Pro Tour: San Juan is now over, and rather than posting my decklist (which was the same as Manu’s list) or talking about my tournament (I lost the final round for Day 2 against Oli), I would rather write about the Magic happenings that I enjoyed while there.
The best thing about the weekend was probably the finals. Not the match itself, but the two players that met there. On my way to Puerto Rico, I remember wondering when Guillaume Matignon, Wafo-Tapa’s alter ego and former World of Warcraft World Champion, would succeed on the international scene. Besides winning French Nationals and reaching the Top 9 of two Grand Prix tournaments, his talent and hard work were not yet being acknowledged. I am really happy that he added such a big achievement to his card-player resume.
I was satisfied with his loss in the finals, as Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa has been one of the top players in the world for years, and he definitely deserved his win. As I have been on the train for more than ten years, I know how important it is to actually win a Pro Tour. Lots of very good players dream about it, but they probably won’t ever reach that goal. Winning such an event is more than just money; it is a reward for years of training, lots of sacrifices, and a high dedication to the game. Congratulations Paulo!
Next? Two very nice plays…
At the Pro Tour, my friend’s opponent mulliganed to five cards, and played a Mountain and passed on turn 1. On turn 2 he did the same. On turn 3, he played a third Mountain and three copies of Goblin Arsonist! I’ve no idea why he did not cast these earlier (not to mention why he had 3 copies in his deck).
In a “Casual” team draft, my teammate Lucas Florent (17th at the PT) had a Baneful Omen on the table (yeah, the seven mana not-so-playable enchantment). He passed the turn, and revealed Emrakul, the Aeon Torns to deal 15 damage to his opponent and win with pride.
I could talk about a surreal discussion between Oli, myself, and Ben Rubin, wondering which option from Austin or Honolulu was the first Pro Tour of the season, only to realize it was San Diego. Or I could talk about the fact that it actually rained on my first draft opponent, and we ended up playing two rows behind everyone else. However, I’m going to write about a Standard matchup.
Rather than writing about Blue White against Jund again, especially since the two decks have not evolved that much, I wanted to test the two decks that I like the most in the current metagame: Planeswalkers against Mythic Conscription.
As I said I’d do last week, I took two lists from the Top 8 of GP: Washington.
Carlos Romao’s version is weird, as it plays six copies of Jace, but I know that his decklist has to be almost optimal, and the other list (featuring 1 Luminarch Ascension) was a bit scary.
And with only one example in the Top 8…
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 4 Sovereigns of Lost Alara
- 4 Dauntless Escort
- 4 Baneslayer Angel
- 4 Lotus Cobra
I expected the Planeswalker deck to be really good against pure aggro or pure control decks, but to struggle a lot against the Bant deck, which is midrange/almost combo.
Maindeck Games (10 wins, 14 losses, 41.6 % games won)
On the play: 6 wins, 6 losses
On the draw: 4 wins,8 losses
Neither of us mulliganed to five or lower, which should make the results more accurate. I think that Manu got better draws than me (often having Sovereigns of Alara turn 3 on the play), so the matchup should be a little better, but still unfavorable.
Playing first is really important here, as with his acceleration, the Mythic deck almost starts with an extra turn when it goes first; whenever I was on the play, I could counterbalance the “additional turn” that he got by casting Day of Judgment. The only way you have to compensate for his explosives draws is to Path to Exile one of your Wall of Omens, but you would need the extra land by turn 4, so it would not accelerate anything else than Gideon Jura.
As expected, the matchup was pretty difficult. I won when I could reach the late game, which is the goal of any control deck.
The version Manu played was very annoying, as he had Dauntless Escort instead of the Rhox War Monk that I had last week. Every time I wanted to play a “Wrath” effect, I had to deal with it first, usually with Path to Exile, Oblivion Ring, Ajani Vengeant, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Gideon Jura; killing the rhino was easy but time consuming.
Another common problem for the control decks against Mythic is Celestial Colonnade. Here, it is really easy to handle them, as you have Ajani Vengeant , Spreading Seas, Tectonic Edge, and your own copies. You can play your Spreading Seas on non-Mishra lands any time you draw them. It is really important to reach your spells that will have an impact on the game, and the lands that come along; if a manland shows up, you should have enough time to dig for a way to handle it.
His planeswalkers are not such a problem either: you have six Jace when your opponent only has three, and Gideon Jura does not do much besides being a creature that you cannot Wrath away. More, Ajani Vengeant usually handles both. It is still quite important to cast any Jace first, to get an advantage from it before it dies. It is actually one of the keys of the matchup, having a Blue planeswalker doing its job.
What really bothers us is the speed of the Mythic Conscription deck. As I mentioned earlier, the deck can have ridiculous draws which can almost be considered as combo strategies. Sovereigns of Lost Alara was the key card to Manu’s broken draws. The only card that can really fight against it is Path to Exile, and you need to cast it when it enters the battlefield, or you will have to chose between killing a creature which already is enchanted by Eldrazi Conscription or the 4/5 that will bring a +10/+10 boost to another creature on the following turn… either way, you lose. If you went first, you still have time to cast Day of Judgment if your opponent does not have a Dauntless Escort on the board, but if you already took some damage, the colorless enchantment might kill you in one turn, even if you have Wall of Omens to block the creature.
Path to Exile is the card that makes you survive the stupid things Mythic can do, so if you can afford it, always let your opponent think that you hold it by keeping a White land untapped and “hesitating” to exile a creature at the end of his turn by looking at them all before untapping. Still considering the bluff aspect, it might be really good to keep a White land in your hand and make your opponent believe you cannot cast your Day of Judgment so that he goes “all in.” The best way to do that would be to look angry, but I usually do not pull this kind of cheap trick.
Knight of the Reliquary, as usual, is a card that you need to deal with before your opponent untaps with it. There is no way to know if your opponent plays one or two Sejiri Steppes , but even if he only runs one, you do not want him to accelerate his draw nor fetch for more Celestial Colonnade. It is also a big threat that you will need to kill at some point, but at least it dies to mass removal.
Whenever you have a hand which guarantees that you will be tapped out in the next few turns, it is good to Oblivion Ring or “Lightning Helix” from Ajani Vengeant an acceleration creature of your opponent, in order to slow him down and get the tempo.
The planeswalkers in the deck are very useful, except for Elspeth, Knight-Errant, which was a little ineffective. I did not kill a Jace, the Mind Sculptor with it, but this might happen sometimes. The tokens were almost irrelevant. Ajani Vengeant was really helpful, while Jace Beleren did not bother me at all as I could always kill it myself by drawing before casting the Mind Sculptor, and it was a really good Fog engine, which gives you the tempo. Gideon Jura also gave me a lot of time to build up a board and secure my wins.
Every time I test Mythic against Control, the matchup became a nightmare for the defensive deck when the Negate comes in… let’s see what happens here, with almost no sideboard plan:
I did not want the fourth Negate, as the deck taps out until the sixth or seventh turn.
Sideboarded Games (12 wins, 14 losses, 46.1% games won)
On the play: 8 wins, 5 losses
On the draw: 4 wins,9 losses
I was the only one to take a mulligan to five cards, and I still won the game thanks to Jace Beleren.
Manu’s sideboard plan was to replace his Baneslayer Angels, Eldrazi Conscriptions, and Sovereigns of Lost Alara with Negate, Sphinx of Jwar Isle, Oblivion Ring, and Qasali Pridemage, which turned his deck into a pure midrange strategy. Even though this is probably the right thing to do, he lost the sick draws in the process, and I could reach the late game more often, but he would be prepared for it and still win there about half of the time.
With less aggression on his side, you can keep slower hands. The games will be a little longer, but you still do not have the tempo on your side.
The games became a fight for Jace. The player that activated a Jace for two turns would win. Even though I had more of the Blue planeswalkers, his Negates were more effective than mine as, thanks to his mana acceleration, he could develop and counter in the same turn, which I could not do before turn 7 or 8. More, my Jace could be killed by creatures, while my Celestial Colonnade did not manage that very often (maybe once or twice out of fifty games).
His Negates were also better than mine in general. I had to cast them to protect my spells and try to survive, while his gave him a significant advantage in the game by helping the Mythic deck keep the lead and finish the game soon after.
Obviously, you need to try to get your worst spells countered, and, on the opposite side, play the best possible spells whenever your opponent is tapped out.
To conclude, I would say that the matchup is winnable if you win the die roll; otherwise, it is going to be very difficult. This is the fourth time I’ve tested the Mythic deck for StarCityGames.com, and it kept on destroying everything, whatever version was run. If I had to play a PTQ anytime soon, I would definitely consider playing it, and try to figure out which version is the best.
Until then, good luck at the PTQs! Amsterdam might not seem as spicy as San Juan, but it is a very nice place, and I hope to meet you there!