Had time for a couple of games last night; both were kind of underwhelming but some lessons were learned 🙂
Game 1: Isperia the Inscrutable
After last week’s horrendous performance (three posts ago), I wanted to take Isperia out for another test. I still maintain that despite having Baneslayer Angel, Yosei the Morning Star, Meloku the Clouded Mirror and Glen Elendra Archmage, and more counterspells than any of my other decks, this is by far one of my weakest. All it does really is cast fliers and swing at people; I’ve ranked my decks in power from 1 to 5, and I’ve given this one a 2, tied for least powerful with Zedruu. I started off OK, and had a Pride of the Clouds (as a 1/1) with the Pointy Stick O’ Doom but it wasn’t to last too long and by the time it got destroyed I hadn’t added to the board except for Sensei’s Divning Top. Doran wasn’t faring much better, and actually now that I think about there was very little going on except killing whatever did make it on to the board. I had kept a marginal hand, and was concentrating on trying to get some land into play. At one point I cast Spy Network on the Child player (hey Sam!) and saw Putrefy, Akroma’s Vengeance, a couple of land and Oblation, with a Ward of Bones on top of his deck. On top of my deck (Spy Network is actually pretty good!) was Yosei, Godhead of Awe, Riftwing Cloudskate and Vengeful Archon – four decent fliers, but no land… At this stage I had 6 land and the Divining Top in play. A couple of turns later I had Yosei and a Thieving Magpie in play, with Remand, Cloudskate and Archon in my hand. Child had dropped a Deceiver Exarch. Somehow my spidey-combo senses failed to go off – I think because I “knew” what was in his hand… mental error on my part, for sure. After he drew into Demonic Tutor and cast Kiki-Jiki (waiting until I had tapped out, since I was the only other blue player at the table), infinite Exarchs kill us all just as we were getting some board presence. Although our group generally frowns on infinite combos, I don’t mind them if they end the game on the spot, and I dropped the ball not once but twice for this game; I saw the Exarch and never even considered why such a sub-par card would be in the deck, and I just plain didn’t hear or see him casting the Tutor, which should have set off real alarm bells. As it happens the only counter in my hand was Remand, but he didn’t have 6 red sources to cast Kiki-Jiki twice, so it would have bought us at least one turn. As Sam pointed out after the game, lesson learned, and that deck probably won’t be able to pull that one off again, now that people know about it.
Game 2: Kaalia of the Vast
I had no preference of what to play in the second game so rolled randomly and came up with Kaalia. I like this deck; it’s very linear and very aggro, and can hit you for 20-30 out of pretty much nowhere. But it doesn’t have much of a Plan B, and it’s a bit of a glass cannon. Aside from Mayael, my Kaalia deck has by far the highest average mana cost, and so it’s rare that I can play a lot of spells. (By way of example, in the later parts of the game I had 10 mana available and could cast exactly (any) one of the cards in my hand, but not two.) Again I kept a marginal opener, with only two lands, but a bunch of Dragons and Demons I wanted to cheat into play – so much for that plan (see later…) I get a third, but not a fourth land, so Kaalia waits not-very-patiently in the Command Zone. In the meantime Nin has landed a Jace’s Archivist, so my awesome hand of beat-down is looking extremely shaky 😦 There’s a fair bit of back-and-forward, then I decide Kaalia has been waiting long enough, so I just cast her naked and hope she survives. She survives approximately 30 seconds, as Nin untaps and casts Soul’s Fire targeting his Archivist and Kaalia. Sad face, but it was what I was expecting. That was just me running out of patience, and slightly frustrated at my mana issues (which was my fault, as well!). Eventually the inevitable happens, and Jace’s Archivist forces me to discard my hand which at the time was Carnifex Demon, Kuro, Pitlord, Angel of Despair, Dragon Tyrant, Rune-Scarred Demon and Hellkite Charger. What do I get back? Aegis Angel, and some spells. SUPER MEGA UNHAPPY FACE 😦 At this point I start wondering why Living Death isn’t in this deck; stuff dies, and the stuff that dies in this deck is Big And Stompy And Scary. Mental Note: Put the Living Death from the BWG Commander deck into Kaalia. Or Savra. Hrmm. I draw Shattered Angel, and since I can actually cast it, I do so. Nin untaps, Mana Geysers for a million (or 14, one of those) and Rite of Replication with Kicker (of course) my Shattered Angel. Seems good… A little too good for the rest of the table, who then go on to make sure all the tokens die. Meanwhile, on the quiet (sorta) Ghave has got Lurking Predators and Hunting Grounds going, and although they get bounced and/or dealt with, what eventually happens is that they both get exiled to Akroma’s Admonition Angel. A fine plan, until eventually the Angel mets it’s timely demise, at which point Ghave gets his free creatures back. In short time, Ghave has a not very small army and overruns us all, with (effectively) the last turn being when I draw my own Akroma’s Vengeance, and go to cast it before realising that one of the creatures on Ghaves considerable board is Vagrant Plowbeasts. What. The. Hell. Nin cracks the Memory Jar he has hoping that I’ll find my Damnation, but I don’t and we get run over by eleventy-million damage. (Yes the Vengeance would have got rid of the Predators and Hunting Grounds, but it was way too late for that to matter.)
Lessons learned from these two games:
Don’t keep two land hands, ya idiot. In both games I kept a two-lander with potential, and in both games I never really got going. I should know better than that, but sometimes I just want to get on and play the game, instead of shuffling up and trying for a better hand (we are a very casual playgroup; our mulligan “rule” is if it’s no good, throw it back and draw seven again. Yes, that’s incredibly open to abuse. No, none of us abuse it.)
Keep your eye on what the hell is going on. In game one, and to a lesser extent in game two (I could have Liliana‘d up a Vengeance to deal with the Predators/Grounds but chose not to) I lost to not knowing what was coming up, when I really should have seen it coming both times.
Blood Clock is not a good card. OK, so I pretty much knew this already. Blood Clock is in my Kaalia deck so I don’t have to pay pesky upkeep triggers (such as for Dragon Tyrant) or annoying combat triggers (such as for Rakdos the Defiler – who’s not even in the deck yet!), but it’s SUPER bad when your opponents can return Trinket Mages (Nin) and Eternal Witnesses (Ghave) with it! This is coming out RIGHT NOW and being replaced with Living Death, or another Kill Everything effect, which means I may well have to not put Rakdos in at all; that makes me Sad Panda, because I really like the big lug (Ravnica block is my all-time favourite block by about a thousand million miles).
Epic Games are Good Times. Despite losing both games, and not really having a whole lot of effect on either of them (although much more than last week’s dismal effort), I had a really good time slinging cards and watching big awesome stuff happen. Oh, and my Omnath deck (in another game) won on Turn 6 due to stupidness with Seedborn Muse and Patron of the Orochi 🙂