Ya’ll Got It Wrong – Common Misunderstandings About Pattern-Rector

Rosholm is one of those underground Magic writers that far too few people know about compared to how talented he is. He is also one of the most well-respected (and coolest) European Magic writers around and counts Tim Aten and Tomi Walamies among his fans. If Jack Kerouac had liked hip-hop, then Rosholm would be the Swedish Kerouac of Magic writing. Here’s what’s on his mind today: “A couple of people before me have tried to promote the Pattern-deck as a solid choice for these final weeks of the Extended season. Those players, I believe, have been both right and wrong. Pattern is a great choice for the Extended format in general, but their lists are not.”

I’m really into fancy writing something like 99% of the time, but English is not my native language and this is no tournament report. To those who expected something else: I am truly sorry. Truly. Maybe the next time I take time off the hiphop community to drop some jewels, I’ll write something more pretentious and less straightforward.

A couple of people before me have tried to promote the Pattern-deck as a solid choice for these final weeks of the Extended season. Those players, I believe, have been both right and wrong. Pattern is a great choice for the Extended format in general, but their lists are not.

I think that the lists that have been presented on the internet and the list that was played on the Pro Tour is what has kept the deck back. It also hasn’t been the choice of any bigger name-players to bring to the GP’s.

Common misunderstandings about the deck:

1) You don’t actually need a silver bullet for every conceivable situation. The lists I’ve seen on the net have been filled to the rim with obscure cards that either do nothing or are insane versus a very specific matchup. This is, I suppose, a result of too little playtesting. People play the deck and really wanna be sure that they have something in case x, y and z should happen at the same time. Examples of such cards are Mythic Proportions, Pandemonium/Saproling Burst, Urborg Shambler, Decree of Silence, Confiscate etc etc.

2) Killing on turn 3 is pathetic and overrated. After Pro Tour: Houston, Anton {Jonsson} and I started working on a Pattern-list that just wanted to optimize the turn 3 kill. I haven’t kept the list but it went something like 20 land, 4 Bird, 4 Elf, 4 Husk, 4 Ghoul, 4 Rector, 4 Pattern, 4 Duress, 4 Therapy, 4 Mesmeric Fiend, Symbiotic Wurm, Saproling Burst, Parallax Wave, Future Sight. Running that sort of list undoubtedly lets you have a turn 3 kill here and there but you’ve weakened yourself versus decks that have Smothers, Snaps and whatever else kills a Husk. Even a Force Spike will stop your plan and leave you with a fancy Gray Ogre. But the biggest problem with running the turn 3 kill-plan is that you should be asking yourself why on earth you aren’t playing a deck like Cephalid Ghoul that has more efficient and consistent turn 3 kills if you’re into that sort of thing to begin with.

When you don’t get the turn 3 kill, your deck is all of a sudden awful. The Husks aren’t exactly stellar when you don’t need to sacrifice anything in a hurry and all the discard quickly turns into dead draws when you and your opponent are both living off the top of your decks. Even when you do get the turn 3 kill, you’re just more lucky than any of the good combo decks that probably could have won that turn anyway. Get it? And let’s not get in to the part about drawing the Symbiotic Wurm.

3) Husks are not very good in the deck. There is enormous synergy in the deck – most notably the fact that Pattern lets you get Rector, and vice versa. That way, you have 8 cards that can put any enchantment or creature in your into play. The goal of the deck then becomes obvious: find a card your opponent cannot beat and put that into play. Not all decks can be beaten by a single card, and not all cards that beat archetypes are good enough to fit in the maindeck, but in general it’s good enough.

This means you need one or possibly two sacrifices in order to win with a Pattern or Rector, and the husk provides those but at the price of running cards that are generally bad except when time is critical, and it rarely is if you have access to a single sacrifice. Few things are as frustrating as having multiple Patterns and Rectors in play with no way to sacrifice them, but in actual gameplay it’s rarely a problem.

Having cleared that up, I will present the list I’ve been playing

5 Forest

4 Swamp

1 Plains

4 Llanowar Wastes

4 Windswept Heath

2 Brushland

2 Phyrexian Tower

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Sakura Tribe-Elder

4 Pattern of Rebirth

4 Academy Rector

2 Vampiric Tutor

4 Wall of Blossom

3 Eternal Witness

1 Nantuko Husk

1 Phyrexian Ghoul

1 Cranial Extraction

4 Cabal Therapy

1 Engineered Plague

1 Pernicious Deed

1 Recurring Nightmare

1 Yosei, the Morning Star

1 Kokusho, the Evening Star

1 Visara the Dreadful


3 Duress

3 Naturalize

3 Coffin Purge

1 Cranial Extraction

1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

1 Worship

1 Decree of Silence

1 Confiscate 1 Genesis

I have myself played the deck in 2 PTQs (quarterfinals, finals), a Grand Prix trial (win) and a Grand Prix (Eindhoven, 55th) to a combined record of 26-9-3. Two or three of those losses came from me having a bad sideboard (no Coffin Purges, that was dumb).

What this deck does better than all the other Pattern decks out there is what it doesn’t do. You will never be stuck with a huge uncastable permanent in your hand, none of the cards are really dead versus any matchup (although I guess the Plague isn’t top notch a lot of the time) and the deck doesn’t run a million sacrifice outlets or discard spells that go dead way too easy.

30 Mana is a lot, but necessary. You’re still ahead in most topdeck situations since Vampiric, Rector and Pattern are often gamebreaking. Remember that Tribe-Elders are great targets for Pattern of Rebirth, so you may want to keep one around if you don’t have other ways to sacrifice creatures.

The single Cranial Extraction (a suggestion by notorious Pattern-player Tomi Walamies) is your primary game plan versus Mind’s Desire decks, as well as Life decks. Together with Recurring Nightmare and Eternal Witness, you are able to deck the Life player no matter what their life total.

The Yosei deserves a special mention as he was the focus of the deck for a long time during testing. Together with Recurring Nightmare and six mana, you can set up a Stasis lock on your opponent that few decks can get out of. You can even get this plan up and running from a single Pattern of Rebirth (and some random creatures) by getting Witness, returning the Pattern and enchanting the Witness with it then sacrificing it to get Rector. Rector gets Recurring Nightmare which returns Witness. Witness then becomes enchanted with Pattern once again and this time you find Yosei. You are now able to Recur between Witness and Yosei. Welcome to Stasis 2005.

Some notes on matchups:

Beatdown is your easiest matchup. The deck is very much like Rock when it comes to clogging up the red zone, and its always difficult for beatdown decks to attack into Patterned Creatures that get Visara or Rectors that get Pernicious Deed.

Affinity dreads Deed. If you manage to get a Plague into play naming clerics, they have to go through the attack phase and that will rarely cut it. They also have no outs to the Yosei-Plan and Visara is a real Queen too. I generally board out a Cranial Extraction and a Witness for two Naturalizes. (3-0 sanctioned matches)

U/G is probably the easiest matchup in the world, as they often have no answer to Visara. You have ten ways to put her into play so it’s never really a problem. They’re not even very fast. (4-0 sanctioned matches)

I have read a few articles on Goblins that were all talking about how a Plague was definitely not game over versus them. Maybe it isn’t in theory, but I have still not played versus any Goblin player where before board the Plague didn’t cripple them so badly that it was almost impossible for them to beat me in time. With Plague out, they’re gonna need a lot of time they don’t have to beat you. I tend to board out Extraction and a Witness for Worship and Akroma, which is really “the hard lock” unless they are splashing or have Goblin Assassin. Either way a Plague is usually game and Akroma is a pretty mean lady as well. (3-0 sanctioned matches)

Versus combo, you’re a bit on the ropes except versus Aluren, which is one of your easier matchups.

Mind’s desire needs a bunch of cards and doesn’t really care about anything you might put into play, that’s bad news. The good news is that you still have a shot since you have Cabal Therapy which stalls them a turn or two and Cranial Extraction, which together with Vampiric Tutor gives you a couple of outs. Once you have stripped their deck of Desires, Pattern can fetch Witness to take their Cunning Wishes. Rector for Deed and try to kill their Medallions, if they’re running the black version you can search for Plague on Zombies. This is not enough, a lot of the time and unless you get lucky with the Extraction you’re in for a very rough game one. After board, things become easier. You bring in 3 Duress, Decree of Silence and Cranial Extraction for Visara, Plague, Deed, a Wall and a Pattern. The alterations put you out on top a lot of the time, but since they have a very strong game one this is still not easy to win. (0-0 sanctioned matches)

Aluren is also vulnerable to discard, but here you have the added bonus of having access to Plague. Plague on beasts buys you a lot of time, and is game over together with Extraction for Wish versus a lot of lists. I still recommend naming Aluren with the first Extraction you draw, as it diminishes their plan to wishing for some beatdown guy, and then trying to beat down all the way with that. That plan is pretty hard to pull off when your opponent has a whole bunch of cards that put Visara into play. I board out Kokusho, a Pattern and two Walls for 3 Duress and a Cranial Extraction. (2-1 sanctioned matches)

I don’t even know if anyone still plays regular Life, but they have no outs to the Yosei-Recurring-lock, and once that’s in place you are free to deck them with Cranial Extraction. Be aware that to pass the turn with Nightmare in your hand means that you are exposing yourself to Duress and Therapy, though. The few test games we did showed that this was indeed as favorable as theory suggests, but I have no sanctioned matches to prove it.

Cephalid Life, is a different story altogether. Not because they run the life-combo, but because you have a very hard time beating the Ghoul. Occasionally I have been able to beat them before sideboard with Plague on Cephalids or Extraction on Cephalid Illusionist. One game I even managed to get a Bird with Pattern and a Husk in play. After he dumped his library I fetched Yosei and sacrificed it. It is, however, very hard to win game one if they start and it’s not very promising when you start either. After sideboarding 3 Coffin Purges and the Extraction for Deed, Kokusho, a pattern and a Wall your matchup changes dramatically. Since you don’t fear the infinite life and just need a Coffin Purge to beat the Ghoul plan, you just need to draw or tutor for a Coffin Purge to be almost completely safe. They will try to go off by discarding your Purges, tutoring for Reclamation and then Reclaiming it back into your library, but that gives you a lot of time to set up either Extraction for Reclamation or even Visara. They can’t win versus an active Visara unless they first get you to tap it with a Gilded Drake. I lost this matchup twice at Grand Prix: Eindhoven since I didn’t have any Coffin Purges in my sideboard. Post-GP-testing suggests there’s a huge possibility that it could have been a different story if I would have had them, but whatever. I was stupid and paid the price. (0-2 sanctioned matches).

The control decks in this format are strange, and the games where this deck faces off against control tend to be very dependent on your opening draw, and whether or not you are the beatdown player. Typically you want a lot of discard, and then fetch Deed in some way. With Deed in play, you can start presenting threats while your opponents present answers. That’s a very favorable situation for you, but it doesn’t happen like that every time.

The different variations of ScepterChant are hard to beat game one, but by no means impossible. You have to get to a point where you have outs to a Isochron Scepter with Orim’s Chant, and that’s pretty easy to do in a couple of turns, but that’s clearly time you don’t have every game. Sometimes they’ll play a turn 2 Scepter and that’s that. Rough beats. If they don’t have a Scepter with Chant in the first few turns or you manage to hit either with a Therapy or two, then you are almost certain to go the distance with your discard. After board this becomes even easier since you’re bringing in 3 Naturalize, a Cranial Extraction and a Confiscate for Kokusho, Deed, 2 Walls and a Pattern. Now they really can’t tap out early to toss down Scepter and you will often be able to tear their hand apart with discard and then apply beats with whatever or lock them up with Yosei. Should you get the Yosei-lock on them, remember to try and lock them up an extra untap ahead (this requires 3 more mana and an extra turn) or they can break your lock just by Chanting you (2-1 sanctioned matches).

Psychatog have a lot less scary things to imprint on their Scepters, and rely on beating you with card draw. That should mean it’s a better matchup than ScepterChant to me, but that’s not the way games have been playing out for me. I faced Tog twice at the Grand Prix and lost both times. Once to Kai Budde, who I guess I can take losing a good matchup to (though he was kinda lucky, seriously!), and another time when I completely mis-sideboarded for game two and mulliganned to five in the deciding game. Board out Kokusho, Plague, the Vampiric Tutors and a Wall for 3 Naturalize, Extraction and Genesis, hopefully you’ll do better than me. (1-2 sanctioned matches)

The Rock is a lot like this deck, but it lacks a whole bunch of stuff that you have. A Visara alone is quite often enough, and if it isn’t, the games will go on long enough for you to beat them with Recurring-Yosei. Due to you both having a lot of discard and the long games, you’ll want to board out 2 Vampirics and the Plague for Genesis, Decree of Silence and Cranial Extraction. You have a much better midgame, and neither player is very fast, so you should take this. There are times they’ll beat you with a random topdeck, when you’re both at zero cards, but you will beat them in the same fashion a lot more. (3-0 sanctioned matches)

The maindeck is very tuned and I’m not sure there’s something that can change the deck for the better. You can do some things with the sideboard, especially the one-ofs. Duplicant may be better than Confiscate, but I haven’t tested it. And maybe Rule of Law is better than Decree of Silence. Still, I don’t think I’ll be changing my list if I’m playing any more PTQ’s this season.

Thanks for your time etc. Peace.

Thomas Rosholm

proud originator of Team Punisher

magicplayah at hotmail dot com

representing the four elements of hiphop

unable to install MODO on my computer due to an unknown error

soon leaving for Atlanta

huge fan of Tim Aten