Getting Nassty at Nationals

When I headed to Nationals, I came with the goal of earning some money, getting some pro points, and potentially making the National Team. I ended up in an unfortunate 17th on breakers, which cost me $100 dollars and a pro point. While my matches weren’t all that interesting, I feel like my strategies for both draft and standard that led me to a 10-4 record were.

For constructed, I originally looked to Ascension. If a lot of people think a combo deck is good, it is usually safe to say I will like it even more. However, I didn’t really find Ascension particularly strong, because there are many frustrating games with the deck. Some of the time, I wouldn’t find the Ascension even after looking at a lot of cards. Another portion of the time, I would find the Ascension, get it active, and then simply miss on drawing a gas spell to get the engine going. Post-board games are also frustrating as you can’t dilute your deck too much and most decks have some sideboard hate. While none of these factors cost you a whole lot, the combination leads to a lackluster deck choice. As much as I love combo, sometimes there simply isn’t a combo deck that’s good enough.

The next place I looked to was Mythic. This was a lot more promising. My perennial roommate at tournaments, Tom Raney, has done better with Mythic than just about anybody (3/3 PTQ top 8s including a win, top 32 GP Manilla). Wrapter (as you probably know by now) was also working on Mythic. While Mythic is generally thought of as an explosive aggro deck, it really has many combo elements. This inspired Wrapter to try to turn Mythic into a combo deck. Since the default combo deck in Standard wasn’t good enough, I thought that this was a very attractive strategy.

A Better Turboland

Essentially Mythic has a lot of the same elements as Turboland, except they are all cheaper. Rampant Growth and Explore become Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch. Avenger of Zendikar becomes Sovereigns of Lost Alara. Jace, the Mind Sculptor stays. Time Warp becomes… Time Warp? Ponder becomes… Ponder? This is where the unconventional part comes in: in the Mythic list I played at Nationals, both Time Warp and Ponder were included. Ironically, I was simply playing a Sovereigns combo deck, which turned out to be a better Turboland deck.
The one disadvantage compared to normal Turboland for this deck is vulnerability to Wrath of God and spot removal. Turboland would often play no targets for removal or at most play Lotus Cobra. The thing is, removal really isn’t that popular in this metagame. GW light removal decks are popular, Ramp only plays Lightning Bolts, UW cut its Wraths for the most part and uses Condemn (which isn’t effective against this deck), and Ascension has been cutting Burst Lightnings and just playing Bolts. Thus, this was a combo deck that was good enough. Here is what Tom and I played to a combined 8-4 record:


Most of the choices in the above list should be pretty clear once you think of it as a faster Turboland deck. The manabase isn’t built to grind with lots of Stirring Wildwoods, but instead has more untapped lands like Sunpetal Grove. In addition, by cutting Gideon Jura, Elspeth, and Baneslayer Angel, the White simply becomes a splash for Knight of the Reliquary and Sovereigns. This means you can get away with having your only non-creature White sources being 4 Celestial Colonnade, 2 Sunpetal Grove, 1 Sejiri Steppe, and 1 Plains. By playing more Islands instead of White sources, Jace Beleren becomes a very realistic turn 2 play. Thus, I split 2 and 2 between big Jace and little Jace rather than playing 4 big Jace

Sovereigns Combo

Sovereigns combo usually casts Sovereigns on turn 4, but does it on Turn 3 a much bigger portion of the time than you would expect. Here are some draws that hopefully don’t seem that unlikely, but still lead to a turn 3 Sovereigns: (Bird means Bird/Noble, you should assume I’m playing a generic untapped land if not specified, Time Warp turns count as turn 3a and 3b, and any time you see tapland, it can also be replaced with Ponder or Preordain and an untapped land).
Turn 1 Bird, Turn 2 Tapland, Cobra. Turn 3 Fetch, Sovereigns.
Turn 1 Bird, Turn 2 Cobra Tapland, Turn 3a Time Warp, Turn 3b Sovereigns (for every Ponder or Preordain you add to this one, you also need a fetch to make up the mana).
Turn 1 Bird, Turn 2 Knight, Turn 3a Time Warp, Turn 3b Tapland Time Warp, Turn 3c Sovereigns (this one is nice because it leaves you attacking with a huge Knight)
Turn 1 Tapland, Turn 2 Cobra, Turn 3a Fetch, Time Warp, Turn 3b Fetch Sovereigns.
Turn 1 Tapland, Turn 2 Cobra, Turn 3a Cobra, Fetch, Time Warp, Turn 3b Sovereigns or Fetch, Conscription

With two Eldrazi Conscriptions in your deck, any of these starts are basically unbeatable unless your opponent disrupts your acceleration early (which as I said earlier doesn’t happen as much in this format). This means that in some large percentage of games, you are going to get these unbeatable draws. Both Tom and I had a few matches where we simply got turn 3 Conscription out both games. The clock often had only ticked for 10 minutes before the match was over. While obviously these wins aren’t really where skill is going to come into play, there is nothing wrong with getting free wins every once in a while. Here is how I think about it: about once a match, you will get a free win with a nut draw. All you have to do is win one of the two “real” games and the match is yours.

The downside of playing the combo-y version of Mythic is that the sideboard is a lot lousier than normal Mythic’s because you can’t free up slots by playing Mana Leak main and you aren’t great at casting Linvala, Keeper of Silence. The one part of the sideboard I do like is the one mana counters. Dispel and Spell Pierce are instrumental for forcing through a Sovereigns or planeswalker against Blue White. You already have a mana advantage against Blue White with your accelerants, and having cheaper counters than them just pushes you miles ahead. While the sideboard for this deck isn’t as powerful as normal Mythic’s, I think it is worth the cost because the game ones with this deck are a lot better than the game ones of normal Mythic. I would definitely recommend this spin on Mythic for future Standard tournaments.

While I did o.k. in the standard portion, draft was where the tournament went particularly well for me. I came in really liking the Black Red sacrifice archetype discussed in my last article, and didn’t really find Blue quite as insane as everyone else. I thought that, in general, people underrated aggressive archetypes, so I liked the base White aggro deck as well.

In the first draft, I first picked Squadron Hawk over Armored Ascension in a weak pack. I unfortunately never saw another Squadron Hawk the rest of the draft, but still managed to start fine. I saw hints that Green was open, but didn’t really jump into Green until I opened a Garruk Wildspeaker. I ended up with a very solid Green White aggressive deck. Besides the awkward one Hawk without buddies, I also had two Garruks Companions without many other green cards. I played a pretty even split of mana even though I was light on Green cards to support the Companions, which worked fine. I played the Hawk simply as a 1/1 flier for two since my deck was so aggressive. I 3-0’d the draft by simply beating people down and backing it up with Inspired Charge.

In the second draft, I first picked a Blinding Mage over a Foresee. I think a lot of pros would not make this pick since people value Blue and specifically Foresee so highly, but I really think this format is faster than people think. I would rather punish people for playing a card that costs four and has no board impact than play one myself. Awkwardly, after passing Foresee, pack one put me solidly in Blue White. I then got two more early Blinding Mages in pack two. From that point on, I took every Scroll Thief in sight. I was able to get cheaper, more situational removal like Ice Cage late which was a great follow-up to a turn three Thief. In the draft games, I usually had one game a match where Scroll Thief dominated. I would simply open with turn 2 Blinding Mage, turn 3 Thief, and then use my spells to make sure to hit with Thief for the next few turns. It almost felt like playing Mythic! Unfortunately, I mulliganed in both of the games in which I didn’t get a Scroll Thief draw and lost a match against the other 2-0 deck.

The one thing these two decks had in common was Infantry Veteran. This card is simply a house. In both drafts, I managed to table Veterans and ended up with four in the first draft and three in the second. With the first deck, the Veterans made blocking miserable for my opponent and pushed through damage. They later got pumped a little themselves by Inspired Charge.

In the second, the Veteran allowed Scroll Thief to attack as a 2/4. This meant that in order to prevent me from drawing a card a turn, the opponent would have to put up multiple creatures that could fight a 2/4. This is not easy to do against a triple Blinding Mage/double Pacifism/double Ice Cage deck. I could often prevent all of my opponent’s creatures from blocking, but when I only had to prevent creatures that could fight a 2/4 from blocking, it didn’t even seem fair. [card]Infantry Veteran[/card] is the most underrated card in M11: I definitely owe a lot of my success in the draft portion to the little soldier that could.

In the end, I didn’t get my desired result from Nationals. However, I still played a lot of Magic and learned a lot about Standard, and more importantly, M11 limited. I’m very excited for the upcoming M11 Grand Prix and the draft portion of Amsterdam; I’m definitely looking forward to draft more of this format.

21 thoughts on “Getting Nassty at Nationals”

  1. sounds like the drafts went well. sure 17th isnt the desired result but its still pretty good. wouldnt really expect more from a big event.

  2. Gratz on your finish / record.

    “””With two Eldrazi Conscriptions in your deck, any of these starts are basically unbeatable unless your opponent disrupts your acceleration early (which as I said earlier doesn’t happen as much in this format). “””

    I agree with this statement… this is why the uw i played at nats had 4x wrath 4x path to exile… I really didn’t wanna die turn 3 to conscription (which I ended up not paired against…)

    Yea… QQ moar!

  3. Starting all your articles with some form of the word nasty is really getting annoying. Also, you’re a HUGE eye sore.

  4. Nice job on the drafts, your second deck sounds awesome. Infantry veteran is a fine card in certain decks (the one you drafted), but a lot of the time its very underwhelming.

    How terrible was your pack one of the first draft that you have to choose between picking squadron hawk or armored ascension?

  5. While I think you are a very good player I feel you have this sense of entitlement that comes with a player who has ascended to a “pro” level a little too quickly for his own good(I’m not just basing this on this article).  Proven pro’s like lsv just seem more humble, and relatable. I think you have to be extra careful in the way you compose yourself as a magic player since you already have some enemies from the hell’s thunder incident. If you go out of your way to seem like a super humble and nice guy I’m sure you’ll make it as a pro player.

    Sorry that this comment is unrelated to your article, and congrats on the good finish btw.

  6. I never really thought of mythic conscription as a potential combo deck until now; it was quite enlightening to see how closely of an analogue it is to turboland. I’ve only played against turboland a few times, and it never really impressed me. It seemed too slow, and easily stopped with spot removal (for oracles) or counters. But your mythic conscription combo deck seems downright insane.

    I’ve also recently found that M11 is indeed a faster format than people have been thinking. I always felt scroll thief had potential, but everyone thought it was crap because it only had one power, and would become irrelevant on most boards. Except there’s blinding mage’s in the format 8)

  7. “Turn 1 Bird, Turn 2 Knight, Turn 3a Time Warp, Turn 3b Tapland Time Warp, Turn 3c Sovereigns (this one is nice because it leaves you attacking with a huge Knight)”

    Lol wut? Did you mean:

    “Turn 1 Bird, Turn 2 Cobra, Fetch, Knight, Turn 3a Time Warp ….”

    Because that’s the only way you’re going turn 2 knight, turn 3 time warp.

  8. I guess this also works:

    “Turn 1 Bird, Turn 2 Uncracked fetch, Knight, Turn 3 cobra, crack fetch, play another fetch, time warp, …”

  9. Wow GP you are pretty dumb. Birds plus 2 land on turn two nets you 3 for knight. Then on turn 3 you use your 3 land your birds and a knight activation to get 5 mana and cast time warp.

    If you’re a total moron maybe you shouldn’t correct people who actually know what they’re talking about….

  10. err.. turn 1 bird, turn 2 knight, turn 3 time warp works.. birds is +1 mana and knight is +1 mana.. He does have a that useful ability that alows you to sacrifice a previously tapped land for guess what… and untapped land!

  11. Hello, Bob. In the future, please don’t use multiple names to spam comments on our pages. Thanks.

  12. I totally agree with the Infantry Veteran assesment. I’ve had a lot of success with W/x aggro in M11 sealed and the Veteran has often made the difference between winning and losing combats. +1/+1 may not seem like a lot, but itcan really add up over several turns. To all you nay sayers out there I say give him a try, you wont be disappointed.

  13. Nice article matt. I like this one more than the previous few because it felt far less like a book report or 5 paragraph essay as your others have. Your writing and playing are both coming along quite well. Grats on the finish and the excellent drafting; sorry you ended up negative.

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  15. would realy like to see a daft video with you matt. u seem to have an uncommon view about drafting (at least in M11) and it would be realy intersting to see it in a video.

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