FNM Hero: King for a (Game) Day

Written by Jonathan Medina on . Posted in Competitive Magic, FNM

FNM Hero: King for a (Game) Day

Jonathan Medina

Jonathan has written for gatheringmagic.com and starcitygames.com (as a premium columnist). He captivated the Magic community as he chronicled his journey to trade a single pack up to a piece of power nine. Now you can find him here every week as he tells his FNM Hero adventure.

After going 5-1 at the last tournament, I was feeling pretty beastly! I considered buying some Phantasmal Images at the store but Adam Prosak talked me out of it.

“You should just bank it,” Adam said.

“Yeah but the Images would be good!”

“Sure, but you went 5-1 without them.” Adam did have a point.

I nodded, “This is true.” I decided to get some trades in before I left for the night. Rob and Chris are the local “value traders”. They own a small online shop and it’s easy to trade with them because they just want stuff to sell or to fill gaps in their inventory. It’s not like trading with a player, who might need some of the cards you want to play or who might not be looking for anything.

“You guys wanna trade?” I asked them.

“I hear you’re a shark,” Rob joked.

“No sharks here, just a hero,” I smiled.

Rob pushed a three thousand count box across the table. I slid my binder over to him.  Rob and Chris looked over the contents. It only took then a minute to look it over twice. There’s not much in the FNM Hero binder.

“Oh, we need these Gather the Townsfolks,” Chris said with more excitement than I’d expect over a common. They went through the binder pulling out different things. I found a couple of Phantasmal Images.

“Can we get to these?” I asked wincing.

Rob flipped through the binder again, “Humm, I think we can get there.”

“Ok, well pull everything that you’d consider trading for.”

Here’s what the final trade looked like.

You’ll notice that they found more than enough cards for the Phantasmal Images. Instead of stopping them when they got to the value of the Images, I let them pull everything that they wanted and then just traded for cards that I knew would trade well. One of the biggest mistakes that I see new players making is that they only trade for cards that they need. When you do this your collection grows stale. Changing the cards in your binder will encourage people to trade with you more often. As a matter of fact the secret to being a great trader is hidden in this concept.

Trade Secrets

It’s a secret that many of the guys grinding trades at the tables of every big tournament don’t get. This concept is not only good for trading, but for collection building in general. It can be found in everything from the trash digging in the early episodes of FNM Hero to the trade above. The secret is simply this… Oh man, I feel like we should have a drum roll or something. I mean can’t I just leave the secret lifeblood of trading at the end of a paragraph, can I? No way.

The secret of trading and collection building is the concept of opportunity.

Every time that you sit across from someone, you have the opportunity to improve your collection. Also each different card that you have in your binder is an opportunity to trade with someone. Imagine this, you have a binder with one hundred Snapcaster Mages (yeah, you’re a baller). Now imagine that instead, you have a binder full of two hundred $10 cards. Which binder will you be more successful with? I’d rather be the guy with two hundred cards to trade than the guy with one because I have one hundred and ninety nine more opportunities to make a connection with someone.

You can have all the pricing knowledge or negotiation skills in the world, but if you don’t have the opportunity to trade, then you have nothing. Take the trade above for example. I had the opportunity to trade the Jace’s Phantasms for cards that are more desirable. At the time Jace’s Phantasms were $1.50 on Channel Fireball. I knew that these couldn’t sustain that price for long (Augur of Bolas is only .99 and it sees much more play than Phantasm) so I traded them. Imagine if I stopped at the Phantasmal Images. Then I’d still be stuck with four Jace’s Phantasm instead of a Blade Splicer and a Stromkirk Noble. I know that these two cards will spawn more trades than the Phantasms ever did.  As of writing this article the Phantasms have dropped to .99 each, which means that I made $2 on the trade or almost a free Stromkirk Noble.

Back to the Trade Tables

Chris opened my binder again, “Crap, we forgot the Gather the Townsfolk!”

I laughed, “Do you really want that?”

Chris responded, “Yeah!” he went on, “By the way do you want these used sleeves? If not I’m going to throw them out.”

“Yeah, I want em. What do you want for them?” I asked.

“You can just have them,” Chris said.

“I can’t accept free stuff but I’ll give you’re the Gather for them,” I proposed. Chris agreed and I took the sleeves.

Most of them were perfect fit sleeves which I didn’t have a use for at the time but I ended up using them to double sleeve my Delver deck to protect the cards. As I was putting the sleeves away my buddy Mark Larson interrupted my train of thought, as his loud and boisterous personality often does.

“Whose Rootbound Crag is that?” Larson asked.

“Mine.”

Larson threw his binder at me. “Can you find something for it?”

“Can you find more so we can get to a Phyrexian Metamorph?” I pointed to said Metamorph.

“What’s a Metamorph worth, like six bucks?” Larson asked.

“They’re $3.99 on Star City.”

“Ok, how about this Terminus?”

I looked up the Terminus and then added another Metamorph. “Terminus is $5.99, how about this?” He was happy with the trade but only if we included a sexy wolf token in the picture (his words not mine). I obliged him and we closed the deal.

The Warm-Up

Before game day I decided to play Friday Night Magic (FNM) for some practice. I bought some cards for the sideboard at Illuminaudi for the bargain price of $1.

Here’s the breakdown of the cards and why I bought them:

Steel Sabotage – These are to deal with Swords, remember Adam Prosak destroyed me with a Sword last episode. It’s also very good against the Trading Post decks that have been showing up at my FNM.

Outwit – This is good against Bonfire of the Damned and that’s about it.

Fettergeist – I’d bring this in against decks with Red, so that I can have a threat that can’t be killed by Pillar of Flame and one that is hard to Bonfire.

Favorable Winds – When I buy a stack of commons and uncommons, I always add cards for value. I threw these in because I expected the person working the counter to say $1 for the pile but if they said more than $1 then I’d ask, how much without the Favorable Winds and I’d get a discount but still get the cards that I want.

I handed the clerk $6 for the cards and the entry fee.

-$6, Illuminaudi Credit $14

My two losses were to Zombies and Mono-Red and it wasn’t even close. For the last few weeks I’d been dodging these match-ups but it was time to pay the piper. I need Celestial Purges and Timely Reinforcements, if I expect to do well against those kinds of decks and it was my fault for not keeping up with the meta.

My 3-2 record meant that I got my money back but, tonight instead of banking it, I decided to spend it. They had their Talrands in the case at $4 and I knew that they were going up so I picked one up. I also spotted a $2 Foil Runechanter’s Pike.

“Hey, Can we do these two cards for $5?” I asked Ben, who was working the counter.

“Wait; let me see what Pike is going for.” He checked Star City Games to find that it was $2.

“See, you’re trying to Star-City me man! $1 is fair.” I said.

“Alright, that’s fine.”

The tournament was a wash credit wise but I gained value from the door prize that I got.

I also found this sweet Naturalize on the floor after the tournament. Yoink!

The Big (Game) Day

-$5, Illuminaudi Credit $9

I entered Game Day with a fearless attitude. I had a great deck and I was ready to give em’ hell. Game Day is an interesting beast. It seems to attract the more casual players and brews. My first opponent was no exception. He was running a Black White Tokens build with Day of Judgment and Blood Artist in the main deck. This is an unorthodox approach but there was a Day of Judgment that put me at one life. That was scary!

I battled my way through Black White Tokens, Red Blue Delver, and Mono Black Control with ease to arrive at the final round undefeated. I was playing against local superstar Rocky Harris who was playing the Green White Elf Wave deck.

For those who don’t know, the point of Rocky’s deck is to puke out creatures that make mana until he can cast a very large Genesis Wave.  Here’s the deck list for your reference:

And my decklist again, I added a Dismember to the maindeck and cut Mutagenic Growth.

Final Round – GW Elf Wave

“Do you want to split Medina?”  Rocky asked. I always take the split. It’s not because I don’t think I can win, but I don’t want to tempt fate. It doesn’t matter how good of a player you are, you can still lose to infinite mulligans, land flood, land screw, and the nut draw; variance can strike at any time. That being said, I may just start playing things out, it can’t be worse than going X-2 and getting your money back!

“Sure, but we battle for the mat and for bragging rights.”

We shuffled up for game one. I cut his deck and he did the same for me. “Good Luck Sir!” I said.

Game 1

My opponent got off to a rocky start (get it ha ha!), his mana creature was met with a Gut Shot. His second mana creature was struck down by Snapcaster Mage who brought the fire back from the graveyard. On his following turn, Rocky missed his land drop. I laid the beats with Snapcaster Mage while Rocky lamented his bad luck. He never got back in the game and a few well timed Vapor Snags later, he was packing it up.

Game 2

This game was a grind. I didn’t have the sweet Gut Shot-Snapcaster Mage combo so I had to lean on Vapor Snag and Mental Misstep to keep him off his mana. Things were going good until he dropped two Elvish Archdruids. I’d exhausted all my Vapor Snags so I had to tap an Elvish Archdruid with a Dungeon Geists and hope for the best.

He tapped his single Archdruid and all his creatures to Genesis Wave for eight. He’d miscounted, so he untapped his Birds and resolved his Genesis Wave. It was a pretty weak one, only two lands and a couple of random guys. He had one card and drew another off his Elvish Visionary.

He didn’t have enough to Genesis Wave again so I was feeling pretty good. I counted damage and in my head, it was all over but crying. All I’d have to do is untap and play my second Dungeon Geists to tap his birds then swing for lethal in the air.

“My go?”

He was still looking at his two cards.

“No, I have plays!”

“Ok, well make your three-mana play and let’s finish this up.” I’ll admit, there was a taste of smartassery in my tone.

Village Bell-Ringer.” He tapped his birds and the two lands from the Genesis Wave.

MIND BLOWN

He didn’t have to say it. I already knew it was coming. “Genesis Wave for 25?”

A few short seconds later a Craterhoof Behemoth hit the board.

My new plan was to hope he screwed up in his triggers. He didn’t.

Game 3

Turn One Delver of Secrets. Turn two blind-flip with Gut Shot. Congratulations. You’re the new Game Day Champion!

4-0

What Did I learn?

Delver has a decent matchup against Elves but you have to keep them off their Mana creatures, especially the Elvish Archdruid. If they get to Genesis Wave, then you’re probably dead.

After all this fighting, all the bad beats and the luck sacks, I finally won something! Here’s what I received for my trouble:

$25 in Illuminaudi Store Credit ($34 Total)
Game Day Champion Playmat
Magmaquake (Foil Full Art)
2 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker (Full Art)
Bragging Rights

More Magic

My victory at Game Day was not enough to satisfy my hunger for victory. There was blood in the water and I wanted another win. I went to the local Tuesday night tournament to battle. I was credit rich so I decided to do some shopping before the tournament. I noticed that Restoration Angel was sold out everywhere at $13 and the shop had two at $10.50! I bought those and a Talrand that was still at $4. The Talrand had the smeared ink problem so I asked for a discount and they sold it to me for $3.

-$24, Illuminaudi Credit $10

I knew that Talrands were trading at $6 so $3 was a steal; even $4 was pretty ridiculous. It’s not uncommon to find pricing at your local stores out-of-sync. One of the problems is that stores often use sticker pricing which quickly goes out of date. A savvy buyer can usually buy low and trade at retail pricing to make a “profit”.

Everyone who played in the tournament got a Beast Tracker and a random card. My random card was a foil Ulvenwald Tracker.

I played five rounds of Magic, only losing one match but because there were so many people (over 40). I barely snuck into 8th place. I got my money back and won the random pack door prize.  Illuminaudi does a good Job at keeping the prizes and free goodies coming. This makes up for silly things like going 4-1 and only getting my $5 back even though it was a 40 player tournament! Stuff like this doesn’t happen at Epic Loot and I’m not sure why. I think they may add more credit to the pool than what’s paid in. Either way it’s all about weighing the pros and cons and now that I have a strong deck maybe I should look at going back to Epic Loot since the prize payout is better. I was going to keep the pack to trade it but I figured what the heck. Let’s get lucky!

I tore open the pack and quickly plowed through to the rare.

Void Stalker! What a blowout.

Next Episode

As many of you know, Gen Con is coming up this weekend! I’ll be there with my FNM Hero deck playing in as many events that I can finagle my way into! This means that there will be no FNM Hero next week, but the following week we will be rebooting the series, with some of the ideas that you gave in the comments.  Don’t worry, I’ll be keeping the original rules in place, but we will be exploring new deck archetypes and I’ll be setting a new goal! See you next time.

Jonathan Medina
@mtgmetagame on Twitter

Art By: Polish Tamales

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