You CAN Play Type I #20: The Control Player’s Bible,Part V

The gunslingers stand on the street, their hands hovering over their guns… Then someone twitches. Watch a classic control-on-control battle in slow motion as Rakso provides commentary.

In the last few columns, we walked through the development of”The Deck,” and you saw how, piece by piece, it grew more and more complex. By now, you should’ve at least tried a few sample draws on Apprentice, and tried to play out what I said about card advantage. It’s just not enough, though… Only when you play against another equally tricky control deck can you appreciate the depth of”The Deck.”

(Wait… What happened to Part IV? Good question.

Some of the decklists I wanted to end Part III and my history portion with became obsolete with the restriction of Fact or Fiction, and some of my friends in other countries still don’t have final draft lists. Brian Weissman is graduating this quarter, for example, and Matt D’Avanzo is touring Scotland. So we’ll actually have Part IV next week and Part VI the week after. But, hey, you want to be a control player, so I’m sure you can keep up…)

As one of my regulars on the #bdchat Newnet channel remarked, watching a control mirror is like watching The Matrix in slow motion.

A sample control mirror: Of course, you only appreciate it if you understand what’s really going on.

Before going in-depth into”The Deck” strategy, let’s do just that: watch a control mirror. Let’s walk through one such complex game.

This is an actual Apprentice game I played several months ago. Of course, describing an Apprentice screen is as dull as it gets, so give me some room for imagination here.

Imagine me, Oscar Tan, standing in one end of our imaginary street in the middle of our imaginary frontier town. The busy street cleared a minute ago, and all nearby windows have slammed shut. Only the midday sun watches on.

On the opposite end, we have Chris Flaaten, a.k.a. Argivian. He’s from Norway, so he’s taller than Oriental me. He’s also fresh from a Top 8 finish in the Nordic Type I Open, so he’s ready to give me a thrashing. (Incidentally, Chris and two of my other Beyond Dominia regulars placed in the Top 8, all using”The Deck” variants.)

I’m playing a test”The Deck” version very close to the one used in this series. Chris is using his trademark Oath variant, heavier on green, which he used in the Nordic Open.

Imagine the sun climbing in the sky, the clock ticking slowly, seconds from high noon…

01:17:13 – — Argivian says: ”I am ready.”

01:17:13 – — Rakso says: ”Cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war”

01:17:14 – Rakso is shuffling library…

01:17:28 – Argivian rolled a 2, using a 20 sided die.

01:17:32 – Argivian is shuffling library…

01:17:32 – Rakso rolled a 16, using a 20 sided die.

01:17:34 – Rakso says:’play’

01:17:34 – Argivian drew 7 cards.

01:17:35 – Rakso is shuffling library…

01:17:40 – Rakso drew 7 cards.

01:17:46 – Rakso says:’okay?’

01:17:49 – Argivian says:’sure’

Control-on-control openings usually start out slow. Definitely not boring, though, because the lack of action only hides the tension of not knowing what your opponent has in hand.

Imagine two opponents, each looking the other straight in the eye, ready to draw when the other twitches, their faces completely expressionless.

01:17:51 – Rakso plays Underground Sea.

01:17:53 – Rakso plays Mox Sapphire.

01:17:54 – It is now turn 2.

01:17:57 – Argivian draws a card.

01:18:03 – Argivian plays Wasteland.

01:18:05 – Wasteland is tapped.

01:18:06 – Argivian buries Wasteland.

01:18:08 – Rakso buries Underground Sea.

01:18:11 – Argivian plays Mox Pearl.

This is normal. He’s just trying to slow me down, which will win him the game if I am mana-light and he can exploit the opening. I have a better hand than that, though.

Nobody is twitching yet.

01:18:13 – It is now turn 3.

01:18:18 – Rakso says:’When do you do that?’

01:18:21 – Rakso says:’With nothing better to do?’

01:18:22 – Rakso draws a card.

01:18:25 – Rakso plays City of Brass.

01:18:26 – It is now turn 4.

01:18:43 – Argivian says:’As early as possible ; )’

01:18:52 – Argivian draws a card.

01:18:55 – Argivian plays Underground Sea.

01:19:28 – It is now turn 5.

01:19:30 – Rakso draws a card.

01:19:33 – Rakso plays Mox Pearl.

01:19:34 – Argivian says:’indeed.’

01:19:38 – It is now turn 6.

01:19:50 – Argivian says:’I generally Waste ASAP regardless, unless I have Sapphire’

01:19:54 – Argivian draws a card.

01:19:56 – Argivian plays Tropical Island.

01:19:57 – It is now turn 7.

01:20:05 – Rakso draws a card.

01:20:07 – Rakso plays Mox Jet.

01:20:08 – It is now turn 8.

01:20:14 – Argivian draws a card.

01:20:18 – Argivian plays Tundra.

01:20:25 – It is now turn 9.

01:20:29 – Rakso draws a card.

01:20:32 – Rakso plays City of Brass.

01:20:34 – It is now turn 10.

01:20:39 – Argivian draws a card.

01:20:51 – It is now turn 11.

01:20:53 – Rakso draws a card.

01:20:55 – Rakso plays Tundra.

This land-go, land-go opening is as deceptively simple as the pawn openings of two chess grandmasters. In case you were skipping through, you should have paid close attention to the mana on the table. It’s crucial in the first five turns or so.

Let’s review the board:

Rakso: Six mana sources (Mox Sapphire, Mox Pearl, Mox Jet, Tundra, two Cities of Brass)

Chris: Four mana sources (Mox Pearl, Tropical Island, Tundra, Underground Sea)

Rakso: Five cards in hand

Chris: Seven cards in hand

Two opponents are staring each other in the eye as the harsh midday sun beats down on them…

01:20:56 – It is now turn 12.

01:20:59 – Argivian says:’eot’

01:21:01 – Underground Sea is tapped.

01:21:03 – Argivian plays Vampiric Tutor.

Vampiric Tutor



Visions rare

Search your library for a card, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it. You lose 2 life. (Restricted in October 1999)


What, you ask?

In case you didn’t notice, he twitched.

Normally, playing a tutor isn’t a momentous event, and you just wait to counter whatever he drew. In this case, however, he has a full hand of 7 cards, and he could already be setting up a major play.

Yes, he’s only taken five turns, but this could well be the deciding turn.

The common early play is to Tutor for Ancestral Recall… But with his full hand, I doubt it. My best guess is that he’s either trying to force Mind Twist if his hand is strong enough, or going for Library of Alexandria to build up an advantage I won’t be able to match. Since he’s behind on mana, I Mind Twist isn’t likely. On the other hand, I can’t counter Library, and he correctly guesses that I don’t have a Wasteland since I missed a land drop.

I have a Mana Drain and a Force of Will in hand. I have to decide whether or not to counter this tutor.

After the game, I discussed this turn with my friend, Darren di Battista a.k.a. Azhrei. He said that if he were playing, he would counter, because he was telegraphing Library and I had no Wasteland. Library hasn’t been called”Library of I Win” for years for nothing.

Library of Alexandria


Arabian Nights uncommon

Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. Tap: Draw a card. Play this ability only if you have exactly seven cards in your hand. (Restricted in May 1994)

01:20:56 – It is now turn 12.

01:21:05 – Rakso says:’k’

01:21:07 – Argivian’s life is now 18. (-2)

01:21:21 – Argivian moves a card from Argivian’s library to tabletop.

01:21:23 – Argivian is shuffling library…

01:21:26 – Argivian buries Vampiric Tutor.

01:21:30 – Argivian moves a face-down card to his/her hand

01:21:30 – Argivian rearranges cards in Argivian’s hand.

01:21:31 – Underground Sea is untapped.

It all depends on what I have in hand, though. (I have a Mana Drain, Force of Will, Yawgmoth’s Will, Vampiric Tutor and Dismantling Blow.)

In this case, I feel I have a strong hand. I could probably Mana Drain his Vampiric Tutor, but that uses up one of my two counters. Worse, I tap two of four blue sources during his turn. Depending on his hand, he could force something when he untaps.

I let it go. I’m up by two Moxen and I have a plan that will deal with Library.

At this point, stop and think: Would you have countered the Tutor? Do this periodically throughout the article, since I’ll go back to a few highlights and tell you what other people had to say, including Chris and myself.

01:21:41 – It is now turn 13.

01:21:44 – Rakso says:’eot’

01:21:45 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:21:46 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:21:46 – Tundra is tapped.

01:21:47 – Mox Sapphire is tapped.

01:21:47 – Mox Pearl is tapped.

01:21:47 – Mox Jet is tapped.

01:21:49 – Rakso plays Dismantling Blow.

01:21:50 – Rakso says:’kick’

01:21:58 – Rakso’s life is now 18. (-2)

My turn to twitch.

Dismantling Blow



Invasion common

Kicker 2U (You may pay an additional 2U as you play this spell.) Destroy target artifact or enchantment. If you paid the kicker cost, draw two cards.

This is the perfect Dismantling Blow scenario. If he doesn’t counter, I untap with twice the mana and gain one card.

If he counters, I trade an otherwise dead spell for one of his precious counters. Plus, he’ll be caught tapped in my turn.

01:22:00 – Argivian buries Mox Pearl.

01:22:03 – Rakso buries Dismantling Blow.

01:22:04 – Rakso drew 2 cards.

01:22:04 – Argivian says:’sure’

He can’t afford to counter.

01:21:41 – It is now turn 13.

01:22:09 – Rakso draws a card.

01:22:30 – Rakso says:’hmmm’

01:22:55 – Argivian says:’The thinking man’s deck.’

01:23:01 – Mox Sapphire is tapped.

01:23:02 – Mox Jet is tapped.

01:23:04 – Rakso plays Merchant Scroll.

01:23:07 – Argivian says:’ok’

01:23:09 – Rakso buries Merchant Scroll.

01:23:26 – Rakso moves Ancestral Recall from Rakso’s library to tabletop.

01:23:27 – Rakso moves Ancestral Recall from tabletop to Rakso’s hand.

01:23:28 – Rakso is shuffling library…

Ancestral Recall



Beta rare

Target player draws three cards. (Restricted in January 1994)

Things are looking good for me now as I set up my next end-of-turn play, but remember that I still have to find something to kill the Library I think he has.

Picture hands dropping towards holsters in slow motion now…

01:23:30 – It is now turn 14.

01:23:44 – Argivian says:’any spells in my upkeep?’

01:23:47 – Rakso says:’no’

01:23:50 – Argivian draws a card.

01:23:52 – Argivian plays Library of Alexandria.

There it is. He was delayed by a turn because of the lost draw from Vampiric Tutor. I still don’t have a Wasteland, and he’ll regain that lost draw and more.

01:23:30 – It is now turn 14.

01:24:07 – Library of Alexandria is tapped.

01:24:09 – Argivian draws a card.

01:24:14 – Argivian plays Duress.

01:24:15 – Underground Sea is tapped.

01:24:19 – Argivian says:’play it now then.’

01:24:32 – Tundra is tapped.

01:24:33 – Rakso plays Ancestral Recall.

01:24:36 – Rakso buries Ancestral Recall.

01:24:37 – Argivian says:’ok’

01:24:38 – Rakso drew 3 cards.

He couldn’t have screamed”I don’t have a counter!!!” any louder if he had a megaphone.

Looks like I beat him to the draw.

Revolvers slide out of their holsters…

01:24:42 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:24:43 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:24:45 – Rakso’s life is now 16. (-2)

01:24:54 – Argivian buries Duress.

01:24:55 – Rakso buries Mana Drain.

This tells him I have something better than Mana Drain. Among other things, I do have a Yawgmoth’s Will that goes nicely with the Ancestral Recall he just let me get away with.

Yawgmoth’s Will



Urza’s Saga rare

Until end of turn, you may play cards in your graveyard as though they were in your hand; if a card would be put into your graveyard this turn, remove that card from the game instead. (Restricted in October 1999)

01:24:57 – It is now turn 15.

01:25:02 – Rakso draws a card.

01:25:06 – Rakso plays Mox Emerald.

01:25:16 – Rakso plays Volcanic Island.

01:25:18 – Mox Sapphire is tapped.

01:25:18 – Mox Pearl is tapped.

01:25:19 – Mox Jet is tapped.

01:25:19 – Mox Emerald is tapped.

01:25:22 – Rakso plays Masticore.



Artifact Creature


Urza’s Destiny rare

At the beginning of your upkeep, you may discard a card from your hand. If you don’t, sacrifice Masticore. 2: Masticore deals 1 damage to target creature. 2: Regenerate Masticore.

…I fire first.

I was testing this in place of my second Morphling, and it’s a liability against another creatureless deck because I lose a card each turn. Still, I have an Ancestral Recall to recycle, and he now has five turns before he scoops.

01:25:24 – It is now turn 16.

01:25:30 – Argivian draws a card.

01:25:35 – Argivian plays Mox Emerald.

01:25:39 – Library of Alexandria is tapped.

01:25:40 – Argivian draws a card.

01:25:50 – Argivian plays Wasteland.

01:25:51 – Wasteland is tapped.

01:25:52 – Argivian buries Wasteland.

01:25:55 – Volcanic Island is tapped.

01:25:56 – Tundra is tapped.

01:25:56 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:25:57 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:26:01 – Rakso’s life is now 14. (-2)

01:26:05 – Rakso plays Fact or Fiction.

Normally, you wait till the end of your turn to do this. However, I need to draw excess land to fuel Masticore, and my only counter is Force of Will anyway. He’ll cast what he has to, and I’d rather not throw Fact or Fiction to my Force. In addition, if he topdecked a counter and counters Fact or Fiction, he leaves himself open during my turn, and I have more mana.

(Note that I only had four land untapped, counting the Wasteland target. If I floated mana, he could declare his attack phase and clear my pool. Actually, I was sleepy since it was 1:30 AM in Manila, and we both forgot about the floating Mana Drain mana from the Duress. Mox Sapphire should have been untapped, which just goes to show how important every mana source is.

(This sleepy mistake is one reason I picked this game. Note I could have cast Vampiric Tutor after Fact or Fiction to set up my play a turn earlier. It can’t be emphasized enough: Small mistakes like this can cost you games.)

01:26:11 – Argivian says:’resolves’

01:26:39 – Rakso says:’tough’

01:26:44 – Rakso says:’how would you pick?’

01:26:47 – Rakso says:’tell me after I pick :)’

01:26:56 – Argivian says:’hehe’

01:27:27 – Argivian says:’like that’

01:27:29 – Rakso buries Fact or Fiction.

01:27:30 – Rakso buries Force of Will.

01:27:31 – Rakso moves Wasteland from tabletop to Rakso’s hand.

01:27:32 – Rakso moves City of Brass from tabletop to Rakso’s hand.

01:27:33 – Rakso moves Mana Drain from tabletop to Rakso’s hand.

01:27:34 – Rakso buries Fact or Fiction.

01:27:35 – Rakso buries Tundra.

01:27:36 – Rakso says:’opinion?’

This isn’t even why Fact or Fiction was restricted, but he’s forced to give me the Wasteland I

need. If he can’t get rid of that Masticore now, I’m going to win, considering everything I’ve drawn.

Rays of midday sun reflect off the bullet streaking across the alley…

01:27:50 – Argivian plays Oath of Druids.

01:27:50 – Mox Emerald is tapped.

01:27:51 – Tundra is tapped.

01:27:59 – Argivian says:’ok?’

01:28:01 – Rakso says:’wait’

01:28:02 – Rakso says:’lemme think’

01:28:13 – Rakso says:’resolves’

…and it seems two bullets have just collided in midair, and drop uselessly to the ground.

He didn’t answer when I asked what he thought of my choice. Of course, he didn’t know that I already had a Force, anyway. I could Force the Oath, but my only other blue card is the Mana Drain, and I prefer not to gamble on Masticore given the other options in my hand.

I keep my two counters and seven other cards and go back to Plan A – the plan before I topdecked Masticore and played it as a feint. His Oath won’t hurt me until I’m ready to win, anyway.

01:28:22 – It is now turn 17.

01:28:27 – Rakso buries Masticore.

01:28:34 – Rakso draws a card.

01:28:50 – Rakso plays Wasteland.

01:28:51 – Wasteland is tapped.

01:28:55 – Argivian buries Library of Alexandria.

01:28:57 – Rakso buries Wasteland.

01:29:02 – Mox Jet is tapped.

01:29:03 – Rakso plays Vampiric Tutor.

01:29:06 – Argivian says:’ok’

01:29:08 – Rakso buries Vampiric Tutor.

01:29:09 – Rakso’s life is now 12. (-2)

01:29:19 – Rakso moves a card from Rakso’s library to tabletop.

01:29:20 – Rakso is shuffling library…

01:29:22 – Rakso moves a facedown card to Rakso’s library.

I get the Wasteland I need, but I was planning to neutralize his Library anyway. I wanted to do it with the clock already on the table, though.

Guess what I got?

01:29:23 – It is now turn 18.

01:29:31 – Argivian draws a card.

01:29:34 – Argivian plays Underground Sea.

01:29:55 – It is now turn 19.

01:29:59 – Rakso draws a card.

01:30:02 – Rakso plays City of Brass.

01:30:04 – Mox Sapphire is tapped.

01:30:05 – Mox Pearl is tapped.

01:30:05 – Mox Jet is tapped.

01:30:06 – Mox Emerald is tapped.

01:30:06 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:30:07 – Volcanic Island is tapped.

01:30:08 – Rakso’s life is now 11. (-1)

01:30:10 – Rakso plays Mind Twist.

Plan A.

Mind Twist



Beta rare

Target player discards X cards at random from his or her hand. (Restricted in August 1994, banned in February 1996, unbanned and restricted in October 2000)

01:30:19 – Argivian says:’hm’

01:30:24 – Argivian plays Force of Will.

01:30:31 – Rakso says:’pitching?’

01:30:31 – Argivian moves Stroke of Genius from Argivian’s hand to Argivian’s removed from game pile.

01:30:35 – Argivian’s life is now 17. (-1)

01:30:35 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:30:35 – City of Brass is tapped.

01:30:37 – Rakso’s life is now 9. (-2)

01:30:38 – Rakso plays Mana Drain.

01:30:54 – Argivian plays Force of Will.

01:30:58 – Underground Sea is tapped.

01:30:58 – Tropical Island is tapped.

01:30:58 – Tundra is tapped.

01:30:58 – Mox Emerald is tapped.

01:30:58 – Underground Sea is tapped.

01:31:07 – Rakso plays Misdirection.

01:31:10 – Rakso removes Mana Drain from the game.

01:31:11 – Argivian says:’ok’

01:31:17 – Argivian moves Diabolic Edict from Argivian’s hand to Argivian’s graveyard.

01:31:17 – Rakso buries Mana Drain.

01:31:18 – Argivian moves Mystical Tutor from Argivian’s hand to Argivian’s graveyard.

01:31:18 – Argivian moves Balance from Argivian’s hand to Argivian’s graveyard.

01:31:18 – Rakso buries Misdirection.

01:31:22 – Argivian buries Force of Will.

01:31:23 – Argivian buries Force of Will.

01:31:24 – Rakso buries Mind Twist.

Apparently, he was holding back his counters, hoping to catch up using his Library (to use Force, he would have had to pitch Stroke of Genius and lose the use of Library, which would leave him with less of a chance than letting Fact or Fiction through). I had my hand assembled, though, and he couldn’t have picked up an entire hand of counters seeing how he let Fact or Fiction through.

I beat him to the real draw…

01:31:25 – It is now turn 20.

01:31:25 – It is now the Untap Phase.

01:31:29 – Rakso says:’5 next turn’

01:31:32 – Argivian says:’safe to say you have outdrawn me here.’

01:31:39 – Rakso says:’out mana’

01:31:46 – Argivian says:’feels like the nordic semis all over again, except not as bad’

01:31:59 – Rakso says:’you must elaborate sometime :)’

01:32:12 – Underground Sea is untapped.

01:32:13 – Tropical Island is untapped.

01:32:13 – Tundra is untapped.

01:32:13 – Mox Emerald is untapped.

01:32:13 – Underground Sea is untapped.

01:32:13 – Argivian draws a card.

01:32:22 – Underground Sea is tapped.

01:32:23 – Tropical Island is tapped.

01:32:23 – Tundra is tapped.

01:32:23 – Mox Emerald is tapped.

01:32:23 – Underground Sea is tapped.

01:32:24 – Rakso says:’lol’

01:32:30 – Argivian says:’straight from the top’

01:32:31 – Rakso says:’sure’

…and he shows me the incredible comeback power of”The Deck.” I make him discard his entire hand, and he plays Morphling under my nose.

You might think that he has just walked up to me with the barrel of his gun pressed against his forehead.

Possibly. He does the only thing he can do…

01:32:32 – It is now turn 21.

01:32:33 – It is now the Untap Phase.

01:32:34 – Mox Sapphire is untapped.

01:32:34 – City of Brass is untapped.

01:32:34 – Mox Pearl is untapped.

01:32:34 – Mox Jet is untapped.

01:32:34 – City of Brass is untapped.

01:32:34 – Mox Emerald is untapped.

01:32:34 – Volcanic Island is untapped.

01:32:34 – City of Brass is untapped.

01:32:35 – Rakso draws a card.

01:32:37 – Rakso plays Black Lotus.

…he offers to concede.

01:32:38 – Argivian says:’Edict in hand probably’

01:32:44 – Argivian says:’or Will’

01:32:49 – Rakso says:’both?’

01:32:51 – Argivian says:’even worse’

01:32:55 – Rakso says:’Plus Balance?’

01:33:04 – Argivian says:’Show that to me and I concede’

01:33:07 – Rakso plays Yawgmoth’s Will.

01:33:08 – Rakso plays Balance.

01:33:09 – Rakso plays Diabolic Edict.

01:33:14 – Argivian says:’not shabby’

I have three cards in hand, five mana floating, eight mana on the table and a topdecked Lotus.

At this point, I can cast my Edict, then replay my graveyard (which includes the Dismantling Blow for the Oath) and refill my hand by using Merchant Scroll for Stroke of Genius. I can also Vampiric Tutor for Gorilla Shaman and replay Wasteland, leaving him with only 3 mana and no hand.

It’s hopeless.

How long was that slow motion sequence?

Ten turns.

That’s all it took.

We both drew strong cards, and it came down to my early mana advantage. Going over the Apprentice log, though, you can see all the opportunities to screw up from both sides – again, in just fifteen minutes. You can also see all the possible ways of playing your hand and using your tutors – none of them completely right or completely wrong. You can also try to guess which turn I actually won.

Brian Weissman wrote on The Dojo in 1995:”My original intent behind the construction of ‘The Deck’ was to build something that I could never cease to improve on playing, and that would win in direct proportion to how skillfully it was played.”

Six years later, I don’t think anyone can claim to have mastered it yet. Magic’s most complex deck ever.

Instant replay

A number of younger players don’t know the value of logs, but Apprentice logs are the lazy man’s way of taking notes to review his play style. I already noted my mistake with the Mana Drain mana, but did you see other moves you disagreed with?

#1: The Masticore

First, John Ormerod asked me to think about why I played Masticore in the first place:”I don’t see why; do you really plan on throwing cards away to it?” Like I said, Masticore is a dangerous way to win against control.

But, the answer is simple. It was less about wanting a clock on the table than it was about having eight cards. I could cast both Masticore and my planned Fact or Fiction, and Masticore was expendable.

But, John’s next question goes to the other end of the table:”Why didn’t he wait until you had thrown a few cards before stopping it?”

The best answer, in my opinion, is that Chris topdecked an Oath just that turn or the turn before, and had a small opening. With my advantage in cards and mana, he didn’t want to gamble on Masticore, either.

But think about it. Certainly, John has seen this situation far more in Extended, and it’s a good point.

#2: When Do You Counter A Vampiric Tutor?

The general rule: You don’t counter tutors, you counter the card he tutors for.

This article, though, proved the Matt D’Avanzo rule: There are no rules when playing this deck. (Later on, you’ll realize that you need to counter cards like Land Grant and Tithe sometimes, and Brian Weissman would go so far as to counter Moxen in some situations.)

I asked you to think about it, and you probably gave an answer like Alex Shvartsman:”This depends on how soon you plan to Mind Twist.  If your opponent is likely to draw more than one card from the library, it’s probably worth countering the Tutor.”

I mentioned I felt it was soon, and that Darren felt it was not soon enough. JP”The Polluted” Meyer joined in our debate that spanned e-mail, AIM and the #bdchat channel on Newnet:”Because with seven in hand it’s like ‘gee, I’m getting Land of Alexandria’ and you didn’t have a Waste for it.”

On the other hand, John Ormerod e-mailed,”I would let the Tutor go, it seems quite likely that you can draw one of your five ways of killing Library.”

Again, who’s right?

It probably depends, but I gave John my three reasons for not countering: a) To preserve counters; b) Because I had four Wastelands and one Strip Mine and Vampiric Tutor and Yawgmoth’s Will in hand; c) Because I could force Mind Twist anyway.

#3: How Do You Split Fact From Fiction?

This is no less important before FoF’s restriction. Sometimes, you know you’ll lose anyway, but other times, it breaks games. (I remember the last time Magimaster from MTGNews dropped by #bdchat. I won one game quite early after he split Time Walk alone. I gladly took the four cards over the expendable cantrip.)

When my Fact or Fiction showed another FoF, two counters and a Wasteland, it was really over for Chris, given that he was already behind. Still, after the game, he opined that he made a mistake. Though it was hopeless at that point, he felt City of Brass should have moved, leaving only one card with Wasteland, because he had an active Library.

My colleague Darren, on the other hand, said Chris should have split Wasteland alone, robbing me of card advantage if I wanted Wasteland, or forcing me to discard if I wanted the counters.

I replied that I would have gladly thrown away Wasteland for Fact or Fiction, Mana Drain, Force of Will and City of Brass. I would have untapped, played the topdecked Mox, a land and Vampiric Tutor, then discarded just two and have a hand full of counters to force Mind Twist. Had I not made that Mana Drain mistake, I would have Tutored for Mind Twist on the same turn and ended the game right there.

Darren countered, though, that Chris didn’t know what I had in hand, and forcing me to discard was the best he could do in an already bad situation. On the other hand, you could say that giving me two counters and another Fact or Fiction would have negated his Library already.

And after all this, Darren brings up a more basic point: Why didn’t Chris fight over the Fact or Fiction in the first place? He topdecked counters late in that game, but he had at least one at that point.

Chris’s argument was that he needed to preserve his hand to keep drawing off the Library (forcing a guy to Force of Will is an anti-Library trick, much like countering denied Whispers of the Muse back in Type II 1998). On the other hand, Extended players will tell you that you fight Trix by fighting over the card drawing, not Donate.

Again, what would you have done in his shoes?

Hope that leaves you with enough to think about. Feel free to e-mail about other plays and check back here next week for the postponed Part IV, and an international sampling of what”The Deck” looks like six years later.

Oscar Tan

[email protected]

rakso on #BDChat on Newnet

Manila, Philippines

Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.bdominia.com/discus/messages/9/9.shtml)

Featured writer, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (http://www.casualplayers.org)

P.S. -Thanks to Brian Weissman, John Ormerod, Darren diBattista aka Azhrei, JP”The Polluted” Meyer, Matt D’Avanzo and Adam Duke aka Meridian for being tough critics of the drafts of this series.

Thanks to Giles Reid from the Star City list and Nate Heiss of The Magic Word (www.mtgword.com) for sending me the original Dojo files, and to Amy English for being my”guinea pig” reader.

And, thanks to Alex Shvartsman, Kai Budde, Zvi Mowshowitz, Gary Wise, Chris Pikula, Noah Boeken and Ben Rubin for invaluable insights into the Magic Invitational and Invitational playtesting.