SCG Daily – Sideboarding Standards

Why Draining Whelk? What’s with the Circle of Protection against Dragonstorm? Here are a few words on the sideboard from yesterday’s U/R/W Standard deck, since the plan might not be all that clear.

Here are a few words on the sideboard from yesterday’s deck, since the plan might not be all that clear.

First, Draining Whelk. I for one think this guy is underappreciated in general, because he basically is a strategy in and of himself. We bring him in against slower decks because he’s the only good non-Teferi way in Type 2 to punish someone for tapping out, and we can’t really run Teferi because of the heavy mana commitment.

People keep likening the Whelk to Overwhelming Intellect, but I don’t quite understand the comparison. Overwhelming Intellect is one of those spells that, like Plagiarize, you can’t play in decks even though it’s an absolute blowout when it works. The reason you can’t ever run those types of cards is that, at the end of the day, they’re just nice spells. A spell has to be insanely powerful — and I’m talking “wreck my opponent stone no outs completely” — if you’re going to run it in your sideboard, even though it doesn’t contribute at all to your overall strategy. They have to be that powerful to make up for the time that they’re sitting in your hand not really doing anything. Sure, if you Intellect a Black Myojin, you’re going to draw a whole lot of cards and probably win the game shortly thereafter. But it doesn’t win you the game by itself, and if your strategy doesn’t hold up then no amount of cards is going to help you.

Whelk, by contrast, is a strategy in and of itself. After you cast it, the game’s going to end within a turn or so. It’s not just the fact that you can cast it at instant speed, either; it’s more the fact that it’s a Dragon that Time Walks the opponent, and there’s a very limited window of opportunity for your opponent to answer it. That’s why we bring in four copies: we want to draw two of them. If the opponent doesn’t have a threat on the table, six mana plus two Whelks is almost always game.

The rest of the sideboard is more self-explanatory. I know conventional wisdom says Circle of Protection is bad against Dragonstorm, because they run Gigadrowse. Well, that may be true, but they’re going to need an awful lot of Islands to Drowse every single one of our permanents. More importantly, though, CoP is just one of several hurdles we’re asking the Dragonstorm player to dodge. It’s not as if they can sit around digging simply for answers to CoP. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV is also a giant pain, and Giant Solifuge is going to put them on a pretty tight clock.

Faith’s Fetters is good against decks that attack with creatures. Colon B.

Think Twice is just good, and helps you dig down to particular spells. I’m never really upset to draw one, but there are times where you can’t fit seven card-drawing spells in the deck.

Basically, this deck makes you think in a very linear fashion about how you’re actually going to go about killing the opponent, which oddly enough is something that you’re not used to thinking about. Usually, decks “win” a long time before they reduce an opponent’s life total from twenty to zero. Even aggressive decks tend to be able to say, “Oh, he didn’t have the Wrath of God. Looks like I’ve got this one.” With this deck, though, the game’s not in the bag until the opponent is actually dead.

I’m reminded of a match I had against Brian Davis is Masques-Invasion Type 2. He was playing Nether Go, and I was running the German Static Orb/Opposition deck that I believe was designed by Christian Luhrs. I took game one quite handily, but he absolutely dropped his jaw when I cast back-to-back Glacial Walls on turns 3 and 4 in game two. He couldn’t believe I had left them in, since the card actually doesn’t do anything to help win the matchup. After all, it was in there to block 3/3s, and 0/7 creatures hardly help move forward in the aggressive role against Nether Go.

Leaving them in was 100% incorrect. In this particular game, in this particular situation, however, BDavis happened to sideboard out every single way of dealing with them. He couldn’t ever actually kill me, even though he’d established control of the game. Similarly, this deck forces you to concentrate intimately on the actual process of winning the game. For once, it actually does come down to the life points.