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The Dragon's Den
Getting Down to it

By DeQuan Watson - 06.16.05

So, by a show of hands, how many of you readers out there in computer land know what deck you are going to play? 
That's nice.  There are a few of you out there.
How many know exactly, cards for card, which deck you are going to play?
Still a few hands.
How many of you are confident that you've made the best choice for you?
Yeah, as I suspected.  Not very many people.
That's OK though.  Your confidence level is going to be shaky.  They thing to remember is that many of you will be using regionals as your first "big tournament" stepping stone.  You're going to be a little nervous.  I remember someone telling me once that if you aren't at least a little nervous about something big you are involved in, it's likely that you aren't passionate enough about it.
This may hold true of regionals.  I've watched people get over passionate about this whole thing.  Unfortunately, this unbridled passion can lead to some silly mistakes. 
First and foremost, don't panic.  Yeah it's getting down to crunch time.  The thing is, if you panic now, you might get worse results.  Don't start trying to be creative and getting crazy.  The time to start making your own decks and worrying about new combos was gone four or five weeks ago.  Some of you are just procrastinators.  There are lots of things that can keep you out of trouble though.
Be aware of the new cards.  Not knowing what's going to show up could be very bad for you.  You should take the time to look over the latest set and decide what your game plan is against decks utilizing (or built around) certain cards.  Have an idea of what you plan to do, or need to do, to win those matchups. 
Take a look at these cards.
People will be playing this card.  For years, casual players have been excited about every opportunity they got to play Fork.  Lots of casual players show up to Regionals.  Add the two up, and you simply get a field that does include Twincast.  This is functionally the same card as Fork.  The difference is that it's blue.  This, in reality, will likely make it more annoying.  When you play spells, be aware of the game state.  Can you afford for your opponent to bounce one of your creatures?  Will you be able to survive a Shrapnel Blast?  Are you OK with letting your opponent search for a land?  You have to think about the possibility of your opponent having this card when you are ready to play something.  Don't let it stop you from playing what you need to play.  Just be aware what might happen when you do.  Also, casual players wont be the ONLY players using this card.
Promise of Bunrei
I've been on this card since I first laid eyes on it.  In my world, either cards good, or I'm obsessed. Take your pick.  Either way, I'd expect this is make an appearance in multiple decks.  The problem is that you will likely face this thin in Blue/White Control or Monowhite control.  At the same time though you can play it in White Weenie to help out some of your problem matchups.  The best application for this card is largely unknown at this time.  For what you get though, the cost is cheap.  If nothing else, expect it in the sideboard of white weenie.  If you have a LOT of creature removal, I would almost bank on them bringing this in against you.  With a Glorious Anthem already on the table this thing can be trouble in a hurry.
Choice of Damnations
Many are still not wanting to admit this card is good.  But I'll tell you a secret.  Whether it's good or not doesn't matter.  Enough players believe in this card at this point, that you almost have to have expect it to make an impact on the regionals scene.  Will it be huge?  I'm not sure I'd go that far.  But if nothing else, I would practice playing against it.  The best thing to do is just assuming that every three turns of a match, your opponent is casting the card.  This way you get a feel for what to do at every stage of the game.  This card is tricky.  Not understanding it's nuances or knowing how to play around it lead to the downfall of many spellslingers on the day of regionals.
Murmurs from Beyond
This is a card that has managed to mostly fly under the radar.  This card is so easy to get.  And I've seen many players just gloss over it when deck building.  This card lets you trade one card away to get two in return.  The best thing to do with this card is simple.  Know your deck.  That's the best plan to have against it.  Be aware of what cards can beat you or cause trouble for you at each stage of the game.  If you are on the opposing end of this card, you will have to choose one of those cards to put into the graveyard.  You need to be able to make the best possible choice with confidence.  Choose wrong and that could be your doom.  It's not often you get the chance to stop your opponent from drawing up a problem card.  Don't squander the a rare moment.
Thoughts of Ruin
Be careful when playing against red.  This card can be devastating.  This card works well in a deck that's already focused on land destruction.  Land destruction still has yet to ever win a major Magic event in it's long and storied history.  However, every year a bunch of players show up with land destruction decks.  I think inexperienced or casual players are easily frustrated by decks focused on depleting your mana.  This can lead to an "if you can't beat'em, join'em" mentality.  Just be aware that this card will definitely be around.  I'm not saying it will swing matches.  The existence of it can lead to a few games swinging wildly in a new direction.  Just be careful against red and don't get carried away with laying your lands out.  In a strange world, something like Red/White control with Thoughts of Ruin and Ghostly Prison work out. 
Arashi, the Sky Asunder
I'm not a huge fan of this guy.  I've just recently started looking into the applications of this card in regards to constructed play.  I think this card might be an issue if you are relying on Meloku for your victory condition.  This cards, with it's Channel ability, has the ability to take down Meloku and all his buddies.  This can force you to leave counter magic mana open at all times.  So then you are stuck with not countering anything, or just allowing this ability to go off.  I'm not sure this is huge.  It's just something to think about and be aware of.  It's likely most players haven't even given thought to this guy yet.
Pithing Needle
I'm sure you've heard some of the hype regarding this card.  Well, we are about to find out how much hype it really is.  The debate may still be going on after regionals as to how good this card really is.  We honestly don't know.  One thing is for sure though.  People are so big on this card, that you will absolutely need to know how to deal with it.  Find out if it hurts anything in your deck.  Is it possible for you to play around it?  Do you need to have a way to kill it immediately?  Those are the types of things that you should figure out before heading into regionals next Saturday.
So I've warned you not to get super crazy right now.  But I've also just told you about a bunch of things to watch out for.  Now what's your plan of attack?  Realistically, the best thing to do now is copy a proven deck.  Yeah, I know a lot of you are against it, but now is the time to give yourself a reality.
If you are going to regionals just to be part of a large event that's fine.  If you are going to regionals with no expectations or real drive to win the event, that's fine too.  You might be going to regionals just to get a feel for playing in large events.  That's fine too.  In all those scenarios, it's OK to bring a home-brewed deck and play your heart out.
However, there is a flipside to all this.  If you plan to do well, you will need a proven deck.  If your goal is trying to make the Top 4 (or Top 8), then you will need a proven deck.  By taking a proven deck into battle, you are saving yourself countless hours of playtesting.  You take away the option of getting obscured results that can't be corrected in time.  You also get a deck with a solid decklist that's proven itself already.  There's no shame is copying a deck. 
If you've already got your mind set on playing Monoblue Control, why not play a proven one already?  If I were to go out and build a car with a new fuel source, I'm not going to jump right in and build a whole new engine to go with it.  Someone has already done some work with engine design, so I might as well start there and use as much as I can.  You might find a couple of cards to make certain matchups better and you can make changes accordingly.  You don't have to leave the deck the same as when yo go it.  Just don't get crazy with it. 
Next week, we will be only a couple of days from regionals.  I think I will bring you a few decklists and my last few words of wisdom before sending you off.
Until next time,
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com

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