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By: Rasparthe, R.A. Sparthe
Nov 19 2007 11:41am
3.25
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Don’t know who Kim Cattrall is?  That is probably a good thing since it means you may be spending all together too much time watching Sex and the City.  But before she became the crass, perpetually horny Samantha Jones of Sex in the City she was ‘Emmy’ in the incredibly forgettable 80’s film called Mannequin.  I mean, who hasn’t created their own well-endowed, gorgeous mannequin only to have it possessed by a 4000 year old Egyptian spirit and come alive right before your eyes. 

Now you too can reanimate your voluptuous, sexy creations.  Or, at least you can if you find Mulldrifter sexy.  Which it is, in an unfair card advantage kinda way.  This is the deck piloted by Kenny Mayer that took first place at Virgina States.

Lands

4 Faerie Conclave
4 Mouth of Ronom
4 River of Tears
3 Snow-Covered Island
7 Snow-Covered Swamp
4 Underground River

Instants

4 Makeshift Mannequin
2 Grim Harvest

Sorceries

2 Profane Command

Creatures

4 Epochrasite
4 Mulldrifter
4 Phyrexian Ironfoot
4 Riftwing Cloudskate
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Shriekmaw
2 Venser, Shaper Savant

Sideboard

3 Bottle Gnomes
3 Damnation
3 Mournwhelk
3 Pithing Needle
3 Extirpate

 

There are several versions of the decklist above but they all run the same core cards.  Most of the variances come from deciding the number of Grim Harvests, Venser, Shaper Savants and lands to run.  A couple versions maindeck the Damnation and one even ran Loxodon Warhammers.  The point is the deck is very versatile and can be set up to take advantage of the expected metagame.  This toolbox-like characteristic is the real reason why U/B Mannequin did so well at States where the metagame was unformed and rogue decks abounded.  Piloted by a good player the deck is capable of changing between aggro and control depending on what your opponent is playing. 

Naysayers will point to the fact that the Mannequin deck is by definition a rogue deck since it wasn’t seen competitively before States.  It was nothing but a fluke taking advantage of a field that was unprepared for its versatility.  Surely, the after-States metagame adjustments will see the deck fall to the wayside.  Wrong.  GP: Karkow has legitimized the deck by propelling it into a genuine archetype.  Two of the Top 8 decks at the Grand Prix were in fact U/B Mannequin although they had some very different cards in the maindeck.

Oliver Ruel: (running 61 – ‘oh, the humanity’ - cards) 

+1 Urza's Factory, +3 Damnation
-1 Mouth of Ronom, -1 Venser, Shaper Savant, -1 Grim Harvest

Matej Zatlkaj: 

+3 Mind Stone, +1 Venser, Shaper Savant
-1 Mouth of Ronom, -1 Snow-Covered Swamp, -2 Grim Harvest

Both players opted for Thoughtseizes in the sideboard while Ruel added Nameless Inversions to the slot previously taken by Damnation.  Zatlkaj ran no Damnations in the deck and made the interesting choice of Draining Whelk instead which must have been a shock to anyone falling victim to it in Game 2.

Lands 

Faerie Conclave

With no first turn plays the playset of Faerie Conclave doesn’t impede board progression at all and provides a flying beater/blocker when needed.  This one man land can almost be the single deciding factor against a heavy permission deck like the one run by Guillaume Wafo-Tapa at GP: Krakow and other control decks. 

Mouth of Ronom

Another important land providing an answer to popular game wrecking creatures like Teferi, Brine Elemental and Treetop Village and all in a cute, little uncounterable package.  Don’t forget it can also be used to untap Phyrexian Ironfoot since it is considered a Snow Land. 

The other lands are fairly straightforward featuring the appropriate Future Sight and 10th Edition duals and the obvious snow-covered lands needed to activate Mouth of Ronom and Phyrexian Ironfoot.

The Core

Epochrasite

This little guy is an absolute house against aggro decks.  Coming down on Turn two and kicking a little dirt in your opponents face before sucking up a few points from their first attacker.  He accomplished the mission of all early drops, but wait!  In three turns he will be back for more, bigger and badder, new and improved.  When he hits the table as a 4/4 he becomes a real concern which is why you find games were this little 1/1 will stare down a Venser or an Elephant token simply because they don’t want to kill him.  He is also a legitimate target for Makeshift Mannequin if the artifact-that-could happened to get itself countered.

The Mull & Shriek Show 

They laugh, they dance, they drink and they make balloon animals for the kiddies.  These two cards are likely going to be the main targets for both your Makeshift Mannequin and your Grim Harvest.  The Mulldrifter provides repeatable card advantage while the Shriekmaw, well, kills things.  To top it off both have evasion in order to squeak through those last bits of damage you might need.  There is a reason that Shriekmaw at the uncommon slot has maintained a steady $2.50 price tag since being released online and Mulldrifter as a common rates almost fifty cents.

Phyrexian Ironfoot

This is the epitome of an efficient creature.  Four toughness means he is outside of Incinerate and Nameless Inversion range and can hold the ground against any ravaging Land Apes or Elephant tokens that might present themselves.  His no-untap drawback is slightly annoying but for the stats it is worth it.  Also, much to their chagrin, opponents sometimes forget that he can untap anytime, not just on your own turn, and run an unwary attacker straight into him.  This guy and Epochrasite make up your early defense team.

 

Riftwing Cloudskate

The Cloudskate is one of the best tempo cards in Standard right now.  It is always a solid Turn two play, sometimes even preferable to the Epochrasite.  Its evasion makes it a legitimate threat and once it hits the graveyard it becomes a useful reanimation target.  The Mannequin’s cheap threats and removal package make tempo an important consideration.  Bouncing an opponents Coldsteel Heart or even something as simple as a Faerie Conclave in the mirror can prove pivotal.

Shadowmage Infiltrator 

Fairly self-explanatory as the Shadowmage can provide a mountain of card advantage and some decks have very few answers to him.  In a pinch he even blocks the odd Goblin token with his respectable ‘fat’.  The two color cost is usually not a problem for this deck with eight dual lands. 

Makeshift Mannequin

The deck's namesake card.  The real key to its power is in the fact it is an instant.  The mannequin counter is not as serious as you might think since most decks are not running pingers or other reusable targeting abilities.  With that in mind, it does mean your creatures die to the Cloudskate's bounce or even a Goldmeadow Harrier's tap ability.  You should always be playing this card with an eye first and foremost on a creature's 187 effects.  The retrieved creature is just a bonus that will likely not stick around.  That isn't to say you should never use it to reanimate a Phyrexian Ironfoot but the Makeshift Mannequin can provide a great source of advantage when used on a Shriekmaw/Mulldrifter/Riftwing Cloudskate.

These are the cards that should always be four of in your maindeck since they form the core of the entire Mannequin experience.  The rest are somewhat more fluid and the numbers can moved up or down depending on what you find works the best for you or against the expected metagame.

 
The Others

Grim Harvest/Profane Command/Venser, Shaper Savant

Venser, Shaper Savant is at least as valuable as Riftwing Cloudskate but its legendary status keeps it down to two and in some builds as low as a singleton.  Matej Zatlkaj ran no Grim Harvest at all in his GP: Krakow deck but that might be a little on the extreme side.  Even recurring one Mulldrifter or Shriekmaw makes the 1B cost worth it.  In a long control match the Grim Harvest engine often provides the card advantage that may just give that winning edge.  Profane Command is better than I first thought but casting it a few times made a believer out of me.  It the seventh and eighth reanimate/recursion spell, kill that annoying Stuffy Doll, and give that reach you need when the board becomes stalled.

The Sideboard

The sideboard is probably, as is to be expected, where the most customization happens.  The one provided by Kenny Mayer in his Virgina States deck used a pretty generic list to battle the popular archetypes.  The Pithing Needles are great against the Planeswalkers, man-lands, Sacred Mesa and such.  The Mournwhelks are brought in against control, recurring them several times can be better than Stupor and Thoughseize.  Damnation against the aggro decks and Extirpate for the those annoying cards or combos that are not easily answered like the Brine Elemental/Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo or Haakon, Stromgald Scourge and Nameless Inversion.

As the metagame’s threats and popular decks evolve so will the sideboard.  Already GP:Krakow saw Thoughtseize being added to both of the Top 8 boards in response to the expectation of a more controlling field than at States.

If GP:Krakow is any indication the Mannequin deck will continue to increase in popularity.  It rewards tight, intelligent play.  Since there are so many options available keeping your game plan straight in your head against any given opponent is critical.  Is it likely to be the gold standard deck for this Standard season?  It will have a tough go of it against the other contenders but it has proven itself as top tier candidate for the title.

Matchups

There are an incredible number of top decks in Standard right now but still there are few pulling ahead of the pack and proving themselves the ones to beat.  The top three then:

  1. Cheon Control
  2. Sonic Boom
  3. R/G Big Mana

Cheon Control – U/W Pickles

This is arguably the best deck in the format right now which means you will be seeing lots of it, especially since it just took home the win at GP:Krakow with it.  Mannequin does not run a fast enough aggro package to out race the Pickles lock which usually becomes viable around Turn 6 or 7.  The inclusion of Teferi in the Cheon build slows down/hurts the instant speed of Makeshift Mannequin and your Grim Harvest recursion.  The first match is fairly even.  If they don’t make the lock quickly U/B Mannequin’s card advantage can easily bury them.  The unexpected all-star in this match up is the Faerie Conclave since they have no aerial defense and their removal is all sorcery speed.

Board:

+3 Extirpate, +3 Mournwhelk
-4 Epochrasite, -1 Grim Harvest, -1 Riftwing Cloudskate

After board, U/B Mannequin becomes more heavily favoured due to the Extirpates.  Your goal should be to get either the Brine Elemental or Vesuvan Shapeshifter into the ‘yard in order to rip them all from the deck.

Sonic Boom – Mono-blue Control

This deck, created by Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, showed up in the Top 8 of GP:Krakow and features a classic draw & go build.  The basic game plan revolves around countering any threat that might present itself and dropping a huge Guile on the board to finish the game.  The Faerie Conclave is your franchise asset here since an uncounterable threat with evasion is tough for the Sonic Boom to deal with.  Use the Mouth of Ronom to deal with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir.  The Shriekmaws are slated for Guile but with such a thick wall of permission this could be easier said then done.  Getting out early threats in Phyrexian Ironfoot and Epochrasite can be key to make sure the Faerie Conclave can do its thing.  Still in the first game the matchup is unfavourable to U/B Mannequin.

Board:

+3 Extirpate
-2 Profane Command, -1 Venser, Shaper Savant

After board, the matchup doesn't improve dramatically but ripping any of their creatures with Extirpate can swing the game in U/B Mannequin's favor.  They may bring in Razormane Masticore which is bigger and badder than any of your threats and with Teferi out he may just ambush you to disastrous effect.  All in all, attack each turn if possible with your Faerie Conclave and get your Mouth of Ronom into play.  Then your game plan revolves around hoping for the best.

R/G Big Mana

The Big Mana deck has the potential to throw out some very large creatures.  The first match will be tough but not unwinnable.  Mannequin provides plenty of evasion creatures to get into Garruk.  Unfortunately every one of your fliers dies to the flash-enabled Cloudthresher.  Shriekmaw has the potential to kill anything they can throw at you but they pack a lot of burn and keeping your creatures on the board may be troublesome.  The longer this game goes the more unlikely you are to win.

Board:

+3 Damnation, +3 Pithing Needle, +3 Bottle Gnomes
-4 Phyrexian Ironfoot, -2 Profane Command, -2 Venser, Shaper Savant

The Bottle Gnomes provide some much needed life gain against so much burn damage and the Damnations can sweep a board full of Goblin and Elephant tokens.  The Pithing Needles have an abundance of targets from the Treetop Villages, to Garruk Wildspeaker, to Siege-Gang Commander.  The key to this match keeping out of burn range which means staying above six life, preferably above ten, and killing their major threats in Bogardan Hellkite and Garruk Wildspeaker.  If you are able to win this game quick and make your card advantage work for you it is a winnable matchup.

The Mirror (U/B Mannequin)

The first game of the mirror match comes down to who has the most Riftwings and Mulldrifters.  They both have important come-into-play effects but more importantly they both have evasion.  The ground will most likely be plugged up with Phyrexian Ironfoot, Epochrasite, and Shriekmaws.  Faerie Conclave is not as important in this match because they have to be wary of re-Mannequin-ized blockers or Shriekmaw.  The Grim Harvest recursion engine can be pivotal here since these game take on a much more controlling flavor.

Board:

+3 Damnation, +2 Mournwhelk
-4 Shadowmage Infiltrator, -1 Venser, Shaper Savant

You will take out the Shadowmage despite being a great source of card advantage because he is blocked by so many of the Mannequin’s creatures and killed.  Even Epochrasite blocks the Infiltrator and killing an Epochrasite in this matchup is rarely a good idea.  The Mournwhelk works here since you are often sandbagging a Makeshift Mannequin in hand or a game winning Profane Command.  Damnation does what is best known for and resets a stalled board opening the door for a quick Makeshift Mannequin on a Mulldrifter that can provide the gas and beats to finish the game.

This deck deserves its top tier ranking and inclusion as a new archetype for Lorwyn Standard.  It should be played with the mindset that the graveyard is like a second hand for you to pick and choice answers from.  It is always okay to evoke creatures, sometimes it is even preferred.  Luckily there isn’t much graveyard hate being boarded since Dredge has rotated out of Standard but this may change if U/B Mannequin keeps putting up solid performances.

So early in the Standard season it is hard to imagine this deck will not evolve.  Thoughtseize will probably find a home in the sideboard as it can shine against multiple strategies.  Zatlkaj’s GP:Krakow inclusion of Mind Stone in the deck just doesn’t feel right and I don’t think it is a good trade for Grim Harvest.  The Damnation could find a place as Oliver Ruel has done but time will tell for sure.

With so many options and a lush decision tree on almost every turn this deck can dominate in the hands of a skilled spellslinger.  It can provide great versatility while not sacrificing consistency and power against a varied and still fledging metagame.  If you are a fan of decks that offer great flexibility and still able to compete, or you are just a fan of 4000-year old Egyptian spirits, give Mannequin* a try.

 

*I take no responsibility for the 2 hours of your life you have wasted if you actually watch the Kim Cattrall movie of said name.  That is all.

0 Comments

by Rasparthe at Wed, 11/21/2007 - 08:32
Rasparthe's picture

Thx for the compliment about the article.  The quote you are referring to is more directed at the first game of the match when you are almost at the mercy of all their activated abilities, Treetop Village, Siege-Gang etc.  Your best bet in general is to try and get the game over quickly since they pack so many threats but Bottle Gnomes can be crazy good when you can get them recurring for life gain and Damnations help keep the board from getting out of control.  Which means going longer in the other two games isn't as large a problem.  The Vensers are good at what you describe but don't forget about the Riftwing and even the instant speed Riftwings thanks to Mannequin.  Thanks for the comments I see I was definitely a little unclear here, something to work on.

by Rasparthe at Tue, 11/20/2007 - 09:38
Rasparthe's picture

You are absolutely correct, but it is the only threat you can guarantee to hit the board and may be your only threat.  As you say, Mannequin is a big dog in this match

Stopped In My Tracks by The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) 159.134.94.21 (not verified) at Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:03
The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) 159.134.94.21's picture

I stopped reading this article after the comments about Mannequin which is one of my favourite films of all time.

So your obviously clueless and nothing you write can possibly be worth reading.

Ok, so I'll read the article, but c'mon Mannequin was cool, and back then Kim was so God damn hot.

And Andrew McCarthy was funny.

NOW Mannequin 2..... ya can rip the crap outta that lame piece of turtle pooh all ya want.

 

Good article by iceage4life at Wed, 11/21/2007 - 03:33
iceage4life's picture

Over all I liked this.  I thought same thing about desert in the Sonic Boom matchup.

My main issue is while I have not played it your advice vs RG big mana makes no sense.

You want to win ASAP but post boarding you bring out eight cards that win the game and bring in eight that slow it down?

Also:  "If you are able to win this game quick and make your card advantage work for you it is a winnable matchup" Isn't your card advantage whats going to win you the long game not the quick tempo one?

Again I havn't tested the matchup but Venser seems great.  He can remand a big mana spell or bounce a land enchanted with Feratal Ground for card advantage+major tempo. Bottle Gomes seems awful, 3 life isn't gonna save you and if you're aiming forBottle Gnome + Grim Harvest isn't that the long game which you said favors RG?

Sorry its just I can't make heads or tales of that part of the article. 

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 193.77.58.136 (not verified) at Tue, 11/20/2007 - 04:21
Anonymous (Unregistered) 193.77.58.136's picture

Zatlkaj ran no Damnations in the deck and made the interesting choice of Draining Whelk instead which must have been a shock to anyone falling victim to it in Game 2.

It was indeed :(, i was playing against him in GP Krakow with UW control, and was flooded the entire game. Facing lethal damage on the board in knocked on the top of my deck which gave me sacred mesa, pretty much the only card that could save me. Immagine my face when he played the whelk.

Sonic Boom by zahori (Unregistered) 24.25.48.11 (not verified) at Tue, 11/20/2007 - 09:02
zahori (Unregistered) 24.25.48.11's picture

The faerie conclave plan isn't good against Sonic Boom because they run Desert.  The best plan is to keep some pressure and hope to get to an Urza's Factory-dependant long game.  Unfortunately that's not a great plan and you are a heavy underdog in the matchup.

by tempesteye at Mon, 11/19/2007 - 13:18
tempesteye's picture

That was a really good read. Your writing style is improving dramatically. I can't speak to the technical points of the matchups but I will say that it looks right on target.