Deep Analysis – Taking on the Best Deck

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Thursday, April 17th – Last week, Richard tuned his innovative Spectral Visions deck in order to gain ground in the awful Red matchup. Today, he throws the deck against the toughest deck in the metagame: U/B Faeries. Will the tempo beats from Bitterblossom and Scion of Oona bring down Spectral Force and friends? Read on to find out!

Last week I tuned Spectral Visions to a point where I had turned around the auto-loss Red matchup, and had settled on a build that I was ready to take against Faeries, the best deck in the format.

To recap, my deck’s biggest selling points against Faeries are the Pyroclasms, the Spectral Forces (the key to beating Bitterblossom), and the Ancestrals that let me keep up with their card advantage.

I did the first set against Patrick Chapin Faeries list from a few weeks ago.

Maindeck Game 1

Opening hand: Two Forest, two Yavimaya Coast, two Tarmogoyf, Primal Command. This hand is neither manascrew nor manaflood, but it is wretched. I have two 0/1 Goyfs, no way to grow them until turn five, and only two different colors of mana among four lands. Ship it back for two Yavimaya Coast, two Search for Tomorrow, Shriekmaw, Primal Command. Keeper.

The opponent mulligans once.

I lead with Yavimaya Coast and Search for Tomorrow.

Opponent draws and plays Secluded Glen, revealing Mistbind Clique, and suspends an Ancestral.

I draw Primal Command, which is not as welcome as it would usually be. Play the other Yav Coast and suspend the other Search.

Opponent draws and plays Mutavault.

I fetch out a Swamp, then draw and play Underground River. My hand is now Shriekmaw and two Primal Commands, and I have a Search coming in next turn. The opponent has an Ancestral with three counters on it, along with Secluded Glen and Mutavault, and he definitely has Mistbind Clique in hand.

Opponent draws and plays River of Tears, then passes.

Search fires off and resolves, fetching Mountain. Draw Ponder, play Primal Command targeting Mutavault. Opponent lets it resolve. I search up Spectral Force; if he didn’t have a Snag for the Command, I suspect he won’t for the Force, either.

Opponent draws and re-plays Mutavault, then passes.

Draw Pyroclasm. Play Spectral Force; it resolves. Opponent plays Spellstutter Sprite on end step.

Opponent’s Ancestral fires, then he plays another Mutavault and taps out for Mistbind Clique.

Draw Yavimaya Coast. Play Ponder, seeing Ancestral Vision, Remove Soul, and Spectral Force. Hmm. I like the Spectral Force in that mix, but I don’t love it when I have two five-cost spells (Primal Command and Shriekmaw with body) to be casting over the next two turns anyway, so I’m going to shuffle. Draw Rune Snag. Beat for eight with Force, then play Yavimaya Coast and Shriekmaw the Clique.

Opponent draws, beats with Spellstutter Sprite, suspends Ancestral, then resolves another Clique.

Draw Ponder and cast it. See Rune Snag, Spectral Force, and Forest. Beautiful! Put the Spectral Force on top, followed by Forest and then Rune Snag. Beat with Shriekmaw and play the Force. This way I have a blocker for potential Mutavault beats, as well as a Forest coming next turn with which to protect my Primal Command.

Opponent draws, beats with Mistbind Clique (dropping me to six; my three Yavimaya Coasts have dealt me nine this game), plays a third Mutavault, and passes.

I untap the team, draw Forest, and play it. My hand is Rune Snag, Pyroclasm, Primal Command. Obviously casting Pyro here would kill my Shriekmaw and that’s it. I have two Spectral Forces and a Shriekmaw ready for battle, and he’s at nine, but since he hasn’t conceded, the only logical conclusion is that he’s going to try to get me with either Cryptic Command or Pestermite here to stop some damage. I have Rune Snag available, but he has six mana, so he can pay for it in either case.

Because these are his two outs, I do not play Primal Command pre-combat under any circumstances, since that would let him counter it with Cryptic Command, tap my team down, and swing for the win next turn. Instead, I simply move to attack, and force him to blow the Command prematurely, ensuring that I can resolve my Primal Command post-combat and keep my life total afloat long enough to swing for the win next turn instead.

I move to attack, but he has Pestermite instead of Cryptic Command. Now it’s time for some simple math. Obviously Pestermite will tap down one of my Spectral Forces, but the other Force and the Shriekmaw are still lethal, with two points to spare. Obviously he plans to block the Spectral Force with a Mutavault, but if I Rune Snag his Pestermite and he pays, he won’t have enough mana left to activate it.

I Rune Snag it, he pays, taps one of my Forces, chumps the other one, and takes exactly lethal anyway.


Maindeck Game 2

My opening hand has no Blue sources or Searches, but two Blue cards, a Pyro, and a Cloudthresher. Ship it back for Yavimaya Coast, Terramorphic Expanse, Ancestral Vision, Pyroclasm, and two Primal Commands. Run it.

Opponent keeps his opener.

Opponent leads with Secluded Glen revealing Bitterblossom and Ancestral Vision.

I draw Tarmogoyf, play Yavimaya Coast, and suspend my own Ancestral.

Opponent draws, then plays River of Tears and Bitterblossom.

I draw Rune Snag and play Terramorphic Expanse.

Opponent draws, then plays Island. I Expanse for Mountain on his end step.

I draw Forest and play it. I summon Tarmogoyf to draw a counter; unfortunately, the counter is Spellstutter Sprite.

Opponent draws, then plays Secluded Glen revealing Scion of Oona. His Sprite and a token knock me to 17.

Draw Remove Soul and pass. He goes for Scion on his end step, and naturally I Remove Soul it.

Opponent’s Ancestral goes off. He beats me to 13 with his dudes, then plays River of Tears and passes.

My Ancestral goes off and is hit by Spellstutter Sprite. My Rune Snag won’t really help here. Draw Yavimaya Coast and play it, then cast Pyroclasm. Opponent Rune Snags, and I Rune Snag back.

Opponent draws a card and passes.

On my upkeep, opponent plays Mistbind Clique championing a token. Draw Primal Command to go with the two in my hand. Still only four lands out, though; not like I could have cast it if they were untapped. Pass.

Opponent draws and hits me for four with the Clique.

On my upkeep, opponent plays another Clique, and I’m dead next turn guaranteed.

This game was all about his Ancestral superiority. Even though it represented four damage, I think I was foolish in retrospect to Remove Soul his Scion; I should have saved it to defend my Ancestral. I already had a Rune Snag, so if he tried to Cryptic Command it, I would have been able to answer that – and if he tried to Snag it, I would have been able to pay – but if he tried to Clique it, as he did, I would have had Remove Soul at the ready. Now, as it happened, I missed my fourth land drop and so my Remove Soul would have been countered by his Rune Snag, so my Ancestral still would have ended up toasted and I would have lost the game anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that I should have played the Remove Soul correctly in the first place. (I don’t think there’s much of a case to be made for “play around him having Spellstutter Sprite and Rune Snag and I miss the fourth land drop!”)


Maindeck Game 3

My opening hand is Island, Forest, Yavimaya Coast, Ponder, Rune Snag, Pyroclasm, Tarmogoyf. Delicious!

Opponent keeps his as well.

I lead with Island and Ponder, seeing Mountain, Primal Command, and Search for Tomorrow. Those all sound swell; put Mountain on top, then Search, then Primal Command (to guard it against discard, should he randomly have any).

Opponent starts with a tapped Secluded Glen.

Draw Search for Tomorrow. I don’t suspect he’ll play Bitterblossom if I leave mana up for Rune Snag, but I have an interesting line of aggressive play open to me here, in which I play Goyf first, let him tap out to resolve his best two-drop while I’m tapped out, Search next turn and let him resolve his best three-drop, then resolve turn-four Primal Command. Unfortunately, this lets him resolve a good two-drop and a good three-drop, and then just puts a good creature into my hand. He’ll know about it, and he won’t have used any of his counters yet. That’s not an awesome board position, so I’d rather just sit back on Snag and discourage his development. Pass.

Opponent draws, then plays Secluded Glen revealing Oona’s Blackguard and Oona’s Blackguard. That can resolve; I’ll Pyroclasm it away, along with its followers, if it gets annoying.

Draw Primal Command. Play Yavimaya Coast and suspend Search for Tomorrow.

Opponent draws, plays River of Tears, beats with Blackguard, and passes.

Draw Terramorphic Expanse. Play Mountain and Tarmogoyf. It resolves. Opponent plays Pestermite on end step, which picks up a counter from the Blackguard and taps down my Island.

Opponent draws, then plays Island and beats for four. I discard Terramorphic Expanse to pump Goyf.

I search up Swamp and draw Remove Soul. I play a pre-combat Pyroclasm, hoping to draw a counter. I do; it’s Cryptic Command, which I happily Rune Snag. My newly 4/5 Goyf knocks the opponent to 16 and I’m done.

Opponent draws and plays River of Tears.

On my upkeep, opponent plays Pestermite to tap my Goyf. I don’t want to blow a Remove Soul on that, so I’ll let it resolve.

Draw Shriekmaw. Not bad. I could play that here, or Primal Command. I think Shriekmaw would let me better take the offensive alongside Goyf, so I’ll run that one. Sadly, it is hit by Rune Snag.

Opponent beats with Pestermite, plays Bitterblossom, and passes.

Draw Yavimaya Coast. Play Primal Command targeting Bitterblossom and searching up Cloudthresher. I choose the Bitterblossom over gaining life, by the way, because I know if Primal Command resolves I can expect the Cloudthresher to resolve as well, unless I give him the opportunity to topdeck a counter. The half-Plow Under lets me be sure he won’t topdeck one. Beat with Goyf, taking him to 12, and pass.

Opponent draws and re-plays Bitterblossom, then beats with Pestermite.

Draw Yavimaya Coast and play it. Beat with Goyf, knocking him to eight.

On opponent’s upkeep, after Bitterblossom trigger resolves, I summon Cloudthresher. In response, he champions his Bitterblossom with Mistbind Clique, which is fine by me. The life totals are now 7-5 in my favor, and the board is my Cloudthresher and 4/5 Tarmogoyf to his Mistbind Clique. He draws and passes.

Draw Ancestral Vision and beat with the team. He chumps Cloudthresher, obviously, and goes to 1. This causes Bitterblossom to be un-championed, which means he loses on his next upkeep. Game.


Maindeck Game 4

Opening hand: Yavimaya Coast, Underground River, two Ancestral Vision, Tarmogoyf, Pyroclasm, Spectral Force. This hand is fairly borderline. It’s slow, but it has two Visions and several different early-game plays. It’s also got Pyroclasm in case I need to dig myself out of a hole (though I don’t have a Red source yet). I’m on the fence with this one, so I’ll try it out and let it inform my future mulliganing decisions.

Opponent leads with Secluded Glen.

I draw Search for Tomorrow and Suspend it. Against Faeries (and who else plays Secluded Glen?) I want both of my Ancestrals coming in on the same turn, to make them harder to counter, so I’ll wait and suspend them both next turn.

Opponent draws, plays River of Tears and passes.

I draw Terramorphic Expanse, play Underground River, and suspend the two Ancestrals.

Opponent draws, plays Mutavault, and passes.

Search fires off and fetches Forest, which is promptly tapped by Pestermite. I draw Remove Soul and decide to keep mana open to play that rather than summoning a Goyf. Play Terramorphic Expanse and pass.

Opponent draws, beats with Pestermite, and plays a Swamp. I crack Expanse for Mountain on his end step.

On my upkeep, I get to Remove Soul a Clique. I draw another Pyroclasm, but opt to play a 4/5 Goyf instead of clearing away the Pestermite.

Opponent draws, beats with Pestermite, and passes.

My Ancestrals are down to a counter apiece. On my upkeep, another Clique comes in, and I can’t stop this one. Draw Search for Tomorrow, then beat with Goyf. Life totals are now 14-16 in his favor.

Opponent draws, plays Mutavault, and beats with Mutavault and Clique to knock me to 8.

On my upkeep, both Ancestrals are hit by Spellstutter Sprites. What a huge beating.

Draw Tarmogoyf. Pyro away the Spellstutter Sprites and beat with Goyf, then play a second Goyf.

Opponent draws, plays Scion of Oona and Underground River, then taps out to attack for exactly lethal with the two Mutavaults and the Clique. Rough.


I thought the critical play of this game was Spellstutter Sprite on my Ancestral, but I checked the top three cards of my library – two lands and a Search. Really, what killed me was the second Clique resolving and my having no way to deal with it. My only answer to that is a resolved Cloudthresher or two successive resolved Pyroclasms. I had the two Pyros, but this four-color Green deck is not set up to have RR in one turn, and – not surprisingly – I didn’t have it in this instance. Clique is probably the best argument for my boarding in perhaps a Slaughter Pact or two, and Spellstutter Sprite is a huge argument for bringing in Thoughtseize. Bizarrely, I may not actually want to bring in the three Cloudthreshers I budgeted for (okay, I may still want one), which might free up some extra space in my board.

In game 5 I start with two Goyfs and a Pyroclasm to keep a Bitterblossom manageable. I Rune Snag a Mistbind Clique on the way to Primal Command mana. The first Command gets Snagged, but the second one gains me back the life I’d lost to Bitterblossom tokens and fetches a Cloudthresher, which clears the way for the 4/5 Goyfs to knock the opponent to 2, at which point the Blossom finishes him.

Game 6 starts with my opponent taking a mulligan, then getting stuck on two lands after playing Bitterblossom and Oona’s Blackguard. I go to Pyro those guys away, he tries Spellstutter Sprite, and I have Remove Soul. I Ponder into a total of three Primal Commands, each of which resolves (on lands), gaining me seven life and putting Spectral Force and Cloudthresher into my grip. I lay Spectral Force when he has Bitterblossom out, and let his Ancestral resolve rather than burning two Rune Snags on it. He tries first to Pestermite my soon-to-be lethal Spectral Force (I Rune Snag it), then he tries to Sower it. I also Rune Snag that, at which point the Force is actually lethal.

I open game 7 with a mulligan (no green), and my opponent does the same. I have Ancestrals on turns 1 and 2, and a Search on turn 2 as well. My opponent dings me with Scion of Oona and Pestermite, but my Ancestrals go off and I resolve a Spectral Force and a Primal Command after he plays Bitterblossom. I Rune Snag his Cryptic Command on my evoked Cloudthresher, which clears his board and allows my Force to come across for the win.

Game 8 starts with an Ancestral for me and not for him. I also resolve a Goyf and suspend a Search while he plays out two Scions. On the turn my Ancestral comes out, he has Spellstutter Sprite, but I have Remove Soul. Unfortunately, he also has another Spellstutter Sprite, and I have no other counter. This leaves him with two Scions and a Sprite to my Goyf. I play a Spectral Force; he Cryptic Commands it. I play another, and he Commands that one as well. Game.

Game 9 I lead with Terramorphic Expanse and two Goyfs, while he has Ancestral and Bitterblossom. The Blossom is taking me down until I Remove Soul a Scion of Oona and his Ancestral pumps my Goyfs up to 4/4. After a couple of my counters stop his pump attempts and his chump blocks reduce his Blossom tokens to two, he’s still facing lethal from my Goyfs so he plays a Sower. I have one last counter to stop it, leaving me free to Cloudthresher his blockers out of my way and attain victory with my Goyfs.

That last game really surprised me. I was entirely convinced that I was going to lose when he opened with Ancestral and Bitterblossom and all I had was some Goyfs and some counters. However, as it turned out I really wasn’t giving Goyf enough credit; it only took a couple of turns for them to grow from 1/2s to 4/4s, and then suddenly my counters became more than enough for my opponent to be backpedaling despite his strong start, ultimately leading me to clear a path to a Lhurgoyf-fueled victory in one brutal turn.

In the final game, my opponent mulls to five, and we both draw Ancestrals on turn 2. I Remove Soul a Scion of Oona, and also Remove Soul a Spellstutter Sprite that tries to stop my Ancestral. I stick a Spectral Force, but on two consecutive turns he plays Oona’s Blackguard and then champions it on my upkeep with Mistbind Clique. Those Time Walks put me in bad shape, but I resolve two consecutive Primal Commands that Time Walk him back, while gaining me fourteen life. This puts him in desperation chump-block mode, and eventually he is at one life to my eight, with Mistbind Clique and Faerie Conclave in play, and needing to topdeck something to stop my Spectral Force next turn. He doesn’t find it, and I win.


After the games, I call Zac Hill and run some chats. As a result of our discussion, I am convinced to cut a Forest for a second Karplusan, and then to convert both Karplusans to Grove of the Burnwillows; giving life to my opponent should be less severe a drawback for a control deck like this one.

However, I am surprised when Zac tells me he tested 3-7 against the winning Faeries list from GP: Shizuoka, and felt that his back was against the wall the whole time. This was especially surprising because that list had four largely dead Nameless Inversions where Patrick Chapin list – the one I just tested against – had the far-deadlier Rune Snags. I decide to run another set against this list, to see if I come across anything surprising.

In the first game of the set, I start with Ponder and Search for Tomorrow, then defend a Tarmogoyf from Nameless Inversion with Rune Snag, bringing it up to 3/4 and taking it out of the range of future Inversions. Remove Soul stops Scion of Oona, and a defensive Bitterblossom comes down on his side just in time for Spectral Force to come down on mine. Goyf and Force prove too formidable for him to overcome, even after a Cryptic Command forces a re-cast of the Force.

My opponent mulls to five in game 2, and I mulligan a one-lander. At six cards, I keep a one-lander plus Search rather than going to five. (I don’t have that good a chance of seeing more than two mana sources at five, but I have a much higher chance of not having enough cards to win the game.) He has turn 2 Bitterblossom, but I Ponder into lands and make Spectral Force before he has Cryptic Command mana. I follow that with a Primal Command that continues to deny him Command mana, while tutoring up another Force. However, he then immediately finds his fourth land, plays three consecutive Cryptic Commands to tap down and bounce my Forces while beating on me with tokens, and eventually lays Scion of Oona to finish me off. Wow – an unexpected comeback, to say the least.

Game 3 is a massacre. I lead with Search for Tomorrow while my opponent suspends an Ancestral, and he just has no answer when I drop Spectral Force on turns 4 and 5. The Ancestral doesn’t deliver the goods – he’s short a Blue for Cryptic Command and evidently didn’t see any Sowers – and the Forces just get him.

In game 4, I start off strong with Search and several answers, but come up short of the five mana needed to cast Spectral Force and Primal Command. (It doesn’t matter, as I get Mistbind Clique’d on upkeep.) I Pyro away Scion of Oona, allowing me to Shriekmaw the Clique, then resolve a Spectral Force. The opponent tries to Sower it, but I Pyro again and then Rune Snag his Cryptic Command. He kills the Force with three Nameless Inversions shortly thereafter, but I have a follow-up Goyf which gets the job done after the Force has gotten a hit in.

Game 5 is incredibly close. I play turn 2 Ancestral and turn 4 Primal Command to put my opponent down to three mana on the turn my Ancestral comes in, allowing me to defend it from his Spellstutter Sprite with Rune Snag. However, he gets off an Ancestral as well, and while I clear away his first Sower of Temptation with Shriekmaw, his second one yields Spectral Force. I Primal Command to fetch Thresher and keep my life total afloat, but his next Scion-fueled alpha strike knocks me to one. Fortunately, I have exactly nine lands out, allowing me to Primal Command again, go back up to eight, and evoke Cloudthresher to knock him to three life and clear his Bitterblossom tokens out of the way – precisely in range of my Shriekmaw.

I ship back a one-lander in game 6, then grudgingly keep a one-lander that has Ponder in it rather than going to five. My opponent’s first four turns see him suspend two Ancestrals and play two Bitterblossoms. I play two Spectral Forces, and they are both hit by Cryptic Command. Not close.

I start game 7 with Terramorphic Expanse on turn 1, then Ancestral and Search on turn 2, and finally Ponder and Goyf on turn 3. My opponent develops with Scion of Oona, and I Rune Snag a Mistbind Clique that tries to champion it. Spellstutter Sprite eventually stops my Ancestral, and I am a land short of playing Spectral Force or Primal Command. I Pyro away his Faeries and keep at him with my Goyf, but eventually I find my fifth land and my Spectral Force runs into a Cryptic Command which also bounces my Goyf. I re-play the Force, but it is hit by two consecutive Pestermites while I draw Rune Snag and another land. Eventually I get a hit in, and play the Primal Commands to put my life total out of range of Pestermites and Faerie Conclaves; eventually his last chance is to Cryptic Command the Force in order to race, but I still have the Rune Snag from several turns before, so the Force comes across unopposed.

Game 8 is horrible. My opponent plays turn 1 Conclave, turn 2 Bitterblossom, and my draw is too slow and reactive to stop him from going beatdown and taking big bites out of my life total. I play Spectral Force and then die to Scion of Oona, having never reaped the benefits of either of my suspended Ancestrals.

Game 9 is a lesson in Ancestral superiority. My opponent and I each suspend Ancestrals on turn 1, but I also have another on turn 2, and a third on turn 4. However, I have literally nothing backing them up. My opponent, on the other hand, has Cryptic Command for my first one, then – after his fires off – draws into another Cryptic Command and a Spellstutter Sprite with which to counter my second two. In the meantime, my Force is being bounced by Cryptic Command and I simply cannot keep up with his three Bitterblossoms.

The final game, on the other hand, is a lesson in Spectral Force insanity. My opponent starts with two Bitterblossoms, and his only answer when I play a Force is Sower of Temptation. I promptly Wrath his side of the board with Pyroclasm, and then attack him over the following two turns with the Force (holding off a Pestermite with Remove Soul along the way) to kill him easily.

6-4 overall. Again, very close to the result of the last set, and a far cry from 3-7.

Now it’s time to think about sideboarding.

The Post-Board Matchup

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to bring in those Thoughtseizes…but more and more throughout these past 20 games, I’ve been wondering if there’s a better card for the matchup. It’s certainly the case that the two big ways in which I lose this matchup are Ancestral deficiency and losing out on tempo, but Thoughtseize only helps the Ancestral problem out by defending mine from Spellstutter Sprite and Cryptic Command – the only time it will help me stop my opponent’s Ancestrals is when I cast it on turn 1, on the play.

The other question is what to board out. I am sure that I do not want to cut any Ancestrals, Ponders, or Spectral Forces, but beyond that I am iffy. After much deliberation, I settle on this plan:

+4 Thoughtseize
+1 Cloudthresher
-2 Primal Command
-2 Remove Soul
-1 Shriekmaw

Pretty much the only part of that I am confident about is the Shriekmaw. I went with two Primal Command and two Remove Soul because those were the two cards I most often found myself holding and wishing I were not holding. However, I didn’t want to cut all the Primal Commands because the +7 life cushion has come up enough times to convince me it’s something I want to be able to dig to in a long game – and that was before bringing in 4 Thoughtseize. I didn’t want to cut all the Remove Souls because without them, my only answer to topdecked Spellstutter Sprites and Mistbind Cliques is Rune Snag – which is not always powered-up enough to be a hard counter. I’ll try this setup for now, and see if I can identify a better configuration as the games progress.

I’ll test against Chapin’s Faeries post-board, as his board has the Flashfreezes, and since I’ll be boarding out the Oona’s Blackguards – the main difference between Chapin’s build and the winning GP list – anyway. I’ll also be taking out the Scions, which were almost always useless.

+4 Flashfreeze
+1 Sower of Temptation
+1 Deathmark
-4 Scion of Oona
-2 Oona’s Blackguard

I open by mulling a one-lander into Island, Forest, double Ponder, Goyf, Cloudthresher. My opponent keeps at seven and promptly destroys me. Ancestral, Bitterblossom, Spellstutter my Search for Tomorrow, Deathmark my Goyf, Mistbind Clique, and all I’ve got is a 3/4 Goyf and an awful topdecked Thoughtseize.

In game 2, I mulligan to five and never see a fourth land.

I start game 3 off, resolving Ancestral, then Spectral Force, then two consecutive Primal Commands. Then his Ancestral goes off, and suddenly all my stuff is countered by Flashfreeze, Cryptic Command bounces my Spectral Force, and Spellstutter Sprite counters it on the way back down, and even though I’ve cleared his board three times this game, I’m facing down five Faeries with a board full of lands – and he still has two spells in hand. What an immense beating.

In game 4, I mulligan to five again and my first spell of the game is turn 5 Spectral Force. By that time I am on a two-turn clock from Mistbind Clique and Bitterblossom. I don’t topdeck anything that lets me race.

Game 5 sees me mulligan, get low on mana early, and have two of my Searches hit by Flashfreezes. My hand clogs up with countermagic while Bitterblossom wears on me, and by the time I can start dropping Spectral Forces, he’s fired off two Ancestrals to my one, and I’m too far behind.

Game 6, I mulligan, we both suspend Ancestrals, and I Thoughtseize two of his counters with a grip full of counters myself. After several turns of Mutavault beats, mine comes in; I have five lands and three counters, he has six lands and three counters, so my Ancestral is stopped. Worse, two of his counters are Spellstutter Sprites, which leaves him with a lethal attack force when combined with his multiple man-lands.

I start game 7 off with a mulligan and an Ancestral, while my opponent mulls to four. To make a long story short, he gets stuck on one land while I plow through him with two Spectral Forces.

In game 8, I keep Rune Snag, Remove Soul, and Ancestral, and those are the spells I’m stuck with until the Ancestral resolves. By that time I am low on life, but the Ancestral serves up two Goyfs and a Spectral Force. I resolve them, but Pestermites keep them in check and start hammering on me again. Cryptic Command stalls for one more turn, and the Pestermites get me while I draw more land, Searches, and Ancestral.

Game 9 I lead with Ponder and Thoughtseize, a Tarmogoyf is countered, a Clique resolves, and before I know it I’m dead with four cards in hand.

I start off the final game with Thoughtseize, double Ponder, and Ancestral. Then I die to Pestermite, Spellstutter Sprite, and Mutavault before I get to play a single spell.


So, to recap, that’s a 7-3 set followed by a 4-6 set in game 1, then a 1-9 set in game 2.

What happened?

Several very specific answers pop into my mind, but this whole start-to-finish deck design process makes me curious. What do you guys think?

What went wrong? Did I sideboard wrong? Do I need to alter my sideboard composition – and if so, what changes should I make? Am I just doomed to an awful post-board matchup against Faeries no matter what I do?

Stay tuned for my answers to these questions next week – but in the meantime, post your thoughts in the forums!

See you next week.

Richard Feldman
Team :S
[email protected]