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LSV’s Play – Blue/White vs. Blue/Black

This is one of the tougher scenarios to write about, both because it’s complicated and because the decision I made had a very real impact on a tournament I wanted to win.

The Situation

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Deck List

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No matter what I do here, I’m a pretty big favorite, but it’s still very important to give myself the best chance of winning. There are two lines that look plausible:

1. Cast Ondu Rising targeting the already-awakened Island and attack with both it and the Angel. The opponent either takes 11, putting them to 2 and me to 27, or chumps with the Behemoth. This sets up casting Titan’s Presence on the Guardian of Tazeem the following turn, and attacking with Angel of Renewal for lethal.

2. Cast Hedron Archive, then cast Titan’s Presence on the Deathless Behemoth and attack for 7, putting the opponent to 6. The big advantage here is that I’m now only 1 mana away from Ulamog, which will obviously have a tremendous impact if cast. The downside is that an Island lets Guardian lock down my awakened Island, and the Guardian can now hold off Angel.

I ruled out any line that didn’t involve attacking with the Island. Not killing Behemoth or casting Ondu Rising seemed unnecessarily passive, and I wouldn’t consider anything but the previous two plays.

My Play

I went with number 1. My opponent took the damage, going to 2. They then untapped, played Island to lock down Angel, cast Mind Raker to make me discard Archive (discarding Ulamog was like discarding Presence, so it was almost forced), and finally played Bone Splinters to kill the 7/7 Island. I subsequently lost a very close race.

After talking with a number of people, and after evaluating what each line loses to, I believe I was wrong. These two lines are close, but number 2 has the distinct advantage that even when things go wrong, I am close to casting Ulamog. The 6/6 is off the table, so I’m not taking a ton of damage, and eventually I’m going to cast the 10/10 and win. Granted, that could have happened with #1, but it was a few turns away, and leaving the opponent with 10+ power on board was a risk.

I wish I’d made the other play, and this is definitely a situation I’m going to look back on often with regret.

Discussion

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