Thursday, January 12, 2012

One card can matter

My first matchup was against a U/R/W walls deck, with Gideon Jura and Frost Titan as the terrifying cleanup crew.

The first game I was facing two Wall of Omens and a Gideon Jura and broke it open by getting a Furnace of Rath to stick, casting Cave In for free and then redirecting 4 damage to Gideon Jura for 8, clearing the board. That reset let me get a Batterskull down and, although there was a rebound when Consecrated Sphinx hit, not quite enough pressure was applied and Batterskull kept me in the game. This allowed me to land a Purity to stop any Vent Sentinel action and then I was swinging for 20 in the air every turn.

Game two I mulliganed to 6 and had a Plateau, Mountain and other stuff. It wasn't a great hand but passable. Unfortunately, it was also all I got. Gideon Jura arrived and beat me like a child in a mosh pit, with Vent Sentinel riding cleanup. Those losses are always a little weird because it's like losing because you forgot to bring a ball to the game.

So game three! By now I knew what to expect: Negate not Cancel, no artifact removal, just stalling until win conditions arrived. The key moment, in my mind, was trying to bait countermagic out: I had both a Chandra and a Batterskull in hand, with Browbeat to follow and what I needed to do was draw enough countermagic out that I could earn enough time to get the sixth land to cast Crater Hellion.

I chose to lead with Chandra, not Batterskull. I wish I could say that there was a plan there but really I just thought Batterskull would be scarier. Chandra took a Negate and the next turn I dropped the Batterskull, then Cho-Manno, the lamest named Legend ever, cast Browbeat and finally dropped a Crater Hellion that landed because Negate doesn't handle creatures.

At this point it looks pretty good, until a Frost Titan arrives to prevent me from paying the Hellion's echo. I can swing with The Lamest Name so I do. Here's where I think things went wrong for my opponent: he got the fear. So instead of taking the hit, then using the Titan's attacking trigger to lock down the Cho in the future, he holds out hoping for time to do something else. But this allows me to land a Chandra and now the gap between his and my life total is spreading far too quickly. The game ends soon after, because he has to spend time killing Chandra while I'm gaining six life a turn with a undamagable defender in my corner.

I didn't get a chance to play more games with Freedom or Fire but what I've learned is this: Batterskull is an exceptional card and is one of the keys that makes the lock turn for this deck. It gives me both a threat and time, so that cards like Purity or Crater Hellion can come online, or help turn my smaller threats into bigger problems.

That lesson learned, I thought that a creature with protection from red and lifelink might be perfect: Alas, there is no such beast. There are some creatures that have lifegain triggers, such as Kor Firewalker or Auriok Champion but space is tight in a deck like this, so I think I'll stay with the redirection spells and protection from red, until something appropriate comes along. Or I open another Batterskull. That card is insane.

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