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PV’s Plays: 5 What’s the Play Solutions

Hello! Here are my solutions for the previous What’s the Play.

It’s important to keep in mind that while I will list the answers that I consider correct, getting your answers to match mine isn’t necessarily the point of the exercise. The point is to understand the thought process and the factors that you should consider when making a decision in spots like these. There are always pros and cons in a decision, and the goal is not to make the same choice as me, but to recognize those pros and cons so that you can make a fully informed decision. It doesn’t matter if you take a different option than I do, as long as you consider all the important factors.

Scenario #1

You’re playing Faeries against an unknown opponent. Your hand is:

You lead with Swamp, Inquisition, and you see:

What do you take?

Spoiler alert: Try to think about how the next turns are going to play out. This isn’t a spot where you’re supposed to make a snap decision.

Answer

The People’s Play

Click to enlarge.

This might seem like an easy decision, but I think there’s a lot more going on than appears at first glance. To know what is right to discard here, you have to figure out how the game is going to play out in the future turns.

If you take Noble Hierarch, the game will likely play out like this:

They play turn-1 Hierarch. Now, on turn 2, you have two options.

Option 1 is that you play Collective Brutality, discarding a card, and you kill their Hierarch while discarding their Collected Company. If they drew a 2-drop, they can play that. Otherwise, they pass. Then on turn 3 they’re going to play Knight of the Reliquary, and you can answer with Go for the Throat. Alternatively, you can play Sword on turn 3, and then on turn 4 try to play Go for the Throat plus Spellstutter.

The main problem with this line is that I feel that you’re forced to discard a card for Collective Brutality, and at this point you don’t really have anything you want to discard. You have to keep the Go for the Throat for the Knight, you want to keep Sword plus Spellstutter, and you want lands. Unless you draw specifically another creature, it’s going to be a very hard discard. If you draw land, you probably just want to discard that, and risk being mana screwed for the rest of the game. You could discard nothing and use the Duress mode, but then your opponent plays a Knight as you’re tapped out, so you have to react to that on your turn with main phase Go for the Throat and they get to untap with 4 mana and you having nothing, which isn’t optimal.

The second option is you pass the turn. They play Knight, you Go for the Throat that on the end step, and then on your next turn you play Collective Brutality. This play has the downside of them not wasting a turn if they don’t draw something they can immediately play the following turn (since they have the Knight), but it has the upside of not forcing you to discard a card with Brutality right away. If you draw two lands in a row, then you can discard one. If you draw nothing bad, simply don’t kill the Hierarch.

The alternative is taking the Knight of the Reliquary. If you do this, the game will go:

Opponent plays turn-1 Hierarch. You play a land. Now you have the choice of casting Collective Brutality on the Hierarch plus the Company, but I think this isn’t good. It’s better to pass the turn. In this spot, your opponent is likely to play the second Hierarch, which you can then Spellstutter Sprite.

Then, on your following turn, you can cast Brutality. If you drew something superfluous (like a fourth land), you can kill the Hierarch—otherwise, just discard the Company.

I think this sequence is better. It leaves you with a Go for the Throat still in hand, and with a Spellstutter in play as opposed to in hand. It also gives you the choice of discarding a card for Brutality at a point in time where you already know if you have something to discard or not, because it puts you under no pressure to deal with the Hierarch—it could just stay in play forever for all you care.

I think a lot of people would get to my answer, but not for the same reasons. It’s easy to look at the situation and say, “take the most powerful threat, which is the Knight,” but I don’t think that’s the approach you should take. You have to figure out how the next turns are going to play out. I think the key to this hand is understanding that you don’t actually want to have to discard something for Collective Brutality. A lot of the time you’d jump on any opportunity to do it, but in this case the Hierarch is simply worth less than any card in your hand, so you don’t want to have to kill it.

My play: Take the Knight of the Reliquary.

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Scenario #2

It’s game 2, and you’re playing Faeries against Abzan Company. Your opening hand is:

What’s your turn-1 play?

Answer

The People’s Play

This is an interesting spot that’s again, not as obvious as it seems. At the actual match, I made one play, and upon thinking about it more to write the article, I convinced myself that I was wrong.

Here are the pros and cons for each situation:

If you lead with Inquisition, you immediately know what you’re dealing with and you can make all of your plans accordingly. You also make sure that you use your mana (if you pass with Fatal Push, you might not get to use it). In a spot where you don’t draw a third land, this could be very important. You could, for example, preemptively discard an Eternal Witness, which means that you can Fatal Push their turn 2 play.

If you lead with land, go, then you get to Fatal Push a mana creature. This is a hand in which I think you want to deal with a mana creature, since your hand is slow and you have no answer to a Collected Company if it’s accelerated. Using the Fatal Push here leaves you with an Inquisition, which can be used to discard Eternal Witness or Chord of Calling. You also get a better choice from Inquisition if you’re aiming to take one of those spells since they have more turns to draw them. Finally, if you really want to stop them from accelerating but they have two accelerants, then playing Fatal Push can do that, whereas playing Inquisition won’t.

Ultimately, I think the correct play is to play Inquisition turn 1. This is, in large part, because I believe you might not have time to cast Inquisition later due to your mana situation. Imagine you lead with land, go, and they play Noble Hierarch (you Push it). Then, on turn 2, you play Bitterblossom, and they play Devoted Druid. You don’t draw a black land—now what are you going to do? You have to Push it, so you can’t Inquisition. Your opponent might now play the rest of their hand, and your Inquisition will have nothing to hit.

At the same time, if you see a hand that’s mana flooded, you can take a threat and then not even care about the mana creatures. For example, if their hand is this:

This is a spot in which you want to take the Chord, Fatal Push the Recruiter, and then Fatal Push something else in the future—you don’t want to spend a Fatal Push on a mana creature because it’s redundant. If you go with the “land, go” play, you force yourself to Fatal Push it because you don’t know if it’s redundant or not. For those reasons, I think leading with Inquisition is just better.

My play: Darkslick Shores, Inquisition.

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Scenario #3

You’re playing Temur Energy, and you’re on the draw against an unknown opponent. You mulligan to 5, and keep a hand of:

You scry and the top card is Glorybringer.

Do you keep it?

Answer

The People’s Play

I think the lower you mulligan, the more you want a card that can win the game by itself. Sure, Glorybringer is clunky and you have no action, but what sort of action is going to win you the game on a mulligan to 5?

When you mulligan to 5, you don’t need role-players, you need something exceptional. Harnessed Lightnings, Magma Sprays, Servant of the Conduits—those are all role-players, but they’re not going to be enough here. Glorybringer is something exceptional—it’s a card that can win the game single-handedly, or go a long way toward that, and that’s exactly what you need on a mulligan to 5.

My answer: Keep Glorybringer on top.

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Scenario #4

You’re playing Faeries (yeah, you really like Faeries) against an R/G Aggro-Vengevine build. This is the situation:

Your opponent has 1 card in hand. You cast Inquisition, and see that it’s a Vengevine. They have 2 more Vengevines in the graveyard.

What’s your play?

Answer

The People’s Play

There are two options here that I’d consider viable—none of the other three accomplish much for you. The first option is attacking with everything. This forces a block and the opponent goes down to 2 life, which means they can’t play a dual land to cast Vengevine and kill you. Given that those decks almost never run Forest, I’d be feeling pretty safe.

The problem with this line is that another haste creature kills you. We’ve already seen Reckless Bushwhacker, and those lists sometimes play Goblin Guide—they haven’t drawn one yet, but they could theoretically have it.

The play that I think is better is attacking with just Spellstutter Sprite. This would put your opponent down to 4, and dead next turn to a combination of Spellstutter Sprite plus the Creeping Tar Pit you just drew. At the same time, this would leave you two blockers, so if your opponent draws a haste creature (or, miraculously, a Forest), you can still block.

The key to this play is to recognize that, given that you have 4 points worth of unblockable damage and that anything that would kill your creatures is extremely likely to just kill you instead, there’s no difference in putting your opponent on 2 life or 4 life. Once you recognize that, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to lose a blocker to deal an irrelevant 2 points of damage.

My play: Attack with just Spellstutter Sprite.

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Scenario #5

You’re playing the Temur Energy mirror. This is the situation:

Assume that you’ve already made up your mind about casting Glorybringer this turn (I think this is the correct play). You’re going to attack with the Glorybringer and exert it, killing Whirler Virtuoso.

Do you attack with anything else?

Answer

The People’s Play

I think attacking with the Servant is bad, regardless of anything else—your opponent can simply make a token to chump block the Hydra with if they want, which will lead to eating the Servo for a token and you don’t want that, so you can eliminate this option. Now, do you attack with the Hydra?

The first question you have to ask yourself is, “is my opponent going to block?” In this spot, my inclination is that they will. They could try to race you, since they will have Virtuoso tokens and could potentially have their own Glorybringer, but this doesn’t seem like it’d be bad for you, given that you have a Virtuoso of your own next turn and a lot of energy, on top of a removal spell. I think if they’re taking it you are glad to have attacked, but I think they will most likely block. So the question becomes, “do I want to trade my Hydra for theirs?”

In situations like this, I like to think of what the card is doing for me and what the card is doing for my opponent. In this spot, it seems to me like the card is doing a lot more for them than it is for you. As a 4/3, their Hydra is stopping your Servant of the Conduit and your future Whirler Virtuoso from attacking. Your Hydra, on the other hand, isn’t stopping anything else—it’s just a Hydra. As a result, their Hydra is effectively trading with Virtuoso, Servant, and Hydra, whereas if you attack you end up trading it for just Hydra.

At first glance, it seems like it’s good to attack. But then there’s the fact that if you attack, you free your opponent’s energy. Virtuoso is dying for sure, so they might want to make two tokens, and if your Hydra attacks, they will definitely do that and trade. If your Hydra doesn’t attack, they’re in an awkward spot—they can make two tokens, but then you can just kill their Hydra next turn if they don’t have an energy producer. Because of this threat, it’s possible they make only one token. Not only that, but you know you have at least 6 more energy in hand if you want, so you could grow your own Hydra even bigger in the future if they don’t have more energy producers.

Analyzing the pros and cons, I think it’s still right to attack. The 4/3 defensive body just does too much for your opponent, and you don’t need the Hydra to utilize future energy—you have Whirler Virtuoso in hand for that.

My play: Attack with Glorybringer and with Bristling Hydra.

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Discussion

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