There was a sideboarding article on CFB which was helpful. Against GB, basically we get a bit more controlling with Fumigate, Fatal Push, Chandra, and Skysov. On the draw Toolcrafts generally come out. Depala too, especially if Toolcraft is out. Generally Shock comes out. You can shave a Heart if you need space. On the play, you stay aggressive, and it's more upgrading Shock with Fatal Push and Skysov. Though I like siding Fumigate still. If you are afraid of Flaying Tendrils, Pia can come out instead of Depala on the play. Harvester alternatively be cut if they are a slow version.
Ran this deck at a PPTQ earlier today and it was GAS. Borrowed the deck from a buddy who is RPTQ qualified and after some convincing I picked it up and started jamming it Friday. While I went 4-2, I played no less then 4 Mardu Mirrors. I went 2-2 in the mirror so I was wondering how you all approach the mirror. Having talked to various local players there's different schools of thought, so hopefully there's some life we can inject into this thread. My local PPTQ was:
4 Mardu Vehicles
1 B/R Aggro
1 4c Saheeli
1 U/R Zombie Emerge
1 U/R Dynavolt Control
The G/B decks got wrecked by Saheeli which in turn made Mardu a good choice this weekend. It worked out, I finished 14th out of 60, tough, I was 3-0 starting and the mirrors were like walking on pikes.
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Mirror match sideboarding is basically to become a bit more controlling and lean on some of the bigger plays like Gideon and Sky Sov. Bring in stuff like Release the Gremlins, Fatal Push, spare Gideons, and Sky Sov. If you have lifelink stuff in the sideboard like Aetherspheres or Gisela, those would come in as well obviously. Cut stuff like Toolcrafts, Apprentices, and Depala/Thalia. You can shave a Heart for room, especially if you are bringing in extra vehicles like Sky Sov.
Basically, there is a lot of cheap removal in most versions of the deck and 1-drops get outclassed pretty quickly by Hearts, Harvesters, and Gideon, so trying to race is difficult. It tends to boil down to who can setup an uncontested 4-5 drop after the dust settles. Main thing to watch out for is blowouts from Unlicensed Disintegration.
Personally, I haven't been changing the play-draw sideboarding much for the mirror. However, I think switching gears in the GB Constrictor matches (as suggested by Mengucci's team) is a valid approach. On the play, we can expect to put some pressure on with Toolcrafts before they can deploy a Constrictor. That allows us to use removal with tempo advantage. On the draw, they blank our early stuff too easily with removal and larger creatures, and we have to be mindful to kill any Sneks quickly before they can get an insurmountable advantage with Ballista or even a Rishkar followup.
A new Ballista based variant of the deck, interestingly enough, seems to have consistently outperformed the more conventional Mardu Vehicles build that's been seen thus far. Out of the 4 Mardu variants that made it into the top 8, 3 of them were the Ballista variant, claiming 1st, 2nd and 4th place.
The deck seems to be much more midrange/control based, from what I can see, with a Planeswalker-Heavy game plan. Samuel and Alexandre's builds were almost identical, running an interesting Oath/Nahiri+Ob Nixilis sideboard.
Is this going to come forward as the more dominant form of Mardu Vehicles? If so, why? My immediate assumption is that it's better in the mirror match, but it could be for another reason I'm not seeing.
Charly, can you give any insight into what it was like to play against the Ballista variant?
I've played against 2 of them; won vs. Samuel Vuillot in round 12 and I lost vs. Alexandre Habert in round 13 but have to say on a mull to 5 and 6 in both games (first game on the draw so that was pretty horrible). Matchup on paper seems rough, they have all the removal in the world + Balista + Fumigate with a PW package after sb. I also made some mistakes with boarding because in the 'mirror' they tend to board out all their good artifact targets so Release the Gremlins isn't that good, but if they next level you.. it's a big loss because then you really want it! The games vs. Samuel felt very close, game 3 he was bricking on black mana (the deck really needs it, much more than regular Mardu builds), he lost the game with 2 unlicensed, fatal push and I think a Oath of Liliana in hand with zero black sources on the field.
Overall I think the Balista list was fine for the tournament as a meta call, now the factor of the transformational sideboard is known people can target it accordingly.
Do you think the Ballista variant and the walker heavy transformation will remain, or die out now that they're both known?
Also, have you tested running 1 Cultivator's Caravan and 1 Aethersphere Harvester instead of two harvester, in order to make the double white on your 4 Gideons less painful to achieve? It may not even be an issue for you, but looking at the list that's something I'd be concerned about.
The main board is based on PVDR's list from the PT. I've just swapped 2x Caravan for 2x Harvester in the main. Put the 2x Caravan in the sideboard. To make room in the side, I swapped the 2x Mountain for the 2x Spirebluff that were in the side. Some other sideboard changes as well. Since I don't need Blue until post side it's less important to have Caravan main. I wanted the Harvesters in the main for the mirror as well as other random aggro decks.
As far as manabase, a lot of other lists only run 3 plains, don't run the creature lands, run some number of mountains or swamps, and have a full set of Hub. For my list, other than the Spirebluff swap, the manabase is the same as PVDR's. in addition to the standard 4-of duals and Spire, I run 4x basic plains, 2x white creature lands, zero Mountains, and only 1x Hub. That gives me 18x White sources not counting Aether Hub. White is not a problem. Mostly it's getting double Red that's risky, but I only really side into Chandra in the slow matchups anyway.
I don't run into BG all that much at my LGS. Shock is not dead in the control and combo artifact matchups, which I do seem to come up against a bit more. It's obviously very good against Saheeli, which also seems popular at my LGS. Against aggro like GRx energy it's about the same as Push. Vs BG Push is mostly a marginal upgrade to Shock. Shock still picks off Ballistas, Rishkars (in response to trigger), Syphoners, and early Grim Flayers. Mostly I'd want Push for the Snek. So it seems like giving up a lot in other matchups to get a slight upgrade vs BG.
I've been loving the transformational sideboard in this deck, I've made plenty of opponents look silly when I went to the control/superfriends route. I mostly run into rogue decks/homebrews though and the ability to switch gears usually leaves them caught in the brights. That said, I'm not sure what to bring to the PPTQ tomorrow, I don't have a lot of information on the meta as so many non-regulars show up. The last PPTQ there was a solid mix of homebrew controls/aggro and midrange almost a 33% split, of course their were T1 decks but every aggro seemed T1 with Copter, any advice would be appreciated.
Walking Ballista has been an all-star for me, and currently 16-1 in competitive play with my deck. Which makes me more nervous as I'm not sure what to change about the deck for the PPTQ. Avaycn seems to still be an unknown to a lot of people in my area, which leads to massive blowouts. I think two is a perfect number for SB/MB, I personally run her main because I like how she can fly over a lot of threats and can easily be flipped thanks to ballista.
Has anyone tried Oath of Lil/Chandra I want to run them, but it's really hard to make room and maybe it's simply not good enough since I only run 8 Walkers?
Anguished Unmaking is another card I've been looking into for this meta because I would like a silver bullet to a Ulamog or Abbey flip, as I've seen decks like those being played more, I guess I could just use Dec in Stone? I have one in the SB but the instant speed seems blowouty, maybe just two decs? Drop the Skywhalers shot maybe?
Finally, I got to attack with Gideon crewing both Flagship and Heart of Kiran achievement unlocked?
I basically run Farizios list from Utrecht. -1 Pia +1 Thalia, SB: Needle Spires instead of Vent to help with Chandra -2 Fumiagate +2 Chandra.
I know this is a rambling mess, I'm just excited to talk about this deck!
If I had to guess the breakdown of the turny it was:
6- Catlady combo of some sort(both 4-color and control)
8- G/B Aggro/Del
I went 3-1-1 in prelims, losing my first match to a mirror. He was running the Nahiri/Enchantments SB and it hosed my slow hands.
0-2 Mirror. Slow hands and betrayal by the deck.
2-0 Mirror. He was running a older list and I was on the play. I just controlled the board with planeswalkers and won g2 by ulting chandra playing a ballista for 1 counter and fatal pushing one of my creatures.LOL
2-1 Control. He got game one countering everything early and gearhilking late, but game 2/3 he got greedy and kept slow hands and I was able to cruise to victory.
2-0 Jund Energy. First time playing this and It felt like my deck was super favored. Game one he didn't hit any removal and I got through him. Game two was very weird we both kept hands with lots of removal, but I topdecked a Gideon and closed the game out.
Top 8:(in the 8 spot)
2-1(1v8) 4-color combo: Got game 1, got comboed g2(kept a slow hand, got 4 lands and just kept pulling five drops and no removal, won game 3, his deck betrayed him.
(1v5)2-1 GB aggro: Lost a close game 1, but cruised pretty easily g2/g3 beat him with with a sick Ballista play.
(8v?) 0-2 GB Del: My deck betrayed game 1, I kept 3 lands and didn't see a fourth until I was far behind. Game 2 It was pretty close until he ruinous path'd my first gideon, I drew the game out but couldn't turn the corner. In all he killed 3 Gideons, with 3 different plays, not being able to get his Liana in the gy until his second Ishkana is ultimately what did me in.
over-preformed, it was clear no one was expecting that, going forward I'll play two and take out dec in stone. Being able to make sure marvel only gets one spin in energy makes sense and the fact I can instantly take out anything in that matchup for life is great, as your life total is pretty meaningless to them.
I was happy not to go the Nahiri route.
Harvester- Meh. I think caravan/fleetwheel would have been much better.
Chandra- Worth a place somewhere in the Mainboard at bigger turnys.
All hail King Gideon. I would say he over-performed but ole' meatslab has always been great.
Scrapheap- Underperformed, I'm a fan of this card though.
Avaycn- Only played her once(against Jund energy) and she ate a harnessed lightning for her troubles. As soon as I got to my upkeep:(, had he not hand the harnessed lightning though I would have closed the game out, as I had a ballista in hand and nothing like hitting for 4, slamming a ballista for 3 counters using counters and letting avacyn flip to take a total of 10(3 on his upkeep technically)and putting him at 6 meaning I presented lethal. Would have been my favorite play all day.
Walking Ballista- Sooooo gooood. Much Synergy. would play again.10/10
Unlicensed- I honestly wish I could run 5 or 6, helped me turn the corner or put someone within lethal to a ballista many times. Slam a gearhulk with 3 mana untapped, I DARE YOU. Please sire, tap out and play that big green machine and put all his counters on something I can get with a fatal push on my upkeep while I kill the hulk now.
Top phrase from the opposition:
Gideon is so dumb/stupid/broken. Like I didn't already know that!
Top LOL moment:
Black gearhulk killed my Inspector.... yep he gained a life, and I actually killed it with Unlicensed, so he net gained -2.
I've ran the Mardu ballist list with the superfriends sideboard for a week or so now, and dominate everything else. 4-color has the perfect mix of board clogging and removal
Whirler virtuosos has quickly become the bane of my existence.
fumigate? Dec in Stone? Anguished Unmaking was great for me against 4-color, 3 life doesn't matter as they just want to combo off and play defense, and it takes out every piece of the combo at instant speed.
I have not lost a g2 or g3 against 4-color and I know it's because of my sideboard. I also think Shock is a great against them as renegade and whirler both have 2 butts.
Thoughts on Kalitas as a 1-of in the SB? Seems decent vs the mirror to exile those Scrapheaps. Probably more of a 5-drop with push but it seems decent.
Motorist/Ballista debate: Ballista is terrible T2 and doesn't crew much which is why I like Motorist. However Motorist changes your mana base a lot to play more red, dies to Thopter tokens, but it does crew and fixes your draws.
Thoughts on Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Dhund Operative? Ayli is easier on the manabase as you're splashing red, plus it can help turn off the 3 damage from Unlicensed Disintegration. Operative crews Heart of Kiran which is nice, and also attacks through Felidar Guardian.
I like Asylum Visitor as well as it crews and gets advantage in the late game, but dies to Thopters and Ballista.
Went 4-0 last night, I ran a list very similar to Brian Demars? From CFB only having 4 main Gideon and 4 main fatal bush 2 Depala and no Pia. I know Depala has fallen out of favor with people but a 3/3 is relevant and digging for dwarfs and vehicles is nice. attacking with 4/2 and 4/3 has also forced people into blocks they didn't want to make.
G/B del/Aggro 2-1: Lost g1 because he had three snacks and counters just kept adding up, other games I was able to maintain board and smash.
G/R Pum: 2-0: Fatal push and sideboarding ballistas hoses this deck pretty well.
G/B/W Abazan Del 2-1: Hard fought matches, Post sideboard he lost legacy Gideon both games, and in g3 Avacyn as well, But not Chandra who helped me close the game out.
G/B/W Evolution 2-1: Very easily could have been 2-0, had him at 2 life 3 times with a chandra out but he topdecked the right lifegain answers, and weirdly enough I unlicensed three times without an artifact very weird game.
I think Ballista belongs in the sideboard for my meta. I'm also not sure how I feel about cultivators caravan, I think fleetwheel could do more for me because of the trample and potential of Depala making it a 6/4 and a depala/veteran making it a 7/5 trampling juggernaut. Has anyone used fleetwheel against g/b decks?
Anguished Unmaking is still putting some great results for me, I need to find another and replace skywhalers shot.
Last weekend my friend borrowed me a mardu veicles deck and i easily won a pptq.
This weekend, that same deck was borrowed to another friend of mine (neither the owner of the deck or me could attend) to play in GP Barcelona. He went 9-0 on day 1.
Playing this deck is like playing standard on easy mode.