Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ramunap Red Sideboarding Versus the Mirror Super Secret Tech

So after losing several heartbreaking Ramunap Red mirror matches at the PPTQ last weekend I have been mulling over some side boarding plans to help give me an edge. I think I may have come up with some super secret tech that I haven't heard of anybody else running at all. I play tested it yesterday during my LGS's Standard Showdown to good results.

And the card is.....


Board wipes are obviously good at punishing aggressive decks like Ramunap Red but there is a very specific reason that Fiery Cannonade is actually better than the alternative I have seen in a few red sideboards which is Sweltering Suns.

First of all, Fiery Cannonade costs two colorless and a red rather than one colorless and two red, so it is slightly easier to cast when you might have a field full of Sunscorched Deserts and/or Ramunap Ruins and don't want to unnecessarily ping yourself. Unlikely but hey it might happen and every little advantage counts.

The second, and most obvious, reason it is better is that Fiery Cannonade is an Instant while Sweltering Suns is a Sorcery. This allows us to pass the turn, see what the other Ramunap player drops, and then Cannonade after attackers are declared to potentially hit one extra haste creature and get added value. Additionally, assuming it clears their board and they can play nothing else (perhaps from tapping out from playing an Ahn Crop Crasher or something), then on our turn we will be able to reset the tempo by playing the first creature onto the battlefield. This is really strong, especially when you're on the draw and at a huge disadvantage to begin with. Resetting the tempo can negate their choice to go first and as any Ramunap player knows, going first is huge for this deck.



The third reason Cannonade is better than Sweltering is because Cannonade does two damage instead of three. Now you might be thinking to yourself what kind of noob is this guy, he thinks two damage is better! It hits fewer things!

Consider this:

  • Turn 1: Soul Scar Mage
  • Turn 2: Kari Zev Skyship Raider
  • Turn 3: Pass to them. On their turn, play Fiery Cannonade. Prowess triggers on your Soul Scar to buff it to a 2/3, thus he survives. Kari Zev at three toughness survives. 

For the sake of this article lets assume your opponent went Turn 1 Bomat Courier, Turn 2 Earthshaker Khenra, and Turn 3 Ahn Crop Crasher. Now this would normally be a very fast and good opening three turns for Ramunap. Suddenly all three of his creatures die and the two dudes you played both survive.

Obviously this is a best case scenario situation, as maybe he played a Turn 2 Kari Zev which would survive this (but that is also why you wait until attackers are declared so at least you can kill the monkey and avoid the two damage there).

The point is that even though Sweltering Suns would assuredly kill more of your opponents threats, it also kills everything you have played too. It won't actually help you regain any tempo unless you intentionally don't play creatures before using it. Even then, you have to play it on your turn so your opponent gets to play the first creature back onto the battlefield again. Fiery Cannonade might not have those drawbacks. It might kill your opponents threats, while allowing your stuff to survive. That's why it's better. If the scenario I outlined above happened, it would be very, very difficult for your opponent to recover and regain the tempo needed to win the mirror match.

As an added bonus it also is very good against Mono White Vampires!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

PPTQ Double Header Weekend and Ramunap Red Mirror

So this weekend I played in two nearby Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers. The first was Sealed Deck on Friday. The field was 28 players which is pretty respectable considering the store was small and the entry fee was $35. I wasn't too happy with my pool but I rarely am when it comes to Sealed. I ended up playing a Green/Blue Merfolk/Dinos deck. Red had absolutely nothing. White only had a few playables and black had good removal but no real win conditions.

My 'bombs' were in green in the form of Colossal Dreadmaw, Ripjaw Raptor, River Heralds' Boon and Thundering Spineback. I had some strong blue cards as well including two One With the Wind, Tempest Caller, and some Depths of Desires.

I lost round one to a pirates deck that was just too fast for me. I took round two against a very similar green/blue Merfolk/Dinos deck which also had Jace so I think it may have been better. Round three I also won against Red/White dinos. I then took round four versus mono white vampire tokens. Finally, lost round five against pirates again.

I went 3-2 in the Swiss but my tiebreakers weren't good enough to get into the top 8. The thing is I was 3-1 in the final round and if my opponent had simply drawn with me, we both would have gotten in. He didn't want to though for whatever reason and my dreams got crushed.

Since I was so close to getting top 8 at least I decided to go to another one on Sunday which was about an hour away. This was Standard rather than Sealed and I have been playing Ramunap Red to great success on a weekly basis at the Standard Showdown and FNM. This tournament had 20 players and our weekly Showdowns pull 40-50 so I felt confident going in.

I started off the day well, taking down a Blue/White Second Sun deck. Round two I saw Ramunap Red mirror. Even though I outplayed my opponent greatly throughout the match I still ended up losing because he won the initial die roll. This is a big problem for this deck because the entire match is left up to chance. He won the die roll so he got to play first - which means I lost game one barring some sort of land screw or poor draws on his side (which didn't happen). So I play first in game two - I take it. Then he gets to play first in game three and again he takes that. Even making better decisions still wasn't enough to overcome the tempo advantage.

For example, at one point he had Soul Scar Mage and Aethersphere Harvester. I have Soul Scar Mage and Earthshaker Khenra. I attack with both with three untapped lands. He crews the Harvester with Soul Scar and then blocks my Soul Scar. I Lightning Strike the Harvester before damage. He responds by giving Harvester lifelink. Okay...? So his now 0/2 Harvester has lifelink and dies to my 2/3 Soul Scar. Owned.

Anyway back to reports, round three I played against yet another Second Sun deck. This is an easy match up for me and I take it quite handily.

Round four I play against God Pharaoh's Gift. I was watching some of this guy's matches early
because I hadn't actually played against this deck yet and I thought it would give me trouble. I was correct. I literally couldn't do anything.  I saw zero Abrades in the matchup despite running four.  Game one he had Gift on board on turn three or four and was already pulling Angel of Inventions out with it. Nothing I can really do there. Then game two He Hostage Taker'd one of my Ahn Crop Crashers and then cast it against me. He also hit me with three Fatal Pushes in game two so I couldn't keep anything on board to hit him with. I 0-2'd and he said "normally I lose right away to Ramunap I don't know what happened." Yeah ok.

Game five I needed to win in order to top 8. My breakers were good this time around so 3-2 would get me in. It ended up being another mirror match. We roll and he wins the roll. Like before, this means he takes game one. Just too fast. I go first game in game two and I win it. Game three he goes first, and wins it again. Same as before, like clockwork.  It's actually quite stupid that this game literally boils down to just a chance die roll. I'm going to have to look at sideboarding more against mirror because it was ridiculous. Currently my board looks like this:

2 Chandra's Defeat
2 Aethersphere Harvester
2 Glorybringer
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Harsh Mentor (for energy decks of which I saw ZERO)
3 Rampaging Ferocidon

I am currently thinking of taking Pia out of the main and putting Rampaging Ferocidon in the main, then replacing him in my sideboard with Sand Stranglers and maybe adding a third Chandra's Defeat then going down to three Mentors? I don't know.

I ended at 2-3 on the day with a side of salt. There's another standard PPTQ in my hometown this Saturday I am going to go to as well. Hopefully I can at least top 8 it.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Have you ever had an opponent RAGE at you?

Have you ever had a situation where your opponent RAGES during the game or immediately after you beat him? I haven't had this happen before until this weekend. I was doing a Friday Night Magic draft at my local game store and was 3-0. In the finals game to determine who went 4-0 and won the tournament, I was playing a guy that was apparently a pro tour champion (I Googled him afterwards and confirmed he is legit). He had a really good blue/white weenie deck of almost nothing but fliers. My deck was a sort of red/white aggro hybrid with a few late game things mixed in.

He dominated me in game one until I blew him out with a Settle the Wreckage to exile his board. I was down to nine life and he attacked with five fliers for a total of eleven damage. Settle the Wreckage took care of them all and then I was able to kill him in two turns thanks to crack back. The extra lands didn't even help him because he already had something like seven or eight and no cards in hand. He threw his cards down angerly screaming "You have SETTLE THE WRECKAGE?! No wonder you won all your games then. That's how you won huh?"
Game two was more close. We traded a lot of creatures back and forth. I had him down to two life and I was at six. I had no creatures on board, Settle the Wreckage in hand, and that's it. He had Siren Stormtamer on board, and no cards in hand. I drew Unfriendly Fire - lethal damage in this situation. I knew though that if I played it he could sacrifice the Stormtamer to just counter it. I passed the turn and hoped he attacked with Stormtamer because...why wouldn't he?

Then again he knows I have Settle the Wreckage in my deck and I pass turn with two cards in hand and six untapped lands. Kind of fishy huh?

He attacked anyway. I Settled the Wreckage and he didn't seem too shocked by it. He played another creature, which I honestly don't even know what it was because I was already thinking about killing him next turn with Unfriendly Fire.

I draw. He preempts me, "Got Unfriendly Fire or something huh?"

I hadn't played it in game one so he was purely speculating at this point. I place Unfriendly Fire on the board. "Four to you?" I say. 

He slammed the table with his hand and yells, "Of course of you have that! Of course! Ridiculous! You have both that and Settle the Wreckage in hand. Exactly what you needed! That is utterly ridiculous!" 

"Good game," I say.

"Yeah right!" he yells back.

He is violently scooping up all his cards and now muttering to himself about how it's okay he lost and he will just get his packs and leave. He got up and starts walking toward the front of the store, which in our store the play area is in a separate back room. I truly think he might just try to report he won since he is on tilt so I follow him up there to go report. He kept muttering to himself all the while he is walking up front, seemingly going over each turn from the game and what he thinks he could have done differently while also wildly gesticulating with his arms like a shopping bag lady on the streets predicting the end times.

He reported he lost and then left the store. I was amazed at how upset he was over a 20-man FNM draft. You would have expected such a well-known and talented player wouldn't really care about dinky FNM drafts anymore. Does it really matter if he went 3-1 or 4-0? Both are respectable records and the difference in prizing was only two packs - a pack per win and then two extra for 4-0. It's not as if a booster box were on the line or something!

Perhaps next time I will just have to show him this:




My winning deck list below (without card links because I am lazy)

Creatures (17)
1x Kinjalli's Caller
1x Rigging Runner
1x Bishop's Soldier
2x Tilonalli's Knight
1x Kinjalli's Sunwing
1x Captain Lannery Storm
1x Territorial Hammerskull
2x Frenzied Raptor
2x Thrash of Raptors
1x Pterodon Knight
1x Storm Fleet Arsonist
1x Glorifier of Dusk
2x Sun-Crowned Hunters

Spells (7)
2x Vampire's Zeal
1x Slash of Talons
1x Firecannon Blast
1x Settle the Wreckage
1x Unfriendly Fire
1x Bright Reprisal

Land (16)
1x Unknown Shores
9x Mountain
6x Plains

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Deck List: Sheoldred's Big Black Beatdown

Created by: Alex Hinkley

 

Basic Strategy: Continually remove your opponents creatures and then beat them down with the biggest creatures mono black has to offer.

Key Cards: Steel Hellkite and Nevinyrral's Disk offer removal options for pesky artifacts and enchantments - normally a weak suit for mono black decks. This deck has lots of card draw, removal spells, and creatures that can kill stuff or have other useful effects. High casting costs aren't a problem with mana doublers like Crypt Ghast, Nirkana Revenant, Cabal Coffers. The deck also has numerous ramp effects from mana rocks. Because the mana base is made mostly of basic lands, Snow-Covered swamps allow for some utility lands such as Scrying Sheets and Mouth of Ronom which helps deal with protection from black creatures. Direct damage cards like Consume Spirit, Exsanguinate, Profane Command, and even Gray Merchant of Asphodel can be game-enders.

Sheoldred, Whispering One is this deck's commander.

Creature (26)
 
    1x Bloodgift Demon
    1x Crypt Ghast
    1x Dark Impostor
    1x Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
    1x Dread
    1x Gatekeeper of Malakir
    1x Geralf's Messenger
    1x Geth, Lord of the Vault
    1x Grave Titan
    1x Gray Merchant of Asphodel
    1x Helldozer
    1x Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
    1x Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
    1x Liliana's Reaver
    1x Lord of the Void
    1x Massacre Wurm
    1x Nirkana Revenant
    1x Pestilence Demon
    1x Phyrexian Obliterator
Helps cut down on the high casting costs.
    1x Rune-Scarred Demon
    1x Sheoldred, Whispering One (Commander)
    1x Shriekmaw
    1x Solemn Simulacrum
    1x Steel Hellkite
    1x Visara the Dreadful
    1x Wurmcoil Engine

Enchantment (4)

    1x Heartless Summoning
    1x Painful Quandary
    1x Phyrexian Arena
    1x Underworld Dreams

Sorcery (14)

    1x Black Sun's Zenith
    1x Consume Spirit
    1x Consuming Vapors
    1x Decree of Pain
    1x Demonic Tutor
    1x Exsanguinate
An answer to artifacts & enchantments.
    1x Hymn to Tourach
    1x Mutilate
    1x Night's Whisper
    1x Profane Command
    1x Promise of Power
    1x Read the Bones
    1x Rise of the Dark Realms
    1x Sign in Blood

Artifact (11)
    1x Charcoal Diamond  
    1x Coalition Relic
    1x Coldsteel Heart
    1x Expedition Map
    1x Gilded Lotus
    1x Lashwrithe
    1x Mana Vault
    1x Nevinyrral's Disk
    1x Sol Ring
    1x Staff of Nin
    1x Wayfarer's Bauble

Instant (3)

Cabal Coffers can double mana production.
    1x Hero's Downfall
    1x Murder
    1x Tribute to Hunger

Land (39)

    1x Cabal Coffers  
    1x Lake of the Dead
    1x Mouth of Ronom
    1x Scrying Sheets
    32x Snow-Covered Swamp
    1x Strip Mine
    1x Thawing Glaciers
    1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Planeswalker (3)

    1x Liliana of the Dark Realms
    1x Liliana Vess
    1x Sorin Markov

Sideboard (10)


    1x Dark Betrayal
    1x Deathgrip
    1x Deathmark
    1x Doom Blade
    1x Halo Hunter
    1x Reiver Demon
    1x Sepulchral Primordial
    1x Snuff Out
    1x Stromgald Cabal
    1x Ultimate Price