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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Sep 29 2008 3:37am
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(Author's Note: No Mongeese were hurt in the writing of this article)

I am so excited about MTGO right now. Classic and PDC have been getting a double-scoop of love from the WotC people. Premier Events are increasing for Classic, and will occur occasionally for the other. Classic is getting a ton of new cards that will change the format, introducing new decks and killing a few old decks. Life is good.

So, what changes were made to Premier Events? In general, pretty much everything I've advocated on the Gleemax forums in threads discussing their struggles to fire. First up, the less-played formats (Essentially everything other than Classic and Standard, and maybe Block, since those have been the only formats to reliably fire since V3) get a shot in the arm with “Weekend Events”. These pay out to 32nd place. The payout at the top is higher too. WotC has created events that will work much like permanent 3x payout events, which is grand. My suggestion had been to run a couple of weeks, or even a month of 3x payouts, but this is even better, since it provides a long-term strong incentive to have a good deck in virtually every format.

This also directly addressed another suggestion I had made, a request for an FNM-like event. By running these weekend events at friendly times for just about everyone, and paying out a ton of prizes, even the more casual players can jump in and have a fighting chance to pick up some packs with their MGA deck and the like. I think this will go a long ways to improving the overall health of MTGO by drawing in more players to constructed, and by improving the economy somewhat.

I had also requested and suggested a second Classic PE. As support for it, we have been able to fire our only PE that is at a kind of bad time regularly, and we're the only non-standard, non-block PE to fire in V3. Also, with the upcoming rotation from EXT to Classic for IPA cards, Classic should be growing somewhat. Finally, I took a poll of a lot of Classic players, and people interested, and the “preferred” times seemed to be either Saturday night, “Pick a weeknight” or Saturday morning. By placing the PE at 20:00 EST, the guys managing MTGO seemed to prove that they do listen to our requests and input, or that they're freaking geniuses who came up with a plan that seemed to fit the need.

So, to celebrate our new Saturday PE, I played in it. I ran Whiffy Penguin's Trinket Stalker Control deck. I liked it a lot since it played similarly to my old Pale Ale list. Pale Ale was conceived in a format that was fairly combo-heavy. It was first built just before the restriction of Flash, so it had a ton of discard, and a decent helping of graveyard hate. Just for comparison, here's an old list:

Pale Ale

Here's Whiffy's list of TS Control, and the list I ran (Not much difference, but the SB is altered).



At first glance, the only thing they really share is discard and Swords to Plowshares. Taking another look though, we see that both have important threats that are fairly hard to kill that can produce card advantage. Whiffy's list is really neat in that it has a massively powerful Enlightened Tutor and Vampiric Tutor toolbox. Singleton copies of Moat, Bottled Cloister, Sensei's Divining Top, Pithing Needle, and Tormod's Crypt give you a lot of options.

The deck runs eleven fetch lands, and with the three tutors, this adds up to 14 shuffle effects, which is a nice amount of synergy with your Top and Brainstorms. The only change I made was to cut one Duress from the maindeck, and add in one
Exalted Angel from the SB, hopefully giving me a miser's out against aggro decks. I also changed up the SB to match up well with Affinity, as it won the last two events.

In the first round, I played RenatoAmado. I've seen him around in Events and the Tournament Practice room quite a bit. I went first. I laid an untapped Hallowed Fountain, with a hand of Brainstorm, Tombstalker x 2, and two Swords. He Thoughtseized me off of Overgrown Tomb. I responded with Brainstorm, seeing Thoughtseize and EE, putting EE back first, then Thoughtseize. He took a Swords. Now, I'm not certain why, but for the next two turn, I DIDN'T PLAY THOUGHTSEIZE. /Vomits

I played a Mire, and passed the turn back. He took the second Swords with another Thoughtseize, then hit a homerun... Cabal Therapy naming Tombstalker. Ewww. Then I cracked a fetch to shuffle away EE. Amazing how bad you can play huh? I dropped land and passed. I finally (after being CRUSHED), played the TS. I saw two Glittering Wish and two lands. He untapped and Wished for Mystic Enforcer. I untapped, drew Brainstorm, and dug. I saw Thoughtseize, Enlightened Tutor, and a land. I put back two land, and fired a Thoughseize, taking the Enforcer, leaving a fetch and Vindicate. He untapped in Spectral Lynx. I Tutored for Top, shuffling away those two lands in the process. I played it, and he dropped a Loxodon Hierarch into play. I Topped and found a Swords to draw for the Hierarch. Now, I had to find a solution to his board AND two his Vindicate in his hand.

He played a Tarmogoyf, at 4/5 right now. I took beats from Lynx down to nine life. I dug and saw Exalted Angel. I played her morphed, and he Vindicated her. Cool. I took six damage from his Lynx and Goyf. With two mana untapped and one card in hand, he passed the turn. I couldn't find a solution to his board that would kill Lynx AND Goyf. Wait... he didn't do that... instead he tapped out for a third Spectral Lynx. I had one mana untapped. I Topped. I need Moat or Engineered Explosives. Instead I see a fetch, Duress, and Pithing Needle. I put the Fetch on top. I draw it, and Top again. Nothing... I play the fetch and crack it, but only have four mana up. I blindly draw off the Top, and get Engineered Explosives! Play them for two... Fire them off... YES! I almost let him take his turn before firing them, but then remember that he has regenerators. I wipe his board off an absurdly lucky series of plays, helping create parity with my misplays. He untapped and kept his card. I drew my Top again and played it.

Renado dropped another Goyf into play. On my EOT, I peeked, seeing two Hymn to Tourach and another EE. I put EE on top and played it. He attacked, and I Topped. If I saw Swords, I might use it to keep the threat out, although I wasn't certain I would. I saw Hymn, Hymn, Bottled Cloister. I blew up his Goyf. He had no play. I played Cloister, hoping he didn't have ANOTHER Vindicate. He didn't. I topped into Trinket Mage and the two Hymns. I put Mage on top. I drew and played both, hitting two Swords to Plowshares, then playing Trinket Mage and getting a Tormod's Crypt. No Genesis tricks please! I played the Crypt. He had nothing again. I drew Swords to Plowshares and Brainstorm. Mage started his beatdown, dropping him to eighteen. I 'Stormed for Hymn and a Fetch, playing them both. I got the THIRD Swords and a Thoughtseize. I put the cards back on top and played everything out so I would lose anything if he blew up Cloister after it drew me DI cards. I Topped, see Needle, Swords, and an Island.

I put the Island and Swords on top. I dropped the Island. This was a mistake. I could have/should have grabbed Needle, and named Genesis or
Pernicious Deed. That way I wouldn't have a Swords under my Cloister. Mage beat down more. After being Hymned twice, he wasn't holding lands back, and dropped an Overgrown Tomb into play tapped. I Topped into Needle, Tombstalker, and Godless Shrine
. I put Big Tombs on top, with Needle under him.

I played Tombytomberson, removing six cards to get the discount. Then I dropped Needle naming Genesis. He played Swords on Tombstalker. I went up to seven. He dropped a Dark Confidant into play. I Topped and saw two Fetches and a dual. I cracked my Fetch to dig up a Godless Shrine, and Topped again. Duress, Fetch, and EE. I put the two spells on top. I used Swords on his Bob. Then I beat down to fourteen.

A better play was probably EE for two and save the Swords for any fatties he had later. I Topped into Brainstorm and two Fetches. I drew the Storm and a Fetch, and played the Fetch. More beatdown commenced. I Brainstormed into three Fetches. Amazing. I put two back and cracked the one in play to get a Swamp, then Topped. Tombstalker, Fetch, Plains. I put BT on top. He played Goyf. I played my EE at two, and then blew up Goyf on his turn. I then beatdown ftw, winning on the twentieth turn.

I sided in a couple of Angels for Enlightened Tutors and Moat. I his stuff almost all died to EE, so Moat felt like Vindicate-bait, not to mention any other enchantment-kill he had. I did bring in a singleton
Leyline of the Void
also to combat any GY tricks he had.

Game two I kept a hand of double Brainstorm, Hymn, TS, EE, and Watery Grave and Ancient Den. He Thoughtseized my TS. I drew and played Crypt along with Grave uptapped. He dropped a fetch and passed the turn. I Stormed at EOT, finding a fetch and a Hymn and a basic land.

I played the fetch and got a Godless Shrine, then Hymned him. I got Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Nantuko Monastery. He fetched a Shrine to go with his Overgrown Tomb. Then he Wished for Mystical Enforcer. I played Den, and Hymned him again with three cards in his hand. I got... Swords and Temple Garden, missing the Enforcer. However, he only had three mana at this point. He drew another Shrine and played the Enforcer. At this point, he had six cards in his GY, but I had a Crypt on the board.

I drew another Brainstorm, and used it. I “drew” Tombstalker, another Hymn, and ANOTHER (No. 4) Brainstorm. I put back Big Tombs and a Hymn, and played EE for two. He Wished for Vindicate and hit me for three, down to twelve. I drew into Hymn, and knocked Vindy out of his hand. I Crypted him when he attacked, making his Enforcer remain a 3/3. I took the attack, dropping to nine. I Stormed again, finding Thoughtseize, Vamp Tutor, and Swords. I put back Tomb and Vamp. Then I Seized his hand... yep, his card WAS a Goyf. I talked reason into the Enforcer, and he became a blacksmith, producing plowshares from swords from that day forward. I drew the Vamp. He played Spectral Lynx. Eot, I Brainstormed, seeing Tombs, Duress, and Swords.

I put back Vamp, then Duress. I untapped, and then played Big Tombs, removing everything from my GY except for Crypt, given I had an Academy Ruins in play. He played another Shrine. On his EOT, I RFGed the Lynx. I drew Vamp, and hit him with my fatty flyer. Then I Duressed away the Cabal Therapy he was holding. He did nothing. I drew and played a fetch. I hit him again. EOT, I popped a fetch. I drew another, and played it, then hit him again. He untapped and scooped.

In round two, I was playing CountryHillbilly, member of Magic Eternal. He had Mono-Red Goblins. Game one was pretty simple. He hit me a lot. On turn one, I used Enlightened Tutor to get Moat. Turn two, I Brainstormed. Turn three, I played Engineered Explosives for one, then popped it, hitting his Prospector, Skullclamp, and Aether Vial. He hit me to six and I played Moat. He then tutored up a bunch of men with Recruiter, including one
Goblin Sharpshooter
. Then he played Skullclamp, and offed his Recruiter. I Hymned away his Sharpshooter and that was game. Wow...

So, game two he had Skullclamp, then Mogg War Marshall, Recruiter, and blew me out. Game three though... Well, lets go back. I sided out my Crypt, Moat, and two Duress for two Engineered Plague, and two Exalted Angel. Turn one, I tried to use Enlightened Tutor to dig up my EP, and it wasn't there. Neither were my other SB cards. MTGO de-sided my deck, and decided the match. I got Moat, and dropped it on turn four, but he untapped and played a million Goblins, including Sharpshooter, with exactly enough to kill me. If I had had Plague, I had the pieces to play it, then get the second, or Moat to lock him out. I submitted the bug to WotC and got a refund.
Round three, Moranl was my opponent. About the only thing I felt semi-certain about was that he would probably have
Phyrexian Dreadnought in his deck. I kept a hand of two Hymns, Thoughtseize, EE, StP, and two lands. He started the bout with a fetch-land, getting a Godless Shrine (foily, natch), and played Skullclamp. I drew a Trinket Mage, and had a Fetch. I cracked it to get a Godless Shrine of my own, then Thoughtseized him. I had the choice of Brainstorm, a fetch and a forest, Tarmogoyf, and Ponder. I took the Goyf.

He played Ponder, then fetched a Breeding Pool untapped. I played Fountain after drawing Tombstalker. He Brainstormed on my EOT. He untapped, dropped another Fetch and played Bob. I tried StP on Bob. He had
Force of Will, pitching Stifle. I untapped, drew a Shrine, and played Trinket Mage, getting a second EE. Bob got him a land, with no play other than that. I drew a Thoughtseize, attacked, and then removed a FoW from his hand with TS. His other card was Krosan Grip. He revealed a Dreadnought to Bob. Then he hit me.

I drew a fetch and played Hymn, taking the Nought and the Grip. I hit him with Mage again. He drew another land off of Bob. I cracked my fetch EOT, getting a
Watery Grave. I drew a land, then played EE for two and popped it. He had Smother for my Mage. He played Sensei's Divining Top
and flipped it into another Bob. I played EE for two, then popped it on his upkeep... giving him a free card. Dumb dumb dumb. He got back Top for free. He played it and did nothing else. I Hymned his last card to see a (Foil of course) Engineered Explosives.

He untapped into Trinket Mage, tutoring Phyrexian Dreadnought. Then he Clamped up his Mage. I popped Enlightened Tutor for Moat, and plopped it into play. He Topped, then flipped it into Dark Confidant. I played Tombstalker. I took my whole GY except Explosives x 2. He revealed EE to Bob and played it. He topped, didn't like what he saw, and cracked his fetch. He flipped into Trinket Mage, and played it, tutoring for Skullclamp and using it on the already Clamped Mage, drawing FOUR, but leaving one land untapped. I attacked.. and it was lethal, and he had no tricks.

Game two I can't remember much of, and my replay is gone. I won fairly easily. I Sbed out Moat, bringing in Angels.

Round four was fairly uneventful. I got rolled by TheWildDog, running Red Thresh. I drew three threats total in two games. It was something of an anomaly. I did have one BIG misplay though, to start off, and I'd like to share it. I opened game one with Thoughtseize, seeing Goyf, Stifle, two Spell Snare, and a fetch. My hand was two Hymns, an EE, and an Angel. What to take? I took Goyf which was absolutely wrong. He had mulled and kept a one-land hand.

Aside from Stifle, ANY OTHER CARD WAS A BETTER IDEA. I can leave him with either no way to dig for land, OR take a counter for one of the Hymns. Instead, I ran them into Snares, and he was able to keep countering, then resolve a Mongoose. I blew it up with EE, but he had more Mongeese ftw.

I brought in two Angels, and saw one Trinket Mage and one Angel in game two, and no other threats in my top 15+ cards. Awesome.

In round five, I was playing against Shaddai. I screwed up again. I did not mulligan away a hand of THREE Tombstalkers and a Pithing Needle. He comboed out fairly quickly, running Enduring Ideal.

Game two I had another Duress and Null Rods from my SB. I kept a hand of Thoughtseize, Hymn, Null Rob, and Brainstorm, along with three lands. I took a Mystical Tutor, leaving two Brainstorm, a Top and a Fountain and Plains. He played the Fountain and Top. I Hymned, hitting Plains and Brainstorm. I Brainstormed into another Hymn, and fired it. He Stormed in response. He pitched Seething Song and Pentad Prism. He played an Ancient Spring. I played Null Rod. He Topped in response. Then I Brainstormed, getting a Brainstorm and a Mage, keeping them.

He had a fetch. I played my Mage, then got a Den. He kept his card and passed the turn. I Stormed into Vampiric Tutor and Thoughtseize. I beat down. He did nothing. I drew another Mage. TM smacked him, and I Seized his hand... He Vamp Tutored, so I was left with Seething Song. I Brainstormed and dropped Trinket Mage. He did nothing. I attacked with both Mages and played a third. He untapped and scooped.

Game three, I kept a hand with Swamp, Fountain, Thoughtseize, Big Tombs, Brainstorm, Swords, and EE. I should have shuffled this away probably, but I figured between TS and BS, I had a good shot of getting ahead. I drew another BS. I Seized him, seeing Vampiric Tutor, Brainstorm, Pentad Prism, Solitary Confinement, a fetch, and Burning Wish. He played Prism for two. I played EE at two. He Burning Wished for Ideal. I popped EE, and played BS. I should have done it in the opposite order. I Brainstormed into three creatures... and no discard. He went off the next turn. Kind of bad luck, but well played by Shaddai.

I really liked the deck. If I hadn't been so busy before the PE, I really would have practiced, and been more mindful of what hands to mulligan in specific matchups.  The deck itself is VERY powerful, although I might make a few minor changes, such as possibly Extirpate in the sideboard, along with some Kami of Ancient Law, or possibly just a card like Solitary Confinement, since that beats some decks by continually putting an artifact on top of your deck, decking them if they can't break the confinement.  Other than that, Whiffy put together a TRUE control deck in an aggro environment, and I have to congratulate him on that.  See you in the next week or so!


hoorah for Big stalks by whiffy penguin at Mon, 09/29/2008 - 12:31
whiffy penguin's picture

Very nice walker. Too bad you lost the games you did. Id be willing to bet that with a touch more practise you would have 5-0ed the swiss with those match ups. Also your article beat mine to print. My next article is all about Trinket stalker, and the origins of the deck. I wish i could say it was a whiffy creation i just built the sb and ran it a few times.

by hamtastic at Mon, 09/29/2008 - 14:57
hamtastic's picture

Good breakdown and it's always intersting to see a new view into the Classic metagame.

My only suggest would be to format and break up the matches/games a bit better.  It was kind of hard to see where one transitioned to the next, also the

+x Card
+x Card

-x Card
-x Card

For sideboarding choices, it would help to indicate when and where that's happening.

Other than the formatting I really like this article!  Good luck in the next PE!

by iceage4life at Mon, 09/29/2008 - 18:02
iceage4life's picture

I'm not sure how unlucky you were r4g2.  You had 10 threats in your deck and saw two.  You should see one about every six cards or two in twelve.  Seeing 2 in 15 cards is not uncommon in a deck like this.

Saying that your TRUE control deck lost because it couldn't find a threat is kinda sketchy.

Also Needle on Genesis doesn't help so much :)

Thanks Everyone by walkerdog at Tue, 09/30/2008 - 03:03
walkerdog's picture

Whiffy - We'll all read your origin story for the deck I'm sure.  I'm interested to see it.

Hammy - I'll try to have a more clear format for my SBing and for breaking up games.

IA - I guess I should have put more detail into what cards I was playing looking for those threats, but I had Brainstormed and Fetched (for an extra 2 cards for the two I put away), and then also had chances to draw Vamp as an 11th threat finder.  Not UNLIKELY I guess, but not the best odds of occuring either.

Thanks for reading/commenting guys.