Mixed kNuts: Five Things You Absolutely Must Know For Champs

Magic: the Gathering Champs
logoYear after year, Kanoot has come correct with the skinny on what you have to be prepared to see when you walk into your Championships. Which decks will see the most play this weekend? Which decks are bad choices, given the current metagame? What else do you need to know to be fully prepared for what you will face this weekend? Knut has all the answers, and even includes a way to pry his States decklist out of his greedy little hands. If you are playing this weekend, this is an article you absolutely cannot miss.

Hi there, remember me? Not the he-who-edits-this-here-site-here-every-day me, but the writer me? You know… the guy that told you Skullclamp was getting banned before anyone else, the guy who predicts Standard metagames like no other, the guy who brought you ample helpings of cheesecake and random humorous asides and quotes in every article. Remember him? Me neither, but honestly… who the f*** cares? Now is not the time to dwell upon the past, kiddies, when the future is right in front of us. Anyway, I got sh** to say and not enough time to say it, soooo




5) The Top 3 Decks at Champs Will Be Affinity, Tooth, and… B/G.

Flores didn’t believe me when I told him yesterday that B/G will be the third most played deck at Champs, but the signs are all there. Every year, one deck flies below the radar until the last couple of weeks until it starts generating some buzz, a pro writes a small article about it, it does well in some small tournaments, and singles suddenly start flying off shelves. Two years ago it was AstroGlide, and last year that deck was Affinity, which unfortunately, was exactly the deck that Jim and Jarrod Bright were working on for Champs. Kai wrote about the deck (though his version was… shall we say… bad?), StarCityGames.com featured a bunch of forum topics about it and then, (watch this right here) BOOM! It exploded at States and took over the world shortly afterwards. It wasn’t until months later that Seymore Hersh exposed the fact that Affinity had ties to the Saudi Royal Family that the sh** officially hit the fan, though most players were too busy smashing opponents during Regionals and Block Constructed to give a care. (I wonder if Nick Eisel still thinks Frogmite is bad…)

Anyway, B/G is this year’s radar deck. Jelger Wiegersma wrote an article about it a few weeks ago and the deck slowly started gaining momentum. Then Shlomi Mir and [author name="Dan Paskins"]Dan Paskins[/author] both wrote about versions for our site, threads about the deck received literally tens of thousands of hits in our forums, and I hear sales of cards that will probably be played in B/G decks are very strong. Combine this with the tendency of many players to want to play this color combination anyway, and I think it will be the third most populous deck at Champs, followed by R/G, Big Red, and everything else. (For the record, Mike told me he thinks Big Red will be third.)

Here’s Jelger’s deck, in case you haven’t seen it:

4 Eternal Witness

2 Kokusho, the Evening Star

3 Molder Slug

4 Nezumi Shortfang

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Solemn Simulacrum

4 Viridian Shaman

3 Death Cloud

4 Echoing Decay

4 Night’s Whisper

2 Rend Flesh

3 City of Brass

10 Forest

1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers

1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse

8 Swamp

The only thing I really dislike about this decklist is the lack of Oxidizes in the main.

4) The Percentages of Decks You Will See in the Field Will Look Something Like This:

Affinity – 25%

Tooth – 15%

B/G – 10%

R/G – 7%

Other Decks You’ve Heard of (U/G, Big Red, Rats, Fecundity Combo, Ironworks) – 15%

Stone Cold Rogue – 25%

I’m one of the few people I’ve ever read who gives percentages for the decks I think will comprise the tournament metagame, and to my utter shock and disbelief, I’m usually within five percentage points on my predictions. Of course, actually tossing numbers out there sets me up to be a complete and total buffoon when I’m wrong, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Oh, it will… but not this year.

What the numbers above mean is that if Virginia States were to get around 200 players like it did last year, you’d find approximately fifty players playing Affinity, thirty playing some form of Tooth, twenty playing B/G, fifteen playing R/G, and then eighty people playing other stuff, including a full quarter of the field that is running a deck you might laugh at if you sat down across from it in round 1. I’m not suggesting you do this, because I got the tar kicked out of me in round 2 at Regionals by the proverbial eleven-year-old kid playing Ponza, and the bitter chuckles I emitted at my fate only served to confuse and frighten him further while he Flashfired me out of existence.

The numbers listed above represent what I think you’ll see in the field – they do not represent what I think you’ll see in the top 8. At one point this fall, I actually thought Affinity would comprise at least three out of every eight spots in a top 8. I’ve dropped my estimates a bit to 30%, but I still think you’ll find lots of Arcbound Ravagers and Disciples at the top tables, and once again, anybody choosing to run that deck has made the right choice (notice that I think Affinity will outperform its proportion of the field). As for how the rest of the top 8s will play out, I have no idea. It should be fun to watch, though.

3) Tooth and Nail is not the Deck to Play This Weekend.

I’m not sure how much this has come across in the articles we’ve been running lately, but the environment is simply not very Tooth and Nail friendly right now. Look, I like the deck, and Kiki-Jiki plus Sundering Titan/Eternal Witness is good times for all, but there are three factors limiting the potential performance of Tooth this weekend.

a) Affinity – Garza (and Nassif) be damned, Tooth decks have a hard time consistently defeating Affinity in game 1, which puts them under the gun in games 2 and 3. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is something to take under advisement.

b) Cranial Extraction – This one applies to Extraction in specific and decks running Black in general. The aren’t fun to play against, they force you to diversify your deck more than you would like to, and the combination of Death Cloud, Barter in Blood, and Nezumi Shortfang is decidedly unhealthy in the long game.

c) Counterspells – While these will only be played by a small proportion of the field, they are out there and they screw with your plans. Boseiju, Who Shelters All is cute, but there are answers to it, it’s a dead card against the three main decks, and if you sideboard a couple they take up valuable space that should probably be used to help out more prominent matchups.

If only two of these were present in the metagame, I would say, “Go ahead and play the deck, but be careful,” but since all three are in effect, Tooth suddenly seems like a bad call here. If this dismays you, you’re not the only one. I got a lot of complaints from friends earlier this week when I delivered the same info, but most of them eventually decided I was right and began scrambling for a new deck.

2) But If You Do Run Tooth and Nail, Please Play a Good/Consistent Version.

I know many of you won’t listen to my advice in the first place, and it’s too late for some of you to find a completely new deck, so it’s time to be practical. For starters, if you are going to play Tooth and Nail, please play a Cloudpost version. The Urzatron is very simple to disrupt, and while it can provide an impressive amount of mana when it works, the consistency of the Cloudpost version over a long tournament will serve you better. I tested multiple Tron versions of the deck and found myself frequently annoyed with either a lack of early Green mana or with waiting around for a second source.

I talked to Star Wars Kid, who is still in love with Tooth (and [author name="Brian Kibler"]Brian Kibler[/author], but that’s neither here nor there), and this is the list that he would be playing this weekend if I hadn’t convinced him to play what I’m playing instead.

G/R Tooth and Nail

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Sylvan Scrying

3 Reap and Sow

4 Solemn Simulacrum

4 Eternal Witness

4 Electrostatic Bolt

4 Tooth and Nail

4 Oxidize

2 Rude Awakening

1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Duplicant

1 Platinum Angel

1 Leonin Abunas

4 Cloudpost

6 Mountain

12 Forests

This version gives you a reasonable game 1 against Affinity, and allows you to actually cast all of your threats except the Abunas in case you get Extracted (just remember that you might need RRR somewhere down the line against some decks, so grab Mountains when you can). I still believe this is a good deck, but as I said above, it’s not something I would play this weekend in this metagame. However, if you are the guy who just has to play a Tooth deck for States, knock yourself out. (In case you care, Sundering Titan is in the sideboard.)

1) No Matter How Good You Think Your Matchup Is Against Affinity, It’s Not.

I spent the entire summer traveling the United States for coverage, and I probably saw more Pro-Caliber matches than anyone else on the planet except for Brian David Marshall. I covered U.S. Nationals, two Block Constructed Grand Prix, and the 2004 World Championships, and if there’s one thing that I learned during that time, it’s that your matchup percentage against Affinity is never good enough, particularly in game 1.

Remember the Freshmaker decks that were touted as Affinity killers? Well they were wrong. The Pros who played Affinity well consistently defeated folks running the hate decks in Block because one-for-one removal isn’t good enough. Hell, even mass removal sometimes isn’t good enough, though it improved after Skullclamp was banned. If you’ll remember, I played a deck that had an excellent matchup against Affinity back at Regionals – a deck that featured a rock-solid mana base, Wrath of God, Wing Shards, and Akroma’s frikkin’ Vengeance, and that deck (a variation of which would later go on to win the World Championships) only had about a 70% matchup. There isn’t a deck in the current environment that comes close to mirroring the Affinity-killing tools that that deck had, though with Clamp out of the way, the job is certainly much easier.

Regardless, the reason that I’m saying all of this is that if you think you will be playing Affinity decks on Saturday (and you will), and you really want to beat them (and you should), then you can’t cut corners. Throw in that extra maindeck Electrostatic Bolt. Make sure you have a full complement of Oxidizes and Viridian Shamans in your sideboard (Though you should probably be playing Oxidize in the main anyway). Don’t make a last minute cut of those two March of the Machines because they don’t seem to matter – they will. Affinity is probably the strongest Standard deck we’ve seen in five years, and you need every bit of help you can get to have any hope of beating the deck consistently, even if the players at States are nowhere near the caliber of those at Worlds.

Other Stuff You Should Be Aware of

  • This is States, so the amount of randomness you can play is higher than at any other non-FNM tournament during the year. Therefore it behooves you (it makes you a horse) to always have a backup plan. I don’t know what that might be for your particular deck (though if I were playing Affinity, I’d almost certainly put a couple of Shrapnel Blasts in the main to ward against random awfuls rawdogging Platinum Angels out against you and giving you an instant game loss), but it’s just a rule I try to follow when building decks for States and Regionals. Obviously you shouldn’t ruin your deck just to try and guard against randomness, but keep it in mind when finalizing your list and sideboard.

  • I think U/G, R/G, B/G and Mono-Blue are solid strategies in this environment as long as you have a good list. Which of these you should choose basically comes down to play style, testing, and personal preference.

  • This practically goes without saying, but in spite of my great prowess in the area of metagaming, there’s always something I miss. Last year I didn’t note U/W Control very much in my roundup and it did quite well. I’m sure something similar will happen this year. If you get smashed by this deck (whatever it might be), I apologize.

  • This is States, therefore you should have fun. The level of play is better than what you would see at a giant Constructed prerelease, but not much. I actually enjoy walking around after my match is finished and examining all the rogue decks that are seeing play. The atmosphere is loose, the play is looser, and if you didn’t have fun at the end of the day, then you failed in your task.


To my great surprise, I actually like this environment. It may not be quite as diverse as some previous Champs environments, but there are quite a few solid decks to play and the fact that enough people hate Affinity by now means that you won’t have to deal with a sea of artifacts in every round. I even got “that feeling” a couple of days ago… you know the one. No, not that one, you perverts, the other one. It’s the feeling you get where you’ve been testing for the last week and nothing quite seems to work, so you’re all bummed out until finally you stumble across something that is surprisingly good. At first you can’t believe it, so you test it some more against other matches and then (watch this right here) BAM! You’ve got your deck for Champs. Good luck this weekend, and have fun.

Now on to other stuff…

Ask The Editor

For the month of November, I will be running a daily column called Ask the Editor. In it, you may ask me anything you like about myself, the site, Magic in general, the Pro Tour, your favorite MTG personalities, whatever, and I will answer your questions. In addition, I will also be giving you a daily travelogue of my trip to Australia and Yokohama, Japan where I will be covering back-to-back Magic Grand Prix. This will be my first time out of the country, so it should make for interesting commentary.

As incentive to get you to submit thoughtful questions for the project, I have devised a scheme so devious it is practically worthy of Mike Long. Here’s the deal: You e-mail me what I consider to be a good/useful/amusing question, and I will ship you the decklist for what I’m playing at States (techy sideboard not included). If it’s a crappy question, I’m not shipping, and I’m definitely not posting the decklist to the forums, so don’t put your questions there if you want a decklist. Otherwise good question = my States decklist.

Simple, no?

The Kitchen Sink

This is the space where I would normally put in all the fun stuff I’ve thought of over the last few months, except the Yankees vs. Red Sox series has quite literally sucked up any time that was once allocated. The Schilling game was one of the greatest baseball games I’ve ever seen, and now I have to go over to Jim’s house to watch game 7. However, I am not totally unfeeling, so I’ll throw you a couple bones anyway.

Not a porn site, I promise. If you were alive in the 80’s, this is comedy gold.

“Hey Jim, Can you send me that rat decklist again? I wanted to include it briefly in my article.”

4 mox

4 decay

4 distress

4 ravenous riz

4 nez graverobb0r

4 nights whisper

3 nezumi shortfizzang

4 chittering ratz

3 rend flesh

4 horobi

2 barter in blud

15 herbs and spices

4 blinkmoth nexus

1 H to the shizo

4 relic barrier

4 extraction

2 barter

2 persecute

2 imi statue

1 rend flizzy

And people wonder why I think he’s so cool…

Thanks to everyone for the Happy Birthday wishes. I spent that entire day driving to Roanoke for a big SCG meeting and back (some “off day”! though it was my own fault), but the sentiment was appreciated.

Flores may be the greatest Magic writer, but TSG transcends sports writing and perhaps writing in general. Bill Simmons and Jim have actually turned me into a Red Sox fan, something I never thought possible. It used to just be “I despise the f***ing Yankees,” but no more. I think I kind of hate them for that. Anyway, all the free articles on this page are required reading. Just go do it, okay? I know you don’t have anything else to do, because you are sitting here reading the fun section of my article, so your life is obviously filled with vacuous amounts of time. Anyway, I hope to God the Yankees finally give Bleiweiss “Red Sox fan” face tonight. It would be the greatest belated birthday gift ever.

This is a shout-out to Mike Guptil, just because, yo.

In case you weren’t aware of this, Marisa Tomei is from New Jersey. (I don’t even know if this is true, but the signs are pretty obvious.)

Look people, the there is no battle of teenage hotness between Lohan and Duff, because even Amanda Bynes is way hotter than Hilary Duff, and she’s just a WB TV star. On Duff’s hotness I have two words of comment that seal this whole thing for me: fat ankles.

39 and 40 years old? I’d definitely run it.

Look, if Gwyneth Paltrow can get boobs naturally, anybody can. It happened for Faith Hill too. I’m not saying run out and get your girlfriend preggers and you’ll be presented with a bounty of boobage, but the results clearly speak for themselves.

Apparently my musical tastes are hip again (though not as hip as musical-mastar Conform), so it’s recommendation time. Doubt my credentials? I’ve been listening to The Shins and Iron and Wine for years, I’m hip to Death Cab, TPS, Scissor Sisters, and yet I still manage to keep that white-boy hip-hop street cred that is oh-so-important in the ‘hood. Anyway, here’s what you should be sampling:

1) Bob Schneider – I’m Good Now. This ex-Sandra Bullock boyfriend can be found at bobschneidermusic.com. He’s regularly voted the best live performer in Austin, and for good reason. His studio albums are solid, but his live shows are absolutely amazing (and all the hot Texas girls invariably show up, so… bonus).

2) Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters. When I first heard the cover of Comfortably Numb, I thought it was Beck in a disco phase. Regardless, the cover is genius and the rest of the album is nearly as good.

3) Rilo Kiley – More Adventurous. Okay, I admit I’m late to the party here, but Jenny Lewis’s voice is kinda dreamy, and the album isn’t half bad either. Your friends will be talking about this in a couple of weeks if they aren’t already. Oh, and Jenny Lewis sings for The Postal Service when she’s not RK’ing… very good stuff.

4) Jem – Finally Woken. Yep, I’m behind here too, but once again, the whole album is good, and she’ll be in town in a couple of weeks. I think my wife will be taking her goomah to that concert, since I will be on my way to Brisbane at that point, but whattayagonnado? Anyway, I’ve heard this classified as “trip-hop”, but that’s just not the case here. It’s more like more upbeat Dido or something… just good chick pop that isn’t sung by whiny teenagers.

5) Franz Ferdinand – C’mon, C’mon. This cut isn’t on their U.S. release, but it’s probably the best track on the U.K. release, and it’s savagely good. Do yourself a favor and track it down on Soulseek or the like, because it rocks like few songs released this year. Listen to it back to back with “Fell in Love With a Boy” by The White Stripes for a nice pick-me-up.

Honorable Mention: The Postal Service – Against All Odds. Sorry, but good Phil Collins covers are hard to come by, and this one is quality. Does it ruin things if I tell you I still like the original? Do I care?

Quotable Quotes

[16:36] * mixedknut changes topic to ‘http://www.toymania.com/news/messages/1602.shtml

[16:37] [Riptide_] i already have the complete set :/

[16:37] [EFroUSA] who doesnt

[16:38] [Riptide_] its part of my mtg-shrine that i pray to every day

[16:39] [EFroUSA] does it help prevent mana screw?

[16:39] [Riptide_] yes

[16:39] [Riptide_] sometimes i screw up the ritual though 🙁

Bleiweiss: Why are my bowel movements now a hot magic topic?

Knut: is there something new?

Bleiweiss: “At home I’m Big freaking Ben in terms of regularity.”

Bleiweiss: Or are you saying you’re a clock ROFL?

Bleiweiss: I can’t tell

Bleiweiss: I poop a lot

Ferraiolo: just dropped f***ing

Ferraiolo: fat man and little boy

Ferraiolo: on nagasaki

Ferraiolo: POWER dump

[00:53] [GT___] They should come out with a sequel to The Sims

[00:53] [GT___] Called

[00:53] [GT___] “The Samms”

[00:53] [GT___] Where your goal is to be the biggest bag possible

[11:55] [chh] how much are flights to Columbus? :/

[11:56] [kaib] god

[11:56] [kaib] don’t remind me that i have to pay for a flight pls 🙁

[11:47] [JoshR’] where’s she moving to?

[11:47] [kaib] .nl

[11:47] [kaib] i mean, not moving

[11:47] [kaib] but going there for a couple of months

[11:48] [kaib] its gonna be like the Vs. system

[11:48] [kaib] but not spiderman vs dr whatever

[11:48] [kaib] we got jeroen vs frankie

[11:48] [kaib] way more exciting 😛

[11:49] [jeroenr] f*** frankie

[11:49] [jeroenr] i hope he dies

[11:49] [jeroenr] i will have none of it

[11:49] [kaib] see? 🙂

[11:49] [jeroenr] i refuse to entertain you all

[11:49] [kaib] mean :/

[11:50] [kaib] i thought about one big apartment, you, frankie, alana, rachel, mike, paul, liz, benafel, efro

[11:50] [kaib] something like that 🙂

[13:13] [JSigler] you look like there’s another person living in your midsection

[13:13] [JSigler] comfortably

[13:13] [psamms] I make good money from that apartment tyvm.

[13:43] [mixedknut] hey kai, are these firm enough?

[13:44] [kaib] lol

[13:44] [kaib] that was quite funny

[13:44] [mdouglass] yea it was gbs

[13:44] [kaib] when we met that chick, she was quite hot, didn’t wear all that much

[13:44] [kaib] and i could see osyp’s physical pain

[13:44] [kaib] that i was staying at his place

[13:44] [kaib] and that he had absolutely no chance to make out with her

[14:04] [mdouglass] africa is far far away

[14:04] [Dobbs_] prob like 5 hrs.

[14:04] [mdouglass] africa’s so far there are still slaves on their way here.

Knut: saw KB 2 yesterday

Knut: pai mei is soooo good

JPMeyer: ha yeah

Knut: is he the guy from master killer?

JPMeyer: if by the master killer you mean the 36th chamber of shaoling (that movie has like 30 different english names) then yes

Knut: yeah, same movie

Knut: I can never remember if it’s the 35th or 36th chamber

Knut: it’s prob my favorite MA movie

JPMeyer: it’s pretty high up there. but it’s no wing chun

Knut: haven;t seen it

JPMeyer: it’s like a feminist martial arts romantic comedy

[21:59] [RiverMise] dave is the Ben Rubin of poker… 🙁

[21:59] [Paluka666] Ben Rubin ate *** for money too?

[00:15] * the_dog is now known as skulclamp

[00:16] * Yawgatog sets mode: +b skulclamp!*@*

[00:16] * skulclamp was kicked by DaCaptain (Banned)

[00:17] [knutgone] oh that was masterful

U/W Control a.k.a How you gonna rip it like this, son?

4 Peer through the Depths

4 Wrath of God

4 Decree of Justice

4 Mana Leak

4 Hinder

2 Rewind

3 Relic Barrier

3 Wayfarer’s Bauble

2 Akroma’s Vengeance

3 Exalted Angel

2 Eternal Dragon

7 Islands

7 Plains

4 Cloudposts

4 Flooded Strand

3 Temple of the False God


2 Future Sight

1 Exalted Angel

1 Relic Barrier

3 Imi Statue

3 Stifle

3 Time Stop

2 Wing Shards

Osyp: yeah so

Osyp: I’m an idiot

Knut: 🙂

Knut: what format were you working on with this deck, exactly?

Osyp: lol

Osyp: I forgot they rotate out

[00:12] [knutgone] This is it folks… one time and one time ONLY. Oct 23rd… Kanoot vs. ORLOVE… the ultimate throwdown to prove who is WEAK

[00:12] [knutgone] BEEEE THERE

[00:12] [j_orlove] lol

[00:12] [j_orlove] so good

[00:13] [Kowal] Holy crap

[00:13] [Kowal] Orlove would get SMASHED

[00:13] [Kowal] Knut is like forty six feet tall

[00:13] [Kowal] he can bench press wisconsin

[00:13] [Kowal] he can catch a frisbee with his pecs

random quit: [StrWrsKid] OMFG OW OW OW i just burnt my anus really badly by lighting a fart

[17:16] [knutgone] is that real? I figured you were just being dumb or making stuff up

[17:17] [StrWrsKid] it ignites

[17:17] [StrWrsKid] it trails from the outside to the rim

[17:17] [StrWrsKid] and scorches

[17:17] [StrWrsKid] sad strwrskid

[17:18] [StrWrsKid] nah it wasnt a bad burn

[17:18] [StrWrsKid] just hurt

[17:18] [StrWrsKid] it happened two days ago and felt fine when i woke up teh next day

[17:18] [StrWrsKid] nice disinfectant

[17:19] [knutgone] keep talking, kid

[17:19] [knutgone] this is comedy gold

[17:19] [StrWrsKid] well i was sitting at the computer, had a lighter, ate mexican food…and got curious

[17:19] * knutgone falls down laughing

[23:51] [BrassMan] I’m furious…

[23:51] [Kowal] Brass Man > Juntu Stakes

[23:51] [BrassMan] outraged, even

[23:51] [mixedknut] Kowal: my WTF was obv Brass Man

[23:51] [BrassMan] Juntu stakes like… isn’t dead

[23:51] [mixedknut] but it’s clearly SOMEONE’s “pet card”

[23:52] [BrassMan] Hey! I boarded it in against Oshawa!

[23:52] [BrassMan] and I killed a Rootwalla!

PeteH: Yeah, they have this huge Ferris Wheel in Yokohama. It’s the biggest I’ve ever seen.

Knut: Bigger than the one at the State Fairgrounds in Texas?

PeteH: Where’s that?

Bleiweiss: GL

Knut: jetah, arod, grease fire…

By the time you read this, Game 7 will be over and either Ferraiolo or Bleiweiss will be sporting “Red Sox Fan” face. It’s been a great ride, regardless. I can only hope your Champs experience is as much fun as the ALCS has been.

Oh, and I guaran-damn-tee you that I will have the Head Judge double check my decklist before I turn it in this year, and make sure that “3 Broodstar” is written in big, bold letters, for all to see.

Ted Knutson

The Holy Kanoot

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