By Ashlee Rubinstein

Editor’s Note: Meet Ashlee Rubinstein, our second contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Ashlee’s articles will appear over the next four Fridays, as she details the highs and lows of being new to MTG. If you’d like to write for The Scrub Report, send an email to [email protected]

Read her first article for us here!

I made the mistake of bringing a home brewed deck to Friday Night Magic the week of the World Cup and the World Championship Series finale. What was I thinking?!

I have only been to FNM twice, and I find it highly intimidating every time. The first time I went, it was Standard, and I had quickly edited a deck to make it legal for that night. It was the first time I played with the modifications, and I was annihilated. The deck I was playing was a Bogbrew Witch/Festering Newt/Bubbling Cauldron combo deck with a Polymorphist’s Jest/Bile Blight combo that I thought was hilarious. Basically, I was turning everyone’s creatures into 1/1 blue frogs with no abilities, and then wiping the board clean with Bile Blight. Throw in sacrificing Festering Newt for life gain and some extra damage to both players and creatures, and it was a good time had by me. The problem was that I was playing against the best decks in Standard; people were playing decks they had pulled from the internet (otherwise known as Net Decking). My little home brew did not stand much of a chance.

Festering NEWT

Throw in sacrificing Festering Newt for life gain… and it was a good time had by me.


I decided to try again a couple of weeks ago. Standard now consists of the Theros and Khans blocks. Everything that has come before is now out of the format. This was great news for me. These are the cards that came out when I started playing Magic, and for the most part, I am completely familiar with both sets. For the longest time, I have been trying to put together a Soldier deck, and it was finally in a place where I was happy with it.

I had been watching some of the coverage of the Magic tournaments that week, and I figured my deck stood a good chance. People were still playing Abzan Midrange decks for the most part, and I figured that’s what I would see at FNM. My Soldier deck consisted of white weenies that came out swinging on turn one, and got bigger by targeting Heroic abilities. It was super aggressive and perfect against these popular midrange decks. I ask you, what could go wrong? I’ll tell you what…


Oh, how I hate Monastery Swiftspear with a fiery passion.


In the first turn of the first game of my first pair-up, my opponent plays Monastery Swiftspear. I’m screwed. The big weakness of my deck is red aggro. It’s the pair-up I was dreading. Oh, how I hate Monastery Swiftspear with a fiery passion. I lost game one, but knew that in the second game I would be on the play, which would make all the difference, and it did. I dropped Brimaz, King of Oreskos on the third turn and my opponent scooped. What a card! It struck fear in my opponent’s heart. Brimaz was my champion! Enter game three, and I was massacred again.

The night continued in the same manor: red aggro here, red aggro there. People were also playing Jeskai decks, both combo and tokens. I played against a blue/white control deck. These games went long, long enough for me to drop an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, only to have it countered, then to have my opponent drop one of his own, and then to have me drop a single tear. I did manage to win once, but alas, that was not enough.

Another pairing I had was red/green mana ramp. In both games, my opponent managed to draw a Stormbreath Dragon. Why does this matter, you might ask? Well, for those of you not familiar with this card, Stormbreath Dragon has immunity to white, and I’m playing mono-white soldiers. If it wasn’t for that card, I might have stood a chance. My opponent later told me that he was at a loss for how to combat my deck. Luckily for me, no one is really playing mono-white, he said, so if he hadn’t have had Stormbreath Dragon in his opening hand, he would have mulliganed again and again until he got it. That made me feel good at least, well, kind of, because he still beat me in two games.


In both games, my opponent managed to draw a Stormbreath Dragon


He gave me lots of advice, both for playing FNM, and for augmenting my deck. I was really thankful. It’s times like that where I really enjoy going to FNM. I get to meet new people who love the game and just want other people to love it, too.

In my last pairing of the night, I managed to redeem myself. I out aggro-ed a red aggro deck, and won the round in two games. I left feeling a sense of pride that I at least succeeded once, that even though I didn’t win all my match-ups, I created a deck that had performed well.

So what did I learn?

For a casual player like me who might want to up their game and go to FNM and actually do well, net decking is an important part of the process. If you do not want to use net decks, it is still essential to look and see what decks more skilled players are playing with to see how your home brew stacks up against them. It is definitely not a fun feeling to walk into FNM not knowing what you are getting yourself into, so doing your research is important.

I am still committed to home brewing and will continue to try and improve my skills at deck building. Thus, the journey continues.

I have the decklist that I used at FNM below. It has since been tweaked a little.

Mono-White Soldier Deck

Creatures (21)
Soldier of the Pantheon
Vanguard of Brimaz
Phalanx Leader
Fabled Hero
Preeminent Captain
Brimaz, King of Oreskos

Planeswalkers (2)
Elspeth, Sun's Champion

Sorceries and Instants (17)
Ajani's Presence
God's Willing
Launch the Fleet
Acolyte's Reward
Defiant Strike

Land (20)
Nykthos, Shrine To Nyx
17 Plains

Side Board (15)
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Heliod, God of the Sun
Revoke Existence
Devouring Light
Suspension Field
God's Willing

*Featured Image by Flickr User uosɐɾ ɹnɥʇɹɐɔɯ

Of former Pokemon glory, Ashlee never thought she’d succumb to the temptations of another trading card game, especially not Magic: The Gathering. Then she met the Theros block, and it was love at first Fat Pack.


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