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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Jan 11 2009 6:00am
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Welcome to One Double O #4b, the second part of #4, the Weekend Premier Event Survival Guide.

This guide is to help people who want to play in the January 10 Weekend Premier Event to understand more about the more common archetypes lurking around in the format. While it may not be very specific, they should be helpful for the less veteran players to close the gap between the more veteran players.

In #4a, aggro and aggro-control decks were covered. In #4b, control and combo decks will be covered and it will end with some dangerous cards to look out for.

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Control

Control decks are decks that bring you directly into their game plan, letting you have minimal say in the outcome of the game by denying your avenues of attack. Most rely on card advantage to get ahead and this card advantage comes from big trades (1 for many) or from plain card drawing. Their games tend to be longer so looking at who are the slower players in the tournament can give you a hint to where the control decks are.

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 Mono Blue Control

As new players get introduced to the game, they learn about each color by their main characteristics. Blue has counter magic, cards that steal opponents' cards, card drawing, flying creatures and large blockers. Mono blue control is basically the essence of blue put together in a deck.

How to Play:

The most important skill required when playing this deck is knowing how to effectively deal with various threats. Simply countering every card might work but this method of playing is detrimental in the long run because there will always be important threats that must be countered later on. Another important skill is knowing how to manage mana efficiently as mono blue wants to be able to cast as many spells in a turn as possible.

How to Fight:

The weakness of mono blue comes from the fact that it may have problems with resolved threats and even more so if they can not be targetted. Also, because mono blue usually takes out threats at a 1 for 1 level, it is a deck that can run out of steam until it starts drawing cards. Therefore, to break through a counter wall, one has to keep casting spells into it and the spells have to be strong or else they will not be countered and you will end up giving them time to draw cards and get more counter magic. Aggressively forcing mono blue to counter will prevent them from being able to fix their sub par hands and this would be advantageous even if you lost your important spells because you would have more or less opened up the counter wall for your cards to get through.

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 Mono Black Control

Mono Black control is a deck that I would say existed in Magic in its earlier days (with Necropotence in the cardpool)  but was most prominent with the release of Torment with very "mono black exclusive" cards like Mutilate, Mind Sludge and Cabal Coffers just to name a few. With access to discard, card drawing, tutoring, life gain, creature removal and good creatures, mono black sounds like a very attractive deck to play. Most of its cards are geared towards killing creatures or to discarding so it has a very strong anti-aggro capability. Its cards are very strong provided that they actually resolve to work so counter magic can be quite unfavorable. On the whole, this deck is very strong mid to late game (where it will have tons of mana and can do everything).

How to Play:

The key to playing MBC is knowing which are the important, or rather most impacting spells in the relevant matchups. The strong spells usually leaves you tapped out to the next threat so it is therefore important to reduce the possible backlash from a poor play. Some of the situations you will encounter will present a very tough choice but you will have to think hard to make the better ones.

How to Fight:

MBC is clunky by nature so disrupting it goes a very long way to winning against it. Being able to guess which cards are in the opponent's hand is very important so you can make the "better" choice. If you suspect a big discard spell, you should empty your hand as fast as possible. If you suspect a wrath effect, play slightly more conservatively.

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 UW Control

UW is an old archetype that boasts the strongest defensive combination with access to spells that can handle a wide array of threats. UW is known to be unable to win fast and that is generally true unless you are attacking with Exalted Angel with an open path. Being defensive and having many life maintenance spells makes this deck very safe to play and it is almost a natural predator of decks trying to use damage to win.
The special something that UW has is that it has access to a few game winning combos like:
Academy Ruins + Mindslaver
Stuffy Doll + Guilty Conscience
Mana Severance + Goblin Charbelcher
Also, it also has cards that mess up the game like Moat which usually ends the game for certain decks and many of such cards are easily found via Enlightened Tutor.

How to Play:

UW is rather mana consuming and is a deck that finds it difficult to maintain free mana all the time. As such, it is important to know when to give the opponent an opening in order to minimize the potential damage from that opening. Guessing what spells you opponent has is important because you need to know whether or not you will be able to cast your game altering spells safely. A simple Remand can be backbreaking so waiting for a big catch when trying to Wrath of God everything in play may not be the best play. UW is half sorcery speed and half instant speed so there will be a need to balance the plays out.

How to Fight:

Fighting UW is not too difficult. Knowing when to and not to over-commit is the key to playing against UW. As UW can potentially change the state of the game, you need to be able to follow up with UW's play in order to stay in the game. Also, knowing how to capitalize every opportunity that UW opens up is another important factor in the matchup.

Tech for the deck: Genju of the Fields

Gain 2 life for every 2 mana you have (keep activating it because it gains a copy of "lifelink" per activation). This card will make it really difficult for red based decks to react to especially with its recurring ability unless you run out of plains. Its 5 toughness and 2 damage makes it a very strong blocker and will usually absorb a good amount of damage even without multiple lifelink triggers.

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 UB Control

UB control is a very highly favored control archetype with its high quality cards. UB can potentially be 100% instant speed and that factor makes it a very strong control deck because it does not need to present itself tapped out, putting pressure on the opponents who need to guess whether or not they have counter magic or answers to their cards. The real strength of UB comes from its ability to change the state of the game by attacking proactively instead of being just reactive. This forces many decks to go on the defense and eventually lose to the sheer power of the UB top notch creatures. Also, UB can be played very flexibly against different matchups which one of the reasons why the strong control players like UB over other control archetypes.

How to Play:

The key to playing UB is knowing which threats can be handled and which threats cannot. Also, managing the life total is very important as UB tends not to be able to gain life but this does not necessarily mean that a high life total has to be maintained. In fact, even at 1 life, this deck can function optimally as long as you can fend of the last point of damage. Another important skill is knowing when it is the right time to switch from being defensive to being offensive in order to end the game faster so that you minimize the number of topdecks your opponent can make. Proper attacking and blocking evaluations are also required to play this deck properly. 

How to Fight:

UB plays like this:-
1) Counter strong threats/ Protect game plan
2) Draw cards when mana is available
3) Cast powerful creatures to control the board and push for the win

The key to fighting them is to keep them in 1) by dropping threats without the fear of counter magic so that you prevent them from going into 2) which would otherwise strengthen 1). Keeping them in 1) also allows you to weather down their defenses for 3), giving yourself windows of opportunity to remove their game winning plan and stay in the game longer. With their low threat density, you will most likely be open after you manage to get rid of their problematic cards. 

Tech for the deck: Rewind

You never want to be caught tapped out and Rewind allows you to retain tempo by opening up mana to cast your resupplies later on. Rewind works well in UB only because it has a very high number of instants and tends to tap out less than a good number of control decks.

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 Go-mar

The mix of both UB and UW, Go-mar is a deck that is largely reliant on its mana base but has a wide range of powerful cards to use. The most impacting card from the deck is probably (Zur, the enchanter) which is like a swiss army knife for this color combination. The deck is probably the most versatile control deck that has the most controlling options but it can be slow in setting up and fast decks can make use of this can make a clean break. No deck can do everything I guess.

How to Play:

As the deck is a mix of UW and UB, this deck incorporates the characteristics of both so the style of play would be mixed and slightly less coordinated than either. The deck can go to draw-go mode or cast spells and play like how UW would. With more emphasis put into fixing mana or draws, the opening tends to be weak so it would usually have 3 drops to stem the beating from aggressive decks. I believe that toughness 3 creatures are very effective on turn 3 against them or creatures in general because they will either block something or bait burn while you setup.

Against control decks, it is important to build up mana and try to get mana advantage. Cards like Tithe which comes from access to white are very strong against control. The only edge control decks have over go-mar is the fact that go-mar cards tend to be clunky  so getting the mana advantage and dragging the game to the late game is very profitable for go-mar where it can shine with its versatile answers without worrying about not being able to match spells. 

Go-mar has the capability of handling unusual threats because of its versatility so random decks will be easier than if you played a different control deck.

How to Fight:

Go-mar plays many versatile cards but the deck becomes clunky when these cards tend to want a minimum of 3 mana or 2 specific colors. Attacking the mana base can put this deck out of contention as it is really reliant on its mana to let the deck run.
Another angle of approach is by having multiple threats as Go-mar is stronger against individual threats but would at the same time be weaker against multiple ones so it might be a good idea to play "multiple threat packages" like Siege-Gang Commander or Ranger of Eos for instance.

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 Crosis-Go

Unlike UB, Crosis-go is the other end of the control spectrum with a high percentage of cards being played at sorcery speed. This deck capitalizes on the powerful spells from the 3 colors it has access to and these tend not to be instants.  It would therefore play like UW but with more open windows, making it vulnerable to powerful threats because of its lack of counter magic which would be less useful in a deck that taps out very frequently for its spells.

How to Play:

Playing Crosis-go requires a degree of faith in the deck as you would, more often than not, find yourself in a permanent state of being "one turn behind" due to the reactive nature of a number of cards in the deck. Knowing how not to "fall back more than one turn" is the key to playing this deck. Trading aggressively is fine as its powerful spells give it an edge in an attrition war. Also, knowing how to maximize mana is very important because of the clunky nature of the deck with all its high casting cost spells.

How to Fight:

Crosis-go is a deck that plays a good number of clunky spells and tends to be low on non-land, non-"mana producing artifacts" permanents. Attacking its mana or disrupting it while attacking with creatures will make it very tough for the deck to stabilize. The more turns you can buy, the higher the chances of winning. Also, going very aggressive is a very strong option because Crosis-go lacks the hand fixing options it once did in the form of Gifts Ungiven and possibly the 2 black tutors. Equipped creatures (especially with one of the two swords) tend to be strong too as it removes defensive burn spells. Try to back them up with at least one "food creatures" to be sacrificed to edict effects if you suspect one. Protection from red or black can be very useful in the matchup too as they have to run creature control.

Tech for the deck: Nucklavee 

It is never difficult to find a blue instant but maybe a red sorcery. Here are some that I recommend:
Firespout
Rise/Fall for a self-recursion lock of Nucklavee and board control.
Cruel Ultimatum !!
Void
Recoup if you have many sorceries from blue/black.

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 Treva-Go

The control deck makes full use of its mana producing and fixing capabilities to win control decks with its mana advantage and uses high quality cards to fend of aggressive strategies. This deck is very strong but tends to have problems with difficult threats because all 3 colors it has access to tends to be generally removal-light.

How to Play:

Against aggro, the main start would be to start plugging up the ground so that they will not be able to put you in a tight life threatening situation. Treva-go has a good number of strong creatures so getting them out as soon as possible should be a high priority.
Against control, the most important idea is getting as much mana up as possible so that you would have the mana advantage which is very crucial to the matchup. With more mana, one can counter more spells, cast more refuels, more threats than the opponent with their limited playing capabilities.

How to Fight:

This is a deck with large spells and small counters so it will be in your favor if you mange to disrupt them. A good amount of its advantage comes from the graveyard (like Eternal Witness, persist, flashback, threshold etc) so having a Scrabbling Claws variant in play can mess their games a little. Again, mana disruption can buy you some time but it is a deck that can get itself out of a mana problem easily unless you catch them at a bad time with very mana restrictive spells.

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 Lightning Angel Control

This deck is almost UW + Red in its intention. Red is to bolster the deck's defensive capabilities by letting it have access to burn spells and more importantly, access to Flametongue Kavu, Ajani Vengeant, Lightning Helix and Lightning Angel which are all very strong against aggressive decks. Against control decks, this deck can have access to miners and moons or just a simpler Detritivore.

How to Play:

Play this deck like you would a UW control deck but try to gauge which burns to use as the bigger threats would naturally demand larger burn spells or better yet, cards that can deal with the creature directly. Not planning beforehand can put you in a bad position where you have to end up using multiple cards to clear a single threat. When playing this deck, do not be afraid to cast your powerful spells and do not be afraid to lose them. Even if you suspect some tricks, it will be to your advantage to flush out the trick before it becomes too late.

How to Fight:

Lightning angel control is generally stronger against aggro decks so it will tend to lose out against control decks. The key to fighting this deck is knowing how to force cards out of the hand. The faster they drop their powerful spells, the lesser of them you will need to face at their full capacity because they tend to work much better with some form of protection. Playing aggressively is good but try to leave a trump card behind so that once they drop their defense, you can come in from the opening. 
Do look out for the easier to cast counter magic like Condescend because they work better in that deck than the heavier blue spells.
Also, like many 3c decks, attacking the mana base can be a very strong approach as well but they might have artifact mana to fix their mana problems so its effectiveness might go down. However, if successful, it will be a walk in the park for you. 

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Combo & Others

These decks are decks that are not very much interested in playing conventional magic of casting creatures, attacking and blocking but are more ambitious in their nature. Unlike what people tend to say about how aggro>control>combo>aggro, I tend to see this flow disrupted like this: aggro>combo>control>(or =)aggro because there is no straight up combo deck that will not try to protect its combo. This is not your usual neck breaking format like extended, legacy or vintage where combo decks can win on turn 2. Their fast winning capabilities make them good against aggro in those formats as aggro decks can never dream about making turn 2 kills. I'd say that a good, uninterrupted aggro clock is about 4 turns.

In Singleton 100 how do you expect to make turn 2 kills? In fact, I would say that combo decks face a terrible clock from aggro decks which will force them to make poor plays or pressurize them to win faster than they can. I would say that a fast consistent kill from combo would be about turn 5 which is a turn slower than aggro decks. This is because they need to spend time fixing mana and searching out key cards.

Non-conventional decks are difficult to combat because you usually will not be able to identify them on time to take appropriate action. A good telltale sign is when they don't actually react to your cards with the colors that can react to you and seem to be play hand fixing spells.

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 Heartbeat Combo

Although the main cards played are UG, I've seen Thoomor play his heartbeat with 5c and the neat thing about the heartbeat combo in Singleton 100 is that it does not actually need to storm. It can just cast really big spells using very large amounts of mana. That makes the deck much less reliant on specific strategies but allows the deck to run in a more "general" approach. With Gifts Ungiven down the bin, I think that this deck has taken a rather huge blow but it is still very much in contention.

How to Play:

1) Gather mana
2) Cast big spells
3) Win with big spells.
or
1) Gather mana
2) Cast many spells in a turn and generate a good amount of mana, cast Mind's Desire (or use the storm mechanic to win).
3) Generate more mana from the revealed cards and win with something you get.

How to Fight:

The combo is very solid but its massive mana setup can be attacked at a single point: 
the graveyard.
When attempting to "go-off", the deck will cast Early Harvest or Rude Awakening and reuse it a few more times by using cards like Eternal Witness, Recollect, Restock or Nostalgic Dreams. Therefore removing their land untapping spell can stop them in their tracks and that might give u the concession you need (if they wanted to go off big) but they might be able to just throw big threats down. Even so, attacking the graveyard is a very strong gameplan against them. It's not like they can't force their way through counter walls (as seen from the games played by "Star Wars Kid" in the pro tour. If you have counter magic, try to aim it at the "reusing" spells if possible but they would probably have more anyway.

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 Dragon Combo

This deck houses the infamous Worldgorger Dragon infinite loop combo deck.
It is the only combo that I am aware of that can naturally do a turn 2 kill in the format.
Again, for those unfamiliar with the combo, this is how it works:

1) Get Worldgorger Dragon into the graveyard (which Entomb is the best here or you could discard it from your hand somehow)
2) Cast a reanimation enchantment on it (which you have 3 to choose from: Animate Dead, Necromancy and Dance of the dead)
At this point, you can create an infinite loop where your lands come in and out of play and you can tap them for mana when they come back into play unless they come into play tapped.
3) Use infinite mana to cast a big X instant spell, put a Bogardan Hellkite into the loop, or use Ambassador Laquatus to "mill" your opponent out. There are many other options but that's the rough idea.

I have not personally seen a Singleton 100 port of this deck but it is definitely very much possible as there are still a good number of support cards available in the format.

How to Play:

It is best to play the deck slowly and catch the opponent by surprise when your opponent taps out or after you've cleared the path by Duress/Thoughtseize or even by cards like Orim's Chant or Abeyance. Trying to hide the true nature of the deck is important because doing so will greatly improve your winning chances.
Also know that Necromancy can let the combo go off at instant speed. That can help greatly against counter matchups where they try to do an end of turn draw spell.

How to Fight:

Once you know what deck you are facing, you need to know that the combo can be disrupted at 2 areas:

1) the dragon
2) the enchantment

Graveyard hate is definitely good and so is targetted removal or bounce at either of the combo pieces. The dragon is a 6/6 so burning it is actually a possible play. When you manage to disrupt the combo, your opponent will have no permanents in play. So disrupt the key cards when the enchantment is on the dragon and the dragon's "remove everything else its controller controls from play" ability is on the stack. This will trigger the "return all cards removed by Worldgorger Dragon" before the cards are removed from the game so what is left would be the ability to "remove everything its controller controls from play".
It's not hard to win against a clear board.

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 Reanimator

Reanimator was mentioned in One Double O #1 as a good choice in a format without much graveyard hate. Currently from observation, graveyard hate is still at its minimum so I think this can be a good choice for the tournament. The main idea of the deck is to get a big fat powerful creature into the graveyard and put them back from graveyard into play.

How to Play:

Although it might look like a very simple deck to play, one should familiarize oneself with the possible sequences that the deck can pull off and manage the life total closely. It is a difficult deck to pilot optimally because of the many risk management situations that will arise when playing it. I am not very confident of piloting it because there are times when I don't see the optimal play like which creatures to dump into the graveyard or which spells to cast. The deck has a very short period of time to work so being able to make optimal choices is very important.

How to Fight:

Being very aggressive helps in the matchup as reanimator has a small startup inertia and until there is a creature in play, there will seldom be any interruption from the reanimator deck so going all out is a good idea. As such, attacking the mana base again is a very strong option as it slow them down enough for you to go for the win.

For control decks, it is very important to keep your eye on the graveyard and attack the reanimation spells or the reanimated creatures. This will allow you to play without much fear of the deck. It is also important to note that there are instant speed reanimation spells so tapping out end of turn might not be a very smart move. Also, never let your guard down just because you don't see anything because anything can happen in a span of one main phase. I think that building mana and waiting until you can both counter and cast a threat is a good option depending on what information you manage to get of what is in your opponent's hand and graveyard.

Of course, attacking the graveyard directly is the best option against reanimator but there is a lack of graveyard hate now.

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Ad Nauseum Storm

Here is a nice storm deck that wants to do one thing: draw the entire deck and cast everything.
It is technically a 2 card combo spotting Angel's Grace and (Ad nauseum) or it can play like a normal storm deck. The version I played against recently was still rather green and can be improved greatly but I think that it has the potential to become a very strong deck.

It's a pity that LED was banned because the deck would have been able to make use of interactions with LED.

How to play:

Count, count and count. Always know when it is possible to go off and when it is not advisable to do so because once you go all in, there will almost be no return from then.

Against aggro decks, it is important to judge what are the cards that will possibly kill you and whether or not it is possible to drag the game on so that you can make a better "going off turn".

Against control decks, try to stall as long as possible as the more mana you have, the more impossible it becomes for them to stop you. Perhaps Merchant Scroll into Brainstorm early and holding it up is going to be a strong protective play but I'm just guessing but even so, building up mana and building the maximum storm count can go a long way into securing the win.

How to fight:

Storm combos tend to be easily out-clocked by aggro decks which have to go all-in against storm or they can lose by a little. Discard is quite troublesome for storm as they tend to rely on storm counts which is essentially greatly determined by the number of cards in hand. Messing up with the math or messing with the mana base before they go off can be very lethal because they tend to go all-in in a single turn.

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Miscellaneous combos

Here are some combos to look out for which you can try to fit into your deck or just know so that you can be slightly more prepared:

Earthcraft Squirrel Nest => Creates infinite tokens of which only one will be untapped in that turn. Needs one extra turn to win.
Swans of Bryn Argoll + Chain of Plasma => Draw your whole deck.
Swans of Bryn Argoll + Seismic Assault + (dakmoor salvage) => Draw half your deck and leave half your deck in your graveyard.
Mana Severance + Goblin Charbelcher => Deal damage = decksize
Leyline of the Void + Helm of Obedience => Mill your opponent (might be found in mono-black)
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Pestermite => Infinite flyers with haste
Saffi EriksdotterCrypt Champion => random long loop which needs another part like maybe Goblin Bombardment or Nantuko Husk
Tunnel Vision + a card that puts your card at the bottom of your library=> Can mill you out if you get Hindered or Vendilion Cliqueed

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Last Words

This marks the end of One Double O #4b. Hopefully #4 as a whole has been helpful. #4a can't be edited to look better but #4b seems ok. I hope to see as many people as possible in the second Weekend Singleton 100 Premier event. I wouldn't say it would be a cut-throat tournament but I do suggest testing out decks a good number of times before playing in the PE.

Even if you don't think that you have a good deck, it is definitely worth playing as top 32 go back with 3 packs at least for the entry cost of 6 tix, which is 2 ticket per pack and the more you win the more you can potentially get. The last time, top 32 was almost everyone in the event!

See you at the Jan 10 event!

-Tarmotog~

tarmotog@hotmail.com
Tarmotog on MTGO

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Extra: Do join the Singleton 100 group on myMTGO.com !

2 Comments

Stating the obvious by Blade (not verified) at Mon, 01/12/2009 - 11:35
Blade's picture

Too late (not entirely your fault I guess).. :/

Lots of information but no deck lists this time ? Imho the biggest hurdle for this format (which is way better than the critics say) is the amount of time it needs to even get to a first version of a 100 card deck. Well maybe the official release on Thursday will help with that.

I didn't put up lists this by Tarmotog at Wed, 01/14/2009 - 11:03
Tarmotog's picture

I didn't put up lists this time as feedback seemed negative with the lists in the previous part.

I'll have to admit, I don't have updated lists for control and combo decks especially with the bannings of gifts ungiven which could hold up many decks. I think only some individuals who have brainstormed the decks have those lists.

If you want,

here is Chriskool's UW control: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1127756

here is a UB control from the 1st PE: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol8...
(you can look at the bottom for a control/reanimator breed)

here is a reanimator deck: http://www.puremtgo.com/articledisplay.asp?AID=1294