Community League #3: Top 8

Hello my league-ish friends!

We’ve made it to the Top 8, and we’re still on track to finish this thing before the (American) holidays are upon us! Thanks to everyone who has participated, and congratulations to those of you who made it into the top 8. A quick reminder on prize support, now that I have the attention of at least 8 of you.

Prize Support

I am guaranteeing at least $50 in prize support to the top three players IF we make our Extra Life goal of $200 by the time the event is over. That means you have less than a week to make a donation! Money goes to support local children’s hospitals. We are just over halfway to our goal, so help out if you can!

You can donate and support the MagicGatheringStrat hero of your choice here.

Standings after four weeks of Swiss

Here are the standings after our four weeks of Swiss play. Congratulations to DrChrisBakerDC and JorgeJacoh, the only two players who went 4-0 in Swiss!

league-3-swiss-standings

Rules for Top 8

This is single-elimination top 8. You can switch decks between rounds if you want.

Our goal is to finish all the rounds by next Friday if possible, or at least by the end of next weekend. Please communicate well and often.

It remains the responsibility of the winner to report in the comments to this post. Please do so as soon as your match is finished, if possible.

I’ve created a “bronze match” to determine third place, which is simply a matter of prestige but may be more significant if prize support is turned on.

Most of all, have fun!

Top 8: Pairings

Here is the bracket and the round one pairings. Keep checking in here or on the Events page for standings. I will update as results come in. You may play your round 2 match as soon as the pairing is available, regardless of whether or not everyone has completed their round 1 matches.

league3-top8-semis

I know this can be hard to read on mobile, so I will also post match-ups below.

Round 1

  1. DrChrisBakerDC (W) vs avery61
  2. moromete vs bava (W)
  3. JorgeJacoh vs ShiftingShadows (W)
  4. najay1 (W) vs Vaultboyhunter

Round 2

  1. DrChrisBakerDC vs bava (W)
  2. ShiftingShadows vs najay1

Round 3

  1. bava vs ???

Good luck!

/bava

Commander Corner: Eight-and-a-Half-Tails

Welcome back,

[c]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails[/c] is a powerful and wise kitsune cleric on the plane of Kamigawa. Unlike all other kitsune, instead of an all white tail, he was born with black streaks in his. These unusual streaks were seen as a great omen. He was destined to change the world. Throughout his life, [c]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails[/c] went on many spiritual journeys. Each successful journey earned him one of his nine distinct tails. He became the highest spiritual leader on the plane, and as such, he was entrusted by Konda to study the Kakuryio.

The Kakuryio is the spirit world, where the Kami dwell. The Kakuryio and the Utsushiyo, the world in which the mortals reside, create the plane of Kamigawa. Eight-and-a-Half-Tails agreed to help Konda, but soon discovered his true intentions. Konda intended to perform a sacrilegious ritual that had the potential to break open a portal between the Kakuryio and the Utsushiyo, unleashing the wrath of the Kami on the plane. [c]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails[/c] dismissed these thoughts as he did not believe Konda would do such things.

He was wrong though. As soon as Konda was given [c]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails[/c] research, he did exactly that, and tore open a portal between the worlds. This act became known as Konda’s Crime, as it started the Kami War.

[c]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails[/c] is an inexpensive and powerful commander. He can protect any permanent you control, including himself, while also allowing you to be able to push through damage. Having access to this early in the game can allow you to easily set up shop and help you bridge the gap to the late game by protecting your permanents from harm. Lets see what we can do with his wisdom and guidance.

eight-and-a-half tails

After Eight-and-a-Half-Tails realized what he had done, he decided that he no longer had the right to his nine tails. He then cut half of one off with his ceremonial knife, giving him his name.

[d title=”Eight-and-a-Half-Tails” (EDH)]

Commander
1 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails
Lands
29 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Secluded Steppe
1 New Benalia
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Karoo
1 Emeria, the Sky Ruin
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Drifting Meadow[/d]
[d]
Creatures
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 True Believer
1 Transcendent Master
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Student of Warfare
1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Stonecloaker
1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
1 Silverblade Paladin
1 Silent Arbiter
1 Serra Avenger
1 Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
1 Precinct Captain
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Peacekeeper
1 Mother of Runes
1 Mirror Entity
1 Mirran Crusader
1 Mentor of the Meek
1 Master of Pearls
1 Mangara of Corondor
1 Leonin Arbiter
1 Knight of the White orchid
1 Imposing Sovereign
1 Hero of Bladehold
1 Grand Abolisher
1 Glowrider
1 Flickerwisp
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
1 Containment Priest
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Banisher Priest
1 Aven Mindcensor[/d]
[d]
Instants
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Path to Exile
1 Oblation
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Disenchant
1 Devouring Light
1 Condemn
1 Brave the Elements
Sorceries
1 Fell the Mighty
1 Council’s Judgment
Enchantments
1 Story Circle
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Karmic Justice
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Banishing Light
Artifacts
1 Aether Vial
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Sword of War and Peace
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Sol Ring
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Extraplanar Lens
1 Caged Sun
1 Batterskull[/d]

I decided to model this deck after the popular Legacy deck, Death and Taxes. This deck wins by putting the opponent into a soft-lock of sorts and just beating down with tiny white creatures and equipment. The deck taxes the opponents mana, restricts them on when they can cast their spells, how many spells they can cast a turn, how many cards they can draw this turn, and how many creatures can attack, if any. For a deck made up of cheap white creatures, it can sure pack a huge punch.

This deck has many cards that attack your opponents from many different angles, whether it be restricting the amount of cards drawn to the amount of spells played, or whether your opponents’ spells can even target your permanents. These angles of attack really put the squeeze on your opponent, as they won’t know which way to counter your attack plan.

[c]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/c], [c]Glowrider[/c], [c]Eidolon of Rhetoric[/c], and [c]Ethersworn Canonist[/c] prevent your opponents from overloading you with spells. You are usually not going to be playing too many spells per turn, so cutting down the amount of spells your opponents play allows you to keep up with them or even pull ahead in some cases.

Since this deck is purely white, you’re not going to be drawing more than one card each turn for most of the game. Thanks to [c]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/c], your opponents won’t be either. This card can hinder any control strategy immensely and must be immediately dealt with in order for them to move on. Another angle of attack you can take up is with [c]Grand Abolisher[/c]. With this in play, your opponent won’t be able to counter your sorcery speed spells or deal with any of your creatures on your turn. They have to waste their mana on their turn to deal with your threats, preventing them from progressing their board state.

If all else fails and your opponent breaks out of your lock and sticks a few monstrous threats, you do have a safety valve of sorts in the form of [c]Fell the Mighty[/c]. Since your creatures are small, this card can really get some work done. Destroying your opponents’ big dumb idiots and effectively bringing your opponents down to “your level.”

The glue that holds this strategy together is of course, [c]Eight-and-a-Half-Tails[/c]. Being able to bring him out early allows you to set up your board by protecting your lock pieces and is what this deck needs to last in a multiplier game. With removal spells upon removal spells being slung across the table, you need to be able to protect your board at all times. You can also use his ability to consistently push your creatures through your opponents’ blockers. You have to know when to turn the tables and start the beatdown after you set up your shop. Since these creatures are relatively minuscule in size compared to the monoliths that rule the format, you’re gonna be on the defense for a while. Learn when it’s time to change up your stance, and you’re going to steamroll even the most seasoned of Commander players.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions for a Commander to feature in a future article, please let me know in the comments below. Next week, we will look at a lonely old man. See you soon, my friends.

-Steve Gulsby

The Standard Pauper Show, Issue 23

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

I hope everyone is enjoying the slightly new format of the show! I put a decent amount of work into these and I am fairly proud of the end product. Could it be more polished? Of course. But for the low cost of free, this is the best I can give you ;)

Round six has already begun! Please take a moment to watch some of the matches. I know you will enjoy them.

Speaking of cross promotion, here are a couple of the Gauntlet videos I helped make:

The Green One vs Izzet Cruise Control

 

Tortured Toolbox vs MBC

http://pdcmagic.com/gatherling/displaySeries.php?series=MPDC
SPDC 27.08
7 December 2014
Standard · 9 Players
9 Decks · 100% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 4 playoff
Hosted by DrChrisBakerDC

1st Boros Heroic by DrChrisBakerDC
2nd MBC Splashed by beatnik bobby
T4 BW Control by flying_men
T4 UR Token by Maltercio

Cruise Watch: 2014
1st Place: 0 Cruise
2nd Place: 2 Cruise
3rd Place: 0 Cruise
4th Place: 4 Cruise

Does not appear that the dreaded TC has totally warped the format. I like that. I hate to see a single card change things up. Much like Ghostly Flicker, which was a pain in the butt.

Section 2: The Winning Deck

We went over Dr. Baker’s deck in the show, so lets look at another one.

MBC SPLASHED
Standard · Control
2nd by beatnik bobby in SPDC 27.08 (3-2)

[d]
Creatures
4 Benthic Giant
4 Disowned Ancestor
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
4 Returned Phalanx
4 Servant of Tymaret
3 Disciple of Phenax
2 Baleful Eidolon

Spells
4 Feast of Dreams
3 Pharika’s Cure
3 Read the Bones
2 Debilitating Injury
2 Eternal Thirst
2 Font of Return
2 Treasure Cruise
1 Fleetfeather Sandals

Lands
13 Swamp
4 Dismal Backwater
4 Evolving Wilds
3 Island

SIDEBOARD
3 Festergloom
3 Flesh to Dust
2 Whirlwind Adept
2 Rotfeaster Maggot
2 Molting Snakeskin
1 Baleful Eidolon
1 Disciple of Phenax
1 Pharika’s Cure
[/d]

Again, let us look at the curve

Looks more like getting flipped the bird rather than a deck curve. There are 2 drops galore in this revision of a previous winner.

No bad. You have your 2 mana you need for Phalanx. But that will be all you are casting. Is that one door stop enough to keep this hand? If we look back at the curve, the odds are your next draw is either a land or a 2 drop. With this in mind, I say keep.

Now let’s look at the next six cards:

Island off the top is pretty nice. The hand is a bit slow and you are not casting Treasure Cruise any time soon. But, you have a nice early drop, 2 regenerators, and some decent hand disruption. Over all I fine with keeping this hand.

Section 3: Modern Masters 2 Speculation

Put on your thinking caps. Get gatherer ready. And come up with some cards you think may get pushed to common. This might be hard. What you have to look at are archetypes you feel Wizards will try to push, and figure out which cards need to always be available in draft. Those will be the cards dropped to common.

Another way to think about it is “What answers need to be common.”

I’ll go first.

My choice for pushed to common is: Wipe Away!

Why? Because it is an answer to combo. I think some sort of combo is going to be present and this card will disrupt that without being such a buzz kill.

Now your turn!

Goblins vs Gnomes: A GvG Look at MtG

Did you know that, following his obsession with explosives, Mekgineer Thermaplugg took up knitting? It was probably difficult since he was, at that point, missing his left arm; but I imagine these things can be replaced easily enough.

Whether or not you ever ran Gnomeregan in WoW (one of my favorite lower level dungeons), you’re probably aware that Hearthstone just had its big expansion, and the theme is Goblins vs Gnomes. People are inordinately excited. I’m really not much of a Hearthstone player these days, but I do think an expansion was overdue and I hope that we’ll see a more interesting and diverse metagame emerge with all the new cards.

If you want to tell me all about why Hearthstone is amazeballs, by all means, do so in the comments. But we’re not really talking about Hearthstone in this article, we’re just using the expansion as an excuse to talk about Goblins vs Gnomes in Magic, and to look at some lists from days-gone-by. And since they’re competing, we’re going to turn this into a contest. Here are the rules.

Goblins and Gnomes will each get three lists covering different formats. For each format, you guys can vote on whether goblins or gnomes are the winner. The overall champion will be the creature that takes at least two formats. First up, Legacy!

Legacy

 

Copper Combo – Gnomes (Legacy)

This list from 2011 uses Kuldotha Forgemaster to cheat out game finishers like Blightsteel Colossus. Copper Gnomes also work well as a 2-card combo to cheat giant artifact creatures onto the table.

[d]
Land
3 Great Furnace
4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Wasteland

Creatures
3 Blightsteel Colossus
4 Copper Gnomes
4 Kuldotha Forgemaster
4 Metalworker
3 Sundering Titan
4 Wurmcoil Engine

Spells
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Grim Monolith
2 Lightning Greaves
2 Mox Diamond
1 Staff of Domination
4 Tangle Wire
2 Mox Opal

Sideboard
2 Crucible of Worlds
3 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Trinisphere
2 Phyrexian Metamorph
4 Punishing Fire
1 Karn Liberated [/d]

 

Belcher Combo – Goblins (Legacy)

Hey, if we’re going combo gnomes, we have to go combo goblins too. This one-land list wants to win on turn one or two.

[d]
Creatures
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Tinder Wall

Lands
1 Taiga

Spells
4 Chrome Mox
4 Goblin Charbelcher
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
4 Lotus Petal
4 Desperate Ritual
4 Manamorphose
4 Pyretic Ritual
4 Seething Song
4 Burning Wish
3 Empty the Warrens
4 Land Grant
4 Rite of Flame

Sideboard
4 Xantid Swarm
4 Red Elemental Blast
1 Diminishing Returns
1 Empty the Warrens
1 Infernal Tutor
1 Pyroclasm
1 Reverent Silence
1 Shattering Spree
1 Tendrils of Agony [/d]

Modern

 

BW Sanguine Gnomes – Gnomes (Modern)

This build-around-me Bottle Gnomes list comes from a fun challenge over on MTG Salvation. Every card (but four) had to interact with Bottle Gnome in some way. I’m impressed with the result!
[d]
Deck Centerpiece
4 Bottle Gnomes

Support
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Blood Artist
3 Grave Pact

Recurring
4 Trading Post
2 Skeleton Shard

Removal
4 Path to Exile

Win Cons
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
2 Sanguine Bond
2 Sun Titan

Lands
3 Fetid Heath
4 Godless Shrine
8 Plains
8 Swamp [/d]

 

I Call Shenanigans! – Goblins (Modern???)

Let’s be fair. There are so many more Goblins than Gnomes in Magic that they have an obvious advantage. To alleviate that, I had to find some interesting, non-tier lists to highlight. This list is from Abe Sargent’s “100 Combo Decks in 20 Weeks” series. It’s #79 on the list.

[d]
Creatures
1 Goblin Marshal
1 Goblin Warchief
1 Siege-Gang Commander
2 Goblin Recruiter
2 Goblin Ringleader
2 Rage Thrower
3 Goblin Dynamo
3 Moggcatcher
3 Tar Pitcher
4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Goblin Assassin
1 Tuktuk the Explorer

Spells
3 Dragon Fodder
4 Goblin Grenade
1 Boggart Shenanigans

Lands
25 Mountain [/d]

PDH: Pauper Deck Highlander

 

Wait, Kithkin? – Gnomes (PDH)

Kithkin are sort of like gnomes, even if they are really more like hobbits. Give me a break, [c]Clockwork Gnomes[/c] is the only Pauper-legal gnome card, and no one is playing with it. This list is commanded by Gaddock Teeg and runs a bunch of short people. Close enough for me!

[d]
Commander
1 Gaddock Teeg

Creatures
1 Amrou Kithkin
1 Amrou Scout
1 Amrou Seekers
1 Apothecary Initiate
1 Ballynock Cohort
1 Ballynock Trapper
1 Ballyrush Banneret
1 Barrenton Medic
1 Burrenton Bombardier
1 Burrenton Shield-Bearers
1 Cenn’s Heir
1 Goldmeadow Dodger
1 Goldmeadow Harrier
1 Kinsbaile Balloonist
1 Kinsbaile Skirmisher
1 Kithkin Daggerdare
1 Kithkin Healer
1 Kithkin Shielddare
1 Kithkin Spellduster
1 Kithkin Zealot
1 Kithkin Zephyrnaut
1 Mosquito Guard
1 Order of the Golden Cricket
1 Plover Knights
1 Springjack Knight [/d]
[d]
Enchantments
1 Armadillo Cloak
1 Arrest
1 Cessation
1 Empyrial Armor
1 Ethereal Armor
1 Faith’s Fetters
1 Flickering Ward
1 Inviolability
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Pacifism
1 Recumbent Bliss

Instants
1 Celestial Flare
1 Disenchant
1 Glorious Charge
1 Guardians’ Pledge
1 Prismatic Strands
1 Repel the Darkness
1 Resounding Silence
1 Surge of Thoughtweft [/d]
[d]
Sorceries
1 Cenn’s Enlistment
1 Cultivate
1 Dust to Dust
1 Iona’s Judgment

Land
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
10 Forest
1 Kabira Crossroads
25 Plains
1 Secluded Steppe
1 Sejiri Steppe
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Terramorphic Expanse

Artifacts
1 Adventuring Gear
1 Bonesplitter
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Tumble Magnet
1 Vulshok Morningstar
1 Whispersilk Cloak [/d]

 

My Commander is a Lackey – Goblins (PDH)

Aside from the contradiction that your general is a lackey, this seems like a fun Goblins PDH list. Lackey actually makes a good commander in terms of his ability, but you have to wonder … who is really calling the shots?

[d]
Commander
1 Goblin Lackey

Creatures
1 Adder-Staff Boggart
1 Akki Avalanchers
1 Battle-Rattle Shaman
1 Bloodcrazed Goblin
1 Caterwauling Boggart
1 Emberwilde Augur
1 Fire Juggler
1 Firefright Mage
1 Flamewave Invoker
1 Foundry Street Denizen
1 Goblin Arsonist
1 Goblin Balloon Brigade
1 Goblin Battle Jester
1 Goblin Bushwhacker
1 Goblin Chirurgeon
1 Goblin Cohort
1 Goblin Fireslinger
1 Goblin Gardener
1 Goblin Gaveleer
1 Goblin Grappler
1 Goblin Lookout
1 Goblin Matron
1 Goblin Medics
1 Goblin Mountaineer
1 Goblin Patrol [/d]
[d]
More Creatures
1 Goblin Rimerunner
1 Goblin Shortcutter
1 Goblin Skycutter
1 Goblin Sledder
1 Goblin Spelunkers
1 Goblin Striker
1 Goblin Swine-Rider
1 Goblin Taskmaster
1 Goblin Tinkerer
1 Goblin Tunneler
1 Goblin Vandal
1 Goblin War Buggy
1 Grotag Siege-Runner
1 Intimidator Initiate
1 Keeper of Kookus
1 Kyren Sniper
1 Lavafume Invoker
1 Lobber Crew
1 Mogg Conscripts
1 Mogg Fanatic
1 Mogg Flunkies
1 Mogg Raider
1 Mogg War Marshal
1 Mudbrawler Cohort
1 Mudbutton Clanger
1 Mudbutton Torchrunner
1 Raging Goblin
1 Riot Piker
1 Rummaging Goblin
1 Rustrazor Butcher
1 Skinbrand Goblin
1 Skirk Commando
1 Skirk Shaman
1 Sparksmith
1 Spikeshot Goblin
1 Torch Slinger
1 Utvara Scalper
1 War-Torch Goblin [/d]
[d]
Artifacts
1 Accorder’s Shield
1 Bladed Pinions
1 Bonesplitter
1 Flayer Husk
1 Kitesail
1 Leonin Scimitar
1 Spidersilk Net
1 Vulshok Morningstar
1 Whispersilk Cloak

Sorceries
1 Disintegrate
1 Flame Slash
1 Goblin Grenade
1 Goblin War Strike
1 Grapeshot
1 Kaervek’s Torch
1 Rift Bolt

Instants
1 Brightstone Ritual
1 Fireblast
1 Galvanic Blast
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Tarfire

Enchantments
1 Goblin Caves
1 Goblin Shrine

Lands
32 Mountain [/d]

Six decks. Three formats. Who wins?

Discuss your choices and winners in the comments. Have your own favorite gnomes or goblins lists? Share those too!

Thinking Outside the Circle: UW Tron in Pauper

It’s rare that new archetypes see play in the established, competitive metagame. UW Tron may not be a new archetype, per se — it is Tron, after all — but it is definitely a new take on Tron, featuring some cards that don’t see play very often. As for the pilot, Saibod, you may know him better as obZen, he is usually a master of UB Teachings; if he switches over to a new list, it’s worth taking note. Here is the 75 he went 3-1 with in the Saturday DE.

[d title=”UW Tron by Saibod (Pauper)”]
Land
4 Azorius Guildgate
1 Haunted Fengraf
1 Island
1 Plains
1 Quicksand
4 Tranquil Cove
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower

Creatures
4 Ulamog’s Crusher

Spells
4 Azorius Signet
1 Capsize
4 Compulsive Research
1 Curse of the Bloody Tome
4 Deep Analysis
4 Expedition Map
1 Fade Away
4 Journey to Nowhere
4 Memory Lapse
1 Power Sink
4 Rhystic Circle

Sideboard
1 Curse of the Bloody Tome
1 Fade Away
1 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Disenchant
1 Dispel
2 Dust to Dust
2 Hydroblast
2 Negate
1 Relic of Progenitus
3 Seraph of Dawn [/d]

His description from the list is: Using the Tron engine you can lock the opponent from damaging you ever again with Rhystic Circle, then you win with whatever is available to you.

That last bit cracks me up a little, because you are either winning with the 1x [c]Curse of the Bloody Tome[/c] or (much more likely) beating your opponent to death with [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c]. There really aren’t that many other options. I imagine most wins are actually concessions to getting the [c]Rhystic Circle[/c] online and capsizing the opponent’s stuff. Despair is a fine wincon, if you ask me.

[c]Memory Lapse[/c] is a fine counterspell all of the time and it is the best way to deal with [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] (or other Delve spells). [c]Power Sink[/c] seems beautiful in Tron and I’m a little surprised there aren’t more of them. I especially like the idea of shutting down Familiars with a well-timed Sink.

In general, Tron and Affinity have both been showing well in Daily Events, so if you’re looking for a fun deck to run, try one of those. Familiars are also placing well, but don’t play them unless you’re an asshole. There are better decks to play with that aren’t as annoying to play against.

All of the Affinity lists winning right now are the “new” variety, running [c]Perilous Research[/c]. Here is a sample list from Turbokitty’s 3-1 on Saturday.

[d title=”Perilous Affinity (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Darksteel Citadel
4 Great Furnace
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Tree of Tales
4 Vault of Whispers

Creatures
4 Atog
4 Carapace Forger
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer

Spells
2 Fling
4 Galvanic Blast
1 Lightning Bolt
3 Perilous Research

Artifacts
4 Chromatic Star
3 Ichor Wellspring
4 Springleaf Drum
2 Terrarion
4 Thoughtcast

Sideboard
4 Duress
4 Hydroblast
3 Krark-Clan Shaman
4 Pyroblast [/d]

UW Tron on Video

Shout out to Dillon (Saibod / obZen) for streaming and posting videos on YouTube. Watch his stream on Twitch.tv and follow him on YouTube. Here is the playlist of his Pauper Daily Event run on Saturday. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxEKPqXuLXM&list=PL4bT0wMQYFeKsXfQYzcytx0tSMP45z8cJ

 

Keep slinging commons!

/bava

Legacy on Mondays: A Look at the Metagame

Welcome Back!

This week I wanted to take a look at a broad overview of the Legacy format for the past two months. Specifically, which decks have been performing well and the overall format metagame, including what is going on in MTGO and for larger paper Legacy events. All of the lovely data and decklists themselves com from mtgotop8.com, which is a good resource for finding netdecking, which I neither condone nor reject (I may write an article on this in the future…), and for taking a look at the overall scene of any sanctioned format.

legacy meta

Aggro

Well there it is. The deck breakdown for the entire Legacy metagame, from MTGO daily events to Grand Prix results to Legacy opens. The first and most obvious thing of note is that Aggro strategies make up a serious percentage of the metagame. Almost half of all decks in the format are trying to kill you as fast as possible with a bunch of creatures or, in the case of Burn, with spells.

So why are people playing aggressive decks? Well, most are fairly simple to pilot. Traditionally, spell order and knowing when to counter a spell or cast a [c]Swords to Plowshares[/c] are interactions that require a decent amount of intuition and knowledge of the opposing deck, while slamming a [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] and swinging into the red zone requires less intimate format knowledge.

I am not saying it does not take skill to successfully play an aggressive deck, but in general newer Legacy players take to aggressive strategies for that reason. Another reason why more experienced players may be playing an aggressive deck is that many utilize Blue to facilitate both [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] and [c]Force of Will[/c].

Delver is the namesake card for a variety of tempo and aggro decks in the format, and he is usually supplemented by Force, which is the quintessential counterspell for the format. Both of these are obviously great, as you can see by the fact that three of the top four aggro decks in the meta all have Blue and typically run three to four copies of FoW, and four copies of Delver.

Looking at the rest of the decks, Burn and Goblins are at decidedly low numbers. Burn is traditionally a great pick for beginners to the format as it is usually tier 1.5 or higher, and in paper right now will usually cost around $300 for the 75. That being said, there are not a lot of newer players, so the Burn concentration has dropped. With this, I would recommend it as a deck for the current Legacy format, at least in paper. An unsuspecting metagame can be dominated by burn, as [c]Force of Will[/c] is traditionally pretty bad as the only main deck answer to Burn spells in the Blue aggro decks, and [c]Goblin Guide[/c] and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] can come down early and do damage far too quickly for a control deck to handle.

For Goblins, I believe the same to be true. While not as much a beginner deck, as it costs quite a bit to acquire 4 [c]Wasteland[/c]s, 4 [c]Rishadan Port[/c]s, and 4 [c]Cavern of Soul[/c]s, Goblins is that disruptive anti-mana deck that can absolutely tango with all manner of decks. [c]Goblin Piledriver[/c] in particular is great at smashing through all of the blue decks running around. In the right metagame, Goblins could shine. Mono-red hate is dying out, as people are instead sideboarding for the Blue Red Delver matchup that is oh-so-common today.

Control

Control decks take up about a third of the current overall metagame. Control strategies typically do well in metas where combo is more prevalent, because depending on the control build, they can often dismantle fanciful combos with ease. That being said, control is often solid against creature decks as well, such as the Legacy control deck, Blue-White Miracles.

Miracles has access to [c]Terminus[/c], which can be used at instant speed for 1 mana thanks to [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c], and interaction which allows Miracles to effectively trump many aggressive strategies. Joe Lossett has been a proponent of this deck, and has several high-profile placements with it, including taking second place at the Richmond SCG Legacy Open 23 November of this year.

Unfortunately for control, many of the aggressive decks of the format are more than capable of handling themselves against this type of deck. Even Nic Fit decks that are designed to exploit the lack of basic lands in most decks aren’t quite as good when aggro strategies are starting to run basics as a hedge against [c]Wasteland[/c]. Control is still perfectly viable, as evidenced by the fact that five of the top eight decks from the last major Open (SCG Richmond) were listed under the control category.

If you are looking for an interesting control deck to play that will take most metas by surprise, look into Tezzeret. It plays the two most busted colors – Black and Blue – and plays 6-8 of the best two planeswalkers ever printed – [c]Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas[/c] and [c]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/c]. Tez is a great strategy that usually wins through the powerful Thopter-Sword combo, which is very resilient since there is not a lot of artifact hate running around in people’s sideboards these days.

Combo

For goodness’ sake, why is only a fifth of the field playing combo? Well, it takes a very special type of person to play combo. One must become dedicated to learning all of the ins and outs of a deck, which usually requires a ridiculous amount of playtesting. It took me about a year to become very familiar with [c]High Tide[/c] to the point where I can pick up almost any variant and play it, and it is not even the most complicated combo deck out there. I would argue that TES and ANT both have many more potential sub-interactions and lines of play than High Tide, despite High Tide being incredibly complex in that regard.

This also leads to another phenomenon. Usually only more developed Legacy scenes, such as that of Los Angeles, California in the USA, have serious combo players. The most recent L.A. Open had a much higher concentration of combo than any other, mostly because those players have been playing Legacy for quite some time, or have been those to come up with many of the busted decks that they play. With a newer Legacy crowd, most people will be scared to pick up something as crazy as a combo deck, as usually the price point and practice required is too much or too scary for newer players.

Why is Elves the #1 combo deck though? This is also simple. It has two avenues of victory – either combo like crazy until you draw and cast a [c]Craterhoof Behemoth[/c], or just wait until you have a few creatures in play and then [c]Natural Order[/c] for a Behemoth. Post-board Elves is also even more resilient, and can best the other combo decks with the addition of [c]Thoughtseize[/c], [c]Pithing Needle[/c], [c]Cabal Therapy[/c], etc.

Popular Cards – Why is this even a section?

So mtgtop8.com also gives a list of the ten most popular cards for the given format in the given time period. Here is Legacy’s for the past 2 months:

legacy top cards

Why is this even a thing? It has been proven that Blue decks are the most popular and some of the most powerful in the format. If you ignore the fetch and dual lands entirely, every card on that list is [c]Wasteland[/c] or blue. Even the fetches and duals either produce blue or find a land that does. The blue cards on the list make sense, as Combo, Control, and even Aggro decks run these cards to make their hands better, or be cheap disruption. Perhaps this is why Imperial Painter sometimes shows up to do well in larger events – the deck that maindecks [c]Red Elemental Blast[/c]s of course does well in a field full of blue.

So what have I learned today? In the average large event full of [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] and [c]Force of Will[/c], any player would expect to do well playing Burn with four or five Red Blasts in his/her sideboard. The metagame is always evolving, but clearly cards like the Cruise and [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] are making their mark.

I hope you learned something today as well. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see all of you next week!

/Peyton

Community League #3, Week Four

Howdy leaguers!

With only one week left in Swiss, there are still 16 players in contention who can make it into the Top 8! Good luck to everyone, and even if you can’t make Top 8, I hope you all enjoy this last week of Standard Pauper in the league. Did you get to play with new people? Did you enjoy the format? What do you think of this shorter event cycle? Tell me in the comments!

Prize Support

We are at $105 in donations to Extra Life. We need $95 more in donations before the end of the event to turn on prize support! I am guaranteeing $50 in prize support to the top 3 if we make our goal.

You can donate here.

Bava vs Gwyned

I stopped cruising with Gary this week and got a little more aggressive, running RW Heroic from DrChrisBakerDC’s list here. Gwyned was running UB Control. Here is how it played out.

MagicGatheringStrat2 vs Rahrahrah

Peyton ran Jeskai tokens against Bill, who was also running RW Heroic.

Week Four Match-Ups

Here are the match-ups for week four. Get in touch early, communicate well, and fight hard!

league3-week4

Good luck, have fun!

/bava

Commander Corner: Karn, Silver Golem

Welcome back,

Urza created Karn for one purpose, to stop the incoming Phyrexian invasion. In order to do this, Karn had to go back in time to stop the Thran from becoming corrupted by Phyrexia in the first place. During this time, he traveled across the plane of Dominaria with Urza to seek allies for the incoming invasion.

During his travels, he was told to protect [c]Gerrard Capashen[/c], as most of Gerrard’s bloodline has been slaughtered. He then ended up joining the crew of the Weatherlight, where he learned his true purpose. He was to become the core of the [c]Legacy Weapon[/c], a powerful tool to destroy Phyrexia. During the attack, Karn, Urza, and Gerrard came together to form the [c]Legacy Weapon[/c] and destroyed Phyrexia. Their sacrifice gave [c]Karn[/c] his spark, turning him into a planeswalker.

Karn has the ability to mechanize artifacts, bringing them to life. He has even been able to create artifacts out of nothing. During his pursuit of knowledge, he even was able to create the plane of Mirroden. His ability to give life to artifacts is the core of what makes Karn tick. It’s what powers this deck and can make it do some amazing things. Lets take a look at what the metal planeswalker can do.

Karn,_Silver_Golem

 After creating the plane of Mirrodin, he left the plane to be watched by Mirran. During that time, Mirran became unstable, turning into the Memnarch.

[d title=”Karn, Silver Golem (EDH)”]

Commander
1 Karn, Silver Golem

Lands
1 Zoetic Cavern
1 Winding Canyons
1 Urza’s Tower
1 Urza’s Power Plant
1 Urza’s Mine
1 Urza’s Factory
1 Tomb of the Spirit Dragon
1 Temple of the False God
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Mishra’s Factory
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Homeward Path
1 High Market
1 Gods’ Eye, Gate to the Reikai
1 Glimmerpost
1 Ghost Town
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Gargoyle Castle
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Encroaching Wastes
1 Eldrazi Temple
1 Dust Bowl
1 Dread Statuary
1 Deserted Temple
1 Desert
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Crystal Vein
1 Cloudpost
1 Cathedral of War
1 Buried Ruin
1 Blinkmoth Well
1 Blasted Landscape
1 Bant Panorama
1 Arcane Lighthouse
1 Ancient Tomb [/d]

[d]
Creatures
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Steel Overseer
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Shimmer Myr
1 Scarecrone
1 Platinum Emperion
1 Platinum Angel
1 Palladium Myr
1 Myr Superion
1 Myr Retriever
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Mycosynth Golem
1 Lodestone Myr
1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
1 Junk Diver
1 Duplicant
1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Copper Gnomes
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Arcbound Reclaimer
1 Arcbound Ravager
1 Arcbound Crusher [/d]

[d]
Artifacts
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Voltaic Key
1 Ur-Golem’s Eye
1 Unwinding Clock
1 Thran Dynamo
1 Staff of Domination
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Sol Ring
1 Sisay’s Ring
1 Serum Tank
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Semblance Anvil
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Pristine Talisman
1 Predator, Flagship
1 Planar Portal
1 Phyrexian Processor
1 Perilous Vault
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Nevinyrral’s Disk
1 Myr Turbine
1 Myr Matrix
1 Mirrorworks
1 Mind’s Eye
1 Loreseeker’s Stone
1 Krark-Clan Ironworks
1 Howling Mine
1 Expedition Map
1 Dreamstone Hedron
1 Darksteel Plate
1 Darksteel Forge
1 Contagion Engine
1 Contagion Clasp
1 Coercive Portal
1 Cloud Key
1 Clock of Omens
1 Britle Effigy
1 Blinkmoth Urn
1 Basalt Monolith

Planeswalkers
1 Karn Liberated [/d]

It’s an interesting deck, that’s for sure. Not having access to instants and sorceries, besides the Eldrazi ones, can be a huge turn off for some people. I for one thing this deck is tons of fun. Its really unique in what it can do. Being able to turn any artifact into a solid blocker or beater is really powerful, as you are almost never left without a creature on board.

Karn also can serve as a great blocker, though he won’t deal damage most of the time. There aren’t too many cards that stand out as pure win conditions, besides [c]Blightsteel[/c] and [c]Darksteel Colossus[/c], as this deck tries to control the board while beating your opponent down with whatever it can manage.

Cards like [c]Semblance Anvil[/c], [c]Cloud Key[/c], and [c]Mycosynth Golem[/c] work to reduce the cost of your spells, allowing you to pump out your artifacts easier. This deck is very mana hungry, so these cards are pretty much a must have. [c]Kuldotha Forgemaster[/c] and [c]Planar Portal[/c] allow you to search up for whatever artifact that is needed at the time, though most likely a [c]Blightsteel Colossus[/c] will get the job done. You need to be able to fuel up, since your artifacts can be made into creatures, they will most likely die much easier than normal. To keep your momentum going, we have cards like [c]Serum Tank[/c], [c]Mind’s Eye[/c], [c]Loreseeker’s Stone[/c], [c]Howling Mine[/c], [c] Dreamstone Hedron[/c], and [c]Coercive Portal[/c]. These cards will make sure that your hand is filled at all times.

Since we don’t have access to traditional removal spells, we have to be a little creative. Our 1 for 1 removal spell comes in the form of [c]Spine of Ish Sah[/c], [c]Predator, Flagship[/c], [c]Contagion Clasp[/c], and [c]Brittle Effigy[/c]. They may be a little costly , but they will get the job done no less. [c]Predator, Flagship[/c] is also reusable, which is a very good thing. We do gain powerful sweepers though in the form of [c]Perilous Vault[/c], [c]Oblivion Stone[/c], [c]Contagion Engine[/c], and [c]Nevinyrral’s Disk[/c]. In most situations, they could be better than a plain [c]Wrath of God[/c]. Being able to get them back with cards like [c]Myr Retriever[/c] and [c]Junk Diver[/c] also allows you to reload another wrath just in case one is not enough.

[c]Karn, Silver Golem[/c] changes the dynamic of the deck. It turns every artifact into a beater, most of which can stand toe-to-toe with whatever creatures your opponent throws at you. Using your [c]Sol Ring[/c] to animate a [c]Spine of Ish Sah[/c] and a [c]Darksteel Forge[/c] every turn can be backbreaking for most decks. Turning your board of mana rocks into an army drastically changes the board state. That type of shift can be hard for any deck to come back against, as you can start applying pressure immediately.

Karn is an interesting commander. Not being able to use basic lands can be a problem for some people, but people who love something different will take a liking to this deck. Turning all your rocks and utility artifacts into a force to be reckoned with is powerful and changes the dynamic of the game in a heart beat. Karn allows you to change gears in an instant, going from controlling the board and drawing cards to beating your opponents senseless.

Thanks for checking out this weeks Commander Corner. Next week, we will take a note from a powerful Legacy deck. See you soon my friend.

-Steve Gulsby

The Standard Pauper Show, Issue 22

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

Well, without Dan, the show is a little less lively. It appears we need some Swedish spices to flavor up this pauper show. What would be a Swedish spice? There has to be some secret ingredient in those meatballs.

Section 2: Not Pauper…

Since I was sick this week I didn’t have a lot of time for this article. I put my efforts into the YouTube show so I hope you watched it.

What I want to talk about though, is Modern.

Did you watch the World Championship this weekend? If you did, I hope you like Jeskai. Because Jeskai was all up in that coverage.

This leads me to my topic.

“Modern has become unmanageable and will become a detriment to all future card development.”

There, I said it. Though fun, if the community forces Wizards to continue to support this as a format, future card sets will be held back and become boring. I am not calling for bans. I am not calling for the abolition of a format. I am saying it is time to cut it off.

That’s right. Modern should start with 8th Edition and end with Khans Block. I think ending with M15 would be better for the format but that may be too much to ask.

Here are the reasons:

  • Standard will not change.
  • The current Modern card base is huge, it is in no desperate need to expand.
  • This will not affect Legacy or Vintage unless we really really want to go deep with reprints.
  • Imagine being able to print really old cards because there is no fear of them going crazy in Modern.
  • This would not affect supplemental sets like Modern Masters IV: The Moderning. Also, cards could be brought into the format through these supplemental sets after further testing.
  • Design space would be wide open. You would free the dev team to explore all manner of interactions. All the lessons learned could make all future sets a shining beacon of streamlined design and ultra playability. You want Urza’s Saga redone without the super broken cards? Now you have opened yourself up to that possibility.
  • With the next set being about saving Ugin, the entire Magi-Verse is primed for a reboot. New Alara! New Mirrodin! New Kamigawa? Heck, why not?

Now I have taken a lot of flack from community mouthpieces for speaking out about bans and basic design before. And I am looking forward to more of it now. This proposal is different than all my previous postulations. I am asking for only one thing. Lets just start fresh.

I will not come up with a name for the new format. Modern 2 sounds boring and extended has already been used. I will let the good people of the internet come up with a name. Please use your power wisely. “Dickbutt” is not a name we want to use on ESPN 8: The Ocho during Worlds coverage.

Spin Engine: Creating More Interaction In Modern

Hi all,

Modern has a bad reputation, and it’s for good reason. Many match-ups go along these lines:

Match 1: I assemble Tron while you assemble Voltron.

Game 1 – The Bogles player mulligans into a [c]Gladecover Scout[/c] with a load of Auras to make him great. The Tron player, on the play, happens to have [c]Pyroclasm[/c]. The Bogles player draws beyond seven and discards before losing his entire board state and dying feebly.

Game 2 – The Bogles player is on the play, and he enchants a [c]Slippery Bogle[/c] with [c]Hyena Umbra[/c] before [c]Oblivion Stone[/c] and [c]Pyroclasm[/c] are relevant, and he finishes the job quickly with [c]Ethereal Armor[/c] and [c]Daybreak Coronet[/c]. This time, the Tron player was totally helpless.

Does game 3 even matter? Is there any piloting skill here? The only difficult decision is the first: “Mulligan or keep?” The pilot has to ask himself, “Does this have enough pressure to win before the opponent can do anything, or does it have a way to stop the opponent from having a single chance?” Maybe Tron gets his sideboard [c]Spellskite[/c], and maybe Bogles gets his sideboard [c]Suppression Field[/c]. Either way, this isn’t a very complex game.

Match 2, game 1: I race to add two quest counters to [c]Pyromancer’s Ascension[/c] while you race to give me ten poison counters.

Match 3, game 1: You open your hand to see a turn one [c]Mox Opal[/c], [c]Cranial Plating[/c], [c]Ornithopter[/c], [c]Springleaf Drum[/c], [c]Darksteel Citadel[/c] and whatever else. I [c]Open the Vaults[/c].

Match 4, game 1: I [c]Faithless Looting[/c] into [c]Griselbrand[/c] and [c]Goryo’s Vengeance[/c]. You cast [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] with [c]Jeskai Ascendancy[/c], a land, and cantrips in hand.

Match 5, game 1: I have turn 1 [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] into turn two [c]Summer Bloom[/c] and [c]Primeval Titan[/c]. You have turn one [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c] into a host of Phyrexian-mana spells and [c]Ground Rift[/c].

Match 6, game 1: I try to amass six mana for [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] and [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] while you amass a number of [c]The Rack[/c] effects and discard spells.

Match 7, game 1: I achieve twelve devotion to white thanks to a large number of enchantments like [c]Runed Halo[/c] and [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] while you achieve twelve devotion to green and cast a [c]Genesis Wave[/c]. Which ends up being better?

Need I go on?

I don’t want to try and paint Modern out to be a turn two format or anything remotely close. But the problem with Modern is that these matches, ones that are one-sided blowouts for one player or the other, ones where an opponent is forced to frown and answer “No” when you ask “Do you have it,” are extremely common. The fourteen (fourteen!) examples above are those from daily results in the past couple of months. Never mind atrocious lists that you encounter in 2-man queues and in the tournament practice room; have you ever had your opponent exile [c]Simian Spirit Guide[/c] to cast [c]Boom[/c] targeting your only land and his [c]Darksteel Citadel[/c]? Did he follow it up with a turn three [c]Molten Rain[/c]? Totally unacceptable “play.”

Is Modern entirely composed of this type of “game”? Absolutely not. In fact, there are plenty of beautiful, intricate matches with counters, bluffs, and removal, all while chaining draw spells and applying pressure. There are certainly enough of these lists to truly poison the format, though, and so many players seek out this type of list. You may be an article-reader hoping to find the next list that totally shuts down your opponent and doesn’t allow them to do anything. It may turn all of their lands into an [c]Island[/c] and resolve [c]Choke[/c], or it may aim to place too many [c]Ghostly Prison[/c] effects onto the battlefield. I’ve been tempted before not to have to make any tough decisions except the one that answers the question, “Which deck do I choose to cash in this metagame?”

If any of this sounds like you, let me assure you, the deck you’re looking for is not out there. No matter how many blowouts you achieve with routinely targeting your opponent with [c]Raven’s Crime[/c] or targeting [c]Protean Hulk[/c] on turn two with [c]Footsteps of the Goryo[/c], your deck is not consistent enough to be a good decision in a ticketed event. I’m sure it feels really good to achieve the lock when it happens, but I promise you that if there were a list that could do it enough, you wouldn’t be discovering it on any Magic content site. It would already exist, and it would already be dominant and most likely corrected by Wizards.

Because you see, while they may have a nasty camel of a platform to play Magic Online, Wizards really know what they are doing. They have made an awesome TWO-PLAYER game, and they have carefully maintained it over the years. Especially since the creation of the Modern format, the game is truly… well… magical when it is played correctly.

So if you are a frequenter of this site that is disappointed by this revelation, let me encourage you: there can still be blowouts. You can play a good deck and earn wins against your opponent. Here are some other examples of matches.

Match 1, game 1: I am playing G/W Hate-bears against Bogles. When he targets his [c]Slippery Bogle[/c] with [c]Daybreak Coronet[/c], I activate [c]Aether Vial[/c] to remove the [c]Hyena Umbra[/c] enchanting the beast with [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c]. For the rest of the game, my opponent is reluctant to attack because he knows I have [c]Restoration Angel[/c] and [c]Aven Mindcensor[/c] as well as the Vial. The next [c]Daybreak Coronet[/c] is met with a [c]Flickerwisp[/c] exiling the first aura. I fly over the top of his larger hexproof creature and win handily while he flounders, unable to do anything.

Game 2: My opponent feels on top of the world because he has amassed all the components and has a 10/8 creature with lifelink and vigilance. He knows I can never attack, and his life total is ever-increasing. But I have [c]Fracturing Gust[/c]. And [c]Day of Judgment[/c]. And now he has no cards in hand and a couple of awkward lands.

Well, you say, this is an ideal scenario for the Hatebears player. I disagree. This is the norm for an interactive deck.

Do you see the difference in this match from the ones before yet?

Match 2, game 1: I am playing [c]Splinter Twin[/c], and my opponent is playing Infect. The turn before my opponent would attack for a lethal amount of poison, I [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] his [c]Glistener Elf[/c]. He targets it with [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c], which is met with [c]Remand[/c]. Now he has a hand full of pump spells, including [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c], which are all useless because he has no creature in play. I assemble the combo.

Game 2: My opponent has chipped away a time or two with [c]Ichorclaw Myr[/c] but after playing sorcery-speed [c]Rancor[/c] and [c]Might of Old Krosa[/c], he cannot respond to my [c]Cryptic Command[/c] tapping down his Myr before combat begins. The next turn, out of mana, he easily loses his one threat and gets run over.

Surely it is clearer to you now: If you decide to play an interactive deck, there will be times that you get to shut your opponent down completely. Haven’t you noticed that being the goal of so many Modern players? It’s enough to run many off to other Eternal formats. Here, though, instead of picking a strategy that some opponents will be able to do nothing about, now we are playing cards that stop the opponent alongside our strategy. In doing so, we will create blowouts. In both of these examples above, we might as well be successfully piloting 8-Rack or Mono-White Devotion, two decks that aim completely to prevent your opponent from being able to play Magic. Our opponents aren’t able to play or do anything useful because we have had a couple of well-timed pieces of interaction, and they do not.

After we’ve navigated through the early rounds of non-interacting opponents, we get to the ones that do play [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], creature removal, [c]Remand[/c], and all the rest. We get to leave lands untapped, bluffing spells. We get to hold lands in our hand and pretend that they are spells that can do something, and our opponent might buy it! We can [c]Path to Exile[/c] their [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] or [c]Pestermite[/c] before they become a problem, and a real game is afoot.

Perhaps you’ve lost your way and forgotten what a great game Magic can be. I suspect (though this is for another article entirely) that this is because of the social aspect of paper Magic is lost in MTGO, and players forget that there is someone loathing the game and life in front of the other screen. I want to remind you, though, that you can win the game even when the opponent is doing things to stop you, and you can outright stop your opponents even with a deck that doesn’t aim just to do that.

Now, I suspect that many article readers just scroll up and down many articles until they see a box with a decklist, so let me show you duhaimination’s [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] list. It’s from a while ago, but it applies some of the principles I’ve spoken about here (though I still prefer Delver/Twin and Pod/Jund for interaction). Instead of the couple of [c]Pact of Negation[/c] cards that many of the combo players use, he has some proactive hate that can operate in a diverse field. I’m a little embarrassed about the [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c] and [c]Peek[/c] cards in the list, as these check to sure “that the opponent can’t do anything,” but I applaud the [c]Shadow of Doubt[/c] cards nonetheless.

[d title=”Duhaimination Ad Nauseam (Modern)”]
Land
1 Arid Mesa
1 Blood Crypt
2 City of Brass
2 Gemstone Mine
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
3 Marsh Flats
1 Plains
2 Swamp
3 Watery Grave

Creatures
4 Simian Spirit Guide

Other Spells
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Angel’s Grace
1 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Faithless Looting
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
3 Thoughtseize
3 Pentad Prism
2 Shadow of Doubt
1 Lightning Storm
4 Ad Nauseam [/d]

Gone is the [c]Pact of Negation[/c] that prevents the opponent from countering the [c]Ad Nauseam[/c], or less-advisedly, the [c]Lightning Storm[/c]. Instead, [c]Shadow of Doubt[/c] can outright stop [c]Scapeshift[/c], or it may disrupt a fetchland or [c]Expedition Map[/c]. The [c]Thoughtseize[/c] can preemptively remove a threat before it is threatening. The deck doesn’t aim to build up to six mana and go off or die trying. It’s actually playing the game! Now, is this the best example of what I’m talking about in this article? Certainly not. But I think it’s a step in the right direction, not only for the deck itself, but also for the entire format. Modern isn’t interesting to a lot of players, and a big reason of this is the lack of interaction.

Modern has so much potential. In paper, it is the most accessible Eternal format, and Wizards can regulate the prices with reprints. Hopefully you and I can find more ways to actually play the game so that players don’t continue their distaste and leave it unsupported. Or maybe you’re just here to find an [c]Altar of the Brood[/c] deck. Either way, good luck, have fun.

-drinkard

Pauper Primer #1: Elves

One of the things I always wanted to do alongside the MtG:U series is create a series of deck primers for Pauper. This isn’t going to be the ne plus ultra of Elves primers; it will, instead, be a work in progress. I will continue to add onto it and update it so that it grows and, as much as possible, remains accurate for a changing meta.

I’m interested in suggestions and additions, namely: which cards should be added / removed from the primer; which match-ups should have more or different information, and; which are your favorite pre-existing articles about Pauper Elves? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add your information into the article.

Why Elves?

Elves is a fun list to play and it is a strong Tier 2 contender against a lot of lists. It has a very strong game against Delver, but a very tough match-up against MBC. It can beat most aggro decks handily and, if unimpeded, has a stronger mid-game than most other lists in the format. Below we’ll look at some list choices, starting with the mana base.

Building Elves: Mana

Most Elves lists run a very low amount of land and a very high amount of mana dorks.

12-13x [c]Forest[/c]
0-1x [c]Island[/c]
8x Mana Elves – [c]Elvish Mystic[/c], [c]Llanowar Elves[/c], [c]Fyndhorn Elves[/c]
4x [c]Quirion Ranger[/c]
4x [c]Birchlore Rangers[/c]
0-4x [c]Sylvan Ranger[/c]
0-4x [c]Priest of Titania[/c]
0-4x [c]Springleaf Drum[/c]
0-4x [c]Abundant Growth[/c]
0-4x [c]Land Grant[/c]

Use any combination of mana elves that you like, just don’t use the ugly Fyndhorn Elves. The 1x Island is there for those running Gu Elves for [c]Distant Melody[/c]. I’ve seen [c]Springleaf Drum[/c] used for this purpose as well, which has the upside of turning all of your elves into mana dorks, but the downside that you can’t go searching for it. Sylvan Ranger is pretty much here to fetch your 1x Island, since you either need that or Birchlore to hit your Melody. [c]Arbor Elf[/c] is not mentioned because he is almost always worse than running a real mana dork; land can be destroyed (or bounced, or turned into an Island) and then he won’t do anything for you.

While [c]Abundant Growth[/c] can be nice in that it draws you a card and gives you U mana, it has the major downside of messing with your Quirion Ranger activations. Elves works with a single forest in play a lot of times, and if you bounce it (as you often will) you lose your Growth.

People use [c]Land Grant[/c] to thin their decks, but I think it is generally better to leave it out and just run the land you need. The amount of thinning it does is not worth a lot.

Building Elves: Utility

Most of our list is about getting elves who can help us get more elves. Some of our elves serve another purpose, however.

Life gain

0-4x [c]Wellwisher[/c]
0-4x [c]Essence Warden[/c]

One is a 1-drop that gets you life automatically, assuming everyone keeps playing creatures. The other is a 2-drop that can gain you insane amounts of life, assuming you get to keep creatures on the board. Both have their ups and downs; I tend to prefer Wellwisher because it can run away with games against aggro decks, especially with a Quirion Ranger in play, and I find it to be generally more consistent.

Control

0-4 [c]Viridian Longbow[/c]
0-4 [c]Scattershot Archer[/c]

While Archer usually gets a full 4x in the sideboard, it can creep into the main as well, usually if the pilot expects to run into a lot of Delver.

The Longbow can be a good option to keep in the main since it does a lot of what the Archer does without being as limited; equipping a Longbow onto a Nettle Sentinel can do some real damage and can even be a win condition if the board gets clogged and you can’t get through with a regular attack.

Reach

These are less regular contributors in most Elves lists, but worth a mention here.

0-4x [c]Defiant Elf[/c]
0-4x [c]Llanowar Elite[/c]
0-4x [c]Elvish Herder[/c]
0-4x [c]Llanowar Augur[/c]
0-4x [c]Taunting Elf[/c]
0-4x [c]Wildheart Invoker[/c]

Herder is probably the most interesting in the “gains trample” category, though Augur has the benefit of including ‘Giant Growth’ in its ability and includes an 0/3 body for one mana, which can be nice against some removal.

Card Advantage

Running out of steam in an Elves list is a sad thing.

0-4x [c]Coiling Oracle[/c]
0-4x [c]Elvish Visionary[/c]
0-4x [c]Wirewood Herald[/c]
0-4x [c]Fierce Empath[/c]
0-4x [c]Distant Melody[/c]
0-4x [c]Llanowar Sentinel[/c]
0-4x [c]Lys Alana Huntmaster[/c]

Of these, Huntmaster and Visionary are seen most often. Llanowar Sentinel used to see more play but isn’t included as often, now. Coiling Oracle is an interesting addition in a list running more U, while Wirewood Herald can get you any Elf you need, assuming you can get him to die somehow. Fierce Empath is an interesting inclusion, especially if add [c]Aurochs Herd[/c] to your list.

Building Elves: Resilience

2-4x [c]Spidersilk Armor[/c]
0-4x [c]Wrap in Vigor[/c]

You’ll almost always see armor in the main AND sideboard, since it not only makes your guys NOT die to [c]Electrickery[/c] but also works extremely well against Delver. It doesn’t help much vs [c]Crypt Rats[/c], though, which is why you’ll occasionally see Wrap in Vigor.

Building Elves: Win Conditions

Having a bunch of little elves doesn’t usually win you the game (though it can). These are some of the heavy hitters that make a difference.

4x [c]Timberwatch Elf[/c]
0-4x [c]Mob Justice[/c]
0-4x [c]Elvish Branchbender[/c]

Timberwatch Elf is pretty much an auto-include, while Branchbender is his lame cousin who sometimes shows up as Timberwatch 5-8x. Mob Justice is a great way to win without needing to attack and pairs particularly well with Lys Alana Huntmaster. Justice also gets around Fog effects and CoP: Green; both of which can be relevant.

Combo Wins

The most common way for Elves to win is with Timberwatch Elf. He is a 4x in almost every Elf list. There are some other combos that are fun, though, and can be played within the Elf shell.

[c]Devoted Druid[/c] + [c]Ivy Lane Denizen[/c] + [c]Presence of Gond[/c]

Both creatures are Elves, so they fit right in. Add [c]Wirewood Herald[/c] to dig for the combo Elf you need and then you just need to pull Gond. With an [c]Essence Warden[/c] in play as well, you can gain infinite life, nulling the fact that your opponent might kill all your tokens before you can attack.

[c]Retraction Helix[/c] + [c]Village Bell-Ringer[/c]

Add in enough mana dorks and you have infinite mana. Viridian Longbow is a win-con, or Wellwisher can get you infinite life. I played this a bit on video if you want to see how it works. Helix also goes on [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c] really well. [c]Banishing Knack[/c] can be helix x5-8 if you need more for some reason.

[c]Birchlore Rangers[/c] + [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c](s) + [c]Lys Alana Huntmaster[/c]

This is a natural combo built in to most elves lists, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. Add in a Melody for card draw and this is the premier way to get all your elves on the table.

Building Elves: Sideboard Options

[c]Scattershot Archer[/c]
[c]Elvish Hexhunter[/c] / [c]Elvish Lyrist[/c]
[c]Safehold Elite[/c]
[c]Gleeful Sabotage[/c]
[c]Fog[/c] / [c]Moment’s Peace[/c]
[c]Thermokarst[/c]

Building Elves: Sample Decklists

Garruk17 has been winning Dailies with this list most recently:

[d title=”Elves (Pauper)”]
Land
12 Forest
1 Island

Creatures
4 Birchlore Rangers
3 Elvish Mystic
2 Fyndhorn Elves
3 Llanowar Elves
4 Lys Alana Huntmaster
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Priest of Titania
4 Quirion Ranger
3 Sylvan Ranger
4 Timberwatch Elf
3 Wellwisher

Spells
4 Distant Melody
3 Viridian Longbow
2 Spidersilk Armor

Sideboard
1 Wellwisher
1 Spidersilk Armor
3 Fog
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Scattershot Archer
2 Thermokarst [/d]

We’re out of time this morning, but I know there are other lists and resources we should add. Let me know in the comments and I’ll continue working on and adding to this article. Thanks!

/bava

Legacy on Mondays: Cascade Aggro

Welcome Back!

This week I wanted to share a list with you that is in an early stage of development. I hinted at it last week when I mentioned an aggressive cascade deck, one that was even more aggressive than my Shardless BUG list, and it has changed substantially since. I have decided to morph my initally creature-laden list into a five-color build, and I have only played two testing games.

This article is about getting your opinion and maybe making this into something killer. The deck is primarily {B}{U}{G}, with a nice splash of {W} and {R} for just a couple of cards.

[d title=”Five Color CascAggro by Peyton”]
Creatures
4 Baleful Strix
4 True-Name Nemesis
4 Shardless Agent
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Bloodbraid Elf
Spells
4 Ancestral Vision
4 Abrupt Decay
1 Domri Rade
1 Sylvan Library
Lands
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Tropical Island
2 Bayou
3 Underground Sea
1 Taiga
1 Savannah
1 Volcanic Island
1 Scrubland
1 Badlands
Sideboard
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sower of Temptation
2 Thoughtseize
2 Engineered Plague
1 Gilded Drake
2 Mana Maze
2 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ancient Ziggurat
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Meddling Mage [/d]

The big question is: Why play a five color deck based around one mechanic? It is quite simple: cascade creatures are not only decent-bodied themselves, but they also provide a ton of value in potentially cascading into other relevant threats.

The aspect of having five colors gives us lots of diverse creatures that tap into different aspects of what makes a creature “relevant” in any given matchup. An example of this would be the white splash for [c]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/c] main deck (and a couple of cards in the ‘board) to hose against combo, burn, and the like.

The red splash facilitates the presence of one big lady: Madame [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c] is what makes this a cascade deck instead of a goodstuff-y creature deck. She and Señor [c]Shardless Agent[/c] make the deck tick. A hasty 3/2 with the potential to cascade into every other maindeck card, including the other cascader, is very potent in a format devoid of [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]. People are playing Lily less and less, as the metagame shies towards Blue-Red Delver where the edict is not that great.

Otherwise, Red lets us play a fun-of [c]Domri Rade[/c] as a cascade possibility that, with a whopping twenty-eight creatures in the main deck, can draw into more answers and serve as impromptu removal when necessary. Speaking of removal, four main deck [c]Abrupt Decay[/c] provide the bulk of removal for this list. I will stand firm in my belief that, despite their dying popularity, they are a solid answer to many common speed bumps one may face piloting a creature deck. These, along with the [c]Ancestral Vision[/c]s and a cool [c]Sylvan Library[/c], make up the rest of the non-creature, non-land cards in the deck.

As far as lands are concerned, I am not sold on my choices. Rather than running a ton of multi-lands like [c]City of Brass[/c] or [c]Ancient Ziggurat[/c], I like using fetches and duals. This lets [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c] act as more mana fixing, and is not too awful since there are only two splash colors. In my two testing games, I never felt I was color screwed, despite playing all five colors.

My main issue is how I fit my splash colors into my fetches and duals. I would like to fit in a [c]Tundra[/c], but I am not sure what to take out. Probably the [c]Scrubland[/c], but then I have less black. I might also like to run an extra fetch or two. In the board I do have a Ziggurat. This is for my extra dudes that have extra colors, and when I bring in [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] against control. I am not sure of this either. All of these minor details will be ironed out through more testing, and just deciding what feels best with the list.

The sideboard is incredibly iffy. It is a slightly modified port of my sideboard from Shardless BUG Aggro, and I am not sure that it fits with the theme at all. While I do like hedging my bets and having answers to the unfair stuff, maybe I want more against decks like Burn. Once again, I must play more than two testing games to determine how I want my board to look.

I have been speaking of these testing games for several paragraphs now, and it’s about time to explain what happened. I lost to U/G Infect 0-2 and beat Post MUD 2-0. In both games against Infect, my opponent was dead on the next turn before they killed me. Both games were so close, and Infect is so rare that I do not believe it is worth it to play more Infect hate. I basically brought in [c]Meddling Mage[/c] and [c]Engineered Plague[/c] and hoped I could prevent his creatures from sticking around too long. [c]Meddling Mage[/c] came down on turn two game two, naming [c]Blighted Agent[/c] and shutting him off of that. Turn three I was able to play [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] and DRS, and the beats commenced with only his [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] in play. Eventually, he was able to [c]Crop Rotation[/c] into [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c], which I could not [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], and [c]Berserk[/c] me to death. Still, he was at only three life and dead on board next turn, so I was fairly happy.

My next opponent was playing Cloudpost MUD. I love MUD; I think it is a wonderful deck, but here it did not stack up so well. In both games, I was able to effectively overrun him with my creature barrage, with a little help game two from [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c], who took care of an untimely [c]Metalworker[/c] before it comboed with a [c]Staff of Domination[/c]. In both games, there were moments when I felt that I was falling behind a bit, like when he cast his [c]Batterskull[/c] game one, or his [c]Lodestone Golem[/c] game two. These both messed with my plan a bit, but both times I was able to draw into a cascader and get back in the game immediately. The sheer board presence generated was too much in both games, and I walked away with a victory.

What’s Next?

You can help me. I will hopefully continue working on this awesome brew, and maybe if I get some suggestions, I can do an article with an update of its performance and list. Some thoughts of mine:

– Jitte in sideboard? (Almost certainly)

– Cut white out entirely? It gives me some excellent sideboard options, but are the four maindeck Legendary creatures worth it for the headache of the fifth color?

– Removal that can deal with big stuff, i.e. [c]Maelstrom Pulse[/c], [c]Vindicate[/c], maybe even [c]Utter End[/c]?

– One less land main? My curve is pretty low as only four maindeck cards cost four mana, plus [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c].

Any suggestions you may have, please post them in a comment below. Thanks for reading, and hope to see you next week!

/Peyton