Eight Matches with Blightning Beatdown – Part 1

Wherein Michael J. Flores discusses the beginnings of his preparation for the upcoming Star City Games $5000 tournament in Philadelphia, PA. This article features initial deck selection, card choices, and testing with a modified version of Blightning Beatdown.

So there is a big Standard tournament coming up the first week of December.

It is a Star City Games $5000 tournament (you know, the kind Alex Bertoncini always wins) in Philadelphia, PA. I lived in Philadelphia for four years, and won my first PTQ there with a heavily metagamed B/R Necropotence deck.


Recently, over at Top 8 Magic, I have been thinking a lot about my deck selection over the past couple of years. It all started when Brian David-Marshall accused me of being the Greenest One of All in a recent Top 8 Magic Podcast. [In case you haven’t been reading Top 8 Magic… which you should be] I have been some kind of Green in 80% of my last 20 individual Constructed tournaments. I even did a spreadsheet breakdown.

Yep, down 199 rating points over that time period.

On balance, the twenty individual Constructed tournaments before those I was Green only about 1/3 of the time. Instead, I was up 146 points, qualified for two Constructed Pro Tours, crushed a late summer Standard with my U/W “Wafo-Tapa” deck that won five straight NAC Qualifiers (Steve Sadin, Julian Levin, yours truly, some guy not in our crew, and Chad Kastel), finished Top 16 in that respective NAC, and of course finished two-then-one in the New York State Championships in consecutive attempts.

I am not 100% down on Green at all (in fact, Critical Mass was one of the best decks I ever developed, hands down)… But I think Brian probably has a point that I am biased towards Green.

But not in Philadelphia; when I won that PTQ, it was with B/R.

End aside.

Speaking of B/R, I have been heavily impressed with Oscar Almgren’s Blightning Beatdown since I first stumbled upon it and made the initial Blightning Beatdown videos.

At the pre-States Top 8 Magic Mock Tournament, Brian David-Marshall kicked all kinds of bum with Matt Ferrando’s version of Blightning Beatdown — which didn’t even have Bitterblossom or Demigod of Revenge if you can believe THAT — and recommended it for States on basis of our previous Mock Tournament prognostication with Jushi Blue, B/W Deadguy Ale, &c.

However for myself, Josh Ravitz had already [physically] made me my Jund Mana Ramp deck and told me he would punch me in the face if I didn’t play it. Josh himself, though, smartly switched to Blightning Beatdown! He finished a match out of Top 8 in New Jersey, parallel to me.

So anyway, based on many factors — including a deliberate effort to broaden my color choices, my frustrations with playing Reflecting Pool Control mirrors, and my hatred of plus desire to quash the First Among Equals — I decided to at least try out Blightning Beatdown as the initial weapon of choice. I really love this strategy and its combination of pressure, domination over the Fae, and the namesake card Blightning itself.

For reference, here is Oscar Almgren’s original LCQ-winning version:

4 Bitterblossom

4 Ashenmoor Gouger
4 Blightning
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Goblin Deathraiders

4 Flame Javelin
4 Incinerate
4 Tarfire

4 Auntie’s Hovel
4 Ghitu Encampment
4 Graven Cairns
4 Sulfurous Springs
5 Mountain
2 Reflecting Pool
1 Swamp

4 Infest
4 Thoughtseize
3 Everlasting Torment
4 Magma Spray

This is the deck that I tested for this exercise:

4 Bitterblossom

4 Blightning
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Figure of Destiny

4 Flame Javelin
4 Hell’s Thunder
4 Incinerate
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Tarfire

4 Auntie’s Hovel
4 Ghitu Encampment
4 Graven Cairns
4 Sulfurous Springs
5 Mountain
2 Reflecting Pool
1 Swamp

4 Infest
3 Thoughtseize
4 Gutteral Response
4 Everlasting Torment

Here are the modifications I made for this one:
-4 Ashenmoor Gouger; +4 Hell’s Thunder
-4 Goblin Deathraiders; +4 Mogg Fanatic

I like the relentless pressure that Hell’s Thunder gives you when you already have a little momentum. Neither 4.4 for three mana is particularly good against beatdown, but the Shards of Alara option is a much better racer. Ashenmoor Gouger is better against the Fae, but Hell’s Thunder is much better against Reflecting Pool Control. Those are obviously the two most popular decks, and the First Among Equals is already a cakewalk, so I wanted to err leaning the other way.

Josh played Goblin Deathraiders at States, but no Tarfire. Basically both of us — and Oscar himself — all ran some combination of these Goblin cards. I just wanted more fast action (which might be in slight conflict with this deck’s Ghitu Encampments and annoying basic Swamp).

I borrowed Oscar’s mana base in the entirety; no complaints so far, really, other than I mulligan more than I am used to and I don’t particularly love the Swamp; on balance Josh loves the Swamp and says you might need 26 lands in this strategy (I don’t know if I am that brave, though).

As for the sideboard modifications, I really wanted to play with Gutteral Response because the only way the Fae can get out of your tempo games is usually with multiple Cryptic Commands, and Gutteral Response v. Cryptic Command is about the best fight you can expect in Standard. I really don’t like Magma Spray and if you are already playing Everlasting Torment, I just don’t see the value in it; those are the side justifications.

A brief card breakdown:

Unsurprisingly, the best card in the deck. It feels so much better in this deck than in the Fae. I really like the pressure this card provides against control — which typically operates in that old school “remove the threats” way even in 2008 — allowing you to sit back and set up with burn spells. Just such a great card… which is why I and everyone else hates it so damn much. But hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Probably my favorite card to play in the deck. You just feel so powerful resolving this on turn three. Do you realize it only does one fewer damage than a Flame Javelin? Ka-pow! My favorite play is attacking with my 2/2 Figure of Destiny on turn three with mana open, and playing the chicken game. Nope; let’s go to damage. Grumble Grumble. Here, have a Blightning. Grumble Grumble.

Demigod of Revenge
Ferrando didn’t play this card at all! Honestly I don’t play it very much on account of stalling. It is still like the best big guy in Standard, and one of the scariest possible threats against any kind of Counterspells.

Figure of Destiny

Flame Javelin

Hell’s Thunder
As above; we replaced Ashenmoor Gouger with this guy, 4/4 for three for 4/4 for three. Ashenmoor Gouger is mostly better against Faeries and Hell’s Thunder is mostly better against Reflecting Pool Control. Of the two most popular decks, one is a near bye. So we went with the card that was / is better against the other one, that is more likely to tap out for a Firespout / Wrath of God and give you an open to brain for four.

This is probably my least favorite card in the deck. I can see going to two copies for 26 lands per Josh’s suggestion, and / or swtiching to Lash Out. But no official changes as of yet.

Mogg Fanatic
Mogg Fantastic! I re-added this to the strategy (if you recall my pre-States Demigod Deck Wins videos all featured Tattermunge Maniac) based on the Brett Blackman video. He could not stop ranting about how bad Mogg Fanatic is for Faeries. In.

I actually have loved this card so far. Not powerful, but a Goblin for my Auntie’s Hovels… and it works nicely with this deck’s often tight mana.

As for testing format, I decided to do eight rounds in the Tournament Practice room as an initial run.

But we’ll have to look into those games tomorrow!


facebook comments:


#1 zsievers on 11.22.08 at 10:08 pm

I had a thought about those awful 5c mirrors:

Would boarding Realm Razors be any good?

#2 enzoreal on 11.23.08 at 4:46 am

I think you should use something on the sideboard against the mirror because you lose a lot of life with bitterblossom and sulfurous springs.
What would be good against the mirror???

#3 janVN on 11.23.08 at 6:42 am

I would run 2 Unwilling Recruit in the sideboard, at the expense of 2 Everlasting Torment. You’ll hate the times when you draw 2 Everlasting Torment and Unwilling Recruit kills them out of nothing with Story Circle or multiple Runed Halos in play. Recruit is also very good in the mirror. Maybe also switch around the 3 en 4 of Thougtseize and Guttural Response, I think you want the proactive card over the reactive one most of the time.

#4 KZipple on 11.23.08 at 11:33 am

I agree that Everlasting Torment is bad. I almost never want to draw it. I would probably play 4x Magma Spray instead. I played some Red Deck online yesterday, seeing how often I would rather have Torment than Magma Spray. Not often; not nearly as often as the other way around.
I would go with -4 Incinerate, +3 Lash Out, +1 Mountain [or Mutavault if you’re less of a pansy than me]. 26 lands seems like too many, but 25 sounds pretty good. Plus the Lash Out gets us up to 26 by the Alan Comer Metric.

#5 dyre42 on 11.24.08 at 12:10 pm

I’m curious as to what you have against Magma Spray. It keeps Kitchen Finks from being reappearing and cuts down the number of weenies that Reveilark can recycle.

#6 KZipple on 11.24.08 at 2:42 pm

Another idea: could Caldera Hellion be good instead of Infest? It’s got to be easier to cast, so it probably isn’t as much slower as the mana cost would suggest. Plus it’s got a lot more upside. Thoughts?

#7 enzoreal on 11.24.08 at 2:52 pm

KZipple are u a token???
splash to black was to introduce Infest and to can win of kithikin decks(burreton)

#8 KZipple on 11.24.08 at 3:30 pm

That’s why I was presenting it as a suggestion. The black cards that excite me are Thoughtseize and Blightning, not Infest. With the advent of Hell’s Thunder, I feel like we’re better equipped to burn over the top and worry a little less about the Forge-Tender. Maybe I’m wrong though.

#9 admin on 11.24.08 at 7:12 pm

@ zsievers
I don’t think Realm Razor is any better than Mind Shatter. It’s equally fast and easy / difficult to cast, but Mind Shatter is one sided. That is not to say it’s worse… just not better I think.

@ enzoreal
I thought that too, except Blightning was up like 8-2 in the mock tournament “mirror” testing. I confess I’ve never played the matchup heads up myself, but I think I would want something along the lines of Lash Out, which is more flexible.

I disagree strenuously on this. Everlasting Torment handles a lot of different things all with a single card… Forge-Tender, Runed Halo, Kitchen Finks. I have suffered the double-draw but I have also lost close games that would have been blowouts if I had an Everlasting Torment. This deck beats most decks in Stage Three with Demigod of Revenge; Torment allows you to trump their Stage Two “trumps” of various stripes. Doesn’t mean I am right… But when I am on the other side of the table I fear the Torment.

I would consider Lash Out but I brain so often with Incinerate it is a tough sell. I would definitely consider Lash Out for the sideboard. I think that Magma Spray is needlessly narrow for this deck. I am not saying it is bad, just that I don’t want to play it and that all my cards are better than it. Is that saying it’s bad?

I don’t have anything against Magma Spray. In fact I don’t like to see it when I am Kitchen Finks. That said, I still win usually. Take that for what you will. I think the opportunity cost of Magma Spray is inversely related to its mana cost in this deck.

@KZipple again
I really like Caldera Hellion, but I think this deck needs Black removal or it can’t beat Spectral Procession and Forge-Tender. Caldera Hellion is 5 and doesn’t get through a Forge-Tender. Infest is 3 and does get through a Forge-Tender. That is the basis of my decision.

@ enzoreal again
What he said.

@KZipple again redux
You can lose to their playing multiple Processions and chump-blocking you while gaining life on the ground with Meadowgrain. I actually think that is a difficult matchup because of seeing friends complain about it between rounds. 🙂

Thanks everyone for the responses. I was writing Part 2 last night but fell asleep watching Iron Chef America. Updates coming soon.


#10 Five With Flores » Eight Matches with Blightning Beatdown - Part 2 on 11.24.08 at 11:05 pm

[…] case you didn’t read Eight Matches with Blightning Beatdown – Part 1, here is the deck […]

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