Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Cleaving and Trawling

Since it was February and the month of love due to Valentine's day I decided to go wild and try and Mono Red aggro deck. Well, also because I had accumulated a bunch of Embercleaves so why not? I also decided it was time to try out "traditional" play, i.e. playing Best of 3 games and using a sideboard between matches. 

This is the deck I settled on:

Deck 4 Runaway Steam-Kin (GRN) 115
4 Light Up the Stage (RNA) 107
4 Tin Street Dodger (RNA) 120
4 Scorch Spitter (M20) 159
4 Shock (M20) 160
4 Embercleave (ELD) 120
4 Fervent Champion (ELD) 124
3 Robber of the Rich (ELD) 138
3 Castle Embereth (ELD) 239
3 Anax, Hardened in the Forge (THB) 125
4 Infuriate (THB) 141
2 Phoenix of Ash (THB) 148
17 Mountain (THB) 285
4 Unchained Berserker (M20) 164
4 Claim the Firstborn (ELD) 118
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker (ELD) 122
3 Redcap Melee (ELD) 135
 It did not go well. I stopped after going 5-9 record.

Part of it was learning the deck I admit, learning when to mulligan, which order to cast spells, how to get your attack through, etc. And I know people have ranked high with similar decks, but this version felt so finicky, that is to say if your lands didn't come in just right, or you flooded, it petered out fast. And everyone knows the key cards to remove to disable it.

There are other red aggro decks I'm tempted to look into, but really the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. So I decided to try out something else I had my eye on: Blue White Dream Trawler Control:

4 Absorb (RNA) 151
4 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251
2 Dovin's Veto (WAR) 193
4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221
1 Tranquil Cove (M20) 259
2 Castle Ardenvale (ELD) 238
2 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242
4 Banishing Light (THB) 4
4 The Birth of Meletis (THB) 5
4 Shatter the Sky (THB) 37
4 Omen of the Sea (THB) 58
1 Thassa's Intervention (THB) 72
4 Thirst for Meaning (THB) 74
3 Dream Trawler (THB) 214
3 Temple of Enlightenment (THB) 246
6 Plains (THB) 279
8 Island (THB) 281
2 Narset, Parter of Veils (WAR) 61
1 Dovin's Veto (WAR) 193
3 Aether Gust (M20) 42
1 Glass Casket (ELD) 15
1 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
2 Sorcerous Spyglass (ELD) 233
1 Elspeth Conquers Death (THB) 13
1 Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis (THB) 14
1 Heliod's Intervention (THB) 19
2 Whirlwind Denial (THB) 81
I've had better success in initial testing, going 5-2. The basic idea is similar to other UW control decks I've run last fall where I delay and put off their creatures until I dominate the board. The big difference is that this deck does so with the impressive Dream Trawler instead of waiting for opponent to give up.
If you can get this guy to land on the board, it will quickly dominate the game. Power it up with some draw card spells and its game over.

One thing I will say about Best of 3 though is that its far more mentally exhausting than Best of 1. Sideboarding cards in and out is stressful, control decks tend to take longer already, and one match can easily take 25 minutes for three games. Take a look at these 5 test games:

And if you lose a 22 minute match? I find it more of a blow than losing a 10 minute match. I want to get better and I think learning the ins and outs of Best of 3 is important, but I'm not sure I want that to be my main playstyle.

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