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By: jamuraa, Marie Janssen
Apr 23 2008 11:37am
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Well, MTGO v3 is up. But I don't care that much about it, and you know why. There are no Premier Events! My favorite part of the game is completely null and void at the moment. At least the constructed queues came up earlier this week, there is a glimmer of hope for the people who love to play constructed. Oh, sure, the drafting is the first thing that Wizards of the Coast brings up. Then again, it's their cash cow, I don't really expect them to do anything less. As I'm writing this, there are about 1300 people on the server playing casual constructed, Eight man queues, or drafts. The server itself hasn't crashed in more than 48 hours I believe, and life is good. Now if only they would bring back the best part: Premier Events! I've been told that we have a hope of getting some of them started this week. If we do, you can be sure that I will be on the case, keeping track of the metagame for you just as I did before the great darkness of transition.

Stupid Ideas: Proactive Sideboarding

One thing that I have never been good at in respect to constructing decks is coming up with a sideboard. This is because I always want my main deck to be the best deck that I can find - I want the main deck to win most of the time. Of course, there's always something that can hose a deck. A mono-color aggro deck is hosed by Teferi's Moat. Storm combo decks fold to Rule of Law. Control decks (the counter-magic kind) have so many hosers at this point:  split second, Quagnoth, Eyes of the Wisent  that I am surprised that anyone plays them at all.

No one will play the hosers in their main deck though, instead deciding that if they are going to lose to you game one, they better have a silver bullet waiting to shoot your deck down like the dog that it is in the other two games. This makes it easy for me to use one of the crutches that I like to lean on when I am creating a sideboard, which I like to call Proactive Sideboarding. Proactive Sideboarding is when you anticipate the hosing cards that your opponents will bring out of their sideboard in order to punish you for running that nasty good deck that will beat them every time without their silver bullets.

Let me begin with a simple example. Lately I have been playing a variant on the mono-green all-in elves that I presented in the Deck-o-pedia last week. This deck totally wrecks opponents game one if they aren't prepared for it, and anything that doesn't go off on turn four or neutralize your board before then (Pyroclasm, I'm looking at you) will be unprepared. So it's on go game two. So what do you bring in from the sideboard in this matchup?

There's not really anything that you can do in order to win the game faster than you did before, but there is certainly something that they are doing against you. This is where a keen knowledge of the metagame comes into play. If they are playing red-green Big Mana, then you can expect them to bring in a lot more mass creature kill against your essentially weenie green deck (before Coat of Arms comes out). Proactive Sideboarding will have you bring in a playset of Wrap in Vigor in order to have something to cast against those cards that would normally wipe your board, hopefully giving you the staying power that you will need.

Let's consider the blue-white Reveillark matchup - they will most likely be making their deck have a whole set of Wrath of God. Wrap in Vigor doesn't help any in this case. However, because they are mono-color, they will be also be giving their deck a full set of Teferi's Moat. You don't want to be sitting there with your horde of 21/21 creatures just waiting for them to draw their Wrath. In this matchup Naturalize is your friend. It also will remove those pesky Mind Stones which they use to accelerate their mana.

Proactive sideboarding is sideboarding against their sideboard. It doesn't work against rogue decks: you may as well have a completely blank sideboard against anything you are unprepared for. It's not something that you can do if you aren't in full knowledge of almost all of the metagame: you need to know what you are playing, they need to have sideboard cards against you, and you need to have sideboard cards against their sideboard cards. It's also a sideboard strategy which also ruins the established sideboard that probably came with your deck in the first place. Given that, it probably screws up whatever strategy was in place. However, when they come out with their Pyroclasm on turn three, and you respond by regenerating everything on your side of the board, it is a beautiful thing.

Stupid Ideas: Platinum Control

The last couple of times that I presented a list of statistics to you, there was an entry which was unexplained: Platinum Control. Some people noticed and asked me to please give them an idea of what the hell it was. Well, I don't really have a full list for anyone here from a official source, but I believe that I have seen enough of it played to give you a general idea:

Let me preface this analysis of the deck's inner working with this: I don't believe that this deck is viable in the format at all. The only reason that I think it weaseled itself into the metagame at all is because there are a ton of decks out there that are essentially dumb. They play creatures, and attack for the win. Some of the better decks will play creatures, then kill some of your opponent's creatures, and then attack for the win. The environment isn't really ripe for control at all lately (and it doesn't look like it's getting any better with Shadowmoor). This deck slips under the radar and exploits those decks something fierce. It's a rogue deck, and it will always be a rogue deck, because there are plenty of ways to destroy this deck's win condition if it is any force at all in the metagame.

Anyway, how the heck does this deck work? The main idea behind the deck is to swing with a Platinum Angel for the win. That's pretty easy to say, because you can't exactly lose the game with old Platty in play can you? I'm normally against any strategy which makes you go into the red zone with the card that essentially says 'protect me and win', but it actually works out, as there aren't a lot of fliers sitting around in this format at the moment with Tarmogoyf and Countryside Crusher sitting on the ground. The only problem is that our win condition costs 7 and is quite fragile. You might notice that a bunch of this deck is focused on mana ramping, and the high cost of the non-lose condition is the reason why. The other part of this deck that makes it work also hinges in the Angel, and that is the full playset of Pact of Negation. Of course this interaction is that you can't lose the game with the Angel in play, so suddenly you have free counter. Free counters are pretty powerful, just ask any Classic player without a set of Force of Will. With your free counters, you can then protect your non-lose condition from anything that your opponent might throw at her. There is also a bit of manabase directed toward keeping the artifact around - Academy Ruins also can be used in order to recur the Angel if you haven't actually lost yet.

But wait, isn't there a deck that's fairly prominent in standard that has a bunch of fliers in play? You would think that Faeries would be a horrible matchup against this deck, but it has a counter for those flying rogues in the form of a Cloudthresher. Getting the big flailer into play will most definitely wreck any Faerie deck's day, and you will probably win in short order with your 4/4 flier and his 7/7 buddy. It also can pack a set of Squall Line in the sideboard in order to take out more, and I have recently been advocating Naturalizeagainst the inevitablity of Bitterblossom. Despite what you would think is a bad matchup, you can put the Faeries deck out of contention.

Faeries isn't the only deck type out there however, and you should be prepared for the rest of the field. Primal Command, serves a pretty good dual purpose in this deck. Not only does it search out your non-loss condition, it can be used as a floatation device - that is, keeping you at a virtual 27 or 34 life so that Crusher Deck Wins (and other burn variants) start running out of gas before you run out of life. Of course, if you end up getting an angel into play against Crusher, you only really need to worry about a couple of burn spells to your 4/4 flier as they can burn your head all they want. As an aside, Primal Command is showing up in a lot more decks lately, and I'm continually surprised by how awesome it is as a toolbox. It's still not the best command;  Profane Commandtakes that crown; I would make it a close third behind Cryptic Command. I would recommend you get four of them - they're not going to get any worse.

All-in-all, this deck isn't completely horrible if the opponent isn't prepared for it. There are so many answers to this deck if they know what it is trying to achieve - Naturalize comes to mind again, and also Extirpate makes your day a sad one. However, you can certainly bring this deck to a PE when they start again and make some people say "what the heck?".. and sometimes that will win you games all by itself.

Stupid Ideas: Bitter Bust

As a final stupid idea for the article today, I would like to present a deck that will get absolutely no play at all in any Standard tournament where people are actually paying attention, but the idea has been stuck in my head for a very long time now and I would love to get some people heckling me for a stupid idea. Again, this is a stupid deck idea. It's probably suitable for the casual room in MTGO, but it wouldn't fly there because everyone there hates land destruction.

Bitter Bust
Standard-Morningtide Jank suggested by Michael Janssen
4 Shriekmaw

Other Spells
4 Boom/Bust
4 Incinerate
4 Sudden Death
4 Sulfurous Blast
4 Cruel Edict
4 Bitter Ordeal
4 Damnation
4 Nameless Inversion
5 Mountain
5 Swamp
4 Auntie's Hovel
4 Graven Cairns
4 Sulfurous Springs
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Bitter Ordeal

Okay, so to anyone who hasn't figured the win condition for this deck yet, here it is: Boom/Bust and Bitter Ordeal. After you put every land in play in the graveyard, you can easily empty their entire deck of lands. It's completely non-viable because this combo costs two cards and a whopping 10 mana, and it leaves the board full of creatures that will happily beat your face in. That's why the rest of the deck is creature-based control. It's completely non-viable, but there is something I love about the idea of leaving your opponent with no lands at all - including their deck. Is my inner Johnny showing?

With any luck, as you read this, the Premier Events will be starting up again, and I will have something else to write about other than the stupid ideas that I have presented to you here. In the meantime, I'll be playing in the Tournament Practice room on v3, because I actually find the new play quite nice, non-laggy and the card art completely awesome. If there are PEs this week, I will certainly be participating in one over the weekend. Until then, good luck in the PEs!


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 04/24/2008 - 12:09
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Finally my whining helped ty for the platinum list! :D