From the moment Scourge rumors were floating about, Tendrils of Agony began to seep into the Type One consciousness as a very natural finisher for any combo deck. All an academy deck wants to do is play spells and draw cards. It couldn’t be more natural than to ask that Tendrils of Agony be the win condition, as it was both uncounterable for practical purposes and a one-card combo. Play spells, draw cards, and play one kill which costs a mere four mana (off Dark Rituals, presumably, given the inherent synergy).
However, efforts to revive a Neo-Academy never really got off the ground. I threw around Pat Chapin’s old Academy list as one that would have natural synergy with Tendrils, as he was one of the few to run Dark Rituals.
Pat Chapin’s Academy (1999)
R Wheel of Fortune
4 Dark Ritual
R Mana Vault
R Black Lotus
R Mox Sapphire
R Mox Jet
R Mox Ruby
R Mox Pearl
R Mox Emerald
R Sol Ring
R Lotus Petal
R Mana Crypt
R Lion’s-Eye Diamond
R Library of Alexandria
4 City of Brass
1 Gemstone Mine
4 Underground Sea
1 Underground River
Cutting the old combo and adding a couple of copies of Tendrils to the maindeck would really enhance the power of this deck. Other changes need to be made such as the addition of Duress, the removal of Defense Grid, Mind Twist, and Misdirections, and the addition of a few more blue cards to keep the Force of Wills viable, such as Brainstorms, Mind’s Desire, and possibly Hurkyl’s Recall, Meditates, and Frantic Search.
But, as I said, efforts to revive Academy never really got off the ground. The restriction of Gush and Mind’s Desire, the entrance of Scourge, and the arrival on the masses of Workshop Prison decks distracted people’s attention. The format was not only in massive transition, it was quickly trying to adjust after four months of Gro-A-Tog domination (statistically speaking, it accounted for over 36% of top 8 slots in recorded top 8s from April through June) in preparation for perhaps one of the most anticipated events for the format: The Vintage Championships.
Mike Krzywicki had an idea, though. He shared his Mind’s Desire deck with the online community – which would have been legal had Mind’s Desire not been preemptively restricted. His Mind’s Desire deck differed in many respects from other developed builds, but he had one card that he really emphasized as the reason to play this deck: Lion’s Eye Diamond. Make no mistake – that is what gives this deck its steam and its power. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the designers of this deck. It takes a lot of outside the box thinking to realize the potential of Lion’s Eye Diamond. He specifically built this deck to abuse it as much as possible, and it certainly does. Any draw-seven, any tutor, any Burning Wish may be played, and responded to with the sacrificing of a Lion’s Eye Diamond to get mana to play the fetched or newly-drawn spells. This deck really maximizes the benefit that one gets with Lion’s Eye Diamond, and it is what attracted Mike Krzywicki to the deck in the first place.
The restriction of Mind’s Desire left the designers undaunted, as well it should have. Mike had stumbled onto the breaking of Lion’s Eye Diamond, a card often dismissed out of hand, but whose potential is fully realized in this concept. Colloquially, this deck is to be referred to as Long.dec simply because people have read Mike Long’s promotion of it. While this is a misnomer, most people will know what you are talking about and so it is functionally useful. But to be more specific, Burning Academy is the proper name as the previous name”Burning Desire” is made obsolete by the fact that it is no longer centrally a Desire deck. While the deck may not actively try and get Academy in play, the way in which modern Academy decks attempts to combo out is not very different from this deck. Once Lion’s Eye Diamond is restricted or if Mirrodin has a big impact, then this deck will morph back into a regular Academy deck, an updated build of Chapin’s 1999 variant. Something which is far more manageable for Type One.
The development of this build really begins not with Mike Krzywicki, but with Roland Bode. At the very be ginning of July, Roland was promoting his ingenious variant of Mike Krzywicki’s build – a build which I began with when I started testing the deck as soon as I landed stateside the second week in August. I didn’t begin testing with the expectation that it would actually be any good; on the contrary, I thought I’d spend a week testing it, learning its ins and outs, and then move on. That week ballooned into four, and the conclusion that this was the most busted deck in the format. I simply wanted to sweep through the major Type One decks, testing, one by one, the decks that I didn’t get to test while Gro-A-Tog was legal and while I was in England.
Roland Bode’s Long.dec:
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Fact or Fiction
2 Hunting Pack
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
4 Dark Ritual
4 Burning Wish
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mind’s Desire
1 Time Walk
1 Wheel of Fortune
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mana Crypt
1 Memory Jar
1 Mox Diamond
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Vault
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
The reasoning behind the Hunting Packs was Roland’s belief, expressed in his letter to Mike Long, that this deck had some real weaknesses against control – and so you only had to hold a few spells to get the Pack lethal. His real change was a complete overhaul of the mana base – a key development that later made Xantid Swarm stronger. The original decklist used fetchlands and dual lands with four Gemstone Mines. Using cities was a much stronger move, and you only lost a very minimal amount of shuffle with Brainstorm. Moreover, Roland wasn’t even running Brainstorm. It only took a nanosecond for me to cut Fact or Fiction and move the Balance to the sideboard.
And so began the real tuning. I opened up a thread on The Mana Drain entitled,”Perfecting Long’s Burning Desire.” The next two changes I made were to cut the maindeck Hunting Packs in favor of one Tendrils in the maindeck. At first, I was motivated by a desire to not lose to cards like Meddling Mage, but the real benefits of having a maindeck Tendrils quickly became apparent. Having the Tendrils maindeck made the deck play in a more stable fashion and gave you earlier wins that you could simply tutor out Tendrils with – or accelerate your wins by fetching Yawgmoth’s Will, which could cast a Tendrils that you had dropped into your graveyard.
Additionally, early testing had indicated that Mind’s Desire was best played in the sideboard, but I moved it into the maindeck after powerful arguments were presented that I should. I was opposed at first because, in my experience, I had tended to like being able to Wish it out of the sideboard. I soon came to realize, however, that the times in which I would actually Wish out Desire were far more narrow than the times in which I would Wish out Yawgmoth’s Will or Tinker, both of which were in the sideboard. What finally sold me was the suggestion that a Time Spiral would perform sufficiently similar function in the sideboard that the benefit of having the Desire in the maindeck would not go unappreciated. I also quickly discovered that Future Sight was not the”I win” card that it so wanted to be, and so it was one of the first cards to get cut. Once in a while, Future Sight would hit and it would be everything you wanted – Mox, Mox, draw-seven – But the vast majority of the time, it was never functionally sufficient on its own, and even in conjunction with cards like Brainstorm, it was too easy to stall.
At what was supposed to be a brief engagement with this deck to familiarize myself with its play style, ballooned into a much longer engagement. Soon, I began promoting this deck to my playtest partners and team members. I played a few games online with one playtest partner, Koen Van Der Hulst, who, like most good players, fell in love with the deck immediately after a demonstration of its power.
For a while, I had updated my decklist on the Mana Drain thread – but each time, there was one”random test slot.” It was Kevin Cron who finally suggested the final piece to this deck: Diminishing Returns. While Eric Fortin had considered this card in early July, it took a certain amount of development for the potential of Returns to be fully realized. With Returns being realized as the final critical component, I could move Tinker into the maindeck – and it was finished. The Returns functioned sufficiently similar in the board that the one casting cost difference was no regret. If there is one deck that is not harmed by removing the top ten cards of a library, it is this deck. The only way you could lose is if you remove the remaining three Wishes, and the maindeck Tendrils – something that’s rather unlikely. Additionally, if some juicy draw-seven were removed, you’d be able to fetch it out with a Wish if you were so inclined.
As far as the maindeck is concerned, one last modification was made after Koen had already submitted his article: I cut one Chromatic Sphere for a Mox Diamond. While this move might appear somewhat controversial, I have no doubt that is it the proper decision after countless hours of playtesting.
And so, we ended up with this:
Revised List: 8/28/03
By Stephen Menendian
The Mana, a.k.a. 5 Lotuses, 8 Moxes(n), and 5 Rituals, and some land.
3 Chromatic Sphere
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
1 Mox Diamond
4 Dark Ritual
4 Gemstone Mine
4 City of Brass
1 Tolarian Academy
2 Underground Sea
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Tendrils of Agony
4 Xantid Swarm
This is, undoubtedly, the fastest deck I have ever played. Admittedly, I never played Magic during Urza’s Block; I regrettably quit Magic not long after Type Two phased out my favorite cards.
I could spend a lot more time here debating the various inclusions – but I won’t for two reasons. Many of the decisions are very close decisions, and require enormous amounts of testing to verify. Secondly, it detracts from the focus of this article. So I’ll ask that you trust my testing, and do some of your own to supplement it.
I’d like to address some of the claims that critics have leveled at this deck.
Claim #1: This Deck Is Inconsistent
One of the charges against this deck is that it is inconsistent. That is utterly false. However, even I alluded to this in my Vintage Championship metagame article. The reason was simple: Look at the mana base. You have thirty-two mana sources – the most of any Vintage deck right now. It only makes sense that there should be large variations in the amount of mana you receive in your opening draw. The flaw in that is that eighteen mana sources are speed mana – either Lotuses (Lotus, four LEDs), Moxen (Sol Ring, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Sapphire, Mox Emerald, Mox Ruby, Mox Diamond, Lotus Petal), or Dark Rituals (four Dark Rituals, and Mana Vault). Moreover, the three Chromatic Spheres make all off-color mana sources on color at a very low cost. The result is that you can play almost all of your mana immediately, so that each card you cast because far more potent as its impact on the game is potentially immediate. In fact, this is one of the most consistent decks you can play. I rarely have to mulligan at all. The addition of cards like Brainstorm only make this deck more so.
As to how fast this deck is, it is often faster than the card Tolarian Academy itself. Whereas the old Academy decks would use cards like Crop Rotation to get an Academy into play, this deck may find itself with an LED, Mox and an Academy in the opening hand, and opt instead to play the Gemstone Mine because a Dark Ritual gives more mana than Academy. Academy often requires the game to get to around turn 3 to really maximize its abuse, whereas the”fundamental Turn” of this deck is turn 2. Turn 3 wins are more infrequent than turn 1 wins with this deck. If you are playing against a deck without Force of Wills, you are essentially goldfishing.
Claim #2: This Deck Just Loses To Force Of Will And/Or Duress.
The implication is that this is a one shot deck. This charge is also completely false. This deck has amazing resiliency. It is true that it can get hands that just lose to a FOW or a Duress – but then again, so do other decks if that disruption is backed up by more threats, draw and answers.
The biggest threats to this deck are specific hosers like Sphere of Resistance, Null Rod, and Arcane Lab. Force of Will is also much scarier than a Duress. The reason is simple: If someone Duresses you, they have taken a card that you would have cast. With FOW, they are reacting to something that you have cast and so you have already made your mana investment – something you can’t get back. Moreover, you may have also gambled that they didn’t have a Force of Will and so you busted one or more Lion’s Eye Diamonds.
Claim #3: If This Deck Was So Good, Then Why Isn’t It Winning All The Big Tournaments?
I see this one pop up a lot. There are a few simple reasons for this.
First of all, it didn’t catch on right away. Right at about the time Mind’s Desire was restricted, Rector decks and Stax were relatively new and hogging a lot of the attention. The fact that Gro-A-Tog was leaving the format renewed enthusiasm in dedicated control players – because that meant that they now had a chance to compete again.
Then, only a few weeks into July, the metagame was surprised by the success of Hulk and a new upstart combo deck: Dragon. In my Predicting the metagame article, I mentioned Dragon using Bazaar based upon my online testing with Rich, but even I never foresaw it being that good. However, I did talk at length about whether the combo decks would consolidate – I think we are finally witnessing some of that. The rector decks have heavily subsided in favor of this deck, Dragon, and Neo-Academy builds.
Another huge reason why this hasn’t really been doing very well in tournament play is that it took some time to get the right build. The finishing touch was the rediscovery of Diminishing Returns by Kevin Cron. This allowed the Tinker to move into the maindeck. Finally, it is an extremely difficult deck to play – I think it is the most difficult deck to play in Vintage right now because there are so many good decisions, but only one best decision.
Reasons to Play This Deck:
At its highest echelon, Vintage is currently dominated by decks that have extremely narrow win ratios between the matchups. The result is that the coin flip and luck of the draw are more important than the actual win ratio. In other words, the standard error is greater than the win ratio.
The result is that, beyond a certain skill threshold, luck is incredibly important. The reason for this is that the decks are so incredibly fast and are often decided by the opening hand. The primary effect of this is to weed out a vast majority of deck from Tier One contention; the second effect of this suggests that the deck to play is the most consistent deck in the upper tier. Moreover, you want to play the most broken deck as well, because you will have the best shot at out-doing another broken deck in brokenness. That, for example, is a reason to play this deck over a Academy Rector deck. Finally, it is the fastest deck in Type One right now. If luck of the draw is most important, then having a deck which gives the most punch at the greatest speed from that hand is probably worth playing.
Having played, in detail, Tog, Welder MUD, and Dragon, the other three decks which I believe constituted the upper tier of the format, it is my opinion that this it the most consistent of all four decks in terms of needing to mulligan. Tog is a very consistent deck as well, but it is not nearly as fast.
As you can see by the categorization of”cards that just win” is the assumption that you don’t stall out on these cards. It is a very fair assumption – but unfortunately, you do have a nonzero chance of getting nothing off of them. However, that risk is very slight.
The rest of this article is going to highlight the development of this deck, some basics on how to play it, and then some detailed game analysis. The analysis is absolutely necessary to demonstrate how this deck operates, but in no way substitutes for actual play testing.
There is no good substitute for a lot of experience with this deck. The rewards will be very rich for investing the time into testing it. I would say that you shouldn’t even bother taking this to a tournament unless you have at a minimum a week of playtesting with this deck. When you draw any given hand, and decide on a course of action that you think is best, you are wrong. There is always a better course of action. With a deck like this, there are many”good” players… But only one perfect path. Figuring out that perfect path is the trick of this deck.
I have played this deck for quite a bit, and so what I’m going to do is to abstract the basic game plan this deck has into a few discrete categories. Take a look at the decklist above. This deck can seem pretty overwhelming at first – with many decks, you play card X, then card Y, then Z and you win, or variations on that and similar patterns. With this deck you play any card A through Y, and then finish with Z. However, more often than not, some recurrent patterns emerge, and I am going to describe some of the more noticeable scenarios this deck plays through.
However, before we get into these paths of play, let me point out two basic principles for playing this deck:
1) Maximize your Cards/Threats.
This is particularly important in playing against control. You have a limited amount of potent threats. However, the reason this deck has game against control is because it is so fast. If you blow your wad on a spell and then sac a Lion’s Eye Diamond in response, only to have your spell Force of Willed, and you were holding two or three other good spells you could play next turn, you made a huge mistake.
2) Actively Attempt to Find the Shortest Path to Victory.
This is much easier said than done. It is so easy to get caught up in the brokenness of this deck, that you miss the obvious win that you have in front of you.
One caveat to this is: Don’t try and force every hand to win early. It is easy to set your expectations for this deck so high that you want every hand to look like a turn 1 win. If you do that, you will be distorting this deck’s capabilities and increase your chances of stalling. You do not actually need to win against every deck on turn 1, or even turn 2. In fact, some of our games against Tog demonstrate that slow play (meaning slowing down the game for a turn or two before”going off”) may actually pay a large reward.
That said, if you have a faster win, try and find it and make use of it.
And so this leads us into our first scenario. What I have done is abstracted this deck’s primary methods for winning into four discrete categories. I’m painting with broad strokes here to provide the framework for how this deck operates.
Scenario 1: I Just Win
This is the scenario you are always hoping for. It is the shortest distance between two points. With this scenario, all you have to do is tutor up Burning Wish or a Lotus (if you have a Burning Wish in hand), Burning Wish for Yawgmoth’s Will, play it, and tutor up Tendrils and then win. It is easy because it requires so little – basically a tutor, some mana acceleration and that is about it. Preferably, you’ll also be able to play a Duress to back it up.
A sample hand might look like this:
Under this hand, it’s pretty straightforward. You play the LED, the Dark Ritual, Tutor up Lotus, play the Lotus, sac it for RRR, play Burning Wish, response sac LED, play Yawgmoth’s Will exclusively to get the Tendrils lethal – then bring back all the juice from the graveyard, play it, sac it, and tutor up Tendrils and just win. There are many variants on this sort of hand, but they produce the same result. Sometimes you don’t need a tutor. The key is finding a Burning Wish, and having access to either another Burning Wish, or a way to find your maindeck Tendrils.
I’ve lumped these cards together because they produce a similar function. It may be as simple as a turn 1: Dark Ritual -> Necropotence, or as complex as Mystical Tutoring up Mind’s Desire, saccing a pair of Lion’s Eye Diamonds, and activating a Chromatic Sphere to draw the desire and Desire for at least half a dozen. In many ways, the Desire is preferable because it is Force of Will-resistant. And if you are playing against Control, Necro is pretty easy to protect since it is so cheap to cast.
But if you aren’t playing against control, by far the best is Bargain. Very few cards in Magic say”I Win” like Bargain does. If you have Bargain, you have a very good shot at just winning right there, even if you have no mana on the board. Since you draw one card at a time, as soon as you get a Lion’s Eye Diamond you should sac it unless you have a good reason not to. Also, this deck has so many free- or one-mana sources of mana (nineteen, to be exact) that you have an excellent shot at just winning. If you want to be sure, it rarely hurts to wait until your next turn to untap and have full resources at your disposal before going off.
Scenario 3: The Draw-sevens
This is a tough path to follow because it involves making key decisions every step of the way. Your goal is that your draw-seven will accelerate you into the win. Ideally, you play a draw-seven and then sac a Lion’s Eye Diamond in response to leave three black floating (barring any other mana). Ceteris Peribus, it is best to sacrifice for black because it constitutes the mana that you can most use with your tutors, Duresses, Dark Rituals, and broken cards. Moreover, you may draw into a land you can play or a Chromatic Sphere, which can give you a blue. With the exception of Desire and Diminishing Returns, nothing costs UU, and while there aren’t many more spells that cost black, black is a color you use a lot – for example, Duressing to clear the way. In order to really maximize on the draw-seven, the ideal is to have some mana floating over, whether it be from an LED or a Dark Ritual. Every little bit helps to accelerate you into a position where a Burning Wish for Yawgmoth’s Will seals the deal (or even a Wish for a Tendrils, if it is feasible). The deck is also designed to provide as little chance of stalling out as possible, which is why I have these cards classified as”the win.”
Scenario 4: The Stall
This can come up if you aren’t being careful, or if you get unlucky. This is the scenario you want to avoid at all costs. It can come up, and if it comes up, you should be prepared for how to deal with it. One way it can come up is if you sac LED after a broken spell and the spell gets countered. You are left with no cards and possibly little mana. Another way this can happen is if your Draw-seven plan doesn’t pan out, or if your Desire turns up very little. Luckily, this deck can recover very quickly from such seemingly devastating situations. The reason is that the deck is so mana packed, that you will be able to use any bomb that you draw off the top. The second reason is that each bomb is so good that it either has to be answered, or you have a serious possibility of simply winning. Another possibility is slow playing in order to set up a huge desire. Sometimes you’ll be lucky and tutor straight into the desire, other times, you won’t be.
The most difficult matchups are against Tog and Welder Mud (Heavier Brown Stax variant). I will be writing about Welder Mud in the near future. For now, it suffices to say that in the pre-Mirrodin environment, long splits with both decks. One big reason is that the actual win ratio is less than flip of the coin and the luck of the draw. As a result, in a tournament, the actual match could go either way. But in both matchups, I would rather be on the Long side of the table. I’ll explain why through some games I played and through analysis.
Before I get into specifics, I want to re-iterate the point that I have made earlier. This decks biggest weakness isn’t to Force of Will or Duress, but to specific hosers such as Sphere, Null Rod and the like, and to Force-heavy hands if they are backed up with more ammunition and powerful draw. The reason this deck performs so well versus control – and the reason it is relatively immune to hate – is because it can blitz past both hate and control answers, winning before the blue mage gets UU up. Playing Long is unlike anything before. In the ADD format that characterizes Vintage, like the events in Dragonball Z, you play a massively decompressed game where so much happens in the space of one turn. For Long, turn 3 is not only a long game, it is the late game.
I’m going to go through games against several decks: Goblin Sligh, Tog, Welder Mud, Stacker 3, and Stax. I’m demonstrating how Long functions against each deck for a specific reason. I’m going to start with Goblins so you can see how the deck functions almost on a Goldfishing level, then I’ll move on to the more difficult matchups to illustrate various principles of game play in my next article.
Long Versus Gobbos
My Opening hand:
Mox Ruby, Underground Sea, Sol Ring, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Vampiric Tutor, and Duress. There is nothing absolutely busted about this hand, but it has a lot of potential. The thing I like about Long.dec is that hands like this morph into ridiculous hands by turn 3 at the latest.
I draw Dark Ritual. I play my Underground Sea, Mox Ruby, tap it and then play Sol Ring and pass the turn. At this stage of the game, you have to be constantly weighing your alternatives. I could have played the Sol Ring, but I figure that I can get a Brainstorm out of the land on his end step, and then Vamp into something during my upkeep, presumably being able to play it off the land I Brainstorm into. If he has a Wasteland, then I can adjust my plans if need be. The point is, I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat here.
Goblin Lackey attacks me and puts a Goblin Piledriver into play. He plays another mountain and casts a Goblin Cadet, and then passes the turn. During his end step, I Brainstorm into Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Chromatic Sphere putting back Duress and Chromatic Sphere.
During my upkeep, I Vampiric Tutor. I could get Yawgmoth’s Bargain and play it… But it’s much easier to just win. I get Burning Wish. I play Lotus Petal and Lion’s Eye Diamond. I sacrifice Petal for Black and play Dark Ritual. BB floating. Tap Ruby and Sol Ring. BBR2 mana floating. I play Burning wish, response sacrifice Lion’s Eye diamond for Black. I have UUUBB1 floating. I fetch Yawgmoth’s Will from my Sideboard, cast Will, using BU1 floating UUB. I replay play Petal, Dark Ritual, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. I sac the Diamond for Black. UUBBBBBB floating. I Vamp into Tendrils of Agony. I then Brainstorm into Tendrils, and play it with UB floating for twenty-four points.
(And then presumably smiled and said,”Good game” – The Ferrett)
My Opening hand:
Mox Emerald, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Mana Crypt, City of Brass, Gemstone Mine, Burning Wish, and Demonic Consultation. This is a very busted hand. Even against a control deck, I wouldn’t be too worried with the Consult.
I draw Mind’s Desire. I have several options, but decide to go for the gusto with a broken turn one Mind’s Desire. I play the Mox Emerald, the Mana Crypt, the Gemstone Mine, and the Lion’s Eye Diamond.
Storm count: 3.
I tap the Emerald and the Mine to play Burning Wish, in response sacrifice the Lion’s Eye Diamond for BBB, discarding Consult and the Mind’s Desire. I fetch out Yawgmoth’s Will, Tap Mana Crypt, and play it leaving BB floating. I then replay the Diamond.
Storm count: 6.
I am close to being able to play the Consult from my ‘yard for Burning Wish to fetch out Tendrils and just win. I am one storm away from winning by Consulting for Burning Wish and then fetching out Tendrils for the win. I decide to Consult for another Lion’s Eye Diamond to play the Mind’s Desire for 8, which would surely win me the game. Unfortunately, I get screwed; I am forced to remove the remaining three Wishes and my Tendrils before I see a Lion’s Eye Diamond.
That happens once in a while. So a I got little unlucky, and I lose both my turn 1 win and the game.
It is arguable that I got a little greedy. I mean, if I had just played turn 1 land and slow-played a bit, I might have sealed the deal. It’s not like turn 1 Shaman is going to kill me next turn. But, there was no way to foresee that I would remove all of my win conditions from game.
I am playing first this time. I play the City and Brainstorm. I see Lion’s Eye Diamond, Tinker, and Chromatic Sphere. I put back Tinker, and then Desire on top of that. I play petal, Dark Ritual, sol ring, sphere, Lion’s Eye Diamond, pop sphere for Red, drawing the Desire, then play Burning wish, sacrificing the Diamond in response for three more black. BBBB floating. Then I fetch out Yawgmoth’s Will and play it. I replay the Petal, Ritual, and Diamond. I play the Sphere again, and Desire for thirteen, causing me to win that turn when I play Tendrils.
My test partner plays another Goblin Lackey and passes the turn.
I draw Lion’s Eye Diamond. It took me a while to figure this one out. It’s clear that I need to Mystical for a key spell, and then draw it and use it. The problem is that I can only get one color of mana with the Lotus, and I need both blue and black. If I sacrifice the Lotus for Blue I can Mystical – but if I use the Ancestral, I won’t be able to get black from the Sphere or Red to fetch out a Burning Wish because it costs two mana to both play and use the Chromatic Sphere.
It’s obvious that all I need is a land. If I sacrifice the Lotus for black, I’ll only be able to get one color of mana through Sphere. I decide to play it somewhat risky and sacrifice the Lotus for Blue, casting Ancestral immediately. I draw a land and play it. I cast both Dark Rituals and the Sphere. I then play the Mystical for Burning Wish, placing it on top. If you calculate it out, you’ll see that I have enough mana to Brainstorm as well. I play Brainstorm into another Mox. I put Burning Wish on top. I then sacrifice the Lion’s Eye Diamond for Blue, discarding my hand. I then blow the sphere for Red drawing the Wish. I play the Wish for Yawgmoth’s Will and replay the LED, the dark Rituals, and the Lotus. From here, it is easy to mystical tutor up Tendrils, draw it, and play it for lethal damage. Another turn 1 win.
We played two more games in which I won on turn 1 and turn 2 before giving up on the match. I admit that I had some abnormally lucky draws, but playing draw-sevens on turn 1 or 2 against Sligh isn’t as risky as it might be against another deck which could better capitalize on it, such as another combo deck or a control deck. Additionally, against Sligh, you have the benefit of knowing that Force of Will can’t thwart your plans, and so you are essentially considering how to goldfish through the game.
Hopefully, these games give you a basic idea of how the deck actually plays out, and one of the ways it deals with opposing decks: By blitzing right past them. The real trick to playing this deck is under threat of Sphere of Resistance and Force of Will. And so the next deck we are going to look at is a deck which poses perhaps the biggest threat to Long’s deck: Tog. The Tog build we used is an updated version that was used to win the Vintage Championships at GenCon, sporting four Duresses, as well as the amazing Mind Twist on top of the already-strong Force of Wills and Mana Drains.
That should have given you a sample of how this deck operates. Next week, we’ll be looking at the difficult matchups and how to play against them. So check back here next week for part two of Burning Through Type One With The Fastest Deck in Magic.