FNM Hero: An Epic Return

battle_of_wits_odyssey

Hello, and welcome to another edition of FNM Hero! Today, I’ll be going over Friday night’s FNM, where an old friend of mine returned to play some Standard. How did he do, and what did I give him to play?

 

Let’s find out!


 

Chris is an old friend of mine that I worked with during Time Spiral block, and one who always attended FNM’s with me. Notably, Chris loved innovative and ridiculous decks, and we spent many hours coming up with some decks that were pretty ridiculous, but a lot of fun to play at FNM.

 

Most notably, Chris and I had a lot of fun trying to make the old Johnny card Eye of the Storm work, and had some successes going big with Primulcrux, Deity of Scars, and Dramatic Entrance during Shadowmoor block. Overall, the goals were to make everyone laugh, while having something that was somewhat competitive that he could attack FNM with.

 

So when he contacted me out of the blue for the first time in years and said, “Build me a Standard deck, we’re going to FNM!” well, what else could I build for him but a deck with the wackiest of all Izzet cards… Epic Experiment!

 

This is the list he played at this past FNM:

 

Epic Control - Decklist:

(60)
Epic Experiment
Psychic Spiral
Supreme Verdict
Anger of the Gods
Mizzium Mortars
Magma Jet
Izzet Charm
Voyage’s End
Warleader’s Helix
Thoughtflare
Divination
Omenspeaker
Hallowed Fountain
Azorius Guildgate
Steam Vents
Izzet Guildgate
Sacred Foundry
Temple of Triumph
Island
Plains
Mountain

 

Sideboard:

(15)
Anger of the Gods
Mizzium Mortars
AEtherling
Nivix Cyclops
Spellheart Chimera
Solemn Offering

 

The genesis of this deck came about when I was trying to figure out exactly how to make Epic Experiment work in Standard. I brainstormed a number of different kill conditions with friends, but the issue that I kept coming back to was that Epic Experiment doesn’t really have a lot of instants or sorceries in Standard to work with that are good at killing people. The one that I kept coming back to was Psychic Spiral… With a pair of those in the deck, you could just recycle the deck over and over, and so long as the rest of the deck was control cards, to ensure that you wouldn’t die to opposing creatures, you could just loop through your deck and eventually either burn them to death, or mill them to death with Psychic Spiral.

 

Casting a large enough Epic Experiment out of this deck should be a game-breaking effect, since you’ll more than likely hit some of the creature removal, and also some of the card drawing spells. The ideal large Experiment would be for six or more (since that casts every spell in the deck), hitting a Wrath effect to clear your opponent’s board, some card drawing to refill your hand, and a Psychic Spiral to recur everything so you can do it all over again.

 

One of the cards that did surprise me here was Voyage’s End. It’s quite possible that this slot should be Cyclonic Rift (since that can bounce planeswalkers and Burning Earth), but the scry tacked onto Voyage’s End was quite relevant, and the card proved to be very good for Chris.

 

On that note… I added a heavy scry theme to the deck, which proved to be very good for Chris, since he was able to scry his way out of manascrew, or set up the top of his deck to Epic Experiment into many times. The Nivix Cyclopses in the sideboard were originally in the maindeck, but I wanted more scry, so Omenspeaker got the slot instead.

 

The sideboard is a mishmash of likely bad ideas thrown together at the last second. I knew that Chris would want more threats to board into to attack control decks with — hence, he can board in up to ten hard-hitting creatures (Nivix Cyclops, Spellheart Chimera and AEtherling); he also has more removal for the aggro matchups with extra copies of Mizzium Mortars and Anger of the Gods; and his sideboard is rounded out by a trio of Solemn Offerings, to stop the one card I was really worried about: Burning Earth.

 

So, how did Chris do with this wacky control deck? I’m glad you asked!

 

Round one: vs. OJ playing W/G aggro
This is likely Chris’s best matchup in the room, and what I was hoping to see him face every round. W/G Aggro, while a strong aggro deck that is powerful against other aggro decks, is not something that should be able to match up well against this control deck, with its 9 Wrath effects and other spot removal spells.

 

Chris’s opponent here is OJ, a local player who, like Chris, loves a good combo deck. Ironically, OJ is the only one in the room that I’d shown Chris’s deck to beforehand, as I knew he’d appreciate it the most.

 

Game one goes according to plan, as Chris devastates OJ with a turn four Supreme Verdict, and follows up with turn five and six Warleader’s Helix to kill his opponent’s followup creatures and put himself at a reasonable life total. Chris has a pair of Omenspeakers to begin the beatdown and set up his deck after that. Finally, on turn eight, Chris busts out a huge Epic Experiment for six, which gets him two copies of Divination, a Thoughtflare, and a big Psychic Spiral, that recurs everything he’s cast so far. From here, Chris hits running overloaded Mizzium Mortars to kill his opponent’s board, and eventually kills his opponent with Omenspeaker damage, which everyone laughs about.

 

We all share a big laugh at poor OJ’s misfortune; W/G decks have roughly infinite creatures, so he definitely should have been able to find ways to block Chris’s Omenspeakers, and just didn’t before they nibbled him to death.

 

Chris boards in the extra Mizzium Mortars and Anger of the Gods, knowing that he wants more removal against a creature-heavy deck.

 

In game two, Chris destroys OJ’s board every time OJ has more than one creature in play with multiple Wrath effects, and eventually sets up a gigantic Epic Experiment for eight, hitting multiple card drawing spells and a big Psychic Spiral to mill half of OJ’s deck in one shot. After drawing a ton of cards, Chris is able to follow up with Epic Experiments for nine and ten, which eventually finds him the second copy of Psychic Spiral to mill the rest of OJ’s deck, ending this match.

 

Chris’s record: 1-0-0

 

Round two: vs. B/R aggro

 

This guy’s deck was a strange mix of a mono-red aggro list, and a black control deck, mixing creatures like Rakdos Cackler and Ash Zealot with big black creatures like Desecration Demon and black kill spells.

 

Game one goes according to plan, as Chris kills every creature the guy plays, and eventually resolves Epic Experiments for eight, nine, and ten, killing with the pair of Psychic Spirals. (There is a key play in this game where Chris is being attacked by two creatures, an Ash Zealot and a Mutavault. With a Warleader’s Helix in hand, Chris makes the right play and kills the Mutavault, then untaps and Wraths away the Zealot. There’s a reason I bring this play up, which you’ll see in a second.)

 

For game two, Chris boards in the extra Anger of the Gods and Mizzium Mortars, but not the Solemn Offerings, despite my earlier warning about Burning Earth.

 

In game two, Chris is put under a lot of pressure early on, as turn one Rakdos Cackler is quickly joined by an Ash Zealot and a Mutavault, and Chris is very quickly being beaten down. In a reversal of the last game, at one point Chris is being attacked by a Mutavault and another creature, and has a Voyage’s End and a Warleader’s Helix in hand. Proving that the last game’s right play was a fluke, Chris kills the non-Mutavault creature with the Helix, and is unable to kill it for the rest of the game and promptly beaten to death.

 

Game three, my worst fears for Chris come true, as his opponent has the dreaded Burning Earth on turn four. After being under a lot of early pressure from creatures, Chris’s only out is to draw three running Warleader’s Helixes, followed by Psychic Spiral to shuffle them in, followed by drawing them again to kill his opponent. Sadly, this does not happen, and Chris loses.

 

Chris’s record: 1-1-0

 

Round three: vs. Mono-red aggro
In this room, there are only four red players playing base-red decks (and hence, only so many players that Chris can run into with Burning Earths). Unfortunately for Chris, his luck is poor enough that he manages to run into a second one.

 

In game one, Chris is quickly put under a lot of pressure with his opponent having a double Firedrinker Satyr draw, but Chris negates that with a turn two Omenspeaker. Undaunted, his opponent takes to the air with a Chandra’s Phoenix. Chris soaks up the damage, and unleashes a devastating Anger of the Gods to wipe his opponent’s board (and deal him 6 damage!) With no other options, his opponent starts bashing Chris with a pair of Mutavaults; Chris is thus given a brief window to unleash a large Epic Experiment. Sadly for Chris, his Experiment reveals all lands and a useless Supreme Verdict, and he dies to the pair of man-lands.

 

Chris boards in the extra Anger of the Gods and Mizzium Mortars, and swaps out the Omenspeakers for Nivix Cyclopses. Most notably, despite his opponent being a red player, Chris does not board in Solemn Offerings to deal with Burning Earth, despite having lost to it once already.

 

In game two, Chris weathers the initial flurry of creatures from his opponent, and has a timely Supreme Verdict backed up by a Nivix Cyclops to stop his opponent’s offense completely. With his back against the wall and knowing that Chris is very close to stabilizing this game, his opponent peels back-to-back Burning Earths. Chris’s entire manabase is nonbasic. Oof.

 

Chris struggles mightily to find a basic, but does not, and dies horribly.

 

Chris’s record: 1-2-0

 

The only thing I’ll say about that round is that it was Chris’s own damn fault that he lost. (And man, does he ever need to stop hitting red decks!)

 

Round four: vs. R/W aggro
Another red deck for Chris to struggle through; this is fantastic.

 

Game one, Chris is able to shut down his opponent’s offense completely with a pair of second and third turn Omenspeakers. His opponent was reluctant to waste Lightning Strikes on the innocuous 1/3’s, and so Chris was able to sculpt a hand with lots of kill spells and take out his opponent’s creatures one by one. Ironically, the Omenspeakers only die when Chris is forced to unload a devastating Supreme Verdict to clean up his opponent’s board. From here, Chris has an Epic Experiment on eight, another on nine, and a final one on ten that chains him into card drawing spells and the two Psychic Spirals to deck his opponent.

 

For game two, Chris boards the exact same way that he has been: the two kill spells come in, and the Solemn Offerings do not, despite his opponent being a red deck.

 

And naturally, in game two, his opponent has turn four and five Burning Earths to shut Chris out of the game. Well deserved, I think.

 

For Chris’s final game of the evening, he boards in the Solemn Offerings and the Nivix Cyclopses that he’d forgotten about, and gets ready to weather the storm. During game three, his opponent does not draw the Burning Earths again, but instead has some other problem permanents for Chris to deal with: Elspeth, Sun’s Champion (which was apparently a one-of in the guy’s sideboard, and was a huge pain for Chris to deal with; Chris was forced to burn her to death with a pair of Warleader’s Helixes) and an Ajani, Caller of the Pride (another one-of from the guy’s sideboard), which kept pumping the guy’s creatures. Chris was easily able to kill the guy’s creatures, but the planeswalkers were an issue. Eventually, after wasting all of his instants on other creatures, and having two Epic Experiments reveal only lands and blanks, Chris ultimately loses to a pair of Mutavaults.

 

Chris’s final record: 1-3-0

 

Conclusion: Well, I don’t know quite what to say about that result. 1-3 is definitely not the best he could have done with the deck… On the other hand, Chris was in every game he lost (at least until Burning Earth or Mutavault showed up to bail people out of games that he was definitely winning otherwise). His decision to not board in Solemn Offering against the red players each time he was up a game definitely cost him, as he would end up losing games two and three each time to the hated Burning Earth. He had a ton of fun though, and each time he got to cast Epic Experiment for larger and larger amounts, the entire room took notice. So, I consider this a minor success… If nothing else, we proved that there’s a lot of room for innovation at the FNM level, by having him play something this wacky.

 

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week with my long-awaited look at Pauper and how the format has changed since the bannings.

 

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