Feature Article – White Weenie in the Post-Worlds Standard Metagame

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Friday, December 19th – Marijn Lybaert rocked into Day 3 of Worlds in sixth place. An Extended record of 3-2-1 or above would have pushed him into Top 8 play, but it was not to be. Today, he brings us his White Weenie Standard deck, with which he posted a 5-1 record. He also shares a few tips on triple Shards of Alara draft…

I can’t say I was extremely happy when I walked out of the Convention Center on Saturday. On Friday night, I found myself in 6th going into Day 3. I needed a 3-2-1 to get into the Top 8. Unfortunately, I hadn’t played any Extended after Berlin (apart from 20 games with my UB Faeries vs Elves) and I had no clue whatsoever whether my deck was any good. Sure, GerryT said it was really good in one of his articles, but could we trust him? It turned out we couldn’t. Ervin Tormos ran almost the exact same 75 as I did, and he ended up going 0-5-1 (with a draw against me, to make it even worse). I went 1-4-1 and ended up 33rd. Not bad, but certainly not what I was hoping for after such a good start.

Anyway, Standard.

About a month before Worlds I had decided upon playing either Faeries or Kithkin in the Standard portion of Worlds. They were the two decks with which I had the most experience, and I didn’t have time to work on something completely new. Leaving for Memphis, I still had no idea which one of the two I was going to play, but it only took a five-minute talk with Pascal and a whopping three games against Elves to make up my mind. Pascal had arrived in Memphis three days before me and had been testing Kithkin exclusively (and playing Agricola of course, the best boardgame in the history of mankind). Pascal, who had played Kithkin for the complete Block Season, came up with a W/r list which included Mirrorweave and Ajani. He told me that no one was expecting Mirrorweave anymore, which made it even more powerful than it was in Block. Junior was right. Mirrorweave was the nuts against both Elves and in the mirror. And it wasn’t even that bad against Faeries and Five-Color Control.

Here is the list I ended up playing:

Little Hobbits
Pascal Vieren and Marijn Lybaert

2 Mirrorweave
3 Wilt-Leaf Liege
4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
4 Wizened Cenn
4 Knight of Meadowgrain
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Spectral Procession
2 Cloudgoat Ranger
2 Ranger of Eos
3 Unmake
1 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
1 Stillmoon Cavalier
4 Rustic Clachan
4 Windbrisk Heights
3 Mutavault
15 Plains

2 Wrath of God
1 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
2 Oblivion Ring
3 Reveillark
2 Order of Whiteclay
2 Glorious Anthem

After the 20 games I played on Thursday I decided to cut the Red cause I didn’t think Ajani Vengeant was worth all the trouble. Running eight Red sources just isn’t enough when you want to cast Ajani consistently, and running 4 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forges[/author] bothered me a lot when playing against RDW. Also, in Standard it usually doesn’t matter that much what cards you play; as long as your deck is consistent and you are casting spells, things are looking great. I decided that I’d rather play Unmake as I’d be able to cast that one more consistenly.

I ended up going 5-1, but I had to get really lucky in order to do so. I won twice versus W/r Kithkin, once versus WB Tokens, once versus Faeries and once versus Mono-Green Elves. My only loss was to the second WB Token deck I played.

The thing that bothered me the most about my deck were the 3 Mutavaults. The Mutavaults were there because I wanted to run 26 lands and I wanted to avoid getting flooded too much, but I lost at least two games because of drawing a Mutavault when I needed a Plains. In a deck where you need at least 2 (preferably 3) White sources in your opening hand, it’s just wrong to play that many Mutavaults.

The other thing that didn’t seem right while playing were the two Ranger of Eos. There is just no right time to play these guys. Kithkin is a beatdown deck so you just want to spend your mana every turn on the most powerful spell in your hand. Ranger of Eos, on the other hand, tries to do something completely different: get 2 Figure of Destiny which will grow large if you ever get the time. Unfortunately, it takes forever to grow your Figure of Destiny, as even a 4/4 is sometimes not big enough in the later turns of the game. I’m running 4 Cloudgoat maindeck as they are just better at killing your opponent. At least you don’t have to wait another turn for your three extra guys to be around.

The sideboard was also pretty bad, to be honest. Wrath of God was a last-minute change that proved to be rather bad in the end. I thought they were going to be good against the WB Token deck, but that deck in fact sideboards in Wrath themselves and only runs 12 or 16 guys. There are only two matchups where you really want them (against Elves and against normal Kithkin), but in those two matchups you want to keep your Mirrorweaves so sideboarding a card that sweeps the whole board is just a bad idea. It’s probably just better to sideboard Moonglove Extract, as it also lets you kill the problematic Stillmoon Cavalier while keeping your own guys alive.

This is the deck I’d play at the moment:

Little Hobbits 2.0
Marijn Lybaert

2 Mirrorweave
3 Wilt-Leaf Liege
4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
4 Wizened Cenn
4 Knight of Meadowgrain
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Spectral Procession
4 Cloudgoat Ranger
3 Unmake
2 Stillmoon Cavalier
4 Rustic Clachan
4 Windbrinsk Heights
1 Mutavault
17 Plains

2 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
2 Stillmoon Cavalier
3 Oblivion Ring
2 Reveillark
2 Glorious Anthem
2 Order of Whiteclay
2 Moonglove Extract

Sideboarding would look something like this (bear in mind that, on the draw, it’s probably right to sideboard out one Plains most of the time):

Versus WB Tokens
Bitterblossom sure is a problem, but with two maindeck Cavaliers you have a way to beat that. After boarding you get a better late game (in the form of Reveillark), more Cavaliers, and a way to remove Bitterblossom. I’d say this matchup is around 50/50.

+2 Stillmoon Cavalier, +3 Oblivion Ring, +2 Moonglove Extract, +2 Reveillark
-4 Goldmeadow Stalwart, -2 Mirrorweave, -3 Unmake

The Mirrorweaves come out because they have too much removal and Wraths after sideboard. The Unmakes don’t have a lot of good targets, and you are sideboarding Oblivion Ring and Extract anyway. Reveillark is there because they are playing Wrath of God, and Lark lets you get back Cavalier (which is key in this matchup).

Versus W/r Kithkin or Mono-White Kithkin
Mirrorweave really shines here. The best thing about Mirrorweave is that it lets you win games where you are behind if your opponent isn’t careful. And most of the time it’s just impossible to play around.

+2 Stillmoon Cavalier, +2 Moonglove Extract
-4 Goldmeadow Stalwart

Frodo (Stalwart) isn’t all that in the mirror, as he does nothing anymore once a Knight hits play. Once again, the key is to land a Cavalier and keep it alive. During Worlds I was also sideboarding Glorious Anthem in this matchup because it makes your spirit tokens bigger than theirs. It’s probably fine to do that, but I don’t really know what I want to take out for them. Taking out one land and one Figure is probably fine.

Versus Faeries
Probably around 55-45 in your favor. Game 1 is slightly better as they don’t have Infest at that point. Game 2 and 3 get a little bit worse thanks to Infest.

+2 Order of Whiteclay, +2 Glorious Anthem
-2 Stillmoon Cavalier, -1 Mirrorweave, -1 Unmake

I’m still unsure on sideboarding out the Cavaliers, but Faeries tends to have 4 Infest anyway these days, and Sower of Temptation is also an issue if you decide to keep them in. Order shines in this matchup, as they don’t have a way to kill it (apart from some lonely Terror). Glorious Anthem comes in to fight Infest.

Versus Cruel Control
Your worst matchup by far, and I’m afraid there is not a lot you can do about it. If you expect a lot of Five-Color Control to be around, it’s probably right to run Red for Ajani Vengeant.

+2 Order of Whiteclay, +2 Reveillark
-2 Stillmoon Cavalier, -1 Mirrorweave, -1 Unmake

You cannot take out all your Unmakes because then you just die to that stupid 3/4 elephant. If they are running Jund Charm or Firespout, it’s probably right to side in those 2 Burrentons as well.

Versus RDW (or Blightning Deck Wins)
A good matchup, although I haven’t tested against the version with Siege-Gang Commander.
You usually just have more men than they do, and their burn is too slow or has to target your little hobbits.

-2 Stillmoon Cavalier, -2 Mirrorweave
+2 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender, +2 Glorious Anthem

Anthem replaces Mirrorweave as they’ll usually just kill your Lieges and Cenns anyway. Stillmoon is just a stupid 2/1 for 3 that dies to Mogg Fanatic. This is the only matchup where I regret not having Ranger of Eos anymore. Searching for 2 Burrenton usually means game over, but you should be more than fine without them.

After Standard, it was time for some triple Shards of Alara draft. I had practiced quite a lot for this portion, and I felt like I knew what I was doing.

Here are some basic rules I tried to follow:

– Don’t commit too early to a shard. I loved me a BR/RG/GW beatdown deck with just a small splash for one or two bombs. To give a pretty extreme example, although I probably went a bit too far: first pick first pack of the first draft, I took Rockslide Elemental over Hellkite Overlord, that’s how fast I think the format is.

– Avoid drafting five colors. The times I did try to draft this archetype things just didn’t come together. It just feels that in every pack you only have about 2/3 playables for your five-color control deck, but it happens too often that the 2/3 players in front of you just take these cards and you end up with a pack with just another Obelisk. In other cases you’ll have every card you want but won’t get the Obelisks and other fixers, as none were opened or someone two seats away from you is also drafting five colors. Also, it felt like a good five-color control could never beat a great start from a RG or WG beatdown deck. Your only chance against 2-drop, 3-drop, 4-drop is often an Infest of Jund Charm, but it’s always hard to cast these cards in the early turns.

– Avoid Esper. Don’t get me wrong. Esper can be really good, but you need the right cards to be opened, and if 1 or 2 other guys are drafting Esper at your table your deck is probably going to be a mess. A typical Esper deck will probably contain several 2/1 and 2/2 flyers but when your opponent just casts 3/3s instead of your smaller flyers, you’ll probably end up double blocking with the risk of walking into a trick.

– Watch your manabase, especially if you are drafting a beatdown deck. A fine example of how important the manabase is in a beatdown deck is Rip-Clan Crasher. This guy is so good on turn 2, but boy does he start to get worse quickly from turn 3 (after you’ve had to sacrifice your Panorama) onward. It’s important that aggro decks punish the slow decks with bad manabases in the early turns. My general rule was to have at least eight sources of both my main colours (available on turn 2). I’m not counting Panoramas here, as they just slow you down too much. The comes-into-play-tapped lands are really important here, and I don’t mind first picking them when my deck is asking for it.

With the above in mind, I went 5-1 in the draft portion. I did get a bit lucky in my first draft though as my deck wasn’t very good. In the first round of that draft I played Manuel Bucher and his five-color special featuring Brilliant Ultimatum and Hellkite Overlord. In both game 2 and 3 he got mana screwed while I was killing him with 2/2s. Game 2 was a fine example why five-color control can’t consistently beat a good aggro draw. I killed him on turn 5/6, I believe, while he was holding a Jund Charm he couldn’t cast.

In my second draft I went 3-0 with a great Naya deck. The deck had double Woolly Thoctar, Naya Charm, and enough removal to make sure my guys would get through. The worst thing about this deck was probably the manabase, but my two Druid of the Anima made sure I could consistently cast everything.

That’s it for this time. I’ve got exams the upcoming month, but after that I’ll be practicing a lot for Kyoto. I’ll keep you guys updated on how things work out.

Thanks for reading!