LSV’s Play – Beating Down Abzan

It’s time to burn down our list of answers to the last scenario, which you can take a look at here:

The Situation

Mono Red Play

You are playing the Mono-Red deck Pat Cox piloted to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Magic Origins, and your opponent appears to be on Abzan Control. It’s game 2, and you’ve boarded in Roast and Goblin Heelcutter.

There are a couple things to note here:

1) Your opponent probably doesn’t have any lands in hand, given that they went Nissa -> Forest rather than Nissa -> tapped land. If they had an untapped land, they probably would have played a 4-drop, particularly with the Eidolon in play. You even know that they have Fleecemane Lion, which again would be appealing if they had more lands, making the Nissa play even stronger evidence that they don’t. Given that, I’m putting them on all spells.

2) Languish is the number one card to worry about. Whatever you do, it should at least take Languish into account. Drown is a lot less likely, given that it could have been cast last turn, and Siege Rhino is not as big of a concern. While it’s more likely that the opponent has Rhino than Languish, you don’t get all that punished by Rhino, nor can you really play around it in a meaningful way (whereas Languish does punish you and you can play around it).

Given those assumptions, what should we do?

I certainly don’t want to end the turn with more creatures in play, and I don’t particularly want to trade Eidolon for Nissa. All your creatures have haste, so there’s no need to expose them to Languish, and by casting Firecraft you also get the benefit of triggering Swiftspear.

My Play

Cast Exquisite Firecraft on Nissa. Remember your Eidolon trigger. Attack with everything, dropping the opponent to 9. The problem with pointing Firecraft at your opponent instead of Nissa is that you miss an Eidolon attack. Killing a Nissa is worth giving your opponent 2 life, and you may not even get that life if they chump Swiftspear and follow up with Languish.

If the opponent has Siege Rhino, that sucks, but you can at least dash in multiple creatures and start trading creatures for damage. If they play Siege Rhino and you draw Roast or Heelcutter, you probably just win. If they play Languish, you get to attack with a bunch of haste creatures and still pressure your opponent severely. If their next turn is just Fleecemane or even Fleecemane plus removal, Eidolon is a beating, and you still get to build up an army.

I checked with Pat Cox himself, and that was his inclination as well. I do think that there are many close lines, but this one plays around the cards you expect the best, and gives you the best chances to win going forward (which is always the goal).

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