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Writing Issues, Ravager, and the Secret of Life.

4.09.04  OK, so maybe I'm stretching on the title a little bit.  I have no idea what the actual secret of life is.  I do know there is a ton to do in life though and there are a lot of decisions to make.  I had one to make a couple of weeks back.
 
Let me start by saying that I'm impressed at how fast rumors travel.  I will be writing for a new website - www.pojo.com/marvel.  It's a website for the new Marvel game.  Yes, Pojo has their own Marvel site here that has gone up recently. Go check it out if you haven't.  I can wait....
 
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OK, now that you're back, let me say that I'm not going anywhere.  As a matter of fact, I will still be contributing stuff to our Marvel site.  I don't have any exclusivity deal right now.  There is a chance that I might have one if I decide to join their premium writer's group over there, but I don't think I will.  Even though they offer good money, I like the freedom I have here at Pojo and I like the readers.  Tough decisions, but in some regards, it was an easy one.
 
OK, with that out of the way, let me get to some actual strategy this week.  Everyone is buzzing with Regionals tips right now.  I can understand though.  We're about three weeks away at this point and everyone is panicking.  Everyone wants to know what deck to play.
 
The big secret is that there truly is no best deck to play.  There are several quality decks that are viable.  It's just a matter of deciding something that matches your play style and finding something you are going to be able to deal with for 10 rounds (or 12 hours) worth of tournament play.  Regionals is a long day and that should factor in somewhere. 
 
The other thing to consider about Regionals is that the field is roughly 40% casual/less serious players.  I know, the first thought is, "Yeah, hat should make the tournament REALLY easy."  That's not a totally accurate train of thought though. 
 
Imagine testing for weeks (if not months), getting prepared.  Imagine having your sideboard set for your five toughest matchups.  Then imagine going against the guy playing his March of the Machines/Bribery deck.  Yeah, it sounds crazy, but I'd put money on he fact that there will be one of those somewhere.  Or what about the elf deck that sideboards in 10 black spells and five swamps.  Yes, I've seen that too. 
 
I'm not dogging the casual players here at all.  I find most of those types of scenarios to be quite humorous.  As a matter of fact, I've been subject to a loss or two over the years from some really crazy stuff.  Those decks just make the day more interesting.  What I find so funny though is that the serious player that loses to one of those random decks will whine and complaint he entire time.  The truth is, you knew those decks were going to be there and you didn't have a backup plan.
 
So here's my tip of the week.  When finding sideboard cards to play, try playing with more versatile cards.  Find cards that are good for multiple matchups.  Of course some cards are going to be ridiculously good against some other matchups.  But the truth is, I would rather give up some power in one matchup for some versatility over 10 rounds.  Versatility can go a long way, literally. 
 
Don't concentrate or worry too much about losing to the casual random players anyway.  You still need to be aware of how to beat the standard popular decks.  Even the random players will do their fair share of netdecking.  Be aware of what cards are good for beating each matchup.
 
Ravager Affinity is a scary deck if you aren't prepared to del with it.  First of all several cards that destroy artifacts can be played against the deck.  But the truth is, thinking like a bad player is the best plan we've seen for beating the deck.  Just kill everything.  don't wait to destroy particular cards.  If you have a way to kill something they play, then kill it.  It stops them from ever getting out of the gate.  Also, be aware that white as a whole is pretty good against this deck.  All of the board sweeping effects are good.  Wing Shards is great.  Even Altar's Light is an option if you are really hard up.  And don't forget that Stifle stops some of those crazy counter tricks.  Also, if you're in red, don't forget about Furnace Dragon being a good option here.
 
Goblin Bidding is a bit tough to figure out.  It also comes down to what version they are playing since there are a few running around these days.  Main deck right now, Silver Knights and Walls do well.  Also, Goblins aren't real fond of beasts, mainly due to their size and Ravenous Baloth's ability.  Worship is pretty good against them as well.  From the sideboard, you get things like Scrabbling Claws.  If you have access to black, Withered Wretch is really good as well.  Yes, the wretch is going to die.  However, he can usually take out the Goblin Warchief and/or Goblin Sharpshooter out of the graveyard before he goes and that takes a lot of the sting out of a bidding.
 
Astral Slide seems to be the control deck of choice for a lot of players.  If this deck goes heavy on the board sweepers, it has a good shot.  Obviously, Naturalize and cards of that ilk are good against this deck.  Also, anything that can rush to a three toughness is pretty good.  Lightning Rift is quickly becoming the weak card in this deck.  I've even seen it getting sideboarded out a lot recently.  Discard effects seem to be decent against this is really good as well.  Yes, the wretch is going to die.  However, he can usually take out the Goblin Warchief and/or Goblin Sharpshooter out of the graveyard before he goes and that takes a lot of the sting out of a bidding.
 
Astral Slide seems to be the control deck of choice for a lot of players.  If this deck goes heavy on the board sweepers, it has a good shot.  Obviously, Naturalize and cards of that ilk are good against this deck.  Also, anything that can rush to a three toughness is pretty good.  Lightning Rift is quickly becoming the weak card in this deck.  I've even seen it getting sideboarded out a lot recently.  Discard effects seem to be decent against this deck.  Goblin Bidding might want a couple of discard items to use against this deck, because you need to be able to get Starstorm out of their hand to set up your Patriarch's Bidding. 
 
Elves is still a contender.  Don't write this deck off.  It's fast, it's pretty resilient.  And truth be told, it's worst matchup is really goblins.  If you expect to play against a lo of Goblins, that can be an issue.  Otherwise, you might want to give them a go.  The trick to beating the elf deck is to ignore certain creatures.  As long as I can keep their creature in check to a reasonable extent, I ignore the Wellwisher.  I recently beat an elf player that was at 320+ life.  I just had to slowly get rid of his team and then start swinging for 16+ per turn.  The scariest guy in this deck is the Wirewood Hivemaster.  This guy lets them get out of control.  If you keep him wrangled in, things are a lot more manageable.  Also, elf variants don't look like they did even five months ago.  Do some research on these guys before just jumping into your testing.
 
Monowhite Control is making a comeback.  Blue/Whtie control is as well.  I'm going to group these together, because similar strategies can be applied to both of these decks.  First of all, speed kills.  You want to force them use a Wrath of God on turn four or turn five.  Apply pressure like it's going out of style.  When you put them on the spot, you slowly take away some of their options for cycling and card drawing.  This can keep the playing field a bit more level.  Also, recursive creatures can be good.  Don't forget about Flashfires and Choke for these matchups.  Those cards are still around and they are still good.  Don't overcommit to the board either as each of these decks will be packing Wrath of God + Akroma's Vengeance most likely.
 
Landkill decks are still around as well.  The trick is to play alternate mana sources (vine Trellis, Birds, Talismans, Chrome Mox, etc.) or to play more land.  This is also a matchup where to need to apply pressure where you can.  If you force them to deal with your creatures, they are going to be killing less land.  Just realize that at some point during the game, you are going to lose probably up to six land.  Be prepared to deal with it.  Sacred Ground is still a viable sideboard option.  Also, a few mana leaks can go a long way in this matchup.  White Weenie and Elves seem to have the best matchups against this deck so far.
 
Well, there's some deck comparison information to chew on.  I'm not sure if that helps or hurts your decision making process.  But either way, it's more knowledge.  And we all know that knowledge is power.  Even G.I. Joe taught us that knowing is half the battle.
 
Well, moving on, let's get to the fun order of business...Bad Play of the Week.
 
This one comes to us from zealotpker:
 
My opponent has a field full of vanilla beatsticks, which are being held off by my two white knights.  He plays Wrath of God, resetting the field. He also had this card out :
 
Parallax Wave
Enchantment
3WW
Fading 5
Remove a fade counter: remove target creature from play.
When this card leaves play, return all permanents removed this way to their owner's field.
 
He had EXACTLY enough fading counters to save all of his creatures, which would have given him a total of 10 attack power the next turn (the total strength of the creatures he would have removed in addition to the total strength of the creatures he summoned after the wrath).  That would've been an easy game after that.  I was surprised that he didn't do that, and when I pointed it out to him on my turn and asked him why he had decided not to save his creatures, and he was like "OMG! :< x_x XP."
 
I need everyone to keep sending in their Bad Plays of the week.  You get spotlighted here AND get a free PowrDragn prize package.  Yes, I really do send prize out through he mail.  Also, I want some good plays of the week too to spotlight here.  Send me all that you have...all your plays are belong to me :)
 
My card of the week is simple.  Oxidize.  This card is selling like hotcakes.  In some place they are already $2 uncommons.  People will be needing more of these int eh coming days, so get them while you can.
 
Keep writing me fan mail and I'll keep responding.  Also, be sure to send me your good and bad plays.
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
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