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By: Westane, Jeff Torres
Aug 23 2010 1:58am
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 I Need Mah MEDS!

Master's Edition NixTix week started on Wednesday! I didn't really get a chance to play much last time they rolled around so I was pretty excited to have about 3 drafts worth of tix lying around to participate with. What's that? They're fifteen tix per queue!? Well, make that two drafts... Regardless, I got home from work, kissed my wife goodbye and settled in for some classic limited. Ah yes, all was well in my world until I remembered one very important detail.

I'm really really bad at drafting!

I guess I just don't get it, probably from a severe lack of practice. I'm horrible at reading and sending signals, and bad at spotting bombs, and ultimately I'm just no good at the draft. I enjoy sealed, but that's because my cards are pretty much picked for me. I wish they'd make a "free draft" room, where you can draft sets for free, and just not keep anything you open, or win anything for playing. I can't afford to get better at this format, and that would be a huge asset to me. Naturally I forgot to enable the draft recorder, but I'll give you the rundown.

First draft picking UWb. I did win a couple packs here. Game 1 my RG opponent was a bit mana screwed, with his one fatty eating an Essence Scatter. Game 2 lasted a while with me finally getting my board locked down with pingers. Game three was long and stressful. I had a solid defense set up, but he was rapidly building numbers while I was stuck with a single swamp and no castable outs. Finally a Brainstorm shows my a swamp, allowing me to pump my bird and lay down a Famine! His board's gone, and I throw down an EOT Knight Token. All is well. Round 2 I lose horribly to RW aggro.

Draft 2 I go for WRb... Because I'm an idiot.

I don't know what I was thinking here, I shouldn't have wasted my time with black. Poor drafting and stupid play mistakes knock me out the first round of this one. With these drafts being so expensive, I decide to call it quits and go to bed.

Harsh Realities, And Playing The Meta

sun titanprimeval titanfauna shamanpyromancer ascension

I've been all about UW control, and it's still my favorite deck in the format. I'm comfortable when I have a say in how the games play out. I just feel so helpless playing aggro decks, and so I don't. I think my UW build has seen so many changes over the last few weeks that sometimes it's hard to recognize. I decided after a while that I don't like Sun Titan anymore. Yes he's great, yes he affects the board position as soon as he comes into play and yes I've won several games on his shoulders, but I don't think he supplements the deck quite enough to justify. Baneslayer Angel on the other hand will outright win you games if left unchecked, and proves much easier to cast. A lot of decks currently don't run any answers to her, at least not maindeck, so she ends up flying by safely. I've also tried cutting Wall of Omens as UW seemed very prominent, rendering the walls useless. I found this was a huge mistake after being rolled by aggro decks all day long.

I ended up bringing Gideon back as with the upsurge in aggro, he becomes much better. Additionally, with the decline of UW and having cut Sun Titan, I dropped Jace Beleren. He wasn't as needed for the mirror anymore, and without that cool recursion trick, he lost his appeal. I upped the Path to Exile count to a whopping 4, and Day of Judgment to 3. Condemn also found its way back in to the list. Cancel came back for a while, then left again in favor of Deprive. Flashfreeze found it's way into the mainboard and I brought Essence Scatter back, too. I'm not even going to post a decklist as it'll have changed at least six times by the time you read this.

You may be wondering why I'm making all these changes so frequently. Well, the answer is rather unfortunate, but it's a reality I have to deal with. UW Control is not very good in the current meta.

It hurts to say that, and I know a lot of you will disagree. Come on though, it's me! Me, who would never speak ill of control, me who used to have a trade binder with 376 Counterspells from different sets and countries. Unfortunately, having spent so much time with the deck, I've decided it has to change.

Joining The Dark Side and Lessons In Card Advantage

grave titansphinx of jwar isleliliana vessjace, the mind sculptor

Feeling like I was in a slump, I decided to go back and do something I haven't done in a long time. Build a deck. That may sound like a really stupid thing to say, but it's true. it's been a very long time since I've started from scratch, looked at my cards, looked at my competition, and really "built" a deck. I wanted to stay control, obviously, but I had to look at what made white bad. The leading offender, I felt, was Path to Exile. It's our premiere removal spell, but it's also our biggest weakness against our worst matchup. playing Path against Naya is a lose-lose situation, and it's not great against Jund or Bant either. Condemn is not a suitable replacement as they'll know better than to attack with their Fauna Shaman, and Oust isn't great unless you draw it early and they kept a terrible hand.

I basically found myself in a counter-or-lose scenario against several decks. I eventually turned to an old favorite of mine, UB Control. By playing black I was able to not only let more threats pass uncountered, but also take preemptive measures to stop future threats.On paper, UB Control would have a very good game against UW and combo, a better game against Naya, Bant and anything that ran Primeval Titan, and a worse game against Jund and RDW. With a solid idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do, I sleeved up clicked on a bunch of cards and took it to the tables!



And that's what I ultimately ended up with. The three mainboard Inquisition of Kozileks never dissapointed, hitting everything from Noble Hierarch to Goblin Ruinblaster. The counter base pretty much carried over from UW control, and proved to be just as solid. The Vampire Hexmages were put in to replace Oblivion Ring, as my out to resolved Planeswalkers. Everything else is pretty straight foward here. Disfigure kills mana dork, Fauna Shamans, Ball Lightning, Bloodbraid Elf and several other things, while Doom Blade picks up the rest. (Creeping Targ Pit) is much better a man land than Celestial Colonnade, and does a good job at keeping opposing Planeswalkers in check.

After sideboarding, all my matches improve, except probably Jund. Losing Celestial Purge hurts about as much as I thought it would, but it's not like we roll over and die without it. I managed to get a couple videos online, but unfortunately was only able to record a couple games against UW control.

UB Control vs UW Permission

UB Control vs UW Tapout

Just as I had hoped, our game against control is much easier than playing the mirror!

However, it was through playing this deck that I started really learning an aspect of Magic that's been somewhat elusive for me over the years. Card advantage. This didn't start to become apparent to me until I started losing my games against aggro. On paper I had a very good game against Naya, being able to either remove or prevent all of their threats. I was using the mindset that I'd have an answer for each of their threats, and that was my downfall. UW had card advantage through Wall of Omens and Day of Judgment. Everything UB does, even its discard, is a one for one.

First, 1:1 spells are necessary and unavoidable. Saying you shouldn't play a 1:1 spell is like saying a creature's bad because it dies to removal. The problem here is that we're more or less relying on the opponent to run out of steam before we do, and when it comes down to it, that's just not a safe bet to make.

So, what am I left to do?

Investing In The Endgame

noble hierarchknight of the reliquaryswords to plowsharesforce of will

Obviously funds are tight, as they are for most people, so I had to make a few decisions as to what I "really" wanted to do in MTGO. Standard is my competitive home, as oddly enough I'm a fan of rotational formats. Standard, however, is not what Magic essentially is for me. I've always played Standard, and always will, but at heart I'm a Vintage player. I'm no stranger to flipping Moxen off Bob and making obscene plays with Necropotence and Yawgmoth's Will. I've never had as much fun in any other format.

It's for this reason that Legacy is so very appealing to me. Until Wizards makes Vintage an actual online format by releasing Power 9 with MED4 it's the closest thing I have. For this reason, I consider Legacy in the back of my mind with every purchase I make for Standard. Jace, Eslpeth, Maelstrom Pulses, cards like that have a direct impact on legacy. That line of thought was the driving force behind my decision to play Bant until October. Yes, $40 worth of cards rotate in a month, but I really like ProBant, I really like New Horizons, and God help me I'm gonna build Legacy Slide!

What made this decision hard was that in setting a focus, I also had to make some sacrifices. For me, this was Extended. I think I cried just a little as I sold off my Tempest Reflecting Pools and Cryptic Commands, but ultimately Extended died for me with the new rotation announcement. In the end, this will allow me to both succeed in my competitive format, and really be able to enjoy my "comfort" format.

UW Control is still a deck, and it's not a bad one at that. However, even I have to recognize when a change must be made to meet goals I have set. I encourage people who want to stick with the deck to do so, but that wont be me this season. However, UW's retirement is only temporary, as soon cards like Bloodbraid Elf and... Bloodbraid Elf are slated to rotate out, putting us in a much better position.

One final announcement before I sign off for the week. I just wanted to give everyone an update on my YouTube videos. First, I'm happy to say that over the last month my videos broke the 25,000 views milestone! It's really nice to see that even videos that aren't published here are getting recognition, and that people really do enjoy them. Secondly, and this one's big, YouTube finally increased their video length limit! Now with 15 minutes of time at my disposal, you should be seeing many more live recordings from me. Pity you'll have to suffer through my voice from now on, but it'll grow on you.

Much more to come next week!

-Jeff Torres

Current MOCS QP's: 0


"I wish they'd make a "free by Paul Leicht at Mon, 08/23/2010 - 06:02
Paul Leicht's picture

"I wish they'd make a "free draft" room, where you can draft sets for free, and just not keep anything you open, or win anything for playing." Try http://ccgdecks.com/draft_gen.php just remember to invite friends if you want the full experience. The AI will pick somewhat coherently but not always in a sensible fashion.

Thank you much! Now I have by Westane at Mon, 08/23/2010 - 13:12
Westane's picture

Thank you much! Now I have yet another new and exciting way to waste time at work :D

U/B = Yum by Splendid Belt at Mon, 08/23/2010 - 06:53
Splendid Belt's picture

Five big red ones for you for going U/B, my favourite colour combo. Nice looking list two, I think I've got most of the cards (besides big Jace, I'll replace him with his little brother). I'm always reluctant to main deck Doom Blade though, too often a dead card for me. Bring back Rend Flesh!

And on that note, Flashfreeze maindecked too!

The were meta calls really. by Westane at Mon, 08/23/2010 - 13:12
Westane's picture

The were meta calls really. If you look at most of the winning decks both cards hit just about everything. And yes, Viva la UB Control! When I first really started playing I thought Recoil was the most amazing card ever... Then Psychatog and Finkeltrator were printed...

recorder by Sirskills at Mon, 08/23/2010 - 11:29
Sirskills's picture

What do you use to record those matches?

I use Fraps and Windows Media by Westane at Mon, 08/23/2010 - 13:10
Westane's picture

I use Fraps and Windows Media Encoder.

It's sad to see you leave UW by darthibanezowner at Wed, 08/25/2010 - 23:55
darthibanezowner's picture

It's sad to see you leave UW behind, even if only temporarily. I do like the UB list. I have been thinking about trying Esper control, but I really haven't played any magic since gameday. Going back to work and having four kids in soccer kind of puts Magic in the back seat.

I do agree that Baneslayer is necessary in the current meta. She single handedly stopped two vengevines and two bloodbraids in the finals of gameday for me. The 2nd one provided the win!