Well, in little over a week I`m off to go and battle in the GP Utrecht in The Netherlands, and the format is Standard, at the time I`m writing this. But it will be a few more days before this actually pops up on this blog, as I needed to put it through some tests with a FNM on friday and a x3 event on sunday, which are reported about further on.
Now being a red player since day 1, I decided to take an aggro deck with me, but unlike my usual `red weenies` concoctions, this time I build a deck with a twist.
Fanatic of Thraxes is what I call my deck because of two key creatures in it: the Fanatic of Mogus, and the Spawn of Thraxes. Yes, I play the big red dragon, and on the contrary to about everyone else, not the Stormbreath variety.
Why? Because he is Mizzium Mortar proof for one, and because of his secondary ability of burning damage equal to the amount of Mountains in play.
How it Works
Well, this deck is not really `red aggro` in that it attacks, attacks and keeps attacking, an issue I usually get is after leaving the doors in a hurry and smacking in a swift 10 to 12 damage before the opponent stabilizes and my weenies get blocked to high heaven. No, the set up of this build is to indeed leave the door with Cacklers, Zealots and Phoenix`es, preferably boosted for some extra points, but then once the field starts to stabilize to hold back and cease the attacks. Then I rely on the burn effects by both the Fanatics and the Spawns to throw a lot of damage to it`s head on red devotion and mountains.
Burn wise, I have the Stoke the Flames which will burn during this waiting time on his turn by tapping my beasties, and lightnings that will get fling to the head. The Searing Bloods are there to be used asap, to keep the pressure on and disrupt their early game.
And the lonely Satyr Firedancer and Purphoros? They are just in there to have an extra option, either by doing double burn effects or to have an indestructible blocker...
4x Rakdos Cackler
4x Burning-Tree Emissary
4x Ash Zealot
3x Altac Bloodseeker
1x Satyr Firedancer
4x Chandra`s Phoenix
4x Fanatic of Mogus
1x Purphoros, God of the Forge
2x Spawn of Thraxes
2x Lightning Strike
1x Titan`s Strength
2x Madcap Skills
4x Stoke the Flames
4x Searing Blood
2x Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
3x Circle of Flame
2x Mizzium Mortars
2x Boros Reckoner
2x Eidolon of the Great Revel
2x Peak Eruption
The Circles and the Eidolon will be boarded in when I`m facing other weenie aggressors. Mortars and the Reckoners are there for those Monsters and Heroics decks, while Peak Eruption is lingering in the board in case there are those splashin red for removal. And Skullcrack? Well, Jund of course...
Of course I can dream of winning the thing, but realism is not going to let this happen. Considering I`m there the whole weekend, not only will I be able to battle the whole x8 tournament for hopefully 3 or 4 wins and as such some juicy Planeswalker Points, but I`ll also be able to snatch up one or two side-events on the friday or sunday.
All in all, my goal for the GP itself is to come home with 150+ Planeswalker Points, which should solidify my participation at next years WMCQ`s, an event I am missing this year due to circumstances in real life and not being able that way to make a measly 300 points the past yearly.
The Ideal Wet Dream Play
Turn 1: Mountain - Rakdos Cackler
Turn 2: Mountain - Ash Zealot - hit for 4
Turn 3: Nyktos, Shrine to Nyx - Burning-Tree Emissary - Burning-Tree Emissary - activate Nykthos with the second BTE`s 2 mana for 7 red - Spawn of Thraxes with burn for 2, possibly attack for 4 depending board state
Turn 4: who cares, I have now 4 power 2 and 1 flying power 5 in play...
Testing the Deck
1. FNM Standard, 1st of August
Okay, that didn`t work out. I`m actually a bit on a two-pronged mind set here, in that I believe the deck has actual potential and the concept is workable, but the first test revealed it needs more tweaking in stabilizing it`s mana base and curve.
For one, I am thinking of replacing the Titan`s Strength and Madcap Skills, and on the other hand exchanging perhaps even the Phoenixes for one drops.
The first game was against a white human deck, and I took home round one after a struggle. The second one I lost, but in the third one, I kept a one lander with a Cackler and a Circle of Flame. All I needed was to draw one more land and the game would be won, as each of the creatures he played would kill themselves in attack. Needless to say, not a single land showed up...
Game 2 was against my worst possible match up, Mono-Blue Devotion. Not much to say, as gods and elementals made a mess of my deck and a swift 0-2 followed.
Game 3 was a blue white control deck, and I was killed in the end by... 5/5 Mutavaults. My only saviour would have been topdecking the Spawn of Thraxes, but of course that didn`t happen.
Game 4 was against 5 color slivers, and I won the first round with `traditional` red aggro, then went down in round 2 when the Hive Lord was out. I did manage to take home the final round with the Fanatic of Mogus, salvaging some honour and going a disappointing 1-3 overal, but never the less with lessons learned.
I don`t have time with only one testing chance left this sunday, so I am going for the `safer` way to prepare the deck for GP Utrecht by taking out both Spawns, the Titan`s Strength and the Satyr Firedancer, replacing them with 4 Frenzied Goblins and go for a more traditional `out the gates` approach, but I did think of a few alternate plays to be tried in the future, one involving exchanging the side-board Peak Eruptions with two Heat Rays, to heavily burn my own Reckoners.
In the longer run, aka after the GP, I AM going to revisit this deck and expand and tinker with it further. I`ll be already rotating out the cards that will fall off the month after, and will have this as the concept to build around, tuning and tinkering along the way, but for now the Spawns will have to wait two weeks before getting a fresh chance to shine.
But at least we`re 5 points closer to qualify for next years WMCQs...
2. Belgic Magic Standard Tournament x3 PWP Modifier
So the final chance to test came, and it was a serious tournament with a x3 Multiplier and in the end 75 attendees. The first price was a trip + hotel to GP Strassbourg, but my personal goal was to give the deck some testing and get a feel for how it works and where I might make some last chance changes for next week.
I started of against an artifact deck, and managed both games to shoot out of the starting blocks and quickly finish the game, there was not a real issue during play, and having an opening hand in game 2 of 2 one drops, 3 emissaries and 2 mountains helps a lot as well.
The second game is one of the what will turn out 3 games of sour taste in the mouth. It was mono-black, and I swiftly lost round 1 after getting totally mana flooded, even after a mulligan to 6 before for having... 6 lands in hand and a single goblin. Game two, I had him, as creatures swooped in... and then he topped a Drown in Sorrow, followed by Desecration Demon and Pack Rats... the end.
The third round was against White and Green with Pilgirms, auras etc, and I was seriously helped by mana issues in both rounds on my opponents part. I won a swift 2-0 without losing a single life, only to have my ass overwhelmed afterwards in a test game.
Round 4 was another mono-black and more of the same. I won game one, he won game 2, and then... he topped Drown in Sorrow after he was being overwhelmed even for all his removal...
Most hated card for me ever since Thragtusk...
Match 5 saw me against white weenies, and I won round 1. He took home round two, and even though I had Circle sided in to counter his Brimaz tokens, both in game 2 AND 3 he took a Spear of Heliod from top... I really am going to follow courses on deck shuffling.
Match 6 put me back into the range for price support, as after taking it home against this planewalker deck by swiftly winning rounds 1 and 3 (he totally overpowered me in 2, though if I topped good for once and took a Fanatic, it would have been over for his gazillion beasts and walkers. Of course, i drew a mountain....). The top 25 (aka, probably those 4-3 and better) would receive at least 3 booster packs...
But it was not to be, as I faced the Mutavault and Sheep deck from past FNM. Though I could manage to take round 2 thanks to an Eidolon, I didn`t get decent creatures in game 3 and went under to Archangel, Sheeps and Vaults and a heap of triggers...
Still, 3-4 in the end, which is enough Planeswalker Points normally to get to level 30 and about 1/3th down the road for next years WMCQ`s.
The only thing I`m still thinking about? Wether to keep the two peak Eruptions in my sideboard, or to change them for either two Burning Earths or two artifact burning demons... Oh well, I still have 5 days to think about that...
And then it is back to the thinking board, as I`ll be cycling out all my rotating cards already (I don`t know if I`ll get to play before the next block launches anyways), put in some placeholders until the block arrives, AND tinker around with the Spawn some more ;-)