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  • posted a message on UW Approach
    @pumpmonkey: I went back and forth on Opt vs. Censor as well, and I'm enjoying how Opt has played. I think it allows you to get away with playing 25 lands, although (as you correctly point out), the deck can be its own worst enemy if you miss land drops. Hitting drops 1-5 seems pretty critical in most matchups, so running 26 might even be correct, it's just hard to decide what to cut.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    Quote from the_codaddy »

    I think that a UW Approach build that's tuned to address the T1-3 creatures that can give us a tough time (Siphoner is really the biggest one as far as I'm concerned) is in a pretty good spot in this meta. My BR opponent in the semis made a comment about how he didn't really have sideboard hate against UW Approach (I'm guessing duress/doomfall/lost legacy?) because he just hasn't seen it that frequently. That seems pretty consistent with the MTG Goldfish metagame stats, which puts UW Approach at 1.41% of the metagame. I'm guessing that will shift after Dominaria drops with all the goodies for UW Control (not mentioning here because I don't think we're allowed to discuss spoilers here?). For now though, it seems to be a very under-the-radar deck to play. And in what I see as a very midrange meta, (1) having a ton of the right answers (slash, settle, fumigate, cast out) and (2) having no creatures (making their cards dead) is a good place to be.

    I realize I'm quoting myself here, but I just read a Seth Manfield article on for the "Top 10 Decks in Standard," and Approach isn't one of the ones he lists. Article is here: Manfield&articledate=3-9-2018

    I hope it's not too off-topic, but there is a ton of literature about cognitive biases (Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow is the one most have heard of or read), and it's interesting to see how it plays out in competitive MTG. For example, here: UW Approach doesn't put up a ton of top-10 results, doesn't show up on the Pro Tour, and doesn't feature in articles from pros about the top decks. The competitive MTG community understands that to mean it's not a good deck for competitive events, and thus it is underrepresented at those events because people gravitate to the decks that have been putting up results (Grixis energy, UB control, UB midrange, RG monsters) thinking they are the "stronger" or "better" deck. But by the very nature of more people playing those "stronger" decks, there is a higher likelihood that those decks will put up results, and a lower likelihood that UW Approach will put up results. Taken to one extreme, in a field comprising 100% decks playing mono-W vanilla creatures, a mono-W vanilla creature deck will be the top deck (8 spots in top-8 and the tournament winner). Pre-ban, when the field was 25% Temur Energy and 25% RamRed, there is a very high likelihood that those decks would be the top-performing decks just by virtue of the vast number of people playing them.

    This is a longwinded way of saying that I (obviously) think UW Approach is a great deck, I think it has great game against just about every deck in the meta, and it only helps that it's underrepresented at tournaments because other players aren't ready for it.

    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    Quote from xaltair »

    I tested slash last December and it just didn't cut it, I was playing 3 main deck and I wasn't drawing them in the first 2-3 turns, and basically, after turn 3 they are pretty much useless. The other issue is that while they hit a lot of the mono-red creatures (ahn crop, khenra, bomat, scrapheap scounger etc...) and also Siphoner they don't do much against a lot of the playable green creatures such as jadelight ranger and deathgorge scavenger or thrashing brontodon and with all the green decks running around that's unacceptable.

    It may be a meta call, but it seems to be Glint-Sleeve Siphoner land out there right now. I don't find Slash to be terrible even late because opponents often have to rebuild with the little guys after a settle or fumigate. I don't mind missing Jadelight because I often get to slash their Branchwalker and then use an Essence Scatter on the Jadelight. (Also worth noting that Slash does hit Deathgorge Scavenger--you just have to cast it in response to the Scavenger's trigger on the stack...Slash will resolve doing 2 damage and the dino will die before it gets +1/+1).
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    Quote from Hobbits73 »

    codaddy; Congrats on the great result! Thanks for taking the time to make that excellent summary. An interesting build! All the familiar cards are there but the counts are a bit unique. 3 Glimmer of Genius, 2 Slash of Talons!?

    Well done!

    Thanks for reading! My preference is to use Supreme Will for impulse mode (I really don't like countering things with it and will only use it as a counter if it's something really gnarly), so having only 3 Glimmer along with the Opts and Searches is usually enough to find what I need.

    Until Glint-Sleeve rotates out, Slash is so good. That's midrange's signature turn-2 play (or in the BG or Sultai explore build, Merfolk Branchwalker is pretty common too), and the great thing about Slash on the play is you can let their T2 dude resolve, slash it on T3 attacks, and still have mana up to Essence Scatter their next dude. I'd seen it as sideboard tech in some UW builds, but testing it a bunch in the main convinced me that it's worth a couple mainboard slots. There's a flash enchantment in the next set that has potential (hope that's vague enough to discuss here), but 1-mana instant-speed removal is a good thing.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    Quote from xaltair »

    Congrats on the PPTQ win, a very good job with this deck

    Thanks xaltair!
    Quote from xaltair »

    If you test the deck enough and learn it inside and out then you can play it to an unbeatable record in matches easily

    I agree that extensive testing is critical to both (1) learn your deck inside and out and (2) understand the metagame and what each deck is trying to do when.

    I have to say though that I was very fortunate with my matchups. I only faced one aggro-ish deck in the Swiss (I don't consider GW Tokens to be a super aggro deck in the same way that the BR deck is aggro--it doesn't pressure life total quite as much, and its threats are more manageable (no hasters, no Haz, no Phoenix)). I can stumble with a slow draw and still stabilize against midrange and opposing control (except my match 2 against UW control), but if I have a slow draw against true aggro, chances are they're getting the W.

    I think that a UW Approach build that's tuned to address the T1-3 creatures that can give us a tough time (Siphoner is really the biggest one as far as I'm concerned) is in a pretty good spot in this meta. My BR opponent in the semis made a comment about how he didn't really have sideboard hate against UW Approach (I'm guessing duress/doomfall/lost legacy?) because he just hasn't seen it that frequently. That seems pretty consistent with the MTG Goldfish metagame stats, which puts UW Approach at 1.41% of the metagame. I'm guessing that will shift after Dominaria drops with all the goodies for UW Control (not mentioning here because I don't think we're allowed to discuss spoilers here?). For now though, it seems to be a very under-the-radar deck to play. And in what I see as a very midrange meta, (1) having a ton of the right answers (slash, settle, fumigate, cast out) and (2) having no creatures (making their cards dead) is a good place to be.

    I'm rambling, but my point is that I got pretty lucky to see the matchups I saw, and I also got pretty lucky in some of the individual games with my topdecks. Preparation is essential, knowing the metagame is essential, but no amount of preparation or knowledge will get me consistent wins over Bomat into Khenra into Crasher into Hazoret (with a couple bolts to the face to boot). I'll win some, sure, but I certainly won't win them all (or even most).
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    I played in a 34-person PPTQ yesterday, and I'm super stoked to report that I took it down with my current UW Approach build. I'd been testing quite a bit in MTGO leagues (consistently getting 3-2 or 4-1 with one 5-0), and after a number of tweaks, settled on the following list:

    There were 6 rounds of swiss, and here is my (admittedly pretty poor) recap of those matchups:

    Round 1: GW Tokens
    There's something really nice about playing a matchup where you don't worry about opposing counterspells, and just have a legion of 1/1 vamps, kitty cats (Sacred Cat, Adorned Pounder, Pride Sovereign, Regal Caracal), and horses (Crested Sunmare) that you get to Settle/Fumigate at will.

    Game 1 was a bit of a grind--he got up to 37+ life, but double approach got me there. The Gidfather did a ton of work here keeping his pouncers at bay and distracting his attackers from me.

    I scooped G2 pretty early (turn 6 or so). I was stuck on 3 lands and he had an incredible board and landed a Sunmare after gaining life.

    Game 3 he was able to build the board up again, but I had a key Glimmer that netted me a Settle and a Fumigate, and it was a hard lock after that. Win from double approach. Opponent shared with me that he had boarded in a few Gideon's Intervention but he just never saw them--that's pretty much the only way to stop the approach, but it's also manageable (counterspells, Cast Out).

    Also, the all-star award goes to Field of Ruin, which took out Adanto's First Fort, Second Fort, and Third Fort (and got one of his duals to help my fixing as well).

    One interesting play here: he had a Caracal and a 1/1 Vamp token out and I had Gideon on 3 holding down the fort with Farm//Market in hand. I chose to +1 to neutralize the vamp instead of the Caracal hoping that it would bait him into attacking with the Caracal and it totally worked. 1-0.

    Round 2: UB Control
    This was a super frustrating matchup, which is too bad because I usually feel pretty favored G1 against UB Control with all their dead cards. I was missing my land drops, he was countering my efforts to hit said land drops through Supreme Will and Glimmer, and he ran away with card advantage via Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Arguel's Blood Fast. 1-1.

    Round 3: UB Control (again)
    Redemption time. This time, the matchup fell my way.

    G1, I got there with a pretty straightforward double approach.

    G2, I got there with a not-at-all-straightfoward double approach with an incredible clutch topdeck. I had 2 approach in hand, and he negated my first with The Scarab God on the battlefield. He's on 2 or 3 cards and I put him on no counterspells, so I go for it. He calmly activates The Scarab God to bring back a Torrential Gearhulk that I had forgotten was in his graveyard, and he negated my approach. This was my only substantial punt of the day (not to say that I didn't have other punts and missed triggers, including several Azcanta scries, but this one almost cost me big).

    Well lo and behold, what did I topdeck the very next turn? My third Approach. Sometimes the cards just fall your way. 2-1.

    Round 4: UB Midrange
    This was a matchup against a friend from my LGS who I consider to be a really really really (really) good player. He won a grindy game 1 that I can't really remember much about. In game 2, he landed a T2 Blood Fast, and I managed to stick a T3 Gideon, which makes Blood Fast way less good. I got a gearhulk down later on and he scooped, moving to G3.

    By this point, we had about 9 minutes on the clock, and we played quickly, but he didn't have a ton of creatures and I stuck a Nezahal, which meant that neither of us could get the W. A good battle. 2-1-1.

    Round 5: BG Azor's Mastermind
    My countermagic doesn't line up well against this deck G1. Essence Scatter is dead, and I rely on Supreme Will to counter some number of spells (although my first choice is impulse mode), but this deck gets a bunch of lands out (Hour of Promise), which makes it much less effective.

    G1 he had an Azor's Gateway out and we each had a field of ruin. He attempted to FoR my FoR, and I responded by destroying his only desert--this turned out to be correct because he played Hour of Promise the next turn and wasn't able to get any Zombies from it. But what it meant was that I didn't have a FoR to kill his flipped gateway. He resolved a Vraska, Relic Seeker, and then a couple turns later, tapped his gate for 27 black mana to Mastermind's Acquisition a Torment of Hailfire. I had 2 cards in hand, 1 nonland card in play, and (shockingly) I did not have the 57 life required to survive.

    G2 and G3 were much better with Negates, a pair of Forsake the Worldly, and some Caracals in from the board. G2 was pretty straightforward double approach. G3 he had some mana troubles and didn't have the second green to resolve his Carnage Tyrant. He had a Blood Fast going, and I had my legion of kittehs on the board. I had had a Forsake the Worldly in hand for a number of turns, but I was kind of saving it for the gateway, and I was happy to let him continue to Blood Fast himself. When he got down to 8, he activated the Blood Fast, and I forsaked in response. Now he's at 6 and I have 7 damage on board from the cats. 3-1-1.

    Round 6: Grixis
    I'm sitting at 10 points, which isn't enough for an ID, so my opponent and I are both win-and-in.

    For the life of me, I can't remember this matchup very well. I feel favored against Grixis with my counter and removal suite. He played his siphoners and Whirler Virtuosos and Rekindling Phoenixes, but I was able to manage them all with my countermagic and removal. Highlight was when he landed a T2 siphoner and I slash-of-talonsed it the next turn. He said something like, "Huh...didn't know this was even seeing play." And he's right: it's not. But I think it really should be (which is why I played 2 in the main).

    Anyway, managed threats, stayed patient until I had 2 approaches in hand, cast one, make him try to take advantage of what he sees as his "opening" to cast The Scarab God and other miscellaneous dudes who will never have a chance to attack, and then approach the next turn. 4-1-1, which is good enough for 7th seed.

    Quarterfinals: Grixis
    This guy had dropped only one game all day, which was pretty impressive, but I had just come from Grixis so I was in that mindset. He admitted to me beforehand that I was the matchup that he didn't want to face.

    This was a matchup that was all about managing my life total and timing out my wraths. He was a very careful player that did not overextend his attacks, which made my settles functionally 1-for-1s, but it's more than that: by not attacking with the squad (in fact, he had a phoenix out that never turned sideways), I'm gaining life each turn even if I don't have the settle.

    Minor punt of the day (runner-up punt?): I had scavenger grounds in play and should have activated it on my end step before he could eternalize a Champion of Wits. I eventually did activate it to prevent him from flashing back a spell with Torrential Gearhulk, but doing it earlier would have been better and saved me dealing with a 4/4 and giving him 2 cards.

    Double approach G1 and G2, on to the semis.

    Semifinals: BR Aggro
    And this is the matchup that I didn't want to face. Amazingly, I had avoided aggro decks just about all day, with the exception of GW tokens which is somewhat aggressive.

    G1 was a doozy. Bomat, Khenra, Scrapheap Scrounger, the 2/1 that comes in tapped and can recur (can't remember its name)...the works. Farm was good, Slash of Talons was good, wraths were good, Approach was good. He had me down to 1, and after the match, his buddy indicated that he could have won the game (I didn't overhear how). I had approached with Search out, and my scry was to my second approach, so I snuck in the win.

    G2 was textbook aggro death by T5. Life total went 20, 19, 18, 12, 6, dead.

    G3 he had a really slow start. Land, pass. Land, pass. Land, Crook of Condemnation. These are the aggro matchups we dream about. He resolved a siphoner, I had a slash of talons. He had 2 Phoenixes and a Chandra: I had 2 Cast Out and a Spell Swindle. The answers just lined up perfectly, exactly how a control deck should work. This was like Rocky 4 where Drago seems totally invincible until Rocky draws blood, and then it's all Rocky. G3 I stuck a gearhulk and swung in for 5. This was the first time his life total had changed all game. Got him with beats. On to the finals.

    Finals: BG Counters?
    This is just my guess what this deck was from sitting next to the guy during the semis. I think he was on the snek, rishkar, ballista deck (which I think I have a good matchup against, but can definitely lead to a blowout on his side). Turns out, he isn't really interested in going to the RPTQ, and that's the reason I signed up. He let me have 9 packs and the invite, and he took home a couple booster boxes.

    Parting thoughts
    • I really liked Gideon as a 1-of. He helps your life total and he can pressure their life total, which is something that can help when you're digging for your Approaches.
    • Against control, you really want to hold off making your move until you have both approaches in hand. In draw-go, they're waiting for you to tap out to make their move, and that's when to drop the hammer.
    • I had been playing 3 Field of Ruin and 1 Arch of Orazca, but at the last minute, put in the 4th Field. I think this is correct for a deck that needs double colors to do good stuff (Disallow, Gideon, wraths) and in a meta that includes so many powerful lands.
    • There are mixed opinions on Opt and Censor. I've used both in various quantities and think there are good things about both. Someone on some board I read called Opt "deck lube" and it's totally right. I love seeing this card in my opening hand and really don't mind it later on when I'm looking for an answer. Also, I think it's strictly better than Hieroglyphic Illumination--if you look to cycle illumination most of the time, you should run Opt because of the scry. If you look to cast illumination, you should run Glimmer for the scry 2.
    • Slash of Talons is the truth against this meta. So many siphoners and champions of wits have met their grisly end from the talons. Siphoners are a truly powerful card against us--you cannot underestimate the card advantage it provides.
    • Hour of Revelation wasn't boarded in once. I have it in there for stockpile/drake decks (which I still see occasionally online). I like having it in there.
    • Spell Swindle is gold. Spell Swindle played off a Gearhulk is even better. I think pumpmonkey pointed this out in an earlier post.

    As a side note: I had played UW Approach in 2 PPTQs and a GP last fall and went 2-4, 3-3-1, and 3-x respectively. This was before I decided to plunge into MTGO and do some deliberate practice with the deck. I've concluded that there's really no substitute for getting a ton of reps with a deck (and against other decks so you know the meta) and making small tweaks to see how it makes the deck better/worse.

    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    Quote from TheBlueOne37 »

    With this decklist you are running 6 deserts. I wonder if that is enough for a 1 or 2 of Desert's Hold

    I'm running 3x Desert's Hold in my current UW build. Went up to 7 deserts to support them (3 Desert of the True, 3 Ipnu Rivulet, 1 Scavenger Grounds). It's really very, very good. Some of my favorite targets are Bomat Courier (can't sac it for cards), Hazoret, the Fervent (stop throwing cards at me!), Rekindling Phoenix, and of course, The Scarab God. The lifegain is very relevant against most of the field (which seems to be very creature-heavy), it helps get me closer to City's Blessing for my Arch of Orazca, and it keeps things on the field for a better Fumigate.

    I tested Baffling End a bit, and while I liked it at first (see earlier post), I think I'm moving away from it in favor of the Holds and Censor. Censor seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it card, but it has done so much work against aggro decks that want to curve out at all costs. Against red, it basically reads "Counter target Ahn-Crop Crasher". Tapping out turn 2 for a Baffling End doesn't seem like where you want to be against aggro because it will often result in a Crasher to the face. I'm much happier tapping out turn 3 for Desert's Hold if needed because it will at least get me a few life back.

    Desert's Hold has also allowed me to go down to 2 Cast Out in the main because I no longer need to Cast Out the gods.

    Desert of the True isn't super exciting, but I do like being able to cycle it away if I get flooded, and I don't think the deck wants Shefet Dunes.

    I'm also testing 2 Slash of Talons in the main deck given all the creatures I'm seeing in my testing. Feels so good to get a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner early on.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    I've been running UW for several months now with reasonable results. I used to run 2x Search for Azcanta, but recently have been experimenting with a build that runs 4x treasure map and have been pretty impressed with the maps. Yes, they die to abrade every now and again, and yes you have to pay to scry (vs. the free pseudo-scry of Search), but if you manage to get one to stick, the 3 treasures are really very good for a number of things, including (1) turning on ascend (for Arch of Orazca), (2) ramping to Approach, and (3) getting bonus mana for counterspells. Some other advantages I see with Map are that it tends to flip faster (if it will flip), it draws extra cards with Treasure Cove, they are nonlegendary, and I feel like they are less likely to draw opponents' counterspells (as compared to Search).

    Has anyone else experimented with Maps for card filtering? It may be that Search is better, or that some combination of the two is optimal, but I've been pretty impressed with the maps lately. I have also recently had a couple of grindy control matchups lately in which I've been down to fewer than 10 cards in my library (with Arch, Treasure Cove, and Azor, the Lawbringer, I've been drawing a bunch of cards). Seems like another upside to Map is that you're not pitching cards into the graveyard that you might want later...


    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    Got beat by a whole lotta duress cards. What's best to sideboard in during game 2 and 3 against black or UB Control?

    Was thinking about a creature heavy sideboard

    Currently have.
    4 Regal Caracal
    2 Sunscourge Champion
    2 Negate
    2 Jaces Defeat
    3 Authority of the Consuls
    1 Kefnet
    1 Hour of Revelation

    Thinking of adding.
    Vizier of Many Faces
    Cataclysmic Gearhulk - Replace Fumigates

    I think Gideon of the Trials is a good option against UB control. The low CMC allows you to roll it out early and neutralize attackers. They usually board in some amount of creature hate anticipating our SB plan. I've tried Kefnet, but it can be tough turning on his attacks/blocks. Also, against anything with white, he's a great Baffling End target.

    Brief anecdote: was playing an updated UW list in a MTGO league against a midrange-y UB deck (Kitesail Freebooter, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, The Scarab God, Gifted Aetherborn).

    Game 1, easy win with double Approach.

    Game 2, he gets in a Lost Legacy searching for Approach and whiffs (I boarded them out for Torrential Gearhulks). LOLs all around. I punt this one hard. He had resolved a Gonti, Lord of Luxury, taking I knows not what. He resolves the Scarab God. At his upkeep, he casts my Torrential Gearhulk from exile--I thought that he had used the Scarab God's ability to return a TG to the battlefield, so I pass priority with Essence Scatter in hand. Likely wasn't outcome determinative--he had enough mana to zombify the TG if I had countered it--but still, you really have to look at those little boxes to see what's happening on MTGO...

    Game 3, I board the Approaches back in, board out the gearhulks, and bring in 3x Gideon of the Trials. An early Freebooter shows him my hand, which has 2 Approaches in it. More LOLs, and when he Lost Legacys me the next turn naming Approach, I get to draw 2 cards (nice bonus). He asks "is Gideon your only Wincon now?" to which I respond, "Ipnu Rivulet :-)" I ended up milling him out for the win (not before I got a frowny face and gg from him).


    • Spires of Orazca plus Gideon does a ton of work to keep you alive (neutralize one dude, Spire the other).
    • Field of Ruin is a thing, and you really have to think about how to sequence your power lands. Do you want to keep your Spires of Orazca, Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, Arch of Orazca, Ipnu Rivulet, or Scavenger Ground (I have access to all of these in my current build, and I run 2x FoR). Each matchup will be different, but you really have to be thoughtful. I often hold back my FoRs to not give my opponent the information, but I'm sure they do too. In my G3 above, my opponent FoR'd one of my Spires early (and a second one late), but I think he wishes he had kept one for Azcanta.
    • Baffling End is an incredible card against Grixis and UB (and I think maybe just an incredible card period). May as well read "Exile target Champion of Wits." Hitting freebooters and siphoners is a nice bonus.
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on Journey to Eternity and Scarab God
    Situation: my opponent has Winding Constrictor with Journey to Eternity on it, and I have The Scarab God in play. I Fatal Push the snek. With the Journey to Eternity triggered ability on the stack, I think I can activate the Scarab God's ability to zombify the snek, and if I do, I'd get a 4/4 zombie snek, and my opponent would get a flipped Journey to Eternity (Atzal, Cave of Eternity), correct? Thanks!
    Posted in: Magic Rulings
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    Went 4-1 in a Last Chance Trial at GP Portland today. Lost to Jeskai Approach in the final game. Deck performs really well against the meta. Faced Black/Red aggro (win in 2), UW GPG (win in 2), UW Drake Haven (win, more on this later), and Mardu (win in 3).

    Regarding the Drake Haven deck, it's tricky to play against. Turns into a war of the Cast Outs. He took game 1, and game 2 went to turns. I managed to bludgeon him with Kefnet, the Mindful for the win.

    Here's the hilarious part: under the sudden death rules for the event (which didn't allow draws), the first change in life wins the game. So first player to gain life wins, first player to lose life loses. I didn't think of a sideboard strategy for this scenario (and there was much joking about wishing I had 4 Bomat Courier in the sideboard). I knew he had 4 Renewed Faith in the main, so I felt pretty unfavored. I draw a hand for the ages: Authority of the Consuls, Kefnet, Gideon of the Trials, Desert's Hold, and all the mana I need (including Desert of the True). He's on play, mulls to 6: land, pass. Me: land, pass. Him: land, OPT, pass. Me: land, pass. Him, land, cycle Cast Out, pass. Me: Kefnet, pass. Him: land, pass. Me: swing for 5? GG. He was a totally cool dude and took it really well, but what a heartbreaking way to lose.

    The Jeskai matchup left me thinking I needed another SB option against control, so I think I'm going to roll with Glyph Keeper and see how it goes. Riddleform was a contender too, but I polled some of the folks I play with, and it was unanimous that GK is the way to go...
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    I tried Cataclysmic Gearhulks and think there could be potential, but only with certain builds of this deck (namely, builds that don’t rely as heavily on enchantment-based removal). Not much value when the creatures they choose to sacrifice are under Desert’s Hold, or if you have a couple copies of Cast Out out. If you can afford to wait till turn 5 to cast your Holds/Cast Outs and slam CG then, it might be good, but in that situation it seems like there’s not enough pressure in the first place...
    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on 3 questions about Insidious Will and one for Search for Azcanta
    I have four rules questions:

    1) Do Glimmer of Genius, Hieroglyphic Illuminations, or Pull from Tomorrow have "targets" such that my casting Insidious Will (mode 2) would allow only me to draw cards? I assume that I could instead use mode 3 to copy the spell and draw cards along with my opponent, but that just doesn't seem very insidious.

    [Side note: I understand from the rulings on Insidious Will that if opponent casts Pull From Tomorrow with X=7, then the copy will also be X-7.]

    2) Similar question with auras like Cruel Reality. It doesn't say "Enchant Target Player," it just says "Enchant Player." Can my Insidious Will (mode 2) change the target to my opponent (the one casting Cruel Reality)? [I'm guessing yes on this one...]

    3) Similar question with a card like Cast Out. Does Insidious will (mode 2) allow me to choose a different target? I'm guessing no on this one...seems like when you cast Cast Out, you don't have to choose a target, you only do so when its ETB trigger is on the stack, and by then, it's not a valid target for Insidious Will because it wouldn't be a spell, but I could totally be wrong.

    4) At what point can I respond to my opponent's Search for Azcanta trigger with an Ipnu Rivulet activation? Example: opponent untaps with 4 cards in the GY, Search for Azcanta's ability goes on the stack, opponent looks at top card and chooses to keep it on the top of her deck. May I then activate Ipnu Rivulet to mill the top 4 of her deck to the GY? And if those 4 push her to 7 cards in the yard, does SFA flip? My understanding is that I technically wouldn't be responding to the SFA trigger in the scenario described above, I would be activating Ipnu Rivulet when my opponent passes priority to me in upkeep (before draw step), so cards would be milled and SFA wouldn't flip. But if I activate Ipnu "in response to" SFA's ability, then I'd mill 4 cards before opponent looks at top card with SFA, and at that point, SFA would flip.

    Thanks for your help...want to make sure I have these interactions down before the GP this weekend!

    Posted in: Magic Rulings
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    I went 2-3-drop and 3-3-1 at the two PPTQs I played this weekend running the "desert package" list. Here are the lists:

    Started off with a loss to Black/Red aggro (Night Market Lookout, Yahenni, Undying Partisan, Aethersphere Harvester, Scrapheap Scrounger, Hazoret the Fervent, etc.). I think I could have won this one, but nerves got to me and I misplayed a sweeper when he had Yahenni and a Harvester on board G1. G2 got stuck on 3 lands (feels bad).

    Game 2 was a 3-round win against a spicy Jund Energy deck playing Voltaic Brawler (remember that guy?). I misread it as 4-color energy after game 1 (won with double Approach) and sided in Jace's Defeat. He rolled me G2 with nut draws (T1 Attune, T2 Brawler, T3 Greenbelt Rampager, T4 double Scrapheap Scrounger). I had Solemnity in hand, but by the time I could have cast it, he really didn't need any more energy). I also realized that I hadn't seen any blue lands and boarded more correctly. G3 double approach.

    Game 3 was a brutal loss to Ram Red. Won G1 (lifegain is awesome). He had me down to 7 life G2 and I thought I had control of the matchup, but after a boardwipe he slammed Sunscorched Desert, Earthshaker Khenra, and Lathnu Hellion to win out of nowhere. Game 3 got stuck on 2 lands (feels really bad).

    Game 4 was 2-0 win against black aggro. G1 was easy control with double approach. G2 he resolved Lost Legacy and chose Fumigate rather than Approach. It was a strategic move on his part--he told me afterwards that he played a lot of Approach and he would often side them out completely G2 just to dodge Lost Legacy. Fair point, but if I resolve Lost Legacy against approach, I'm naming Approach 100% of the time. If I whiff, at least I know you don't have it and can focus on your alternate win cons...

    Game 5 was a loss to mono white Vamps w/Oketra's Monument. Couldn't sweep his threats game 1, and hung in valiantly game 2 (including a fumigate at 2 life to go up to 7, and another fumigate at 1 life to go up to 6), but just couldn't get there.

    It was my first time playing against serious competition and I learned a lot. 2 match losses were to lack of lands, and I wanted some more early interaction with creatures. I also felt that Renewed Faith underperformed, I was never upset to see Settle the Wreckage. Spell Pierce wasn't good (sided it in against mono-W to hopefully get counter Legion's Landing, but by the time I had it, he had tons of land and would have preferred Censor so I could cycle it).

    For the next PPTQ, I switched Negate to Essence Scatter, took out Faith, added Gideon of the Trials, and upped the Settle the Wreckage. I also decided to test Treasure Map as a way to get to additional lands/mana (scry/flip). I didn't face any decks that really used the graveyard, so I also flipped the Scavenger Grounds/Field of Ruin ratio so I could have an extra way to kill the Legion's Landing flip and so that I could help mitigate not having enough white or blue lands (can kill one of their dual lands for whichever I'm missing).

    Round 1 I was paired with my son so we decided to ID rather than one of us starting with a loss.

    Round 2 I lost to a Ram Red deck that ended up top 8ing. I got him round 1 (this deck is really good against everything game 1). Game 2 I was on the back foot the whole time and lost. Game 3 was interesting. I managed to stave him off for a long time with only one white mana source (had 2 or three wipes in hand that I couldn't cast). Had to cycle a desert, 2 cast outs, and a censor (and think I cast a ritual to draw), but couldn't get that plains until he played a desert that I could field of ruin. Felt better after that. I think I misplayed this one too...I let him resolve a Hazoret that I could have essence scattered (I think that I was planning on wiping the board again), and in retrospect, that was a big error. He didn't attack with Hazoret, and even though I had Gideon w/emblem, he managed to get me down to 0 life with creatures and then kill gideon with Chandra/Lightning Strike. He was a good player (think he had a 6-digit DCI number), and I might have won game 3, but I didn't...

    Round 3 win vs. sultai energy. G1: feels good to be at 36 life and all they're casting is Hostage Takers. Fumigate them for fun, then double approach. G2 he started fast with Attune into Cub into Rishkar. I had the chance to desert's hold his Cub after he cast Rishkar, but decided to hold off a turn (why, I can't remember). When I tried to hold T4, he blossoming defensed. I might have been able to hang on for another turn, but decided to just scoop and take the game with the play. G3 was nervy until he decided to attack 3 creatures into my Torrential Gearhulk (including a 4/4 Ballista). He tried to pull the ballista back, but it was after he had declared and removed his hand, and the judge agreed that there's no take-backs. I think he tilted a bit after that. Win with double approach.

    Round 4 loss to green-black energy. G1 win, G2 loss (he duress'd one fumigate, freebooted the other), and G3 was interesting. Lots of back and forth and lifegain, and it ended up being a topdeck war. He won the topdeck war. I got through about half of my deck without seeing a single Approach. Chalking this one up to variance.

    Round 5 loss to RG dinos (I know, I know...). G1 easy win with double approach. G2 he played around settle hardcore and managed to beat me before I had enough lands to approach (I had to keep 4 open for the sweeper). G3 was savage. He nullified a fumigate with Heroic Intervention, but it's all good. Getting toward the late game with 18 life, feeling good. He has Huatli, a 3/3 dino token, and that 4/5 green dino on the board. Oh, and rhonas's monument (that will haunt me). Cast approach (had the second in hand). He makes his move with a ton of lands courtesy of settle. Ups Huatli for another token. Casts Gishath (ruh roh). Hits Regisaur Alpha with his Gishath ETB, gets a token. Casts some other dino and another creature that I don't even register because I can see my win slipping away. All the while pumping one of his dudes with the monument to make a 13/13 trample and a bunch of other hasty dinos. Savage. I had access to Settle before I approached (it was in the yard and had a Torrential Gearhulk in hand), but he was only sending one dude in per turn to play around settle, and it was a +2/+2 dude thanks to the monument, so I couldn't afford to dink around for much longer.

    Round 6 win to Ram Red. 2-0. Ferocidon is a great Ixalan's Binding target.

    Round 7 win to Mardu Vehicles. 2-0. All the removal and lockdown (desert's hold, Gideon). Also managed to Censor a Heart of Kiran (the best Censor I've ever cast).

    The biggest challenges I've found in piloting this deck are (1) timing your sweepers to maximize value (and maintain life total) and (2) when to let the shields down for your first approach. Finding that balance is tricky against aggressive boards.

    Cataclysmic Gearhulk has potential. I misplayed it the one turn I drew one, but I can see matchups where it would be great. 4/5 Vigilance is no joke.

    Didn't face control, so didn't play Glyph Keeper or Jace's Defeat. I had avoided Authority of the Consuls because of all the lifegain I get with this deck anyway, but think it's necessary against aggro. Would have been a 1-mana hedge against the loss I faced in the 1st PPTQ to Lathnu Hellion and the dino loss.

    Thinking that I'll take something like this to the GP this weekend:

    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
  • posted a message on UW Approach
    I'm feeling pretty good about the desert/lifegain UW list that was written up here, and will be taking it to a PPTQ or two this weekend.

    Question: has anyone tested out Angel of Sanctions in the SB with a UW list? With all the lifegain that we can get through Desert's Hold, Renewed Faith, Fumigate, and Ritual of Rejuvenation, I don't know that Regal Caracal or Sunscourge Champion are needed vs. Aggro, and the disruption and evasion that the Angel provides (not to mention the 6-mana buyback) seems like legit tech against many of the top creature-based and tokens-based decks. Just wondering if anyone has tried it out and found it worse/better than the standard sideboard options.

    Posted in: Proven (Standard)
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