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FNM Hero: Another Day In Paradise

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, FNM

Last time we left off, I was smashing Aaron over and over and over again (see FNM Hero: the Aftermath). After that Sunday, I went back to living a regular, “Non-Hero” life for a day and a half before it was time to start thinking about Tuesday night Standard. My buddy Brandon wanted to battle on Tuesday as well so he met me at my house and we carpooled to the shop together. On the ride up, I told him about my challenge and the changes that I’ve made since I started.  It turns out that Brandon has an unhealthy love for the card Young Wolf, which is coincidentally fitting since his last name is Young.

Needless to say, Brandon Young-Wolf was not happy about my decision to take his favorite card out of the deck. After gushing over the card for 5 minutes, Brandon ended the conversation with “You can do what you want bro. I’m just saying that card is SO good!”

Our discussion ate up most of the drive to the card shop and before I realized it we were there. My number one goal before the tournament was to find a Massacre Wurm. My deck needed one really badly and I didn’t want to enter the tournament without it. I entered the shop with my binder drawn, ready to deal.


“Does anyone have a Massacre Wurm?”

I had less time than I thought. Note to self: get better at time evaluation. I was a little bit frantic as I started to systematically work my way through each group of players.

“Do any of you have a Massacre Wurm for trade?”

“Not for trade.”

That last one gets me. If I may rant for a moment: if I ask you if you have something for trade, don’t dazzle me with the fact that you actually own the card but don’t want to trade it. That’s useless.

The store didn’t have any Wurms in stock and there were only a few people left to ask. I was close to calling it a day and sleeving up my Carnifex Demon, until I finally heard what I’d been waiting to hear:

“Yeah, I think I might have one for trade.”

Henri opened his backpack and wrestled his binder out. I wanted to give him a little heads-up before he got too excited about trading away his Massacre Wurm.

“I don’t have much, but I’ll give you value.”

Henri was immediately suspicious. I’ve been a value trader for as long as I’ve known these guys. Some of them even avoid trading with me. It makes sense that Henri would assume I was up to something. I gave Henri my binder full of cards. He flipped through it and I can tell that he didn’t really see anything. He gave the binder another courtesy flip and then asked me, “What’s Massacre Wurm going for?”

“$4.99 on SCG,” I responded.

My quick response combined with the low price set him back a bit. His body language transitioned from “open to making a deal” to total rejection.  My guess is that Henri saw the Ratchet Bomb in the binder and figured that the wurm was a couple of bucks less than the bomb. I think he was trying to arrange something where he makes a couple of bucks on the Ratchet Bomb in trade. When he found out that the Wurm was significantly less than the Ratchet Bomb he became disinterested and wanted to be released from the discussion.

I wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easily. I played dumb and asked, “So you didn’t see anything? Not even the Ratchet Bomb?” Henri probably figures that if I want the Massacre Wurm than it’s probably worth holding onto.

“The Ratchet Bomb is nice, but I don’t need it. I’d rather just trade for stuff that I need.”

This doesn’t make any sense. If he doesn’t need the Wurm then why not trade it for value? If someone offers to give me value, I almost always take the trade. I guess that’s the difference between a trader and a player.

He slid the Massacre Wurm back in in his binder and said, “Sorry.”

I was annoyed but I wasn’t sure why. Henri had every right to pass on the trade and he did so in a respectful manner. Trading for cards that I need is something that I’m not used to. Over the last few years every time that I sat down to trade it was for value. I didn’t care if the trade went through or not, but now this failed trade could lead to a failed tournament, which could lead to a failed project.

I could feel my adrenaline ticking up like a pot of boiling water on the stove. “Why couldn’t he trade me the damn card!?” I raged in the privacy of my mind. I decided to walk outside for a minute and chat with the smokers. Maybe some not-so-fresh air and good laughs would chill me out.

On my way outside I saw a local trader stumble through the door. He was late but he made it in time to play. I watched as he placed his bag on the first flat surface and started rummaging through. I assume this was to prepare his deck and/or loans cards to people who needed them. I walked up to him (like many had done to me right before a tournament). “Hey Dave, do you have a Massacre Wurm for trade?”

Dave paused and thought about it.


He pulled his binder out and handed it to me.

“I don’t have much but I can give you value.” I said as I handed him my binder.

He ripped through the binder looking for playable cards.

“What do you have on these Cycle lands?”

I looked the lands up and gave him a price. He made a pile and I offered to add a Goblin Warchief to make sure that he got value. This was acceptable to him and we shook hands.

“Thanks a lot, Dave. This really helps!”

“No problem,” he said as he put the trades into his binder.

His ($4.99)
Massacre Wurm $4.99

My ($7.43)
Goblin Warchief $3.49
Skirk Prospector .49
Vivid Creek .99
3 Ingot Chewer .49
2 Tranquil Thicket .25
Forgotten Cave .49

I did a mental “Flores Fist-Pump!”

This is why I like value traders. There’s no emotion involved here. I paid a small price to get a card that I needed, but David provided me a great service by taking time out of his preparations to get me the card that I needed. I think a lot of people don’t realize these benefits. Anyways, no time for a soap box. We have a tournament to win. I skipped over to the counter (yes, I physically skipped) and paid Jamie my entry fee for the Standard tournament.

-$5, New Total $30.37

Round One pairings went up and my plan was to smash some lesser-skilled players in the first 3 rounds then die to a good player in the last round and make some money. I fought through the swaying mass of dudes to see my pairings. Thanks for posting them on a tiny sheet of paper in size 10 font. Good move, Illuminaudi!

I stretched my finger out to read my pairing.

Korey Fay – Table 8

Well, I’m dead.

Korey is a local ringer and Pro Tour Competitor. I have no problem chopping this chump up when I’m playing a real deck but my chances were slim with my “one-Woodland Cemetery” science project. Here’s the current version of my spicy tech:

Round 1 – RG Aggro

Game 1

Korey sat down and smiled, “My deck sucks tonight.” I chuckled at the irony and said “I saw it laid out. It looked pretty good. It can’t be any worse than mine!” My opening hand was one of the best that I could hope for. I played a turn one Llanowar Elves to his turn one tapped Rootbound Crag. I played a turn two Birthing Pod and then followed it up with double Strangleroot Geist to lay beats while I tutored up my chain. He struggled for action beyond mana dorks, until he Green Sun’s Zenithed for a Huntmaster of the Fells. I drew my Massacre Wurm (which I could have alternately found with Birthing Pod) and hard cast it to deal eight damage. I smashed in with my guys and we went to game two.

Game 2

It was Korey’s turn to get the nut draw. He started with a turn two Sword of Feast and Famine. I got stuck on three lands and could not fend off the pressure. I drew my Sylvok Replica but I didn’t have the mana to cast it and activate it. I held it as long as I could but I eventually had to play it out and try to untap with it so that I could sacrifice him to destroy the Sword. The Replica didn’t last through Koreys’ turn. He Ancient Grudged it and beat down with the sword. With no hand, little life and no hope, I packed it in and we went to game three.

Game 3

I mulliganed to this five card hand: three Lands, Llanowar Elves, Sheoldred, Whispering One.

I was on the Mono-Sheoldred plan. This made turn one interesting. I could play land, Elf and hope for a 3 drop or a Birthing Pod or I could hold the Elf for turn 5 and hope that it gets me to Sheoldred a turn earlier. I decided to go with the second line, since my only hope at the moment was landing Sheoldred. If I played the Elf on turn one, then I assumed it would be Galvanic Blasted. I figured if I waited until turn five, he wouldn’t see it as a threat so late in the game.

Luck was on my side because I ripped a Viridian Emissary on my second turn. This fit perfectly with the ramp plan. Korey blasted the Emissary to lay beats with a Strangleroot Geist which allowed me to set up a turn five Sheoldred. I had to fight an uphill battle against his multiple Huntmaster of the Fells. My Abyss effect and my Birthing Pod were grinding me into the win. He destroyed my Birthing Pod with an Ancient Grudge and I started to apply pressure with Sheoldred and random guys. On the critical turn, I left an Elf and a Perilous Myr back as blockers. I was at six life but Korey was running out of gas. He had no cards in hand and his flipped Huntmaster was his only creature thanks to my Sheoldred triggers. He drew his card and surveyed the board.

“I can’t believe that just happened.” He said while eyeballing my Myr.

A burst of hope surged through me. Then Korey’s demeanor shifted.

“Flashback Ancient Grudge on your Myr, Cast Sword of Feast and Famine, kill you?”

Sad day.


What did I learn?

I thought that RG would be a much tougher match-up but it seems pretty winnable. I mulliganed to five and still almost won against Korey. The Acidic Slime and Sylvok Replica are key at keeping them off the equipment plan. Cards like Skinrender and Go For the Throat will take care of the rest of their “threats.”

Round 2 – UB Zombies

Game 1

Both my opponent and I mulliganed to five. I wasn’t too happy with my five and neither was he, but we both kept. He scoffed and pouted for a minute before playing a Swamp and a Gravecrawler. He’s grumbling about this hand? With a start like that?

I played a land and passed the turn. He played a Swamp and then attacked. He passed the turn with no turn two play. I was happy to see this. I played a land and a Perilous Myr. He scoffed at my “luck” as I passed the turn. He swung for two again and I allowed the damage through. He played his third land and a Geralf’s Messenger.

My opponent was still not happy. He slammed the Messenger down in frustration as if he couldn’t get a break. I looked at my measly Myr and wondered who was really getting the shaft on this mull to five.

My third turn was uneventful and he rounded off  his terrible luck with a Diregraf Captain, followed by a Phantasmal Image on his Messenger. He wasn’t happy about any of this until the last turn of the game when he peeled a Sword of Feast and Famine.

“Finally!” he says as he slams it down and alpha strikes me.

I was at four life.

Game Two

This game was over really fast. We durdled around for the first few turns, then I hardcasted a Precursor Golem which I Birthing Podded away for a Massacre Wurm.  The Wurm plus my attack dropped him from 20 to 6. I played a Swampwalking Sheoldred and he conceded.

I Never Win These Things!

My opponent was distracted by Jamie making a spectacle of himself at the front of the store. Jamie loves to give out free stuff. He tries hard to make the tournament experience festive and fun. I always just ignore him because I almost never win anything and I usually don’t care when I do. He randomly gave away some promo cards, a pack of sleeves and some other junk before he got to this grand finale.

“Alright, listen up guys! I’m giving out an event deck to a random player.”

I continued shuffling for game three. “Get on with it! I want to play cards.”, I thought to myself.

“…and the winner is. Holy Crap! Jon Medina!”

“What? Did I just win something?” I said.

Jamie came over smiling, “You won a Spiraling Doom event deck!”

For a second, I was indifferent. Then it hit me.

“Wait a minute. FNM Hero just won an Event Deck!”

What a relief, I was sitting at 0-2 and this tournament already paid for itself! I put the deck aside and prepared to battle in game three.

“I’ll play,” I said to my opponent.

Game 3

This game was a bit more of a grind but I felt in control most of the time. I played a turn three Birthing Pod and had a mixture of removal spells to keep the tempo of the game in my favor. We traded removal for creatures for a bit and I started to tilt after he played a third Tragic Slip. Nice hand.

Side Note: I noticed that I start to tilt if an opponent plays more than three removal spells per game. I need to keep an eye on this so that I don’t throw games away to the tilt-factory.

The game started to slip away when I used Birthing Pod to get my five drop. The decision was Precursor Golem or Acidic Slime. My thought process was:

“He probably has the removal spell since he’s been casting MONO REMOVAL SPELLS.”
“I should next-level him by getting value out of my five-drop rather than letting him kill it.”

I used Birthing Pod to get my Slime. I swung for two damage for a couple of turns until he played a creature. He was ripping lands. If I would have gotten the Precursor Golem then he would have been dead. I let my emotions get the best of me. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I should have asked myself, “How is the Zombie player going to deal with the Golem?” They only run Tragic Slip and Geth’s Verdict neither of which deal with a Golem that well.

My opponent eventually played a creature and I upgraded my Slime for a Massacre Wurm to kill his creature. I played a couple of mana dorks to protect me from Geth’s Verdict. It turns out that he had 3 clone effects in his hand. Over the next three turns he drains my life by copying the Wurm  and wiping my dudes. I dealt with his first two clones but I had nothing for the third one. He killed myMassacre Wurm and smashed me to death with his fake Wurm.

Watching the game slip away like that was heart breaking.


What did I learn?

Precursor Golem is really good against Zombies. Also, after that cloning massacre I need to be more careful about when I run out the Massacre Wurm. This also means that I need an aggressive six drop that can close the game out better than the Wurm.

Round 3 – UW Delver

Game One

My opponent played Delver of Secrets on turn one and another on turn two (thankfully, these didn’t didnt flip until around turn five). He rounded off his sick curve with a Geist of Saint Traft on turn three. I was faced with a choice:

1) Play a Metamorph and kill his Geist.
2) Play a Pod and block his Geist with the random dude I played on Turn 2.

I played a Birthing Pod and blocked his Geist. He played a second Geist and his Delvers finally flipped. I played Phyrexian Metamorph to “Legend Rule” the second Giest but died to the Delvers. If I would have played the Metamorph to kill his first Geist then I could have used Birthing Pod to get a three drop which could have been relevant. Sure, at the end of the day two flipped Delvers are probably going to kill you, but it’s always best to give yourself more options.

Game Two

I mulliganed to six cards.

2x Tragic Slip
1x Mortarpod
1x Swamp
1x Birds of Paradise
1x Birthing Pod

I kept the hand because I figured that I could keep the early pressure down and miss a land drop or two before getting online with Birds into Birthing Pod. After three turns with no lands my opponent asked, “Damn, Medina, when are you going to hit a land?”

“Not for 13 turns, so I have 10 more turns!” I said jokingly.

He was a little land light too but he had a lot of action. Over the next 10 turns I killed two Delver of Secrets. On the thirteenth turn I hit my second land, “Called it!” I dropped the Mortarpod and it was Mana Leaked. I drew my third land but it was a day late and a dollar short. Lingering Souls ate me alive.


What did I learn?

Keeping a one-lander is still bad, no matter how many Tragic Slip you have.


I might have gotten a bye at some point in this blood bath. Even though I was getting my butt kicked, I was much happier with the way that the deck was playing. Massacre Wurm was a champ all night. I didn’t really care what the outcome of the last round was going to be. I was only playing to get practice and to tell you fine folk about the action.

Let’s put a bow on this report.

Round 5ish – Naya Pod (Brandon Young-Wolf)

I made my way to the pairings board. There were less people at this time of night. Most had dropped and gone home. This is something that my opponent couldn’t do because I was his ride home. I sat down at the table and started talking my usual smack:

“Oh no, Brandon. I hope you don’t lose to an Event Deck!”

Game 1

Brandon had a quick start with some mana dorks but no gas. He played a Birthing Pod and I destroyed with Acidic Slime. He found a Huntmaster of the Fells with Green Sun’s Zenith and I was running out of options. If I didn’t deal with the Huntmaster this turn I was dead. I patted the top of the deck and said, “Come on, Birthing Pod!”

I flipped the top card over to reveal a Birthing Pod. Can I run any hotter?

I played the Birthing Pod then used it to sacrifice my Acidic Slime for a Massacre Wurm and wiped Brandon’s board.

“ You’ve got to be kidding me,” Brandon said as he shook his head and drew his next card.

I sat back with a smug smile. Brandon played an Oblivion Ring on my Massacre Wurm and then played a Birds of Paradise. I played a Strangleroot Geist and I could have Podded it away for Sylvok Replica, but I decided to slow roll Brandon instead. I had a second Acidic Slime in my hand and I wanted to bait him into playing more guys so that I could unleash the Massacre from underneath the Oblivion Ring. I podded my Geist into Wakedancer and attacked with my 3/2 Geist. Brandon fell right into my trap by playing a Geist-Honored Monk. I untapped, drew my card and set it on the table without looking at it. I cast Acidic Slime and blew up his Oblivion Ring. The Massacre Wurm wrathed his board and put his life low enough to die to the Wakedancer and Geist.

Game 2

Brandon must have summoned demons of vengeance for game two because he quickly dismissed me with an Ancient Grudge on my Birthing Pod, followed by a Sword of Feast and Famine and a Huntmaster of the Fells. Nothing that I did mattered.

Game 3

I had a turn two Birthing Pod which meant that Brandon was a step behind with every move. On my turn three, I played a Strangleroot Geist which I sacrificed for a Wakedancer with a Zombie token and attacked. He played a Blade Splicer to slow the bleeding but I upgraded the Wakedancer into a Skinrender and killed his 3/3 golem. I then crashed in for five with my Zombie token and Geist. He played a Huntmaster of the Fells on his turn. I podded away my Skinrender for a Precusor Golem. Brandon’s Huntmaster ran afoul of a banana peel and Tragically Slipped. My Golems overcame him and he hung his head in shame.


What did I learn?

Having access to black in the Birthing Pod mirror match is a big help. Skinrender and Go for the Throat do a lot of work by keeping your opponent off pin-pointing answers against you.

The Event Deck Conundrum

The tournament was over and it was time to trade. I pulled the event deck out of my bag and started wrestling with the wrapper. A voice in the back of my head screamed for me to stop. I paused for a second and thought about my options. My first instinct was to open the event deck and fill my trade binder up (always a grinder), but I started to wonder if this was the right strategy. Here were my options:

  1. Open the event deck and fill my trade binder.
  2. Keep it sealed and try to trade it for store credit or sell it for cash.
  3. Burn it in the parking lot and warm my hands on the fire.

Opening the deck would technically provide me with $46 in trade value. But, the only desirable things in the deck were Solemn Simulacrum, Birthing Pod and the Strangleroot Geists. The deck didn’t have anything that I needed. I already traded for my two Birthing Pods and the deck has zero copies of Woodland Cemetery.

The more I thought about opening it the more the idea sounded bad. Keeping it sealed would offer me the most options. If someone was desperately looking for any of the cards in the deck then I could always open it and trade them. I would also have the option of trying to trade it to the store for a couple of entry fees or another event deck if for some crazy reason I wanted to abandon ship.

I opted to keep the deck sealed. Burning it in the parking lot would have been a “snap keep” if I had marshmallows and a coat hanger, though. Maybe next time. I tucked the sealed deck in my bag and headed for the open binders.


I ran into my buddy DJ Budin who’s been asking me for Elf cards for over a month. I’d forgotten about his request until he opened my FNM Hero binder.

“You finally found me some of the cards I needed!” he said with excitement.

“Yeah.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I forgot and that I dug these out of the trash.

His ($6.99)
Woodland Cemetery $6.99

My ($7.21)
Elvish Harbinger $1.49
Elvish Promenade $2.99
Autumn’s Veil .25
Jagged-Scar Archers $1.99
Diabolic Tutor .49

I wanted to try out some new five-drops in my deck so I picked some super-cheap options out of someone’s binder. I don’t think I should have traded such desirable cards for them.

His ($4.48)
Kessig Cagebreakers $1.49
Go For the Throat $1.99
Morkrut Banshee .25
Wakedancer (Foil) .75

My ($4.98)
Wren’s Run Vanquisher $1.99
Tormod’s Crypt $2.99

Closing Thoughts

I feel good about the deck. But, as my budget dwindles (now $30.27) I worry that I might not make it to where I need to be. At this point, getting my mana corrected is key. I need two more Woodland Cemetery and I need to complete my playset of Birds. I could get some of this with the door prize that I won, but that would eliminate the nice safety net that I have. If there’s anything that I’ve learned so far (besides that I suck at this game) it’s that thinking ahead and making smart rather than impulsive decisions is the best way to succeed.

Join me next week as I battle a Zombie Outbreak at Epic Loot!


As always, I’ve gotta give love to Polish Tamales for doing the art for this series. Check out his website www.polishtamales.com

Shout out to one of my favorite Magic writers and personalities, Mike Flores who decided to give FNM Hero a try. You can read about it here.

See you next Monday!

Jonathan Medina

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