo. Alas, despite having complete control of the board I didn’t have a way to win yet. Eventually I found a Wurmcoil, fired off the Tamiyo ultimate with a [card]Go for the Throat[/card] in hand and Cory scooped. This game also resulted in possibly the only time you will ever hear, “[card]Doom Blade[/card] your [card]Unwinding Clock[/card].”

Game Two was a case of me being greedy on the keep, as I had no threats in my opener but plenty of ramp. I got run over. Game Three on the other hand was a blowout in the other direction. He couldn’t keep a creature alive and I only needed to connect with Wurmcoil once before ultimating Tezzeret for the win. Yeah, this deck is sweet.

Round 2 – Garrett Smith with UR Delver

Ugh. Garrett is a friend (and would be my 2HG partner on Sunday) and also a lover of the jank, but I knew he had been playing real decks recently. Namely UR Delver. I wasn’t sure how this matchup would work for me since an early Delver with counter backup is hard to deal with when you have very few creatures. When on turn two Garrett aimed a [card]Gut Shot[/card] at my face and followed with a [card]Stormblood Berserker[/card], I was a little worried. Two turns later he had three of them and there were no Wurmcoils to be seen on my side of the board. I topdecked a Black Sun but could only cast it for two, making all his guys 1/1 again. I had found a couple of [card]Pristine Talisman[/card]s by this point so I was staying alive. Then the [card]Unwinding Clock[/card] meant I was actually gaining life each turn despite being attacked. Garrett persisted and found a Delver, but I untapped and played [card]Contagion Engine[/card] to sweep the board and earn the concession.

Garrett has an unfortunate tendency to engage tilt mode at the first sign of adversity, and today was no different. When I landed my third Talisman in game two to go along with the [card]Unwinding Clock[/card], he was about ready to flip the table. I don’t remember if it was a [card]Lux Cannon[/card] or Tamiyo that wrapped it up, but another concession sent me to 2-0.

Well, not where I thought I would be at this point, but I’ll take it!

Round 3 – Matthew Murphy with UR Delver

Return of The Smurf! It was time to get some revenge after being beaten down last week with surprise [card]Angel of Jubilation[/card] shenanigans. Smurf was in a friendly and jovial mood this week and considering I was sitting at 2-0 with 100% pure unfiltered jank, I was too! Game One was once again decided by frustration as Smurf couldn’t find a way through triple Pristine with [card]Unwinding Clock[/card] attachment. Like I said earlier I don’t know when I started enjoying victories by trolling, but boy do I.

Game Two was a case of Delver being Delver. Early beats and Bonfires had me down to 3, but I had stabilized with a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]. Smurf had a Delver and needed to flip it to win or I was going to be able to do silly things the next turn. Of course it flipped and we were off to game three.

It wasn’t much of a game to be honest. I had a turn five [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card] to clear the board, and he [card]Thought Scour[/card]ed away his only [card]Dungeon Geists[/card]. He still had the Bonfire plan, but [card]Lux Cannon[/card] into [card]Contagion Engine[/card] meant that we were proceeding directly to the scoop phase.

There were four of us at 3-0: Mev, Ingram, me and Dave. Mono-black Infect, mono-green and BantPod. I didn’t fancy any of those, though MBI seemed winnable for me. The thing is, Mev is playing it.

Round 4 – Stephen Whelan with Mono-black Infect

Aww crap. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned playing him before, but Stephen is never called Stephen. He is simply Mev. He’s also the luckiest player on the planet. On previous occasions when we’ve played he has drawn one-outers with a scary precision, and I’ve seen him do it against others too. If he were to sit down opposite LSV and both needed a top deck on the same draw to win, the universe would implode.

The matchup was going to revolve around how fast his start could be. I knew once I developed my board I could hold him off with [card]Tumble Magnet[/card]s and Tamiyo plus Zeniths, but if he got me high enough on poison before that happened I would have to draw perfectly. That’s pretty much how game one went. I hit nine counters pretty early and then was able to stabilize. Tamiyo, [card]Tumble Magnet[/card] and [card]Contagion Clasp[/card] held off [card]Phyrexian Crusader[/card] and Skithiryx, and I was able to block his Inkmoth (with [card]Predator’s Gambit[/card]) with mine to make sure it couldn’t activate again. He had played a Liliana early on and ticked it up to five, but stopped activating it with cards in hand. It seemed obvious that he had a hand full of removal. Fearing a [card]Virulent Wound[/card]/[card]Doom Blade[/card] combo I couldn’t really animate anything with Tezzeret. When he ticked Liliana up to 6 I knew I was in trouble. The ultimate left me with only Tamiyo, some lands and nothing else. I top-decked a Zenith to keep me alive for a bit, but couldn’t pull it out.

Game Two was unfortunately decided on a misplay. Skittles came down again but I had a [card]Tumble Magnet[/card] for it. I was holding [card]Go for the Throat[/card] but for some reason chose to main phase it when Mev had two mana open. The [card]Phyrexian Crusader[/card] may well have been a better target, but I reasoned it was easier to block. If I had just cast the removal in his end step he would not have had the regenerate mana up. Still I was able to hold on with Magnets, and had I at any point seen [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card] I would have been well-positioned, but in the end an [card]Apostle’s Blessing[/card] in response to [card]Tumble Magnet[/card] would seal the deal.

I’ve said in the past how much I hate losing as a result of a misplay. As we were the last match of the round AND at the top table we had a decent crowd watching us. Mark pointed out that I actually could have won had I sacrificed my Wurmcoil to [card]Phyrexia’s Core[/card], cast [card]Unwinding Clock[/card] and then ultimated Tezzeret. Gee thanks Mark! Tilt level up!

Round 5 – Mike Ingram with Mono Green

Last time I played Ingram, he beat my [card]Genesis Wave[/card] deck by killing 4 Titans in one turn with mono-green. That was…emasculating. Ingram is good, very good. He sees lines of play that I don’t, but I always learn something when playing him as a result. I tend to play fast and not think everything through, which leads to me kicking myself when I miss something. He doesn’t miss much.

Game one he kept a hand with no mana dorks, but drew one and played it turn two. I had turn two Clasp to kill the dork, and he never saw a third land. I had a Zenith when he found a dork and a Dungrove, and followed up with Tamiyo to earn yet another concession.

Game two he got off to a faster start with his Dungroves, getting me to six in a hurry. I found a Wurmcoil to stabilize, basically leaving me able to eat his attack and survive thanks to lifelink. He drew and played an extra attacker to throw off the maths, leaving me dead.

Game three was a tight one. He had [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] and copied my [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] fairly early. I had to Zenith for five to clear out some dorks and shrink his sworded Elder and Wurmcoil copy. He attacked into my now 1/1 Wurmcoil and I snap blocked, but he had another one. Oh, and another sword. I was able to stay alive by casting another Wurmcoil, but messed up by not attacking. With [card]Unwinding Clock[/card] in play my guys essentially have vigilance, and I was tapping down his copy each turn anyway. I only missed one attack but it would prove to be vital. I don’t remember how exactly he got rid of the Wurmcoil but he did, and I was in need of outs. I drew…[card]Go for the Throat[/card]. That meant I couldn’t cast the card (no legal targets) and the extra two damage from the two swords was exactly enough to kill me. I could almost see the trollface on my deck.

What Did I Learn?

Either I am getting better at making jank playable, or I’m a better player than I thought.

I really need to slow down and pay more attention to all my options. A couple of times in the event I missed some plays that would have won me the game, and who knows? I might have ended up 5-0.

I am very, very sad I didn’t start playing Tezz decks before now. So many options!

[card]Unwinding Clock[/card] is by no means a staple but in this deck it does serious work. Even with the number of people locally who subscribe to the “if you don’t know why someone would play a card, get rid of it quick” theory, it was still good for me all night.

Shuffling is easier in cotton gloves.

Bacon cinnamon rolls are actually better than bacon cheesecake brownies.

What’s On Deck?

With M13 legal from next FNM onwards, I have an assortment of jank in the wings. I need to play Elesh Norn and [card]Griselbrand[/card] in the same deck before October, and I also need to go back to [card]Birthing Pod[/card]. I want to play a BantPod deck that goes infinite I think, with [card]Deadeye Navigator[/card] and [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card]. I also want to play Talrand and Odric in something, though likely not the same deck.

Just as an aside, I really enjoyed the M13 Sealed format and can’t wait to draft it. If you haven’t played it yet, give it a shot! Also, get those foil [card]Unwinding Clock[/card]s before they hit $1.25!!