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By: HydraLord, Charles Sutphin
Dec 09 2007 12:59pm
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Have you ever cast Budoka Gardener in Constructed? How about Desecration Elemental? No? Then you have to try Momir Basic. I was disappointed that I had to shell out thirteen tickets for the avatar, but I can definitely tell you that it was money well spent. It is one of the most fun formats I have ever played, and certainly the most fun played online. I will talk about the pros and cons of the format, as well as ruminations on some issues I have seen discussed in other articles on the subject. You, my esteemed and idealized reader, are speaking in bold.

But Charles, why should I play this format? It seems kind of silly and pointless...

A reasonable question. Why is a Momir Vig Avatar worth as much to me as a draft set of Lorwyn boosters? Because Momir Basic provides a lot of things that no other format gives you. No two games are ever the same. I, for one, find that very refreshing. I like Constructed (at least) as much as the next guy, but things often degenerate into the same fights and endgames, over and over. This doesn't happen in Momir Basic. There are always new decisions to make. Even after playing for over a month, I see new creatures in at least 75% of my games, especially on the low end of the curve. Sometimes they're stains - Accursed Centaur - and sometimes they're awesome, like Planar Guide. And that's just turn one.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary

Okay, so it's fun. But it still seems random. I'm a good player...how am I going to win?
There is certainly an element of luck in Momir Basic. Sometimes your opponent hits Sakura-Tribe Scout into an excellerated Petradon and you can't possibly win. There isn't much skill in that game. But sometimes the board gets mired down and you have to know how to beat  down. It's very important to be able to look ahead and see what might happen in the next several turns. But the thing that I've been learning recently is that ekeing out damage whenever and wherever you can. Push your evasion creatures. Push trades on cheap creatures. This gets you value in two ways. First, sometimes you mise Rorix Bladewing. If you've managed to hit for six and you played first, they're dead before they hit eight. This can be really important. This might seem like a very specifc case, but I have been surprised how many games end with my opponent on exactly zero. Sometimes I would win the next turn anyway, but they might hit a Hoverguard Sweepers and bury me. For another example of getting value by being as aggressive as possible is from an actual game of mine. I was on the play, and managed to whittle my opponent down to six. But my opponent stabilized, got some sick dragon, and stopped my offense cold. I quickly found myself at four, and would be forced to chump block. I was wishing I had skipped some drop so had eight mana in play. Make a seven and cross my fingers....Tornado Elemental? Clear your relevant attackers, chump, kill you.

Huh.  How else can I get blown out? How often does that happen?
The biggest ways to get blown out are as follows:

1) Your opponent gets multiple fliers (or evasive guys in general) and you don't.

2) Your opponent gets up one or more mana, and your guys aren't good enough to make up for the deficit.

3) Your opponent hits some insane guy early.
...
99) Your opponent hits Eater of Days. No, I haven't ever beaten that one. Sad, huh?

I find that that's pretty much how it goes. Remember though, you're just as likely to blow them out. Actually, that order is only sometimes true. The third definitely happens the most late in a PE. My last round of my second was Surgespanner game one, Azorius Guildmage
game two, Galepowder Mage game three. I won, but we agreed that it was the most worthless match ever. I think maybe 10-20% of games are basically blowouts, which isn't that much worse than other formats, where you can get, say, manascrewed.

Okay. I'm buying the whole strategy thing. How do I go about operating the avatar?
This is one of the biggest decisions you have to make, and the one that I will spend the most time talking about. First, a few numbers. You start the game with seven cards in hand, barring misclicked mulligans (awkward...). Each turn where you make a land and a guy gives you minus one cards.  Since you skip your draw on the play, this gives you minus two if you hit a one, leaving you to top out at six. Similarly, on the draw, straight drops get you one through seven.

The general consensus is that eight is a hot spot for drops. It's the perfect storm of being easily reached (missing two drops on the play, one on the draw) and having sick creatures without many duds. Hoverguard Sweepers, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, and Avatar of Woe Cognivore clearly being the bottom of the barrel. Nine has more bombs, but it can be hard to get there safely, especially if your opponent gets good drops early. So the question is this: should I make early guys or get to eight for bombs?

My answer is early guys, with flexibility. This means I hit one and two regardless. On turn three, I stop and evaluate a bit. Do my guys suck? If so, skip this drop. Otherwise, make a three and game on. If I feel like I need to miss another drop to stay in the game, I tend to miss five. I don't like five much anyway and often hit another four-drop instead of hitting on curve*. This lets you utilize the best of both strategies. Sometimes you get your Dave Price on and tempo them out. Other times, you repent, miss a drop or two and head for eight.

Interesting. Thanks for that. What about the weirder mana costs? Like 0? Or more than 8?
Zero is an interesting case. There are only five possibilities: Crookshank Kobolds, Ornithopter, Phyrexian Walker, Shield Sphere, and Dryad Arbor. There are two reasonable defenders, Sphere is a better one, and the Arbor is definitely gas. I guess I like attacking too much to run a zero. Anyone else want to chime in? I've never lost to an opponent running this plan, but the sample size is too small to mean much. We aren't going to talk about Kobolds.

Above eight, things get weird. Nine has a fair bit of variety. You're hoping for a Bringer of the Red Dawn or Blazing Archon, with Spirit of the Night also being a beating. Some people advocate hitting nines instead of both stalling on eights...I don't like that idea. Even if I don't have to miss a drop, the average nine doesn't impress me as much as the average  eight. Ten is weak. Dragon Tyrant is good if you have lots of red, but otherwise there isn't anything impressive. Eleven, if you can get there, is the highest you want to get. There are three creatures Hypnox, Darksteel Colossus, and Mycosynth Golem. Try for the first two. After this point, there's nothing worth talking about.
Darksteel Colossus

Nice. Before you go, are there random bits of advice you want to pass along?
Yes. I endorse drawing first...I'm still compiling data on whether it's statistically better, but this is my gut feeling. Also, sometimes you can't hit eights when your back is against the wall. If you're facing lethal, ask yourself these questions:

How is Hoverguard Sweepers? Or Bosh, Iron Golem? If so, probably make an eight and hope. Otherwise...

Is Platinum Angel going to save you? Go for it. Failing that...

One. I'm pretty sure this is right. Hope for Planar Guide. It's never happened for me, but it could.

And that's all I've got.
Charles Sutphin
charles dot sutphin at gmail dot com

* Pretty sure about this. I am currently running some numbers to find the mathematically best drops, but will have to get back to you on that after exams.

5 Comments

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 138.162.140.55 (not verified) at Mon, 12/10/2007 - 12:11
Anonymous (Unregistered) 138.162.140.55's picture

Couldn't edit my previous post and throw this in after reading your comment but Polar Kraken is 11, not 10. Also makes 4 11 drops not 3. I don't hardly ever go for 11 unless I magically have that much mana. Another 9 bomb to watch out for is Crimson Hellkite. If you are a good momir player, you know to run many many more mountains and swamps than any other lands in the deck because there are more abilities from this. Crimson is like the 9 drop for Avatar of Woe.

Momir Basic by Anonymous (Unregistered) 138.162.140.53 (not verified) at Mon, 12/10/2007 - 12:03
Anonymous (Unregistered) 138.162.140.53's picture

Also I will point out that there are 6, 0 drop possibilities not just 5. Phyrexian Marauder is also in that list even though his cost is X. I know this because I'm a 0 drop player. I ALWAYS go for 0 instead of 1. You have a better chance of getting something good at 0 than at 1, which is either ornithopter or dryad arbor, as one is a flying chump blocker and one is mana accel. The reason being is there are so many horrible 1 drops that it's just not worth the effort, it's better to try for dryad arbor (1-6) than to try for a good 1 drop which is much much less. Talking thousands of bad 1 drops. The dryad arbor is what you are looking for. In my experiences, I've also realized that going LAST and taking the draw has been much more consistant with wins as you don't have to skip but 1 drop and if you manage some mana accel you don't have to skip at all, and that puts a huge advantage on your side. The way I usually go is 0, then 2-6, and skip 7. I never try for 7 as a simple Phage could ruin the game. Granted it's not very likely, but I've seen it more often than I want to. If I manage mana acceleration early so I don't have to skip, I usually just go 6 twice. 6 and 8 both have some sick drops. With the things I have learned and started using to my advantage...I've won many more than I have lost. I usually only lose when it's just not your day, as you posted before, could be their flying advantage, or one creature that is pretty much unstopable sorta like Devouring Strossus.

by HydraLord at Mon, 12/10/2007 - 11:00
HydraLord's picture

I assume you mean Polar Kraken on 10 or Tidal Kraken on 8. They're both reasonable I suppose, but I don't like Polar Kraken. You're right that 8 can be dangerous. I see what you're saying about going ot 9 once you get something gassy on 8, but I'm afraid of giving my opponent the extra drop on me. I think either course of action is defensible, but I definitely see your point.

Couple of Mistakes by Trumpetman at Sun, 12/09/2007 - 23:20
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You talk about 11 mana drops an forget the tidal kraken. It's a decent beater as well.  Your strategy about the one drops I initially used too, but the more I play Momir, the more I like the conservative strategy.  Curving out from 3 to 8 on the play or 2 to 8 on the draw just seems too good.  Theres so much fluff for one drops that unless you hit a bomb like llanowar elves or planar guide you are going to be dissapointed.  In addition you forget to mention the card which completely wreck you namely leveler phage and denizen of the deep.  Of these, denizen is the most potent, which seems odd because you don't auto loss from it, but it is practically an auto loss. Throw that on top of the fact that 8 is the dezired number and you begin to get an idea why playing around that guy is huge because the number of 8 drops isnt that substantial.  That's why I try and stabalize at 8 and hit a removal creature like avatar of woe, gorgon, or try and hit an "insurance" creature like a board sweeper, namely bloodfire collossus.  Once I acheive one of those cards, I move to 9 because it is safe, meaning there is no likelyhood of hitting denizen of the deep, and yes, on average the cards aren't as good at 9 but you can hit a bringer (R,U,G) or blazing archon.  In general though, yes Momir is lots of fun!

There is a need to be by lenyrose2013 at Sat, 09/24/2016 - 00:42
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There is a need to be involved with the basic details. That is how you drop it. - Morgan Exteriors