Hello and happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping you had a good holiday. We have a lot to get into, so let’s jump right into it. Last week I asked if people wanted to hear some basic match-up analysis and sideboarding for Omen and the response was quite positive. Here’s the list I’m currently on with updated sideboard.
Note: If you expect a more Control heavy metagame, I recommend two Jace Beleren over Sowers. Adjust boarding accordingly.
More importantly I finally figured out that I just want to call the deck GO (Gate Omen) just because it’s shorter than Scapeshift and makes more sense than naming it after a card that’s no longer in the deck. Also because I’ve been listening to Gate Openers a lot and Wargate gives the perfect opportunity to actually name the deck after it.
Four/Five Color Control
This match largely revolves around Esper Charm and little else. You usually won’t get in sustained counter-wars since neither deck can pull it off. Jace is little more than an annoyance, especially if Leyline is in play.
Cruel Ultimatum is also a joke card in the match; playing it without the Omen opponent having 3 cards or less in hand are just asking to lose on the spot. The number of times I’ve gotten people on MTGO with a sandbagged Omen, Wargate or both when they tapped down is disturbingly numerous.
Sure, I can’t immediately kill you without Omen + Scapeshift (A card which many people are dropping); heck I may only get you for 6-9 that turn, but the idea of opening yourself up to such a huge risk for an unknown gain is just staggering.
Not to mention, the Omen player is only going to tap out if it benefits him far more than you. Long story short, 4cc can with the match, but it requires the pilot to see a lot of his key cards and not blinking until he absolutely has too.
Against Control decks I personally like keeping them honest in game two and making sure that if they really want to rumble with no removal in their deck that they’re prepared to win every big spell fight for the rest of the game. For game three or against experienced opponents you can choose to play around with the numbers, but it’s a pretty major annoyance for a 4cc player to deal with.
This is just an easier 4cc match since they won’t have enchantment removal that isn’t terrible until post-board. Game one the best they have is the occasional Ratchet Bomb and a small number of Oblivion Rings, which Cryptics and your easy access to Omens make into a joke.
Just be patient and wait for them to tap down for something; the only time you really need to force the issue is if you lack an early Omen and need to race Vendilion Clique and Colonnade. You should be able to see this coming in a reasonable amount of time and plan accordingly to make it into an annoyance instead of a 3 turn clock. In large part the main plan they’ll have is to edge you to keep some mana parity and kill Colonnades / Valakut, and then lock it up with Sun Titan.
So just as every non-Fae control match tends to go,
After board they have War Priest of Thune, which can be an annoyance, but also provides an opportunity for you to get them tapped down. More often than not the UW player will jump at the chance to kill an Omen, which gives you an opportunity to cTectonic Edgeome back with another Omen backed by countermagic.
In large part the match comes down to Bitterblossom or no, because if the Fae player can’t put early pressure on you, you can quickly gain mana advantage and eventually just brute force an Omen or Avenger onto the field. After that, winning is typically academic unless they have Ratchet Bomb maindeck. Realistically the only way they can race you without Blossom is resolving a Mistbind and usually applying the business with either a Tar Pit or Vendilion as well. Anything less than four a turn is giving the Omen player too much time unless they have a significant amount of counters in hand.
Spellstutter Sprite is the other major annoyance I have in this match, as it’s effectively Counterspell against Prismatic Omen. Thankfully it’s less of a factor against Cryptic Command or Wargate without Bitterblossom on the table, but a hard counter for two is very obnoxious. Leyline shuts down annoyances like Mistbind, Jace, Vendilion and Thoughtseize, but Sprite remains the constant annoyance.
You can also choose to bring in the man-plan, combine this with the above:
Even though you’re bringing in large drops, you rarely want to tap down early to cast Rampant Growth and later in the game the card is completely dead. I’ve also toyed with the idea of adding Nature’s Claim to beat Blossom draws, but the minimal utility anywhere else in the match led me away from it rather quickly. Basically Leyline gives you a barrier between you and their best non-Blossom cards in the match-up and Sun Titan + Avenger are both significant enough clocks that you can justify going in on them. By the time you slam an Avenger, odds are good you’ll have already fought one counter war and if Sprite is a non-factor, that only leaves a small number of cards to worry about.
Key in this match is knowing when to go in on spells so even if they don’t resolve it puts Fae off its game plan for a turn or so due to mana and card consumption. I can’t really describe when to ‘go for it’ so my only real advice is to look toward any preferences the Fae player had in game one toward what spells they would counter and take advantage of it if they showed any obvious weakness.
GO / Scapeshift
The mirror is usually boring and uneventful. One person either lands Omen early, in which case they sit there for days and eventually win with Valakut damage, while stopping opposing Omens or Cryptics. If you run into an opponent with maindeck Leylines, things suddenly become downright terrifying as your only ways to win become Colonnade, Avenger or running the Cryptic bounce (quite difficult to pull off if the opponent has anything). If they have Jace and Leyline maindeck I suggest you pack it in and move onto the next game unless you drew every counter in your deck and your opponent attempted to steamroll you.
The die roll tends to be of some importance if the plan is just going in on Omen early, but the speed in which you need to react will largely be based around how many Valakuts the opponent can set-up. You can race starting a few turns behind if you position yourself correctly, though this requires drawing the proper cards to do so. Sadly sometimes the deck just runs out of gas and there’s no good way to dig out of a hole. The best you can do is hold your Preordains and Ponder for the mid-game and the same with See Beyond if you run that.
Post-board the combo route is less likely due to the addition of Claims, so having the alternate big-man plan becomes legitimate. You should still look to force through damage via the combo, but playing an Omen early isn’t the sure shot it was pre-board. Cutting Cultivate is painful, but I don’t like tapping out in this match if I can help it and frequently turns would go by where I would do nothing even with castables in hand.
Most important cards: Maelstrom Pulse
Do they have turn two Putrid Leech? If yes then good luck. Much like Fae and Bitterblossom, a turn two Leech has the same correlation to victory. This is partially why Day of Judgment is nice to have against Jund nowadays; the deck is no longer a midrange monster. A lot of the late-drops that make up tempo and make you look silly for playing removal are gone now and if you stunt their early aggro rush, you’ll usually have plenty of time to recover and kill them.
While cards like Demigod of Revenge and Vengevine do change the nature of the match once we begin the end-game process of actually killing them with Omen, as long as you conserve your fetches and Cryptic Commands the five-drops are usually too slow to matter. Like any deck, Jund can get you with a nut draw, but other than Pulse they have no good way of disrupting you and their drops aren’t as threatening as Affinity, other than the aforementioned Leech.
Most important card: Tempered Steel
This match is only difficult if they get a nut draw game one or if they get a Thoughtseize, Sculler draw on the play and you lack Leyline or Day. Even an Avenger straight up demolishes the entire deck, let alone the sideboarded Days, Sowers, Nature’s Claim and extra Leyline. Yes, theoretically Steel is supposed to be so fast that clearly a seven-drop will be no issue for the deck, but the deck mulligans a lot for those good hands and without Steel the deck isn’t any faster than Jund or Mythic.
Once you get to reach for your sideboard you effectively transform from a stack-based Control deck with minimal removal to a fully realized board-control deck with free ways to nullify their discard and a Control Magic attached to a 2/2. Meanwhile they have a handful of blanks in their sideboard they can pretend matter like Leonin Arbiter or some such garbage. The match quickly becomes a bye with any reasonable hand, unless they put the work in and have a real sideboard against you.
Speaking of being sick of the normal Steel build, here’s one I actually like.
By turning down some of the ridiculous draws you get with the deck, you suddenly don’t mulligan as much or as badly, can actually cast precious three drops which are the lifeblood of the deck and don’t get hosed when someone sweeps your board. Dark Tutelage as a carry over from Standard Vampires works well here for sustaining a long game and unlike Ranger of Eos may actually net you relevant cards!
The sideboard is geared largely toward combo matches, while Path to Exile is a concession to the mirror match while still being able to take care of a Wurmcoil Engine. Esper Charm beats up on Omen and even the discard function is valuable in the match, while giving you another way to recover some cards in attrition matches. Zealous Persecution is the piece of old-world tech against Faeries, making an early Blossom less of an issue and increasing your clock. Your sideboard is no longer 4 real cards and 11 blanks, ta-da.
Steel with Esper Charm
I suspect this won’t be a worry for a bit, but I worry about my Steel match-up when they have an instant-speed method to take out Omen as well as extra discard if I don’t have a Leyline. Similarly, Meddling Mage can be an issue since it shuts off Day of Judgment and late Omens, which you may want to hold because of Esper Charm. The deck still only has Day and Cryptic bounce to take care of a resolved Mage unless you have active Omen-Valakut.
Overall the match is still favorable, but the degree is far less compared to a normal Steel sideboard, which may only have 3-4 cards that aren’t total blanks. Instead they could have up to 8 other cards that range from annoying to devastating depending on game-state.
What do you mean everyone?
That’s it for Scapeshift, but before I sign off, I want to touch on the first Extended Magic Online PTQ of the season. The top eight of the PTQ: 2x Faeries, RUG PesterTwin, Sovereigns, Jund, Gate Omen, Steel and GBW Ooze. Faeries vs. Mythic was the finals and Faeries took down the first PTQ of the season. Decklists should be available by the time this article goes up and I suggest you check them out.
Editor’s note: right here.
The first top eight showed a nice amount of diversity in the format, but the takeaway is that at least for online play Faeries is the deck to be on the lookout for.
Supposedly out of the top 48 players there were 12 Faeries players and the next deck in terms of popularity was Jund with 4. We should get the top 32 lists to see how close to accurate that is, but based on the replays I watched I have no reason to think that isn’t true. Expect the metagame to slant back toward aggro decks with reasonable Fae matches and anti-Fae cards to rise in price accordingly. For some reason Great Sable Stag is still hovering around 1 tix, so I suggest grabbing some since so many of the extended decks can run them and they’ll be more attractive while Fae is the most popular deck.
Best of luck to everyone with tournaments this weekend and if you have PTQ results for me, please send them my way via e-mail! With the loss of deckcheck.net, there’s no particularly great place to find immediate results for the format. So if you know for sure what a top eight was or what won, please send it my way! Thanks and see you next week.
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom
Currently Listening To:
Bastard Pop Terrorists Vol. 9-11
Less Than Jake
Story of the Year – In the Wake of Destruction
Panty and Stocking OST
J-Core Revolution Vol. 20-27
Lonely Island – I Just Had Sex