I love combo decks. Absolutely love them, especially ones that do nothing for a few turns, then all in one turn, BAM! You're on to sideboarding while your opponent is left wondering what happened in the last 15 minutes. The only thing I love more than those combo decks is those combo decks when they're blue and green, my two favorite magical colors. As you can imagine, I nearly fell out of my chair when Tight Sight came around (an extreeeeemely complex Odyssey/Onslaught/7th Type 2 deck that played Future Sight and then milled its entire deck using Early Harvest to generate oodles of mana, eventually generating infinite mana with Early Harvest and Krosan Reclamation, finally recurring Predict an infinite number of times aimed at an opponent. Don't worry; it confused me too). Now, I am even more excited to have made what seems to be the spiritual successor to that deck. It slices, it dices, it wins turn 4 or 5 90% of the time, it's...
The general idea is to play Heartbeat of Spring turn 3 (not at all a challenge with 8 cantrips), then draw a lot of cards, Early Harvest up a lot of mana, and finally Fireball your hapless opponent for 20-90 damage. Looks complex and hard to play? It is. Don't worry, I'm here to help.
The first thing one must know about the deck to play it is... oh, there isn't anything. Right. So, the first thing you should do is goldfish it. A lot. Over and over. To speed things up a bit, I'll give some tips about how to play it without, um, losing.
Step #1: secure Heartbeat of Spring, as it is absolutely crucial to the deck. Don't have one in your opening hand? No worries; you have those handy dandy Sleight of Hands and Serum Visions to help out. Don't see any of those in your oppening plucks? Most of the time, this is a sure sign to send those cards back for some fresh new ones. It's not game over if you don't play it turn three, but it sure does help a lot. It's perfectly possible to play it turn 5 and win that turn.
Step #2: accelerate, accelerate, accelerate. Turn 2 Sakura-Tribe Elder is the best, but not completely necessary. Remember that you can't win without a mountain, so if you have Islands already, fetch that right quick. This is the mistake I made the most often while picking up the deck: I forgot to fetch the Mountain, severely screwing me over when it came time to go off. Not a fatal mistake, but there's always the possibility that you'll be able to generate 20 mana with only seeing one Elder or Kodama's Reach.
Step #3: with Heartbeat in play, you're in prime position to win. What's that, no Fireball in hand? No problem at all, good sir or madame, that's why God invented card draw! Note that Ideas Unbound is by far the best card drawing engine you have. Tap one Island and draw three cards. In this deck, unless you screw up or there's a land clump seven cards deep on top of your library, Ideas Unbound is a strictly better Concentrate. Just draw, draw, draw, and then you're ready for step #4.
Step #4: manamanamanamanamanamanamana. Manamana? Mana. Translation: with those shiny new cards in your hand thanks to step #3, it's time to bring out the big guns, namely, Early Harvest, and lots of it. At this point, you should have 5-8 land in play, one, two or maybe even three Heartbeats in play, and one or two Early Harvest in hand. Play it, floating all the excess mana you can squeeze out of those now-buff lands. Then, do it again. And again, if possible. Then move on to step #5.
Step #5: play Fireball. Win. Celebrate. Punch opponent in face. Whatever you want, as you should have way over 20 mana at this point.
Next up on the tips list, know your arithmatic. Know that 7*3=21. Why is this important? Seven lands with two Heartbeats in play makes 21 mana, which is lethal damage with Fireball. This is, quite possibly, the most common way you will win. Be able to tell when you have, say, six lands in play, a Heartbeat in play and an Early Harvest in hand, can you generate that magic 21? (Yes.)
Know when to play what draw spells. Sometimes it's simple (turn 1, you play Serum Visions instead of Sleight of Hand). Sometimes it's not (beginning of turn 4 with 5 lands and a Heartbeat in play, you play Sleight of Hand instead of Ideas Unbound). Sometimes you need to know whether to go for the gusto or play conservatively (turn 2, you should never play Ideas Unbound unless you have a ridiculous number of lands in your hand. Like, three).
Understand what land you need. Generally, you'll want your number of Islands in play to be equal to or one greater than the number of Forests in play. Remember: when going off, you only need one Forest for the Early Harvest, while you'll need to be playing a lot of draw spells to find that and your win condition.
Quite possibly the most important thing to learn is what hands you need to send back. Here are some fabricated, though realistic hands:
Forest, Forest, Island, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Heartbeat of Spring, Kodama's Reach, Early Harvest
Send it back. You have no gas whatsoever; in my testing, this usually turns into a turn 6 win (aka bad). If this had even a single draw spell- any draw spell- instead of any of those cards in hand, I would keep it in an instant.
Island, Serum Visions, Sleight of Hand, Heartbeat of Spring, Early Harvest, Early Harvest, Fireball
A mediocre hand, but definately keepable, even going first. Though the one land is worrisome, you have two cantrips in your hand. Imagine this: you play your Island and Serum turn 1. You draw your card and scry. Turn 2, you draw a card and play Sleight of Hand. Going first, you have now seen SIX cards, and if ONE of them is a land, you are golden, my friend. Obviously, against anything red, send it back. Turn 2 Stone Rain is not your friend.
Island, Island, Island, Forest, Forest, Serum Visions, Heartbeat of Spring
Ah, the mana flood. What a curse. Keep it. That Serum Visions will, almost certainly, find you something useful for you to do: maybe a Sakura-Tribe, maybe more card draw. But unless you completely forgot to shuffle and the next 4 cards are land, this is a decent hand with a good chance of going off turn 5 thanks to that turn 3 Heartbeat. Against something packing counterspells, off with this, no matter what. That Heartbeat is nice, but if it's countered, you only have a hope and a prayer on your side.
Island, Mountain, Sleight of Hand, Twincast, Eternal Witness, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Fireball,
This is one I think the more novice players of the deck will get wrong. This is a mulligan, no question. Though you have some form of card draw, and you have acceleration, you don't have one thing: a forest. Because you need a Forest to even have a shot at getting this hand off the ground, if you have a Forest in the next 2 cards, that Sleight of Hand is basically going to be wasted fixing your mana instead of trying to win you the game. If you don't have a Forest in the next 2 cards, then you're basically scewed. Let's change this up a bit: what if that Twincast was a Heartbeat of Spring? Well, then, this just got a bit more complex, but I would still send it back no matter what for the same reasons. What if that Mountain was a Forest? Then I would keep this hand no matter what: you can now use that Sleight to do something useful, like find a crucial Heartbeat, instead of searching for a Forest. What if the Sleight of Hand was instead a Serum Visions? If going first, I wouldn't keep that; it's still too risky without much of a payoff even if you do get a Forest- you search up another land. Then, um, wait. Going second, I keep it... it might sound weird when I just said there isn't much of a payoff, but that extra card is all-important.
Forest, Island, Serum Visions, Ideas Unbound, Heartbeat of Spring, Early Harvest, Sakura-Tribe Elder
This is, as far as I can tell, the best possible 7 cards you can pluck. Turn 4 win is almost certain if you have a Fireball in the next 30 cards of your library.
Next up, the sideboard. At this point, I can't really decide on a truly good one... first of all, my local metagame is so hilariously, um, not an actual metagame that it would be pointless for everyone else to copy and paste mine. However, these are the best cards to use; pick and choose as you see fit. Note that much of this is based on smaller amounts of playtesting; take it with a grain of salt.
2-4 Pyroclasm: mostly against White Weenie, already a pretty good matchup, but also against any kind of Black Hand or Rats decks. Black Hand isn't usually too big a deal, as their disruption is slim to none, but Rats can be a huuuuuuge problem. They usually play denial pretty quickly, being an aggro-control deck, emptying your hand in the process. Pyroclasm is there mostly just to clear the board so you have some prayer of going off. I recommend taking out Twincast for this against Rats, as it's a pretty useless card without a full complement of its partners in crime, and take out Peer Through Depths against more dedicated aggro decks. Twincast is more necessary against them, mostly to make sure that you can deal lethal even after they've removed counters from that hideous creation of Umezawa's.
3-4 Hinder or Rewind: your pick; doesn't matter all that much. Bring in against Tooth for obvious reasons, and against Mono-blue for equally obvious reasons. Take out Peer through Depths for this one: remember that Twincast is extremely useful as a backup spell when going off (copy the spell they targeted or their counterspell; it doesn't really matter).
1-2 Blaze: against decks that like to counter your win condition or Cranial Extraction you. Hey, maybe I'll move one to the maindeck for that purpose... again, Peer through Depths can come out for this.
2-4 Mindslaver: against control. What else can be said?
1-2 Mountain: against land destruction, Confiscate and Annex.
Transitional sideboard: I've been experimenting with a transitional sideboard, going for Kodama of the North Tree and other beaters to mediocre results. Getting enough Forests is a problem. Use at your own risk.
A quick matchup guide: (note that this hasn't been playtested all that well, as I keep changing the deck/sideboard around)
Tooth and Nail: the first game is around 40-50%, depending on their build (Mox builds are much better against you). If they have the Tron in play or in hand, go ahead and lay Heartbeat, as they have the mana to cast Tooth against you anyway. Try to play some Jedi mind tricks on them to convinceT them that you're an Uyo based deck and golly gee wouldn't it suck if they fetched Triskelion and Mephidross Vampire? If they get Kiki and Titan, start sideboarding. Game 2 and 3 are much better, as your sideboarding against them is much better than theirs against you. Chances are, they're going to board in 4 Naturalize, and here's a little secret: it doesn't help them all that much. It slows their deck down almost as much as it slows you down; just remember to play Heartbeat on turn four or five, not turn three, so that you can float mana and continue to combo off if they kill the heartbeat. Your sideboarding, however, is counterspells, which are extremely effective. I'd estimate that games 2 and 3 are around 50-60%; again, it depends on their build.
Mono-blue control, however, is an entirely different ballgame. They have counters and they're not afraid to use them. Counters are really, really, really bad for you. They say "no." That's bad. Game 1 is, unfortunately, as close to an auto-loss as this deck has. I'd estimate around... sigh... 10-20%. I know, it's terrible. Games 2 and 3 aren't all that much better, but hopefully you have something for them post-board. Your best chance at winning this match seems to be curing cancer, having your opponent be cured, and making them concede in gratitude.
For some reason, Enduring Ideal-based decks make up around 1/4 of the metagame in my area. Huh. Anyway, you're not that great against any variants of them, especially game 1 when Ivory Mask completely wrecks you. Oh, and they're faster than you. It's combo vs combo, do what combo vs combo usually comes down to: luck. Side in those Naturalizes.
White Weenie: yay, time for the good stuff. I'd say this is about 50-60% game 1 against a standard build. The only cards you have to worry about are Hokori, which slows them down as much as you (not their land, just that they could be playing beaters with that card, thus winning faster), and isn't a big deal against a deck with 4 maindeck Early Harvests; and Umezawa's Jitte, simply for the lifegain, however, Twincast kills opponents big, so try to draw that. Oh, and try to stack their deck so they can't win before turn 5. Games 2 and 3 are more around 50%, as Worship hurts- again, Twincast is a lifesaver. Remember to actually read Fireball and that it's not Blaze. Board in Naturalize if you think they're going to board in Ivory Mask.
Black Hand: not quite as fast as White Weenie, but the more discard, the worse for you. Decklists vary so much that it's hard to give a guide. Side in Pyroclasm.
Well, that's the guide to mason.dec. Hope you have as much fun with it as I've had. Remember it once everything good rotates out!
By Jesse Mason on September 12th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now