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What the People Want!
by Michael Garten

     It came to my attention not too long ago that Pojo.com needed a new strategy writer.  So I contacted them, requested a position, and here I am, writing my first article.  I, as a person who constantly reads Magic strategy online, know what “the people want.”  Magic players want decklists, and strategy guides for those deck lists.

       Another issue that I understand is that there are many writers in the online Magic community who do not provide consistent results.  I cannot explain this phenomenon, but it may be due to lack of testing, or testing against the incorrect decks.

       With these things in mind, I will try my hardest to provide good decks, good explanations, and consistent results.  I will prove that my works are viable through testing and careful thinking.  However, I refuse to create articles which are small in size or content, and thus you as a reader will have to bear with me as I explain my reasoning.  I also plan to provide tournament reports.

     The following deck is a White/Blue weenie build which was deemed weak and inconsistent before Judgment due to the overpowering number of destruction spells used in Type Two. With the introduction of Judgment, it went from susceptible to powerful. This is true due to the addition of a single card: Glory.

Main Deck:

4 Stormscape Apprentice
3 Aquamoeba
4 Merfolk Looter
4 Meddling Mage
3 Patrol Hound
4 Glory

4 Counterspell
4 Circular Logic
4 Fact or Fiction
2 Worship

4 Adarkar Wastes
10 Plains
10 Island

Sideboard:

4 Gainsay
4 Capashen Unicorn
3 Hibernation
4 Circle of Protection: Red

The concept behind this deck should be relatively simple: get glory in the graveyard. This is the reason for the discard creatures: Patrol Hound, Aquamoeba, and Merfolk Looter. A nice addition to this deck is Worship, which will be explained later. There two main reasons this deck performs well:

Consistency: The mana curve in this deck is quite good, and the overall power of many of the cards is incredible. A first turn Stormscape Apprentice, followed by any of the four two casting cost creatures is an efficient rate. A turn three surprise glory activation is not uncommon, generating significant card advantage sometimes. The deck can be called ridiculous when you have six lands in play and three to five creatures as blockers and attackers.

“Lock”: There is a simple strategy that can be used to generate what is considered close to a “soft lock,” or when your opponent can do only a few things to win. Though not a guaranteed win, it becomes extremely hard for your opponent to kill you when you have worship, several creatures (hopefully including Meddling Mage), glory in the graveyard, and about six mana at your disposal. This is the kind of situation that this deck uses to defeat red/green beats, deep dog, and most other beatdown strategies.

The following is a card by card analysis of the deck:

Patrol Hound/ Aquamoeba:

These are semi-efficient creatures that provide the madness/incarnation engine for the deck. Patrol Hound, though not wild mongrel, is a discard bear, and is useful for blocking two-or-less-toughness creatures such as Blurred Mongoose, Phyrexian Rager, Raging Kavu and others. Aquamoeba is a solid three-toughness creature, which can, if used efficiently, kill all sorts of creatures by blocking and attacking. For the most part, however, these two-drops are just for fueling glory.

Stormscape Apprentice:

This is a very odd choice, I must admit. In testing, it was a Mystic Penitent, used with the discard and Fact or Fiction to block flyers like Mystic Enforcer and attack unhindered. Somewhere along the line, though, I realized that this deck had a major weakness to wild mongrel (which I will discuss later), and that a removal-type effect was needed. In spite of its “jankeyness” this is a solid one-casting-cost creature that deals with many of this deck’s problems.

Merfolk Looter:

Merfolk Looter is simply one of the best blue creatures in Type Two. It allows for madness, (in the form of circular logic) and incarnations (in the form of glory) to be used with card advantage-generating efficiency. When Glory is in the graveyard, looters serve as blockers for Roar of the Wurm tokens, and other creatures. They are important in smoothing the draws this deck has, ditching lands for answers.

Meddling Mage:

Though not used as often in Type Two as it used to be, the mage is still a powerhouse. However, in this deck, the mage goes from an anti-removal bear to a creature which severely damages all opposing strategies. The mere fact that you do not need to name most removal spells gives you a gigantic offensive edge, winning games by naming Wild Mongrel, Deep Analysis, or Psychatog. Ruinous cards such as Upheaval, Ensnaring Bridge, Wrath of God, and Mutilate will cause problems if cast, so if you even think that you will have to worry about them, use your mage to name them.

Glory:

When used with the ten discard sources in this deck, horrible things happen for your opponent. Thwarting turn three removal like Urza’s Rage, Fiery Temper and Repulse, or allowing your creature(s) to block your opponent’s without dieing makes for messy card advantage for you, or tempo problems for your opponent. Though it does not fit in perfectly with Fact or Fiction, glory does not detract from its power. Glory can be cast if you need an attacker, but it is discarded usually.

Fact or Fiction:

In spite of the rise of Deep Analysis in aggro-control decks recently, the loss of life is often too high a price to pay for four cards in this build. Thus, Fact or Fiction at instant speed will be the card advantage spell for this deck. Sometimes, if your opponent is confused, amusing things will happen. A situation came up in my first game against another player where he split a Fact or Fiction four to one, with glory being the card in the “one pile.” I won that game.

Counterspell/Circular Logic:

Clearly the best possible counters for this deck, absorb would be a third choice, but is rather restrictive and costly in comparison. Counterspell requires no explanation, and Circular Logic is obvious as well. Logic often comes as a surprise to opponents who expect to see a higher cost counter in place. Once again, Merfolk Looter (or another discard creature) and Circular Logic have good synergy.

Worship:

Though not used in the original build, against Red/Green, White/Green, and Deep Dog, Worship is a must-have card. This is because in combination with a creature and Glory in the graveyard, this ends the game. Worship is in the main board to solve the problem matchups, which are listed above. A turn two Meteor storm cast by Red/Green, or an early Glory discarded by White/Green used to end games against this deck, but no longer means they win with the addition of Worship.

The sideboard for this deck lacks testing though, and time will tell if the choices are correct. One thing is clear, however; Capashen Unicorn and Gainsay belong in. The unicorn is a tempo-inhibiting, creature blocking disenchant, and gainsay turns an un-winnable counter war into an easy one. Both should probably be sided in place of Stormscape Apprentice in most matchups.

Though this deck is clearly powerful, it has its weaknesses. One of these is, unfortunately, Wild Mongrel. In Blue/Green builds, especially, a Wild Mongrel with card fuel in hand can cause problems for blockers, changing color, and requiring one to pay extraneous amounts of mana. Along with mongrel comes Spiritmonger, which, if cast, can cause even bigger problems for the color-oriented ability of Glory. Fortunately, in the final version of this deck, Worship and Stormscape Apprentice were added to thwart color-changing threats.

Other cards which might single-handedly win a game against this deck include Upheaval, Ensnaring Bridge, Wrath of God, and Mutilate, as mentioned above. Unfortunately, these all appear in lists for recent Pro-Tour top eight decks, meaning they see consistent play. Though not guaranteed solutions, Meddling Mage and the countermagic in this deck can deal with all of these threats.

The most important process in creating a Magic deck is testing. All decks must be fine-tuned and examined for flaws. Also, all decks which plan to be competitive in the Type Two environment must be able to have even or favorable matchups against all tier 1 and tier 2 decks. These decks include, and are almost limited to, the following:

 

Psychatog

Blue/Green Deep Dog
Blue/Green/White Upheaval
Burning Bridges
Counter-Trenches
Red Green Beats
Red/Blue/Green Opposition
Monoblack Control

In the new type two, with judgment added, there is also a need to defeat the following decks:

Blue/Green Quiet Speculation
White Weenie
White/Green Beatdown

However, because there are no definite lists for these yet, no realistic testing can be done until a ProTour occurs with Judgment rotated in.

Surprisingly enough, this build, when squaring off against Tier 1 decks from the old Type Two, has extremely favorable games. Matchup win percentages include the following:

 

Psychatog (Zevatog) 90 %
Blue/Green Deep Dog 70 %
Blue/Green/White Upheaval 80 %
Burning Bridges 90 %
Counter-Trenches 90 %
Red Green Beats 90 %
Red/Blue/Green Opposition 90 %
Monoblack Control 70 %

 

When I first looked at these percentages, I was actually quite frightened. The truth was, and is, that this deck defeats psychatog most games, because all it needs are two creatures in play and glory in the graveyard to win. Whenever anyone sees this deck they are skeptical, and they call it “jankey,” cheap, or worthless. However, in reality, White/Blue Madness is a logical and simple way to deal with many of the threatening control and beatdown decks of the new Type Two.

On Friday, July 12, I attended a local Friday Night Magic Tournament. With a very small number of people, there were only three rounds. I started against the player who I consider the toughest: Ramsey Johnson.

Ramsey was playing Blue/Green/white upheaval. I expected to win 2-0, as testing showed a 90% win rate. However, this match showed that games versus Blue/Green/white upheaval are slightly more dependent on chance than I had expected.

Game one:

This was relatively harder than I expected. He had no quick start with creatures. I dropped several, and eventually a Worship also. He tried to cast upheaval, I countered and he conceded, as he would die next turn.

Game two:

Things were even tougher in this match. An early Nimble Mongoose with threshold was tough to deal with, especially considering that I did not have glory in the graveyard. This turned into a larger problem, when he landed two more after a Fact or Fiction. I died when he cast upheaval and continued the mongoose beats.

Game three:

It seemed that Ramsey was not moving as quickly this time. He Mana Shorted, then cast a Mystic Enforcer. I dropped a Worship. I landed several more creatures, some of which were countered, then got a Glory in the graveyard. Massive beatdown followed. On his last turn, he tried to cast Upheaval, floating one blue mana. I tapped out to Counterspell, praying he couldn’t Force Spike. His only card in hand turned out to be a land.

Games: 2-1 Matches: 1-0

My next opponent was John Halkcomb, who was playing Psychatog. Unlike against the previous match, this one’s outcome was decided during playtesting: he could not win.

Game one:

I landed early creatures, including Merfolk Looter which looted into a Glory. Considering most Tog’ builds have no massive removal or graveyard removal, he was killed by three to four creatures.

Game two:

The second game was almost identical. Early beats with Glory made it impossible to remove my creatures, and a Meddling Mage named Upheaval. He lost again, as he did not draw any of the Coffin Purges from his sideboard.

Games: 4-1 Matches: 2-0

My final opponent was Stephen Brown, who was playing Blue/Green deep dog. I had personally built his deck, and it had major trouble with worship. I offered a draw, but he refused.

Game 1:

I opened with the usual early creatures, including a Stormscape Apprentice which nullified his Wild Mongrel. He tapped out to cast a creature. I drew into a land, and cast a Worship. He conceded.

Game 2:

I knew Stephen would sideboard in his three Druid Lyrists. These would cause problems if dropped on turn one. In my opening hand, I had creatures and Worship, but only three lands. He had no blue mana, and in spite of his Wild Mongrels and Arrogant Wurms, he could not stop me from looting into the fourth land I needed to cast Worship. He conceded again.

Games: 6-1 Matches: 3-0

So, I ended up with the First Place standing. All of the data shows that White/Blue weenie is very viable. Though not as great as I had first expected, it has its merits. If I were to make changes to this deck, they would probably include removing two lands and adding in the fourth Patrol Hound and Aquamoeba.

Next time (if there is one) I will write another tournament report with the same deck, and discuss playtesting results for yet another concept.

 

 

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