Regionals is the buzz indeed. You can’t find a place on the internet that discusses Magic without hearing about it. That’s highly understandable though. One of the things I enjoy about not having to attend Regionals this year is that I don’t have to hold back any thoughts about Constructed. I can spill my guts and let every last drop of information I have, on that aspect of the game, spill out for anyone who can use it. It’s a brand new experience for me, but one I like a lot. At heart, I’m a type who enjoys helping people as much as I can. Have you ever heard of someone who gets more enjoyment from giving than receiving? That’s me in a nutshell.
I got plenty of e-mails from everyone who read my last article. I believe I answered them all by Sunday and when it was all said and done, I had received an astonishing one hundred forty-two e-mails. I spent almost all of Saturday replying to them, because I figure if someone takes time out of their lives to e-mail me, the least I can do is reply back. To everyone that e-mailed, I appreciate it and thanks again. It gives me something to do when I’m bored to death.
Most of the e-mails I received asked for further information on the Lynch Mob deck I posted under the”You Gotta Have Blueberries” column. Some people said I was insane for playing with Dross Harvester and that Headhunter should be Cabal Interrogator. Others wanted to know how I had fared with the deck since the posting of the article. I had intended to write this week about players themselves and how you can see the same kinds of folks at qualifiers and tournaments around. Instead, I think more people would be more happy if I spoke more on more Lynch Mob, so I’m going to do that instead and save the other piece for another day. I’m fairly sure this is the right move, because most people want to read about Type Two right now and not a humorous look at players.
Buckle up, grab a soda, and get ready to dwell back into the world of evil clerics and zombies, because I have lots of information to dump on your heads.
To start things off, I’ll post the deck list for Lynch Mob, in case anyone didn’t read the first column. That way we can bring those individuals up to speed with what we’re talking about here.
4 Rotlung Reanimator
4 Withered Wretch
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Dark Supplicant
4 Dross Harvester
4 Dark Banishing
4 Chrome Mox
1 Scion of Darkness
4 Polluted Delta
3 Unholy Grotto
Ok, so there’s the deck. Take a minute and look it over. You’re saying to yourself,”This deck runs Dross Harvester?” Wait, don’t click the back button just yet. Give me a chance, and I promise you won’t walk away upset. In fact, you might even be pleasantly surprised.
When last I had played this deck, I had a record of 17-1 and some healthy prizes directed towards me for my accomplishments. That Friday, I took the deck down to my shop for some FNM fun. When I got there, I found out my friend Cecil had actually built a copy of my deck, excluding Polluted Deltas. He couldn’t get them and conceded to thinking he didn’t need them anyway. To make things short, he and I met in the finals with flawless records and split some prizes between us. We had over thirty participants in the tournament and a wide variety of decks, so I think it served as a good testing ground for the deck itself and a strong basis to explain some new insights I have into the deck. I also had three e-mails from players who decided to run the deck at their FNM events. One of the three players came in second, but the other two players won their events. This made me smile a lot, because one of the individuals who took first, explained it was his first experience winning the whole tournament. Oh happy days. So enough with the accolades and cheering. Let’s get down to business.
One of the major questions people had was how would you go about sideboarding with this deck. Well, before I can just give you the ways in which to do this, you’ll need to have an understanding of what kind of field you expect to play against. If you plan on making this a Regionals deck, then that’s going to be pretty hard, because Regionals is a big pot of different decks. Sure, you’re going to have the decks that are expected to make an appearance, but you also have a high risk of running into the lower tier decks as well. What I’ll do to help compensate for this, is explain how the sideboard could change and maybe even the deck. as I go over the process.
Here’s the sideboard I used this past Friday night.
3 Mind Bend
3 Oblivion Stone
1 Echoing Decay
1 Gempalm Polluter
You’re probably thinking the same thing I am. What good does one Echoing Decay or one Gempalm Polluter serve? I agree. I built the sideboard rather quickly, because I showed up late for the event, but fortunately I was never punished for my lack of punctuality. I can say that every card was used, so that’s a good thing, but this sideboard is trash. I’m only posting it, because it’s the framework for the”real” sideboard.
As many of you e-mailed me the correct answer to my secret fat kid tech, I’ll be using that in the sideboard as well. Here’s what are revamped sideboard is going to look like, along with a brief explanation of each card.
Mind Bend is there for the soul purpose of changing Karma and COP: Black. When I played this deck out against the field, I noticed that Karma was wrecking me (you don’t really”notice” Karma, it more or less rolls you for your shoes and screams”yo’ mama” jokes at you). Nothing in my sideboard at the time could handle it, with the exclusion of Oblivion Stone. The O-Stones were in there to deal with just COP: Black from the beginning, but COP: Black doesn’t kill you. It stops you from winning and can result in you losing, but Karma kills you and doesn’t skip around the matter either.
At first I added four Mind Bends, because I had this Karma fear thing running through my mind, then I came to realize that three would be enough to handle the problem. I didn’t want to overdraw them. My friend Cecil went without the Deltas as I mentioned above and said he only had problems once the entire tournament. He faced a COP: Black that had him tied up, until he drew into his Gempalm Polluter. He had a few of those guys in the side and I didn’t, so in a way, I was glad we never faced each other, the Polluters would have wrecked me. That night I began to reconsider whether you need the Mind Bends or not and the Oblivion Stones. I’ll get to the Stones in a second.
Would the Gempalms be enough to get around COP: Black? What about Karma? Gempalm did work well against anything sideboarding or maindecking Ensnaring Bridges, but it wasn’t much help against Karma and if you’re playing Astral Slide and they have a Lightning Rift out, cycling the Gempalm doesn’t become all too appealing. It was at this point I decided that the Mind Bends would be worth it. If you don’t think your Regionals will contain Karma (and I’m sure it will), then you can drop the Deltas and Mind Bends.
Persecute has just been amazing for me so far. I know, I know, that’s what Persecute does, but my issue here is whether a fourth one should be played. With the Ravager Brilo decks gaining a ridiculous amount of popularity and push, I doubt that playing more than three of these would be so great. I looked at what decks this works well against and found that if you’re going first against Goblin Bidding, then it’s good, but you shouldn’t lose game one. That means that you would have to lose game one to bring them in. You”could” get mana screwed or lose to a super draw, but outside of that, I don’t think the Persecutes are needed here unless you’re playing first.
Persecute also does well against anything mono-colored and control decks, as well as in the mirror match. I guess for now it should stay at three, but if an abundance of artifact decks rise up or Goblin Bidding is going to be more than half the field (unlikely), then you may need to drop these. On the other hand, if control decks sprout up in the wake of Skullclamp/Aggro decks, then I could see maybe going to four of them.
This is a card I feel has earned a very solid spot in my sideboard. Goblin Bidding doesn’t like to see this card. For that matter, most creature decks don’t. This card is what allows Lynch Mob to beat the more traditional zombie and cleric builds. I have never disliked seeing this card and since multiples work to punish your opponent even more, I really can’t see dropping this card. It’s necessity lies in the Goblin Bidding matchups and with that deck being so hot, I’m going to stick with the fourth Gravepact in the side for now.
Man I love this card. It’s just so fun to play and completely pisses off the Astral Slide player. With the millions of Skullclamps abounding in the format, this card can really punish your opponent for drawing those extra cards. Black really doesn’t have a way to deal with artifacts outside of Oblivion Stone and Damping Matrix (which I’ll touch on here shortly), so the Underworld Dreams is one of a few cards that can punish your opponent for playing the same artifact as you, without having to blow yours up along with theirs via the Oblivion Stone. I couldn’t get them this past Friday, because my friend Craig didn’t show up, but if he was available I probably would have added them to the list.
My big debate here is that if Brilo (Ravager Affinity or whatever you want to call it, I like Brilo, cause the deck looks so scrubby) becomes even bigger than it is now, Damping Matrix would just be plain better. They could easily work their way into the deck by sideboarding out the Carrion Feeders, since they would be the most useless of the creatures after a Matrix hit. Of all the matches that I’ve played, the Brilo decks that run Ornithopter gave me the most trouble, because I couldn’t block them. The matchup is still tight, regardless and so if you expect lots of Brilo, you may want to drop the Underworld Dreams and go with Damping Matrix instead.
The Stones have been teeter tottering on the edge of being cut. They still destroy the things Black shouldn’t and help clear the road to victory. The dilemma is that if you have Oblivion Stones in your sideboard, shouldn’t that be enough of an answer for Karma and COP: Black? Well, I’m unsure. Oblivion Stone has pulled me out of a pinch so many times I can’t count and allowed me to win games I had no business winning whatsoever. At the same time, I’m frustrated in thinking that this is just a great big over commitment on my part, to deal with Karma, COP: Black, Rift, Slide, Cemetery, and Bridge. My friend Cecil tends to believe that using Gempalms alone could get the job done versus COP: Black and Bridge. But what does it do against Astral Slide, Karma, and Cemetery? Nothing.
The Oblivion Stones can deal with all of those things and that’s what makes me cling to them so much. I guess this goes back to the Mind Bend question. If you feel that your Regionals will have heavy amounts of the mentioned cards above, then go ahead and dedicate some spots to Oblivion Stone.
Well, that’s thirteen cards that we’ve discussed for our sideboard so far. That leaves two slots left and these two slots are the ones I have a hard time nailing down. I think you could just save these two slots as added insurance for the field. For instance, if you really do expect lots of Brilo, then maybe running the Underworld Dreams and Damping Matrix isn’t too bad an idea. You could throw in two Underworld Dreams if you expected an insane showing. You could also debate the power of adding only two copies of one card to the sideboard, especially when you want that card to hit the table early. Adding a fourth Damping Matrix and maybe then one more copy of card you run less than four of, is also a possibility. I myself like……
Echoing Decay? Yes, yes. Having only two in the sideboard seems a little silly, but I love this card so. It’s such a surprise factor and when played just right, can be flat out raw. I had almost considered moving these to the main in place of Dark Banishing, until Ravager Affinity got so big. One of the cards that can give this deck a problem or two is Decree of Justice. As you know, the Decay takes care of most of that problem (excluding a hardcasting of angels). Decay also helps out against pesky elf decks and Siege-Gang Commander. Whichever way you choose to use these last two slots, keep in mind that at Regionals, you’ll be playing in a diversified field,
3 Oblivion Stone
3 Underworld Dreams or Damping Matrix
3 Mind Bend
2 Echoing Decay or extra Matrix, Dreams, or Stones
1 Gravepact (Solid)
Man, this is a lot of analysis, isn’t it? Oh well. To be successful we must all put in some effort. In the end, the prepared people who take the time to read stuff like this will end up doing well and won’t build a last-minute deck in hopes of winging it to the finals. Anyway, let me get onto showing you what I like to sideboard in and out versus the major decks and a few pointers on how to play against them.
Pause to refresh yourself (using bathroom, grabbing a drink, making a snack, blah blah blah).
Okay, our first matchup is going to be…..
Against Bidding, you need to make sure and watch their graveyard. Keep pesky Warchiefs, Siege-Gangs, and Sharpshooters out of there and don’t worry about anything else. Also, look out for Clickslither out of the blue (or should I say Red…). Some decks still run that guy and he can ruin your day if you don’t take him into consideration when going all in (a lil’ sumpin’ sumpin’ for all the Hold ’em players reading this) on an attack. Try and play the Dross Harvester after you have a Carrion Feeder, Gravepact, or Skullclamp in play. If you power out a Mox and a Headhunter on turn 1 and your opponent lays a Skirk Prospector, don’t hesitate too much to Dark Banishing that guy.
Many times the Bidding player will keep a one-land hand with Prospector and Warchief, if they’re going second, and then hope to drop a quick Warchief. You could wait and make them show you the Warchief to make sure, but by Dark Banishing the Prospector, you’re going to be able to sneak in with the Headhunter and make them lose a card. This is kind of rare against Bidding, because they have just as many one-drops as you do and most likely, more creatures. Make sure and get a Gravepact down soon, because this really hurts them, especially so if you can get a Carrion Feeder as well. Try to hold onto your Dark Banishings for Sharpshooters, Blistering Firecats (if people still run him), Siege-Gangs, and Warchiefs. Look out for annoying cards like Sulfuric Vortex and Goblin Charbelcher to come in from their sideboards. So when you go to sideboard you should end up doing something like this:
-4 Dross Harvester, -2 Headhunter
+2 Echoing Decay, +1 Gravepact, +3 Oblivion Stone
If you’re first and lost game one, then sideboard like this:
-4 Dross Harvester, -3 Carrion Feeder, -1 Dark Banishing
+3 Persecute, +2 Oblivion Stone, +2 Echoing Decay +1 Gravepact
For the Brilo decks, take out the Dross Harvesters. Leaving them in will get you killed. Replace them with Damping Matrix, if you have them in your sideboard. Also, drop your Carrion Feeders, because they suck when you have a Damping Matrix in play, and bring in one Gravepact and two Echoing Decay. If you have Persecutes in the side, then don’t bring them in, because they’re about useless. Underworld Dreams should come in if you have them as well, because the Damping Matrix makes your Skullclamps useless, so they’ll provide good slots for the Dreams. Against this deck, Lynch Mob kind of morphs into a less aggressive version and a”keep the board in check while slowly killing you over time” deck. It’s a close matchup and should be something like 60/40 in your favor. Sideboarding could look something like this:
-4 Dross Harvester, -4 Carrion Feeder, – 1 Skullclamp
+3 Damping Matrix, +2 Echoing Decay, +3 Oblivion Stone, +1 Gravepact
Note: The Underworld Dreams can come in here if you have them instead of the Damping Matrix, but make sure and leave your Skullclamps in. You probably already know that.
Astral Slide and White/X Control Variants
Against Astral Slide, I leave the Dross Harvesters in. They can give this deck fits. Bring in the Persecutes as well, for obvious reasons. Resolving an early Persecute will often be game over for them. This is where the Mind Bend dilemma comes into play. If you know that they have Karmas and COP: Blacks in their sideboard, then bring them in, but if you don’t think so, then go for the Oblivion Stones. Look out for some people who run the Decree of Annihilation. It can be a painful surprise. Here’s where your Underworld Dreams will have the opportunity to shine the most. When combined with your aggro, this card will completely wreck the Slide deck. Overall, Slide can be a tough opponent, but if you make sure and keep the Rotlung recursion coming, then they’ll eventually fall.
Against the mono-White control deck and those adding another color, you can more or less come to expect the same culprits in each deck. An Exalted Angel here, an Eternal Dragon there. Throw in some Wrath of Gods, Vengeances, and Decrees to top the deck off. The versions running Black can be a pain in the neck. I seem to have the most difficulty with them because they have so many mass removal spells, that it can be hard to keep up. Decree of Justice is strong against you and if they’re smart, they’ll throw out several angels, rather than a few soldiers. The big flyers can spell your doom if you don’t have the Gravepact in play. Sideboarding looks like so:
-3 Carrion Feeder, -3 Gravepact, -1 Scion of Darkness, -3 Dark Supplicant,
+3 Mind Bend (if they have Karma or COP: Black), +3 Persecute, +2 Oblivion Stone (or Underworld Dreams if you have them), +2 Echoing Decay
White/X Control Variants
Same as above, except you should use more caution on the Dross Harvesters against decks with Green in them.
That’s a lot of information to absorb and feel free to change a few things if you like. As I said before, creating the sideboard will be a test in understanding your metagame and having a feel for what to expect at your Regionals.
Before I go, I would like to share a deck that I’ve been working with since I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who wanted to take a deck to Regionals that he could afford. He wanted to play Lynch Mob, but couldn’t get the pricey Chrome Moxen he needed to play it at its fullest. He also had some Death Clouds he picked up rather quickly after Darksteel was released. I looked over his collection and built a deck from it with the goal of supplying him with a solid deck to take to Regionals. What I ended up with was a much more powerful deck than I thought possible. In fact, this deck is starting to scare me with the crazy draws and synergy it has. It’s not thoroughly tested or anything, but we have played several games with it using some average sideboards. Our gauntlet consisted of these decks.
R/G Land Destruction
Lynch Mob/ Zombie Decks
The deck did pretty well and didn’t roll over to any particular deck. The B/G Cemetery matchup was annoying and a bit of a pain, but not too bad. Anyway, enough chatter.
4 Rotlung Reanimator
4 Withered Wretch
4 Cabal Archon
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Death Cloud
4 Echoing Decay (Tokens are bad for Death Cloud advantage)
3 Extraplanar Lens
3 Oversold Cemetery
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Unholy Grotto
3 Lightning Coils
3 Dark Banishing
3 Damping Matrix
I know this deck looks like a random cleric deck, but it plays out different. If you’re bored and want something new, then build this and test it out some. It’s not all that bad.
Some Random Thoughts on Magic and Non-Magic
On another note, I have come to realize that talking about card advantage and Magic theory is like discussing religion and politics. It’s really just best to avoid it. I’m sure hundreds of others would disagree with me here, but I’m the type who likes to simplify things as much as possible. It’s my lazy nature I guess.
All of the fetchlands have really nice art, but we never get to admire them much, because they hit the graveyard so quick. Sigh.
Speaking of card art, I think Wizards did a real bang up job on Darksteel. I’m an aspiring artist myself and some of the art out Darksteel is just great to look at. I think we need more Kev Walker art and I also miss Quinton Hoover. His stuff was so crisp and clean looking. Some of my favorite pieces include Chimeric Egg, Viridian Acolyte, and Oxidda Golem. Oxidda Golem is just beautiful if you take time to look at the card. Oh how I wish to work for the art department or research and design some day.
Breaking Vedalken Archmage is difficult and could lead to headaches, muscle spasms, and minor insanity.
Oddly enough, I ate some blueberries yesterday and reflected on my article. It’s hard to reflect when you’re eating such yummy tasting berries and I would advise those who like to do lots of reflecting to stay away from blueberries while you are trying to reflect. Mirrors should also be avoided.
Does anyone else miss the commercials for Magic? I do. I think if they went for a more fantasy filled, playing the role of a wizard, fantastic spells and incredible monsters look, that the commercials would do better. That’s just me though.
Is it just me, or was www.homestarrunner.com a whole lot more humorous when we didn’t have everyone doing Strongbad impersonations and screaming Trogdor? [It’s not just you. Knut]
Is it a given, that at every PTQ you attend, at some point, there’s a group of people watching a match between two people and suddenly that group bellows out,”Ohhhhhhhhhhh!” for no justifiable reason? Maybe it’s just me, but that happens a lot and it’s annoying.
Ravager Affinity is like U/G madness all over again.
A pack of cards retails for $3.69? Someone wake me up and tell me it was all a bad dream.
They’re making a Garfield movie and his voice isn’t the same at the one from the cartoon and CBS specials. That is just going to ruin it for me. The voice they have is okay and all, but you can tell it’s just a cheap version of the”real” voice.
I think John Kerry would… oh wait… that’s politics. My friend Cecil saw The Passion of the Christ and he summed it up like this:
“The Jews beat Jesus up, then the Romans beat Jesus up, then the Jews beat him up some more, then the Romans again, and finally they just crucify him.”
I don’t know if I want to go see this movie now.
Damn, I spoke about religion… well kinda’. Oh well.
Feel free to send all flames, angry remarks, happy thoughts, and other such things to the above mentioned e-mail address.