Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Streak is Over!

Week Three of the Legacy Series at SciFi was our best turnout yet. We had 12 players - but several new faces to the Legacy scene. Add in the regulars who didn't make it this week, and we're growing stronger every week. I'm running the same list I've been running for 3 weeks now - my Dark Zoo build has proven itself to be very potent in our meta. The list I ran two weeks ago is here - the only difference between that one and what I ran this week is that the 3 Ancient Grudges in the SB are now Krosan Grips.

I finally don't end up with a Round one bye, and instead get paired against Shoebox with his Sushi Merfolk build. I know I'm in for a fight - I struggle against Shoebox in every format, and his sideboard is almost entirely dedicated to beating Zoo. I really need to be able to get the quick blowout in game one, and hope that going first in game 3 gets me there. Sadly, I lose the dieroll, and have to mulligan to a slow 6-carder game one. A timely Wasteland on his part locks me out of a color, and he goes the distance. Game two, even though I'm on the play, he gets there with Mind Harness on Wild Nacatl. I almost manage to come back, as I rip a Krosan Grip, and Disenchant his Harness just after he equips my Nacatl with a Umezawa's Jitte, but he's got two mana to reequip to another of his dorks before I can make any sort of gain off it. He then does what Merfolk does best - drop about a half dozen Lords in the space of two turns and flip from control to aggro once I've been controlled out of the early game. I've finally been handed my first sanctioned match loss with Zoo! 0-1

Round two I'm once again paired against my roommate, Jeff. However, instead of his Mono-Red build, he's experimenting with a Goyf-Sligh type build - still the reckless speed of mono red, but focusing more on getting out a turn one or turn two Moon-effect thanks to some borrowed Chrome Mox from Shoebox. He's also got some neat tech with Boggart Ram-Gang - it may not be able to kill an opponent's Goyf, but it'll make it permanently smaller. Plus, exiling one to a hrome Mox means he's got both colors available to him off the Mox now.

One of my favorite moments in this match was when he got out a Magus of the Moon, and it turned my 2/2 Wild Nacatls into... 2/2 Wild Nacatls. I no longer had a Plains, but now I had Mountains! It worked well for me, as it let me cast all the Bolts and such in my hand. Once again in this match I forget the rider on Chain Lightning, and he gets a free Incinerate off of me. However, he still runs out of steam before I do, and I get there in two. Once again, I manage to swing him down low enough that double Helix finishes him off. Horribly frustrated at this point, (he made the mistake of playtesting before the event against Justin's Pox deck, and that can be a very frustrating match for the non-Pox player) Jeff wants to quit, but I convince him to stay in it. This ends up being the right call, as he proceeds to get revenge against Justin's Pox deck in round 3 and then gets to beat in Eddie's face a bit in round 4. 1-1.

Round three, Phil and I finally get to have our Zoo versus Zoo showdown. This match was very close, and extremely interactive. I had a lot of fun with this match, but in game 3 Phil is forced to keep triple Grove of the Burnwillows Kavu Predator, and my Bolt on his Predator shuts down the hand. He manages to stay in it for a bit as he has a Gargadon suspended, so all my removal is feeding the beast, but I keep a Path in hand. When he unsuspends the monster, Path seals his doom, as half his lands are now in the 'yard and he's out of cards in hand. Phil also mentions this match in his tournament report, which is why I'm not going into too much detail here. Suffice to say, I enjoyed the match, and look forward to the rematch. 2-1.

So after losing round one, I manage to come back (again, thanks to good matchups) and am positioned to finish in packs. I draw Jared, rockin the Duke blue sweats and a Bant Countertop deck. Dark Confidant is the MVP of this match - I get one out early game one, and drawing double the gas my opponent does gets there. Pridemage is also good here, as I have two of them down early before he can counter them, which lets me deal with his Counterbalance. Game two it's even worse for Jared - he lets me stick two Confidants, hoping he can stay alive long enough with the double War Monks in his hand so that my own Bobs will kill me. However, the flaw in this gameplan is that I'm still at 15 life at this point - which means that unless I hit one of the 3 sideboarded Krosan Grips (of which one is already in my hand) then I'm taking a maximum of 4 per turn. Meanwhile, I've got triple the card draw he does, and eventually he has to use his Top to stack a card on top, swap it for the Top, and play whatever he managed to find. Meanwhile, I'm swinging with reckless abandon - I have no problem swinging a Bob into a Goyf. If he leaves it alive, I'm that much closer to killing him. If he does block, one of the many various Bolts in my hand will finish off the Goyf. He waits too long to start blocking, and I get there with burn spells. 3-1.

Overall, I end up in 4th place - Mike and Bert IDed for 1st and 2nd, while Shoebox, also at 3-1, has the slightly better tiebreakers. I was happy to see Phil had the best tiebreakers of the 2-2 bracket, which put him into packs at 5th place. Considering how much he's struggled to build a competitive Legacy deck under an extremely restricted budget, he has every right to be proud of his results. Plus, I have to respect my fellow Zoo players. Johnny K's Enchantress deck took 6th with 2-2, Jeff finished just the wrong side of packs (but still Top8, so still up on Deckcheck!) in 7th, and my round 4 opponent, Jared, took down 8th.

I'm still very pleased with this Zoo build, and I'm happy to finally see some decks that are harder for me to beat in our meta. I once again had really good matchups most of the day, but there were several control players at the tables finally, which bodes well for the health of the format at our store. Overall, there still isn't anything I really want to change about the deck, except for a slight tweak to the manabase. I've not found the basic Swamp to be useful, while I end up going for the Plateau just about every game. Considering how useful it's been, I'm thinking about replacing that less-than-useful Swamp with a 2nd Plateau. I think that means I want a second Arid Mesa, but I'm not sure what to cut for it. Possibly one of the Mogg Fanatics? As we get more people playing with Wastelands, Poxes and Sinkholes, (not to mention Stifle!) I think increasing the landcount by one is fine. However, since I don't actually own a second Plateau right now, that may become a Sacred Foundry for the time being. That's... less than optimal, obviously, so I may just wait until I get can get my hands on another Plateau.

I'm fairly happy with my sideboard as well, for the most part. I've ended up bringing in Umezawa's Jittes in just about every match, but I think that's more the matchups I'm getting rather than a sign that it should be mained in the first place. Having the extra Fanatic and Pridemage has been fine for me - sometimes, I need more arty/enchant hate, sometimes I need more X/1 hate. I've yet to find a use for Gaddock Teeg, though - although again, I think that's more just not having been in the right matchups for him yet. I can see situations where he'd be extremely useful - shuts down Force of Will, Ad Nauseam... I just haven't been in those matchups yet.

Hopefully, our meta will continue to grow into more combo and control players. I'm ready for them. Win, lose or draw (with this deck? I'd better not draw on time, I'm doing it WRONG) this deck is a blast to play, and I look forward to slinging it again next weekend.

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