Canal is really nice because it gives you painless untapped mana in your first few turns when you really need it. Sulfur Falls is great later, but it's usually slightly less important that your mana comes into play untapped them.
Burn has been a fine matchup from my experience. Lots of counters and removal spells with enough lifegain in 3 Helixes. Then the Geist lands and clocks them pretty fast.
EE is fine. It's currently competing with the Wear // Tear, 2x Supreme Verdict, and 2x Anger of the Gods in my list. Budget decision online. Meta call. I could see it coming in instead of Anger or Wear // Tear.
The GY hate isn't necessary against Storm, I've found. It is definitely good there, though. The meta percentage overall that's Dredge + Storm is still pretty small, so these GY hate cards are still pretty narrow. Against other decks where GY hate may come in, I prefer to just take my chances with active Snapcasters.
Runed Halo does seem like a great card, and I think I will try it out. Seems fantastic vs. a lot of otherwise bad matchups while still providing utility in other ones.
I do think Anger's worth it--CoCo is a fine matchup, but Anger puts it over the top. Same goes for any heavy creature based deck. It also gives us some game vs. Dredge. I could see it going either way, though--not married to it. I do play 2x Supreme Verdict in my list, too.
I'm off big Elspeth these days. Only really great vs. Death's shadow and ETron amongst the popular decks. It's pretty slow, though, and Grixis Shadow can counter it if you try to cast it on curve. I prefer 3x AV as my grindy cards.
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Aug 15, 2017Have been MIA for a long time, but figured I'd post since I have been running pretty well on MTGO. 2 competitive league 5-0's in the past few days. Here's the list:Posted in: Midrange
Overall it performs very well with tight play against most of the current meta. @IslandsAreBroken: The matchup with 2 Ceremonious Rejection vs. Tron and E-Tron becomes manageable. Still not favorable, of course. Geist provides the fast clock you need vs Tron, and my general strategy against E-Tron is to try outracing with just enough tempo to keep them off balance just long enough to just barely get to 20 damage with Geist/Burn/Snaps/Colonnades.
The truly bad matchups are Dredge and Titan Shift. Not seeing so much Dredge these days, though. Maybe Titan Shift isn't actually supposed to be that bad--Runed Halo/land destruction probably helps, but I haven't generally been a big fan of those.
Specific card choices:
Wrath effects: 2 Supreme Verdict + 2 Anger. Everyone seems on board with Supreme Verdict, but I like Anger against all of the Abzan CoCo decks that have been popping up. Potentially they also help vs Dredge, but that's such a bad matchup I've given up on it. It was a budget decision at first not to have EE, but I think Supreme Verdict is much better since it can be used against Eldrazi and can take out Tasigur/Gurmag Angler.
No GY hate: I gave up on beating Dredge. I don't think it's worth the sideboard slots.
3 Ancestral Vision: It is amazing in all of the midrange mirrors. It actually isn't even bad against Burn and some of the other aggro decks that lose steam after turns 4-5. Sure, it gets stuck in hands at times, but it's worth that risk imo. It's also great in matchups where you have tons of dead cards and would just like to dig toward sideboard hate.
Celestial Purge + Wear//Tear: Very flexible answers. This deck is incredibly weak to Blood Moon, and both are good outs to that. (So are the 3 Islands.)
2 Stony Silence: Comes in vs. E-Tron, Affinity, Lantern control, Ad Nauseam. I love it, but I'm higher on it than most.
Counterspell suite--1 Negate + 2 Spell Snare + 2 Mana Leak + 1 Logic Knot + 4 Cryptic main/2 Dispel + 2 Ceremonious Rejection SB. I have tinkered with these numbers for a long time. I haven't been irritated at all with the current breakdown, which is the first time in months (or maybe years) that I've felt that way. I like having a critical mass of 1-2 mana counters. The 1 mana counters are especially important for preserving tempo. I have really loved the 4 Cryptic version of this deck. You can really span the full range of aggro-control to pure control. I only play one Logic Knot because it was putting me in too many awkward spots where I couldn't have UU on turn 2 (especially without fetch-shocking) and with GY hate cards. It's hard to have enough of a graveyard to play multiples in one game, but sometimes you can Snap one back.
Creature selection (or lack thereof)--4 Snaps + 4 Geists. I used to play 2 Cliques/2 Restos, but Fatal Push makes those very bad right now. Geist is still a necessary fast clock against all the decks that you can't just play full on control against. The burn spells go with that plan fine. I have not liked Spell Queller a lot: it's too slow as a clock to play just as a 2/3 flyer, and it puts me in too many awkward spots with wrath effects. Also dies to every popular removal spell in the format. I do often board out some number (or all) of the Geists in sideboarding when I decide to transform to a full control plan.
Blessed Alliance--listen to GreatNate's video about that card. I agree with him completely. Too one-dimensional for an aggro-control deck.
4 Serum Visions--I've seen the light finally. With this more controlling version, 4 Serum Visions works very well.
Lands: 24, including 5 basics and no colorless sources. I think I got the exact numbers from a Frank Karsten article a month ago. Was playing 23 before. Getting mana screwed or color screwed are two perfect ways to guarantee a loss with this deck. Better to have all the lands and mitigate flood with Serum Visions/cantrips as the game goes later. You also have mana sinks in the Colonnades and Snap + Cryptics late game. I used to lose many more games to mana screw/color screw than flood, and this setup really avoids all of those problems. I'd swap one Sulfur Falls for a Canal. I do that in my paper deck, but the difference wasn't worth me shelling out the tix for a Canal online.
Jan 20, 2016Posted in: MidrangeQuote from Paradox Omega »Hey all, did a bit of deckbuilding and testing but would like some thoughts on the build below.
Geist post-TwinMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards Creatures (14):
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Restoration Angel
2 Lightning Angel
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Aven Mindcensor
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Helix
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Mana Leak
1 Spell Snare
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Flooded Strand
2 Scalding Tarn
2 Arid Mesa
2 Steam Vents
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Keranos, God of Storms
1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
1 Aven Mindcensor
2 Molten Rain
1 Crumble to Dust
2 Wear // Tear
1 Celestial Purge
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Timely Reinforcements
Now that Twin is out of the meta, I see myself more comfortably tapping out for a strong threat Game 1, like Elspeth, Knight-Errant or Lightning Angel. Similarly, with the loss of Twin from the meta, I suspect a rise in Tron and Bx Eldrazi, which is the reason for the 1 maindeck Aven Mindcensor. Even if not against those two decks, Aven Mindcensor can just be a flash disrupter/beater and a higher density of creatures plays well with the planeswalker. The removal/burn suite is standard and something I don't think should change at all for nearly all builds.
A decision I have made is to cut the Serum Visions. Even though it was good casting the card at times, I find that in many cases I'd just rather have a higher density of actual spells. I imagine this will vary from list to list or playstyle to playstyle, but I don't personally like the card all that much. It was great in the slow matchups like vs. Twin or Grixis Control where you know they have a counterspell up and doing something is better than nothing, but I suspect a drop in blue in the meta.
The sideboard is fully equipped to handle a lot of different decks and have a lot of cards that work in many matchups. Keranos, God of Storms and Elspeth, Sun's Champion are the grind package against fair decks. The second Aven Mindcensor, Molten Rain, and Crumble to Dust is the anti-Tron/Bx Eldrazi package with incidental upside of having Molten Rain be a pro-active spell to use against other fair decks like Jund or Junk to gain some tempo. With Twin out of the meta, I feel comfortable siding down to 1 Dispel in the SB as it can still hit a fair amount of decks like Grixis Control, Jund (Kolaghan's Command), other control decks, Kiki-Chord (Chord of Calling), Naya Zoo/Burn (Collected Company or instant-speed burn spells), and many other potential decks. Negate, similar to Dispel, is just a very versatile counterspell to combat against combo decks, Tron, and Jund/Junk to combat a T3 Liliana of the Veil. Wear // Tear is still an incredibly versatile card, being able to destroy opposing Blood Moon, Choke, Lantern Control cards, Cranial Plating, Boggles Enchantments, and more. Celestial Purge is still a strong card these days, handling most of the delve creatures and burn creatures, as well as being an immediate answer for a Liliana of the Veil or even Blood Moon. Engineered Explosives helps against a lot of the aggressive decks in the format like Zoo or Affinity, as does Anger of the Gods. Last but not least, Timely Reinforcements is our single anti-burn card because we generally have a good matchup against them anyways. Being able to flash it back with Snapcaster Mage is the reason I play it over cards like Kor Firewalker, which are also bad when you're very far behind unlike Timely.
Some notes, questions, and concerns below.
1) I am not running Cryptic Command in the current list above. I would love peoples' thoughts on the card's viability at the moment. I think it can also be very strenuous on the manabase, forcing us to limit the amount of off-color utility lands such as Ghost Quarter, Eiganjo Castle, or Desolate Lighthouse. Unless the format proves to become a very grindy affair, I think I feel okay leaving home without Cryptic Command at the moment.
2) My counterspell suite seems a bit all over the place. Personally, I would feel more confident with a playset of Remand. I think 1 Spell Snare is a good number because there are a lot of decks that it just won't do well against. This leaves us with an odd 3-2 split between Remand and Mana Leak. I wonder if Mana Leak is even well-positioned in the format right now. It can hit Tron's tapout on T3, as well as hit the fair decks fairly well too, but I wonder if a more aggressive approach such as Spell Pierce might be stronger. The downside is that Mana Leak can hit opposing annoying creature spells, such as Tarmogoyf, Kitchen Finks, Scavenging Ooze and more. I'm not sure what I favor at the moment, but I do know that a playset of Remand is likely where I want to be so finding room for that would be helpful.
3) I would also love to find room for a second Ghost Quarter somewhere in the main because it can play very nicely with Aven Mindcensor in the main and can also be an aggressive and disruptive play against Tron and Bx Eldrazi as well as manlands from Affinity, Infect, and Jund/Junk. Also, I think a single Needle Spires could be great with maindeck Elspeth, Knight-Errant. While it is very prone to removal, it can be extremely explosive and close out games quickly in a race or top-deck mode.
4) I wouldn't mind having a Spellskite somewhere in the sideboard, but not sure what should be cut. My first thoughts on a cut are a Wear // Tear or a Celestial Purge.
5) Manabase. What is exactly is the optimal number of fetches and which ones should they be? I've seen a full playset of Flooded Strand and Scalding Tarn in a lot of lists, but if the list doesn't run Cryptic Command or other T1 blue spells, I imagine a split between Arid Mesa and Scalding Tarn could be good. Thoughts?
Summary: I think what is great about UWr Midrange is that there are a lot of different ways to approach the deck and it has yet to be optimized. I think a big part of that is how it is a very meta-dependent deck and the card choices will vary widely. I think the deck could be very favored in the upcoming meta and I would love to see all of us collaborate and find a tuned list that we can take to upcoming tournaments in the new meta.
List looks pretty good! I am in favor of cutting a 4-drop to make room for another land, though. Cryptics or not, the deck's still very mana hungry: 6 4-drops, 4 Colonnades, Snapcasters. I'd jam a 2nd utility land (e.g. Ghost Quarter) and cut an Elspeth or something. (Also, see above for why I don't like Aven Mindcensor. I think I'm in the minority, though.)
1. I'm not running Cryptic either. Trying to stay low to the ground. If aggro dominates the new meta, it's better not to have it. Also it usually isn't that great vs blue decks that pack Dispels, but it is amazing if Jund/Abzan come back up in popularity. It seems like a nice card for some reach vs Tron/Eldrazi, but I'm not sure about this.
2. No one ever agrees on the counterspells... Seems fine, though.
3. I'd cut a 4-drop for a Ghost Quarter if you want it. I don't think Needle Spires activation cost is worth it. Celestial Colonnade just seems way better for one extra mana. (Well, it also has vigilance, so it's actually the same amount of mana when attacking.) With only 2 Elspeths, it seems like Magical Christmasland to have Elspeth and Needle Spires out with 4 mana to activate the Spires and to have time to cast it.
4. Spellskite seems great. Celestial Purge is imo too powerful vs BGx to cut. Wear//Tear is cuttable esp. since there'll be less Blood Moon. Boggles will be a thing, but Spellskite gets those, too. I'd rather cut Aven Mindcensor out of the board, though.
5. I think Flooded Strand/Scalding Tarn are still the fetchlands to pick. I only ran Cryptics briefly, but I've settled on 4 Flooded Strand/3 Tarns/1 Arid Mesa. Could see cutting a Flooded Strand or two for more red fetches if aggro picks up to the point that T1 Bolt is something you really need shock-free. Blue and white are still the main colors in the deck by a fair amount, and if Blood Moon sticks around somewhere, Flooded Strand gives more Blood Moon insurance than red fetches.
Jan 20, 2016Posted in: MidrangeQuote from Pe7er89 »Has anyone tried this deck yet against Eldrazi?
Eldrazi is very hyped right now..Twin was one of its bad matchups so im guessing there will be an Eldrazi invasion coming...
My experience was that its quite bad main board. Lingering souls kill Geist and well, Eldrazi do not care much for Lightning... <---Oh yes, 2 Tags 1 word !
I really like this deck. Since i expect a meta of Aggro, jund/junk, Tron/Eldrazi, i've changed the sideboard quite alot.
2x Blood Moon: Affects Tron, Eldrazi Jund/Junk.
1x Crumble to Dust: Tron, ELdrazi.
2x Leyline of Sanctity: Burn obviously. Jund, Junk to keep your geist safe from lili and IoK. Eldrazi, Oblivion Sower cant do jack (besides being big..).
2x Stony Silence: Tron, Eldrazi for maps eggs and relics. Affinity and Latern control (Although thats not likely).
BTW: i run 1x Aven Mindcensor and 1x Monastery Mentor Main.
What Do you guys think? (about Eldrazi, my sideboard choices and the 2 mainboard additions.)
That Eldrazi deck is a pain for UWR midrange. It goes over the top of midrange quickly, just like Tron, except it's a little more resilient to land destruction or Crumble to Dust. And yes, Lingering Souls. We'll have to see how the meta shakes out. It seems like Infect/Affinity might be able to beat that deck down consistently enough that it keeps it the Eldrazi from getting out of control.
Blood Moon is ok, but it was at its best vs Amulet. It shuts off our Colonnades, which are critical wincons against everyone, including Tron, Eldrazi, and BGx.
Crumble to Dust seems like a good option against Tron, but it feels slow vs Eldrazi. I'm trying out a couple Molten Rains. They feel similar to Fulminator Mages.
Leyline is interesting, but I've had good success with Kor Firewalker and Kitchen Finks against Burn. Timely Reinforcements is also solid. I don't think Leyline is necessary, but it's probably worth a try for the other applications if you're dealing with the other decks consistently.
I've always run 2 Stony Silence and have always liked them. They do some good work against Affinity, Tron, and Lantern Control. Not everyone's a big fan, but I am.
I may mess around with Monastery Mentor soon since I've been hearing so many good things.
Aven Mindcensor has been weak imo. I'm taking it out after the banning of Summer Bloom. I love Vendilion Clique as a flash flyer, but it looks like I'm in the minority. Clique picks out problematic cards against many decks and puts a nice clock on the opponent. I think it is particularly strong vs Tron, and I'd rather have it over Mindcensor. 3 power and 2 power are incredibly different. Also, it's important to note that Mindcensor doesn't shut off Ancient Stirrings, and it doesn't stop Ulamog/Karn/Ugin once Tron (or Eldrazi ramp) is assembled. It randomly gets fetches once in a while, but not always--the opponent won't play around it game 1, but will games 2-3. It's really much better when your whole strategy revolves around effects that get a big boost from Mindcensor, like Modern Death & Taxes.
Jan 17, 2016Posted in: MidrangeQuote from DrLockheed »Hey all, a little help if you can? I was building into a Grixis Twin deck (started on Delver) until yesterday and I'm starting to feel like in this new meta Jeskai Midrange is the place to be for a blue player (I've also found that I am not too fond of B and this just pushed me more out of that direction) and I have a good portion of things that I can swap over (Snaps/Visions/Snares/etc), but I don't necessarily have the money to be buying Scalding Tarns. I will pick them up eventually (very slowly), but what would be my best best to replace them for the time being? I have a set of Mire's, Delta's and I'm definitely not opposed to getting a set of Strands. Thank you guys and I hope not too many of you were hurt by this banning :/
Welcome! Any of the fetches are really ok, especially since it'll be less common to run into blood moon. Ideally you could grab two basics with each, but it's not usually important except in aggressive match ups. Definitely 4 Flooded Strands if you have them. 4 Polluted Delta is probably good since this deck is hungriest for blue mana. If you don't have that many, run a split between red and white fetches so you can diversify your options. 8 fetches total is probably enough. Every fetch will get all your shocks anyway, so it's really a matter of which lands you want coming in untapped. Run the same set of shocks, manlands, utility lands, basics, and other duals so that you get somewhere around 19 blue sources, 14 red, and and 17 white (fetches count as all 3). That's been a consistent mana base. Lands like Sulfur Falls are nice since they come in untapped pain-free most of the time. You can change the mana base if your build is significantly different.
Jan 17, 2016Posted in: MidrangeQuote from captn_crunch »This might be a stretch -and I know Geist of Saint Traft is widely considered the best threat for this deck around these parts- but with less twin, there should be less Lightning Bolt; could we see Mantis Rider become a more viable threat? I personally have always liked Mantis Rider, putting a lot of pressure on your opponent really fast, and allowing us to play both offense and defense pretty effectively. What do we think?
I personally like Monastery Mentor if anything in a more spell heavy deck. I run 4x Monastery Mentor and 4x Snapcaster and Monastery Mentor honestly has a ridiculous impact on the battlefield for a 3 drop. It's crazy how powerful that card can be sometimes and it goes well with instant speed spells that are not reactionary like our own lightning bolts and lightning helix. I understand people that prefer to run creatures wont like that approach as it's more control otherwise however.
Quote from Spsiegel1987 »The matchup vs RG Tron is still bad, but Amulet may drop to tier 2 or 3, infect and burn will go up, which this deck is solid against
Does this deck have a chance to go up?
If your take your Edges out for Ghost Quarter it's not bad. You can shut down Tron early that way at least and Spell Pierce can block Planeswalkers like Kahn as well. Wurmcoil dies to Path and post-board you can board in your Stony Silence which you use for Affinity which stops the maps and rocks going off early game and you can have a sideboard containing Tron hate like Crumble to Dust the new Sowing Salt. With those tweaks Tron becomes very manageable. The only thing that is strictly not in our favour is mainboard Pyroclasm vs. Geist.
Pyroclasm is one of the reasons I love having two Spell Snare main. I'm also interested in trying out Monastery Mentor at some point soon.
Jan 16, 2016Re: mantis rider--it doesn't only due to bolt, but also Abrupt Decay, as JulsSkogs said. Also, it trades vs the 3-power Naya threats instead of blanking them like resto or lightning angel would do. Trades down in mana in all of these situations, but I haven't really tried it. V-clique seems like a better option as a 3-power flyer except vs lingering souls-flash and disruption.Posted in: Midrange
I was in playing modern against a friend who plays grixis twin last night before he prerelease as the announcement came out mid game. Wow. Never thought this would happen. I thought that was the most fun matchup, and sure, it was favorable, but there were more favorable ones. I was building toward jeskai twin, actually, so I guess the twins I have are worthless. I'm not hitting the panic button worrying about how the meta shifts yet. Amulet is gone, which is great: unfavorable and not fun. If Infect/burn/affinity fill in the void, awesome. Tron will stick around and so will this elrdazi deck. I'm guessing twin players shift to this deck, jeskai control, grixis control, or some form of RUG. If that's the case, I think our deck remains in the same adaptable spot as always.
Also since Twin is gone, I think running a cryptic or so seems more correct? It was only really bad against other blue decks (mainly twin) and the really aggressive decks. That's just my first guess, but perhaps someone else running cryptics for a while has better insight on what meta they're good or bad in--GreatNate?
Jan 13, 2016Posted in: Midrange
My game plan was to get aggressive as their late game consists of casting Ullamog reliably. I was fortunate enough to land Geist early and drew a ghost quarter to blow up eldrazi temnple (up to 2x Ghost Quarter MD atm due to Tron and Eldrazi), path some would-be blockers then a bolt or two to the dome got me there winning 2-0 overall. This version was playing 4x heartless summoning - so having ways to kill that is useful - snare, EE, Wear or Purge. Overall, it seemed as though he had a slowish hand and this match-up is likely unfavourable for us. However, if you can stick an early Geist (no concerns about Pyroclasm as you do against Tron) somehow through hand disruption and have paths (paths are critical, you may even consider maindecking a '5th Path' in valorous stance) you can get there.
I lost to Jund in the same tourney the match after - I'm currently at 2x Celestial Purge, 2x Negate, 2x Explosives sb - but even with all that damn Lili always seems to get me. Any advice on the Liliana matchup anyone?
It does seem like mana denial would be good against Eldrazi. Sticking an early Geist has been pretty good, but the path has to be kept clear for a turn or two with removal. I guess time will tell how that matchup shakes out.
Liliana is probably the most irritating card in any of the "fair" decks. I guess the first obvious tip that you probably know is to avoid jamming a Geist turn 3 on the play unless you have good reason to believe there's no Liliana on the way. Losing a Geist to the -2 is sad. If you Bolt Liliana afterward, that's a terrible 2-for-1. If you don't have a way to deal with Liliana even if you leave open mana, then I guess it's ok to accept the risks and play Geist. It helps to have a hard counter for her (Mana Leak has been ok for me). Vendilion Clique is also a nice proactive way to get a Liliana out of the opponent's hand, and Cryptic Command is great later, depending on how controlling or aggressive a build you want to run.
Burn spells aren't usually great at answering Liliana. Avoid wasting multiple Bolts or Helices on Liliana, or you'll never be able to outrace the opponent. BGx can outgrind Jeskai easily if we're throwing cards away and not dealing them damage. If Liliana -2's, then it's totally right to Electrolyze, which ends up being a 1-for-1 after the cantrip. If she's about to go ultimate, than you're also probably forced to waste a bolt on her, which sucks. But her ultimate almost always wins the game (sometimes not, so look out for those situations also). The best way to deal with a resolved Liliana at 4 loyalty is with evasive flash threats (Cliques, Restos) or Colonnades. You do need to find an answer almost immediately, so that's where Clique and Resto are nice. (Clique is generally bad vs. the Abzan build because of Lingering Souls, though.) Boros Charm got kicked around as a possibility a while ago, and it seems fine if you're encountering tons of Lilianas in your meta. It's the only burn spell that hits for 4 once she +1's. It can shoot the Liliana after everyone discards when she comes in. Also, if Liliana -2's, it's sometimes right to just throw a Snapcaster out there to sacrifice so that your Geist or other evasive threat can survive.
Jan 13, 2016Posted in: Midrange
I did mess around a bit with 1 copy of Serum Visions in my more aggressive deck this weekend, and it was useful mid-to-late game when I had spare mana. It was basically mana flood insurance. I only saw it vs. Affinity and Merfolk, so I was casting it late and scrying lands and counterspells to the bottom. The deck does have a lot of redundancy in its non-land cards, but it is nice later just to make sure you're drawing gas. Snap into Serum Visions is also nice if you can afford it that late, but the sorcery speed really hurts. When I had Snapcaster, I noticed I'd rather just be Snapping back removal, Remands for tempo, Electrolyzes (especially vs Affinity), or burn to the face to close things out. I never wanted to cast the Serum Visions early because I would've had to shock in a land or hold onto my tapped Colonnade until later, which would have set me back. I also wanted my 1 and 2 mana spells open during my opponent's turn. The only time I wanted to tap out against those decks was when I was either casting Geist to put a clock on them.
It's kind of interesting to see the role of Serum Visions in other decks. If any of you have friends that play Twin, try playing that deck just for fun. In that deck, you'll notice you scry stuff to the bottom of your deck nonstop until you assemble the combo with backup counterspells. That deck can't win with aggression like UWR midrange, making their "answer" and tempo cards look pretty silly without Splinter Twin. That's why the deck churns through cards harder than anything else in modern (other than Storm). We don't need to churn through cards so desperately--in UWR midrange, you're usually happy leaving stuff on top of your library early in the game and usually only scry to the bottom when casting it late game when you're flooding out or digging for a Path to Exile, which is the only really non-redundant spell we run. The burn cards can just go upstairs when you no longer need answers. Our threats are fine to have early. Our opponent will either be scared by Geist or will have to answer it. Either way, they either have to hurry up and do something, which we are happy with. We run so many threats that we'll almost definitely hit something naturally. Colonnade counts. Grixis control wants the Serum Visions as a random cantrip to fill the yard, and they also want to dig toward more specific answers. Their answers go as dead as or dead-er than Mana Leak late game. (Thoughtseize and Inquisition feel worthless late, so they run into the problem of both mana flooding and discard spell-flooding.) They also run fewer threats, so they have to scry toward them. We'll almost definitely hit a couple with so many Geists/Cliques/Restos/Colonnades. Also, Grixis Control can stabilize the board when they stick a giant threat, so make up for the Serum Visions tempo loss that way. They've also started running Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, which can go cast Serum Visions for no mana. Snap-Serum Visions is a weak 3-mana play. (Also, Jace is easier for them to flip over with all the Thought Scours. If a version of UWR midrange ran Thought Scour, then I could see Jace being great in UWR also. Maybe that deck would also run Monastery Mentor to extract more value from Thought Scour... it seems like Serum Visions would be an instant 4-of with both Monastery Mentor and Jace.)
I don't know if being a control deck is enough of a reason that Serum Visions is absolutely necessary: even Yuuya Watanabe (an incredible player) didn't run Serum Visions in his UW control list at the World Championships (http://mtgtop8.com/event?e=10388&d=259479). The deck had redundant answers and other cantrips. In that deck, Serum Visions would have been an excellent cantrip and card selection tool, but it's replaceable: Wall of Omens, Remand, and Electrolyze (for us) can do some of that cantripping. In more controlling UWR strategies, Wall of Omens feels like it might be pretty good at least as a 1-of. It adds "draw a card" to Restos while having the added benefit of holding down the fort a while get to the later-game Cryptics and wrath effects.
Even post-board, I think it's only really necessary and useful to dig for sideboard cards in a couple matchups. A lot of our sideboard cards are just nice to have but not truly essential.
Here are my views about digging for cards in each matchup:
Affinity--we can totally beat them without sideboard cards. We basically run mono-removal. Flash flyers are even removal since no creature has more than 1-2 toughness. We can't afford to tap low early, though. Shocking in lands is often correct just to leave mana open.
Burn--main deck Lightning Helix is awesome, and everything else is a great answer card or clock. We board out all of our dead cards there anyway, so most of what we draw is nice anyway. Tapping low is bad early.
Merfolk, other aggro decks--same. Maybe vs. Merfolk it's nice to have a Wear//Tear for their Aether Vial, but if you have to dig for it, you won't cast it till at least turn 2, which means they already get value from it.
Tron--Stony Silence, Blood Moon, Molten Rain, and Crumble to Dust have to be cast on curve to be good, or you'll have wasted time setting up that you should have used either burning the opponent or casting a threat. Geist isn't our only threat--we also have Snaps, Restos, and Cliques. Also, Geist dies to Pyroclasm, so if you're digging for him and he gets killed by Pyroclasm, it's sad to have wasted all that tempo setting up something that got killed. Better to have tons of redundancy.
Amulet/Eldrazi--these just seem like horrid matchups where even our sideboard cards aren't amazing. Digging for a Blood Moon seems ok, but you only get one or two chances to Serum Visions to find it. If Blood Moon doesn't land turn 3, it's probably over.
Infect--everything's good, no need to scry. Don't misplay, and you'll win 80% of the time. You also need to use up all of your mana being proactive against their creatures and pump spells so that they don't randomly kill you.
Boggles--what a disaster. Maybe this is where it's nice to have the scry toward Wear//Tear or Cryptic Command, but it's not a popular deck.
BGx--it's definitely nice to scry toward Paths and Celestial Purges here, so scrying is good.
Twin--pretty favorable for us without digging for answers. Our deck is basically all answers, disruption, and scary threats they can't do anything about.
Scrying for us is about turns 4-5 and beyond, when we're all done shuffling our deck from fetching. In those lategame situations, cantripping off of Remand or Electrolyze generally seems fine. Running 1-2 Serum Visions seems like good flood insurance, which Colonnade also provides. We probably run the mana hungriest deck in the format other than the UWR control lists with Cryptics & Sphinx's Rev and Amulet Bloom, which cheats lands into play all the time anyway.
tldr: The primary role of Serum Visions in UWR midrange is to avoid mana flood and to draw gas mid-to-late game, though it helps in a limited number of matchups (not all) to dig for appropriate answers. It's a great role player for these purposes, but I don't think it's the only reasonable card to achieve those goals.
Jan 13, 2016Posted in: MidrangeQuote from wrathofmatt »Just wondering, has anyone on the forum experimented with multiple copies of threads of disloyalty, perhaps in the main board? We see UWR control using it as a 1 of in the sideboard, but with Geist sometimes being small has trouble staying alive, can we not threads their big guys and win that way?
I remember people (including me) were running Sower of Temptation a while back when Abzan was at its high point, and that card was pretty sweet. Really tilted opponents hard since Abzan could never answer it. Threads basically does the same thing while only costing 3, but it can't hit Siege Rhino or Tasigur. (Goyfs and Scoozes seem like good enough targets.) Threads doesn't die to Bolt vs. Jund or RUG Twin like Sower would, but it does die to Abrupt Decay. Still, opponents would probably side those out against UWR, so it's probably more durable than a Sower as an unexpected board option. Threads probably gets more play in UWR control because the opponent will DEFINITELY board out dead Abrupt Decays against that deck. I think it was on the UWR control list that won PT Born of the Gods, and it looked really sick there. Seems like it'd be great here also, especially if you don't show any targets like V-Clique for Abrupt Decay in Game 1. I'd try it out if I had a copy of the card.
Jan 12, 2016And also from that info, people historically had success with 3-4 Geist. The meta's different now, and some successful UWR midrange lists include other creatures like Monastery Mentor or Lightning Angel in an effort to place better. Maybe some of those decklists will end up being a consistently better version of UWR midrange. Keep an open mind--the result might be something that gets this deck out of the GP/PT slump it's in.Posted in: Midrange
In the meantime, just enjoy the deck knowing that no other deck in the modern format can play SUCH a broad range of aggro and control. (Not even Delver.) We run counterspells and all of the best answers (except Thoughtseize/Inquisition), and we can also burn the opponent down to 0 faster than any of the other midrange strategies.
Jan 12, 2016Posted in: Midrange
Congrats to great nate - maybe a couple of negates in the board to help with combo? Pretty impressive that you were able to beat Tron (twice), Abzan and Tokens - seems like a nightmare gauntlet..
Ponder is much better than Visions as you draw one of the top 3 cards, you don't just draw and then Scry. Ponder is valuable for it's selection and you've also got to realize when talking about Legacy that Force of Will is massive, Ponder isn't just a cantrip, it's a blue card that can be discarded as part of a counterspell. Legacy is a very different meta.
Visions is a good card, but it's a cantrip. It does what a cantrip does, which is that it replaces itself with an additional benefit which in the case of Serum Visions is scry 2. It also does that in your main phase, not during their turn. Tapping for it leaves you unable to cast counterspells, removal or flash in creatures on reaction, it's not like a spell you can do if that isn't necessary, you commit to it.
Ya - obviously there are large differences between Modern and Legacy - the point still stands that Visions is the best filtering card we have in modern and not playing it is a huge mistake - i'd prefer to let the numbers do the talking then inaccurate theory crafting.
lol? Inaccurate theory crafting? Is that all you've got? Show me a solid Control deck that runs Serum Visions. Show me a proven, popular midrange deck that runs it? Jund / Junk don't and I know they're not Blue but they're the most enduring midrange decks in the format and they wouldn't run it if they could. Another tier one deck that is Blue is Merfolk and Merfolk never touches it, and it's not just because it wants to play Aether Vial t1 as that's one 15th of your deck so just under a 50% chance of being your opening 7 card hand. Statistically, since we're letting the numbers do the talking.
Serum Visions is popular because Twin is popular, pure and simple. Serum Visions is very good at assembling a Combo, that is where the filtering is most useful, it helps you keep dicey hands where you have your pieces but maybe not enough land, it also lets you dig to find your pieces. Serum Visions is very good at that. Midrange decks, successfully, tend to be built around pure value. It's not a combo deck, it's a deck full of a good stuff. If your deck is full of value, you don't need to dig, you can use the mana to cast your value spells, which in the case of UWR is removal or counterspells.
Geist it not a control deck. Of course merfolk doesnt use it (every card is the same and it doesnt need to hit land drops and avoid flood like midrange decks do) - you are using straw man arguments. You are even stretching to 'Jund/Junk not using it' - I wont even comment on that line of argument.
Pure and simple you are just wrong - look at the successful UWR midrange Geist decks on mtg top 8 or whereever you like. Look at Great Nates list. Again you use the 'Twin' defence - that is so old and inaccurate..
If you dont like Serum Visions in the list - that's fine - but dont mislead others with your bizarre hate of the card..
Let's look at the lists that have placed highly in GP and Pro Tour events only. We all agree that this is the highest level of play, correct? Ok. Let's also only look at lists that contain Geist and not other UWx lists.
Click compare decks. Average number of serum visions per deck = 0.3.
Let's look closer. While we're at it, let's also look at the copies of Geist. A history of top 8 performances:
1. Pro Tour RTR, 10/21/2012, #5. 3 Geist, 0 Serum Visions. Jund-dominated meta (Deathrite + Bloodbraid Elf)
2. GP Chicago, 11/11/2012, #3. 3 Geist, 0 Serum Visions. Jund/Pod/Twin/Affinity/Tron meta, similar to today.
3. GP Bilbao, 1/20/2013, #1. 4 Geist, 0 Serum Visions.
Next era--after the banning of Bloodbraid Elf & Deathrite Shaman:
4. GP Portland, 5/12/2013, #5/8. 3 Geist, 0 Serum Visions.
5. GP Prague, 1/12/2014, #1 (Vjeran Horvat). 4 Geist, 0 Serum Visions.
6. Pro Tour Born of the Gods, 2/23/2014. 2 copies of UWR Geist were in the top 32. Each contain 2 Geists, 0 Serum Visions. (Shaun McLaren wins with UWR control, but that's a different list--0 Geist, 0 Serum Visions)
Then, since the banning of Birthing Pod, Geist has had a bit of a dry spell. The only top 32 performances I find were at GP Kobe (8/24/2014). There, one copy of Jeskai Geist places in the top 32 with 4 Geist and 1 Serum Visions. The other Jeskai midrange decks in the top 32 do not run Geist. Shohei Mita places in the top 4 using a list that basically swaps out Geists for 4 Blade Splicer, 0 Serum Visions (http://mtgtop8.com/event?e=8053&d=246406&f=MO). The other top 32 list runs Lightning Angel instead of Geist or Resto Angel.
Only one of these decks runs 1 Serum Visions. Just one.
Since then, Jeskai Geist has 0 Pro Tour or GP top 8's. However, we have excellent performances from many posters on this forum, some with Serum Visions and some without. From MTGGoldfish: http://www.mtggoldfish.com/archetype/modern-jeskai-control-23120#online. 24th at an SCG Open is amazing! How can that deck be dismissed as a "mistake"? 4 Geist, 0 Serum Visions.
A couple other lists have also experimented with Serum Visions to some success also. krazykirby4 has been putting up excellent results with 4 Geists, 2 Serum Visions: http://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/349250#online.
Given the results, it doesn't seem like a complete "mistake" not to run Serum Visions just because it's a good cantrip and card selection tool. When this deck was at its absolute best, it did not run Serum Visions.
I play UW Miracles in Legacy, and Brainstorm and Ponder are absolutely INSANE there. Serum Visions is nowhere close, as others have stated here. It's not an auto-include, but it is a fine card to try out. I have attempted Geist with 4 Serum Visions. At first I thought it was fine, but it is a serious tempo loss to be using up 1 mana for the card selection & cantrip. I have been fine with zero and am now trying out 1. 1-2 Serum Visions also adds "draw a card" to late-game Snapcasters, which is nice. We don't need to Serum Visions early. We don't have a specific plan on whether to go aggro or control until we see what the opponent does. Twin has a specific gameplan that gives them a goal with a turn 1 Serum Visions. Grixis can turn 1 Serum Visions because (a) it fuels Tasigur/Gurmag Angler and (b) they do not have the ability to play the aggressor as well as us, making their role is better defined from turn 1. Our plan develops as we determine our role. Turn 1, laying down a Celestial Colonnade to get that tapland out of the way seems like the best play. Serum Visions can be fantastic mid-to-late game when we figure out what we're playing against. When we figure out we're playing against burn of affinity, it's pretty obvious we want answers, but we will wait until turn 3 to get them so that we can answer their early game threats. (Or you will die...) If we're playing against Twin, then grab some countermagic and threats. But don't do so at the cost of tapping out, or you may die. If you are playing against Tron, then get threats out asap. When playing against Abzan/Jund, get the burn or path to exile that you need to get out of the jam you're in. Serum Visions is good, but it's better not to get an opening hand clogged with Serum Visions when our role isn't so well-defined on turn 1. I can see anywhere from zero to some number of Serum Visions being fine, but 4-of may be too many. People have had Pro Tour-level success with zero when this deck was best, so just remember that before dismissing someone's thoughts about Serum Visions.
Thank you if you took the time to read all of that.
Jan 11, 2016I meant that people have begun to return to playing Jund a bit after all they all switched to running Abzan when Siege Rhino got printed. Abzan is still more played, of course, but Jund has returned a little once Kolaghan's Command got printed. 2% difference between the two: http://www.mtggoldfish.com/metagame/modern#paperPosted in: Midrange
I'm not sure what the numbers were before, but I think Abzan was significantly above the 7% meta share it has today.
Jan 11, 2016Congratulations, Great Nate! Definitely looking forward to reading about your matchups & your list.Posted in: Midrange
I've tried a couple adjustments this weekend. JulsSkogs, I also have gone back to Thundermaw Hellkite in the main to deal with the matchups where we really have to burn out the opponent quickly. BW Eldrazi also plays Lingering Souls, so TMaw is appealing there. TMaw has been a great topdeck against Tron in the past as well. Pia & Kiran are great, but they've gone back into the board since the Tron/Eldrazi matchups have gone up in popularity. I absolutely hate Aven Mindcensor in the main deck--it always feels too slow with 2 power, and doesn't do enough against anything but Amulet. Against Tron, turn 3 is usually enough time to get Tron online, and it is too slow of a clock. (At 3 power, Vendilion Clique has been an absolute beast for me.)
I know Great Nate mentioned a while back that he's been having good results with Kitchen Finks, and now that I've had the opportunity to cast it against Burn, Affinity, Merfolk, and even Boggles, it's just fantastic. It provides a body to trade, chump twice, or beat down on an open board, and Resto is a great combo with it. Its applications are a lot broader than Timely Reinforcements. Also, here is an article by Owen Turtenwald on Kitchen Finks vs other options: http://www.channelfireball.com/articles/blitzing-naya/. He has a pretty strong view, but Timely Reinforcements has been good in the past for me also. Kor Firewalker seems too narrow now that Naya Zoo has become a thing--Kor Firewalker doesn't interact well with Wild Nacatl.
Re: number of Geists--I put 3 in the deck before, but I have gone back up to 4. I think you need a high threat density in this deck. You want to have the option to end the game very quickly, and Geist does that. He's even better now that Abzan has been on the downhill, where was the midrange deck against which he was at his worst. He's fine against Jund--the Jund board is easier to clear up than the Abzan board.
Jan 9, 2016JulsSkogs, good to hear your viewpoint on the Bolts vs Helices--I thought I was the weird one for boarding out Bolts instead of Helices in the past, but I see I'm not the only one. Bolt is more mana-efficient, but the lifegain is incredibly relevant in midrange matchups. The only clean 1-for-1's UWR can get vs BGx with the 3 damage burn spells are with Bob and Scooze (if it can't pump in response), so it definitely seems correct to board out some number of these spells. I usually leave a 3 Helix/1 Bolt split post-board, though--if absolutely necessary, Bolt-Snap-Bolt is still at least a mediocre removal spell to prevent getting killed by Goyfs/Rhinos/Tasigur/Gurmag Angler (in Grixis). Always better to just Snap back Helices at the opponent if possible, though. Re: Liliana--I actually avoid throwing burn at Liliana since that damage could be thrown upstairs when switching gears into the burnout plan against BGx. I prefer to clean up Liliana with flyers whenever possible.Posted in: Midrange
I just played at the "Modern Showdown" that Channel Fireball was running at GP Oakland today, ended up going a decent 6-2, 20th overall out of 220 or so. (Coincidentally, the Amulet player from SCG Cincy was playing, actually--don't think he ended up making top 8 this time, though.) Here's a summary: (See below for decklist)
Round 1: Tron. Lost in 2. I hate Tron. I have definitely won matches against Tron players when landing a turn 2 Stony Silence post-board, but yes, like JulsSkogs said, it has to be turn 2, which may not be a great plan. Still, one very good Tron player I know says he's more afraid of that turn 2 Stony Silence than Blood Moon while there is a clock on the field (Geist).
Aven Mindcensor feels anemic on turn 3 here, and I think it's better to use it only for the Bloom Titan matchup.
Round 2: Infect. Won in 2. Easy matchup. We have all the answers. (Also 2-for-1'ing Inkmoth Nexus and Wild Defiance with Wear // Tear is such disgusting value.)
Round 3: Grixis Delver. Won in 3. Both decks try to execute the same gameplan--put a fast clock on the opponent while disrupting their plan. The Grixis Delver variant ran Delver, Abbot of Keral Keep, and Gurmag Anglers. Abbot is an interesting call--adds a lot of value late and the prowess gets in for a surprising amount of damage with enough cantrips. The threats from UWR are tougher to answer, though, but even the easy-to-answer threats like Snapcaster can do a lot of work on a cleared up board.
Round 4: UR Twin. Won in 3. Usually a pretty easy matchup, but this one became a little close. Game 2 was absurd. I landed a Keranos with my opponent at 9 and me on 12. At this point, I thought the game was basically un-loseable, especially since I was basically Blood Moon-proof: I have a Plains in play and Celestial Purge + Wear // Tear in hand. My opponent Remands/Negates my answers to Blood Moon, and I can only play one answer per turn since I only have 1 white mana. I think I only got 1-2 triggers off the Keranos. Meanwhile, my opponent casts a Keranos of his own and a Jace, AoT. I go on to lose game 2 to these three sideboard haymakers, but game 3 goes much better.
Round 5: Abzan/Melira Co-Co. Win in 2. Can't remember too much. At one point in game 1, my opponent had 3 Voice of Resurgences, which I could safely ignore by beating down in the air with Resto/Colonnade and then burning him out. Game 2 was a little messier. He had all sorts of goodies out (Melira, Murderous Redcap, Fiend Hunter taking my Clique, Gavony Township), which put me on a very real clock. I Tec Edged the Gavony immediately, but I had to draw into some answers to get the rest of the way there. A Colonnade had to chump once, and I went into a controlled fall of life from 10 to 9 to 6. I found some answers in Lightning Helix for Melira and Path for Murderous Redcap, which allowed me to stabilize enough to beat down with a Colonnade and burn him out.
Round 6: Affinity. Won in 2. Somewhat favorable matchup. I do actually like Stony Silence here, but JulsSkogs is right--it's not always a gamewinner vs Affinity and isn't necessary. Game 1, I won fairly easily without it. (Opponent did misplay a bit in that one. He played an Etched Champion while I could eliminate Metalcraft to Bolt it.) I then stuck a Geist and burned him out. Game 2 was closer, and I did land a turn 2 Stony Silence. Everything was ok until he landed a Master of Etherium, and unfortunately, I had not landed a Path by that point. The Master of Etherium was a 8/8 while I was at 5, so I was in bad shape. I could chump with a Colonnade or a Resto, and I had an Electrolyze in hand. I prepare to chump with Resto but fire off an Electrolyze pre-blocks at an Ornithopter just in case I draw a Path. What's the topdeck? Path to Exile! Sick. Opponent can't mount any pressure after that, and I win. (Vendilion Clique helped me get an extra draw in this one also. I started off on a hand with two Stony Silences, and had Cliqued one away earlier in the game to get a card deeper into the library.)
Round 6: Naya Zoo/Burn. Won in 3. Close match. Not much beyond the usual here. I didn't draw Kitchen Finks, so I can't comment on how that was.
Round 7: BW Eldrazi. Lost in 2. (Would have made top 8 if I won, too bad.) Atrocious matchup, perhaps worse than Tron. Not sure what to do here. Perhaps Molten Rain gets the call over Blood Moon here? Everything they cast is colorless, and the Eldrazi Scions ramp them even without their Eldrazi Temples/Eye of Ugins. Crumble to Dust? Wrath of God? Sower of Temptation? Relics plus hand disruption make it nearly impossible to Path anything, and counterspells are pretty bad against their casting triggers. This matchup has actually felt more unwinnable than Bloom Titan--the only one-for-ones were against hand disruption spells, I'm pretty sure. Lingering Souls adds insult to injury.
Anyway, the tournament was fun, though I wish that I ended up getting top 8. What are others planning against BW Eldrazi? This is a huge problem for our deck, and it's going to go up in popularity. What have people already tried that has worked or hasn't worked?
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