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Woo Brews – FOGNIBOR

I’m incredibly excited. I’ve been losing sleep. That’s really all there is to say.

Shout-outs to the Timmys and the Johnnys. I dedicate this article to the Spikes. I dedicate this to the Spikes who want to SPIKE a Standard PTQ and finally reach the Pro Tour. I have been (not so) quietly working on Standard for months and now the time is here: PTQ SEASON!!

Beating Junk Reanimator

Junk Reanimator is the top dog right now. Right? That’s what they say, at least. It’s a slow creature deck that is resilient to removal. It’s slow—it usually can’t threaten a kill before turn 5 or 6. But it blocks well. It has massive trumps. And it is inevitable.

Sweepers are not very good against Junk Reanimator. [card]Thragtusk[/card] leaves a friend. [card]Restoration Angel[/card] comes into play end of turn. [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] has haste. And every creature is so big that you pretty much have to sweep every turn. Well, you COULD sweep every turn, but you might die to Beasts, Angels, and the ‘Hoof anyway.

So how do we interact with this deck?

[draft]Fog[/draft]

[card]Fog[/card]. It costs 1 mana. It doesn’t care about [card]Thragtusk[/card]’s Beast. It doesn’t care about a flashed [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. It doesn’t care about a hasty ‘Hoof. And if we need to sweep every turn anyways, why don’t we just cut to the chase and play [card]Fog[/card] every turn? We don’t need to start doing it until turn 5 or 6. That’s a LOT of time to set up.

So I set out to build the best [card]Fog[/card] deck there is. Ramp with [card]Farseek[/card] and [card]Chromatic Lantern[/card]. Draw with [card]Urban Evolution[/card], [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], and [card]Increasing Ambition[/card]. Cast [card]Fog[/card]. Snapcaster [card]Fog[/card]. Draw and ramp more. Turn mana into cards into more mana and more cards. Finishing becomes a formality.

Beating Control

This strategy happens to be really good against control decks,as well. But why? Isn’t [card]Fog[/card] horrible there?

Yes, but so are their [card]Devour Flesh[/card]es, [card]Tribute to Hunger[/card]s, [card]Ultimate Price[/card]s, and [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]s.

Our [card]Fog[/card]s, err [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s can be whatever. Try this. Turn mana into cards. Turn cards into more mana and cards. Sound like a recipe for success against control decks? Turns out it is.

I introduce to you—FOGNIBOR!

Fognibor

Fognibor

[deck]Main Deck:
2 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Watery Grave
1 Blood Crypt
4 Sunpetal Grove
3 Temple Garden
1 Godless Shrine
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Woodland Cemetary
4 Breeding Pool
4 Hinterland Harbor
1 Steam Vents
1 Alchemist’s Refuge
1 Kessig Wolf Run
3 Fog
4 Farseek
1 Negate
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Chromatic Lantern
1 Detention Sphere
3 Increasing Ambition
4 Urban Evolution
1 Terminus
1 Nicol Bolas
1 Borborygmos
1 Enter the Infinite
1 Omniscience
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Rakdos’s Return
Board
1 Dispel
1 Fog
1 Negate
4 Supreme Verdict
1 Psychic Spiral
3 Thragtusk
2 Terminus
2 Rakdos’s Return[/deck]

This is a great deck for 3-game matches. Because of all the draw and selection, we can usually find the necessary card for each situation. And with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], we get to have TWO of them. This means we are extremely flexible. We have 7 [card]Fog[/card]s if we need them. We have 6 [card]Negate[/card]s if we need them. And so on.

The kill is minimalistic, but surprisingly resilient. Here is what it usually looks like, courtesy of Marshall Sutcliffe of Limited Resources Podcast:

[card]Omniscience[/card] > [card]Enter the Infinite[/card] > [card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card] > PYEW PYEW PYEW PYEW

Fognibor Card Explanations

Mana

Let’s start with the lands. We have 27 of them. Having a ton of lands is really important for this deck, because we are committed to making each land drop, or our two land drops, every single turn of the game. [card]Fog[/card] is a tempo card. If we’re not snowballing toward something enormous, [card]Fog[/card] does nothing. [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] is a tempo card. If we aren’t hitting our land drops it’s awful. As a very tempo-oriented deck, we can’t afford to play fewer than 27 lands.

We have 17 green sources, our most important color. This is a lot. We usually don’t see hands without green, and when we do we can often keep them anyway.

[draft]Alchemist’s Refuge[/draft]

[card]Alchemist’s Refuge[/card] is awesome in all matchups. In control matchups they let us overload the opponent’s mana with end-of-turn [card]Rakdos’s[/card] Return-type shenanigans. In aggro matchups, they let us wrath during combat to play around haste and flash creatures.

[draft]Kessig Wolf Run[/draft]

Yeah, we barely play any creatures, but we need this card. Sometimes something goes wrong, and we actually have to kill with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. It’s also great as a kill condition post-board against hyper aggro decks where we want a bunch of [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s and [card]Thragtusk[/card]s, but we don’t want anything more expensive.

The Ramp

[draft]Farseek
Chromatic Lantern[/draft]

Drawing these early makes a world of difference. We have 8, so we’re likely to have one, but sometimes we don’t and those games are much harder. I wouldn’t aggressively mulligan for these cards—I would just hope to have them by turn 3, and if not, plan accordingly.

The Draw

[draft]Urban Evolution
Sphinx’s Revelation
Increasing Ambition[/draft]

This is a LOT of draw power. If we get going, we can churn through our entire deck pretty quickly by continuing to chain these. The combination of ramp plus these draw spells allows us to overwhelm EVERYONE with every resource but time.

The Time

[draft]Fog[/draft]

This is how we make our time. We plan to commit only 1-3 mana to the board a turn, starting as late in the game as possible. Ramp, draw, ignore. I’m about to die? [card]Fog[/card]!

We only play 3 in the main. I would love to play 4, but I want to limit the number of dead cards against control, and we need to fit a certain number of cards against control to dominate those matchups. This is meta-adjustable.

The Glue

[draft]Snapcaster Mage[/draft]

[card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] is really the glue of the deck. Sometimes it’s a second [card]Farseek[/card] on the third turn. Sometimes it’s another [card]Fog[/card]. Sometimes it’s another draw spell. Sometimes it’s another [card]Negate[/card] or another [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card]. And sometimes it trades with a [card]Rakdos Cackler[/card] on the second turn.

This card is what makes the deck competitive. It makes us consistent. And it provides redundancy against all matchups without having to overload on any.

The Kill

[draft]Omniscience
Enter the Infinite
Borborygmos Enraged
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/draft]

We only dedicate four cards in our entire deck to actually killing the opponent. This is barely any! Many decks play over 30. Playing such a small package of ways to kill the opponent allows us to dedicate everything to getting there, which is great.

This kill looks fragile, but it’s surprisingly resilient, which I will explain in the matchups. Even the Nicol Bolas isn’t actually necessary, but he is nice for his flexibility in killing the opponent and blowing up troublesome permanents.

The Insurance

[draft]Detention Sphere
Terminus
Negate
Rakdos’s Return[/draft]

These 1-ofs in the main allow us to get out of any corner case. They allow us to deal with any permanent, and overload a large amount of countermagic and mana.

[card]Terminus[/card] is not only our one sweeper, but it is also occasionally a victory condition. If something happens to our primary win conditions, we can use it with our [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s to extend the game after setting up consecutive Wolf Run attacks post-[card]Enter the Infinite[/card].

Common Ways to Lose

Missing land drops is death, which is why we play 27 lands. Missing ramp can be death on the draw against certain decks. Missing [card]Fog[/card]s can happen with only 3 in the main, and that feels pretty bad when it comes up. Missing draw spells happens rarely.

There are also several problem cards like [card]Skullcrack[/card], [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], and [card]Purify the Grave[/card], which I will talk about in the matchups in which they are relevant.

Fognibor vs. Junk Reanimator

[draft]Unburial Rites[/draft]

I love this matchup. I have only played 4 matches so far, but I have won all of them. The theory is sound. Ramp, draw, wait for the turn when they are about to kill you. This is usually turn 5, 6, or 7. By this time, we can [card]Fog[/card] over and over, and there is usually NOTHING they can do once this starts in the first game.

For Games 2 and 3:

Out

[draft]1 Negate
1 Nicol Bolas, planeswalker
1 Rakdos’s Return[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Terminus
1 Fog[/draft]

The most important cards post-board are [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and [card]Purify the Grave[/card]. These decks usually play Deathrite, but occasionally you will see Purify as well. These cards can be a problem, because sometimes we can’t win without using [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] on a [card]Fog[/card].

Against [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] it’s important to plan to [card]Terminus[/card] before Snapcastering a [card]Fog[/card]. [card]Terminus[/card] is quite good here.

Against [card]Purify the Grave[/card] it’s best to avoid relying on Snapcaster-[card]Fog[/card] whenever possible. Sometimes we absolutely have to, but they usually won’t have it. It’s not common that they play it.

They will also have access to [card]Acidic Slime[/card] in combination with [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. This can be annoying and can win them the game if we stumble. If we don’t stumble, then it’s not actually that problematic because the tempo they gain from blowing up a land is negated by the tempo they lose from playing a 5-mana 2/2.

Sometimes you will see a [card]Golgari Charm[/card] from them to kill our [card]Omniscience[/card]. In this situation, it’s important to play the most important card for free first, because that’s all you will get. This might mean waiting until 11 mana to Omni > Enter > [card]Fog[/card]. Usually this works and their enchantment kill looks horrible, but it’s something to keep in mind on the big turn.

Fognibor vs. Blitz Aggro

[draft]Burning-Tree Emissary[/draft]

With our maindeck setup, this is a pretty bad game 1 matchup. We are able to start [card]Fog[/card]ging around turn 5, but the Blitz decks usually kill turn 4, which means our strategy is just flawed against them. Obviously they can stumble or we could rip [card]Terminus[/card]. We could also be on the play with a [card]Farseek[/card], which is the most common route to victory.

The matchup could be fixed by turning the [card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/card], [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card], and [card]Negate[/card] into some early game sweeper action, but these 3 little cards make the control matchups so good that I don’t think it’s worth it. If your meta is heavy blitz aggro, you might need to sacrifice the control game 1 to address it.

For Games 2 and 3:

Out

[draft]1 Negate
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
1 Borborygmos Enraged
1 Enter the Infinite
1 Rakdos’s Return
2 Urban Evolution
1 Increasing Ambition[/draft]

In

[draft]1 Fog
4 Supreme Verdict
3 Thragtusk
2 Terminus[/draft]

Our deck gets quite a bit better after board. We are now centered on [card]Fog[/card], sweepers, [card]Thragtusk[/card], and [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]. This is a pretty decent plan against aggro decks, but they have some cards that present complications.

Be aware of [card]Skullcrack[/card] from the red versions. A well-timed [card]Skullcrack[/card] kills us through a [card]Fog[/card], or doesn’t let us get the life we need to survive with [card]Thragtusk[/card] and [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]. I have built our new deck with this card in mind. We now lean heavily on sweepers over life gain and damage prevention, and [card]Skullcrack[/card] is weak against sweepers.

Keep it in mind at every point in the game. Every time they tap below 2 mana is a “Skullcrack window,” and you have to decide what to do in it. Tap out for a haste creature? [card]Fog[/card] now! Untap and gain life. If they have mana open, play the sweep and wait for a Skullcrack window.

[card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card] is a problem from some of these decks, but it often isn’t a game winner. Like [card]Acidic Slime[/card], the tempo gained from setting us back a turn is somewhat negated by the tempo lost from playing a two-mana 2/1. Between two-mana [card]Fog[/card]s, five-mana [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]s, and two-mana miracled [card]Terminus[/card]es, we have lots of ways to get out from under Thalia. She can randomly steal a game, but usually we have answers.

In general, I like the matchup after board but hate the matchup game 1. Like I said, you can fix this, but there are consequences in other matchups.

Fognibor vs. Esper Control

[draft]Nephalia Drownyard[/draft]

This is how the matchup usually goes for me:

These Esper decks usually play something like NINE worthless creature removal spells against us. We do have 4 dead cards, but NINE dead cards? #cmonson

We have so much ramp with [card]Farseek[/card], [card]Chromatic Lantern[/card], and 27 lands that we can [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] way harder and faster than they can. Do they choose to counter our draw spells? We have 14 between [card]Increasing Ambition[/card], [card]Urban Evolution[/card], [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. That’s too much for them to fight. So maybe they should wait and fight for our kill condition?

Well, if our draw is resolving , it’s not long before we can set up something like [card]Alchemist’s Refuge[/card], EOT [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] with [card]Negate[/card] backup, untap Omni with Snapcaster-Negate back up. Often Omni + Negate is all it takes.

Their best strategy is really to start Drownyarding on turn 4 and hope to get lucky. It’s a pretty horrible strategy, but it’s their best shot in game 1.

For games 2 and 3:

Out

[draft]3 Fog
1 Terminus
1 Detention Sphere
1 Increasing Ambition[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Rakdos’s Return
1 Psychic Spiral
1 Negate
1 Dispel
1 Supreme Verdict[/draft]

All right, so we still have all that ramp and draw, but now instead of those [card]Fog[/card]s, we have 3 counterspells and 3 [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card]. And [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] to reuse them. Yeah…

They do get to upgrade their nine dead cards which gives them an actual chance, but it’s still such an uphill battle for them. Their strategy is flawed against ours.

They might play [card]Rest in Peace[/card] which nerfs our [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s and our [card]Increasing Ambition[/card]s, but that isn’t a huge loss. I don’t really want to play [card]Detention Sphere[/card].

They will often go for a Jace and try to mill us out. This is usually a great opportunity to absolutely DESTROY them with [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card]. If Jace actually works, we have a [card]Psychic Spiral[/card] to go with our 3 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s to make their mill strategy backfire horrifically.

Their best strategy post-board is to go aggro with [card]Restoration Angel[/card] and try to protect it long enough to kill us. For this, we keep one [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] in the deck so that we have a nice, uncounterable reset button.

Fognibor vs. UWR Flash

[draft]Restoration Angel[/draft]

This is a really interesting matchup. They have nickel-and-dime offense with counterspells to drag the game out. This makes our [card]Fog[/card]s mediocre in the main. Given enough time, we can overpower the UWR player, same as Esper, but we are usually constrained on time because of their beatdown.

Sometimes we overpower them, sometimes they beat us down in time. It makes for a pretty fun and interactive matchup, considering most matchups are completely uninteractive.

For games 2 and 3:

Out

[draft]3 Fog
3 Increasing Ambition
1 Terminus[/draft]

In

[draft]4 Supreme Verdict
3 Thragtusk[/draft]

Since we can overpower them but are often constrained on time, our sideboarding plans are all about making more time. [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] makes a LOT of time against the threat-light UWR decks. [card]Thragtusk[/card] is weak to [card]Boros Reckoner[/card], but is great against a small army of [card]Augur of Bolas[/card] and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s.

[card]Increasing Ambition[/card], while a great card, is the only card in our deck that doesn’t allow us to advance our board over the opponent’s in some way. In most matchups it is kind of a 6-mana spell with [card]Fog[/card], but since [card]Fog[/card] is not very good here AND we are constrained on time, [card]Increasing Ambition[/card] is the cut.

[card]Dispel[/card]s, [card]Negate[/card]s, and [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card]s in the board all look really tempting, but they are not important to our core strategy beyond the ones we already have in our deck.

[card]Purify the Grave[/card] is something to watch out for here, which they could bring in. They will have to cut other relevant spells in order to do it, and they will never kill us with a [card]Purify the Grave[/card] on our [card]Fog[/card], so it’s not a huge issue.

Overall, I like the matchup quite a bit. That’s not to say that I think it’s a great matchup—it’s okay—but I really like our sideboard plans and think they give us a lot of room to jockey for a win.

Fognibor vs. Jund

[draft]Huntmaster of the Fells[/draft]

Jund is still a bit of a question mark, as I haven’t gotten in as many matches as I need to know everything that is going on, so these plans are subject to change from me, or upgrade by you.

Jund is a slow green creature deck. They usually aren’t going to threaten a kill before turn 6, which means we have LOTS of time to set up.

They have [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] which is a big problem card. We have plenty of cards to pitch, but a quick ultimate will be game, so if one enters the battlefield we need to plan to kill them or remove it within three turns. We have [card]Detention Sphere[/card], [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card], and [card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/card] as well as [card]Increasing Ambition[/card] to find them. Since they aren’t the fastest deck, we will often have time to remove it.

They also play [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card], which can be a problem in both damage and discard. We have a bit more ramp than them, and Revelations are a pretty nice, natural counter to [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card], but some games they will be able to sneak a crucial one through. Also, the burn is something to keep in mind when deciding whether to [card]Fog[/card] or not. Given the resources, playing around Rakdos’s Return is worth doing.

For Games 2 and 3:

Out

[draft]2 Fog
1 Rakdos’s Return[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Thragtusk[/draft]

I’m not 100% on this plan, but I like it in theory. It seems like we can shave [card]Fog[/card]s, as [card]Thragtusk[/card] is the best natural defense against [card]Thragtusk[/card] and [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card].

They will often stop on their 3rd or 4th turn to [card]Slaughter Games[/card] us. This is actually great. We have so much draw redundancy that taking a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] is usually not a game breaker.

If they [card]Slaughter Games[/card] our [card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card], we can win easily by going Omni > Enter > Thrag, Thrag, Thrag > Terminus, go. We have 3 Beasts in play with [card]Kessig Wolf Run/[card] and four cards in deck.

If they Slaughter our Omni, we can do the same thing by hard-casting. If they Slaughter our [card]Enter the Infinite[/card], we can drop Omni and hardcast a Sphinx’s Revelation. None of these Slaughter Games are very effective.

Fognibor vs. Zombies

[draft]Geralf’s Messenger[/draft]

Zombies is quite a bit slower than the blitz decks, but it has the ability to reach through [card]Fog[/card] with [card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card], and [card]Blood Artist[/card] plus a sacrifice outlet. They need to draw that combination, which may or may not happen. It’s something to keep in mind by padding the life total or [card]Fog[/card]ging early.

For Games 2 and 3:

Out

[draft]1 Rakdos’s Return
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
1 Negate
1 Urban Evolution[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Terminus
1 Thragtusk
1 Fog[/draft]

[card]Terminus[/card] is a huge ace here, and a compelling argument for a 4th in the sideboard. Zombies is really weak to it. It cleans up [card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card], [card]Gravecrawler[/card], and [card]Blood Artist[/card]. Since their deck is not the fastest compared to Naya Blitz, we will usually have time to set up our [card]Fog[/card] chain and eventually [card]Terminus[/card].

I like having a single [card]Thragtusk[/card] in the deck in case our [card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card] gets taken with [card]Appetite for Brains[/card]. It happened to me on camera, and I had to win with the very last [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. That’s a scary position to be in. A single [card]Thragtusk[/card] goes a long way. Leaving [card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/card] is an option, but [card]Thragtusk[/card] is pretty solid against their strategy and seems worthwhile as a 1-of (or more!).

Fognibor vs. Aristocrats

[draft]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/draft]

Aristocrats is slower than Zombies AND doesn’t have a way to deal life loss in the main. They play a lot of slower creatures like [card]Doomed Traveller[/card], [card]Cartel Aristocrat[/card], and [card]Boros Reckoner[/card], which means our mono-[card]Fog[/card] strategy will usually work in the first game.

For Games 2 and 3:

Out

[draft]1 Negate
1 Rakdos’s Return
1 Detention Sphere[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Terminus
1 Fog[/draft]

Again, [card]Terminus[/card] is our ace. 4 in the board might be right! All their creatures are slow and resilient to [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], while being slow and horrible against [card]Terminus[/card]. Seems good for us.

There are a few things to look out for. [card]Blasphemous Act[/card] on a [card]Boros Reckoner[/card] is a way for them to deal 13 out of nowhere. It isn’t likely that they have this, but if they do play a Reckoner, try to either stay above 13 or Terminus.

They also might have something like Thalia or [card]Purify the Grave[/card]. I’ve explained how to play around these above, and this situation is no different. Try to be Terminus-centric and not [card]Fog[/card]-centric, and you will be fine.

Mulliganing with Fognibor

You all know I hate mulliganing, and this is a deck I will try to NEVER mulligan with. The MOST important thing with this deck is hitting a land drop every turn—and each mulligan makes that much harder to do.

[draft]Omniscience
Urban Evolution
Snapcaster Mage
Breeding Pool
Sunpetal Grove
Blood Crypt
Kessig Wolf Run[/draft]

A lot of hands are going to look terrible… but you have to keep a lot of them to win. You won’t always have a ramp spell. You won’t always have a draw spell. You won’t always have a way to interact before turn 5. But if you mulligan these hands you mulligan a lot of hands. And you mulligan a lot of hands that would have developed, given the chance.

Remember, you draw a card every single turn of the game. The hand doesn’t have to win or have everything to start. So keep, and see what lies on top of the deck!

Adjusting Fognibor for Your Meta

As is, the deck is great against midrange, but there is some room for meta adjustments depending on the levels of aggro or control you expect.

Be sure to recognize the tension between having a good game 1 vs. aggro or a good game 1 vs. control. You can’t have both.

I like to win game 1 against control. If you lose game 1 against control you open yourself up to potential corner case blowouts, and a real fight against the round clock.

I like to win game 1 against aggro. Even with our sideboarding improvements we can get Skullcracked or Thalia’d. Most importantly, we will actually have to win the third game ON THE DRAW against the fastest deck in the room.

So, the choice is yours. Right now, I don’t think I can beat control without a [card]Negate[/card] and a [card]Rakdos’ Return[/card]—and these 2 cards make the match actually very easy. And I think it’s POSSIBLE to beat aggro with what we have.

Now, if control is actually nonexistent in your meta but aggro is everywhere, you might want to think about switching it up.

Crushing the Opposition

[draft]Fog[/draft]

Well, that’s about it. I really can’t say much. Other than I am INCREDIBLY EXCITED! I love playing with this deck—and I am also winning!

<3 Travis Questions! Comments! Think there's something I forgot?

Discussion

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