Unbelievably, this is the second Five With Flores post devoted to Aether Adept.
… I can’t believe it either!
Jon Medina invented this thing called FNM Hero where he has to start from scratch with a budget of only $100.
For some reason Medina has chosen to try to “go infinite” at Magic with a bunch of garbage (though given the budget constraints, non-garbage might be hard to come by).
You can actually build a semi-reasonable deck in Standard for under $100 (emphasis on “semi-”).
I decided to try this:
Obviously the Snapcaster Mages and one Consecrated Sphinx are going to be the most expensive cards; I don’t recall Jon’s exact pricing strictures, but you can get Snapcaster Mage for about $17 on Amazon.com so I assume that using resources other than the most high profile sites you can get the rares for under $100. Everything else is pretty negligible in terms of cost.
I tested a lot of Delver last month and I knew going in that this deck would be even weaker to tokens than regular Delver of Secrets decks. Oh well. Obviously I played against 50% tokens.
The beauty of this is that even though I was playing a super budget deck with literally 21 Islands and 4 Aether Adepts, people still complained about Delver of Secrets. I mean the card is a penny and also the best card in Standard. What do you expect me to play? Maybe a mid-range Green creature for four times the cost and half the power?
Anyway I played four rounds in the Tournament Practice Room. It’s not like I made the next Naya Lightsaber or anything, but the results were pretty promising. I didn’t play real tournament queues because… Well, it should be obvious. But I figured that FNM (Jon’s forum for his project) is less competitive than a PTQ / SCG Open (which is what I would prepare for in queues). Here is what happened:
His deck was a fully loaded Pod deck.
If he is reading this he probably wants to jump off of the top of Birthing Pod, maybe into the mythical river Lethe to forget.
Anyway, I kept a triple Delver, one land hand in Game One. He was defeated. Yes, he got one of my Delvers with a Fiend Hunter. The next turn I flipped Mana Leak, turned the other two over, and it was never really close.
In Game Two he got three Birds of Paradise; conveniently I got three Gut Shots, using a combination of “drawing them off the top of my [budget] deck” and Snapcaster Mage[s]. I also Mage’d up double Flashfreeze, which was excellent.
Game Two was a heartbreaker if we can consider fake budget decks “tested” in the Tournament Practice room heartbreaker-eligible games. I basically got him to three with scotch tape, spit, torn fingernails, and desperation. He had one card, and it was a Doomed Traveler I had bounced. He had two Crusades but I had basically never allowed him to get the pounce with creatures. I had an Aether Adept and an Insective Aberration in play.
What can he rip?
Obviously the Tom Martell commemorative Lingering Souls is the only card that saves him there, so that is what he got. I looked at the shiny Vapor Snag in my hand and frowned. I guess he could have played Day of Judgment there, but the outs were thin. I had one mana open at the end of his turn, so Mise Thought Scour.
… Flipping over what would have been the game-winning Corrosive Gale.
(If in fact we can consider this a hearbreaker-eligible game, again).
Sadly he had Vault of the Archangel in play so I didn’t really think it was worth playing out given his army of 3/3 flyers.
Game Three I got frustrated at having such substandard cards and threw it in too early. I guess if you are going to do an experiment like this you shouldn’t really take that attitude. I guess none of my cards are godawful (except Aether Adept, maybe); but not having basic defensive stuff like Ratchet Bomb or a way to get back in a game that starts to fall out of your hands is pretty annoying.
BW TOKENS (again)
G1 – I was actually pretty worried because my hand wasn’t aggressive and he got a one-two guy-Gather draw… And then conceded turn three when I Mana Leaked his Intangible Virtue. Um, okay. I’ll take it?
G2 – I got a fast double Delver draw, Leaked him once, and then got him to death on a Vapor Snag. Ho hum. The Vapor Snag turn was pretty interesting. He had four lands in play and a Sword of Body and Mind; he had two tokens from previous token generation. I was kind of weighing my options and decided I was going to Snag his Sword attempt, and at least make him tap all four lands to get the Sword online (plus take one less, I guess). But then he played pre-combat Honor of the Pure. Well that’s two mana down! He equipped one of the tokens, I bounced, he right-clicked, etc.
G1 – I kept a one-land double-Delver draw. I Probed him to see Merfolk Looter and flipped my first Delver with Gut Shot. I was so rich I did not even Gut Shot the Looter until the second time it came down.
G2 – This was a weird game where I countered everything and he didn’t have a second White for Sun Titan for several turns despite drawing lots of extra cards. He sat on a Nihil Spellbomb for a long time, which wasn’t actually that annoying, but was kind of a Greater Gargadon ticking down its time counters if you know what I mean. I wasn’t going to get out of the game with Snapcaster Mage is what it meant. Anyway, I countered everything but my deck doesn’t actually have that many counters and he eventually got the Titan and I conceded.
G3 – Probably the most improbable game I have played in months. I have a not-very-aggressive hand, but eventually get Consecrated Sphinx in play. I have previously Probed him and it seemed safe. Well of course he picks that turn to rip Sun Titan and naturally had Phantasmal Image. The next two turns we play cat-and-mouse with him getting the Image but me having Vapor Snag and Gut Shot. He then gets an Oblivion Ring and I can’t defend the Consecrated Sphinx. Now at this point he has a fake-Sphinx in play and I had a line where I could have played Thought Scour to start the “we both draw as much as we like” phase of the game. I could have drawn tons, gotten the tools necessary to deal with both his Titan and Image, or maybe even double-Leaked the Ring, but I didn’t see it at the time. Instead I just bounced his Sphinx so I wouldn’t have to deal with a Sphinx and tried to play the tempo game. Incidentally I had drawn 4-6 cards with my Sphinx and they were all g-d Islands.
I got some Delver beats in and put him to a bad spot. I drew Ponder and found Vapor Snag and two Islands. I probably should have shuffled. I kept the Snag, bounced his Titan and got in with an Adept and Insectile Aberration, putting him to one. Now there are lots of problems with this play. For one, I put myself in a spot where I knew I had lands on top and I would end up having to chump block. My implementation was also bad, but then again, it was 1:30 and I was playing a pretty Baxterized deck so maybe I can be forgiven? I could have waited a half-turn and bounced better even if I kept the Snag / Island / Island tops. The way I did it, he could re-play Sun Titan, get Phantasmal Image, and copy Insectile Aberration, locking me pretty badly down.
Now the game wasn’t over!
I of course had the Islands on top and had to chump his Titan after one attack.
Now it gets really weird.
He rips Trinket Mage (!?!) and gets the Nihil Spellbomb from last game. Now he has Spellbomb + Titan for a draw engine. The other half of the Spellbomb is also annoying as I pick that turn to draw Snapcaster Mage (or rather, Thought Scour into Snapcaster Mage). There is both a Vapor Snag and a Gut Shot in my bin and he is at one life.
The Snapcaster has to chump. Predictable.
In the ensuing turn he casts Forbidden Alchemy, binning Spellskite, and brings that back.
Like I said, “improbable.”
Both my second and fourth rounds were winnable. This is remarkable as I figured Tokens was an awful matchup, plus my deck lacked such basic functionality as “non-Island lands” or the plenty of white, viz. Geist of Saint Traft and Moorland Haunt. Think a Moorland Haunt might have won some of those one-point games? In particular I really wish I saw the Thought Scour catalyst “we both have Sphinxes” play in real time. That would have made for a story, wouldn’t it?
Now as bad as the structure of this deck is for FNM Hero purposes, I actually like some of the stuff. I was all ready to credit Caleb Durward with Consecrated Sphinx in Delver, but it turns out that way back in September my first Innistrad deck list had not just Delver of Secrets when the rest of the world was still playing Phantasmal Bear, but Batterskull and Consecrated Sphinx as two ofs, each. Man, I am smart at this! In any case, I found Consecrated Sphinx outstanding in this deck, and I think I would actually play 1-2 in “real” Delver.
Anyway, I got tired of not having Geist of Saint Traft in my deck and packed it in. That said, I think with a bit more focus you can probably 4-0 FNM even with a Baxterized Delver deck, and I know I would much rather be on Delvers than mid-range green stuff, especially if I can’t afford dual lands.
What do you think Jon?