Chatter of the Squirrel, with Cedric Phillips

Read Zac Hill every Wednesday... at StarCityGames.com!
Zac is having a week off this week. In his place, we have the inestimable Cedric Phillips! In his own words…

Disclaimer: Before I start talking about this here deck, let me get this out of the way. I don’t say “y’all”, my card choices are not “tight,” and I don’t collaborate (and listen) with “The Feldmeister.” If you were looking for those things, turn back before it gets too emo in here.

Hey, I’m here for the big show! What do you mean Zac is taking the week off?

Fine, someone give me a funk’n mic. I’ll run this shiz!

Heeeeeeeeelllllllllooooooooooooooo everybody! And welcome to Chatter of the Squrriel?


That just doesn’t have the ring to it that I thought it would…

So Zac is in LA doing some mock trials (loser), and he politely asked me to take over for him this week. What should I talk about? I won a PTQ last weekend in Cleveland with Flow Rock, but who cares about that?

Yeah, with Flow Rock. So what?

What’s the big deal?

Alright fine, you want a list. I’m in a good mood. Here ya go:

Disclaimer: Before I start talking about this here deck, let me get this out of the way now. I don’t say ya’ll, my card choices are not tight, and I don’t collaborate (and listen) with “The Feldmeister.” If you were looking for those things, turn back before it gets too emo in here.

So, Flow Rock…

Over the holidays (politically correct ding!) I was at a Browns game with friends Joe Gagliardi (Bags) and Steve Schneider when we got to talking about Extended. Bags thought that Destructive Flow was being criminally underplayed and that it would be a good deck to play in the first few PTQs. We got to brainstorming, and we pretty much came up with the above list. Some card choices may look interesting, so I’ll go over a few for everyone:

4 Troll Ascetic: The best card in Flow Rock. Not. Close. It blocks all of Doran Rock’s creatures, cannot be Vedalken Shackled, and can situationally be The Abyss against Red decks. Don’t forget the kiddie combo with Umezawa’s Jitte either, because a lot of decks cannot beat it.

3 Destructive Flow: Sure, this card is the namesake of the deck, but is it really good in the format? Destructive Flow is a situationally good card. Clearly it’s a blow out against all the Invasion land combo decks, but how does it fare against the more popular decks like Doran Rock and Next Level Blue? Your answers are coming in matchup analysis, so stay tuned. (See what I did there? Now you have to keep reading!)

2 Profane Command: Profane Command is an awkward card, because it is so good in the mid to late game that you wish you had more, but in some matchups (Ideal, Dredge, etc) it’s an actual blank. When it’s good, it’s great and vice versa.

4 Extirpate: This card is better than Leyline of the Void because everyone is siding in Chain of Vapor against Black decks. As a result, people will be bringing in dead cards against you. Typically what happens is that Dredge decks mulligan until they can find a card with Dredge, a way to put it in the bin, and a Chain of Vapor. If they keep these hands, it’s very hard to lose. Extirpate their dredge enabler and you will typically find a hand of Chain of Vapor, Dread Return(s), and other assorted do-nothings.

Sure, having a deck list is great, but you need to know what to do with it. The thing about Flow Rock is that it’s an extremely fair deck. As a result, you have to know what to do in all aspects of the game. You need to know what cards are important in what situations, what to imprint with Chrome Mox, and a number of important intricacies. I’m not going to say the deck is hard to play, because this is just an aggressive deck at heart, but you will lose a lot of games due to small mistakes.

“What do I do against the format, Ced?”

I’m glad you asked, lovable reader!

Affinity – This matchup is fairly straightforward. If you play Destructive Flow between turns 1-3, Affinity is going to have a very difficult time winning. Your creatures are worse than theirs in a vacuum, but if they don’t draw Arcbound Ravager they have a hard time beating you. After sideboard, you get a ton of spot removal to compliment your Destructive Flows to cripple them. Be aware that Affinity can beat any deck with their nut draw, so don’t get upset if it happens to you.

Out: 4 Cabal Therapy, 3 Thoughtseize, 2 Profane Command
In: 2 Ancient Grudge, 3 Krosan Grip, 1 Destructive Flow, 3 Smother

Cards you care about: Arcbound Ravager, Ornithopter/Blinkmoth Nexus with a Cranial Plating, Fatal Frenzy on an Atog

Goblins – This matchup is a lot about hitting with early discard. Discard is great against Goblins for the same reason that they hate playing Chrome Mox. Goblins needs every spell that they draw in order to win each game, because their only way to recoup the card disadvantage from imprinting on Chrome Mox is resolving Goblin Ringleader. Forcing them to discard is like forcing them to imprint over and over again, except they do not receive the “bonus.” Therefore, hitting with Cabal Therapy on the first attempt is going to lead to a lot of wins.

Here is one of many matchups where Troll Ascetic is great. Goblins cannot kill it, nor can they reasonably attack through it and expect their creatures to live. After sideboarding, you sideboard in Smothers to deal with Goblin Warchief and Goblin Piledriver. Also, do your best not to search up a Mountain so Goblin King remains irrelevant.

Out: 3 Destructive Flow
In: 3 Smother

Cards that you care about: Goblin Ringleader, Siege-Gang Commander, Skirk Prospector (stops your Jitte from getting active)

TEPS – We all know that an early Destructive Flow is going to win us the game. It’s the “Plan B” that we need to address. The cards that you worry about from TEPS are Chromatic Star/Sphere and Lotus Bloom. You truly fear Chromatic Star/Sphere because they give the TEPS player the chance to get lucky after you shred their hand with discard. In the unfortunate event that you do not draw a Destructive Flow, the cards you are looking to peel are Thoughtseize, Cabal Therapy, Dark Confidant to continue supplying the fuel, Eternal Witness to rebuy the fuel, and Putrefy to kill a Lotus Bloom once it comes in off suspend. As you can see, Flow Rock has a lot of great cards against TEPS, whereas TEPS has few against Flow Rock. After sideboarding, Flow Rock brings in more ways to destroy a Lotus Bloom along with the fourth Destructive Flow.

Out: 1 Smother, 2 Putrefy, 3 Umezawa’s Jitte
In: 2 Ancient Grudge, 3 Krosan Grip, 1 Destructive Flow

Cards that you care about: Chromatic Sphere, Chromatic Star, Lotus Bloom

Ideal – This matchup is basically the same as TEPS. A Destructive Flow is pretty much an auto win, but you need a Plan B. For starters, don’t go below 17 against any deck with Invasion lands just in case of Draco buffoonery. With that out of the way, I think Flow Rock’s “Plan B” is the same as in the TEPS matchup; make them discard infinite. Flow Rock has a lot of great cards against Enduring Ideal, so just draw them and you should be fine. I like leaving Profane Command in here just in case they try to Form of the Dragon you out. Profane Command seems like a better option than Birds Paradise plus Umezawa’s Jitte.

Out: 1 Smother, 3 Umezawa’s Jitte, 2 Putrefy
In: 2 Ancient Grudge, 3 Krosan Grip, 1 Destructive Flow

Cards you care about: Lotus Bloom, Enduring Ideal (dur hur hur!), Burning Wish, Seething Song

Next Level Blue – This matchup is incredibly close. Your goals in this matchup change very quickly, so pay attention. Your initial goals are to a) Resolve a Dark Confidant by turn 2, b) Resolve a Troll Ascetic as soon as possible, or c) Strip their hand via discard. If you can get any of those things done by turn 3, you are in great shape. If Next Level Blue gets control with Counterbalance plus Sensei’s Divining Top, it is very difficult for Flow Rock to win. Flow Rock really needs to keep Next Level Blue on the defensive and hope it never gets its feet set. If Next Level Blue ever does get its feet set, Flow Rock is down to a two-outer: 2 Profane Command. Luckily that card is amazing against Next Level Blue, so it is a good out to have (just ask Tom LaPille!)

How good Destructive Flow is in this matchup is entirely down you with your opponent and nothing to do with you. If your opponent goes out of his way to search up Ravnica Duals with his fetchlands, then you can mize a free game 1 with Destructive Flow. However, it is a fairly rare occurrence, so do not rely on that route to victory. Lastly, play around Force Spike at all times. It really isn’t that hard!

After sideboard, be aware that Threads of Disloyalty exists. The reasons Flow Rock sides the way it does are pretty obvious.

Out: 3 Destructive Flow, 3 Umezawa’s Jitte, 1 Putrefy, 1 Thoughtseize
In: 3 Krosan Grip, 3 Smother, 2 Ancient Grudge

Cards you care about: All of them!

Chocolate Rain – This matchup is quite easy for Flow Rock. Cabal Therapy ruins Chocolate Rain, so be sure to be a sniper. When building your manabase during a game, make sure to search up as many basics as possible to shut off Chocolate Rain’s Molten Rains. Blistering Firecat isn’t a surprise anymore, so don’t let it catch you off guard Lastly, Chocolate Rain cannot defeat an active Umezawa’s Jitte, so get it active! After sideboarding, Flow Rock brings in additional Smothers to combat Tarmogoyfs and Grim Lavamancers, along with the hideous Ravenous Baloth to gain some life. Oh, the things I would do to be able to play Loxodon Hierarch

Out:3 Thoughtseize, 2 Putrefy
In: 3 Smother, 2 Ravenous Baloth

Cards you care about: Grim Lavamancer, Molten Rain (if you had to play a non-basic land), Blistering Firecat (try your best not to let this ruin you)

Doran Rock – This matchup is very close. This is another case of where you can Destructive Flow them but are unsure how good it will be. There have been times where I just cast Destructive Flow and Doran Rock immediately folded. Other times, not so much.

This matchup is a war of attrition. Both decks have pretty much the same cards, except where they have Vindicate, Loxodon Hierarch, and Doran, the Siege Tower, Flow Rock has Destructive Flow, Umezawa’s Jitte, and Troll Ascetic. It’s nice that Flow Rock has the opportunity to completely ruin Doran Rock with a Destructive Flow, but they can also ruin Flow Rock with a turn 2 Vindicate on one of our lands. This is basically a mirror match without it being a true mirror match.

After sideboarding, you bring in more spot removal because they are better topdecks than discard.

Out: 3 Destructive Flow, 4 Cabal Therapy
In: 3 Smother, 2 Ravenous Baloth, 2 Krosan Grip (fear of Pernicious Deed and Sword of Light and Shadow)

Cards you care about: Profane Command, Vindicate, Dark Confidant

Dredge – I’m pretty sure this is Flow Rock’s worst matchup, but Dredge is a lot of decks’ worst matchup! Admittedly, this matchup doesn’t become an auto win after sideboarding, but I think it’s just dumb to scoop up the matchup when you can fight them with Extirpates, flashing back Cabal Therapies, and getting an Umezawa’s Jitte active. Also, keep in mind that if you ever beat Dredge game 1, you have pretty much won the match.

Out: 3 Destructive Flow, 3 Thoughtseize, 3 Putrefy
In: 3 Smother, 4 Extirpate, 2 Ravenous Baloth

Cards you care about: Pretty much all of them

Zoo – This matchup is all about playing Destructive Flow as soon as possible, and then sticking a Tarmogoyf or Troll Ascetic. Your Birds of Paradise is going to die every time on turn 1, so do not rely on it to cast a turn 2 Destructive Flow or any of your other spells. You want to be able to Chrome Mox into an early Destructive Flow. After sideboarding, Smother kills all of their creatures, and Ravenous Baloth holds down the fort just long enough to get the job done.

Out: 3 Cabal Therapy, 3 Thoughtseize
In: 1 Destructive Flow, 3 Smother, 2 Ravenous Baloth

Cards you care about: Grim Lavamancer, Vindicate, Gaea’s Might (a lot of people have cut this from their deck), Threads of Disloyalty (after sideboard).

How good a deck is Flow Rock? I look at Flow Rock like a Rock deck with an “Oops, I Win” card. I believe having an “Oops, I Win” card or deck (Dredge/Enduring Ideal) is the key to doing well in this format. I also took advantage of both PTQs because this deck was very off-the-radar. I think that now it’s back on the radar it gets slightly worse. This article isn’t a recommendation to play the deck, but this isn’t me telling you NOT to play it. It’s just a weird deck choice!

If I’ve left something out, I’ll be birding the forums. Leave comments, both good and bad, and I will tend to them.

Zac is back next week. Hope everyone had fun!

Vote for me for Magic Storyte… Ah screw it. Evan deserved it anyway.

Peace out, everyone!

Cedric Phillips
VisaraTheLucky on AIM

PS: List of things you should/should not do:

See Juno
Listen to Paramore
Eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Play Rith’s Charm in a PTQ