Fallen Angel – Second Place at the Pennsylvania ARG

arla2

Hello fellow Force of Will players!!  Halloween has come and gone and I spent my holiday participating in the ARG here in Pennsylvania.  I began playing trading card games starting with Magic the Gathering back in 2001, and have been playing competitively for four years. When I first found out about Force of Will I was immediately hooked and have been playing for roughly 5 months.  I was excited for this event as it was the first competitive Force event I would be able to attend and was eager to play.  For the past few weeks, my group of friends have been brewing different decks.  We felt that darkness had some of the most powerful support and believed that it was the best color to bring to the event. I had always been very impressed with the power of Seth the Arbiter and it was Seth that originally inspired me to brew this deck. After a few weeks of testing, I finally came up with a list I felt was strong and would work out well in the current meta. I felt confident in my choice as we drove up to the event from King of Prussia up to Allentown. This is the list I submitted at the ARG:

 

Arla, the Winged Lord/Arla, the Hegemon of the Sky

4 Perceval, the Seeker of Holy Grail

3 Rasputin

2 Cinderella, the Ashen Maiden

4 Mozart

3 Seth, the Arbiter

4 Scion of Ancient Lore

3 Nyarlathotep, the Usurper

3 Arthur, the Dead Lord of Vengeance

4 Artemis, the God’s Bow

3 Soulhunt

4 Stoning to Death

2 Spiral of Despair

1 Endless Night

 

Ruler: Arla, the Winged Lord/Arla, the Hegemon of the Sky

I expected to see a lot of Blazer decks at the event since 3 of my friends and playtesting partners were bringing blazer decks to the event. I wanted a ruler that provided a relevant and powerful effect on their ruler side and did not require to J-activate to be good.  From the beginning of testing, it was obvious how powerful of a regalia Artemis, the God’s Bow was. I figured that playing the ruler that maximized the bow’s power would be a good choice. In a meta where Blazer punishes you for J-activating and is a very popular ruler, I utilized a deck with Arla as the ruler and was not dependent on her flipping.

 

The Resonators:

Perceval, the Seeker of Holy Grail

Since I was main decking the 4 bows, I ran these to help improve my chances of finding these regalia.  Though there are not a lot of targets for Perceval to hit, they dig very well. Just to get an idea of how effective Perceval is, playing one turn one with you on the play lets you see the 5 cards in your opening hand and the next 5 cards of the deck.  That’s a 25% of the deck! Even if you cast Perceval and fail to find a valid target, the impacts of this are minimal.

 

Rasputin

This card was honestly one of the weakest cards in the deck, however she was still very strong.  She provides a recursive body that can chump block constantly and combos very well with Cinderella.

 

Cinderella

She is a strong combo piece and provides a sac outlet for Mozart and can sweep your opponent’s field of smaller resonators. With Rasputin, she can even take down larger resonators. She also provides a decently sized body to put some early pressure on the opponent.

 

Mozart

This card is amazing.  It blocks profitably, it attacks well, and I think this card is one of the best 2 drops in the game. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to play a dark deck in the first place and recommend it if you’re playing darkness.

 

Scion of the Ancient Lore

scion1

The MVP of the deck, this card did so much work it was crazy.  For those of you who play magic, this is very similar to Siege Rhino in power level.  For three will, it enters the battlefield your opponent loses 400 life and you gain 400 life. It also provides a solid 700/700 body.  It can block and trade with most threats and attacks very well.  As a midrange deck this is that important “pivot” card that helps shifts the deck from early game stabilization to closing the game out in the mid to late game.  It also helps after siding into Vlad Tepes to drain the opponent and applying pressure which is very good.

 

Seth the Arbiter

The primary reason I wanted to play black/white. When I was testing I originally has this as a 4 of because it turns all the 1 for 1 spells to become 2 for 1 spells which I thought was insane. Plus, having 2 or more Seths in play usually spells disaster for your opponent.  This card also enables a resonator lockdown in combination with Cinderella and Mozart.  With these three cards, you can keep your opponent from keeping any resonators on the field at all times which can be debilitating for some decks to recover from.  As good as this card is, I ultimately cut one to add a fourth Scion to the deck. Seth does not do much by himself and I found myself never wanting to play him before turn 5.  I always wanted to play him then immediately cast a spell like stoning or spiral to take advantage of his abilities.  Once Seth is on the field for a few turns he really takes over the game providing huge amounts of recursion and is great late game.

 

Nyarlathotep

Thoughtsieze on a big body is really good.  As with most resonators in the deck she provides immediate value when she is played.  She provides valuable information about your opponent’s hand and allows you to remove the best card from it.  She is also able to be cheated in with incarnate but this deck has a little bit of trouble pulling that off consistently, as a decent portion of the cheap resonators in the deck are light.  Even with having to pay her full cost most times, she is very good and a very powerful card.

 

Arthur

He is big, he buffs your guys, he usually weakens your opponent’s guys, and he has built in recursion. What’s not to love about this guy? He works great with soulhunt and provides an excellent finisher against everyone but other darkness decks.

 

Spells and Regalia

Artemis, the God’s Bow

Artemis

Why play Arla? Because 4 counters is amazing.  This card is so strong it doesn’t seem fair.  It provides cheap and repeatable removal and in multiples is extremely hard to break through.  It makes the aggressive resonator matchups highly favorable as it is very tough to fight through all the removal this card provides. While many feel the bow is lackluster compared to the other regalia, I feel this deck would not have worked out as well without this card.

 

Soulhunt

I’ll be honest I wasn’t sold on this at first.  It is a very tricky card to play effectively and get the full value off of it. It took a while before I figured out how to use this card correctly, but I have to say when used right, it is very good.  For example, in one of my Top 8 rounds, I had 2 bows in play, no resonators on the field, and a Perceval in hand, along with several other cards. I knew the Perceval would most likely not hit another bow, so it was not favorable to cast it. I used the Perceval as the discard part of Soulhunt’s casting. Soulhunt resolving not only got a dead card out of my hand, but also removed a card from my opponents hand as well as had them sacrifice one of their resonators. Soulhunt can be a 2 for 1 in the right situation and the extra cheap removal is very nice.

 

Stoning to Death

It kills everything but rulers at instant speed for cheap. Great removal spell.  Play 4 in the deck. They are essential.

 

Spiral of Despair

Good on the play and amazing on turns 2 and 3 but not as good on the draw.  It is very helpful against control decks but lackluster against aggressive decks past turn 4.

 

Endless Night

Another unconditional removal spell that also kills all the small resonators.  I liked it but at 3 will to cast I wouldn’t run more than 2 of them.

 

Stone Base

Little_Red__the_Pure_Stone

1 Little Red, the Pure Stone

4 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift

5 Basic Darkness Stones

Pretty basic stone base.  I ran 4 B/W dual stones to get the white while also providing black and the Little Red helps make our guys better in combat.  The rest need to tap for black as you want double black on turn 2 to cast Stoning to death on the potential Lancelot.

 

Sideboard

1 Blazer Gill Rabus

1 Vlad Tepes

3 Deathscythe, the Life Reaper

3 Marybell, the Steel Doll

1 Spiral of Despair

2 Mephistopheles

4 Dark Pulse

 

Blazer/ Deathscythe

This is my anti-ruler package.  I bring it in against 28 regalia and any other deck that heavily relies on their ruler J-activating.

 

Vlad

vlad

One of the big weaknesses of the main deck is that it has trouble in the very long games against control. The game one match up is definitely not in our favor as their card advantage is a bit better and our clock is not very quick. Vlad turns the deck into a late game powerhouse giving us an effective way to pressure our opponent and keep mana open to deal with threats as the game progresses.

 

Spiral of Despair

I originally has 2 in the board but never found myself wanting to play 4 spirals against any opponent so I cut this back to one. Spiral helps in the longer games against control decks by helping reduce the number of cards they are able to use.

 

Mephistopheles

A large beater with built in protection all at a fairly cheap price.  I bring them in against control as more threats that are a pain to deal with.  They can be helpful in walling other large resonators like Blazer or rulers like Jeanne d’Arc.  They are not particularly helpful in the aggro matchup so I feel they are better as a sideboard card than in the mainboard.

 

Marybell

They are useful for dealing with opponent’s regalia but the main reason I used them was as more threats against the slower decks especially Blazer Cthulhu.  They act similarly to man-lands in magic as solid beaters that are hard to deal with as they dodge chant speed removal like Hastur and Carmilla.

 

Dark Pulse

As good as the removal in the deck is, 1 for 1ing all your opponents threats just isn’t very possible against opponents like Blazer Knights or Grimm.  They go wider much faster than you can effectively remove all their threats which is why this card is so good.  These aggressive resonator decks run mostly converted mana cost 2 or less resonators so this basically acts as a board sweeper. Our bows and spot removal can take out any of their remaining guys, plus its instant speed which is pretty silly.  I think 4 might be a bit of overkill, as usually resolving just one of them is good enough to close out games, but I expected to see a lot of Blazer Knights and I wanted to really be sure I could bury them in removal.  I’m most likely cutting this down to 3 moving forward.

 

Event Breakdown

Round 1: Blazer Zoo

I was a bit bummed to play one of the guys I rode to the event with especially round 1, but alas we had to play and I ended up beating him game 3.

1-0

 

Round 2: Blazer Cthulhu Control

He won game one as I ran out of steam and I Vladed him to death game two with a finishing life total of 5200.  We ran out of time game three and drew.

1-0-1

 

Round 3: Banzai Grimm

Game 1 I had 3 bows by turn 4.  Game 2 he cast Blazer turn 5 and I ran out of removal.  Game 3 I had 2 bows turn one and an early Scion beat down most of the game.

2-0-1

 

Round 4: Blazer Knights

This version played multiple Gareths but a combination of multiple bows and spot removal helped me to close out games 1 and 3.

3-0-1

 

Round 5: B/W/R Blazer Cuthulu

It was a B/R Cthulhu deck but it splashed white for Seth. He locked me out game 1 with 2 Seths in play. Game 2 was close but he wasn’t able to bring me low enough before I drained him with Vlad.  Game 3 I had mostly on lockdown with a life total of 6000 until he played a Yog-Sothoth then a Susano next turn hitting me for 2700 in one turn.  It was a great comeback but unfortunately he was low enough that I killed him with Vlad when I recovered next turn.

4-0-1

 

Top 8 Quarterfinals Blazer Knights

I had 2 bows in play on my first turn both games which is really tough for the knights to get through.  I Dark Pulsed him game two wiping his field.  His health was too low to cast the 2 Split Heaven and Earth in his hand to kill me as he would take lethal from his own split and I would survive.

 

Top 8 Semifinals: Blue Blazer

This deck was awesome. It played Cheshire Cats and Lancelots which is a sweet combination in my book.  Our game 1 was close but I managed to pull ahead thanks to Scion (this card did so much work!!!).  Game 2 he sided into nameless girl and J-activated turn 2 and I stumbled to slow him down.  I managed to stabilize turn 5 with a Mephistopheles walling his Jeanne d’Arc but I was at 200 and he top decked an Alice’s Little Assault Force and we went to game 3.  This game was close but ultimately I pulled a victory with Scion and moved on to the finals.

 

Finals B/R Blazer Cthulhu

I was happy to hear my last opponent was a friend of mine and part of my playtesting group.  He was playing a B/R Cthulhu deck that was very strong and the matchup was very close between our decks.  Ultimately he won in game 3 and won the event.

 

This deck was a blast to play and is very powerful.  With almost every card giving some value immediately, the deck top decks very well. I really enjoyed Arla as my main ruler and she proved to be very powerful.  I had a great time at the ARG and look forward to playing more events as season 2 continues. I hope you enjoyed reading about the deck and my experience at the event!

Abzan Tokens, or Dark Mentor’s Spirits! (Modern)

Main Deck

Creatures (7)
Monastery Mentor
Dark Confidant

Sorcery (11)
Thoughtseize
Lingering Souls
Maelstrom Pulse

Instant (13)
Raise the Alarm
Abrupt Decay
Path to Exile
Surgical Extraction

Enchantment (2)
Intangible Virtue

Planeswalkers (3)
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Lands (24)
Plains
Swamp
Forest
Windswept Heath
Godless Shrine
Temple Garden
Overgrown Tomb
Murmuring Bosk
Isolated Chapel
Sunpetal Grove
Woodland Cemetary
Vault of the Archangel

When I first started getting into Modern this is the deck I came up with. This was a Standard deck during Innistrad block and I was absolutely blown away by the new Sorin. He was my favorite character in the lore at the time, and I really wanted a BW Planeswalker for my Teysa, Orzhov Scion EDH deck. He was perfect for me. I made a deck using him and Lingering Souls to swarm the board. I had Garruk Relentless backing them up with spot removal and death touch wolves. It was a lot of fun to play, and this deck is similar. It is much more of a control deck though. When Monastery Mentor was printed I wanted to abuse the crap out of it. This shell was still around, so I stuck him in there and have never been happier with how it turned out.

Sideboard

(15)
Timely Reinforcements
Rootborn Defenses
Sundering Growth
Nihil Spellbomb
Intangible Virtue
Beast Within

The sideboard kinda sucks unfortunately. I really like Timely Reinforcements against aggro and burn decks. Taping three in this deck makes people assume it’s Lingering Souls but then to get three creatures off the bat plus a huge life swing feels great. With Thoughtseize, Surgical Extraction, and fetch lands it can be fairly easy to get 1 or 2 points below your opponent to trigger the life gain. The rest of the Sideboard is not terribly exciting to me. I don’t use this deck in tournaments very often, so I don’t get to test out different cards.

GW Hatebears (Modern)

Main Deck

Creatures (27)
Noble Hierarch
Birds of Paradise
Leonin Arbiter
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Scavenging Ooze
Mirran Crusader
Loxodon Smiter
Aven Mindcensor

Planeswalkers (2)
Elspeth Knight Errant

Artifacts (2)
Sword of War and Peace

Instants (4)
Path to Exile
Lands (25)
Forest
Plains
Temple Guarden
Canopy Vista
Razorverge Thicket
Windswept Heath
Gavony Township
Ghost Quarter

This is my primary competitive Modern deck. While I don’t get to tournaments very often, this is usually what I pilot. I built the deck over the course of a year and some change. Trading for bits and pieces at a time. I wrote the list myself, but I used This article to find which cards I wanted to use. The list went through many versions before I decided on this particular build. The one before this actually ran Sun Titan and a fourth copy of Ghost Quarter as a land destruction package. I took it out because it was super slow and not terribly effective. If I could cast a 6 drop and have an untapped land ready to go, then chances are either destroying their mana base won’t do much or I’m already ahead and it is just rubbing salt in the wounds.

Sideboard

(15)
Voice of Resurgence
Kataki, War’s Wage
Leyline of Sanctity
Spellskite
Qasali Pridemage
Sword of Fire and Ice
Vryn Wingmare

This is the latest iteration of the sideboard. I’m not crazy about the single copy of Vryn Wingmare, but nothing else came to mind for that slot and it was the night before a GPt at a local shop. I may run a fourth Loxodon Smiter to go against control decks, but I’m already fairly well positioned against them. If I can get my hands on a second copy of Sword of Fire and Ice then I think I’d run that instead. The swords work really well with Mirran Crusader, so I may end up putting the one of in the main deck and running additional tech in the sideboard. Spellskite{/mtg_card] is quite good against Twin and Infect, so I may get a third copy of that.

Druid Ramp! (So original)

2x Innervate
2x Living Roots
2x Dragon Egg
1x Mark of the Wild
2x Power of the Wild
2x Wild Growth
2x Wrath
2x Savage Roar
1x Grove Tender
1x Silver Hand Regent
1x Soul of the Forest
1x Swipe
1x Keeper of the Grove
2x Violet Teacher
2x Nourish
1x Loatheb
2x Sludge Belcher
2x Force of Nature
1x Emperor Thaurissan

I don’t think there is anything super special about this deck, but man is it fun to play. While it is an original list it is inspired by Day[9]’s deck which he used a number of weeks ago. I don’t play too often, but this deck gives me a pretty good win percentage as well as being super fun. Violet Teacher is a more recent addition to my collection and she fits right into this deck. She makes every spell better because each [Violet Apprentice] enters play before the spell resolves. Soul of the Forest isn’t a terribly good card, but it is a favorite of mine and Violet Teacher makes it playable.

I don’t know what changes I’ll make when I get more cards, but I’m thinking of either adding more cards to activate the [Dargon Egg]s or removing them in favor of another 1 drop. This is my favorite deck to play right now though, at least until I pull a Justicar Trueheart and make a truly ‘inspirational’ deck.

Credit to Wizards of the Coast

Legendary Samurai Bros Deck List

Legendary Samurai Bros

General (1)
Iroas, God of Victory
Lands (39)
11 Plains
Mountain
Arid Mesa
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Thawing Glaciers
Boros Guildgate
Wind-Scarred Crag
Temple of Triumph
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Sacred Foundry
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Hammerheim
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Kher Keep
Slayers' Stronghold
Keldon Necropolis
Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
Ghost Quarter
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
Shivan Gorge

Artifacts (18)
Chrome Mox
Sol Ring
Skullclamp
Konda's Banner
Sword of the Animist
Swiftfoot Boots
Lightning Greaves
Scroll Rack
Commander's Sphere
Honor-Worn Shaku
Sword of Vengeance
Sunforger
Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho
Shell of the Last Kappa
Solemn Simulacrum
Heroes' Podium
Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang
Akroma's Memorial

Sorceries (2)
Faithless Looting
Wrath of God

Instants (9)
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Lightning Helix
Boros Charm
Aurelia's Fury
Deflecting Palm
Chaos Warp
Master Warcraft
Comeuppance

Enchantments (6)
Legion's Initiative
Scourge of the Nobilis
Honden of Infinite Rage
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Day of Destiny
True Conviction

Planeswalkers (1)
Gideon, Champion of Justice

Creatures (24)
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Sensei Golden-Tail
Kentaro, the Smiling Cat
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Feldon of the Third Path
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Hero of Bladehold
Nagao, Bound by Honor
Fumiko the Lowblood
Jazal Goldmane
Diaochan, Artful Beauty
Tajic, Blade of the Legion
Anger
Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
Balefire Liege
Heartless Hidesugu
Nobilis of War
Homura, Human Ascendant
Sun Titan
Aurelia, the Warleader
Konda, Lord of Eiganjo
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

This deck is one of my favorites. It has amazing come-back potential, great sticking power, and is very tricky for my opponents to deal with. It has come back from single digit life totals many times.

What started as a silly Samurai tribal deck became a more powerful RW agro deck with a legendary sub theme. I went out of my way to find some goofy legendary lands and other permanents to go with that flavor. I made this deck back in Scars of Mirrodin block originally, so I’ve had plenty of time to tweak it. I’ve gone through 4 generals before settling on Iroas (I say ‘settle,’ but really he is way too powerful to ignore). The only one who got cut from the deck entirely was Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. The previous generals Aurelia, the Warleader, Tajic, Blade of the Legion, and Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran are all still present to lead the army in case of Iroas’ absence.

The deck can maintain a low profile for a while, so in a multiplayer game it want draw attention right away. I’ll play some small creatures and Iroas to slowly increase my devotion. Then play one of the large devotion heavy spells (True Conviction and Nobilis of War come to mind) and swing at someone for a huge amount. It usually doesn’t kill the player, but it makes everyone else at the table switch to me as their main target (archenemy is always fun). Fending off three to four players at once with this deck really feels like a samurai taking on more several soldiers at once, making this deck an absolute blast to play. Even when it doesn’t go my way (which happens frequently) you can some really cool combat scenarios using Master Warcraft and some other combat tricks thanks in large part to Sunforger grabbing any instant I need.

The only downside of this deck is that it can have very slow draws. It is very mana heavy and many of the legendary lands are too ‘durdly’ to be effective. They add to the flavor and fun of the deck, so I won’t be removing any in the forseeable future. I do have a list of silly lands to add though (Rath’s Edge would be a welcome addition).

Hopefully you enjoyed this deck as much as I do.