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By: CalmLittleBuddy, Christopher M. Dansereau
Jul 22 2015 11:00am
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Welcome to the superol-secret revelation of the new series by CalmLittleBuddy. I've done a lot of thinking, a little writing and zero serious Magic the Gathering playing over the last month. It's tough when you finish one project and have to come up with something totally new.

A wise man once told me that if something isn't broken, don't break it. So, we're continuing on here in the merry land of Buddy the way we always do, making sandwiches, riding dolphins, harassing neighborhood acorns and writing about Magic Online in the most roundabout and obtuse fashion possible.

"But but but, Buddy.... what is this article series called?"

Not so fast, Whiner McNugget. We take things slow round these parts, savvy?

"Well, then at least tell us what the series is about!"

Alright. I suppose I could do that. Seeing as how this article will never get started if I don't write about what it's about... about.

CHASING MOCS

Cue Game Show theme music!!!!

That's right, we're doing some serious persistence hunting! Our prey? They allusive MOCS!

Mox Opal

Not that MOX! Do you even know what the Magic Online Championship Series is? It's, well... it's kind of like... when, uh...

Don't feel so bad if you don't know what MOCS is. I sure as shire don't. But I want it. I want it so bad it's filling my nostrils with want stink. I guess I'd better research this a bit. You can follow along in your workbook at home by looking at this page.

Magic Online Championships Series (hereinafter referred to as MOCS) is a cluster of events that determine the Online Champion Magic Player of the year. Not Player of the Year, that's different. Champion. I like the sound of that. ChampionLittleBuddy. It feels like I am warming in a MOCS incubator, ready to hatch a feathered conqueror, like those half-chicken half-dragon things!

Cockatrice

BAGOCK! buck-buck-buck-buck BAGOCK!

CHAMPION!

I think we skipped a step. How do we get there? Oh.

In MOCS, you play in a preliminary event. Then, if you win that event, you are invited to the season finals. If you win your season finals, you go to the big ol' hootenanny sometime at the end of the championship calendar. You face off against all the other season champions, plus the previous year's champion, the Player of the Year, and other last minute qualifiers.

Each season lasts about one month. You have approximately 30 days to build up enough Qualifying Points (QPs) to join one preliminary event (15 QPs) or enough points to skip the preliminary and head right for the Season Championship (35 QPs). Is that a lot of QPs? Yeah, unfortunately it is. 3 QPs is a big prize for one event as far as the qualifying goes. Most scheduled events, and a lot of queued events, give 3 QPs for wins, and maybe 1 QP for second place. Basically, you need to win 5 of these events to get into the prelims. You could also take 2nd place in a bunch of events (15 to be exact) to get in as well. Or a combination of the two. Want to skip to the finals? That's 12 wins or 35 second place finishes in the right events.

In 30 days, we'd need to win around 1.5 events per week. Or say win 1 event per week and second place 5 events over the course of the month. If we hold to a consistent pace, that's probably going to take 5 to 15 events played per week. Okay! So, let's say one each weeknight and two on Saturday.

That's  a lot of events.

Hmmmmm.

Maybe I'm not so much into  'chasing MOCS' so much as I am watching MOCS run by and daydreaming about catching it. My schedule does not allow for such allocations of time! Plus, if you look at the Calendar, the preliminaries and monthly championships are in specific formats! YIIIIKES!

Looks like I'd be gunning for September Standard, or whatever Sealed month I can qualify. I am NOT a cube player and would be heavily handicapped in that format. Most other limited I can handle.

Oh heck with this. It may take me longer than expected. I guess I should just do what I did last time and run a 6 month journal of my MOCS takedown. Maybe that's just best. It gives me time to get used to stockpiling points and grinding online. It gives me time to sell the old house and let my job calm down. That would free up the time to do this right. Perhaps. But that's good news for you! You get another 6 months of articles from me!

yay

Okay well, it's good news for me. Do what I do when my wife has some good news about nonsense that means nothing to me and make the 'pretend happy' face:

That's actually not the pretend happy face, but we'll circle back to it after you practice it for 24 weeks.

So, we have another lengthy journey together. Another glorious series of articles to take part in. But what would we call such a series?

Cracking the Code: Season Two!!!!

The Search for MOCS

Or something like that. What? Sequels frequently do better than the original. TV shows always get better every season. Heck, even WotC is into recycling old crap. Look at Return to Ravnica and the up and coming Battle for Zendikar. It's conclusively proven. Sequels are always better than originals. So, we're no longer chasing GP Providence, we are chasing MOCS. And chasing those helicopter leaves that fall in early Spring. Weeeeeeeeeeee..... weeeeeeeeeeee..... weeeeeeeeee.......! ...... ! ...... !!

This is a big task. As I usually do with big tasks, I have to break this down into steps. We'll start with Step 1 this week.

Step 1 - Transition out of Standard. Step away from the rotating knives that is or was Type 2 (see I can be avant-garde too, ya digital hipsters). Not permanently, as some of the MOCS prelims and championships are Standard format, but at least divest myself of stuff that's rotating out and has no place in any other format. Meow.

I already did that.

Before I did that, I took a last long walk with Abzan. Unfortunately, with Standard being dead until Origins fires, I couldn't get an 8 man to fire. So, back to the practice rooms. Take a look:

There are actually a few instructive moments in these videos and I don't face a single Tier 1 deck, so there's that. Unfortunately, I don't make many of my usual hilarious gaffes. But you can enjoy this anyways right? Right? hello? 

Side Note Theatre:

Will Abzan survive rotation? Probably. I looked at what was leaving, and what was coming in. Abzan Control will do well as long as Siege Rhino and a few sweepers are out there. The biggest owchie for the deck is going to be the loss of Hero's Downfall and Thoughtseize. If there is no other equitable way of removing a Planeswalker, mom says we're in trouble. I'm not cool with paying 4 mana to remove Sarkhan, the Happy Clown from play. They'd better print something. In the meantime, this will be the Summer of Abzan. Languish will make sure of that.

Right after these videos I sold a bunch of my stuff, mostly Pre-Khans stuff I won't be needing anymore. Wanna see what I built with the proceeds?

4 Color CC Kiki
Why not do everything?
 


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Sideboard
Stuff we do when we're doing stuff
 


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I totally stole this from Sam Pardee who totally stole it from the TOP 8 of GP Singapore. It's a Collected Company deck with the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo built in, plus Blue for funsies.

What's this do?

PLAN A:

Fauna Shaman

This guy discards creatures in hand to find creatures we need. Namely,

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror BreakerRestoration AngelDeceiver Exarch

It works similar to the old Kiki Pod Lists, but takes a bit more work to assemble the team. You only need the Kiki and one of the other two to make this work. Deceiver Exarch untaps the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker when it comes into play, and Kiki-Jiki copies the Exarch, which untaps the Kiki etc etc. Restoration Angel blinks the Kiki-Jiki, which actually puts it back into play untaped (and it has haste, boys and girls), so it can tap again and copy the Resto Angel, which blinks the Kiki-Jiki etc etc.

Basically, you have a creature to copy which resets Kiki-Jiki, which again copies the creature. You keep doing this process until you have enough creatures to kill THIS TURN, allowing for contingencies etc. Important parts of Kiki-Jiki's text to keep in mind:

  • All copies it creates have haste, and so can attack that turn, but must be created before combat. Why?
  • Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step.

Ahhhh. The copies are tokens, and they go bye bye at the beginning of the next end step, which means you have that turn to get 'er done.

Of course, having a Fauna Shaman in play and a creature card in hand means you can go grab a missing piece for 1 Green mana. Usually, you want to put Restoration Angel in play at the end of your opponent's turn (it has Flash, which means you can play it at instant speed). That way you can play Kiki-Jiki on your next main phase and go to church. It doesn't matter how the pieces get into your hand. You can even Chord for a piece if you need one.

This strategy would be a bit weak if it weren't for the fact that you can also fetch up a bunch of silver bullets as well. You also have PLAN B:

Chord of Calling

Which work as another value train for you. Chord has convoke, and so it often costs a lot less than expected, sometimes even less that the actual cost of the creature. CC puts extra creatures in play and occasionally just wins the game by giving you the Deceiver Exarch on your opponents end step, allowing you to go get the Kiki and then make with the Jiki. Chord also searches up silver bullet creatures and puts them in play at instant speed.

Before we get to the specific Blue Meanies in this deck, let's look at PLAN C:

Eternal WitnessGavony Township

I'd like to thank Den Protector for giving me more than enough practice with returning stuff from graveyards (and the perils with which it is fraught) to manage The Witness Protection Program. Often. it' good enough to keep rebuying the Witness with another Witness the same way the Den Father does. Too much value to pass up on. Witness also grabs discarded creatures, and fetch lands if you're in need of mana.

With 3 Eternal Witnesses in the main deck, you're now that value deck what buys its own threats back from said graveyard, and/or pumps cheap bitties like Birds of Paradise into blood crazed salmon with Gavony Township. I like PLAN C the best because once they see the combo and the Chord, they usually leave themselves open to Township antics.

We also have a vast array of match up specific weapons.

Fulminator Mage

Bye TRON! Bye Amulet Bloom! Bye Felicia! With 4 in the sideboard, it's pretty certain you're going to draw them in a few games versus the land heavy decks. Plus Kiki-Jiki can make copies of one you have on the board! Infinite land destruction if they can't kill them. You can also get them back with Eternal Witness. Against the land based decks, I will typically mull to 5 in search of a way to get an early Fulminator in play. Fauna Shaman usually does the trick nicely.

Izzet Staticaster

Holy Moley is this card good in Modern! At instant speed, it taps and deals 1 damage to target creature and any other creatures with the same name. It blows out Affinity in some games, nukes Lingering Souls, and throws off combat math. I've found this guy to be an all-star! Note: Izzy has Flash and Haste, which means you can hide him until the last second. "Hello! Me Izzy! Izzy block 2 power dummy then go ping for 1! You sad now."

Fiery Justice

Ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!! Card is busted. BUS-TED in this deck. Most games we don't care as much about our opponent's life total. Fiery Justice kills almost anything we could face. Its drawbacks are the sorcery speed, and the cost, but most games it's not an issue. It's useful against almost every deck in the format and it's an outright hose against small creature decks. Two in the sideboard is perfect.

2 Negate in the sideboard is hot. They think you're a CC deck until you drop this on them, then they start worrying and playing around a ton of counter magic we just don't even have! I leave up Blue mana to make them think twice.

Phyrexian Revoker

I'm still trying to figure this card out. I know how it works. I'm not sure I like it. It's rough when you've got to choose blind. Plus it's totally dead in some matches. But, it's been pretty strong versus the decks where we need to shut off one permanent's activated ability. Being able to blink to another target using Restoration Angel makes me feel a little better.

Lastly:

Keranos, God of Storms

I've won games strictly with Keranos. He's reach and card draw and most decks can't get rid of him.

What makes this better than other Collected Company decks? Well, you could play the same combo pieces in straight Naya (Red, White, Green), but that little Blue Splash gives you some awesome options, and an element of surprise and fear. Fear and surprise. Put yourself in the opponent's shoes. You see a typical CC deck opening. Then, right around turn 3 or 4 I drop that Blue Mana making land. What creeps into your head? Doubt. You don't know what's hiding in my deck now. Tread lightly!

It's better than Elves or Abzan Collected Company decks. Elves has a weak Plan B, and no Plan C. Abzan still has the old Pod combo with persist creatures plus Melira (and now Anafenza), but it's a slow 3 pieces. Adding Fauna Shaman to those two decks really eats up valuable space. Realistically, only Naya and 4 Color have the room for 3 of them.

This deck has the sudden wins like Twin decks. Kiki-Jiki is a creature, unlike Splinter Twin. Fauna Shaman can go get it which we've already discussed. Also, It is another beater in its own right. With haste, you can sneak him in for the extra damage on an unsuspecting opponent. He's a bit more expensive than Splinter Twin, but he's worth it.

I do have one change I'm running. I've got a (Linvala, Keeper of Secrets) in place of one of the Voice of Resurgence. I liked 4 Voice in the main, but needed Linvala. Something had to give. The double White cost has hurt me a few games, but at least we can toss it to a Fauna Shaman in games where we aren't ever getting to cast it, or where it isn't needed. It's a bit redundant with the Revoker, but shuts off all creatures activated abilities.

The only other change I would consider is one Treasure Cruise in the board. WAIT!!! I'm back in Modern where Treasure Cruise isn't legal! Now isn't that hilarious? I never played with it in Modern when it was legal, barely used it in Standard. Now I have a deck that might be able to use it and I can't. I should be careful what I wish for, because when I played Pod I practically sacrificed a goat to Ra to get Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time banned. I guess second Spellskite gets to stay until I find another brick to hurl through your window.

The rest of the card choices are pretty straightforward, and I'll talk about it more in the videos. The final comment I can make is it's not far off from any other Collected Company deck composition wise, so I can switch decks without selling anything. That's something I really wanted, flexibility. I'll give you more about good and bad match ups as I learn the deck.

And learn is an appropriate description of what you do with this deck. 4 CC Xerox rewards practice. Many of the old Birthing Pod tricks apply here, but you have to actually cast the creatures which means you need to learn the math for this deck's mana and know the colors you need to have handy, because the combo can literally fall into your lap.

Why am I showing a Modern deck in an article about chasing MOCS? Because it's built and I don't have to ever pay for it again unless Pod gets banned (joking), so that means anything I do with it is profit at this point. No more sweating out card prices 3 weeks after release, or one month before rotation. My cost to play the game drops, I get more tickets dedicated to MOCS QP chasing. I can practice with a deck and never have to overhaul it barring some weird Ban or Unban that ruins it (or makes it better). Plus Modern is my home, so it's good to be back doing slightly broken things, almost the same way a Pod deck used to.

Let's take a look at the deck in action:

Deck Tech and Goldfish Example.

(Excuse my horrible breathing in these videos. I had a bad pollen day and had to be quiet with the wife on the phone)

Playback 1:

More proof I'm a mouth breather (that damn pollen!). The video is a replay of a recent practice game versus a weird Ghostly Prison/Myth Realized deck. My play is as close to tight as I get in practice mode.

Playback 2:

Wanna see what not to do? I only did the playback for Game 1, as Game 2 my opponent concedes for no apparent reason, and Game 3 was not really interesting. In the video I am not sure if I explain my mistake correctly. Essentially, I tapped a Birds of Paradise, leaving me one Red mana short of the combo. I end up barely losing the match when I should have won. Luckily, it was just practice. The moral of the story: This deck's mana is very unforgiving.

Those games were 100% typical of this deck. I have yet to play a game where I didn't get at least one shot at winning. Most losses have been either mistakes on my part or the opponent's deck having an Almond Draw. I even took down Amulet Bloom and Twin decks. I've lost a few close ones to TRON. I have yet to face Grixis Control/Delve. I tear apart most CC and creature based decks. I'm very very excited about this deck and seeing if I can adjust to the meta with it, because I highly doubt there will be any guidance on this deck as it is not popular right now.

It reminds me so much of Birthing Pod decks, especially the Kiki-Pod version. Totally in my wheelhouse. I haven't felt this at home since the Pod Ban of aught '15 (yes, I know that's a broken phrase). If you enjoyed Pod, play this deck or any Fauna Shaman/Collected Company/)Chord of Calling) deck. I dub thee Fauna 4C!!!! In some ways it's better than Pod, in that you don't lose creatures in play, don't lose life, and Chords are much easier. The combo is quicker and less intensive. You can still, in theory, win on Turn 4, but it's not even necessary. There's enough removal and Magic slaps to get you to turn 5 and 6 safely. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED DECK.

"So, this is chasing MOCS?"

Well, it's the first baby steps into chasing MOCS. I have a deck I like in a format in which I can compete. I have tickets left over to jump into events. I'm smart. I'm pretty. We had some laughs. It's MOCS!

Deck of the Week Which Proves Me Right:

I'm not always right, but when I am, I prefer to tell you. Here's a deck playing 4 Day's Undoing.

It's a Turbo Fog deck played this past weekend by James Newman at the Star City Games Standard Open in Chicago, IL. Basically, the deck uses Dictate of Kruphix and other card draw spells plus Sphinx's Tutelage to deck the opponent.

Turbo Fog
James Newman SCG Open Chicago
Creatures
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Other Spells
4 Sphinx's Tutelage
1 Alhammarret's Archive
4 Day's Undoing
2 Orbs of Warding
4 Winds of Qal Sisma
4 Monastery Siege
4 Thornwood Falls
4 Treasure Cruise
3 Aetherspouts
4 Dictate of Kruphix
4 Defend the Hearth
3 Negate
30 cards
Lands
4 Radiant Fountain
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Forest
8 Island
20 cards

Dictate of Kruphix

 

Basically, it mills cards opponent's cards every time you draw a card. Put two of these in play and anything that draws cards, including Treasure Cruise, then keep 'fogging' your opponent (prevent all damage with cards like Defend the Hearth) and eventually your opponent has zero cards and loses on their draw step. He ended day 1 with a 6 and 3 record and barely missed day 2 (I think?).

Anyway, I did tell you someone somewhere would find something broken to do with Day's Undoing. How this works is you set up the mill machine, then reset your hand with Day's Undoing if you run out of fogs. Sure it puts your opponent's graveyard back into their deck, sort of counter intuitively making the mill strategy worse, but James Newman used this trick multiple times in games which he ended up winning. I saw it on camera live and my jaw...... dropped.... Obviously, the testing bore out that Day's Undoing did what was needed and made the cut with 4 copies in his deck. The point he made was that 90% of his opponent's deck were dead cards against him. Once the mill machine was set, he would be drawing 2 to 4 cards per turn, milling around 8 of the opponent's cards in the process, and just needed a few fogs (two was usually enough) or an Aetherspouts (one was definitely enough) to win.

Eat that, all you doubters! And I am going to go out on a limb and say now other folks will see the advantage I am talking about, and find ways to use this reset button to make lock out decks and control decks with an escape hatch. I'm telling you the card is good. You can empty your hand, then get a full 7 cards and ruin any graveyard shenanigans by your opponent. There are decks that can use this effect! 3 mana! You're absolutely mad if you don't think going from 1 card to 7 and punking an opposing graveyard is good.

Next week (or week after, depending on how getting back to work goes), we'll see if we can win a few QP. We'll look at a few planned out weeks and see if we can meet a real MOCS chasing schedule. We'll also dip our toes into Origins Limited format and see how that shakes out. Should be a petrol.

Until next time.

CLB

 

 

2 Comments

Your articles are interesting by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 07/25/2015 - 17:40
Joe Fiorini's picture
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Your articles are interesting and humorous. I really hope some day you get into the eternal formats :)

I love surprise and fear in by Paul Leicht at Sun, 07/26/2015 - 03:09
Paul Leicht's picture
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I love surprise and fear in my opponents. I particularly love it when that surprise and fear has synergy. I am not sure why the single kiki. It seems like a well timed path to exile ruins that plan pretty sharply. Love Keranos in from the sideboard. Less included to love negate with the plethora of interesting counters in Modern. Negate seems decidedly plebeian.

Also congrats on predicting that there would be shenanigans with Day's Undoing. I did not foresee it being mill/fog. Though partially that's because I paid 0 attention to Sphinx's Tutelage. I am not fond of these kinds of enchantments but it is hard to argue with a grindstone style effect. The downside is: Day's undoes all the milling the prior days did and also hitting off color cards and or land sounds like a pretty common event. Though I guess again surprise and fear had its toll in that tourney. People don't know how to play against it if they are not expecting mill. And fog can make even good players think twice about HOW to win through it.

Also love how the layout of the first deck looks. :D