“Rules are meant to be broken.”
Instead, I decided to spend this space creating a framework for how we should approach the upcoming format based on… Okay, fine. Just my two cents.
1. They Didn’t Ban Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin
I said that the age of Caw-Blade was over; now I guess no one can disagree!
I am pretty sure that if the format had been allowed to mature according to its natural progression, some version of Exarch Twin would have emerged the
best; and by what I have learned the last couple of weeks, that version would likely have been TwinBlade.
Anyway, I am guessing that the initial post-bannings metagame will be heavily influenced by Primeval Titans. Primeval Titans, whether they are going to
search up Eldrazi Temples, Molten Pinnacles, or something else (say Celestial Colonnade)… They are going to put up Top 8s.
What is Deceiver Exarch going to look like?
A lot of people are defaulting into my original U/R deck because, well… at least before MJ’s TwinBlade, U/R was probably the best (and you
can’t TwinBlade anymore, so…).
I wouldn’t go that direction, though.
The U/R deck leaned heavily on its Jaces, and losing the better set of them is no picnic; not with Spellskite in the format.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Cunning Sparkmage
- 2 Vengevine
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 1 Inferno Titan
- 1 Spellskite
- 1 Hex Parasite
- 4 Deceiver Exarch
This deck is obviously based on Bjorn Domi’s PTQ-winner.
Whack singletons: Acidic Slime is there to bridge to six (the one Inferno Titan and possibly Consecrated Sphinx); Hex Parasite main is for Trinket Mage
(you can Trinket Mage into Hex Parasite to rebuy Vengevine).
You kind of have to play Spellskite (maybe even double Spellskite) before trying for your Slimes, which you need to have in your deck to deal with
their Spellskites. You don’t have an offensive Plan B with this configuration, so your Plan B has to be Jace.
It has so many insane lines of attack that the U/W matchup is probably ludicrous, but Jace Beleren + Consecrated Sphinx is probably the most
disgusting. An active deck can almost never lose to a reactive deck once something like that gets rolling.
Spellskite comes in to block and to soak up random Staggershock copies. Spellskite not only makes Teetering Peaks look silly, but also protects your
Vengevine– and combo-assembling Fauna Shamans. You can just trade whatever with their small guys; maybe get a two-for-one out of it somewhere.
Probably not a great matchup, but Spellskite leads a fine army of potential attrition.
Losing seems difficult.
Make sure you slowplay your Basilisk Collar so that when the opponent moves to hide it with his Leonin, you can ping that effer. Seriously don’t
know how you can lose with a bunch of active Cunning Sparkmages clearing the way. You can infinity them, or deck them with Elixir.
You don’t want to have too many guys that die to Pyroclasm / Slagstorm, which is why you cut the Lotus Cobras. Birds of Paradise gets the nod
because you still have the super quick turn 3 kill, plus Birds of Paradise â†’ Jace Beleren.
I kind of want to play the fourth Spellskite because one Spellskite and some open mana are better than the entire Valakut deck put together. A bunch of
Spellskites plus quad Slimes powered up by Jaceâ€”and that’s Plan B?â€”wow. It’s not as if you still have a turn 3 kill or
If it’s me, and it’s week one… This is what I am playing. The best cards in the format outside the combo are Lotus Cobra, Preordain, and
Fauna Shaman… and lo and behold! You can Preordain into Lotus Cobra and Fauna Shaman!
2. There is More Than One Titan
Outside of Inferno Titan, which I like in any manner of RUG or any manner of Exarch Twin (or a deck that has both elements, as above), my favorite
Titan is not old Genesis Wave standbys Primeval Titan or Frost Titan… but Sun Titan!
If I weren’t on Exarch Twin (or Shaman-Twin), I would go with something like this:
While I am generally for “the best” instead of “the best against the best,” counterspells, Into the Roil, and Dismember all
together are about as good as you can muster against Twin without yourself being Twin.
Sideboarding will vary a bit. You definitely need Spellskite and Dismember in; against decks with lots of little guys you want Day of Judgment. Against
pure combo, you don’t. Against some decks you will side out 1-2 Sun Titans, others all four Wall of Omens.
Wall of Omens has very little text in the U/W mirror.
Whether Dismember and / or Day of Judgment are bad or completely worthless is up for debate. A Spellskite accomplishes much the same thing as a
Dismember and has a lot of upside going long against Shrine of Burning Rage. Obviously it is unbelievable against Staggershock.
You just want Elspeth Tirel for the life-mising. So mise!
You can actually cut some Mana Leaks and add the Dismember if you want. Spellskites are reasonable blockers against a 1/1 army, if you don’t care
about their spells at all. Not really any reason you should care if you can just Wrath of God all their Jones while crushing them with baby Jace, but
if all else fails, you can poison them out.
It depends quite a bit on the opponent’s configuration what you side out.
Day of Judgment is probably not good enough for a four-of; that said, if their Plan B is Avenger of Zendikar, you actually want at least two copies and
maybe all four. Likely you’ll cut all four copies of Wall of Omens and shave some other numbers.
3. Red Deck… Wins!
Here’s a pretty straightforward Red Deck I have been fooling around with on MTGO:
None of the cards in my sideboard are particularly good against U/W, but none of the cards in my maindeck are bad.
Against the kind of deck I posted in this article, I think you actually want Cunning Sparkmage combo to deal with their Spellskites. The combo can also
lock down Sun Titan and pick off all their Walls. Against an older-school Baneslayer Angel deck, Dismember might be good; same on Kor Firewalker.
When I was testing online I tried out Basilisk Collar. They probably have enough elim for most of your guys, so that card isn’t that good. I
tried Vulshok Refugee against Vampires, and it was okay but not really better or worse than any of my other cards (maybe a little worse on account of
being three mana). In theory Vulshok Refugee + Basilisk Collar is unbeatable in the mirror.
The thing is, outside of Vulshok Refugee in the mirror, all the cards are about the same, with Koth and Shrine of Burning Rage being the best, and
Goblin Guide being the worst by a wide margin but not actually that bad.
The cute thing is that they thing they should have the advantage.
You don’t have the luxury of Preordain and Fauna Shaman to set up your combo, but if you get it, it is pretty awesome. Don’t forget that
Spikeshot Elder Voltrons up with Basilisk Collar in a pinch. Kind of unbelievable that Searing Blaze is the worst burn spell, but its “I
sometimes only do one,” double mana cost, and prospect of facing down 999,999,999 life hands the nod over to Lightning Bolt.
Props to the Rainmaker of course, for Vulshok Refugee tech.
I dunno… Nothin’?
4. Take Another Look
Just a sketch on straight Pyromancer Ascension:
You might have to deck them :(
Against a creature-based early game (Lotus Cobra and so on) or blockers (you know, Overgrown Battlement), Kiln Fiend is much less useful than having
all the Bolts in.
That said, you probably don’t want to be straight Pyromancer Ascension in the era of Deceiver Twin.
5. Because I Am a Sucker
I was running super good on MTGO the week before the New York 5K, and I actually almost played MWC!
(Thank goodness and Paul Jordan I didn’t.)
I was super comfortable with the Caw-Blade and RUG matchups as they were on MTGO at the time, but Spellskite and of course Exarch Twin were unknowns
(or actually full-on problems). Spellskite, in particular, KO’d my Mortarpod-over-Squadron Hawk plan.
What you side out is going to matter quite a bit on what the opponent’s configuration is. Against Birds of Paradise and Lotus Cobra, Contagion
Clasp is quite good. Against pure combo… not so much. You might want some number of Day of Judgment; you might not. Wall of Omens is going to be
generally weak, and I would probably side all of them out, most of the time.
You’ll probably have to either deck them or kill them with Inkmoth Nexus. Not really a challenge once you have locked down their offense, though.
I’m actually hot and cold on Memoricide. I guess the whole point of playing black (other than defraying the cost on Dismember) is Memoricide against
Primeval Titan. However Memoricide on the draw is only okay (though Everflowing Chalice in this build helps out quite a bit versus some others).
Per usual, what you side out is going to vary a bit based on the opponent’s configuration. Against a traditional creature-poor Valakut with
Terramorphic Expanse and Khalni Heart Expedition, Contagion Clasp and Dismember are going to be of minimal value… But Contagion Clasp gets a lot
better against a Lotus Cobra version.
Almost always you are going to cut four 0/4 creatures for four different 0/4 creatures. Wall of Omens has little value against Valakut, and gobbling up
Molten Pinnacle activations will buy you a ton of time, especially if you can manage Primeval Titan with Tumble Magnet.
Just some ideas!
Enjoy the last weekend of Stoneforge Mystic play. I suggest TwinBlade.