You CAN Play Type I #97: What Would JP Meyer Do?

GenCon is just around the corner, and there’s less than a month to test the waters of the new metagame before the Type I tournament there. If I could accurately map out the metagame and give you a step-by-step idiot’s guide on how to play against every expected archetype, I’d fly on over and try to win the thing myself… But what I can do is show you several game situations you might expect to see against each major deck, and show you the optimal play.

The Pegasus Hero vs. The al-Sahaf wannabe
Occasional Type I author Mikey Torrisi, a.k.a. Spikeymikey on MTGNews (who wrote Get Out Of My Metagame!: The Gush And Mind’s Desire Bannings) inspired the following segment of my Scourge review:

“I blame Al-Jazeera – they are marketing for the Americans!”

“It has been rumored that we have fired Scud missiles into Kuwait. I am here now to tell you, we do not have any Scud missiles and I don’t know why they were fired into Kuwait.”

“My feelings – as usual – we will slaughter them all.”

“Our initial assessment is that they will all die.”

“They’re not even [within] 100 miles [of Baghdad]. They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion… they are trying to sell to the others an illusion.”

“The unrestricted tutoring with Long-Term plans scares me far more than anything Mind’s Desire can do.”

Raphael Caron, a.k.a. K-Run, my one-time co-moderator in Beyond Dominia’s dying days, had this reaction:

Long-Term Plans‘ best use so far is to make sure that you won’t topdeck the worst card of your library next turn. 😉

Its function is actually the opposite of Mystical Tutor‘s: Instead of”make sure you topdeck a bomb next turn,” it’s”make sure you don’t draw that crap next turn.”

Actually, I think LTP comboes with itself very well. ;P


I stand corrected.

Stuck On The Stack

So GenCon is just around the corner, and there’s less than a month to test the waters of the new metagame before the Type I tournament there. At the outset, let me admit that if I could accurately map out the metagame and give you a step-by-step idiot’s guide on how to play against every expected archetype, I’d fly on over and try to win the thing myself instead of slaving away in the University of the Philippines’ law library.

What I’d like to do instead in the short time remaining is to give you a few vignettes based on the bits and pieces we’ve seen from the more interesting local metagames. To get around the credibility questions, I’ll just throw you a few winning decklists from reputable tournaments (without passing them on to you as 100% optimal builds), and add a short play question that should show less experienced players a nuance that might not be obvious at first.

All the games, incidentally, feature an unsideboarded”The Deck” build you can personalize within reason.

For example, I really couldn’t draw up stack tricks against Stax, but that deck requires subtle stacking when you play it. For example, you remove a counter from Tangle Wire before you tap permanents, and then tap Tangle Wire as one of them. Or you sacrifice to Smokestack before you add a counter, to shift the brunt of its effect onto your opponent.

$T4KS (The Four Thousand Dollar Solution), Stephen Menendian, a.k.a. Smmenen, Matthieu Durand, and Kevin Cron

4 Mishra’s Workshop

1 Tolarian Academy

4 Volcanic Island

1 Badlands

4 Polluted Delta

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Strip Mine

1 Island

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Diamond

1 Black Lotus

1 Lotus Petal

1 Sol Ring

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mana Vault

1 Grim Monolith

4 Sphere of Resistance

4 Tangle Wire

4 Smokestack

4 Goblin Welder

4 Meditate

1 Timetwister

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Memory Jar

1 Tinker

1 Wheel of Fortune

1 Windfall

1 Time Walk

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Karn, Silver Golem

1 Triskelion

Sligh (aggro)

You go first and draw Underground Sea, Duress, Brainstorm, Mana Drain, Tundra, Cunning Wish and Polluted Delta.

You lay Sea and play Duress, and your unknown opponent shows you Jackal Pup, Ankh of Mishra, Mountain, Cursed Scroll, Price of Progress, Mountain and Gorilla Shaman.

What card do you grab?

Here’s the sample decklist:

Sligh, Arjan Salomons, First Place, June 28, 2003 Eindhoven

Creatures (15)

4 Jackal Pup

4 Goblin Cadets

4 Mogg Fanatic

3 Gorilla Shaman

Other spells (24)

4 Lightning Bolt

4 Chain Lightning

4 Incinerate

3 Price of Progress

4 Ankh of Mishra

1 Black Vise

3 Cursed Scroll

1 Fork

Mana (21)

1 Strip Mine

4 Wasteland

2 Barbarian Ring

14 Mountain

Sideboard (15)

3 Pyrokinesis

3 Rack and Ruin

3 Scald

3 Ensnaring Bridge

2 Flaring Pain

1 Price of Progress

Sligh… It can be derisively dismissed as”Price of Progress and fifty-six other cards” or the brainless mono deck, but it’s a sign of a skewed metagame if Sligh isn’t playable in Type I. It also happens to be the budget deck of choice, so you’ll probably see it even in a field of 80% Academy.

Your Duress choices are Ankh of Mishra, Price of Progress, and Cursed Scroll. Since it’s just Turn 1, you can leave the Scroll for later.

Ankh looks like a good pick since you have an unplayed Polluted Delta. However, that leaves Price of Progress and it’s going to be cumbersome to keep anticipating it with Mana Drain, especially when he can just cast it when you tap to Brainstorm or Cunning Wish. Moreover, you’ll still need to take some wind out of his creature attack’s sails, and he’ll open with a Turn 1 Jackal Pup.

Simply, chasing after a target with Mana Drain is awkward here.

The better play is to take Price, let him play Pup, then let him walk into Mana Drain with Ankh of Mishra. By the time he does, you can use the mana to Cunning Wish, Swords to Plowshares on Pup as a default. Note that you can Brainstorm before casting Wish and using the Delta.

Reviewing some of the scenarios here, English deckbuilder of repute John Ormerod chimed in,”It’s also a good example of how bad 2cc slow cards can be in Sligh.”

German Tools ‘n’ Tubbies or TnT (aggro)

You’re at three; your opponent is at thirteen. You Mana Drained Triskelion last turn and it is now the beginning of your upkeep.

You have the following in play:

4 Underground Sea

3 Tundra

1 Island

Library of Alexandria


Sol Ring

Mox Sapphire

Mox Pearl

The Abyss


You have Shoreline Ranger, Brainstorm, and Cunning Wish in hand.

You used a Cunning Wish to fetch your lone Blue Elemental Blast, and pitched the rest to Force of Will. There are no other instants in the removed from game zone.

You have just two Wastelands left in your library.

Your opponent has more than enough land in play, Mox Ruby, Mox Emerald, and Survival of the Fittest.

Like you, practically his entire library is in the graveyard, and the relevant artifacts and creatures are Anger, Squee, Goblin Nabob, Memory Jar, Juggernaut, Su-Chi, Karn, Silver Golem, Triskelion, and Goblin Welder. The only cards left in his are two Goblin Welders and two Su-Chis.


Here’s the sample decklist:

TnT, Patrick Squarra, Sixth Place, March 16, 2003 Dülmen

Creatures (17)

4 Goblin Welder

4 Juggernaut

3 Su-Chi

1 Karn, Silver Golem

1 Triskelion

1 Gorilla Shaman

1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

1 Wonder

1 Anger

Other artifacts (7)

3 Sphere of Resistance

3 Tangle Wire

1 Memory Jar

Other spells (7)

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Tinker

4 Survival of the Fittest

Mana (29)

1 Metalworker

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Sol Ring

4 Mishra’s Workshop

1 Strip Mine

3 Wasteland

4 Wooded Foothills

4 Taiga

3 Tropical Island

2 Forest

Sideboard (15)

2 Blood Moon

3 Bottle Gnomes

2 Elvish Lyrist

1 Flametongue Kavu

2 Rack and Ruin

4 Red Elemental Blast

1 Uktabi Orangutan

TnT held its spotlight for a while, but frankly, Stefan Iwasienko, a.k.a. Womprax, had to help me comb the German archive for a winning list since even the best aggro deck in the format couldn’t hold a candle to Growing ‘Tog until very recently. That said, you might see it this month despite the hype surrounding combo decks. Resurrections may be along the lines of the original build, with disruption such as Sphere of Resistance and Tangle Wire, or even with a different color like black (which gives Duress and a little extra fight against combo).

The dilemma above is that he’s sure to play a hasted Goblin Welder when you untap, and there’s no way you can counter it since you already used your Blue Elemental Blast. What you can do is pay careful attention to Welder’s ability, which is actually an exchange and not your usual Sacrifice {cardname}, {tap}: Do this.

Brushing up on exchange rules, you’ll see that you can”counter” him Welding Triskelion back into play by Wishing for Disenchant or Shattering Pulse and destroying the Mox he Welds away in response.

Thus, the solution is:

  1. Target Morphling with The Abyss

  2. Make Morphling untargetable, countering The Abyss

  3. Draw.

  4. Play Wasteland.

  5. Play Shoreline Ranger.

  6. Use the last mana from Mana Drain to make Morphling 4/2.

  7. Give Morphling flying.

  8. Attack with Morphling and pump it to 5/1 (opponent at 8 life).

  9. End your turn.

  10. Your opponent will draw or Survival into Goblin Welder. Unless you can block the incoming artifact with Morphling combat tricks, Wish for Disenchant to stop Welder. Since his only prayer is Triskelion, you’ll probably need the Wish.

  11. During your upkeep, target Morphling with The Abyss.

  12. Make Morphling untargetable, countering The Abyss.

  13. Draw.

  14. Attack with both creatures and pump Morphling to 5/1 (opponent at 0 life).

Survival of the Fittest is the strongest support card here, and is also the core of the less aggressive Vengeur Masque designed by Belgian Paragon Carl Devos. However, you can anticipate a lot of Welders, so they’re a stack-intensive card you should familiarize yourself with.

The above scenario should also remind you to be alert about dumping surplus Mana Drain mana into Morphling, giving it flying against chump blockers, and using it to keep more than one creature on the board for extra damage, even a Gorilla Shaman.

Madness (aggro)

You go first and play Tundra, Mox Jet.

Your opponent plays Forest, Mox Diamond (discarding Riftstone Portal), Wild Mongrel.

You play Underground Sea.

Your opponent plays Bazaar of Baghdad and attacks, discarding Arrogant Wurm and casting it using Madness.

You have Swords to Plowshares, Demonic Tutor, Cunning Wish, Polluted Delta, and Mana Drain. Tell me how your next turn will go.

Here’s the sample decklist:

Madness, Travis Lee, Top 4, Origins 2003 (June 28, 2003, Saturday)

Creatures (22)

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Arrogant Wurm

4 Roar of the Wurm

4 Anger

2 Wonder

Others (10)

4 Fiery Temper

3 Violent Eruption

3 Deep Analysis

Mana (28)

4 Lion’s Eye Diamond

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Diamond

4 Bazaar of Baghdad

4 Taiga

4 Wooded Foothills

4 Tropical Island

2 Volcanic Island

1 Forest

1 Riftstone Portal

Sideboard (15)

4 Maze of Ith

3 Blood Moon

4 Artifact Mutation

2 Ray of Revelation

2 Null Rod

People have been trying to break Bazaar of Baghdad for quite a time, from Koichiro Maki’s Invitational Pande-burst deck to various black builds with cards like Zombie Infestation and Ashen Ghoul. Madness is the most popular outlet to date, and even manages to throw Lion’s Eye Diamond into the mix. Move over, D’Avanzoo!

This scenario is here more as a reminder to brush up on your Type II mechanics – especially the intricacies of madness triggers. Aside from aggressive red/green builds, people might push the aggro-control blue/green builds again, with Growing ‘Tog weakened by the Gush restriction.

Anyway, there’s no puzzle here, and it reminds me of the pained expressions of the last few Type II players who wanted to play my Type I deck for kicks. You should know that madness payments don’t change casting costs, so you still get five mana from countering Arrogant Wurm here. Then you untap, draw, and cast Demonic Tutor with Mox Jet. You have four mana floating, and I’d fetch Braingeyser, go up to eight cards, then play the Delta or another land if I don’t get a Wasteland for his Bazaar (if I have Vampiric Tutor in the sideboard, I can Wish for that the following turn). I’m sure you can think of something similarly brutal – though note that you don’t have the graveyard to fuel Skeletal Scrying yet.

Tainted Mask (aggro-control)

You go first, play Underground Sea, and have Brainstorm, Mystical Tutor, Polluted Delta, Force of Will, Swords to Plowshares and Balance in hand.

Your opponent plays Swamp, Dark Ritual, and then Duress.

You respond with Brainstorm and draw Tundra, Duress, and Mana Drain.

Which two cards will you put back on top of your library?

Here’s the sample deck:

Chris Flaaten, Tainted Mask, November 2002, Gauntlet deck (similar deck played by Sebastian Dube to 23rd Place, November 3, 2003 Carta Magica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

Threat base (13)

4 Illusionary Mask

4 Phyrexian Dreadnought

3 Phyrexian Negator

2 Hypnotic Specter

Discard (8)

4 Duress

2 Unmask

1 Hymn to Tourach

1 Mind Twist

Others (12)

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Necropotence

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Demonic Consultation

1 Vampiric Tutor

4 Tainted Pact

1 Recoil

Mana (28)

1 Black Lotus

1 Sol Ring

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

4 Dark Ritual

3 Mishra’s Factory

3 Underground Sea

1 Underground River

3 Snow-Covered Swamp

3 Swamp

2 Bloodstained Mire

2 Polluted Delta

Sideboard (15)

1 Timetwister

1 Lord of Tresserhorn

2 Dystopia

2 Recoil

2 Contagion

2 Diabolic Edict

2 Cursed Totem

1 Unmask

1 Zuran Orb

1 Phyrexian Negator

Mask is the evolution of the classic Suicide Black discard-based archetype, and a 12/12 for two cards and three colorless mana just can’t be matched by any of the traditional black creatures. With pinpoint discard to clear the way, it needs just a two-turn stall to beat anything. Expect, however, classic Suicide Black to show up in far greater numbers for two reasons. First, it’s another budget deck of choice, and it enjoys a following regardless of metagame considerations. Second and more importantly, unlike Mask it can run Null Rod, and thus throw more disruption against more recent artifact-mana based archetypes. (It just has to avoid the temptation to stuff everything into the two-mana slot.)

This scenario illustrates two things: First, you have to develop a sense of timing to maximize Brainstorm. If your hand is empty and you have to dig fast, don’t hesitate to just cycle it away instead of waiting for a few more cards and a reshuffler. If you need to dig for a spell in a pinch or hide something against Duress and friends, do it.

Second, you have to note that there are three possible decks that can open with the above opening: Mask, classic Suicide, and the more controllish Nether Void builds. Hulk Smash (Type I Psychatog) doesn’t run Dark Ritual, and it’s strange that it’d keep a hand where it’d have to lead with basic Swamp. Finally, combo decks wouldn’t run a basic Swamp.

That said, you have to worry about two possibilities: Duress will be followed by Hymn to Tourach, or by Illusionary Mask. It could be followed by Null Rod, Tainted Pact, Sinkhole, or a two-mana creature, but those are more manageable.

The surest thing is that Mystical Tutor will have to be hidden on top of the library to let you fetch Ancestral Recall the next turn and try to catch up on the one-card net gain. The solution I came up with is to put Duress under Mystical. Assuming the next card is Hymn, it’d take a bit of luck to discard both land and even then you can try to get and cast Ancestral on one land. If Duress and Hymn take out both Swords and Balance, you still have Mystical to fetch removal, or still go for Ancestral. If Duress is followed by Illusionary Mask, you’ll still have Swords or Balance.

Duress is the least useful here, coming one turn too late. It has a lower chance of catching a last disruption spell in the opponent’s hand when you untap, and you’re disrupted pretty well anyway. Putting it under Mystical conveniently reshuffles it away.

If he has Mask, moreover, he’ll be forced to Duress Force of Will away or leave removal for Phyrexian Dreadnought. If he has Hymn, however, you still get the chance to Mana Drain his Turn 2 play, or have removal.

Another possibility is to put Mana Drain then Mystical Tutor on top. Unless you lose both land, he stands to walk into a Turn 2 Mana Drain, after which you can Mystical. Of course, if he ends up playing Mask as unanticipated, Mask will slip past Mana Drain, making the latter dead against uncounterable creatures.

One thing’s for sure; Jamie Schnitzius caught me on IRC while I was typing this, and gave us both a headache when we discussed it. This serves as the disclaimer if there’s a hole in the above Brainstorm play.