Standard is still the PTQ format and no doubt you have some questions.
What should I play? What are the good match ups? What are the bad matchups? What about sideboarding?
Hopefully I will be able to answer a lot of these questions today, as I wanted to talk some more about 5-CC. I feel the deck is still a good choice for most tournaments. It has good matchups vs. Elves, Kithkin, and anything with creatures that doesn’t have Anathemancer. Although Faeries can be tough Game 1, Time Sieve is the only really bad match up.
The deck has a pretty easy core of cards to choose from, like Cryptic Command, Hallowed Burial, Fallout, Cruel, as well as a ton of very interchangeable cards. The number of Negates, Essence Scatters, even Mulldrifters can vary, depending on your metagame. The reason I would play this deck is that it is so versatile in the wide field we have currently. It has answers to everything and it makes people play around so many different cards. On Turn Six they sometimes feel it necessary to overcommit, playing around Cruel Ultimatum, and instead walk right into Burial. Even better, sometimes they hold back, and Cruel takes out their one guy and most of their grip.
MODO 8-mans started paying out M10 and I wanted in on the action, so I brewed up a new list. I played this list in three 8-mans online and would like to discuss my card choices, what I played against and what, if anything, I would change. You’ll notice this is not my list from Nationals. Anyways here it is:
After Nationals I realized that a spot removal spell was needed, but it needed to be good in the control match up as well. So I went and looked at lists and saw that [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] was used in a couple lists. I wanted to build a deck and try it out. These are my thoughts about each card and how I would change my list after playing a few games with it.
4 Cryptic Command– Auto 4-of.
3 Cruel Ultimatum – This is how we win most games. Even at 7 mana, 3 is the number I want.
4 Esper Charms – Good in every matchup, deserves 4 slots.
2 Hallowed Burial – Good vs. aggressive decks like Jund, Kithkin and Elves. Bad vs the mirror and Faeries. Two feels right.
2 Mulldrifter – While good, the fact that it is almost always Evoked means you don’t want too many, since tapping out mainphase without advancing the board is to be avoided if possible.
2 Negate – This can come out or stay in depending on what you expect there to be more of in your area. This card is awesome against every deck but Elves and Jund. If there are going to be a lot of those decks you can play another Plumeveil and only play 1 Negate.
2 Broken Ambitions – I think Negate is better but this card has lots of benefits, such as stopping [card]Putrid Leech[/card] or making them tap lower on their turn even if you don’t have the mana to counter their spell. Sure, they resolve the spell, but then you resolve Cruel and that’s normally enough.
1 Obelisk of Alara – This hasn’t been very good for me. I really just want this to be Ajani # 2. Every time I drew this it was never easy to cast at 6 mana, and doesn’t do anything without sinking more mana into it. It never seemed like belonged or was good enough for its cost.
2 Broodmate Dragon – I think 1 of these is the right number after playing more games. Baneslayer Angel is just as good but easier to cast at 5 instead of 6, but playing a Dragon is still good so you don’t have all your threats Thought Hemorrhaged away.
1 Baneslayer Angel – As I just said, I think this should be 2. This card ends the game when it does damage.
3 Volcanic Fallout – This card is a blowout vs. Elves and Faeries, but in the mirror and against Time Sieve is pretty useless. I feel having 3 is good enough now, even though 4 was good in my Nationals deck because I had no spot removal.
1 Ajani Vengeant – I feel he is solid in every matchup. He needs to be a 2-of, with the 3rd in the board for the mirror.
1 Essence Scatter – Generically good in all the Time Sieve matchups, but fitting in more than one is kind of rough.
3 Lightning Bolt – If someone had suggested this before Nationals I would have instantly tried to put this in. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. Bolt is excellent spot removal, as it kills planeswalkers, Great Sable Stag and your opponents. It also gives you another good card vs. Faeries.
1 Volcanic Fallout – You want the 4th against Elves and Faeries, and against Kithkin when you are on the play. Between your Vivid lands and them having Honor the Pure, Harm’s Way, and Rustic Clachan, Fallout will be dead a good amount of times on the draw.
1 Ajani Vengeant – Good in the mirror and against cascade Jund. Also a key player in helping win the Time Sieve match.
1 Negate – Good in the mirror or against Time Sieve.
1 Essence Scatter – Good against basically anything but the mirror or Time Sieve.
3 Runed Halo – This card is great at stopping the best card against us, Anathemancer. It also just helps you get to turn 7 for Cruel Ultimatum. Good in the mirror to stop their Cruel Ultimatum or Identity Crisis.
2 Firespout – great against Kithkin and Elves also better then fallout against Jund
2 Identity Crisis – This card surprisingly comes in vs. more than just the mirror. It is good vs. Jund aggro that sandbags threats until after you wrath them, since you can just take your time and hit them with this. Also great against Time Seive and Burn, Crisis is a must-have in the sideboard.
If I was going to battle this weekend I would play the following list:
Matchups and Sideboarding
This is one of the tougher matchups. Game 1 is pretty bad if they have Anathemancer, but without it you should be ok. If you ever get Baneslayer online they lose, since most of them only have Maelstrom Pulse as an out.
The Essence Scatter is fine to board in if you can make room.
This is a pretty straight forward matchup, as they don’t really have any disruption besides Forge-Tender.
On the play you also want to cut another Mulldrifter for the 4th Volcanic Fallout.
This match is very easy for you, as Fallouts and Burials just wreck what they are trying to do, even with their Forge-Tenders.
This is another tough match up if played improperly. You need to use your Fallouts for maximum value and try to get them to tap low enough to resolve a Cruel with [card]Negate[/card] or Essence Scatter backup. Plumeveil helps start fights on their turn.
I don’t like side boarding in the 3rd Negate, as they still have a decent amount of creatures that need to be countered as well.
Your worst matchup. You need to keep Howling Mine off the board and try to use Ajani to slow them down. They have no way to stop it once it’s in play, so if you can stall them until Ajani Armageddons them that usually works.
This match really is all about lands. Esper Charm is crucial for finding land, and later on can make them discard. Being the first to Cruel isn’t always the best, since you often will just eat a Cruel or Crisis the following turn. Try to use Esper Charm and Cruel to set up a turn where you wipe their hand completely (that didn’t stop you from crushing Yurchick in the finals of Nats – LSV, who always appreciates some good rips)
Now I’ll do a tournament report on the 2nd 8-man I won with the 1st list just to show you how some games play out with the deck. This way you can get a feel for the deck and what it can do.
I win the roll and keep Vivid Marsh, Sunken Ruins, Exotic Orchard, Esper Charm, Cryptic Command, Plumeveil, and Broodmate Dragon. I play land, go, while he leads a Birds of Paradise into Hypnotic Specter. He runs the Specter into my Plumeveil then follows it up with Master of the Wild Hunt. I pass again, leaving up Cryptic. He plays Kitchen Finks pre-combat, so I Cryptic to counter it and bounce his Master. I draw Hallowed Burial. He recasts his Master, I end step [card]Esper Charm[/card] his last 2 cards, then Hallowed Burial his team. I follow it up with Broodmate and he concedes.
I keep Vivid Crag, Cascade Bluffs, Reflecting Pool, 2 Fallouts, Ajani Vengeant and Cruel. He casts Duress and takes my Ajani. I draw Esper Charm. He casts Duress again and takes the Charm. He Thoughtseizes a Fallout, but isn’t pressuring me at all. I draw another Cruel while he is stuck on 2 land and a Noble Hierarch. I play my 4th land and say go. He plays his 3rd and cast a Master of the Wild Hunt, which I can’t stop. I draw Essence Scatter and lay a land. He casts Hypnotic Specter, which I let come into play before casting Fallout to kill his team.
Next turn he casts another Hypnotic, which I counter. He hits for 3, taking me to 11. I play my 6th land and pass. He plays Hypnotic #3 and I get hit to 6. I untap and Cruel him. He discards his hand and sacks a token, while I go back to 11 and I draw Bolt, land, Broodmate. He hits me to 4 and makes me discard Cryptic at random and plays a Bird of Paradise. I Bolt his Master, drop Broodmate and pass. He plays a Great Sable Stag, I untap and Cruel him and he scoops.
I keep Vivid Crag, Cascade Bluffs, Reflecting Pool, Negate, Essence Scatter, Broken Ambitions, Plumeveil on the play. He plays Pool and Cascade Bluffs, so I figure this is probably a mirror match. My next two draw steps are a land and a Mulldrifter, which I don’t evoke yet. On my end step of Turn 3 he plays a Scion of Oona? U/B/R Faeries it is.
I Essence Scatter the Scion, figuring he might play Bitterblossom into my Negate, since I don’t have the mana for Broken Ambitions. Well, he doesn’t have a Black source, but he does try a Jace with 1 mana up, which I quickly Negate. I play Sunken Ruins and pay full price for a Mulldrifter. My hand afterwards is 2 Vivid Marsh, Broken Ambitions, Plumeveil and a Reflecting Pool. He bolts my Mulldrifter end step and plays another land. I draw Obelisk of Alara, play a Vivid land and pass.
We then play draw-go for actually the next nine turns. No exaggeration, we just sit there. I eventually win a counter-war over Baneslayer Angel, and he dies to it shortly.
Game 2 I keep 2 Great Sable Stags, 3 land, Cryptic, and Negate. Long story short, I cast 2 Stags and he dies.
This is the mirror for real this time, and it didn’t disappoint. We play land go for 7 or 8 turns, until I try to make him discard with Esper Charm twice in the same turn. The 1st resolves, but the 2nd is countered by Cryptic. I then cast Baneslayer with Cryptic back up, and he does nothing to try and stop it. On his turn he casts Broodmate, which I try to Cryptic so I can Cruel him, and he casts Broken Ambitions to counter my Cryptic. I cast Cruel, he sacks his Broodmate and not his Plumeveil, which means his last card is, you guessed it, a Cruel of his own!
I discard a bunch of junk and hit him with my Baneslayer and pass the turn with 10 lands up. He also has 10 lands in play, but only a Dragon token to my Baneslayer. I have Broodmate, Broken Ambitions and Esper Charm. He cast Broodmate, I cast Esper Charm to draw 2. I draw Cryptic and Negate (Nice draws!) and cast Cryptic, which he tries to Cryptic. I Broken Ambitions it, then sit on Negate and counter his Cruel. He dies next turn.
We play land, go until turn 3, when he evokes Mulldrifter. I Broken it for 1, play my land and say go. He casts Cryptic to bounce my land so I make him discard 2 in response. He discards another Cryptic and a Cruel. I lay my 4th land and say go. He plays Anathemancer, which hits me for 4. I Charm him again end step, and he discards 2 more Cruels. That should be all of them, so I feel pretty safe. If I can find a Runed Halo I probably win now.
I evoke a Mulldrifter, then I hard cast another one next turn, which he Cryptics. I draw Esper Charm and decide to get his grip before I start to cast Cruel and Broodmate. He tries to Double Negative, but I Cryptic it. He cast Fallout, killing his Anathemancer, and leaving me at 10, with 8 lands in play. I decide to Identity Crisis his graveyard before casting Broodmate. He rips Identity Crisis of his own and now we are in a top deck war. I draw Cruel and use it to draw 3. He draws and says go. I try another Cruel, but he has Broken Ambitions. He then rips a Broodmate and we are on to the next game, as I never draw a answer.
We don’t do anything for the first couple turns until he plays Elspeth on turn 4 that I can’t stop. I hard cast Mulldrifter on my turn 5. He makes his token bigger with Elspeth and hits me to 16. I play land # 6,then hit his Elspeth to 4 with Mulldrifter. He makes his guy big again and hits me to 12, then lays a land and tries to pass. I try to bounce Elspeth with Cryptic, to which he casts Broken Ambitions on for 2 when I have 2 mana up. I pay the 2, then he casts another Broken Ambitions for 1 to counter it. I then Identity Crisis his hand, and he doesn’t peel his own. The rest of the game is unexciting, as I finish him with a Cruel and a Baneslayer Angel.
I hope this information will help you on your way to winning a PTQ, or at the very least some packs on MODO. Good luck to everyone playing this weekend!