Entries Tagged 'Decks' ↓

You Make the Play: That Time MJ Made Me :(

Michael Jacob.

What can you say about him?

How about: “The real MJ.”

-Lan D. Ho

Master deck designer. Thought-provoking narrator of MTGO videos. Pro Tour Top 8 competitor. Star City Games Premium Columnist. National Champion.

And killjoy.

Before we integrated the Facebook comments on the blog itself, old MJ smothered our collective enthusiasm RE: Falkenrath Marauders with his stoic, Value RUG-Pod driven pragmatism on FB proper…

One might say that the man has a point.

Now on the subject of MJ — and even the echo of Demigod of Revenge dredged up during the Falkenrath Marauders discussion — I got to thinking about a bit of an older(er) school situation. Consider this deck, which Jacob used to make Top 8 of Grand Prix Seattle/Tacoma a couple of years back:

Now everyone knows that Michael won the 2008 US National Championships with a Demigod of Revenge deck, but today’s backwards-winking You Make the Play posits playing his Five-color Blood deck against the hellacious Spirit Avatars.

The Situation:
Your opponent is playing a B/R Blightning Beatdown deck. The action has been brutal, but you stabilized by blowing up all his guys with Jund Charm, up until he got in there with a Demigod of Revenge.

Lucky ducky, you had your Cruel Ultimatum to take care of it, and are now sitting pretty pretty.

Life Totals:

  • You – six
  • Him – six



  • You – Eight assorted lands (you can cast whatever you want), and a lone Bloodbraid Elf
  • Him – Ghitu Encampment and four assorted Black- and Red-producing lands.


  • You – Cruel Ultimatum, Jund Charm, Jund Charm; some guys you used to trade earlier.
  • Him – Demigod of Revenge and some assorted other lands and spells

Your opponent draws his card for the turn, smiles, and plays it:

Demigod of Revenge!

So… How do you approach this turn?

You Make the Play!


P.S. Got some kind of weird results with the Facebook Social Plugin yesterday. Please excuse our clutter while we continue to upgrade Five (and by “we” I mean YT).

What Does It Mean to “Beat Everything”?

So I say a lot of stuff.

I mean, I say pretty much whatever I am thinking at the time; and maybe unlike other people I change my mind about things fairly often (based on learning, new knowledge, and so on). For example I didn’t like Sensei’s Divining Top at the beginning… But after some soul-searching, later the same year Patrick Sullivan expressed disappointment in me that I had gone from “the premiere topless deck designer” to, whatever, another Top-jockey.

Unlike many other people I consider myself flexible and am willing to change my opinion on things, hopefully, in the effort of improving as a person.

So the one thing I wanted to point out is that in this Top 8 Magic Podcast I said that I made a deck that “beats everything” … Before getting into the meat of this blog post I wanted to address what I mean by that.

For sake of argument say you had a deck that has 55% win expectation against every deck in the field. From the position of who beats what, this deck technically “beats everything” … But what is the win expectation of a player in an eight-round tournament?


Does this deck have superior win expectation to, say, every other deck in the field?

I don’t know. CawBlade variants have an above average win expectation as well. This has nothing to do with the fact that the 55% deck does in fact “beat everything” (in a sense). And I’m not saying that the MWC deck that I was referencing has a 55% win expectation per se; just using that number to make a simple argument.

Now I said on the big Twits that I would post an 11th-hour blog post before tomorrow’s National Qualifiers.

I wrote about my Mono-White Control deck in today’s Flores Friday on StarCityGames.com. Out of respect for Star City I am not going to reprint the deck list here; however I will address sideboarding with the MWC.

This is the sideboard I was playing with most recently in this week’s videos:

2 Contagion Clasp
1 Tumble Magnet
4 Baneslayer Angel
2 Celestial Purge
2 Day of Judgment
4 Kor Firewalker

That said, I pretty much just crammed in a bunch of cards that I liked that I couldn’t fit into the main deck and called that the sideboard. That is lazy sideboarding, though; so hopefully in the context of this blog post we can make some amount of incremental improvement.

If you want the MWC deck list (and to learn the frankly hilarious story behind it), I encourage you to pop the $.15 or whatever it costs to read over at Star City, here:

The approach we are going to take to refine the sideboard will be a bottom-up approach instead of a top-down. I asked the Indomitable Twitter Army to give me the five decks they were most interested in beating, and the answers are more-or-less these:

  1. U/W CawBlade
  2. DarkBlade
  3. RUG
  4. Valakut
  5. RDW

U/W CawBlade

Summary: U/W CawBlade has the advantage of being able to play two different games. It has an initiative-based game based on Stoneforge Mystic + Sword of Feast and Famine, and can also win a long game with Jace, the Mind Sculptor + Gideon Jura.

MWC has the ability to keep even and trade during the first ten or so turns of the game, matching Stoneforge Mystic and Squadron Hawk. You can possibly win or lose the game at this stage mostly depending on whether or not you hit your lands. This is a point in the game where Preordain really shines; and MWC ain’t got no Preordain. Luckily you have a good number of lands.

Unfortunately I have relatively little experience playing against a Sword of Feast and Famine + Mortarpod configuration of CawBlade (tons against people who are just going and getting Swords), so I can’t speak to an opponent who is primarily using his guys to keep you from equipping Sword of Feast and Famine to a Squadron Hawk.

Presuming your opponent is primarily trying to hit you with a Sword, you can either chump (presuming you are doing something proactive going the other way) or trade (ideally), or lean on your artifacts. For example, getting your Contagion Clasp and / or Tumble Magnet is going to be desirable at this stage.

Let’s assume that you live past the first few turns, and the initial Royal Rumble of small creatures. The typical CawBlade deck only has eight dudes, and you can catch them with a big Day of Judgment or All is Dust to remove the opponent’s swordsmen, hampering their long-term with Sword of Feast and Famine. So let’s talk about the Planeswalker phase.

Basically you can attack their Planeswalkers to death or catch them with All is Dust. You have to be a bit wary about when you are tapping out. It is often desirable to sit back and let them ‘walk you in exchange for powering up Everflowing Chalice with Contagion Clasp so that you can pay 2, 3, or 5 mana on an All is Dust. Luckily, once you are out of the initial 1/1 and 1/2 battling, the opponent’s actual ability to close out games is not at hyperspeed.

What sucks?

Nothing sucks completely. All your cards have at least some utility.

I think there is tension around Wall of Omens and Survival Cache because those cards presumably draw you into lands. However they, along with Wurmcoil Engine, fall into a not-bad but not-optimal bucket.

One thing to consider about Wall of Omens is that a Wall of Omens will contain just a Stoneforge Mystic + Sword of Feast and Famine (i.e. there is no matching Squadron Hawk). Another thing to keep in mind is what your curve is at. If the opponent doesn’t have some kind of legitimate creature removal, Baneslayer Angel is actually quite a bit better than almost anything else, provided you aren’t being demolished by Tumble Magnets.

-4 Survival Cache
-1 Wurmcoil Engine
+1 Tumble Magnet
+3 Baneslayer Angel
+1 Expedition Map

Expedition Map probably seems a bit odd as we are taking out a colorless creature, but you want another land (ideally for Eye of Ugin) as you are upping curve.


Summary: Darkblade is actually just a better CawBlade against you. Your Tectonic Edges are a bit stronger and your special lands are a bit stronger as they have less Tectonic Edge action, but Inquisition of Kozilek is spectacular against you.

To be honest, despite a good record against CawBlade in aggregate, I have struggled more with DarkBlade with MWC.

-4 Survival Cache
+2 Contagion Clasp
+1 Tumble Magnet
+1 Expedition Map

I would leave in Wurmcoil Engine because it is quite good against Go for the Throat, and Baneslayer Angel isn’t. Contagion Clasp is pretty good here as Hawk suppression early, and of course the card is too good with Tumble Magnet.


Summary: RUG is a powerhouse cross-strategy deck. It includes explosive mana from Lotus Cobra, sheer power from Jace, the Mind Sculptor, an aggressive man-land, and equal Blue supplementation equal to CawBlade.

The most important thing is to keep from being blown out by Lotus Cobra. If you are playing a fair game, you are going to win. Tumble Magnet is good against Raging Ravine, and to a lesser extent, Inferno Titan… But honestly, who cares? You need to tap Primeval Titans but just taking damage isn’t a huge deal for you. Additional consideration is Precursor Golem, and Tumble Magnet is not very good against that card.

Obviously ever Contagion Clasp in your collection is in. Day of Judgment is arguably better than All is Dust in this matchup because of Precursor Golem. I would play to keep from getting blown out and try to win a long game, as if you can keep from auto losing to their Top 10 paradigm-warpers Jace and Lotus Cobra, your long game is actually superior.

-1 Tumble Magnet
-4 Survival Cache
+2 Contagion Clasp
+1 Expedition Map
+2 Day of Judgment

Survival Cache is iffy in this matchup due to being kind of awful as a mid-game topdeck against Inferno Titan or Avenger of Zendikar (and can even be goofy against Lotus Cobra + Lightning Bolt). You need the Expedition Map to make up for it.


Summary: Valakut can be customized in any number of ways. There is a huge difference between playing a Summoning Trap deck with Lightning Bolts and even Pyroclasms main and a turbo turbo version with Green Sun’s Zenith, Lotus Cobra, and no creature suppression but Tumble Magnet; especially early game. The possibilities on blowouts are so swingy, and whether or not your little dudes survive (or you can sneak in with an Inkmoth Nexus) varies grandly. That said, the most important thing is to contain Primeval Titan. That’s it. That guy either beats you outright or finds a bunch of copies of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and that onetime Top 10 card beats you. If you can contain Primeval Titan, you can fight Valakut heads up with Tectonic Edge, and again, your long game is simply superior.

This configuration presumes the Lotus Cobra version, which seems to be more popular (Contagion Clasp for Cobra, Tumble Magnet for Primeval Titan, Expedition Map for Tectonic Edge):

-4 Survival Cache
-1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
-1 Wurmcoil Engine
+2 Contagion Clasp
+1 Expedition Map
+1 Tumble Magnet
+2 Day of Judgment


Summary: Don’t die. This one is yours to win. Goblin Guide + Kabira Crossroads is a sick combo!

-4 All is Dust
-1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
-1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
-1 Eye of Ugin
-3 Stoneforge Mystic
+1 Tumble Magnet
+3 Baneslayer Angel
+2 Celestial Purge
+4 Kor Firewalker

Overall strat is to side out all the expensive cards, focus on cards you can cast as long as you are not manascrewed, and crush with color hosers and life gain.

Weird pull here (which you wouldn’t make against Boros, say) is Stoneforge Mystic. Swords are still gas, especially if you apply one to a Kor Firewalker, but spending a bunch of mana in the hopes of being blown out by a Searning Blaze is loose at best.

In sum, I think I’d cut a Baneslayer Angel for an Expedition Map.


Post Script: The “Modern” MichaelJ Model

The MWC deck is viable according to the “old” paradigm of deck design; that is, you should play it (if you are going to play it) because “it beats everything” (supposedly). However longtime readers (or should I say followers of this blog) know that my current paradigm, that is the paradigm I used to build Naya Lightsaber, qualify with Grixis Hits, and so on know that I currently build by trying to play the most Top 10 cards possible.

MWC has a fair number of Top 10 cards (overall #2 card Stoneforge Mystic, Squadron Hawk, Tectonic Edge, and arguably Tumble Magnet); but clearly it lags CawBlade’s Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Mana Leak; and Preordain.

If I don’t play MWC, I will play U/G Genesis Wave, as encouraged by Josh Ravitz and Brian David-Marshall. This would be my deck list:

4 Frost Titan
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

4 Acidic Slime
4 Genesis Wave
4 Joraga Treespeaker
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Overgrown Battlement
4 Primeval Titan

6 Forest
4 Halimar Depths
4 Island
2 Khalni Garden
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Scalding Tarn
4 Tectonic Edge
3 Verdant Catacombs

4 Tumble Magnet
3 Wall of Tanglecord
4 Spreading Seas
4 Obstinate Baloth

U/G Genesis Wave plays a fair number of Top 10 cards (certainly more than MWC)… Jace, the Mind Sculptor; Primeval Titan; Lotus Cobra; Tectonic Edge (and arguably Spreading Seas and Tumble Magnet). That said, it certainly gives up Mana Leak and Preordain.

The U/G Genesis Wave deck has plenty of very good cards but actually exists at a crossroads. It is a “modern” designed deck from one standpoint but also leans on MWC’s advantage (U/G is actually the best deck in the format both against other Jace decks and other Titan decks). On balance, MWC basically never loses to bad decks, whereas U/G is traditionally somewhat soft to Boros or Kuldotha Red (argh on that one).

So for those of you looking for the U/G Genesis Wave deck, that is the current listing.


Almost Missed Bonehoard


Bonehoard :: Lhurgoyf :: Inevitability
TDC Heat :: Sword of Feast and Famine :: … and Bonehoard


I can’t believe I missed this one when initially, especially given my history.

Bonehoard is almost strictly better than a card that I considered a bomb in previous years, Lhurgoyf.

I played Lhurgoyf in my 1998 Northeast Regionals deck, TDC Heat (you may remember this deck from the pre-Psylum version of The Dojo, or perhaps from my writeup of Lord of Extinction two years ago). I think I testedmore for that Regionals than almost any other tournament I’ve ever played. The big decks at the time were Deadguy Red, Tradewind Rider decks, and Mono-Blue Control. TDC Heat, with its islandwalking River Boas, was extraordinarily effective against the Blue decks. Against the Red ones,  your creatures were simply better than theirs, you had Uktabi Orangutan to smash Cursed Scroll, and would trade one-for-one with everything else. Then, as the dust cleared, you would untap with a gigantic Lhurgoyf. Rawr.

TDC Heat

4 Giant Growth
4 Granger Guildmage
4 Jolrael’s Centaur
3 Lhurgoyf
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Muscle Sliver
4 Quirion Ranger
4 River Boa
3 Uktabi Orangutan

2 Fireball
4 Incinerate

9 Forest
2 Karplusan Forest
3 Mountain
4 Mountain Valley
2 Undiscovered Paradise

2 Simoon
4 Tranquil Domain
1 Uktabi Orangutan
2 Boil
3 Dwarven Miner
3 Pyroblast

Bonehoard, as I said, is almost strictly better than Lhurgoyf. For four mana, you tap for a [potentially] huge X/X… just one tiny toughness off of Lhurgoyf. The differences are:

  • Bonehoard’s Living Weapon is Black, not Green. Black creatures don’t die to Doom Blade, and therefore are more resilient than Green creatures, all other things held equal.
  • You don’t stop at just one.

I honestly don’t know how I missed this one. Not only is Bonehoard the stones by itself, but you can move it onto an evasion creature for a mere two mana. You can not just play — but continue to play — the attrition game. One problem with Lhurgoyf was that as big and powerful as it could be — including after a Wrath of God against a control player — it was still just one creature. Someone might kill it. You might be able to kill the Living Weapon, but the next guy, and the Next guy, and the NEXT guy after that would all be able to hit as hard.

Also, you might kill in one with Inkmoth Nexus 🙂

So… Bonehoard or Sword of Feast and Famine?

I am pretty sure — especially given Sword of Feast and Famine’s performance in Paris this week — that the latest Sword is the higher ranking piece of Mirrodin Besieged equipment, but there will probably be decks that want to play lots of Bonehoards. I can envision some future incarnation of Green or White creatures tapping and trading and playing Bonehoard after Bonehoard. “Just” creature elimination is not going to be able to deal with these beyond the Living Weapon. Even a puny Birds of Paradise will go lethal very quickly, given the right conditions.




Currently Reading: The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time, Book 5)
Even Better Book: Michael J. Flores Deckade: 10 Years of Magic: The Gathering Strategy and Commentary (no shipping!)

Wargate Various


Wargate :: Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle :: Scapeshift
Masashi Oiso :: Clarion Ultimatum :: … and of course Wargate

I played in a few 1 v. 1 Extended queues with Masashi Oiso’s Wargate deck and filmed (x-1) of them; obviously the HyperCam exploded during the one match I lost (a mirror where I was savagely out-drawn)… So I am just going to add to this same blog post over the course of the day as the videos finish exporting and uploading to YouTube.

In case you haven’t seen it, Oiso’s Wargate deck goes a little something like this:


4 Cryptic Command
4 Mana Leak
1 Negate
4 Preordain

4 Wargate

4 Cultivate
3 Explore
4 Prismatic Omen
4 Rampant Growth
3 Scapeshift

4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
4 Flooded Grove
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Murmuring Bosk
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Verdant Catacombs
4 Island
4 Forest
1 Plains
1 Mountain

4 Great Sable Stag
3 Kitchen Finks
3 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Firespout
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Qasali Pridemage

… A much more detailed article RE: the deck and the matches will be going up at TCGPlayer circa tomorrow morning.

Wargate One:

So check back over the course of the day or so (or wait until tomorrow at TCGPlayer). Quote of the week (so far), from YouTube side:

“… I use Clarion Ultimatum instead in this deck. it’s pretty much the same except it costs 3 more mana and can get easily countered.”

Love it!

Wargate Two – Vivid Control:

Wargate Three – Destiny:

On the one hand, this one is guest starring Bella Flores; on the other hand, the YouTube army pointed out one millisecond after I posted it that I missed an on-table kill. Doh!


Mythic v. R/W

I just got back from a week-long family vacation in Orlando, Florida!


Here is a preview of tomorrow’s TCGPlayer.com article:

That’s it,


New Deck, a Preview, etc.

These videos are a preview of a new deck (Mythic) I will be talking about in the TCGPlayer column this week.

I actually have a third (versus an interesting Eldrazi Green Ramp with Mimic Vat) exporting right now… But I am going to bed.


Mythic v. Pyromancer Ascension:

Mythic v. B/U Control:


Contagion Clasp and Other Spoilers


Contagion Clasp :: U/W Control decks… with Contagion Clasp :: Luminarch Ascension
DailyMTG :: Spoilers :: … and Contagion Clasp

Last week I wrote very briefly about Kurt Spiess’s U/W Proliferate deck.

And I mean very briefly.

To wit:

Main deck Luminarch Ascension is quite powerful against other control decks.

It turns out that that is true as you will see below (spoilers!)… But Kurt’s deck deserved more attention than the one line I gave it, probably. I actually caught more better notice of the deck listening to the Yo MTG Taps podcast care of Joey and Joe last week… and even though I noticed the main deck Luminarch Ascension, I managed to miss the entire Proliferate sub-theme provided by Contagion Clasp.

Contagion Clasp

I don’t want to do a lot of hardcore analysis of Kurt’s deck, as that is actually the topic of my Top Decks article this week (spoilers!), but I do want to say a bit about Contagion Clasp.

In addition to facilitating the Proliferate mechanic and potentially improving the performance of the deck’s many Planeswalkers, Contagion Clasp is actually an all right card on its own. It kind of fills the same purpose as Oust against creatures like Lotus Cobra or Plated Geopede (or if you’re really lucky, Top 10 card Joraga Treespeaker).

That’s not its job in this deck, not really… But it would be foolish to ignore the fact that Contagion Clasp does have some value as a monster fighter. Little monsters anyway.

Now of course there is the topic of that Luminarch Ascension. If you can get one counter on a Luminarch Ascension, Contagion Clasp can ramp it up to four counters even if you are getting attacked… That really helps to justify the card’s inclusion as a main deck threat, unusual for the often aggressive Standard meta.

Anyway, Kurt’s deck:

U/W Proliferate – Kurt Spiess

2 Contagion Clasp
3 Everflowing Chalice

2 Frost Titan
1 Into the Roil
2 Jace Beleren
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Mana Leak
2 Negate
4 Preordain

4 Condemn
2 Day of Judgment
2 Gideon Jura
3 Luminarch Ascension

1 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
5 Island
3 Plains
1 Scalding Tarn
4 Seachrome Coast
3 Tectonic Edge

3 Flashfreeze
1 Into the Roil
1 Negate
2 Spell Pierce
1 Volition Reins
3 Baneslayer Angel
2 Day of Judgment
1 Luminarch Ascension
1 Revoke Existence

Anyway — more spoilers for things to come — you can nab a sneak Peek at this week’s Top Decks, which includes the following videos, both starring Kurt’s U/W deck.

U/W Proliferate v. B/U Conley Style:

U/W Proliferate v. Genesis Wave:

That’s that!


A Guest Appearance by Pelakka Wurm


Kuldotha Rebirth :: Goblin Guide :: Galvanic Blast
Goblin Chieftain :: Lightning Bolt :: … and did I mention Pelakka Wurm?

Special Guest Star: Pelakka Wurm!

I got a chance to game with my good friend Brian David-Marshall tonight. We elected to do a 10-game set: me playing Daniel Jordan’s U/R/G control/TurboLand deck (you know the same seventy-five I tested here) versus Brian playing a stock Kuldotha Rebirth Red Deck.

#FloresRewards savant Thea Steele asked for more Constructed reporting so I thought I would recount this particular playtest set.

BDM and I played all Game Ones (no sideboards). I have played U/R/G against Kuldotha Red more than once and won each time; I was therefore surprised at how our games played out.


I kept:

Oracle of Mul Daya
Lightning Bolt
Scalding Tarn

This seemed like a very strong hand but Brian had first turn Kuldotha Rebirth on the play, as well as a Memnite; he also followed up with gas. I lost a close one to I believe the first of a long line of “my last card is the second or third Lightning Bolt”… I think I would have won if he had a different play on turn one (even a Goblin Guide), or if he were playing another deck. I had to push decent spells more than once with Preordain to try to get a hold of the battlefield.



I kept:

Oracle of Mul Daya
Goblin Ruinblaster
Raging Ravine
Raging Ravine

Brian was meant to go first the first five games, so this was a “going second” hand; Explore lets me break serve, of course, and the deck has two different lines it can take even just from the opening hand. The Ruinblaster is usually a 2/1 non-Stone Rain in this matchup, but Brian’s deck does have a couple of targets… He drew one this game 🙂

Brian was stuck most of the game and I had a third turn kicked Goblin Ruinblaster. My turns went like this:

Explore > Goblin Ruinblaster (on Smoldering Spires) > Oracle of Mul Daya > Lotus Cobra > Frost Titan

His Forked Bolt took out my Lotus Cobra and Oracle right before the Titan, but Brian was a mile behind for most of the game.



Brian complained about a bad mulligan, to which I replied “that’s because your cards all stink.”

And yes, most of his cards do, in fact stink.

But he has lots of them. I get Overrun by a bunch of 1/1s. I just have poop like Oracle of Mul Daya that he can easily manage with Lightning Bolt or Panic Spellbomb.



I went first this game, by accident.

I took full advantage, though, and played second turn Explore into Preordain; then Lotus Cobra + Oracle of Mul Daya… Into Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

It took a minute but I won from there.



Brian played the first of several games where he opened on Goblin Guide + Memnite.

I drew a lot of Lightning Bolts, but didn’t have time to play them all. I got a Red source, but only one, despite some freebies from Goblin Guide. Also all of his cards pretty much suck, and you don’t want to be trading 1-for-1 with them if you can help it, or you will fall behind.

I tried to spend my time on Jace and Frost Titan but it didn’t quite work out that way.



I was supposed to go first this game, but I accidentally stole serve in Game Four.

Brian again opened up with Goblin Guide + Memnite on the play… Then more gas on turn two.

I almost won with multiple Explores into Oracle of Mul Daya… But he had Goblin Chieftain + Lightning Bolt to “exact-sies” me.



Brian got another super aggressive draw and Bolted me out.



Brian got another super aggressive draw, but this time killed me with a Galvanic Blast for four rather than the usual Lightning Bolt.



This time I shipped to five cards. Brian claimed he would “un-mulligan” me, but the Goblin Guide was of minimal benefit (relative to, you know, taking a bundle of damage.

I actually managed to stabilize, but he had five cards in hand and three of them were Devastating Summons and Goblin Bushwhacker.



Game Ten really highlighted the central argument of this matchup, especially Game One.

Brian just overplayed his hand — all in on multiple copies of Kuldotha Rebirth, and laid out all his Memnites like they were nothing.

Meanwhile, in Game Ten — as I always did — I was playing Oracle of Mul Daya. Now Oracle of Mul Daya plays like Jace, the Mind Sculptor against other Blue decks, but against a legitimate Red Deck, it is basically a four mana Grey Ogre. That is awful!

So the turn I played my 2/2 for four, Brian already had eight or so attackers. It didn’t matter if I would eat one, I was going to lose a huge chunk of life total.

As you know from reading my DailyMTG report with this deck, I often sided out the Oracles for Pyroclasm. Brian claimed he wouldn’t play the same way in a sideboarded game… But he really wouldn’t be able to.

I didn’t realize before how reliant on Pyroclasm the U/R/G deck must be to beat Goblins. I had beaten it multiple times, but now that I reflect on the wins, I think I played a sideboarded Pyroclasm once if not twice most of the matches.

That said, it might also be possible that my opponents held back in Game One.

I don’t know about you, but one of my main guiding principles of play (regardless of deck type) I try to play as deceptively as possible. So if I am not going to play a Green card until turn four or five I will often pretend to be a U/R deck for as long as I can. Against a Goblins deck in Game One, maybe they will hold back for fear of U/R’s main deck Pyroclasms.

Brian, of course, knew better.


Now when Brian approached me for some testo, I was in the middle of testing my U/G TurboLand deck (up 2-1 on the night and 4-2 overall with the current build). I asked Brian to let me play him a real match with the U/G deck; we ran.

This is the current build of U/G:

Frosty TurboLand

4 Frost Titan
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

4 Genesis Wave
4 Joraga Treespeaker
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Overgrown Battlement
4 Primeval Titan

7 Forest
4 Halimar Depths
4 Khalni Garden
5 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Tectonic Edge

1 Eldrazi Monument
4 Ratchet Bomb
4 Into the Roil
3 Negate
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Pelakka Wurm

Notable differences in the main are -2 Rampaging Baloths / +2 Frost Titan; -1 Forest / +1 Island.

I ground out the first game with a bunch of Overgrown Battlements and Khalni Gardens; one Frost Titan helped me slow down BDM; he conceded to my Genesis Wave for nine.

The second game I made theses switches…

+4 Ratchet Bomb
+4 Into the Roil
+2 Obstinate Baloth
+1 Pelakka Wurm

-1 Joraga Treespeaker
-2 Lotus Cobra
-4 Oracle of Mul Daya
-4 Genesis Wave

I know, I knowGenesis Wave is what the deck is all about!

But against Red Decks I have to similarly focus on what I could cast under pressure; anyway Genesis Wave is a non-bo with cards like Into the Roil.

I kept a hand with Overgrown Battlement and Pelakka Wurm only for Game Two. Luckily my lands were all Khalni Gardens and I had ample time to play our special guest star.

Brian stopped attacking so much which gave me a an open for Into the Roil and engough time to take it!

The Wurm hit, then Primeval Titan, then it was a victory lap! (not really)

Thanks BDM 🙂


Frost Titan, Some Videos, Some Beats…


Frost Titan :: Adding Frost Titan to TurboLand :: (Adding Also Rampaging Baloths)
Videos with KYT :: bash Bash BASH :: … and Frost Titan

I once put Frost Titan on a sub-Sphinx of Jwar Isle level of playability. Oops.

We now join the continuing adventures of TurboLand, already in progress…

Most of you saw my article RE: TurboLand on TCGPlayer last week. And with it, the most heinous excuse for forum replies… well… ever basically (Patrick Chapin is convinced it is one troll with 76 accounts).

Anyway, despite what the trolls say, I think TurboLand is one of the best decks in Standard, and it has been brilliantly +EV for me in the tournament queues. Fair’s fair: I did make some changes to the deck partly based on the comments from the forums on TCGPlayer, so we have this beauty (for your 5K consideration):

TurboLand Again!

2 Frost Titan
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

4 Genesis Wave
4 Joraga Treespeaker
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Overgrown Battlement
4 Primeval Titan
2 Rampaging Baloths

8 Forest
4 Halimar Depths
4 Island
4 Khalni Garden
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Tectonic Edge

1 Eldrazi Monument
1 Elixir of Immortality
4 Into the Roil
3 Negate
3 Obstinate Baloth
3 Pelakka Wurm

Main deck the main swap is:

The deck was a bit heavy on acceleration, and Explore is one of the only cards that is not good with Genesis Wave. I used the spots for more finishers.

It is important to note that I added sixes and not sevens. Yes, yes – I considered Avenger of Zendikar but that big seven is not as good as a six in this deck. Why? Consistency, predictability, and curve.

You see, this is a Primeval Titan deck, which the original TurboLand was not, and most current Genesis Wave decks are not. What does that mean?

See where this is going?

Nine mana is GGG + 6 for a Genesis Wave follow up. Every non-Genesis Wave card in this deck is eligible for such an on-curve Wave. As good as Avenger of Zendikar might be… It isn’t that 100% of the time, so in the “explosive Landfall token creatures fatties” category, Rampaging Baloths gets the nod.

It is possible it is just right to play more Frost Titans, though. This deck is an “over the top” aspiring enigma, and doesn’t have an excess of battlefield control. Frost Titan is a Genesis Wave-friendly finisher that does just the right thing.

Two notes before we move on to movies:

  1. Primeval Titan into Halimar Depths is a combo. It is almost like having a mini-Jace, the Mind Sculptor. You can always draw the best card of the next three. In some cases you can toggle and tier your draws to set up Oracle of Mul Daya card advantage simultaneously. This can be invaluable for getting Genesis Wave and avoiding Genesis Wave + Genesis Wave issues.
  2. I am having big problems with the Argentum Armor deck. It is embarassing. It is like losing to ghosts in real life. What did you die of? You know, ghosts. Ghosts aren’t real! I know, embarassing. I was chatting with the guys from The Eh Team podcast and Scotty Mac suggested Ratchet Bomb… Might be the answer! The problem is that they have Sword of Body and Mind, and can run past my Frost Titans and my Khalni Garden tokens and motherloving deck me. Embarassing!

Anyway, the games:

This first set is semi-not exciting.

  1. First game KYT wins mostly because he went first. He talks about maybe not playing his Frost Titan on turn six. If he doesn’t play it there (tapping my land) I will almost certainly win. I have double Primeval Titan and Jace in my hand, so I will play a Primeval Titan if he doesn’t play a Frost Titan; he will Mana Leak. He will then be presented with the same decision. Except if he plays Frost Titan now I can resolve my Primeval Titan and presumably win with my Halimar Depths combo or Jace in hand… But he won.
  2. Second game KYT won because I stopped on two.
  3. I won the third game, which was exciting.
  4. We played another 3-4 games, but KYT lost them. In other news, I won all of them 🙂

Anyway, we are hella thankful to KYT for recording and editing these.

Next set:

This one is not unexciting… It is in fact quite exciting. And embarassing. We both basically play awful, awful Magic. But you can at least see the TurboLand deck do some interesting stuff this time around.

Thanks to KYT, again, for his help and testing these!


The Role of Aether Adept – Rebuilding the Mono-Blue Sideboard


Aether Adept :: My old, thrown-together Mono-Blue sideboard :: How we got there
Where we’re going :: The 2-2 Split with Unsummon :: … and Aether Adept

Aether Adept

Current Mono-Blue Configuration:

1 Brittle Effigy
1 Elixir of Immorrality
2 Everflowing Chalice
4 Ratchet Bomb

4 Frost Titan
4 Into the Roil
1 Jace Beleren
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Mana Leak
4 Preordain
3 Trinket Mage
2 Treasure Hunt
1 Volition Reins

4 Halimar Depths
17 Island
4 Tectonic Edge

The sideboard I had been playing with as a mix of cards that I just threw in because I wanted to cover broad areas of functionality.

This is what I had been working with…

4 All Is Dust
1 Elixir of Immortality
2 Flashfreeze
2 Jace Beleren
2 Negate
4 Spell Pierce

This deck differs from the version I published on TCGPlayer.com a bit back in that I moved Ratchet Bomb to the main deck; it is my deck’s “Pyroclasm” … But I mostly just moved stuff around. With Ratchet Bomb in the main deck I need some other stuff differently / less.

I wanted All Is Dust for stupid Eldrazi Monument decks and tokens / Planeswalkers various. Between the Ratchet Bombs and Into the Roils main, I didn’t have a lot of anti-beatdown. The only match I can remember losing, you know, memorably lately was to the stupid Argentum Armor deck. Why can’t I play 8 Ratchet Bombs and 8 Into the Roils? I would gladly do that 🙂

Anyway, I just got finished with my first run of testing the new TurboLand deck (coming to TCGPlayer tomorrow!) and wanted to go back to Mono-Blue Control. If you asked me pre-TurboLand I would have for sure told you to play Mono-Blue Control as my main Standard recommendation (though, to be fair, it might not be dramatically stronger than Nick’s proven B/U deck)… I remembered not being hugely satisfied with my sideboard.

How do we fix this?

What can I sideboard out against…

Pyromancer Ascension?
Ramp decks?
Red decks?
Other Blue decks?
White Weenie Argentum Armor?
Black decks / Vampires?
Elves / other little beaters?

Pyromancer Ascension:
Pyromancer Ascension (aka my baby) is a combo deck. At present it is actually more counter-heavy than my deck and has a faster threat (you can play turn two Pyromancer Ascension… especially on the play). So far Mono-Blue has had dominating percentage v. Pyromancer Ascension largely on having actual outs (Into the Roil especially before I moved Ratchet Bomb to the main… But having all eight main deck along with Counterspells and potentially Elixir of Immortality has made life relatively easy).

Bad cards:

Mediocre cards:

I wouldn’t want to side out all my Frost Titans, but I would be fine siding out two. Volition Reins is actually fine (Ascension answer)… I named the sixes in general because of cost; you don’t necessarily want to be messing with sixes when the opponent can kill you on the spot.


  • 1
  • Potentially 5-6

Ramp Decks:
Mono-Blue is a bit weaker than B/U because I don’t have Memoricide main (or at all). Counterspells can be dicey against them because of Summoning Trap. I usually try to either Counterspell their mana acceleration and / or to lock down their awesome guys with Frost Titans or Jace after the worst has already happened. Tectonic Edge is actually really important for Eye of Ugin and / or Valakut suppression.

Bad cards:

  • None.

Mediocre cards:

Ratchet Bomb is not the worst. Sometimes you need it against cards like Avenger of Zendikar; it is also serviceable against certain draws (say they have a bunch of one or two drop mana accelerators). It’s never horrendous… Just not great or consistently great. I can see siding two-ish.

Into the Roil has a lot of play; but it isn’t consistent. Like you don’t necessarily want to be pointing it at Primeval Titan a bunch of times. I would side out all four without looking back, especially with Jace in the lineup.


  • 0
  • Potentially 6

Red Decks:
Red Decks are gaining in popularity. Their existence is the kind of thing that makes U/W arguably stronger than Mono-Blue (I don’t have Kor Firewalker and / or Wall of Omens). Ratchet Bomb actually makes up a lot in that department, but you need it in a hurry. I think it is about not dying, trading Mana Leak with whatever you can, and then stabilizing with Trinket Mage. You can cut most of the Frost Titans because they are expensive and therefore inconsistent early… But you still need a way to win.

Bad cards:

Mediocre cards:

There is a lot of potential inefficiency here.

Volition Reins is bad in that they have nothing you really want to steal (Big Red does, with Molten-Tail Masticore, potentially, but not the common Red Deck).

Brittle Effigy might save you, but it is a lot of mana to compete with some probably bad creatures that cost ~1 mana.

Treasure Hunt is not great, but it’s not terrible. You might need the re-load.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is pretty bad, actually. You can feel free to cut most of them, or replace with smaller Jaces. The problem is that they cost a lot of mana but are basically dead. Boomerangs are kind of terrible because their cards are cheap and largely terrible.

Frost Titan is a good man… But six. Unlike some matchups you don’t actually want to have 100 Frost Titans in your hand. I can see cutting 2 or even 3.


  • 1
  • Potentially ~8 or even more

Other Blue Decks:
There are lots of other Blue decks, meaning U/W Control, B/U Elixir, U/R Destructive Force, etc. However I think you sideboard basically the same against most of them. The goal here should be to either force down a threat and protect it more quickly than the bad people or to set up a position of inevitability (or both).

Bad cards:

  • None

Mediocre cards:

I would not side out all the Ratchet Bombs, but I would be fine siding out 2 or 3 of them. Treasure Hunt I can see siding out specifically if I am replacing them with Jaces 🙂


  • 0
  • Potentially 5

White Weenie / Argentum Armor
This deck can only win games where you are furious and want to tear your hair — or his hair — out. If you draw an Into the Roil or a Ratchet Bomb [early enough] you will win by huge margin. I wish I could just play eight of each 🙂

Bad cards:

  • None

Mediocre cards:

Treasure Hunt just isn’t fast; you don’t want to be playing it blind when you are about to be under massive pressure. Brittle Effigy and Volition Reins both actually have a lot of play, but it’s a question of how much time / mana you have versus how good the opponent’s cards are. Yes, sometimes Brittle Effigy is going to destroy them; but other times you won’t have the time for it.


  • 0
  • Potentially 4

Black Decks / Vampires
Vampires differs from other little beaters decks with its heavy disruptive elements and creature removal. It is also a highly synergistic linear. The way I like Vampires is loaded with Sorin Markov, but I don’t know if everyone rolls that way.

Bad cards:

  • None

Mediocre cards:

All your cards are pretty good, actually. I actually think the main thing will be about managing their board versus your cards in hand. I can see moving around Treasure Hunt for Jace, but I think Treasure Hunt is actually pretty good here because they are not lightning quick beatdown and they have Vampire Hexmage and sufficient attackers to hassle your Planeswalkers. This is a matchup where I think it might not be just about mediocre / bad cards and you just want to bring in All Is Dust because it’s awesome if you can play it.

Elves / other little beaters
Elves is just some deck with Overrun and Eldrazi Monument. I don’t know if the deck can even win games against a real deck without Eldrazi Monument in play. So focus on answering or trumping that card (while not accidentally dying along the way, of course).

Bad cards:

  • None

Mediocre cards:

Volition Reins is almost a bad card because there is not much worth stealing in their deck. However they do have Planeswalkers, and Volition Reins is an answer to Eldrazi Monument.

I can see cutting most or all of the Mana Leaks if there is sufficient creature removal to be had. Their cards are mostly worse than Mana Leak and they have lots of Arbor Elf action mid-game to pay for your Mana Leak anyway.

Treasure Hunt is about time. They can just kill you with an Overrun effect while you are messing around with Treasure Hunt.

Jace is fine; just not necessarily the best; I love Jace Beleren against these quick decks.

Frost Titan is a curve Liability. You of course need about ~2 in your deck to close out (especially with Elixir of Immortality working), but you don’t want a ton of them in your opener. Like against U/W it is fine to have a bunch and plan around them or set up to win an Attrition fight or whatever… Against decks that are much less powerful than you, you just need to make sure you can live and crush them with card advantage.


  • 0
  • Potentially 9-13

Let’s Simplify rodeo these numbers back up…

Here is a maybe sideboard based on these numbers:

4 All Is Dust
2 Aether Adept
2 Flashfreeze
2 Jace Beleren
1 Negate
2 Spell Pierce
2 Unsummon

Pyromancer Ascension options:

Ramp Deck options:

Red Deck options:

Other Blue decks options:

White Weenie Argentum Armor options:

Black decks / Vampires options:

Probably figure out how to bring in Jace Beleren and All Is Dust. Mise.

Elves / other little beaters options:

As you can see I chose to jot down two different relatively unusual cards: Aether Adept and Unsummon. Aether Adept is the better card as it can not only slow down a Goblin Guide but block one later. Unsummon is weaker but is highly effective against Argentum Armor the card. I didn’t want to play all Unsummons because as good as they are against White Weenie about to go off with Iron Man Vindicates or whatever, I didn’t want to give away all the card advantage; hence splitting some 187 action. I think there will probably be at present unanticipated matchups where one is better than the other.

I hope you enjoyed walking through this thinking with me. No idea if this sideboard is optimal, yet; but it seems like an improvement over my experience so far, with too many Counterspells and somewhat wanting in terms of battlefield control.

Enjoy battling Mono-Blue!