Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Back In Black

Last week I talked about how I was going to use my friend's Grixis Reanimator deck to try and climb the standard ranked ladder. It started out ok and I climbed into high silver but then stalled and fell a little. Basically, in many game I had a lot of trouble making all the moving pieces get into the right place before I died: Bond of Revival in hand, Drakuseth or Agent of Treachery in the graveyard, mana to cast it... and even if all the pieces were ready one kill spell or counter spell could spell my ruin. Don't get me wrong; when it works, it works really really well at turning games around, but lacking any life gain or ways to handle big creatures while I set up was severely hurting me. I tried some minor modifications but didn't really help the major weakness: just too slow to get going most of the time.

So I went back to the drawing board and in my RSS feed I saw this article titled Mono-Black Midrange on Channel Fireball website. Well that had my attention! I had previously made use of mono-black deck in my Dreadhorde Invasion deck which I enjoyed even if it failed to succeed like I wanted at the higher ranks so I read it with keen interest.

One of the problems of trying new decks is having the cards to make them in Arena; a deck that has a lot of rares or mythic rares that your collection is missing can be very costly to craft with wildcards, especially if the deck turns out to not work like you wanted. Crafting the missing pieces of the Grixis Reanimator deck was not too bad since I already had the three Drakuseth cards, but there were some other decks I had interest in (a Golgari and a Blue-Black reanamator deck) that would have been expensive to craft just to try out.

But this mono-Black deck in the article leaned heavily on rares and mythics I already had for the most part: Murderous Rider, Cavalier of Night, Dread Presence were all features of my Dreadhorde Invasion deck, and Liliana Dreadhorde General was a card I had from an earlier Zombie tribal deck. The only rare cards I needed to actually craft were a few copies of the perennial Gutterbones that is a feature of many black decks anyways, and the new Throne of Eldraine card Rankle, Master of Pranks.

So I put together this deck in Arena, crafted the missing cards once more, and tested it out in quick play matches to string together 6 wins and 1 loss. I was very pleased needless to say. It felt a lot like my Dreadhorde Invasion deck with the removal but was more solid on the ground with more win conditions. I could either go with the straight up beat down with creatures led by the Cavalier of Night and Rankle, kill them through incidental damage from Ayara, First of Lochthwain and Dread Presence, or curve into Liliana which almost never hits the board without swinging it in my favour.

So I took the deck into Standard Ranked and let loose the dogs of war... only to lose horribly to a defensive green deck that built up mana to a ten mana Finale of Devastation. I wish I had a screenshot of all the creatures with double digit power and toughness. Egads.

Nevertheless I persisted and won the next 9 games in a row.

Wait, what? Holy shit! Seriously, 9 wins in a row.

This deck (that I've called Liliana's Night) has propelled me into the first rank of gold and shows no signs of stopping yet. Now some of those 9 wins were extremely close and due to luck but I'm ok with that. At least the deck is working to put me into those positions right now.

We'll see if the trend continues as I've yet to face a serious control deck and only one poor representative of Red Deck Wins.

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