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By: Joe Fiorini, Joseph G Fiorini
Jun 05 2015 12:00pm
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Win, Lose, or Draw, Go!

Last week, I asked my readers to pick a deck for me to play and write about. Landstill got the most votes, so that's what I played. Part of me was excited to play with a deck that runs four copies of Mana Drain, while the other part was not as thrilled about trying to kill someone with a Faerie Conclave

Last Friday someone lent me the final few cards that I needed to finish out the list. I jumped into a few matches, and started to win. When the deck curves out, and has either Mana Drain mana open or an early Standstill, then the deck is hard to beat. A lot of games will go that way, but of course, some simply will not.

Here's the list that I ran, courtesy of TMD Adept Shockwave:

 

 

U/r Landstill Deck Tech

If you can't tell by reading the deck list, this is a control deck. This is how I remember control decks from my youth. Decks like "Draw-Go", CMU Blue, and anything played by Randy Buehler at the time. Those decks, much like this Landstill list, played a metric ton of Counterspells. Ever since the kind folks at Wizards tacked on one more generic mana to Counterspell, giving birth to the abomination know as Cancel, Magic players haven't been able to play control in the "Draw, Go" fashion. 

In Vintage we (thankfully) have Mana Drain so things aren't so bleak. This deck can have a Counterspell ready at any point in the game, including turn zero with Force of Will and Mental Misstep. The point of this deck is simply to counter everything that needs to be countered, and to disrupt the opponent's mana development with Null Rod and Wasteland.

Mana Drain Force of Will Mental Misstep Spell Pierce

This Landstill list utilizes a full play-set of the four Counterspells pictured above. With sixteen Counterspells, keeping control over a game looks easy. In practice, however, it isn't. To play Landstill well enough to place highly in tournaments takes a skilled pilot and a strong knowledge of the expected metagame. 

Null Rod Wasteland Strip Mine Crucible of Worlds

In addition to the permission suite this deck contains the mana-denial cards pictured above. Many Vintage decks can't function optimally while Null Rod is in play. Decks like Belcher or Steel City Vault can't function at all with a Rod on the battlefield. All of the Moxen in an opponent's deck become useless, and most Vintage decks cheat on lands by running artifact mana. All of a sudden, people's decks have several potential dead draws,  and the number of threats that they can produce on any given turn is severely hampered. This in turn makes the task of countering all relevant spells much more manageable. 

The Strip Mine and Wastelands also constrain the opposition's mana, and with Crucible of Worlds they can be used repeatedly and lock-up the game. 

Ancestral Recall Standstill Treasure Cruise Brainstorm

Landstill gets to play its games with six and one-half Ancestral Recalls. This is where the deck gets all the gas it needs to keep going. The objective that the deck has of countering every spell that the opponent plays wouldn't be possible without the ability to out-draw any deck it faces. 

Many control decks, past and present, have used sweepers such as Wrath of God as a sort of hybrid of card advantage and control. Some Landstill pilots choose to run Engineered Explosives somewhere in the seventy-five to give them access to a bit of sweeper effect.  This list eschews such sweeper cards, therefore drawing extra cards is vital. Fighting over whether or not a Standstill resolves is likely worth it as long as it doesn't put you too far behind on cards. 

Mishra's Factory Faerie Conclave

Much like "Draw-Go" often closed out games with Stalking Stones, Landstill often wins games with its man-lands. The name Landstill is a portmanteau of Standstill and Land, and I'm sure that Mishra's Factory has something to do with that.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

In this deck, Jace is both card advantage and a win-condition. As a matter of fact, I've used Jace to fateseal my opponents more than I've Brainstormed or bounced creatures. Most of my experience using (Jace, the Mind Sulptor) has involved Brainstorming every turn, but while piloting Landstill I've found that it's better to try to build up counters.

All of the win-conditions in this list are glacially slow, and Jace is no exception. However, when you've ground-down an opponent to little or no cards in hand, weakening your opponent's draw steps drastically lowers the chances that they may stage a comeback.

Black Lotus Mox Sapphire Mox Ruby Volcanic Island Time Walk

The rest of the cards in this deck are mana-producers with the exception of Time Walk. I feel that Time Walk is self-explanatory and doesn't really fit into any of the other groups, so I omitted it from the other groups.

Landstill Sideboard

The sideboard that Shockwave uses in this Landstill list looks solid. It's built for consistency, and it targets the popular decks in the MTGO Vintage metagame.

Sudden Shock

Sudden Shock is a fantastic answer to a resolved Monastery Mentor. Other than that use, it can hit other powerful creatures like Young Pyromancer,Dark Confidant and many more. I sideboard this card in when I'm facing a deck that runs more than just a handful of creatures. Four bolts aren't enough when playing against some of the disruptive aggro decks that have been creeping into the Magic Online metagame.

Energy Flux

Anti-artifact hate card. While playing Shops one day in a D.E., Shockwave played one of these against me on turn one using a Black Lotus. I did not win that game.

Grafdigger's Cage

Anti-Oath and anti-Dredge, Cage is highly efficient at making graveyards irrelevant. If you love to suck the fun out of Yawgmoth's Will, then Cage is your kind of Magic card.

Relic of Progenitus

Relic of Progenitus is a Tormod's Crypt that cycles. This is decent against Dredge if used properly. Relic also hoses all of the delve cards that people love to play.

Flusterstorm

Flusterstorm can be used against storm decks. In a counterspell war, dropping an F-Bomb (that's my nickname for Flusterstorm is often a trump card. It's very difficult to pay for the tax on a Flusterstorm, and I often sandbag one in my hand until I need to resolve something important.

Playing Landstill

Piloting Landstill successfully is no small feat. In a format a "fair" deck can generate ten monk tokens in one turn, a deck with nearly zero broken cards has to fight an uphill battle. I am by no means an expert on the deck, but I have picked up a few tricks and tips in my short time playing the deck.

Don't be afraid to draw and say, "go". This deck is built around a card called Standstill, and that's very often what you should be doing. You're not in a hurry to aggro the opponent out with your man-lands. The fact is that man-lands eat up a land-drop and some mana when activated. If your opponent resolves an important spell because you attacked for two instead of holding up Mana Drain mana, you're going to look foolish.

Force of Will is card-disadvantage. By now, everyone should know this, but it is still extremely important. Don't go around blowing your Forces without a good reason. You have Mana Drain, and it can counter anything. You should be using it. 

Landstill is a mana-curve control deck. Just like modern control decks want to hit their land-drops each turn, playing lands on time is key for this deck. Besides that, the early game should be devoted to playing important cards early. A turn-one or turn-two Standstill is powerful, and you should be making sure it resolves. I

If your opponent casts something on turn two, and you're unable to Mana Drain it because you weren't able to reach two blue mana by that point, it's not a good thing to say the least. Mana curve and tempo are intrinsically linked, and if you fall too far behind your chances of winning begin to dwindle away.

Every turn you should consider each land in your hand before playing one.Faerie Conclave enters the battlefield tapped, and Wasteland won't help you cast your Mana Drains. In other Wasteland decks, playing and activating an early Wasteland is a key strategy. When you're playing Landstill, you should consider if you have  Spell Pierce, Force of Will, or Mental Misstep online before you give up your land drop to nuke an opponent's land. 

Seal their fate. As I mentioned earlier, fatesealing with Jace is extremely important. When I played the deck, I'd try to one-for-one the opponent until I could refill my hand. If I managed to play a Jace at that point, I'd keep fatesealing the opponent to ruin as many of their draw-steps as I could. This lowered the pressure on my Counterspells in hand. If your opponent is drawing live cards, then every brick you draw is a major setback. 

Besides all of that, Jace's fateseal is a +2 loyalty ability. It doesn't take long for Jace to build up to a lethal ultimate activation. In a deck that doesn't have powerful win-conditions, Jace becomes your best closer.

Saturday Night Landstill Fever

Since I had made a promise to play Landstill, I played it in the Saturday night Vintage D.E. I had won all of my matches with it in tournament practice, but that isn't usually a true indication of how I end up doing once a tournament starts. Sometimes I play some really good players in the T.P. room, but other times it's Rando City, USA.

The Daily fires, and I'm wondering how it's going to go, and hoping for the best. Round one, I played against a Abzan-colored deck, with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Knight of the Reliquary, and Qasali Pridemage. In game one, my opponent started off by dumping several pieces of Jewelry on the table, and playing some creatures. The following turns were marked by me playing a Null Rod to neutralize my opponent's Moxen. My opponent answered back with a Stony Silence, as he must have wanted to make sure the Null Rod was working soundly. Knight of the Reliquary gets put on the stack, and I have no Force of Will or Mana Drain. Game over. Short of living long enough to block with Mishra's Factory and have two Lightning Bolts in my hand, nothing in my deck could do anything about a Knight. If I had drawn Jace, the Mind Sculptor, I could have bounced it to survive until I could hopefully find a counter. I didn't draw any answers, so the game was over.

Stony Silence VS Null Rod

Clash of the Titans?

Game two, I sided in all of the Sudden Shocks, but it wasn't enough to kill all of the creatures. Mayor of Avabruck is a card I wasn't expecting either. I think it's safe to say that my deck wasn't built with all of these cards in mind.

Round two I played against Doomsday. My opponent was able to resolve Doomsday in both games, and that means I lost. I put up as much of a fight as I could, but I just didn't draw enough of the seventeen Counterspells (post-sideboard). For a match-up like this I wish there was another Flusterstorm that I could have had access to. I dropped after that so I could continue playing the deck at my leisure. Sometimes, I'll stick around and play the other rounds, but most of the time they're just bye-rounds anyway. 

After taking a quick break, I hopped into the Tournament Practice room (or as I affectionately call it, the T.P. room). I quickly get paired with a player that I've never faced before. I win the first match, surviving a turn-one Dark Confidant. His deck is a Grixis deck, with the Time Vault /Voltaic Key combo, and the four main-deck Null Rods in my list were instrumental to my victory. Dark Confidant caused the last points of life to be lost in game two. I had left the Bob alive instead of killing it, because my opponent's life total was pretty low by that point.

I click "play" after that match was over, and I'm paired with the same player. Just like in the last match, my opponent leads with Dark Confidant. I sent a chat message to my opponent in which I mentioned the power of a turn-one Bob. My opponent joked about how it had killed him last match, and we continued to chat as the match went on.

Near the end of game two I was close to victory, and we were still chatting. I mentioned that I was playing Landstill for an upcoming article, and my opponent asked who I was. I replied "Nobody important", and chuckled to myself. My opponent then introduces himself to me as last year's Vintage Championship winner Mark Tocco, and I was taken aback. I absolutely did not expect to be playing a match against a Vintage Champion and actually winning!

I tend to get down on myself when I lose a match, even when I played as well as I could. It felt good to be winning a couple matches, especially against a highly-skilled opponent. I know winning those matches doesn't count for anything, and certainly I'm still the inferior player, but it does give me a small sense of redemption. We ended up playing another match with him piloting a better deck (U/r Delver), and I ended up losing that match.

Mark was fun to talk to, and I hope to find the time to interview him soon. I have a soft-spot for Oath decks, and Mark won his championship with a very interesting list designed by Greg Fenton.

  


 

Looking at this list makes me want to play Oath again! It takes some serious dedication to remove Yawgmoth's Will from a deck like this. It shows a single-minded purpose and intense focus, and it obviously paid off. Winning the Vintage champs is a huge accomplishment, and I can only dream of participating in such an important event. 

If you have the time, you should watch this video of the finals. Game two was ended in true Vintage fashion, with the most perfectly busted line ever.

Sometimes, they just "have it".

 

Is Landstill the right choice for you?

I didn't play that much with the deck after last weekend, mostly because I was busy with writing and practicing with my other decks. I think that Landstill is a great choice to play, but only if you're willing to put in the work it takes to become proficient with it. Besides knowing the deck, you need to know the metagame well. The main-deck Null Rods were great against a lot of decks, but they didn't do much in the matches I played in the Daily Event. When everything goes well, and the deck runs perfectly, it is undeniably powerful.

Some match-ups like Oath and Shops are very much in Landstill's favor. Because Shops is so popular online, it might be a good idea to play Landstill just for that one reason. Instead of hitting all of irs land-drops by finding lands with Preordain, Landstill does it the old-fashioned way by actually playing a reasonable amount of them! If you remember, I've said it before that one of the best things that you can do against a Mishra's Workshop deck is to play your lands on time!

If you're interested in learning more about Landstill, The Mana Drain has an enormous amount of information on the deck (and everything else Vintage-related). If you haven't ever used TMD, I suggest giving it a try. You won't regret it!

 

 Vintage Brainstorming

Brainstorm  - DiTerlizzi - Mercadian Masques

Albert Einstein famously performed thought experiments in his free time. The physicist would consider problems in physics, and imagine solutions. I'm no Albert Einstein, and Magic: the Gathering certainly is not theoretical physics, but I've done my own thought experiments involving the Vintage metagame. Sometimes, I'll try to pit two decks against each other in my mind, and decide which should likely get the upper hand.

In addition, I've thought a lot about decks that I've played, and I've even tried to brew up my own. Lately, I've been switching from one deck to another while trying to figure out what I want to take to a tournament. I've contemplated exactly what each deck has to offer, and today I'm going to write about some of the thoughts that I've had on each deck.  

U/R Delver

18% of the Vintage metagame.

Young Pyromancer

Delver is highly efficient. It's far more efficient than all of the Mentor decks that people play. No matter how much players try to streamline their Mentor lists, they can't compete as far as efficiency goes. Delver can out-draw most decks, and it out-tempos most decks as well. Since its threats are cheaper on average than many decks, it is better at fighting Workshop prison than many other decks.

Vintage Delver decks blind-flip their namesake card approximately half of the time, maybe more. The amount of cards in the deck that are not an instant or sorcery is tiny. Usually, there are fourteen lands, one Black Lotus, two Moxen, two copies of Dack Fayden and between seven and nine creatures. That's around 28 cards that won't flip a Delver or make an elemental token. With the over-abundance of draw-spells, you're going to be chaining a lot of spells, and flooding the battlefield. 

Being heavily in blue and red means that U/R Delver gets access to the best counterspells in Vintage, including the very powerful Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast. Blue is such a powerful color in Vintage that it actually makes red more powerful than it would otherwise be. This is another facet of why Young Pyromancer still plays such an important roll in the format. White doesn't actually offer than much other than Monastery Mentor, and the powerful cards that white does have aren't useful in nearly every matchup the was that Red Elemental Blast is.

The downside to the deck, is that the small mana-base is fairly easy for a Workshop deck to disrupt. All of the threats are cheap, but they all require some work to go the distance and close out a game. Playing creatures can also be a detriment in a format where Oath of Druids is legal. 

Considering all of this information, I think that Delver is a fine choice to play in a tournament. It's always going to be a good deck, and it has enough counters and powerful sideboard options to give any deck a run for its money.

Mentor Control

7.75% of the Vintage metagame

Monastery Mentor

Mentor control decks trade some efficiency for threats that are more powerful in a vacuum. With a strong draw, a Mentor deck can overpower almost anything with a stream of prowess monks. Depending on how the Mentor list has been constructed, it can nearly keep pace with a Delver deck on cards drawn as well. 

The problem with Mentor decks, as I have come to believe, is that many of the lists that have surfaced so far have tried to emulate the formula that has led to Delver's success. The major issue with that is although Monastery Mentor looks like a Young Pyromancer on steroids, it doesn't actually fit into quite the same role. 

Costing three mana, Mentor drives decks to want to add extra non-land mana sources. This has typically not been regarded as a shortcoming, as each Moxen, off-color or otherwise, serves to create an extra threat. The thing is, those Monk tokens only get created if the Mox is played after the Monastery Mentor. Playing my Mentor lists, I've always had to weigh the choice of playing a Mox now to get a Mentor on the battlefield sooner versus saving that same Mox to make a Monk token at the cost of delaying the Mentor by a turn or more. 

Triggering prowess with your mana sources isn't all bad, and it's often times incredibly powerful. The thing is, to build a deck that makes use of Gush and the "Gro" philosophy like Delver does means that playing superfluous Moxen has a severe downside at times. This can manifest as mana flood, or it can cause the density of Counterspells or draw-spells to be too low.

All of this has lead me to believe that the best shell for Monastery Mentor will deviate much more from the Delver-esque model that's been currently employed. Designing a tempo strategy based solely on a three-drop as your only threat is an invitation for failure. I think this is why the Stoneforge Mentor deck is as good as it is. That deck isn't trying to be "Delver with a Mentor". It's very much a new animal.  

People have tried to improve Mentor decks by adding Young Pyromancer, which is on its face a perfectly acceptable addition. Delving a bit deeper, you can see that many of the cards that have been packed into Monastery Mentor shells are absolutely atrocious with Young Pyromancer. There is as reason that Vintage Delver decks only play so many creatures, Planeswalkers, and Moxen. Those cards don't trigger Young Pyromancer, and they don't flip Delver of Secrets. If you're not making elemental tokens, then what in God's name are you doing with a Young Pyromancer on the battlefield? The card is a (Balduvian Bears) with a smaller backside at that point!

I don't know for sure what the future holds for Monastery Mentor in Vintage, but I'm sure that there is a lot of changes that need to be made in the way people think about the decks that employ it. 


Workshops

18.60% of the Vintage metagame

Mishra's Workshop

Mishra's Workshop decks are undeniably powerful, and they're brutal to play against at times. Since I stepped through the looking-glass and experienced being a Shops pilot, I've had a lot of my perceptions about the deck altered.

When you're getting locked out by the deck, and you look at the handful of cards the opponent has, it's easy to imagine each one as something powerful. The truth is that because Shops lacks any real draw-engine or card-filtering, Shops players often have a grip full of semi-dead cards. The deck plays a lot of lands and artifact mana, so the player could easily have drawn too many lands. Sometimes, an early Chalice for zero means that the Shops player ends up with a ton of dead Moxen in hand. 

The point here is that you shouldn't ever give up against Shops until you're actually dead. There's always a chance that there hand is full of useless stuff, or that they won't be able to keep you locked down  long enough for them to win. Trust me, most of the matches that I lost with Shops, I had a stranglehold on the opponent most of the time. If I didn't find a way to seal the deal before my Tangle Wire faded away, then I'd often end up losing.

The thing that makes Shops so powerful is that it is the antithesis of nearly every successful Vintage deck that's played today. Vintage decks don't want to waste space in their decks with silly lands, and Shops punishes that. Vintage decks like to play the cheapest spells possible, and Shops makes sure that no spell is cheap.

Many of the cheap spells and threats that decks commonly play won't win the game immediately, and many of them are as innocuous as a simple Preordain. Although these decks are built to absolutely need that Preordain, it takes several turns of casting that kind of card to build up to a game-winning board state. Cheap threats like Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer, or even Deathrite Shaman take several turns to win the game at least, and that gives shops players time to cast more lock spells, or find the Dismember or Staff of Nin that they need to answer the threat.

Shops also preys on all of the powerful one-drops in Vintage. The deck plays only Sol Ring at that mana cost, so setting a Chalice of the Void on one costs the Shops player virtually nothing. Playing Shops, I've rarely cast a Chalice set on two, because many of the key lock-pieces cost two. 

Decks that can cast a cheap threat that can win the game immediately (or at least take over immediately) have the greatest edge in the Shops match-up. There aren't many cards like that, but there are a few, namely Oath of Druids and Tinker

Grixis Control

1.55% of the Vintage Metagame

Tinker

There have been a lot of decks in this color combination, but what I'm specifically referring to are Grixis decks with little creatures, plenty of Counterspells, and a Tinker/Blightsteel Colossus and Voltaic Key/Time Vault combo finish. 

Decks with Tinker have the ability to win out of nowhere, and that can be very helpful in winning matches. I've lost to decks like this while I was piloting a fair deck, and it's always happened because I ran out of counters before I could deal 20 damage with my creatures. This is just the benefit of playing a deck with a one or two-card combo finish. 

The other side of the coin is that there will always be games where Grixis loses to a horde of monk tokens or an early Delver of Secrets. Instead of playing removal, Grixis relies on counters and the power of a few broken cards to win. The philosophy is that assembling Key/Vault fast enough allows a pilot to simply ignore creatures altogether. 

It makes far more sense to pack multiple creature-removal spells in a fair deck, because for those decks ignoring the other side of the battlefield isn't an option. 

Ponder

All the decks I've written about in this article are good enough to cash a Daily Event. Which one you choose should be based mostly on what you're comfortable with playing. Learning a deck and its matchups will get you more wins than playing random decks, or searching for some killer tech. You should learn which deck is right for you, and play it until you find a plan for beating each archetype in Vintage.

Closing Thoughts...

Recently I've been torn as to what deck to play. Part of me wants to play with Monastery Mentor, part of me wants to play Shops, Delver, or even Grixis Vault. I'm not sure if I want to play a fundamentally fair deck or if I want to play an unfair deck. I've tried brewing up lists that have a strong fair game, but that also contain Tinker/Blightsteel Colossus and Voltaic Key/Time Vault in the deck. 

Every deck has its positive points as well as negative ones. As Kevin Cron said when I interviewed him, any deck in the format has hands that can win the game. If that's true (and it most assuredly is) then why do I want to keep changing decks?

I believe that shortsightedness and results-based thinking are the culprits. I'll elaborate using a real example. I played Delver in exactly one Daily Event and went 2-2. I lost to Shops twice, in rounds one and four, and I never played Delver much at all after that event. I looked upon those results as purely negative. My result for the tournament was that I didn't win anything, and that's all that I considered for a long time. Delver is a great deck, and viewing my result as a pure negative is not only wrong, it's counter-productive to my growth as a player.

I've discussed the fact that many players will focus too much on their wins and ignore any misplays they may have made. The way that I've been treating my results has been the opposite, but it's had just as much of a detrimental effect. Instead of trying Delver again and learning the deck better, I just chose to shelve it and move on. I thought about my losses to Mishra's Workshop, and in my mind playing Delver equated to an immediate auto-lose to Shops.

Now that I've played both sides of the Delver/Shops match-up I know that it's more than possible for Delver to come out on top. When I re-imagine the games I've participated in that were won by U/R Delver I now see a path to victory. Prior to all of this, I wasn't able to distinguish a properly keep-able hand from a hand that only looks good . 

I'm still going to Tinker around with the decks I've built myself, but I'll also be honing my skills playing a powerful and established contender like Delver or Shops. I'll keep in mind that this is Vintage, and losing the occasional match to a top-decked Time Vault is just a small part of the format. After all, I've had quite a few instances in which I drew exceedingly well, and stole a victory because of it. 

That's all the time I have for this week. Until we meet again, keep calm and cast Brainstorm!

Questions of the Week!

1. If You could take any one card off of the Restricted List, what would it be?

2. Which deck would you rather read about, Steel City Vault, Control Slaver, or Bomberman?

Click the picture below and tweet me your answers!

2 Comments

Landstill and Dig Through Time by fow3 at Fri, 06/05/2015 - 16:14
fow3's picture
5

Hey Joe, as usual, awesome article and thanks for commenting on my TMD post!! I think one part of the article here brings up an interesting point in that the Landstill deck doesn't have Dig Through Time right now. I'm not saying that it should, though I think if it got restricted, the Landstill deck probably would (and probably should) run the one-of. Similarly like how, to my knowledge, Landstill didn't run Treasure Cruise until it was restricted. I think this is because (other than the fact the Landstill doesn't cast nearly as many spells as Delver/Mentor decks) Landstill and decks that can't really support four delve spells when there already are decks that utilize them to their maximum ability. There wasn't any fundamental change to the Landstill deck when Treasure Cruise was restricted, it could always run at least one, but I think it only started to when playing the card would be at a more even field with the decks that can best take advantage of them; it would not be worth the cutting of business spells. I thin that if Dig gets restricted, you will see more decks running it (as the one-of) for this reason. I think that would make the metagame more interesting, it would probably boost more decks, which could lead to diversity since more decks would be more competitive. For example, running Dark Confidant these days isn't really a successful strategy that much because it can't really remain consistent with the best draw engine right now, i.e. what Delver/Mentor decks have right now, due to the fact that it is only incremental card advantage AND it is very anti-synergistic with the delve spells. If Dig gets restricted, decks with Bob could run Dig as a singleton, (along with Cruise) not stress during Bob triggers, and become more powerful due to Bob not having as much competition for speed. I mean even just looking at the metagmae percentages you wrote in the article shows how imbalanced in many ways the current metagame is right now, and think if something like Grixis (which sometimes runs Bobs, but you can substitute that with BUGx Fish) got a boost...

P.S. I definitely went off there too long, so basically TL;DR: Thank you Joe! :)

No, thank YOU! For reading, by Joe Fiorini at Fri, 06/05/2015 - 16:20
Joe Fiorini's picture

No, thank YOU! For reading, and for posting links to my articles on reddit. I really appreciate it.

Bob is held back by Dig and Cruise. Plus, some decks run TinkerBot which also doesn't want to lose 12 life flipping a card they absolutely don't want in their hand.

No matter how many Tops, Preordains, Ponders, Brainstorms, and Jace's people play, there is always the chance that greatness will come at too steep of a cost.

I should mention here that my "win condition" while playing against Mark was letting him die to hit Dark Confidant. I had the bolt several times. I only would kill the Bob when he was at a high life total. One game in particular, I watched him flip a Force of Will to Dark Confidant, and that put him low enough that I decided to not bolt the Bob until I had to.

Thanks again for reading!