Before GP Charleston in a card shop, far, far away …
“Medina, you’ve got the bye.”
It was a strange feeling to not want the bye for the first time in my FNM Hero career. I’d studied my deck for weeks and tonight I was going for the throat. I didn’t want byes and I didn’t want to split. Here’s what I rode into battle with.
Hero UW Flash — Anti-Graveyard Edition
Round 2 – Bant
As Round 2 started I felt like a boxer running into the center of the ring. The games were back and forth as we battled into a Game 3. My resolve was unshakable as he attacked with his Armada Wurm and accompanying token. I had an Azorius Charm and Unsummon in hand but knew that I needed to hold them until next turn when I could play Talrand, Sky Summoner and get value.
“I’ll take 10.”
My opponent paused and gave me an are-you-serious look. I had two Augur of Bolas that I could have blocked with but I was planning to swing with those guys. It was a race and Talrand, the Sky Summoner was going to get me there. I slammed a Restoration Angel at the end of the turn, leaving one mana open to protect myself from any Restoration Angel shenanigans. I swung with both my Angels and my two Augur of Bolas, knocking him to seven. I played a Talrand and passed the turn. I had open mana which threatened instant speed 2/2 flyers.
My opponent paused at the end of my turn and then slammed a Restoration Angel. I had to bounce the Armada Wurm in response. This put me dead to a Selesnya Charm if I didn’t block; Talrand would have to take it for the team. My opponent untapped and swung. I blocked the token with Talrand so I didn’t die to a possible charm. I dropped to four life. After the attack he played a Supreme Verdict. I untapped and drew a Runechanter’s Pike. I passed the turn and my opponent played his Armada Wurm. I exiled it from the stack with a Dissipate.
“Get that out of here!”
There was a crowd gathering and time was running short. I made a Spirit with Moorland Haunt and then took my turn. My Spirit picked up the Pike and bashed for three. He played a Thragtusk and powered his life total up to nine. At the end of turn his turn I cycled my Azorius Charm to keep him dead in two swings. I hit him for four and then passed the turn. He smashed in with the Thragtusk and I played Sphinx’s Revelation for four. His attack dropped me to three but my back swing was lethal.
He shook my hand. “That was one of the best games of Magic I’ve ever played!”
What did I learn?
You start with 20 life points and you only need one to win. All the other ones are just a resource for buying time and position.
Round 3 – Worldfire/Spelltwine
I was playing against one of the local brewers who you know (if you’ve been reading the column) as Street Cred Bill. His deck was Red, White, and Blue so I thought he was running a version of Epic Experiment as he’s been known to do. He sat down and said, “I literally cannot win this matchup.” I thought he was just trying to get me to put my guard down so I was extra vigilant.
This match wasn’t exciting enough for me to make you suffer through the details. Street Cred was not trying to mind trick me when he said he couldn’t beat me. He was telling the truth. The premise of his deck was to play Spelltwine with a Worldfire in his graveyard and something to kill his opponent from their graveyard. He killed his last opponent with their own Selesnya Charm by making a 2/2 Knight after Worldfire. The problem for him in this matchup was that I had a lot of counter magic, so the chances of him resolving a Spelltwine were slim. But even if he did resolve a Spelltwine, my deck didn’t have any good targets.
I brought in Supreme Verdict in Game 2 because I thought he might bring Geist of Saint Traft in. Even if he didn’t, the matchup was so far in my favor that I could afford to have some dead cards. It only took one Dissipate and a Negate to beat him in Game 2. He revealed to me later that he didn’t even have Geist in the sideboard.
What did I learn?
Round 4 – Reanimator
Last time I played this guy he destroyed me. In our last match, I beat him in Game 1 but a Turn 1 Deathrite Shaman in Games 2 and 3 did me in. We made small talk as we shuffled up then we presented our decks.
He started with Rootbound Crag and passed the turn. I was happy that he didn’t have a quick Faithless Looting. He played a Deathrite Shaman on Turn 2 and then another tapped land (Woodland Cemetery). When he missed his land drop on Turn 3, it was clear that he kept a terrible hand with a Deathrite Shaman hoping to repeat his victory from our previous match. I let the Deathrite sit for a turn before bouncing it at the end of his turn to set up a Rewind into Restoration Angel for next turn. And he fell right into my trap.
With him on only three lands, I played and equipped a Runechanter’s Pike and smashed him for five. I continued to beat in with my Angel. He tried to stave the bleeding with a Thragtusk but my second Angel closed the game.
What did I learn?
I didn’t learn anything this round but if I could teach my opponent something it would be this: “Even though you have a Deathrite Shaman in your opening hand, you still need lands to play Magic.”
Round 5 – UW Humans
My fifth round opponent is new to the shop. He’s only been playing Magic for a couple of months but that didn’t stop him from smashing his previous opponent with triple Sublime Archangel. I’d beaten this kid a few times so knew I could win if I denied the split. He was a little bit nervous as he walked up.
“Are you undefeated?” he asked.
“Yeah, are you?”
“Yeah…” He looked around the room. “So, what now?”
This is where I planned to dream crush and say, “Now we play it out.”
I hesitated. I couldn’t do it. I thought back to all the times that I was in the same position, battling against the odds and looking for a break. It was like the FNM Hero was standing in front of me asking for a break.
“We can split.”
His excitement spilled out, “I’ve never split before!”
“We’ll still play for bragging rights!” I said.
Jamie figured out what the splits would be while we played. My opponent didn’t stand a chance. My draws were strong and he was playing a deck that relied on exalted to win, so Azorius Charm was an all-star! Even though my opponent lost he was smiling at the end of Game 2.
We walked up to the counter to claim our credit.
“Put the $30 on my FNM Hero account,” I said as I was walking out the door. On the way out I caught a glance of the kid buying cards for his deck with his credit.
Illuminaudi Credit: $30
Since my last tournament, UW Flash has fallen out of favor, added red, and now it has found its way into the Top 8 of the TCG 50k. As I talked about last episode, we’re winding down to the end of our journey. Rising prices are accelerating our growth. The list below is a few cards that have gone up in price over the last three weeks.
The plan going forward is to build the best version with the red splash as I close the gap on my goal of $200 in store credit. I also want to add up the “best” decks in Standard to find out how the red version of the deck stacks up with the other decks in the format. One thing I’m still on the fence about is drafting.
I’ve made some gambles (buying packs and betting cards on opening packs) over the last couple of months and it makes me wonder if I should have taken those resources and drafted instead. Drafting is something a lot of new players do try and it’s something that quite a few of you have commented on during the series. I think the best thing to do here is let you decide. Should the FNM Hero be required to draft before finishing the series? If I draft and fail it will set me back $15 instead of $5 (the cost of failing at FNM). Let me know what you think by answering the poll:
That’s all for this week, I know it’s super short but I’ve been running around for the last few weeks and haven’t had time to play any Magic.
See you in the next episode!
— Jonathan Medina
@mtgmedina on Twitter
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