Eternal On The Other Side Of The Ocean: Combo-Control Rising

Wednesday, February 16 – Combo-control is an archetype typically only available in Vintage, but Carsten, Eternal deckbuilder, is working on a Legacy version. Check this special High Tide deck out for SCG Open: Washington DC!

Those of you who have already clicked the “search for other articles” button just above might have realized that I’m originally a Vintage player. One
of the things that make Vintage special is that there are rarely any true control decks. Instead, pretty much anything that tries to control the game
also has the ability to win quickly given no resistance and race traditional aggressive decks (which, subsequently, are largely extinct in the format).
Today I’ll tell you why I believe that, of all the possible combinations of traditional archetypes (aggro, combo, control, aggro-control, aggro-combo,
combo-control, and finally the Holy Grail, aggro-combo-control), the two that contain both “combo” and “control” are, generally speaking, the most

Not excited yet? Well, maybe my reason to write about this will make your mouth water: I think that, for the first time since I started playing
the format, a true combo-control deck that feels like Vintage combo-control is viable in Legacy — and I’ll provide you with the decklist I’m at
right now (hint: the deck can only exist because of a recent unbanning). Better?

(For those of you who only get excited when I talk about CAB Jace — there has to be someone, right? — today’s bonus content is a report from the last
local tournament in which I played the deck. Enjoy!).

First, though, why is “combo-control” such a good place to be?

Why Combo-Control

To start off, let me define what I mean when I say combo-control so that we’re on the same page (most people, especially those without Vintage
experience, use the term differently). To me, this is a combo-control deck:

Though that deck isn’t legal anywhere anymore (and the list definitely wasn’t optimal), that’s kind of my point — this type of deck usually causes
trouble if it’s powerful enough to be worth playing.

This on the other hand is a control deck that uses a combo as its win condition but is not a true combo-control deck:

Before you start shouting at me because I’m comparing a (banned!) Vintage deck to a current Legacy deck, I’m only trying to illustrate a point, and there is no classic Legacy example I could use (outside of Sadin/Moreno Flash maybe, and how is that deck not at least as ridiculous?). So what
makes these two decks different animals? In one word: speed. The Gifts deck is fast enough to usually kill by turn 3 or 4, exactly fast enough to just
race anything a traditional aggro deck tries to do. CB-Thopter on the other hand can’t do that, at least not as its plan A. Instead, it expects to kill
some creatures or lock them out completely, ending the game at its leisure with a highly efficient combo once control is established. Racing to the
combo comes up but is more a function of randomly drawing into the Foundry early instead of the primary game plan.

Why is this important? Because if you’re playing true combo-control instead of having a bunch of cards in your deck you might not want against some
opponents, you get a deck that doesn’t have dead draws whatever it plays against. No more Swords that rot in your hand against control or combo, no
Orim’s Chant you really don’t need against Goblins — just business and countermagic that helps either force through your kill or stop the opponent from
killing you. Essentially, you get to turn your deck into one giant draw engine that just happens to kill the opponent once you’ve drawn enough cards.
As a result, you’re usually the superior control deck against control — don’t let Mono-Blue fool you; having more counters isn’t what wins control
mirrors. Drawing more (relevant) cards does (not to mention they probably have dead removal). At the same time, you just do to aggro what combo
decks generally do to aggro — kill them first. Sounds good?

From a strategic point of view, it’s even better! Against combo, you’re a control deck that could just kill them if they don’t go off by turn 3. As you
might have realized, that’s pretty difficult to do for most combo decks through disruption, which is why CounterTop is so good against Storm. They
don’t usually have the lock by turn 2 to 3, but their other disruption buys the time for it to come online, essentially killing the Storm deck (CB
decks are combo-control decks in that matchup for all intents and purposes). Combo-control gets to do the same thing without worrying about
Krosan Grip .

Against aggro, instead of needing removal to drag out the game, you just get to kill them early, meaning they can’t draw into burn to finish you off
after their creatures have done most of the work or draw their out to whatever you’re doing to keep them under control.

Finally, control-on-control battles usually come down to creating an opening to stick a decisive threat and protect it until you win. If you’re running
combo-control, there are no turns where you have to hope your threat survives. Once you create the opening, they die — no drawing Krosan Grip, no
Wrath, nothing.

In short, the reason why combo-control is so good is that you essentially get the best of both worlds at practically no cost.

I could talk at similar length about the strength of aggro-combo-control, but the only deck I would personally classify as that is Vintage GroATog
(both the 2003 version and the 2006 version). That deck was insane and could adopt an ultra-efficient aggro-control posture when appropriate* while
being able to both play a perfect control game and combo-kill you out of nowhere with Fastbond. As I don’t really believe anything is likely to be able
to replicate these abilities soon without meeting the ban hammer (Vengevine-Survival came pretty close but was lacking in the control department,
though the fact that it nearly got there probably does a lot to explain why the deck was so damn good), I’ll save the (metaphorical) ink and simply
tell you that any deck that can efficiently play all three roles is probably too good.

* Being able to play aggro-control with threats that win in about three turns can be better against combo sometimes because you invest minimal
resources to move closer to ending the game, so you get to spend all your resources digging for more disruption while the one random threat puts them
on a short clock (or, against control, the creature threat diverts their resources to dealing with it — in that way, the creatures actually work as

Currently, only Counterbalance can sometimes play in a way similar to that in Legacy, with CB-Top standing in for the actual combo win against some
decks. If the lock isn’t an instant win, you’re back to playing (aggro-)control.

Combo-Control For Legacy

Now that we’ve established why being combo-control is a good thing┢, let’s get to the actual deck. For those who didn’t get the hint at the beginning,
yes I’m obviously talking about High Tide. Here’s what I’m currently testing:

Yeah, I know the name doesn’t have much to do with the deck; it’s simply a riff on Blue Sun’s Zenith, which is what made this version of the deck
possible. I happen to love the quirky naming conventions of Eternal formats, so Neon Blue Sky (NBS) is what I’m going to call my version of the deck.
You’re free to use something more mundane like SpiralTide if you prefer. Let’s get to discussing the actual decklist, shall we?

Winning And Wasting No Space

The game plan is rather straightforward (though it takes a lot of time and concentration to actually execute). Resolve High Tide, make mana, cast a
Time Spiral to refill. Once that’s done, cast more High Tides and untap-effects,

Stroke of Genius

Blue Sun’s Zenith for a lot, repeat as necessary until you can Stroke the opponent out.

Blue Sun’s Zenith is utterly sweet for this plan. Its shuffling back in on resolution means you only need a single one to both go off safely
post-Spiral and have a win condition. As Drawing a Stroke early is pretty bad, you really don’t want to run more than one, but before Zenith, the deck
needed at least one for the safe combo followed by access to some other win condition later. Now you get to play the only win condition that’s more
efficient space-wise than Tendrils of Agony — zero (yes zero) cards that only end the game. Pretty sweet.

It’s All About The Mana

High Tide is obviously the card you’re trying to abuse here, and to do that, you need untap effects. Time Spiral is perfect for the job, not only
untapping lands ready to be used again but also filling your hand back up so that you have stuff to do with the mana. In this deck, Time Spiral is your
Ad Nauseam, the spell you try to punch through that will afterwards allow you to go off for real. Different from Ad Nauseam, though, you’re perfectly
happy running your main bomb as a four-of because it doesn’t kill you to hit another, quite the contrary. While chaining Time Spirals is a possibility,
it’s quite risky as they can fizzle (seven lands, great…) and can also help your opponent find answers because they’re symmetrical (wow, you drew
into three Forces?!). Instead, I’d much rather prefer casting other untap effects and finding the Zenith, though that isn’t always possible.

Turnabout is your mana-engine workhorse. It’s highly efficient (trading four mana for whatever your lands can produce) but also has some helpful
flexibility because it can be used to tap the opponent out before (another) Time Spiral is cast (you can also use it as a Fog in theory. I haven’t done
that once yet, though). If the opponent cleverly taps his lands for mana, pass through the attack step. Sure, you lose any floating mana, but that
should be a minor problem considering your mana comes from lands you can just keep untapped, not Ritual effects. This trick is extremely useful if you
want to prevent a Zoo player from drawing lethal burn off your Spiral, keep combo from drawing into Orim’s Chant, or make sure the only active counters
in your opponent’s deck are Force of Wills.

If the only reason to run more untap effects was to enable the kill without multiple Spirals, this is where I would stop. There is a problem, though.
To reliably race aggro, you need to be able to go off on turn 3 on the draw. As simple math shows us, High Tide into Time Spiral only works with four
lands out, so you need either another untap effect or something that lets you drop another land to get there. At that point, you’re assembling a
three-card combo, though, which means you want more pieces. There aren’t any other Time Spirals, and Bubbling Muck totally screws up the mana, so more
acceleration it is.

As they won’t let me play with Frantic Search (probably a good idea for the format), some other option is needed. The first card I was excited about
was Explore. Not only does it allow four lands by turn 3, it also lets you drop more lands while comboing, essentially producing mana and drawing a
card. The problem is that you suddenly need green mana early, which means Tropical Islands. Considering this deck really, really needs lands in play to
win, opening it up to Wasteland doesn’t prove to be the ideal plan. Combine this with the comparatively low land count, which leads to Explore whiffing
often enough to be annoying, and I abandoned the idea quite rapidly.

This leaves us with the choice between Candelabra of Tawnos and Cloud of Faeries. On first sight, Candelabra wins that one — it can generate much more
mana after all. Once I started testing with Cloud of Faeries, though, I realized something amazing: In a way, Cloud is like a miniature Frantic Search!
Sure, it’s perfectly serviceable but unexciting as an accelerator, but the more games I played, the more I found myself having easily enough mana but
nothing to do with it. In these situations, the cycling is absolutely vital, and by now, I cycle Clouds nearly as much as I actually cast them
(post-Spiral, obviously). This flexibility makes them far better than Candelabra in my book.

Having What You Want

I talked about how good the Cantrip Cartel (Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain) is in one of my Talent Search articles so I won’t rant
about them again. They give you amazing consistency and velocity while making sure you hit your land drops, which is exactly what the deck needs. I’m
constantly debating if I should risk going down to 18 lands to fit in the last Preordain, but the deck likes having lands out so much, I can’t really
bring myself to pull the trigger.

As good as the cantrips are, the true star of the deck is Merchant Scroll. It finds whatever you happen to need, be it additional protection, High
Tide, untap effects, or the Zenith. This is the card that allows you to really play control even though there are only seven (defensive) counters in
the deck — need more Forces? Scroll for them!

Merchant Scroll is basically Demonic Tutor that can’t find Time Spiral here, which is pretty sick indeed — and the Time Spiral problem can be worked
around. By running a single Intuition, you get the ability to Tutor for that with Scroll and find a Spiral as long as there are at least three left in
the deck. This may seem clunky at first, but with the amount of mana the deck can produce (nine on the turn you want to win isn’t all that hard), it’s
invaluable to be able to consistently find a Time Spiral before you die to the aggro assault. It also makes post-Spiral hands that have no business but
Merchant Scroll a lot better — chaining Spirals may not be the plan, but it’s much better than fizzling. The fact that drawing the Intuition isn’t bad
at all (instant-speed Grim Tutor, essentially) solidifies its position as an important piece to the puzzle.

Controlling Disruption

Let’s talk about the cards that make NBS a combo-control deck instead of a pure combo deck. Force of Will is ridiculously good at both protecting the
combo and stopping whatever the opponent wants to do, obviously. Also, this is a blue deck; do we really need to discuss running FoW in our blue decks?

The Counterspells are probably a harder sell; I mean, there definitely are better cards to punch your Spiral through (Pact of Negation, Dispel, …).
That isn’t the point, though. Counterspell can be used to protect your combo and often is once you’ve started Spiraling (Counterspell are a
real boon then, and I constantly Scroll for them while comboing to make sure my opponent doesn’t use his new hand to mess with me — once High Tide has
resolved, UU is pretty cheap), but its most important job is to keep the opponent from doing stupid things before you kill them. You know, like playing
Counterbalance, Armageddon, Gaddock Teeg, Standstill, or something similarly annoying — they could even just Ad Nauseam and kill you first. Now
Counterspell isn’t the ideal answer to any of these scenarios because it needs two mana, and there is a card to do each job you want Counterspell to do
for less (and most of those are in the sideboard), but none can reasonably do all of them. Spell Pierce comes closest but is so useless to
protect your win that I wouldn’t want it maindeck*.

* High Tide works for both players, and most decks that can relevantly interact with you post-Spiral are at least partially blue. As you gift them with
a new hand, you need to be able to at least fight one more counter war successfully. Even if you just want to push a Spiral through countermagic, your
own High Tide probably negates your Pierces.

Weird Ones

Now that I talked about everything else (well, the spells), there remain the singletons to explain. Intuition was already addressed above; it’s fine
but a little expensive if drawn but utterly necessary to make sure you can find a Spiral in time.

The Pact of Negation is also easy: Against Fish, you need two zero-cost counters a lot of the time (if they realize Daze and Cursecatcher need to hit
Tide to do anything, you end up having to counter a Daze quite often), and supporting two Forces in addition to the High Tide, Time Spiral, and the
usually necessary untap effects can be pretty tough.

How does having a single Cunning Wish make any sense, though? The truth is I had a Capsize in that slot for a long time (Scroll-able solution to any
permanent and allows you to go infinite once four High Tides have resolved by bouncing the Faeries), but I realized that my sideboarded answers were
all instants already (thanks, Merchant Scroll), so making my out get the actual good solutions and game-one access to Brain Freeze seemed like a better

Mana From Heaven

The reason to run (almost) pure basics is simple: you need at least three lands to win, so getting Wastelanded is your worst nightmare. This is what
ruined the otherwise very enticing Explore build for me, and I don’t see anything else that would be worth a splash.

Other than Krosan Grip that is. Counterbalance is a pain (you can’t win with it on one), and Grip is obviously the best solution to that card.
Considering CounterTop usually doesn’t have Wastelands, a single Tropical is enough to reliably cast the Grip while retaining almost complete immunity
to Wasteland thanks to Islands and fetches.

Finally, there are ten fetches because they have great synergy with Brainstorms and Ponders, allowing easy access to the Tropical, and you shouldn’t
have time to get more than nine lands into play either way. It’s not like they can Waste-lock you. I suggest you avoid playing any Polluted Deltas if
you have access to whatever fetches you want. Only combo usually plays those while Rainforest/Tarn/Strand suggests control/tempo to most people. That
might lead to aggro rationing their threats (more time to make land drops) and allows for some surprise wins when the suspected control/tempo deck just
kills them on three.

After Game One

Let’s get to the reason I originally ran a Wish-less build — a real sideboard. All common versions of the deck I’ve seen run Cunning Wish and,
accordingly, a Wish-based utility sideboard. In NBS on the other hand, none of the cards in the sideboard were chosen purely as Wish targets; they’re
all meant to come in against certain matchups. The beauty of this is that you have the ability to transform into the kind of deck you really want to be
in games two and three.

The three-ofs allow you to adapt your strategy depending on what you play against, either becoming more of a true mono-blue deck with a combo kill or a
reasonably fast combo deck, with tons of free countermagic if necessary. The singletons are obviously intended as Merchant Scroll silver bullets.

Snap: This card is what originally made me want to play Wish-less. By having a number of Snaps in your deck, you get three things at once: A way to
deal with hate bears, another untap effect to speed up your kill turn, and a way to slow the (aggro-X) opponent down if they get close to racing. You
can bounce their turn 2 play while still casting two cantrips to dig for the kill; it turns something like Gaddock Teeg into a benefit. (They Teeg you,
all happy to have stopped you from going off. You untap, High Tide, Snap the Teeg, and thank them for helping you to accelerate into Time Spiral mana.)
Once you’re going off, Snaps can recycle Cloud of Faeries for even more acceleration (or the cycling), making your solution into a functional combo
piece. Under High Tide, Merchant Scroll into Snap also costs no mana, meaning you can just ignore their hate bear until you want to combo, at which
point a spare Merchant Scroll takes care of it without trouble.

The one thing to look out for is removal in response to Snap — if there is no target, you don’t get to untap so be aware of that when planning your

Krosan Grip: As for all combo decks, Counterbalance is a pain. With all the cantrips combined with your own countermagic, you should be able to find a
Grip before they’ve established the lock. The reason to run Grip over something like Wipe Away is that you really want to kill Counterbalance as soon
as possible because it shuts off your cantrip engine, meaning you don’t get to outdraw (out-quality?) them anymore once it’s online, which is bad for
obvious reasons.

Pact of Negation: Oh Fish, how I hate thee. Everything I said about the maindeck Pact applies; only after sideboard you’d rather just draw into the
Pacts instead of having to search for them. Having three makes having multiple zero-mana counters in hand a lot easier.

Spell Pierce: Don’t you just hate getting Duressed? Spell Pierce allows you to go up to ten relevant counterspells (eleven with the Dispel below)
against both combo and control while at the same time providing a cheap way to deal with hand disruption from black aggro-control decks.  

Dispel: This was the fourth Pact for quite some time until I realized I really wanted something to Scroll for on turn 3 that would back up my own Force
against the opponent’s Counterbalance or other protected hate (assuming they play around Spell Pierce to drop it on turn 4, for example). It’s also
fine as a cheaper Counterspell to protect you after Spiral.

Rebuild: One slot to turn Stax into a good matchup and have an out to Chalice in general seems pretty good. Note that this cycles, which can be very
relevant while going off, in the same way Cloud’s cycling helps. Those of you who have played Vintage when four Merchant Scrolls were legal know why
this is good.

Bound/Determined: I really, really wanted to play with Autumn’s Veil because afterward you don’t have to care anymore what your Spirals give to your
opponent. I still don’t want to run multiple Tropicals, making boarding green spells against decks with Wasteland really awkward. This can be Merchant
Scrolled for on the other hand (against control you often have a spare Merchant Scroll and lots of mana before you need to Spiral), which is perfect.
It even draws a card, which is a sweet bonus when you Spiral into a bunch of protection.

Brain Freeze: While winning with Zenith usually works fine, it can sometimes be a little difficult on three lands. In the matchups where your plan is
to race, turn 3 is what you’re aiming for, and being able to Scroll this up makes that a lot easier.

It’s possible there should be one Wipe Away or some other Scroll-able solution for Counterbalance in here; I haven’t done enough testing against them
post-board to see if it’s needed or not.

Why High Tide Should Be Combo-Control

I don’t get why players insist on building High Tide like a true combo deck (only Pacts and Forces for maindeck disruption, 17 lands, few real
sideboard cards, a bunch of different win conditions cluttering up the maindeck, even more untap effects, etc.). To me, High Tide is simply an inferior
combo deck to other options. The deck can’t really win before turn 3 (well, in theory it can, but I haven’t drawn that hand even once yet), so ANT is
always going to be faster than any Spiral deck (it definitely doesn’t need three lands to go off) and therefore better against aggro; it gets to play
similar amounts of basics (at least Ari Lax build does, and that’s the one I’d be playing) and is at least as good at punching through countermagic
during the first two turns. As such, if you want to play true combo, you should probably not bother with High Tide.

By turning the deck into combo-control on the other hand, you suddenly improve the control matchup by a huge margin (especially against Counterbalance)
because you’re at least as good at stopping them as they are at assembling their own lock. I mean, I actually feel quite good against Counterbalance in
the late game; how many combo decks can claim that?

The worst thing about those combo versions of High Tide is that they aren’t really much faster than this deck! NBS goldfishes on turn 3 to 4 with utter
consistency, and from what I’ve seen so far, the speed builds only do slightly better on the turn 3 front (and only pre-board at that). How can it be
right to sacrifice the ability to play a completely different game when the matchup demands it for maybe 10% of turn 3 wins (that would be turn 4 wins

Zenith On The Stack Aka The End

There are a few other ideas I’m looking into right now. (Vendilion Clique out of the sideboard for example. An instant-speed Duress that also happens
to cycle during the combo turn seems pretty good. So do Misdirection and Divert against Hymn to Tourach, though I doubt there’s room for them.) This is
by no means a finished product. In spite of writing about how good combo-control is as a strategy, simply being the right archetype doesn’t decide how
good your matchups are, either; it only shows you how much potential is there. For the moment, I don’t think the deck breaks the format or something;
much more testing remains to be done to find out how good it really is.

The reason I put out the deck at this early stage already is simply because I’m really excited to finally have a deck that feels like playing Vintage
control again. (I don’t mean as powerful as a Vintage deck — it clearly isn’t. The way it works just happens to give me the same warm, fuzzy feeling.
So much control over what you draw is awesome!) If some of you, like me, are stuck in a place without a Vintage scene and miss playing it, give
this a try; you’ll be happy you did. Same for those of you who play Vintage but are turned off by the creature-centric nature of Legacy — you’ll feel
right at home piloting NBS. For those missing these motivations, the deck is testing incredibly well so far, so at least playing a few games with it to
see for yourselves should be worth your while.

That’s what I have for today; your turn to tell me what you think in the forums. See you next time. Until then, make the tide rise!

Carsten Kötter


CAB — Jace Bonus Content: A Tournament Report

In honor of jpmeyer, I’ll start this off with a Q ‘n D report, the ultimate form of Magic prose:

Round 1:


Game 1: Punishing Fire, Maze, and EE beat Frogmites and Ravagers, Jace comes down.

Game 2: Maze is good against all-in Ravager plays. Jace comes down.


Round 2:

Green and Taxes

Game 1: I kill his dudes. Jace comes down.

Game 2: I’m an idiot and concede to Choke about a minute before the round ends.

Game 3: Draw, obviously.


Round 3:


Game 1: I’m still an idiot and keep five lands, EE. I draw more lands.

Game 2: Mull to five. One-land hands are bad.


Round 4:


Game 1: Forbid-Fire-lock for the win — 45-minute game.

Game 2: He fizzles on the fourth extra turn.


Round 5:

U/G/W/R Loam

Game 1: He Waste locks me.

Game 2: He doesn’t Waste lock me. Jace comes down.

Game 3: I Extirpate Wasteland, Jace comes down.


For those that like a little more detail, here’s the long version:

This is the local tournament I regularly get to play in. While there are only 27 players today, most people know what they’re doing and are playing
solid decks. I know there is going to be a little bit more combo than usual (I’m lending out my TES cards, among other things), so I switch a Needle
and the Ravenous Trap in the sideboard for an Enlightened Tutor and an Ethersworn Canonist. I also want to try out White Sun’s Zenith as a Wish-able
win condition and decide to cut the Forbid for it. Obviously I never get to use either card.

Let’s get to the action!

Round one:

Hans Julius Baltin, Affinity:

Game 1: I land, go. He goes land, Mox, Thopter, Plating which I don’t Force. (I have Maze, Punishing Fire, and Grove; I just don’t want to get
Ravagered or swarmed before Fire cleans up.) He follows with two Frogmites and a Myr Enforcer (which eats said FoW). I drop a Maze (hitting the Thopter
he insta-equips) and start Firing and Swordsing his stuff, making sure Plating doesn’t connect. I stall on three mana for a time, but one is a Grove,
so I still manage to kill his board. Once I hit four, I get Jace online and end the game on three life after I EE two Ravagers and a Plating as well as
a Memnite and Ornithopter, all of which he dropped during a single turn to try to get around Fire).

Game 2: He goes all-in (well, saccing his lands, he has more) on double Frogmite early with a Ravager, which I answer with Mazes, using my other
removal to decimate his board enough to stall it with two Mazes. Once I have Jace and Forbid-lock, he concedes (I’m at two life).

Round 2:

Till Micheler with Green and Taxes:

Game 1: I stall on mana for a while, but EEs and Fires trade for most of his stuff while Maze keeps the leftovers at bay. I get to Jace, and soon
after, he concedes.

Game 2: The game develops similarly to the first, but I make an immense mistake by not being aware of the clock. I concede game two very shortly before
time runs out when he Chokes me at the perfect moment. He doesn’t have much of a clock yet (though Goyfs were coming down after what he told me), and I
might have been able to survive until the end. I concede instead, hoping for game 3 and am roughly reminded of round time existing when time is called
on turn 2.

Round 3:

Simon Schubert with Stifle-Bant:

Game 1: Not knowing what I’m playing against but assuming he is Zoo for some reason, I mulligan five lands, Brainstorm, Treasure Hunt (which is a
beautiful keep against anything that isn’t highly aggressive) and keep a bad six unwilling to go to five (five mana, EE). I draw three more lands and
one Explosives, which allows him to get Elspeth online while I flood out and die. Definitely my fault I lost this one.

Game 2: As if my deck wants to punish me for my bad mulligan in the first game, I have to mull a seven without lands, then a six with Academy Ruins as
the only land, keeping Grove, Brainstorm, and three cheap plays instead of going to four — as long as I find a blue source, I should be okay (well, for
a mull to five). I draw my first land (a Grove) the turn before he attacks for lethal.

Round 4:

Florian Aurich with Solidarity:

When my opponent first-turn fetches for Island and Brainstorms during my end step, I’m not too worried. Once he fetches a second basic Island, though,
I start feeling quite bad. Luckily he stalls on land for two turns after that, allowing me to build up a foothold and milk my Top. Once he’s ready to
go for it, I’m able to Forbid with buyback his untap effect (he punches a Meditate through my FoW trying to find an answer but doesn’t). Thanks to
Meditate, I get to Time Walk and stick a Jace. Jace and Top dig up more backup for my Forbid, which at this point is fueled purely by Punishing Fire,
and he doesn’t ever get to a point where he can go off before Jace kills him (I end the game with double active FoW, REB, and Forbid in hand, recurring
and discarding Punishing Fire every turn because I already have seven cards).

This has taken an insane amount of time, though, and there are about five minutes left in the round. I rapidly board out my twelve removals for
anything that might do something, and we’re off again, time being called on my first turn. He tries to combo on the fourth extra turn (mine, he has
four lands) but fizzles due to a minor misplay. I realize that, with the slowness of his deck, I should probably have left one of the REBs in the board
to Wish for because even though it means I have a worse maindeck, I have a higher number of active disruption overall (when he tries to go off this
game, I can counter once and have a Wish that would be online due to High Tide — but I don’t have anything to Wish for).

Round 5:

Karl Dang with U/G/W/R Loam Aggro-Control

Game 1: I make a huge mistake not realizing his turn 2 Goyf is actually 0/1, wasting a Swords instead of the Punishing Fire in my hand. I repeat the
same mistake later, when he has a 2/2 Knight after casting Loam. Loam recurs double Waste, and I don’t find a Wish to get out of the Waste lock before
his Knight (which should have been dead) kills me. Probably better this way because otherwise we might have run out of time, and winning under Waste
lock is nearly impossible.

Game 2: I Needle his Wastelands, and removal plus Jace rapidly take over the game. It ends when EE on three leaves him with nothing but lands versus my
two Mazes, a ramping Jace, about eight mana, and Forbid online.

Game 3: His turn to misplay, as he doesn’t spend the rest of his hand to stop my end of turn Wish (we both FoW once; he could have played another one).
I get Extirpate, fetch (he Stifle), drop another fetch during my turn, and hit the Wasteland in his yard. Mazes hold back his guys; Fire takes out
anything small, and I get Forbid plus one Fire online. After quite a few turns, I finally hit a Jace, which ramps him out pretty rapidly protected by

Well, that’s it. I go 3:1:1 beating one of my worst matchups and losing one of the better ones. That’s variance for you. I hope you enjoyed seeing the
deck in action; give it a try if you like playing long games!