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Blog Posts (13)
- Trespassing Back Into Pioneer
I had a great time going to Pro Tour Minneapolis despite not being qualified. I focused my energy on Limited, only to end up opening two bottom-tier sealed pools that left me feeling frustrated and hungering for more. I booked a flight to Dallas when I got home, as I’ve decided to finally attend a Regional Championships. Dallas is closer to home and a lot more conducive to my schedule than San Diego. While the goal would be to qualify for the Pro Tour, I'm just enjoying preparing for events. There’s something fun about solving complex problems with friends. These days I'm enjoying it less when the camaraderie ends and the tournament begins. However, I’m going full tilt until the tournament’s over, as I want to give myself a chance to qualify for the Pro Tour again. I’m a bit lost in Pioneer, but I’ve been paying attention and know that Rakdos and Mono Green are back on top of the metagame. The Pro Tour metagame has slowly shifted to where we left things a year ago, as almost every deck in the format has a problem with one or both of these decks. Logic would dictate playing one of these decks, but historically neither has done well in big events. Merely, these decks are very good at punishing greedy, unpolished decks. I will not play Mono Green despite it being the deck that's winning the most at the RCQ level. It will pick up in popularity in the RC and potentially have a bigger share of the metagame than previously. I'm predicting about 23% Mono Green. Mono Green is my deck to beat, not my deck to play. The deck looks to be near impossible to get a mirror edge. You can’t adjust your sideboard or main deck very much at this point, and there are guides everywhere to teach everyone how to play somewhat optimally. I consider myself a strong player, and if this deck was unbeatable I’d roll with it, but that’s never been the case in the past. The deck consistently finishes with an overall losing record. It merely warps the metagame around it and is strong enough to keep people playing it, but when push comes to shove, it’s always just falling short. My ultimate fallback currently is Rakdos Midrange. Rakdos will give me room to play and adjust my deck to my liking. Don’t be fooled though, I’ll consider it somewhat of a failure if I end up playing Rakdos. It's a solid deck but still not quite what I’d want since everyone will have tons of reps against it and a solidified plan. So what else should I play? Well, Siggy’s been cooking a bit. I got to test pilot a brew of mine in a league, and this is what I’m currently working on. Timewalked Timewalks 4 Strategic Planning 4 Big Score 4 Consider 1 Volcanic Spite 3 Spikefield Hazard 4 Fiery Impulse 1 Galvanic Iteration 1 Unexpected Windfall 3 Temporal Trespass 4 Steam Vents 2 Divide by Zero 4 Chandra, Hope's Beacon 2 Hall of Storm Giants 1 Make Disappear 4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker 1 Otawara, Soaring City 1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance 4 Riverglide Pathway 3 Stormcarved Coast 4 Spirebluff Canal 2 Shivan Reef 1 Mountain 2 Island 2 Chrome Host Seedshark 2 Hullbreaker Horror 2 Negate 3 Rending Volley 1 Disdainful Stroke 2 Mystical Dispute 1 Aether Gust 1 Environmental Sciences 1 Mascot Exhibition This is a rough draft, and I wanted to see if the deck had legs. Ever since Chandra, Hope’s Beacon was printed I’ve been fascinated with its high power level, and we got to see how powerful it was in Standard at Pro Tour Minneapolis. Pioneer has some cooler tools to work with in the form of Delve Spells that you can play immediately upon casting if sequenced right, the most powerful of which is time walk effects. Initially, I was impressed with a deck Marcio Carvalho posted on Twitter featuring Baraal and Kari Zev in traditional Izzet Phoenix. You’re able to cast a Pieces of the Puzzle on three, then follow up with a Baraal, Cruise and Alrund’s Epiphany in the same turn, which should nearly end the game on the spot if it lines up well. I plan to try that deck since it sounds quite powerful. The deck I designed has an equally explosive finish but plays much more like Izzet Creativity, a deck I’m incredibly comfortable playing. Chandra being an answer for Sheoldred on its own or combined with any removal is the big draw to me here. Rakdos was always a struggle for Creativity, and I’m hoping that since this deck plays less “dead cards” and all the combo pieces are individually useful on their own, that it can play a fair game with Rakdos and keep the battlefield clean and clean up with the planeswalker they’re not equipped to defeat. With Creativity, you could be left rotting with combo pieces in hand or stranded. Ideally, you’re able to play Chandra with 7 total mana in play and immediately plus it to copy a Temporal Trespass. This is easy after a turn-four Big Score if your yard is filled. Strategic Planning was great other than the fact it’s a sorcery. Moment of Truth is another option I’m considering and potentially even cutting Stormcarved Coasts for Fabled Passages to get volume in the graveyard. You want to aggressively put cards in your graveyard with cheap interaction and cantrips and then ultimately untap with Chandra. Chandra does a great job digging deeper for more Timewalks, and its static effect copying Big Scores and more cantrips can make it easy to keep the ball rolling. My first league went okay with a 3-2 record, but the deck felt like it had potential though it needed a lot of tuning. Divide by Zero was too clunky and was a last-second addition to the deck as a way to get a win con that was also a versatile answer card. I’d like to fit an Abrade or two into the mix to answer Pithing Needles, so Chandra can do its thing. Chandra is so good at winning that you don’t need other win cons as long as you have something. You can dig for more Timewalks, and copy all your draw spells to find them. It becomes trivial once you untap with Chandra. The deck’s plan against blue decks is to board into the same configuration I was with Creativity. Horrors and Sharks, except this time, it's Chrome Host Seedshark over Shark Typhoon. It’s not to say that Shark Typhoon shouldn’t be here in some numbers, but I was impressed with the Seedshark post-board everywhere. It’s a good blocker and generates tons of value as the game goes on, and I often found myself winning, yet never casting Chandra and only sequencing Seedshark into Trespass on the same turn and untapping with 13 power in play ready to attack. While I think it's low probability that this deck is better than Izzet Creativity, Chandra has proven to me over one league that it's strong enough in current Pioneer to see play. I will keep iterating and improving on this archetype in the short term. Pioneer does require intimate knowledge of your deck, so I plan to choose a deck no less than a week before the event and jam about 50 matches with my chosen deck to tweak and learn. Even if the deck does show promise, I may need to cut it short for this event and continue later because I need to focus on what's best for the tournament, not a pet project that may not work out. I’m almost interested in exploring Rona decks, but the hive mind has failed to find a good version of Rona combo, as it’s virtually nowhere to be seen. I will keep an eye out, but I find it unlikely that I end up registering Rona. I’ll let Matt Nass cook on that one and see if he can break it open. My last hope? Maybe I just learn Lotus Field well and get tons of reps in with the deck. I’m still a bit skeptical of Lotus and I think a lot could go wrong. It seems to be strong and better positioned now than it has been in a while. If hate picks back up at the RC itself, it’s the kind of deck I’d rather not be wrong about since you lose to prepared opponents, tons of mulligans, and nearly un-winnable match-ups rather than losing close games you can control. I want some agency, and while RC players are good, not all of them are the world’s best that I’ve been playing in Rivals league. I want to find something that fits into my skillset of reading a metagame and taking advantage rather than settling on the best goldfish deck and hoping my opponents mess up in deck registration or in playing their games. I was ready to trash this deck after one league, but it showed enough promise that I figured I’d put it out there and continue to work on it. Ultimately, I’m excited to get a chance to play a worthwhile tournament and spend another weekend with great friends. See you in Dallas.
- Reviewing MOM Limited Decks
-- Mike Sigrist March of the Machine has finally arrived. I’ve heard a variety of opinions about the Limited format, most of which have been negative. I was ready to call it after my first three drafts, but after getting some more time with the set, now I can’t stop playing. My current stance is it’s the single most enjoyable straight-to-Standard format I’ve ever drafted. Maybe there’s a bit of a recency bias and ONE Limited rebound effects making me feel much better about it, but the format is so dynamic, and every draft feels different. Between battles, the bonus sheet, and tons of pushed rares, the format feels high powered, fun, dynamic, and I enjoy both the games and drafting experience. I did a lot of losing in my first few drafts, as I was still figuring out cards and mana bases, and I basically started stretching my deck out as much as possible. Since then, I’ve done a lot of winning and feel like I have it figured out. However, I would like to state that from my understanding, MTGO and Arena are very different formats. Arena and MTGO handle the variety of rarities, bonus sheet cards, and battles differently. I’ve played exclusively on MTGO at this point. From my understanding, Arena has decreased the format’s power level. As far as I know, if you open a rare battle on Arena, there’ll be no normal rares. On MTGO, I’ve seen plenty of packs with three rares. This is my first MOM draft deck. I went 1-2 with this deck with some of the most obscene rares in the format. Where did I go wrong? I played a lot of bad creatures like Kithkin Billyrider, but mostly I played a lot of close games with good opponents who were able to handle my Glissas. I didn’t go into the draft planning to draft a deck like this, but the more I play I tend to mush all the rares I can reasonably play into my decks. Even though it’s been less than a week, this deck feels like ages ago, but many of my choices made a lot of sense. Cards like the Urn, which is a bad card, did a bunch of small things. It played well with Lurrus and fixed mana, but also I could easily cycle it off the Stormclaw Ragers. However, this deck had too many below-rate creatures and didn’t play all that well together. Next up, I believe this is my first trophy deck. This was a streamlined BW Phyrexians deck. I took advantage of the open archetype. Looking back, I wish I played less Swordsword Cavaliers and added an Unseal the Necropolis. At this point in the format I was still worried about getting run over, which doesn’t happen that often in my Bo3 experience. Boon-Bringer Valkyrie seems to appear in all my decks, and I think the card is overhyped. There are a lot of ways to halt aggression in this format and several clean answers to the Baneslayer. While the card is great, it’s probably the worst a Baneslayer has ever been because it can be cleanly answered by tons of commons, and it gets overpowered by the many rares. This is later in the format, but this deck was pristine. Sometimes an archetype is wide open, and your deck will be busted if you find an under looked archetype in a pod and the packs cooperate. One thing I’ve noticed is that you want to make your bad cards do the most they can. Here, there aren’t many bad cards, but two-mana 3/1s are not very good in this format. However, all my two-drops can one-shot connect with my Invasion of Zendikars and play nicely with Cosmic Hungers to do the same. You may look at this and see I have less commons than other rarities in this deck, and that’s honestly what you’re looking to accomplish. They load the pack up with added rarity cards, including uncommons, so you want to hold yourself to playing premium cards and find and take your lane. The crème de la crème. I started this draft with a Jegantha and moved in after immediately getting passed an Omnath. Some might think this is memeing, but it’s great to be ambitious. This is not the only time this came up for me. This is the best of my 5c Jegantha Companion decks, but it’s come up three times in just over 20 drafts, as you can see here. All these decks played out quite well, and I was surprised they were competitive. I managed to make the finals in all three, but lost two to higher-powered decks. Companions are great, and it’s worth going out of your way to try and play them. I’ll keep enjoying being passed Lutri, but you should probably stop doing it. Here are a couple of Trophy Lutri decks: I started out with a Jegantha in his deck but got a Lutri pack two, changed companions, and got paid. Lutri is obscene with the convoke removal spells, as it’s much easier to have an early huge blowout. Lutri might be the best card in the set because it’s very high impact and has the lowest companion cost. Next is a Lutri deck where it’s not great as a companion, but it’s a free card nonetheless. It’s much harder to set up Lutri with combat tricks, which was most of what this deck could use it for, however the deck’s power level is wild. In general, this format is not about beat-down and combat tricks, but it’s not a bad strategy when your top end is this strong. Lutri mostly had no impact, but I was able to close a game I was going to lose by copying a Stoke the Flames. Either way, I got Lutri this draft pick-four-pack-one, which should certainly never happen. Let’s look at more companion trophies: Yes, you can companion Lurrus and win. I like Lurrus, but you’re almost always going to need to start with it to get there. There are a lot of ways to get around its clause with incubate, so looking for those or a nice low-curve, spell-heavy deck like this one can suffice. Having a free card, especially a free two-for-one every game, is a huge upside and worth taking advantage. Next we have a Yorion deck. It barely got there on playables, and you’ll have to play some filler, but Yorion is such a strong card that it’s worth it if you can start with it and identify an open lane. You have to avoid taking dual lands and speculating, and you’ll likely have to stay in exactly two colors, but the upside is just so high. Yorion is especially good with battles, so it slides into this format perfectly. Speaking of battles, and I’ll admit that I didn’t like the concept, but they have played out much better and are more fun than I originally thought possible. I absolutely love how they affect combat. Often I want to only attack them with one creature because flipping them at the cost of a lot of life and overkilling them may not be worth it, but sometimes it’s worth the effort. Overall this is one of my favorite Limited formats. Companions coming up so frequently is fun, but also drafting with so many different rares can change how you evaluate cards in each draft. There’s a lot to be gained in sideboarding and making sure your cards line up well. I’ve seen a lot of people who dislike the format after minimal play and losing to some busted rare, and then they swear it off. You can beat most of the bombs in the format by overpowering them, getting under them, or having the right interaction. If you play more of this format and enjoy formats like Tinkerer’s Cube, then it plays a lot more like the aforementioned than a low-powered draft format. Either way I have an Arena Open this weekend, and the Pro Tour is the following weekend, which I will be battling in Limited PTQs. After that? A MOM Limited Arena Champs Qualifier. If you’re a competitive-minded player, MOM Limited is everywhere for the next few weeks and practicing will be necessary, but also in my opinion, extremely enjoyable.
- The Archetypes of MOM Limited
-- Mike Sigrist With the Pro Tour coming up, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about various archetypes and cards. I’ll be playing PTQs in Minn, and the Arena Championship Qualifier is next weekend, so there’s plenty of MOM Limited left to be played. This week, I’m going to go over more MOM Limited, including archetypes, key cards, and how I end up in these spots. Boros Backup Boros is designed to back up creatures in the set. The key uncommon of the archetype is the two-drop gold creature, Mirror-Shield Hoplite. Boros isn’t a popular archetype for good reason. Red and white are two of the weakest, if not the weakest, colors in MOM Limited. For this reason, people bias themselves away from the colors and often don’t start early in Boros. I typically find myself here after taking a strong rare or uncommon in one of the colors first and taking a few cards of that color. White or red is so underdrafted I get pushed in, or I get past a late-pack-one Mirror-Shield Hoplite, which I’m more than willing to speculate on and dive right in if it’s open. Ideally, I get at least two two-drops that pay off for being in backup, which is either two Mirror-Shield Hoplites, or one of those and the rare Dusk Legion Duelist, a card that goes around fairly late because it doesn’t fit well into many decks. Boros typically doesn’t want to splash or play expensive bombs like Etali. I’ll take it if I get a dry pack with an Etali, but I’d rather take a card like Sigiled Sentinel or Realmbreaker’s Grasp instead. Speaking of Realm Breaker’s Grasp, Boros isn’t a deck that needs much removal. It's nice to get two or three pieces of good removal, but it's not necessary. The goal of the deck is to win fast and outsize your opponent’s creatures and make blocking difficult to impossible. As a side note, Boros’s theme can be “equipment matters,” but it's based off the unreliable Multiverse Legends. The equipment is generally weak in the set, and while I’ve seen the deck come together, you want to focus on backup unless you’re able to wheel a late Reyav, Master Smith, or Valduk, and then find more copies of them in pack two to focus on that strategy. I’ve never accomplished this myself, but some of the better decks I’ve seen in the format have had three Reyav and two Valduk amongst equipment like Kor Halberd and Mirran Banespliter. Key commons: Sigiled Veteran, Angelic Intervention, Bolas Slinger, Volcanic Spite, Realmbreaker’s Grasp Sleepers: Kite Sail, Golden-Scale Aeronaut Azorius Knights Azorious Knight is one of the best archetypes in the format, but I’ve had a tough time getting into this lane because it requires an early commitment to the archetype. Knights make great use of cards other decks can’t use, like Swordsword Cavalier and Protocol Knight. I typically end up here after taking white cards early rather than blue and filling my deck with the blue cards I can get. It’s no secret that blue cards have been in high demand, so when I start in blue I tend to stay there rather than speculate on white with a Knight theme. Knight archetype cards are unique to the archetype, and the cards that play well in blue in Knights don’t play well in other archetypes like Dimir. You want to be permanent heavy in this archetype, be able to curve Swordsworn Cavalier into a Knight every turn to make blocking difficult early, and close by either going so wide your opponent can’t keep up, or close with fliers like Preening Knight and Xerex Strobe-Knight. This deck plays battles well, as it’s easy to get on board early and use cards like Invasion of Kamigawa or Invasion of Xerex to push the tempo and get more threats on board. Interaction for Knights is much like Boros in that it doesn’t need too much and the interaction type doesn’t matter. Realmbreaker’s Grasp, Temporal Cleansing, and Ephara’s Dispersal are great in the deck, and you only need a couple of ways to interact thanks to how fast the deck i and the built-in version in Protocol-Knight. Azorius, much like Boros, doesn't want to splash, as it’s focused on getting ahead and staying there. It’s not looking to play a long game and get stuck with a spell it can’t cast. You can splash cards like Zurgo and Ojutai if you get enough lands, but you typically don’t want to play a card like Skittering Surveyor. You need an onboard advantage early. Key commons: Swordsworn Cavalier, Preening Knight, Sigiled Sentinel, Knight of the New Coalition, Realmbreaker’s Grasp, Ephara’s Dispersal Sleeper: Status Field Orzhov Phyrexians There are a lot of ways to draft Orzhov in this set. You can draft a focused Phyrexian theme with the themed uncommons, like Sculpted Perfection, Phyrexian Awakening, and Gift of Completion. Additionally, you can play a good-stuff deck. Black is deep and has tons of removal, Phyrexians, and bombs. White can be your support color for it’s solid creatures like Norn’s Inquisitor, Tiller of Flesh, and Alabaster Host Intercessor. This is likely the best home for all of those creatures. Unlike other white archetypes, combat tricks like Angelic Intervention are at their weakest regardless of how the Orzhov build because you’re generally able to get a lot of removal in this archetype from both black and white, as both colors have a lot of removal. Even white has some good uncommons like Seal from Existence and Elspeth’s Smite. Generally, this deck wants to play a grindy game and finish with powerful cards, so splashing is quite alright here. Skittering Surveyor even fits in fine in addition to duals you may get because the crappy body can be sacrificed to a Final Flourish or Invasion of New Capenna. Overall, this is an archetype that’s common and one I like quite a bit. This deck gets much more from the rare and uncommon slot than it does from the common slot, as a lot of the white commons don’t suit it well but a majority of the uncommons do suit the deck. Key commons: Deadly Derision, Final Flourish, Alabaster Host Intercessor Realmbreaker’s Grasp Sleeper: Traumatic Revelation Selesnya Counters By far this is the most difficult archetype in the format for me to get into. The support isn’t very deep. This is mostly supposed to be a backup deck, but the payoffs aren’t plentiful, so it's just a deck to me. You can just play a go-wide, curve-out strategy and use cards like Invasion of Moag and Shanna, Sissy’s Legacy to great use, but mostly it’s hard to get into this archetype unless starting with a card like The Ozolith and finding a Botanical Brawler early. These colors tend to not have the best two-drops that can take advantage of the backup counters as both Wary Thespian and Swordswon Cavalier won’t be able to push through many blocks with only one more toughness. Much like Boros and Azorious, this archetype doesn’t need tons of removal but does want some. You generally want removal that stops blocks, so not cards like Cut Short, but Tandem Takedown, Seal from Existence, Cosmic Hunger, and Realmbreaker’s Grasp all play well here. Key commons: Sigiled Sentinel, Angelic Intervention, Bolas Slinger, Realmbreaker’s Grasp Sleepers: Golden-Scale Aeronaut, Kite Sail Dimir Control Dimir is my favorite archetype in the format, but it’s also one of the hardest to get into. Dimir has the two deepest colors at common and can play most of the cards from both colors quite well. I get into Dimir regularly, and if I’m not first picking a rare or uncommon, I’m almost always looking to take Preening Knight, Deadly Derision, Final Flourish, or Ephara’s Dispersal out of my pack. These are four of the best commons in the set, and I often get them early. While Dimir is incredibly deep at common, it's also very rich in gold cards at uncommon and higher rarity, which makes it irresistible sometimes. Halo Forager and Invasion of Amonkhet are two of the best uncommons in the set. Dimir is one of the rare archetypes that can compete with even the best rares because of the archetype’s availability of tools. Between Traumatic Revelation and Assimilate Essence amongst all the archetype’s removal, you can handle almost any bomb or amount of bombs an opponent could reasonably possess. Additionally, Assimilate Essence is a crucial card given the bomb-heavy format, and people are too low on this card. While there are many bombs to be had in this color combination, it doesn’t need anything more than commons and uncommons to be a fantastic deck, which is incredibly rare in this format since the power level is very high. I’ll spoil my sleepers because I believe Expedition Lookout and Disturbing Conversion are underrated and almost always wheel. They have great synergy together and are excellent to fill holes in your deck. Milling opponents out is often an underlooked win con in this archetype and can be done fairly easily with the commons and uncommons that mill both players. You just need to time the last of the spells correctly. One of my Favorite Splinter Twin combos of the format is Breach the Multiverse and Halo-Charged Skaab. Key commons: Final Flourish, Deadly