MTGS Mini #5: Fact, or Fiction?

MTGS Mini is the format we'll be relying on for the next two weeks. People don't like to write much during the holidays, and as a result sites like and... well... ours end up with less material for the front page. However, instead of giving you two weeks of MTGS Classics, you'll see two weeks of MTGS Mini, a far more easygoing format. So sit back and relax while we relax... our standards. If this isn't your thing, take a break and we'll see you in January! Smile

Fact or Fiction is one of the most skill testing cards in all of Magic. As the player dividing the piles, putting two certain cards together could be your downfall. As the player choosing the piles, your opponent will try and make it as hard as possible to make the piles beneficial. How do you do both of these skill testing elements? Thats what I'll be covering today. For those who don't know what this Extended staple does, here is the card in its full glory:

When I'm the one splitting the piles, the first thing I try and isolate are the two most important cards. The start of each pile should have one of the two most important cards in the five cards revealed. The exception to this rule is if two of the cards are the same. Then, after I figure out which cards are the two most important, I try and figure out the relevancy of the other three. If it's late in the game, basic lands are probally fairly low on the relevancy meter. I usually try and give the small pile, the two pile, the most important card and a card that isn't very relevant.

Which brings me to another point. Unless there is one card in the pile that its owner has to get you should pretty much NEVER split the piles 4-1. If the one card pile isn't going to win the game right away, the 4 cards in the pile, even if they are all lands, are very often the best option and will give the opponent an unsavory (to you) four-for-one deal for only four mana.

Let's examine one cast Fact or Fiction. You're playing some kind of crazy deck that uses some insane combo involving three Chimney Imps, a Dimir Doppelganger, and a Moriok Rigger to win all in one turn. Unfortunately, it also involves Donating Telepathy to your opponent. Since your opponent knows that you're going to go off next turn he, who is playing a Mind's Desire combo deck, has to go off and win on his turn. At the end of your turn he casts Fact or Fiction. He has only played a Rampant Growth so far to ramp his mana up to 4, two Islands, and two Forests, with the possibility of playing a fifth land next turn. He casts Fact or Fiction and reveals the following cards:

I look for the two most important cards here I see Heartbeat of Spring and Early Harvest, closely followed by Mind's Desire. The Rampant Growth is the lowest on the scale here. Normally the Forest would be the lowest, but there is a chance that he doesn't have a fifth land in his hand which would really hurt him when he tries to go off. So the importance scale looks like this: Heartbeat of Spring/Early Harvest, Minds Desire, Forest, Rampant Growth.

Now, even though I think that Heartbeat of Spring and Early Harvest are the two most important cards here, I have to evaluate if I really want to have them each in a different pile. That means that my opponent will get Desire and a mana enhancer no matter what I do. However, as bad as it is to give my opponent a mana enhancer and a Minds Desire in the same pile, it would be even worse if I gave my opponent both mana enhancers and he already has a Minds Desire in his hand. In the end, I would probally split it like this:

Pile 1:
Early Harvest
Minds Desire

Pile 2:
Heartbeat of Spring
Rampant Growth

Feel free to discuss and critique my choices on the forums and have a happy holidays,

-Gavin Verhey


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