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By: enkogneto, Ricky Baird
Aug 06 2009 10:05am
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Who wants to spend the next hour of their life watching your opponent drop island after island, drawing card after card, and just sitting there with their rotten little Spire Golem waiting to counter your cards? Waiting, waiting, waiting.... Boy! Are we having fun yet or what! I'll personally take the what. In fact, on a more personal note, I'd rather take a real-life butt kicking than have to sit through an hour of MUC. But unfortunately for us, some guy has brought Ol' Blue to the table and now we have to deal with it. So how are we gonna do that?

Exclude Spire Golem Counterspell Island

First off, in order to beat mono-blue control, you have to understand it. And I don't mean just know the decklist.... I mean really understand it. As much as it pains me to say this, I actually suggest that to truly understand the way a deck ticks, you have to play it. So if you haven't played it already, check out the decklist I have posted, go out there and get you a heap of annoying blue magic, and start slangin'.


4 Spire Golem
2 Fathom Seer
4 Counterspell
4 Exclude
4 Force Spike
4 Prohibit
4 Think Twice
3 Faerie Trickery
3 Piracy Charm
2 Repulse
1 Echoing Truth
1 Oona's Grace
12 Island
12 Snow-Covered Island

I'm not going to get crazy about explaining how to properly play this deck because that's not what this article is about, but I will hit a couple points of strategy. Against your average opponent, this deck is no harder to play than burn. Just keep playing islands, counter the big threats before they can get onto the board, drop your golem when you can cast it for free or have enough counter back-up, and try to avoid tapping out completely... EVER. Now don't get me wrong, in the hands of a skilled player this deck is menacing and requires a much higher level of play. And against a skilled opponent, the pilot has to be on their toes and play smart. But most players just aren't that experienced. So go out and play this deck however you like. Whether you win or not isn't important. You're simply trying to get a better understanding for the deck.

So hopefully to this point you've either taken my advice and acquired some hands on experience with the Blue Blaster or you already have some. So how does a typical mono-blue matchup go? You play a spell, your opponent counters it. You don't play a spell, your opponent draws a card. This continues until your opponent reaches their affinity mark on their Spire Golem, then they have enough mana to counter, draw cards, and pretty much do whatever they want. If you managed to get a creature through in the first few turns, that can't be handled with a Piracy Charm, their golem will just play defense until his brother arrives to peck at your life total for 2 points a turn. So where are Big Blue's weaknesses?

Wild Nacatl Qasali Pridemage River Boa Werebear

The Early Game

The early game can be the defining point of whether you win or lose against MUC. A second turn Qasali Pridemage on the play can easily spell game over for a mono-blue mage. Not only is it actively swinging for 3 on turn three, it can pump your one-drop, and is probably the best solution available for Spire Golem in it's colors. If you are on the play, and have the mana, you can drop it without having to worry about a Counterspell unless your opponent has a Daze or Force Spike, which is a gamble worth taking. Once on the board, it's ability provides an uncounterable Disenchant and it can't be picked off with a Piracy CharmRiver Boa is excellent as well with it's unblockable 2 a turn but can easily be handled with a well placed Piracy Charm, so you need to protect it at all costs. Werebear is easy to get out early and is a major threat in the long-game. You will always meet your threshold due to their enormous amount of counters and it can walk through a Spire Golem. Really, if you can get any pressure at all on your opponent in the early game then you are in good shape. I'd even take a Grizzly Bears. It may not win you the game but it can often times lead your opponent to make game-losing mistakes.

This doesn't mean to just dump all your creatures though, that is the last thing you want to do against MUC. If you have the play, you have a decent chance at the early game. If not, you're probably screwed with getting a creature on the board for the first six turns or so. It all depends on your opponents mana. If they ever tap out, which most smart blue players never do, punish them for it. If you have burn in your hand and they tap out at the end of your turn to flash Think Twice hit them in the face with it and laugh. You have to seize every little opportunity you get against MUC even if it means breaking the traditional rules of when to cast stuff. Taking them down to seventeen on turn three may seem insignificant then but it isn't when it'll be impossible for you to cast it on turn ten. It's all about getting your spells through, not when you get them through. Always keep in mind that MUC is a very slow deck. Time is on your side.

 Grizzly Bears Force Spike Lightning Bolt Think Twice

 Don't Play Into Their Game

The ideal match for a mono-blue player would be for them to go first and for their opponent to play a single spell every turn for them to counter until they get their dirty golem on the board. So why play to their advantage? Playing against mono-blue means that they are not afraid of you hitting the perfect mana-curve. Go ahead... second turn two-drop, counterspell. Third turn tree-drop, counterspell. Forth turn four-drop.... and so on and so forth. It works well for them and it's part of the reason MUC decks are so powerful. They actually want you to hit a nice mana-curve.

Now most of the time, having three Wild Nacatls and all three land in your hand to get them to full power wouldn't be as impressive as say a Wild Nacatl, a Silhana Ledgewalker, and an Armadillo Cloak. In fact, I might even consider taking a mulligan with the first. Not with MUC though. I would possibly even call this a nut hand against MUC pre-board. Odds are, not all three of them are going to make it. But the point is to stockpile your hand until you can push through a reliable creature. Or in this rare case, your opening hand is already stocked for you.

If you can't get out a decent creature early though, and in most cases you won't, you need to load up your hand and wait for your shot. Even if their golem and Fathom Seer and nipping at you, be patient. Count their lands, count their cards in hand, and assume every single one of them is the exact counterspell (or other threat) that they need against you. Don't gamble. Good magic players don't do that. If you want to gamble, go play slot machines and you'll actually have a chance at winning some real money. The only cases you want to gamble on are the ones that will basically seal the game for you and when the odds are heavily in your favor (like that Qasali Pridemage scenario).

If they have enough mana open for two counters, and you have three creatures in hand that you can cast, this is your turn to go off. In most cases, you'll want to assume your first two dudes are going to get countered so save the best for last. In the event they let one of your lesser creatures through, still assume they have the counter and are waiting for something better. Especially if it's a one-toughness creatures because they are probably going to ice it with a Piracy Charm at the end of your turn anyway. So keep hanging onto that last card and re-stock yourself before you give it another shot. Patience grasshoppa.

Pyroblast Divine Offering Resounding Thunder Gigadrowse


Post-board gets much better in the mono-blue matchup.... if you have the right side and know how to utilize it. Pyroblast is an obvious staple for any red deck and is self-explantory for the most part, but I will mention a couple things. First of all, it's best to assume you're only going to get one (if you get any at all) and you should treat it as such. Only use it for an emergency. Use it to push something through the barrage of counters that will significantly change the game, like a Rhox Brute, or to protect your River Boa from their Piracy Charm. Don't do something stupid like counter a Think Twice. Only use it for game-changing events.

On a side-note, MUC is one of the most powerful decks in the format due to it's lack of hate cards. Most of your serious anti-blue cards are either uncommon or even rare, so that means we have to get creative. One thing I've discovered about Ol' Blue is that if you stop their Spire Golem, you can often times win the game. The golem is a huge part of their defense and one of their only win conditions. If you stop the golem, your odds increase dramatically. This raises the value of cards like Divine Offering, Disenchant, Dispeller's Capsule and Naturalize. Three of them are instants which give you the option of taking out their no good golem when they tap out to re-think things. The Dispeller's Capsule is great because it lets you get it on the board turn one. Three of these cards also deal with enchantments which is just gravy against the Cloak matchup.

Most of the "Resounding series" of cards are good because their cycling ability can't be countered. The thunder lets you kill that stinkin golem or deal those last few points of needed damage. The silence removes that goofy golem as well... or even better, two goofy golems. The scream nukes two of their counters. The roar and wave I wouldn't recommend. There is better side available and they don't do much. Bouncing one of their golems is completely useless and pumping a creature that you can't get on the board anyway isn't that great either. The others are bombs though if you can cast them.

Gigadrowse is good mainly because there is a lack of blue-on-blue crime in the Pauper world. Just through a loaded Gigadrowse at them at the end of their turn and you'll have a turn that will be worry-free of that pesky counter-magic. The best they can do is counter some of the replicated spells but that would be foolish on their part and would probably never happen unless they didn't understand the rules. So the Giga buys you a turn. The only other blue option I'm aware of is to simply side in counters for their counters so you can push your serious spells through. Negate is great, Force Spike is decent, and Mana Tithe isn't bad in case you aren't running blue.

If you can destroy their golem and just wait it out, they will deck themselves due to all their card drawing. I know, I know, it's not very fun, but it's a way to win. You have to watch out for their little Fathom Seer as well. But usually, a blue player will let their seer die if you hit it with removal. They just want the little bit of defense it provides and the extra cards anyway so it's usually not a threat.


I Will Always Hate MUC

MUC is like the MMA fighter or boxer you see that "picks points" instead of going for the knock out. MUC is a strict tactician that has a solid game plan and tends to execute it very well. It also tends to have a solution for most anything that any deck can through at it, especially since Counterspell itself can handle almost anything. It is an excellent deck, arguably the best in the format, but I am a KO kind of guy and I like to see my opponents bleed.

I hope I gave you all something to think about the next time you are building a sideboard or are looking directly in the ugly face of one of those nasty golems. So remember, patience is key. I will continue doing "How to Beat" articles in the Pauper format so if you'd like to see a particular deck disected, send me an e-mail at: rickybaird118@yahoo.com

Thank you all for reading and kick Ol' Blue in the face for me next time you see him!



Interesting by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 13:11
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My biggest concern with this article is that it does nothing to address how the deck changes post M10 rules changes. I know you are talking about how to beat the deck, but using a less than ideal opponent is not the most useful thing to do. MUC will have to change its game plan somewhat in the current rules since it can no longer stack Fathom Seer damage, then unmorph it, and Repulse it for a trade. This interaction has been very important to MUC in the past and losing it will force the deck to move in a somewhat different direction.
The overload strategy is great if your are straight burn and can effectively cast spells at their end of turn step, but it is not as good if you are an "average" aggressive deck. You seem to give passing mention to baiting, which is incredibly important, learning when and why to bait, and also how to not get blown out by Exclude. You also neglect mentioning attacking MUC's sideboard plan, which often includes more specialized counters (Remove Soul/Essence Scatter, Negate, Hydroblast).
As some one who has played against this deck and has learned it by piloting it in testing, more often than not it is holding land. This does not mean to go throwing spells out there with abandon, but rather, as the author correctly recognizes, trying to stick one threat that will be difficult for them to solve.
Perhaps the thing that stands out most to me in this article is that you talk about fun. Since this is a Pauper article, I can only presume you are gearing this towards people in the queues and Weekly events who want to win. If this is the case, this notion of "fun" has to be changed. Is playing against counters fun,- probably not, but you're goal is not top have fun here, your goal is to win. I know this sounds soulless, but it is a tough realization to come to when you enter tournament formats.

Further reading on playing against MUC: http://puremtgo.com/node/610


Thank you by enkogneto at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 13:44
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Thanks for your comments Alex. They are much appreciated and I will take them all into consideration. Hopefully, I will be able to grow as a writer and my next article will be much improved. Also, I'd like to take this chance to apologize to you in the last way that I addressed you. That was very uncalled for and you are a big enough pillar in the Pauper community to be addressed with more respect than that. Thank you again for the constructive critisism and words of advice. And also, on a side note, I wrote this article a very long time ago. I had no clue what M10 consisted of at the time.


lol by al capwn (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 16:53
al capwn's picture

ive played at least 20 games w/ and against mono blue... no one ever does that fathom seer play. thats such a specific situation that i see no point for the writer of this article to address it. cmon alex i expect better from you, you're the pauper originator on here!

Repusling Fathom Seer by SpikeBoyM at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:05
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I'm not surprised if you haven't seen it in the past week, since we switched rules.
However, I have seen this play done quite a few times, so I'm genuinely surprised you haven't seen it.


Yep MUC is a very tough match by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 13:12
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Yep MUC is a very tough match up especially if they have access to enough draw to keep there hand full. Imo best counter is lots of discard thus the reason a lot of people people play MBC.

Wrong MBC gets owned by muc. by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 13:23
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Wrong MBC gets owned by muc. People play MBC bc it has good matchups against most critter decks.

Sources? by JXClaytor at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 13:27
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Do you have any that you would like to share with the rest of us?

I used to play muc a lot, the by Numdiar (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 14:10
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I used to play muc a lot, the mbc match up is very good. Main reason is that they have very few early drops so you can just sit back and counter everything they play and create card advantage while they rarely if ever land a relevant spell.

clarification by Numdiar (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 14:12
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Reread that and it sounded slightly unclear, I mean that muc wants to play against mbc, it's favorable for muc.

Yeah, mbc gets blown out by by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 14:37
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Yeah, mbc gets blown out by muc.

The slight against blue players at the beggining of the article...not true.
Sure, anyone can pick up muc and do alright, BUT it is a very unforgiving deck, and there are some fantastic muc players in pauper.

At this point, the article is somewhat redundant. 1st, its been discussed very thoroughly, including by spikeboy (I think) in a great article that can be found on PDCmagic.com, 2nd, and more importantly, noone really plays muc competitively right now; the formats too fast, it hasn't gained anything from new sets, and affinity, a bad match up, is everywhere. Lastly, you only talk about how aggressive decks can beat muc. Aggro and Aggro control shouldn have a problem with muc in the first place, and you say nothing about tactics control and combo should apply, such as train of thought.

Easily one of the least by AndreFM (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 14:54
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Easily one of the least interesting articles I've read in this site. No one's playing MUC at the moment. Also,w ay too specific to be interesting. You're talking about beating a single deck that is not even really around anymore, from just a single strategy's point of view. And who cares about your apparent pet peeve against MUC? Your arguments against the deck are ridiculous, it is a very difficult deck to pilot, requiring intensive skill and important decisions every turn in order to do well. In future if you write again, choose a more timely and widely relevant topic.

MUC by m8x115 at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:49
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I have to disagree with your point that nobody's playing MUC, maybe nobody's playing it in weekend challenges but I play in the 2 mans quite alot and have seen it there very often.

(My name is Max115 on MTGO in case I win the raffle)

free raffle by enkogneto at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 14:58
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Free Raffle. As thanks to all of you for reading and posting, I'm having a free raffle. A free Maelstrom Pulse goes to the winner. All you have to do is post a comment on my article. No limit on the amount entries per person. The more you post, the more your odds increase. Keep checking back to see who the winner is.

i'm in by speks at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:24
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does the comment have to related to the contents of your article?

so i think i also hate MUC, beat it down, yay!

No by enkogneto at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:36
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Not at all. You guys can tell me how bad I suck and how you'd rather rub racoon urine in your eyes than read another one of my crappy articles or you can just post up to enter. Enjoy guys, and thanks again.

When does the raffle end? by Godot at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:41
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When does the raffle end?

I would like to hear about by Basic Land at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:44
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I would like to hear about this with a more relevant post M2010 decklist if there is one. Free pulse sounds fun.

I will have to do an update by enkogneto at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:47
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I will have to do an update guys. I submitted this awhile back. Thanks for the imput though.

Tomorrow, 8/7/09 at 10 o' by enkogneto at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:46
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Tomorrow, 8/7/09 at 10 o' clock GMT. Either check back to see who the winner is. To make things easier, post your screen name now and I'll contact the winner online to give them their prize.

username by Numdiar (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:47
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my username is numdiar on mtgo

this is a dumb idea btw by Numdiar (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:47
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this is a dumb idea btw

but i'll still try by Numdiar (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 15:47
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but i'll still try

I never found muc to be an by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 16:07
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I never found muc to be an extremely tough deck, it has a lot of weaknesses. Full out aggro and discard and affinity can all take it out. Before ala block though, it was much stronger.

i have a feeling this might by speks at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 16:11
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i have a feeling this might become the most popular article on this site

I guess you really wanted to by Green Opal (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 16:12
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I guess you really wanted to get comments on your article, huh...? (My username is my name on here)
I quite liked the article, but then my exposure to serious pauper play is quite limited.

MUC like any deck can hit the by rickwins1971 (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:09
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MUC like any deck can hit the perfect hand and own the game from the beginning. Everyone please follow his advice and assume the MUC player has every card in hand that could stop you. I can't count how many times I have been playing MUC and watched people pass turns when I have 4 lands in hand and 6 untapped islands.

Could not agree more by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:35
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I can't count how many times people outplay themselves when playing all sorts of control.. Make the right play at the right time, if they have it, then let them spend it and re-assess.

I by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:39
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don't by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:39
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want by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:39
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to by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:40
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be by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:40
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That by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:40
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Guy by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:40
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but I by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:40
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but I

am willing by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:40
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am willing

to give by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:41
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to give

myself by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:41
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say... by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:41
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this many by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:41
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this many

entries. by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:41
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-malachiconstant on MTGO. by MConstant at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:41
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-malachiconstant on MTGO.

Decklists by WahoooJunkie (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:48
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Pretty good article, would've liked to have seen some decklists that have a good game against MUC AND the rest of the field. (MTGO name: WahooJunkie)

Despite the fact that MUC by Nick (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 22:44
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Despite the fact that MUC isn't as viable as in times past, I think some of the points are still interesting from the perspective of strategy. More useful would be some analysis of MBCu Control, since that seems to be the heir apparent in some respects to both MUC and MBC.

As for the Maelstrom Pulse thing, it seems like an interesting sociological experiment. Obviously everyone wants it, and rewarding shameless multi-posting makes in intriguing to see what limits different people have.

My MTGO username is Vissarion, by the way. ;)

Muc vs. UBcontrol, who's the stronger candidate against the meta by Fenris777 (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 22:54
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I could write an article based on this, but I digress. I consider these two decks to be the premier control decks in the field. Seems the UB build had been posting quite a few nice finishes in the offical tournament events, but not so much in the pdc magic forums. Anyone want to expand and expound on which they like better, why, and a follow up would be "why is it doing well in tournament queues but not player run events"? Lack of pilots seems to be the answer but WHY isn't anyone playing it? Seems strange to have two completely seperate metagames for the exact same format with open knowledge available of both. Let the debate begin!

'Yeah, mbc gets blown out by by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:06
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'Yeah, mbc gets blown out by muc" was me, jamzonfire, so rack up two for jamzonfire.

Fenris777, its "doing well" in quees because A. people with the courage to play it in the quees right now are probably very confidant, expreienced, and skilled. B. Quee results are vbased on anecdotal evidence...we can't really prove it's doing well in the quees atm. and C. quee metagames are very unpredictable, especially because pauper quees generally only fire as 2 mans.
Why aren't people playing it? because its a really, really, really bad choice right now. Affinity, putrid leach, and slivers are all big right now. It beats mbc/u and combo, but its bad matchups are so bad and so common that i would strongly advise against playing it atm.
Kepp writing, tho, ricky; as much as i disagree with you, everybody disagreed with that guy who talked about gush, but his video uploads and stick-to-it-attitude have really improved not only his quality, but raised the bar for puremtgo.

I've got a question for ya: If you can afford to give away pulses....why are you playing pauper? I mean I love pauper, but if I could afford to drop $1000 to jump into classic or extended...I probably wouldn't be playing it.

wth is a quee. i think you by username withheld until I win the raffle XD (not verified) at Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:51
username withheld until I win the raffle XD's picture

wth is a quee. i think you need to be more "confidant" in your spelling.

well first off ill agree with by Shardfenix (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:19
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well first off ill agree with one thing playing against MUC is a horribly unfun time but spike was right you are playing to win. Second i think the MUC is easier to win then you attest too, it just depends on whether or not you keep focused and patient and wait for the right time to land a threat and try to win. Second this whole post for a free card is cheap and fairly demeaning...get comments on the quality of your work not on free prizes.

It would be far too easy to by FierceTable (not verified) at Thu, 08/06/2009 - 23:34
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It would be far too easy to monoplize the entry chances for your free give away, but on the other hand I can't win if I don't enter.

I will say I enjoyed the article, and while I agree with some of the comments that have been made I hope you continue to pursue writing for this site as you certainly have potential.

My gamertag is FierceTable.

MUC SCHMUC by username withheld until I win the raffle XD (not verified) at Fri, 08/07/2009 - 00:49
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My brother has always been the blue mage among our family's Magic players. He loves it. He thrives in it. He smiles a sly smile when he's not tapped out and I'm about to cast my critters. So, yeah, I think I can relate to your hate of MUC. I've been experiencing it intermittently over a decade now. XD