Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tibbles and Bits; Tibalt, the Fiend Blooded in Standard

Welcome back to Untap Target Player! 

If you read my post from a few weeks ago, you’ll already know that I’ve been trying to make a deck where Tibalt can live.  After a lackluster performance as an Izzet-colored pile, I explored another color.

Shortly after that article, I had started toying with the last and, once I’d gotten my Tibalts, I was pretty much ready to go.  So, last week, I scrambled to get the only cards I was missing for the black/red version; the double lands in it.  By Friday the 13th, the debut of this deck was nearing and I was still gravely in want for a large portion of my deck.  Kevin Klotz, (yes, that Kevin) was on hand at Something2Do, and he allowed me to borrow the three Blackcleave Cliffs I needed as well as two Dragonskull Summits.  With that, I temporarily disassembled my Olivia Voldaren EDH for the sleeves and put together these seventy-five.

Tibbles and Bits

Creatures (16)
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Blood Artist
2 Vexing Devil
3 Chandra’s Phoenix
2 Reassembling Skeleton
1 Falkenrath Aristocrat

Spells (24)
3 Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded
3 Runechanter’s Pike
4 Pillar of Flame
4 Incinerate
3 Reforge the Soul
2 Sign in Blood
3 Arc Trail
2 Krenko’s Command

Lands (20)

4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Dragonskull Summit
7 Mountain
5 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
3 Vile Rebirth
3 Bonfire of the Damned
3 Dismember
3 Smelt
3 Appetite for Brains*

*The Appetite for Brains were supposed to be Despise, but I had left them at home.

Round 1 – Ben? (G/W Humans)

My first round was against Ben (?), a confident and ready-to-go dude with a lot of little guys to chuck my way.  Although I was on the draw, my first hand held a beautiful, castable Arc Trail.  He widdled me down a bit with his Champions of the Parish and his Elite Vanguards, but the Arc Trail severly impacted the board and, a little stuck on land, I began to Command some Goblins and get on the offense.  I didn’t have to play defense again that game.  In game two, he was having some trouble with creatures being able to stick, as Arc Trail reprised its role in game two, keeping the board empty for him as he struggled to draw an answer.  Interesting enough, in a casual game three, he rofl-stomped me with a buffed Hero of Bladehold, where he hit me for a million. 


Round 2 – Charles (U/B Zombies)

Charles, a knowledgeable and extroverted player, sat across from me for round 2.  Jesting about his “mono-red” deck, I was surprised to see a Gravecrawler first turn.  It wasn’t long before a perfectly-timed squad of zombies ate my braialjfnkalsdjfn…..

Game two was much better for me, and Vile Rebirth came crawling in from the sideboard.  I knew I needed to preserve my soft, appetizing life total, and this seemed like the perfect way to deny him his Gravecrawlers.  He assembled a pair of Gravecrawlers, but my start was much more aggressive.  Tibalt came out to play, but was quickly eaten by Gravecrawler.  He flooded, though, and before long, his Gravecrawler’s inability to block became a liability.

The final game was very close and grindy.  Although I put the hurt on him early with Phoenixes and burn spells, I gave him a bit more fuel when I Reforged our Souls.  He Surgically Extracted my Phoenix and my Blood Artists.  My board and hand severely diminished, he stabilized at 4 and resolved a Phyrexian Obliterator, the first one I’d seen in months.  On my side, a pair of Diregraf Ghouls and a Reassembling Skeleton stood ready to hold the Pike I had.  After some careful calculation, I put the Pike on the Skeleton and swung with everything.  He informed me he was just waiting for me to make the right decision; I was worried about permanent sacrificing, so I picked the Skeleton, the lowest power creature for minimum sacrifice.  I had completely forgotten he was just at 4, handless, and just dead on board to 4 attacking, unblocked power; a Piked Skeleton would be more than enough to kill him, as he couldn’t then block my Diregraf Ghouls.


Round 3 – Bobby (Battle of Wits)

Bobby, our resident State Champion, wanted to try the elusive Battle of Wits deck; basically 250 of the best cards in Standard jammed together, Bobby shuffled up a foot-tall sleeved stack with surprising efficiency, taking chunks and shuffling it together.  Cutting was a dangerous affair as cards cascaded off like filling out of an overstuffed taco.

In game one, he played draw spells, mana guys and ramp spells, eventually resolving Silklash Spider, utterly stopping my otherwise impressive Phoenix offense.  He never used its ability, but he cast Thragtusks galore, moved out of burn range, and smashed me to a pulp.  In game two, I got a more aggressive start, killing him with a hard hitting Piker.  Game three was very close.  My sideboard card Appetite for Brains played a crucial role here, exiling a Tamiyo from another wise land-heavy grip.  This was the only time I cast it, and it turned out it was functionally identical to Despise in this case.  He resolved a Solemn Simulacrum and, when nearing death, he was able to get a Thragtusk via Green Sun’s Zenith, giving him a big body and a double-digit life total.  My Phoenix got binned by some manner of kill spell, but I was finally able to get Bobby back to 3.  With 7 mana on my side, I cast my long-overdue Bonfire of the Damned for just 1.  This got him to two and, as I reached for my dead Chandra’s Phoenix, he scooped.  As a reward for beating the otherwise undefeated Battle of Wits deck, he gave me a pack of M13, my first, which contained a Cathedral of War.


The final in the four-round FNM was between Korey and myself, the only two undefeated players.  Kevin recorded us, and you can find the videos below, as they become available.


My major mistake was in game 1.  I should have popped Tibalt immediately, hitting him for 7 before casting the Blood Artist, which gave him an opportunity to spend a spell and shrink his hand.  Even if he had something else to do, he would have to cast it suboptimally; Thought Scour, for example, wouldn’t do much.  If I'd swung with the Phoenix, he would have been at 1 life.  Instead, he killed me, and I could have gone 2-0 against him instead of 2-1.

Regardless, I was pleased – packs and cash in hand, I unsleeved the borrowed lands and departed, excited and confident in the conquering deck of the evening.

MVPs:  Reassembling Skeleton and Arc Trail

Originally, I was on the fence about the Skeleton, but his “survives-anything-but-Pillar-of-Flame” is amazing, and he holds a Pike like a pro.  In a couple games, even his measly one power over and over was enough to seal up a game.  He was very difficult to deal with, and rarely did his “tapped” clause mean much of anything.  This is an aggressive deck, after all, and discouraging attacks with built in reanimation is mighty fine.

Sideboard MVP:  Vile.  Rebirth.

Against creature heavy decks (or even if you have to use your own, as I had to), this card is very powerful; a 2/2 for B at instant speed is amazingly relevant.  I had a lot of fun casting what amounted to a combat trick at the top table of a tournament.  Eat your heart out, Giant Growth.  Watch out for this card. 

LVPs: Sign in Blood and Bonfire of the Damned

What I assumed would be an efficient card engine or an impromptu burn spell turned out to be mostly dead weight.  I hoped I could force them to draw, they’d lose 2 life and then I could make Tibalt’s second ability even more insane.  It never did, and I didn’t miss it when I didn’t draw it.  It’s possible Vile Rebirth just replaces it directly.  For Bonfire, most of the games I played it was awkward board sweep; the times it was helpful, it was mostly based on good fortune; this is very had to cast for value with as few lands as this deck contains.

This deck’s variance is a little too great to make it consistently mighty, but 4-0’ing is pretty good with me.  My goal in Constructed Magic is to make and pilot an unusual deck effectively in a format-typical environment.

I’m all about Limited in a general rule, and I’d stepped away from it for a while for my Standard pursuits, but I was ready to get back in.  Having missed the Prerelease, I decided to attend the Release Sealed Event at Something2Do the following day.  When the time came to crack our packs, I eagerly awaited my pool.

Well, it was pretty sour.  Three rares were Limited bricks (Battle of Wits, Fervor and Wit’s End), and I lacked depth in any one or even two colors.  After going to time in deckbuilding, I hurriedly threw together this pigeon-toed Jund concoction.

Creatures (14)
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Deadly Recluse
1 Ravenous Rats
1 Walking Corpse
1 Centaur Courser
1 Bloodhunter Bat
1 Spiked Baloth
1 Bladetusk Boar
1 Acidic Slime
1 Sentinel Spider
1 Duskdale Wurm
1 Duty-Bound Dead
1 Yeva’s Forcemage
1 Liliana’s Shade

Spells (9)
1 Liliana of the Dark Realms
2 Sign in Blood
1 Krenko’s Command
1 Public Execution
1 Crippling Blight
1 Mind Rot
1 Prey Upon
1 Rancor

Lands (17)
7 Swamp
5 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Evolving Wilds
1 Cathedral of War

Working Sideboard
1 Disentomb
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Mindclaw Shaman
1 Zombie Goliath
1 Turn to Slag
1 Volcanic Geyser

This was an awkward mess of a deck.  I felt confident about the red splash for two non-removal commons, though, which felt weird, and I didn’t main deck the Geyser as it would be uncastable without the only two Mountains in my deck.  If I’d done it again, I’d probably play it and change one Mountain in for one Swamp.

Round 1 – Will (W/G)

Will, a player against whom I’d tested Standard in the past, admitted he was uncertain how coherent his deck was; frankly, as it played out, it was actually a pretty solid plan.

In game one, he made two Ajani Sunstrikers and started rising to a towering life total.  I stabilized and resolved creatures that, while not normally impressive, were larger than his biggest creatures.  I overwhelmed him with power, and Crippling Blight on his sole blocker ended up sealing up both games.  A great removal spell in its flexibility.


Round 2 – Shower (U/R)

Shower was my second round opponent, and I’ve seen him play before; his impressive U/B Tezzeret Control has seen the top tables at Something2Do more than once, and so I knew I’d be in for a good match.  In game one, he was on the mill plan, hitting double Mind Sculpts and making a large Jace’s Phantasm.  He tapped down my squad a time or two with Sleep and Downpour, and I never mounted much defense.  In game two, I was able to crash in with a strong start.  I even side-boarded in Mindclaw Shaman against his spell-centric deck. When I cast it, it only hit a Downpour (I was looking for Sleep), but it was a discard spell either way.  In game three, he had me against the ropes until I drew my miracle, Elixir of Immortality, to double my life total and library size.  I eked out a close one against him, complimenting his unique deck construction.


Round 3 – Chris (U/G)

Chris, a player with whom I was not familiar, sat down, anxious to get underway and nervous about his draw.  He had no reason to be.  The first game saw a great start for both of us.  His Wind Drake plugged me several times, and after Sleeping my field, he bashed me to 1; without a flying blocker (or another three or four blockers, for that matter), I was dead on board.  Game two saw me mulligan to five on the play and cast a lone Bladetusk Boar before getting crushed by Yeva, Nature’s Herald into a turn 5 flashing Thragtusk.  I had no chance.


Round 4 – Kevin (W/B)

Kevin and I scrimmage together and are friends with each other outside of Something2Do, so we knew it was going to be a good match, as tournament-breaking matches between compatriots usually are.  In game one, his impressively awesome Exalted team assembled, complete with a Sublime Archangel, and he smashed me in the face for a million.  In game two, he had a much worse draw, missing his second color of lands, but even with that, my win was merely a win, not a blowout.  Game three was one of the best Limited games I’ve played in a long, long time.  A carefully calculated board position put each of us at very low life, him at 1 and me at 7.  His Intrepid Hero made attacks and blocks challenging, and his squad of flyers made me terribly nervous.  He had lethal on board once and missed it, and I’m sure I did too.  By the time we finished, a crowd had gathered.  My otherwise lethal attack was thwarted by Divine Verdict, and I didn’t have a way to play around it.  He scraped out a win, pushing him into Top 8 and me into obscurity.


Outside of the Top 8 by a couple places now, I deconstructed my deck.  My pool was very poor in the rare department, but I feel like I’d built the deck about as well as I could.  Bladetusk Boar and Krenko’s Command turned out to be great splashes.  Bladetusk Boar was unblockable in 3 out of 4 of my matches, and his three power was…intimidating.  Krenko’s Command turned out to be every bit as good as Dragon Fodder, even without Devour.  A pair of blockers and/or attackers on a cheap, easy-to-cast card is good news for any red deck.

My consolation pack contained a Stuffy Doll, harkening back to my early days in Magic.  Seems like a good place to end up.

Also, one small movement in Pack to Power; Shower, my opponent for Round 2 of Sealed, was looking for a Dungeon Geists.  I knew I had one, so and I painlessly traded him flat for a Drowned Catacomb.

Dungeon Geists - $1.99

Drowned Catacomb (M13) - $2.99

Net Change - +$1.00

Sure, Dungeon Geists is rarer, but a Catacomb is infinitely more liquid.  

Total Pack Value - $20.44

Broke the $20 mark!

This weekend, I’m headed off to test Tibbles against another field of Standard decks to see if Friday was a fluke or if this is something a little more real.  Thanks again for reading, and don’t forget to untap!

- Matt H


  1. Sir, I salute you for trying to find a unique deck to play against the common meta! I quite enjoyed seeing your deck in action. Thank you also for the spoiler wall lol, I wanna see how the rest of your match goes.

    Thank you for sharing this! I know for myself, I am also playing a fairly unique deck as well, so it is always nice to see someone else doing the same. I don't know if you would be interested or not, but I am currently writing a blog each week following my FNM experiences with it. Here's a link if you're interested- http://www.mtgdeckbuilder.net/Blogs/ViewBlog/1452

    1. Thanks for the support! I gave your article a read, too, and have dug what I've seen of Fateful Hour decks. I like that yours has multiple win cons and enough way to hang around until you can go off with a Soul Conduit or uber-Souleater. On that one ruling though, if you are at 1 and take 20 damage with a Phyrexian Unlife out, you'll go to -19, not 19 poison, so he gypped you. =/ The only reason I know is I've played these decks on MTGO and that's what happens.

      Good luck in your future FNM endeavors!

    2. Haha, thanks dude! Yeah, I made sure to read up and defend any rulings on it this week. I still ended up 2-3, but the loses were legitimate and not bs wins this time lol.

      I think, for now, I'll play it out for the rest of the season and try it out in other locations. I'm also trying to think about what I should build into next with the rotation coming up soon. still not sure yet and hoping RtR will strike up some inspiration.

      Anyway, thank you my good for the well wishes and I bid you same! =)

  2. I enjoyed reading this article (and others) and seeing your deck played; unfortunately I wad unable to keep myself from peering over the spoiler wall.

    Keep up the excellent work, man!

  3. Really like the deck, I might consider running it one night if you don't mind :). Any idea what your going to replace the rotating cards with when they do?

    1. Sadly, this deck loses a lot of oomph after rotation, mostly in creatures; hopefully, though, RTR will provide plenty of stuff to keep this deck style alive!

  4. Man, I've had such a blast playing this deck. Cant wait to see if you have any plans for a postrotation TnB :D

  5. Well, I am so glad to hear that it's been working for you! I've fiddled around with the Tibster a few times, but this was the most effective iteration. I'm not sure how I will use him post-rotation, but I'm thinking of a Burning Vengeance shell that uses a singleton Tibalt. We will see!