Where did last month go?
The National Qualifiers are already upon us this weekend and Grand Prix D.C. and Pro Tour San Juan are the following two weeks. To help out with both your testing and mine, I decided to interview some really good players about their specialty archetypes.
Arguably the best deck in the format is UW Control. I had a chat with Michael Hetrick ( _Shipitholla on MTGO) about this deck. He has had some decent finishes in the past, but now that he qualified for the next two Pro Tours, he is on a warpath to make his name in this game. He has been playing UW Control for some time now and even took down the first Magic Online PTQ this season with it.
“If I was going to the National Qualifiers I would be playing UW Control because I feel like it has good matchups against most of the mainstream decks,“ Hetrick said. “I’ve been playing blue-white for a long time and I would have a hard time believing anything is better than it right now.“
This is the build Hetrick currently plays:
This is what Hetrick said about some of his unorthodox card choices:
“Now with Wall of Omens you don’t need as much acceleration, but I still like having 2 Chalice so that you can play a turn 3 Walker or play it on 2 in the mirror.“
“I upped the count to four in an attempt to make the mirror match better but not sacrifice any other matchups. Some may say that against Jund you don’t want to get multiple Rings Pulsed, but that’s not really a realistic concern. It is very unlikely to occur in part due to the fact that there are many other targets besides Ring and if they do have removal, it’s likely they would have just Pulsed the first one anyways.“
“I like having four Days because for matchups they are good, they are very good. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s worth it because of the frequency Day gets boarded out. I’ll probably end up switching it for a [card]Gideon Jura[/card].“
“I wouldn’t be caught playing less than four.”
“Good against Howling Mine decks and Mythic if they have no removal.“
“I wanted to play this in the board anyways, but when I decked out in a Top 8 mirror match I decided it was worth it.“
A basic boarding plan for common matchups:
+1 Celestial Purge
+3 Kor Firewalker
+1 Martial Coup
-4 Day of Judgment
-3 Path to Exile
(different for Doom Blade + Bloodwitch package)
+1 Jace Beleren
+1 Kor Sanctifiers
+1 Martial Coup
-4 Day of Judgment
-2 Wall of Omens
-2 Path to Exile
+1 Celestial Purge
+3 Kor Firewalker
-2 Spreading Seas
-2 Oblivion Ring
-2 Mind Spring
-1 Day of Judgment
(Boarding for this matchup also depends on whether they have a black splash and/or the Devastating Summons/Bushwhacker combo.)
+1 Admonition Angel
+1 Martial Coup
-3 Spreading Seas
-1 Mind Spring
Same sideboarding as Mythic except
-1 Admonition Angel
+1 Spreading Seas
I really like Michael’s list. If I was playing this weekend this would be for sure what I would shuffle up. I was testing the 4-Color Cascade Control deck for the last few weeks and don’t really know why I went away from this deck. It has all the powerful spells you want to play right now and can answer most problems. The other big selling point for this deck is that it is winning everything on Magic Online. I don’t remember the last time a UW control deck didn’t make finals of a major event online.
The next person I talked to is someone most of you have never heard of. David Rolf (Mini_Gnarls on MTGO) is a guy I’ve been keeping my eye on for some time now. A few years ago he was just another Magic Online player that you would see with last week’s tech, but as of late he has been on a tear creating and designing decks all by himself. I am really impressed with how many good finishes he ends up bringing home with some of the lists he decides to play.
How much does he love this game? After I ask him to write a few paragraphs about his deck he sent me his very own article. I could trim it down, but this is more fun: David Rolfs article inside an article!
I’ve been playing on Modo for a couple years now. I play all day and all night. I never really enjoyed playing Magic in real life, but recently I have been attending more and more events. I started testing Naya and to no surprise everyone told me it was a dead deck once Rise of Eldrazi came out. I switched from UW over to Naya a few weeks prior to ROE. I was running Ajani Vengeant in Vengevine’s place because I thought it would increase my odds of beating UW, since match after match my opponents would lead with Plains and Fieldmist Borderpost. Turn 3 Ajani Vengeant was pretty game breaking, considering you can tap lands and keep them off Wrath and their other mana-intensive spells while still maintaining pressure. When Vengevine was released I knew it was worth testing. I’ve found it to be much better than Ajani Vengeant in the four-slot.
Here is the list I’ve been tearing up the queues with on Magic Online:
I cut the Stoneforge Mystics from the main deck because they are really terrible versus UW and Planeswalker Control. The Mystics really were in the deck in the first place to combat the popularity of Mono Red and Jund (which are the two decks where Collar and Sledge really shine). With the popularity of Blue/White and Planeswalker Control rising, I decided they were no longer serving the purpose they once did. I wasn’t a big fan of Stoneforge Mystic being anywhere in the list, but decided since the Bant deck has an extremely hard time dealing with Cunning Sparkmage, Mystics might help get the combo going easier.
Here is how I board most matchups:
+3 Dauntless Escort
-2 Path to Exile
-1 Goblin Bushwacker
Some may advocate pitching 3 Oblivion Rings for 2 Stoneforge Mystic and a Collar, but I don’t want to lose being the aggressor in the matchup.
+2 Stoneforge Mystic
+4 Cunning Sparkmage
+2 Qasali Pridemage
-1 Scute Mob
-1 Goblin Bushwacker
-3 Ranger of Eos
-4 Wild Nacatl
If you put them on boarding in Rhox War Monk or on the draw, I’d suggest this.
+3 Dauntless Escort
1 Scute Mob
Most UWR lists don’t run Baneslayer Angel so I’d cut the Paths. I would highly suggest keeping them in against UW, however, and boarding out a Scute Mob and a Goblin Bushwhacker instead.
Sandbag your man-lands as long as possible against UW and UWR. You don’t really care if they Spreading Seas one of your Forests or other mana sources early since you have the six accelerants. Also, it may sound like a basic concept, but don’t sac your fetch lands until you absolutely have to in order to avoid Spreading Seas.
For as much as an underdog Naya might seem to be in this metagame, it has some really good matchups. It only is really an underdog to Time Sieve, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say the matchup is unwinnable. I would really recommend this deck to anyone playing in the National Qualifiers this weekend. Good luck and may the Nacatls be with you!
– David Rolf
Over the last two nights I have lost three matches in Standard. Two of those losses were to this deck piloted by Mini_Gnarls. It should be a great deck for anyone who wants to be the aggressor in their local metagame. The other perk to playing this deck is that most people are preparing for a slower format while assuming many people will be playing Jund or Control decks and forgetting that Bant is not the fastest deck in the field. I think you could get many free game-one wins with this deck because people will be expecting a slower paced game.
Sometimes you have to make a deck decision when you don’t have much time to test. You have to weigh to odds of how forgiving the deck will be if you make mistakes, how powerful the deck is, and how prepared the environment will be. Sometimes you just have to take the deck that will give you the best chance to blow your opponent out of the water.
My brother, Corey Baumeister (fffreakslittlebro on MTGO), is in that situation, so I thought I would ask him what he will play for the Nationals Qualifier. Since I can’t play (being qualified already), I am really invested in his performance. Not only do I get to watch him take it down, but I actually get to see him since he’ll be coming to my town for a few days.
Corey has played as long as I have. We started together and have been enjoying this game ever since. We even got to go to the Coliseums with the Ruel brothers while we were in Rome. (You can watch that Wizards video here.
Here’s Corey to talk about his deck decision:
“Hello, my name is Corey Baumeister. I’ve played for a while and have had a few Pro Tour cashes (in fact, I cashed at a Pro Tour before my Big Bro). I haven’t been able to play as much Magic as I wanted to in the last few months. I didn’t know what I should play for this event until I saw Matt Sperling’s article on a new version of Bant. This deck is right up my ally. It has more powerful draws then most decks in the format and will give me the best chance to beat the opponents I am going to see in Fargo. I don’t think there is going to be a big showing of control decks at my state’s tournament since there are fewer of the really expensive cards available than in other, larger areas.
The other reason I want to play this deck is that it has some of the most powerful draws in the format. It also has a decent matchup against random aggressive decks that I think I will come up against more often then anything else.”
“It is nothing special as far as tech goes. I like this deck for two reasons. First, I’ll have a lot of fun playing it. Second, I’ll avoid the tough situations where I won’t know what the proper play is, like I would if I played a more complex deck like UW control or something.“
Speaking of fun decks, the next deck list I have for you guys is a really sick one. Some may say it is sick, so sick! Jason Schein (SickSoSick on Magic Online) is a super star. He took down the last PTQ for San Juan and is spending a lot of time getting ready to go – hopefully as his breakout tournament.
Here’s what Jason said about the deck he’s playing at his Nationals Qualifier:
“I am playing Time Sieve at the National Qualifier mainly because its something different than all the other decks in Standard.
Gavin Verhey posted this list on a forums a while back and then wrote an article about it. Basically, the deck is what it was last season with a few changes. Angelsong replaces Pollen Lullaby. Prophetic Prism replaces Elsewhere Flask. Cryptic Command is gone (RIP).
The idea of the deck is that you can, by about turn 5, take infinite (usually 4 to 8) turns and kill your opponent either with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Tezzeret the Seeeker, or Glassdusk Hulk. I’ve played the deck probably about 100 games, and the ideal draw goes something like this:
Turn 1: Cycle or Borderpost (but if you think you can use the Borderpost to accelerate on turn 3, hold it).
Turn 2: Howling Cine or a cantrip artifact if you don’t have a Mine.
Turn 3: Hard cast Borderpost.
Turn 4: Time Warp
Turn 5: …
And it goes from there.
A few tips about the deck:
You almost always want to go turn 3 Borderpost to accelerate with. If you can untap with Tezzeret you almost always will win. Tezzeret on turn 5 untapping 2 Borderposts for Angel Song will be a very common play and you should look to try to set it up very often.
You can sac Kaleidostone to draw an additional card when you cast Open the Vaults.
As far as matchups go, Jund is about 50/50. The more Thrinaxes, Siege-Gang Commanders, Lightning Bolts, and Blightnings they draw the better you tend to do. The one thing you don’t want to do in this matchup is double up on Howling Mines or sometimes Borderposts and give the Jund player a chance to Pulse them.
UW control is pretty much a bye game one. No countermagic and tons of irrelevant walls, removal, and planeswalkers make this one easy. Post board is similar except they have Meddling Mages and counterspells, but it’s still pretty easy
You are a dog to Polymorph. It’s easily the worst matchup.
Red Deck Wins is about 50/50 as well. Game one usually depends on their draw since you combo by turn 5 pretty much every game. Postboard you play a very different game by siding out the entire combo package for Kor Firewalker, Executioner’s Capsule, and Thopter Foundry.
The last important matchup is Mythic. The Conscription version is more difficult. The Finest Hour version kills you pretty quickly, but Annihilator means Angelsong isn’t a very good Time Warp against them. They kill you at about the rate at which you combo so sometimes you have to try to combo a turn earlier than you would like.
It’s not a deck you just want to pick up and take to the National Qualifier with you, but goldfishing the deck is pretty close to actually playing it so if you have a couple of hours that should be all the time you need to prepare yourself.”
The last deck I wanted to talk about today has two different versions that are doing well as of late. The problem is it has always been doing well. Yes, it’s Jund. I know it’s not the most exciting deck to talk about, but it will be at the tournament and getting a bit more information on the deck has never killed anyone… or everyone.
The first person I wanted to talk to a bit is Thiago Saporito (Bolov0 on Magic Online). He has made the Top 32 of Grand Prix Sao Paulo, the Top 16 of Grand Prix Buenos Aires, and won the online PTQ after _Shipithollas’ victory. Ever since I started following him in events on Magic Online, Bolov0 has always played the best deck in the field. He was playing UW for a while but switched back to Jund because it was more of the powerhouse he was looking for. This is his list:
Here’s how Thiago describes his decks matchups:
“UWR Planeswalkers is still a winnable matchup. The mirror match is a big problem; much luck is involved in this match. If he cascades perfect you won’t have any chance to win. I try to get more chances in the mirror match with 4 Goblin Ruinblasters in the main board. Ruinblaster is also great against UW too. Vengevine was questionable, but I playtested with him and really seems great in the mirror match. You can discard it to Blightning and bring it back in the following turns. It is also very good against UW control. I don’t understand why more people are not playing it in Jund
A friend gave me his sideboard. I play all of those cards, but one less Pulse so I can get a third Malakir Bloodwitch because I think it’s better against decks running white. The sideboard is mostly dedicated to aggressive matchups so they shouldn’t be much of a problem. Slave of Bolas is not that good of a card, but it is such a swing in the mirror that I have found it can be game breaking when cast.”
Well there isn’t much more I can add about this deck. It’s Jund and will always be Jund. No one seems to agree on a specific list of this deck and I think that is what makes it the powerhouse that it is. Just ask Josh Utter-Leyton on how powerful being a bit off the beaten path can be. Wrapter is a writer for this site and can be found winning just about everything he signs up for. He recently created the newest version of Jund and took it to a top 8 of a PTQ. His teamate wont the event playing the same 75 cards.
Josh Silvestri already talked about this deck in his article this week so I won’t go into much detail. I just wanted to get a few answers about the deck from the creator, Josh Utter-Leyton
“Jund is fundamentally still the most powerful deck in the format, and the specific cards that are beating most Jund decks (Spreading Seas, Wall of Omens, Flashfreeze, Goblin Ruinblaster, etc.) are much less effective against this version. Geopede makes the deck much faster and more aggressive, and lets you get away with cutting cheap removal, all of which is exactly what you need to be doing with Jund given the influx of control decks in the format.
Terramorphic Expanse and/or Evolving Wilds are not just awkward concessions to Geopede, either: these cards are extremely effective against what has proven to be Jund’s Achilles Heel, Spreading Seas. Getting Spread on the draw with Jund was normally devastating, but a simple turn one Terramorphic completely reverses who is getting blown out.”
That’s all I have for you this week. I hope you enjoyed this article. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend playing Magic. Good Luck!
FffreaK on MTGO