Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #332 – UST Round 1 Play

Grand Prix GP Columbus July 30-August 1, 2010
Thursday, July 8th – We have the brackets. We can start playing. This week, UG Madness races Dragonstorm, Jund faces Covetous Wildfire, Faeries stalls Replenish, and Super Friends faces an Angry Hermit. Time for some coverage!

We have the brackets. We can start playing. This week, UG Madness races Dragonstorm, Jund faces Covetous Wildfire, Faeries stalls Replenish, and Super Friends faces an Angry Hermit. Time for some coverage!

What’s going on: I am going to match 32 of the best Standard legal decks of all time in a single elimination tournament. The idea is to find out if modern decks can run with the best historical decks. The event will play best of 5 matches, with 2 unsideboarded and up to three sideboarded matches. The decks chosen are a selection of the most famous historical decks, as played at the time. The brackets and decklists can be found here.

Where possible, I’m playing these matches out online, on MTGO. It’s obviously not possible for some matches, of course, since many of these decks rely on cards that just don’t exist online. (Rishadan Port is a great example.) When necessary, I’ll end up playing these matches between my two accounts, but I’d prefer actual opponents. When I’m online and available, I’ll hang out in a room called UST. Just type “/join UST” in any window on MTGO.

Covetous Wildfire versus Jund

The games in this matchup were certainly interesting. The games were really swingy.

Covetous Wildfire could get insane starts. Here’s a typical example:

Turn 1: Ancient Tomb, Grim Monolith, Voltaic Key, Thran Dynamo.
Turn 2: Mountain, Covetous Dragon, Fire Diamond
Turn 3: Beat, Cursed Scroll, Temporal Aperture, scroll you naming Wildfire.
Turn 4: Beat, Wildfire, etc.

On the other hand, that same start could turn into a mess if Jund managed a Terminate turn 3, followed by a Blighting or a Sprouting Thrinax turn 4. The Thrinaxes survive Wildfire. Sure, you can eventually get rid of the Saprolings using Cursed Scroll and Masticore, but it takes time and effort — and while CW is doing that, Jund is bashing with manlands or playing more threats.

Basically, unsideboarded games came down to CW dropping a very big, very fast threat, but Jund generally being able to deal with the first threat. At that point, Jund would begin applying pressure, and CW would have to find either another Dragon, a Wildfire or a Masticore*. If CW could find a threat and keep it, it generally won — if not, Jund beat it down. Jund even fought through a Wildfire on occasion, but Jund does not like losing lands.

* Masticore was a beating, of course, but Jund had two sure ways of killing it: Terminate and Blightning. Blightning was by far the most effective, since CV almost never had three cards in hand, so Blighting almost always made it impossible to pay Masticore’s upkeep.

Presideboard games were dead even. I played almost a dozen, just to make sure I had the matchup straight in my head, and the results were 50/50. Sideboarding was pretty simple. CW brought in the three Earthquakes. Nothing else in the SB helped. (Reminder: decklists can be found here.) Jund brought in all four Duresses, for the Broodmate Dragon, Siege-Gang Commander, and Bituminous Blasts — the stuff that cost too much and did too little. I also considered bringing in Goblin Ruinblasters, but Wildfire pretty much operates without land anyway. The Ruinblasters cannot mana screw Wildfire.

The first post sideboard game, CW got a very fast Covetous Dragon, and a Cursed Scroll. Three turns later — on CW’s turn 5 — the game was over.

Game 2 was swingy. CW was in good shape, but a turn 1 Duress hit critical mana acceleration, and then Jund went turn 2 Putrid Leech, turn 3 Terminate a Masticore, turn 4 Maelstrom Pulse, turn 5 beat with Raging Ravine. On its turn 5, though, CW fired off a Wildfire that destroyed Jund. CW had artifact mana, and soon got a Temporal Aperture going, but just got lots more mana and a Cursed Scroll. Several turns of Aperture and Cursed Scroll later, Jund got Bloodbraid Elf into Sprouting Thrinax, followed by a fifth land. Thrinax and Raging Ravine took it down.

Game 3 looked good for CW, but Jund had Verdant Catacombs into Swamp for Duress on turn 1, and another Duress plus a man land on turn 2. CW wasn’t helpless, getting Cursed Scroll and Temporal Aperture out early, followed by a Covetous Dragon on turn 4. However, Jund’s turn 4 was Terminate, Putrid Leech, and CW never got off its back foot. Maelstrom Pulse hit critical pieces, and a Bit Blast not only tapped a Masticore, but the cascade produced an Elf and the Elf a Lightning Bolt. Next turn Sarkhan the Mad arrived to turn the Sprouting Thrinax into a dragon. CW drew a blank, activated Temporal Aperture (spinning the wheel), but got just a Grim Monolith and scooped..

Jund advances.

Replenish versus Faeries

This is a tough matchup to play out. First, almost none of the critical Replenish pieces are online, so I can’t play this out on MTGO. Second, I’m rusty with Replenish, and I need practice to really figure out how Replenish can best screw up Faeries plans. Third — no one wants to play either side of this match. People are generally happy to help with this tournament, but not with this matchup.

With luck, I’ll have some results next week, but I don’t have them yet.

UG Madness versus Dragonstorm

I had been looking at the matchups that can be played online, and wondering whether to invest in some of the cards I needed to complete the old decks. For example, I had most of the commons for the UG Madness deck (from various experiments in Pauper), but needed a dozen or so uncommons. Fortunately, old cards online are — with a few exceptions — pretty cheap, and the Wonders, Arrogant Wurms, Envelops, etc. all cost a total of about $2.75. I doubt I’ll ever have any other use for them, but I bought them. I also bought the missing parts of several other decks. Most of the cards were cheap — just a few cents to $0.50 each, except for the cards for new Extended and the current Standard. My totals bill was over $150.00, but most of that was a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Gideon Jura.

So, the question would be whether these cards helped at all. I logged on, collected my cards, and typed “/join UST.” One player was waiting. Noodles 2375 was there, volunteering to play me. He had Mihara’s Dragonstorm ready to go. I checked the brackets — Dragonstorm was scheduled to go up against UG Madness. I now had UG Madness, so it was time to battle.

Unsideboarded Games

I’ll provide coverage of most of the games — not all, since MTGO did not save several of them — but I have most. I’m going to simplify coverage, though. Noodles put storage counters on his Dreadship Reefs, removed suspend counters, etc., as expected. I’m not going to mention each instance — I don’t need the word count that badly. Just assume it happened.

UG Madness is an aggro-control deck. It has speed and evasion, and a small set of counters. Dragonstorm has a really strong win condition, but neither Dragonstorm nor Borgardan Hellkites are cheap to cast. Dragonstorm needs to cast a bunch of Rites of Flame, etc., and a well timed Circular Logic can stop it.

Game 1 I drew 3 Island, Forest, Arrogant Wurm, Deep Analysis and Krosan Reclamation. No action, no madness outlet — not a keeper. My six was 2 Circular Logic, Basking Rootwalla, 2 Forests and a City of Brass. Not great, but better.

Turn 1: Noodles opened with Island and a suspended Lotus Blossom. I drew Arrogant Wurm and played the Rootwalla.

Turn 2: Noodles played an Island and passed. I drew and played a Forest, pumped Rootwalla and passed. Noodles cast Telling Time EoT.

Turn 3: Noodles played an Island and passed. I Drew Careful Study and played it off City of Brass. Noodles Remanded Careful Study. I beat and passed.

Turn 4: Noodles played an Island and passed. I drew Deep Analysis and cast Careful Study, madnessing out a Rootwalla and the Arrogant Wurm. I was not really happy with tapping out, but with nothing at all in the graveyard, Circular Logic wasn’t going to do anything, anyway. Noodles cast Telling Time EoT.

Turn 5: Noodles played a Mountain and passed. I drew Wild Mongrel (finally, a Madness outlet!), played it, beat and passed. By the end of this turn, Noodles was at 7 — dead on the board if he can’t do something.

Turn 6: Noodles played an Island and passed. I drew a forest, and entered combat. Noodles Gigadrowsed all my guys. I could have tried a Circular Logic, but Noodles had lots of mana, and I still had just one card in the graveyard. I also only had one blue mana source.

Turn 7: Noodles suspended a Lotus Bloom and passed. I drew and played an Island, then advanced to combat. Noodles had another Gigadrowse. This turn, I two Blue mana available, so I cast Deep Analysis to draw two cards (and to put another card in the graveyard, at least temporarily). Noodles Remanded it. At this point, I had a choice. Noodles had tapped all his land, so if I tried Circular Logic on the Remand, he would have to break the Lotus Bloom. I would be trading Lotus Bloom for an untapped Logic — but since, even if I discarded my entire hand first, the Logic would only be for 3 next turn, it seemed like the best play. I cast Circular Logic and he blew the Lotus Bloom to pay. I was now out of blue mana, but next turn I would have plenty.

Turn 8: Noodles played an Island and passed. I killed him. Anti-climactic. Despite seeing almost half his deck, he did not see any Dragons or Dragonstorms.

(The better unsideboarded games are missing. In one game, Noodles resolved Dragonstrom for three dragons. I bounced one with Unsummon, and managed to get flying Wurm tokens out to block the others. Fairly quickly, we were stalled, with me at one life and he at seven, but he finally drew enough land to hard cast the bounced dragon to kill me.)

Sideboarded Games

Even though they had helped in my first game, I sided out the Unsummons, the Wonders, and the random utility (Krosan Reclamation & Ray of Revelation) for the Mana Leaks, the Deep Analysis, the Envelops, and a Phantom Centaur (faster beats). I also brought in the Nantuko Vigilantes, hoping that I could disenchant a Lotus Bloom during his upkeep step. I also tried siding out one Quiet Spec for a Wonder (flying Wurm tokens do stop dragons), but Quiet Spec for a couple Deep Analyses seemed better. We played some practice games sideboarded, and the Quiet Specs worked well.

A sample post-sideboard game:

I was on the play. I kept a hand with 2 Islands, a City of Brass, Wild Mongrel, Circular Logic, Basking Rootwalla and Careful Study. Noodles kept as well.

Turn 1: I played an Island and cast Careful Study, discarding Island and madnessing the Rootwalla into play. I drew a Quiet Speculation and another Island. Noodles played an untapped Steam Vents and Sleight of Hand.

Turn 2: I drew a second Quiet Speculation, played out the City of Brass and the Mongrel, and got in for one. Noodles was trying Pyroclasm out of the board, which killed the Rootwalla, but I discarded Quiet Speculation to save the dogs.

Turn 3: I drew Nantuko Vigilante and played it as a Morph, after beating for two. Noodles dropped an Island and played another Sleight of Hand.

Turn 4: I think I screwed up here. I beat, then played Careful Study, discarding a Deep Analysis and Quiet Speculation, and flashed back the Analysis. However, I could not play an Island — just a Forest, and Noodles played Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Seething Song, Dragonstorm. Had I drawn an Island off Deep Analysis and played it, I could have played Circular Logic to break up the combo. I didn’t, so Dragonstorm won.

Another game:

Noodles was on the play. My opening hand was Deep Analysis, Krosan Reclamation, Arrogant Wurm, four lands. Not a keeper. My six was Rootwalla, 2 Forests, City of Brass, two Circular Logic. Keep — I just have to remember that Circular Logic does nothing until I get something in the graveyard.

Turn 1: Noodles opened with Island, suspend Lotus Bloom. I drew Arrogant Wurm and played the Rootwalla off a Forest.

Turn 2: I drew and played a forest, pumped the Rootwalla and beat. Noodles cast Telling Time EoT, then untapped, played and Island and passed.

Turn 3: I drew Careful Study, played City of Brass and cast the Study. He Remanded it. On Noodles’s turn, Lotus Bloom came into play, but Noodles just played another Island and passed.

Turn 4: I drew a Forest and cast Careful Study, drawing Rootwalla and Deep Analysis and discarding Rootwalla and Arrogant Wurm. On the plus side, I now had a maximum of 10 power on the table for next turn. On the downside, I was tapped out, so I died if Noodles comboed. Noodles cast Telling Time EoT. On his turn, Noodles played a Mountain and passed.

Turn 5: I drew and played Wild Mongrel. Finally, a Madness outlet, although I still had just one Blue mana source and just one card in my graveyard. I beat and Noodles again cast Telling Time on my end step. Noodles untapped and played a land.

Turn 5: I drew a Forest, and Noodles Gigadrowsed all my creatures. Noodles did nothing on his turn.

Turn 6: Gigadrowse again. I had drawn an Island, so I discarded the Deep Analysis and tried to play it . Noodles Remanded it. I cast Circular Logic, which would either let my Analysis resolve or force Noodles to sacrifice a Lotus Bloom to pay for Analysis. He sacked, and drew the card off Remand. He then played a land and passed.

Turn 7: I beat for lethal. He had dug through almost 30 cards, but had found neither a Dragon nor a Dragonstorm.

And yet another game:

I was on the play. My opening hand was 2 Wild Mongrels, 2 Islands, 2 Forests and a Nantuko Vigilante. That is a bit of action, but nothing to stop the combo. I squandered. So did Noodles. My six was Forest, Island, Mana Leak, Aquamoeba, Circular Logic and Roar of the Wurm. That seems better.

Turn 1: Noodles opened with an Island and suspended Lotus Bloom. I drew a Phantom Centaur, played a forest and passed.

Turn 2: Noodles played a Dreadship Reef and passed. I drew a Wild Mongrel and played it.

Turn 3: Noodles played a second Island and passed. I drew my second Island, played it and attacked with the Mongrel. I pitched Roar of the Wurm to Wild Mongrel. In response, Noodles tried to Repeal the Mongrel. Since he was tapped out, I discarded and Madnessed Circular Logic to counter the Repeal. I had the choice of either Circular Logic or Mana Leak — but with just one card in the graveyard, Logic was less certain of stopping anything next turn. Mana Leak would suck up one more mana than Logic (assuming that Leak was in the graveyard), but Leak was more certain. After countering the Repeal, Mongrel connected for 4 and I passed. I could have played the Aquamoeba, but tapping out just before the turn Lotus Bloom was going to resolve seemed like a bad idea.

Turn 4: I spent a couple seconds debating whether to Mana Leak the Lotus Bloom — but he had enough mana to pay. Worst case scenario — he could still go off. Best outcome — I bought one turn. That’s not quite enough. I let the Lotus resolve, and Noodles played two straight Sleight of Hands but failed to play a land. I drew and played an Island, then beat for 2. I played the Aquamoeba — I wanted a second Madness outlet in play, and did not dare tap out for the Wurm token. I passed.

Turn 5: Noodles drew and passed without playing a land. He now had five cards in hand. On my turn, I drew and cast Careful Study, drawing another Careful Study and a Mana Leak. I discarded the Study and the Phantom Centaur, leaving me with two Mana Leaks in hand. I beat for three and passed.

Turn 6: Noodles drew, played a Shivan Reef and passed. I drew a Circular Logic, beat for another three and passed. (I was feeling pretty good here.) Noodles cast Telling Time EoT.

Turn 7: Noodles again drew and did nothing. I drew Wild Mongrel. I attacked and discarded the Mongrel to flip Aquamoeba. Noodles had nothing, and was at 3 life after combat.

Turn 8: Noodles had to try. He blew the Lotus Bloom for RRR, then cast Rite of Flame. I Mana Leaked it. Noodles burned through some Dreadship Reef counters to pay. He floated more mana and tried for Seething Song. I Leaked that. That was it — I beat Dragonstorm to death the next turn.

We played a number of games, with UG Madness was winning about two-thirds. We discussed the post-sideboard matchup and agreed that UG Madness had a clear advantage. The combination of fast beaters and solid countermagic allowed UG Madness to disrupt Dragonstorm just enough. Dragonstorm’s sideboard cards, like Pyroclasm, just were not very effective against a deck whose main threats were mainly toughness three or better.

UG Madness moves on the next round.

Super Friends versus Angry Hermit

I had a favorite in this match-up. Sorry, I try to be impartial, but I really like Angry Hermit. Any deck that pops out Deranged Hermit end of turn is just cool. Super Friends — well, I have lost to that deck way too many times, usually with creature based decks. Some of the hate is sour grapes: I simply can’t afford the planeswalkers that I would need to play Super Friends. My playtest version has proxies for nearly every “Friend,” except for Jace Beleren.

I am not optimistic about Angry Hermit though. It has some really cool tricks — things like Skyshroud Poacher fetching Deranged Hermit EoT. It also has Yavimaya Elders — one of my favorite cards of all time. However, it is a creature-based deck playing against a deck full of Planeswalkers, Wall of Omens and Day of Judgment. Super Friends also has Path to Exile — which seems unfair against Deranged Hermit. I mean, you spend ten mana to cast the Hermit and pay upkeep, and all you end up with is four 1/1 Squirrels and a tapped land. Sigh.

Arc Lightning seems a bit weak against Planeswalkers and Wall of Omens.

Game 1 was exactly as expected. Super Friends was on the play, and dropped a Wall of Omens, then Elspeth, then Gideon, then Jace, and then cast Day of Judgment and beat with Gideon. After a while, Angry Hermit had a Treetop Village and a Karplusan Forest, both under Spreading Seas, and nothing relevant. A 9/9 flying Gideon swung for the kill about turn eight. Super Friends “still had this” included a Martial Coup, a Path to Exile, and Elspeth at 8 counters.

I wasn’t taking good notes, since I assumed that Hermit was going to be out really quickly. Game 2, SF mulliganed a one lander for a marginally better hand. AH opened with Forest, Birds. SF played a Celestial Colonnade. AH dropped a Rishadan Port and played a Llanowar Elf. Port locked down the Colonnade on upkeep. SF played a Plains. AH played a Treetop Village and an Avalanche Riders, killing the Colonnade, and beat for 2. SF played an Island and a Wall of Omens. AH chose not to pay upkeep on the Riders, and played Plow Under on SF’s two lands, then dropped an Elf. With Elves and, a bit later a Masticore beating down, and Rishadan Port making sure SF never got the mana to cast anything relevant, AH got there!

Whoa! I had forgotten how brutal Rishadan Port can be.

Sideboarding was simple. Angry Hermit has just 8 non-creature spells, so Negate is useless. It has just four red permanents — Avalanche Riders — and Avalanche Rider’s body is irrelevant — the Stone Rain effect is what matters — so Celestial Purge does nothing. Flashfreeze is the one relevant spell, and they came in for a couple old Jaces. For AH, the Blastoderms came in for the Masticores and a couple Arc Lightnings.

Post-sideboard games:

I played four post-sideboard games, just to be sure of the outcome. All of them were nearly identical.

In each game, Super Friends was never close to mana flooded. In nearly every game, a combination of Rishadan Ports, luck, and Avalanche Riders kept Super Friends from ever getting the Blue mana necessary to cast Spreading Seas on the Ports. The fact that so many of SF lands enter the battlefield tapped was crucial to this outcome. Angry Hermit won every game — and Super Friends never had the mana to cast anything relevant.

Here’s a typical game.

Turn 1: SF plays Celestial Colonnade. AH plays Forest, Birds.

Turn 2: SF plays Plains, Wall of Omens. AH plays Port, Llanowar Elves.

Turn 3: AH Ports the Colonnade on upkeep, SF plays Scalding Tarn, Sacs it for Island, plays Spreading Seas on the Port. AH casts Avalanche Riders, killing Colonnade and plays a Treetop Village.

Turn 4: SF plays a Plains and passes. AH plays Blastoderm and another Rishadan Port.

Turn 5: AH Ports the Island on upkeep. SF, with three lands, one tapped, draws Gideon and discards it. AH activates Treetop Village, beats (Wall of Omens blocks Treetop Village) plays Gaea’s Cradle and taps it for Skyshroud Poacher.

Turn 6: AH Ports the Island on upkeep. SF draws an Arid Mesa and passes with just three lands untapped (angrily flashing a Day of Judgment.) AH taps the Birds and 2 land to activate Skyshroud Poacher, fetching Deranged Hermit, then taps Gaea’s Cradle to both cast Plow Under targeting the Plains and Island and activate the Treetop Village. (Back in the old days, AH would have burned the extra mana activating the Village a couple times.) (Super Friends scooped at this point, but assuming this played out, here’s the next turn.)

Turn 7: AH Ports SF land on upkeep. SF draws and play a Plains. On its upkeep, AH stacks the upkeep trigger for Hermit and Blastoderm, then taps Gaea’s Cradle for ten mana (Llanowar, Birds, Poacher, Hermit, Blastoderm, 4 Squirrels.) It pays Deranged Hermit’s upkeep, activates the Poacher to put another Deranged Hermit (and four more squirrel tokens) into play, and activates Treetop Village. Now, with all but one land and a Birds untapped, it draws, then enters combat. It sends the Blastoderm, the elves, four 3/3 squirrel tokens (two Hermits each pumping the Squirrels) and the Village at the Wall of Omens and SF.

I love this deck. Aaron Forsythe built a great one — I hope it makes it a long way.

Angry Hermit advances.

Next week — more round 1 action. In the meantime, look me up on MTGO if you want to play any of these matchups.


“one million words” on MTGO