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Honolulu PTQs: Early riding with Swans

January 2, 2009

I have been having a testing session online with UR Swans during the day and I feel obliged to report the results from the session:

1  Breeding Pool
1  Cascade Bluffs
3  Flooded Strand
4  Polluted Delta
9  Snow-Covered Islandswansofplasma
2  Steam Vents
2  Simian Spirit Guide
4  Swans of Bryn Argoll
3  Blood Moon
4  Chain of Plasma
4  Chrome Mox
2  Condescend
1  Conflagrate
2  Engineered Explosives
4  Firespout
2  Mana Leak
4  Ponder
4  Spell Snare
4  Thirst for Knowledge

Sideboard:
1  Blood Moon
2  Engineered Explosives
2  Ancient Grudge
2  Gigadrowse
2  Muddle the Mixture
2  Pact of Negation
3  Remove Soul
1  Vexing Shusher

The list I used was Luis Scott-Vargas’s that he suggested in his article on Swans at Starcity and I managed to get in a good 9 matches with the deck.

Match 1: Mono Blue Faeries 0-2

Game 1 started fairly well, but his long game is off course stronger. When I lost a counter war over a Swans of Bryn Argoll and then he follows that up with Jitte on a Spellstutter Sprite it’s over.

Game 2 I mull to 6 and stalls on 2 lands for the rest of the game, incapable off accomplish anything.

Match 2: Ubg Faeries 1-2

Game 1 here was very like game 1 in the first match. We trades some spells early, he did manage to stick a Vendillion Clique which takes away my chains. The following turn I try with Swans of Bryn Argoll, which he Vensers and then on his turn he plays a Jitte and equips, which is game (my hand was something like 2x Swans, a Chrome Mox and a Spell Snare).

Game 2 starts off my much better. I board in my anti-blue package and I’m rewarded with my misers Vexing Shusher on turn 2, and I ride on him to victory. Thanks to his abilities and with some countermagic I can protect my combo and go off.

Game 3 was a nail biter. The game started out blazing fast with us trading some card drawing and countermagic, then the game turned out to be a draw go affair. He plays a Spellstutter Sprite (with no targets) at my end of turn step on turn 6 and then a Venser the turn after (to bounce a land). My hand is Gigadrowse, Swans and Pact of Negation as relevant cards at that point. All I need is a Chain of Plasma and I’m golden. However after 5 draw phases has only given me blanks (i.e. lands or non-chains/card drawer) those 2 small beaters has taken me down to 1. I correctly Gigadrowse all his blue mana and his Shackles at his end of turn, but I fail to draw Chains on my final turn and I die.

Match 3: Enduring Ideal 2-1

Game 1 I mull to 6 and kept a hand which had the combo, a Firespout and 3 lands, which should be pretty good against the majority of the field. However, that hand is pretty poor against something like Ideal and he goes of on turn 4 and I have no resistance.

Game 2 and 3 were not close at all. He has no resistance and can’t do anything of importance against my countermagic.

Match 4: Deathcloud 2-1

Game 1 was a test of wills. I cast Ponders and Thirst for Knowledge to get some gas, he ramps up with Sakura Tribe Elders. I manage to stop anything crazy to happen (i.e. Garruk Wildspeaker or Death Cloud). Around turn 6-7 I have 2 Swans in hand along with a Chains with 6 lands in play. I run my first Swan out there, and he falls for the bait and kills it as soon he gets priority with a Putrefy which I allow to happen. He has no action and then the next turn I puts him on not having a answer, so I go for the whole combo. My read was right and I kill him. Looking back, the right play would probably be just to cast my Chains on the doomed Swan when he Putrefied. He was out of mana, so there was no fear for other action form his side. I can’t go off, but I have the oppertunity to refill my hand with the Chains. I didn’t see this play at the time, but if I could go back I would probably would go with that.

Game 2 I mull 5, but my hand is pretty exciting. 2x lands, a Thirst for Knowledge and the combo. However I get Thoughtseize turn 1 (he takes Thirst) and I don’t get past 2 lands for the rest of the game. He resolves turn 4 Garruk Wildspeaker, and fuels a Death Cloud with it the next turn, which sees me picking my card up.

Game 3 was pretty ugly. My opening hand had yet the combo and some countermagic. However once again turn 1 Thoughtseize happens and he takes my Chain of Plasma. I counter a Kitchen Finks on turn 3 but after that my draw was very flat. He get down 2 finks on the board and starts attacking. My first attempt to cast a swan was foiled by Putrefy. The finks brings my down to 7 and he passes. I cast my other Swan (I had a Chains in hand, but only 4 lands). He attacks and I chooses not to block (i.e. hope he is blank). I take the hit, goes down to 1 and he plays some dude and passes. I draw Mana Leak (which I thought was a blank). I go for Chains of Plasma, but he has slow rolled a Slaughter Pact (!) for some reason. Thankfully, I now have the Mana Leak to protect my Swan and I had no trouble to go off and win.

Match 5: Faeries 2-0

Game 1 was a very weird game. He runs out of gas at some point and I actually managed to raw-dog down a swan and a Simian Spirit Guide. Thanks to a Blood Moon a turn later, I’m able to go “counter-sliver” on him and actually attack him to death.

Game 2 went pretty much exactly how you want this match up to go after boards. I transmute muddle for shusher on turn 3, plays him on turn 4 (counter a Jitte with a Spell Snare on his turn) and I’m available to play and resolve Swans of Bryn Argoll and Chains of Plasma on the following 2 turns.

Match 6: 5cc Swans 1-2

Game 1 I had a turn 2 Blood Moon on the play he can’t play anything of importance until I camly combo off on turn 5. Blood Moon can be so fair sometimes 🙂 .

Game 2 I don’t have a moon, and he is able to combo off on turn 4 with Pact of Negation backup for my counter.

Game 3 I once again have a turn 2 Blood Moon on the play, but this time he is ready and is able to fetch up a Island on before the moon hit play. After that we both assumes draw-go, building up our hands. On turn 6-7 he blinks first, playing a Pentad Prism. I try to counter that with a Condescend, tapping out. He tries with Pact of Negation which I let resolve (I have a pact of my own in hand). I figure, this way, if he don’t want to go off this turn, he is forced to basicly tap out the next turn and remove a counter on the prism he just played. However he is of the the races and went for the whole combo. I try to pact Chain of Plasma, but he as another pact to force it through. He is able to combo off with me having the kill myself in hand. Frown.

Match 7: Doran.dec 1-2

Game 1 I mull to 6 and he has a nice clock along with 2 Thoughtseizes and 2 Tidehollow Sculler, which I can’t compete against. I managed to kill some guys with a explosives and a Firespout, but at the end of the day, all the disruption was to much for me that game.

Game 2 is also a short affair. He starts with a Treetop Village but then I have the icer, turn 2 Blood Moon. He can’t play a spell for the rest of the game and dies from my combo a couple of turns later.

Game 3 my opponent mulls to 5 on the play, which seems quite hopefully for me. However his hand is pretty bonkers. I lead with a Ponder, then he proclaims “I’m going all-in” and plays out a turn 2 Doran off a mox leaving him with a single card in hand. I cast another Ponder on my turn, but failed to get land number 2. I’m stuck on a land and a mox. He continues his beatings, dropping me to 3. Finally I’m able to draw another land and plays it along with a mox to drop a swan. On his turn I’m forced to block Doran. He draws 5 cards, but fails to draw a removal spell. Instead he drops 2 Birds and a Kitchen Finks, threatening to kill on my next turn even if I block Doran with my swan again. I draw Thirst for Knowledge, seeing that my only out here is to draw land and a Chains. First draw is blank, then I hit a land but however the third card is not a Chains of Plasma and I die of the little green men on the following turn.

Match 8: Deathcloud 0-2

Game 1 I mull to 5 and he gets going early with Life from the Loam and Raven’s Crime. I’m never allowed to stitch together a hand with a plan and I scoops when he puts a obliterate-size Death Cloud on the stack.

Game 2 was a very frustrating finish of the session. I get a great start, I counter a finks on turn 2, draws some cards with Thirst for Knowledge on turn 3, but after that my deck decided that lands was to good and I stall on 3 lands for a couple of turns. When I finally gets to 4 lands, I consider myself forced to run down a Swan for block. It never comes to that however, as he plays first Putrefy on the swan and then Extirpate on it. Good game.

Match 9: Flores White 1-2

If you don’t know what deck I’m talking about, check out fivewithflores.com for the decklist. This match up seems pretty unwinnable for Swans. Just popping a Martyr of Sands once put the player off Conflagrate range and you can’t reasonably attack him to death either. Game 1 he popped a Martyr of Sand early and followed it up with a cycled Decree of Justice.

Game 2 I actually won a long affair. I manage to blow up a Chalice of the Void (on 2) with a explosives. Then I play Swans and managed to go off with counter backup.

Game 3 was pretty brutal. He had again a early Martyr of Sands and then on turn 4 a chalice on 2 and then a chalice on 0. Concede.

So that ends this testing session. I got to say, I’m a bit disappointed about going 3-6 today. I expected at least a positive final score. To be fair, the Rock-ish decks and the different kind of blue decks is not what you want to be face with Swans, but still. I was actually a bit surprised that I faced so many of this kind of decks today. On the positive side, I have witnessed some of the flaws with the deck. Blue has counters, which is annoying but not unbeatable. The Rock however is very… frustrating to play against. Like the Psychatog decks many years ago struggled against the Rock, you have a problem of getting a swan down and keep it covered. Thanks to early pressure and disruption, you normally don’t have the card or time to assemble Swans and Chains on the same turn. And they also tend to have plenty of removal. Still there still a couple of important archetype to play against before you I can make a conclusion on this deck. I hope you enjoyed this session and stay tuned for more.

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