Jacob’s Ladder – Besieged in Paris

Tuesday, February 1 – Michael Jacob learns some important lessons from GP Atlanta, where he ran Kibler’s G/W CawVenge deck, the next evolution of Naya. MJ is a former US Nationals Champion and grinds MTGO as the DarkestMage.

Grand Prix Atlanta sprung itself upon me, and I was woefully unprepared. Master’s Edition IV drafts had me hooked for the last several weeks, as seen
in this 3-0 deck here. So abrupt was the arrival of the date that I had not lined up a mode of transportation
or a place of residence for the event. Fortunately, Tom Risdon had a car making the fifteen-hour trek from Detroit and Patrick Chapin an empty room in
need of filling. With travel arrangements settled, I spent a pleasant ride with Kyle Boggemes, Tatyana Dobreva, DJ Mayer, Kingdom Hearts: Recoded, and
Tom Risdon. Big props to Tom, who being an experienced truck driver decided to solo drive both ways. There’s a market for Magic chauffeurs if anyone
should decide to be one, let me tell you.

Not knowing when the event was also meant no deck choice was solidified prior to my arrival. Naya cards were borrowed from my store, but my experience
in making the videos left much to be
desired. Too many mana creatures, reliance on Fauna Shaman, mediocre mana, and an unsupported Knight of the Reliquary were all issues that made me not
want to sleeve it up. Hopefully, someone would have a sick brew at the site for me to burgle so that mediocrity would not overcome me.

Scoping out the place after a quick nap in the roach-filled Motel 6, I happened upon Brian Kibler rocking a G/W beater brew. Discussion of some of the
changes he made had me convinced this was the next logical step for a Naya deck to take. Cutting the red.

My videos showed that Naya has a distinct lack of kick-butt Knight of the Reliquary. Some might suggest that means she’s not meant for the deck, but I
find it quite the opposite. Knight is a mainstay in every G/W aggro deck since its printing, and if your deck cannot support her, then you’re playing a
bad deck. Cutting red allowed for more Forest and Plains action for him.

Vengevine had a hard time hitting the bin without a Fauna Shaman giving a helping hand. Contrary to popular belief, Fauna Shaman doesn’t always live.
To this end, Squadron Hawk (and discarding to hand size) not only solves the trigger problem that Bloodbraid Elf served but could also lead to faster
openings with a turn 3 haster or two in the mix.

Cutting red also meant the ability to lower the curve, from utility zero-power hasters to a slightly more aggro Qasali Pridemage. This also left room
for Gaddock Teeg, something I’d been meaning to fit into the main deck for awhile, as most Scapeshift decks are drawing slim at beating him.

A lowering of the curve also meant less mulligans, something that plagued me in my testing. With a mere thirteen plays before turn 3, the beats
certainly weren’t coming consistently enough for a 15-round tournament.

Cutting red also allowed the addition of Tectonic Edge up to four copies. I was always pleased with two in Naya, and more seemed like the right course
to be on, especially with Knight of the Reliquary’s new role as CEO.

Finally, removing Bloodbraid Elf allowed the usage of removal, and Path to Exile was chosen for a lack of anything else remotely close to playable.

I’d go into a tournament report, but really the games were quite boring. 

Round 4 Naya, (1-2)

Lost to turn 2 Cunning Sparkmage and a mana screw.

Round 5 Mono White (2-1)

Won twice at one life. Turn 1 Steppe Lynx every game was rough.

Round 6 Mono Green Elves (0-2)

Topdecked Ezuri the turn before I could get a Linvala online and a nut perfect with Heritage Druid/Nettle Sentinel/four Lords.

Round 7 G/R Shamans (2-1)

Wolf-Skull Shaman every game hits eight out of nine times throughout the match. I comment jokingly how fortunate he was, to which his reply was a snap
“It’s like I made the deck that way or something.” Come on, guy, I know that. My desire to reply, “We can agree that the deck with
thirty Shamans is at best a fifty percent, and you’re batting closer to ninety” was probably called for, but I let it drop because it wasn’t a
battle worth fighting.

Round 8 Mono Red (2-0)

Greg Hatch opened with two Goblin Guides, Tattermunge Maniac, two Lightning Bolts, and two Searing Blazes on the draw, and lost not close. We agreed
this is likely the nightmare match up for him.

Round 9 R/G Scapeshift (0-2)

Game 1: Turn 4 Primeval Titan on the play, a Path to Exile knocks him to four, but he Scapeshifts me for 72.

Game 2: The nut perfects Explore, Explore + Volcanic Fallout my team, Harrow + Scapeshift for 18 eliminates me.

6-3 Total, missing day 2 for the umpteenth time in a row.

After the game, I sat there shaking my head. Not at how lucky my opponent was – these things happen – but that I had chosen poorly my deck
for the weekend. Angry that Cryptic Command was not in my 75. Frustrated that I didn’t include the four Islands to cast them. Look at the undefeated
decks of day one. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to see that as I’m deep in thought, mentally bashing myself in the balls to ingrain the lessons learned, that this is
probably not a good time to talk to me. It was at this point that my opponent has the audacity to extend a hand and Good Game me.

My senses were swiftly leaving me, and my desire to explode and say something regrettable was only suppressed long enough for me to clench my jaw and
produce a death stare. This led him to take quickly take the already signed match slip and saunter away, hopefully with a vague sense that maybe he did
something wrong. Unlikely, he probably thought I was a sore loser, but let’s examine this.

Do you gg someone after winning game 1? (Everyone has been a victim of a guy who does this.)

How about after your opponent double mulligans to five?

Mana screw in a twenty-eight land deck?

Turn 1 Thoughtseize, turn 2 Dark Ritual*2/Lion’s Eye Diamond/Infernal Tutor/Ad Nauseam/Tendrils of Corruption? Do you gg then?

How about when you play two completely non-interactive games, where you play solitaire until you tap RRGG and reveal a sorcery. You even get
visibly annoyed that he’s making you show that you have  twelve Mountains in your deck when you stupidly sacrifice ten lands instead of the needed
six? Add to this the fact that your opponent is quite visibly unhappy, whether at you or himself is unknown. He has already signed the match slip. Do
you Good Game and offer a hand shake then?

I think not.

This isn’t about me taking myself too seriously, me being the jerk that four people espouse I am that have never met me, or “Magic is a game,
man; get over it.” Even the most casual player must agree that it’s just not kosher to GG in these scenarios. I’m not asking for much here, just
to be left to my own devices, mentally cataloging and storing the mistakes of the day to not be repeated again.

Proper etiquette is wishing good luck next round (only if they’re not dropping or on the last round of the day, be careful here), taking the signed
match slip, and leaving. It’s the equivalent of the Happy Holidays in December. No one gets offended, and it’s politically correct in all locales.

; Don’t Good Game when it wasn’t.

If you’re dead set on good gaming, might I suggest this one instead. (:45 seconds is what
you’re looking for, and well worth it). As you can tell from the hit count of 34 million, this is quite polite in the gaming world, so try it out in
your next modo match.

Anyway, my sole reason to play Extended is over, and I’m glad it’s gone. G/W seemed like the next step in the evolution of beatdown, but it’s actually
step two in a five-step process. As stated above, I would encourage anyone wanting to play this kind of deck in the future to add four Islands and four
Cryptic Commands and go from there.


If you don’t want to know about new cards, skip ahead until you see another Kirby line.

<(^_^<)               <( -'.'- )>              
(>^_^)>               <( -'.'- )>              
<(^_^<)               <( -'.'- )>               (>^_^)>

[Editor’s note: I know the card are out already, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the Kirby line. —LL]

Mirrodin Besieged is here, and there appears to be a plethora of things to shake up Standard in time for Paris. Writing only every other week and being
a relative newbie, I don’t have the privilege of writing multiple article-spanning set reviews. Instead, I’ll just write about the most interesting
cards from my perspective on the new set.

Go for the Throat

Great name and picture, and we’ll all be pleased to be sleeving up this one for the next few years. This blows away nearly every other two-mana black
removal spell printed and simultaneously brings a lot of tension in deck design. Do you play Go for the Throat to have an edge in the U/B mirror and
Vampires or keep playing Doom Blade to keep the percentage against Quest for the Holy Relic (they can Argentum Armor an artifact creature) and Signal
Pest decks? Does this make Wurmcoil Engine a more attractive option, or does Steel Hellkite even have a chance to earn its keep? Whatever the case may
be, Grave Titan’s time in the sun is likely coming to an end.

Steel Sabotage

This will likely have Vintage impact, as not only does it beat the dreaded turn 1 Tinker for Blightsteel Colossus, but it can stop Chalice of the Void
for one and even bounce an artifact in response to a Goblin Welder activation.


Firespout was too good, and this is a fixed version with a more realistic mana cost. I also love that this alternate damage to players opens up
possibilities of maindeck play in aggressive red decks, as well as ramp decks playing more ways to kill Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Hero of Bladehold

It bothers me that a four-mana 7/4 (potentially 9/4 or better) is barely playable. Renegade Doppelganger perhaps? Emeria Angel may be better against
Jace decks, but this guy does not die to Lightning Bolt.

Hero of Oxid Ridge

It bothers me that a 6/2 haste with quasi-evasion is barely playable. This is the problem with cards like Koth of the Hammer; it doesn’t give other
cards a chance to shine. This guy may be just the ticket in Kuldotha Red, so I haven’t given up hope yet.

Sphere of the Suns

Coldsteel Heart saw some play in Standard, and this is certainly needed in Block Constructed, where no mana fixing or acceleration exists.

Inkmoth Nexus

Metalcraft desperately needed Darksteel Citadel, and Infect needed a manland. In one card, you gave your two new mechanics a key player, and this will
be played for years to come. Bravo Wizards. Now release an FAQ on how this and Tezzeret interact over two turns.

Green Sun’s Zenith

The key to this card’s success is determining if there are any green creatures you’d be willing to add a G to the mana cost and still play. Seven stick
out in my mind: Joraga Treespeaker, Fauna Shaman, Overgrown Battlement, Oracle of Mul Daya, Vengevine, Avenger of Zendikar, and Primeval Titan.

Thrun, the Last Troll

This guy looks like he was built for a metagame that does not exist. The problem in green decks is Grave Titan and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which this
guy does not help against. Vengevine, Koth of the Hammer, and Garruk Wildspeaker all seem to fill his role better.

Phyrexian Revoker

A kitten without a home, someone will look at him and give him a place to stay. Won’t be me though, big daddy Jace is allergic to them.

Viridian Emissary

This is how mana ramp should be made. A threat against control and a speed bump that an aggressive deck can try to work around to prevent your payoff.
I wish more cards like this existed instead of boring Khalni Heart Expeditions.

Flayer Husk

This guy seems very similar to Arcbound Worker, and it’s possible this guy will even be played over Trusty Machete in Stoneforge Mystic decks. In Block
Constructed, the best aggro deck runs four Darksteel Axes, and this guy is way better.

Signal Pest

This card seems so innocuous at first, but I’m going to be the first to claim that this guy will be one of the best five cards in the set, if not one
of the top three. For years, Wizards has needed to print playable one-drops for aggressive strategies, and prayers have been answered in this and
Flayer Husk.

Not only does this guy offer horde archetypes like Quest for the Holy Relic and Beastmaster Ascension token decks an awesome new tool, but it may
singlehandedly make Infect and Kuldotha Red into tier 1 or tier 1.5 decks. Metalcraft may even make an appearance, and it will all be due to this and
Flayer Husk.

And no, I’m not setting you up the bomb because I love Twisted Image.

Here’s a sample starting point for Kuldotha Red

<(^_^<)               <( -'.'- )>              
(>^_^)>               <( -'.'- )>              
<(^_^<)               <( -'.'- )>               (>^_^)>

Atlanta was not all bad times, as many Wellwishers came and thanked me for my Naya videos. It’s great to see people enjoy my work, and it gives me the
incentive to keep innovating. Starcraft content is dominated by a personality named Day9, who I think is near the pinnacle of commentating. He has had
years to perfect his craft, and his unique style allows people to learn and be entertained at the same time. My goal is the same, though I don’t think
that I could possibly adhere to his daily schedule. He has it right at cutting it to sixty minutes at a time. Attention spans only last so long, and my
voice doesn’t warrant more of a lease on your time. Look for improvements every video, starting with that time limit.

I’ll be leaving for Paris on the 30th to start my Pro Tour testing with Gabriel Nassif, Patrick Chapin, and the Guillaumes. While this bodes well for
my chances, this means that I won’t be making Indy. I give you all the parting gift of knowledge, in that Gravitational Shift. Imagine your U/W deck
with the caw squad in play, laughing as the enemy falls from 12 to 0. Try to think of a U/B deck that has to win with 4/6 and 1/2 unblockables.
Postulate a horde of Vampires, unable to satiate their thirst on your delicious lifeblood as they’re stuck on the ground. Then maybe Twist their Image.

Good luck next round.

No one can fight the tide forever