whiffy penguin's picture
By: whiffy penguin, George Efelis
May 20 2008 1:17am
Login to post comments

Hello and welcome once again to the Lunchbox.  In this second installment I am going to talk about Threshold and the best ways to maximize your return on a Classic investment.

First things first. I would like to talk about classic in a monetary veiw. Many people out there think that Classic has an unrealistically high barrier of entry, and while this may be true to an extent it is not definative.  When and if you start looking to join Classic you need to ask yourself what you want out of it. For myself personally, I wanted a return to the glory days and Force of Will was the calling card that got my foot in the door.  Luckily for me, I was able to grab a playset while they were resting at about 17 tix a piece.  That is not half bad now that they are sitting at about FORTY each. If you really want to play Classic seriously you will have to shell out some kind of money.  Of course you would have to do the same in any other format.  The idea of spending in Classic though is you will generally be making a one time investment in the format.   For example when I jumped into the format I did a cannonball. I dumped about $350.00 to build UGR-Thresh from the ground up, and I can play the same 75 card $350.00 dollar list forever.  Let's look at Extended (EXT) in the same light.  Lets say that I want to play Zoo, well I'm looking at about the same cost to build from the ground up but I can only play this deck until October of 2009 when the format rotates fetch lands out.  This rotation will make the deck unplayable at it's previously high powered version with Onslaught in the mix.  Now if I am lucky, a lot of the post rotation list could be used as a shell for the new season, but the odds of that happening are pretty small, so I will have to dump money into it again, thus raising my intial investment.  You can see that this is going to continue every season.  Looking at Standard (STD) is even worse. How about building Faeries from scratch? Well do you have roughly $340.00 lying around to build this menace? Three hundred and forty bucks! For a STD deck! It is the best deck in the format,  it is still just under the cost of a serious Classic commitment.  I just hope that faeries are awsome in EXT as well, or you're gonna be looking for a new deck in a year and a half.

(Editor's Note:  At this point Mono Blue Fae has seen some success in the Extended format.  So, it might very well stay around in some incarnation.) 

Now lets take a look at the set release schedule on your investment. Classic the format itself has a very high barreir of entry. Any card trying to make it into the tourney scene has to deal with very stiff competiton over several years of sets. I would be willing to say the average number of cards to break into the format per block is about FIVE. Obviously there will be situations where Wizards is on a power creep which has been pretty evident. I mean look at just Lorywn through Shadowmoor, the sets are rife with powerful cards and themes. In EXT and STD each set will be creating and destroying archtypes left and right. If you want to stay on top you need to constantly invest in the format

Ok so we have our basis for the initial investment  covered but how do you gain? In the abstract there is only one classic PE a week and the eight mans never fire. Extended and Standard both enjoy at least a dozen PE's a week and the 8 mans always fire. You have a much better chance on prizes in the smaller formats but you also have to pay your entry that many more times. For now their is not a substanial chance to work up your collection through winnings, but with the impending release of Tempest and Master's Edition II almost co-insiding with the rotation of IPA and Odyssey blocks I would be shocked if our beloved format wasent generating at least 10 PE's weekly and enjoying a nice 8 man every hour or so once November rolls around.

(Editor's Note:  For those of you who got lost a bit, what Whiffy is saying here is this.  Some people will not look to liquidate their collections of IPA and OTJ.  Hopefully the Classic community will see more of these players start to play in the format, so they can continue to use their old cards!)  

If you manage to pilot yourself to at least a top eight every other week you will be gaining at least two times your entry fee just for selling off your winnings. Consistently making top eights and top fours will let you build whole new archtypes in a matter of two to three weeks!  This is of course dependant up the amount of cards you have already obtained.  For instance i started up with my Thresh deck and was able to build Flash, 4cThresh, Bomberman, Tutorstill, a secret for the next PE, and am currently working on assembling a R/G agro deck, Sensei Semsei and  W/G Haterade.  What do most of these decks have in common?  Six or maybe seven of the nine builds all have very simialer key parts and the other two non blue decks have some key cards sharing spots in each list. With out even trying now I could build a Phyrexian Dreadnought deck filling out the entire maindeck and sideboard by only purchasing a playset of Dark Confidants. This brings me back to my point of the actual barrier of entry, most of the builds I listed share a good number of cards even though they can be very different decks.

These five cards will allow you to play any deck in the format as a jumping point but are also critical to your competetive chances.
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
 I would go as far as saying that these cards are the most important for the format. They just allow you to do so many things that are just about impossible to do with out them.  Every coin has a flipside though and there's is that with the ridiculous mana base they can imploy land destruction or Stifle effects can give you time you need or just completely blank cards in your opponents hand. When you jump in pick your favorite color and start with those fetch lands. Once you've started earning a little on your investment, start branching out into the other fetchlands and Ravinica shocklands that will be being thinned out in to play. You'd be surprised how discourging it is to build a new deck and the mana base before you can seriously test it.


Ok now its time for some Thresh action. Today im going to talk about Red Thresh as it is currently my all star (in terms of pure winnings) and is an incredibly potent deck having almost no truly bad matches and just a few good matches. This is the epitome of a 50/50 Archtype, The deck has such a strong core that you can fill out the fringe cards to suit your environment making your expected matchups very favorable and your weak ones considerably stronger. But alas, playing this deck in Classic is like plugging up a bloodhounds nose or making a hawk hunt with a blind fold. The reason? The lack of Daze is seriously a strong blow to the decks effecincy and it will be years before we can play this in its rawest power. You see the reason that it flourishes as best deck in Legacy is that imploys eight free counterspells, and a Counterbalance / Sensei's Divining Top combo allowing it to play out its undercosted beatsticks or filter the quality of its draws with out giving up the ability to thwart thine opponent. Yea lossing a card or setting your self back on mana may seem terrible, but it generates a lot of tempo when you have a guy down. Sadly in Classic we can not have a reliable counter/top lock with out the protection that Daze gives you, but as an aside we dont need it yet per say as the formats do not link up well at all. Even though we're only missing four cards the rest of the field of ports need many more cards to flesh themselves out. I have found that Stifle can help fill the role that Daze leaves in the list , it will set an opponent back on mana when you can nail down a fetch with it, or stop a lot of trigger based combo kills/ boardsweepers from happening. So here is a list that i have been testing recently and although it can give it up to RDW more then i like it is fast consistent and oppresive.

4x Tarmogoyf
4x Nimble Mongoose
3x Trygon Predator

4x Fire/Ice
4x Lightning Bolt

4x Counterspell
4x Force of Will
4x Spell Snare
4x Stifle

4x Brainstorm
4x Ponder



4xWooded Foothills
3x Flooded Strand
3x Breeding Pool
4x Steam Vents
2x Island
1x Forest

4x Pyroblast
4x Hydroblast
4x Threads of Disloyalty
2x Engineered Explosives
1x Krosan Grip





There it is and I'll go over some of the cards that need explaining starting with Trygon Predator.  I decided to try droping Werebear and Force Spike from the list because I was unhappy with the druid bear and really wanted to fit a fourth Stifle in the MD. Adding trygons did a few things for the deck, one they have evasion both in combat and in converted mana cost. They dodge Spell Snare and Counterbalance with the same ease they do a goyf or factory. There are also some pretty potentially game ending spells that he can blow up lest they slip through your counter wall. Usally you only got to play with artifact/enchantment removal post game 1 now you no longer auto scoop to resolved Moat and other such things. Finally he is also blue letting you pitch him to fow  should his services no longer be required. The loss of Werebear is negelible as it was really unwanted once good ol Goyf was printed.

The removal is pretty standard for what your looking for in the build. The burn spells are great for clearing a path for your men and should be used as such until the late game.  Once you arive to the late game any burn should be directed at your opponents head if it can seal the deal.  Fire/Ice is really better at tapping things down as it is at killing things but the ability to pop two guys can be game swinging and it will help win a goyf battle even letting you "trample" over for one. I have burned people out from ten before after getting in a good solid whack with a goyf or whittling away with a low goose, but its primary focuse is tempo.

The counter suite has Force of Will which  is the card that makes the deck work in my opinion, letting you do mean things while tapped low. Snare is pretty amazing in the same way that most of the excellant cards in classic are pretty amazing at the two mana mark.  Counterspell is a solid NO once you have a threat down, or if your having a little staring contest with your opponent. I find that this or an extra filter card is  the easyest for me to pitch to fow since it really shines only if you are using it to protect the path to the other guys face.

 I want to talk about Stifle in detail here as the card can do so much for you . First it is one mana land destructioon,  play this when a fetch trigger is on the stack and your opponent is down a life and a land.The nature of the format makes us lean heavily on fetch lands to make things nice and consistent or used to flush away some garbage with the help of Brainstorm or a top, so denying these for a small cost gives you a huge boost in tempo.

 It will stop most mass removal spells from ruining your day. The two most popular are Pernicious Deed and Engineered Explosives which both sacrifice as part of the cost so stifling its trigger will effectively destroy the permanent negating its damage. 

Storm based combo and Flash both need to worry about you stopping there combo after they spend all their gas trying to assemble it. At one mana you can usally slip down a beater and sit on Stifle till they fall over and die.

It throws off combat math on Mishra's Factory stopping the +1/+1 pump.You can also stop an impending Rift Bolt, pitch it to fow or tell me some new uses cause im so high on this card, and I'd like to know how to better abuse it.

The filtering is top notch both are quality spells that combo well with fetchlands and Ponder also pumps your goyf. The eight filter effects are important because you only run 17 land and seven of them will thin the deck even more but they will also asemble your three colors very quickly.They  help you get to the magic threshold very quickly alowing your mongeese to get pumped up.

Sideboards are a thing that i feel should be changed often to give the deck a little resilency as the format is very wide open you can expect to play a host of different decks and i dont believe there is any permanent 75 card list that can beat every varible, so use this as more of a guide line and judge for yourself what you think you will run into.

Hydroblast is your only out aginst Red Deck Wins other than tight play so they are a must as long as we have fake duals. Pyroblast on the other hand fills multiple rolls in this board as it is combo supression, protection from threads or winning counter wars against any blue deck. Threads of Disloyalty are generally great because they will be useful in this Tarmogoyf infested world. They also add +1/+1 to goyf if it dies or is discarded. Engineered Explosives is in here cause i miss Swords to Plowshares from the 4c Thresh that I enjoy running, but never the less they pull their weight by becoming sweepers that will be able to help you manage the redzone or your ability to play spells.  (hint  hint Chalice of the Void)  Krosan Grip is just an all around useful card.

So to end today's adventure I am  going to highlight some games form the matchesI have played while testing this build.  I'll go over three games in three different match ups to show the deck in action. I picked these games because they showcase what thresh can do.

U B Tendrils storm

It is game two and after winning the first I boarded out all three trygons for three pyroblasts. Trygon is slow and unweildy in this match and the blasts will let me deny him his filter spells.I kept a hand of Breeding Pool ,Flooded Strand two Spell Snare Nimble Mongoose and Counterspell. It has a turn one threat and the abilaty to stop Cabal Rituals and Infernal Tutors. He leads off with a strand into a Godless Shrine Duressing  away my Brainstorm and putting himself on seventeen.  I start off with a pool into mongoose droping to 18 in the process. On turn two he drops an island, ponders, likes what he sees and arranges the top of his library in a fitting way. My turn consists of swinging and laying a strand.  He starts his next turn by storming brains, throwing down a swamp and getting at my hand again this time as Duress hits a Counterspell then says go. I start the beatdown train by getting my good friend tarmogoyf in to the fray as a 3/4 followed by a swing and a foothills, Before I pass the turn he storms again. His turn is weak with a draw go turn.  However on my upkeep he attempts to Abeyance me out of my turn but i have a handy snare to allow me my turn.  I sac the foothills for a vents before the draw and am rewarded with another goose who joins the team after combat.  Now he's feeling the pressure, and on his turn he starts to try and go off.  First comes another Brainstorm followed by a swamp and a Dark Ritual next is an Lion's Eye Diamond and a Top. He goes for an Infernal Contract which I deposit right into his graveyard with a Counterspell after he sacs the led for mana. He's at zero cards in hand and facing death in two turns so he tops away all his spare mana and passes.  On the final turn I swing with the team and follow up with a bolt to the face earning me a match win.

I picked this game as it illistrates the plan to victory against combo.  Play a guy on the first two turns and then just hamper them with your counter grip. Eventually you will put them in a postion where they have to force a combo turn and when your under pressure and all your eggs arn't in the right place you will normally just self destruct when forcing the deck to win.

Domain Zoo

Game one and i'm playing against Walkerdog.  I assumed he would be going pale ale but I was wrong.  I made a snap judgement on his playstyle.  (I would advocate to everyone out there not to do this as with out complete information, assuming a match up wrong could cost you the match!)  I won the die roll and lead off with a strand which was sharing a happy spot in my hand next to a foothills, vents, bolt, fire/ice, snare and tarmogoof. Walker leads off with a vents into Kird Ape, and I mentally stumble as I dont know what he is playing.  However, I put him on Red Green agro. On my turn I draw a Stifle and pass the turn after playing a vents untapped.  Now I could have played a goyf here, but he would have been small, and Stifle is a house which I prove on walkers second turn.  He plays  Bloodstained Mire and sacs which I Stifle, getting me a frowny face and a bash from a 1/1 ape. He follows up with a Grim Lavamancer.  On my turn I play out my fire, which kills his team and earns me the concession. Hooray turn two win! After the game walker and i agreed that it was the Stifle that won the day and wondered why more people didn't run this card.

This highlight was purely to showcase Stifle and how devastating it can be. Also as a side note the quick concession caused me to sideboard wrongly assuming that Walker was playing a ninja still variation.

Goblin Combo

This is game three of the match against a fellow clan mate Javasci, and I have sided out the Stifles for a  set of Hydroblasts. Having tried explosives in game two I took them out for number three as they just arn't that good in this matchup since Goblins have mana costs all over the place from zero to five. My hand contained a vents two Ponder two Tarmogoyf a hydro and a mongoose. I kept this hand because of the double ponder and the beef in my hand that would allow me to hold the ground for a little while. The first turn consists of me laying out a vents and pondering, not liking what i see i throw it away for a chance at mana and am rewarded with an Island. Java plays mountain go.  On this turn I draw a Ponder and  ponder again off the island in turn two keeping it because I reveal  two more hydros and a counterspell. He bolts me down to fifeteen in my endstep. On his turn he throws away a Simian Spirit Guide after a second mountain to rush out an early Goblin Warchief which I Hydroblast away. Round three see's me draw the hydro and play the third Ponder getting a snare and placing a fire/ice and a counterspell on top. Java's third turn he trys for a Goblin Matron but I blast it away.  I draw Fire/Ice and pass. Warchief number two come out and is met by yet another blast earning a frowny face for my amazingness.  Draw counterspell and pass again. He goes for a war marshal which meets a snare and then follows up with a piledriver who isnt so scary when he's alone. I draw a mongoose and contemplate fireing the pile driver apprentice style but choose to pass the turn. He attempts to make a war marshal again but is met by the classic NO  that is Counterspell so he swings for one dropping me to 14. I draw a bolt and start to get frustrated because at this point i have played three Ponder and am holding a grip of huge angry green men with no way to deploy them. On java's turn he cycles a Street Wraith for a card and swings , but i electrocute his piledriver with my bolt  then he tries a warchief which I fire out of the game zone. On my turn I fail to rip Green mana again instead drawing a Spell Snare. He lays down a Barbarian Ring and passes. Force of Will off the top keeps me away from green mana for another turn and I pass. On his next turn there are more stack wars as he tries to resolve a Goblin Recruiter who is met by snare which is met by Pyroblast which then forces me to snare the little red engine again.  My turn reveals the third Tarmogoyf and I pass the turn. He topdecks a war marshal and it gets through. I draw another snare and pass with out any action. He pays echo and swings dropping me to twelve than passes back.  Hoping for a green source to deploy my monsters I draw a vents and am forced to do nothing again. Java swings and then attempts to get a Skullclamp down which i use a fow pitching snare to keep me in the game. So finnally I draw Green right? Nope its another Fire/Ice and I pass dejectedly sitting on 9 life. He plays out a 15TH! turn  Goblin Ringleader which reveals a fourth war marshal.  After his ringleader is crispy and in the yard he plays it after combat. On my 16th turn Brainstorm shows up allowing me a look at Forest and 2x Breeding Pools and I laugh out loud as they are far to late to save me.

I wanted to use this game because A). It's no fun to see me win every game right?  Losses are where you learn how to make yourself better. B) Even though I was able to thwart his plan for ten turns I lost from not taking a simple mulligan. I was greedy with what i saw in the one land opener and should of mulled to have a chance to play out my guys.

Well I hope you guys enjoyed this weeks lunch box and ill be back next week with some tips on how to do well in the competitive classic world.


by whiffy penguin at Wed, 05/21/2008 - 14:33
whiffy penguin's picture

i can see where your going iceage . i do side the stifles out quite a lot but the reason i am so high on them is that in game one they can randomly just swing games in your favor. playing one in the early turns of game one will ensure that my opponent plays as if i have them so he  dosent get caught w/ his pants down, if there in the deck or not he plays around them giving me extra damage on his life or missing opportunitys to flush away cards w/ brainstorm.

It's not though by walkerdog at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 23:34
walkerdog's picture

I'm not saying you HAVE to run it, but there's so many instances and matchups in which it is useful, and it's fine to side out against Affinity.  You're bringing in 3-4 Grudges right?  and some Grips?  And Affinity is not a huge portion of the meta, generally 3-4 at most in a 24man tourney.  It gives you cheap outs in matchups that are bad otherwise, and free wins occasionally.

welcome by mtgotraders at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 21:26
mtgotraders's picture

Welcome to the Team!!!  If you get a chance can you upload an avatar?  Thanks for the great article.

by iceage4life at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 15:07
iceage4life's picture

Er saying Stifle is a good card to run because it pitches to FoW is a pretty weak arguement.  Saying it is decent in every matchup is a joke.  Ever drawn two versus Affinity?  Sure it is not a dead card, but man does it suck.

Personally I think Stifle is overrated and doesn't belong in decks as a random disruption card.  Maybe in Legacy Thresh with a full set of Wasteland too but I'm not sure about that. 

Yea... by walkerdog at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 12:13
walkerdog's picture

If you RELY on Stifle to win, you probably will be disaspointed with it... but when you pack it b/c it's decent in every matchup, suddenly you'll have more randomly winning options than before.

Things like "oh... I stifled your fetch that you REALLY needed... GG" happen.  So does pitching it to FoW.

by JXClaytor at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:51
JXClaytor's picture

Then you sir are doing it wrong!  :)

stiffle for the win!! by whiffy penguin at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 12:00
whiffy penguin's picture

i beleive 4c thresh is stronger now even w/ the shocklands  the abilaty to post sb shut down your worst match up is awsome and also being able to actually remove goyfs outside of combat is a huge boost in a 4c vrs r thresh match up.

by iceage4life at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:10
iceage4life's picture

Not to rock the boat but Stifle always underwhelms me in decks that don't have Dreadnought.  That said I love me a 12/12 for 1U.

Stifle by JXClaytor at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 10:25
JXClaytor's picture

It's may favorite card in the format, and if I am building a blue deck it is the first card that gets selected in the deck editor.  Yeah over Force of Will even.  Stifle is just too good.  From stopping a fetch land to blowing up the plans of a combo player, I feel it is a must have.   

Stiffle for the win!! by DRAGONDUNG at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 07:37
DRAGONDUNG's picture

Stifle is extreamly strong and worse case senario you draw out a FOW and gain advantage vs an inexperienced player.  The tresh build is bold and strong should hold up very well vs most decks.  Once we get duals i would like to see how the 4c build does esp with mystic enforcer.  I actually like the four color variant more with its use of COP Red to shut down RDW and its like builds.

by Under_the_hammer (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 05:30
Under_the_hammer (Unregistered)'s picture

Nice article I like the way you highlight the advantages of classic play and blow away the myths of high financial maintance.  The thresh list is very solid.  The teaser about the new PE deck is also nice and I hope you follow up with an article to show the success/failure of said deck once PE's are GO! Id like to see your take on Flash and your views on the lark kill. A primer on the potenital impact of tempest would be awesome also - Although it looks like Tempest release is getting bumped :-(   Keep writing Whiffy I am very impressed! 

envoytoken.io by dungdung at Fri, 12/23/2022 - 01:37
dungdung's picture

To be honest, where did you learn this skill? I really want to learn it somewhere, but I can't write like you. Please tell me that skillhttps://envoytoken.io/