Positive EV – Planeswalkers versus Mythic Conscription: The Mythic Perspective

The StarCityGames.com Open Series comes to Seattle!
Friday, June 4th – Antoine Ruel brought us the Planeswalker Perspective above… Now it’s Manu’s turn, with Mythic Conscription. Antoine believes the Mythic deck is the perfect choice for your next Standard tournament. Will it do the business this weekend at the StarCityGames.com Open in Philadelphia?

In today’s matchup of choice I will be playing Mythic Conscription versus the Planeswalker deck that Carlos Romao piloted to the Top 8 at Grand Prix: Washington. In theory, I expect the matchup to be pretty one-sided, and I can’t really see how the Planeswalker-based deck plans to win. The decklist of choice from my side will be Brett Blackman’s build, who also made Top 8 at the very same event as Carlos Romao, and I expect it to be the most common Mythic deck floating around the next few tournaments.

I don’t think that any of the cards need an explanation, and that the majority of it is pretty standard. The inclusion of Dauntless Escort over Rhox War Monk makes sense, since it has a ton of synergy with the Sovereigns of Lost Alara engine, while Rhox War Monk shines far more with Finest Hour or Rafiq of the Many.

As a reminder, here’s the decklist that Antoine played:

Preboard: 14-10 (On the play: 8-4. On the draw: 6-6)

The matchup is very special. Jace Beleren was a lot better than expected, and the matchup was much tougher than I’d imagined. The Sovereigns of Lost Alara is pretty hard to play at the right time. A lot of the Planeswalker cards are good solutions to the creature, including Gideon Jura; Ajani Vengeant; Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and all the removal the deck is playing. Assuming you don’t have Dauntless Escort, a Day of Judgment or Martial Coup can easily destroy all the pressure you have without you gaining any advantage, aside from dealing a ton of damage or killing a Planeswalker. The fact that the deck has so many Planeswalkers, and that you need to kill all of them the majority of the time, makes it very hard to deal a lot of damage in the early game, so the first Conscription is very rarely lethal. In a lot of the situations, the Sovereigns feel like overkill, and often, it is. When you have a comfortable amount of sources that can deal damage, and that won’t get stopped by a single Planeswalker, it is often wrong to overextend the board with Sovereigns of Lost Alara and then lose to a single board sweeper. In other situations, your opponent has Gideon Jura and you won’t be able to search for the Conscription since you have to attack with other guys that are not producing mana. It doesn’t seem to be a big advantage to sacrifice a Dauntless Escort to fetch up an aura against a deck with mass removal and bounce effects. In the games we played, it often came up that I wouldn’t attack a Jace Beleren that gained loyalty, because I expected myself to play Sovereigns of Lost Alara a few turns later, which meant the Jace Beleren would stop him from playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor and bounce the enchanted guy.

The only Planeswalker that is very rarely worth attacking is Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Aside from producing a chump blocker a turn (that might not even be able to block your guys), this is rarely a problem, and often it doesn’t have a lot of impact on the game versus almost any version of Mythic Bant.

Sejiri Steppe is a lot better if randomly drawn in the version with Eldrazi Conscription than it was in the Finest Hour / Rafiq of the Many list. If you attacked once with a random creature alone, and it is enchanted by Conscription, your opponent often wants to kill your guy at instant speed if he doesn’t have a board sweeper. If you can then give another random guy protection from the color of your opponent’s removal, they don’t have a solution and the second Conscription hit should almost always be lethal.

Baneslayer Angel is really, really bad in the matchup, and is the only card you never want to draw. In the current metagame, where the majority of the decks include Jund, UW based Control (including Planeswalker Control), and several versions of Mythic Bant, I don’t really see the point on running the Angel. I would much prefer 4 Gideon Jura instead, since the only matchup in which the Angel seems better is Jund.

The Sideboard:

-4 Sovereigns of Lost Alara
-2 Eldrazi Conscription
-4 Baneslayer Angel

+4 Negate
+2 Qasali Pridemage
+2 Oblivion Ring
+2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle

I did cut the combo since, if not played on turn 3 (on the play) or something ridiculous, it was very hard for it to be a game winner. The fact that I want to be boarding in Negate, and that you very rarely pass the six- or seven-mana mark, means that it’s very difficult to cast the Sovereigns with Negate backup without giving your opponent extra turns with his Planeswalkers. Also, Gideon Jura kills the Sovereigns action a fair amount.

Baneslayer Angel doesn’t have an impact in the majority of the games. Not only do the Planeswalkers deal with the Angel alone, but all their board sweepers and spot removal easily remove it. Unlike other threats, it is also very hard to cast the card after a board sweeper, since the mana guys help you produce multiple White mana.

Sphinx of Jwar Isle is by far the most questionable card I did board in, and I am still not sure if I don’t rather have one Sovereigns of Lost Alara with one Eldrazi Conscription. The fact that your opponent can’t be sure ever if your running the combo or not makes it way better than the fact that your opponent saw you already board out all the pieces or can be sure you still have it. A hard casted Conscription also won me one or the other game pre board.

Post-board: 14-12 (On the play: 9-4. On the draw: 5-8)

I first lost a few games because I tried to experiment with a few loose opening hands, since I couldn’t really draw any expensive (bad) cards anymore. But if you can’t build up pressure early, even a card like Jace Beleren can win the game easily. Negate played in two different ways at best. Either you have the draw with one or more Dauntless Escorts and your opponent is tapping out a lot, and you just play all your threats until you don’t have any anymore, and all you need to do is counter your opponent’s game-winning spell. A lot of the spells your opponent casts in that spot are not necessary game-winning, and it is often hard to decide if the currently-cast spell is the right one to counter. Some of the spells are easy predictable as to their outcome, such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Oblivion Ring. A card like Day of Judgment is much harder to figure out, since you always lose your Escort, and it is often hard to decide if having the Escort is worth more than countering the mass removal spell, and is usually very game-dependant.

If you don’t have Dauntless Escort, it gets a lot more complex, and you usually need the Negate to deal with an early Day of Judgment. Therefore, you can’t overextend nearly as fast as you can if you DO have the Escort. Still, I would always choose to play a threat that doesn’t die to Wrath of God over having Negate backup.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor might easily be the most powerful card in the matchup, and you want to cast it as soon as possible. Having zero Blue sources in your opening hand (or one, if you count Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise) is usually not a problem, since your opponent can’t hold on to his Spreading Seas to target a man land and often needs the card to curve out, enabling you to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor, sometimes even with Negate backup.

Qasali Pridemage is a very strong weapon against both Oblivion Ring and Spreading Seas. In one of the games, Antoine used an Oblivion Ring on my Gideon Jura, and played his own soon after. If you are able to deal with the Gideon without losing a card over multiple turns, it is often right to skip on dealing damage and instead grind down the Gideon. Being able to free yours in response to a Mass Removal effect, or to summon a 6/6 body with flash if needed, is fantastic.

Oblivion Ring might be the other questionable sideboard card you are boarding in, but having an unexpected answer to Gideon Jura without having to attack it with all your guys should be game-winning. Also, any version of Jace wins the game by itself when unanswered for more than one turn, and being able to deal with it without attacking really helps.

Sphinx of Jwar Isle is the best answer to a resolved mass removal spell, and they eventually have to cast another mass removal spell to get rid of it. Once the Sphinx is on the table, every Planeswalker, including Gideon Jura, can easy be dealt with in one or two hits, and you rarely need to add any other creature-based pressure until your opponent is attempting to race the Sphinx with man lands, Gideon, and/or Ajani Vengeant.

I still would prefer a list with Finest Hours instead of Sovereigns of Lost Alara, one which is supported by more Planeswalkers (the full Set of Gideon and a lot of Elspeth, Knight-Errant), which is more stable against any deck running Day of Judgment, and also gives you more answers to Baneslayer Angel. The downside is the Jund matchup, but you should be able to balance such a list to have fine results in the matchup anyway.

That’s it for this week. Next week, I will be reporting about my Pro Tour in San Juan, and what I think were the biggest mistakes I made. Any comments about which version of Mythic Bant is best, and why, are highly appreciated. I am likely working on Bant for my Nationals, as it’s my prime deck choice aside from Jund (assuming M11 doesn’t change a lot in the format).

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Manu B