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By: AnimalWedding, Jan (bipedaltiger)
Jul 20 2010 1:40am
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Ok so FoW doesn’t actually suck. In fact, it’s probably one of the best cards in the game for obvious reasons.  And yet, on the other hand it really does suck. I used to run one copy of Force of Will in my Prismatic Singleton deck, and 2 copies in my “mono-blue” Prismatic Deck (a deck list for another day perhaps), and I never once considered it more essential than Pact of Negation or even good old Counterspell.

For seasoned players, the drawbacks of this card should be well-known. Firstly, it requires you to run a large percentage of blue cards. Now, this is easy for most decks that want free counters, but consider an old Extended deck like TEPS ((Mind’s Desire) combo for the young’uns). The only blue cards in that deck were the Mind’s Desires themselves. Now, obviously FoW wasn’t in Extended when that deck was big, but even it were, you’d never run it over (Orim’s Chant), Duress, or Pact of Negation as anti-disruption. Similarly, in a big deck like mine, I might not be holding any blue cards at all, or even if I am, I might not want to give them up.

Secondly, Force of Will is card disadvantage. This I cannot stress enough. FoW might win games, but it definitely loses cards, and when you’re running more than one color, much of the time the cards you pitch could’ve been useful. It hurts even more when you’re forced to mulligan hands.

Playing For Fun

So why harp on FoW in the first place? Well, one contributing factor is that I absolutely hate seeing this card being played in casual. Now, I’m not going to wax philosophic on the definition of casual, or the merits of Machiavellian governance, or even the tomato-tomahto debate, but really, there’s no reason to be playing tourney-level decks in that room unless you’re desperate for a win. The arguments “people can play what they want” or “people should play to win” are, in my view, lazy approaches that completely ignore the implications of running top tier decks in online unrated games (see: the downfall of the Multiplayer Room).

Ranting aside, it’s somewhat humorous when some of these decks that normally do well against other top decks are brought against something completely out of left field like a 500-card deck. The main reason I bring up Force of Will is because it represents everything that is weak against a good big deck: card disadvantage for overpowered effects that lose power in the long game. I wasn’t lying when I said I’ve won games against Landstill, Threshold, Faeries, and Merfolk. Now, this doesn’t mean that I want to be facing these guys all the time, because I’ll probably lose the vast majority of those games, but there’s nothing more humiliating for them than folding to someone rocking more cards than 7 of their decks combined.

Today’s focus will be on playing against the sharks in the casual room, and why keeping a cool head is far more rewarding than just giving up. Now, I’ve modified the deck since I publicized it last with additional tutors, stronger removal, and some newer cards, giving the deck even more synergy than ever. Most of these changes were made to deal with the increasing number of cutthroat-style decks I’ve been facing. I’ll share some of the less obvious choices.

Glacial Chasm

Glacial Chasm

One of the key players in Legacy’s somewhat popular Land.dec, Glacial Chasm loses a lot of its strength in decks that can’t play more than 1 land a turn. Even so, this card has already saved me from countless near-death situations where I turned Expedition Maps and Sylvan Scryings into Time Stretches. With Life from the Loam, this baby just gets even better, but don’t forget that you need to feed it lands.

Muddle the Mixture

Muddle the Mixture

Obviously strong for its Transmute ability, Muddle is, in my opinion, the most versatile of its cycle. On top of getting some all-star cards like Burning Wish, Starstorm, Crime/Punishment, and Life from the Loam, the hardcast is also incredibly useful, unlike its peers. Perplex and Clutch of the Undercity are also great picks that I include in my deck.

Windfall

Windfall

Now, this choice might seem odd since this deck is built around gaining card advantage and having more cards in hand than your opponent. Well, I’m here to tell you that you won’t always get playable draws. Sometimes the shuffler will put you in topdeck mode, in which case Windfall becomes your best friend. What’s great about this card is that it can disrupt your opponent if he or she had a strong game plan ready. I’ve also recurred it to deck opponents that can’t take full advantage of having 10-15 new cards in hand every turn.

Big Bertha vs. UBG Jace Control

Turns 1 through 3 are just unpleasant for me. I keep a 2-land hand, get one of them Wastelanded, and my Looter Il-kor removed with Innocent Blood.

I can’t top a land until turn 4, and thankfully it’s an Overgrown Tomb, which lets me “accelerate.” Meanwhile, my hand is next to worthless, and I start getting beat up by Mishra’s Factories. I keep in the back of my mind that Reap and Sow needs to resolve to kill his Factories, so I’ll have to bait out the counters (and even an idiot can tell this guy has counters with the cards he’s shown).

I test the waters with a Tutored Pithing Needle and it resolves. My mind is blown. A few turns later, I realize why.

Yep, it’s Pernicious Deed. I cast Gifts Ungiven for some potential answers and again to my surprise, it resolves. At this point, I’m starting to doubt the quality of this guy's childhood upbringing, but he seems confident that there’s no way my behemoth deck can cough up enough firepower to blow past his impermeable defenses. I grab, among other things, a Wasteland to use with my Life from the Loam. In hindsight, I probably should’ve grabbed more lands, but at the time, I was almost certain that the Mishra’s Factories were the only pertinent threats in that deck (I predicted some Goyfs, but those can be removed at sorcery speed).

We trade turns, and thankfully he doesn’t blow his Deed until much later. Here’s one of the strengths of the big deck. I can play the Draw-Go game all day long because I have more threats and card advantage sources than this guy’s 1-for-1 cards can answer. His Force of Wills aren’t helping his situation any either as those trades are actually 2-for-1’s in my favor, and as long as he isn’t dropping any real threats on the table, I’m just dandy (Jace is a pretty big threat, but a slow one that gives me plenty of time to draw into answers).

He stocks up on some cards, counters some spells, and I finally get Reap and Sow through to clear out the last Mishra’s Factory. I get a Nantuko Monastery to deal with the growing Jace.

My manlands are no-good, as they just get exiled, so I need to resolve a Gifts Ungiven for some answers. I get a Kederekt Leviathan (which is uncounterable with Unearth), an instant speed bounce spell, and some recursion. Thankfully, he’s running low on counters, and a Bojuka Bog (tutored with Realms Uncharted) nullifies his Crucible of Worlds. I also grabbed an Academy Ruins to get back my Pithing Needle if I needed it for Jace. I get an Orim’s Chant with Mystical Teachings so that he can’t Stifle my Leviathan Unearth, and everything is bounced back to his hand.

Later, I finally draw some of my own counters, resolve a Nostalgic Dreams for 8 of my best cards (with counter support), and he concedes.

I left out a lot of the details that pushed the game in my favor, but they mostly consisted of using instant speed cards to bait counters for sorcery speed answers, and using a lot of recursion. Again, my opponent could’ve played better, and even though he started strong out of the gate, I knew I would have the long game thanks to my deck’s insane card advantage guidelines.

Big Bertha vs. UG Gro Control

The basic premise of my opponent’s deck, a once popular archetype called “Gro,” is simple. Get out a mana efficient creature like Quirion Dryad, Tarmogoyf, or Lorescale Coatl, and watch it grow as you counter any unwanted spells. This particular build looks to be an Extended version that got bumped to Classic/Legacy thanks to the awesome rotation.

He gets a playable start. My hand is playable too, but the most important card here is actually the Treetop Village. The manland forces my opponent to actually cast spells if he wants his Quirion Dryad to push through, which means tapping out. In this case, he needs to cast 3 spells just to pump his Dryad (still a 1/1 at this point) up enough to kill the Village, which isn’t going to happen if he’s holding counters.

He swings, to my surprise, so I’m curious. Does he actually have 3 spells or does he have some kind of bounce? Either way, he needs to tap out, which would let me free cast the next turn, so I activate my Village. He tries to Cryptic Command it back to my hand, but I Remand it, and the Dryad is gone. While he’s tapped out, I take the opportunity to reduce his hand size with Probe, while doing a little card draw of my own. At this point, I basically have the game in the bag, as I pretty much know all of my opponent’s tricks, and his most pressing threat is already gone.

All I need to do now is draw his counters with discard like Esper Charm so that my removal can push through.

The board is a stalemate for a few turns and my hand has plenty of answers. Trinket Mage gets (Executioner’s Capsule) which takes out his Lorescale Coatl, and a few turns later it’s over.

“You’re Just Getting Lucky”

I get this a lot, a lot more than I get “Hey, nice deck” or “Got me that time Skippy!” The truth is, yeah sometimes I get incredibly lucky and topdeck exactly what I need on the precipice of death, but it’s not just about topdecking. The deck has gone through many edits and tweaks to make sure that not only the landbase is consistent with the color percentage of the deck, and there are enough early game plays without sacrificing the endgame. Despite the seemingly random selection of cards, there is an incredible amount of synergy and card compatibility that makes the deck much more focused than it would appear at first.

It might sound obvious, but building big decks doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice theme. If you like loading your deck with Spellbombs, which are great as cyclers even if you don’t need the primary abilities, and other trinkets, Salvaging Station is a wonderful addition. To protect your Station, you might want to add an Academy Ruins, which works well with Oblivion Stone too, which is fetchable with Perplex, which might also grab a Fierce Empath, who nabs a Myojin of Seeing Winds, who is great with Reliquary Tower, which is fetchable with Sylvan Scrying, which can also get Bojuka Bog, which has great synergy with Ill-Gotten Gains, and it goes on. Once you start building with these connections in mind, you just keep going until it starts affecting your day-to-day life detrimentally.

Going off this, make sure that in the unlikely situation you are put into topdeck mode, most of the cards in your deck can save you in one way or another. I run 4 Expedition Maps and 4 Sylvan Scryings which help me hit my land drops consistently, but they’re also great late game topdecks. If I’m facing an unbeatable army, I might grab Glacial Chasm to buy me a few turns. If I need draw, I’ll fetch a Tranquil Thicket to cycle. If I just need a blocker, I’ll get a Nantuko Monastery. Try to stock your deck with cards that serve multiple purposes so that you’re not stuck drawing empty in the late game. Usually this means adding a lot of flexible tutors, but not so many that your games end up being the same every time.

I win about 85% of the games I play with this deck, and the remaining 15% are usually situations where I’m mana screwed or facing a deck that can either win or lock me out within the first couple turns. And that is perfectly fine with me. I know my weaknesses, and if I wanted to win all the time, I wouldn’t be playing with such a ridiculous deck. One thing I'm not fine with is disregarding every win as "pure luck" because if so, I might be the luckiest man on MTGO. So don't be afraid to ramp up the card count past the double digits for casual games. I know that everyone that I've convinced to play bigger decks has loved every minute of it.

Some General Tips to Increase Your "Luck"

I run an insane amount of card draw. Counsel of the Soratami, Kiss of the Amesha, Allied Strategies, Brainstorm, Sift, Fact or Fiction; you name it, I probably have it in here. What this means is I often draw into more draw, which is great. On average, I go through about 50-70 cards per game, way more than a typical 60 card deck. That's about 1/7th of the whole thing. Chances are, if you see 1/7th of a 500-card deck, you've probably won the game already and are just going through the motions.

Tutors, tutors, tutors. I can't stress this point enough. In Prismatic you had the transmutes, and those were already too powerful for the format. In Classic you have everything. If you draw a blank check like Demonic Tutor, there's no stopping you; you have 500 cards at your disposal. I have a ton of singleton instants for every possible situation to fetch with Mystical Teachings (and trust me, I've tutored for every single one of them at some point in time). Try to be as flexible as possible when making your deck to strengthen your tutoring power.

Recursion. Cards like Eternal Witness and Recollect are basically your 5th to Xth copies of whatever your favorite spell is, as long as you've already drawn that spell. People usually don't expect a you to hit them a 2nd time with the same spell in such a large deck, so you can capitalize on this!

Enjoy your big decks, and I'll see you next time.

13 Comments

Fun Article by Theobill at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 03:33
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4

The article was a good read and the deck looked like fun to play. But it's extremely easy to beat legacy control decks with decks like these, or any deck that has a large threat content and has a lot of card advantage. Because legacy control decks are so skewed in order to contain the powerful combos, they have to run cheap 1 for 1 trades that rely on messing up their opponents tempo or find areas of weakness to pick up a 2 for 1. This means that a deck full of natural 2 for 1 cards will easily overpower a control deck, which can't counter every card.

Still, the article was enjoyable and the deck seemed interesting. Out of interest, why would you suggest big decks over 100c singleton, which is 1/4 of the price and doesn't give you any lag problems?

hated it. by whiffy at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 04:57
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why? no list? no explanation of the deck? 2 game recaps on a 500 piece pile? sorry but there is no reason for this other then " hey i want to write an article because i beat a highly tuned legacy deck that is good in specific metagames. how many times did you win? how many times did u play agaionst deed still? gro? seriously, thats a cool deck and all, but why did you write this? i feel like you just wasted 5 mins of my life, and thats incredibly hard as im a magic playeing internet addicted insomniack.
jeez

You are making me glad you by Paul Leicht at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 06:39
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You are making me glad you didn't comment on my article lol. Harsh much?

paul, while im not super by whiffy at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 12:22
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paul, while im not super excited to read your stuff, you do put a good effort into your articles and i respect the effort much more then the content on most peoples articles. the content would have to be simply amazing for something with so little effort to make me excited. this article actually made me want to commit seppuku.

"paul, while im not super by Paul Leicht at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 19:17
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"paul, while im not super excited to read your stuff, you do put a good effort into your articles and i respect the effort much more then the content on most peoples articles."

I may have to frame this quote :D

I agree with Whiffy the whole by menace13 at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 08:04
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I agree with Whiffy the whole thing was "hey look i beat 1 and a 1/2 good decks". List please, interactions, maybe some commentary on card choices. Instead we get" FoW sucks in cascas, peaceout"!

I must admit I felt the same by Flippers_Giraffe at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 09:31
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I must admit I felt the same as Whiffy and menace13 after reading the article. At the end I was left with the feeling that I read a game report with out even knowing what the deck contained. I had more of a knowledge of the decks that you were facing rather than the deck the article was based on.

I went with the assumption by ShardFenix at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 12:06
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I went with the assumption that it was the same deck as his last article though if so even a link to that article would have been highly beneficial

It's a 500 card deck! It by dunkle_stille at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 12:49
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It's a 500 card deck! It plays any good card that ever got printed!!!1

Everyone is being a bit harsh by Cownose at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 14:01
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Everyone is being a bit harsh on this writer, but they have a valid point. honestly, Legacy decklists are so tuned to the meta that pretty much any random pile can beat them. You also seem to not understand the value of tempo. FoW is not an awesome card simply because it counters a spell, its an awesome card because it counters a spell without forcing you to use your mana to do so. It uses a different resource instead (life and cards in hand). So, on turn 2 I can cast Tarmogoyf AND counter your STP, rather than wait till turn 4 to be able to do that with counterspell (the diff between turn 2 and turn 4 here being about 8 damage). Also in the early game a well timed FoW time walk's your opponent's development, allowing you to gain tempo, which in legacy is generally much more important than traditional card advantage.

On the other hand, the ass-hat(s) playing DeedStill in the casual room deserve to be owned by a random pile and I thoroughly endorse you calling them out on their asshattery here. Also, I notice you cut off their names in their title, but not in their RFG piles, so we know who they are anyway =).

Agree on the harshness (which by Nik83 at Wed, 07/21/2010 - 13:40
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Agree on the harshness (which I think would have been offset if we got the original decklist again, or an extra report, but that has been said already as well). I think the point of the author wasn't that FoW sucks outright, but that the tempo swing of 2-for-1 is often a little too steep for the casual room - especially if it is part of a larger tourney build, where early tempo gains are stressed much more but sometimes lead to a hand burn-out in casual.

That being said, I definitely don't think "any random pile" can beat a lot of these tourney decks that come into the casual room. That's the whole issue people have with them "not being casual" - if it was such a walk in the park, people would laugh at them for not being casual, then proceed to utterly destroy them and send them back to the Tourney Practice room.

As it stands, sheer card quality in many of these decks is enough to see victory. Also, the most frequent tourney classic decks I see in casual are those that have a really fast clock but are especially susceptible to sideboard hate - dredge, charbelcher, ANT, leyline/helm. If these people opened Best 2/3 Matches it wouldn't be so bad - but they do a single-game hit-and-run without allowing any opportunity for reprisal - fostering easy wins. Even outside of these especially-vulnerable-to-SB decks, most tourney decks are extremely powerful without planned silver bullets in the deck. The fact that the author can reliably out-fight them without sinking to their level is worthy of note - but I would have liked to see more battles to really press the point home.

I encourage everyone who thinks it's easy to beat tournament decks in the casual room to really remember that statement the next time you're across from a tourney build. And to not concede, or complain, and see if you come out on top. I'm guessing it'll elicit the response "well of course my (random pile of cards) couldn't stand up to your $$$," even if you don't say it out loud.

Because ultimately, that response....is valid.

Eh, I'm slooooowly breaking by Westane at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 14:35
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Eh, I'm slooooowly breaking into Legacy, currently getting the cards for the deck Whiffy wrote about the other week (Thanks Whiffy! Loved that article!!!!) so I still haven't done a whole lot of Legacy in the Casual Room playing. Are there really more "sharks" in Legacy casual then say, Standard?

Also, I don't really consider the Gro deck to be "competitive" anyway, and is something I'd expect to see in casual. Casual != Budget, so I think it's more than acceptable to have Psychatog decks packed with FoW's and what have you in the Casual room.

Just my very incoherent 2c

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