The Road To Los Angeles, Week 4: Last Week’s Tech and Rob.dec

I’m going to skip out on the tournament report this week, because the tournament was…well, a disaster. I had bad

draws, played some of the worst Magic I’ve played in years, and thoroughly deserved to go home early. That’s fine by

me, because I’ve been looking for a break in the action for awhile now to talk about a few things.

I’m going to skip out on the tournament report this week, because the tournament was…well, a disaster. I had bad

draws, played some of the worst Magic I’ve played in years, and thoroughly deserved to go home early. That’s fine by

me, because I’ve been looking for a break in the action for awhile now to talk about a few things.

First up, I’d like to discuss a useful concept I’ve stumbled across.

Last Week’s Tech

Mike Flores touched upon something interesting when he talked about Splash Damage awhile back.

Splash Damage is interesting in that it is one of the few terms in the Magic Lexicon that describes an

environment-based vulnerability of a deck. If your deck suffers from Splash Damage, it has nothing to do whatsoever with

the deck’s composition in a vacuum, and everything to do with the metagame in which you are playing it.

Krark-Clan Ironworks decks, for

example, suffered from Splash Damage because they shared a Standard environment with Affinity. Affinity was so powerful that

everyone was maindecking artifact destruction, so KCI players had to suffer through getting their mana accelerants Oxidized for the duration of the season. Were KCI a

deck in Kamigawa Block (somehow) instead of Mirrodin-Kamigawa Standard, it would not have had this problem, as artifact hate is

practically nonexistent in KBC.

For some time, I have noticed another such environment-based vulnerability floating around, but I have been unable to put a

name to it until recently.

I call this phenomenon Last Week’s Tech.

Last Week’s Tech refers to outdated technology that hurts your modernized deck.

The perfect example of this is White Weenie in KBC. Last Week’s Tech for White Weenie was to maindeck Celestial Kirin, Manriki-Gusari, and/or Kitsune Blademaster for the mirror match.

That’s because the metagame of Last Week (and when I say Last Week I mean it in the figurative sense) had White Weenie as the

top dog. It was the Deck To Beat, so you maindecked hate for it. Kirin, Gusari, Blademaster… all spells that are one or two

mana more expensive than what you’d like to bring to an aggro vs. control matchup, but damn good against the mirror.

As some of you may have noticed, Gifts

Ungiven has gotten a wee bit better since Last Week. Well, that’s a bit of an understatement. It would be more accurate

to say that White Weenie has been all-out overthrown as the Deck to Beat. A well-informed White Weenie player might take note of

these successful Gifts decks and move some of those maindeck Kirins or Manriki-Gusari to the sideboard in favor of some Hokori, Pithing Needle, or Blessed Breath action for game one, knowing

that being able to defeat Gifts will be critical if he is to take home a blue envelope.

Then, of course, he’ll run straight into someone playing Last Week’s Tech – the full compliment of Kirin,

Manriki-Gusari, and Blademaster. And Hokori will sit in his hand and say, “Sorry, boss, I don’t blow up Jittes. Not my

thing.” Pithing Needle will shrug and say, “This is the mirror. I’m pretty much symmetrical here.” All the

while, Blessed Breath will be stamping its foot and insisting, “I am not worse than Otherworldly Journey in this


Sure, the guy running Last Week’s Tech probably won’t take home the slot – he’ll lose to Gifts in the

Top 8, naturally – but he’ll be sure to take you down along the way.

For this reason, a White Weenie build maindecking hate for the Gifts matchup is a deck vulnerable to Last Week’s Tech.

What do you do about this? Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it. Just like Splash Damage, Last Week’s

Tech is a handicap that the environment just slaps on your deck whenever it pleases. Like it or not, your deck is suddenly a lot

worse than it was on paper.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t try and tune White Weenie to beat Gifts, or that maindecking Kirin, Gusari, and/or

Blademaster is somehow obsolete or worthless tech, I’m just pointing out a phenomenon that you should be aware of when

designing your decks. White Weenie just happens to be the best example I can think of to illustrate it.

The Deck

Forum responses have indicated interest in this Heartbeat-Gifts deck I’ve been playing, so now that I’ve got some

extra time on my hands thanks to omitting a tournament report, I’ll go into more depth.

First off, my latest build.


**23 Land**
9 Forest
1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
4 Tendo Ice Bridge
4 Plains
4 Swamp
1 Island

**11 Accelerants**
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Kodama’s Reach
3 Heartbeat of Spring

**10 Fatties**
2 Time of Need
3 Myojin of Cleansing Fire
3 Myojin of Night’s Reach
1 Maga, Traitor to Mortals
1 Patron of the Kitsune

**8 Gifts Engine**
4 Gifts Ungiven
1 Hana Kami
1 Soulless Revival
1 Death Denied
1 Exile into Darkness

**8 Utility**
4 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Final Judgment

4 Hero’s Demise
1 Horobi’s Whisper
1 Wear Away
1 Cranial Extraction
2 Ghost-Lit Stalker
3 Godo, Bandit Warlord
1 Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Mountain

Where to begin?

I’ll start with the deck’s basic philosophy.

Rob.dec differs from traditional Gifts decks in that most of its business spells cost about two mana more than their Gifts

counterparts, but do about twice as much work.

Wrathing with Kagemaro is not at all the same

as Wrathing with White Myojin. One isn’t even guaranteed to take out the board, and the other leaves a 4/6 on the table


A lone Hideous Laughter from Gifts

also isn’t nearly as effective as a Final

Judgment from Rob. White Weenie decks with Celestial Kirin and Manriki-Gusari can keep a guy or two around post-Laughter, and

men that have previously taken an Otherworldly Journey are typically safe from the Big Laffs as well. Not so with Final Judgment.

While other Splice decks have to sometimes go through the motions of setting up a recurring Splice loop to win, Rob can just

drop a Myojin of each color and wreck the opponent’s board position so ruthlessly that nothing of the sort is necessary.

Why is this “pay more, get more” philosophy good? Because assuming it works just as well, or at least comparably

well, against the format’s aggro decks… the advantages in the mirror match are everywhere.

You know how good three maindeck Black Myojins are in the Gifts mirror? With Two Time of Needs and four Gifts Ungiven to fetch

them? Really good. How about when you can lay your seventh land and use a Heartbeat to Ritual out that Mind Twist Myojin a full turn earlier? Even



You know how lame Kagemaro looks when the opponent’s playing White Myojin instead? How about comparing Hideous Laughter

to Final Judgment? Sickening Shoal? Once a

Black Myojin has gone off, Kagemaro isn’t even a wrath any more. He’s a 1/1 or a 2/2, and if he was unlucky enough to

be on the table when the hand sweeper hit, he’s a 0/0 and headed straight for the grumper. Meanwhile White Myojin is still a

wrath and a 4/6, regardless of hand size.

Hideous Laughter kills… exactly what, again? Meloku tokens? (I don’t even play Meloku.) Black Myojin? (Congrats,

you got my 5/2. I got your hand.) Sakura-Tribe Elder?

Sickening Shoal is the most exciting removal spell regular Gifts brings to the table because it’s the most likely of the

three to be a one-for-one.

Let’s not forget that Rob’s Heartbeats also mean that if the game goes on for too long, Maga will eventually show

up and just end it, regardless of life totals and board position.

To sum up, the fundamental premise of the deck is to play expensive, splashy effects, because as long as you can take the speed

hit and still be effective against aggro, these splashy effects will serve you far better in the mirror match than the less

powerful alternatives of the regular Gifts deck.

Now that the general stuff is out of the way, let’s get into the details.

The tricky part about playing this deck is that there are many different paths to success. This isn’t a control deck like

Psychatog is a control deck, where you basically

strike a balance between countering things, drawing cards, and killing creatures. No, this is a control deck where you’ve got

to figure out whether it’s better to wrath your opponent’s board, make him discard his hand, or go for the combo kill

by setting up a fireball for 15.

Gifts Ungiven is almost never a combo enabler in this deck; instead, it is more of a cantrip Diabolic Tutor. Thinking of it as a tutor is

the first step toward succeeding with it. You have to think, “what do I need right now, and how can I force my opponent to

give that to me?”

Keep in mind that all it takes to tutor one copy of a card you need into your hand is to offer your opponent three

“clones” of it in the Gifts stack. For example, let’s say you want a White Myojin real bad. You cast Gifts on

your opponent’s end step for White Myojin, Soulless Revival (clone number one), Death Denied (clone number two), and Card X.

(Card X can be whatever card you like; anything will do here.)

If your opponent hands you the White Myojin, congrats! Your tutor was a success, and you got what you were looking for. If he

instead opts to grump the Myojin, he now has only one card left to pitch from among Soulless Revival, Death Denied, and Card X. If

he chooses to toss out the Revival, you are handed Death Denied and Card X. Cast Death Denied for White Myojin (and any other

creatures you can afford, while you’re at it), and voila! Instant White Myojin. If he instead chooses to grump the White

Myojin and the Death Denied, you get Revival and Card X, meaning you can Revival the White Myojin and your tutor was once again a


Note that in all of the above situations, you still ended up with Card X in your hand after reclaiming the Myojin. That’s

why Gifts is like a cantrip tutor. You can generally force your opponent to give you the card you want, and you still end up with

an extra card hanging around for card advantage’s sake when all is said and done.

Now in most cases where you Gifts for [CardYouWant], clone number one, clone number two, and Card X, your opponent will hand

you the two clones. The clones are usually more expensive than the original, and more importantly, since the card you are going for

is usually Legendary, the second clone may not be immediately useful to you.

For example, in the sample Gifts stack I showed above (White Myojin, Soulless Revival, Death Denied, Card X), you are most

likely going to be handed Soulless Revival and Death Denied, because those are the two most cumbersome ways for you to get back a

White Myojin. This might not be the case if your graveyard is full of juicy targets for Death Denied, or if the opponent is

planning on killing your first White Myojin and does not want to deal with a second (in which case he will probably give you

Soulless Revival and Card X), but for the most part expect to be handed the two reanimation spells.

In some situations, you might want to sub in a Time of Need for either the Soulless Revival or the Death Denied, but be careful

of doing this. Putting a Time of Need in a Gifts stack is a double-edged sword, because thinning too many threats from your deck

jeopardizes the effectiveness of future Gifts and/or Time of Needs. (That being said, don’t freak out about turning your deck

into a lump of land and Divining Tops, either.)

For example, casting Gifts for White Myojin, Soulless Revival, Time of Need, and Black Myojin guarantees that you will end up

with a White Myojin and a Black Myojin in hand. If you’ve got the resources to cast them both in a timely manner

(knowing that you’ll most likely be handed Time of Need and Soulless Revival), by all means go for it! Just don’t

haphazardly throw Time of Need into a stack when something else would do the trick just as well.

So that’s how Gifts works. On to the matchups!

Rob.dec vs. White Weenie

Remember this, and remember it well: in this matchup, the wrath effect is king.

Usually against White Weenie you will Gifts for something like Exile into Darkness, Final Judgment,

White Myojin, and a White Myojin clone.

Exile is something you will almost always want to throw into your first Gifts Ungiven of the game, because it lets you mop up

the trickle of threats that dribbles out after your first wrath or two. Your first Gifts also usually wants to guarantee that you

end up with a wrath effect somehow, and the above stack does that just fine.

In game one of this matchup, the first wrath is typically the turning point in the game. Final Judgment comes down around turn

4-6, while White Myojin shows up on turn 6-8. While ramping up to the appropriate amount of mana, you need to take care to minimize

the amount of damage you are taking along the way. Never sacrifice a Sakura-Tribe Elder until it has chump-blocked something. If

you have only a White Myojin for a wrath effect and can’t make it to eight mana before you are dead, Time of Need for Patron of the Kitsune and lay him first

to cut the offense in half. That’s literally what he’s in the deck for. Don’t blow your mana activating Divining

Top when you have a business spell to play instead; just draw blind for one turn and make sure you are making the most

board-affecting plays possible with your mana on the way to your first wrath.

Once you have wrathed the board, the course of the rest of the game will be determined by your post-wrath life total, by how

many cards WW has left in hand, and whether or not any creatures were saved with Otherworldly Journey. Usually if WW is going to

win game 1, it will be either just before or just after the first wrath goes off. Once you get a few turns past the first wrath,

unless your draws have just been poor beyond measure, you will be in control of the game and will go on to win it.

See, after you’ve wrathed once, WW is in a bit of a pickle. How many guys does he use to rebuild his board position? If

he dumps out three guys and you wrath again, he’s totally out of gas. From then on he will be playing some scrawny 2/2s off

the top of his deck while you are matching his topdecks with Myojins and Exile into Darkness. That’s not a winning


But what if WW anticipates a second wrath, and only plays out one or two more guys after the first one? Enter Black Myojin.

When WW holds back on the gas, it’s Mind Twist time.

By the way, for those that don’t know already, the optimal time to activate Black Myojin is almost always during your

opponent’s draw step, after he’s drawn his card for the turn, but before he’s made it to his main phase. You can

do it on your own turn if you do not want to give the opponent an untap step with which to play any instants he might be holding,

but usually WW does not have any instants that scare you enough to offer him an extra draw step in exchange for not being able to

play them.

I am currently sideboarding for this matchup as follows.

+4 Hero’s Demise
+1 Horobi’s Whisper

-3 Myojin of Night’s Reach
-1 Gifts Ungiven
-1 Maga, Traitor to Mortals

I will be the first to admit, I am not sure if this is optimal. I do know this, however:

The four copies of Hero’s Demise

are an absolute necessity.

See, Hero’s Demise is the most inexpensive answer to Hokori in the format. Sickening Shoal costs less mana, yes, but it

also costs an entire second card to get the job done, and every other answer either costs either more than two mana

(Horobi’s Whisper) or at the very least has more strict color requirements (Kiku’s Shadow).

Hokori is WW’s best weapon against you, so save your Hero’s Demises for him unless you’re literally going to

die if you don’t. No matter how tempting it is to smoke that turn 1 Isamaru or turn 1 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, remember that

Hero’s Demise is in the sideboard specifically for Hokori. If Hero’s Demise read “Destroy target

creature named Hokori, Dust Drinker,” I would still board four. Nothing else in WW’s arsenal will steal games like

Hokori will, and you have to respect him above all else if you are to win the post-board games.

Now the optimal use of Hero’s Demise is to let WW tap out for Hokori (presumably when you are yourself tapped out, since

that’s when WW will tend to play him), then use his upkeep trigger to untap a Swamp. Play a land for the turn, and say go.

Let your opponent skip out on untapping his lands, then with Hokori’s “untap one land” upkeep ability on the

stack, use your two untapped lands to Demise him. Since you haven’t let the upkeep ability resolve yet, the opponent cannot

even afford a Blessed Breath at this point, and since the he has been deprived of almost all his mana for the turn because Hokori

was still in play as of his untap step, he will not have enough mana to land a second Hokori before you get another full untap step

to work with.

The irritating part about boarding in the Demises is that in order to make room for them, you have to mess with the core

strategy that worked so well in game one.

I cut Black Myojin because with Hokori lurking around, you have much less opportunities to just drop Black Myojin post-wrath.

If you go “wrath ya” and they go “Hokori ya,” you no longer have enough mana to play the Mind Twister any

more. I’ve been sideboarding in the lone Horobi’s Whisper because it compensates for the card advantage lost by the

Black Myojin’s absence by providing a recurring source of board-affecting card advantage for the mid- to late-game, and that

has been a solid replacement so far.

(To set up recurring Whisper, cast Gifts Ungiven for Hana Kami, Soulless Revival, Death Denied, and Horobi’s Whisper. No

matter which two cards you end up with, you can work into a position in which you are holding Horobi’s Whisper and Soulless

Revival. Then cast Whisper on the target of your choice, splicing Soulless Revival on Hana Kami, and re-play and sacrifice Hana

Kami to get back the Whisper. Lather, rinse, repeat. This can be done with any Arcane spell, and while at the Pro Tour it was

popular to do so with Ethereal Haze and Cranial Extraction, I have found that Horobi’s Whisper is one of the few Arcane

spells worth taking the time to recur in this deck.)

The fourth Gifts is boarded out in this matchup because Gifts is slow, and drawing two in the early game can prove cumbersome

to the point of being deadly. Finally, I take out Maga because the presence of Kami of Ancient Law combined with a lack

of post-board Black Myojins to knock them out of WW’s hand means that the Traitor cannot be as reliably cast off a Heartbeat

as he could in game one, and without Heartbeat around to fuel him, he is hardly a threat at all.

Rob.dec vs. Black Hand

This matchup is all about the Black Hand player’s discard package. Psychic Spear and Sink into Takenuma are the cards that hurt

you most, and there’s essentially nothing you can do to counter them. That’s the bad news. The good news is, Black Hand

is a lot slower than White Weenie, and doesn’t pack Hokori besides.

You play this matchup pretty much exactly as you would against White Weenie. You will notice a definite difference in the way

the games actually play out, because Black Hand is so much slower than WW. It will feel like playing against WW’s slow draw

(in which WW has few threats and is holding a lot of tricks), but still, the matchup will feel fundamentally the same.

Black Myojin comes into play a lot more here, and your wraths are better because there are no Otherworldly Journeys or Hokoris

around to mess things up. You don’t even have to keep the board as clear as you would against WW, because Black Hand has no

Charge Across the Araba to worry about.

The biggest threat Black Hand has against you is Sink into Takenuma. You have to be careful of playing Heartbeat when the lack

player is stuck on three lands, since enabling Sink can be potentially devastating. You can put more emphasis on knocking out the

black player’s hand with Black Myojin and then wrathing later, because stabilizing at a low life total is perfectly fine.

White Weenie has reach in the form of Shining

Shoal and Charge Across the

Araba, but all Black Hand has is the occasional O-Naginata to push damage through once you have


As for sideboarding, I would not change a thing from game one to game two. You don’t need Hero’s Demise for Hokori,

Horobi’s Whisper is rather poor against a deck full of Black creatures, and the rest of the sideboard is dedicated to beating

slower decks.

Rob.dec vs. Gifts Ungiven

Game one is Black Myojin’s show. Just as the first wrath was the turning point against White Weenie, so too is the first

Black Myojin the turning point against Gifts. Draw him, Time of Need for him, or Gifts for him, just make sure you get him down


Once you’ve Black Myojin’d your opponent’s hand away, the rest of the game is a straightforward threat

contest. Even if a Meloku or Ink-Eyes slipped in

while you were building up to Black Myojin mana, you can take a hit or two and then just play a Final Judgment or White Myojin now

that the opponent’s hand is clear. He can still topdeck his way out of an immediate demise, especially if he’s got a

Divining Top in play to aid the recovery process, but getting an early four-for-one from the Myojin is usually enough to put you in

the driver’s seat for the rest of the game.

In this matchup, Heartbeat should be considered a Dark Ritual for Black Myojin. This is not only the case because it lets you play him with only seven lands out instead

of the usual eight – tap three for Heartbeat, then four more for the Myojin himself – but more importantly because

dropping a Heartbeat when your opponent’s hand is full can be potentially disastrous.

Heartbeat is only asymmetrical in your favor provided that your opponent cannot make good use of the extra mana. If you just

emptied out his hand, he will obviously not make nearly as much use out of the mana as you will, even though he has the first

opportunity to make use of it. However, remember that if you play Heartbeat and then do not follow it up with a Black Myojin, your

opponent will get first crack at the mana, and may very well use it to empty your hand. Do not let this happen! Hold back

on your Heartbeat until you can make sure that you are playing it on a favorable board position.

Sideboarding goes like this.

+2 Ghost-Lit Stalker
+3 Godo, Bandit Warlord
+1 Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang
+1 Umezawa’s Jitte
+1 Mountain

-4 Final Judgment
-1 Patron of the Kitsune
-1 Myojin of Cleansing Fire
-1 Exile into Darkness
-1 Plains

I arrived at this sideboarding strategy after pitting my original Rob.dec build against the Godo’s Gifts decks that did

well at GP: Niigata. I took one thing away from those games.

Godo is irreplaceable.

Accept no substitutes.

There’s just no substitute for him. He’s the best two-for-one ever. You grab him and a Tatsumasa, and he swings in as an 8/8 twice in

one turn. That means he either must be killed with Sickening Shoal or chump-blocked by Illusion tokens from Meloku. But watch

out! Meloku can’t attack in for any damage himself, or else Tatsumasa will jump off Godo and turn into a 5/5 flying blocker

to intercept and kill the 2/4.

Even if Godo does get removed somehow, there’s still the nigh-unkillable 5/5 dragon token to deal with.

I thought that by leaving in my Final Judgments against Godo’s Gifts I would be able to deal with The Dragon’s

Fang, but I was wrong. It comes into play during the end step to bash for a guaranteed five, and since Godo has usually gotten in

for eight or so by himself at that point, you’re now low enough that any random Meloku or Kokusho off the top will be lethal

unless you immediately deal with it as well.

I quickly came to the conclusion that any sideboarding strategy short of running Godo myself was just stilly. Godo mashes

Shortfang, Graverobber, Hisoka’s

Defiance, and all the other sideboarding strategies I’ve seen so far, so not playing him basically seems to just put you

at a disadvantage for the mirror.

I also liked the Ghost-Lit Stalkers

from the Godo’s Gifts decks. Besides providing supplemental discard to the amazing Black Myojin in this matchup, they also

give you an uncounterable discard outlet against decks packing countermagic. I’d frankly like to sideboard as many as four of

these guys, and if I felt I could justify cutting anything else to make room for more, I would.

In short, game two in the Rob.dec vs. Gifts matchup is all about beating the other guy over the head with stupidly broken

effects. I eventually stopped boarding in Cranial Extraction because it was not swingy enough. Knocking out your opponent’s

Gifts is good, but it’s nothing like dropping a Godo, or channeling a Ghost-Lit Stalker, or playing a Black Myojin…the

bottom line is, it just never affected the game state enough for my liking, so I stopped playing it.

Other Matchups

I know that people usually want a rundown of how a deck does against the majority of the tier one and tier two archetypes, but

the fact of the matter is, I haven’t tested against them all. What’s more, I probably never will.

Why would I be so negligent? Well, consider the breakdown of decks I’ve been paired against since the start of the


11 White Weenie
4 Gifts
1 Black Hand
1 Heartbeat of Spring
1 Mono-Blue Control
1 Snakes
1 B/W Control
1 R/G Burn
1 B/G/W Control
1 G/W Celestial Kirin Combo

Look at that list and tell me I need to be testing against Mono-Blue Control. Or Heartbeat of Spring. Or Hondens. Or whatever.

These decks are so under-represented in the qualifier scene it’s not even funny.

At any given PTQ, it is most likely that whatever time I spend testing against Mono-Blue Control will not help me at

all. That’s because of the simple fact that, mathematically speaking, I am most likely to not get paired against

it even once throughout the entire tournament.

But even if I do happen to face it, what are the odds that I am going to lose to it? Let’s say they are high. Fine; what

are the odds that such a match loss will spin around and become a win specifically because I tested? If the matchup is

bad, there is a good chance I will lose it despite having tested. Or if the matchup is good, I may win even though I did not test.

Or maybe the match will be one of those in Magic in which one player’s draws so significantly outclass the other’s that

testing never even comes in. The only way my testing pays off in this situation – which is already unlikely to even come up,

mind you – is if the deciding factor of the entire match is my testing.

You see where my concern comes in. If Magic were my job, and I could play it all day with no repercussions and just test from

sunup to sundown, I’d probably go for broke and test against every deck. However, this is not the case. I am not blessed with

unlimited testing time, and with the realities of the PTQ metagame being what they are, odds are not good that devoting any kind of

substantial testing time to matchups other than WW, Gifts, and Black Hand right now will actually earn me match wins in a

tournament. The numbers just aren’t there.

The Road Ahead

Being a qualifier deck and all, Rob.dec is still a work in progress. Most of the card choices at this point are not going

anywhere, but I figure I should at least take some time to discuss the changes it has undergone from the original version, and

point out places where it might well change in the future.

First up are cards that used to be in the maindeck, but have since been cut. These are as follows:

Yosei, the Morning Star
Footsteps of the Goryo
Ethereal Haze
Horobi’s Whisper

To be blunt, Sway is pretty much strictly worse than Maga in this deck. You need eighteen mana to cast it effectively, and once

you cast it, you are not even guaranteed to win the game. Maga, on the other hand, is a scaling finisher; if your opponent is at

five life, you only need eight mana for Maga to be lethal. If you have enough mana, Maga can be an instant win from any board

position. He never “fizzles,” and if worst comes to worst you can even play him early as a desperation blocker.

The other four cards are recursion elements that I have found unnecessary in practice despite how good they looked on paper.

The Yosei-Foosteps lock was nice to have, but I think I only ever won two or three games over the course of three tournaments with

it, and I’m quite sure those games could have been won in other ways had I not gone for the Yosei lock instead. Taking out

the Yosei lock lets me replace Footsteps of the Goryo with the otherwise superior Death Denied, and Yosei himself no longer takes up a slot at all.

The Ethereal Haze lock is basically worthless. I recognized this after the first tournament I played with the deck. It’s

slow to set up, dangerous to maintain against Black Hand’s discard and White Weenie’s Pale Curtain and Hokori (which

force you to Wrath, potentially into a game-ending Otherworldly Journey), and usually inferior overall to just casting Gifts for a

bunch of wraths and Exile into Darkness instead.

Horobi’s Whisper has been moved to the sideboard because it is only useful against White Weenie, and beating that deck in

game one does not require its inclusion in the maindeck.

So after several weeks worth of tweaking, I have arrived at the following changes.

Sway of the Stars becomes Maga, Traitor to Mortals.

Yosei, the Morning Star becomes Patron of the Kitsune.

Footsteps of the Goryo becomes Death Denied.

Ethereal Haze becomes Gifts Ungiven #4.

Horobi’s Whisper becomes Exile into Darkness.

The only remaining maindeck slot that is likely to change any time soon is Patron of the Kitsune, and only because he

hasn’t seen a lot of play time yet, so I cannot be certain of whether or not he is what I am looking for. I decided to try

him while I was looking for some creature I could Time of Need for to hold off a fast White Weenie draw for those times when I did

not have a timely wrath coming. This situation would usually arise when I had a White Myojin coming up rather than Final Judgment,

or because I needed an extra turn or two with Divining Top or Gifts Ungiven to search up a wrath. I tried Kagemaro, but had a

problem in a couple of games with having to use my early land fetchers to search up black sources instead of white sources. This

meant that after I wrathed once with Kagemaro, I ended up short of the WWW required to follow him up with a nice, juicy White

Myojin like I wanted to.

Granted, Kagemaro did not get very much play time either, so I cannot say for sure that these mana issues were not flukes that

came up due to a small number of test games. Kagemaro might very well be a suitable replacement for either the Patron or perhaps

the fourth Judgment, but that is a question that will need to be settled with more testing.

Finally, the sideboard ratios will likely undergo some tweaking between now and the next few tournaments. I would like to try

out Hokori in the board, and would love to make room for some more Ghost-Lit Stalkers, but I am not at all sure if those changes

are even necessary. Time will tell.

So that’s it for this week. This Saturday will be my last opportunity to qualify in California, and if I don’t pull

a win there, my last two chances will likely be at the two massive qualifiers in GenCon Indianapolis.

Until next time, may your topdecks be frequent and savage.

Richard Feldman
Team Check Minus
[email protected]