Inside the Metagame: What am I playing? Regionals 2004

I’ve never had this hard of a time deciding what to play for a tournament. There are so many good decks, and the format looks like it can be broken wide open since there are only two big decks – Affinity and Goblins, with the third deck TwelvePost on the rise. I have gone through many phases with this format, and I’ll detail most of them for you before revealing the deck I’ll be playing this weekend.

I’ve never had this hard of a time deciding what to play for a tournament. There are so many good decks, and the format looks like it can be broken wide open since there are only two big decks – Affinity and Goblins, with the third deck TwelvePost on the rise. I have gone through many phases with this format.

First, there was Elves. Elves looked very good this year – they are strong versus Affinity. Goblins, with Sparksmiths and Goblin Sharpshooters, destroy Elves. Try as I might, I could not get Elves to do a good enough job of beating Goblins to be worth playing.

Death Cloud. I really like Death Cloud. It is such a powerfully devastating effect. I built a deck full of spot removal, mana accelerators, and some finishers, but testing proved it not to be good enough.

As I write this I am still trying to decide between two decks – but both share a common theme: Hate. One is based around lots of Green and Black cards that all say”kill something” (with Black allowing good sideboard options versus control) and the other being Worship-based.

Whatever I decide to play at Regionals, it will most likely be a very hateful deck towards either Affinity or Goblins (probably towards Affinity, since it is easier to hate out).

I scrapped both of those ideas and moved onto the”Life” deck with Scion of Darkness and Rotlung Reanimators. In theory, the deck was sounding pretty good, but in practice it got crushed.

Moving on again….

I have finally come back to the Green/Black deck, which was performing the best, but decided to swap out the Black for White. White is better against Affinity, but Black is better against control… thus by playing White I am hedging my bets against the metagame.

It is one day later of Nate time from the beginning of this article. As of right now, I am going to play the Green/White deck… I dubbed it the Ultimate Hater. That is the deck I will be talking about in this article. I am 90% sure I am going to play this deck, but anything could happen. I’m sure Ted already wants to shoot me for sending this article to him one day before Regionals…

So putting all of this indecisiveness aside, here is the Ultimate Hater:

10 Forest

7 Plains

4 Windswept Heath

4 Forgotten Ancient

4 Ravenous Baloth

3 Damping Matrix

4 Vine Trellis

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Viridian Zealot

4 Akroma’s Vengeance

4 Exalted Angel

4 Oxidize

4 Viridian Shaman

Just marvel at the hate. Do you hate Affinity? Well if you play against this deck, you will. I could just list off the cards that hate Affinity, but that would just be like retyping the decklist over again. Just about every card in the deck has game versus Affinity. I would say the card in the deck with the least amount of game against Affinity is probably Ravenous Baloth.

This deck is one that I haven not had a chance to test thoroughly yet, so there is a lack of sideboard information etc. Over the next two days I will be trying to make it better against control via sideboarding. Remember, this is not just a rogue deck, this is a hate deck. The Ultimate Hate deck against the most popular deck in the environment, with tools versus Goblins as well.

Playing a deck like this is like fiddling with statistics and odds. You have to ask yourself questions like: How often will I get paired against non-Affinity, non-Goblin decks? What are my odds against those decks? While most regular decks have matchup percentages like %60 vs. X or %50 vs. Y, a hate deck will be more hedged at 90% vs. X and 20% vs. Y. Hate decks will give you better overall winning percentages versus a field full of X… just count your blessings if you get paired against Y. It is just a whole new way to gamble with the numbers, for better expected results.

Before I go into the matchups, I want to talk about a few cards that people should be aware of.

1) Forgotten Ancient. Yes, forgotten indeed. I don’t know if anyone remembers what happened to Mr. Babycakes, but no one seems to be playing him. I am going to put a stop to that. After Regionals, at least a few of my opponents will be seriously considering adding Babycakes to their decks in the future. He is an unstoppable monster against Affinity. He makes your other guys unstoppable monsters too. Babycakes like it when Affinity plays five spells in one turn. They all cower in fear…

2) Exalted Angel. Do not underestimate the power of this card. We all know its good, but I think many people forget how good. If you are going first and unmorph/attack with an Angel on turn 3 (off a Bird) even the fastest Affinity draws will not defeat you. Angel wins games versus just about any deck. It won’t always win you the game, but it will be the biggest threat you play. Not to mention what happens when the Forgotten Ancient puts his sweet bounty on the Angel. That’s a lot of life gain… not to mention those counters can go on the Bird too (maybe I just have a thing for giant birds, okay?).

3) Akroma’s Vengeance. See previous articles full of ranting and raving about how retardedly good this card is in this environment.

Akroma’s Vengeance



Win the game.

Cycling: 3 (you don’t want to pay 3 and cycle this because then you won’t win the game)

Ixidor only had to imagine their ruin and Akroma made is so.

The really funny part about this deck is that Affinity can win as fast as turn 3 or 4, yet this deck is full of four-drops. The Birds of Paradise and the Oxidizes really do wonders for slowing your opponent down. Follow up with a Viridian Shaman and its all gravy. You probably want to sandbag some removal for post-Vengeance, that’s when it will hurt them the most. Don’t be afraid to kill one or two of your own guys to completely wreck them.

The biggest decision I’m making with the deck is running Damping Matrix. It is the only artifact in the deck, thus it’s very vulnerable. Still, I think it will do enough harm to those Goblin and Affinity decks without main deck artifact kill to run it. I may change my mind and move them to the sideboard though.


(Forgive me if I skip the Affinity matchup, I think I’ve talked plenty about that, I might decide to hate even more and sideboard in Purge though, I have no idea what I would take out…)

Vs. Mono-White and U/W control

This matchup is absolutely terrible. What can you expect from a hate deck? The list has lots of bullets versus the large portion of the metagame, but when it comes to these decks, the Ultimate Hater doesn’t work. Basically you will be stuck with lots of useless removal in your hand for game one, and then you will try to board as much of it out as possible game 2. Your biggest threats are the Forgotten Ancient, Exalted Angel, and Ravenous Baloth, simply because the provide the quickest clock. Try not to overextend because you will just lose your board to a Wrath effect eventually. Sideboard in Scrabbling Claws to deal with those nasty dragons.

Vs. Slide

This matchup is slightly better than the previous ones simply because they have more targets for your removal. Slide and Rift can be destroyed by Zealot and Vengeance. It is going to take a little swift maneuvering to win still, but since they are more packed with damage based-removal, your Forgotten Ancients, Angels, and Baloths become better threats than they were against MWC and U/W.

Vs. Goblin-x

This matchup is decent for you. You don’t hate on the Goblins quite as much as you hate on Affinity, but there still is a lot – Matrix, Baloth, Angel… okay, I’m just going to list the whole deck minus the Shamans and the Oxidizes. After sideboard you can bring in Silver Knights and Scrabbling Claws (if they are Bidding). The big things to watch out for are the Warchief and the Bidding. You cannot really do much about the Warchief, but it you have a chance to block and kill it I would recommend it (unless you are doing this with a morphed Angel). Just let them extend themselves and Vengeance or get an Angel up and running, or better yet get the Angel running forcing them to really overextend and then crack them over the head with the Vengeance.

Vs. TwelvePost

I probably should have been writing about TwelvePost sooner, but it is one of those decks that popped up midway through the season. It was a rogue deck turned mainstream. That happens sometimes, and in this case I think it is because all of the internet press it has been receiving. I don’t think this deck is a good one to play, but people are going to do it anyhow, so if you are going to Regionals, I would recommend having some sort of plan against this deck – it is most likely going to be the third most popular deck. My plan against it is to Vengeance away the Platinum Angel if need be, and have a larger than life Forgotten Ancient that can block the Colossus. I don’t have a great plan versus the deck yet, but Duplicant is the best I’ve come up with so far. It is pretty good to sideboard in against R/G as well.

Vs. R/G

Gotta love R/G – it can’t even really beat a hate deck. With four Birds and four Trellis, the Landkill isn’t going to do that much. Get out an Exalted angel and say goodnight. Get out a Forgotten Ancient and say good game. Sure you will have some dead cards, but so will they. All they are essentially are a bad hate deck that went wrong.

Vs. Zombies

Zombies has the upper hand here, but not by much. It essentially comes down to the number of Dark Banishings they are playing. Their Smothers are useless (mostly), and their creatures are easily stopped. This is a fairly slow paced matchup that will come down to Angel vs. Banishing. Forgotten Ancient can make a difference, but so can any of the Phyrexian Arena-type effects they might have. Again, the Scrabbling Claws will prove useful if not as cantrips then to stop the Unholy Grotto.

Well that’s all I have to say for this Regionals. Good luck to all of you competing, and if you play against me, please be playing Affinity.

Nate Heiss

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