Breaking the Metagame: Marathon Man

This deck has a 90%-95% winning percentage in game one versus every deck in the field besides Wake. Do not adjust your screen: Let me repeat those figures. 90%-95%. The only way you lose game one is to mana screw or being caught off guard by something you just never expected, causing misplay.

All who have been paying attention should realize that this format is much like a square… Equal on all sides and quite boring overall. However, I have come up with a deck that simply put, is the end of all this equality in matchups: However, while the deck may break the metagame, it does nothing to stimulate the unending hours of boredom in this format.

In fact – it makes everything worse.

Never before have I seen such a deck, let alone made one. Mafia King was extremely difficult to play through, and Stasis is the subject of many a horror story, but this…. This is in a class of its own. It is the only deck that I have ever played that is so simple, yet so difficult. The decisions are simple, the concept is simple, the motions are simple – but somewhere along the line these things add up to make the most physically and mentally exhausting deck ever.

Thus, I present:

Marathon Man

1 Cephalid Coliseum

10 Island

1 Sungrass Prairie

5 Forest

3 Krosan Verge

2 Plains

2 Skycloud Expanse

4 Aether Burst

2 Far Wanderings

4 Moment’s Peace

4 Circular Logic

4 Compulsion

2 Flash of Insight

4 Concentrate

3 Obsessive Search

1 Envelop

4 Living Wish

4 Solitary Confinement


3 Devoted Caretaker

2 Laquatus’s Disdain

3 Envelop

2 Bearscape

1 Skycloud Expanse

1 Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor

1 Ambassador Laquatus

1 Aven Cloudchaser

1 Genesis

The deck is named for the sake of those who dare to play it. I have done so only it two tournaments, and through them the deck list is near perfect; however, through the course of those two tournaments I learned that the deck is a double-edged sword. It will beat your opponents, but in the end – you will be its last victim.

This deck has a 90%-95% winning percentage in game one versus every deck in the field besides Wake.

Do not adjust your screen: Let me repeat those figures. 90%-95%. The only way you lose game one is to mana screw or being caught off guard by something you just never expected, causing misplay.

After sideboard, the win percentage goes down according to how much they have against you. Usually you can expect a minimum of 60% game win after sideboard.

The Verdict? This deck is good versus the metagame… Really good. Of course, if people started gunning for the deck, Marathon Man would go down in a blaze of glory – but for now, with the metagame the way it is, this deck can be King.

So how does the deck work? If you can’t tell from the decklist, you play out Confinement, Living Wish for the Genesis, and have a Compulsion in play in order to continue drawing cards by cycling through to Obsessive Searches and Concentrates. In game one, depending on your opponents’ deck, you may not even need to have the Compulsion – its only real purpose is to find countermagic and more land… If they have no way to stop the core of your combo, then you need neither.

So how do you win once they cannot damage or target you? Deck them. And thus the marathon begins. You cannot draw cards while under Confinement, while your opponent must. So all you have to do is deal with every way they have to break your soft lock and you win. Simple. Sometimes you have the luxury of wishing up Ambassador Laquatus to speed up the process, but usually it’s to your advantage to do this the hard way.

Don’t get me wrong – I am completely against stalling. It is just that this deck plays naturally slow. I play the deck lightning fast unless I have a tough choice to make. Even so, game one will usually have at least 30 minutes. There was one game where I did absolutely nothing except say”Bring Genesis back, put him down there, go,” for ten whole minutes. I did not touch my cards. I did not touch my three tapped lands. I did not even touch my Genesis. I just sat there – trapped by time.”Bring Genesis back, put him down there, go,” I said as I stared at my opponent, who was not believing this deck. I had the game completely won: I had three or four counters in my hand, but nothing left to cycle with. I had no reason to go get Living Wish for Laquatus.”Bring Genesis back, put him down there, go.” The deck can be maddening at times, but it is very powerful.

“Bring Genesis back, put him down there, go,” I said for the twentieth time when he finally scooped up his cards.

Sometimes people will have interesting ways to get around the combo – here is everything I have had done to me in sanctioned play:

Ray of Revelation (pretty common)

Upheaval (common)

Braids (obvious)

Rancid Earth/Mirari all Green sources (common)

Druid Lyrist (okay…)

Decompose (okay…)

Coffin Purge (okay…)

Epicenter (uncommon)

Ground Seal (Grrrr…I didn’t have Cloudchaser in the sideboard yet)

Nantuko Tracer (what the?)

Grip of Amnesia (what the?!!)

All of these cards were actually played against me!

I always think it is really funny when people try to Krosan Reclamation Genesis out of my grave, only to find that you can’t target me when I have a Confinement out.

The worst matchup for this deck is Monoblack with Guiltfeeder. Marathon Man still has the advantage in the matchup, but it isn’t the cakewalk that everything else is. Watch out for Rancid Earth/Braids! If you really need to deal with Guiltfeeder, add a few Persuasions to the sideboard… Take out one Bearscape and one Devoted Caretaker.

A note on the sideboard – since the deck plays Living Wishes, this is the most important part of the deck, obviously. It was hard to cram everything in there, but here is a rundown:

Vs. U/G Ray of Revelation

Sideboard in three Caretakers and two Disdains, taking out some Concentrates, Obsessive Searches, or Aether Bursts. Take out the same vs. Upheaval, but board in more Envelops.

Vs. Black

Sideboard in two Bearscapes, three Envelops, while taking out four Moment’s Peace and one Obsessive Search.

Vs. W/G

Wish for Aboshan and destroy them.

Vs. U/W Birds

Do whatever you want – you can’t lose.

This deck is quite amazing – but pay heed to my warning. If you play this deck you will probably not win the tournament. It is just too hard to play that much solid magic. Be prepared to not eat or do anything between rounds…you may not even have time to go to the bathroom. You will be the last one playing most of the time. This deck is suffering incarnate – for you – for your opponent – for the Tournament Organizer – and for everyone else in the tournament who will have to wait the maximum amount of time to start each new round while you say”Bring Genesis back, put him down there, go.”

You have been warned – let the marathon begin.

Nate Heiss

[email protected]

Team CMU