On the EDH maybe list

There’s enough EDH running around locally that I’m seriously considering putting a deck together. Here are my candidate generals at the moment:
Iname as One
Jhoira of the Ghitu
Kaho, Minamo Historian
Maralen of the Mornsong
Mayael the Anima
Silly, yes. Has anyone out there actually used one of these? I’ve at least heard of Jhoira seeing some play in EDH. I’m currently enamored of figuring out how to make Iname work, though. Did you know there are 321* Vintage-legal Spirits?
*Naturally, only a subset being color-legal for Iname as general.
Edit: Just realized I wouldn’t ever get to use Iname’s first ability in EDH. Very sad. Moving on.

Knight flavor

I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of Knight of the Reliquary in the last couple months. Mechanically, it’s a great card, serving as both an engine and a significant beater for the deck. I’m also fond of it in terms of art, and the Bant flavor in general. I like that my Knights are wearing plausible-enough armor, and are in a heroic yet not overblown pose. Kudos to Michael Komarck on that one (other nice art from Komarck includes Finest Hour, Horizon Canopy, Oriss, and Rafiq).
Knights in my deck must have an interesting mix of the familiar and bizarre to deal with.
“Oh, hey, a Hierarch.”
“And Elspeth!”
“And…what are those freaky little goblin-looking things?”
“Good lord, it’s Cthulhu!”
And so forth.
In pondering their flavor today, I realized that the flavor text really sets up what’s actually, mechanically, going on with the land sacrifice / search ability. The Knight is using her knowledge of the land – any land, really – to lead a guerilla-style fight through many venues, opening up new connections for the planeswalker as she ducks and dodges through her most familiar territory, Forests and Plains. My Knights seem to be okay with a touch of the insane, as the first pass for most of them is from a Forest through a Terramorphic Expanse into another Forest or Plains. I can just imagine the Knight coaching herself ahead of this move.
“Okay, remember, no matter what I see, just keep moving. The real world will be there on the other side.”
I like that following enough of this guerilla hit-and-run fighting (that is, lots of land searching), the Knights become truly scary opponents, despite just being humans in armor. I’ve had Knights up to 8/8 in tournament play, meaning that they can take down (e.g.) Akroma in a head-to-head fight. We have to imagine the Knight is leaping out of a devastating ambush position and beheading Akroma in one dramatic stroke there.
Or, in other words, Knight of the Reliquary is all about Die Hard in Bant. No wonder they’re so successful, channeling the archetypal action movie.

6.7% Blue (an M10 Standard deck update and two tournaments)

This weekend Superstars ran five From the Vault: Exiled tournaments, with a tournament win in each yielding its eponymous product. This seemed like a neat way to give their customers a crack at a cheap copy of the set as well as a chance to play some reasonably competitive Standard. I knew I was going to make it to both Saturday tournaments, and I vacillated a bit between an updated version of the basic build I’ve been running and my take on the Blightning archetype…so I brought both.
It was a fun day of gaming that both validated my idea about how I needed to update the Elspeth build and taught me a valuable lesson about how to properly game a tournament.
Click through to the extended entry for my deck lists from the day, two tournament reports, and some thoughts about how to game the tournament as a whole.

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How not to be an ass about donkeys

See, the title’s another play on words.
Anyway, I’ve been meaning to post a link to this brief essay by MMYoung about why, in a very pragmatic sense, you shouldn’t deride players who you perceive to be “bad,” especially when they’ve just gotten lucky and taken you down despite their bad play. There are all sorts of reasons why no one should really do this in a legitimate, hurtful way (i.e. not as a fun tease of a friend), starting with basic politeness and moving on through sportsmanship to the fact that you, too, will make a terrible play at some point in the near future. But Mark points out one other fundamental fact:

If you can’t make it to the Bay Area…

So, if you can’t make it to the Bay Area to compete for a copy of From the Vault: Exiled and you’re not actually going to be in Dallas this weekend, you can still Magic it up by watching feature matches and the top eight of the SCG Dallas $5K on ggslive.com.
If you haven’t had a chance to check in with what Ray and Rashad are doing on ggslive, you should go over now, check out their Ustream channel, and watch the archived videos. They have Block, Standard, Legacy, and Vintage matches from Gencon, as well as some recent PTQ top eights.

Fight for some Exiled cards!

Superstars Game Center in San Jose is holding a From the Vault: Exiled marathon this weekend. Don’t want to pay those big secondary market prices for your fifteen shiny Exiled cards? Come lay down five bucks and fight for them instead. Here are the details:
Each tournament will have an entry fee of $5. The format is Standard Constructed. Tournaments will probably follow a Swiss structure with a cut to top four or top eight, depending on attendance. There will be additional prizes based on attendance as well.
Tournaments are scheduled for…
Friday, August 28th at 7pm
Saturday, August 29th at 1pm and 5pm
Sunday, August 30th at 1pm and 5pm
I hope to see you all there. I’ll be attending at least some of these, both to take my crack at winning the set and because, hey, Standard Constructed.

What about red?

Following my near-thing loss to Merfolk in round two of our most recent PTQ, a couple of people talked to me about the deck. I appreciated the complements on the coolness of the design, as well as on “having the balls to play your own deck” (but really, how fun is it if you don’t?). After shocking them by explaining that the original build was G/W only, and the purpose of the black splash, one of them asked the very pertinent question. “Why not red?”
Click through to the extended entry for a little insight into what I tried with red, and why I eventually gave up on it for this design.

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Dilution reduces its potency (a PTQ report and meditation on altering a deck)

Today I attended our last area PTQ of the Austin qualifier season. I brought a variation on a deck I’ve done reasonably well with lately, namely the “Team Elspeth” design. I updated it to try and pick up percentage in some of the unfavored matchups, but I think, in retrospect (and honestly, part way through round three today), that was a bad idea. Essentially, I reduced my overall likelihood of winning by being unwilling to straight-up lose the occasional match.
Click through to the extended entry for a deck list, a tournament report, and a revised deck list that attempts to embrace the concept of just accepting some losses.

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Percentages and fields – heading into that last PTQ

I just finished sleeving up the main sixty of the deck I’ll be running at the last PTQ I’ll be attending for the Austin PTQ season. If you’re within range, you should come, too – it’s this Saturday, August 22nd, at Superstars in San Jose, being run as always by our faithful TO, Conan Blackwell of Matchplay.
I mention the main sixty as I’m still not sure exactly what I want to do with a good third of my sideboard. This is atypical for me, but I’m giving serious thought to actually scoping the decks I see on the morning of the event and making my decision then. As Brad Nelson reminds us in his latest article, the metagame changes weekly, and recent results in PTQs and online suggest a possible upswing in Merfolk and Lark.
In that vein, I’d recommend being ready for both Faeries and Kithkin, as neither one ever really goes away, regardless of what people say or how disillusioned their pro champions have become from time to time. I, for one, have decided to tailor my deck so I’m not playing something that auto-folds to hobbits.
As a final bit of pimping for someone else’s work, I’ll point toward the latest from Conley Woods, where he discusses the percentage that can be gained from playing a well-designed unfamiliar deck. Although that’s not why I play decks of my own design when I compete – I do it because for me, deck design is one of the great joys of this game – I certainly notice that when you aren’t playing a familiar template, your opponents can be thrown seriously off their game.
Also, it’s just kind of fun when they have to read your cards.
I’ll have more to say following the PTQ. For now, I’m going to idly ponder potential matchups and try and pin down those final five cards.