Brewing with Mirrodin Besieged (MBS) is difficult. At first, it was hard to see how all the cards would fit into various archetypes and whether or not
something would form an entirely new archetype. Such is life when you’re dealing with a set made up of situational cards. You can’t look at
most things in a vacuum anymore.
Anyway, I wanted to find something sweet for the StarCityGames.com Open in Indianapolis this weekend but was coming up short. A few decks got some
slight upgrades, but there had to be more at work here. Thanks to Magic-League, some friends, and brewing myself, I now have three decks that I’d
be relatively confident in sleeving up for SCG Indy.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I started hitting the Daily Events on Magic Online pretty hard a few weeks ago. Reading Adam Prosak’s excellent article
from the SCG Open in San Jose was an eye opener. He said that Michael Jacob’s videos on RUG were
a huge inspiration, and he walked away with the trophy. Likewise, his article was an inspiration to me as well. I sent him a message on Facebook
telling him that I vowed to play RUG in the next event, although I didn’t realize that MBS would be legal so soon.
I acquired the cards on Magic Online and fired it up. The very first game I played, I cast Explore, Explore, Explore, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Mana
Leak on turn 3. I’ve recently been explaining that the best way to get someone hooked on the credit card game is to let them win once or twice,
and they’ll be hooked for life.
Suddenly, I had an addiction.
My first few DEs went very well, but I didn’t like the deck. Everything in Standard feels so flimsy, but maybe that’s just what we have to
do. Decks like U/W and U/B have a plan if they don’t resolve Jace though. RUG is composed of ramp, Lightning Bolt, Mana Leak, Titans, and Jace,
which is supposed to bring the deck together.
However, if you’re not abusing Jace, you’re drawing the wrong cards in the wrong matchups. On top of that, if your opponent is being a jerk
and killing your Cobras and/or disrupting your mana, casting your spells is difficult. Overall, I wasn’t a fan of the deck. Having Jace and six
lands in play on turn 3 was merely a pipe dream.
I decided to try out the U/G land destruction deck that I’d been brewing since Worlds. As I said in a previous article, it ended up being similar
to Conley’s Genesis Wave, which probably isn’t a
good thing. Still, I soldiered on and tried my list, Conley’s, and then a hybrid. U/G had similar problems to RUG. Drawing the right mix of ramp
and threats was exceedingly difficult, although I figured Green Sun’s Zenith would help in that regard.
Beating decks with Mana Leak was very difficult with RUG. In a control mirror, tapping out first for Jace will likely lead to them Leaking you,
untapping, and playing their own Jace. At that point, the game is effectively over. RUG doesn’t have the capability to sit back on counterspells.
If, on turn seven, your opponent plays a Jace, there’s likely little you can do. You can maybe Leak it and resolve a Titan, but what good will that do?
Most decks are equipped to deal with Lotus Cobra now, so that edge basically doesn’t exist anymore. Beating U/B, with their Inquisitions of
Kozilek and Mana Leaks was hard, despite U/B supposedly being RUG’s good matchup.
I didn’t want to play a U/G ramp deck.
So what were my options? I eventually settled on three different decks, with Elves potentially being a fourth. I quickly ruled that one out, as I
couldn’t find a good list. I had no idea whether I wanted to included Green Sun’s Zenith, Lead the Stampede, or both. The two didn’t seem
to work well in conjunction, and I don’t have time to figure it out, at least without MBS being released on Magic Online.
My decision is still up in the air, so I’m going to let my faithful readers decide. I’d be fine with sleeving up any of the following three
decks, so let’s see which one I can sell ya’ll on. I didn’t mind flipping a coin to determine my deck choice at Pro Tour San Juan.
Despite Vampires not being the best choice for San Juan, it served me well.
Deck #1: U/B Shape Anew
I try to keep up to date on all the latest tech, and that means checking out the oft-maligned www.magic-league.com. Sure, some of the players there are jerks, and most of them probably wouldn’t be
able to “go infinite” on MTGO, but several good players and ideas have been flowing from there recently. You’d be a fool to write
There, I found this spicy little brew, played by mr_thompsom (no relation). He went 8-0-2, winning the entire tournament, and in the process, lost only
I kept most of his list intact, but I’d play the following (if you forced me to). Sideboard tentative.
—Inquisition is better than Duress. I learned this the hard way piloting Mono-Black Vampires. I was trying to nab Arc Trails, but when he
didn’t have them, my Duresses bricked completely, and I lost the match. If they were Inquisitions, then I most likely would’ve won.
Clearly these are different decks, but the point remains the same. I don’t want to whiff on a Duress, and being able to snag their two-drop could
end up being pivotal. I wanted Duress for Jace and Summoning Trap, but those are largely irrelevant.
—Four Trinket Mages and a lone Chalice is enough to Shape a Colossus. Inkmoth Nexus is in there to give you another shot, but then you’re
rolling the dice on hitting a Chalice or Colossus. I think I’m fine with that. Inkmoth is also useful if you need to combo multiple times.
—There is no need for Jace Beleren, at least in the maindeck. This isn’t the typical “grind ‘em out” style U/B deck.
—I’m unsure if the Shape Anew package is worth it against decks packing Jace, the Mind Sculptor. If you resolve your combo, they can simply
bounce your Colossus. Siding out the package has its merits but so does siding in a different target, like Myr Battlesphere. Even if they use Jace to
bounce the Sphere, your tokens are going to finish off Jace, and Battlesphere will be castable in a few turns.
—I’ve registered a lot of Into the Roils lately, and for good reason. Dealing with a resolved Jace or Titan used to be difficult for U/B
decks, and Roil can give you that turn of reprieve you need to stabilize rather than be drawing dead. Volition Reins is a similar card, but Into the
Roil can bounce Journey to Nowhere against Boros, giving you the surprise victory.
—Rather than durdling around with Spreading Seas, this U/B version will likely just kill Valakut.
—I’ll get free wins from my combo, leading to faster rounds and more downtime. This is important considering Evan Erwin recently set the line of
attendance for SCG Indy at 800. Eleven rounds? I shudder at the thought.
—Powerful as a U/B Control deck but also as a combo deck.
—They most likely won’t see it coming.
—Untested and untuned.
Deck #2: Kuldotha Red
This is, by far, the deck I’m most afraid of coming out of MBS. Does this mean I should play it? We’ll see I guess…
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Goblin Bushwhacker
- 4 Goblin Guide
- 4 Memnite
- 2 Goblin Wardriver
- 1 Hero of Oxid Ridge
- 4 Signal Pest
—This deck used to be (mostly) terrible, so what happened? Well, battle cry gave us more Bushwhacker impersonators, and with battle cry, you want
a bunch of cheap (read: crappy) dudes. Ornithopter, who used to be an embarrassment, is now part of your nut draw.
—Hero of Oxid Ridge is excellent at blasting through Plants, walls, and caws. Definitely undervalued.
—Flayer Husk: either mediocre or pretty good, and I’m not sure which. Some amount probably belong, but I don’t know how many.
Hopefully I figure this out by Saturday.
—Panic Spellbomb, like the Hero, is undervalued at the moment. Clearing blockers is a necessity, and Spellbomb is quite good at doing that. Odd
that a one-drop is too mana intensive in this deck, but if it weren’t, I’d probably play more.
—The sideboard is designed to be more resilient to sweepers, packing Jinxed Idol and another Chimeric Mass. Also of note is the 4/2 haster, Mark
of Mutinies for Titans, and Teetering Peaks to go with my slower plan, but also the Marks.
—When turn 1 Goblin Guide is about the weakest thing your deck can do, you’re probably in pretty good shape.
—Goldfish kills regularly on turn 3 or 4.
—Lots of time to take naps in between rounds.
—Most players won’t be prepared for this kind of onslaught.
—Hard to beat a Pyroclasm. No seriously, it’s like, really hard.
Deck #3: Valakut
Ah, yes. The good, ole standby. I wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t won the Invitational? Would I even consider Valakut playable if I
didn’t run good for that weekend?
To be fair, I had a helluva time trying to win with Valakut on Magic Online. It felt like every deck was packing Tectonic Edge and/or Spreading Seas.
My deck was mono-green with fifteen colorless lands because my Valakuts would always get killed.
After my Invitational win, I still think of Valakut like I’m free-rolling. It’s probably a hindrance, but how will I learn how to pick good
decks if I never get punished for my bad choices?
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 3 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Joraga Treespeaker
- 4 Overgrown Battlement
- 4 Primeval Titan
—Green Sun’s Zenith over Summoning Trap because Zenith increases consistency, while Trap reduces it. To make up for what we lost by cutting
Traps, my sideboard consists of uncounterable beaters. Whether or not that’s the best sideboard plan remains to be seen.
—No reason to get too cute with your Zenith targets. Keep it simple.
—It used to be a choice between Lotus Cobra and Overgrown Battlement, but the choice is simple – play both! Drawing two-drop accelerators
is always better than drawing three-drops. Battlement is excellent with Zenith, and Cobra is insane on its own. Trust me, if you haven’t been
playing with Cobras in your Valakut list, you’re doing it wrong.
—Proven tournament contender.
—Underestimated by the community right now.
—Powerful and capable of beating everyone’s nut draws with its own.
—Might be soft to aggro game one and soft to control all around.
So which is it, boys? Vote now, and decide my fate!
So what about Legacy? Well, if you were in San Jose, you would’ve seen Adam Prosak, wandering aimlessly on day two after going 0-2 drop with his
beloved Counterbalance deck, Standard trophy in hand. He was thankful that his weekend was still a success, despite faltering in the portion he thought
he was going to do well in.
However, he was also thankful that he was freed from his own Counterbalance lock. He vowed to play Counterbalance until he stopped making top eights,
and I think I’m going to do the same thing. I’ve made some cosmetic changes since last time, but the deck I’ll likely be playing is
largely the same.