Getting Nassty – Testing out a New Tribe

The weekend before GP Atlanta I went to a San Diego PTQ. If you asked me the best deck in the format—Extended—I would probably say Mono Red or Mythic. However, I chose to play Faeries. Why did I play with a deck isn’t the “best”? Because Fairies is much more interactive than either Mono Red or Mythic, it forces your opponent’s to make more decisions. At a tournament like a PTQ, where a lot of the players are not used to making so many decisions in a game, it can be extremely beneficial to force your opponent to make more decisions. Literally every card in my deck except Bitterblossom, Thoughtseize, and Inquisition of Kozilek can be played at instant speed, which makes playing against Fae a nightmare.

Here is the list I played:

(you can tell it’s a wrapter deck by the presence of four Jace Belerens)

The maindeck was given to me by Josh Utter-Leyton, and I feel like it is a good balance. It has three removal spells, which allow you to interact with aggro while not flooding with blanks against control or combo. It also has nine (counting Vendilion) selective discard spells that really allow you to create a plan effectively. With these selective discard spells, you can map out how to play each game and make sure that you have a plan that works. In fact, the only games you should be losing are ones where they draw extremely well after you see their hand which puts a wrench in the plan you originally created, or where you see their hand and simply can’t beat it no matter what you do (this mostly happens with Mono Red).

I made the sideboard extremely removal-heavy after scouting. As I walked around the tournament room, I saw a good amount of Mono Red and Jund. Removal also fit pretty effectively numbers-wise as the only cards I really wanted out against Control or Combo were the three removal spells: I had the extra two Jaces and the fourth Thoughtseize to bring in for those match-ups.

The Tournament

In round one I played a Faeries mirror against a friend. I actually enjoy the Faeries Mirror much more now. In this format, you can play more discard, making it less likely to be about who gets Bitterblossom first, and there are more manlands to make games in which one player has Bitterblossom and the other doesn’t at least semi-interesting.

In game one, neither of us had Blossom and it ended up being quite a game. I got some early damage in with Vendilion Clique, but once he answered it, the match simply came down to a manland war. I was ahead on life due to the Vendilion bashing, but he had more manlands and had Tar Pits while I was stuck on just Mutavaults. Eventually I set up a plan to convince him to attack with everything when I had Cryptic in hand. It worked to perfection and I took down game one.

Sideboarding: -2 Jace Beleren – 1 Agony Warp -4 Mistbind Clique +4 Peppersmoke +1 Thoughtseize +2 Disfigure

This plan allows you to have a huge edge in manland wars by keeping in 4 Disfigures and 4 Peppersmokes.

Both Jace and Mistbind have some value in the matchup, but Jace is too clunky and Mistbind is very awkward when people are loading up on removal and cheap counters and have answers to Bitterblossom.

In game two, I got a turn two Blossom while he didn’t. However, as I said above, that no longer ensures victory. He began getting aggressive with two Mutavaults and quickly got me to 11 life. On the crucial turn, he sent a Mutavault and a Tar Pit at me, tapping out. I animated my Mutavault, blocked his, Disfigured his Tar Pit, and Peppersmoked his Mutavault. From there, the game and the match were mine.


My next few rounds weren’t all that memorable. I felt like I was playing tight and not running into Red, which is usually a recipe for success when you are playing with Faeries. As I said above, I would simply look at my opponent’s hand, make a plan, and watch it work. Soon, I was quickly sitting pretty at 4-0.

In round five, I faced my first Red opponent. I put up a bit of a fight game one, but still lost pretty handily.

Sideboarding: -3 Mistbind Clique -4 Bitterblossom -3 Thoughtseize -2 Jace Beleren + sideboard except Thoughtseize and Beleren

This sideboard plan allows Faeries to take the controlling role. While Mistbind is normally powerful, cutting Bitterblossom makes it too much of a liability. Unfortunately, what I failed to realize with this plan is that winning the game is very difficult. I took control of the game at 4 life, but was unable to put pressure on my opponent because I didn’t draw one of the two Wurmcoils. My opponent cast an end-of-turn Volcanic Fallout, which suggested he had the second for the kill, but refused to play the second on his turn.

Then, we got into a stalemate in which both of us refused to play anything with me at 2 life. Eventually, he cast a Figure of Destiny, which I let resolve, since I would rather use a removal spell than a counterspell on it. When he went to level it end-of-turn (he only had three mana open), I responded with Vendilion Clique. He then cracked two fetches and played Volcanic Fallout for the kill. After the match, I asked him if he had the Fallout the whole time, to which he replied “yes.” It turned out he was playing around Mindbreak Trap.

Although it didn’t matter in this particular round, my opponent made a mistake in being obsessed with playing around a particular card. My opponent tried so hard to play around Mindbreak Trap, a card that very few Faeries list play and that is not good against Mono Red (so it was unlikely to be sideboarded in) that he ended up in a position where I could’ve beaten him with much more reasonable cards, such as a second Vendilion Clique (if I had the second Vendilion I could’ve played it in response to him fetching and gotten rid of the Fallout).

I think part of the reason my opponent made this play was nerves. He was nervous to be 4-0 and was nervous to play against someone he had heard of (he had read my articles). Just because a player is known doesn’t mean that he always has the perfect card in a situation. It is important to respect the play ability of opponents who you think are good, but not assume that their cards are perfect.


Next up was Wargate Omen. In game one, I put myself in a position to win, but ended up in an awkward situation. Early in the game, my opponent resolved a Prismatic Omen. As a result, I had to do everything in my power to prevent him from ramping. At the end of the game, my opponent was facing lethal with six lands and Valakut and Omen in play with me at 5 life. He had a bunch of outs, but the whole game came down to his top card: Valakut, Wargate, any fetch land, and Cultivate (he didn’t run Scapeshift or Primeval Titan) would all work off the top. He flipped—and hit a Valakut for the win.

Sideboarding: -2 Disfigure -1 Agony Warp +2 Jace Beleren +1 Thoughtseize

In game two I had the nut draw: turn one Thoughtseize, turn two Bitterblossom, and turn three Jace Beleren. Jace gave me a stready stream of disruption while Bitterblossom applied pressure. Pretty quickly the game was mine.

Game three started off with an opposing Leyline of Sanctity. This prevented me from playing any discard, which gave him time to slip in a Prismatic Omen. I cast a turn two Bitterblossom which allowed me to put some pressure on. Later in the game, he found a Valakut and began dealing me damage with it. I then found a way to end-of-turn Cryptic the Leyline and take out all of the acceleration and counterspells he had been saving in his hand with the discard that had been stuck in my hand. On a critical turn, he drew a fetch land. Between his Valakut and my Bitterblossom, playing the land put me down to seven. On my turn, I swung with my fairy tokens and a Mutavault.

He was at nine health and I had four attacking faeries. He decided to crack the fetch, killing my Mutavault. Because he was at nine, this play did not change the clock. Instead, it left him with less outs for his next draw. If he had instead targeted me with the Valakut trigger, any land would have won him the game. Instead, we were in the same position as game one. His next draw came up…. Explore. The tension was killing me, and I was going to be slow-rolled longer. Next up…Wargate. He tutored for Valakut and immediately stuck out his hand saying “game”. I don’t think it was intentional, but this act was very rude. First of all, the game was not necessarily over, as if I had an answer to my Bitterblossom (Mistbind or Cryptic), I could have still survived at one health and killed him on the backswing. Second, regardless of the accuracy of the statement, it is not really appropriate to win (especially in such savage fashion) and immediately extend the hand and say “game”. Normally, the loser would extend the hand.


The tournament had 129 players, which is right over the cutoff for eight rounds, so I thought I might still have a shot for Top 8. I battled out the next two rounds and won them both for a final record of 6-2.

Unfortunately, I ended up in tenth place. However, the PTQ did provide some great news. My good friend and possibly the most deserving PTQer ever, Greg Hatch, took down the PTQ in flawless fashion with Mono Red. Hatch has moneyed six GPs in a row, and top 32ed five in a row, but has never made it to the Pro Tour… until now. Congrats Greg! Of course, for added value, Hatch beat “Mr. Handshake” in the semifinals to get revenge for me.

Overall, I think the Faeries deck was sweet, but that doesn’t mean that changes aren’t necessary. Here’s where I’m at now:



draw: -4 Spellstutter -4 Peppersmoke -4 Mana Leak +4 Warp +4 Wall +3 Wurmcoil +1 Thoughtseize
play: -4 Spelltuter -4 Peppersmoke -4 Vendilion Clique -1 Mana Leak +4 Warp +4 Wall +3 Wurmcoil +1 Tectonic Edge +1 Thoughtseize

Red: -4 Mistbind Clique -4 Bitterblossom -4 Thoughtseize +4 Warp +4 Wall +3 Wurmcoil +1 Tec Edge

Faeries: -4 Mistbind Clique +2 Agony Warp +1 Tectonic Edge +1 Thoughtseize

4cc/Combo: -4 Peppersmoke +1 Tectonic Edge +1 Thoughtseize +2 Jace Beleren

This build attempts to use Peppersmoke as its only removal spell main deck. This allows you to have no strict blanks against Control and Combo while giving you game against creature decks. The high discard count means that while Peppersmoke needs a buddy to take down a [card]Fauna Shaman[/card], you still have six hard answers to it.

The sideboard allows you to become a Blue Black control deck against Jund and Red by adding the 27th land to help cast Wurmcoil; adding Walls and Warps buys you time. The Edge also serves as a sideboard card against Control and Combo which, along with Thoughtseize and Beleren, allow you to take out the Peppersmokes.

I feel like Faeries is one of the best choices for the remaining PTQ season, and this build is a viable alternative to the builds coming out of GP Atlanta (though I did end up switching for that tournament). The six discard spells plus less dead removal will certainly help in a world where UG Omen and UW Control are more popular, as well as being great in the mirror.

Until next time, see their hand and make a plan.

24 thoughts on “Getting Nassty – Testing out a New Tribe”

  1. For the record I’m “Mr. Handshake” and your version of the match is off in several places. For one, I ran a Scapeshift main deck as can be seen in the top 8 deck list. Second my killing of your mutavault did give me a extra turn to draw an out. Third and most importantly I feel that the end of the match is drastically misrepresented. My line of actions were more along the lines of saying I’m gonna need a good top deck, attempting to acknowledge the fact i was gonna have to get little lucky to beat you (roughly a 1 in 4 chance). Then i tapped my deck and flipped reveling an explore which I cast. I then tapped my deck again and eagerly flipped a valakut. I played the valakut announcing the 6 damage targeting you and said pass turn. After your facial expression reveled you had no answers to the bitterblossom damage I extended a hand and said “good game”.

  2. I admit that I was very pleased to win the match against a skilled and difficult opponent. Perhaps you took my excitement as a sign of disrespect. If this is so let me apologize for any disrespect you felt I sent your way. As a fan of Channelfireball I tend to look up to the pros and wouldn’t purposely rub your face in a tough beat. I just felt it needed to be clarified that I didn’t slow roll you and that I had attempted to console you with acknowledging how close the game was.

  3. Hmm. Thanks for the response Mr. Handshake. I think people (even pro’s) get so wrapped up at what they believe to be a slight that they can not fathom any other reason for the transgression. Apparently it is true that there is always two sides to a story.

    Side Note: Saying “Good game” and “game” are two completely different statements! It’s amazing that one person remembers it one way and another remembers it another. As far as the handshake from the winner goes, stop being so fragile and learn how to accept the loss graciously.

  4. @Thomas: I know it wasn’t intentional, but I thought it was still a good idea to explain the situation since it’s very important to know that the person who loses should be the first to extend the hand, even if the winner is sure they’ve won the game. I know it was completely unintentional, and I’m not in the least mad at you, but I did want to mention it in my article as it’s important to learn the unwritten rules of Magic. Besides that, I actually enjoyed playing against you a lot and even enjoyed the rematch we had at the legacy scg. I’m sorry if I got some of the game situation wrong, As you know if you read my articles, I’m not always the best at remembering matches, and I remembered there was a play involving killing a Mutavault that I disagreed with. Regardless, good luck in the future Thomas, just try to wait for your opponent to concede before you extend the hand.

  5. Dedicating time to write twice about some side preemptively shaking your hand is exactly why I don’t play this game in real life any more. All you people do is whine. It’s bad enough half of you can’t be bothered to shower, you have to shower me in your autistic spittle-shower rants about being slighted too. Grow up and deal with it like an adult.

  6. @mattnass: Assuming that Thomas is indeed ‘Handshake guy’ (seems likely) then I can’t imagine, based on not just that content, but the style and tone of his post, that your account is even remotely accurate. That said, the only issue here seems to be that he extended his hand first. Are you’re really that upset about the winner(him) trying to shake hands with the loser(you) or are you upset that you expected to win, took a bad beat, and are now taking to a very public forum to vent your frustrations by assailing his character? Let me say, it’s neither uncommon, nor unsportsmanlike for the winner to offer the handshake first. I never liked reading your column and now I can finally put a finger on why: you’re a vindictive, condescending, immature know-it-all with a bad attitude.

  7. Suck really hard, 4 vendillion clique are you mad?! they’r legendary idk if you notice that, and 6 discard spells is far too much for me… Just stick with elves matt 😉
    Btw, you should be more humble i really dislike the way you write

  8. Yes! A Matt Nass article that isn’t about Elves! Oh great, it’s about Faeries…

    I feel like I’ve been trolled.

  9. hey Nass, ask your friend who took the ptq down with mono red to write an article. I am playing mono red this season and have already put up a 3rd place at a local ptq. I think myself and many others here are sick of reading about faeries. We want some diversity.

    p.s. getting Nasssty? come on

  10. sorry for what I’ll say, but…

    @mr handshake guy = obv nervous and excited about the match. Totally ok about his actions. Learn to win dude.

    @mr nass = mimimimi ‘got revenged in the semis’. overreacted obv. Shouldnt have said about it in your article. Shame on you.

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  12. So matt nass is a crybaby waahhh waahhh waaaaaahhhhhh :,( tears of bitter sadness why would you even mention that little story in this article. Keep your venting to yourself and keep your articles professional. You act as if he couldnt tell you did not have an answer when he stated your facial expression gave it away that you had lost. Why not work on your pokerface a little more before you cry to the whole internet about a bad beat? Everyone has experienced a bad beat so why act as though you have never had one before? If i ever play you im going to pull a bobby fisher on you

  13. Man this is great. I really need to extend my hand and call it a “good game” whenever I feel I am in a winning position. What are they going to do? Make me play it out? Whatever, you then roll your eyes like your opponent is retarded and then kill him. Then tell your friends how stupid your opponent was and how bad he played.

    On the other hand if I didn’t want to come off as a jerk-off I probably shouldn’t extend my hand when I win.

    Always funny on Modo where you manascrew on like 1-2 lands and your opponent has the nutdraw and then “gg”s you.

  14. @Basstastic you are missing the point, the game was over…there was nothing to play out, Bitterblossom killed Nass and that was it. As his opponent stated, he knocked Nass down to one and passed the turn, Nass untaps and his expression makes it obvious he can’t stop the Bitterblossom trigger, so knowing the match ended his opponent extends his hand as says good game.

    I do not see anything obnoxious about this sequence of events at all…in fact even if it had gone down the way Matt had described I still don’t see anything wrong with it. People blatantly do that all the time fishing for premature concessions. A little sneaky but not rude.

  15. Yea, as a ‘big fish in a small pond’ (i.e. local guy who wins half the PTQs tourneys etc), I’m used to ppl literally jumping up and screaming “YEEEEEEEEEEeeeess” on the off chance they managed to beat me. I bet if you asked our big fish in the big pond (lsv, paulo, etc), they have plenty of instances of this happening.

    Take it for what is, a compliment… beating you (specifically you) meant that much more to that person.

    @Matt Nass: Don’t try to trivialize bringing this up. If it hadn’t bothered you / didn’t matter, why the whole “ZOMG THE BEST PART WAS MY FRIEND BEAT UP ‘MR HANDSHAKE”. Srsly you came off as a butthurt teenager.

    LSV and your other channel / fireball brethren are such class acts (well seem to be, not like I know them IRL), take some wisdom from them IMO (and Zaiem or whomever is editing this should have IMO told you how butthurt you sounded and suggested you change it to reflect a less childish attitude).

    If you really wanted to “clue us in to the unwritten laws of MTG”, a simple “The opp offered me the hand prematurely… this is a faux pas in MTG coloquially, and should be avoided for courtesy’s sake” and skip the whole MR HANDSHAKE LOST LATER comment… woulda made you come off 1000000000% more classy.

    TLDR : Completely /agree w Kenseiden.

  16. “Trying out a new Tribe” … I was kinda disappointed to see it was Fae. I was thinking Berserkers or treefolk or some other crazy thing.

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