MOCS Season 2 Report with Faeries

Friday, February 18 – Bing Luke takes Faeries to the Magic Online Championships and examines the online Extended metagame – read about his battles against a diverse field, full of MTGO ringers.

Where we left off, I was having a crisis regarding deck choice for the upcoming MOCS. Faeries had taken down most of the MODO PTQs based on old
Extended and had a strong showing in the ones that it didn’t win. I had played the deck a bunch when it was in Standard, and while I wasn’t
a master, I’d like to think I was at least competent.

Flashback to two weeks ago. I can’t win with Faeries. Not only are Red and Elves more prominent, but I’m having trouble adjusting to the stock
matchups of Naya and the mirror. I know the deck is good since Owen Turtenwald rattled off his 13-0 in Atlanta, but I’m having trouble seeing lines of
play and am sloppy in executing them. This is exactly how to crash and burn with the deck, since being successful requires walking a razor’s edge
in the games where you don’t nut-draw them.

Two things led me to play the deck. One is I started reading other people’s articles and realizing that I’m just rusty, and practice will get me
back on track. Being on the slightly wrong end of strategy will cause you to do significantly worse, since wins and losses in so many of the games are
a hairsbreadth apart. The second is that in my 8-man and playtest mashing, I finally get those glorious games where everything clicks, and I understand
how and when to play all my different spells to eke out wins. By the time Saturday night rolled around, I was pretty confident in my deck choice,
sleeving up the following:

The maindeck is basically the ChannelFireball build from GP Atlanta. To give me a little bit of an edge against Red and Elves, I swapped in Agony
Warps, which would also be good in the mirror. LSV mentioned that having the third Tectonic Edge main over a small Jace would be fine, so I figured I
would do that, since I would be bringing at least one Edge in most matchups. After chatting with Grgur Petric Maretic (Grgapm) on his second-place
finish in the last PTQ, he sold me on the extra Nighthawk in the side and away from Peppersmokes in the main, since he’d described them from his
recent events as being a card that primarily cycles but only sometimes kills a guy (and even then, sometimes doesn’t even cycle). I thought Elves
would be plentiful, so I thought I’d keep a Consume as a reset button with an extra Deathmark. Deathmark was also worthwhile for Baneslayer,
since U/W appeared to be on the rise as well.

Rounds 1-3 byes

I take the time during byes to scout and piece together what the event looks like. Unlike the last PTQ, there are significantly more creature decks
(i.e., Jund, Naya, Mythic), which makes me feel good about having the extra Nighthawks. There are actually fewer Faeries decks, which was surprising,
and a lot of Elves. In fact, it looked like Elves was going to be the most-played deck until a bunch of Faeries came in off of byes.

The most surprising result of watching replays? Seeing a Pili-Pala at the 3-0 bracket.

Basically, it was a U/B Control shell with Pili-Pala plus Grand Architect to make infinite colored mana, resulting either in decking you via Oona,
Queen of the Fae or Profane Commanding you for 20 or Mind Springing yourself to make your own Genesis Wave for 40. Out of most of the replays I saw,
Mind Spring and Oona and Profane Command did pretty well even unsupported. Amazing to find new archetype in a format played this much.

The event on the whole had a smattering of all the viable decks.



Percentage (less drops)













R/G Shift






Omen combo









Temp. Steel















G/W trap















R/G aggro



Esper control






G/W aggro






R/B aggro



Soul Sisters










(Jank basically comprised people who had qualified but didn’t play Extended. There were a couple Mono-Black Control decks and one game individual
who fielded a Scars Block Constructed U/W deck.)

Round 4: ride_thebus (Elves)

The matchup is all about making sure you can one-for-one them until you hit turn 4, by which time Cryptic and Mistbind Clique show up. This means you
have to control their lords and/or their mana to prevent them from getting too far ahead before you can play trumps.

Scouting proves invaluable here. I lose the roll and open what would otherwise be a solid hand: four lands (including a Creeping Tar Pit),
Bitterblossom, Mana Leak, and a Cryptic. The problem is against Elves that the only interactive piece (Blossom) would just soak up a few points of
damage while he would get to develop his board unmolested.

I mull into a better hand with Inquisition, Spellstutter, Mana Leak, and Mistbind. He has a slow-ish draw involving Nettle Sentinels and no
acceleration. I Inquisition a Bramblewood Paragon, Mana Leak an Ezuri, and Spellstutter a Warcaller. Basically, exactly what I need to do game one.
Mistbind holds back, so I can get a couple hits in with the Tar Pit until a drawn Cryptic gives me the fog to start swinging.

I side in my removal and Nighthawks. Game two, he has a draw of turn 2 Heritage Druid and starts spewing out multiple lords. A timely Tectonic Edge
from him keeps me off Cryptic mana, and I die to a small swarm. Game three, I keep a hand with Blossom, Nighthawks, and Consume the Meek, but he has
another Heritage Druid-fueled hand that spits out a 5/5 Joraga Warcaller on turn 3. I can’t beat that.

0-1 (1-2)

Round 5: Honzick (Wargate Omen)

Game one, I keep a hand of Secluded Glen, Swamp, Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize, Mana Leak, Mistbind Clique, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I play
turn 1 Glen, revealing Mistbind.

One lesson I’ve learned with Faeries is that you can’t afford to lose small edges, which makes making full use of your mana matter, which
makes land drops matter. So many games depend on having a non-summoning sick manland or the untapped land at the right moment, which sometimes you
can’t do if you wasted a land drop two turns earlier. This is so important that it trumps your natural desire to be tricky with your drops. This
lesson really hit home in a playtest match where by not playing my last land, I was one mana short from activating a Mutavault to feed Mistbind when my
opponent unexpectedly wiped my board of other Faeries.

So why turn 1 Glen? There is a small chance that if I draw enough running lands, I’ll never want to play the Swamp, needing the blue mana for
Jace or maybe Cryptic Command. Maybe it’s a little different if it were a Spellstutter, but Mistbind in this matchup doesn’t really lend
itself to being played around, so the information doesn’t give up much. It’s a small cost to avoid a situation where the wrong sequence of lands
puts me a turn behind.

Back to the match. The discard does double duty clearing the way for my Mistbind and stopping his ramp and card filtering. By the time he can cast
Wargate for Omen and play around Mana Leak, the Leak taps him out anyway for my manland alpha. Game two, I have the nut hand of Spell Pierce, Blossom,
Jace, but it doesn’t matter, since he gets stuck on lands.

1-1 (3-2)

Round 6: Calvodeck (U/W Control)

After having considered U/W, I’m cursing myself for my round 4 loss to Elves, which is basically an unlosable matchup with U/W. This round reminds me
why I didn’t choose it.

In game one, I don’t have turn 2 Blossom; I don’t stop his Finks, which got to hit me a bunch of times. I stumble on mana, letting him hit five before
I do, but I still crush him. He taps out to land a Baneslayer; I Mistbind in response, untap, and Doom Blade it. Then I land another Mistbind, and then
he’s dead.

I lose game two in a squeaker that I might have won, given a different line of play here or there; it basically involves my not being able to play
around a Spell Pierce for three turns while I’m forced to race with a Tar Pit. Maybe I should have slowed down some. Game three, however, is not really
close. I ride an early Blossom to victory, backed by a small Jace.

This was the other reason why I think U/W is hopelessly doomed. It can probably fight through a Blossom, but the availability of Jace, big or small,
provides another vector that U/W is hard-pressed to answer. Creeping Tar Pit also ensures that your Jaces will be better than theirs will, since
Celestial Colonnade (while fine in a race) can’t play planeswalker-killer the same way.

2-1 (5-3)

An aside
: At this time, Rizer, MTGO grinder extraordinaire, is 6-0 after having only two byes. This is the man who has a Pro Tour Top 8 to play in the morning.
It’s 2 am in Paris, and there are still four rounds of Swiss to play. Dude’s a beast.

Round 7: Jway (62-card special)

Game one is awkward because my stumbling on mana makes his two Broken Ambitions effortless counters. I get a small punch in the gut when his first
Ambitions reveals a land, except since he won the clash, it would get milled anyway. I have a window to draw a land and sneak down a Mind Sculptor but
miss, and his mana advantage lets him go off easily a few turns later.

Game two I land a small Jace and a Blossom, but I know from an earlier Thoughtseize he has a Scapeshift in hand, and I’m racing trying to remove it
before he assembles the manual kill. On a pivotal turn, he untaps with eight mana when I have Vendilion Clique and Spellstutter. I hold off on the
Clique because his See Beyond (revealed in a prior clash) would help undo whatever I took. He casts Scapeshift with two mana up, and I figure I’m
going to Clique him and then Stutter. My Clique reveals a second Scapeshift and a land, and since I don’t have any other answers, I figure I have
to take it. My world comes crashing down when he plays a Mana Leak on my Stutter with me a mana short.

There basically is no reason just not to play Stutter. He only had two mana available, and I hadn’t seen any hard counters, so the Stutter would
resolve. I got lazy by not trying to play out the potential card combinations and got put into a situation where he got a redraw for the Mana Leak.

2-2 (5-5)

At this point, I’m hoping my byes help my breakers enough that I can sneak in with an 8-2 record. It’s a relatively small field, especially
with the thirty or so people who dropped.

Round 8: knightshade (Naya)

Knight is playing a particularly hateful Naya build with Cunning Sparkmage and Collar main, although he has some suspect card choices with Wild Nacatl
in a deck with very few basics.

Game one I play an early Blossom, which he immediately trumps with Sparkmage. He keeps my board in check while I draw some do-nothings, and eventually
his medium-sized monsters clean up.

Game two I Agony Warp one Sparkmage, Inquisition a second, and force a third to eat itself with Sower. He’s a little tied on mana, meaning my
Mistbind is nosing out his Great Sable Stag and Noble Hierarch in a race. I make a small punt near the end of the game when I’m at eight life,
and he’s at eleven. My board is two tokens and a Mistbind. His is Stag, Hierarch, and a 2/2 Figure of Destiny. I’m in pretty good position,
being able to clean up in two hits while he has a hand of Bloodbraid Elf, Leyline of Sanctity, and a second Figure of Destiny but only two lands to go
with his Noble. I draw a Deathmark and immediately kill the Figure. I shudder when he draws a land, plays Bloodbraid, and suddenly has outs to
Lightning Bolt and Birds of Paradise. If I kill the Hierarch instead, he’d have to draw his outs naturally. Thankfully, he hits a Gaddock Teeg, which
is not only not an out but also a card I must be sure to play around in the rubber game.

I start game three with a perfect hand. I have Bitterblossom, Cryptic, Consume the Meek, and Wurmcoil. He has a slow-ish hand with an unenhanced Wild
Nacatl, and when he starts stacking exalted triggers, I aggressively block to preserve my life total. A Thoughtseize makes things a little awkward, as
I see two Lightning Bolts in hand, meaning I’m racing mana from the top of my deck before Blossom triggers and the Bolts do me in. By the time I
hit five mana and wipe his board, I’m at ten life. I untap into a sixth land, so I slam the Wurmcoil, to which he responds with a freshly drawn
Path to Exile. My hand starts choking up with Bitterblossoms, and I try to threaten with manlands, but a Basilisk Collar on his side puts racing in his
favor. Eventually a Sparkmage and a second Path put me out of my misery.

2-3 (6-7)

At this point, I’m out of the Top 8. I lose a mirror and beat a red deck for a Top 64 finish worth three packs (and not the shiny foil Wasteland
for Top 32 likely to be worth a billion tickets). Rizer ended up picking up his second loss in this round and wisely dropped instead of potentially
sabotaging his Pro Tour ambitions. One of the Pili-Pala decks lost his last round to finish outside the Top 32, so unfortunately I don’t think
we’ll get to see his decklist, but it seemed like fun.

The Top 8 was comprised of two 5CC, two Mono-Red, two Elves, U/W, and Faeries. 5CC took down sandydogmtg’s Red deck in the finals.

I missed some breaks, but I also made some bad plays, and the combination of those will kill any chances of doing well in a big tournament. I think I
at least avoided the trifecta of also having a bad deck choice (which of course would lead to even more of the former two). Most of the matches seemed
winnable given tighter play or a lucky bounce.

It’s a shame I’m not playing Nagoya PTQs, since this it’s a pretty lively format and wide open despite the perceived dominance of
Fae. I’m looking forward to all the goodies that Mirrodin Besieged has to offer. While Go for the Throat is the obvious addition, early reports
indicate that Sword of Feast and Famine is nuts, and it seems great for overall value while also blowing out the mirror. Also, I’m sure
there’s a great Tezzeret brew somewhere out there.