Sovereigns of Lost Alara Update

Concerning:

Sovereigns of Lost Alara :: Keeping Track of the Numbers :: Soul Sisters (kinda)
Mono-Green Ramp (even less) :: #FloresRewards :: … And Sovereigns of Lost Alara

You might not know this about me, but I keep fastidious records on my MTGO tournament play statistics.

That is how I know what decks are good!

So after coming back from US Nationals last week, I was very excited to try out some of the breakout decks from that tournament.

Specifically, I looked at three decks:

  1. Mono-G Ramp, a la new TCGPlayer columnist Conrad Kolos
  2. Soul Sisters – in particular because teen heartthrob Gavin Verhey clued me in on the mirror match sideboarding tech
  3. Mythic Conscription because Utter-Leyton’s deck looked so sick I had to take a personal day at the mere prospect of playing it.

Overall, the most impressive deck of the three was Mythic Conscription. I will detail the other two (less exciting) decks [or my experiences with them, anyway] in blog posts later in the week (probably), but for now I wanted to talk about Utter-Leyton’s Conscription deck.


Sovereigns of Lost Alara is a centerpiece of the Mythic Conscription deck.

Mythic Conscription

2 Eldrazi Conscription

4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Mana Leak

4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Sovereigns of Lost Alara

4 Birds of Paradise
2 Explore
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Noble Hierarch

3 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

4 Celestial Colonnade
5 Forest
2 Island
1 Marsh Flats
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Plains
1 Sejiri Steppe
3 Stirring Wildwood
3 Verdant Catacombs

sb:
2 Jace’s Ingenuity
2 Spell Pierce
2 Obstinate Baloth
4 Celestial Purge
4 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Bojuka Bog

Some Notes:

I wrote a lot of my ideas about this deck in last week’s edition of Top Decks. Those didn’t really change based on my playing the deck. In fact my respect for the version just increased.

Overall I was enchanted my the success of such a no-frills deck. I had been mesmerized by all these Fauna Shamans and Squadron Hawk engines and only one copy of Eldrazi Conscription, loading up on Primeval Titans, and so on. But Utter-Leyton’s deck bucked recent trends, uncompromising in its refusal to, you know, compromise. Great deck, and worthy of the very deserving champion.

The card a lot of people have pointed out in this deck is Explore.

I didn’t really know what to make of it. Yes, there were times when I had a Lotus Cobra followed by a third turn Explore and things went absolutely bananas… But when I was reaching for sideboard slots, this was also always the first card I considered cutting (and to be honest, I won an awful lot of matches with one Explore in my deck!) Sorry, ffej 🙁

Match rundown:

  • Soul Sisters – Won flip, lost match; -9 points
  • R/G Valakut – Won flip, won match; +10 points
  • White Weene (regular, not Soul Sisters) – Won flip, won match +7 points
  • B/G Ramp – Lost flip, won match; +9 points
  • B/G Ramp (same deck) – Lost flip, won match; +8 points
  • Mono-Green Valakut Ramp – Won match; +6 points
  • Mythic Conscription – Won match; +7 points

Overall, 6-1; +38 points

I try to keep track of whether or not I win the flip but I only remember about 2/3 of the time; I don’t know if it is useful to keep track of this if you don’t remember 100% of the time. As you can see over the first seven matches I played with Utter-Leyton’s Mythic Conscription deck I only remembered to record this 5/7 times.

Regardless, the performance was pretty wicked — 6-1 — and the points more than made up for my performance with Soul Sisters, Mono-Green Ramp, et and cetera.

At this point Utter-Leyton’s Mythic Conscription is my best win percentage of any deck over the 166 lines of my spreadsheet for the current Standard format! Huzzah!

A few months ago I wrote about the so-called Danger of Eldazi Conscription. Some paps on Twitter pointed out that the approach I suggested in this blog post might not be optimal for fighting Mythic Conscription decks. For example, given all the Lotus Cobra mana-making gas in a Mythic Conscription deck, it is possible that the opponent might just play an Eldrazi Conscription that he draws.

It has been said that sans Eldrazi Conscription, a Mythic Conscription deck is just a clunky Mythic deck with Sovereigns of Lost Alara instead of more efficient threats like Baneslayer Angel (or Rampaging Baloths).

But when you do get the Conscription combo… it is, as they said back in the 1990s, some good.

I don’t remember how I lost the Soul Sisters matchup… As a Soul Sisters player in different points in the post-Nationals testing process, I did a fair amount of losing to decks with Forest / Noble Hierarch.

Most of the other matchups I won with a combination of card quality, tactically devastating Mana Leaks, Planeswalkers, Sovereigns of Lost Alara, and math.

To wit:

  • Card quality – Have youseen the awesome sauce of cards in this deck? The moron threat is Jace, the Mind Sculptor. A lot of games your opponent is playing clunky style and you are doing three or four different insane things. For example you play out a turn one Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch, a second turn Lotus Cobra, and like 100 things on turn three thanks to Explore and two copies of Misty Rainforest or Verdant Catacombs.
  • Tactically devastati Mana Leaks – I am the kind of magician who runs out a Mana Leak basically whenever I have two mana, but some Mana Leaks are made differently from others. For example you Crash with a small animal after powering out Sovereigns of Lost Alara, but seem otherwise tapped out. Your opponent goes for his Big Play (™) in response and you pop off your Knight of the Reliquary with the best two drop ever printed in play. Oh no, you hear the opponent mouth. That’s right, buddy; you’ve been swindled. Mana Leak.
  • Planeswalkers – I initially found it weird that so many of the threats in this deck are Planeswalkers (I originally considered Jace a non-strategic card that wes mostly good at suppressing opposing copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor), but they were okay. Soldier production on the part of Elspeth, Knight-Errant is a little odd against Soul Sisters, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. That said, it was pretty fun to make my Soul Sisters opponent pick up Ajani’s Pridemate on six consecutive turns, especially as it was always bigger than a 3/3 🙂
  • Sovereigns of Lost Alara – Playing this version of this deck I often felt like Diamond Dallas Page in the late 1990s… Biding my time, looking for my spot, trying to stick my Diamond Cutter. In this deck, your Diamond Cutter is actually connecting with Eldrazi Conscription twice. Like sometimes one big hit will not be enough because you don’t get the Annihilator benefit and they will attack you to death on the bounce back. Or you might think you have an open but you can smell the Path to Exile a mile away. That is when you have to be clever.
  • Math – I found Mythic Conscription to be surprisingly cerebral to play. Yes, there are games when it is reminiscent of Critical Mass. Namely you play the “U/W Control” game of Jace, the Mind Sculptor + Counterspells even better than U/W does because you can get your mainline plan online a turn faster with Birds of Paradise, Lotus Cobra, or Noble Hierarch; that’s kind of fun. But the really rewarding games are the multi-turn offenses, I think. Turbo out Elspeth, Knight-Errant, go to the air for about 4-5 points, set up Sovereigns of Lost Alara + Exalted + Elspeth evasion for a lethal strike the next turn. You know, math.

Approach:

Mythic Conscription exemplifies the decks of the Tier One metagame. Basically this is all really good cards laced together by some mana acceleration (and some of those cards are themselves really good cards) and Mana Leaks. Therefore who’s the beatdown equations occur a little bit differently than they do in traditional Magic. Whether you are the beatdown or the control is less a matter of what deck you are playing against than the circumstances surrounding the cards you draw. So if you draw Birds of Paradise, Knight of the Reliquary, Lotus Cobra, and Sovereigns of Lost Alara… All things held equal you are probably going to try to cram Sovereigns of Lost Alara down the opponent’s throat, possibly defending with the Knight. If you draw Birds of Paradise, Jace the Mind Sculptor, and Mana Leak, you are probably going to play a “U/W Control” type game… and it doesn’t matter than you were paired against what should nominally be the “control” deck in both cases.

I played against a mess of decks with Primeval Titans. My approach there was largely borrowed from Zvi Mowshowitz. Basically he has a six and I have a six. I can disrupt his ability to accelerate to six… It is a lot harder for him to do the same. If his six hits, I might be annoyed. If my six hits, he gets crushed for 11+ damage in a single turn. If that damage is coming from a Birds of Paradise, it might be tantamount to dying on the spot. Good matchup, as far as I can tell.

The one thing I never got was when to play Jace’s Ingenuity.

As you can see from the tournament statistics, I played against ramp decks a couple of times; I often found myself siding Jace’s Ingenuity in against those, especially when I was going to drop a copy or two of my Planeswalkers. I often felt I’d rather have a 3/2/2 split of Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Jace’s Ingenuity; and Elspeth, Knight-Errant against decks that couldn’t deuce my Planeswalkers with their own copies, but no idea if that plan would be co-signed by the man who took all the names with this deck.

I held back on writing this blog post (my Mythic Conscription matches all took place around 8/26) because of my article on TCGPlayer today. I wrote about how Pyromancer Ascension was the best deck — and gave a lot of really good reasons that I certainly believed in at the time — and didn’t want to conflict with that article before it came out. I still think my Pyromancer Ascension choice was fine (and would probably play my same 75 again), but the solid results from even seven matches with Utter-Leyton’s Mythic Conscription certainly impressed me.

LOVE
MIKE

PS – In the unlikely case that you haven’t seen or heard about Flores Rewards, check out this video. I think you will like it 🙂

You can also check out the new Flores Rewards blog at — you guessed it — http://FloresRewards.com!

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 MTGBattlefield on 08.31.10 at 8:23 am

Sovereigns of Lost Alara Update…

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