You CAN Play Type I #53: The Nantuko Conspiracy

you have to critically determine which games are won due to Shade and which are due to,”Hymn, Hymn, I win!” The variants are very close in terms of cards used, play the same strategy, and you have to base your judgment only in the games where the changes made an impact. Obviously, it’ll take people a while to notice something… And even longer to decide if there’s a problem.

Tearing Jeff Hegedus a new a-hole

Okay, that wiseass asked for it…

I recommend you read this spirited report of a budget "Zoo" deck that could.

(It’s technically not Zoo by the classic definition, since its only draw spell is Wheel of Fortune. Some would categorize it as closer to Type I Three-Deuce analogs, looking at the color and spell mix. But whatever.)

Milwaukee County Zoo, Jeff Hegedus, Top 8, a GenCon Type I Tournament, August 2002

Creatures (18)

4 Kird Ape

4 Jackal Pup

3 Skyshroud Ridgeback

2 Savannah Lions

2 Skyshroud Elite

2 Gorilla Shaman

1 Mother of Runes

Spells (22)

4 Rancor

4 Lightning Bolt

3 Seal of Cleansing

4 Swords to Plowshares

3 Cursed Scroll

1 Stormbind

1 Black Vise

1 Wheel of Fortune

1 Winter Orb

Mana (20)

4 Land Grant

4 Taiga

3 Plateau

2 Savannah

4 City of Brass

2 Wasteland

1 Strip Mine

Sideboard (15)

4 Rushwood Legate

4 Red Elemental Blast

1 Pyroblast

2 Tormod’s Crypt

1 Cursed Scroll

1 Seal of Cleansing

1 Mother of Runes

1 Dwarven Miner

Jeff gives himself too little credit by implying that he made tons of amateurish mistakes – I disagree with Ridgebacks and figure an offensive sideboard like Honorable Passage is far better than Zuran Orb against Sligh and Price of Progress, but hey, the overall concept is sound – but let me focus on a few details in the picture he painted:

1) In Round 1, he played against a similar deck, only it had more expensive spells. His opponent cast Balance and sacced lands to Zuran Orb (against a deck of one-drops)? And it turns out he had multiple Orbs in what I assume was an offensive deck?

Black Vise



Beta uncommon

As Black Vise comes into play, choose an opponent. At the beginning of the chosen player’s upkeep step, Black Vise deals X damage to that player, where X is the number of cards greater than four in his or her hand. (Banned February 1996. Unbanned and restricted July 1997.)

In Round 2, he played against a Forbiddian deck that splashed red… But still used Back to Basics? Guess who screwed half of his own mana base? And then he panics because his self-screwed mana base makes Jeff’s Black Vise worse… And burns counters on his own spells instead of scrambling for a Powder Keg?

Be critical and take note of details like this, not just the number of players in the tournament.

2) Out of six games in the Swiss, he played against blue/red Forbiddian with Back to Basics, Gro with Back to Basics, Forbiddian with Back to Basics, and then red/green with Blood Moon.

He saw Back to Basics every other match. He got it played on him in two Game 1s, losing one and winning the other thanks to his opponent’s ingenuous Back to Basics + his own nonbasic lands combo.

Hell, the Gro deck was running Back to Basics despite its own nonbasics and low land count? I know Pat likes Gush (which untaps land), but…

See, this scenario is exactly what I meant by even aggro decks getting screwed by main deck Back to Basics.

This is what I asked people to reflect on in a previous column.

3) Just a note to Jeff… He considers himself resistant to mana disruption because his deck is full of one-drops. Yes, that makes Back to Basics hurt less, but you’ll have to watch out for Powder Kegs that sweep the one-drops, even Cursed Scroll. Also, against B2B, you only have thirteen real colored lands to topdeck.

(Oh, and a deck with maindeck Swords to Plowshares and Seals of Cleansing can be funnier against Worldgorger Dragon than he thinks.)

4) Mad props to Jeff for – and I quote -" eating down on ‘stupid mono blue players’ who aren’t even aware of cards that hose them."

And on behalf of Eric Rouge, a.k.a. Redman, madder props for "beating down on ‘stupid mono blue players’" with Stormbind!

Stormbind (the old-school Zoo mascot)



Ice Age rare

2, Discard a card at random from your hand: Stormbind deals two damage to target creature or player.

Sing it, brother!

Anyway, check out the report. I think everyone picked up a little something from it, even Jeff himself. Consistent play and sound deck structure weigh in heavier than Moxen.

The Nantuko Conspiracy: Part II

Last week, we went through some of the subtle points of what I refer to as LimpD*ck Black for lack of a better name. Basically, replacing the one-mana creatures of classic Suicide Black with Nantuko Shade and attendant cards results in a slower, far less suicidal deck. You get a powerful creature, but drive the mana curve nuts, forcing the deck to play the midgame.

Nantuko Shade


Creature-Insect Shade


Torment rare

Nantuko Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Flavor text: "If the Nantuko only knew what awaits them beyond death, they would abandon all they hold dear."-Cabal Patriarch

We discussed the greater context, the inherently metagamed abilities of mono black aggro-control. We discussed how first-time players can overlook the color’s built-in strengths and weaknesses.

Oh, and we discussed why it’s not that good an idea to champion the Shade mainly because it out-pumps Morphling. (As in, there are better reasons.)

A Practical Example

All these theories are useless for someone who hasn’t seen a game, so let’s go into that now (my apologies for not taking down my opponent’s real name). Ruken here was playing a pretty familiar version, only he used Phyrexian War Beasts (dodges Abyss, plus Bolts) over Flesh Reavers. Again, this isn’t meant to be a completely perfect illustration, but I think it concretizes last week’s article without writing a script for a game.

06:03:53 – — Ruken says: "I am ready."

06:03:53 – — Rakso says: "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war."

06:03:57 – Rakso drew 7 cards.

06:04:00 – Ruken drew 7 cards.

06:04:07 – It is now turn 1.

06:04:08 – Ruken plays Swamp.

A killer opening.

Compute the probability of getting this Turn 1 with four Dark Rituals, four Duress, Demonic Consultation, Mox Jet and Black Lotus. It’s not negligible, so don’t discount it.

06:04:09 – It is now turn 2.

06:04:13 – Rakso says:’wow’

06:04:14 – Rakso draws a card.

06:04:17 – Rakso plays Tundra.

06:04:19 – Rakso plays Mox Pearl.

06:04:20 – Rakso plays Mox Jet.

06:04:21 – Mox Pearl is tapped.

06:04:22 – Mox Jet is tapped.

06:04:23 – Tundra is tapped.

06:04:24 – Rakso plays Mind Twist.

06:04:26 – Rakso says:’Hymn you?’

06:04:27 – Ruken randomly buried Hymn to Tourach.

06:04:29 – Ruken randomly buried Powder Keg.

I have nothing better to do at this point, and he’ll empty his hand anyway…

06:04:31 – It is now turn 3.

06:04:32 – Ruken draws a card.

06:04:34 – Ruken plays Swamp.

06:04:34 – Swamp is tapped.

06:04:35 – Swamp is tapped.

06:04:35 – Ruken plays Hymn to Tourach.

06:04:39 – Rakso randomly buried Wasteland.

06:04:42 – Rakso randomly buried The Abyss.

Some in the new generation of Limp Black players downplay The Abyss, saying you can kill the opponent’s black sources anyway.

Okay… We’ll go with a game where the Black guy does even better. I won’t have the mana to YawgWill or Regrowth that card back anytime soon…

06:04:43 – It is now turn 4.

06:04:44 – Ruken says:’w00t!’

06:04:45 – Rakso draws a card.

06:04:46 – Rakso plays Underground Sea.


06:04:47 – It is now turn 5.

06:04:49 – Ruken draws a card.

06:04:51 – Ruken plays Swamp.

06:04:51 – Swamp is tapped.

06:04:52 – Swamp is tapped.

06:04:52 – Ruken plays Hymn to Tourach.

06:04:54 – Rakso plays Mana Drain.

Pay attention to his Turns 1 and 3. Compare what you just saw to the concept of a mana curve as you know it.

06:04:57 – It is now turn 6.

06:04:59 – Rakso draws a card.

06:05:01 – Rakso’s life is now 18. (-2)

Mana burn from my own Drain mana!

As you just saw, I haven’t been doing anything, and am reduced to trading one-for-one – a losing proposition for any control deck – while I buy time and more options. I have mana on the table, but no second-turn Abyss or Tutor for Ancestral Recall

06:05:01 – It is now turn 7.

06:05:08 – Ruken draws a card.

06:05:10 – Ruken plays Swamp.

06:05:10 – Swamp is tapped.

06:05:11 – Swamp is tapped.

06:05:11 – Swamp is tapped.

06:05:13 – Ruken plays Phyrexian War Beast.

06:05:15 – Rakso says:’k’

06:05:19 – Rakso plays Swords to Plowshares.

06:05:22 – Ruken buries Swamp.

06:05:23 – Ruken removes Phyrexian War Beast from the game.

06:05:26 – Ruken’s life is now 22. (+2)

06:05:27 – It is now turn 8.

06:05:28 – Rakso draws a card.

06:05:32 – It is now turn 9.

06:05:35 – Ruken draws a card.

06:05:38 – Ruken says:’hrm’

06:05:43 – Ruken plays Swamp.

06:05:43 – It is now turn 10.

06:05:45 – Rakso draws a card.

06:05:47 – Rakso plays Tundra.

06:05:47 – It is now turn 11.

06:05:49 – Ruken draws a card.

06:05:50 – Swamp is tapped.

06:05:51 – Swamp is tapped.

06:05:51 – Swamp is tapped.

06:05:52 – Ruken plays Hypnotic Specter.

06:06:01 – Rakso plays Force of Will.

06:06:13 – It is now turn 12.

06:06:14 – Rakso draws a card.

Again, I’m still just trading one-for-one here, which isn’t good.

06:06:14 – It is now turn 13.

06:06:20 – Ruken draws a card.

06:06:21 – Swamp is tapped.

06:06:22 – Swamp is tapped.

06:06:23 – Ruken plays Nantuko Shade.

06:06:25 – Rakso says:’k’

06:06:27 – It is now turn 14.

06:06:27 – Rakso draws a card.

06:06:29 – Rakso plays City of Brass.

06:06:30 – Mox Pearl is tapped.

06:06:31 – Mox Jet is tapped.

06:06:33 – Rakso plays Chainer’s Edict.

06:06:36 – It is now turn 15.

06:06:39 – Ruken draws a card.

06:06:41 – Ruken plays Wasteland.

06:06:52 – Ruken says:’hrm’

06:06:59 – Ruken buries Wasteland.

06:06:59 – Rakso buries City of Brass.

06:07:03 – It is now turn 16.

06:07:09 – Rakso draws a card.

06:07:11 – It is now turn 17.

06:07:15 – Ruken draws a card.

06:07:16 – Swamp is tapped.

06:07:16 – Ruken plays Duress.

06:07:25 – Rakso plays Balance.

06:07:29 – Ruken says:’yikes, which one do I like less?’

06:07:33 – Rakso says:’your pick’

The board was empty, and his other choice was Sylvan Library. He just Wasted my only green source.

06:07:45 – It is now turn 18.

06:07:46 – Rakso says:’but if I get a green source’

06:07:47 – Rakso says:’say goodbye’

06:08:00 – Rakso draws a card.

06:08:02 – Rakso plays Volcanic Island.

06:08:02 – It is now turn 19.

06:08:05 – Ruken draws a card.

06:08:11 – Swamp is tapped.

06:08:12 – Swamp is tapped.

06:08:13 – Swamp is tapped.

06:08:15 – Ruken removes Yawgmoth’s Will from the game.

06:08:17 – Rakso says:’k’

06:08:22 – Ruken moves Wasteland from Ruken’s graveyard to tabletop.

06:08:32 – Rakso says:’CAST KEG!!!’

06:08:37 – Ruken says:’nah.’

06:08:38 – Ruken says:’you’ll see.’

06:08:43 – Ruken removes Wasteland from the game.

06:08:43 – Rakso buries Volcanic Island.

06:08:46 – Swamp is tapped.

06:08:47 – Ruken removes Duress from the game.

06:08:49 – Rakso moves Sylvan Library from Rakso’s hand to Rakso’s graveyard.

06:08:52 – It is now turn 20.

06:08:57 – Rakso draws a card.

06:08:58 – It is now turn 21.

06:09:02 – Swamp is tapped.

06:09:02 – Swamp is tapped.

06:09:03 – Ruken plays Powder Keg.

06:09:05 – Rakso says:’oh’

06:09:06 – Rakso says:’okay’

06:09:08 – Rakso buries Mox Jet.

06:09:09 – Rakso buries Mox Pearl.

06:09:10 – Ruken buries Powder Keg.

06:09:10 – Swamp is tapped.

06:09:11 – Swamp is tapped.

06:09:12 – Ruken plays Nantuko Shade.

06:09:13 – Rakso says:’k’

06:09:15 – It is now turn 22.

06:09:16 – Rakso draws a card.

06:09:27 – Ruken says:’quit making me second guess myself ;)’

06:09:28 – Ruken says:’hehe’

06:09:49 – Tundra is tapped.

06:09:50 – Tundra is tapped.

06:09:50 – Underground Sea is tapped.

06:09:51 – Rakso plays Yawgmoth’s Will.

06:09:52 – Rakso removes Yawgmoth’s Will from the game.

06:09:54 – Ruken says:’eek’

06:09:54 – Rakso moves Mox Pearl from Rakso’s graveyard to tabletop.

06:09:56 – Rakso moves Mox Jet from Rakso’s graveyard to tabletop.

06:09:57 – Ruken says:’that’s not good’

06:10:00 – Rakso moves City of Brass from Rakso’s graveyard to tabletop.

06:10:02 – Mox Pearl is tapped.

06:10:05 – Rakso removes Swords to Plowshares from the game.

06:10:07 – Mox Jet is tapped.

06:10:07 – Ruken’s life is now 24. (+2)

06:10:07 – City of Brass is tapped.

06:10:08 – Rakso’s life is now 17. (-1)

06:10:09 – Ruken removes Nantuko Shade from the game.

06:10:10 – Rakso moves Sylvan Library from Rakso’s graveyard to tabletop.

Not the strongest Yawgmoth’s Will, but I’ll take what I can get. Hell, this is the first broken card I’ve played the entire game…

06:10:11 – It is now turn 24.

06:10:13 – Ruken says:’haw’

06:10:15 – Ruken draws a card.

This next turn is dedicated to people who malign Sylvan Library as a bad card drawer.

06:10:16 – It is now turn 25.

06:10:17 – Rakso says:’whatever you say’

06:10:25 – Rakso is looking through top 3 cards of library…

06:10:29 – Rakso moves a card from Rakso’s library to Rakso’s hand.

06:10:30 – Rakso moves a card from Rakso’s library to Rakso’s hand.

06:10:30 – Ruken says:’I thought it was merely humorous’

06:10:31 – Rakso moves a card from Rakso’s library to Rakso’s hand.

06:10:34 – Rakso’s life is now 9. (-8)

06:10:36 – Rakso plays Zuran Orb.

06:10:38 – Rakso plays Mox Ruby.

06:10:39 – Ruken says:’:|’

06:10:39 – Mox Jet is tapped.

06:10:39 – Mox Ruby is tapped.

06:10:41 – Mox Pearl is tapped.

06:10:41 – Tundra is tapped.

06:10:42 – Tundra is tapped.

06:10:44 – Underground Sea is tapped.

06:10:45 – City of Brass is tapped.

06:10:46 – Rakso’s life is now 8. (-1)

06:10:47 – Rakso plays Braingeyser.

06:10:48 – Ruken says:’k’

06:10:49 – Rakso drew 5 cards.

06:10:53 – It is now turn 26.

06:10:55 – Ruken draws a card.

06:10:57 – Swamp is tapped.

06:10:58 – Swamp is tapped.

06:10:59 – Ruken plays Nantuko Shade.

06:11:01 – Rakso says:’k’

Nantuko Shade beats Morphling right?

Chainer’s Edict



Torment uncommon

Target player sacrifices a creature. Flashback 5BB (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)

Flavor text: The pits have their own form of mercy.

A refilled hand plus Morph’s new friend Chainer don’t think so.

I won the game without taking a single point of damage from Ruken. No sideboard cards, no degenerate openings.

Limp Black players will agree that they really end up playing the midgame. They will, however, argue that they can leave the control player at twenty life but staring down a Shade backed by five Swamps.

They’re correct, and Limp Black has a far stronger midgame than classic Suicide and its Zombies ever did. My caveat, however, is that control decks get stronger the longer the game drags on – twenty life is a great buffer towards recovering the board. Thus, I asked if it might be worth considering Nether Void decks which use similar spells, but are designed to control the midgame.

Given the inherent metagamed nature of mono black, maybe you should make up your mind as to which stage of the game you aim to own.

Unraveling the Nantuko Conspiracy

I’ve presented enough for former Suicide players to carefully reflect on.

It begs the question, though: Why am I the only one saying this?

That’s a damn good question, and I haven’t seen a lot of dissents on Shade after Beyond Dominia went offline, not until last week’s column.

To answer it, first, note that the variations of Suicide Black have a good number of staples; every deck has Duress, Hymn to Tourach, etc. These go into a similar deck structure and play the same way in general.

Keeping that in mind, let’s say that all control vs. Suicide Black games fall into three categories:

Category A: Suicide Player wins no matter what

Suicide player goes first… Swamp, Dark Ritual, Duress, Hymn to TourachSwamp, SinkholeSwamp, Negator…

Category B: Suicide Player loses no matter what

"The Deck" player goes first… Tundra, Mox Sapphire, Mox Pearl, Mox Jet, Black Lotus, Balance, Ancestral Recall

(Actually, a good draw with a bit less brokenness will do.)

Category C: It depends

The key to comparing the builds lies in the "C" games – heck, in a lot of "A" games, it won’t matter all that much if you topdeck Sarcomancy, Nantuko Shade, or Pit Imp.


Not quite, because the Shade’s impact is subtle, possibly imperceptible to less experienced eyes. For example, outpumping a Morphling with Shade looks like a dominating midgame scenario… But what if it happens in more "A" games than others? (Before, if I topdecked a desperate Morphling, some Suicide players would just play an Edict held in hand, then serve. The cards in hand – or lack of – backing Morphling do make a difference.)

In other words, you have to critically determine which games are won due to Shade and which are due to, "Hymn, Hymn, I win!"

So the variants are very close in terms of cards used, play the same strategy, and you have to base your judgment only in the games where the changes made an impact, and you’re not sure which?

Obviously, it’ll take people a while to notice something, and even longer to decide if there’s a problem.

A Conspiracy Compounded By…

Further note that it’s mainly "budget" players who are championing Suicide Black. For so many, it’s as an "entry-level" Type I deck, something they can use to play the occasional – but competitive – Type I match.

This is precisely the mindset Laura Mills showed us, and she touched a lot of Type I players with how she put it:

"The beauty of Magic, though, is that it can be all things to all people. I’ve enjoyed Type I because it is the opposite of all the other formats out there. I don’t need to spend weeks trying to build, test, and tweak a deck just to be competitive. With Type I, I have the same deck. I might tweak it a little here and there, but mostly I can do what I like to do with other games – just grab it and play. Is there really anything wrong with that?"

But this means a lot of converts are beginners or beginners to Type I (even if you have a 2000+ Limited rating, it’s still a very different format, right?).

Again, the actual effects of running Shades are very subtle. You might not see them, and there are so many other things that will throw you off. For example, regardless of your actual mana curve, you’re still capable of getting Turn 1 Duress, Turn 2 Hymn, Turn 3 Sinkhole + Wasteland, Turn 4 Negator.

Thus, you may just remember the key game where you thoroughly massacred the $1,200 deck, then dismiss losses to "The Deck" because of the broken plays it can set up to recover from disruption, and, I guess, because of all the hype as well. If you don’t play intensively – and part of the fun of playing Type I is not having to past a certain point – then you can easily say your deck wins and be happy.

You can see your deck beat "The Deck" as advertised, see the Shades (obviously) boost performance against aggro, and be happy.

But there’s a big difference between "your deck wins" and "your deck wins more than 50% against X deck."

Moreoever, if you’re testing against "The Deck," you may be playing against people with incomplete or untuned versions, or simply against people who are still getting the hang of it. There’s nothing elitist about that last line – even online or with proxies, many people fear the incredible learning curve of "The Deck" and may not be confident with it in a more competitive game.

Thus, you may be beating your opponents, but you may not really be beating "The Deck." Or you might, since you’re still using the same disruption. A good enough barrage of discard and landkill can defeat even the best control deck and most skilled player – it’s the nightmare opening, right?

I think you get the idea.

Finally, part of Laura Mills article read: "I’ve built this one up on my own from the minimal scraps of Type I information I could find on the web. I am sure that some of my choices might draw criticism from the more versed Type I players."

But it doesn’t take much thought to post a Shade variant of Suicide Black, and doesn’t take much to agree that it looks great. All this can be fueled by a handful of more prolific posters who’ll jump at the chance to introduce a variant as their revolutionary new pet deck.

Into these forum discussions enter the beginner to Type I, who doesn’t realize that 99% of the people he’s taking advice from test their decks far less than they say.

Then Aaron Forsythe mailbox gets filled with e-mails telling him about how a cheap deck can all but dominate Type I.

Thus the Nantuko Conspiracy.

Deconstructing Laura

Laura Mills made it clear that she was out to do something other than tell you how to build or play Suicide Black. I’d like to use that widely-read article (with her blessings) to illustrate some points I’ve discussed.

Suicide Black, Laura Mills, July 2002

Disruption (14)

4 Duress

4 Hymn to Tourach

3 Sinkhole

3 Powder Keg

Creatures (11)

4 Hypnotic Specter

4 Nantuko Shade

3 Phyrexian Negator

Others (8)

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Necropotence

3 Diabolic Edict

1 Zuran Orb

Mana (27)

4 Dark Ritual

1 Strip Mine

2 Wasteland

2 Mishra’s Factory

18 Swamp

Sideboard (15)

1 Phyrexian Negator

1 Diabolic Edict

2 Masticore

2 Contagion

2 Dystopia

3 Mutilate

2 Nevinyrral’s Disk

2 Ichorid

Now, I could very well lose to this deck if it opens with a perfect disruption barrage – Category "A." Hell, I’d automatically lose to a first-turn Necropotence. One #bdchat regular in particular, Enrico Leon, a.k.a. Negazione of Padova, Italy, has a penchant of getting a first-turn Necro in over 50% of our games. I can be colorful and try to keep up with Ancestral Recall plus Sylvan Library and fancy reshuffling, but he can just clobber me that way.

It’s all good.

But let’s take a few possibly subtle points about Laura’s deck.

The first thing you notice is the much lower creature count. This makes her version more vulnerable to Abyss, and an early Swords to Plowshares slows her more than usual.

The lower creature count is because of a much higher removal count. This sounds like common sense, but it actually slows the deck against control and combo. (You might get the impression she remembers the Necrodeck a bit too vividly the way the spells are spread out. And since she still has three Necros, it sometimes works.)

She might be running two Mishra’s Factories over Wastelands because her area doesn’t have a lot of duals, but it may also be to hedge against The Abyss. If so, this is a result of the above problem – yet the two Mishra’s don’t help because they’re a control deck’s only Wasteland targets. Again, they come at the expense of two key disruption slots.

She also took out a Negator, and explained that she’s scared of mono red. Again, you have to realize that you’re running an inherently metagamed deck, and hedging like that dilutes your good matchups. Running six removal spells but less creatures – and especially running Zuran Orb in an aggressive deck – all sound like good safeguards, but go against the nature of the deck.

Finally, well, the "super secret sideboard tech" of Ichorid probably doesn’t scare control, either.





Torment rare

Haste. At end of turn, sacrifice Ichorid. At the beginning of your upkeep, if Ichorid is in your graveyard, you may remove a black creature card in your graveyard other than Ichorid from the game. If you do, return Ichorid to play.

First, replacing an early game card with a midgame card like Ichorid isn’t very appealing. Further, it doesn’t solve "The Deck’s" midgame sideboard cards such as Circle of Protection: Black, Moat and Ensnaring Bridge – again, The Abyss isn’t everything. Moreover, the midgame card can’t get past that midgame Morphling. (If he can’t protect the Morph, then you were winning anyway. But remember that you diluted your early game and made it easier for the control player to set up for the midgame.)

I hope you catch the drift… A lot of this goes back to the inherent metagamed nature of Suicide, which can clash with your normal Magic sense.

Tweaking your deck to your environment is something every good player has to do. Taking the classic Suicide and, say, replacing the Flesh Reavers with Nantuko Shades will give you a deck that’s better against aggro at the expense of some speed. The problem comes, however, when you make bigger changes thinking about the problem matchups, but end up forgetting that the good matchups also change.

Taken to the extreme, it might go to, "Hmmm… my Gro does great against combo, so maybe I should replace the counters with removal so it’ll do great against aggro, too."

Recap of Limp Black

One crucial sounding board I have no access to is MagictheGathering.com’s mailbox. A recent glimpse plus everything else I’ve seen in recent weeks tell me that Suicide Black’s popularity recently boomed.

Suicide Black is the nightmare matchup for control, and very few decks without unrestricted Necropotence scare it more.

However, you might want to take a closer look at the Limp Black transformation. From what I’ve seen, Nantuko Shades force you to slow down the deck, completely screw up the mana curve, and trampling Morphling in combat isn’t as important as it looks, no matter how gratifying. If I can claim a 60+% win ratio in my worst matchup, unsideboarded, something might be wrong.

Suicide Black is great against control and can exploit its weaknesses, but trying to plug its holes without acknowledging the inherent metagamed nature of the deck might give you a worse deck overall. Slowing it down gives control more time to recover for the midgame. Using Keg over Null Rod still lets the opponent tap artifacts for mana, and is an incredible difference against combo decks that run on artifact mana and pack every version of Timetwister. Your combo matchup isn’t as strong as the one against control, and losing Null Rod makes disrupting combo much harder.

Even if you end up doing much better against aggro before you sideboard, you might overlook your transformed matchups against control and combo. You might be happy with that, because you want a deck that can do a little of something against everything.

Simply – you may not need the highest win percentage against your targeted archetype, control.

But if so, why are you running an inherently metagamed deck? Save the flexibility for control, not aggro. Remember that even if Shade is better than most black creatures against aggro, it’s still just one creature in your sixty-card deck.

Thus, maybe Shades really do belong in the slower, more controlling Nether Void builds. However, the effects of adding Shades may be subtle, and not easily spotted in a few games.

On the other hand, all this may not be worth anything to you, because your matchups may not change much due to your environment. Maybe your control opponents are missing something, and your deck works great in your store. Or maybe I’m, the one missing something there. In either case, forget everything I said and go with what works for you.

Just consider this a deckbuilding reality check. Your very effective budget archetype has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you may not know them as well as you think.

False confidence in a nevertheless good archetype can lose games, and restrict your deckbuilding skill.

Oscar Tan

[email protected]

rakso on #BDChat on EFNet

Manila, Philippines

Forum Administrator, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi)

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Author of the Control Player’s Bible (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdominia/files/ControlBible.zip)

Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=list&forum=DCForumID89&conf=DCConfID19)

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