FNM Report: 5/6/2016

Once again I traveled down to DMC in Concord to sling some modern, and once again I chose a new deck to battle with.

This week I decided I wanted to play Mardu to see how it goes, mostly to try playing Asylum Visitor and see just how terrible it was….

Creatures (8)
Asylum Visitor
Dark Confidant

Spells (30)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Inquisition of Kozilek
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Liliana of the Veil
Lingering Souls
Path to Exile
Slaughter Pact
Lands (22)
Arid Mesa
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstainted Mire
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Sacred Foundry
Shambling Vent
Temple of Triumph
Vault of the Archangel

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Fulminator Mage
Lightning Helix
Kolaghan’s Command
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence

Round 1: Affinity

Win 2-0
Round 1 I of course get paired against my best friend at the event, who is on Affinity. Unfortunately for him, this deck is built to prey on creature heavy decks and I promptly shut him down with massive amounts of removal. Our creature package is great against them so long as we can spare the life for cards, as it’s likely our opponent will empty their hand to trigger Asylum Visitor and they have basically zero removal. I took out my discard options and Gideon to bring in Damnation, Engineered Explosives, Kolaghan’s Command, and Stony Silence.

Round 2: Storm

Win 2-1
I felt super unprepared for this matchup, and the match actually ended up being super awkward. My opening hand in game 1 had no black mana sources but double Temple of Triumph with me on the draw, and Path to Exile to cast. This turned out to be real bad for me, though using Path on my opponent’s Goblin Electromancer slowed him down for a bit. Game 2 I was able to utilize Liliana of the Veil, hand disruption, and multiple Fulminator Mages to stop him in his tracks. Using Lili’s -6 to give him the option of blue lands or red lands was pretty rough, and I was able to close the game out shortly afterwards. Game 3 my opponent was stuck on a single island for a few turns, despite a few dig spells. It very much did not feel like a real game of Magic, but I guess you keep Island plus dig spells on a mull to 6 most likely (and it’s not like my deck wins fast). Rest in Peace, Thoughtseize, and the Fulminator Mages were the big additions here, though I don’t remember exactly what I took out. I would guess Path to Exile, Terminate, and I think 1 Lili.

Round 3: Allies

Win 2-0
Unless you’re racing Allies, you need to do your best to keep their creatures under control early on. It doesn’t take long for some of the creatures to get out of Bolt range, and our creatures can’t really compete at that point. The plan was basically kill all of the most relevant creatures as soon as they came out, and then mop up the others later on, and I was able to execute that plan thanks to my plethora of removal. Again, this is the type of deck that my Mardu is built to prey upon. Dropping discard spells for Lightning Helix, Damnation, Engineered Explosives seemed correct.

Round 4: Kiki Chord

Win 2-1
My opponent and I decided to take an intentional draw and then play for fun, which was a great and terrible decision. Great because we had 3 really good games of Magic, terrible because it took us a really long time to finish. Game 1 was a super drawn out game where my opponent was able to drop me to 6 at the lowest before I was able to bounce back and gain life through Shambling Vent and Vault of the Archangel. Game 2 I was drawing a lot of cards due to double Dark Confidant, but managed to hit Liliana of the Veil and then Lightning Helix while at 5 life. Pretty sure had those been in the opposite order I would have won that game, but I took a lot of damage that game (starting at 15 and all due to fetch, shock, Thoughtseize). Game 3 I was able to put away pretty quickly, despite double Dark Confidant again. I felt I needed to play both as I was stuck on a small number of lands with lots of great removal spells in hand.

One thing I wanted to note about this match is that Nahiri, the Harbinger is really obnoxious to play against for Mardu. The threat of them using her ultimate either for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or half of their combo with the other half in hand is just too great to ignore. I had to invest a ton of resources in game 1 to grinding out my opponent’s Nahiri, despite the fact he was sitting at 9 life. It was also super obnoxious that Nahiri would gain as much loyalty as I was dealing in damage, was at 8 when I finally was able to connect, and when I was able to actually drop Nahiri a bit lower she was turned around to just eat my Dark Confidant.

I dropped myself really low to Thoughtseize, saw no way for my opponent to gain life at instant speed, and closed it out with Helix and Bolt. I don’t recall exactly how I sideboarded here either, and I was super tired at that point. Pretty sure I brought in the Thoughtseize, and know I brought in the Lightning Helix and Damnation. Imagine I took out Inquisition of Kozilek.

Lessons Learned

Taking notes
I have a ton of respect for the people who write super long event reports at 8+ round tournaments. I struggle greatly to take notes at events and I think my reports suffer because of it, and this FNM was no exception. Certainly going to work on trying to improve this going forward….

Is it worth it?
So I managed to 4-0 FNM with this deck, but I wouldn’t recommend playing it at a big tournament. My record had nothing to do with the quality of my opponent’s, but much more to do with the fact 3 of my 4 matches were against the type of deck I actively wanted to play against, and the game against Storm I feel I got very lucky during. This deck functions similar to Jund, except it has no way to close out a game quickly like Tarmogoyf can, or it plays similar to Jeskai Control but doesn’t have Celestial Colonnade. This is a very reactive deck that relies on fragile creatures for all of it’s card draw, which is super dangerous in a world where Lightning Bolt is one of the most played cards in the format.

Asylum Visitor is…. okay
Asylum Visitor is not Dark Confidant 5-8. Bob is amazing when played on turn 2 and will quickly take over the game if unanswered. Visitor is bad early on, but can be very good later on when you can get 1-2 extra cards per turn (I never got 2 per turn, though). The madness is also sometimes relevant, as using Lili’s +1 and just playing one instead of discarding a card is very good, assuming you want to run it out at that point. It’s also super awkward playing it in addition to Dark Confidant, because I feel you lose out on the biggest advantage of playing Visitor: not having to play entirely low CMC cards.

One thing that’s important to note is that if you have both in play, you need to make sure to stack your triggers correctly. Visitor has an “intervening if” clause in that the condition (having 0 cards in hand) is checked both at the start of the upkeep to see if the ability goes on the stack, and again when the ability resolves. So you need to put the Dark Confidant trigger on the stack first, so that Visitor’s trigger will resolve first. Otherwise Bob puts you at 1 card in hand and you won’t draw from the Visitor, though sometimes this is what you want because your life total is too low. It’s also sad that this detracts from using Temple of Triumph, which I used a few times to try to set up my Bob draws but sadly also having Visitor ruined it.

One other quick note on sequencing triggers is that if you are paying for a Slaughter Pact, you should put that trigger on the stack before your draw a card trigger from Bob or Visitor. This way you see what extra card you drew before you decide how to pay for the Pact, as it might inform you which lands are more important to keep untapped.

Lingering Souls plus Vault is…. amazing
The interaction between these two was absolutely amazing on multiple occasions. Threatening to trade a single spirit with a Restoration Angel or with Inkmoth Nexus (my opponent had 2 copies of Blinkmoth Nexusp in play) is enough to usually deter attacks entirely. Not to mention Vault lets us started getting back into the game when we go low, which is pretty common due to trading life for cards.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.