Stark Reality – Planeswalking at the 5k


I missed the 5k in Orlando because it was the same weekend as GP Brussels, so Atlanta was my first opportunity to play in a Starcity 5k in my neck of the woods. Atlanta isn’t actually especially close to where I live; it would be about 10 hours by car (I flew), but since it’s the Airtrans hub I was able to get direct flights both ways for a whopping 130 dollars total. It would actually have only been 113.00 but I waited a week after seeing the 113.00 and the price went up. If you factor in that Airtran has guaranteed wirelesss on every flight, the overall travel experience was great. My longtime good friend Joseph Crosby also lives in Atlanta, so I was excited to be able to visit him as well, since I haven’t seen him in a couple years because I am pretty bad about visiting people as I am just a generally very lazy person. I heard that GerryT and Cedrick would also be staying with Croz and that Gerry would be coming earlier in the week to brew and hang out, though unfortunately I had finals so I couldn’t come till that Friday. Therefore, my brewing would be done in South Florida.


Generally speaking I am way overprepared for any Type 2 or Limited format and way underprepared for any Extended or Legacy tournament. This is mainly because I play a fairly competitive FNM at Cool Stuff every Friday night and do endless drafts on Tuesday night draft night, Thursdays, Fridays, in between rounds and well, you get the idea. My Type 2 work for the past few months has consisted of playing Jund every week but rotating different cards in and out of my decks to try and get a feel for what I would want for any given field.

I think I had a very good Jund list with Explores as the happy medium between Rampant Growth and nothing. Basically the mana acceleration is the nuts in the Jund mirror but bad against UW. You usually end up flooded and lose the late games against UW if you play it, whereas in the Jund Mirror whoever can come out “more perfect” usually wins. Gindy went a dissapointing 3-2 with my deck I believe, but it happens. My friends Lewis, Omar, and some of the other people at the store seemed pretty excited about Lewis’ UWR Planeswalker deck, so Tuesday night after the drafts wound up around 2am, me and Lewis headed over to Dennys for some food and testing. I made some modifications to his list that I thought would improve the deck, but all and all he was kicking the crap out of my Jund deck and it was obvious the deck was the nuts against UW so that left me feeling pretty good about the deck.

Fastforward to Friday night. Upon arriving in Atlanta I start talking a little Magic with the boys and find out Gerry’s running an Open the Vaults brew. Gerry is a great deck builder and I always MTGO up anything he posts. I didn’t like the flow of the Open decklists but clearly Wall of Omens and See Beyond seem like they are a pretty good fit for that deck. I didn’t really know if his deck was good but I didn’t have any desire to Open. I told Crosby that I expected half the field or so to be Jund as it had been at home and pretty much every tourney I have been seeing as of late. He said that this was wrong. All the talk in Atlanta was about UW and he expected loads of it. While I felt my Jund list was well tuned for the mirror I didn’t especially like my UW matchup. I probably was more afraid of it than I should have been since I knew I had sideboard tech in Consuming Vapors that really swung that matchup, but all in and all it still wouldn’t be too great. After the 5th time I asked Cros if he was sure or just generally said I think there will be alot of Jund, he reasserted that there would be more UW then Jund, especially amongst the good players but probably even in the whole field, I decided that Lewis’ Planeswalker deck was going to be the way to go.

Oh, and I read Chapin’s article about the deck and the little naming dilemma. People can always call a deck anything they want but the deck does have names. Lewis named it Superpals. Which he said was a Southpark reference that I was unfamilar with. I personally wanted to call it 4 Buddies because there are 4 Planeswalkers that work together to give the deck its power and my favorite Thai place in South Florida has an appetizer called 4 Buddies which I always thought was a ridiculous name for an appetizer but I order it anyways because it couldn’t be more delicious. Anyways here is the decklist I played if you are still somehow unfamaliar with it.

U/W/R Planeswalker Control

Lewis played a few different sideboard cards. While his Meddling Mages were useful against Polymorph I don’t think they’re overall useful enough to warrant sideboard slots. Truthfully, the deck ran beautifully and there isn’t a whole lot I would change. The only edit I would make would be cutting 1 Path to Exile for 1 Day of Judgment. While the deck is very good against UW and Jund, the heavy hitters of type 2, it is very vulnerable to beatdown decks. I expect due to us demonstrating that it isn’t ok for a whole Type 2 tournament to be comprised of Jund and UW more people will be playing the various beatdown decks, so the third Day of Judgment main will help those matchups drastically, giving you access to the full set after sideboard. I only lost one game in the Swiss of the tournament, Round 2 to Vampires, which is by far my worst matchup. I got great pairings and played UW pretty much every round.

Round 1 Polymorph 2-0
Round 2 Vampires 2-1
Round 3 UW 2-0
Round 4 UWR (not our deck) 2-0
Round 5 UW 2-0
Round 6 UW 2-0
Round 7 Jund 2-0
Round 8 Polymorph 2-0
Round 9 Lewis I.D.
Round 10 Mythic I.D.

I was pleased to see I got paired against the stock UW deck in the Top 8, and I believe the match was covered on GGslive.com. Basically it was another quick easy 2-0. Game 1 he missed land drops and Game 2 I was flooded, but UW without counters just really doesn’t do anything against all our Planeswalkers.

T8 Chris Simpson UW 2-0

My T4 matchup was not nearly as good, as it was Lewis playing the mirror. We were both pretty beat by this point in the day and I don’t think either of us played particularly well. Basically, in the games he won, he had a lot more Planeswalkers then I did, and in the game I won I had a Coup and he didn’t draw an answer.

Inexperience in Legacy cost me. GerryT got 2nd, which was nice, since he didn’t run too well in the Type 2. There really wasn’t too much else that went down on the trip. Overall, it was a lot of fun and I definitely plan to attend more 5ks. I won 2 of the 3 the Rise Limited drafts I did, though they were team drafts, not 8-mans, and my total match record since Rise has come out is something like 45-4. Hopefully I can run/play good at GP Lyon. I will be writing an overall analysis of how to win at Rise Limited next week, regardless of my tournament results there. Oh, and of course, what would a trip to Atlanta be without epic Fogo de Chao battles which I attended Sunday night with Kitt Holland, Keith McLaughlin, and their friend Jack from Tampa whose last name I don’t know.

Thanks to Cros for hosting, and before I go here is a little sideboard guide for anyone who will be running the deck in any upcoming type 2 tournaments. This will be assuming the list with -1 Path to Exile and +1 Day of Judgment from my maindeck.


– 1 Mountain, -3 Ajani, -3 Day of Judgment, -1 Oblivion Ring, -1 Jace, -1 Gideon
+ 3 Wall Of Denial, +1 Mind Control, +2 Celestial Purge, +3 Flashfreeze, +1 Tectonic Edge


– 3 Wall of Omens, -3 Day of Judgment
+ 1 Mind Control +4 Negate +1 Tectonic Edge


– 2 Martial Coup, -3 Day of Judgment, -4 Spreading Seas, -1 Oblivion Ring, -1 Tectonic Edge
+ 3 Wall of Denial, +3 Flashfreeze, +2 Celestial Purge, +3 Negate


– 4 Wall of Omens -1 Tectonic Edge
+ 1 Mind Control +4 Negate

Obviously their lists tend to vary, but this is assuming stock UG with no manlands.


– 3 Elspeth, – 2 Oblivion Ring, -2 Tectonic Edge
+ 2 Celestial Purge + 3 Negate +1 Mind Control + 1 Day of Judgment

If you see they end up with a lot of discard, like 3+ Sludges and 3+Duress, you may want to bring out 1
Path to Exile for the 4th Negate.

Gl in your upcoming tournaments,


64 thoughts on “Stark Reality – Planeswalking at the 5k”

  1. lewis and i have talked a lot and we really think the 4th path is right. it’s the nuts vs. good draws from bant, polymorph, and rdw, and you don’t really care about accelerating your opponent because your cards are just better than theirs. i was wondering what you think about: 1, pithing needle, and 2, luminarch ascension, as after you and lewis’ performances everyone is out to beat your deck, and those two seem particularly strong. also do you have a recommendation for a vamps list, as that seems to be the only deck that gave you hiccups.

  2. hey ben congrats, what was your reasoning on the no baneslayer angel in the sideboard after they board out their removal wouldnt they be nice to side in now that everyone knows the list? thanks

  3. Ben, what about the sb strategy against mythic?

    Great deck and great article. Thanks.

  4. Hey ben how would you side board the deck vs. mythic bant with soverigns and conscription? thanks!

  5. @ epsteinj

    luminarch ascension is not that great with all th o-rings floating around

  6. Are you still happy with 1 mountain? After playing this deck a bunch, I’ve been finding that even by slow-rolling the mountain until you play Ajani Vengeant, it ends up costing you the ability to cast AV 2-4 after the first gets o-ringed and your mountain gets spreading sea’d.

  7. There are only two day of judgments in the maindeck, yet you keep on boarding 3 Days out. How does this change the SB guide?

  8. @ckm:

    “… and before I go here is a little sideboard guide for anyone who will be running the deck in any upcoming type 2 tournaments. This will be assuming the list with -1 Path to Exile and +1 Day of Judgment from my maindeck.”

  9. Read last lines

    “This will be assuming the list with -1 Path to Exile and +1 Day of Judgment from my maindeck.”

  10. The correct South Park reference is “Super Best Friends.” Jeez, Lewis.

  11. João Dannemann

    And what about the mythic conscription matchup? how i sideboard?

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  13. No one can blame you for being verbose! More play by plays and info would be great. Awesome article regarless (or, irregardless? hahah)

  14. Great write-up. Thank you.

    I would love a sideboard guide for mythic, however. 🙂

  15. Ben,

    As you know by now, these lists travel as fast as the speed of the internet viewers are using. For example, I’m up in Boston, and I played in a TCG player 5k the same day as the SCG 5k that your deck first appeared in. The following day, there was a PTQ Amsterdam, and I saw about 15-20 copies of your deck, including a top 8 appearance. Clearly, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the list, and it seams poised to comprise a big portion of the control metagame.

    I am wondering how you think the metagame will shift to account for your list being a part of it, and what changes you might suggest to the maindeck in order to combat these shifts. One thing I noticed is that the fireball uw players started maindecking permission at that tournament, which I think poses at least a bit of a bigger problem for this deck. There are plenty of other examples floating around, but my point is that I do think people will be playing this deck more, so I’m curious to see what you would change in anticipation of a greater number of mirrors and maindeck permission spells.

  16. Could you perhaps give some insight into why you don’t run chalice and mind spring? I’ve been testing the list and I find that chalice and mind spring make the control mirrors better by giving a better lategame card while also increasing the amount of relevant plays.
    In this traditional list the only turn 3 plays consist of o-ring, divination or a 2nd wall/sea’s. With chalice those options just increase a bit as you can go turn 2 chalice turn 3 walker or turn 2 wall into turn 3 chalice + sea’s/wall. This list is forced to play divination too early imo, whereas you rather play draw after your action cards.
    I changed your list by going -3 divination -1 tectonic edge -1path +3 chalice +2 mind spring. Also to improve the mana you can play 4 arid mesa and 4 plains instead of 5 plains 3 arid mesa, you are hardly ever without basics to grab when it matters. Also i took out 1 island and added 1 sejiri refuge, cutting white is a popular strategy in the mirror so more white sources are needed and with only 4 ETBT lands so far you can add 1 more i think.

  17. How about see beyond instead of divination? It’s cheaper to cast and could shuffle extra planeswalkers, or a land. Either way your still drawing 2 cards. We all know how important a shuffle is with a JTMS in play.

  18. Ajani dies to easily to Jund. Blightning hurts him, you can’t keep Bloodbraid tapped before it domes Ajani. If he only has a thrinax out, then yeah, Ajani can go a long way to being pretty sweet against Jund, but overall, not so.

    I think the argument against Chalice is color issues. Every planeswalker has a double color commitment and that creates problems. If you play chalice on turn two, there’s no guarantee you’ll have the right mana to play whichever planeswalker you want. If you cast Wall of Omens and Spreading Seas on those turns, you flush out the mana, draw some cards and are better equipped to play your planeswalkers. At least, that’s how I would feel about it.

  19. I thought the plan vs jund was to mana denia them, like the UWr deck LSV played a while ago.

    Even after reading the article, this strategy looks MUCH better than leaving jaces in (specially with 7 walls)

  20. @Michael: You can O-ring the enemy O-ring and free you first Ajani.

    @Ben: Vampires aside, how is your deck performing against Mono Red?

  21. “luminarch ascension is not that great with all th o-rings floating around”

    In a deck playing 12 planeswalkers, I’d be pretty happy if I’d forced an oblivion ring out of my opponent’s hand.

  22. One more right here, wanting a sideboard plan against Mythic Conscription, as it is definetly one of tier-1s right now, judging by last PTQs…

  23. Watch out for runeflare trap .dec it is on the rise and has no bad match ups in this meta except mono red pre board

  24. ok so there is a lot of really good questions asked.

    The plan against jund is not in anyway shape or form to mana screw them. Your late game is better then thiers and spreading seas is just a good card. Ajani does the least out of all your planewalkers in the late game. You present a varied attack with jaces ability to draw cards /elspeths to make guys and gideon being a 6/6 near unkillable. Martial coup is also a big game. You are not in any way reliant on mana screwing them after sideboard and this plan is much better.

    I should have posted a sideboard plan against mythic it’s one of the most popular decks and i just flat missed it when i wrote those. I’m sorry
    Mythic decks do go in a lot of different directions but I think a good start would be
    – 3 Elspeths
    + 1 tectonic edge 1 day of judgement + 1 mind control

    elspeth is by far your weakest walker against them.

    Mind spring and Chalice are not good in the mirror. I know that might be counterintuitive but they just don’t matter enough. UW tapout is loaded with them and its practically a bye. The cards that will help you are more o rings, cancels, negates .. play however many you see fit but remember those are the same cards that are bad against beatdown. You cant have it all.

    1 mountain is definitely right. We play 3 copies of a red card that costs 4 mana. You would have to be spreading seas and draw a 2nd copy for it to matter and if you really want you can o ring the seas on ur mountain to play a 2nd ajani if they killed it. It virtually never comes up and the mana base is tight with edges in a 3 color deck. Don’t play 2 mountains unless your playing an additional red card in the deck like bolt or whatever.

    Hope this helps

  25. just posting this because i can not find it on the web, although maybe im not trying hard enough, and i figured i would get a response here. If my opponent casts oring and i path my only creature in response to the cast. when the oring hits play does it have to target my opponents permanents or can it target itself and effectively do nothing

    thank you

  26. How would you sb against mythic? I’m surprised you didn’t face any of that

  27. AverageDrafter

    See Beyond doesn’t work with Jace because you draw two cards before you shuffle, defeating the purpose. I still like the card, and it might even be good in this deck, but not for the shuffle.

    I like the diversification of the Planeswalkers, it allows you to get multiples of them out – dividing their attack potential and giving you complementary effects. If anything I would further diversify since the deck is likely to run against mirrors and should also see Pithing Needles. The problem is that you are running most of the possible PWs in your colors, and the ones you aren’t running you have a reason for.

    Ajani Goldmane – Kills Ajani V and not that usefull unless you Coup (in which case do you need help to win?) or need the life badly. Pass

    Chandra Naalar – Double red, five mana, limited utility.

    Chandra Ablaze and Tezz – Not useful for the deck at all.

    Which leaves – Jace, the Old Schoola… probably in place of lets say 2 Divinations (since they cost 3 and draw cards).

    Yeah he kills your real Jace, but you only run 3 of them so they shouldn’t bump agaisnt each other too often… and if they do you can beat your lil’ Jace to death (or let your opponent do it) and play yours at most one turn later than normal (and three cards up!). The 4 drop is so packed that you will likely have other options to cast there (particularly after two extra cards).

    What it gives you is additional repeatable card draw and it prevents your opponent from casting big Jace for value the next turn…

    Also, rather than go up on Days, why not move some (lets say 2 for now) Wall of Denials to the main? Between Path, Day, Coup, 4+2 Walls, and the Planeswalkers, I would imagine that you are pretty snug against a quick beating.

    In other words – what do you think about -3 Divination -1 Path (I guess)?, +2 lil’ Jace, +2 Wall of Denial.

  28. I miss when decks have funnier names, not something robotic like UWr Planeswalker Control. Superpals is a bit better imho.

    I mean, for the sake of the game, these decks need good names!

    Bad decks with good names doesn’t count. Thank you.

  29. As for a name, how a bout ‘Johnnie Walker Red White and Blue Label’ or just ‘Johnnie Walker’ for short. I think it would start a new trend of naming decks after alcoholic drinks instead of breakfast cereals or Ravnica guilds.

  30. I think Sea Gate Oracle is much better than divination, particular when you want to be dropping a PW turn 4. The only thing I do not like about the deck is how crappy the 3 drop spells are in comparison to everything else in the deck. Most games that start with turn 3 divination, in current type 2 end in a loss.

  31. The Deck is great but it’s very expensive………Magic is becoming always worst from this point of view…:((((
    Can you post also the list of jund with explore?

  32. @AverageDrafter:

    See Beyond shuffle with JTMS seems good. Draw 2 cards shuffle back something extra, then brainstorm with JTMS and you’ve got 3 more fresh cards your looking at. This deck is nutz and fun to play.

  33. keyser soze four horsemen is sweet …. i like american gladiators still with the red white and blue theme and all .. and ben what is your JUND list

  34. Nassim Ketita

    I believe I have settled on the perfect name for the deck:

    Fantastic Four

    Jace = Mr. Fantastic
    Elspeth = Invisible Woman
    Ajani = Human Torch (or as I call him, Ajani Storm)
    Gideon = The Thing

    I’ve been saying “Flame on!” while helixing with Ajani and “It’s clobbering time!” when attacking with Gideon.

    Also, since Vampires is this deck’s nemesis, Sorin Markov = Dr. Doom.

    Yes, I have too much time on my hands.

  35. Ben congrats with your great deck.

    What side board strategies will you use in a mirror match?

  36. One matchup that Ive noticed is pretty bad for this deck is Time Sieve. I know its under the radar right now but Ive faced it a few times online already and I wouldnt be surprised to see it become at least as popular as it used to be. Seas, walls, coups, judgments, paths, tectonic edge, etc. are mostly useless and even gideon/elspeth are pretty weak. You get negate after boarding but you’re still stuck with alot of dead cards and they get to take out angelsongs for their own counters. So what Im saying is that if sieve and polymorph are a part of the meta, meddling mage is definitely worth sideboard consideration. A 4th oblivion ring would be good too as its your best card against sieve and it gets rid of polymorph’s jaces and awakening zones.

  37. @Ben – this deck is awesome and very fun to play, i ran a list about 5 cards off your 75 on Saturday and qualified for Nationals with it. So thanks a lot, i owe you and Lewis a beer!

    @Nassim – independently of you, i (re)named my deck “The Fantastic Four (planeswalkers)”. Hehe.

  38. @Dan Barrett – What were your changes to Ben and Lewis’ build? I’m testing Spread Em, 4 Buddies, and UWb control lately but I’m very interested in comparing the tweaks you made to mine. I’ve pretty much settled on 4 Buddies or Script at this point but I’m curious to see what others are finding success with.

    I just competed in Chiba (Japan’s) NQ and there was a flood of UW and Jund as expected. I ran a custom build of Conscription Mythic myself, but missed the cut by 4pts due to a severe lack of testing.

    I guess that NQ was testing for the Yokohama NQ and Sendai’s Grand Prix next month. Good luck to all the Cali boys for Nats, I still plan on stealing a seat from these guys and driving straight back to Chiba in December.

  39. @OwningTokyo – Basically, i nearly always run a 61/62 card deck (because i am a bad Magic player), i couldn’t find a 3rd Divination, and there were too many cards i wanted to put in my sideboard, so i had:

    MD: -1 Divination, +1 See Beyond, +1 Tectonic Edge, +1 Negate (62 cards)

    SB: 3 Negate, 3 Flashfreeze, 3 Wall of Denial, 3 Meddling Mage, 2 Celestial Purge, 1 Day of Judgement.

    There had been a lot of Time Sieve + Polymorph the week before at another Nats Q and PTQ, hence i wanted 3 Mage. I actually even boarded them in against Mono-Red, where they gained a little life and bought time. Another friend played +1 Mountain main, which is probably a better change. Honestly, i wouldn’t recommend listening to my changes though, stick with the pros who actually know what they’re talking about!

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  42. @Ben hi I’m from Spain and this Saturday I will play my 29th national qualifier and would like to know what you think of these changes on its first MD: -3 divination +1 day of judgement +2 jace beleren. Would you do it?
    Thanks from Spain

    PD:Your answer is very grateful for my =)

  43. @Ben and the last from spain….=)
    What you sideboard vs allys or naya
    Thanks for all friend!! =)
    PD_ belerem is descarted XD

  44. Thanks for your answer “pro”.
    Know that you would win without your help.
    Thanks for nothing again =)

  45. I don’t see what all the complaining over cost is about… it’s got 10 basic land, 10 commons, and 8 uncommons. That’s a whole 46.7% of the deck that is reasonably draftable!

    The median price is only a $6 uncommon; what’s unreasonable about that?


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