Budget Brewing: Friday Night Fun Part 3 of 5, Lycanthropy
I said that I was going to stick to my guns.
Now, I don’t mean to make the Big Standard events at Jupiter out to be the World Magic Cup, but there is a good amount of prizes to claim every fourth-ish Friday.
I could have taken a week off from the Budget decks and played an expensive deck, but I really didn’t want to. This column and the experiment I blunder through each week are fun. Really fun.
My first draft of a deck for the previous FNM was a cop out, as it was explained to me by some who are close to me. It was a version of typical R/G aggressive decks scattered around prestigious events without Stomping Grounds. There were no innovations or modifications to the more-or-less common 75 floating around the internet.
I barely noticed that I was being as stale as the crumbs in between the seats of my car. That’s what friends are good for. Telling you how dumb you’re being.
So, I went back to the drawing board.
[Editor’s note – click any of blue card names or featured card images to view and purchase the card from Jupiter Games!]
As I mentioned in my last column, I’m relatively new to Magic. I got into Legacy during the second half of last year, and I chose Merfolk as my introductory deck to the format. For those that don’t know, in quick summary, you play a merfolk that makes your other merfolk bigger and evasive and kill your opponent as quickly as half-fish half-humanly possible. Yes, Merfolk is a blue deck and has access to counter-magic, and red and green are colors that don’t. Just bear with me.
I adapted that strategy as I constructed my decklist last week.
Total Cost: $47.50
Mayor of Avabruck, Immerwolf, Instigator Gang and Full Moon’s Rise served as my “lord” effects for the deck, each one made practically all of my creatures bigger and badder. The front side of Mayor Mayor of Avabruck obviously does not make Wandering Wolf, Immerwolf, or Pyreheart Wolf more of a problem, but the Mayor wants to become Howlpack Alpha as quickly as possible anyway.
As you may notice, I’m not playing any burn spells in my main deck. This decision was very much a product of insight rather than lunacy. Eh, maybe a little lunacy.
I wanted to play a creature every turn of the game. It’s hard to lose when you play a creature every single turn; you really put the ball in your opponent’s court. Deal with this now or get bashed. Play a spell now or get bashed harder.
That’s where Reckless Waif and Wolfbitten Captive come into play. I spoke Waif’s praises two weeks ago, so please refer to that installation for more. Captive, I was more skeptical about. It just doesn’t seem like much until you actually play with it. I always love a mana sink, and Captive is that. You can both hit your opponent harder by activating it and flip your werewolves because you didn’t play a spell. Win-win!
I remembered how annoying Wandering Wolf was in Avacyn Restored limited while paired with a Druid’s Familiar. It was really annoying. What’s more fun than giving that feeling to your opponents? Doing it in constructed! Slap a Rancor on it and you suddenly have 5 practically unblockable power attacking on your third turn. Be wary, this thing will have a large target on its back while you have your opponent on a 4 turn clock.
Immerwolf, our second lord, is also conditionally unblockable. While red and green are terribly popular colors right now, Intimidate is still Intimidate. You don’t have to risk attacking into a blocker’s trick and make all of your creatures less powerful. Almost everyone has to read all of the text on this card, and the most important is often the last line. “Non-Human Werewolves you control can’t transform.” None of your things, no matter how hard your opponent tries, can shrink back down in the sunshine so long as Immerwolf is alive.
Kruin Outlaw, as I will go on to explain, is pretty much an All Star. I’m not really sure why nobody caught on to this creature earlier. Put a Rancor on it, and somehow get it to flip, and you are looking at a pretty good imitation of the Silverblade Palladin and Loxodon Smiter combo, all on one card. Not to mention any buffs from a lord of some variety. The damage adds up quickly.
Ghor-Clan Rampager is cheating. I’m almost sure of it. Especially in this deck. It doesn’t count as playing a spell! You will get puzzled, puzzled looks when you Bloodrush this guy, pass, and begin to take your cards out of your sleeves.
Pillar of Flame- Zombies, Strangeroots, and other tiny pests.
Ranger’s Guile- This deck tends to go all-in on one guy every once in a while. Ranger’s Guile helps against decks that don’t like when you do that. Having a Kruin Striker with Rancor on it after you Bloodrush a Rampager onto it Azorious Charm-ed is not fun. I don’t want that to happen. Therefore, Guile!
Gruul Charm- Take that Lingering Souls. Also, Boros Reckoner can’t block. That’s always a good thing.
Moonmist and Full Moon’s Rise- When you just need more and your other cards seem bad.
Volcanic Strength- See above about Boros Reckoner not blocking.
Traitorous Blood- For times when you just need to steal a Thragtusk or other huge monstrosity and bash them with hit. Also, Boros Reckoner not blocking. The card’s good.
Brimstone Volley- Things die with this deck. Kind of a lot. So, I like Brimstone for the races you wouldn’t otherwise win, and the control matchups to somehow deal with Obzedat or bonk someone on the head after your creatures have been wiped away by a Supreme Verdict.
Round 1-Robert Deemie: Mono Red
Game 1: THE IRONY! I’m friends with Mr. Deemie, and he has piloted a version of werewolves for many, many FNMs. This pairing was quite unfortunate because he knows his version of the deck like the back of his hand, but I at least had a few tricks up my sleeve.
I lost the roll and had to go to 6. I found a Waif that died to a Pillar. I followed with a Mayor that shorty had a molten spear struck between his ribs. Rob cracked at me, playing a Reckoner. I sighed as I played a Pyreheart Wolf, which was Pillared immediately. Rob attacked for three and played a second Reckoner. I was out of ammo and took 6 on the chin the following turn. A third Reckoner joined the fraternity of Minotaur Wizards, and I still had nothing. I could have scooped but I wanted to see as much of his deck as I could. Sure enough, Big Papa Thundermaw Hellkite overkilled me.
-2 Full Moon’s Rise -2 Pyreheart Wolf -2 Instigator Gang
+2 Volcanic Strength +2 Ranger’s Guile +2 Gruul Charm
All of the cards I took out were slow and dumb in this matchup. I’m actually pretty sure that’s the thought that went through my head as I was mulliganing. My plan was to keep my guys alive and not let him block them. I knew I had to be careful to not get two-for-oned with Volcanic Strength.
Game 2: Our second game wasn’t much of a game, unfortunately. I went to 5 on the draw and kept Mountain, Mounatin, Forest, Wandering Wolf, Kruin Striker quite quickly. Both of my creatures died immediately as Rob played Ash Zealot into Pillar of Flame + Frostburn Weird into Hellrider. I drew zero spells and shook his hand. A devastating start to the night, indeed.
Round 2- Adam Dennison: White Weenies
Adam kept 6 on the draw, a symptom going around Jupiter that night. I led with a Captive that flipped with no turn 1 spell from Adam. I played a Mayor and hit for 3. He untapped and played Precinct Captain. I Rancored up my Krallenhorde Killer and hit for 5. (I hope you appreciate me typing ‘Krallenhorde.’ It’s not easy. Spelling. Ugh.) He hit me with the Captain and made a soldier. He let out a sigh as he passed to me, and I flipped my Mayor over. I attacked with both of my creatures and the game was over.
-2 Pyreheart Wolf -1 Wandering Wolf -1 Instigator Gang
+1 Brimstone Volley +1 Moonmist +2 Pillar of Flame
I knew there would be some Elite Inquisitors in my future, and I needed a way to kill them. I didn’t want to bring in more than one Brimstone, and I didn’t want to bring out more than I did.
The case of the mulligans struck Adam once more, and I kept a fine seven. He led off with a Champion of the Parish, and I answered with a Waif. I was relieved to see a Doomed Traveler instead of a Inquisitor on his second turn, and I got attacked to 18. I played a Mayor and attacked for two. Adam decided to not block, and guessed wisely that I would not block the Traveler with my Mayor. I was at 15 when he played Thraben Doomsayer. I forgot all about that card, and I knew it was going to be annoying because I practically had to attack each turn so the tokens didn’t pile up. I summoned an Immerwolf and cracked for 5. Adam played the dreaded Elite Inquisitor and made a human token on his main phase, pumping his Champion. I was at 10, and I knew I was going to have to find an answer quickly. I untapped and played a second Mayor and a Wandering Wolf and passed. I knew that I couldn’t continually take damage from an ever-growing Champion while an Inquisitor was stonewalling me.
Adam untapped and played a Moonsilver Spear. More Avacyn Restored limited fun! I read Spear again, and knew that it was actually good for me. It would take all of his mana to equip the thing, and my werewolves would flip. He had no attacks and passed back. I untapped and cast Rancor on my Waif and an Immerwolf, and suicide attacked my Waif into the Inquisitor and a pair of tokens. Adam untapped, equipped the Spear onto the Inquisitor, and suicide attacked me to make an Angel off of the attack trigger. I blocked with an Immerwolf.
As I untapped and drew, I had: a 6/5 Wandering wolf, 2 6/6 Howlpack Alphas and 2 5/5 Immerwolfs. I did some math, passed back, making two 6/6 wolf tokens. Adam had no attacks, passed to me, I played the Rancor and alpha-striked to kill him. This game was extremely fun, and I might not have won if Adam had been more patient with his Spear.
Round 3- Josh Perry: Extort Control
Josh was playing a rogue white/black/red deck, and I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out what he was doing. I lost the roll and led with a Waif, and he followed with Blind Obedience. I poked him for 2 after playing a Mayor and passed. My Mayor became was the target of a Pacifism, which was more than fine with me. Josh missed a land drop and couldn’t extort. I cast a Rancor and a Full Moon’s Rise and hit him for a bunch. An Oblivion Ring targeted my Rancor, and I untapped and hit him for two less than a bunch. decided to pass and start making wolves, and they were too much for his targeted removal.
Sideboarding: -2 Lightning Mauler +2 Ranger’s Guile. Guile seemed particularly good in this matchup, and I wanted to continue to have creatures.
Josh led off with turn 2 and 3 Blind Obedience, chuckling as he did so. I started with a Mayor that was again, pacified on his fourth turn. I decided to get on the same game plan as the last game. Wolves overcame him, and his extort was not enough to get me dead.
Round 4- Zach Lubarsky: The Arisocrats
I had the privilege of knowing what Zach was playing and had to throw away my seven, but my 6 was sufficient. He led with a Champion paired with a Nearheath Pilgrim, and I took solace in knowing that there probably wasn’t a Boros Reckoner in my future. If there was, he was doing it wrong. I played a Mayor as he missed a land drop, but still had a Cartel Aristocrat. I followed with a Kruin Outlaw that still didn’t flip to Zach’s Skirsdag High Priest. Instead, I Rancor-ed up the Striker, and attacked with both creatures, holding a Moonmist. Zach elected to not block, and I played the Moonmist as a huge pump spell. Zach was at 5, and I felt in the driver’s seat. I then forgot my Mayor trigger as I passed and continued to punt that game. Bad went to worse as a Boros Reckoner met me on the other side. I attacked again, getting Zach to one. But I couldn’t finish him off. Lingering Souls eventually killed me.
-2 Instigator Gang -1 Lightning Mauler -3 Wandering Wolf
+2 Volcanic Strength +3 Brimstone Volley +1 Moonmist
Gang seemed much too slow and Wandering Wolf surely would have been eaten up by any number of his creatures. Strength allowed me to not care about Reckoner, and Brimstone let me finish him off.
Game 2: I started with a Waif into a Mayor into an Immerwolf and never really looked back. Zach stumbled on lands again, and could only throw creatures in front of mine to try to stay alive. He eventually cast a Rhox Faithmender after casting Lingering Souls. I attacked with my team into his, and he double blocked his Faithmender and a token onto my Mayor, that was a 2/2 from the Immerwolf. I Bloodrushed a Rampager onto the Mayor, killing his only out in this game, and flipped my werewolves over. I eventually Rancored my Immerwolf and killed him.
-2 Pyreheart Wolf
+2 Ranger’s Guile
I disliked Wolf on the draw, and I was sure there were some removal coming my way.
Game 3: Zach started with a Doomed Traveler into my Captive, playing a second on his following turn. I answered with a Mayor that I seemed to cast on nearly every single second turn all tournament long. I got pretty lucky in that regard. Zach missed a land drop and Orzhov Charmed my Mayor. I followed with an Immerwolf, hitting Zach to 15. He found a land into Lingering Souls, and I played a second Immerwolf, Rancoring the first one. He tapped out to play a Rhox Faithmender, and I showed him the Giant Growth and Rampager in my hand to end the game.
Round 5- Eli Scism: Boros
I was pretty excited going into this round. I had the best record I had sported so far, and I was fighting for top 8. Unfortunately, my breakers were extremely poor going into this round, and I found myself in 10th at the beginning of the round. Eli and I had to battle.
I know there are two decks that Eli plays, for the most part. Boros and Jund. I was praying for Jund. Despite Abrupt Decay being the best card ever against a flipped werewolf, Boros was even worse for me.
I had to throw away my 7 on the draw and kept a questionable 6. He had no turn 1 play, and I started with a Captive. He played a hasted Ash Zealot and hit me to 18. I played two Waifs, hoping for the best. A Boros Reckoner put those dreams away really quickly. I had only a pathetic Wandering Wolf to follow up with. Passing seemed quite bad. I scooped up my cards to a fourth turn Hellrider with nothing left in hand.
-2 Pyreheart Wolf -3 Wandering Wolf -1 Instigator Gang -2 Lightning Mauler
+1 Moonmist +2 Volcanic Strength +3 Brimstone Volley +2 Ranger’s Guile.
I really don’t like sideboarding like this, but I felt it necessary. I took out 8 creatures and brought in 8 noncreature spells, but the creatures I took out did absolutely nothing in the matchup. I felt it necessary to go all in on a creature and race.
Game 2: I led with a Captive. Eli started off with a Plains, and I rejoiced. I had no idea what hand he kept that involved leading out with a Plains, but I was okay with it. I hit him for 2 and played another Captive. The flipped Captive was hit with a Searing Spear. I followed with a Mayor and hit for two more. He played a Boros Reckoner on his third turn, and I played a Reckless Waif, leaving up Moonmist to be cute.
And cute I was.
Eli slammed a fourth land and played Aureilla’s Fury for two, targeting the Mayor and Waif. I slammed a Moonmist and won that mini battle. I played a Rancor on the Killer, and pumped it, assessing the game so that I didn’t mind killing the Reckoner if it meant losing my Killer or Howlpack. Eli didn’t block and went to 8. He played a Volcanic Strength on his Reckoner, cast a Legion Loyalist and a strength on the Loyalist. He attacked me to 17 with the Loyalist. I knew that I was soon dead, and had to try to kill him. I had to pass with my small humans to make them huge again, attacked the following turn, but I didn’t kill him. A Hellrider finished me off to ruin my chances at top 8.
I was quite happy with this deck, and I would gladly play it again. Any time you can put yourself in a position to make the top 8 of a tournament with more than 8 people in it, you are doing something right. This deck fit my play style extremely well. I really enjoy turning guys sideways and moving on from there.
I wouldn’t make any changes to the deck, with the lone exception of Huntmaster of the Fells. He is a great replacement for Instigator Gang. I seemed to take one or all of the Gangs out most frequently.
I’ll be back next week with some sort of wacky Dimir brew, I’m sure. There are a lot of options that I am going to try to explore with an unpopular deck in Standard currently. But, in the meantime, whether it’s the kitchen table or the feature match, have fun and keep brewing.