Fire Grimm – Wednesday FoW Casuals – 1st Place

So after musing on my thoughts for a brute-force type of Grimm which eschews Tell a Fairy Tale along with Light’s other utilities, I took the list to our Wednesday FoW sessions to see how it fares against other brews:

Round 1 vs Liberator Elves by Justin

I had a tough trying to beat Justin’s brew because he accelerates so much on play that it’s absolutely necessary to shoot down a Turn 1 Elvish Priest so that the game won’t go out of hand the next turn when he ramps into a Gretel and into something else. Stories Told in 1001 Nights took care of Kai (which in turn, lessened Greta’s impact on the game), and other than an early 700 damage I was unable to mount an effective offense between his Fiethsing, and healthy dose of countermagic.

This shows one of the glaring weaknesses of a deck that relies on curving in with quality threats – it tends to play only one Resonator per turn, which is an easy target for Exceed and Xeex. So turn by turn passed and his Elves grew up to the point of him playing double Feena, and I had to use all of my Resonators to stay alive. At exactly my 10th Turn, Gilles came in to save the day along with Thunder, dealing exactly the 33 damage I needed to win.

So it’s a stroke of luck more than anything, but it shows the quality of possible top decks that the deck can do. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to complete a second game, and I’m just happy to narrowly escape that loss.

Result: Matches 1-0 / Games 1-0 

Round 2 vs Liberator Control by Ericka

Ericka is using the deck which Jo-lo lovingly made for her during the Medyo Major Tournament – an upgraded version of Liberator control. She’s yet to pilot the deck optimally though, as she’s new to it and to the game itself, so she had a hard time matching Fire Grimm threat-for-threat, which shows the raw power, and threat density of the deck.

Result: Matches 2-0 / Games 3-0

Round 3 vs Mono-Fire Cain by Aaron

It’s great to see Aaron doing so well with Cain, and that he’s putting the Thunders I lent him to great use. Here is another matchup I was confident about because of the Robe of Fire Rat in my sideboard. I wasn’t too keen about my chances in game 1, especially with him going first and expecting a blazing-fast start, but I managed to mulligan into a hand with 2 Thunders.

But the thing was that he didn’t have a turn 1 play and elected not to J-Activate on turn 2. This made the rest of the cognates in play a lot less effective, and I was able to steal tempo with some key removal, Kai, and Gherta.

Game 2 saw the power of Robe of Fire Rat as I drew one and it kept a Bullet of Envy-powered Resonator at bay, while I dealt with his smaller ones with removal. The damage prevention kept my life from going into burn range, even as he used two Purifying Fires. Blazer and Giles then took over the game and won the damage race.

Result: Matches 3-0 / Games 5-0

In hindsight, while I saw and felt the raw power and aggression that the deck is capable of, I also felt how vulnerable and inflexible it was with the loss of its Light elements. I could imagine it running headfirst into decks like Alhazred control or Alucard midrange and losing badly simply because it lacks any form of protection. Gilles, and Split hopefully equalize this.

On the other hand, I can see it winning against other, faster, more aggressive decks. I favor it over Bahamut burn, Crimson Girl Aggro, Cain Aggro, and well… just about any aggro deck in general. Multicolor decks are good matchups post sideboard – they can only counter so much of your threats before they fall to Split / Thunder range. It’s not a guaranteed win, but it really helps a lot.

Which version of Grimm is better? I still like my Grimm decks versatile, so I’m sticking with the Fire/Light version, but Fire Grimm definitely has its perks, and might come in as a surprise hit to an unsuspecting metagame that’s seeing a popularity in both aggro and multicolored strategies. But as always, further testing is still needed to see if that’s the case.

Until then!

Advertisements

Tell no Tales: A Study on Mono-Fire Grimm Aggro

Let’s pretend that one day Grimm got mad, so mad that he forgot how to tell stories. All he wants is for his Fairy Tales to fight all day. Crime and Punishment everywhere! Dragons! Chaos! Because why not?

In my previous article, I’ve ended with speculations on what the Fire Aggro Grimm deck from the Spring Open looked like. Unfortunately, the deck turned out to be Light/Fire, which has all the makings of a good Grimm deck, but man, I was hoping for something more radical, like the Fire/Water Odd Grimm deck it fought in the finals, which showed that Grimm don’t need to tell Tales to win.

So we go back to the Mono-Fire Grimm idea.

First, we take a look at what we lose. Tell a Fairy Tale is the best card that we’re throwing away. It’s what makes a Grimm deck borderline unfair by being able to call Resonators like Hamelin’s Pied Piper. We also lose a fair amount of utility from Dream of Juliet, and Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor. From the sideboard, we lose specialized removal in the form of Return to Stories, and additional protection from Realm of Pure Spirits.

In return, we’re gaining the following:

Cheap Removal

Thunder was already in our default list, but having some space freed from the deck allowed us to add Crime and Punishment and Duel of Truth. The former is a great way to kill J/Resonators alike, especially for doing as little as being chump-blocked by Cheshire Cat. The latter is super useful in the list you’ll see below, because we’ll be using him on Kai, the Frozen Heart most of the time. As an added bonus, we also get to play Rapid Decay, which is great against most aggressive decks.

Immunity/Access to Split Heaven and Earth

Without split, Fire decks have less reach against us, and have to take the battle to the field, where Grimm has the advantage. On the flip side, more sideboard space means we can allocate some slots for Split, which can give additional reach against other multi-colored decks.

The Game of The Robe of the Fire Rat

The Robe is an interesting card. Other Fire decks have it in their sideboard for mirror matches, and it works great. We’re allocating some sideboard slots for it too for the same purpose. The cool thing is that they can’t bring in theirs in game 2 and expect 100% efficiency from it because most of our Resonators aren’t Fire. On the flip side, we can bring in ours against Fire decks and they’ll keep them at bay all day long.

Consistency

The number one benefit of going mono is that there’s no chance of being color-screwed. Even Light/Fire Grimm had instances where he doesn’t have a Light Stone on turn 3 to Tell with, and sometimes it matters, especially when we’re being rushed and have to pull out a quick Piper for defense. That aside, Grimm is already consistent, and it’s just icing on the cake to be able to cast our spells anytime without worry.

So what’s the list we’ll be looking at? Here’s the first version:

Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince

4 Thunder
2 Crime and Punishment
2 Duel of Truth

4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
1 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
1 The Little Prince
2 Gherta, the Tear of Passion
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
1 Glinda, the Fairy
4 Kai, the Frozen Heart
3 Oz, the Great Wizard
2 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
1 Etna, the Snow Queen
3 Blazer
1 Hamelin’s Pied Piper
3 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

10 Magic Stone of Flame

Sideboard:
4 Split Heaven and Earth
3 Robe of the Fire Rat
3 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
2 Rapid Decay
1 Crime and Punishment
1 The Emperor in New Clothes
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon

Going back to Tell a Fairy Tale, at first glance it might seem like a big loss, but give me a chance to explain why it’s not. Back in CMF and TAT, this spell was dominant because it can call an early Piper, which can wreak havoc if the opponent is caught unprepared. However, the metagame has gone a long way since then. Even before MPR, Cake Zone and Stoning to Death have long foiled any Tell shenanigans. Pale Moon is now experiencing a resurgence thanks to Campanella, while Dreams of Wonderland have found favor in Odd Grimm aggro decks. In MPR, Crime and Punishment is cheap removal, and Blazer can gobble up any Piper that’s out in the open.

The other big reason why Tell isn’t that big of a loss now is because of Kai, the Frozen Heart. For the same amount of Will, Kai does the same thing that you want Tell to often do – bring a huge threat to the board. Granted, he does almost nothing unless there’s a Gherta on field beforehand, so it falls to us to shape the early turns in a way that we can safely drop Kai on turn 3 without being too disadvantaged. In the worst case, Kai can still duel while encased in ice (and win most of the time), or we can pitch him to Grimm’s Activate ability for a more relevant Resonator.

Discussing Kai inevitably brings us to his partner Gherta. As I’ve written before, Gherta is a beast when all three of her abilities are activated at the same time. Heck, even Swiftness and Target Attack is a big deal. What most people don’t give her enough credit for is that she’s huge for her cost as well. 6/6 for 2 without any downside is great value, and is a reasonable turn 2 play if nothing else.

With Tale also gone, we reduce the numbers of its primary target – Pied Piper. He’ll still be useful in some matchups, so we need at least a copy, but since we’ll be hard-casting him from now on, we don’t want to draw him until we actually need his abilities. Etna is also there to fill the gap should we need a more immediate impact.

What we’d like to draw and play on turn 5 is Blazer. He has a more immediate impact, a lot more threatening, and very resilient to removal. However, as we can play one copy over and over again, we don’t need a full set in the deck as it’ll just clog our hand.

One copy of The Little Prince makes it to the deck in the off-chance that we need his (kinda useless) healing. He’s a good 2-drop though, and can quickly grow to a 10/10 on turn 3 if everything goes well on-curve… but I wouldn’t rely on him too much.

The rest of the deck is your usual Grimm fare, with Gilles and Little Dread added in for additional punch. I feel like 3 copies of Gilles is the right number for the deck because I want him to swoop in as much as possible and end (or steal) games with his 2k ATK.

From the sideboard, we’re getting all the advantages that Fire offers. As I have mentioned, Rapid Decay, Split, and The Robe are all important. The extra copy of Crime and Punishment is optional. Now that Addition: J/Resonators are a thing, Emperor finds some use again. A third copy of Little Dread rounds up the list as another effective tool in mid-range matches.

In case you haven’t noticed, the deck is what you can call a “good-stuff” deck, where you put in the best cards that the color/Ruler can offer. This is one of the main reasons why we can forego the protection granted by Light, because most of the cards are individually strong and can stand for themselves. We’d love Kai to eat a Stoning because it meant one less removal to target our other Resonators with. Blazer can keep coming back. Gilles can resurrect itself, and Little Dread can wreak havoc on her own. In other words, the deck oozes with value, which is complemented by Grimm’s versatile selection.

In theory, the high individual value of most cards in the deck will be able to overcome situations wherein utility cards like Dream of Juliet are needed. For example, we can just brute-force an opponent that hides his resonators behind Realm of Pure Spirits with our superior-bodied Resonators as opposed to finding our way around the Addition:Field. It also helps a lot in topdecking, as we’re more favored to find a card with reasonable impact as opposed to a useless one.

This bullheaded approach is not without weakness though. Playing on the curve without any means to ramp means that we can fall prey to countermagic or decks which pack a lot of 1-for-1 removal. Putting one Resonator per turn means that faster decks can out-tempo us with cheap removal or bounce spells while they keep wailing with their smaller Resonators. Also, the deck is susceptible to Flying J/Resonators, so watch out for that too. And being Fire, we don’t have direct solutions to these other than plowing forward.

But oftentimes, that’s all we need to do to win.

Until then!

The Perfect Grimm? – Medyo Major Tournament 2 – 1st Place

It’s great to see that our Medyo Major Tournament series is seeing an increase in attendance. This week, 10 people showed up for the chance to win the new Pandora Playmat (and get first pick from the prize pool). Keep it up guys! 🙂

Unfortunately, the prediction of a Bahamut-infested field didn’t come to fruition, but instead, we saw seven different Rulers get represented this week. Expecting tougher competition this time around, I thought it would be a good time to try the Grimm brew I was keeping from everyone else:

Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince

4 Thunder
4 Tell A Fairy Tale
2 Dream of Juliet

4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
1 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
2 Gherta, the Tear of Passion
2 Glinda, the Fairy
2 Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
4 Kai, the Frozen Heart
3 Oz, the Great Magician
1 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
2 Hamelin’s Pied Piper
2 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
2 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

4 Magic Stone of Heat Rat
6 Magic Stone of Flame

Sideboard:
4 Return to Stories
3 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
2 Dream of Juliet
2 Rapid Decay
2 Realm of Pure Spirits
1 The Emperor in New Clothes
1 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

Again, I have to insert a Split the Earth rant here: that card forced me into this two-color barebones build. In hindsight though, splashing Wind wouldn’t hurt. That aside, this is the build that I’ve felt comfortable fighting a Bahamut deck with.

What metagame? I am the Metagame!

I love and hate one thing about the Grimm deck: it’s a deck that takes effort to win with and, since I’m playing with a large amount of tools, matchup knowledge matters more a lot more. True, there are times when turn 2 Aesop into turn 3 Tell a Fairy Tale into Hamelin’s Pied Piper meant game, but 1) it doesn’t happen as often as you’d expect, and 2) as players and decks get better, those shenanigans aren’t as dominant as they once were.

The framework of this deck hailed back from the winner of the Japan’s Winter Open Tournament, which opened the doors to the advantages of a Light/Water/Fire Grimm over the traditional Light/Wind/X build. In a nutshell, the deck is faster, more proactive, and has better ways to close the game. From there, I turned it to the list which got me to the Top 4 of the Manila City Championships, made an edited version of it which I haven’t written about, and then into the version you saw above.

Grimm gained a number of notable tools from MPR – The Little Prince, “I”, the Pilot, Etna, Kai, the Frozen Heart, and Gherta, the Tear of Passion. Of these, Kai stood out the most. A 12/12 (from hereon, I’ll be omitting the extra “00”s unless really necessary) Resonator for only 3 Wills is too good. However, he has that drawback of having three counters before being able to attack or block… which is really irrelevant when you’re Grimm and have at least a Gherta in the deck.

“Drawback”. Yeah right.

Gherta turns Kai’s drawback into an advantage by turning herself into a pseudo-removal spell when you use all three counters on her different abilities in one go. Having Swiftness, Target Attack, and Flying enables her to often assassinate smaller resonators without too much trouble, while having a 6/6 body puts her outside of Thunder’s range. She’s the better part of the combo if you’re looking for utility, and the fact that she releases a 12/12 monster is just icing on the cake.

She tears smaller resonators with a passion.

Beyond the lovely couple mentioned above, I found little use for the others. I certainly won’t play “I” without a sacrificial outlet for The Little Prince, mainly because Prince’s healing is nearly useless – there are a good number of ways to get killed from beyond 1000 life, and no Fire deck worth its burn will leave a Grimm below that amount of health.

Etna, on the other hand, is a jewel in the rough which I haven’t realized until I fought the Light/Water Grimm in the last round. I theorized her being too slow, and that Piper is still better, but she has her own fringe role to fulfill in Grimm’s toolbox. Like Little Dread, she puts the opposing field into chaos by resting opposing resonators and making them vulnerable to attack. Unlike Piper who slowly works his way into dominating the opposing field, Etna does this in one go. Them being not able to recover is just icing on the cake – the utility of being able to break defensive strategies here is priceless. Etna herself is quite resilient – being outside of Thunder and Rapid decay range, and forces the enemy to discard whenever she damages them. She’ll definitely be a great addition to the deck moving forward.

Can I turn them into snowmen~?

Having 10 players this time around, the tournament lasted for four rounds. Here’s a summary of my matches:

Round 1 vs Kaguya 2.0 Control by Jabriel

Wererabbits… not! Jabriel’s Kaguya is one of the unique brews coming into the tournament. It’s chock-full of removal and disruption, and relies on surviving long enough to J-Activate Kaguya for lots of Apollospheres and doing a couple of swings for lethal.

Game 1 was a grind, where I made a big error of casting a Cheshire Cat early on, and was heavily punished by Sign to the Future, which took out my relevant attackers two at a time. Still, I was able to get some damage through, and prevented him from healing a lot by destroying the Alladin’s Lamp he was using to summon White Spirits. Still, I was losing steam late into the game with him being able to lock the rest of my board with Etna. With only Little Dread functioning on the field, I top-decked a Gilles de Rais. He has four stones open though. Fearing removal, I attacked Little Dread into his Etna, drawing out an Awakened Apollobreak from Jabriel’s hand. I then played Gilles de Rais to swing for lethal.

Oh you have three resonators? It would be a shame if something were to happen to two of them…

Game 2 went smoother. Jabriel didn’t draw any Signs, and was only able to remove some of my Resonators, but couldn’t get rid of Kai and Piper with Awakening at the End in his hand. I managed to win a few turns later after he didn’t draw any other removal spells.

Result: 1-0 in Matches / 2-0 in Games

Round 2 vs Liberator Control by Jo-lo

I was fearing that Jo-lo brought a Vampire deck. Taking out Water from my initial build made Grimm unable to use Christie from the sideboard since I can’t cast my important Resonators without Water Will when using her. This in effect made my already bad matchup against Vampires even worse. Thankfully he was testing a different deck – a brew which he lovingly made for his girlfriend.

In our first game, I already had an idea of how to approach the match. While they ramp, Wind resonators are generally weaker than Grimm’s, which makes early aggression a great strategy against them. Thankfully my hand lent me what I needed in Tinker Bell and Hunter. From there it’s just a matter of pressing the advantage before Liberator’s superior resources kicks in and holds me at bay with removal and countermagic, which I baited carefully while keeping up the pressure. He did manage to 1001 Stories my Tink, but the rest of the deck was resilient to it (having only 1 or 2 copies of most Fairy Tales), and kept the attacks until he relented.

The second game was much like the first, both in strategy and flow. It turned out that Jo-lo’s deck was half-control, half-elf in build which relies on Feena and Pumpkin Witch to do an alpha strike once they established field presence. However, in that mix comes the glaring weakness of the deck: in order to fit the Elves in, some control options are reduced, and vice versa. This resulted in a deck that can have awkward situations of having complete control, but not being able to finish quickly (or the finishers being picked off), or establishing a field presence but not being able to back them up.

There’s a lot of potential in here though, and I look forward to fighting the deck in its optimal configuration. Props to Jo-lo for being able to take 4th place despite this setbacks, which is a testament to his play skill and dedication to the game.

Result: 2-0 in Matches / 4-0 in Games

Round 3 vs Liberator Yamata Combo by Freddie

Fighting against this deck is a race against time. After watching it blow out the sole Vampire deck in the tournament on its 4th turn, I knew that going late into the game isn’t going to be an option. The way Freddie’s deck works is simple – dump Yamata and Refarth into the graveyard, reanimate with Genesis Creation. Protect with Realm of Pure Spirits if possible. Profit.

With that in mind, I went in aggressively in game 1 with Tinker Bells and Hunters. I always assumed that the combo will go off on the 4th turn, so I searched and played Glinda to buy me a crucial turn and hold off the combo until turn 6. As it turned out, Freddie had a bad draw and wasn’t able to get the pieces throughout the match.

Game 2 was a closer match, wherein I once again piled the damage in a desperate race against the combo. Freddie’s pieces are slowly coming into the graveyard, and with turn 6 approaching, I knew I couldn’t stall it anymore with Glinda. And sure enough, with Freddie at 1600 health, the combo blew off – Yamata and Refarth entered the field. He Banished Refarth to pump Yamata on its first attack, but I was prepared with Dream of Juliet – blinking the Dragon out to minimize its damage. Next turn, I was able to steal the Eight Disasters with Little Dread and attack for lethal.

Result: 3-0 in Matches / 6-0 in Games

Round 4 vs Light/Water Grimm by Eugene

Here’s a matchup I was positive about, not because I have a good matchup, but because I’ve experienced the mirror match numerous times and have an idea of how to navigate it. In a nutshell it goes like this: the mirror is a game of field advantage. In game 1 removal is minimal, so you have to try your best to kill their guys while keeping your own alive. Then you have to get the right balance when it comes to applying pressure – you have to know when to control the field, be on the defensive, or go for face. Finally, you have to reserve your haymakers until necessary while drawing out theirs and controlling them. Game 2 is a lot easier with Return to Stories from the sideboard, but the plan mostly stays the same.

Featured above: Headache.

Eugene was playing the same Kai-Gherta deck that I was fielding, but his colors allowed him two advantages, the Pied Piper combo, and the new Alice (which is a f*cking headache to deal with, if you ask me). These would have been enough to end the game in Eugene’s favor, but he had little experience in the Grimm mirror and played defensively instead of being proactive (in the mirror, if you’re going first, it’s your job to apply pressure). This gave me time to turn the tables around and pile in damage before closing the game with two Thunders.

Game 2 followed the same pattern. Eugene had a dominant board position, but chose to play defensively. This allowed me to catch up with a couple of Pied Pipers and take the offensive stance. Despite having blockers, Eugene chose to gamble on taking all the damage from my attacks in the off-chance that I don’t have enough damage to finish him off. He can then counterattack for lethal. However, I have enough resources to Tell a Fairy Tale Oz and search for a second Thunder, which is enough to close the game, and the tournament,

Result: 4-0 in Matches / 8-0 in Games

So that’s it for my report. Despite a clean sweep in the tournament, I knew that some of the wins came in by luck. There are certainly games where I made major blunders yet managed to pull through. But for everything else, I think that I was able to show the power of a Grimm deck played correctly.

Is this the perfect Grimm deck? Far, very far from it. The metagame has evolved into an interesting (yet restrictive) direction with MPR, and decks have to adjust accordingly to these changes. Moving forward, I’ve heard that one of the Top 8 of Japan’s Spring Open which happened last weekend featured a pure-Fire Grimm which forgoes Tell a Fairy Tale for pure value in Blazer (It was actually Light/Fire and still has Tell). While the decklists aren’t out yet, it’s a very interesting take on Grimm in MPR, and rest assured that I’ll be trying out too in the future.

I’m a Fairy Tale too!

Until then!

The Cat is Back! – FoW Saturdays 05/09/15 – 1st Place

No, not Cheshire. I’m talking about this cool cat:

Gatto!

Despite Red running rampant throughout the day, I managed to get through the fire and flames with this list:

Ruler: Puss in Boots / D’Artagnan, the Bayoneteer

4 Elvish Priest
4 Heartless Tin Man
4 Gretel
4 Athos, the Three Musketeers
2 Mind-Reading Fox

4 Absolute Cake Zone
4 Musketeer’s Bayonet
3 Flying Carpet
3 Silver Shoes
3 Silver Stake
3 Crucifix
2 Longinus, the Holy Lance

4 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies
6 Magic Stone of Wind

Sideboard:
4 Evolution of Limits
4 Law of Silence
4 Genesis Creation
2 Exceed, the Ancient Magic
1 Crucifix

My newest list has gone far from the previous builds that uses the other Musketeers + Pumpkin Witch to finish the game. Rather, this build goes all-in on Additions to either Tin Man, Athos, or the Fox. It plays rather simple: get any of the three Resonators on the field as soon as possible, then pump them full of Additions. From there, the opponent is a swing or two away.

If you’ve played Standard in Magic these past few months, this build can be likened to the Blue/White Heroic deck, right down to its strengths and weaknesses. But before we go further into the deck, here are the results of the four rounds:

2-0 vs Bahamut Burn
2-1 vs Bahamut Burn
2-0 vs Alhazred Card Soldier / Necronomicon
Split vs Alhazred Control*

*The store manager had to do a lot of stuff, so he let me have the win, but I think this matchup is unfavorable for Puss.

The loss from the second Bahamut deck came from a pretty mediocre draw plus additional damage from Split the Earth, which placed me within burn range. See, even at two colors and four Cake Zones, Split still shines!

Speaking of mediocre draws, a huge chunk of the decision-making process comes from the Mulligan phase. Just like U/W Heroic, this deck misfires at times because it relies on certain cards working together, and even though I’ve tried to remedy this by putting in alternative win conditions (Tin Man and Fox), there are times that it draws really badly and you have to accept it. Such is the nature of card games.

In exchange, when it works, it works wonderfully – usually killing the opponent by the 5th turn, or any turn after that; sometimes even earlier. From the outside, it looks like a one-sided massacre, but the truth is that there are a lot of things to look out for before picking Puss.

First is the state of the metagame. For now, Bahamut is king, and every deck has to play around Split the Earth. If Wind had more great additions and another Resonator similar to the Fox, I would have played Wind all the way. From experience though, going all-green puts all of your hopes into drawing Athos that there are games wherein the deck doesn’t fight one bit. I think that is way riskier than splashing a second color and try to minimize and/or play around Split the Earth.

The deck wins over Bahamut by going over it – meaning that it plays bigger/more resilient Resonators that Fire can’t handle. We will take initial damage, but in exchange, we can shut off Bahamut’s mid-game and they have to slow down and rely on burn. That’s when we develop our field more, and maybe give the opponent a giant poke or two. Once we get enough damage on field, swing for lethal.

Second is knowing which decks are in and which ones are seeing a decline. Split the Earth means that three-color decks such as Grimm gets pushed off the radar, which means no Emperor in New Clothes – the #1 counter to the deck. Elvish Bowman is rare too, given that most of the decks just splash Light and rely on Dream of Juliet for their Addition problems.

A wrong call that I’ve made is that Alhazred decks will also be swept away by the Split, but apparently, he’s still the go-to guy for Darkness-based decks. This posed a bit of a problem because he can shut down Additions effectively, with the solution being to brute-force it and overload one of my resonators with more Additions.

Finally, when you have those first two conditions fulfilled, there’s the matter of playing the deck optimally. We’ve mentioned the Mulligan having a big impact on the outcome of each game, and here are some general rules to follow when doing so:

1) Keep Athos. He’s our main guy. It’s possible to keep two, but only if you have ways to produce additional will early on. And speaking of those…

2) Keep Elvish Priest if you have Athos in hand. A turn 2 Athos is very hard to deal with, especially when you have Crucifix added to him.

3) Keep Gretel if you have no Elvish Priest in hand, but have Athos. You still get to cast him on turn 3 and add another Addition to him with the extra Magic Stone available.

That said, I think Gretel doesn’t add much to the deck. Given how the deck sorely needs removal, Familiar of Wind and/or Wind Dagger might be better alternatives.

4) Throw back all other Addition cards except:
– Crucifix if you have a Tin Man in hand and willing to risk playing him turn 1 and hoping he doesn’t die.
– Musketeer’s Bayonet if you have Athos in your hand.

The rest, you’ll learn through studying different hands. Some hands are very easy to mulligan while others can be tough and/or risky. Just remember to keep any key cards and you’ll often do fine.

The other problem you’ll be facing will be which addition to use on Athos. The safest pick will always be Crucifix because it makes him almost invulnerable. In Darkness matchups, it’s sometimes better to go for Longinus directly for the additional stats. From there, you’ll want to have a Musketeer’s Bayonet on him next so he’ll win nearly all of his battles. Finally, Flying Carpet is very useful for getting past the opponent’s defenses and dealing huge damage.

For the Fox, Longinus is the primary choice, but any stat-increasing addition will work fine too. Next thing to add is Flying Carpet. Finally, Crucifix prevents your Fox from being attacked.

Tin Man needs Crucifix ASAP. Oftentimes, that’s all he needs since he grows naturally as you put additions to your other Resonators. However, it wouldn’t hurt to add a Magic Carpet on him.

For any other Resonator (assuming you drew really badly), the order would be: Crucifix, Longinus, Silver Shoes/Slippers, Bayonet, and Magic Carpet. You’ll generally lose these games, but it’s still worth a shot.

Based from the experience last Saturday, here are the changes that I’d do to the deck moving forward:

Ruler: Puss in Boots / D’Artagnan, the Bayoneteer

4 Elvish Priest
4 Heartless Tin Man
4 Familiar of Wind
4 Athos, the Three Musketeers
2 Mind-Reading Fox

2 Absolute Cake Zone
4 Musketeer’s Bayonet
4 Flying Carpet
2 Wind Dagger
2 Silver Shoes
2 Silver Stake
4 Crucifix
2 Longinus, the Holy Lance

4 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies
6 Magic Stone of Wind

Sideboard:
4 Evolution of Limits
4 Law of Silence
3 Return to Stories
2 Genesis Creation
2 Absolute Cake Zone

More defense against smaller Resonators, card draw, protection, and some removal in the side board. Will test this out during the week and see how it fares. In theory, it should be better.

So that’s it for Puss! If you think your meta has evolved in a way that’s ripe for the picking, and are feeling lucky, give Puss in Boots a try!

Until then!

Burning Down the Competition – Medyo Major Tournament 1 – 1st Place

Directly translated as “sorta-kinda major tournament”, Medyo Major is designed to encourage players to care less about actually winning and more on playing and testing their concoctions by having all of the Rs and SRs of each prize pack draft picked. Yes, that means a lot of picking, but it gives better chances for everyone to get the cards that they want/need.

The tournament encourages at least 16 players to join in at a fair price of Php300, which buys a box worth of prize packs. This means that there are guaranteed Ruler/s for the top finishers during the first round of picks, while the rest can still have a fair chance of getting their SRs and stones. In a 16-player tournament, each generally goes home with 3-4 cards, along with their commons/uncommons.

MMT1 ended up with just 8 players, and we’ve agreed to increase the price to Php600 to obtain a brand new box and gain maximum value, and with MPR just released, it’s a fun new time to test out new brews and upgrade some old ones. Playing aggressively in the face of a new metagame has always been one of the best options, since you can still take advantage of the chinks in every new deck’s armor. For a decent amount of decks, that chink comes in the form of Special Magic Stones.

Hi.

Until other decks adapt to it, I think Split Heaven and Earth is the card which the metagame will revolve around in. It gives Fire decks unparalleled reach and multiple copies can steal games that it has no right of winning. And with that, here’s the list I’ve used:

Ruler: Faltgold, the Dragoon / Bahamut, the King of Dragons

4 Hunter in Black Forest
3 Wolf-Haunted in Black Forest
3 Seven Dwarfs
3 Spawn of Blazer
2 Jubal, the Grandsire of Musicians
2 Moon Night Pouncer
4 Loup-Garrou, the New Moon
4 Blazer, the Eater of Dimensions
2 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
2 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

4 Thunder
3 Dragon King’s Flame
2 Kusanagi Sword
2 Duel of Truth

9 Magic Stone of Flame
1 Little Red, the Pure Stone

Sideboard:
4  Rapid Decay
4 Bloody Moon
3 Split Heaven and Earth
3 Crime and Punishment
1 Dragon King’s Flame

I wanted to test a lot of new things in Bahamut Burn. First of all is Blazer, a 1100/1100 recurring monstrosity which could drop as early as turn 3 with the help of Spawn of Blazer.

Ironically, these things are the ones which spawn Blazer.

In a nutshell, Blazer is phenomenal and well worth his cost. The huge body and swiftness means that he can ambush unsuspecting Rules and Resonators alike and win against most of them, and 1.1k to the face is no mere flesh wound. The best thing about him however, is his recursion. It which provides a deck that can be grinded out of threats (such as Bahamut Burn, with a decent plan against slower, more controlling decks. By forcing the opposing deck to deal with Blazer turn after turn, you get to buy time to restock your hand with other threats to close the game with.

On the other hand, Jubal, the Grandsire of Musicians is not so good in the deck, as it takes a lot of time and effort for her ability to work. I think she’ll be great in a deck that has Cain as the ruler, but not in this one.

Finally, there’s the elephant in the room: Split the Earth. Is the card any good? Based from my experience, the answer is a resounding yes! This card will win you games that you have no business of winning against any deck that’s running a decent number of Special Magic Stones. Even getting 900 damage from this is a huge deal, and may the heavens have mercy on your opponent when you drew two of these late in the game. Combined with Thunder and Dragon King’s Flame, it becomes easy to kill anyone from 2000 life, which is possible to reach given the deck’s aggression.

So how did my 3 rounds went? In a nutshell, I was:

2-0 vs Light/Wind Wererabbits
2-1 vs Fire Cain Aggro
2-0 vs Light/Dark/Fire Vampires

Split was brutal at the 2nd game of the last match versus Vampires, where it finished the game just as my opponent was about to stabilize. If you’re heading out into any tournament, it’s very important to consider this card and how to counter it. Otherwise, prepare to get frustrated on the number of red decks that will steal wins from you.

So with those lessons in mind, I’d like to post my updated list for Bahamut Burn:

Ruler: Faltgold, the Dragoon / Bahamut, the King of Dragons

4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Wolf-Haunted in Black Forest
3 Seven Dwarfs
3 Spawn of Blazer
3 Moon Night Pouncer
4 Loup-Garrou, the New Moon
4 Blazer, the Eater of Dimensions
2 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
2 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

4 Thunder
3 Dragon King’s Flame
2 Kusanagi Sword
2 Duel of Truth

9 Magic Stone of Flame
1 Little Red, the Pure Stone

Sideboard:
4  Rapid Decay
4 Split Heaven and Earth
4 Robe of the Fire Rat
3 Crime and Punishment

Nothing much has changed, just added another 1-drop and another Moon-Night Pouncer in Jubal’s place. Those two cards can actually be anything; a good alternative would be adding Poison Apples for surprise reach. Another surprisingly good card would be The First Lie, which can be used to play mind games with the opponent and make them lose more life than necessary (and thus puts them within killing range).

Playing the deck is straightforward, but one wins or losses the game depending on their decisions in the early turns, starting from the mulligan. Here are a few tips on playing the deck:

1) Mulligan for a 1-drop. The difference between having something to pressure your opponent on turn 1 as opposed to turn 2 is huge. Throw out all cards that cost 4 or more, and any multiple copies of 3 costs. Keep a hand that has a low curve.

2) Know when to clear the field or go for the face. Just because the deck is aggressive means that one has to attack directly all the time. Taking a turn to clean the opposing field can result in having an easier time attacking in the later turns, as the opponent struggles to catch up to your offense. On the flip side, do try to sense if the enemy’s simply stalling and luring you in for a wipe.

3) Know when to J-Activate. Faltgold’s Activate ability is actually very useful in the later turns, when you have to call in the big dragons as an attempt to close the game. On the other hand, there are games which can be won by early J-Activation and just going for face all the way. Matchup knowledge certainly helps a lot. As a general rule, slower decks tend to fall to early J-Activation, but make sure that the coast is clear before you do. Take note of their cards in game 1. Do they have anything that can kill Bahamut before turn 4? What are the odds of that happening? If both instances looked good, then go for it. Otherwise, just leave the killing to Blazer and company.

4) Know your role in the matchup. Some decks are faster than Bahamut. Don’t fight them head on. Play defensively until you gain an advantage then go for the kill when the opportunity presents itself. Some decks are slower than Bahamut, maintain constant pressure against them and don’t try beating them at their game. Knowing your role against different decks allows you to formulate a gameplan beforehand and it helps a lot in making decisions throughout the match.

5) Your life is a resource too. It doesn’t matter if you win with 100 life remaining or a perfect 4000. Some plays will require you to take damage in order to bait your opponent into over-committing and leaving his field defenseless. Other plays will require you to take damage to keep your resonators safe and continue your offense. Either way, life is just another Resource. Managing it well and taking a bit of damage in exchange for incremental advantages is always worth it.

So that’s it for now. Have fun burning the opposition!

Until then!