Entries from February 2009 ↓

U/W ‘Tron – Winning with the Sideboard

This video observes the U/W ‘Tron deck disrupting the opponents’ strategies with key sideboard cards like Chalice of the Void, Tormod’s Crypt, and Vendilion Clique. While not one of these cards will win against a top deck all by its lonesome, as part of a cohesive strategy and backed by the power of the UrzaTron, these cards can reduce some of the most dangerous decks in the metagame into jelly.

U/W ‘Tron – Nicholas Gulledge

4 Azorius Signet
2 Chalice of the Void
3 Chrome Mox
1 Crucible of Worlds
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Mindslaver
1 Sundering Titan
1 Triskelion

4 Condescend
4 Gifts Ungiven
1 Spell Burst
4 Thirst for Knowledge

2 Decree of Justice
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Wrath of God

1 Academy Ruins
2 Flooded Strand
4 Hallowed Fountain
1 Mystic Gate
1 Plains
2 Tolaria West
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower

1 Chalice of the Void
4 Circle of Protection: Red
3 Kitchen Finks
3 Sower of Temptation
1 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Vendilion Clique

I liked testing this deck.

I would consider playing a deck like this — especially for post-Conflux with Path to Exile and Martial Coup — but with Remand. Remand and Condescend help set up the ‘Tron and protect any lead the deck can generate. But hey! I’m the kind of person willing to play a Solemn Simulacrum in Extended.


Check This Out!

Just a shout out to the two-and-a-half or so of you all who read this blog but not the Top8Magic.

Ten of Magic’s most recognizable writers, editors, Pro Tour winners, and Hall of Fame inductees did me the solid of rattling off their favorite articles of all time for a small project I published on Top 8 Magic.

What are the most significant articles of all time?

Check it out – first of a few.
And the Greatest Magic Article of All Time Is…

I’ll give you a hint: It’s Who’s the Beatdown.

All the rest is what makes it worth reading.


DVD Extras for “The Three-Deuce”

Most of you have probably read my most recent column on the mother ship, The Three-Deuce. If you haven’t yet… Well… The link was right there in that previous sentence!

The Three-Deuce was originally a Grand Prix winning deck popularized by Trey Van Cleave. I picked the name’s pocket to use on this article, which was a split between a pair of topics, three and two.

The execution on Top Decks is changing slightly. Instead of focusing on the blue and gray boxes and Top 8 trending every week during a PTQ season we are doing more strategy and in-depth explorations of decks and strategies that I find to be interesting.

This week the strategic theme was about how some successful decks of the past were able to incorporate new cards from a set appearing in the middle of a Constructed format (you know, like how Conflux is complicating the middle of our present PTQ season).

It was difficult to write the “three” section on approaching a format as a new set is injected in the middle of things without applying Stage theory, but I couldn’t assume that my mother ship readers are familiar with that set of angles… But you guys have all read The Breakdown of Theory and Breakdown in Phase III, right? Right!

So here come the DVD Extras…

  1. The Macey Deck
    The inclusion of the Macey deck in White Weenie is a classic Stage Three. Remember the rules of Stage Three are that one deck is actively dictating the field of battle and that the other deck only has a couple of cards that matter. Kjeldoran Outpost in White Weenie prevents the control deck from being able to win with pure creature elimination redundancy, and in fact puts the onus on the control to draw one of its limited number of Strip Mines in order to deal with the threat. One thing that I didn’t mention but probably never came up is that the control can also race.
  2. Tempest in Sligh
    Stage theory again… Pre-Tempest Magic put most decks on having to get to about four mana in order to do anything interesting. Wrath of God is the obvious four mana card, but there were many Icy Manipulators, and even the “beatdown” decks were Erhnam Djinn attackers. Tempest in Sligh changed the fortunes of the beatdown by pulling the mana threshold back — way back — to like one mana for Jackal Pup and Mogg Fanatic… So these decks were almost never in the “basically manascrewed” ghetto of Stage One; moreover, the easy mana control of Wasteland would bomb slower decks back to the stone age of “basically manascrewed” even if they should have been in Stage Two, non-interactively for the most part.
  3. Jar
    I have always maintained that people hate combo decks — whether they use these terms or not — because most of the “skill” in Magic occurs during Stage Two (where most of the interaction occurs); Jar exemplifies the combo deck with no Stage Two. Stage One is so short because of the mana acceleration and searching and then as soon as the first Tinker pops you are in a situation where basically everything you are playing, tutoring up, et cetera ad infinitum is better than whatever the other guy is gunning and relatively few of his cards matter (especially if you have Defense Grids on board)… textbook Stage Three… on turn one or whatever.
  4. This is not to say that there is no skill in playing combo decks… There is certainly a lot of probability and picking the right tools, but the lack of interaction is what turns a lot of players off, especially the less spike-competitive ones.

Onto the Deuce!

SWOT Storm! was a late addition to this article. Originally my intrepid editor Kelly Digges was afeared that I used copyrighted music in the video (a no-no… Can’t run that stuff on the mother ship!). However I contacted him that I used some canned beats that came on my MacBook Pro and Kelly gave the SWOT Storm! ye olde green light on the second printing as it were.

Which was cool.


SWOT Storm!

Since Luis Scott-Vargas won Grand Prix Los Angeles (and Asher did pretty well on top), Storm has become one of if not the most popular deck in Extended. Following is a two-game match exploring the Storm mirror.

For this video I used Luis Scott-Vargas’s version of Storm, which is:

4 Lotus Bloom

2 Tendrils of Agony

4 Mind’s Desire
4 Peer Through Depths
4 Ponder
4 Remand
2 Sleight of Hand

2 Electrolyze
4 Manamorphose

4 Desperate Ritual
4 Rite of Flame
4 Seething Song

3 Cascade Bluffs
4 Dreadship Reef
3 Flooded Strand
2 Island
3 Polluted Delta
3 Steam Vents

2 Ad Nauseam
3 Brain Freeze
3 Echoing Truth
2 Gigadrowse
3 Pact of Negation
2 Shattering Spree

Here are some things you will notice about this deck…

  1. Luis played main deck Electrolyze. This could theoretically have been Magma Jet (which is cheaper but less versatile against the one toughness creatures in Faeries), or nothing at all (as in Asher’s deck); the Grapeshot version can just Grapeshot Gaddock Teeg to death (though not Ethersworn Canonist).
  2. Luis killed with Tendrils of Agony. It’s tricky, but you can Remand your own Tendrils and re-play it to create a lethal out of smoke, provided you have enough Lotuses and Manamorphoses to produce sufficient Black to play and re-play the Storm sorcery.
  3. The big one is Shattering Spree in the sideboard. One of the cards I was using to beat Storm “back in the day” (at least before the Grand Prix) with the MWC deck was Chalice of the Void. That probably isn’t going to be a solution moving forward. The White deck is probably not fast enough to kill the Storm deck before a solution to Chalice of the Void can be found, especially when the best ineractive card has Replicate.

Storm is a deck that you will want to know; it is very popular (meaning you probably have to know how to beat it at least once or twice to win a PTQ) and an elite deck against Faerie Wizards (another pretty popular deck).

Storm is a powerhouse, and as you can see in the video (if you don’t have a lot of first hand experience with the deck) it is like a bulldozer stapled to a mongoose… nigh-inexorable kryptonite-locked to fast.

The video is pretty funny, especially the Game Three situation where I have double Tendrils, Brain Freeze-Remand-Brain Freeze with the second-to-lethal Tendrils on the stack. It can play tight margin mana with Tendrils and just enough Storm copies, or with sufficient momentum will do a thousand or so damage while decking the other guy the same turn.



Jacob’s Aggro Rock

… And we’re back!

After a multiple week hiatus, here comes the first of the new wave of video updates, this time focusing on Michael Jacob’s B/G Aggro Rock.

In case you haven’t seen Michael’s superb Swiss-crushing deck from the most recent Grand Prix Los Angeles, here it is:

Michael Jacob – Aggro Rock

3 Umezawa’s Jitte

3 Bitterblossom
4 Darkblast
3 Raven’s Crime
2 Slaughter Pact
3 Thoughtseize

4 Kitchen Finks
3 Putrefy
1 Worm Harvest

4 Life from the Loam
4 Tarmogoyf

4 Barren Moor
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Forest
2 Ghost Quarter
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Mutavault
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Polluted Delta
3 Swamp
2 Tranquil Thicket
2 Twilight Mire
3 Windswept Heath

1 Pithing Needle
3 Damnation
3 Extirpate
1 Engineered Explosives
3 Choke
2 Ravenous Baloth
2 Seal of Primordium

This deck more or less exchanges the usually defining Death Cloud set from the Life from the Loam versions of The Rock for Tarmogoyf, Bitterblossom, and Umezawa’s Jitte, repositioning the deck from board control to beatdown… while maintaining the card advantage capabilities of the [previously] more common deck.

The biggest take away I have from trying Jacob’s deck is how much better it is against Burn than the Death Cloud version I was on early in this season’s testing. Beating Burn was simply not difficult nor in any way stressful wheresas with Death Cloud, even when you won, you were on the edge of your seat the whole time.

An inability to win by Death Cloud is counterbalanced a little bit by the fact that this deck can still potentially lock the opponent down with Raven’s Crime. Even against Burn this can be useful because even if they are still clocking you for two or more damage you can end up shaving off their options and preventing them from planning — and playing — optimally.

All in all a very solid deck, well worth the try if you are considering B/G.

Here is ye olde video: