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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Nov 28 2007 9:44am
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PDC is an all player run format on Magic Online. It consists of competitive games using exclusively commons cards. Games can be found in the "/join pdc" room and events can be found on the Magic Online official message boards. For more information please visit magic.jwc4.com or paupermagic.com

I consider myself to be knowledgeable about Magic. I have been playing the game for over a decade and had the luck to do my early gaming at the twice relocated, eminently famous, Neutral Ground. I subscribed to the Duelist and often loitered in the magazine section of my local bookstore to read about the newest sets and happenings in the Magic world. I followed the Dojo when it was around, and when web coverage exploded, I became hooked. I devour Magic articles and information whenever I get a chance, even contributing once in a while. I follow every thing I can, even if I do not play the format. I do this for pleasure, but also for article ideas and nuggets of theory that could potentially make my game better (both PDC and otherwise).

One article style that has become increasingly popular and increasingly well written recently is that of the game walk through. Popularized by Stephen Menendian of Vintage renown, these articles give an immense amount of information about how games are played, and how games should be played. On top of this, these articles show the decision process in a game of Magic. Reading these have helped me take my game to the next level, better understanding what I should consider during a given phase of the game. I am bringing this to PDC for a few reasons. First, to debunk the Bennie Rule that PDC is somehow a lesser format. Second, the attract people to the format- many people just do not understand how intricate a game of commons constructed can be.

Without any further ado, I present the list I used for this walk through:

River Boa

2 Barren Moor
4 Duress
2 Forgotten Cave
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mesmeric Fiend
4 Phyrexian Rager
1 Recover
4 Shadow Guildmage
8 Snow-Covered Mountain
8 Snow-Covered Swamp
4 Stone Rain
4 Terminate
3 Gathan Raiders
4 Gobhobbler Rats
1 Grim Harvest
3 Rakdos Carnarium

Sideboard
4
Dross Golem
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
4 Shivan Zombie
2 Skullsnatcher
3 Swirling Sandstorm

Gobhobbler Rats

You may recognize this list as my failed Euro Worlds deck. It is that same deck. I still enjoy playing and still believe it is a good deck. Additionally, it is a deck that requires many decisions at any given stage of a game; this will allow greater insight into my thought process (and who knows, it might pad my word count). I am also using Classic as my example format because to me, Classic PDC represents a fully realized format as Standard is still discovering what the format will be with Lorwyn block.

I message Rich and see if he's up for helping me out. He agrees, which makes me happy because Rich is one of the better Classic players out there today. I send the challenge, Rich wins the die roll and decides to play.

I see my hand of two Snow-Covered Mountain, two Terminate, Duress, Barren Moor, and Grim Harvest. This is not the best hand for my deck, but it is solid and has two forms of disruption. Additionally, it has two Terminate, which are solid against the large majority of decks in the format. I would rather another hand, but this seven is good enough. I keep.

Rich lays a Snow-Covered Forest and passes the turn. This tells me that Rich is most likely piloting his Chilli Dog deck- Deep Dog splashing White for Armadillo Cloak. It is one of the few decks with Green Rich plays regularly, so I proceed with my game plan against that deck.

My turn one I draw a Phyrexian Rager and play the Moor. No other real option.

His turn two is Snow-Covered Island into Werebear. My guess was correct, which makes me smile, but does not do much else. I draw Stone Rain and lay a Mountain. The question here is Duress now or no? Using Duress means I get perfect information about his hand, hopefully nabbing one of his Cloaks. However, I can two-for-one with Terminate if he does have the Pants, and with Stone Rain I can destroy a White source, so I pass the turn.

On Rich's third turn, he lays another Island, swings with Bear (I'm at 19), and ends his turn. I Terminate the Bear at the end of turn and he responds with Think Twice. Why Terminate now? It gives me more information and since I can afford to trade one life point for more information, I make the trade.

On my third turn, I draw my third Terminate and start to feel good about this game. I play my third land and debate playing Rager. If I do, I will not be able to Terminate any creature he plays until my next turn at the earliest. Additionally, I lose the chance to access more information through Duress. Stone Rain is not an option here as I would rather save it for a White source. Since at this stage of the game I want to see more cards, I play out the Rager, going to 18 and drawing a Gobhobbler Rats. This draw will allow me to start going on the offensive soon.

Rich draws and lays Terramorphic Expanse, immediately cracking it for a Plains and then passes the turn. This is good news for me as I can Stone Rain his White source right on schedule netting me tempo. This is why you should always wait to crack an Expanse until the very last possible moment.

On my fourth turn, I draw another Duress and attack with my Rager. Instead of going for Stone Rain, however, I lay my Gobhobbler Rats. There are a few reasons behind this course of action. First, it will draw out any countermagic Rich may or may not have so I can then use my superior removal. Second, I do not have to Stone Rain here for fear of Cloak since I am holding two Terminate and two Duress, making it hard for Rich to resolve something that will matter.

Rich casts Think Twice in respond to my Rats and the turn goes to him.

Turn five, Rich lays another Island and targets himself with Deep Analysis. Next turn will be the best time for me to cast Stone Rain, as Rich has left his land vulnerable with only one Blue mana available, and I know his list does not run Force Spike.

Duress

My turn five draw yields a Swamp. I swing for four, knocking Rich to 14 and Duress, seeing: Island, Deep Analysis, two Springing Tiger, Wild Mongrel, Aether Burst. I take the card drawer because forcing him to lose three life to use it is better than making his later Bursts stronger. Following this I play the Swamp and finally destroy that Plains.

Now at Threshold, Rich plays a 5/5 Springing Tiger on his sixth turn followed by Azorius Chancery, returning an Island to his hand. I still know every card in Rich's hand. At this point, I feel good about my position. I have decent beaters and the ability to handle his threats.

My turn six yields another Stone Rain for Rich's other White source. Lucky, I know. However, I do not use it right way, rather using Terminate number two to force through four damage, knocking Rich to ten. I do this because even if Rich does draw a Cloak, I still have the mana available to Terminate again, really putting the pressue on Rich.

Turn seven sees Rich replay the Island, play Tiger number two, and then ending his turn.

My turn seven gives me my third Duress. I use it to gain information and Rich responds by Bursting my Rats. I respond to the burst with Terminate on his Tiger. Again, the point here is to force through damage. As the game goes long, I draw closer and closer to my Lightning Bolts, meaning the lower I get Rich on life, the more likely my Bolts will seal the deal late in the game.

The Duress reveals two Island, one Mongrel. This is more good news for me as I swing Rich down to eight and give the turn over to him.

On his turn eight, Rich plays Mongrel and the Simic Growth Chamber, bouncing the Island he used to pay for the Savage [D]astard.

My ocho gives me Shadow Guildmage. This is great as Chilli Dog has few ways to deal with on board repeating damage besides combat. I bait any counter with Stone Rain on the Chancery, which elicits only a Flashbacked Think Twice in response and then Duress again, revealing three Islands and a Basking Rootwalla.

Looking back, this was not the right play. I fear none of his topdecks now, not even Cloak since he lacks White mana. Instead, I should have played the Guildmage as I could always use Grim Harvest to get it back later.

I pass the turn without attacking, since I would much rather keep my beater around for the time being and not trade it for a Land. Rich ends my turn by Madnessing out the Rootwalla, choosing Black for Mongrel. Rich can now start going on the offensive, applying pressure back in my direction. At 18 life, though, I am not worried, yet.

Turn nine sees Rich play Looter il-Kor, attack for three with Rootwalla, and then play an Island. I still feel comfortable, knowing his hand and holding Guildmage, which can handle two of his creatures.

My turn shows me Forgotten Cave. I play out the Rats again and follow that with the Guildmage. I then Cycle the Cave, thinknig that I have enough land to operate currently, and would rather see more cards. I Cycle into a Mountain which I tend play, and pass the turn.

Rich draws, and then swings with the Lizard and the Looter, knocking me to 11, and discarding an Island to his Looter. Rich then lays another Tiger. This is scary, as now his creatures out class mine by a vast margin. I need some love from my deck.

And love I get. I draw and then play, face down, Gathan Raiders. At this point, I decide to abandon the idea of ever abusing Harvest this game. This frees me to play the Raiders with the ability to go Hellbent, turning on my Rats as a solid blocker. I abandon the Harvest plan since I just do not have the mana to make it work, and I have better things to do, like try to win the game. I leave a Red and Black source open to bluff another Terminate, but also to allow Rats to regenerate and Guildmage to ping.

Rich's next turn sees him attack with Looter alone, and I respond with Guildmage. Rich ends his turn with him at 8 life and me at 10. I am still hoping to draw Bolts, and now plan of eating one life a turn with the Mage. It is risky, but it would allow me to win the game in relatively short order.

Shadow Guildmage

My draw yields another Cave which gets Cycled right away into another Mountain which I play. One of the problems with this deck is that in order to get the maximum value out of your creatures, you cannot hold cards in hand- it just will not work. At the end of this turn, Rich plays Think Twice from his graveyard.

Turn twelve, and Rich plays and cracks another Expanse (frown) fetching a Forest, and then taps the Chamber for another Werebear. He knows what is on my side of the board and passes the turn without attacking. This bodes well for me, as I do not have to waste Guildmage activations on combat and can instead use it to take away life, which is exactly what I do at the end of Rich's turn.

My turn twelve card is another Rager. I have to play it out so I can hopefully go Hellbent if need be, This, however, puts me at eight to Rich's seven, meaning I have to be perfect at combat for the rest of the game for Guildmage to work. The Rager yields my fourth, and final, Duress which I burn right away- Hellbent: It's high risk, moderate reward. Rich Prohibits my Duress and I pass the turn.

Rich plays another Mongrel on his turn and then passes the turn, giving me another Guildmage activation. Life totals are now seven to six in my favor.

My draw is a Swamp, which is fine, as it keeps me closer to Hellbent as I drop the land into play.

Lightning Bolt

Rich does nothing on his turn and I ping again (6-5 in my favor). My draw is a second Guildmage, which helps me advance my gameplan of whittling away Rich's life total bit by bit. At this point, I feel that the game is mine.

Rich has a different idea though, as he uses a second Burst to return the Rats and face-down Raiders to my hand. He then swings with one Tiger and one Mongrel. I throw my Ragers in their path to keep my life total high enough to continue on the ping plan. Rich chucks a Cloak to save his Mongrel and ends the turn. I ping rich down to four and hope for a Craig Jones moment.

Of course, I draw the Bolt. I lay the Rats first, hoping to draw a counter and see no response. I dome the Bolt, activate a Guidmage, and the game is over.

About halfway through that game, I visualized how I needed to win and went down that path. Instead of playing it safe, I went for broke, even abandoning the long game plan of Grim Harvest. This paid off in the long run, as I was able to force through enough damage.

We played out the rest of the match with the intention of writing up the entire match. Except that would be absurdly long and very boring. Instead, I picked game one. Game two, Rich blows me out. In game three, Rich kept an iffy hand but manages to end up with three 4/4 Werebears. I am fine with that, as I am playing for a sideboard special Swirling Sandstorm. I topdeck one and cast it. With six cards in my 'yard.

Sometimes, you need to pay attention.

Keep slingin' commons-

Alex

0 Comments

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.65.190.109 (not verified) at Thu, 11/29/2007 - 01:26
Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.65.190.109's picture

Benny rule? Can I get a definition on that ;).

Comments by iceage4life at Thu, 11/29/2007 - 02:07
iceage4life's picture

Personally I didn't find this article very good.  You state at the start that you want to show how intresting PDC matches/decks can be and then the most complicated plays were baiting counterspells (so you could resolve a Duress?) and hoping to topdeck your burn.

Both players made mistakes and honestly the only real desision you made was to ping with Shadow Guildmage.  Even that isn't as shocking as you make it out to be as your deck has burn and you had more life than him.

I think walkthroughs are best for #1 complicated decks, usually combo or #2 common and important matchups between two common decks in a format.  Helps if the matchup is ~50/50 and the better player usually comes out on top. 

A for effort C for content C- for changing views on PDC. 

by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 23:42
SpikeBoyM's picture

You're playing right into the Bennie Rule.  The combo walkthoughs, as I have understood them, are designed to show you the right play for a given situation, as combo more often has to craft wins.  This article was deisgned to show the decision making process that occurs in a game of Classic PDC and try to show that the format has some depth. Perhaps putting myself next to Menedian is the wrong move, but I do feel that this article style has merit for more than just combo decks.

-Alex 

Formating by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 12:00
SpikeBoyM's picture

Hope it looks better now, sorry about that.

-Alex

hah by mtgotraders at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 13:02
mtgotraders's picture

haha too true.

by hamtastic at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 13:24
hamtastic's picture

No worries.  I've had the same thing happen to me mutlipe times.  Random bolding and font changes... *grumble*

Good article!

by Stillirise (Unregistered) 24.65.190.109 (not verified) at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 15:10
Stillirise (Unregistered) 24.65.190.109's picture

The stephen-esqe matchups are a little dull/obvious when not talking about complex combo.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 67.112.74.4 (not verified) at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 15:59
Anonymous (Unregistered) 67.112.74.4's picture

Thorough game walkthroughs predate menendian- Oscar Tan set the precedent.  But, his were filled with off color anecdotes and were almost always his deck vs. (other).

by SpikeBoyM at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 10:33
SpikeBoyM's picture

FWIW, the new PDC resource site is pdcmagic.com...easy enough to remember.

I swear it looked good when I submitted it.

 -Alex

by hamtastic at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 10:24
hamtastic's picture

I just thought that it was satire regarding the V3 chat feature... ;)

by runeliger at Wed, 11/28/2007 - 09:52
runeliger's picture

Erm someone fix the formatting of this article yo!