What Would MichaelJ Do?

I was talking to Mrs. MichaelJ today — not that she remotely understands or for that matter cares about Magic: The Gathering — and told her that I have been doing commentary on this game for going on 15 years and I still don’t understand what motivates people to make the deck decisions that they do. The most popular decks (at least until the onset of Faeries in Standard and Extended) are for the most part so uniformly unplayable that they only win because so many people play them that one of those buggers mathematically has to win (U/G Madness in Block and Standard are good examples, later Tooth and Nail, then White Weenie…).

Today in Extended Faerie Wizards and Affinity seem to be the most popular decks. For once I would consider playing the most popular deck. Faeries is pretty good and exciting! It crept into the metagame because Spellstutter Sprite is so good against Glimpse of Nature and stayed because people noticed that end of turn guys wearing the best equipment, covered by Counterspell, is good in basically every matchup.

Affinity I would not consider despite the fact that I have always respected it. You just can’t beat someone who really really wants to beat you. It’s really just a question of definition. Some people think that sideboarding Ancient Grudge means you beat Affinity. I am the kind of person who would play all the Shattering Sprees and Smash to Smithereens, or not just Ancient Grudge but Kataki, War’s Wage if the mana held it (or Kataki, War’s Wage with Akroma’s Vengeance and Path to Exile starting).

Which leads me to the conclusion of this short post.

My first PTQ is coming up this weekend. This is a short list of decks that I would consider playing:

  • Critical Mass (considering switching to U/G/W configuration for Kataki, War’s Wage over the Red Ancient Grudge setup, combined with a possible move to Noble Hierarch over Birds of Paradise)
  • Mono-White Control (I am just not sure if I am considering this because I am fundamentally contrary or because I actually think it is [still] good)… Bill Stark recently said he thought the Faeries matchup is receding, but there is something to be said for a deck that is good to great against Faeries, Affinity, and Red Decks
  • The Lightning Bolt Deck or Naya Burn (I just like Naya Burn)… I feel like with my new mindset and calmer mulligan model I would benefit from playing a deck like The Lightning Bolt Deck at this point in the season with this amount of practice underneath my belt (that is, a lot in terms of hours… but unfocused for the most part in terms of specific deck)

I just don’t have the patience to play Storm; I tried to play a Storm combo deck last season and I became frustrated and refused to do the math… It is strange because I am very good at burn / beatdown math but I just lose interest in combo math and just “go for it” too often. I know this is a limitation on my part, but it is obviously a good reason to shy away from that kind of a deck. Faeries I respect but I have no model for how to win the mirror and no interest in learning in the next four days. Ergo, one of the above four is the girl for me.

New video later tonight!


facebook comments:


#1 sheetylogik on 02.16.09 at 10:01 pm

I have my first PTQ coming up as well. I am strongly considering some form of MWC, just because I know for a fact it will be an aggro heavy field, and I also think this deck is [still] good. I have always loved your builds. I even played your MWC deck back in T2 when affinity was all the buzz. I just can’t stand having a matchup that is pretty much unwinnable (Deathcloud) Which im sure some people will play. but maybe ill get paired against zoo and red all day like last year.

Maybe you can share some insight on your MWC. thanks!

#2 DAisaka09 on 02.17.09 at 12:07 am

Mike I was wondering what your thoughts are concerning Keldon Marauders in Naya Burn. I have been testing Naya Burn a lot since i’m pretty sure i want to take it to my next ptq and i feel like i want a different two drop. Everyone seems to say that it should be an automatic 4 of but i haven’t really been all that impressed with it. It always feels like card disadvantage to me and its difficult to take advantage of any tempo that you gain from molten rain when the marauders that you played on turn two is just going to die from persist anyway. I have been trying out Blood Knight instead and it seems like it could be really good since it first strikes fae, gets by kitchen finks, and is invulnerable to both path and oblivion ring. Incidentally he’s good against the deck that you just posted. Just wanted to know if you could give me a little help regarding Naya Burn.

#3 Bliss crater on 02.17.09 at 10:43 am

Critical Mass with noble hierarch over sakura tribe-elder.

#4 admin on 02.17.09 at 11:07 pm

Before Saturday – I promise. For what it’s worth, I don’t think many people will Death Cloud.

@ DAisaka09
I am probably going to play Naya Burn and I like the Marauders much. I would play Hearth Kami before Blood Knight given the popularity of Affinity. Plus Hearth Kami is a fine man against Jittes, anything. I like Path to Exile in Naya Burn. I can play a turn two Sulfuric Vortex!

@Bliss crater
At this stage it looks like Naya Burn for the old man. Thanks for the idea, though.

#5 Koleslaw on 02.18.09 at 7:22 am

Hey Michael,

I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a long time (been playing since The Dark and been reading about strategies for most of this time) I love listening to the Top8 Podcasts in my car, you and BDM crack me up.

I’m playing in a PTQ on the 28th in Indianapolis and I’ve narrowed down my deck choices to either Mono-W or TEPS. FYI, the Mono-W build I’ve been playing with is the Scott Honnigman build from the Louisville PTQ (we’re both from the Southern Indiana area so we’ve known each other a long time). I did some playtesting with Scott before that event and I was shocked at how viable Mono-W control is in the current Extended metagame.

Anyways, I noticed you said to sheetylogik that you were going to talk about MWC and I was wondering if you could hit on a couple points during that post:

1) Scott ran 4 maindeck Runed Halos. I’m not sure how I feel about this choice because sometimes it seems like it’s the nuts and sometimes it just sits dead in my hand. I’m considering keeping them because it completely wrecks TEPS and I suspect TEPS will be more prevalent now because of LSV. What are your thoughts on Runed Halo in this deck?

2) Speaking of LSV, in the Post-LA podcasts you said you didn’t know about this matchup because you hadn’t gotten to play it much. Have you gotten to play it at all yet? I’ve noticed that when they suspend two Lotuses on turn 1, following it up with a Chalice for 0 is pretty brutal.

3) How much Death Cloud/Aggro Loam would there have to be at a tournament for you to consider not playing MWC? The Indianapolis metagame tends to lean heavily towards aggro, so I’m hoping everyone just plays Affinity or Zoo or something.

Thanks in advance, you’re the best!

#6 DAisaka09 on 02.18.09 at 1:52 pm

Hearth Kami is interesting but isn’t tin street hooligan just better? Also i was wondering if you were still going to play mutavault? I know you mentioned before that you thought it was worthless since it didn’t actually help cast any spells.

#7 admin on 02.18.09 at 6:01 pm

Hearth Kami is much more flexible than Tin-Street Hooligan. You can get in a fight and sacrifice to kill an Artifact Land, for instance. It is superb for keeping counters off a Jitte. The Hooligan you will find yourself incentivized to play badly (“Do I hold this back until he plays Jitte?”) at least some of the time. The Hooligan is of course a fine little Flametongue Kavu but I think that the Kami might be better than you think. That said I am playing both Mutavault and Keldon Marauders. I am playing four main deck Sulfuric Vortex and no Molten Rain.

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