Super Quick Philly $5K Update

… Okay.

Well, it started off a little frustrating.

Then I worked very hard.

Got my feature match.

Light was right there, at the end of the tunnel.


Unbelievable disaster.

Finally fattening.

So for the Philly $5K I went with Blightning Beatdown. Surprising, I know.

This is the deck list.

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
4 Gutteral Response
4 Everlasting Torment
3 Lash Out 

This list is 72/75 what I have been featuring every related blog post and video. Josh Ravitz supplied the physical cardboard and told me that I had too many cards for Reflecting Pool Control (my best matchup) and elected not to supply me with Thoughtseize, instead gave me some Lash Outs. The Lash Outs were great!

ROUND ONE – Merfolk
I played against Curtis, an old friend of WillPop aka Will Price of Progress aka Will Price (boring) from Top8Magic.

Game One I rolled the ‘folk, no probs, won at 19 drawing two Blightnings.

I hadn’t really thought about sideboarding against Merfolk and sided out Blightning for Infest, Hell’s Thunder for Gutteral Response.

Basically got runner, runner-runner’d out of Games two and three. In Game Three, it was literally 14-19 my lead and I ka-powed through two Reveillarks and all his little guys with Infest and a Mogg Fanatic. My grip was double Demigod of Revenge versus nil. He ripped Reveillark #3. Okay, well, I guess I’m sending Demigod #1 to his doom. Back come Merrow Reejeery and Sower of Temptation (no targets). However he has a Windbrisk Heights and some man land action. He comes in for six or so and forces me to pick up a Ghitu Encampment. No probs I have Sulfurous Springs to get back in there with Demigod and have to take two points to play my Demigods. The prob is… He ripped Loxodon Warhammer off of the Cryptic Command off of the Windbrisk Heights. So now I have two Demigods, am north of 10 life… and can’t attack.

Still he has no card in hand. I have to leave my guys home in case he draws a Merfolk for Reejeery tap but once I have active mana I can defend with Ghitu Encampments on the ground.

What is the single worst card he can pull?

Sower of Temptation!

Nil into ‘Lark into Cryptic into Loxodon into Sower?


Actually not magnanimus at all.

He takes my 5/4 and… You know how it went.


ROUND SEVEN – Reflecting Pool Control

I won five or six straight to go 6-1 at this point. Details at Top8Magic. Brian did a bonzer job by the way, updating on-the-go all day from his iPhone (have I mentioned we live in the future)?


ROUND EIGHT – Disaster!

So you are on a six round run.

You have beaten Story Circle on Red (on turn three, with no Blossom on board) and Story Circle on Black in the same game — without siding in Everlasting Torment; you’ve won the 56/60 mirror against probably a superior player (upcoming You Make the Play); you’ve pulled out a close one against the Fae by ripping Gutteral Response exactly when you needed a Gutteral Response.

Now you are two games from Top 8.



Windbrisk Heights.


Game One I only pulled five spells… and one was a Hell’s Thunder — it doesn’t even count!

Yet I have gotten him to two with a really brave Mogg Fanatic.

He’s on two.

If he’s not lethal next turn, it’s close.

You pull Incinerate!

The problem? Previous turn he picked up Burrenton Forge-Tender and played it.



Game Two I was maybe tilting. I kept five lands (no Ghitu Encampment), Tarfire, Everlasting Torment. The only other spell I pulled the entire game was a second Everlasting Torment.


And that was the tournament.

I played the last round to see if I could get away with a $100 Top 16 prize.

Opponent was Fae.

I shipped to Paris four times in the two games. The real pisser was I had to ship a “perfect” two-land hand… but both lands were my two Reflecting Pools! No! Even against the Fae this was a pretty bad disadvantage. I could have won either game if I hit a break, but in Game Two he played three Cryptic Commands when any other response spell meant that I was going to get there.

And that was the tournament.

Josh says I was on tilt the last 1.5-2 rounds, but I think I played pretty well overall. I do not regret my deck selection by even one card, though I think three Everlasting Torments might have been better than four (final Lash Out).


facebook comments:


#1 Cabrera on 12.07.08 at 1:15 pm

Good Day my dear Flores. I leave the following comments:

– Why are you playing 4 Sulfurous Springs? With the lands we are living in today, is it necessary to play AT MOST 2?

– Are 4 Hell’s Thunder really better than 4 Gouger? If we were to give the Gouger a conservative value of 4 damage plus 1 card (chump block or removal), would it be better than an even MORE daring conservative estimate of 8 damage from that THUNDA?

– 1 Thoughtseize for 1 Tartfire…

From the past podcasts I’ve heard, it seems you are irritated by single and duo copies of cards in decks. Think about em in packages: are 4 Tartfires better than 3 Tarfires and a Thoughtseize?

– Are 4 Infest better than 4 Pyroclasm? I admit I have not analyzed such a comparison, but it seems that all you’re doing is paying an extra mana. Oh yeah, them Burrenton fools are immune to the Clasm. Perhaps 2 Clasm and 2 Infest are better than 4 Infest? (THINK IN PACKAGES!)

– 4 Everlasting Torment is fundamentally too much. 3 would be the max, considering that 2 copies is usually redundant. I say this because one must always strive for the IDEAL!

– At least 1 Lash Out for 1 Incinerate in the main…

That is all, good day.

#2 admin on 12.07.08 at 3:29 pm

Hi Cabrera!

Thanks so much for your comment.

I spent a fair amount of my time on the answers to your questions, so please take them constructively. Sometimes I sound heavy-handed but I don’t mean to be unfriendly, especially in this case (I know I can sound unfriendly sometimes when I disagree with someone). I really appreciate your comment and thank you for participating in the site.

1. Sulfurous Springs is my least favorite land in this deck (well until I had to mulligan a two land hand v. Fae that included 2 Mogg Fanatics, 2 Tarfires, and a Bitterblossom)… Josh hates the Hovel (I think it is fine in this deck). I would be hesitant to cut any because I favor consistency… What do you suggest? Mountain?

2. They’re both bad against Kithkin. Hell’s Thunder is kind of bad against Fae (but you usually hit and win anyway); Hell’s Thunder is insane v. other Red Decks and Reflecting Pool Control. Gouger really does nothing a lot of the time (though it is great v. Fae). I think Hell’s Thunder is far better in this deck. Don’t forget that Hell’s Thunder is much harder to block and that if you get the flashback you are likely favored to win.

3. I would never do that. I would not cut any Tarfires, for one. It’s the best burn card in this deck. I don’t know what matchup I would rather have your proposed package. Remember, Tarfire untaps a land on turn one.

Tarfire is good against Knight of the Meadowgrain and Figure of Destiny whereas I only ever sided in Thoughtseize against decks with Island. This deck would much rather deal with the former two cards without spending a life (there is the added question of being able to play Thoughtseize on turn one, which is not automatic) and that most decks with Island you are going to win anyway… So that single Thoughtseize is an overload in matches you are going to win anyway, and only cost you in the ones that are more difficult to win. I generally prefer Gutteral Response over Thoughtseize against Island anyway.

4. I don’t know what you mean think in packages. Consistency is largely about opportunity and opportunity cost. There is no math backing up these assorted four-slot packages: the paths are usually quite clear… If you score an Infest you will demolish their all-in strategy. If you don’t draw one you will get blown out no matter what you draw; why would I want my chances of winning literally halved? How is there even a question here? You can compare something like Nameless Inversion to Infest but not Pyroclasm. The deck has certain capabilities and has certain weaknesses. Adding 2 Pyroclasm does basically nothing in terms of its weaknesses (I would actually argue it is just plain bad… this is a Bitterblossom deck); you need to be able to deal with a specific card that can’t be dealt with with Red removal, usually paired with many other small creatures. The path here can’t be clearer.

5. I mean I drew 2 one match. Does that mean they are too many at four? You have to realize there are many matchups where the opponent will put high starting hand value on multiple cards that are all trumped by a single Everlasting Torment (for instance in my Feature Match one Everlasting Torment overtook a turn one Forge-Tender, stopped a Kitchen Finks from persisting, and made the first strike on Ghitu Encampment basically inexorable). The games change whether you draw the first one or not. _THAT_ is why you play four: You just want to draw one so that the rules of the game change. The main argument people have is “the second one is a mulligan.” That might and might not be true: The opponent often has something like an Esper Charm (my opponents generally had these when I had Everlasting Torment). However the real tension is that the game with Everlasting Torment in play _IS A DIFFERENT GAME, PLAYED BY DIFFERENT RULES_… What you get in return for a _POTENTIAL_ mulligan in some percentage of games is nothing less than control of the field of battle, as well as potentially a Mind Twist on the opponent’s all in hand, which considering player behavior, is potentially even more valuable.

6. In a deck like this one of those cards is going to be better than the other the overwhelming majority of the time. If this is true, there is literally no mathematical justification for mixing the numbers. In this deck, you usually want to have Incinerate to finish off the opponent when you have the initiative. Now even assuming you have a Lash Out and that you win the clash (which occurs less than 50% of the time), there is a big problem: Simply that in these situations, the opponent will generally not even have any creatures in play. Now you can argue that in order to get _TO_ this situation, Lash Out would be preferable in a pre-pseudo-Stage Three situation, and you would certainly be right. However think about your proposal. You will draw Incinerate three times as often as Lash Out given this proposal. How can you possibly control drawing Lash Out in Stage One and Incinerate in pseudo-Stage Three? Meaning that all you are doing is creating randomness in the system. Randomness generally favors the worse player, and can generally only help a better player who is behind on strategy.

In this case the randomness is particularly bad. Say you are better 1/3 of the time and worse 1/3 of the time. Your being better 1/3 of the time helps _BOTH_ players’ draws, and will deal three to the opponent less than half the time. But it is better. Let’s say Stage One Lash Out is worth 1.33 Incinerates for the sake of argument. However your being worse is horrendous. It’s basically a mulligan if the opponent doesn’t have a creature, and again, you are hitting his head less than half the time. Pseudo Stage-Three Lash Out is worth 0 Incinerates! Now the way I played the deck I had mixed groups of Incinerate and Lash Out quite often. However those came in two groups: 4 Incinerate and 3 Lash Out (that is the maximum of each), e.g. v. another Red Deck. In this case you just want redundancy. Lash Out is usually better in this matchup but all you want to do is prevent any creature damage and hit land drops, and this scenario helps you to do that (this is consistent: it is just that the other option is overwhelmingly better against another Red Deck); plus, redundancy actually helps you to have Lash Out early and Incinerate late, if only because you can save Incinerate thanks to possibly having another option early. This is only accomplished because you have broken the four-of box. The other option is that you have some number of Incinerate less than four and all your Lash Outs (e.g. v. Fae). In this case you win most games where you are not manascrewed and Incinerate is overload damage on any creature that is not a not a Mistbind Clique (that is, you don’t cut any Flame Javelins or Tarfires). Notice how these two scenarios have very different strategic goals, but both involve maximizing the number of Lash Outs.

To my mind these are both “packages” based on redundancy _OVER_ a four-of… I don’t actually know of very many decks where mixed four-of “packages” make very much sense.

I am actually going to write about how gambling and creating randomness can help a better player at some point, but I can’t see how 3 Incinerate and 1 Lash Out would ever be right in a deck like this. 2 and 2 is even worse. I can see 2 Lash Out and 0 Incinerate, for instance, but see you are creating an entirely different schema here, complete with 2 more lands in all likelihood.

#3 wobblesthegoose on 12.07.08 at 5:27 pm

Interesting tournament report, and also an interesting forum post. Thoughts on the following

– Lash Out vs Nameless Investion vs Puncture Blast vs Unwilling Recruit. Of all your options, Last out seems like the weakest. I understand that they were a last minute addition, but would you keep playing with them or look for a better use of those slots.

– How much do you think past performance with an archetype really tells about future play? For example, your record with monored beatdown decks seems almost as lack luster as as your performance with green decks, although there are a lot fewer data points. Meanwhile, you seem to rock blue based aggro control builds. One of my friends was always drawn to playing the mono-red deck of a given format, but he never manages to crack the top 8 with them. Meanwhile, forcing him to play control or aggro control works wonders, culminating in day 2 with Fae at GP Denver. I mean, I’m sure Blightning beatdown is good, but I’m not convinced that it’s a consistently better strategy than Faeries or Wizards or Reflecting Pool in general, and possibly not for your skills as a player.

#4 Cabrera on 12.07.08 at 7:58 pm

Well let me first say that your opening statement PROVES you are nothing but a sound playa. With that said I must add that DAMN, MY ASS IS ON THE LINE WITH ALL THAT YOU WROTE, I BEST CHECK MY MANA TO ENSURE I COME CORRECT.

With that said, consider this…

YOUR DECK LIST CONTAINS 56 CARDS. My ass was baffled while building it in Magic Workstation. In any case, here is a conservative deck list I would recommend for improvement purposes:

2 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Figure of Destiny
2 Thoughseize
2 Tartfire
2 Lash Out
2 Incinerate
2 Boggart Ram-Gang
2 Ashenmoor Gouger
4 Blightning
2 Hell’s Thunder
4 Flame Javelin
4 Demigod of Revenge

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


It was actually a pleasant surprise to know your deck list contained 56 cards. Those 4 extra slots can go a long way!

1.) Tattermunge Maniac: From my experience with Mono White Beatdown, it seems that AT LEAST 10 one mana drops is optimal. Let’s not kid ourselves. You want to come out HARD. I know you would agree that coming out with a first turn threat feels GREAT. With this list, you have 10 HARD first turn threats, and 4 SOFT first turn threats; because after all, you don’t always have to slam that Thoughtseize on turn 1!

2.) There are a lot of DUO copies within this list. Don’t let this fool you. When this deck is at its MAX, there will not exist such a case. This list is at your mercy! Consider yourself Lebron James. You must decide who works with YOU best. Having several cards represented by DUO copies will only serve to better represent who’s pulling their weight!

3.) I feel the need to further explain what I am UNSURE about…

Thoughtseize vs Tartfire
Lash Out vs Incinerate
Ashenmoor Gouger vs Ram-Gang vs THUNDA

Know what I mean? Ram-Gang at RRR is tough! This I understand, but with 3-4 Cairns, it’s possible!

4.) When it comes to the land recommendations, I will only say that I prefer to calculate such requirements through RATIOS. 4 Ghitu Encampments seems at least 1 card too much! 4 Graven Cairns as well. Even the 1 Sulfurous Springs may be too much. Check it out. 2 Reflecting Pool is NICE.

5.) I shall use this space to consider your 4 DOUSAND thoughts within your last 5-6 paragraphs…

The fact that Hell’s Thunder has flying is significant. HOWEVER, the fact remains that I feel a lot better facing a turn 3 Thunda than I do facing a turn 3 Ram-Gang. Now – how a turn 3 Gouger compares to a turn 3 Thunda or Ram-Gang is an important question!

I respect burning an annoying creature on the draw on your “first” turn. However, consider the VERSATILITY of Thoughseize on turn 1…the fact that you can deal with non-creature permanents cannot be denied. What else in your initial main can deal with such cards? Type 2 today is TOO capable to restrict such answers to your sideboard!

The mathematics you speak of is beyond me. Other than Forge-Tender, what else can Pyroclasm NOT deal with? A whole 1 mana less is HUGE. Are you thinking about en-Vecs?? Come on now, at the very least, 1 Pyroclasm should, WITHOUT A DOUBT, replace an Infest. Nameless version has absolutely nothing to do with Pyroclasm, as Pyrcolasm is MASS removal, and Inversion aint.

Look, I respect the fact that a single Torment can be dealt with. I simply propose the possibility that an opposing deck dealing with a single Torment WILL NOT outweigh the versatility of another card in that slot! I say this ONLY if you have not proven this otherwise. I absolutely respect the idea of drawing AT LEAST 1 Torment. I know it’s bad ass in todays format.

I would challenge your statement that CLASHES result in a less than 50% success rate. Sheet, even if that’s true, I would say that TWO 40 to 50% Lash Outs coupled with 2 Incinerates are better than 4 Incinerates.

When it comes to “randomness”, consider this…YOU HAVE THE SUPERIOR DECK, YOU ARE THE SUPERIOR MIND. In this scenario “randomness” will ALWAYS SUPPORT you. If you do not see the matter in this way then I cannot relate with you! (Oh, I know that’s foul, but come on, LET’S DO THIS!).

Complications will ALWAYS support the superior player! That is the standard you must enter every match with.

At this point, I suggest no sideboard. However, I would say that your sideboard should MOSTLY compensate for 3rd turn spells and beyond. Considering 1 to 2 main deck Everlasting Torments isn’t crazy!

#5 wobblesthegoose on 12.07.08 at 9:54 pm

Wow. Is that how kids talk these days? I feel ancient.

Also, the four missing cards in Flores list are Bitterblossoms.

#6 admin on 12.07.08 at 10:10 pm

@ wobblesthegoose
Lash Out is the best of those. I have played a lot of Unwilling Recruit and it never does anything for me. When I played Zack Hall in the mirror — an excellent player with a GP Top 8 earlier this year — he immediately discarded Unwilling Recruits when I stuck the Blightning in Game Two. Nameless Inversion has potential due to its being both Black and a Goblin, but Lash Out can actually help regulate draws, which helps good players.

I wouldn’t have played this deck if I didn’t think I would have the best chance of doing well with it. Though I really like Boat-Brew, especially given Osyp’s finish. I don’t think there is a Blue deck I really want to play and I have played more Reflecting Pool Control on MTGO than anything else. It is just so frustrating to play v. Fae and v. good opponents. I thought the better players would do well with Fae and Reflecing Pool Control than Kithkin, so I tried to choose a deck that would serve me in the late rounds, provided I got there. Unfortunately my Kithkin match showed up in the match that mattered.

Thanks for posting!


#7 wobblesthegoose on 12.08.08 at 12:30 am

Interesting points.

On Unwilling Recruit:
It always seems good to discard a phase three card like Unwilling Recruit to a card like Blightning. Early non-targeted discard usually gets the late game plays because there is more time to topdeck into those types of cards while other plays are more important to keep in your hand. I’m not sure that this is always the correct decision, but it’s what I tend to do and what I’ve seen actually good player do, too. The fact that he discarded them doesn’t make them bad, just that they were the worst cards in his hand at this point. I mean, after a prolonged attrition battle, playing for the X spell is an awesome plan, but maybe not on turn 3. Also, I’m not sure that the mirror is the best matchup to make the comparison. I mean, maybe you have to dedicate those slots to shore up the mirror out of the board, but Reveillarks seem like a bigger threat and a card you have few ways to effectively combat. Unwilling Recruit really seems like the card you want there, and it certainly seems like a major threat against the aggro decks you’d be bringing lash out in against. But this is all conjecture, you’ve obviously got a lot more experience with the deck.

On clash and draw regulation:
I’m not sure how much to really value this. I mean, obviously it benefits the stronger player more, marginally helping the fact that the effect is symmetrical. I mean, clash decisions aren’t that hard at least the 35% of the time of hit a land, so your advantage on your opponent is pretty minimal on that count. Maybe I’m evaluating that wrong, but Nameless inversion is great in a lot of the situation you want it to be good in, and helps shore up a weak kithkin matchup in ways lash out can’t. Forgetenders are so brutal and so wide spread, I wouldn’t say no to 3 more answers to them out of the board.

On deck selection:
There is definitely merit making a deck choice based on what you expect to play in final rounds. But T2 is so diverse right now that 5c control and Fae are unlikely to constitute the sum total of the decks you’ll hit in later rounds. Also, I think that playing towards a focused meta/the “good” players has a lot more merit in smaller tournaments, GPs or Worlds than in a mostly local 9 round grinder like you were fighting through. I mean, who knows what you’re going to hit, and even two funky match ups mean you end out of the money. I mean, red decks aren’t so out of left field that you can expect to not fight through at least 3 or 4 opponents with 4x forgetenders and whatnot. Meanwhile, 5c and Fae just don’t have matchups like that, that’s why they do so much better on average.

#8 vpreacher on 12.08.08 at 1:06 pm

Glad to see you stuck with your guns on the list. I think it was a good call and you just got some bad beats. Happens to the best of us.

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