Deep Analysis – U/W Merfolk at States *Top 8*

The StarCityGames.com $5,000 Standard open Comes to Philadelphia!
Thursday, November 13th – Richard Feldman stuck to his guns last weekend, and threw his powerful U/W Merfolk build against all comers at States. His faith was not misplaced, and he picked up an impressive Top 8 berth in style! Today, he shares his tournament performance match by match, and provides valuable insight into the intricacies of the archetype.

Congratulations to Collin La Fleur, who informed me via email that he won Wisconsin States with the Merfolk list I posted last week. Well done, sir!

Before getting into the games, I want to briefly discuss some last-minute tweaks I made to my previous list. Adrian Sullivan convinced me that Loxodon Warhammer was a better all-around solution to Spectral Procession from White Weenie than were sideboarded Wraths, and even got me to maindeck one on the grounds that it was probably good against most everything but Five-Color Control and Reveillark. I cut a Sage’s Dousing for it by process of elimination; I didn’t want to cut any two-drops due to curve, any Merfolk due to Silvergill Adept, any creature removal due to enemy Sowers, or any Cryptic Commands due to them being Cryptic Commands. That left only Sage’s Dousing, and the question of whether I’d rather have 3 Dousings and 0 Warhammers main, or 2 Dousings and 1 Warhammer. Like I said, Adrian convinced me – and as it turned out, I was never unhappy to see it.

To rehash my logic on playing Merfolk, briefly: my thinking was that the best players in the room would not play WW, because of its awful matchup against Five-Color Control. It would be unreasonable to expect any given States Top 8 to be without Five-Color Control, and not at all unreasonable to expect it to make the finals. I can’t really say that about any other archetype in this format, so the bottom line is this: if you want to win States, you must expect to defeat Five-Color Control in a single elimination round along the way. Playing a deck that has a supremely low chance of doing that is, in my book, simply a bad idea. Like a PTQ, I want to actually win States, not just Top 8 it.

Obviously not all good players would come to the same conclusion I did, but I figured enough of them would that I could have a good chance of dodging good White Weenie players in the Top 8, when a loss would eliminate me outright. So although I considered WW my worst matchup, there is a big difference between someone playing White Weenie because it was convenient (or a last resort) and someone who chose it because they had tested it inside and out – just as there is a big difference between Red piloted by Pat “The Rainmaker” Sullivan and Joe from down the street. I am far more afraid to face the one than the other.

Anyway, at the tournament site, I didn’t see a single other Merfolk deck in the room, but naturally they may have existed. I’d say it was safe to say I was not wrong to ignore testing the mirror! Patrick Chapin says “the biggest threat to us as Five-Color players is Faeries,” but that is only true because so few bother to play Merfolk.

Five-Color Control itself was very scarce, but there were far more midrange green decks than I had anticipated. Out of respect for this, I cut the Sage’s Dousing from the board and replaced it with a third Crib Swap. I also noted that with my new, simpler boarding plan against WW (take out the two Dousings for the fourth Sower and second Warhammer), I was only bringing in Condemn against Red. If I’m going to have board slots dedicated to that matchup, they are sure as hell going to be Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender before they are going to be Condemn, so I made that swap as well. After all this I had one slot left in my board, which I filled with a third Reveillark to help out the Green matchups and to compensate a bit for the loss of a Sage’s Dousing copy against Five-Color Control.

Here’s what I played:

The Tournament

Feral Events runs the best tournaments I have ever attended. Period.

Registration for States started at 10am, and the event started at 11am. Speaking as a competitor who had a two-hour drive to get there that morning, this is a huge deal to me. Even after that luxurious start time, they had a break for lunch after round 3. Yet they were so quick about inputting results and getting pairings up, the Top 8 after seven rounds started at 7pm. Whenever I hear a PTQ is going to be hosted by Feral Events, my immediate reaction is to breathe a sigh of relief – I’ll be able to sleep in! And not have to skip lunch! Ahh….

Nick Novak and I met up at 8am, dropped Maggy off at work, and headed off to the tournament. We actually arrived a bit early, and got some delicious Wendy’s to power us up for breakfast. It turned out that the tournament site was not at the usual hotel as we had assumed, but I had the iPhone hookup to tell us where the new location was and how to get there. (That phone is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Seriously.) It is also worth mentioning that Novak and I ran the Triple Threat on Wendy’s, eating it for lunch and dinner as well. I’m not sure if mathematically one can have too many meals at Wendy’s in one day, but I’m pretty sure I, for one, cannot.

After the player meeting, the TO announced that Ogre (have you ever met or seen Ogre? If he were a Magic card, he would be the only Creature – Human to be an 8/8. He would also have the keyword ability “Awesome”) would be starting off the tournament by consuming one of the Wizards of the Coast Champs-themed Chocolate Bars…that the TO had saved from 2001.

Ogre unwraps the candy, raises it to his mouth, takes a bite…

…and announces, “It’s still good!” Everyone has a good laugh, although secretly most of them were hoping for the equivalent of a NASCAR crash to start our tournament off – something like Ogre turning green, convulsing madly, retching violently into the nearest display case, then toppling over and incapacitating Tables One and Two. Sadly for these people, the vintage 2001 chocolate proved harmless.

On to the games!

Round 1: Joey with Five-Color Control

I lose the die roll. Joey leads with Treetop Village, so I am not sure what to put him on when he Bant Charms my turn 2 Sygg. I have Wake Thrasher on turn 3, and an Oblivion Ring and a Sower of Temptation for two consecutive Kitchen Finks that would get in its way. With no blockers in sight and countermagic in hand to defend against further topdecked removal, my Wake Thrasher and his newfound friends go all the way.

I am not sure if Joey is Five-Color Control or not. His Bant Charm and Kitchen Finks say yes, but those Treetops suggest maybe more of a Bant Midrange deck. I board as though he is Five-Color Control with no Cruel Ultimatum, bringing in Cursecatchers and Reveillarks and taking out Sowers and two O-Rings.

I curve out with Sygg and Wake Thrasher, then watch them get Wrathed away, confirming my suspicion that Joey is playing Five-Color Control. I rebuild a bit, then he drops Oona. I have drawn both O-Rings, and remove it promptly. He has Wispmare for my O-Ring, and brings back the Queen. Frowns. I play the other Ring and remove it a second time, but he has another Wispmare. Frowns again; I am suddenly wishing I had boarded as though he were Cruel Control and brought in Crib Swaps for those Rings.

Still, I have him very low on life, and have a Reveillark out. If I can get the Reveillark to die, it will bring back Sygg and Wake Thrasher for the instant kill. However, Joey is carefully defending his position, activating Oona every turn with four mana up to protect it with Cryptic, and declines to attack the 5/5 into my Lark. This is a prudent strategy, and it slowly wins him the game.

I board back in the Crib Swaps (adding a third one out of respect for Oona), and cut the O-Rings. This game I again play a two-drop and a three-drop into Wrath, then start rebuilding. I am very happy to see all three Crib Swaps this game, as it turns out he has boarded in Chameleon Colossus! The first Swap takes out Oona, the second one is countered as it tries to target Colossus, and the third one – off a Windbrisk Heights – resolves and takes the 4/4 Changeling out of the picture.

Eventually the dust clears and Joey has a Treetop to my Banneret that is Islandwalking in with him at five life. I have been sandbagging two Knights of Meadowgrain to play around Wrath, and finally play them out when he lays a second Treetop Village and Bant Charms (I think) my Banneret while sitting at three life. My Meadowgrains cannot attack into his Treetops, nor can they attack into my Meadowgrains. We are basically in a topdeck race – I need to draw Cryptic Command, Faerie Conclave, or Sygg, and he needs to draw Wrath. My next draw is Cryptic; I send my men into the red zone, he activates his Treetops, I show him the Blue instant, and he extends the hand.

Whew! Squeaked out a win against a good Five-Color Control player without casting a single Sage’s Dousing or early Cursecatcher. What’s the world coming to?

I actually made several misplays this game, including playing a Mutavault precombat that I could not possibly make use of until after combat (then being embarrassed when he cast Cryptic to tap my guys and bounce the Vault now that I had played my land for the turn), tapping my mana wrong at one point, and another minor misplay or two. I was fortunate that they did not cost me any games, but I have a bad habit of making misplays early on in a tournament; this is no time to keep that miserable tradition alive.


Round 2: Roger with White Weenie

I lose the die roll. After a mull to six in game 1, I nearly pull off a repeat of the mistake that knocked me out of States two years ago (low on time for game 3, I said “landgo!” for my first turn, neglecting to suspend my Ancestral Vision). While I think I am keeping two Mutavaults, Adarkar Wastes, and some Merfolk, in reality I am keeping two Mutavaults, Reflecting Pool, and some Merfolk. (I guess I saw the thick pre-8th edition border and assumed it was one of the Ice Age Adarkar Wastes…that’s the only explanation I can think of.) This means that I literally play land, go for the first five turns of the game while Matt plays at least one spell per turn starting on turn 2.

In an attempt to stem the bleeding, my turn 4 play is to activate both Mutavaults and have them jump in front of Stillmoon Cavalier. I have drawn plenty of lands (the other Reflecting Pool and a Windbrisk Heights, naturally), so I am trying to goad him into double-pumping the Cavalier instead of playing another spell this turn. He doesn’t go for it, however, and just trades for one of my Mutavaults instead.

Misplay Number 1 happens (man, did I just give away the ending?) when he tries to Oblivion Ring my other Mutavault post-combat while it is still a creature. Before I can say anything, the guy sitting next to him says “it’s nonland.” My opponent frowns, says “guess I have to take my guy, then” and Oblivion Rings one of his own creatures! Now, I am not the type to pounce on a mistake like that with a cry of “Nuh uh, you already resolved it! Pick a target!”… but I am also not one to say anything if he wants to target one of his own men. Regardless, props to Roger for manning up to his error.

I finally draw a Blue source and immediately play out three Merfolk, including Sygg. However, I am in the single digits, and he still has First Strikers, so I am not out of the woods yet. Thanks to Sygg and some fairly desperate attacks that try to finish me off, I stabilize at three life with a Knight of Meadowgrain and a couple of Merfolk to his freshly-resolved Spectral Procession.

He untaps with the three flyers and prepares to attack. As I have no flying blockers, I am going to have to use my Cryptic Command to survive this turn. Fortunately, as I have Knight of Meadowgrain out, I can gain two life per turn to compensate for two of the tokens, so if I bounce one of them, I can stay alive indefinitely as long as my Knight stays in the red zone. Unfortunately, he has a Knight of Meadowgrain of his own left, and will obviously block and trade for mine. Fortunately, I have a second Knight waiting under Windbrisk Heights to replace the first one! Unfortunately, my beverage is running low. Fortunately, I have another one in my car! Unfortunately, it’s probably warm by now.

Anyway, there are a number of things that could finish me off here. If he has a removal spell for my Knight of Meadowgrain, I am screwed. Likewise, if he finds a way to pump his defending Knight of Meadowgrain, such as with Ajani or Rustic Clachan, I am also screwed. As it turns out, he has Ajani, but fortunately (again!) he plays it pre-combat to pump his already-lethal Spirit tokens. This would be Misplay Number 2. I counter Ajani with Cryptic Command and bounce a token, falling to one life on the attack. If he had just played it post-combat and activated it to pump Meadowgrain and his remaining tokens, I would have immediately lost twice over.

Instead I untap, crash my Knight into his, and go back up to three life. I activate Windbrisk Heights and bring out my replacement Knight, then pass the turn with Sage’s Dousing mana up. I counter another Ajani and take the hit from his remaining two tokens, dropping back down to one life. Next turn I play out a flood of guys, and hope he does not have another pump spell to kill me. He does not, and my guys attack to win the marathon game against my worst matchup in which I played my first spell on turn 6 and he curved out from turn 2 onward. Man.

In game 2, he plays out two Story Circles. They are not very effective, as he cast Crib Swap on my Wake Thrasher earlier, giving me a colorless Merfolk token to work with. I suit it up with a Warhammer, give it protection from his defenders with Sygg, and easily race with it.


Round 3: Jason with White Weenie

I lose the die roll. Game 1 is pretty one-sided, as Jason misses his third land drop on the play, while I develop my board very quickly. His lack of mana keeps Spectral Procession offline for far too long, and it is very tough for WW to beat Merfolk using only its one-drops and two-drops.

Game 2 is a more reasonable affair. We make some early trades, I kill a few guys, and eventually I find a Warhammer. From there, the game becomes very different. Suddenly I am completely in the driver’s seat, and he is scrambling to recover. I keep playing out more and more men, making it more and more impossible for him to get back in this game as my life gain more than compensates for his attacks. The hammer goes all the way.


Round 4: Matt with Bant

As Round 3 was the lunch round, most players had driven off-site somewhere to get lunch. Unfortunately, one car got stuck in traffic coming back from McDonald’s, and Matt was one of the players in it. They all got match losses due to tardiness. Big frowns. Fortunately for Matt, he ended up making Top 8 anyway!

Matt is an amiable guy, and we shuffle up to play a match for fun. I lose the die roll, then easily take game 1 (I believe due to Windbrisk Heights), but was fortunate to have an Oblivion Ring handy for his Rhox War Monk.

I have never tested against Bant, but as I realize I may end up playing against one in the Top 8, I want to use this off-the-record time to try out as much of my sideboard as possible. As such, I board in a crazy amount of cards: 3 Reveillark, 3 Crib Swap, 1 Sower of Temptation, and 1 Loxodon Warhammer, largely with the aim of maximizing my outs to Rhox War Monk. I figure this will give me a decent idea of which solutions work and which do not.

In game 2, Matt sticks a Sower on Wake Thrasher, and my only answer is Cryptic Command to bounce the Thrasher back to my hand. As is usually the case, this is a poor solution to a big problem, and I do not recover from the tempo loss. I didn’t learn much from this game, aside from the fact that he had Sower, but at least it was over quickly.

Game 3, the overload of removal becomes a problem. While it did give me a lot of answers to Rhox War Monk, Matt’s deck turned out to be a lot more controllish than I had thought. He had Wraths as well as Bant Charms, Remove Souls, and Cryptics, and after he mopped up what few creatures I played, I ended up with two Oblivion Rings in hand as his Treetop Village beat me down. The pairings for the next round are up just as he kills me, and I make a mental note to keep the Reveillarks but ditch the excess of removal in favor of keeping in more creatures if I meet him in the Top 8. Fighting Bant would be more like fighting Five-Color Control, only with Crib Swaps instead of Cursecatchers.


Round 5: Eric with Red

Eric is a friend of Novak’s who I met for the first time today. If I had to pick one article of clothing to sum him up, it would be his glow-in-the-dark, venetian-blind-style “sunglasses.” They are pretty unreal.

In a funny coincidence, on the way back from Wendy’s I was talking about how twice I have encountered Zac Hill in the 4-0 bracket of a seven-round tournament, we have ID’d, and then one or neither of us ended up making Top 8. I didn’t want that to happen again, so I insisted we play it out when Eric offered the ID.

In game 1 I lost the die roll, mulled to five, and got destroyed. Down a game after refusing the intentional draw, it was clearly time to start the banter. “So, about that intentional draw…” I said as we shuffled up for game 2. When Eric seven-card hand made him frown (mine was insane), I observed, “That’s the face of a man who wants to ID.” Not to be outdone, Eric was ready with the killer riposte: “I love you.” What a play! Bold, awkward, and borderline sexual harassment, all in just three words. That’s mastery, folks. (I hope the glow-in-the-dark sunglasses comment makes sense now. If instead you are totally mixed up by all this, then great! We are on the same page.)

Game 2 went like this: Turn 2, I play Silvergill Adept. Turn 3, I play Merrow Reejerey. Turn 4, I play Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender, Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender, Knight of Meadowgrain. Eric has an Ashenmoor Gouger on the table at this point. He looks at his hand, shakes his head, and concedes.

Game 3 was more drawn-out, but really more of the same. I have an early Forge-Tender, and draw a second one. The latter trades for a Firespout, while the original holds down the fort.

I can’t say for sure if I would have gotten there without the Tenders in either game – I certainly had a good curve-out both times regardless, so my chances were probably solid – but I didn’t have the heart to tell Eric the Red I drew both of my two MVP Forge-Tenders in both post-board games. Why add insult to injury?


Round 6 — 7: ID, ID

Quarterfinals: Tom with White Weenie

I actually lost every single die roll of this tournament, and won every single game 1 I played except the one where I mulled to five. Wow! If my understanding of correlation versus causation falls out the side of my brain, I might have to start drawing first with this deck!

Game 1 is a blowout. I curve into two Sowers, and Tom does not have removal for either of them. As if that weren’t bad enough for him, I then have a nuts turn where I play (with Banneret out) Reejerey, Banneret, untap Wanderwine Hub, pass the turn with Sage’s Dousing mana open. He concedes when I counter his next play.

Game 2 is also a blowout. Tom has Wizened Cenn, I have Knight of Meadwograin. He has Spectral Procession, I have Loxodon Warhammer.

On turn 4, he plays a land and swings in with the Cenn and the three Spectral Procession tokens. Do I block Cenn with Meadowgrain? What would you do? My board is just Meadowgrain and Loxodon Warhammer.

Every WW list under the sun runs Rustic Clachan, so if I block I am setting myself up for a devastating kick in the tempo junk. This is my thought process as I decline to block. Tom surprises me with Mirrorweave, which I have seen in close to zero WW lists since Block, and which is obviously lethal here. I sure wish I’d had that scouted.

Arguably, I should have played the random Reejerey that I also had in my hand instead of the Warhammer on turn three. If I have Reejerey out, and he comes in representing lethal Mirrorweave, I can double-block with almost no downside. Also, if he Unmakes my Knight (I know he has Unmake), I at least have a 2/2 on the table rather than a Warhammer with no one to carry it.

Even beyond the fact that Mirrorweave was off my radar, the decision to play Warhammer over the more typical turn 3 beater was conscious. If he has Ajani on turn 4 (which I do know he plays), and my board is just Knight of Meadowgrain and Merfolk Reejerey, I basically lose on the spot. Even an activated Warhammer two turns later (and one on Knight of Meadowgrain, no less) will not be enough to compensate for getting smacked for six, then nine, then twelve. If my only out to that is to play the Hammer on turn 3, that is a big incentive for me to cast it.

Perhaps a more reasonable argument is that I should have attacked with Meadowgrain on turn 2, before playing the Warhammer. I did not do this because Tom can block with tokens and Wizened Cenn, and trade either the Cenn or two Spirits for my Knight of Meadowgrain, which is a poor trade for me. Then again, while I know I don’t have an instant-speed removal spell to punish him for double-blocking, he does not know that. Would he fear the removal spell and decline to block if I played a land before attacking? I doubt it, but I could see an argument that protecting myself against a fourth-turn Mirrorweave kill would be worth the attack, given that even if he did kill my Meadowgrain right away, I could off two of his tokens (making me no longer dead to Ajani) and play Reejerey post-combat to set myself up for the Warhammer sequence over the following two turns.

Then again, Reejerey plus Warhammer is a huge downgrade from Meadowgrain plus Hammer, as WW can just block and trade for the Reej and force me to expend another five or six mana playing another attacker and suiting him up. Being down on tempo from the outset, I’m not sure I could have survived that.

What do you think? If I’d known Tom played Mirrorweave, would I have been wiser to attack on turn 2 instead of keeping my Meadowgrain home to make sure he could pick up a Warhammer? Then again, the fact was that I did not have any information as to whether he played it or not. If you were in my position, what do you think would have been the best play? Did I make the right call, and was I just hit by the low-probability event, or did I simply make the wrong call given the information I had?

On to game 3.

I start this one with a mull to five, on the play. Things are looking grim. The only good news is that my five cards are good: Faerie Conclave, Mystic Gate, Silvergill Adept, and two copies of Knight of Meadowgrain. I draw a Merfolk (Reejerey, I believe) and play out the Meadowgrains and the Adept.

The details of the middle of the game are fuzzy, but Novak says he did not spot any misplays while watching over my shoulder. We end up with him at six life, me with two Knight of Meadowgrain in play, along with Mutavault and four other lands. Cryptic Command is lethal if I draw it (tap his guys, bounce a land of mine, replay it untapped, and use it to activate Mutavault to give me six power), but I have not yet seen a Cryptic this match.

Tom, on the other hand, has a flood of creatures on the table. He played Ranger of Eos and Ajani in the previous turns, and used Windbrisk Heights to bring out a Cloudgoat Ranger. I still have just my Knights of Meadowgrains and Mutavault (and Faerie Conclave, technically), as my past two topdecks have both been Stonybrook Banneret. I can’t attack because all of his blockers are huge from Ajani counters.

So the board stands with me about to take over 20 damage (which I can survive – I’m at 26, and the Knights’ First Strike damage on the block will bring me up to 30 before the regular combat damage resolves), him at six life, and me with five lands and two Bannerets in hand. Should I cast the Bannerets?

To make a long story short, I should have. I declined to play them out because I was hoping Tom would put me on having topdecked the Cryptic (but had not seen the bounce-a-land-to-pay-for-Mutavault’s activation play, which, in fact, I had not) and planning to tap his men down in his attack step. If he put me on that, it wouldn’t make sense for him to activate Ajani pre-combat, meaning his attackers would not be so big that I couldn’t block and kill a couple of them with my Knights, thus surviving the onslaught. (I did not yet realize that I could survive the attack even if he did pump with Ajani.) As such, I passed the turn and represented Cryptic rather than casting either Banneret.

This was monumentally foolish. First of all, my math was way off; he played out Wizened Cenn and activated Ajani for the second time, and tapped his Kithkin after blockers to pump Cloudgoat Ranger, and I was still able to just double-block his 6/4 Ranger of Eos with my two Knights and survive the attack at 1 life. There was no need to keep his men small. Second, and far more embarrassingly, even if he fell for my bluff, he would obviously activate Ajani’s lifegain ability and put himself up to 8, out of range of a counterattack since I could only attack for 6 without the two Bannerets helping me out.

Clearly the correct play was to play out both Bannerets, giving me 8 damage on-table in case I topdecked a Cryptic, then pass the turn, block with Meadowgrains to survive, untap, and flip over the Lightning Helix – er, Cryptic CommandCraig Jones-style. If I had done that, things would have been very different when I untapped and flipped over… say it with me now…

Wanderwine Hub. Yeah, the Cryptic wasn’t there, so I just lost. Still, things would have been very different if I’d played it correctly. For one, I would have still had my dignity, and for another, I could have spent all the time it took figuring out this misplay examining some other, more innocuous mistake I’d made earlier in the tournament.


Frankly, the deck performed like a powerhouse. I lost four games all day (not counting the “bonus playtest” games with the overboard sideboard plan I played off-the-record against Bant); two were mulls to five, one was to a surprise Mirrorweave, and one was to Oona sticking because I incorrectly left in Oblivion Rings instead of bringing in Crib Swaps, and they were hit by Wispmares.

As two mulls to five across seven matches is perfectly reasonable, none of those losses suggests that I misbuilt the deck. While this is also a far cry from suggesting I built the deck flawlessly – which is a nonsense claim for anyone to make, regardless of finish – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very pleased with the way the deck performed, even though its pilot did not make it across the finish line.

Adam Prosak told me that quite a few others did very well with U/W Merfolk lists around the country. Cedric Phillips won Indiana States with it, Luis Scott-Vargas made Top 4 at California States with it, Justin George made Top Four at Ohio States with it, and Prosak himself made Top 4 at Arizona States with it. Prosak says they each ran something between my list and his (he has -4 Oblivion Ring, -4 Wake Thrasher, -4 Knight of Meadowgrain, -1 Warhammer for +4 Ponder, +4 Merfolk Looter, +3 Reveillark, +1 Banneret, +1 Dousing, and only 3 Windbrisk Heights for comes-in-tapped lands). All this, plus Collin La Fleur winning Wisconsin States with my list from last week. Congratulations all around!

Assuming Mirrorweave is poor against Five-Color Control (and I suspect it is), I think Tom made a fantastic choice by playing it. He kept telling me how he wanted the Top 8 to play out, with me taking out the Five-Color Control deck(s) and with him mopping up the rest of it to meet me in the Finals. In other words, he had no illusions about his Five-Color Control matchup; he was running the full-bore Glass Cannon, maximizing his matchups against everything but Five-Color Control through choices like Mirrorweave, and hoping simply to dodge Five-Color Control on the way to the prize. I’m not sure dodging Five-Color Control is a realistic goal in a States Top 8, but given that objective, Tom seems to have executed it the way I would have.

The coolest moment of the tournament for me was watching Matt, the Bant player from earlier, when he was playing for Top 8 against Cruel Control. His opponent taps out for Cruel Ultimatum. Matt sacrifices his lone creature, then discards two Wilt-Leaf Lieges and another random card. He untaps with Cryptic Command and Negate in hand, and swings for twelve. Yeah, he won that one.

I would suggest WW players who want to beat Cruel Ultimatum consider following Matt’s lead and boarding Wilt-Leaf Liege. They won’t help against GerryT-style Inevitability Five-Color Control, but (foolishly, in my opinion) almost no one is playing that version and the Liege is a beating against Cruel Ultimatum. Unlike Dodecapods, Lieges are also 4/4 Glorious Anthems for four mana, which makes them very reasonable to hardcast even if you draw them and want to make a play instead of holding onto them.

That’s it for this week. Tune in next week when I discuss wood, knuckles, and chaos theory!

See you then!

Richard Feldman
Team :S
[email protected]