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FFfreaky Friday – Plumbing the Depths

As promised from last week, I am going to talk about the deck you wanted to hear about: Dark Depths. I am happy everyone wanted to hear about this deck since it is the one I know the best and I’ve had great success online with it over the last two weeks.

With what happened last weekend in the first qualifiers, I don’t see a reason for Depths to get any worse. Scapeshift is still a very popular deck the other new decks are nothing to be scared of.

I did not play in a PTQ this weekend, but I did win both Premier Events I played, both with Dark Depths. This is the list I ran:

Dark Depths

I’ll do a small run down of the deck for those who aren’t too familiar with it. The deck is designed to get a Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths into play. Sacrificing the Hexmage targeting the Depths will remove all 10 counters, meaning you get a fresh 20/20 in play, ready to kill your opponent. This can kill as fast as turn three with a Thoughtseize or a bit slower with a Chalice to protect the combo from the one-mana answers people play.

Scapeshift

This is a big race. Their deck is a lot faster than people give it credit for. They can win as quick as the fifth turn, around the time you are ready to swing with a token with protection. Getting out a Dark Confidant early is a great way to get enough Muddles, Thoughtsiezes, and Beseeches to combo while fighting through their disruption.

Most Scapeshift lists run Into the Roil over Repeal. This makes Chalice of the Void a lot worse. Some games go long enough to Chalice for four, but that rarely happens.

Holding hand disruption for the midgame is usually the best call unless you have a very aggressive start. They can’t beat you down in this matchup, so making sure they don’t combo in the first game is the only real way they beat you. Don’t aggressively use your Muddle the Mixtures unless you are sure it will solidify your combo kill.

Sideboard (assuming their bounce is Into the Roil)

-2 Chalice of the Void
-1 Repeal
-1 Engineered Explosives

+2 Cranial Extraction
+1 Slaughter Pact
+1 Pithing Needle

The Needle is against their Ghost Quarters if they have them. You are going to end up with a few mediocre cards in this matchup anyways, so having a decent card against a potential strategy is profitable. Post-sideboard they will have Vendilion Cliques to disrupt you. This is why I like bringing in one removal piece to deal with them.

Cranial is the “I win” card now, so setting up an Extraction to win the game is the same as the combo. Like in game one, Muddle the Mixture is a counterspell only. Using it as a tutor is a very easy way to lose the game.

Going aggro in this matchup is very hard because of all the 1/1 bodies this deck can produce. Making sure Bob doesn’t kill you is important, so I never like getting below 8 life with one in play if they have a few guys on the board.

The most important thing to know about this matchup is to not feel safe if you know they don’t have a Shift in their hand. They have multiple spells to dig for it any given turn. Play safe and this is a really good matchup.

Aggro Zoo

Game one is a very draw-based game. Getting a Chalice of the Void set for one is the safest way to win, but not always needed, since you do have Repeals and Explosives to slow the game down and Bobs ready to chump block the turn you play them. They have no way to disrupt your good draws, so a lot of games come down to opening on Chalice for 1 and having a tutor and one other piece of the combo.

Sideboard

-4 Dark Confidant
-1 Thoughtseize (Vendilion Clique on the draw)

+1 Chalice of the Void
+1 Doom Blade
+1 Slaughter Pact
+2 Damnation

Post sideboard this matchup gets really easy. Most lists these days don’t have much disruption besides Path to Exile and Gaddock Teeg – easy spells to play around. There are a lot of great ways to out-tempo their starts and earn time to find everything you need. This deck can only do 6 damage of reach on average, so playing with your life total isn’t too difficult.

Don’t keep hands that can’t do anything to the board, though. A second-turn tutor into third-turn unprotected combo usually won’t cut it in a sideboarded game. Don’t play out a Dark Depths before you can combo either. These decks are packing Molten Rain.

There isn’t much else to say in this matchup. It’s pretty straight forward. There are draws Dark Depths can’t win with and there are ones it can’t lose with. Not many games end up too close. It’s usually just a blowout on either side.

Rubin Zoo

This matchup is really good. Their deck is a lot slower than the aggro versions and has less ways to put pressure on you. Once you sideboard the same as you would against aggressive zoo builds and you will find out how each card you sideboard in is so much better then when it’s against the aggro versions. I have not lost to this deck once online with Dark Depths and until they sideboard 3 Wastelands again, I don’t think I will.

Thopter Combo Control

This is a very skill-intense matchup. They have a lot of answers for your combo, and stopping them from disrupting it is hard. What is very effective is making them feel unsafe so they don’t spend time progressing their board. This is what Dark Confidant does. He helps beat down while earning you card advantage.

Keeping them from getting to their combo is very important since once that’s online you have no way to win. Use tutors to get your many ways to protect your combo or more ways to disrupt your opponent’s. Hexmage should start beating as soon as possible. Protecting him in the hand is not important. Most game ones come down to pressure with Bob, Clique, and Mage while the opponent struggles to put up a decent defense.

Sideboard

-1 Chalice of the Void
-1 Vampire Hexmage
-1 Dark Depths
-2 Repeal
-1 Engineered Explosives

+4 Bitterblossom
+1 Slaughter Pact
+1 Pithing Needle

Some people bring in the Baneslayer Angels so I bring in a Pact to be safe. Even though Doom Blade is a better spell, I want to be able to use Tolaria Wests to transmute instead of Muddles. Muddle is very important as it is the only reactive spell you have in the deck. It helps against some of the hardest to deal with spells in this matchup. Try to only use this card as a counterspell.

Bitterblossom helps out a lot in this matchup. It’s a great way to get on the aggressive side. Try to keep the opponent thinking you are going to get the combo running while you have a Blossom on the board. The more convinced he is that he will lose if you get the pieces together, the less likely he is to set his own combo up.

The best thing about this matchup is that most people who play this deck will not know how to properly pilot it. I win most my games because the person playing it doesn’t know what is going on. The mistakes pile up and they lose. This is a tough matchup and most of the interactions in these games are very complex. It’s a good skill grinder matchup.

All-In Red

This is a very boring matchup. They try to lock you out with Blood Moon and hope you don’t get online faster. Game one comes down to what type of hand they have unless you know you are in this matchup. On the draw it’s impossible to do anything against the Moon. If they have it you have to draw out of it with a Repeal and a Mox. This is very difficult to accomplish before they get some big angry red guy on the table. There are the games where you Thoughtseize away the one piece they needed and coast your way to victory. This matchup is really close because both decks have very powerful starts.

Sideboard

-3 Chalice of the Void
-1 Engineered Explosives
-2 Repeal

+4 Bitterblossom
+1 Doom Blade
+1 Slaughter Pact

Bitterblosssom is another great spell because it makes everything in their deck worse except for Deus. It gives you a great plan against Moon effects and a good win condition against their disrupted draws. Make sure you never keep a hand that loses to a Blood Moon. It’s their favorite card against you and they will keep turn one Blood Moon-only hands.

Mono-Red Aggro

Last week there were some people offended by what I said about this deck. Personally, I think it’s a decent deck. Is it easy to write about? No. Is it interesting to talk about? No. This is why I dislike this deck. There is nothing to say about this matchup. Race the burn deck. Cast your Thoughseizes. Block with Bobs.

Sideboard

-2 Repeal
– 1 Echoing Truth

+1 Chalice of the Void
+1 Doom Blade
+1 Pithing Needle

Dredge

This isn’t that bad of a first game. You have Hexmages to stop their Bridges and a lot of games come down to them having to bring back a Stinkweed every turn to block your token. This goes on until they get enough creatures to attack or you find a bounce spell.

Sideboard

-3 Chalice of the Void
-2 Repeal

+2 Damnation
+1 Yixlid Jailer
+2 Tormod’s Crypt

I really like this matchup post-board. You have a lot of tutors to get all three pieces of hate very easily. Without the ability to combo you, their aggro plan isn’t too effective against Hexmages and Vendilion Cliques. Use the Crypts safely and it shouldn’t be too tough. They have no way do actually get the 20/20 off the table, so running a Rite of Consumption isn’t a bad call for this matchup.

Don’t be greedy in this matchup.

Faeries

This is your worst game one of any matchup. They have Spell Snare, Repeal, Cryptic Command, Bitterblossom, Thoughtseize, Mana Leak, Spellstutter Sprite, Vendilion Clique the whole list is a pile of good cards against you. It’s just a train wreck of a game. Not to say I haven’t outplayed my opponents to win the first game, but it is difficult.

Game one isn’t worth talking about since you will be able to win it once you learn a lot more about Dark Depths and understand the matchup better.

Sideboard

-1 Dark Depths
-1 Vampire Hexmage
-2 Repeal
-1 Chalice of the Void

+4 Bitterblossom
+1 Slaughter Pact

The best thing is most Faerie players don’t keep hands that are good against Thoughtsieze/Blossom. I have won so many games doing this. They either don’t expect it or aren’t thinking hard enough about the games. It’s a very complex game that will take many matches to understand, and then a couple more hundred to master.

This matchup is winnable by either player and about 50 percent of the games come down to one mistake. It’s hard to write about the situations that happen because every turn is a mind game and a position war. Your victory arises from turning the cards in their hand dead.

Be careful of a Jitte connecting. This is the one card they have that shuts every Plan B you have down. Chalice is there to either be cast for 0 on their Visions or on 2 after you have a Blossom on the table. It’s hard to do but very possible.

Bant Aggro

Bant is a matchup I haven’t gotten a bunch of time in against but the little I did was good. It isn’t that bad of a matchup if you understand it’s a long game. Don’t try to combo them unless you have the hand disruption that assures your safety. They have Bant Charm and Path to Exile to stop your Token. Chalice is still good at one, but isn’t an auto-protect like it is against most Zoo lists.

The good thing is that Bant isn’t as aggressive as Zoo or Red, giving you time to find cards you need to put up a fight.

Sideboard

-2 Repeal
-1 Echoing Truth
-1 Chalice of the Void

+2 Damnation
+1 Slaughter Pact
+1 Doom Blade

You have to play as the control player in this matchup. Deal with a lot of their threats while trying to craft the perfect hand. [card]Damnation[/card] is really good against them, but with Vendilion Clique and Treetop Village you have to save your Doom Blade for those spells.

Once you have the combo and a way to protect it they will fold to it. Don’t be afraid of this matchup since it is in a terrible place in this metagame. It isn’t a good call and will not finish too well for a while.

Well, that’s all I got for this week. I won’t be PTQing this weekend because one of my best friends is getting married. His name is Derek and he will be missed. I will, however, play the online PTQ next Tuesday. Good luck to anyone who decides to try their hand at this deck in the upcoming tournaments!

Brad Nelson
FFfreaK on MTGO
[email protected]

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