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Breach the Multiverse in Mono-White Control

Breach the Multiverse

Breach the Multiverse from March of the Machine

  • Card Name: Breach the Multiverse
  • Mana Cost: 5BB
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Each player mills ten cards. For each player, choose a creature or planeswalker card in that player’s graveyard. Put those cards onto the battlefield under your control. Then each creature you control becomes a Phyrexian in addition to its other types.
  • Flavor Text: “All worlds will know perfection.”
    —Elesh Norn
  • Illustrated by: Luiga Smilshkalne

Autumn’s Innovative Orzhov

By now you have probably seen Autumn Burchett’s innovative look at Mono-White Control:

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A post shared by Michael (@fivewithflores)

Burchett brought a deck to the Pro Tour that was arguably the best positioned for the expected metagame. While either side can win, Rakdos decks are often in fits playing against White Control due to Wedding Announcement. The card generates even more value over three turns than the vilified Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, and then does even more when it’s done making tokens or drawing cards! Once turn five or so comes around, Wedding Announcement can soak up at least 2/3 of black’s ace… And remember it already generated extra materiel along the way.

Um… “Mono” White Control MichaelJ?

Fine. “Mono” White is a filthy lie. Autumn’s deck “splashes” for a double-black seven drop in the main deck (as well as playing tons of black cards in the sideboard). Breach the Multiverse is the show! But why exactly are we watching?

The Three Draws to Breach the Multiverse

There are probably more than three reasons, but these are the big ones:

  1. It wins the mirror, two different ways – There are lots of ways to build a Mono-White Control deck. Maybe the opponent is also leaning on Planeswalkers to win. Cool. You’re now twice as likely to have The Eternal Wanderer advantage! Whatever the opponent’s end game plan — whether it’s 5/4 Angels, 5/5 Angels, or even 3/4 Angels — they’re now yours! Breach the Multiverse is a mirror-breaker on the merits.
  2. You can just deck them – No, for serious! Lots of people were sideboarding Jace, the Perfected Mind to beat Mono-White non-interactively prior to Autumn’s deck reveal. White decks are really good at drawing an extra card or so. Reckoner Bankbuster. Attacking with Wedding Announcement in play. Thinning your deck with Cabaretti Courtyard… Even just playing the card Bitter Reunion in the Sam Black splash! In addition to drawing an extra card or so every turn, these decks are notoriously hard finish. They kill individual threats with Lay Down Arms or lots of them with Farewell, Depopulate, or Sunfall. Consequently, it is surprisingly easy to set a White opponent up for a fifteen-card decking one-shot.
  3. Breach the Multiverse Goes Over the Top – So in all matchups, not just White Control mirrors, this seven might be the most powerful card in either deck. Sometimes it’s the most powerful card in both decks! Don’t be surprised if you’re borrowing Etali, Primal Conqueror or Chandra, Hope’s Beacon. Mono-White is one of the best decks during the middle turns. It can beat back Invoke Despair with a Wedding Announcement and a token creature… But it could potentially be buried under a Grand Unifier or other ultra high end threats. Breach the Multiverse squares that fight and more. Breach the Multiverse is at once both Ancestral Recall and Black Lotus. It is a two-for-one that often represents 14+ mana in value… Chaining into potentially an additional draw-seven. Whew.

But Wait! There’s More!

… and more…

… and more!

One of the cool things about Breach the Multiverse in a deck playing a long game is that is not only card advantageous itself… Breach will often chain card advantage into more card advantage. For example if you untap with a Serra Paragon in play, you are going to start the next turn with fifteen more cards in your graveyard than you did the previous one. Think you can do something with that?

Or imagine you get to reanimate Atraxa, Grand Unifier with your Breach. That’s cool! You just got a gigantic lifelink flyer to defend yourself through the turn cycle in addition to another powerful permanent. But you also just drew something like seven cards. Card advantage snowballing into more card advantage!

For all these reasons, I was really excited to try Autumn’s deck. Check out the game play here or on the FiveWithFlores YouTube channel:


Nahiri’s Warcrafting in the Mono-Red MAIN DECK

Nahiri's Warcrafting

Nahiri’s Warcrafting from March of the Machine

  • Card Name: Nahiri’s Warcrafting
  • Mana Cost: 1RR
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Nahiri’s Warcrafting deals 5 damage to target creature, planeswalker, or battle. Look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the excess damage dealt this way. You may exile one of those cards. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. You may play the exiled card this turn.
  • Flavor Text: “Zendikar must be broken before it can be saved.”
  • Illustrated by: Zara Alfonso

Nahiri’s Warcrafting: The 2×4 Update

Recently we talked about a Red Deck “two-by-four” which includes both Invasion of Regatha and Stoke the Flames in the main. Having “two” cards that deal “four” damage each (eight cards, really) gives such a Red Deck a unique potential game plan, beyond straightforward beatdown.

The 2×4’s creatures have to work less hard. It can reliably kill from greater distance. Moreover, it can exploit an online metagame that is short on Cut Downs and shorter on Graveyard Trespassers. Awesome, right?

What many players pointed out is that Rending Flame — as good as it is at killing Sheoldred, the Apocalypse — makes very little sense in such a deck’s starting sixty. If we’re going for big burn finishes, how much sense does it make to play a “burn” card that can only hit creatures?

Enter Nahiri’s Warcrafting:

This version makes two relatively subtle changes to the starting 2×4:

  1. First, it swaps out Rending Flame for Nahiri’s Warcrafting. Neither card can burn an opponent’s face, but the new March of the Machine sorcery can at least interact with our own copies of Invasion of Regatha. In the late game, the Warcrafting can also prove a source of card advantage.
  2. I cut stupid Squee, Dubious Monarch for Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Fable is widely considered the strongest card in Standard. It’s strong in a Red Deck, too… But plays a different role here. We value Fable for its offensive output in a Red Deck! Take two, opponent! Heck of an end game, too.

Red Deck Game Play

Today we’re doing some best-of-three play on the Ladder.

I post a lot of best-of-one Events (as you probably know if you’re reading this). And I very much enjoy best-of-one Events. They’re breezy; I don’t need to devote a lot of wildcards to sideboard slots. They make for great a “narrative” when you’re making a video.

… But for Ladder-grinding I much prefer best-of-three. There are two reasons for this.

First, I’m an A+ sideboard player. This is a skill I have far in excess of the average Mythic Arena player, so not exploiting it is just leaving potential value on the table.

Second, it just makes mathematical sense! If you go 2-1 in best-of-one, you’ll go up by one pip. If you go 2-1 in best-of-three you’ll go up two (because that’s “a match”). Math!

Here goes:

The updated 2×4 is my favorite deck to play on the Ladder right now. I hope you enjoy the matches as we barbecue some poor, unsuspecting, Sheoldred Mythic opponents.


Is Light Up the Night Too Good for Arena?

Light Up the Night

Light Up the Night from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

  • Card Name: Light Up the Night
  • Mana Cost: XR
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Light Up the Night deals X damage to any target. It deals X plus 1 damage instead if that target is a creature or planeswalker. Flashback—{3}{R}, Remove X loyalty counters from among planeswalkers you control. If you cast this spell this way, X can’t be 0. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
  • Illustrated by: Wei Wei

We kid. We kid!

Or do we?

Rakdos Story Time, Redux

Last time when we talked about Coppercoat Vanguard in White Weenie, I recounted a recent story about trying Champ-Champ Nathan Steuer’s Rakdos deck on the ladder.

I had actually just submitted the article The Winners’ Metagame to CoolStuffInc, and ended up chuckling to myself. It’s obvious that the Handshake Rakdos deck was not made for this world. For the bodies and the substrate. For primates stuffing themselves into miniskirts and polo shirts trying to convince themselves that they are something more than monkeys playing make-believe.

The Handshake Rakdos deck targets an elevated metagame. In the abstract, Rakdos is one of the more challenging decks for beloved Mono-Red to face. The typical Arena Rakdos deck has twenty-four lands. Three of those lands will show up in one’s opening hand thanks to the Best-of-One shuffler. Arena-Rakdos defends itself starting turn one with four Cut Downs, and can slam shut the door with all four Graveyard Trespassers starting turn three.

But not so the Handshake Rakdos!

Built for a long game (with no Arena shuffler), it plays a little more land.

More than that, it shaves Cut Down and Graveyard Trespasser. Steuer and literally half the Pro Tour Top 8, all banking on great Limited records, didn’t think they were going to need some of those tools from their higher Standing starting records; and if they had to best a Monastery Swiftspear? Maybe they’d get by on skill.

So when Yours Truly slid into a Handshake Rakdos — knowing all this — it was well and truly JUSTICE that I got browned, baked, sizzled, and broiled by an opponent opening on basic Mountain.

Light Up the Night is the BestWorst Card in Rakdos Midrange

It’s the best!

The “burn” variant including Light Up the Night performs demonstrably better than “regular” Rakdos midrange, at least according to Pro Tour Hall of Famer Frank Karsten.

  • Rakdos “Burn” Midrange: 67.3%
  • Rakdos “Stock” Midrange: 54.5%

There are some obvious caveats to this. First, more than a quarter of the Light Up the Night folks actually ended up in the Top 8 at the Pro Tour; and made up a team with multiple Pro Tour and World Champions. There is a clear skill edge embedded in their results that goes beyond playing a weirdo Fireball.

54.5% is a great win rate for a deck at the motherloving Pro Tour though! It’s just much, much worse than the deck that won the whole shebang.

Is it the best?

Light Up the Night is one of the key distinguishing features of a deck with a very meaningful level of differentiation; so we can extrapolate that — skill aside — it’s gotta be a big part of the equation. Light Up the Night in concert with Chandra, Hope’s Beacon is a particularly compelling one-two punch.

But it also has to be the worst… Depending on what room you’re in. If you’ve just finished crushing the Limited portion and it’s time to turn your attention to a finely curated Winners’ Metagame of future victims, get ready to tap for X.

But on the ladder?

In an Arena Event?

Light Up the Night is an under-performer. You really want your Cut Downs just to keep your head above water, I fear.

Here is Our Hero giving it a go with Light Up the Night, et al:

You know the drill. Typically we absolutely farm Arena Events to build our collection and keep our pockets full of gems. But what about this Event?

Is it possible that the Winners’ Metagame deck just doesn’t win (or at least not so much) when paired with regular, old, opponents?

One way to find out! Check out the video.


Coppercoat Vanguard Really, Really Matters

Coppercoat Vanguard

Coppercoat Vanguard from March of the Machine: Aftermath

  • Card Name: Coppercoat Vanguard
  • Mana Cost: 1W
  • Card Type: Creature – Human Soldier
  • Rules Text: Each other Human you control gets +1/+0 and has ward {1}. (Whenever it becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter it unless that player pays {1}.)
  • Flavor Text: It was a time for rebuilding, but first Ikoria’s wrecked cities had to be cleared of monsters.
  • Illustrated by: Bruno Biazotto

Rakdos Story Time

Last week over on CoolStuffInc, YT penned the tale of how World Champion — and now Pro Tour Champion — Nathan Steuer won with a deck built for a particular metagame.

The “Winners'” metagame!

Nathan and team played main deck Duress, more land than you’lll typically see on the Arena ladder — and in a reversal of every recent trend — added Invoke Despair back into their top end.

“This deck is too good for the ladder,” I surmised. I of course loaded it up and went about my Diamond-rated business.

First match out, I kept; my opponent went first; and played Mountain into beloved Monastery Swiftspear.

“This deck really is too good for the ladder.” I went down quickly.

Over the course of the next week, it was all Rakdos, all the time. I eventually switched to a Breach the Multiverse build, to go bigger than the Handshake wannabes… But it was still all Rakdos variants. I would estimate that on the way to Mythic, I played 75% Rakdos mirrors and quasi-mirrors.

This wasn’t the worst-worst thing. I mean, I was winning more than I was losing at least!

Enter Coppercoat Vanguard from March of the Machine: Aftermath

Pinkertons jokes aside, a new set came out fast on the heels of Steuer’s Pro Tour win. March of the Machine: Aftermath is a tiny set… 50 cards to real March of the Machine‘s 281. But some of the cards have high impact!

At least, enough to break up the monotony of mono-Rakdos mirrors I had been facing.

One of the most important cards is probably Coppercoat Vanguard.

This card first hit my radar as a potential addition to Pioneer White Weenie (as the summer RCQs in New York City are largely Pioneer). But as many of the Pioneer White Weenie cards are Standard-legal, I figured it might be worth some testing on Arena as well.

Coppercoat Vanguard does two things in a properly built deck:

The first is that it is a Crusade-like effect. Your guys get bigger. Your cheap one- (or even zero-) mana creatures can come out with two power, making them more dangerous and shortening the clock.

The second is that it makes your creatures more difficult to kill or interact with. This is important for a number of reasons. First, it doubles down on the incentive to White Weenie already present as a result of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Thalia is the worst balanced creature since Winota, Joiner of Forces… So I guess we should play her if she’s any good.

Secondly, although Thalia and Coppercoat Vanguard are both “general”-type disruptive creatures, combined with a card like Skrelv, Defector Mite, you can create strategic board positions that put pressure on the opponent’s mana or force a key attacker through unexpectedly.

In a deck that is balanced more towards Humans (thanks Coppercoat Vanguard), good old Adeline, Resplendent Cathar becomes a premier threat again. Adeline is one of the best, fastest-growing, creatures you can force through with Skrelv; and her token creature add-ons are boosted individually by Coppercoat Vanguard.

Peanut Butter.


Here’s a White Weenie Deck for “Idiotic Morons”

I grossly dislike White Weenie decks in general; especially anything with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben…

But too many incentives lined up for me to not at least try playing some of the cards together.

Here’s a swing I took into a recent Standard Event:

This version is biased for Best-of-One play, even though there is a sideboard. I would not have started 4x Brutal Cathar in a paper / Best-of-Three version; but Best-of-One features a lot of aggressive opponents, so Brutal Cathar can look pretty good there. Of course, it has some extra value with Recruitment Officer where more copies of Ossification and Lay Down Arms wouldn’t.

Here’s some footage of the aforementioned Standard Event:

Please watch it and then like, subscribe, etc. so that the nice people at YouTube think you, you know, love Mike.


Wingmantle Chaplain Lays Down the BIRD LAW

Wingmantle Chaplain

Wingmantle Chaplain from Dominaria United

  • Card Name: Wingmantle Chaplain
  • Mana Cost: 3W
  • Card Type: Creature – Human Cleric
  • Rules Text: Defender. When Wingmantle Chaplain enters the battlefield, create a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying for each creature with defender you control. Whenever another creature with defender enters the battlefield under your control, create a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying.
  • Illustrated by: Miranda Meeks

The Ridiculous Questions You Never Knew to Ask

MichaelJ — Can I make it to the big show with my Bird / Wall theme deck?

Is it in fact possible to qualify for the Pro Tour using only Birds and Walls?

Are we in fact… Doing it?

Last week Jim Davis posted a frankly ridiculous deck based around “Mythic Uncommon” Wingmantle Chaplain.

Wingmantle Chaplain was an absolute killer in Limited (hence its over-the-top, if descriptive, nickname)… But at least prior to Jim’s video, I can’t imagine anyone took it seriously as a Constructed card. If you haven’t seen this thing in action: That notorious gap in your life, mind, and imagination ends today.

That’s Jim’s deck properly built, at least. When I played it I initially refused to Wildcard Faithbound Judge, so only played with one in my main deck. But if you’re going to take a swing for the Pro Tour with this collection of Birds, Walls, and Limited All-Stars yourself, you might want to do it right.

Here’s how the deck works…

Why Play Birds and Walls to Begin With? The Top-end Payoffs

There are two top-end payoffs:

  • Knight-Errant of Eos, Convoke newcomer from March of the Machine
  • “Mythic Uncommon” Wingmantle Chaplain

All the nonsense creatures — Larder Zombie and creatures more-or-less on the power level of Larder Zombie — give you bodies to slow the battlefield to molasses; and then a couple of turns in, to Convoke into Meeting of the Minds or Knight-Errant of Eos to get a little ahead… Or whatever passes for “ahead” when you’re playing a Bird-Wall theme deck.

If you’re scratching your head right now, think about how annoying a Larder Zombie or Ledger Shredder is for most conventional offenses. Is the average Soldier — or even the vaunted Thalia, Guardian of Thraben — somehow supposed to be able to get through a pickles-eating 1/3 Zombie-Wall?

What if you open on a Phoenix Chick? How long do you have to tank before you realize you have to point a Lightning Strike at the Ledger Shredder before the stupid Birds / Walls player gets a chance to Connive even one time?

Molasses. That’s what these cards turn a conventional battlefield into.

And then there’s the high end…

Wingmantle Chaplain is, in fact, “Doing It”

You might have noticed that many of the creatures in this deck have Defender. Ergo they are the “Walls” half of the Birds and Walls theme. Getting those cheap creatures down early give you fuel to Convoke Knight-Errant of Eos. The Knight will, in turn, get you more cheap Walls.

But being Walls isn’t just an opportunity to dunk on the opponent with creatures whose collective toughness is 3x or more their power (hi Becker!)… You also get payoffs going backwards and forwards with Wingmantle Chaplain.

“This game’s for the birds!”
-most opponents, most games

You basically make a ton of 1/1 Birds to lock up the battlefield and eventually swarm. If the opponent doesn’t have Trample, they might never be able to damage you! If you draw two copies of Wingmantle Chaplain, the game will go absolutely bonkers sideways faster than the trigger goes on the stack.





Lunarch Veteran

Lunarch Veteran from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

You didn’t forget this little one drop from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, did you?

Lunarch Veteran has earned medium inclusions in Tier Three life gain decks for the past year or so. Team Voice of the Blessed, et al; you know what I mean. But in this deck? You not only get an absolute fist full of Veteran triggers every time Wingmantle Chaplain flips the opponent the Birds; but its back-end is also pretty relevant.

Laying down the Bird Law subjects the opponent to a lot of crazy nonsense, but despite having Meeting of the Minds and Knight-Errant of Eos in its kit, the deck isn’t the best at maintaining a fat hand. That means that a little flashback (or Disturb) can be valuable in concert with Ledger Shredder. So dump the odd Lunarch Veteran! You might just get it back! Blocking with a Bird (or ten)? You might just be getting life gain going backwards and forwards, too. In Magic we often talk about using every part of the buffalo; this deck uses every part of the pigeon, squab, and wild turkey, and American Eagle cosplayer.

So… Can You Make the Pro Tour with a Birds / Walls Theme Deck?

I guess you’ll just have to find out.

In today’s video I play a Standard Event with Jim’s deck. Or, to be fair, Jim’s deck minus two copies of Faithbound Judge. Seven wins in an Event translates into a Play-In Point; and as you know, twenty Play-In Points can get you, eventually, on your way to the Pro Tour.

Plus, earning at least five wins will get you your Arena gems back (and a couple of packs). Do I make it to seven? Manage, at least, not to embarrass myself gambling gems? Should I in fact run it back?

Let me know!


Invasion of Regatha Does 4 Damage (duh)

Invasion of Regatha

Invasion of Regatha from March of the Machine

  • Card Name: Invasion of Regatha
  • Mana Cost: 2R
  • Card Type: Battle – Siege
  • Rules Text: (As a Siege enters, choose an opponent to protect it. You and others can attack it. When it’s defeated, exile it, then cast it transformed.) When Invasion of Regatha enters the battlefield, it deals 4 damage to another target battle or opponent and 1 damage to up to one target creature.
  • Defense: 5
  • Illustrated by: Daarken

Why is it Important That Invasion of Regatha Does 4?

Well… To be honest, it actually does five damage; not four.

Back in the day you might remember a card called Char that did four damage (to any target, but often the opponent’s face; as Invasion of Regatha generally will)… But Char also did two damage to you. Char ruled all kinds of Standard in its era.

To wit:


Char from Ravnica: City of Guilds

That Invasion of Regatha does five total (one to a creature) is super cool… Not only is it a weird upgrade to a card that would probably see play in Standard as-is, the new Battle’s specific extra point can be tactically useful. For example in today’s game play video you can see I play an Invasion and also take out the opponent’s Thalia, Gurdian of Thraben with one spell.

One toughness? Card advantage!

Is a three-mana-card-that-contextually-costs-four a great Thalia killer? Not strategically, no. But it’s part of the range and when you do have four mana. More importantly, there are few things more satisfying.

But if you think about Invasion of Regatha as a card that does four damage to the opponent, you can start to build a new deck structure.

Brain the Opponent in the Noggin with the 2×4

It would be one thing if there were only one card in the format that did four damage to the opponent’s face. But what about if you have two?

Pairing Invasion of Regatha with old favorite Stoke the Flames gives a Red Deck the chance to approach the format with a more burn-centric game plan. In the past we have mostly explored Red Decks that look for opportunities to land cards like Blazing Crescendo or Ancestral Anger for big damage. The opponent tapped out? Great! Bash ’em for a ton!

But what if the opponent just doesn’t tap out? What if they have a fist full of instant speed point removal after sideboarding? The decks we’ve looked at that are more based on attacking might never get off the ground.

While those kinds of Red Decks can be both effective and fun, they do give the opponent an undesirable capacity for counterplay.

When you can just draw any five deal-fours and kill the opponent to death non-interactively, the rest of your deck simply doesn’t have to work as hard. To be certain you can — and should — still play the aggressive cards that make Red Decks playable in Standard… Your Monastery Swiftspear and Feldon, Ronom Excavator just aren’t as responsible for as much damage. Getting in for two or even four each will slide the opponent into Stage Three’s Inevitability before they know it.

Another point of strategic value: You can literally draw five big burn cards and win. Your opponents can think themselves all clever with Knockout Punch and Parasitic Grasp in hand… And they can just die with those cards in hand. What if you just never give them good targets but instead go Invasion, Stoke, yadda, and yadda? Play With Fire and Lightning Strike will help out, as might an opposing Shivan Reef or Llanowar Wastes.

Again, winning with no creatures at all will not be particularly common; but it’s still part of the range. Thus, part of the incentives that a “deal four”-focused Red Deck brings to the table over, say, a Reckless Impulse beatdown.

Here is a deck played to 5-0 in a recent MTGO event by a player called STORMQROW.

STORMQROW did a number of unusual things (relative to established Red Decks) but I think they mostly make sense here. No Phoenix Chicks! Well Phoenix Chick was probably the card I sided out the most with most of my tournament builds, so that makes sense… Especially since the STORMQROW swing has no big +3/+1 cantrip incentive to connecting opportunistically with a hasty flyer.

No Bloodthirsty Adversary though? That’s a Kill Your Darlings moment. Bloodthirsty Adversary is so powerful! But I can’t say I missed it much in my grinding with this deck so far.

This (and lots of other) 5-0 Standard decks, over at MTGO.com.

Anyway, I hope you like today’s game play. STORMQROW’s gave me killer win rate on the ladder so far; highly recommended.


This is the Blue Deck’s MOMENT OF TRUTH

Moment of Truth from March of the Machine

  • Card Name: Moment of Truth
  • Mana Cost: 1U
  • Card Type: Instant
  • Rules Text: Look at the top three cards of your library. Put one of the cards into your hand, one into your graveyard, and one on the bottom of your library.
  • Illustrated by: Rovina Cai

Cut Impulse for Moment of Truth

Impulse was first printed in 1997’s Visions. Since then, it has been a favorite card of Yours Truly… And like everyone! Impulse was a Staple from the moment it debuted. It helped to hold together Mike Long’s Pro Tour Paris Prosperity-Bloom deck… Essentially the first combo deck of its kind, which won the first Pro Tour on foreign soil.

Impulse won in combo. Impulse won in control. It even helped to innovate whole new lines of theory, like Alan Comer’s Xerox, or my own Investment.

Today in Premodern, Impulse continues to contribute to performing decks; despite head-to-head tension with cards like Accumulated Knowledge. Impulse is better at digging for specific cards when your back is against the wall… like Wrath of God. Impulse also shines when you need to assemble a two-card combination, like Phyrexian Dreadnought + Stifle, before the opposing beatdown kills you. On balance, Accumulated Knowledge is better at bulk card advantage over long games.

When Impulse was reprinted in Dominaria United, it quickly found a home in the Mono-Blue deck. After all… It did a lot of what that deck wanted. If you leave your mana open for Make Disappear but your opponent doesn’t bite, you still have something to do. It fills the graveyard for Tolarian Terror and Haughty Djinn… Or finds Tolarian Terror or Haughty Djinn to begin with. Impulse is kinda sorta perfect in that deck.

So I say: Cut it.

Now is the Moment for an Upgrade

What gives?

Why cut a card with the pedigree of Impulse from a deck where it’s perfectly situated?

Simple: We can do better.

At least: We can do better for this deck.

If the argument were about digging for Wrath of God under pressure? Impulse surely digs one deeper for the same mana. If we were talking about a combo deck? The difference between three and four can be the difference between assembling your combo and failing to assemble your combo.

But in Standard Mono-Blue, what we are often talking about is how many instants and sorceries we can get in our graveyard. Impulse puts one in, every time… The Impulse itself. Moment of Truth digs a little less deep, but importantly, can potentially double that number.

You always put two cards in the graveyard with Moment of Truth. If we can make one of them an instant or sorcery, that makes Tolarian Terror a turn faster. That might halve the clock time on Haughty Djinn. I’m not arguing Moment of Truth is better than Impulse… But it certainly seems better when paired specifically with these two elite creatures.

What might a “Moment of Truth” Mono-Blue deck look like?

Here’s mine:

March of the Machine actually provides a number of small upgrades to Mono-Blue’s Staples. Like…

  • Assimilate Essence over Essence Scatter – While not “unconditional” as Essence Scatter was, Assimilate Essence gives the deck additional resistance to the popular new Battles out of March of the Machine.
  • Change the Equation out of the sideboard – This card can hit a large number of expensive red or green threats… Though notably neither Etali, Primal Conqueror nor Atraxa, Grand Unifier (you know, ones you might really want to hit). Still it’s mana efficient and pretty flexible. Change the Equation is no Lithomantic Barrage, though.

On that last note, if there is a threat to Mono-Blue’s viability in Standard, it’s just the existence of Lithomantic Barrage! But still, we were able to ladder up with it.

Let me know what you think about the games:


Bill’s Gonna Kill You With ONE Prologue to Phyresis

Prologue to Phyresis

Prologue to Phyresis from Phyrexia: All Will Be One

  • Card Name: Prologue to Phyresis
  • Mana Cost: 1U
  • Card Type: Instant
  • Rules Text: Each opponent gets a poison counter. Draw a card.
  • Illustrated by: Simon Dominic

The Technology in Bill Stark’s Azorius Poison Deck is Breathtaking

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that Bill Stark made the most creative Standard deck in years. I mean, sure, caveat: competitive Standard. Standard where you might actually be able to win a match. Or dozens. In fact, Bill himself made Mythic with it!

I mean look at the thing:

Okay maybe that’s not 100% fair. That’s “my” take on Bill’s deck (for his original version, check out Bill’s blog post). I changed a couple of lands and added two basic Plains. Bill’s original list just had twelve Plains/Islands multi-lands and twelve basic Islands. That’s part one of his refreshing set of technological leaps here. The compleat* devotion to Islands powers up Flow of Knowledge. This might be the best Flow of Knowledge engine deck I’ve ever seen.

There were two problems with Bill’s mana that I sought to correct: First, for Depopulate (and the one Sunfall I added) the deck needs WW. Often it will need WW on demand. To that end I found the compleatly** 100% Islands setup more cute than practical (if still ingenious). So I just added two basic Plains. Literally not taking any of Bill’s precious Islands away… Just making it so we can untap to successfully Depopulate or Sunfall under pressure a little better. I also swapped some Idyllic Beachfronts for Obscura Storefronts. That change doesn’t matter a ton, but we can gain a little life and thin our deck of land in a universe where we now play two more physical copies.

The second catalyst to my adding two Plains is simply that he only had 12 total lands that enter the battlefield untapped. That’s just not enough. Almost every competitive deck needs at least 14, so I righted that minor ship.

This deck uses Mindsplice Apparatus to make Flow of Knowledge very cheap — well everything very cheap — and then puts itself into a position where it is casting several cards per turn, drawing a ton of cards, often gaining 10+ life, and probably saving 10+ mana at the same time. The first discounted Flow of Knowledge gets the ball rolling, but after that, it’s much more about casting lots of “good” spells rather than landing 1-2 great ones each turn cycle.

Prologue to Phyresis is Only One of Bill’s Throwback Kills

This is obviously a deck that the great mid- to late-1990s deck designers — many of whom went on to become #wotcstaff like Bill himself did — would love. Technically the “kill” is the one Prologue to Phyresis. There is only one!

Methodologically, you have to find the one at some point, resolve it, and then go about your business. Your first Prologue to Phyresis might be a whopping two mana, but in the case you cast a second it will probably only cost one… And the engine later on will just be one mana copies of Experimental Augury followed by one mana copies of Witness the Future; maybe you throw in a few one mana copies of Union of the Third Path. That draws a card, right?

The engine is wonderful once it gets going. At some point — and you will typically grind your opponent to this point on account of simply living long enough with a Mindsplice Apparatus in play — you will just cast nine Auguries over 1-2 turn cycles and that will be that.

But a “narrow” kill isn’t the only beautiful throwback about this deck. I mean the “kill” itself is a cantrip! I really — really — admire Bill’s discipline on this. If I had somehow come up with the same idea I don’t think I would have ever gotten to the point of understanding that I wouldn’t need four copies of Prologue to Phyresis. It’s a cantrip! It replaces itself!

The other kind of “old school” throwback is essentially a “Gaea’s Blessing kill” a la Brian Schneider or Mike Donais. There were schools of multicolored control decks circa 1997 or 1998 that just recycled Gerrard’s Wisdom with Gaea’s Blessing and that’s what they did. They gained life, drew cards, gained life again, dared you to try to kill them. Union of the Third Path is clearly a giant upgrade in this regard; and once you discount Gaea’s Blessing to U (from 1G) it starts looking like the best control card ever printed.

I think at this point you probably smell the enthusiasm I have for Bill’s Poison deck. I invite you to check out some games I played with it this weekend on ye olde YouTube.

Further Reading on Bill’s Blog

If you liked this post, or find yourself intrigued by Bill’s deck building creativity, you might want to go back and check out earlier editions of Making Mythic. His goal each month seems to be to build a new, different, creative — but still competitive — deck with which to climb the Mythic ladder. I’ve certainly come away with some valuable ideas from his many at-bats; though none have been quite as breathtaking as Azorius Poison. Nevertheless, here are some you might like:

Bill goes really deep into his unique decks on the blog, and talks about individual play patterns in a way no one else can do justice. And believe me, some of us have tried.

If you geek out on creative deck building, I encourage you to explore there further.


* See what I did there?
** See, I did it again 🙂

Hidetsugu and Kairi in Standard Grixis

Hidetsugu and Kairi

Hidetsugu and Kairi from March of the Machine

  • Card Name: Hidetsugu and Kairi
  • Mana Cost: 2UUB
  • Card Type: Legendary Creature – Ogre Demon Dragon
  • Rules Text: Flying. When Hidetsugu and Kairi enters the battlefield, draw three cards, then put two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order. When Hidetsugu and Kairi dies, exile the top card of your library. Target opponent loses life equal to its mana value. If it’s an instant or sorcery card, you may cast it without paying its mana cost.
  • 5/4
  • Illustrated by: Chris Rahn

Say Goodbye to Invoke Despair

Invoke Despair was long the top-end ace of Grixis. More than that, it was a common four-of in Rakdos, Grixis, and Mono-Black Control decks in Standard! There were even Orzhov variants. I myself have played the bejeezus out of Golgari ones.

The dual lands are so good in Standard that you could often get away with something like twenty-five lands that all tapped for black. Invoke Despair’s BBBB in the upper-right being so very prohibitive! Mono-Black didn’t mind; but at some point, decks like Grixis were cutting Staples like Sokenzan or Otawara to make sure they could cast Invoke Despair on demand.

By the Regional Championship last month, players had started to shave Invoke Despair. Though powerful, it was often relegated to three-of or even two-of numbers. Wasn’t Invoke Despair THE thing? What would posses people to downgrade its onetime bulletproof four-of status?

Simple: It wasn’t that good any more.

Think about the Mono-Red matchup. Often you would get to five, cast your big spell… And the opponent would lose a Phoenix Chick, adjust their life total by four, and kill you the next turn. It was often even worse against the popular white control decks. What could be worse than forcing the opponent to sacrifice an Ossification that had previously been pointed at your Fable of the Mirror-Breaker token? A Spirited Companion or Ambitious Farmhand whose main goal in life was being bought back from the graveyard by Serra Paragon?

Don’t get me wrong: Invoke Despair could still be great! Up against Rakdos? An opposing Mono-Black Control? You’d probably want all four. But in a lot of other matchups? Its time — at least its time as the apex predator — has ended.

Not to mention, cards like Surge of Salvation were just printed in March of the Machine:

Surge of Salvation

Surge of Salvation from March of the Machine

You probably can’t stop Surge of Salvation acting as a one mana Negate against your removal spells… Or as a Fog. But eating up your whole fifth turn and your deck’s signature ace? Unacceptable!

Enter Hidetsugu and Kairi

So if you’re down on Invoke Despair… What do you plan to do at the five?

There’s always Gix’s Command. That card doesn’t target the big creature it kills; or damage the little ones. Gix’s Command is immune to Surge of Salvation. But how about something proactive?

Might I interest you in Hidetsugu and Kairi?

When March of the Machine first debuted, people were all going crazy about a two-card combo. Kill Hidetsugu and Kairi? Take twenty!

How about you just play Hidetsugu and Kairi? How about that is your combo?

You see, just playing Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is pretty great. But following your 4/5 deathtouch up with a 5/4 flyer that immediately gains six life? Good luck beating that super combo, am I right?

Here is a take on Grixis that I am currently loving:

Per today’s discussion, it is minus all the Invoke Despairs and brawls with a Brainstorm instead.

Interested in seeing how this Grixis performs? Check out some game play!


Wrenn’s Resolve in Mono-Red Aggro

Wrenn's Resolve

Wrenn’s Resolve from March of the Machine is a completely new Magic: The Gathering card

  • Card Name: Wrenn’s Resolve
  • Mana Cost: 1R
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Exile the top two cards of your library. Until the next turn, you may play those cards.
  • Flavor Text: Even as she burned, Wrenn bent Realmbreaker to her will.
  • Illustrated by: Viko Menzes

Wrenn’s Resolve is a Completely New Magic: The Gathering Card

Okay, okay… No it’s not.

Wrenn’s Resolve is a functional reprint of Reckless Impulse… A card that we wrote about recently in Mono-Red Aggro! But that was before March of the Machine was legal to play on Magic: The Gathering – Arena.

Is the Reckless Impulse (now Wrenn’s Resolve) shell still viable with the new set?

I thought that it might be even better than before. A lot of the new decks out there are based on things like Battles; which can be clunky in implementation. They are sometimes expensive; and in extreme cases force players into either really weird mana or really weird deck configurations. For example, a deck that is almost all Battles. At some point don’t you need creatures or spells to flip the Battles?

The cantrip-based Mono-Red that now includes [totally new Magic: The Gathering card Wrenn’s Resolve] was always really good at punishing players who misstepped. Between the format being new (so the decks not being 100% tuned yet) and some of the configurations or play patterns being a little off still… I thought the time was perfect.

Here’s the updated deck list:

Besides the main deck changeover from Reckless Impulse to Wrenn’s Resolve, the other main updates are in the sideboard. Briefly:

  • Lithomantic Barrage – This card is great! It does five damage for only one mana; and if Mono-Blue once again becomes a big player in Standard, it will probably become invaluable as a four-of. I only played it as a two-of because I was just updating my Obliterating Bolts from last season. Most of the cards you want to Obliterating Bolt — Serra Paragon, Raffine, Adeline, and so on — are Lithomantic Barrage-eligible.
  • Volcanic Spite – With only 20 lands, the deck does sometimes need a little oomph to get up and go. It does this in the main deck with Ancestral Anger (which draws a card), Blazing Crescendo (which exiles a card you can play, often a land), and of course Wrenn’s Resolve. But some matchups force you to side out your creature buff cantrips. Volcanic Spite steps in to keep the deck moving in those; plus is an instant speed removal card for Squee or Thundering Raiju.

How Did We Do?

One way to find out!

Check out the latest Standard play video from YouTube: