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

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.

A 1-Land Pauper Combo Deck

balustrade-spy

Hello everyone, I know I usually write on Wednesdays and in the Competitive section but I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about my 1-land combo deck. Seeing as how the deck is okay, but is currently not something I’d recommend for a daily, I figured I’d put it here. The deck is super fun though.

This is my current list:
[d title=”Miserable Spy (Pauper)”]
Land
1 Forest
Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
3 Deadshot Minotaur
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Tinder Wall
4 Wild Cantor
1 Wirewood Guardian
Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
1 Commune with Nature
4 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Dark Ritual
1 Destroy the Evidence
4 Gitaxian Probe
1 Haunting Misery
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
4 Manamorphose
4 Springleaf Drum
Sideboard
1 Pyroblast
4 Duress
1 Flaring Pain
4 Spore Frog
4 Ingot Chewer
1 Ray of Revelation [/d]

So the way this deck works is you get your Forest out with Land Grant.Then you cast some rituals to get out your Balustrade Spy and target yourself. Now that your library is in your graveyard, you Conjurer’s Bauble the Haunting Misery and it pops into your hand. You then shoot your opponent with a lethal Misery.

I don’t recommend this deck as competitive because you have a cap on how much damage you can do, and it just auto-loses to counter magic. But it is extremely fun, and really gets your brain moving. It is hard to play and hard to tweak. You have only one land but the list is choked full of cards you need to keep.

Today I got wind of a player named Oninaka who had taken my initial list that I assume I disseminated to his friends (unless they came up with this entirely independently of my work, which is a total possibility), and they made it even better. Here is a picture of his list. See if you can spot the insane-o changes they made, and figure out why the changes are so good. He went 2-2 in this tournament, winning the first two matches. So they deck is capable of winning competitive matches, but you probably won’t win all that many haha.

The nice part about a deck that mills itself is that it is easy to get the exact maindeck.

Here is another version by obZen. He took interest in my initial build and has been going a different route, using a culling the weak and creatures he dubs “Tall men”:

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

Creatures
4 Balustrade Spy
4 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Crimson Kobolds
1 Crookshank Kobolds
4 Shield Sphere
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
4 Wild Cantor
4 Phyrexian Walker

Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Culling the Weak
4 Dark Ritual
1 Haunting Misery
4 Land Grant
4 Lotus Petal
4 Read the Bones [/d]

Feel free to post your tweaks below.

I don’t have a bunch of time right now to post all the nuances of this deck, but I will a bit later on today or this weekend.

Editor’s note (February 26, 2016) – Since they can be challenging to find (heck, these articles have been lost for many months until now), here is a list of One-Land Spy articles and resources from around the time of the original brewing in late 2013.

Enjoy! /bava