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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
May 19 2008 2:32am
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Three weeks ago I played in the Classic PDC event with MUC (Mono-Blue Control).  I was interested in what, statistically, has been the best deck (According to Jaknife’s articles on PDCMagic.com.  Running the Numbers is a great weekly writeup!) in PDC.  Plus, I love winning with 2/Xs.  My first effort was less than a success.  My list was less than optimal as I’d just thrown it together that morning, and while I’d stuck pretty closely to the template offered by multiple-time champ Lul Thyme, I veered off-course with several key cards.

How to Ruin MUC
A bad Classic PDC deck by Tyler Walker
Creatures
4
Spire Golem
2 Errant Ephemeron
1 Dream Stalker
1 Fathom Seer

Other Spells
4
Exclude
4 Force Spike
4 Prohibit
4 Rune Snag
4 Think Twice
3 Repulse
2 Piracy Charm
1 Echoing Truth
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Remove Soul
Lands
20
Island
4 Lonely Sandbar
Rune Snag

The first gaff I made illustrated perfectly WHY Counterspell is SO AWESOME.  Somehow, I didn’t stick a Counterspell into my deck, instead running… Rune Snag.  Meh.  Snag is arguably better than some of the spells in the decks, cards like Force Spike, or Prohibit, although I think that they’re correct most of the time.  However, Snag is just worse than Counterspell in this deck.  Some examples from that tournament to illustrate just how much worse I managed to make an awesome deck?  Sure, why not.

Example one:  I am at three life, with Exclude and Rune Snag in hand.  My opponent is with RG Thresher, and tries a Lightning Bolt aimed at me.  He has five mana.  I have one Snag in the GY… I Snag it, he pays the mana, and I die.  Counterspell stops that nonsense.

Example two:  The matchup was Blue Aggro, and I have an Errant Ephemeron coming off of Suspend.  We have no Snags in the GY at this point, having Thought Twice once each, but no other action.  I have four mana up; he has five.  I have Force Spike, Rune Snag and other stuff that won’t affect this fight.  He attempts to Remove the Illusion’s Soul, and I can’t stop him.  He wins the counter-war because my counters were useless.  Counterspell MIGHT not have won it either, but Rune Snag meant I was never in the fight.

The second card I cut back on was Piracy Charm.  This was a slightly more subtle change to make room for two maindeck Ephemerons, the theory being that they would let me battle the bigger creature decks on  more even footing.  Why was this wrong?  Because I was following flawed logic.  I don’t really NEED help against the mid-
Exclude

 

range decks as they tend to be the decks I typically prey on.  By the time they’re coming on line at turns two-five, I’ve deployed my mana and can counter for profit with Exclude, and draw extra cards if they don’t cast spells with Think Twice.  Piracy Charm on the other hand is almost never a dead card.  Against aggro you kill an X/1 (Very important against Boa decks and Elf decks), and against other decks you just make them discard a card on an EOT step.  This time I heeded the example of success and copied Lul Thyme’s deck almost card-for-card (I might have changed 1-2 MD cards, but I don’t think so, comparing the two lists).

In the sideboard, I maxed out Faerie Trickery because I loved having access to more hard counters from the SB against slower decks which happens to hose Grim Harvest too (dropping Force Spikes), dropped the extra Dream Stalker, cut back on Annuls to two, and ran three Ephemeron along with Hydroblast to hose Red Decks and Deep Analysis for beating Black decks.  I could lose the EEs, but I love them.

 

Ah, that's the stuff! MUCH
A Good Classic PDC deck as suggested by Lul Thyme
Creatures
4 Spire Golem
1 Dream Stalker
1 Fathom Seer

Other Spells
4 Exclude
4 Force Spike
4 Prohibit
4 Counterspell
4 Think Twice
3 Repulse
4 Piracy Charm
1 Echoing Truth
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Remove Soul
Lands
20 Island
4 Lonely Sandbar

Counterspell

So in the first event I played in, I made it to the top four at 2-2.  Rather “meh” results.  Lacking Counterspell was a huge beating as I mentioned.  It did teach how to play the deck, more or less, and did make my play even sharper, much in the way that someone who loses an arm gains strength in the rest of their body because of the extra compensation and work it has to do.  No offense to anyone who lost their arm.  Or leg.  Or tonsils.

Alright, before I start my recap of the tourney, I want to go over how the deck works.  It’s not very complicated, although there are a lot of complicated decisions involved.  The deck is a tribute to card advantage in a sea of mid-range and aggro decks  The basic idea is you counter every relevant threat that your opponents play, hit all of your land-drops, draw extra cards at their end-of-turn with Think Twice, and then once you get to six Islands (or even four-five), drop a heavily discounted 2/4 Flying Golem.  After that, you stop any beats your opponent still is running, then begin to bash their skulls  Pretty easy, right?
So we’ll look at how I did.  I’m a LITTLE fuzzy on the details due to MTGO no longer saving text-based replays of games.  I’ll have to take notes next time.  In the first round, I get a bye.  How exciting.  I sit around for a bit, then Evu PMs me offering me a match against Teliot with an aggro deck that led off with Mongrel… and an Island in play.  I border-line panicked here, thinking I had walked squarely into a first-round matchup with MUC-killer Deep Dog.  This quickly changed (for the worse mostly) as he changed my perception by busting a Ninja of the Deep Hours in my eye with the next attack.  I dropped lands, then Repulse on his Ninja during the beginning of combat.  He replayed his Dog, and passed back.  I dropped a Golem to set up my defense.  He held back his Mongrel and dropped a Looter Il-Kor, seeking to set up free Ninja beats.  I Piracy Charmed the Looter.  I untapped and dropped another dude, then began my offense.  His next Looter I countered, and that was pretty much all the threats he could muster.  I rode Golems to victory, two life at a time.

So it turns out he was running UG aggro, which isn’t a GREAT matchup for me, but is considerably better than Deep Dog, due to their lack of Negates and Rune Snags to protect their quick starts.  I was still nervous in game two because I wasn’t certain he didn’t have any counters up his sleeve, but I felt better than before.  I dropped Force Spikes for fat 4/4 flyers in game two because he didn’t seem like a blazingly fast deck, and he did have Werebears. I didn’t plan on letting them grow to be 4/4s, but they could be.  I was able to Suspend an EE on turn two, while he resolved Werebear and some other dude.  I went for the early (turn four or so) Golem and Charmed his Bear, leaving him with just a Mongrel, if I recall correctly.  After a counter or two more, he scooped saying, “I can’t deal with your Golems.”

Round two was rather educational for me.  Timotheos was opposing me with MRA.  I don’t remember all of the details, but I do know that he dropped a turn one Boros Recruit, and then I proceeded to counter three Keldon Marauders with Force Spike, Prohibit and Exclude.  I soon found a Piracy Charm to whack his single threat and dropped a Golem to ride to victory.

Boros Recruit
For game two, I was concerned that he might be able to access Green to Ancient Grudge my threats, so I brought in at least two Easy Es to go along with four Hydroblast, dropping Remove Soul, Force Spike and Echoing Truth.  Truth can actually be really good when they drop two-three Mogg War Marshal in a row, to get rid of their tokens, but I skipped that here.  Again he had the turn one Goblin, and he was able to stick a War-Marshall and beat for a couple turns, and but I countered subsequent threats and dropped a Dream Stalker to hold fort.  After a few turns of looking at each other, he decided to try to blow up my Lard-butt.  A Pyrite Spellbomb joined his side of the board.  He threw a Lightning Bolt at the Dream Stalker, then tried to finish him with the Spellbomb.  I had the Repulse to get the two-for-none.  He got to attack for three out of it though.  I re-played my man, and slowly chewed up his attackers.  After wiping them out I started hitting for one with my Big-Booty.  I dropped him to twelve, and then a Golem joined my team and finished him with the QUICKNESS!

I don’t want to pick on Timotheos here, because he may have more experience playing against MUC than I do, but it FELT like he should have been throwing burn at my head on my EOT to either get damage in or draw out counters so he can play threats on his head.  Just my feelings on the matchup, but it seemed like that would have put more pressure on me than only playing spells on his turn, which for the most part was how the games went.

Round three I meet up with the man, the myth, the legend himself, Evu.  I knew from watching him in other rounds he was playing some form of Cloak-Aggro.  I dread this matchup, although the build obviously can make it much worse (say they have only quick dudes and pump, rather than three and four-drops).  I got blown away.  Nothing more to say really.  I kept slightly slow hands, which was a mistake.  I should have probably mulled.  Force Spike was negated by his Llanowar Elves early and Vulshok Morningstar made quick work of me.  In game two, I was able to stick a Golem early, and he O-Ringed it and killed me.  I brought Annul, but he hands were just too quick to keep up, and I probably made quite a few mistakes as I hadn’t really played this match-up before (Testing?  Who needs testing?)

A quick thought here.  Normally if I was in a four-round tourney, and started with two wins, I could draw the next two rounds and likely lock up top 4, and can do so for certain if I start 3-0.  In PDC however, drawing-in isn’t allowed, so if you lose early, STICK WITH IT!  Freak thing happen.  After the second round in this tourney, the loser AND WINNER both dropped because they had stuff they had to.  Suddenly that’s two less people you have in front of you if you had a rough start.  Please don’t drop in PDC events!  They’re fun.

So, I’m 2-1 after three rounds, and need a win to Top Four.  As I’ve never missed it in the events I’ve played out (oddly enough, I dropped both times to go grocery shopping with my wife), I wanted the win!  Pride’s an odd duck.  So, I am paired with Calathan.  Who has a VERY high draft rating.  Impressive.  I flip over to PDCmagic and realize he’s the third-highest rated player in Gatherling.  Ok.  I can do this!

I know he was playing GRW Cloak, which makes me feel good about the match-up because he has to hit three colors of mana AND his deck is
Armadillo Cloak
slightly slower and less focused than typical builds.  My feeling about his three-color mana-base plays out perfectly as I keep a three-land hand and proceed to only see two more lands over six or seven turns including a Think Twice before I succumb to sweet, dark, death.  Ouch.

So… bad times.  He seemed to rely on Werebear as a ridiculous threat for two mana, and since he’s running Krosan Tusker and his fetchlands to support his mana-base, he tends to Thresh quickly.  His other threats were great too of course, but that’s what wrecked me to the most, so I brought in Blasts and EEs to have bodies that can bash with his big dudes.  I cut some combination of Force Spike (as he had plenty of mana and I was on the play) and Piracy Charms (didn’t hit many of his threats).

For game two, being on the play was the key.  He was still beating me up pretty well by turn five, and I missed a couple of land drops after keeping another three land hand.  At one point I complain about it.  Soon after I start seeing the sweet flow of mana hit me, and at the same time, he floods.  I bounce his Werebear’s back to his Werehand, and Werecounter those suckers.  He responds on the end of my next turn with a Flash Bear, and brings me low.  My plan is to drop a Spire Golem at six lands.  Next I get a Dream Stalker to hold fort on the ground, and have Golem start hitting.  Finally a Suspended 4/4 starts hitting him.  The only thing left is to counter his two attempts at (Orim’s Thunder) on my Golem, and aimed at my other flyer, and win.

So that went a little better, but was VERY close due to me flooding.  I was put in a bad position due to lacking lands early, but then he was hurt later by not finding much OTHER than lands.  Game three was odd.  I don’t remember much other than HE COULDN’T FIND A RED SOURCE TO SAVE HIS LIFE!!!   Oh, and I transmuted Muddle the Mixture for Counterspell at some point, and it was good for me.  I seem to recall countering one or two of his men, but him having to hold onto the five-six card in his hand despite Green AND Blue mana… Color-screw much?  He is facing lethal when he draws and plays Terramorphic Expanse.  MTGO can be cruel.

So, I win!  So naice! (/Borat).

Tendrils of Corruption
Time for the Top Four.  I’m PRAYING to dodge Evu until the finals at least, and hopefully he loses before then.  I dread the Cloak match-up with this deck as I’ve mentioned.  I’m REALLY pulling to play against the Mono-Black deck I saw Scarecrow007 running (not because he’s not good, but because that’s a great deck for me to poop on as the MUC player).  So, I get my dream.  Evu is in the other bracket against Eric Theorpheius who was running RDW AND Scarecrow is my opponent.

Game one is slightly tight.  I get lucky and manage to draw three of my four Counterspell to stop some of his critical spells, and eventually I drop two-three Spire Golems to hold back his land-based army, run the Repulse trick on my Golem when he tries to (Tendrils) it, and then transmute my Muddle into the FOURTH Counterspell to seal game one.

The Muddle Package has shown its value the last two rounds.  I sided out Echoing Truth, a Piracy Charm and Dream Stalker I think, although it might have just been two Piracy Charms and the Truth.  He began to lag at this point, which put a crunch on him.  He was able to resolve Ravenous Rats and I think a Phyrexian Rager, but I countered his targeted discard and held off his threats until I dropped Golems FTW.

The Finals!!!! Twice I’ve made the finals this season, twice I’ve lost.  And I’m against a deck I feel is a pretty poor match-up.  Ok.  I kept a hand with three land (I remember this vividly, as I had the same hand both games pretty much), two 2CC counterspells (that can hit creatures) and two Exclude.  Slightly slow, but if I can JUST HANG ON…  He leads with Llanowar Elves on the play, invalidating (more or less) a Force Spike hand anyway.  I drop land.  He drops River Boa and hits me for one.  I drop land.  He tries a non-1/1 and I counter it.  He drops another Elf and hits
Piracy Charm

Yes, Blue recieved a Plane-shifted mistake.
me for three.  I drop land.  I counter some dude (might have been a 1/1) and he drops another Elf.  He hits me more.  I’m able to counter his men now (not, he snuck a Phantom Nomad through), but I still have five seven damage per turn coming at me.  I dig frantically between the two Excludes and a Think Twice and a Cycled land!  I find a Piracy Charm, and drop Spire Golem.  He brings the team with me at eight life.  I Charm the Boa, block the Nomad and drop to five.  He attacks again, dropping me to two, then I Piracy Charm a dude, and he drops me to one!  I stall like mad, dropping first a Dream Stalker, then another Golem.  He begins to drop dudes again too, going up to three men, which means I can’t attack with a flyer.  Finally I get another Golem and beat down with it until I can alpha him from five life with all three flyers.

Wow.  Winning on the draw at one life.  Exciting.  I side Annul for Truth, a Think Twice and Muddle, if I recall correctly.  After this match I realize the Dream Stalker in the board would be DI better than my current three EE SB.

I keep a virtually identical hand, and he has the same start of 1/1-into-River Boa.  I joke, “The race to Piracy Charm begins.”  This time I’m able to slow him down a little quicker after he drops three Elves go to along with the River Snake.  I end up at four life this time, winning my first PDC!

So after playing this deck, I have a few tips to beat it.  I know SpikeBoyM covered the topic well and thoroughly a while back, so this may not cover any new ground, but here’s my insight, simple though it is.  

For RDW/Burn Range stuff: burn MUC on their EOT to either kill them or force out counters.  For Mono-Black:  MUC typically has only five hard-counters for sorceries/instants in the MD.  Corrupt and the BX spells can force through lethal.  Haunting Hymn can be very helpful here too.  The other option is an orgy of discard, say a suite of Ravenous Rats, and another full set of discard men, along with Duress and Distress for example.

For Cloak decks, it seems like my ability to win is inversely proportionate to the amount of Silhana Ledgewalker, Boas, cheap dudes, and pump spells you run.  For example, compare this list: http://www.pdcmagic.com/gatherling/deck.php?mode=view&id=3779  which is was Evu was running, to this list ran by GravespwnGoddes:  http://www.pdcmagic.com/gatherling/deck.php?mode=view&id=2162

Both decks are very good, but AngelStompy is just SO quick compared to GW Cloak that I almost can't ever keep up.  Running a deck like this allows you to blow MUC away before it can ever set itself to defend.

So, if losing to MUC bothers you, run AngelStompy I guess, or play RDW very tightly.  It is a strong deck due to counters being versatile answers to most things.  The weaknesses it has are speed, wanting to play on your turn (a strength UNLESS you make it a weakness), and a limited amount of counters of each type.

I hope you've enjoyed this article, and I hope that my experience contributes to the understanding of the deck.  If Lul Thyme has anything to add, LISTEN TO HIM!  The dude is the master.  I'm merely a lowly apprentice's apprentice.

 

 

11 Comments

by Evu at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 14:42
Evu's picture

Unfortunately, Haunting Hymn is an uncommon.

Sorry by walkerdog at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 15:00
walkerdog's picture

Sorry, the OTHER expensive discard from TSP:  Mindstab.  As always, I'm an idiot.

yes by walkerdog at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:48
walkerdog's picture

I was just trying to point out holes in the MUC build.  The Drains and Corrupt can exploit that hole, and if you can force a counterspell or two out with irrevant spells, can be a path to victory.  Game two either a plan of overloading from the SB on 5+CC spells has to be following, or bringing in Duresses and other cheap discard, and tight play with Grim Harvest.  Against the more mid-range MBC builds... honestly I think you have to get a bad draw, and they have to have a punishing AND fast draw.

by LulThyme (Unregistered) 194.249.98.61 (not verified) at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 05:15
LulThyme (Unregistered) 194.249.98.61's picture

5 InstantSorceries OF CC >4.

In practice, this is only a problem against some MBC builds.

by lathspel (Unregistered) 64.81.147.129 (not verified) at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 23:09
lathspel (Unregistered) 64.81.147.129's picture

Great report, hope to see more from you :) .

It's a good comment that MUC can only counter 5 MD sorceries / instants.  I always have a tough time playing non-permission Control decks vs. MUC.   However, I'm not sure what you do post-board when they bring in the Faerie Trickeries as well.

Post-SB by walkerdog at Tue, 05/20/2008 - 00:25
walkerdog's picture

Well, if you're a big-mana deck that plans to be able to ignore their cheap counters, I think you need to side out bad cards in the matchup, and maybe side in more overpriced but effective stuff.  Say 4 Haunting Hymns to begin, and then maybe 2-4 more 5+ CC threatening spells.

by whiffy penguin at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 03:31
whiffy penguin's picture

ha, i almost peed my wearpants!

good article there walker.

I live for a good turn of phrase.

Thanks by walkerdog at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 03:34
walkerdog's picture

Thanks as always Whiffy!

by hamtastic at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 14:01
hamtastic's picture

It's nice to see things getting back to normal a bit around V3.  Hearing about PDC PRE's, etc, is a great thing right now.  A very good report and congrats on the win!

Thanks big guy by walkerdog at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 14:18
walkerdog's picture

Glad you enjoyed it.  PREs are awesome, and more people should do them.  It's like a mini-PE, and free (plus the cards are cheap), but you still get the fun of competition with cool people.

by jaknife at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 15:14
jaknife's picture

Tyler:

Fine article, I always like to read a tourney walkthrough. Also, some good quick tips at the end for facing MUC. One of the biggest problems players run into when facing MUC is convincing themselves they don't have a chance and playing slopily or giving up too fast as a result. Also, thx for the positive comments about "Running The Numbers". I am glad you like reading it.

Jaknife/Dave