Let me be clear, I’m the first person to defend the concept of NetDecking. The game of Magic has become increasingly complicated, and the cards increasingly expensive. NetDecking helps you zero in on the cards that are hot, predict changes in the game that could cause the values of cards to rise or fall, as well as allow you, the player, to take advantage of the hours and hours of playtesting that professional players have put into developing these strategies. The skills required in Building the deck are very different from the skills required in Playing the deck successfuly. Indeed, playing NetDecks gives you a significant advantage in tournaments, and shows you what a professionally designed deck looks like so that you can perhaps become better at building and modifying decks of your own.
However, part of being a good Magic player is knowing how to anticipate your local environment. Case and point, I read Patrick Chapin’s article today on StarCityGames.com where he outlined his thoughts for a Jund deck in Standard. Now, I played Jund last year almost religiously. Bloodbraid Elf was too good to ignore and I enjoyed several wins because of it. Yes, I was one of Those Guys! So naturally I was excited about being able to throw down those colors in the current Standard environment after spending the last few weeks bouncing back and forth between Caw-Blade and Valakut.
This is the 75 I sleeved up today for my local Wednesday night event:
by Constantine Kyriakakis on 2011-03-16 (Standard)
After reading Mr. Chapin’s commentary on why this deck would be good against the meta-game, mainly Caw-Blade and Valakut, I felt I had a good chance of doing well with the deck. The changes I made were minor, and most were based on his suggestions. Though, I did have to substitute 2 Inquisition of Kozilek for 2 Duress because I only had 2 Inquisitions with me… but that ended up not making much of a difference in the matches I played.
What did make the difference was the Mana-base. I had to mulligan down to 5 my first round, and it was only because my opponent, playing RUG, also mulled to 5 that I was able to put up a fight. But once he stuck a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and bumped him up to 5, it was all over, and game 2 wasn’t even close. In round two I faced a red deck featuring Kargan Dragonlord and Koth of the Hammer. I would have expected this deck to do fairly well against most red decks, with my plentiful removal and card advantage. However, a poor decision on my part late in game 1, and not getting my 3rd black source for my Gatekeeper of Malakir in game 2, led to an 0-2 drop record in an event that I regularly post 2-1 records.
Which brings me to my point. NetDecking is part of being an educated Magic player. But, it’s also increadibly important to apply what you know about your local metagame to the conversation about deciding what to bring to a tournament. Reading an article by a pro who is always pushing the envelope of what is possible in the game, and then expecting the deck to perform with minimal playtesting/modification of your own is very foolish. Mr. Chapin stated clearly enough that this was an Idea, that could be further developed, and was really well suited to a room full of Caw-Blade and Valakut. Judging from the top 8 decklists from the last few events, this deck may be great for a Pro event, but a local event… not so much.
So my advice, take Decks you find on the Internet as merely a suggestion. You will always do better playing a deck you are comfortable with that addresses the threats in your immediate environment. Just because a Pro says that a deck is good, doesn’t mean you will be able to ride it to victory, even if he has written the book on Magic, literally.