The 2007 Regionals Primer



I hate studying for a test. My concept of a "serious" study session involves a case of beer and a football game on TV. I might use my textbooks, but only if I spill beer and can't find a paper towel. Regionals are a lot like a test, but instead of being tested on your ability to do biology, you're being tested on your ability to build and play a competitive Type 2 deck. Just in case your study habits are as bad as mine, I've made you some Cliff Notes. You've got about a week left to prepare, and Arena League Football is on TV until July.

Good Choices for the Regionals Metagame

Aggro

RG Gruul GR

[i]Summary[/i]
Most people in the know are calling Gruul [i]The[/i] aggro deck for Regionals, and for good reason. Gruul has a rare blend of explosive speed, and remarkable consistency. It draws "the nuts" more regularly than any other deck in the format. It's also easy to modify for whatever metagame you expect, and as a result, it's very difficult to hate effectively. I've seen Gruul players go as high as 18 burn spells, and as low as four.

[i]How to play it[/i]
With Gruul, your biggest concern is putting a hurt on the other player's life total. Typically that means your first priority should be to keep creatures in play and attacking. If you have a hand full of removal, use it on the other creatures to give your guys a clean shot at his head. If you have a hand full of threats, instead attack into the defense, since you can follow up with more dudes.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
There are only three things that Gruul players don't like: removal, lifegain, and blockers. Combining those (Loxodon Hierarch, Lightning Helix, etc) really makes Gruul players angry. Most Gruul decks have a burn range that caps out at 8 life or less, so as long as you can control the combat phase and keep him from dealing creature damage, you're probably safe. Also, some versions of this deck are woefully unprepared to deal with Circle of Protection: Red.

Gruul (Hybrid-Peebles)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
6 Forest
5 Mountain
4 Karplusan Forest
4 Stomping Ground
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Pendelhaven

3 Scorched Rusalka
3 Llanowar Elves
4 Kird Ape
4 Scab-Clan Mauler
3 Riftsweeper (or Tin Street Hooligan)
4 Burning-Tree Shaman
3 Call of the Herd
3 Giant Solifuge

4 Might of Old Krosa
4 Rift Bolt
4 Char




RW Boros WR

[i]Summary[/i]
Wasn't it just a little while ago that everyone was talking about how Boros is as dead as Lindsay Lohan's career? The deck is still a bit under the radar thanks to the hype Gruul is getting, but Boros is in position to do very well at Regionals. It plays a much heavier burn component than Gruul, which gives it longer range against removal spells. It also means the Boros player is usually the control deck in aggro mirrors.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
Boros doesn't quite have the same explosive speed as Gruul. However the extra removal (especially Lightning Helix) and evasion gives you better odds in a game that lasts one or two turns longer. If your opponent is playing creatures, burn 'em off the board. Otherwise, throw everything at his face. Be careful about over-committing to the board against Wrath/Damnation decks, and you'll do fine.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
If you're playing aggro, you NEED to be the first person to make a creature stick. Unless your aggro deck is some rogue creation, it has less removal than Boros, so it's imperative that you dump cards onto the table as fast as possible. If you're playing control, you need a plan for dealing with burn. His burn range is about 12 to 14 points, and I've had a few games where I took my opponent all the way from 20 down to 0 without ever dealing combat damage. Counters, lifegain, and damage prevention are a must if you want to go long.

Boros (21-19-20)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
3 Mountain
7 Plains
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Sacred Foundry
2 Zoetic Caverns
1 Boros Garrison

4 Savannah Lions
3 Scorched Rusalka
3 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
4 Serra Avenger
2 Sulfur Elemental
3 Giant Solifuge

4 Seal of Fire
4 Rift Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Volcanic Hammer
4 Char



Combo

GBU Dredge UBG

[i]Summary[/i]
There are two very different versions of dredge right now. There's the one that plays Flame-Kin Zealot and tries to kill you with hasted zombie tokens, and there's the one that tries to reanimate Akroma and kill you with her. The FTK version is (in my opinion) the much weaker option. It has more explosive power, but it's easier to hate out and is incredibly inconsistent.

[i]How to play it[/i]
There are two things you need to be aware of when playing dredge. 1: If you aren't dredging, you're losing. 2: You'll be facing a lot of hate. It's a good idea to mulligan aggressively and get the dredge engine going soon. Winning game one is very important, because taking two games post-sideboard is very difficult. Also, Naturalize or Krosan Grip are not optional. You NEED an answer to turn 0 Leyline of the Void.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
If you're facing the Flame-Kin version, watch out for Bridge from Below tokens. Your opponent will eventually get either Svothgos or Golgari Grave-Troll online, but typically you'll be ready to deal with them by the time he hits 5 mana. Either that, or you'll be playing aggro and he'll be dead by the time he hits 5 mana.

If you're playing the Akroma version, try to keep the creatures off his side of the board. If he can't discard his dredge cards, he can't get his deck going. It's tough, because he only needs to dredge once to win, but do your best. For sideboard options, Leyline of the Void is the best choice for people with Black. Tormod's Crypt is a distant second, although Crypt in multiples should give you an advantage most of the time.


Narco-Dredge (Non Flame-Kin)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Snow-Covered Island
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Svothgos, the Restless Tomb
4 Horizon Canopy
2 Watery Grave
2 Gemstone Mine

4 Greenseeker
4 Llanowar Mentor
3 Magus of the Bazaar

4 Narcomoeba
4 Golgari Grave Troll
2 Golgari Thug
3 Stinkweed Imp
2 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Blazing Archon
1 Angel of Despair

4 Dread Return
3 Life from the Loam
4 Bridge from Below




UR Dragonstorm RU

[i]Summary[/i]
You could do a lot worse than playing a deck that's got a world title on its resume. There literally isn't a single deck in the format that can handle the Dragonstorm "nuts" draw. However while D-Storm is incredibly powerful, its got consistency problems that could plague you over the course of a long tournament. Still, the deck is good enough to go all the way, especially if people aren't packing hate.

[i]How to play it[/i]
Know how to mulligan. When you play Dragonstorm, several of your matchups are nothing more than a goldfishing competition. Knowing what hands to keep and what hands to throw away is the single most important part of playing this deck. Also, knowing how to deal with each of the hosers is key. For example, against White. it's a bad idea to tap out when he's got 3 mana showing, because a flashed Aven Mindcensor can cause you big problems.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
The most effective way is to play combo-hosers. Stuff like Castigate and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV are very good at keeping him from going off. Other than that, Dragonstorm specific hosers include Trickbind, Shadow of Doubt, Aven Mindcensor and Hide // Seek. Most decks [i]can[/i] beat Dragonstorm; the tough part is deciding if you want to dedicate the sideboard slots to doing it.

Dragonstorm (Pactless)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
9 Island
1 Mountain
4 Shivan Reef
4 Steam Vents
2 Calciform Pools
1 Dreadship Reef

1 Grozoth
4 Bogardan Hellkite
2 Hunted Dragon

4 Sleight of Hand
4 Telling Time
4 Remand
4 Gigadrowse

4 Lotus Bloom
4 Rite of Flame
4 Seething Song
4 Dragonstorm




Control

UB Dralnu BU

[i]Summary[/i]
Dralnu was without a doubt the best deck in the format until Detritivore started giving it headaches. Dralnu players still haven't come to a consensus on how to deal with him. Some have gone White for Pull from Eternity and Sacred Ground. Others are playing Red for Detritivores of their own, and some people have stuck with UB, but cut down on the number of nonbasic lands. Regionals will be the proving ground to show which of these new strategies works the best.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
The most important skill for any Dralnu player to have is threat assessment. Some cards like Calciderm pretty much have to be countered on sight. Other times, you need to judge if you can take 4 or 6 damage from Kird Ape before you play Damnation and wipe his board, or if you need permission immediately.

The answers depend on your splash color (if any), the tempo gained/lost each way, and the card advantage. An experienced player with a well-tested Dralnu deck is quite dangerous, but I don't recommend the deck if you don't have the time to practice all of your key matchups.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
Dralnu is a very powerful deck, but the current versions of it aren't very forgiving. Keep constant pressure on your opponent to always have an answer to your latest threat. Also, Aeon Chronicler and Detritivore are good options for decks that can ramp up mana fast enough. The former provides you two or three extra cards, and a zero mana threat. The latter can cripple your opponent's manabase, especially since any splash colors are likely to be supported almost exclusively by nonbasic lands.

For you aggro players, try and force him into making bad trades. If he needs Damnation to answer your first wave of guys, he'll have a much more difficult time answering the Giant Solifuge that you were holding back. Also, if you're into the Red, a few copies of Cyroclasm are the best 3-mana burn spell you've ever seen.

Dralnu (White Splash)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
7 Island
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Watery Grave
2 Dreadship Reef
1 Calciform Pools
2 Urza's Factory
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Tolaria West

2 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Draining Whelk

3 Spell Snare
4 Rune Snag
3 Remand
1 Cancel
4 Rewind

4 Mystical Teachings
3 Damnation
3 Tendrils of Corruption
1 Sudden Death
3 Repeal
1 Extirpate
1 Pull from Eternity




UWBR Tron RBWU

[i]Summary[/i]
If there's one deck I really like, it's Tron. Aeon Chronicler is one of the best creatures in the format, and Tron players can suspend him for 4 points on turn 3. That's Tidings stapled onto Maro, and at the point in the game where "normal" decks are doing something like casting Phyrexian Arena. There's a lot of versions of Tron, and I don't have enough time to cover all of them here. Here's what each color brings:

Blue: Aeon Chronicler alone is enough reason to make Blue not-optional for anyone playing Tron. Plus the addition of Tidings, permission, and Tolaria West are all welcome.
Black: Black offers board clearing removal in Damnation and life gain in the form of the Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth plus Tendrils of Corruption combo. That and Mystical Teachings lets you play all sorts of cool instants.
Red: Detritivore, Demonfire and Bogardan Hellkite are the biggest reason to play red. You also get access to stuff like [card]Sulfur Elemental[card] . . . but who wants that when you can have Hellkites?
White: Faith's Fetters and Wrath of God aside, the biggest reason to play White is Sacred Ground. Conventional wisdom says that the best way to beat Tron is to attack the manabase. Sacred Ground makes this plan not nearly as wise as it used to be.
Green: Don't play Green in Tron. UG Tron is the only version to play Green, and it's horribly underpowered in the current format. That said, Chord of Calling is the best reason to try for Green, since it makes the Pickles lock of Vesuvian Shapeshifter and Brine Elemental much easier.

[i]How to play it[/i]
Each of the Tron decks plays differently, but they all have one uniting factor. The top end spells of any Tron mana curve are absolutely deadly. The rest of the deck is all designed just to keep you alive long enough to reach it. As with Dralnu, it's important that you evaluate threats correctly. None of the Tron versions have enough removal or permission to stop everything. However something isn't going to kill you fast enough, there's no need for you even to [i]try[/i] and stop it.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
Conventional wisdom says that to beat Tron you should attack the manabase. After all, a Tron deck without Urza's Tower is a pretty crummy excuse for a deck. Even Gruul players often use Tin-Street Hooligan to blow up artifact mana.

The Tron win conditions are very powerful, but they aren't very plentiful. A dedicated control player should have the tools in his deck to deal with all of them. I don't recommend trying this approach (it typically doesn't work), but it's still an option if you're playing control and think you've got the right hand for it.


Three Color Tron (UWR)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Plains
4 Urza's Tower
4 Urza's Mine
4 Urza's Power Plant
1 Urza's Factory
3 Steam Vents
3 Hallowed Fountain
1 Sacred Foundry
2 Tolaria West
1 Academy Ruins
1 Izzet Signet
3 Azorius Signet
4 Coalition Relic

4 Court Hussar
3 Aeon Chronicler
3 Tidings

2 Spell Burst
4 Wrath of God
4 Repeal
3 Faith's Fetters

2 Detritivore
2 Bogardan Hellkite




Bad Choices for the Regionals Metagame


Aggro

black mana AggroRack black mana

[i]summary[/i]
This deck is so bad I wasn't even going to put it in my primer. Then I played online, and ran into five consecutive people who were testing Aggro Rack for Regionals. I figured god was trying to tell me I should write a little blurb about how awful this deck was. Anyway. . . .

[i]How to play it[/i]
The trick to having any success with Aggro Rack at all is making the opponent empty his hand out [i]FAST[/i], then keeping it empty. Ravenous Rats aren't much of a threat, but they're good enough if the opponent has no hand left. If you have Extirpate, use it on Aeon Chronicler against control and just about anything against aggro.

[i]how to beat it[/i]
Play a deck.

As an aggro player you want to dump your hand into play as soon as possible. It negates the discard, and Call of the Herd hits just as hard as The Rack does. You can keep a few random lands in hand if you get flooded, but I don't recommend holding back any business spells. If you're playing with Aeon Chronicler its best to play out all the mana you can, then suspend him for big. If you're not, it's a decent idea to save a land or two in your hand for Funeral Charm and his ilk. If you really want to see something funny, try discarding Quagnoth and watch him cry.


AggroBlackRack (White Splash)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Godless Shrine
2 Plains
2 Caves of Kolios
10 Swamp

3 Mindlash Sliver
4 Plagued Rusalka
4 Augur of Skulls
4 Dark Confident
4 Ravenous Rats
3 Jotun Grunt

4 The Rack

4 Cry of Contrition
4 Funeral Charm
4 Stupor
4 Bad Moon




green mana Scryb 'n' Force (And other Green Variants) green mana

[i]Summary[/i]
A powerful deck when the metagame was full of Dralnu and Boros, Scryb & Force and its offshoot Green-based decks are not nearly as suited for the decks you will be likely to face come Regionals. Still, the allure of a turn-3 8/8 trampler will pull people to this deck the same way cleavage pulls teenage boys to a Playboy magazine.

[i]How to play it[/i]
You have one really big advantage against other aggro players, Spectral Force is friggin’ huge! Depending on how you build your deck you might also have stuff like Blanchwood Armor and Moldervine Cloak to make your guys more intimidating. Versus control you need to apply steady pressure. Plan around the first Wrath, but not the second. If a control player manages to get more than two Wrath of God effects against you, you were probably dead anyways.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
The most important thing to remember is that he's got no way to kill you except by creatures. Keep the mana dudes off the table and most G/X becomes a 20 land deck with a 5-mana finisher. Also, he's got no removal at all, so you can commit as much to the board as you want without fear of reprisal at all.

UG aggro controlMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Mire Boa
4 Plaxmanta
3 Yavimaya Dryad
3 Mystic Snake
3 Spectral Force

3 Call of the Herd
3 Psionic Blast
3 Stonewood Invocation
4 Remand
4 Mana Leak

4 Breeding Pool
4 Yavimaya Coast
9 Forest
3 Island




Control

RWU Angelfire UWR

[i]Summary[/i]
In what's becoming a pattern, Angelfire used to be the best deck of t2. That was back when Detritivore made control players crap in their pants, and the other 57 cards could be safely devoted to anti-aggro. The metagame has shifted a bit since then. Control players know about the Detritivore plan, and for the most part, they're prepared to deal with it. Most aggro players haven't wised up yet, but you can bet the ones sitting at the top tables sure have. I don't recommend playing Angelfire at Regionals if you're serious about wanting to T8.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
There aren’t a whole lot of secrets here. Chain your card-drawing spells into your mana producers and your control spells. Against aggro, you want to play out blockers, force him to over-extend, then Wrath his board. Against control, you want to keep dropping threats until one sticks. Defend it with your permission (if you even have any), and ride it to the win.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
Most control players can deal with Aeon Chronicler, Calciderm and company. The threat that has them worried about Angelfire is Detritivore. Anyone who is going into White has access to Pull from Eternity and Sacred Ground. Most other colors need to stock up on basics, although the Willbender plus Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo is highly effective against an Angelfire player dumb enough to suspend the 'Vore against pickles.

If you're playing aggro, this matchup is a bit trickier. Blood Moon (and the Magus) aren't very effective against Signets; however, if combined with Tin-Street Hooligan, you can often win just off the strength of your mana disruption. If that doesn't work, save Sulfur Elemental until after the Wrath. Aside from Calciderm and Aeon Chronicler most of the Angelfire blockers can be dealt with by a Rift Bolt if you've got an Elemental in play. It's probably not a matchup you want to face all day, but it's not the auto-scoop it used to be. Also note, if you're playing Dragonstorm or Dredge, this matchup is a free win.

Angelfire (Calciderm Based)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
3 Tolaria West
1 Plains
1 Prahv, Spires of Order
2 Island
1 Adarkar Wastes
2 Izzet Boilerworks
2 Boros Garrison
2 Flagstones of Trokair
3 Hallowed Fountain
2 Sacred Foundry
3 Steam Vents
1 Urza's Factory
2 Azorius Signet
3 Boros Signet

2 Detritivore
3 Aeon Chronicler
4 Court Hussar
4 Calciderm
4 Lightning Angel
3 Sulfur Elemental

3 Wrath of God
3 Lightning Helix
2 Compulsive Research
1 Tidings
3 Remand




BWG Beach House GWB

[i]Summary[/i]
Beach House is a deck that looks very solid on paper, but just doesn't make the cut in real life. Hypothetically the BGW color pattern gives answers to any threat in the format. Loxodon Hierarch and Damnation/Wrath against aggro, Castigate and Persecute against combo/control, and the ability to take any permanent off the board.

[i]How to play it[/i]
As with any aggro-control deck, the secret to playing Beach House correctly is knowing if you're the aggro deck, the control deck, and when you need to switch. One of the real advantages to BH is it gives both players plenty of chances to outplay the opponent. You can win a lot of matchups that favor the opponent simply by being better than he is with this deck.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
Just because Beach House has an answer to everything in your deck doesn't mean that it'll [i] find[/i] the answer on time. Aggro players need to keep pressure on him early and often. If he ever manages Congregation at Dawn (typically from Glittering Wish) for three Loxodon Hierarchs you're in a world of hurt. If you can tie up his mana on keeping himself alive he won't have time to make this play. However if you give him a turn worth of breathing room, the outlook is a lot more grim.

For control players, the biggest worry is Phyrexian Arena. You can deal with the discard and the win conditions, but not if he's drawing two cards a turn. It's often safe to let Harmonize resolve, but arena MUST be stopped at all costs.

Beach House (Wish Board)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Llanowar Wastes
4 Swamp
2 Forest
3 Plains
3 Temple Garden
4 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Urza's Factory
2 Selesnya Signet
1 Orzhov Signet
4 Wall of Roots

3 Mortify
1 Harmonize
1 Faith's Fetters
1 Persecute
1 Nightmare Void
2 Dimir House Guard
3 Glittering Wish
4 Damnation
3 Phyrexian Arena

4 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Mystic Enforcer
1 Quagnoth
1 Teneb, the Harvester



BWU Solar Flare UWB

[i]Overview[/i]
It's been showing up on MODO recently, although Flare hasn't been a contender in the paper metagame since late 2006. Due to its recent success online, a lot of people are saying Flare might be a good choice for Regionals. In this case, a lot of people are wrong.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
As with most control decks, the goal of Flare is to live through the early game, then overwhelm an opponent in the late game. As a flare player, you've got more high-cost bombs than any other control deck. Once you make it to the point where you can start chaining win conditions one after another, the game's over in all but name.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
Flare has a very tough time dealing with aggro. Most Flare lists I've seen don't have any removal that costs less than 4 mana, so turn 1 Kird Ape turn 2 Scab-Clan Mauler is 12 damage by itself if you're on the play. Throw in some quick mana disruption like Cyroclasm and the game's over before the Flare player ever gets to use the Akroma, Angel of Wrath in his hand.

On the other side of the coin, going long against Flare is quit challenging. The late game threats coming out of Flare are all threats that need to be dealt with immediately, and the early game spells he's using to set them up are Castigate and Persecute. Fortunately for control players, flare often has a difficult time dealing with Detritivore. If you're not playing Red, the best option is to try and play Aeon Chronicler as soon as possible and protect it with counters. Most Flare players don't have much removal, and a 7/7 or 8/8 Chronicler is bigger than his threats.

Solar Flare (Graveyard Independent)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
2 Watery Grave
1 Flagstones of Trokair
2 Underground River
2 Tolaria West
1 Island
1 Swamp
2 Plains
2 Godless Shrine
2 Urza's Factory
3 Hallowed Fountain
3 Orzhov Baslica
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Azorius Signet
1 Dimir Signet
1 Orzhov Signet

2 Aeon Chronicler
2 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
3 Angel of Despair
2 Skeletal Vampire
1 Phyrexian Totem

4 Court Hussar
4 Compulsive Research

4 Remand
4 Wrath of God
3 Castigate
2 Persecute



white mana Martyr white mana

[i]Summary[/i]
Martyr . Has . . The . . . Slowest . . . . Mirror . . . . . Match . . . . . . Of . . . . . . . All . . . . . . . . Time . . . . . . . . . Martyr has been cited as a possible metagame tech for Regionals, since it beats anyone with Mountains. I'm not sold however, since even with a 15-card anti-control sideboard, Martyr can't beat anyone playing permission.

Martyr isn't as awful of a deck as its reputation makes it sound. It gets an auto-bye against anyone playing Mountains, and the Story Circles can even cause control players problems if they can't deal with enchantments. Unfortunately, even with a 15-card anti-control sideboard, martyr still scoops to any deck with permission.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
One advantage to Martyr is that it's not a very difficult deck to play. Stall the game for as long as possible while you try to get the life gain engine running. Once you're gaining about 15 life per turn, save the Wrath of God until your opponent can output damage at that pace. Once you get a high enough life total, the win becomes almost academic.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
The easiest and most consistent way to beat this deck is to stop the Proclamation of Rebirth / Martyr of Sands combo. Once you do that, he's playing a mono-White control deck. You can stop the Martyr either with graveyard removal, using discard on the Proclamation, or keeping a Sulfur elemental in play.


MartyrMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
15 Snow-Covered Plains
3 Mouth of Ronom
4 Scrying Sheets
2 Urza's Factory
4 Coldsteel Heart

4 Martyr of Sands
2 Proclamation of Rebirth

4 Story Circle
4 Chronomantic Escape
4 Wrath of God
4 Faith's Fetters
4 Gelid Shackles

4 Gauntlet of Power
2 Sacred Mesa




Combo Decks

GWB Project X BWG

[i]Summary[/i]
The first time I ever saw an infinite life combo work at the competitive level was Life in Extended several years ago.* Project X is only the second time I've seen such a deck make an impact on the tournament scene. With the advent of Future Sight (or more specifically, Bitter Ordeal) Project X doesn't need to gain infinite life anymore, since it can just remove your entire library from the game instead. Between Bitter Ordeal and Glittering Wish, Future Sight improved this deck quite dramatically. Unfortunately with the amount of hype Dredge is getting, it really sucks to be playing a deck that's vulnerable to graveyard hate.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
Project X basically has two modes it can operate in. There's the GWb Aggro-Control mode, where you play out creatures and try to control the combat step. Then there’s the combo mode, where you focus on getting Saffi Eriksdotter + Crypt Champion going, with either an Essence Warden in play, or a Bitter Ordeal in your hand. Knowing when to transition from one mode of play into the other is very important.

The other important thing to know is what your opponent can do to wreck your combo. Obviously you can't attempt to go off with Tormod’s Crypt on the table, but there's other options too. With Saffi on the stack, any instant-speed removal pointed at Crypt Champion will keep him from returning to play, and force you to find a second Champion before continuing.

[/i]How To Beat it[/i]
As a GWb aggro-control deck, Project X rarely causes problems. It's the infinite combo that generally gives people a hard time. To beat X then, you need to shut off the combo. The easiest way is graveyard hate. Extirpate on Crypt Champion ends things right there. Don't take the Saffi, or she'll come back via Glittering Wish. Similarly, Leyline of the Void, Tormod’s Crypt, and all your other dredge hosers work here as well. Really, as long as you can keep Crypt Champion from coming into play, you'll be fine.


Project X (Wishboard)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Plains
1 Swamp
3 Forest
4 Flagstones
4 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Temple Garden

3 Saffi Eriksdotter
4 Wall of Roots
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Loxodon Hierarch
4 Crypt Champion
4 Dark Confident
3 Essence Warden
1 Teysa, Orzhov Scion
1 Ghost Council of the Orzhova

4 Chord of Calling
2 Bitter Ordeal
3 Glittering Wish
3 Castigate





Sleepers


UBR Flores Teachings RBU

[i]Summary[/i]
Think Angelfire, but just plain better. Mike Flores' latest pet deck appeared after most people had made their choice for a Regionals deck, but for the procrastinators and fans of the last-second audible, this is a solid choice. If you haven't heard of it yet, it’s a RUB control deck. Between Mystical Teachings, Tolaria West, and Clutch of the Undercity just about every card in the deck can be tutored for.

Teachings has matchups that are similar to Angelfire, but with the decided advantage that most people haven't practiced against it nearly as much. Also, the Black gives it a better gameplan against Dredge and Dragonstorm. Right now the deck isn't very refined, but if you want to put some real work into the next week or so, you should be able to fix that on time. The biggest thing you need to do is figure out a way to handle Detritivore.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
Know your tutor targets. Against aggro players the game plan is to stall with Repeal and Remand, then follow up with Damnation. Suspend Aeon Chronicler for only one or two as soon as you can, and start attacking. Generally I try to save Tendrils of Corruption for as long as possible, since the more lands you have in play, the more powerful it becomes.


[i]How to beat it[/i]
This is one of the few decks where aggro players WANT to overextend into the Damnation/Wrath. Early on you need to get as much damage in as possible. Once the opponent hits about six lands, it's better not to play creatures that can be targeted by Tendrils of Corruption and instead to try and burn him out. Note, if you need late beaters, try to stick to the likes of Giant Solifuge Calciderm and Mystic Enforcer. It's very counterproductive to have him kill your guy AND gain 7 life.

If you're playing control, there are a few tricks you can use. First, he's very weak to land hosers. Detritivore can often cripple him, and Annex isn't very pleasant either. Regardless, deal with Urza's Factory first. It’s his best win condition in the control mirrors, so taking them out of the equation is incredibly useful.

Second, he doesn't have very much permission. If you can protect your win conditions, it's often a good idea to play them out earlier than normal here. He can always tutor for answers, but he was going to be doing that anyways. By playing threats out earlier you force him to make plays before he was planning to. Whatever deck you're playing, there are two good sideboard hosers here. The first is Pull from Eternity, or anything else that can deal with suspended creatures. The second is cards like Shadow of Doubt or Aven Mindcensor that limit his ability to tutor.


Flores TeachingsMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Snow Covered Island
2 Snow Covered Swamp
4 Graven Cairns
3 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Watery Grave
2 Urza's Factory
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Dimir Signet
2 Izzet Signet

2 Detritivore
4 Aeon Chronicler

4 Damnation
4 Repeal
1 Sudden Death
3 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Remand
1 Extirpate
1 Whispers of the Muse

4 Clutch of the Undercity
3 Mystical Teachings
4 Tolaria West




black mana MBC black mana

[i]Summary[/i]
It's been a long time since Mono (or Mostly) Black Control has been a tournament contender. In today's metagame, MBC has the tools to do well for the first time since Torment. Much like Torment-era MBC, the current incarnations have an exciting blend of life gain, hand disruption and removal. The only thing that's missing is Nantuko Shade.

[i]How to Play it[/i]
Against aggro, MBC plays the removal game. He plays a creature, you hit it with Last Gasp. He plays three creatures, you play Damnation. He doesn't do anything for a turn, you play Phyrexian Arena and bury him under card advantage and lifegain. Eventually either Korlash, Heir to Blackblade or Tombstalker is going to show up, and aggro decks don't like [i]really friggin’ big[/i] dudes on the other side of the table.

Against control, you want to resolve a Phyrexian Arena as soon as possible. Typically you do that by leading with stuff like Persecute, Castigate, and Phyrexian Totem. Once he's used the counters in his hand, put Arena on the table, and refill. One word of caution: Tendrils of Corruption has been showing up in a lot of control decks lately. You [i]really[/i] don't want that pointed at Phyrexian Totem, so try not to activate a Totem if the other guy has 4 untapped lands and an Urborg in play.

[i]How to Beat it[/i]
Much like Flores Teachings, this is a deck that aggro players want to over-extend into. Once he gets five or six Swamps, you just can't afford to have Tendrils of Corruption targets sitting in play. Instead you play into the early Wrath, take your 4-1 card disadvantage, and try to finish him with burn spells. Card advantage isn't nearly as important as a game win.

If you're playing control, it's a battle of attrition. There's no Upheaval + Psychatog or Rude Awakening that can just randomly win games. Instead the winner here is the first person who can make a win condition stick to the board longer. Most versions of MBC don't have enchantment removal, so Debtor's Knell is a good play here if you've got that option. Otherwise, settle in for a long game.

MBCMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
2 Urza's Factory
12 Snow Covered Swamp
1 Snow Covered Plains
1 Snow Covered Mountain
4 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Blood Crypt
3 Godless Shrine

2 Phyrexian Totem
4 Korlash, Heir to Blackblade
2 Tombstalker
1 Skeletal Vampire
2 Detritivore

4 Castigate
2 Persecute

4 Last Gasp
3 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Damnation
1 Soul Spike
1 Consume Spirit

4 Phyrexian Arena
1 Diabolic Tutor




blue mana Pickles blue mana

[i]Summary[/i]
Pickles hasn't been getting a lot of hype lately. Partly that’s because of weak Dredge and aggro matchups, and partly it's because most control players have been looking for newer and more exciting decks. The bad matchups can be fixed by someone willing to put in the effort, although few people seem willing to try. Regardless, Pickles is in the perfect position to take people by surprise at Regionals.

[i]How To Play it[/i]
Pickles is a rather difficult deck to play correctly. As a general rule, I recommend trying to hold spells back and saving your mana for countermagic. However if you start to fall behind early, it might be a good idea to play a quick morph (or Fathom Seer face up) to try and take pressure off your life total. In the late game, you've got quite a bit of power, since whenever you have a morph on the table, it's risky for your opponent to tap, even at EOT.

[i]How to beat it[/i]
The most reliable way is to play a fast deck. Pickles struggles against Gruul, and has bad matchups against Dredge and mono-Green. If you can slip threats below the counter shield, he'll have to tap mana at sorcery speed to deal with them. When that happens, he won't have mana open for further counters.

If you aren't playing aggro, Pickles is probably a difficult matchup for you. Extirpate is your best threat (if you've got it) since taking Vesuvan Shapeshifter or Brine Elemental out of the game causes problems for the late game. Beware of casting it with morphs on the table though. Willbender can make that Extirpate look pretty foolish sometimes.

Pickles (With Urborg Black)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Tolaria West
6 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Zoetic Cavern
4 Desert
2 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Dreadship Reef

4 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
2 Brine Elemental
1 Fathom Seer
2 Willbender
3 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

4 Rune Snag
4 Remand
3 Cancel
4 Rewind

4 Repeal
2 Tendrils of Corruption
2 Mystical Teachings




Last Thoughts

Talk about information overload! As you might have noticed, the Standard format is rather wide open right now. I didn't even have enough room to cover all the "known" decks. I've had to leave out ones like Gargadon Red, Blink Riders, GW Glare, Walk the Aeons, and KBBK (all of which go in the bad decks category, in case you were wondering). With the sheer size of the metagame there's sure to be a deck out there that you enjoy. Now hurry up and start testing. Good luck, and don't forget to come back and tell me how you did!




* Technically, Aluren had an infinite life combo in it even pre-Life. However that was only a side effect of going off . . . and was typically used to pay for bouncing Cavern Harpy or tapping City of Brass multiple times in the critical turn.

Comments

Posts Quoted:
Reply
Clear All Quotes