This is the “unacceptable” discussion and “solution” (if you can call it that) to You Make the Play – enCRYPTed.
… And the first You Make the Play Video response!
To refresh everybody’s memory, it was Game Three against ‘Tron. We had two up, Spellstutter Sprite in hand, fully loaded Archmage on the table and UU up.
The opponent presented Tormod’s Crypt.
The board looked more-or-less exactly like this:
So what is the what?
The first question is, do we care about a Tormod’s Crypt?
We don’t care about graveyard recursion overmuch; what we care about is that the Tormod’s Crypt can keep up from doubling up with Archmage Persist-ence.
So the first question is whether we should be doing anything about it.
I think — and it will be obvious from my “solution” to the board position — that I thought it would be worth dealing with (I care[d] about my half of an Archmage).
So the next question is, assuming we care, what we are going to do.
I have to admit that at the time (I am sure I was watching Gossip Girl out of the corner of my eye) that I didn’t even consider using the Archmage to defend the Archmage. To me, it was Spellstutter Sprite 2-for-1 or nil.
So I went for the Sprite.
Results were disastrous.
Obviously he was the super uber miser, and had not just natural ‘Tron, Ghost Quarter, and a significant threat, but Mindslaver as well.
Archmage died without ever doing anything profitable for michaelj (AKA Number One).
Interestingly if I had used the Archmage, I would have been in a pretty similar position (albeit with one more Mana Leak). I would have been obligated to eat the Mindslaver anyway. That said, I think using the Archmage to stop the Tormod’s Crypt was the best play.
Pat Chapin — who called my Spellstutter Sprite / terrible read “unacceptable” when I talked to him about it — said he would have done nothing. “You realize you are talking about pulling down your pants to a potential Mindslaver in order to save half a card, right?” (He said something like that).
But what is really interesting is all the things that happened next. Check that action out here:
I’m sure you loved every minute!
Oh, and before I forget – Congratulations to Joshua Scott Honigmann who won a Kentucky PTQ with a Mono-White Control deck similar to what we have been discussing the past couple of days. You go Temple of the False God!
You Make the Play returns! This time it is Fae v. ‘Tron in Extended… So are you a metagamer or a savage miser?
It is Game Three.
Your opponent is on the play on account of you savagely destroyed him with Negate and so on in Game Two.
It is game three because even though you savagely destroyed him in game two, he made you look like a child — a child smaller than your Spellstutter Sprites — in Game One, exposing the severe inability of the Herberholz / Nassif-style Faeries / Wizards deck to deal with certain kinds of expensive threats.
You conceded to Mindslaver but of course filled your deck with Negate, Annul, and Glen Elendra Archmage for Vedalken Shackles, Threads of Disloyalty, &c.
If you haven’t seen the deck (you have probably seen it because all the guys who have soap boxes to stand on have been saying it’s the bee’s knees, plus you are playing it so how could you not have seen it), here it is:
4 Mana Leak
4 Spell Snare
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Thirst for Knowledge
2 Threads of Disloyalty
3 Vendilion Clique
2 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Academy Ruins
1 Breeding Pool
1 Hallowed Fountain
3 Riptide Laboratory
1 River of Tears
1 Steam Vents
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Vedalken Shackles
1 Chain of Vapor
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
2 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Academy Ruins
Okay, back to Game Three:
It is your opponent’s turn seven. He only has six lands in play even though he has been a savage miser this game because one of his lands — a Ghost Quarter — is in the bin. He plugged your Academy Ruins (not realizing you are also a savage miser and are palming the other Ruins). He has just attacked your face with his Platinum Angel, so life totals are 20-16 in favor of the degenerate mana deck..
This is his board:
This is his graveyard:
(Simic Signet, Ghost Quarter, and Gifts Ungiven)
On turn two you sent Annul at his Simic Signet, his Ghost Quarter “traded” for your Academy Ruins, and his Gifts Ungiven was successfully stifled (not Stifled) by a Mana Leak last turn after he played his Platinum Angel.
Which means, yes. Savage. Miser. He has almost a double ‘Tron, a handy dandy Island, hasn’t missed a land drop, all-natural.
This is your board:
Not too shabby. You even have mana open for your Glen Elendra Archmage… twice if necessary.
Your graveyard is seven cards:
(Annul, Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox, Thirst for Knowledge, Thirst for Knowledge, Academy Ruins, and Mana Leak)
This is your hand:
Tormod’s Crypt is on the stack.
I would do images to show your hand and to indicated Tormod’s Crypt being on the stack but I am tired of looking up hideous background images.
Anyway, the bad guy has two mystery cards in hand.
If I had to draw a picture of this game, in total, it would look, um, EXACTLY like this:
Okay You Make the Play-ers…
He is playing Tormod’s Crypt. Ye olde zero mana spell is on the stack.
Basically I reversed the numbers on Manamorphose and Empty the Warrens from the pre-Pro Tour Berlin version. Manamorphose really just improves Warrens; and Warrens was the best threat. I don’t know if Manamorphose will ultimately make the prime time version of the deck list, but I like it quite a bit because I have some gamble to me and have been known to play it just to see what happens. What usually happens is that I reveal a Demigod of Revenge or some such.
In this deck, versus Standard, I actually prefer Deus of Calamity more than Demigod of Revenge. In All-in Red in Extended, you don’t actually get to play multiple Demigods in a single game very often because you simply don’t have the mana (you usually use a lot of the Red Dark Ritual cards and don’t tend to have a lot of staying power); if you can play Deus of Calamity on the first turn on the play, there are really very few ways for you to lose. At the least you usually get to play The Abyss for a while until they can deal with the Deus, at which point you can often clean up with a medium Empty the Warrens or some other threat, exploiting the, you know, calamity that the Deus wrecked.
I originally only wanted to play about three matches but they went relatively quickly and ended up playing about five. Everyone I played tonight was very nice. Thanks for the games all.
My opponent led off on Darksteel Citadel, pass.
Now no Affinity deck will ever do that so I put him on the Lightning Bolt deck. I kept this hand.
YOU MAKE THE PLAY ALERT. What do you run (answer in the forums)?
Empty the Warrens
Magus of the Moon
Demigod of Revenge
We can discuss this in future, but what I actually did was to play both the Moxes, imprinting Demigod of Revenge and Magus of the Moon to play turn one Empty the Warrens, burning to 19.
The other option is to play Demigod of Revenge; however as I put my opponent on Lightning Bolt deck, I assumed that he would have a hard time dealing with eight Empty the Warrens tokens whereas he might be able to just Shrapnel Blast the Demigod out of the sky if need be.
He played Keldon Marauders, putting your hero to 18.
I sent all my Goblin tokens and put him to 13.
He counterattacked and put me to 15, then played Sulfuric Vortex.
I looked at his board… Darksteel Citadel and Great Furnace, eh?
I will be on 12 on upkeep. If he hits a land, that Sulfuric Vortex is gonna… well you gotta play the cards that they give you!
He had the double Shrapnel Blast, but sadly (for him), no fourth land. Huzzah!
I decided to side in 3 Umezawa’s Jittes and 1 Shattering Spree for 4 Blood Moon. Magus of the Moon is no great shakes but at least he has a body for the Jittes I sided in.
He opened on Spark Elemental.
I responded with turn one Deus of Calamity.
Yep. That’s a concession.
I played a very nice player with medium Red whom I have played a couple of times before with my version of The Rock.
He shipped to five and kept a one lander. It wasn’t a competitive hand against my second turn Demigod of Revenge.
I sided four Firespout and 3 Jitte for seven Blood Moons and Magus of the Moons (leaving a Magus, obviously).
I had to use the first Firespout on his turn one Slith Firewalker. There were no Seething Song for Arc-Slogger heroics in this one and All-in Red beat medium Red in unspectacular fashion.
I kept two Moon cards versus Lightning Bolt deck. Luckily I drew eight Mountains off the top. So at the end of the game, my spell count was a Mox, Blood Moon, and Magus of the Moon. No, I didn’t get there.
I sided identically to the first match, above. I probably should have sided in more Shattering Sprees.
Turn two Deus of Calamity was deployed, but he blocked to stall and played Ensnaring Bridge! Good gravy. I wasn’t sure what to do and played a naked Demigod of Revenge, which did nothing. Then I topdecked a Jitte. He ran out a Pyrostatic Pillar. I decided I didn’t want to mess with that with my no-acceleration hand and just made two Warrens tokens with the outlook of hopefully getting something online. However he had a Mogg Fantatic to keep the tokens off.
I played some dorks, took Pillar damage; he had to burn every one and take Pillar damage to keep Jitte off him. Eventually it was 5-7 my lead but he had this card Shrapnel Blast and saved it for when I foolishly summoned a Simian Spirit Guide.
I am not sure how I should have played it differently. Possibly I should have waited for another Warrens, but I think waiting too long I would have just died to multiple burn spells.
He opened on a tapped Steam Vents.
I was on the play and answered with turn two Deus.
Steam Vents? What is that? I assumed Fae but didn’t do anything on account of possibly being wrong.
I got Spell Snared as a two-for one (I had already committed Rite of Flame)… so that prevented a turn two or three Empty the Warrens for six.
Then I resolved some Moon-ish spells, and the race was his Vendilion Clique versus my Magus of the Moon.
Following I got in Empty the Warrens for eight; this survived the aforementioned Vendilion Clique, which took my other Empty the Warrens.
He kept sending the Clique and used Threads of Disloyalty to mise one of my tokens.
Then he showed me Venser, which executed two tokens, and Vedalken Shackles.
I thought I had enough gas because of holding a Deus of Calamity back, but he had Flashfreeze as well.
Luckily I had gotten him to two life at this point.
So basically I could win on a storm Warrens or a Demigod of Revenge, but probably be frozen out by anything else. Unfortunately I knew there was one of my remaining three Warrens on the bottom of my deck, meaning I only really had two Warrens left…
But luckily one was on top.
So Mox for nil got me four tokens… possibly enough to win.
But no! Engineered Explosives ate all my guys and suddenly the fae was off to the races. He even made a Spellstutter Sprite for no value.
On his main phase he Shackled my remaining 2/2 dork to get in with Venser and the Clique. Okay… Shackles tapped. Sprite tapped. YT on two.
I could smell the demigod on top.
Yep, topdeck city!
That’s match. Thank you top of my deck!
I was on the draw.
He ran out turn one Overgrown Tomb.
I answered with turn one Deus of Calamity.
He was honored to be able to eat a Tarmogoyf.
Oblivion Ring! No fun.
Main deck Jitte? Even less fun; then Dark Confidant.
I basically had to play a Warrens for two just to keep the Confidant / Jitte from running me over.
Check and check plus… but he still had a Jitte with a counter.
I sprang into action with a hasty 5/4.
But he had another Oblivion Ring!
I was waiting for that and played another Deus. Whew.
But he answered with Mogg Fanatic, now wearing the Jitte.
He trades, but greviously, including a Seal of Fire.
Now it’s Spirit Guide beatdown.
But no! Kird Ape.
I play Magus of the Moon.
A terrible battle ensues, killing everyone and soaking up all the Jitte counters.
Nothing from him…
And I Mox for nothing, and play four tokens from Warrens.
And finally I get by a Jitte!
I sided out 1 Magus of the Moon and two Manamorphose for three Umezawa’s Jitte. Magus is okay-plus, but I figured he had Red removal and Jittes (which are colorless) as well as Plains for Oblivion Ring… So not that good.
This is the hand I kept:
Simian Spirit Guide
Simian Spirit Guide
Deus of Calamity
Magus of the Moon
He opened with Windswept Heath for Wooded Foothills.
I ripped a Mountain.
YOU MAKE THE PLAY ALERT: What do you do?
I elected to play first turn Blood Moon using both Guides.
He answered with a turn two 1/2 Tarmogoyf, which made me think maybe I should have played the Magus instead.
My next two draws were Deus and Seething Song, so little direct improvement, especially as he mised Plains.
Next turn I made Deus with Rite of Flame and Seething Song.
I blocked and he finished off the Deus with a Tribal Flames.
He ripped and played Oblivion Ring on my poor Blood Moon.
I ripped and played Deus.
He played Confidant into Confidant…
But your hero picked up Jitte.
Uncontested Jitte did what uncontested Jitte does.
So 4-1… Not conclusive but certainly a fine record for the night.
Please address how you would have dealt with those opening hands in the comments below.
Before we get to the next You Make the Play (in case you hadn’t yet noticed You Make the Play is about Ajani-times more popular than anything else to read on this site!), I wanted to tie up some older installments of You Make the Play. First, regarding Thoughtseize v. Rampant Growth – Fight! (itself a response):
The opening hand consisted of these pretty pixels:
And the question was how to spend a first turn Thoughtseize. My opponent took the Rampant Growth (which I at the time didn’t want him to take) and I beat him up with a Civic Wayfinder on the way to winning the match.
What do the kiddies have to say?
#1 Apprentice Asher ManningBot Hecht “Civic Wayfinder, obv. You probably did like six before he stopped it. That matters.”
I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective, but good old Civic Wayfinder did in fact get in for relevant damage!
The Pennsylvania Champ, Brett Blackman “I would have taken Rampant Growth.”
Isn’t this what we spent the preceding post debunking? Well, this isn’t the last time YT clashes with his betters.
Zack Hall has four cards in hand and a Figure of Destiny (1/1) in play. You have four lands including a Ghitu Encampment. Zack is up a card due to playing second, and is presently nuking you with Blightning. This is your grip:
What do you pitch?
Now before we get all the way settled, let me just ask you a question. Which side of this divide would you rather be on?
GP Top 8 competitors Zack Hall and Gerard Fabiano…
… or Magic commentators, Evan Erwin and Mike Flores?
To answer Dave Petterson, the life totals were 19-14 my lead.
Interestingly, most of the earlier responses favored holding onto a Flame Javelin, and most of the later responses –especially after the absolutely superb response by Alexan — had us holding Demigod of Revenge. The Demigod of Revenge camp, which included the newly wedded BK, were much more strategic: “We’re probably losing… now how do we find a way to win, however improbable?”
At this point it probably won’t surprise you to learn that…
Team Keep the Demigod: Fabiano & Hall
Team Keep the Flame Javelin: Erwin & Flores
Of course my favorite response was from wobblethegoose:
“Pitch a Demigod of Revenge and Flame Javelin. Prior scouting lets me know that Hall is running Unwilling Recruit, significantly reducing the EV of a resolved Demigod.”
What a savage metagamer.
Anyway, this is what I was thinking… Two things:
1) I am behind, but I can predict what Zack is going to do with his mana. Unless he has a Demigod of Revenge, he is going to put four mana into the Figure -at some point- if not next turn, and I can steal mana and take out his key threat, potentially buying me the time to topdeck out of this situation.
2) I lost a fair number of Demigod mirror matches in Block Constructed because I tried to play the Demigod beatdown. I went for it with Demigod of Revenge and my opponent sat and waited, Flamed my Demigod, then counterattacked with his Demigod when I was tapped.
It’s as Kowal said, we’re probably not going to win… and maybe I wasn’t playing to win… but I did. This is how it went down:
I pulled a land and immediately played it. I coyly looked at my graveyard and eyed the Demigod.
Zack’s eyes rolled back. “Please don’t slow roll me!” I had previously double-pumped both fists and danced about when he shipped to Paris in Game One (you may have seen this dance on The Magic Show). I smiled and didn’t have it this time, passed with all five lands open.
Zack played his fifth land and played Demigod of Revenge. He did not attack with his Figure of Destiny, no doubt worried that I might eat it with Ghitu Encampment.
Of course I killed the Demigod with Flame Javelin.
Along the way I got a little card advantage back with a Blightning of my own, revealing a pair of Unwilling Recruits. Had I kept the Demigod of Revenge, I am pretty sure I would have lost to those on the spot. My last turn, I got in with a Hell’s Thunder when Zack’s remaining removal spell was a Lash Out, and landed the last three with a topdecked Incinerate.
I obviously got immensely lucky on topdecks, and that Zack’s last removal card couldn’t stop the four from Hell’s Thunder, but I was just so used to getting beaten up when I “went for it” with my own Demigods in Block that I was almost “trained” not to try. I don’t know if this is faulty thinking, but in this case it got there when the alternative might have cost me the game.
I really enjoyed reading how you guys puzzled through this problem. There were some very well thought out responses and if you haven’t read through them, I recommend all of them, but especially starwater, Gifts Ungiven, and Private_Dream.
So this is what happened in real life: My opponent and I were playing for 6-2 at best and despite the slight chance for Top 8 it was a very friendly match. I was frankly quite surprised at having pulled out Game Two given I had kept a slow, two land hand, especially as he stole my Rampant Growth on turn one.
When I showed him my hand, I secretly wanted to keep the Rampant Growth… But this is because of the curse of patterned behavior. One of the things that I am really going to work on — and I am going to encourage anyone reading this blog to work on — is to break this lazy and comfortable “autopilot” approach to the game. In those rare tournaments where I have done exceptionally well for myself, I can always pick out a couple of rounds that I won specifically because I did not do what my mana said to do… Just think of how many times you miss Top 8 by one game or so, and cross-reference with this statement.
So what if Rampant Growth is the only thing I can play on turn two? It doesn’t really get me anywhere unless I immediately rip Chameleon Colossus [remind me to bring this up when I do the response-to-the-responses for the first You Make the Play].
But I think consciously I knew Gift of the Gargantuan was the strongest card in my hand [for him to pilfer with Thoughtseize] and I actually suggested he take it. Did he think I was running the Jedi Mind Trick? Like I said the game was friendly, so I don’t know that he thought I was trying to fool him. He probably also fell into the same pattern as my “secret wish” and took my Rampant Growth in order to deny turn two action; no, I didn’t immediately pull the Chameleon Colossus, but I did get a little action over the next couple of turns just off the top of my deck.
In fact, after my Civic Wayfinder, I didn’t have time to play my Gift of the Gargantuan for three or four more turns, and when I did, I was already ahead just thanks to the top of my deck.
So what is the right choice?
I think that Rampant Growth — which is what I secretly wanted to keep and what he ended up taking — is the weakest candidate. It is only relevant if I get Chameleon Colossus right away.
From my deck’s perspective, I will generally play Civic Wayfinder before playing Gift of the Gargantuan for two reasons: 1) I want to get some board presence so I can start attacking as soon as I can, and 2) I like Thawing lands out of my deck before playing Gift so that I can increase the chances of a relevant two-for-one (even if you are generally favored to get a two-for-one, Thawing a Forest out of your deck increases the chances of scoring with a Treetop Village for instance). In that sense, it is not only faster at affecting the game, it might therefore be “better” in this game.
From the Fae deck’s perspective in the abstract, Civic Wayfinder is not really a relevant threat. It is a a Balduvian Bears stapled to a Lay of the Land… “card advantage” for Green, but not something the Fae need typically to worry their winged boots over, at least not by itself.
However, given how much the Jund Mana Ramp side favors the Civic Wayfinder over the Gift of the Gargantuan, I would seriously consider taking the 2/2. Remember that the humble Wayfinder is also a “two-for-one” and a more consistent [two-for-] one at that. At least half of “interactive” Magic: The Gathering is denying the opponent what he actually wants to do, not just doing what you want to do (and maybe more).
In fact, in writing this post, I actually reversed my opinion (which was originally Gift of the Gargantuan)! Imagine how slow the Jund Mana Ramp side will be with no turn two, and no board position on turn three (just a potential two-for-one, not even guaranteed). Fae should have some kind of response by turn four, right?
I am going to ask Blackman (Fae Champion of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)… But believe it or not, I now think the right answer is Civic Wayfinder!
An all-new, all-different You Make the Play: What play would you make? What play do you think he made? What is the right play?
The situation: Round Eight of the New York State Championships.
You are playing Fae, consensus best-or-second-best deck in the format.
Game One you won against a donkey with a Jund Mana Ramp deck utilizing some combination of Bitterblossom, Spellstutter Sprite, Mistbind Clique, &c. You know, how your deck rolls.
Game Two was highly improbable. Your opponent kept a hand full of expensive spells, but only two lands and a Rampant Growth. He could theoretically start playing his ponderous three mana spells (Civic Wayfinder, Kitchen Finks, stuff like that) if you let him play the Rampant Growth. Strategically, you took it with a first turn Thoughtseize.
Donk slumped back in his chair. No action.
Yep, he missed his third land drop, too. He had nothing going on.
Yet somehow he topdecked a land or two and managed to draw out of it.
The rest of the game went a long murder of Chameleons, Cloudthreshers, & Finks; from your side a succession of Puppeteer Cliques keeping you alive by slowing down the Chameleons. Your Mistbind Cliques took forever to show up… Not until after he resolved a Mind Shatter with Gutteral Response backup. The game was long and increasingly awkward from both sides — with your blocking way too many times with Bitterblossom tokens — but he eventually pulled it out by attacking over and over.
So onto Game Three…
You are on the play and open up on Thoughtseize.
This is what you see:
He has four assorted lands [note: I don’t really remember what lands they were. -MichaelJ]; you can take one of…
Gift of the Gargantuan
Wow, a relatively slow hand. This is your opportunity to lock up 6-2 and potentially sneak into the coveted last spot in the Top 8.
Once again you have the opportunity to snag a first turn Rampant Growth, the only play he can make before turn three.
So this is the follow up to Thursday’s post about what to do on turn three. If you haven’t read it, check this out first: You Make the Play
I was actually quite proud of myself that I broke patterned thought and “slowed down” with the “turn two” play of Rampant Growth on turn three… I went for Swamp like most of you said you would.
But what is our strategy here? By what tactics will we accomplish our goals?
In this matchup we want to minimize creature damage. We want to keep him contained so that even if he rips the combo, it won’t immediately kill us. Our resources are limited… but so are his, so the short term objective is to get a two-for-one on your Firespout or Jund Charm. How do we ensure a two-for-one? How do we preserve card advantage?
I feel there is no point in playing the Civic Wayfinder at all at this stage.
However, there might be an even better play hiding in our options… an no one suggested it.
Josh Ravitz says to say “Go.”
That’s right, do nothing. But sulk.
Play possum. I’m stuck on two Forests. Do your worst. Give him a bad beat story for later.
The plan is to play Firespout next turn regardless. We are likely to pull off the two-for-one. But what if we play dead? Will he over-commit? We have the maximum chance of a three-for-one if we sit. Think about it.
What do we get from a Rampant Growth? Very little. In this game we are not on a harsh time limit. We are not going to play Chameleon Colossus next turn (probably). We are going to play Firespout. We can play Firespout with the resources at hand, in hand, and already on the board. The difference is that we can put the ball in the opponent’s court for additional card advantage extraction.
Why commit Civic Wayfinder if we are just going to blow everyone up?
Don’t we want more opposition coming to the party?
I think Josh makes a very compelling suggestion, and not obvious at all.
I don’t know if there is a right answer, but if I had the same situation again, I think I would pretend to be manascrewed. This one is not a resource race. If you kill their guys, you are likely to succeed.
I’m sure most of you find that “solution” thought-provoking, at least.
Culmination of a lot of the tech I have been working on for Standard. No Sylvan Caryatids is a nod to Patrick Chapin. Nothing but two-for-ones. Wish I could have gotten this in the hands of a good pilot for the GP but just finished it.
I had a day off this weekend from shooting Supernatural, and I was walking around downtown Vancouver on Saturday, sampling all the artisan coffee I could get my throat around. At one point I saw a pair of guys walking towards me wearing gamer shirts. Black short-sleeved, one Halo and one Call of…