Once again, for today’s FNM Hero, we have a special guest author, Brad, who piloted a B/W midrange deck in the same FNM that my old buddy Chris played in this past Friday and ended up 1-3 with Epic Experiment.
How did Brad do? Let’s find out!
“A month or so ago, I was watching some versus videos that Star City Games puts out and I watched as one of the players played a black/white deck that revolved around the interaction of Whip of Erebos and Obzedat, Ghost Council. I liked how the deck looked and decided that I would try to put together a version of the deck for myself. While it took me a while to put the deck together (mostly because the Ghost Councils are very hard to schedule an appointment with), this is what my deck looked like going into FNM:
The Extortion Racket - Decklist:
3 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Lifebane Zombie
1 Doom Blade
3 Glare of Heresy
2 Sin Collector
2 Fiendslayer Paladin
When putting this together, one of the hardest parts was trying to determine which of my five drops would end up in the maindeck and which ones would end up in the sideboard. Ultimately, I decided that Blood Baron of Vizkopa dies to Mizzium Mortars while Obzedat, Ghost Council does not, which is why the decklist ended up as it did. I was excited to play with the U/B versions of Boros Reckoner + Fanatic of Mogis (ie. Nightveil Specter + Gray Merchant of Asphodel) and I will always love a chance to play with my favorite guy in Standard at the moment, Desecration Demon. One card that may stick out in the deck is the singleton Hallowed Fountain – the reason for including this is that it provided me with an additional white source that did not hurt my ability to cast Nightveil Specter on turn three.
If there were any noticeable deficiencies with this deck, it was that it did not run a whole lot of removal — only five kill spells in the main deck, which is not a lot, so I was banking on my guys just being bigger and better than those of my opponent. I also wasn’t 100% sold on my sideboard being correct –- specifically the Fiendslayer Paladins. I liked him against mono-red, but only in that he can dodge their removal. He didn’t really excite me, and he was thrown in at the last minute as what seemed like a good idea at the time.
After sleeving up the deck, it was time to fight!
Round 1: vs. U/B/W Control
Game one started out fine as I get to go turn two Tithe Drinker and turn three Lifebane Zombie. The Zombie allowed me to get a look at my opponent’s hand which consisted of Supreme Verdict x 2, a land, Divination, and some spot removal. Well… this was going to be interesting. After playing out a string of dudes and having them blown up, I finally find a Whip of Erebos and start throwing my recently deceased at my opponent, until he plays the mighty Ashen Rider! That stops my Whip shenanigans in their tracks and the Rider also took down an Underworld Connections after I hit it with a Hero’s Downfall. After finally running my opponent out of cards (odd considering his colors) I finally get a creature to stick and ride it out to victory.
I brought out the Gray Merchant of Asphodels mainly because I doubted I would ever have enough stuff on the board to make him be worth more than 4-5 life, and I thought that Blood Baron would pose a much larger threat in this matchup, since he blanks all of their spot removal spells.
Sadly, all of my tech was unnecessary as my opponent stalls out on three land and cannot recover before my army of five drops take him out. I was actually looking forward to another fun game, but a win is a win so I’ll take it. I also realized after the fact that I should have brought in Glare of Heresy to fight Detention Sphere… the more you know!
Round 2: vs. G/R Monsters
My opponent’s deck had gone 4-2 in the previous weekend’s provincial championships, so I was excited to see how well my deck would do against him. My opponent is forced to mulligan to six and tells me that his deck had been having mana issues in the first round… the kind of news I like hearing. Game one can simply be summed up as “Nightveil Specter wins.” I manage to cast back to back Specters on turn three and four, and watch as they not only fix my land drops (by stealing my opponent’s lands), but also give me a timely Mizzium Mortars from my opponent’s deck (which I use to kill off his mana dorks) and I cruise to a win.
I didn’t really have much of a sideboard for this matchup (this is where I would want lots of extra pieces of removal), but I could only work with what I had.
Thankfully, my opponent once again had to mulligan down to six cards and I kept a hand full of 4 lands, 2 removal spells and Obzedat, Ghost Council. I find my fifth land on top of my library thanks to a Temple of Silence and watch as my opponent floods and finds no creatures save for a lonely Elvish Mystic. I have to admit that I like the results of my game twos, but I wish that I would get to play more actual games.
Round 3: vs. G/W Aggro
This round was a good demonstration of how sometimes one can just assume they know what a card does or does not do and how it can be very important when making decisions in a game. For example: in game one, with a Fleecemane Lion on my opponent’s board, I cast Lifebane Zombie and see a grip of land, Fleecemane Lion, Loxodon Smiter, and Unflinching Courage. In this case I THINK that if I choose the Smiter with my Zombie, my opponent would get to put it in play. If I had read my own Lifebane Zombie, I would have read “You choose a green or white creature card and exile that card.” Exile… not discard… anyway, I choose the second Lion, he casts the Smiter and puts Unflinching Courage on it.
All is not lost just yet as my Desecration Demon looks to trade with the Smiter and keep the game within reach. That was until a Selesnya Charm off the top exiles my Demon and the mighty Elephant and Lion smush me into paste. Ouch.
It turned out that this was one matchup where I actually did have extra removal from my sideboard, as Glare of Heresy would be able to remove even an indestructible Fleecemane Lion. (Editor’s note: This doesn’t work, because if Lion is indestructible, it’s also hexproof.) I also figured that Blood Baron of Vizkopa would be fantastic in this matchup, since he has protection from 90% of my opponent’s deck with protection from white.
Game two was a wild one –- by turn eight, my opponent’s board is a Loxodon Smiter and an Advent of the Wurm token, both of which have Unflinching Courage on them. My side of the board is Blood Baron of Vizkopa, a Whip of Erebos, a Lifebane Zombie, and a Nightveil Specter. My opponent kept attacking with both of his creatures, making me take five damage a turn from his Wurm (since the Blood Baron’s lifelink was negating the Smiter and getting me 2 life per attack) while I was able to gain all of the lost life back on each of my turns thanks to my Whip.
This game really swung in my favor when my Nightveil Specter revealed first a Forest, and then a Voice of Resurgence. A second Specter revealed another Unflinching Courage from my opponent’s deck and now the race was well within my reach. A well timed Doom Blade off the top of my deck killed off my opponent’s Wurm token, and suddenly I was free to swing in with my team every turn. When my life total reached the mid 70’s my opponent conceded and we went to game three. One big point that I took away from this game is that my opponent had Nylea’s Bow on the board for a good chunk of this game and was not using it on my Nightveil Specters. I thought that it did three damage to target flyer –- it turns out it is only two. I cannot emphasize this enough… READ UNFAMILIAR CARDS!
As awesome as it would have been to drop a Gray Merchant of Asphodel on a completely stalled board, I decided he should stay on the bench for game three and I could not have asked my deck for a better hand: three lands, Doom Blade, Hero’s Downfall, Lifebane Zombie, and Blood Baron of Vizkopa. I was able to either kill off or exile each of my opponent’s creatures until the Baron hit the table, and swung in unblocked for the victory.
Round 4: vs. R/B Aggro
This was our final round and my chance to determine if I was going to get prizes or MORE prizes. My opponent was someone who I had never played against before, so I could not even guess what he was playing. It turns out he was playing a homebrew aggro deck and game one turned out mostly as I had hoped. Aggro decks have a very hard time winning when a Whip of Erebos is on the table and this was the case in our game one. I apologize for not having much more for you than that, but the math worked out like this:
This was another matchup where I felt that Blood Baron could shine, but oddly it never occurred to me to board in Fiendslayer Paladin. Upon reflection, I really cannot explain why, but it probably would have been great now knowing what my opponent was playing. Speaking of what my opponent had…
Game two was over pretty much before it began. My opponent led out with a turn one Rakdos Cackler and played a turn two Spike Jester to put me at 15 before I had even untapped a land. By my turn four, I was at five life and played out a Desecration Demon hoping to simply slow my opponent down a bit. My opponent responded by playing Dark Betrayal on my Demon and swiftly killing me. Wowzers. Spike Jester… did not see that coming.
In game three I was on the play and boy did that turn out to be relevant. Again my opponent led out with a turn one Cackler and a turn two Jester, but this time I played a creature on my third turn, Tithe Drinker. Sadly, my opponent had Magma Jet for my little Vampire and I was down to 10. I played a Desecration Demon on turn four, which met yet another Dark Betrayal (SO GOOD!) and I was down to five. Thankfully, I had gone first and my turn five presented me with a Blood Baron of Vizkopa. My opponent had yet to learn the lesson I was taught in my previous round (i.e. read cards) as he attempted to Dark Betrayal my Baron as well. After pointing out that the Baron had protection from black, my opponent attacked with his Jester, Cackler and Mutavault. I opted to block the Jester and take no damage from the attack. The subsequent turns were spent by me playing out a Whip of Erebos and Gray Merchant of Asphodel to gain back some life. After this flurry of activity, my life total was up to 13 (after taking another Magma Jet to the face) and my opponent was down to six. After one turn of chump blocking with Mutavault, my opponent was ended after two swings from the Blood Baron.
Well there we have it -– I managed to run the table with what turned out to be a very fun and resilient deck. The all-stars of the day were without a doubt Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Nightveil Specter. The matchups I had just seemed to favor bringing in the Baron as often as possible, but I stand by my choice to put him in the sideboard. I prefer the added toughness of Obzedat, Ghost Council and I still would like more games to determine if Gray Merchant of Asphodel is anything more than a pipe dream. As for cuts for next week, I am thinking that the main deck may only want one Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and maybe just switch it for the Doom Blade that currently resides in the board. While I was skeptical about Fiendslayer Paladin in the beginning, in the matchup that I should have brought him in for, he sat on the bench so I feel that it is not fair to cut him yet. All in all, the deck was really fun so it will live on for at least another week.”
Conclusion: So there you have it! While Chris’s bid for glory with Epic Experiment failed miserably during this same FNM, Brad ended up winning the whole shebang with B/W midrange! Though I was sad to see Chris fail, I was glad to see a friend win the whole thing. Tune in later this week as we will finally be going over more Pauper in preparation for my Pauper event, and I’ll see you all here!