Community Participation League #2: Week 5

Hello again, Ladies and Gentlenerds, and welcome to week 5 of the League!

Looks like another week of great matches, I lost to BYE 1-2; he was playing Delver and I was playing 75 land cards, all Islands. I thought it was good tech. Maybe I was wrong?

First for all you wonderful folks, the standings!

Congrats go out to Deluxeicoff, Najay1, and Dew4au for being 4-0 going into week 5! Lots of 3-1s as well, so great job to all you winners!

Updates

Not much to update this week, one person who chose to drop and a few people who we had to remove from the league due to non-participation. The league has 3 weeks left, and week 8 will be top 8 week, and will operate the same way the last league did.

The Drop was Obzen, thanks for joining good sir, it was great having you, and watching you teach us all a thing of two about Teachings. I know I learned. The outs, people removed from the league for not emailing opponents, or responding to my emails, were Hatta and Clozeone.

Thanks for joining guys, and I hope you try again next league if you have the time!

Oh yeah, Khans Cards are legal this week; I know I am looking forward to playing the Sexy Lands, and maybe take a few Treasure Cruises during some games now!

So I have been following Dan doing the Gauntlet #2 from before it started this time around. Last time in the lead-up to the Gauntlet #1 my wife was about to pop out our kiddo, so I didn’t have time to brew, or follow the deck submission process. This time I submitted a bunch of decks. One of the decks submitted was One Land Spy. The deck list baffled, and confused me. It wrinkled my brain. The magical, Magic madman David Shaffer, as well as League friend Obzen, were some of the early originators of the deck.

I love the idea of the deck as it can win turn 1 or turn 2 a bunch of the time, but the other side of the coin is its one of the more complicated decks I have ever played, in the 19 odd years I have been playing MTG.

I have been lucky enough to have a buddy lend me the cards to build the deck, as it’s not on the cheap end due to the [c]Lotus Petal[/c]s, and the [c]Land Grant[/c]s. Thanks, Joe!

It took me 30 goldfishes to go off the first time. Probably another 20 to figure out a good hand to start with to go off before turn 6. So it’s got a learning curve that is fairly steep.

Here are three similar but different deck lists.

[d title=”David Shaffer One Land Spy (Pauper)”]
Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
4 Elves of Deep Shadow
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Wild Cantor
4 Tinder Wall
4 Street Wraith
1 Anarchist
Instant
4 Dark Ritual
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Songs of the Damned
Sorcery
4 Land Grant
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Destroy the Evidence
2 Morgue Theft
1 Haunting Misery
Artifact
4 Lotus Petal
3 Conjuerer’s Bauble
Land
1 Forest
Sideboard
2 Basking Rootwalla
4 Duress
4 Fog
3 Ingot Chewer
1 Crypt Rats
1 Flaring Pain
[/d]

This is a traditional build I guess. It’s got the Spy with the Destroy the Evidence back up, got the Haunting Misery win con. It’s got ramp, in spell and creature form. It is the build I have been testing, and I have only played one game with it, my opponent played a Crossroads, I went off, and could only deal 21 points of damage. So yeah. Tricky to play.

[d title=”Sammy_Deluxe One Land Spy (Pauper)”]
Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor
3 Elves of Deep Shadow
2 Dimir House Guard
1 Anarchist
1 Wirewood Guardian
Instants
4 Dark Ritual
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Songs of the Damned
2 Manamorphose
Sorcery
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Land Grant
2 Morgue Theft
1 Haunting Misery
Artifacts
4 Lotus Petal
3 Conjurer’s Bauble
Lands
1 Forest
Sideboard
1 Blood Celebrant
1 Cavern Harpy
4 Duress
1 Flaring Pain
2 Fog
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
3 Ingot Chewer
1 Mnemonic Wall
1 Pit Keeper
[/d]

This is the build Sammy_Deluxe submitted to the Gauntlet #2. It’s got Wirewood Guardian to act as a 5th Land Grant, it’s got a Sideboard Plan of Blood Celebrant into Cavern Harpy into Gray Merchant. So that’s a different idea, a Plan B in the sideboard. This build didn’t do too great in the first round, but I think that was more to Dan being daunted by the deck more than anything else, as I have watched Sammy play a few games in the Tournament Practice room, and he seems to know it inside and out.

[d title=” Arnaud’s One Land Spy (Pauper)”]

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Wild Cantor
3 Tinder Wall
2 Manaforge Cinder
2 Pit Keeper
1 Blood Celebrant
1 Dimir House Guard
1 Elvish Aberration
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Cavern Harpy
1 Mnemonic Wall
Instant
4 Dark Ritual
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Songs of the Damned
2 Manamorphose
Sorcery
4 Land Grant
4 Gitaxian Probe
2 Morgue Theft
Artifacts
4 Lotus Petal
2 Conjurer’s Bauble
Lands
1 Forest
Sideboard
4 Exhume
4 Faithless Looting
4 Ulamog’s Crusher
3 Scattershot Archer
[/d]

More creatures. The Cavern Harpy and Gray Merchant is the main win con as there is no Haunting Misery in the 75 at all. Arnaud’s back up plan seems to be Faithless Looting into Exhume Crusher on turn one, which is probably a touch of Magical Christmas land, but would be pretty impossible to beat in Pauper.

I am no expert on the deck, so I can honestly say I love all three builds. I haven’t tried out Arnaud’s build yet, but plan on it in the next few days. Not in my League match, as I haven’t gone insane in the last week!

Plugs and what not!

The Pauper Gauntlet is into round 2 now, and there are still a ton of great decks not claimed for the fabulous prizes. Link for you to click on! Click the link, claim a deck, and win prizes, it only takes a minute guys!

http://mtgolibrary.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-decks-of-pauper-gauntlet.html

Editor-Wonder-Beast Bava is always looking for deck submissions for his Faithless Looting articles. This week is Budget Standard or Standard Pauper with the new Khans-based Standard. I submitted a deck, everyone is welcome to do so as well! Plus Loot Box prizes! Free stuff for you is the best stuff for you! Link it up!

http://magicgatheringstrat.com/2014/10/faithless-looting-10-in-the-company-of-khans/

Remember, guys, to email early and often! Both parties should send an email to get things rolling, and remember that the weekend is good to get your match in, but bad to schedule the match up. Try and set things up before Friday if you can. Thanks guys, you are all superstars!

Week 5 Matchups!

league-2-week-5

And that’s it for week 5 folks. During the BYE week I started a new game of Fallout New Vegas with the goal of beating the game and all the DLC without killing a single creature or human. I am a huge Fallout fan if you couldn’t tell from my MTGO log-in name, and have logged about 300 hours between Fallout 3 and New Vegas. It’s an awesome challenge, I love anytime you can play a game in a way that flies in the face of what the designers want. I am one DLC down!!

Till next week may all your match ups be good, and you draw all your lands on curve.

Sam Aka Vaultboyhunter

Faithless Looting #10: In the Company of Khans

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

I keep durdling around with horrible lists, trying to brew up something original. I’m pretty convinced that [c]Putrid Leech[/c] and [c]Werebear[/c] are underutilized, but I’ll be damned if I can find the right thing to put them in. If you want to give it a shot, I’m pretty sure there is a good deck in there with those cards, [c]Stinkweed Imp[/c], and maybe even [c]Blastoderm[/c].

Not much else to say this week, except that I took Aught3’s Dervish list for another spin, this time for my league match, and it was a nail-biter. I won’t give away anything except to say that the deck is powerful and that I keep misplaying with it. Also, I bought my playset of Khans dual-lands and those are going to make more things possible (or probable) in Pauper Magic. I have already played around with them some and I really like the added consistency they provide.

But enough of that, let’s give away some prizes.

Faithless Contest #9: Winner!

This week was a hard choice. Some lists were more explosive. Glass Cannon Red, for instance, can get turn two kills pretty consistently. I got t2 kills 3 out of 10 times in goldfishing, and once in my feature match against MBC (on the play). On the other hand, it did end up losing to MBC. If you’re on the draw, those 2 mana removal spells really hose you. Tireless Tribe was consistently slower than Glass Cannon but much more resilient in my match. Yeah, it played against Elves, so there wasn’t any disruption, but there was a lot of lifegain to get through. The Freed from the Real combo is potentially just as fast as Glass Cannon Red, but is less consistent in getting there, and is even more fragile. Keeping your 1/1 and 1/2 guys alive without any protection is a real challenge. Of all the decks, though, it was the only one that went infinite, which is a chit in its favor.

If I were just going on speed and explosiveness, I would probably give the medal to Glass Cannon Red. I still have mixed feelings, however, about rewarding non-original lists, and it was David Shaffer’s list that was submitted. In the end, I have to reward the list that was very consistent in getting t4 goldfish wins (which was our bar, after all), and which did the unthinkable.

It beat Boroskitty.

I love Boroskitty, but I have never, ever, ever beat that deck. And so, even though one could attribute my victory to the play mistakes of my opponent more than anything else, I fought through countless 1/1 goblins AND a [c]Circle of Protection: Red[/c] and nabbed a victory. Pretty impressive!

The winner this week, for his Classic Sligh list, is jphsnake.

Congratulations, sir. You will receive two items, randomly selected, from my current Loot Crate stash.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who submitted decks, and especially to Aught3, who submitted FOUR decks and gave me an excuse to play Suicide White again, another deck that I love.

Here is Jack’s winning Sligh list:

[d title=”Classic Sligh by jphsnake (Pauper)”]
Land
17 Mountain
3 Teetering Peaks

Spells
3 Onslaught
4 Lightning Bolt

Creatures
4 Mogg Conscripts
4 Goblin Cohort
3 Foundry Street Denizen
3 Jackal Familiar
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Valley Dasher
4 Mudbrawler Cohort
4 Heartlash Cinder
3 Inner-Flame Acolyte

Sideboard
4 Forge Devil
4 Martyr of Ashes
4 Immolating Souleater
3 Flame Slash [/d]

And the video where I played against (and yes, beat) Boroskitty!

 

Thanks again, everyone! Keep those lists coming; I’m having a blast trying them out. Here are the rules for next week, contest #10.

Faithless Contest #10: Rules

  1. There are two choices this week, both centered around Khans of Tarkir.
    • Choice #1: Submit a budget list in post-rotation Standard or Standard Pauper.
    • Choice #2: Submit a budget list in any format, but it has to center around a Khans of Tarkir card.
  2. Submit your list in the comments below. Don’t forget to tell me which format the list is for.
  3. Submissions are extended through Monday, October 20!

Clarifications

  • Decks should be “budget”, but otherwise may be for any format.
  • Decks will be judged on innovation, fun, and power level.
  • I will highlight the most interesting decks in next week’s article, and may play some on video for the YouTube channel. One lucky winner will get two items, randomly selected, from my current LootCrate stash. Check out the videos at the bottom of this post to see what’s available.
  • Your chances of winning greatly increase if you submit a deck.

Faithless Decks #10: Daily Rogues

I have a confession to make. I’ve been seeing other articles. Okay … actually …

I’ve been writing them.

I know, I know, how could I be so faithless?

I admit it, I can’t help myself. After all, being faithless is my modus operandi. I like to play different decks as much as possible (often to my detriment) and, it turns out, I like to write different articles, too.

Anyway, I’ve been doing Pauper Daily Event Analysis, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, go take a look. I’ve done breakdowns so far for Dailies on September 20-21, and September 27-28. I’ll do another this Friday, so stay tuned.

For now, I just want to point out the interesting rogue lists that have placed in the last few weekends.

I pointed this list out last week, but it deserves another mention.

[d title=”Trinket Affinity, 3-1 by herosaine2006 (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Dimir Guildgate
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Great Furnace
2 Island
1 Izzet Guildgate
1 Mountain
4 Seat of the Synod
1 Swamp
4 Vault of Whispers

Creatures
4 Faerie Mechanist
4 Frogmite
4 Mulldrifter
4 Myr Enforcer
3 Trinket Mage

Spells
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Thoughtcast

Artifacts
2 Bonesplitter
2 Executioner’s Capsule
4 Flayer Husk
2 Prophetic Prism
1 Sylvok Lifestaff

Sideboard
2 Executioner’s Capsule
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
4 Chainer’s Edict
1 Pyroblast
3 Smelt
4 Vault Skirge [/d]

And then we had two more rogue lists place on the 27th and 28th. This one from Arnaud.

[d title=”1-Land Spy, 3-1 by Arnaud (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Forest

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
1 Blood Celebrant
1 Cavern Harpy
1 Dimir House Guard
1 Elvish Aberration
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2 Manaforge Cinder
1 Mnemonic Wall
2 Pit Keeper
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
3 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor

Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
2 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Dark Ritual
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
2 Manamorphose
2 Morgue Theft
4 Songs of the Damned

Sideboard
4 Exhume
4 Faithless Looting
3 Scattershot Archer
4 Ulamog’s Crusher [/d]

This list has quite an interesting development story, and I go more into the provenance in my breakdown.

We also had a strange, Gruul Dredge aggro list, which I actually played against in the JFF room yesterday (sorry, no video!). I love the interaction between [c]Nightshade Peddler[/c] and [c]Granger Guildmage[/c].

[d title=”Gruul Dredge Aggro, 3-1 by Sssight (Pauper)”]
Land
6 Forest
4 Gruul Guildgate
2 Khalni Garden
8 Mountain

Creatures
2 Ghitu Slinger
4 Golgari Brownscale
4 Granger Guildmage
2 Leafcrown Dryad
3 Nacatl Outlander
4 Nightshade Peddler
4 Tin Street Hooligan
3 Yavimaya Barbarian

Spells
4 Burst Lightning
2 Electrickery
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Moldervine Cloak

Sideboard
1 Electrickery
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Raze
3 Relic of Progenitus
1 Reverent Silence
2 Stone Rain [/d]

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and here are the Loot Crate videos where you can find out what sort of awesome loot is up for grabs.

Until next time, keep the faith!

/bava

Loot Crates:

Pauper Daily Event Breakdown #2: September 27-28

We’re back! Thanks for the good feedback last week; I’m enjoying doing this series and I’m glad y’all are getting something out of it too. I’m also happy to fill in some content on Fridays as well (a slow day for Pauper writing, generally); but we could always use more authors. If that’s you, get in touch.

Alright, let’s check out the Pauper metagame last weekend!

 

And here is the breakdown by archetype:

pauper-de-analysis-sept-27-28

Links to the events on wizards.com: September 27 | September 28

Metagame Analysis

So the week before, Delver + MBC + Familiars equaled just under 50% of the metagame. Those three decks. This week it’s closer to 32%. What does that mean? Well, a slightly healthier, more balanced metagame, at least for the week, and more variety of decks for us to check out. It also means fewer Familiar Combo decks which is awesome because, honestly, fuck that deck.

White Weenie and Hexproof continue to be at the top of the stack and continue to be represented by very divergent lists.

For WW, AndreyS continues to be awesome. Running 4x [c]Order of Leitbur[/c] in the main is a big middle finger to MBC, and I love it. I ran this list against MBC in League and got demolished, though, so I think it is fair to say that pilot skill is a major factor. Skill and experience. If you want to win with any list, you need to practice, practice, practice. Then, when you’re done practicing, practice some more. It makes all the difference.

Naga_tsuki keeps doing well with WW Tokens, which is what I want to try next, if mostly because it has new, shiny Pauper tech ([c]Triplicate Spirits[/c] / [c]Battle Screech[/c]), and I love shiny. Also for WW, returning after a long hiatus, is former WW master, Torreth, who went 3-1 on Sunday, trampling over me and my Goblins in the process. Glad we could help.

For Hexproof, we’ve got three different pilots winning with three different lists. Meltiin went 3-1 again this weekend with his [c]Kor Skyfisher[/c] / card draw Hexproof engine, a list I really want to try out. Joannesp also continues to do well week after week with this list, which I call “all over the place” but which obviously has a method to its madness. [c]Rofellos’s Gift[/c] in the SB seems pretty awesome. Finally, Jikker_T went 3-1 on Saturday with what I would call the “traditional” Hexproof list.

Also this week, briefly, we saw more UR Delver / UR Control, more Tron, a Stompy list AND an Elves list (go green weenies!), and two neat rogue lists which I’ll cover more in a minute.

In my article last week, I suggested running decks that go under or over MBC; win early or outlast. I know it’s not my influence, but we did see an uptick in BorosKitty and Goblins lists this week, which I think it awesome. I love both those decks. PatrickJ wins with Boroskitty pretty much every weekend, and this time around we also saw Gui_BR win back-to-back events on Saturday and Sunday. Rockin’.

Rogues of the Week: Spy and Dredge

1-Land Spy never had its heydey, though it did garner some interest. Developed chiefly by David Shaffer (Shaffawaffa5) and obZen (with notable work by Tom the Scud and Oninaka, among others), it is a remarkable demonstration of community deck-building in practice. David talks about it more in depth in his article on MTGOStrat, JustSin highlighted it on MTGO Academy, and you can also pick up threads on Salvation and PDCMagic.

There is plenty to read about the deck, but it’s more fun to watch it go off on turn one:

 

Arnaud went 3-1 with the list on Saturday, making him my new, official, Magic hero this week.

Nice job, Arnaud!

[d title=”1-Land Spy, 3-1 by Arnaud (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Forest

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
1 Blood Celebrant
1 Cavern Harpy
1 Dimir House Guard
1 Elvish Aberration
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2 Manaforge Cinder
1 Mnemonic Wall
2 Pit Keeper
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
3 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor

Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
2 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Dark Ritual
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
2 Manamorphose
2 Morgue Theft
4 Songs of the Damned

Sideboard
4 Exhume
4 Faithless Looting
3 Scattershot Archer
4 Ulamog’s Crusher [/d]

Arnaud’s list is different than any of those listed, but seems to take inspiration from some of the discussion on Salvation, and includes a transformative Exhume + Crusher SB for, if not a t1 kill, probably a t1 Concession from the opponent if you go off.

I’m less familiar with the provenance of the other rogue list this week, something I called Gruul Dredge Aggro, but which probably has a snappier name. Here is the list which Sssight took to 3-1 on Saturday.

[d title=”Gruul Dredge Aggro, 3-1 by Sssight (Pauper)”]
Land
6 Forest
4 Gruul Guildgate
2 Khalni Garden
8 Mountain

Creatures
2 Ghitu Slinger
4 Golgari Brownscale
4 Granger Guildmage
2 Leafcrown Dryad
3 Nacatl Outlander
4 Nightshade Peddler
4 Tin Street Hooligan
3 Yavimaya Barbarian

Spells
4 Burst Lightning
2 Electrickery
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Moldervine Cloak

Sideboard
1 Electrickery
4 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Raze
3 Relic of Progenitus
1 Reverent Silence
2 Stone Rain [/d]

This is an interesting list. I want to call it weird, but that seems rude when, with a 3-1, it obviously has some merit. It looks like it is crafted against Delver, Familiar Storm, and all things Blue with its 6x pro-blue dudes, but I’m not entirely sure how it beats MBC. [c]Nightshade Peddler[/c] is awesome with [c]Granger Guildmage[/c] and even works with [c]Ghitu Slinger[/c], and it’s a card I haven’t seen used much since Po Dragons. If you have any further insight into this list, send it my way. I’d love to better understand what makes it tick.

Suggestions for this weekend

Going over or under decks like MBC is still a good suggestion. White Weenie is seeing success because it is good against MBC with [c]Order of Leitbur[/c] in the main, strong against other creature strategies, and also really annoys Delver. Try any of the lists above; WW Tokens seems especially fun and resilient against edict effects. Otherwise my suggestions remain more or less the same: Boroskitty, Goblins, Burn, or Teachings are all still strong. Results suggest that Hexproof might work as well, but I find it to be hit-or-miss. Of course, if you’re really brave, you’ll give Spy a shot. Who doesn’t want to win before their opponent even gets to take a turn?

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and I hope it was useful. Remember to leave comments if you have a minute, both on videos and articles; they are like the manna from which author’s draw sustenance.

Until next time, may you always remember to play around [c]Tendrils of Corruption[/c] by putting down your [c]Goblin Sledder[/c] first.

/bava

Pauper Gauntlet Competitor #14: AzoriusKitty by ShaffaWaffa5

by David Shaffer (ShaffaWaffa5)

Editor’s Note: David wrote this some time ago for MTGOStrat but it was never published. Since David is such an excellent deck-builder, author, and Magic player, once we got permission to do so we jumped at the chance to publish it. Keep in mind that some parts of the article may be out of date.

I. Introduction

AzoriusKitty is a midrange deck inspired by Boroskitty’s [mtg_card]Ichor Wellspring[/mtg_card] manipulation engine. The deck was an attempt to make the midrange manipulation engine more effective against Fissurepost decks. The deck, however, plays more like a tap out control deck.

The objective is to get out a permanent, like [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card], or [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card] and return it to your hand via a “bounce” creature like [mtg_card]Kor Skyfisher[/mtg_card], or [mtg_card]Dream Stalker[/mtg_card]. The deck wins in a grindy fashion, slowly accumulating card advantage over the opponent. The deck also gains inordinate amounts of life, which allows it to weather aggro decks designed to deal a quick 20 damage.

II. The Deck

[mtg_deck title=”AzoriusKitty (Pauper)”]
Lands
4 Azorius Chancery
2 Azorius Guildgate
4 Kabira Crossroads
8 Island
3 Plains
1 Lonely Sandbar
Creatures
4 Kor Skyfisher
4 Dream Stalker
4 Mulldrifter
2 Sea Gate Oracle
3 Lone Missionary
Spells
2 Reality Acid
4 Journey to Nowhere
2 Momentary Blink
4 Preordain
2 Serrated Arrows
4 Spreading Seas
3 Piracy Charm
Sideboard
1 Reality Acid
1 Piracy Charm
3 Kor Sanctifiers
2 Train of Thought
2 Holy Light
2 Circle of Protection: Black
2 Circle of Protection: Red
2 Hydroblast
[/mtg_deck]

III. Core

Ideal Bounce Targets

[mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] – This card is the backbone of the AzoriusKitty engine. The card is more important for its ability to draw cards over and over again via bouncing, than to impact the board state. But, [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] does have the ability to cripple the greedy manabases in the format, and often wins matches single-seasidly. If used properly, it is the best card in the deck.

[mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card] – Although some people refer to this deck as Acid Trip, [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card] is one of the weaker cards in the deck. The card allows the bounce creatures to become pseudo vindicates. Originally included to interact with [mtg_card]Cloudpost[/mtg_card] laden manabases, the card is still a catchall for the diversity of permanents in the Pauper metagame. Do not be surprised to see the card exit from the deck list as the format’s emphasis is placed more on creatures. If Tron didn’t exist, it wouldn’t be in the 75.

[mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card] – One of the surprising elements about the Azoriuskitty deck is its ability to gain lots of life. [mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card] is the primary life gain source. Often the deck needs a two drop permanent so that the bounce creatures aren’t forced to return lands to its owner’s hand. Missionary provides an additional early bounce target, and trades well in creature based match-ups.

[mtg_card]Sea Gate Oracle[/mtg_card] – A two-of bounce target that also blocks opposing cheap threats. The three mana casting cost makes it difficult to resolve in time against some decks. So they are limited to two copies.

[mtg_card]Mulldrifter[/mtg_card] – A perennial card drawing powerhouse is made even better through additional rebuys.

[mtg_card]Lonely Sandbar[/mtg_card] – This land allows you to mitigate some mana flooding, by playing it early, then picking it up to cycle it late.

[mtg_card]Kabira Crossroads[/mtg_card] – This bounce target is one that your bounce creatures will very rarely target. The “bounce lands” however are how you maximize your value from the Crossroads. In a pinch, AND ONLY IN A PINCH, you can use your bounce creatures on this land to gain a little bit of value.

[mtg_card]Plains[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Island[/mtg_card] – A basic land in this deck is sometimes – but rarely – the optimal bounce target. With so many “comes into play tapped” lands, you sometimes will need to bounce a land that comes into play untapped. Usually this happens if you’re a bit mana constrained, but you also need to get a board presence to prevent falling behind. Try to plan ahead. Once you get good at this, you’ll realize that [mtg_card]Azorius Chancery[/mtg_card] doesn’t always bounce a [mtg_card]Kabira Crossroads[/mtg_card].

The Bouncers

[mtg_card]Kor Skyfisher[/mtg_card] – The chief bouncer in this deck. This card is very aggressively costed, and the draw back is almost always a benefit for this deck.

[mtg_card]Dream Stalker[/mtg_card] – X/5s are very good in this format. This guy blocks [mtg_card]Myr Enforcer[/mtg_card] for days, and its 1 power is surprisingly effective at holding back armies of goblins and elves. Look to gum up the ground with this guy before taking over the air.

[mtg_card]Azorius Chancery[/mtg_card] – This “bounce land” helps you get additional value out of your [mtg_card]Kabira Crossroads[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Lonely Sandbar[/mtg_card].

Others

[mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card] – This “flicker effect” works as a way to protect your creatures, while accruing more value. In match-ups where it is good, it is very good. But you really only want one at a time, so there are only two in the deck.

[mtg_card]Journey to Nowhere[/mtg_card] – This removal spell is an all-star in this deck. You can use it to take out any problem creature. But you can also use it to reduce the mana costs on Bounce targets (i.e. Journey your own tapped Mulldrifter, then Dream Stalker, bouncing Journey, and returning your Drifter to play. This nets 3 mana). You can also do the old cast Journey, target their guy and with the target on the stack you Blink your bounce guy to return your Journey and permanently exile their creature.

[mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card] – A nod to the power of [mtg_card]Delver of Secrets[/mtg_card] decks, this 1 mana kill spell is never a dead draw. Use it to take our a Turn 1 Delver, to mess up Spellstutter math, or to make your opponent discard their last [mtg_card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/mtg_card]. Also, all the modes are relevant. With big 1/5 [mtg_card]Dream Stalker[/mtg_card] Charm is a legitimate pump spell, and with main deck [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] you can make a creature unblockable against any deck.

[mtg_card]Azorius Guildgate[/mtg_card] – The last land in the deck is not one that you want to bounce. But I’ve found the added bit of mana flexibility is important for complicated turns where there is a lot of casting and recasting of spells. Arguably this land should be a [mtg_card]Terramorphic Expanse[/mtg_card], and I wouldn’t fault you if you went that direction.

The match-ups

Affinity: +3 [mtg_card]Kor Sanctifiers[/mtg_card], 2 [mtg_card]Hydroblast[/mtg_card] 2 [mtg_card]Circle of Protection: Red[/mtg_card]/ – 1 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -3 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card], -2 [mtg_card]Serrated Arrows[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card]

Affinity is one of the better match-ups if you know how to play it properly. Game one is a little difficult, but you have the edge after sideboard. Post board, you really want to recur your [mtg_card]Kor Sanctifiers[/mtg_card] to continuously blow up your opponent’s lands and [mtg_card]Myr Enforcer[/mtg_card]. You need to always keep in mind the presence of [mtg_card]Atog[/mtg_card] + [mtg_card]Disciple of the Vault[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Fling[/mtg_card]. If they have one of the combo pieces and you are in danger of getting blown out if they draw the other piece, then your first priority becomes getting rid of the combo piece.

Burn: +2 [mtg_card]Hydroblast[/mtg_card] +2 [mtg_card]Circle of Protection: Red[/mtg_card]/ -2 [mtg_card]Serrated Arrows[/mtg_card], -2 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card]

This IS the easiest match-up. If you can bounce a [mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card] twice it is nearly impossible to lose. Games 2 and 3, when you can land a COP: Red, their best plan is to try and mill you out by killing your threats.

Delver: +2 [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card], +1 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card] +2 [mtg_card]Kor Santifiers[/mtg_card] / -2 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card], -2 [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card]

This match-up is about 45/55 in Delver’s favor. Delver needs to counter a lot of stuff in this match-up, and life gain is surprisingly good for them. Post board look to land an arrows, and use [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card] to take out a Spellstutter at a crucial time. If you don’t lose quickly, you’re in a great position. Make sure you [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] your own lands in this game, because [mtg_card]Daze[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Gush[/mtg_card] can counter them or knock them off at inconvenient times.

DelverFiend: +2 [mtg_card]Hydroblast[/mtg_card], +2 [mtg_card]Circle of Protection: Red[/mtg_card]/ -1 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -2 [mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Mulldrifter[/mtg_card]

This match-up is slightly favorable, but they can still get the God draw on you. So I’d put it at 55/45. Landing a COP: Red usually ends the game, but they sometimes do have [mtg_card]Flaring Pain[/mtg_card] to get around it.

Elves: +2 [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card] +2 [mtg_card]Circle of Protection: Green[/mtg_card] +1 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card] / -2 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -2 [mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Mulldrifter[/mtg_card]

This match-up is bad. It is like 40/60 bad. The entire match-up revolves around their [mtg_card]Distant Melody[/mtg_card]. If they can resolve one of those, you will lose. Try to keep them off of blue mana as much as possible. If the meta fills up with elves look to add Negate to the sideboard.

Familiar Denizen: +2 [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card], +1 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card] +1 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card] / -2 [mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card], -2 [mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card]

Again this is another terrible match-up, about 20/80. This match-up is basically as bad as familiar storm was a few month ago because we don’t have enough instant speed removal, or ways to interact with their combo. You are the aggressive deck here, and look to [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] their mana while you fly over the top.

Goblins: +2 [mtg_card]Holy light[/mtg_card], +2 [mtg_card]Circle of Protection: Red[/mtg_card] / -2 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -1[mtg_card]Mulldrifter[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card]

This match-up is a favorable one, but Goblins can get there with a double Bushwhacker draw. We want to get guys out as quickly as possible, and [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card] when they have an odd number of X/1s out, to increase our value. Look to [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] here for help because Goblins players tend to keep one landers on the draw.

Hexproof: +2 [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card] +3 [mtg_card]Kor Sanctifiers[/mtg_card] +1 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card]/ -2 [mtg_card]Serrated Arrows[/mtg_card], -3 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Journey to Nowhere[/mtg_card]

This match-up is another difficult one, but if you expect a lot of hexproof there are easy steps to make it better. [mtg_card]Patrician’s Scorn[/mtg_card] can do work here. The trick is to try and [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] them off white. Remember if you Seas a [mtg_card]Forest[/mtg_card] that has a [mtg_card]Utopia Sprawl[/mtg_card] you’ll knock the Sprawl off. Aside from that we’re using [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card] to bump off [mtg_card]Ethereal Armor[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Ancestral Mask[/mtg_card].

Out of the sideboard remember COP: Green doesn’t target so that card tends to auto win the game, and you can recur [mtg_card]Kor Sanctifiers[/mtg_card] to blow up [mtg_card]Ethereal Armor[/mtg_card] after [mtg_card]Ethereal Armor[/mtg_card].

MBC: +2 [mtg_card]Circle of Protection: Black[/mtg_card], +2 [mtg_card]Kor Sanctifiers[/mtg_card], +1 [mtg_card]Train of Thought[/mtg_card]/ -1 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -3 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card]

Before [mtg_card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/mtg_card] this match-up was a cake walk. Now our game plan is to keep them off pips as much as possible and to out attrition them. When we land a COP: Black, they can only Gary us to death. Sometimes they can do it, and other times they can’t. This match-up is 55/45 in our favor. But it is also build dependent. We’re much more likely to win if they run X/1s.

Stompy: +2 [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card], +1 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card] / -2 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card]

You get to attack this match-up from multiple directions. By Seasing their land you get to limit their ability to cast creatures; by gaining life, you mitigate their ability to play the burn game plan; and by playing solid blockers and cheap removal you drag the game out until they are in top deck mode. Keep hands that can interact early and you’ll be fine.

Make sure you [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card] their [mtg_card]Quirion Ranger[/mtg_card] so your [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card] can hit safely, and use your [mtg_card]Holy Light[/mtg_card] on [mtg_card]Silhana Ledgewalker[/mtg_card].

MUC: -2 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card]/ +2 [mtg_card]Train of Thought[/mtg_card]

This match-up was abysmal and will be game one. But [mtg_card]Train of Thought[/mtg_card] makes all the difference. If you can force them to play 1-for-1 until you get off a big Train, you’ll win this game more often than not. They only have 8 threats usually, so a big part of our game plan is to kill their threats and let them mill themselves.

UR Control: +2 [mtg_card]Train of Thought[/mtg_card], +2 [mtg_card]Hydroblast[/mtg_card] +1 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card]/ -2 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Lone Missionary[/mtg_card], -2 [mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card]

This is a very tactical match-up, but I’ve found it favorable. The way you win is to follow this pattern. First, play aggressively. You want to put pressure on your opponent and make them draw as many cards as possible and to expend as much energy as they can to deal with your threats. Our goal in this phase is to force them to use a lot of [mtg_card]Counterspell[/mtg_card]s, [mtg_card]Compulsive Research[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Firebolt[/mtg_card]s. Sometimes you can mise a win with the aggression, but that isn’t our primary goal.

Instead, our objective is to mill them out. The second phase, the “mill phase” begins once the tide starts to swing in their favor. In the mill phase you start killing their threats as soon as they present them. We applied pressure in phase one because we want to force our opponents to use [mtg_card]Counterspell[/mtg_card]s early so they can’t protect their creatures later. We also wanted to pressure our opponents because we want them to [mtg_card]Compulsive Research[/mtg_card] themselves. That way they can’t point them at us later to foil our mill strategy. They will draw more cards than us, but with Arrows, Charms, and Journeys we have more than enough fodder to deal with their 11 creatures and residual [mtg_card]Counterspell[/mtg_card]s.

Also remember, try to stay above 16 life so that you don’t get burned to death. Don’t forget to bounce your Crossroads with your Chanceries. And each [mtg_card]Firebolt[/mtg_card] they aim at an early creature is another 2 life you have access to in the second phase of the game.

White Weenie: +3 [c]Kor Sanctifiers[/c], +1 [c]Piracy Charm[/c] / -2 [mtg_card]Momentary Blink[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card], -1 [mtg_card]Sea Gate Oracle[/mtg_card]

This match-up plays out a lot like Stompy. But this Weenie is more favorable match-up since they are slower and tend to rely more on the permanent types that our Sanctifiers can blow up. They have resilient creatures, but our Journeys dodge all their multi-use creatures. Look to clog the ground up with [mtg_card]Dream Stalker[/mtg_card]s and clear the skies with your removal. Their only problem card is [mtg_card]Guardian of the Guildpact[/mtg_card] if you can avoid or race him, you’ll win.

Tron: +2 [mtg_card]Hydroblast[/mtg_card], +2 [mtg_card]Circle of Protection: Red[/mtg_card], +1 [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card]/ -2 [mtg_card]Serrated Arrows[/mtg_card], -3 [mtg_card]Piracy Charm[/mtg_card]

This is a favorable and fun match-up. The objective here is to keep them off Tron as long as possible by [mtg_card]Reality Acid[/mtg_card]ing or [mtg_card]Spreading Seas[/mtg_card]ing the same tron piece over and over. Sometimes it is unclear what piece is necessary to attack, but a common situation that occurs is you Seas the third Tron piece, then they fetch out a duplicate piece. You then need to bounce the Seas and place it on a different Tron piece. While doing this, you simultaneously creature them to death.

Save your Journeys for their [mtg_card]Ulamog’s Crusher[/mtg_card]s and [mtg_card]Fangren Marauder[/mtg_card]s.

Tron usually has access to a bit of post-board land destruction and enchantment removal, so be aware of that. Use your Blasts on the LD, and make sure you have a way to deal with having your COP: Red attacked. Their best win-con against us is [mtg_card]Rolling Thunder[/mtg_card].

If you’re having trouble with this match-up, I previously had [mtg_card]Curse of the Bloody Tome[/mtg_card] in my sideboard. I have brought that in against them to great success. It allows you to mitigate their removal. You might also want to try [mtg_card]Train of Thought[/mtg_card] if you find yourself getting out carded.

Exhume and Crush: A Primer

by David Shaffer (Shaffawaffa5)

Editor’s Note: David wrote this some time ago for MTGOStrat but it was never published. Since David is such an excellent deck-builder, author, and Magic player, once we got permission to do so we jumped at the chance to publish it. Keep in mind that some parts of the article may be out of date.

[d title=”Exhume Control (Pauper)”]

Lands

3 Bojuka Bog

4 Dimir Aqueduct

9 Island

2 Swamp

4 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures

4 Mulldrifter

3 Ulamog’s Crusher

Spells

2 Agony Warp

4 Compulsive Research

2 Counterspell

2 Diabolic Edict

1 Doom Blade

4 Exhume

2 Innocent Blood

1 Nihil Spellbomb

4 Preordain

2 Probe

4 Prohibit

2 Serrated Arrows

1 Tragic Slip

Sideboard

2 Doom Blade

2 Duress

2 Evincar’s Justice

3 Hydroblast

2 Piracy Charm

1 Probe

1 Ulamog’s Crusher

1 Wail of the Nim

1 Walker of the Grove

[/d]

This deck originated as a whacky idea I had to transform the historically all-in Reanimator deck into a more controllish list. That’s right we usually cast [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c] to win the game. About once every other game, however, we are Exhuming at least one [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c] into play. But [c]Exhume[/c] does more in this list than in your traditional Reanimator deck. You’re also able to exhume back a [c]Mulldrifter[/c].

Historically, the all-in Reanimator decks try to win before the opponent can establish a board presence. The all-in Reanimator pilot avoids Exhume’s symmetrical nature by winning before their opponent can get a creature in the graveyard. But this plan is inconsistent and easily disruptable. In Exhume Control we approach the problem in a different way. We bypass Exhume’s symmetrical nature in one of three ways.

First we can avoid removing our opponent’s creatures and Exhume as quickly as possible. This is akin to the traditional reanimator route. Second, we use [c]Bojuka Bog[/c] or [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c] to remove our opponent’s graveyard. Third, we Exhume back a [c]Mulldrifter[/c]. A resolved Mulldrifter is a three for one. So if we cast [c]Exhume[/c] and our opponent returns a creature like [c]Myr Enforcer[/c] or [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c] then we’re actually up a card in the exchange. This is the least preferred route of bypassing Exhume’s symmetrical nature, but sometimes the small bit of card advantage or the 2/2 flier is all you need to lock up the game.

The rest of the deck is a pretty standard control shell. But I’ll highlight a few cards.

[c]Probe[/c] has been good in any match-up you’re not getting steamrolled in, but it has been an absolute all-star in any control match-up. The ability to pitch your unwanted Crushers for more valuable cards, and make your opponent discard their last few cards is very powerful.

[c]Tragic Slip[/c], a recommendation by KimS has been a great addition. You’re able to trigger morbid off [c]Mulldrifter[/c] Evokes, and your other removal. Having an early answer to [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] and a cheap answer that allows you to play around [c]Spellstutter Sprite[/c] is very nice. The card’s flexibility has had me thinking that I might add more.

[c]Innocent Blood[/c] has been right on the edge for me. Sometimes you need the cheap removal. Taking out a turn one Delver is really important, and having a removal spell with counter backup on turn three is also pretty nice. Plus it has been beneficial that it is a sorcery so it can get around [c]Dispel[/c] in the Delver-Fiend match-up. At the same time [c]Innocent Blood[/c] has been a little awkward. Sometimes you’ve got a Crusher or Drifter out, but you need some removal to take out potentially lethal attackers. [c]Innocent Blood[/c] is miserable here. If you wanted to cut it, I would respect your decision.

The last card I want to highlight is [c]Prohibit[/c]. I think it is also just good enough. It has some relevant target in every deck. Even against MonoB, who casts infinite three drops, [c]Prohibit[/c] allows you to [c]Exhume[/c] a Crusher and keep up countermagic against their 2-mana removal. Or you can counter an early [c]Sign in Blood[/c]. The other deck that you sort of lack targets against is Tron. Tron is already a great match-up, so I tend to just fire off [c]Prohibit[/c]s on their mana fixing. In all other match-ups, I’ve found [c]Prohibit[/c] is about as good as a [c]Counterspell[/c].

Positives and Negatives of the Deck

Positives

This deck plays out as the control deck of control decks. With recent rises in UR Control, Teachings, Tron, and MonoU control, this deck out controls them all. We’re seldom the beat down because we have more card advantage and a very powerful end game that makes it difficult for our opponents to interact with us.

Most aggressive decks that don’t have the ability to interact with our game play will fall victim to our removal suite. We have a lot of one for one removal spells. But we also have [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c] and [c]Serrated Arrows[/c] to mow down strategies that build outward quickly.

Lastly, we always have the combo kill. A lot of control decks in the current meta have some match-ups that they just can’t win. From my understanding, UR control basically can’t beat green decks, Tron has a hard time with Familiars, etc. These decks aren’t great for us either. We are even more controllish than them. But against all these problem decks Exhume Control can miss a turn 3-4 Crusher and hope that gets there. While this option is not always ideal, at least an option to go combo exists.

Negatives

Exhume Control can be tempoed out by decks that can hinder our game plan. Delver of course is the staple tempo-er and is a challenging opponent. MonoB control can win games off the back of a steady stream of 2/2s for 3, hand/creature disruption and a well-timed Gray Merchant. U/R control or MonoU control can tempo us out as well with a counter magic backed Delver.

The deck also can get unlucky and draw the wrong parts of its deck. Because it is a combo oriented control deck, it has awkward draws slightly more often than your traditional control deck. In addition to times when you can get mana screwed or draw no draw spells, sometimes with Exhume Control you get all your Exhumes but no creatures or no way to remove your opponent’s threat laden graveyard. Sometimes you get all the creatures and no Exhumes. This additional element of variance doesn’t happen all that often, but it is certainly a knock against the deck because it forces you to play even better to mitigate the additional variance.

Match-Ups

Delver

Sideboard: -4 [c]Exhume[/c], -1 [c]Crusher[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Probe[/c]: + 2 [c]Dispel[/c], +2 [c]Piracy Charm[/c], +1 [c]Wail of Nim[/c], +2 [c]Doomblade[/c]

The match-up everyone cares the most about is also slightly unfavorable. [c]Exhume[/c] is pretty bad here since if they Spellstutter it, and if you counter the Stutter or kill a faerie in response the Exhume, the [c]Exhume[/c]’s resolution will give them their guy back. [c]Ninja of the Deep Hours[/c] is the biggest issue they bring main deck, as he can get them more threats than you can deal with. Post-board you need to counter every Stormbound Geist you see, as he makes your edicts and arrows terrible. If they can reset him via Ninja or [c]Snap[/c], then you’ve probably lost.

Having said all of that, the match-up is not unwinnable. I feel tweaks exist to make this match-up better. I’ve been content with my build because lately I feel like Delver is down in popularity. When it ticks up you’ll see more Delver hate out of me.

Affinity

Sideboard: -2 [c]Agony Warp[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c], -1 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c] +3 [c]Hydroblast[/c] +1 Crusher

The analysis here is kind of tricky. In my opinion the match-up depends on the caliber of the Affinity player. If they are good, you’re going to be closer to 50/50 against them – in fact, it’s probably die roll + variance dependent. But if they are your average run of the mill Affinity player, then I like my chances. The goal is to Crush quickly. They have a hard time dealing with an early Crusher. Use your Prohibits on Atogs and Carapace Forgers if you can.

U/R Control

Sideboard: -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -2 [c]Innocent Blood[/c], -2 [c]Island[/c], -1 [c]Dimir Aquaduct[/c], -1 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +3 [c]Hydroblast[/c], +1 [c]Crusher[/c], +2 [c]Dispel[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c]

Exhume Control was built to take advantage of decks playing [c]Exclude[/c]. Exhume allows you to circumvent that particular counter spell and fight your battles solely against [c]Counterspell[/c]. If Crusher enters the battlefield their only real answer is to double [c]Flameslash[/c] it. While I’ve only played this match-up a handful of times, I like my odds. It has felt good every time, except when I played against the guy who invented the U/R deck. He just outplayed me.

The U/R pilot needs to be the aggressor so try to keep hands that has access to a way to kill a turn one Delver. If you stay above 16, and out of Firebolt range, your life is a lot better.

Tron

Sideboard: -2 [c]Agony Warp[/c], -2 [c]Prohibit[/c], -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c], +2 [c]Hydroblast[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 Crusher

Tron is a very good match-up. I’ve been turn three troned multiple times and I don’t really care. Use [c]Counterspell[/c] on their [c]Mulldrifter[/c]s and removal on [c]Fangren Maurader[/c]s. Once you get out a Crusher, the game usually ends in short order. This is the match-up I am most happy to see.

[c]Bojuka Bog[/c] does pretty good work in this match-up. Allowing you to control [c]Haunted Fengraf[/c] targets and to remove [c]Firebolt[/c]s and [c]Deep Analysis[/c] is a lot of value out of a land.

MonoB

Sideboard: -1 [c]Doomblade[/c], -1 Crusher, -2 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 [c]Walker of the Grove[/c], +2 [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c]

MonoB is a weird match-up, and it is slightly unfavorable. If they can start chaining 2/2s into each other you have a tough time. They usually win via a tempo game. Try to keep them off their guys, and try to Probe their hand away. The match-up isn’t unwinnable by any stretch. In fact it always feels like I barely lose. If they don’t get their normal draw you probably win, because they won’t be able to eek out the last few points. It feels like if they don’t play a turn 3 dude you’re over 50% to win.

Again I think this match-up is tuneable. If you feel like you’re going to see a lot of monoB then maybe you want to switch counterspell packages. Go with [c]Exclude[/c]s and some X counter spell like [c]Powersink[/c] or [c]Condescend[/c]. A lot of the problem is that [c]Prohibit[/c] and [c]Doomblade[/c] are bad main deck inclusions here.

MonoU Control

Sideboard: -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Island[/c], -1 [c]Dimir Aqueduct[/c], -2 [c]Prohibit[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +2 [c]Dispel[/c]

This is another good match-up. It is possibly just as good as Tron. Here, [c]Bojuka Bog[/c] is a silent all-star. It takes out their draw engine in [c]Think Twice[/c], [c]Accumulated Knowledge[/c], and [c]Oona’s Grace[/c]. You have so many must counters that eventually they run out of them. Then you [c]Probe[/c] them and the game is over.

Their best line is to tempo you out. They are the aggressor. So try to keep a hand that doesn’t get blown out by Delver + counter magic. If they give you time, remember you’re in no rush to Crush. They are playing into our hands.

Burn

Sideboard: -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c], -1 [c]Tragic Slip[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Doomblade[/c], -2 [c]Innocent Blood[/c]: +2 [c]Dispel[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 [c]Crusher[/c], +3 [c]Hydroblast[/c]

This is actually a harder match-up than you’d think, but I think it is 50/50. You are trying to crush quickly, because you cut them off of mana. Since most of their spells do about the same amount of damage counter them whenever you can. Spend your turns where you don’t have counter magic drawing into more counter magic or combo pieces. You often don’t want to counter [c]Keldon Mauraders[/c], because it is usually the only card you can get some value out of with your removal.

Stompy

Sideboard: -1 [c]Exhume[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -1 [c]Probe[/c], -1 [c]Crusher[/c]: +2 [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c], +2 [c]Doomblade[/c]

The resilient threats are annoying, but I’ve won most of my matches against them. I don’t feel I’ve played them enough to say whether the match-up is good or not. My advice is to try to one for one them as much as possible and keep rancor off of their guys. Try to crush as soon as possible. Bringing in the sweepers post board usually puts game 2 and 3 in our favor. Don’t be surprised if you lose game one.

Hexproof Auras

Sideboard: -2 [c]Serrated Arrows[/c], -1 [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c], -2 [c]Agony Warp[/c]: +1 [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c], +2 [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c], +1 [c]Wail of Nim[/c]

I’ve won both of my competitive matches against Hexproof Auras, but I’ve done a bit of testing since. I think this match-up is pretty poor with the current build. We only really have 4 edicts, and Prohibit is a bit weak to a turn 3-4 Armadillo Cloak or Mask. They can also just build up guys so big that Crusher looks like chump change. If you find yourself going against them frequently, look to add more edicts to the 75. I think this match-up can be made good if it is something you’re concerned about.

Familiars

Sideboard: -2 [c]Innocent Blood[/c], -2 [c]Diabolic Edict[/c], -1 [c]Compulsive Research[/c]: +2 [c]Doomblade[/c], +2 [c]Piracy Charm[/c], +1 [c]Probe[/c], +1 [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c].

This one is a battle, but it’s a fun fight. Currently, I’ve only played against them a few times and I’m roughly 50/50. Most of my matches have been extremely close, going to epic game 3s where either I, or my opponent, made a costly mistake. Their only real way for them to handle Crusher is to [c]Snap[/c] or [c]Capsize[/c] it. Our goal is to Crush ASAP, but we also need some counter magic up to prevent bouncing. We should win if we can keep them off familiars early and turn 4 or 5 a Crusher with counter backup.

[c]Bojuka Bog[/c] and [c]Nihil Spellbomb[/c] are also good in this match-up since they hinder [c]Mnemonic Wall[/c] and makes [c]Reap the Graves[/c] a dead card. Reap is usually the card they use to beat control decks and our land makes it awful. Ding!

Teachings Control

This fringe deck has made a few appearances lately, mostly at the hands of someoldguy. The deck uses a lot of graveyard shenanigans to reach its goal. Fortunately we come main deck equipped to deal with strategies like these. [c]Bojuka Bog[/c] knocks out unspent [c]Mystical Teachings[/c], [c]Grim Harvest[/c], any lingering [c]Ghostly Flicker[/c]s, and removes any extra creatures that Harvest or [c]Soul Manipulation[/c] could target.

We also are Exhuming instead of casting creatures, so we shut off Manipulation and [c]Exclude[/c] targets. As such, we are really the deck with more counter magic available so when we cast a kicked Probe we’ll usually win the counter battle over its resolution. And once we win that, they’ll usually scoop.

Delver-Fiend

This match-up is in our favor. They are quick, but we have tons of removal. We also have ways to back up our removal with countermagic so they can’t resolve [c]Apostle’s Blessing[/c]. The goal is to kill their guys as quickly as possible. If you do this, then later you can [c]Probe[/c] them out of the game. In game 1 try to kill their Delvers and [c]Kiln Fiends[/c] with your [c]Agony Warp[/c]s and save your Edicts and [c]Doomblade[/c] for [c]Nivix Cyclops[/c]. If you don’t use your removal on the right guy, then you’ll end up unable to kill the guy you need to.

Elves

The last match-up I’ll talk about is Elves, since I’m seeing an uptick in the little green men. Game one can be hard. Try to focus on taking out [c]Timberwatch[/c] and [c]Lys Alana Huntmaster[/c] with removal. Try to counter [c]Distant Melody[/c] or kill their blue producing creatures and you should be able to win once you resolve a [c]Serrated Arrows[/c]. Games 2 and 3 are pretty easy because [c]Evincar’s Justice[/c] is [c]Damnation[/c] against them.

1-Land Spy Tournament Report and Deck Discussion

balustrade-spy

This last weekend I participated in an 8-man tournament put on by JustSin over at MTGOAcademy. I convinced my fellow brewer obZen to join too. We both played 1-land Spy. While ultimately we were both taken down by the same Delver pilot, we both prized and both had some pretty cool stories to tell. I will start with a little recap, and then delve deep into the inner workings of the deck.

While obZen brought a slightly different deck than me, this is roughly the list we both played:

[d title=”1-Land Spy (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Forest

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
1 Anarchist
3 Deadshot Minotaur
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor
1 Wirewood Guardian

Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
2 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Dark Ritual
2 Destroy the Evidence
1 Haunting Misery
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
4 Manamorphose
2 Morgue Theft
4 Songs of the Damned
3 Springleaf Drum
Sideboard
2 Basking Rootwalla
4 Duress
1 Flaring Pain
4 Fog
3 Ingot Chewer
1 Crypt Rats [/d]

Tournament Report

In round one, I played against Trinket Control. Trinket plays out a lot like playing against monoB, except they don’t have [c]Gray Merchant[c]/ so you don’t have to worry too much about opposing life gain. While they do run [c]Augur of Skulls[/c], their discard suite is not as difficult to deal with either. So game one I had a considerable amount of time, but could not find a [c]Land Grant[/c]. Eventually I realized that I could try to go off despite not having the land.

What you need to do when you don’t have the land is you have to spy yourself twice. Since my last article, obZen and I have adopted a lot of the Oninaka list that I posted in my last article. We are running 2x [c]Morgue Theft[/c], [c]Anarchist[/c], and [c]Songs of the Damned[/c]. At this particular time I had a Morgue Theft in the graveyard, and both a songs and a [c]Conjurer’s Bauble[/c] in hand. I figured if I could [c]Balustrade Spy[/c] myself into another Balustrade Spy I’d probably have enough creatures to songs for an additional 7 mana required to fight through the land.

I was successful.

(1-0)

Game two my opponent mulled to four and did very little besides get out an Island and a Swamp. Now unlike most decks, if my opponent mulls a bunch that could be very bad for me, because they may be mulling into countermagic. That’s exactly what happened here – I got Negated. But since I had won game 1, and Trinket usually doesn’t run [c]Negate[/c], I figured I’d make him show it to me before I brought in [c]Duress[/c].

(1-1)

At this point I realized that my opponent was on the mull to Negate plan, so I brought in all four Duress. My opponent again mulled, but this time I believe it was just once. I got a pretty quick start with [c]Springleaf Drum[/c], [c]Land Grant[/c], and two [c]Tinder Wall[/c]. After my opponent passed turn 3 without playing a land, and I had not drawn a Duress,I realized it was time to switch plans.

My opponent’s plan was to just sit on [c]Negate[/c]. But he only had two land. So I did what any sane 1-land combo player would do, and I started going into beat down mode. I cast Street Wraith, Simian Spirit Guide, and Balustrade Spy targeting my opponent. I even retained a Tinder Wall in order to play around edicts. My opponent was still on three lands by the time the team swung sideways for lethal.

(2-1)

obZen’s opponent was on turbofog, and while that is probably a bye for 1-land combo, it was a super bye, because obZen’s opponent apparently DCed into oblivion.

(4-1)

The next round I played against Delver, and there is not much to say there. It is hard to beat counter magic decks, but Delver is the most challenging because they also apply pressure. A couple of Delver flips later, and I’m out of the tournament.

(4-3)

But this is where obZen’s story gets cool. 1-land spy can go off quickly. I’ve even turn 1’ed before with the Songs of the Damned win. In round 2 obZen showed a Tron player the meaning of going off quickly. He was able to go off on turn two twice. Game one, the opposing Tron player got to play a tron piece and a trinket, before obZen killed him.

Game 2 his opponent was on the play, so he got to cast a few more things, but again obZen T-2ed. The Songs of the Damned win condition makes the list really robust, and I’ll go into it more below.

(6-3)

obZen almost had a T-1 against the Delver opponent. But this Delver player’s ability to flip a turn on Delver every game made it exceptionally difficult to win.

(6-5)

So overall we went just slightly better than .500. But we managed to string enough wins together to make 6 tickets between the two of us in this free tournament. We also got a lot of people excited about the list. Since [c]Empty the Warrens[/c], [c]Grapeshot[/c], and [c]Invigorate[/c] got banned turn two wins just don’t happen anymore. obZen did it twice.

Discussing the Deck

Community Involvement

So what is the Oninaka win? Why are we playing Anarchist, Songs of the Damned, and 2x Morgue Theft? When JustSin told me about Oninaka playing the list in a daily, I watched his videos and he would get up to 5 mana when his Forest was in play. Then he would cast Balustrade Spy, targeting himself, of course. With the last mana he would cast Songs of the Damned, making 25 mana, because all of his creatures are in the graveyard. Then he would Morgue Theft back, both Blood Celebrant, and Mnemonic Wall. Next he would cast Blood Celebrant, convert a black mana to a blue mana, and cast Mnemonic Wall targeting Haunting Misery, and Misery his opponent for the win. It was a bit convoluted, but resulted in fast wins.

After playing the deck a little bit I realized we could switch Mnemonic Wall out for Anarchist and add Manaforge Cinder over Blood Celebrant to save some life. But then after a couple of test runs, obZen informed me that we could just get back a Simian Spirit Guide with Morgue Theft. There was no longer a need for two new creatures for this combo.

I believe Oninaka and his friends took our list and improved upon it. We then took Oninaka’s list and further improved upon it. This process has taught me that the community brews better than any individual.

Other people have worked on this list too. As I mentioned in my last article, I started working on this list before spy even came out. It is a cool card, and this deck is a rough port of the Legacy deck “Ooops All Spells”, and “ManaLess Dredge” has run Spy in the past as well. People have come up with this idea independently of me, and I’m not surprised. I am pleased.

In the last article Tom The Scud pointed me in the direction of a PDCMagic page that details his work on the list. In the thread other people chime in with other ideas on how to tweak the deck as well. It is a real community experience, and a good read.

I encourage you to pick up the deck and try to figure out a solution to one of the remaining problems.

The Problems

As the tournament report suggests, countermagic is still difficult. obZen has been running 4x Pyroblast, and 4x Duress in his sideboard. I’m not sure we’ll ever get around this problem, but I encourage you to hit it head on. Maybe you can figure out some way to get around blue mages.

Another problem is life gain. My list runs 25 creatures. That means that if I go for the Oninaka Anarchist win, I will have to use at least one Simian Spirit Guide, one Balustrade Spy, and Anarchist.

These all subtract from our final Haunting Misery count. If we go this route our maximum damage is 22. I actually made a mistake earlier this week when I took this list to a daily. I had a few creatures stuck in my hand, and took out a creature for my 4x Duress. As a result, I could only zap my opponent for 19. This illustrates that 20 damage is hard enough sometimes, imagine if your opponent goes Kabira Crossroads into Lone Missionary.

obZen has tried to mitigate the impact of lifegain by adding a singleton copy of Crypt Rats to the sideboard. Assuming he can float a red mana somewhere, obZen can go for the Oninaka win but use a Morgue Theft on Crypt Rats. The Crypt Rats can use the remaining black mana to do additional damage, while wiping your board, and thereby increasing your final Misery Count.

While the Crypt Rats plan is nice, it doesn’t allow you to win via Conjurer’s Bauble. This is still a problem that hopefully one of you can figure out.

The third problem is still inconsistency. I’ve won on turn 1, obZen won back to back games on turn 2, but the deck is still inconsistent. We’ve tried Gitaxian Probe, Read the Bones, and Sign in Blood. But we’ve ditched all of these overtime. I need your help to figure out some form of increased consistency that doesn’t require life loss.

If you look at the comments on the link Tom the Scud posted you’ll see that user FlxEx said “I can’t imagine playing less than 4 Gitaxian Probe is correct.” Well the more I play this deck the more I am convinced FlxEx is totally wrong. While Gitaxian Probe costs no mana it is not free in our deck. It takes up two valuable resources.

  1. Our primary resource is life. We only have 20 of it, and so using 10% of your life to draw a card is not worth it, when your opponent is trying to kill you before you go off.
  2. It takes away from the creature count. This is why Street Wraith is still in the deck. This deck is 60 cards and 1 land, but sometimes it is hard to fit everything you need into the list. You need a lot of creatures to make this deck work, and if you play Gitaxian Probe you lose 4 potential creature slots.

In short, life loss in exchange for cards seems like a good idea on paper, but when you’re playing against burn you’d almost rather just say go than give them 2 damage so you can cycle.

The benefits

This deck has plenty of benefits. First, it is really fun to play. It is not every day that you play a deck with one land and feel like you can win. Second, you can beat any deck that doesn’t pack excessive lifegain or countermagic. This means with a bit of luck you can beat any aggressive strategy, Tron, mono-black, and Trinket Control. Third, it rewards people as blessed as Oninaka.

When I asked Oninaka why he was playing the deck he responded with three words. He wrote back “I’m very lucky.” If you’re more lucky than good, then maybe this deck is for you too.