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By: xger, Xger
Jun 13 2013 7:31am
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Momir Basic has been written about a number of times and as a format little seems to change. Often older articles are used for reference and some of that info becomes outdated. Here we are going to take a look at the Momir world after the release of Dragon's Maze.

And now, into the wild!

Why play Momir?

If you are unaware, Momir Basic is a format that uses a deck of 60 basic lands (of your choice) and the Momir Vig Avatar:

Avatar - Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

A lot of players will be turned off by the random element or the lack of spells. The biggest incentive to play long term is the cost and the enjoyment. How often have you had Aladdin steal a Blightsteel Colossus? The cost is extremely low compared to virtually every format and the best part is that you never have to update the deck! As of writing this the avatar is 10.49 at MTGOTraders (or 11.97 if you want the original avatar). Occasionally WotC will sell the avatar in the store for events or just a period of time as well. There are 1-2 daily events per day and they have the typical constructed set-up, 4 rounds swiss, 3-1 is 6 packs, 4-0 is 11. They use the current block payout (RTR, GTC, DGM at this time).

Momir Strategy:

During a game you can use the Momir ability once per turn at sorcery speed. The general consensus is to use your first at 2 mana on the draw or at 2 or 3 mana on the play (if you play a 2, generally you should skip one of 3, 4, 5 or 7, I'll get to why later) so that your curve tops at 8. 8 mana has a lot of powerhouses and the move to nine without extra cards or mana generally isn't worth the power level difference. The most common Momir games include a steady stream of 8's so gaining familiarity with them is good.

Next up are some of the strategies and discussions about Momir:

1. To play a 0 or not?

The vast majority of players say no but it is something to keep in mind. If you really want mana acceleration you can hit Dryad Arbor with a 10% chance. The other 0's are pretty worthless however, just chump blockers, however most of 1, 2 and 3 are pretty worthless as well. Without a very strong reason, do not play a 0.

2. On the play, drop a 1, 2, or 3?

The contention here is that if you can hit a mana accelerator it turns into a huge advantage. The theory is that there is a higher chance of a mana accel. at 2 than at 1 and 3, and the potential advantage of a 3 versus 2 is weaker than the potential for a mana accel. creature. Here are the numbers (this includes only up until Dragon's Maze and only includes repeatable effects, sac. effects are not counted):

Momir Numbers

  Mana Accel. Non-Mana Accel. Proportion
1 drop 10 500  2%
2 drop 45* 1080* ~4%
3 drop 23 1450  ~2%

In short it comes down to preference, but keep in mind extra mana can often be a game winner. This also interestingly shows that if your sole reason for dropping a 2 instead of a 3 is for chance at a mana producer you would be better off doing a 0.

*(Knight of the White Orchid) means you have 46 chances if you are the draw and use momir before you play a land for the turn

3. Skip 3, 5, 7 drops?

The question here arises from 3 cards (and I could be missing some others but these are the main in most minds)

Countryside CrusherLevelerPhage the Untouchable

Each of these cards translates almost always into an instant loss; the first two by milling, Phage by the ETB trigger. Some players who get burned by these cards skip those numbers as it just translate into a loss (0.07%, 0.11%, and 0.40% of the time respectively). Generally the very small chance of a loss is better than flat out skipping, especially the 5 and 7 drops. There are many very good cards and just 1 of each of the auto loss, so falling behind on the board is almost always worse. Of course if you have an Azorius Guildmage you want to skip, but that is a rare corner case. You may get a Leveler but you are just as likely to get a Beguiler of Wills.

4. When to sacrifice something for mana?

You have a Rith's Attendant in play. When should you use its ability to generate an extra two mana? It will depend mostly on how much mana it'll bring you to and what the board looks like. If the attendant is the largest creature and will get through for damage, it's not a bad idea to wait. If you are jumping from 7 to 9 drop for one turn it is probably not worthwhile. 6 to 8 is a lot more powerful. 8 to 10 is a bad idea. In short if it will reach to a good mana milestone the sooner the better and good milestones being 8, 11, 12, 15.

5. Discard

A. Making an opponent discard: Due to the resource set up for Momir you should always use a discard ability as soon as possible if it results in the opponent losing any cards. If you drop Augur of Skulls make sure to put a stop on your upkeep and use it.

B. Self-discard: If you can avoid it, do not discard ever. Sometimes you have no option, but there are no creatures worth discarding a card to keep the vast majority of the time. If an activated ability needs a discard, it should either kill a creature or make the opponent discard.

6. Deck Building and land playing

Of the activated abilities on creatures, red is the most common and the abilities you are most going to want. A lot of damage dealing and firebreathing are red based. There are also very few Mountainwalk creatures. These factors lead to mountain being the land you want the most. For similar reasoning swamps are what you want second most. Forests, Plains, and Islands are all equally desirable, but far behind mountains or swamps. The deck I play is 20 mountains, 16 swamps and 8 each of the remaining 3. The deck could be 60 plains, 12 of each, or the one I listed, any are legal. Recommended though is to have mountains the most, swamps the second most.

During the game you want to play out mountains first then swamps. Land playing again is an area of preference; some players will only play mountains and swamps, others a mix of everything. I play 3-4 mountains, 1-2 swamps, then 1 each of plains forest and island if I can. Doing this is a double edge sword. At 8 there is a cycle of powerful fliers that need 3 different mana and there is the elephant in the room of land choice:

Nicol Bolas+friends    or    Sundering Titan and Benthic Behemoth +friends

So the option is being able to pay for creatures like the dragons and various upkeep costs or protecting against islandwalk and Sundering Titan. From my statement you can see where I fall; I have had more games where being able to keep the dragons alive (or just being able to pay for regenerate on Hellkite Overlord) has won the game versus losing due to the Titan and his friends. This is a choice that seems best played in a binary fashion; if you never want to put down an island, plains, or forest, don't add them to your deck. Personally I think the plusses of playing them are greater than the minuses.

 7. Why playing a 10 is very risky, and probably bad.

There are 14 creatures at 10 mana. 1 is a high chance of a miss: Broodstar. In the best situations it might be a 3/3 flyer for 10. 2 of the 10's require upkeep costs, both of which are usually hard to get or undesirable to use. Another that will deck you if left unchecked if you can't close out a win.

BroodstarDragon TyrantKrosan CloudscraperJin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

6 of the remaining 10 are vanilla creatures, all of each can be blocked by a number of 8's and 9's. That leaves a 6/6 unblockable, 2 eldrazi and Progenitus. 6 of the 14 are legendary meaning a repeat is a miss. Both 9's and 11's give much more favorable odds for something better, I would recommend avoiding 10s.

8. The board state:

This is probably the most important piece and yet the most ignored. To succeed in Momir you have to always be aware of the board state, and what each creature does. Tracking the potential combat math is huge. Missing an ability or interaction can be game losing very quickly. Being aware of the board state also leads to decisions on when to activate Momir, when to pass and build up mana, and when to change away from just dumping all your mana into the Momir. If you are new to Momir this is probably where you will struggle the hardest as you can have very old cards with brand new ones and very complicated board states.

9. The outs to keep in mind:

Sometimes the board gets to a dire state. Sometimes you just need a reset or something to stop the pressure. Some 8's give outs to pretty much anything:

Akroma, Angel of WrathAvacyn, Angel of HopeAvatar of WoeBloodfire ColossusBosh, Iron GolemCraterhoof BehemothHellkite OverlordHoverguard SweepersKederekt LeviathanLiving InfernoLorthos, the TidemakerPlatinum EmperionScourge of Kher RidgesSisters of Stone DeathStormtide LeviathanTrench Gorger

These cards can all save you in different situations. However keep in mind that this list is 16 out of 102, so just a hair under 16% for one of these.

At 9 there are 2 very important cards:

blazing archonKuro, Pitlord

These two are some of the very few ways to deal with a blightsteel colossus for instance and both can turn the tide of battle. There are only 30 9's so each has a 3.3% chance.

10. Recent additions of note:

As I said earlier there is a lot of writing out there on Momir, some the same I have said here. A lot of it is outdated though and doesn't consider some newer creatures. Here are some that stand out for needing some kind of mention:

Avenger of Zendikar

This can obviously be a powerful card, but in most circumstances playing land just for the trigger is not going to be worth it as 1/2's, 2/3's, 3/4's that are almost always outclassed at that point of the game. Each land drop that causes you to not be able to use Momir is another chance for your opponent to get something good and it makes the alpha stirke worse.

Blightsteel Colossus

This card is one of the primary reasons to go above 8. In a few swings he can win the game and is almost never removed. If you are going to 11, and it's not urgent to play something, go to 12. With only 3 twelves you have strong odds of getting him as well.

Borborygmos Enraged

Attacking with him blindly can be bad. He has to connect to be good, but consequently your opponent will want to stop every point of damage, meaning bad blocks or losing multiple creatures. In general using your draw for Momir will be a better use than a lightning bolt.

Emrakul, The Aeons Torn

Mostly the same as blightsteel colossus. In most formats Emrakul is unstoppable. In momir he can be defeated, as protection from spells does nothing. I have seen opponents make poor choices with Emrakul (blocking a deathtouch creature for instance) simply because they were used to him being immune.

Zhur-Taa Ancient

This card is amazing if you are on the play, and very bad if you are on the draw. Your opponent reaching 10 first then you 12 is a fine trade off. It also means you win the Emarkal battle as you can hit 15 first. It's important to keep in mind that there are no 13's or 14's. There are 3 12's and 2 15's.

11. Several mechanics are worthless

Undying, persist, scavenge, and double faced cards all do not interact with tokens. The "free" creatures are almost always doing nothing. Knowing which mechanics work and don't can be quite time saving. The 4 I listed to start are the more common ones and can be important to remember. With double faced cards set auto-yields. Spells aren't "cast" in momir so it triggers every turn but never flips. Right click the trigger and select always yield.

12. When to concede?

In a number of formats conceding to save time when facing an impossible board position is the right thing to do. If you watch my videos there are 2 points (Round 2 where MTGO decided I didn't want a declare blockers stop, and Round 4 where I came back to win) that really hit home the idea that you shouldn't concede until there is 0 chance. You never know what card you might hit, and you never know if your opponent might flip a (Phage, The Untouchable). At around 19:30 in the round 4 video I am nearly dead and at a point where a lot of players would concede, but I manage to come back.

13. Lastly; Play or draw?

In momir it is widely accepted that playing first is the better option. You get to hit the higher numbers first, and if you get a mana accel. you just pull very far away. Still some people prefer draw, but the 2-drop you get for drawing isn't commonly that valuable.


Here are the event videos (keep in mind this is my first set of videos, so any advice is helpful!). Sorry for some of the quality issues, when the beta would lag it messed up the recording. In Round 1 I had to switch to the old client as the beta stopped showing me my cards.

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

Round 4:



And now out of the wild.

My aim here was to give a refreshed primer for Momir, if you have any suggestions to add, please share. As always I appreciate any comments or thoughts! The direction that I'm planning for this article series at this point is going to focus on getting up and running in MTGO and trying to cover some of the less covered topics (for instance I love triple small set draft). Let me know if you have any ideas for future articles!



Literally_Hits_The_Road's picture

I was wondering about some of the numbers that you clarified. Knowing which CMC card to cast in the late game is often important. No more 10s for me. Do you think that in vacuum eights are weaker than nines? I really can't tell; i expect nines to dominate them but it seems there are many mediocre guys there as well.

In regards to your content: Include as much data in it as possible. You started off well, but for example it would be very valuable to know the actual numbers in the "To island or not to island?" debate. Number of crippling islandwalkers vs. number of good activated abilities and upkeeps with U.
I know it's excessively difficult to gather data in Momir, but you have to be the one that does it, you are the chosen one. I will shall maybe explain when the time comes, just thrust me for now.

It's also kind of painful to watch you play Beta. Let's hope with the new updates it becomes bearable soon.

And finally, please don't make any more Momir articles. The format has been gaining a significant amount of momentum lately and, at this pace, we can soon expect a literal spike in player quality. Obviously we cannot allow that, how will we farm all this money then? Think about the future.

8/10, stay ouf of Momir, punk.

In a straight side by side by xger at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 18:10
xger's picture

In a straight side by side comparison 9's will be better. There are not any that can completely wreck your position. It also had a 1/3 chance of a flier. At the same time there are a number that are basically vanilla creatures. So if you get an extra card or for some reason skip a drop, going to 9 is fine. 8's have a lot more with abilities that are really good, so the difference from 8 to 9 is very minor but slightly in 9's favor. Without an extra card, mana accel., or missing a drop for a good reason, stay on 8 is what I would recommend.

Some of the issue with the videos could easily be that it was my first recording and first time using the program. I used BBflash (I think that's the name) as it meet my needs and was free. If people have suggestions for a better program let me know!