The MagicGatheringStrat Show, Ep. 13

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

Section 2: Player run events

MPDC 29.06
18 May 2015
Standard · 16 Players
14 Decks · ~88% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 8 playoff
Hosted by gwyned

Here are the matchups:

1st copied monogreen by milegyenanevem
2nd Izzet Control by beatnik bobby
T4 Izzeting you by JorgeJacoh
T4 Ksco Merchant by Papieru
T8 Golgari delve by gonz
T8 Winter Greenier by KyranOHyran
T8 Lo Pan’s Room by rremedio1
T8 Deck not found** by WujekMZK

Cruise Watch: 2015
1st Place: 0 Cruise
2nd Place: 4 Cruise
3rd Place: 4 Cruise
4th Place: 3 Cruise

My goodness, all that green! Not a single Treasure Cruise in sight for this winner.

The winning deck:

COPIED MONOGREEN
Standard · Unclassified
1st by milegyenanevem in MPDC 29.06 (5-1)

R1: Win: ‘2 – 1 vs. SeiryuAzuma UR Control
R2: Loss: ‘0 – 2 vs. Papieru Ksco Merchant
R3: Win: ‘2 – 1 vs. KyranOHyran Winter Greenier
T8: Win: ‘2 – 0 vs. rremedio1 Lo Pan’s Room
T4: Win: ‘2 – 0 vs. Papieru Ksco Merchant
T2: Win: ‘2 – 0 vs. beatnik bobby Izzet Control

Only loss was to a Merchant Cruise deck. Pretty dominant.

Interestingly enough, this was Beatnik Bobby’s only loss in the tournament. They were 4-1 and 5-0 respectively. That means they both ended with 5-1 scores.

We went over the deck last week so instead, I want to bring you something different.

Now you may peruse the presentation at your leisure.

So, what changes are you making for the next round of the League?

 

Paupers and Kings, Ep. 10: Robot Uprising

arcbound-ravager-730x280

Hi everyone, and welcome to the tenth and final episode of Paupers & Kings, my series on porting Pauper decks into the Modern format while staying on a budget. I hope you have enjoyed the series, and have taken advantage of some of the crossover archetypes to break into either Modern or Pauper (or both). I’ve had a lot of fun playing lists across the formats and have myself learned a lot more about Modern in the process. If you missed an episode, here is a link to all ten articles.

For our final week we’re taking a look at Affinity. The goal in both formats is similar: smash down a bunch of robots and/or artificers and beat face. In Modern our guys tend to be free or very cheap, and we get a lot of them, and we gain value with cards like Signal Pest, Cranial Plating, and Arcbound Ravager. In Pauper we rely more on the metalcraft ability and Affinity for Artifacts to cheat out 4/4s before our opponent knows what’s happening.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Affinity in Pauper

We’re playing Eredion’s list in Pauper, a choice I made after he stomped me with it in a Daily Event while I was playing Hexproof. His mastery of the list notwithstanding, I like a lot of the choices he has made in putting his list together as well. Here is his 75:

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

Creatures
4 Atog
4 Carapace Forger
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer

Spells
4 Thoughtcast
4 Galvanic Blast
2 Perilous Research
2 Fling

Utility
2 Flayer Husk
2 Ichor Wellspring
3 Prophetic Prism
3 Springleaf Drum
4 Chromatic Star

Sideboard
3 Dispel
2 Doom Blade
2 Electrickery
1 Krark-Clan Shaman
2 Serene Heart
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Relic of Progenitus [/d]

The stars of Affinity in Pauper are Myr Enforcer and Carapace Forger, and many a match is won by simply swinging in with these mighty 4/4s before your opponent has a chance to mount much of a defense. Even so, the creature that really inspires fear in the list is, of course, the wily [c]Atog[/c]. Anytime he is on the table, especially in the mid- to late-game, he can be a game-winning threat. Because of his potential for explosiveness, your opponent is often forced to make bad blocks, lose advantage on the board, and eventually be either overrun to have something giant [c]Fling[/c]ed at his face.

[c]Flayer Husk[/c] is great in the mirror and gets your guys out of [c]Flame Slash[/c] range, while also providing another 1-drop artifact to fuel your Affinity count. Six draw spells help ensure that you don’t run out of gas and, combined with nine cantripping artifacts, you can really draw cards with the best control lists, at least for awhile.

Eighteen land feels right, and the [c]Vault of Whispers[/c] help enable [c]Doom Blade[/c] out of the board, a necessity for guys like [c]Fangren Marauder[/c] who will, left unchecked, completely ruin your day.

Eredion’s list is on the cheap end, even for Pauper, mainly because he doesn’t run [c]Hydroblast[/c] or [c]Pyroblast[/c] in the sideboard. That said, it’s a well-tuned list that will compete with any deck you run up against; you’re more than getting your money’s worth. It’s under 10 tix to put together online, and just $34 to build in paper.

Myr-Enforcer

Affinity in Modern

For Modern, we started with iBelieveable’s list, and modified it to be slightly more on the budget end. You have a lot of choices when building Affinity in Modern, which I love. Some lists run as many [c]Master of Etherium[/c] as possible alongside [c]Welding Jar[/c]s to protect them, while others focus more on exploding out of the gate and winning as early as possible. Affinity can win on turn three and will often win by turn four, well before some opponents have done more than put down a mana dork or gotten their mana bases under control. Here is the Modern list we played.

[d title=”Affinity (Modern)”]
Land
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Island

Creatures
4 Arcbound Ravager
1 Etched Champion
3 Master of Etherium
4 Signal Pest
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge
4 Ornithopter
4 Memnite

Spells
4 Thoughtcast
4 Cranial Plating
4 Springleaf Drum

Sideboard
3 Etched Champion
2 Chalice of the Void
4 Dismember
2 Torpor Orb
1 Whipflare
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Illness in the Ranks [/d]

The number of must-answer threats here is huge. [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c], [c]Steel Overseer[/c], [c]Master of Etherium[/c], and [c]Cranial Plating[/c] all have a major impact and will win unless answered. Even if they take care of your creatures on the ground, your lands are ready to transform and start flying over the battlefield. [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] can easily win in a single swing with a cranial plating later on in the game, and at that point your opponent will be hoping to top-deck answers since they’ve likely used all their resources handling your other threats.

I like drawing two cards for {U} so I added in 4x [c]Thoughtcast[/c] from the original list. Some lists run [c]Galvanic Blast[/c] or even [c]Dispatch[/c], but I liked staying in a single color as much as possible. I was tempted to try out [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] because it works so nicely with [c]Darksteel Citadel[/c] and [c]Vault Skirge[/c] but it didn’t end up in this list. All of our threats are viable on their own, using an extra card and opening ourselves up to a 2-for-1 situation didn’t seem ideal.

You can make Affinity a budget list in Modern, more or less, just by taking out [c]Mox Opal[/c]. I’m sure it’s handy for explosive starts, but at $150 for a playset online, I’m happy to pass. After that, you’re looking at $15 for the 4x [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c]s, $50 for the 8x Nexus lands, and less than $30 for the rest of the mainboard. That’s under $100 online for the main 60.

For the sideboard, [c]Etched Champion[/c], [c]Ancient Grudge[/c], [c]Whipflare[/c], and [c]Dismember[/c] all are important players, and none of them are too expensive. After that you can fill in with whatever awesome artifacts you have laying around: [c]Pithing Needle[/c], [c]Chalice of the Void[/c], and [c]Torpor Orb[/c] are all cards that can do work. [c]Glimmervoid[/c] and [c]Springleaf Drum[/c] mean you can bring in nearly any color from the board, so cards like [c]Rule of Law[/c] and [c]Illness in the Ranks[/c] are viable options too, just don’t get greedy with any cards that require double mana unless it is {U}{U}, since that’s the only color we can really call our own.

Affinity on the Play

Three videos for each format this week. I played far, far more in Modern as I enjoyed the deck so thoroughly, but only filmed three. My current record with Modern Affinity is 10-2, though, and it is now my favorite Modern list alongside U Tron.

 

In Pauper, Affinity rewards practice and expertise. I’ve played against Eredion twice now in Daily Events, and while we are 1-1, his expertise with Affinity is apparent regardless of if he wins or loses. My point is that the deck is stronger than it seems by watching me play it; I’m sure my misplays were numerous and costly.

Next week on Paupers and Kings

Sadly, there is no next week on Paupers and Kings. Thanks for tuning in to the series, and I hope you enjoyed it! My next endeavor will have a stronger, more particular focus on Pauper and the competitive metagame. Let me know what directions you’d like to me to take, or if you’d like to see anything in particular covered for Pauper.

Until then, may your craniums always be plated.

/bava

MagicGatheringStrat: The Podcast Ep. 3

This week there are Dragons and Spoilers everywhere. It’s spoiler season again and we have commons. Plus Standard Pauper, Pauper Classic Tuesday’s, Sealed League, Patreon, Vacations, and Silver Black League!!!!
Its the only podcast you need, and thanks for listening!

How To Survive In Post-Cruise Modern

Hi all,

Since the banning of [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], everyone has dropped Delver. Unfortunately, no other deck must have been able to grind out the first few turns of the game and replenish its gas in a similar way.

Affinity, Infect, Amulet, Storm, and Burn are tearing up the format.

become immense

Affinity has the most consistent turn 4 wins of any aggressive deck out there. Its creatures are difficult to block. Removal spells are often pointless; the 1/1 creature you targeted simply becomes a +1/+1 counter on another creature.

Infect just picked up [c]Become Immense[/c]. With [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] and [c]Spellskite[/c], the deck can prevent all successful interaction and easily earn a win by turn 3. Any attempts to nickel and dime the Infect player only fuel the immensity that it can become.

Amulet has always been a problem. It seems that online players have known this better than paper players because until Justin Cohen tore through Fate Reforged, not many people were talking about it. On the first turn, [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] can win or set up the turn 2 win. You attempt to board in [c]Primeval Titan[/c] hate, and then you become assimilated into the Borg and unwisely cast [c]Summoner’s Pact[/c] in spite of not being able to pay for it thanks to [c]Hive Mind[/c].

Similarly, Storm wins on turn 3. You bring in graveyard hate and enchantment hate in game 2 only to lose to a [c]Goblin Electromancer[/c]-fueled chain of spells. Do you have 1-for-1 creature removal to handle Electromancer? The storm player will simply play a couple [c]Pyretic Ritual[/c] into [c]Empty the Warrens[/c] and easily crush you with six 1/1s.

Burn. You may not realize that you’re losing on turn 2 because you have 15 life, and your opponent only has [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c], but when you have to cast two spells to have a chance, and your opponent is holding 9 points of burn in their hand, they know well that they have won. Thanks to [c]Skullcrack[/c], even [c]Kor Firewalker[/c] can’t keep a [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] at bay. He just becomes a “gain 1 life, prevent combat damage from one creature for one turn” spell that costs you a ton of life to cast thanks to fetchlands and shocklands.

What can men do against such reckless hate?

skullcrack

Each of these decks succeed in the face of “the turn 4 rule” that has led to the banning of [c]Seething Song[/c], [c]Rite of Flame[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], [c]Dark Depths[/c], [c]Blazing Shoal[/c], Artifact Lands, [c]Glimpse of Nature[/c], and maybe [c]Second Sunrise[/c] and [c]Dread Return[/c].

I suspect the last two are arguable.

Still, a good 14 cards on the Modern banned list for this reason, composing almost half the list.

So what do we do in light of this infraction of a fundamental rule of Modern?

amulet-of-vigor

Well, on his Twitter, Tom Martell suggests a sweeping ban of the worst offenders: [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c], [c]Manamorphose[/c], [c]Glistener Elf[/c], [c]Griselbrand[/c], and [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]. That’s a solid list, although I think [c]Summer Bloom[/c] is both more difficult to interact with and more powerful than [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] in the same deck.

tom-martell-bannings-modern

On the other hand, players who have long since given up on Modern argue that the fundamental rule is in itself the problem.

Mattias Kres argues that only [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c], [c]Mental Misstep[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], and [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c] should be banned, leaving everything off the list. The power-level would be similar to Legacy and the last days of Extended, when Zoo ruled the roost.

That’s right, Zoo, an aggro deck, in a field of insanely fast combos.

I don’t know which of these is the better option. I don’t really look forward to both, and also I don’t really mind Modern at the moment.

All I’m concerned about is how to succeed with the hand we’re dealt.

To do this, we have two options.

Option One: Join ‘Em

Aim to win by turn 3. Here’s my most recent attempt to do so on a regular basis.

tumblr_njhrx5Pc0K1tctdpao1_1280

[d title=”Drinkard Infectless Infect (Modern)”]
Land
4 Arid Mesa
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Forest
1 Mountain

Creatures
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Goblin Guide
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Steppe Lynx

Other Spells
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Temur Battle Rage
4 Become Immense
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth

Sideboard
4 Hooting Mandrills
3 Destructive Revelry
4 Sudden Shock
1 Stony Silence
3 Phyrexian Arena[/d]

This deck is hell-bent on assembling three mana, an attacking creature, four cards in the graveyard, and [c]Become Immense[/c] and [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c] in hand on turn 3.

You have 12 fetches and 8 free cantrips to fill the graveyard and draw more lands and the combo.

The advantages the deck has over Infect include haste creatures and creatures with higher toughness. The benefit of this deck over Super Crazy Zoo is that you can manage your life total more conservatively against Burn.

I have only played in one Daily Event with the deck, and I went 2-2 after losing the die roll and thus two games on turn 3 against Infect. I am interested in developing the deck further, and I am super excited about how effective Delve and Ferocious are in an Eternal format like Modern.

If we don’t want to join the players who are breaking the fundamental turn 4 rule, then we have to beat them. And to beat them, we have to apply the breaks very quickly.

Option Two: Beat ‘Em

I hate these decks.

I would hate myself for entering them into a Daily Event, and my opponents would probably hate Magic after losing to them.

But that’s where we are at.

SF20150106_uheygsfvsf2_icon

[d title=”Humble Red (Modern)”]
Land
22 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Scrying Sheets

Creatures
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Humble Defector

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Skred
4 Pyroclasm
4 Koth of the Hammer
2 Anger of the Gods
4 Blood Moon
2 Volcanic Fallout [/d]

When I saw [c]Humble Defector[/c], I thought that [c]Skred[/c] Red would be a natural home for him. He provides draw to a deck that sorely needs it, and his drawback is mitigated thanks to the mass-removal spells. He simply draws two and then goes away with the rest of your opponent’s board.

This deck has an answer to everything, and the decks like Affinity, Infect, and Combo Zoo will certainly fold to the amount of removal, but sometimes the wrong answers come up facing the wrong decks.

Time will tell whether additional draw will help here.

Verduran-Enchantress

[d title=”Enchantress (Modern)”]
Land
4 Temple Garden
4 Nykthos, Shrine To Nyx
8 Forest

Creatures
4 Arbor Elf
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Mesa Enchantress
4 Verduran Enchantress
4 Eidolon of Blossoms

Other Spells
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Sphere of Safety
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Fertile Ground
4 Overgrowth
4 Garruk Wildspeaker [/d]

This is another take on a different Enchantress list played by MTGO user Brainless96, and his win condition was [c]Banefire[/c].

I’m happy to lock the opponent out of the game, allow my mana-ramp to assemble the pillow fort, and win with [c]Overrun[/c]. Well, sort of happy.

Finally, a brew that wins against Burn and Creature-based aggro decks, but is absolute garbage against everything else.

gatekeeper-of-malakir

[d title=”Mono Black Control (Modern)”]
Land
24 Swamp

Creatures
4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
4 Divinity of Pride

Other Spells
2 Sorin’s Thirst
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Sorin’s Vengeance
4 Geth’s Verdict
3 Devour Flesh
1 Darkblast
2 Slaughter Pact
3 Phyrexian Arena
2 Go for the Throat
2 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Inquisition of Kozilek [/d]

Like I said, it’s good against Burn and creatures.

It’s a mono-removal deck with a load of 1-for-1s that will get its gas back with [c]Phyrexian Arena[/c]. You’re steadily gaining life, playing lands, and killing threats until you’re ready to win. Destroy creatures, lose to Tron and other control decks. Never a close match.

Enough Diversity?

I don’t know if we’re at an optimal Modern right now. Maybe there is enough diversity, and we are.

There are some decks who are trying to win before turn 4 at all costs. Others are trying to stop them at all costs. Some ride through the middle. That sounds healthy to me, but then when I play in Events, it doesn’t feel as good as it did a few months ago.

Hope this gave you some direction.

-drinkard

The Standard Pauper Show, Ep 32

Not Gruul? Then set review. This week it’s Green Red and Multicolor. Izzett Kicks and Golgari Butt fights abound. Set review smash!!
The Gauntlet is entering the end game and only 3 decks remain. Who will be the champion! The guys review two rounds.
This is the Standard Pauper Show!

The Standard Pauper Show, Ep 31

It’s full set spoiler and Brennon Sam and Dan are stuck on WUB WUB WUB like a Dubstep song. Just how good is Fate? Plus round nine of the Gauntlet and Standard Pauper Pre Coverage. Listen and enjoy.

The Standard Pauper Show, Ep 30

This week Brennon and Sam talk about PREs and Spoilers. Dan joins discusses round 8 of the Gauntlet. And everyone decides that a Lava Axe is probably better then a Dragon. Its the Standard Pauper show, listen and enjoy!

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

Some Modern Cards to Brew Around

Hi all,

This week I’ll be avoiding the bandwagon topics and pick up a few cards that need more decks built around them.

[c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c]

I love [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c], especially in the current online meta-game. It has seen play in decks such as [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] combo, [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] decks, and Travis Woo’s [c]Death’s Shadow[/c], [c]Spoils of the Vault[/c] deck. With no combo potential whatsoever, it even finds its way into the sideboards of B/W Tokens and Zoo decks. Why? Well, Burn of course!

Burn has minimal draw engine available to it, excepting the few players that are attempting [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] right now. If you can gain a certain amount of life, you buy yourself up to three new draw steps and turns. Burn mitigates this counter-strategy with one of its own: [c]Skullcrack[/c] and [c]Flames of the Bloodhand[/c]. [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] bypasses all that and gains you between ten and thirteen life, no exceptions. Since Burn is designed to have twenty damage within its top 10-11 cards, you now have more opportunity to get in the game, interact, and win.

The [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] decks aim to ramp to seven mana using [c]Pentad Prism[/c] and [c]Lotus Bloom[/c]. Over the course of the next turns, the opponent is increasingly constricted with [c]Greater Auramancy[/c], [c]Form of the Dragon[/c], [c]Dovescape[/c], and [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c], not necessarily in that order. Any time the opponent does successfully knock you below zero, even if it is a combat step of 78 damage, you still begin after that to accumulate poison counters. Then your life total resets to 5 thanks to [c]Form of the Dragon[/c], and you start all over.

So what I hope to answer with this brew is, what if we skip [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] and just try to run out [c]Form of the Dragon[/c] using the same ramping process? It’s very risky in a Burn-heavy metagame, so we’re going to have to give ourselves hexproof.

[d title=”The Great White Hate”]
Land
4 Arid Mesa
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
8 Plains
4 Rugged Prairie
4 Sacred Foundry

Spells
2 Blood Moon
1 Enduring Ideal
3 Form of the Dragon
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Lotus Bloom
2 Luminarch Ascension
4 Pentad Prism
4 Phyrexian Unlife
2 Poryphory Nodes
4 Runed Halo
2 Sphere of Safety
[/d]

This is part mono-white Nykthos hate, part [c]Form of the Dragon[/c] and [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] combo. Tweaking the deck and practicing with it can be filed under my “things to do.” That being said, I’m tempted to jam [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] into the main of many online decks. As of this weekend, I’m 2/3 on cashing with Bogles that includes Leyline in the side and 0/2 on cashing without it.

You may have noticed that lately there has been a prevalence of [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] decks placing in Dailies. I suspect that this has a lot to do with the [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] and [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] package the deck has to fight the overwhelming amount of Burn.

[c]Fury of the Horde[/c]

This card creates a win in the [c]Goryo’s Vengeance[/c] deck that is regaining popularity now that everyone wants the turn two kill that [c]Jeskai Ascendancy[/c] apparently has. It is also used in Travis Woo’s new combo deck built around [c]Narset, Enlightened Master[/c]. I want to build a deck that uses [c]Fury of the Horde[/c] with another Khans card, [c]Howl of the Horde[/c], just in case we need to attack for 80 on turn 3.

[d title=”Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaid”]
Land
20 Mountain

Creatures
4 Immolating Souleater
4 Kiln Fiend
2 Nivmagus Elemental
4 Simian Spirit Guide

Other Spells
4 Assault Strobe
4 Brute Force
4 Double Cleave
4 Fury of the Horde
4 Ground Rift
4 Howl of the Horde
2 Psychotic Fury[/d]

The sheer amount of redundancy in a deck like this is surely getting close to the breaking point. There are so many different combinations of cards that easily produce a turn three kill. Would it be more resilient with a Rakdos mana-base and some discard disruption? Heck yes, especially in this Delver, Burn-infested metagame. But for the time being, I want to attack with a 1/2 [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] on turn 3, then have three copies of [c]Fury of the Horde[/c] and a 7/2 [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] to take advantage of them. In order to do this, I have to have plenty of red cards.

[c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]

I love Affinity. I love what [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] has done for Affinity, and that I have a pretty sweet Affinity deck for 100 tix. I sort of cross my fingers in the hopes that [c]Mox Opal[/c] is spoiled for Modern Masters 2 so that this deck becomes more than 100 tix, but I am not a talented shot-caller or speculator.

I also love Infect. Mono Green Infect was a $40 Modern investment that repaid me well over 100 tix in 2-man queues, 8-man queues, and dailies. I bought 4 Noble Hierarchs with my winnings! Eventually, the metagame had too much incidental hate, including Pod’s maindeck [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c].

When playing Infect, many decks use their life total as a resource in a more aggressive way than they would against any other, more traditional aggro or midrange deck. This is where [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] and a couple of [c]Rancor[/c] enchantments would shore up a lot of games. It would come up at least once in a daily or 8-man for me.

[c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] could serve the same purpose in an Infect deck as Hierarch and [c]Rancor[/c] did, as long as the deck was built a little differently. Here is my take on mono-blue Infect that is built to utilize [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]. Bonus: We can use [c]Ghostfire Blade[/c] from Khans!

[d title=”Modern Blue Infect”]
Land
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Inkmoth Nexus
2 Island
4 Polluted Delta
2 Watery Grave

Creatures
4 Blighted Agent
4 Ichorclaw Myr
2 Spellskite
4 Vector Asp

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
4 Cranial Plating
4 Ensoul Artifact
2 Ghostfire Blade
4 Mox Opal
4 Serum Visions
4 Welding Jar[/d]

The real beauty here, besides the multiple angles of attack, is that blue offers us many more sideboard choices to counteract the hosers that exist. We can play [c]Dispel[/c] and [c]Spell Pierce[/c], [c]Unsummon[/c] or [c]Vapor Snag[/c] (the former actually has its merit in this list over the latter!), and [c]Echoing Truth[/c] or other counters.

This deck also has to resolve less spells at the right time to function. The mono green list has to hold up [c]Ranger’s Guile[/c] and [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c] to maintain lethal, and here we can use [c]Aether Vial[/c] at the end of turn to play our threat when the opponent is not prepared. Or we can Vial in a [c]Spellskite[/c] (credit to deluxeicoff here, you can see his U/G lists on stats pages).

I’m fairly devoted to a couple of different lists in Modern right now and have less time to test and practice brews, but if these spark something in you, good luck, have fun!

Closing question: Have you considered what can be done to fix the Modern MTGO metagame that is so littered with burn? Does anything need to be done besides deck adjustments?

-drinkard

A Bite Out of Modern 1: Affinity

Hi all,

If anyone has conducted any research on playing a format on a budget, then he has seen many decks that do one of the following two things:

1) Skimps on the mana-base. After all, a playset of [c]Scalding Tarn[/c] or [c]Misty Rainforest[/c] will run you well over the cost of several regularly-cashing decks. Now that Return to Ravnica and M15 have brought us shockland and painland reprints, let’s run a full complement of those instead! I am rather guilty of this, playing UG Infect with [c]Yavimaya Coast[/c] and [c]Breeding Pool[/c] with no Mistys and Bogles with no [c]Horizon Canopy[/c] to a few finishes.

2) Clocks in on a budget even after optimization. This means to play a deck that, at its optimized level, is still relatively cheap. Examples of this are Mono-Blue Tron, Burn, and Soul Sisters, but others tend to pop up from time to time.

Very rarely do you find someone who replaces core, non-mana base cards with others that are more budget-friendly. In fact, most readers are advised against it. Personally, I believe as writers and players we owe it to ourselves at least to examine the decks that succeed even while playing “sub-par” cards. So, throwing caution and traditional advice out to the wind, let’s look at them! That’s what this series is about.

As such, I will find them and present them to you.

I am not so interested in discussing decks that replace [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] with [c]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/c]. It is functionally similar while being strictly inferior. Another example are the frequent Burn decks that play no [c]Goblin Guide[/c] or [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c]. Often these creatures are replaced with more burn spells, but none of these spells remotely equal the power of these two creatures that serve the same purpose.

What I enjoy finding, then, are those lists that replace an expensive card with a card that serves a totally different purpose. When I do find them, I can actually look at what the deck loses and what the deck gains in the process.

Take, for example, this 100 ticket Affinity list that MTGO player zbishop carried to a 3-1 finish in a daily.

[d title =zbishop Affinity]
Land
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
3 Island

Creatures
4 Arcbound Ravager
2 Etched Champion
2 Master of Etherium
4 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge

Other Spells
4 Cranial Plating
4 Springleaf Drum
3 Thoughtcast
2 Welding Jar

Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Etched Champion
2 Galvanic Blast
1 Ghost Quarter
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Rule of Law
2 Spell Pierce
1 Wear/Tear
1 Welding Jar
1 Whipflare
[/d]

Compare this list to another from the same day that costs $400 in tickets today. This list also went 3-1.

[d title=Traditional Affinity]
Land
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Island

Creatures
4 Arcbound Ravager
3 Etched Champion
1 Master of Etherium
2 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge

Other Spells
4 Cranial Plating
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
2 Thoughtcast
2 Thoughtseize
1 Welding Jar

Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Blood Moon
1 Dismember
1 Etched Champion
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Gut Shot
1 Master of Etherium
1 Rule of Law
2 Spellskite
1 Thoughtseize
1 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Whipflare
[/d]

When I say “traditional,” I mean moreso, and of that time.

So, then, what is Affinity?

After all, its namesake doesn’t exist as a keyword on any of its cards. When Mirrodin block came out, here are some things Affinity changed:

  1. Affinity changed what players’ perception of a warped metagame was. You had Affinity decks and decks that played lots of artifact hate in their 60.
  2. Affinity made every artifact land into an [c]Ancient Tomb[/c] without a drawback and that produced colored mana.
  3. Affinity changed how Wizards approached blocks because it was so awkward to have Affinity alongside Onslaught block’s tribes. Since then, they have worked much harder at giving some flow between blocks and making standard smoother.

Affinity is ever-present in Pauper, where you actually do see some cost reductions, and [c]Myr Enforcer[/c] comes down for free. It’s seen play in Vintage as a mono-brown archetype, sometimes including [c]Arcbound Crusher[/c] and [c]Genesis Chamber[/c] (which, in my day, was my paper Vintage deck). In Modern, though, color-producing artifact lands are banned, and the only recognizable feature of Affinity after Mirrodin 2.0 is the [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c].

Still, Affinity is a lightning fast and very consistent combo deck that attacks from a few different angles: [c]Signal Pest[/c] and [c]Steel Overseer[/c] swarm, [c]Cranial Plating[/c] and [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c]-pumped flyers, and [c]Galvanic Blast[/c] burn. Just when you think you have the answer in [c]Stony Silence[/c] or [c]Suppression Field[/c], the Affinity player has an [c]Etched Champion[/c] to go long.

At this point, its core most likely looks something like this:

[d title=”Affinity core cards”]
Land
1 Basic Land
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
2-4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus

Creatures
4 Arcbound Ravager
2 Etched Champion
1 Master of Etherium
2 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
2-4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge

Other Spells
4 Cranial Plating
2 Galvanic Blast
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
2 Thoughtcast
[/d]

For a total of about 55 cards that are difficult to argue. Yes, I even include [c]Mox Opal[/c] in there, even though the whole point is to highlight a deck that got there without it.

Each of these articles will examine what the decks keep, what the decks lose, and what the decks gain. Let’s look at the differences between the 100 ticket deck and the 350 ticket deck of its time.

+2 [c]Island[/c]
-1 [c]Etched Champion[/c]
+1 [c]Master of Etherium[/c]
+2 [c]Memnite[/c]
-4 [c]Mox Opal[/c]
+1 [c]Thoughtcast[/c]
-2 [c]Thoughtseize[/c]
+1 [c]Welding Jar[/c]
Those out of the main, and the sideboard saves big losing [c]Blood Moon[/c], [c]Dismember[/c] and 2 [c]Spellskite[/c].

Now what I want to stress here is that the player didn’t lose the 4 [c]Mox Opal[/c] and simply port in four mana sources that are cheap. The land count is only two extra in the budget list. Also he didn’t add something ridiculous like [c]Talisman of Dominance[/c] like some budget advisers may do. The cards work together differently, now, so let’s look at what we have.

What the deck keeps

100 Ticket Affinity is still fast. Two lands and a [c]Springleaf Drum[/c] still allow for a turn 2 [c]Cranial Plating[/c] activation and attack with [c]Memnite[/c] and [c]Ornithopter[/c]. Losing the Opals probably cost a half turn. It plays an extra [c]Master of Etherium[/c] to add some more bite to the additional two [c]Memnite[/c] cards, since they are often lackluster in game play.

Finally, there are certain snapshots of MTGO and metagames where you will expect to see [c]Path to Exile[/c], perhaps even in multiples. The additional [c]Island[/c] are good here and when you get Path’d when the land is in play or in your hand. It is awful, playing traditional Affinity, for [c]Path to Exile[/c] to have no drawback. Finally, you have a little more insurance against [c]Blood Moon[/c], for what it’s worth.

What the deck loses

[c]Mox Opal[/c] is not just about speed of a big attack on turn 2. No, it also provides colored mana for cards like [c]Thoughtseize[/c] which are essential to slow the opponent down one turn or eliminate the myriad cards that hate Affinity so strongly. Opal is also a reliable source of 2 mana for [c]Thoughtcast[/c] which one can expect budget Affinity may have trouble playing its additional copy. Having the additional artifact that is likely to stick around is much better for your metalcraft cards as well; the 3rd [c]Etched Champion[/c] in the more expensive list is much stronger than a 3rd in the budget version; if [c]Welding Jar[/c] must be activated, or [c]Memnite[/c] chumps, you don’t want your great white hope to lose protection.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the deck loses its ability to equip [c]Cranial Plating[/c] at instant speed with any consistency. Affinity wins so many games this way, but the black mana just isn’t there often enough without Opal.

What the deck gains

The additional [c]Thoughtcast[/c] and [c]Welding Jar[/c] are a nice little package. [c]Thoughtcast[/c] will ensure that if a game goes long, you still have gas by the end, and [c]Welding Jar[/c] provides fuel for the draw engine to keep going at a lower cost in addition to protecting your key elements. One of the worst things to happen is to have someone [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] your [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] in response to a desperation sacrifice from [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c], before the counters can get it out of range. Jar is valuable insurance here.

Our take-aways from this are that established decks are so for a reason: they play insanely powerful cards with strong synergies when used together. They are the brick wall that shape the format, and sometimes a few bricks can be removed for the wall to remain standing. The 100 ticket list won as many Theros block packs as the much more expensive one, and I think it could continue to do so.

How to move on with it?

Well, since then, Affinity has received a nice little gift in [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]. ChannelFireball writers have suggested that perhaps the enchantment could replace some number of [c]Steel Overseer[/c], as the latter is weak at times and does nothing to impact the board state. How sweet is it to target [c]Vault Skirge[/c], [c]Ornithopter[/c], or even [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] at times with the aura and make them 5/5 flyers, sometimes with great abilities tacked on? If not a big flyer, then why not an indestructible [c]Darksteel Citadel[/c] for fun and profit? If nothing else, just throw it on a [c]Springleaf Drum[/c] with your empty hand, as it now has nothing better to do than finish your opponent off.

Wanna go really big with budget considerations while playing the powerful established list? Well, try a substitution of 4 [c]Steel Overseer[/c] with 4 [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]! I am, and hopefully you’ll see my name published here shortly.

Hope you enjoyed. There are lots of lists like this out there if you scour the results pages. I’ll keep feeding you more as the weeks come though.

-drinkard

Highlights from GP Kobe

So, last week I talked about the best cards in Theros, and I ended up saying [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] was my favourite one, because it would help Burn a lot. Surprisingly enough, I was right. I tend to make awful predictions.

Burn was already getting more and more important in the online metagame, but lacked real life results to back it up. Well, here they are. There were two mono red decks in the top 8 of GP Kobe, and both sported a cool playset of Eidolons. Why am I happy Burn became important in Modern? Because I think it is a healthy deck for any format. It regulates the game, feeding on greedy manabases, thoughtseizes, and big cards that you can’t do anything about. No, I am not a fan of BGx decks. Plus, with Burn you get to see this:

bxDj6K5

This is a Burn mirror with both players placing a [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] on the table before the game started. A sight to behold. One of them ended up being unable to draw. If only he had played an [c]Elixir of Immortality[/c]! Anyway, Burn was not the only surprise in Kobe, as was to be expected: Japanese players tend to be inventive brewers. Let’s see what transpired.

The other finalist: No Affinity

The deck is a rather unconventional Affinity deck (even though I’ve been told it isn’t completely original and has already showed up in other occasions). It’s called No Affinity because there is no card with the keyword printed. Is it Affinity then? In a way.

[d title=”No Affinity, Yuusei Gotou (Modern)”]
Land
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Glimmervoid
2 Mana Confluence

Creatures
4 Ornithopter
4 Memnite
4 Vault Skirge
4 Tarmogoyf

Sorceries
2 Thoughtseize

Instants
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Shrapnel Blast

Artifacts
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
4 Chromatic Star
4 Cranial Plating
4 Darksteel Citadel

Enchantments
4 Ensoul Artifact

Sideboard
1 Thoughtseize
2 Sunbeam Spellbomb
2 Path to Exile
2 Wear & Tear
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Whipflare
2 Spellskite
2 Aven Mindcensor[/d]

I love this deck, and not only because of the beautiful round numbers. Looks incredibly solid, and the results showed it is. [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] is here to stay, it seems. [c]Shrapnel Blast[/c] seems incredibly fun too: I don’t really know if it was popular already, but it is a fantastic spell. [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] is the midgame: rather more difficult to remove than the other critters, efficient, dodges artifact hate, and [c]Cranial Plating[/c] suits him perfectly. A beautiful list. I must try this deck. I really must. The important thing here is this deck isn’t just swapping [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c] or [c]Etched Champion[/c] for [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]: it’s a rather different animal.

Another interesting list in the Top 16 was this one:

[d title=”WUR Midrange, Tamura Ryo (Modern)”]
Land
3 Mountain
1 Island
1 Plains
4 Arid Mesa
1 Hallowed Fountain
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Seachrome Coast
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Sacred Foundry

Creatures
4 Young Pyromancer
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Delver of Secrets
3 Geist of Saint Traft

Sorceries
4 Serum Visions
4 Gitaxian Probe

Instants
3 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Lightning Helix
3 Remand
2 Electrolyze
2 Spell Snare
1 Izzet Charm

Sideboard
2 Grim Lavamancer
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Magma Spray
1 Shattering Spree
1 Counterflux
1 Negate
1 Combust
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Dispel
1 Wear+Tear
1 Stony Silence
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Spellskite
1 Relic of Progenitus[/d]

This is what happens when you think about the weaknesses of UR Delver (which is a great deck) and try to solve them. There have been green splashes for [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], and URW midrange with [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c] exists, but this is a new thing.

It worked, too: Top 16 out of more than 2,000 players is quite a feat. I am not quite sold, as the greedy manabase makes playing [c]Blood Moon[/c] impossible, and this deck vs the UR version gives a lot of free wins thanks to [c]Blood Moon[/c]. Also, you necessarily have to reduce the number of counterspells, including [c]Remand[/c], which works wonders on the regular version. On the other hand, [c]Path to Exile[/c] is a very powerful removal, [c]Lightning Helix[/c] is a fantastic card, and [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c] is the strong threat this deck normally lacks, one that is very difficult to deal with. In all, an interesting experiment.

And then we’ve got this:

[d title=”Eggs, Taisuke Ishii (Modern)”]
Land
1 Glimmervoid
1 Tendo Ice Bridge
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
2 Mystic Gate
1 Adarkar Wastes
4 Plains
3 Island

Creatures
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Sorceries
4 Open the Vaults
1 Polymorph

Instants
2 Remand

Artifacts
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Mox Opal
1 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Chromatic Star
4 Terrarion
4 Ichor Wellspring
4 Prophetic Prism
3 Mind Stone
3 Thopter Foundry
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks

Sideboard
2 Hurkyl’s Recall
3 Erase
2 Path to Exile
2 Supreme Verdict
3 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Silence
1 Pyroclasm
1 Seal of Primordium[/d]

The deck is not so surprising per se, but the few refinements and changes are. [c]Krark-Clan Ironworks[/c] is a known deck I have had to suffer occasionally, but [c]Thopter Foundry[/c] is a such a great fit in this deck I am surprised I haven’t seen this yet. Generates tokens, it’s a sacrifice outlet, the tokens can be fodder for the Ironworks, and occasionally one of these tokens becomes an [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c]. Such a beautiful list. Not that I have any intention of running anything resembling Eggs, but if I were, it would probably be very, very similar to this list.

So, that’s it. Three interesting decklists that have recently placed well in an important tournament. You can access the top 8 here, the top 9-16 here, and the top 17-32 here. Should you see anything interesting, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

See you next week!