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Unstable Q&A with Mark Rosewater
 
The Dos and Don'ts of Silver-Border Commander
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    I think if you’re going to play a slow 4-drop creature (arguments aside about whether you should even want to) I feel like Hero of Bladehold does the job better and usually closes a game if she gets to attack.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    Yea I guess I should have been more specific, to me using the aggro shell I’m definitely happy when I see a burn deck sitting opposite me. I should imagine the bitter blossom shell has a tougher time against it. I’ve also been running a fairly painless mana base for a while since I only recently bought fetches so maybe my view is skewed.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    Quote from methupmyass »
    Thanks! I'll just have to decide what to go for. There's a lot of burn in my local meta so perhaps the aggro shell would be the most suitable.


    Yea we have a really good matchup vs. burn. You can use Auriok Champions too which are a decent price to buy now to really hammer it home. One or two Timely Reinforcements too and you can basically sit back and watch them tire themselves out.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    Quote from methupmyass »
    So this is my current list. Should I change Bitterblossom for something else? It might not be the optimal build for it, but I feel like it's good to have as a reinforcer.



    I think it's generally accepted that with BW Tokens you're either playing the longer, control game with Bitterblossom or the faster aggro game with Raise the Alarm; I wouldn't want to try and mix the two together. The reason being that Raise the Alarm isn't actually that strong (in fact it's the weakest of our token generators, and this is coming from a player who runs 4 of them btw) it's just that it fits the shell and curve of an aggro build well.

    If you want to go for the faster aggro build I would swap the bitterblossoms for Legion's Landing and the 4th Inquisition for another removal, either another fatal or Anguished Unmaking. You will also find it better to switch out the Shambling Vents for untapped lands if you're going this route too (as I was advised earlier in this thread).

    If you're going for the longer control game I would swap out the RtA's to lean into the lategame and control side a bit more. Throw in an extra Fatal Push, at least one Secure the Wastes and potentially another PW like Gideon; you're already running the 24 lands to support it as well anyway. If you can get the 4th Bitterblossom that would also be great.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    I don't have a full recorded report but I wanted to drop in with my thoughts from last FNM, trying to remember the overall flow of the games but I won't be able to recall the sideboarding or specific turns. Overall I went 3-0-1 (ID last round) which is a MASSIVE improvement on the previous week. This was the decklist I took:



    Yes, sideboard is still trash, I know; it'll be fixed before next FNM, especially now that I have a better overview of the local meta.

    Game 1 - Storm - 2-1-0
    Starting hands were kind to me this round, didn't have to mull at all.

    1) I open up with lots of disruption and he never finds his pieces before I run over him with double spectrals into intangible for a turn 5 kill.
    2) He plays first and combos off on turn 3 with nothing I could do.
    3) Legion's Landing, Raise the Alarm, Spectral Procession & Thoughtseize, 2x Intangible Virtue. Turn 4 kill is sexy.

    Game 2 - Some Janky Combo - 2-0-0

    This guy was playing some weird combo with an artifact I can't remember the name of. He did nothing except make me discard a few cards in the first game and I just ran over him without seeing much of his deck. Game 2 he did some combo for a bunch of mana and hardcasted an Emrakul but I had so many tokens and his life was so low by this point that I could just take the hit and the annihilator 6 and swing back to him for lethal the next turn.

    Game 3 - Jeskai - 2-0-0

    1) Nut draw again. Legion's into RtA into Spectral into double intangible. He removed 1 or 2 tokens but got run over fast.
    2) I pull a slower hand. He spot removals a lot but I just come back with more and more tokens and eventually run over him around turn 7. Not sure what the wincon was because he wasn't running Nahiri.

    Game 4 - Grixis - ID
    We played a friendly that I didn't take seriously and got screwed over 0-2, guy was a good player. Was running Temur which I found surprisingly hard to deal with.


    Overall thoughts:

    Legion's Landing is much more powerful than I thought. Making that aggressive play turn 1 and getting some early lifelink in, as well as the threat of 4 mana turn 3 if your opponent doesn't remove something... it all adds up. I am going to try and squeeze in AT LEAST 3 of these, potentially even 4, I really think this card is incredible for the RtA aggressive shell.

    As far as the local meta is concerned I didn't see any Shift or Affinity so I'll take those out of mind when designing my final sideboard. Top tables were filled with Burn, Grixis, Elves, Merfolk and Jeskai. Gonna grab some Auriok Champions because I think they'll be all-stars against a lot of these decks.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    Ok follow up from my previous post, my first FNM with the deck above.

    Game 1 - Bant Eldrazi - 1-2

    First game he got completely flooded drawing about 11 lands out of 13 cards and I run over him. Second game I have to mull to 5 for having no lands and still have to keep a 1 land hand. Get destroyed when he spot removals the only couple of tokens I manage to produce. Game 3 I have to mull to 6 and make a decision to keep a bad hand with no 3-drops over mulling to 5. Never drew a lingering or spectral and get run over by a displacer killing off my soldiers.

    Game 2 - Elves - 0-2

    Game 1 I open up really aggressively and threaten lethal on turn 5. He pops an incredible CoCo containing his Lord into a second CoCo and swings for 70+ damage. Game 2 I mull to 5 again to get 2 lands, no zealous persecution and get run over by turn 5. Spot removal here kept things down as much as possible but couldn’t do much with the few cards I had and without being able to wipe the 1/1s more efficiently.

    Game 3 - Bye

    Game 4 - Taking Turns - 0-2

    Game 1 opens up really nicely for me, landing into rta into spectral, ready to swing for lethal turn 5. He then gets 3 consecutive exhaustion’s and goes off and wins the game when I don’t get another turn. Second round I mull to 5 for lands again and can’t kill him before he goes off.


    Not a very fun night of magic for me! Having to mull to 5 in half my games was a real downer. Should I be running 23-24 lands?
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    Thank you for your thoughtful responses guys Smile

    Quote from tarotplz »


    Looks pretty solid imo.

    You could consider adding Honor of the Pure to take the deck in an even more aggressive direction, but that's not a must.

    Most people don´t really run 4 Godless Shrines, so you could consider Windbrisk Heights which works better in the aggro shell and kinda stacks with Legion's. If that's not a card you want you could also consider a Ghost Quarter or two.

    In the board I´d maybe suggest swaping out Devour Flesh for Blessed Alliance, which seems like a more flexible option that'll help out in other MUs aswell

    A last little nitpick is that you run 7 discards. The aggressive ones usually only run 6, I´d also favor Thoughtseize over the other options as it's the one that'll discard the most reliable. You could go for a 3-3 split of Inquisition-Seize. I really love Collective Brutality, but I think the controlish version uses it better.


    I keep changing my mind on Honor of the Pure. I don't think I've ever really felt good using it (spoiled by the Vigilance from IV I guess) but I know I need as many anthems as can reasonably be squeezed in if I'm going for the aggro version. At best I think I might shuffle one space for a singleton HotP but I think 4 IV and 4 PW with anthem effects is my sweet spot at the moment.

    I've also recently dropped Windbrisk as well since I found I was never really pulling off anything amazing with it, certainly not in games I wouldn't have otherwise won without it, but definitely food for thought in combination with the other reply below.

    My only plus for devour flesh is for a sneaky Emrakul, you can force your opponent to sac it before it gets to be declared as an attacker and gets the annihilate trigger, otherwise I would 100% take Blessed Alliance. I feel like the Burn matchup is already pretty good with Timely alone and careful self-health management (switch Thoughtseize for Duress etc) so I'll rest on this until I can get hold of some Blessed's.

    I totally hadn't thought about the overload of discards, Collective definitely pushes my control (either hand or removal) slightly over the balance but I'm keen to keep them in for the flexibility in both uses.


    In my opinion, your build is focused, aggressive, strong, and well-built overall. That being said, I do see room for improvement, starting with your land base. It would be more flexible, result in fewer mulligans, and fewer instances of not being able to cast Turn 1 disruption if you added a second set of fetches. This is my first recommendation:

    +4 Windswept Heath
    -2 Plains
    -1 Swamp
    -1 Godless Shrine

    The second land change I would suggest regards utility. Tap-land is the enemy of aggressive builds. Personally, I would swap one Shambling Vent for a second Vault of the Archangel, or even ditch both for a Vault and a Ghost Quarter. With a second set of fetch lands, running three colorless utility lands should not cause you any appreciable amount of mana issues and the loss of two tap-lands will help to ensure that you do not encounter hiccups in maintaining an aggressive tempo.

    My other suggestions concern your sideboard. I don't think there is a compelling reason to run four additional removal spells here. You are already running 8 (10 counting Collective Brutality), and the types of creatures that Dismember and Devour Flesh are useful for are often found in decks that we are already favored against, like Grixis Shadow. There are exceptions, of course (such as Devour Flesh being strong against Bogles, or Dismember being useful against Eldrazi Tron. They are still ultimately second-rate removal spells though that could be substituted for better cards.

    Since your build is aggressive, how about sideboard Zealous Persecution? It's a selective board wipe against Affinity and Elves, or a temporary anthem when you need to push through additional damage. I would also consider including 1-2 copies of Surgical Extraction or Extirpate for combo decks, and a second Pithing Needle. If you really do feel the need for additional sideboard removal, maybe Blessed Alliance could be a better and more versatile alternative to Devour Flesh.

    Kataki, RIP, and Timely are all good, although the argument can be made that there are better options. Stony Silence, Auriok Champion, and Nihil Spellbomb all have pros and cons relative to the cards you are currently running. Just something to consider.

    Best of luck with your tournament on Friday!


    So much to think about! Upon reflection and your detailed comments... my land base is a little messy. It's a hangover from the various versions of the deck I've tried. I can't get the extra fetches in time but is definitely on the radar for the near future but your other comments still stand. I've flip-flopped between 1 and 2 vaults for a while, it's actually my favourite utility land in Modern (I'm a sucker for combat keywords) but I'm finding I'm using it so infrequently that I switched it out for one of the vents. My thought process is that if I end up in a situation where I have enough spare mana to threaten using the vault I've been slowed down and likely against a grindier control deck where deathtouch won't be that useful and Shambling comes into play, although maybe that's incorrect logic.

    Kataki is a personal favourite of mine too; I don't have a huge amount of experience against Affinity but the times I have it's hilarious to see the looks on their faces as they realise they have little to no creature removal but they sided in enchantment hate to deal with you. The obvious issue is that Stony hits other artifact decks as well in a way that Kataki never will. I'll see how it goes.

    I'm actually considering maindecking one ZP and at least having an extra in the sideboard, I think you're right that Dismember is the first candidate to go for that.

    Thanks again for your help guys, I'll have a bit of a think and post the updated list before I go.
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on BW Tokens
    Going in to an unknown meta with my mostly untested recent version of the deck.



    I’m trying to stick to a more aggro shell that is desperately trying not to lean too far into the control side, hope I’ve got the balance right but I’m not convinced.

    I’ve also taken out the third fatal push in exchange for another anguished which I know a lot of people advocate only having one of.
    I’ve found this quite comforting going into an unknown meta and it has been a saviour in the past against a lot of enchantment control or unexpected artefacts and combos relying on such but is probably the first card I’d be willing to switch out.

    Typical all round non-amazing sideboard with essentially the plan to roll over and die to Tron or go-wides (don’t own any board wipes ><).

    Any feedback or advice is greatly appreciated. Will add in my report once I get back on Friday night!
    Posted in: Developing Competitive (Modern)
  • posted a message on Budget BW Tokens
    Ah, that doesn't sound fun. I wasn't sure at all about the sideboarding plan, I still don't understand most decks well enough to know what I should have there, let alone which ones to use for what. I sided out thoughtseizes against Jund because I felt like they could beat me down if things didn't go well, and taking the lifeloss seems like a risk.
    Posted in: Budget (Modern)
  • posted a message on Budget BW Tokens
    FNM Report! It went well, I really enjoyed it this time round and my deck was definitely a lot more effective than the starter version I went with last time. I went 2-2. Here are my notes from the matches.

    Match 1: JUND (0-2)

    Game 1 (loss)
    I mull to 5 due to 1-land hands and still have to keep a bad hand, he keeps 7, seizes my only token generator and beats me with goyfs.

    Game 2 (loss)
    I side out thoughtseizes and timely reinforcements for 2 pithing needles, 2 heros. I keep, he mulls to 6. I first turn inquisition and let him keep a kolaghan's command that I forgot would be a problem. I pith his lilliana (derp), then drew very few token generators. Huntmaster flips a couple of times and I lose. Didn't have enough removal.

    Match 2: UWB Control (1-0-1)

    Game 1 (win)
    I play tokens, he electrolyzes them. I send spirits in, he blocks with restoration angels. I play vault of the archangel and after blowing all his bolts and cryptics he's forced to block with restoration angels so we trade boards a couple of times. He plays batterskull and keeps my number of tokens down and it becomes a lifelink war. Game goes on forever and we're both at 50+ life at one point. Windbrisk allowed me to hide some surprise removal to use during combat in the turns where he didn't get to wipe my tokens until I eventually grind him out. Windbrisk and Vault are MVPs here. He didn't get any desolate lighthouse which probably would have won the game for him. Game 2 goes to time.

    Match 3: JUND (2-1)

    Game 1 (loss)
    I mull to 6. He first turn inquisitions and takes a spectral, leaving me with raise the alarm. He plays 2 goyfs and beats the hell out of me with them. Didn't draw any flying tokens or removal, just sorins, lands and raise the alarms/timely.

    Game 2 (win)
    I mull to 5 due to 1-land hands. He inquisitions and finds only 2 lingering souls in my hand allowing me to flashback turn 2. I pull an intagible virtue 3rd turn, spectral procession 4th and sorin 5th and he just couldn't keep up. Really surprised I won on 5.

    Game 3 (win)
    I mull to 5 AGAIN due to 1-land hands (seriously wtf is going on tonight?). After seizing his confidant and exiling his only goyf he started fumbling. He used lilliana to try and keep my creatures down and almost stabilised. He decided not to blow ultimate at 6 and I kill her and then him as he gets flooded drawing mana about 4-5 turns in a row. Opponent outplayed himself here to be honest, I got super lucky.

    Match 3: UB Control/Drownyard? (0-2)

    Game 1 (loss)
    I draw absolute monster of a hand and he responds with 3 wraths. I play more tokens and he snapcasters another wrath. I play sorin and more tokens and my 2nd intangible virtue and he plays grave titan. I'm forced to block to trade and then never draw any more tokens and lose to tarpits and the remaining zombie.

    Game 2 (loss)
    I side out all 3 timely reinforcements and 2 path to exiles for 2 sundering growths, 2 heros and a pithing needle (think this whole plan was wrong though). He repeatedly wipes the board, counters me, plays -1/-1 enchantments that I never destroy. Tar pits my sorins. Jace's what power my creatures had left and mills me almost for game before I scoop. He completely locked down the board and I needed answers for so many different things that I didn't have/didn't draw.


    Overall a really fun night. My sideboard really needs work but I'm still getting a feel for what sort of decks I'll be facing often.
    Posted in: Budget (Modern)
  • posted a message on Budget BW Tokens
    Whichever one it is that kills you with blighted agent on turn 3. I've lost 3 matches this week to that one whilst barely even casting any spells or doing anything really.
    Posted in: Budget (Modern)
  • posted a message on Budget BW Tokens
    Sounds fair. Good luck! I look forward to seeing your reports.

    The biggest thing to report from my online testing this week is the realisation that I have 0 game against infect. We rely on targeted spot removal and chump blocking to win aggro matchups and a good infect opening hand doesn't care about either of these things. We need ways of dealing with unblockable, hexproof (or untargetable) and protected creatures. Vines of Vastwood and Apostle's Blessing ruin our day and there aren't a huge number of budget counters to stop a turn 3-4 loss. We need to be able to stop a hexproof, unblockable, pumped creature and often we need to do it with only 3 mana (depending on who is on the play).

    After some digging I've come up with a few cards we can play that get us round this, Celestial Flare, Geth's Verdict and Devour Flesh. Celestial flare is a solid option but is hardest to cast since we want to go turn 1 B for a hand disruption spell. Geth's Verdict works well overall but Devour Flesh is much easier to cast (especially on a budget manabase). These have some downsides. One is that it can't single out the creature you want, meaning you have to remove anything else they have first to force them to sacrifice the big guy; also Devour Flesh causes your enemy to gain life, but this should be fine as long as you cast it in response to their pump, they'll only gain the creature's base toughness as life since the pump spell won't have resolved yet. I haven't tested this yet but I've added some of these into the sideboard.

    We'll see if I run into an infect player tomorrow evening!

    Posted in: Budget (Modern)
  • posted a message on Budget BW Tokens
    Looks good. Do you only have the 2 Spectral Processions because of issues with the mana base? I know I wasn't keen on them at first and only had 2 in my original deck but I quickly pumped them up to a full playset once I got a few games in, 3 fliers for 3 mana is just so good. I'd go as far to say that regardless of what type of tokens style you're playing you start with 4 lingering, 4 spectral and 4 intangible virtues and go from there.

    Also, have you found the scullers to be ok? They are big removal magnets but I never ended up actually using them in any games to know how to it plays out. I would be tempted to just switch them for Duress but it's entirely up to your experience.
    Posted in: Budget (Modern)
  • posted a message on Budget BW Tokens
    Fantastic! Many thanks for taking the time to make this primer Smile

    I've been a long-time lurker of this forum, format and deck. I bought the event deck back when it first came out and have been sniping odd bits and pieces for cheap over time while life got in the way of actually playing; I recently moved house and now I have a LGS to attend regularly for some FNM! I've been once and it was... an experience. I knew very little about the format but I'm picking it up quickly. Got my ass handed to me by a Grixis deck, blue tron and UWR control and finally won against some budget red aggro deck. It was a mixed bag of terrible draws (kept a 3 land hand and drew lands for the first 7 turns) and mulligan strategy on my part along with my complete ignorance of the format that caused the first 3 losses but I learned a lot (e.g if your opponent is clearly playing a creatureless control deck and you're struggling for mana, path your own god damn token that's getting wrathed, you noob!).

    Anyway, my deck is very similar to the OP's in the sense that it's a fairly standard 'I can't afford fetches or bitterblossoms' list. Perhaps not 100% starter budget but with a bit of patience with auctions and making sure to check every website around I've managed to put the following deck together and still feed myself on a student budget.



    Note that Anguished Unmaking is a great mainboard catch-all against anything that you really need to get rid of, and can be sided out for more specialised cards (that cost less mana and don't cost 3 life) if needed after game 1. At best, it wrecks a planeswalker that is winning the game for your opponent, at worst it acts as an extra creature removal.

    Sundering Growth is a great budget sideboard card for sniping troublesome enchantments and artifacts while giving you a free token if you already have one in play.

    I highly recommend having the Hero of Bladeholds or similar creature in the sideboard. It feels strange at first in a deck where you're playing to de-value the opponent's removal and board wipes but OP hits the nail on the head when he points out that many decks will side out their removal after the first game. In my online testing I have won plenty of game 2s and 3s just off of the back of resolving one of these once I knew my opponent couldn't stop it.

    I'll head off to my local FNM this week and post a summary if people are interested. My knowledge and my deck is still very much in its infancy so hopefully my ramblings will be useful to others who are just starting out as well.

    EDIT: Note you can make my deck much more budget by simply switching inquisitions and thoughtseizes for duress and Blackmail or just skimping on the godless shrines. I would 100% advise getting the Paths and Sorins as they are core.
    Posted in: Budget (Modern)
  • posted a message on [[DGM]] Maw of the Obzedat
    More like in the whole magic, imnsho.

    We've seen scary arts before, but this one is on an entirely different level.

    First, there's the whole concept of people devout and desperate enough to offer themselves to the many-teethed maw willingly. They see those fangs and they fully understand how gory and messy and painful their death is going to be, yet they still allow themselves to be devoured for their fear of their debts is greater than that of suffering and demise. There's even a bit of suspense involved as the beast doesn't gulp them one by one - it loads itself fully and then chews, so you can only guess how that first guy feels inside, waiting for those jaws to close around him. It seems like there's lots of last moment changes fo heart and pleading, but all to no avail.

    Second, there's the inhumane angriness of the cleric who almost kicks them forward - not even a shred of compassion, only annoyance.

    Third, the eeriness of beast's decoration - apart from the maw, it doesn't look dangerous, on the contrary, it looks rather silly which only accentuates the horror here.

    Fourth, the flavour text - knowing futility of their sacrifice only amplifies the macabre feelings here.

    All in all, I was really surprised to see such art in magic - that's a scenario you'll see in some overly screwed up japanese manga horror, not on a magic card. The only thing I dislike about it (as well as with the whole set) is that Orzhov are painted way too evil (like, through both GTC & DGM there's very little white about them), but that's a different story.


    Why did I read this. I won't be able to sleep tonight.
    Posted in: New Card Discussion
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