Double or Nothing: Are You Bored Yet?

All right, all right; Regionals is over for you Americans. Now me, I have another shot at it, so I’ll go over some popular T2 decks… What? You want decks with Judgement in ’em? All right.

Well, that’s that for most people. Whether the rest of the world likes it or not, America has had its Regionals and the interest in Standard will dry up over the coming weeks – until Nationals and Worlds, that is.

Some of us aren’t quite done yet. I’m attending Regionals on Sunday, and there are another four or five I can’t make after that here in rainy England. That makes us a little luckier than most, in that decks that can go 9-1 in a big, ten-round US Regional with over 500 competitors, can certainly qualify a good player in a six-round Regionals of fifty players where the top 15 players will make it. This is my last Regionals article, though. If I don’t qualify on Sunday, I can’t make any more Regionals, but I will try to judge at Nationals.

As the results from Regionals all around the world are beginning to show, all the decks we all expected to do well are doing well. R/G is qualifying some on numbers alone. B/G is doing well because it can hand R/G its ass, and Zevatog is proving the most popular version of ‘Tog to do well.

For reference, here are my current builds of all three:

RG Beats (oh look, no Cities of Brass this time).

Creatures (21):

4x Llanowar Elves

4x Wild Mongrels

2x Kavu Titan

4x Raging Kavu

4x Flametongue Kavu

3x Skizzik

Other Spells (16):

4 Fire/Ice

4 Urza’s Rage

4 Call of the Herd

4 Scorching Lava

Land (23):

10x Forest

4x Karplusan Forest

2x Mossfire Valley

5x Mountain

2x Barbarian Ring

Sideboard (15):

2x Obliterate

2x Moment’s Peace

3x Gurzigost

2x Hull Breach

3x Compost

2x Spellbane Centaur

1x Elvish Lyrist

I don’t think I need to go into any of the choices, other than to say the deck concentrates on making creatures, and burning things that get in the way. As I commented in my last article, you need to be able to do something to Spiritmongers and so I’ve added in Scorching Lana instead of Shock. It will still kill Braids as an instant – but will kill the Lynxes from the newer Junk decks and finish off Spiritmonger, too! The sideboard has more room, as I can’t play Black spells, and so Gurzigost makes an appearance – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, played against it and lost to it.

BG beats seems to come in two flavours: Those with and those without Braids. Those with necessarily add lots of little creatures to give Braids something to eat – but even with a large number of Braids decks, other B/G decks seem to be doing better. If I were going to play B/G this weekend, I’d play the following:

B/G Monger/Deed

Creatures (15):

4x Spiritmonger

4x Nantuko Shade

4x Wild Mongrel

3x Shambling Swarm

Other Spells (20):

4x Call of the Herd

4x Chainer’s Edict

4x Pernicious Deed

4x Duress

3x Phyrexian Arena

1x Diabolic Tutor

1x Haunting Echoes

Land (24):

4x Llanowar Wastes

4x Tainted Wood

2x Forest

14x Swamp

Sideboard (15):

3x Compost

3x Ghastly Demise

1x Haunting Echoes

2x Addle

3x Simplify

1x Shambling Swarm

2x Mortivore

This deck is very simple: Make good creatures and win. You have eight removal spells, and they can all remove more than one creature given time. Arena keeps your hand full, but should be taken out against R/G Beats for the Demises – and you can bring in the Mortivores and the fourth Swarm against them, too. Against ‘Tog, you have to bring in more disruption in the form of two Addles and a second Haunting Echoes. Echoes is a great help against decks packing lots of Flashback – and Ichorids, too. Finally, Simplify should help a little against sideboard hate for you.

Both these decks have one thing in common: They both feed my Counterspell Anxiety.


Counterspell Anxiety has recently been diagnosed for the first time by top-notch psychiatrists in the US. This new ailment has only recently been discovered, but happens to Magic players who typically play Control decks, and then try to play Creature-based, aggressive decks.

The unhappy symptoms are easy to spot:

  1. Your opponent asks you to”Wait, I might counter that.” when you cast a spell, even though they have no blue mana available; hell, even if they have no Islands in their deck!

  2. In your end step they start to tap four lands, realise they have no blue source of mana, and no Fact or Fiction in their hand anyway and ask you if they can untap (say”No”; taking pain from their mistake will help them recover).

  3. Your opponent spends turns drawing cards and doing nothing but laying lands.

  4. Your opponent regularly doesn’t attack you, even though you have no creatures, no spells in hand, and they’re at twenty life.

Counterspell Anxiety is an illness that could affect people you know. Only donations from you to the Control Players Rehabilitation Fund will help, you can call them on 0800-555-CONTROL and they take cheques, postal orders, all major credit cards, and any Wild Mongrels you have spare.

One thing I really hated when playing R/G at the last Regionals I attended was my inability to say "NO!" The best I could do was mulligan for a fast hand and hope it was aggressive enough. Maybe I’m just a control freak? Maybe I can’t cope with people casting Corrupt at me?

Or maybe – just maybe – I can’t see why I’m not playing with Counterspell right now.

"There are lots of aggressive decks out there."

"Everyone is testing against it."

"It’s dead."

Really? How come people are qualifying with Zevatog, then? Here’s the list I would play if I played it to a tourney today:


Creatures (8):

4x Psychatog

4x Nightscape Familiar

Other Spells (27):

4x Standstill

4x Counterspell

3x Syncopate

3x Circular Logic

3x Fact or Fiction

4x Aether Burst

3x Repulse

3x Upheaval

Land (25):

4x Underground River

4x Salt Marsh

2x Cephalid Coliseum

1x Darkwater Catacombs

4x Swamp

10x Islands

Sideboard (15):

2x Ghastly Demise

2x Shambling Swarm

2x Haunting Echoes

2x Rushing River

1x Hibernation

3x Mana Short

3x Gainsay

Nothing you haven’t seen before, but I’ve found space to make sure I have three Syncopates and three Circular Logics. This means that after an Upheaval, with a Tog out I can Logic for U. With a Nightscape Familiar I can Syncopate for U, too. I’ve also found that the Syncopates help no end against early Call of the Herds, and are a great turn 3 counter if you’ve just cast a Familiar and are trying to trick them into tapping out for something good.

The Coliseums have come under attack from all sorts of places, but I maintain that they’re just too good to leave out. They can dig for a counter when your hand is full of chaff, they help deck an opponent, they help when you’re sitting there with a Standstill out… Basically they’re great – but not too great that two is too few. Two seems just right to me.

My sideboard has two main parts: vs. Aggro and vs. Control. Against control, I bring in the Mana Shorts and Gainsays, taking out bounce and maybe Syncopates, Aether Bursts, or even Standstills if you need them. Against aggro I bring in the Swarms, Desires and Hibernation if it’s needed. Haunting Echoes comes in if they’re playing Ichorid, lifegain, or anything else that relies on a full graveyard.

So, there are my versions of the most popular decks.

What do you mean they’ve been gone over and over and over?

Oh… You want something new. Okay.

If you’ve seen the Judgement Spoiler, you may have seen this card:

Test of Endurance



At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 50 or more life, you win the game.

It cries out to fit into the Life decks that are around at the moment. The main problems I’ve seen with the Lifegain decks is that they gain control, are sitting on forty life or so, and have to use Millstone to kill their opponent. Well, with this little beauty we don’t need to wait.

Here’s a deck list for you, based on my deck:

UW Control (a.k.a. Boredom):

Spells (36):

4x Counterspell

4x Absorb

4x Life Burst

4x Fact or Fiction

4x Peek

4x Wrath of God

1x Rout

3x Ancestral Tribute

2x Teferi’s Moat

2x Syncopate

3x Test of Endurance

1x Treasure Trove

Land (24):

10x Island

4x Adarkar Wastes

4x Coastal Tower

6x Plains

The Tests have taken the place of the three Millstones, and I’ve upped the Tributes to three. Even though they cost seven and eleven mana to cast and cast again with Flashback, we really need to see them or we just won’t win – we probably need to see two, really.

Many readers suggested Treasure Trove to me over the Tome. It has the advantage that you can draw more than one card if you need to… An advantage that has bought Compulsion closer to players’ hearts than Merfolk Looter over recent months. Compulsion may be cheaper than the Trove… But you have to discard before you see what you’re getting, and it doesn’t help you get more cards.

On the other hand, Compulsion will help you gain massive amounts of life when used well with Tribute. If you want to go down this route, I’d advise playing three of them. If you want to come up with versions of the deck, I’ll happily post the best two or three, with a quick rundown on the cards, in a week or two. Remember, there are other cards in Judgement that you might want to play, too…

So; new enough for you?

What do you mean I’ve just whacked a new card into an old deck?

Some people are never satisfied.

How about something a bit more different:

Domain Life

Spells (40):

4x Rampant Growth

4x Lay of the Land

4x Harrow

4x Allied Strategies

4x Worldly Counsel

2x Ancestral Tribute

4x Evasive Action

3x Sterling Grove

1x Yawgmoth’s Agenda

1x Test of Endurance

1x Overgrown Estate

1x Goblin Trenches

3x Collective Restraint

3x Pernicious Deed

1x Compulsion

Land (21):

6x Forest

5x Island

3x Swamp

2x Mountain

2x Plains

1x Yavimaya Coast

2x Llanowar Wastes

Hmm. Nasty.

It’s got lots of one-off enchantments, but with the deck thinning from Rampant Growth, Harrow, and Lay of the Land you’ll see enough of either them or the Sterling Groves to be able to get what you want. Deeds and Collective Restraint hold of and kill creatures. Goblin Trenches can win, or be more defensive, Yawgmoth’s Agenda will give you back all the good spells that you want. Compulsion helps you dig for more good spells, and fills up your graveyard for the Ancestral Tribute. Overgrown Estate also helps keep you alive – but can help you win with the help of Test of Endurance.

All in all it’s a hodgepodge of bits and bobs, based on Kai’s winning Domain deck from GP London last year. I’ve taken some leaves from Zvi’s book and made sure I’m playing Growths, Lay of the Lands, and Harrow.

Notice that, with this build, you can’t cast Tribute with Flashback; hence, two of them.

At the moment this is a work in progress. I can’t spend too much time working on it right now, because I’m practicing for Regionals, but I hope to get some testing in next week. It should do quite well against creature-based decks, but I think control may eat it alive before side boarding. After sideboarding. I’d probably bring in Duress and Gainsays to help out.

The advantage this build has over the W/U Life decks is that I can get lots of land quickly, and still kill creatures. I’m also not that worried about burn, thanks to the Estate. The disadvantage it has is other people’s Deeds. If they get one on the table, they can destroy your strategy for only four extra mana – leaving their Spiritmonger alive and very well. Try not to overcommit by playing out all of your Restraints unless you need to. Don’t drop the Overgrown Estate unless you can see that you’re about to need it, and try not to drop your Test until it looks like you’re going to win next turn.

If they do blow things up, the Agenda could come to your aid, but try not to rely on it.

Hopefully, this’ll give you something to think about – and I’d be grateful for any testing results if people decide to give it a go.

Next Week: What will I decide to play? Will I qualify? Find out in seven days time.

Cheers, Jim.

Team PhatBeats.

What do YOU think? Share your
opinion with the community
and you just may walk away with some FREE Magic cards… courtesy of your friends at