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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Feb 25 2008 12:30am
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Hey guys, welcome back.  Last week, I took a look at Threshold, and how to beat it.  Not long after, Whiffy_Penguin PMed me, asking if I would be interested in a second look at Threshold, this time from his point of view.  I was more than happy to do this, as he is probably the best Thresh player you can find.  I’m happy to present to you his guide on Thresh.  

Q1 Hey Whiffy, thanks for your time.  So do you want to tell us a little about yourself?

A1 My name is George Efelis.  I live in Philly.  I started playing Magic around the release of Alliances.  I played heavily until IPA Block where i lost interest.  I came online right around the release of Champions of Kamigawa, doing mostly drafts, std, and casual stuff. In my off-time from work (Trader Joe's) I play Disc-golf at the casual level; I also enjoy most animated shows.
Q2 What drew you to Classic?

A2 Truthfully it was the banner for Force of Will on the main Magic website.  Also the price of Classic for the most part is so much cheaper then std or ext where you have to augment your collection every three months to stay competitive. The current classic format resembles Type 1 when i used to play it 

Force of Will

Advertising that worked out.

competitively about ten years ago so that’s also a bonus.

Q3 How have your PE experiences been with the deck?  What made you want to run it?

A3 For the most part I have had a lot of success with Thresh. I have entered either 8 or 9 PE'S (one of which crashed ) with Thresh, making the Top Eight a total of five times. I have made the quarterfinals 3 times top four once and finals twice splitting once and taking second the other time. The reason I wanted to run it in the beginning was that it looked to be a powerful deck and I had to make a tough choice as to which deck would do well for me since i had to start from scratch and build a collection off my winnings. Lucky for me that Thresh is good and quite fun to play.

Q4 One of the reasons NOT to run Thresh has been the bad match-up against Burn.dec.  Do you feel like that's enough of a reason to avoid it?  And how have you improved your match-up against Burn?

A4 I think that this is hogwash as I win a strong amount of game 1's against RDW. The RDW match-up is a little harder since ideally Thresh starts on about 15-17 life setting itself up. The key to beating RDW with Thresh is slowing your game down . If they have the nutz hand, they will win if your playing tight or not, but sometimes two life is the deciding factor. I say play Thresh; don’t be afraid.  The match-up isn’t even bad in my opinion. I have added white primarily for sb options in Circle of Protection: Red, but sending a Tarmogoyf  farming has also won me many a game against RDW. 

Q5 What is your current build?  I believe a UGrw, splashing Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolt was the last one I was aware of.

A5 Currently i am running UGRW and will probably do so until Tempest hits the scene. It is pretty much a stock list of Red Thresh but i have cut Fire/Ice out of the deck for Swords to Plowshares. STP is a lot stronger then Fire/Ice, and it takes care of a lot of the problems Thresh was having in the combat phase. Plus, with the low amount of beaters in the deck, STP helps punch through their defenses so you can win out. Also, I'm not sure about most people, but Force Spike is a star for me. I have recently been trying to get a hold on the meta, so expect Thresh to look a little different from me in the coming weeks.

Q6 Where is there room for innovation in Thresh, and why hasn't much innovation occurred with the deck?

A6 I believe that the Ravnica shock lands are stifling the progress of this deck. When we have real duals I bet that Thresh will probably be 4C cutting Red

Mystic Enforcer

Managing to play him consistently is one of the keys to a possible new breakthrough in Thresh.

for the more powerful options in Black.  Also I have been wondering about cards like Mystic Enforcer and (Fledging Dragon); they are both cards that will win games un-attended once Threshold is achieved.  Unfortunately, they are rather clunky at four mana, Dragon being mono color intensive, Enforcer being colors intensive. BGU thresh seems like it would be fantastic but dark confident puts you in a real tight place managing your life total. Finaly i see a lot of people try out the ol’ Counterbalance/Top sb option but honestly it is too many slots in a tight deck-list. It adds a layer of defense, but the deck is not properly set up to abuse this combo.

Q7 What cards and strategies are hard on Thresh, and what match-ups do you feel you have the edge in?

A7 Well bad cards for Thresh lets see... Moat shuts you out game one unless you have Lightning Bolt,  Blood Moon shuts you out if you don’t have a Goyf or basic Islands, Chalice of the Void at 1 or 2, Jotun Grunt is a pain, Nantuko Monastery, the whole Dredge deck is just bad times for me. Smallpox, PoxGhost Quarter and Crucible is a beating. I don’t want to see any of these cards in my match-ups. Side note: if a midrange deck can hold control of the game they will usually attrition you out.

I feel like good match ups for my Thresh are mirrors, RDW, Flash, Zoo, and Pale Ale type decks(but not Pox style decks) also depending on the build, Standstill can be beaten.

Q8 What is the best land-base the deck can have (bonus points if you include man-lands Tongue)?

A8 Uhm.... tough question. I guess right now for the next pe you would play, the best mana-base is six Fetch land that grab four Islands, three Breeding Pools, two Steam Vents, and two Hallowed Fountains..

Q9 Do you like Geckos?  JXClaytor is wrong that they're sell-outs; they freaking killers of crickets!  Plus, they're rather cute.  Your thoughts?

(Whatever, they are total sell outs.)  

A9 Geckos are ok.  I like most animals sell outs or not.

Q10 Please cover how you fight most of the "known" decks.

A10 I'll use the decklist from the 2/10/08 PE as a reference.

Flash.

I will generally try to lay down a turn one Mongoose and just sit with open mana to counter the Flash. Game 2 I bring in (Pyroblasts) and Ancient Grudge or two; I  feel like its important to keep mana open to stop their Flash. Usually I'll wait till after the war of Flash to lay down a threat.

Thresh.

I like to play control in this match up i feel like my build is setup for the win.  I get to win Goyf fights with STP and I have a heavy counter base. Game two I will bring in Threads and Pyros, taking out Stifle and  Bolts, helping secure my control elements.

Rdw.

I play my lands out tapped and just gauge their hand.  Before I start counterspells, I’ll be at about 12-15 or they have 4 cards in hand.  If I get a guy on the table I can ride him to victory. Game two CoP:Red comes in, so that buys me all the time I need.  I will keep STP in games two and three so I can emergency STP my own guy.

Standstill/counterbalance control.

This is a tough match-up.  Depending on their build I can have an advantage or not have the edge. Moat is scary, Counterbalance is difficult to break, but it has to hit the table, Standstill is not game-ending but TWO are .  The advantage comes with how reliant they are on their control elements.  If I can get through two-three board sweepers via counters or Stifles, or keeping troops in my hand to attrition the sweepers i gain an edge; if not I lose most likely.  Game two I bring in Krosan Grip, Pyroblast, and depending on the build, Threads and Grudges.

Zoo.

I spot remove guys in the beginning, keeping mana open to clear out guys in the first few turns.  I’ll drop a few men to hold the ground until favorable trades are coming. Game 2 I bring in Threads and sometimes Grudge. Pretty much play the same game plan but now I can steal three of their guys and kill Factorys, Jittes, and such. Pretty easy I think.

Affinity.

Game one is a pretty much a coin toss if you draw fows and stps you have a strong shot at not losing to their uber draws.  Goyf is a house in this match up.  Game 2 I add Grips and Grudges.  Being able to spot remove 17 of their permanents is pretty good when counterspells clear up the rest. Pretty favorable in my opinion.

Dredge.  

Aww, the dark horse for me. My current build does not have the room to hate on Dredge and RDW.  I had to choose between Crypt or CoP: Red.  I feel like I’ll play a lot more RDW than Dredge.  Besides, a deck can’t be good at everything.  Basically, I have to be able to Bolt my own Werebear to gain any edge.  I scoop to this deck unless he has to mulligan past the stress point.

Stormcombo.

I like to play this match-up more aggressively than Flash combo. You have more time to set up your board, so I like to deploy guys early, burning my filter-cards looking for FoW and Stifles. Game 2, I might bring in Pyroblasts, Grudges, or Grips depending on the combo.

Pox style.

Tough match-up.  What I’m looking for here is a Spell Snare/FoW hand to ride a Goyf home on.  I gotta get him out of my hand and protect it.  Once pox starts topdecking, I have an advantage if I have a guy and some cards in hand. Game two, Grudges and sometimes Grips to deal with Factorys and Racks.

Pale Ale.

I tend to treat this match-up like zoo. How ever i have to prioritize my removal because an unanswered grunt is hard to deal with.  Spellsnare is an all-star in this match-up. Game 2 I bring in Threads. I get a bit more aggressive if i draw into Threads, trying to deploy before my cards are stripped.

Q11 Did you see the Thresh/Nought hybrid last week?  What did you think of that?  I liked it as a one-time build, or occasionally used build to keep the element of surprise, but otherwise it seemed like you're already giving away plenty of cards defending your threats; investing another card (Stifle or Trickbind) seems like you might be giving up too much.  Your thoughts?

A11 I hadn’t seen it but it sounds interesting.  I don’t think I would want to invest deck-space to that combo though.  I could see it as a diversion.  I mean really, who can say no to turn two Dreadnought, but I don’t really think its consistent enough to stay.

Q12 What kind of creature-base do you like in Thresh?  Do you feel that more than the standard Nimble Mongoose/Tarmogoyf package is needed?

A12 I believe that Dark Confident belongs in the deck but can’t because of lack of dual lands. I really don’t know what I like past four Mongoose and four Goyf.  I want something that hasn’t been printed yet.  Whenever WotC makes another one-two CC high power card I’ll be on it. I’m thinking of main-decking Threads in my threat section cause six Goyfs in your deck feels like cheating. I have settled on two Werebear. I think that the meta determines if you need more or less threats.

Thanks for all the questions. I hope I was detailed enough for you.

And thanks to you Whiffy, for your time and detailed analysis on this power-house deck that has been big in the PEs.

As many of you know from following both The Oddball Roundup and my articles, the last couple of months, aggro-control had been the dominant arch-type.  Complaints were made that the meta is a mess, and you can run any pile that has some disruption, Goyfs, and maybe a Jitte, Skullclamp or other “tech” to top Eight contention.  Because of this, combo was rather weak (because dropping beaters and having disruption for your combo is hard to beat), and the control decks weren’t really good enough to win these match-ups either.  Plus, Burn.dec was further warping the format by presenting a deck that is cheap, competitive (although rarely best) and one that you have to play differently compared to almost every other deck.  Combo was slightly weak, aggressively based decks were on a tear, and control was almost non-existant.

The last few weeks, we have seen a change to our meta.  Burn is still typically posting one deck in each Top Eight, with Black dicard-stuff around in two out of every three Top Eights, give or take.  Thresh is still strong, usually getting at least two players in, but where we’re seeing the change is Landstill’s growth in showing.  Landstill has become a consistent force in the meta, getting two-three people into the packs each week.

The deck is a simple concept.  Ancestral Recall was broken as a draw-three for one mana, and costing it at two mana wasn’t much more fair.  Making it sorcery speed was a little more fair, but not really.  So, Standstill is a very powerful card.  Next, you need a way to “break” it.  The way this is accomplished is by running plenty of control elements (Counters, Swords to Plowshares, Engineered Explosives and the like) to keep the opponent off of any relevant threats, then playing the Standstill when the coast is clear.  The complement to the strategy is man-lands like Mishra’s Factory, Faerie Conclave, and sometimes Nantuko Monastery to have threats that you can use while letting Standstill stay in the way of the opponent’s spells.

Other ways to abuse the “no spells” rule are cards that are pretty strong anyway, like cycled Decree of JusticeEternal Dragon.  Some make th and e Green splash for Goyf and the above-mentioned Monastery, because dropping a Goyf to your opponents empty board and following him up with Standstill hurts too.

Some even run the Zvi/IceAge4Life “Tutorstill” build, using Enlightened Tutor to dig up whatever the correct card is for the situation, be it Moat against an aggro deck, Circle of Protection: Red Vedalken Shackles, Threads of Disloyalty, Ivory Tower,against burn, or Tormod’s Crypt to be Dredge.  

The problem with trying to come up with silver bullets against Landstill is that the builds are so varied.  Red/Burn tends to be a slightly bad match for them unless they have the Counter-Top setup, and get itSirocco is solid against them if you can ever stick it.  Ancient Grudge is nice.  In an arch-type examination, Dredge can beat them, depending on each deck’s build.  Really, it just depends on the build. 

The best “silver bullet” I’ve found is Aether Vial in creature-based decks (beats their Standstill and counters).  Another color-less option is everyone’s favorite SoK chase rare, Pithing Needle.  You have your pick of things to name, including man-lands, Eternal Dragon and Engineered Explosives.  Black can do some good stuff with Extirpate, because they don’t have that many threats.  If you get all their Factories out, and take one or two more threats out, they may run out of gas.  White has Disenchant effects and Ronom Unicorn variants to consider, but really, that’s playing a little too fair for my tastes.  Green… I guess Krosan Grip and the back half of Ancient Grudge are nice, and Treetop Village can be more man than their lands can handle.  Blue of course is fighting a mirror-style fight here, and Plagiarize can be funny if you can break their ‘Still on upkeep and cast Plagiarize in response to the trigger.

The proper approach to winning in the current meta is probably just to play the right deck, rather than focus on building your deck differently to beat Landstill.  Winston Smith’s deck last week was a GREAT example of the perfect meta-deck for this meta, as Landstill typically has a slow clock (maybe turn 6-7 on a perfect “aggressive” draw) and the multiple discard effects Winston was packing was backbreaking for control decks trying to sit on a Trickbind or Stifle to save them.  He did have some tech with Null Profusion and whatnot, but really, he’s running a slightly tweaked list that beats most of the decks he could anticipate in a Top Eight.

Here are my picks for “decks to play” in the current meta.  My first pick would be either Dredge with Pithing Needle (Probably naming Crypt first, then Engineered Explosives if you hit a second) Wonder in the deck, to beat Moat.  Teched out Landstill would be next.  I think UWg is my preference, due to it’s ability to drop Monasteries to trim the SB and Wispmare support.  I would also want the one-of ump the other manlands, and the ability to run MORE man-lands than other Landstill builds.  Burn.dec is pretty strong, if you don’t mind playing a crap-shoot of a deck.  Unlike Runeliger, I don’t think it is the best deck.  I do think it is pretty strong though, and can beat Landstill and has decent game against Thresh.  Play what you like, and you’re good with, but remember, these are all decks you will see if you want to do well.  

~Postscript~
Dragondung's interviewee, Ace of Drafts won today's PE with a slightly modified version of his deck from last. week.  I'm sure DD will have more on this, but I wanted to point out that RDW/Burn can get there, and this week, it did.  Thanks everyone, and I'll see you in the comments, and again next week.

 

7 Comments

by DRAGONDUNG at Mon, 02/25/2008 - 11:08
DRAGONDUNG's picture

Great job!  I will get mine out wed or thurs. Esp like Whiffy getting his props.

by Kaxon (Unregistered) 65.205.207.145 (not verified) at Mon, 02/25/2008 - 21:10
Kaxon (Unregistered) 65.205.207.145's picture

Lots of good content in this article.  Whiffy's obviously a master of threshold, but I have to disagree with him on the topic of Fire/Ice.  Personally I find Fire/Ice to be better than Lightning Bolt four times out of five, and if you're going to cut one I think it should be Lightning Bolt.  Fire/Ice can be pitched to Force of Will, it cycles, it's a timewalk vs an active Phyrexian Dreadnought, and it's a superstar against random creature decks like the elves deck that won the PE a while back.  There are very few 3 toughness creatures in the format right now other than the untargettable Nimble Mongoose, so the extra point doesn't matter as often as the ability to choose two targets does.  The main advantage of lightning bolt is the one mana cost vs the vastly greater power and flexibility of Fire/Ice.

 

As an aside, it's "archetype", not "arch-type". 

time walk dreadnaught by Anonymous (Unregistered) 69.136.203.164 (not verified) at Tue, 02/26/2008 - 10:31
Anonymous (Unregistered) 69.136.203.164's picture

i am all about stp over fire/ice. the only reason you may not like it is that you have to get a white mana land. but the fact of the matter is that if fire/ice is a "time walk" on dreadnaught , tombstalker, monastary, grunt, goyf,exalted angel, ect. wouldnt stp be the "game ender" atp is also 1 mana making spellsnares usless against your targeted removal.

by the by this is whiffy.

good feedback guys by walkerdog at Mon, 02/25/2008 - 22:32
walkerdog's picture

I had arche-type, but the MS Word spellcheck didn't like it, even though I was pretty sure it was right.  I think Fire/Ice is nice and all, but honestly, the cheaper cost of Bolt, and the fact that he's replacing "timewalk vs Dreadnought" with "RFG Dreadnought" makes it fine by me if he keeps Bolt in.  That's just my opinion mind you.

by Kaxon (Unregistered) 69.17.49.26 (not verified) at Mon, 02/25/2008 - 23:33
Kaxon (Unregistered) 69.17.49.26's picture

<i>and the fact that he's replacing "timewalk vs Dreadnought" with "RFG Dreadnought" makes it fine by me if he keeps Bolt in.</i>

I'm assuming that you're playing Swords to Plowshares either way... if you're not, you really want both Lightning Bolt and Fire/Ice, not just one or the other. 

Yea by walkerdog at Mon, 02/25/2008 - 23:55
walkerdog's picture

I think you've hit the nail, in that he wants the cheaper spell too.  That allows him to use it EOT while still representing Spell Snare/Force Spike also.

by DRAGONDUNG at Mon, 02/25/2008 - 10:04
DRAGONDUNG's picture

Great job and I will have a bit more on Wed or Thurs.  I agree Desire was a great Meta Choice and will be picking up in this tipsy enviroment.