Releasing the Siege! A story about love, victory, solace, friendship, women, respect and some tips for the up-and-comers by Chris Fernandez

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Releasing the Siege! A story about love, victory, solace, friendship, women, respect and some tips for the up-and-comers by Chris Fernandez

Welcome everybody to another article by yours truly. It has been awhile since I last wrote and I had promised a Doran “primer” that, well… just didn’t come through. Things came up and Doran disappeared from the metagame. Once I see Doran come back from the grave I will certainly write about the deck. For now, however, I will focus on my Pre-Release experience and the upcoming Grand Prix/Pro Tours which will be on February 9th in Paris. So, let’s go.

I. The Pre-Release

Ah finally, Mirrodin Besieged is here and brought us a bunch of goodies that we all hope will shake up this incredibly stale Standard environment. For those living under a rock, Mirrodin Besieged is the latest installment of the Scard of Mirrodin block, which means more poisonous Phyrexian, more artifact covered Mirrans, and more fighting between the two factions. This entire fight is being capitalized by Wizards of the Coast marketing making us choose sides at the Pre-Releases, meaning that in these events you would get 3 booster packs of Scars of Mirrodin and 3 boosters filled with Besieged cards aligned to the faction you chose. For example, if you picked Mirran you were given 3 Scars of Mirrodin boosters and 3 boosters with 15 cards all with the Mirran watermark.

I’m going to admit, at first, I was a bit skeptical of the entire gimmick, but after going 4-0 at the event, I think it was a lot of winnin – I mean, fun. Seriously, though, the format felt very balanced. No infect deck was insanely powerful and no Mirran deck was too good. What I did found peculiar is that if you were Mirran, you were probably playing RW because the red and white cards are pretty much above every other color (usually); then if you had chosen Phyrexian, your deck would pretty much end up being GB, mostly because the best infect cards were in these colors, not to mention the very powerful removal you could open in black like Spread the Sickness and Grasp of Darkness. In a way, this was already expected to happen, but I had high hopes that choosing factions would make things a little diverse. I did face a UB Tezzeret Infect/Artifacts deck and a Mono-White deck… but maybe that’s why I won? We’ll see, so without further ado, here is my pool:

Chris’s Pile of a Sealed –

White:

Auriok Sunchaser
Razor Hippogriff
Seize the Initiative
True Conviction
Vigil of the Lost
Whitesun’s Passage
Ardent Recruit
Frantic Salvage
Kemba’s Legion
Leonin Relic-Warder
Leonin Skyhunter
Loxodon Partisan x 2
Master’s Call x 2

Blue:
Darkslick Drake
Sky-Eel School
Steady Progress
Trinket Mage
Cryptoplasm
Mirran Spy
Neurok Commander
Quicksilver Geyser
Turn the Tide
Vedalken Infuser

Black:
Contagious Nim
Fume Spitter
Moriok Reaver
Necrogen Scudder

Red:
Arc Trail
Flameborn Hellion
Goblin Graveler
Melt Terrain
Shatter
Vulshok Heartstoker
Blisterstick Shaman
Burn the Impure
Concussive Bolt x 2
Galvanoth
Gnathosaur
Koth’s Courier
Kuldotha Flamefiend
Kuldotha Ringleader x 2
Ogre Resister

Green:
Alpha Tyrranax
Blight Mamba
Carapace Forge
Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Ezuri’s Archer
Lifesmith
Tel-Jilad Defiance
Wing Puncture
Lead the Stampede
Mirran mettle
Tangle Mantis

Artifact:
Bladed Pinions
Copper Myr
Glint Hawk Idol x 2
Gold Myr
Moriok Replica
Necrogen Censer
Origin Spellbomb
Silver Myr
Strata Scythe
Trigon of Corruption
Trigon of Infestation
Bladed Sentinel x 2
Brass Squire
Copper Carapace
Myr Welder
Razorfield Rhino
Shriekhorn
Signal Pest
Silverskin Armor
Spin Engine
Training Drone

Look at the pool closely and tell me how you would build your deck from this pile.






Done? Now look at my build:

Creatures – 13
1 Leonin Skyhunter
1 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Razor Hyppogriff
2 Loxodon Partisan
1 Blisterstick Shaman
1 Kuldotha Flamefiend
1 Ogre Resister
1 Gold Myr
1 Copper Myr
1 Signal Pest
1 Razorfield Rhino
1 Bladed Sentinel

Spells – 11
2 Master’s Call
1 True Conviction
1 Shatter
1 Arc Trail
1 Burn the Impure
1 Concussive Bolt
1 Origin Spellbomb
1 Strata Scythe
2 Glint Hawk Idol

Lands – 16
9 Plains
7 Mountains

SB –
2 Kuldotha Ringleaders
1 Trigon of Corruption
1 Bladed Sentinel

Pretty shmexy, uh? In reality, the deck is ok. It was just as aggressive as I wanted it to be since I lacked more removal, but it is still the kind of deck that can handle creature combat very well, and post-board my match ups against the Phyrexian and other Mirran decks would get even better. There are some tiny details that seem suspect so I will explain some of them:

1.      Signal Pest – Signal Pest is a card that seems relatively innocent and the truth is that it is. However, when accompanied by Master’s Call tokens, Signal Pest suddenly becomes more than a threat. Honestly, I really like the Battle Cry mechanic for draft, I the perfect ability creatures needed in this block to make racing so much better especially if you want it to combine Battle Cry cards with colors that are rather passive.

Not only does the Pest have synergy with the rest of your creatures, but putting Strata Scythe on this is just all kinds of unfair.

Tip #1: When drafting, I would suggest you pick at least one Signal Pest, you won’t regret it. It seems like a hassle if he ever happens to be alone, since you’ll have to equip him with something in order to make him useful. On the other hand, the power that he adds to the board mitigates those little awkward moments.

 

2.      Loxodon Partisan & Kuldotha Ringleader: These two cards are very similar in power level with Ringleader rising above Partisan, but not by much. Ringleader has the benefit of having one more power that, believe it or not, can make a huge difference when you find yourself racing your opponent; yet, Partisan doesn’t have to attack every turn. It seems like a minor thing to worry about, except when having to fight off the Infect guys you don’t want to have to attack into them and then have to face a poisonous counterattack; this is why Partisan got the nudge over the Ringleader in the main deck.

When you don’t have to attack with it, you suddenly have two options, either you leave it back to block, or you attack into whatever they have on the table. You get to access the situation a lot better taking factors into consideration like, how much power they have on the table, how many lands do they have untapped, what combat tricks can they have, how many poison counters do you have, can you win right now, etc. This is what you want your cards to do when you build your decks: you want options (I keep repeating this in every article for a reason).

Once I knew I was fighting Mirran, I would switch out the Partisan for the Ringleader since I no longer had to worry about having 10 life and could focus on simply attacking.

Tip #2: Never underestimate the power of sideboarding in Limited formats. You get to have +15 sideboads for a reason. This deck was a prime example of why sideboarding in Limited is a boon you should not take for granted. This is especially true in a format where it is divided by two very different strategies (albeit with the same goal and perhaps the same means), where you need to be as prepared as possible. Those going to any high-end Limited Tournaments take heed and you will do better.

3.      Trigon of Corruption & Bladed Sentinel: Why are these in the sideboard if I expected a lot of Infect? Good question! The reasoning behind this is because, the Trigon is actually pretty bad against the Mirran decks and it just isn’t aggressive enough against those particular decks. Sure, I could kill a Mana Myr or two, but I won’t be jut slowing them down, I would be slowing my progress as well. The turns I spend playing this and activating it, are better served playing threats and spells that can serve for more than defensive purposes.

Bladed Sentinel is generally a good card and with the Strata Scythe, it just keeps bashing into things until it hits the opponent. Despite how awesome that sounds, I really didn’t want to draw two of them and have my opponents respond with better 4 drops and the like. So, I kept it in the sideboard strictly for the Infect match ups.

Against the Infect decks I would take out a Relic-Warder and a Concussive Bolt for the Trigon and the Sentinel. Infect has a lot of x/1s that pretty much die to Arc Trail, Blisterstick Shaman, and the Trigon (which can also kill Inkmonth Nexus in a pinch). Sentinel blocks all of their x/2s and can attack into them as well thanks to the Vigilance, so you can keep delivering the beats while also holding back their horde. Consider the Loxodon Partisans and you also had a way to block their x/3s. Yeah, the deck had a really nice curve.

One could argue that Relic-Warder has its uses like taking care of their Trigons and Equipment of their own, still this is negligible if you can out right kill their critters and leave them without a board anyways. Although, Concussive Bolt can potentially win games, I did not want to “potentially” win the game; I just wanted to win it and make sure I could.

Tip #3: In Limited, don’t play cards that “could” win the games; instead play cards that will win the game. Let me clear this up – in my deck, you have 13 creatures that “can” win the game, yes, but they don’t need things to go right to win it. I mean, Concussive Bolt needs Metalcraft in order for this to have the complete effect, otherwise it is just a crappy Lava Axe. The times that you can get Metalcraft are always a guarantee (especially in this deck) where you can get a Master’s Call, attack few times and then have to throw away a token or two in other to stymie your opponent’s offense while you strike back. Creatures, on the other hand, will always be a 2/2 or 3/4 or a 4/4. Not to mention that the Bolt is just a one-shot effect, creatures last for more than a turn which is why Metalcraft cards like Chrome Steed and Razorfield Rhino are so good.

I’m not saying Concussive Bolt is bad, just that against Infect, it doesn’t really do anything.

 

Again this deck did everything I wanted it to do in every match up. Admittedly, my opponents were not as good as I was hoping for them to be, except for my first round opponent who actually seemed to know what he was doing.

Round 1: My opponent was playing a very good GB Infect deck that demolished me in the first game with a well-timed Spread the Sickness and pummeled me with the Scourge Servant, Inkmoth Nexus, and some other black Infect creature. The other two games were rather anti-climatic as I just cruised in for the win without much of a resistance. My sideboard was better than I thought.

Round 2: I faced off against an interesting Mono-White deck who almost wrecked me first game as he just curved into Rusted Relic and Tempered Steel. Fortunately, my flyers equipped with the Scythe pretty much finished the job. Second game was a blow out on my part, thanks to the Ringleaders. Uh, my sideboard did it again.

Round 3: This one was a little disappointing. I’m really not the kind to look down on my opponents, however this one was not very good. Surprisingly, he almost beat me both games, because honestly, his deck was still nuts. Even with all the mistakes, turn 3 Tezzeret first game and turn 4-5 second game is very, very good. Tezzeret is just insane in drafted. That first game, he played turn 3 Tezzeret and -1 it to turn his Gold Myr into a 5/5 and I couldn’t draw my artifact removal for it, so I kept on bashing and chumping whenever I could, until Strata Scythe came in and made his 5/5 Gold Myr look more like a 1/1 Gold Myr. I won this game at 1 life and 8 poison counters. Game 2 was certainly a drawn affair where again, his misplays were more than his powerful deck could handle and I won on the back of my flyers.

Round 4: Mirror match. In this match I saw my Master’s Call for the first time and Signal Pest has his big break. I don’t remember the particulars of any of my matches and this one is the same. I won the first game and I’m pretty sure I Signal Pest turn one, turn two a Skyhunter, and turn three Master’s Call, I think.

Second game, I lost to a topdecked Hero of Oxid Ridge (did not know it was in his deck) and attack with it and with a Saberclaw Golem while I was at 8 and tapped after I got him to 1 I believe. I could’ve avoided this, however. I had used a Burn the Impure on a blocker in order to kill him faster, immediately after that loss I realized that had I held on to the Impure, that just wouldn’t have happened.

Third game was more to my liking. I raced his Leonin Skyhunter with a pair of Master’s Call tokens, and as he drew more and more reactive cards, I drew enough of my threats to overwhelm his Tumble Magnets and Soul Parrys.

Tip #4: In Limited and in every other format, you should never play cards that do not complement your strategy. For example, if you are playing a RW hyper aggressive deck in Scars Limited, do not play with Soul Parry. I tried to explain this to my last round opponent, but I’m not sure if he got the message. Soul Parry doesn’t do anything really, I mean, I understand he had it for the Infect match up, since you can block, prevent the damage, and your creatures get away scot-free. It is a nice little trick here, however, in the mirror match, he just used it as a terrible Fog (and Fog is still terrible in aggressive decks). In aggro mirror matches the only real way to win is to get the most value out of your cards, for instance, not using your only Burn the Impure on a 1/1 chump blocker and holding it for, I dunno, a topdecked Hero of Oxid Ridge.

*****

II. Besieging Standard and Extended

Until now it has been pretty clear what cards will most likely impact these formats the most; these are:

1.      Thrun, the Last Troll – This is a card that needs no introduction. Thrun is an uncounterable, Troll Shrouded (Spells and abilities opponent’s control can’t target it), 4/4 for 2GG that regenerates for 1G. People have gone far enough to call it “Thrun, the Jace Killer.” I don’t believe this to be true, however, I won’t deny that it might become a troublesome card in the future. It’s implications in Standard are pretty clear which is to just drop it in front of Jace and watch it lose its marbles (well, loyalty counters). Of course, let’s look at the Jace decks in Standard:

A. UB Control: This deck already has a variety of ways to deal with the Thrun. There’s Gatekeeper of Malakir, Vampire Nighthawk, Phyrexian Vatmother, Black Sun’s Zenith, Massacre Wurm, Wall of Tanglecord (if it becomes popular), Wurmcoil Engine (same as Tanglecord), Sword of Feast and Famine, and Grave Titan. I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that will surely see play. When you consider all these, Thrun becomes less scary.

Note: Do keep in mind that I’m not saying Thrun is a terrible card, in the contrary, the very presence of Thrun in the format causes all the other Jace decks to adapt a plan against it. If Thrun wasn’t a good card, this adaptation would not occur.

B. UW Control: Despite, the many version of this deck, I will group them all together into one category, since philosophically, they are all the same, even the Caw-Go version of UW Control. This deck as many of the artifact tools UB Control has to fight off or contain Thrun, in addition to those, UW also has Gideon which can draw fire away from Jace, Day of Judgment (assuming they can’t regenerate it), Squadron Hawks, Elspeth’s tokens, White Sun’s Zenith, Sun Titan, Baneslayer Angel, Sunblast Angel, and more.

C. RUG Control: RUG is a little different since this one can just as easily play its own arsenal of Thruns and use it to bash Jaces off the table or to protect their own ‘Walker from opposing Thruns. Among all the other tools RUG can have, this one seems like the most plausible. Not to mention that Thrun is still very good against aggro decks. The green troll can’t even be targeted by Mark of Mutiny like Obstinate Baloth can. Just food for thought.

See the power of this card? It is not format warping, by any stretch of the imagination, but its versatility cannot be denied.

In Extended it will be a little different. Where you really want creatures like this are against 4cc and Faeries; the former is slowly on the decline and the latter can chump block it all day. Against Faeries, we already have Great Sable Stag which can actually attack freely, can’t be countered either, and still can’t be killed. Great Sable Stag is such a problem for Faeries that they actually employ the services of Vampire Nighthawk just to mitigate the damage done by Stag. Now, I still believe Thrun will allow you to diversify your threats a little more, especially against decks like Jund who just can’t get rid of it. Jund decks really can’t handle creatures like Thrun, Stag, and Wurmcoil Engine. In fact, I think we could see a deck that plays all three in the same deck. Who knows?

That said, I think people should get their Thruns as fast as possible or before they get way too high. PT Paris is coming up and we might see an influx of the green Mythic in the Top 8, unless the Pros come up with some weird concoction.

2.      Sword of Feast and Famine – Ah, the penultimate equipment in the cycle that started back in the first Mirrodin as Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Light and Shadow. For years we wondered if they were going to continue making the cycle and finally they did. Before Feast and Famine, we had Sword of Body and Mind which did pretty well for itself, fighting against the Ramp decks and making some UB players a little miserable shaving 1/4 of their decks in a single hit (I figure, by that time, we might be around 40-ish cards in the deck). Yet, it wasn’t much, even with that extra 2-power you got after each hit. Feast and Famine, though, is better. We are talking about a card that grants Protection from Black and Green. Let me rephrase that: Protection from almost every Infect deck to come up, Protection from Massacre Wurm, Protection from Grave Titan, Protection from Primeval Titan, Protection from Elves, Protection from Go for the Throat, Protection from Thrun, Protection from Jund, Protection from Bitterblossom tokens, Protection from Phyrexian Vatmother, Protection from Overgrown Battlement, Protection from… Well, I won’t go on, I’m sure you get the point.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Feast and Famine will be better than Body and Mind. And Is still haven’t even factored in the fact that the Sword gives the equipped the ability to untap your lands that can be used to regenerate the Last Troll, or to have counter mana up (I would even play this equipment to gear up my Sea Gate Oracles so they can battle Trolls all day), and every hit makes opponents lose a card – Think about it.

3.      Phyrexian Vatmother – Superb card that Infect decks will undoubtedly play and to get techy it will successfully win any battle against the Last Troll. Another thing this card does is kill your opponent in three turns if left unchecked. In Standard it will surely show up in Infect decks and in Black based Control decks to deal with Thrun. In Extended, I’m still not certain of what its role will be, but I would not discard it so easily.

4.      Bonehoard – A Mortivore that can be fetched by Stoneforge Mystic and if it dies, it can lend its power to another creature. Not much to say here. Will it see play? Indeed, certainly in Standard, perhaps in Extended. I wouldn’t get a playset, though. At worst, you will usually find someone who you can trade it to.

5.      Green Sun’s Zenith – Oh. My. God. This card is insane. Green Zenith is the type of card that you instantly know it will see play and you are glad that it is not Mythic (not that it was ever going to be Mythic).

In Standard, the Zenith will make Elves a more robust aggro deck with actual card advantage which was lacking. This card will also act as a way to tutor up your Titans in your ramp decks, or for Overgrown Battlements, or Thrun, or Oracel of Mul Daya, or Obstinate Baloth, etc.

Then in Extended, Elves will adapt this and take on the form of a real Combo deck since fro a very low cost, you can search for Nettle Sentinels, Heritage Druids, and Regal Force, among other things. Green-based decks can look for Kitchen Finks, Obstinate Baloths, the Last Troll, Great Sable Stag, Bloodbraid Elf, and even Vengevine. The potential for this card is huge, so don’t hesitate to get your playset.

6.      Massacre Wurm – Standard: Will see play. It may or may not replace Grave Titan, as much as it could take on the role of support card for extra insurance against the more aggressive decks. This and Black Sun’s Zenith can actually give Mono Black Control the comeback it always wanted. Then again, that’s what people say every time a set comes out. It is a testament to its power if can stand side by side with Grave Titan (and we all know how powerful Titan is).

Extended: I don’t think it will see play. Much like Standard, it could become a Role player in Extended. I wouldn’t underestimate it, though.

7.      Black Sun’s Zenith – Another great Zenith. Get yours as soon as possible. I think this one is a little bit better than Consume the Meek, for the sole reason that whatever it can’t kill it will weaken (nice contrast to “whatever doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger”) especially in that crucial 4th turn against the aggro decks. This is applicable in both Standard and Extended; might be better in Standard, though.

8.      White Sun’s Zenith – Decree of Justice? Same mana cost (X and 3) and instead of drawing a card, you get a nice power and toughness boost for your tokens. Back in the day, Decree of Justice was nuts and today it isn’t any different. Even at six mana, you get 6 power worth of dudes at the end of your opponent’s turn, and then promptly returns to your deck so you can draw it again later. Like the Black Zenith, it will possibly see play in both formats.

9.      Mirran Crusader & Phyrexian Crusader – There’s a bit of rivalry between these two, but which is the best? I wouldn’t ponder too much about it. Both are very good at what they do and will see equal play. The former is decent against Vampires (it will wreck them if they can’t remove it from the field), obviously good against the black and green based decks, being able to wrestle Vengevines and win is very nice; the latter cannot lose against Boros decks or Red Deck Wins, is unaffected by Path to Exile, Condemn, Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning, and red sweepers. They both have their roles and they will fill them as best as they can.

10.  Hero of Bladehold – At the beginning, I was very happy to see this card, it felt like White aggro decks that weren’t try to get lucky with Quest of the Holy Relic finally had a chance again. By this point, I’m a little skeptical about how good it will actually be. Regardless, the card is powerful, and contrary to Paulo Damo da Rosa, I’d like to see White Weenie decks do well. It will certainly see play in Standard and maybe Extended, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

11.  Hero of Oxid Ridge –This. Oh, this. This guy reminds me of my old pal Giant Solifuge, and what memories they are. This is exactly what a Red 4 drop should be like. I do miss Trample, but given the circumstances, its “1-powerd creatures can’t block” might make up for that. Oxid Ridge just lets red decks curve out to turn four and still hit hard thanks to the Battle Cry. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I really like this mechanic.

12.  – Get 4. ‘Nuff said. No, no. In all seriousness, GfT will be played as much as Path to Exile was played back when Alara was legal. Black got a removal spell that can kill almost everything that isn’t an artifact. This means that you can kill Grave Titans, Vampires, Phyrexian Crusader, Phyrexian Vatmother, Creeping Tar Pits and Abyssal Persecutor (could he come back?) in Standard. In Extended, you get to kill Creeping Tar Pits, Grave Titan, Blossom Tokens (?), Putrid Leech, Demigod of Revenge, and whatever else is bothering you.

Seriously. Get. Them.

13.  Slagstorm – I’ve always liked Firespout and this is not that different at all. We a slight restriction of paying double red, you get the option to deal damage to players or Planeswalkers, this is especially true when facing Jace, TMS. If I were you, I would get my hands on some of these. Will see play in both formats.

14.   Goblin Wardriver – This one is a little harder to evaluate. On the surface, it’s just a 2/2 with Battle Cry, but I see more than that. I see a Goblin with a restrictive cost of double red who is a 2/2 with Battle Cry… and in my honest (oh so honest) opinion, is better than Kargan Dragonlord. Goblin Wardriver is what red decks really want on their two-mana slot. They want an aggressive creature that makes all your creatures much better at their job. Not some dude who after the first few turns you lose leveling Kargan will get hit by a Disfigure. If you don’t level it up, people might ignore it, if you level it up, you lose your mana. Wardriver? Will probably die. But he will die serving your other creatures for the good of all Goblin-kind. To think, that a couple of turns later Hero of Oxid Ridge will be bashing players left and right.

15.  Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas – Like every other Planeswalker, this guy will go through test after test until someone breaks him. What makes him appealing is that he costs four and anybody who is anybody knows that when a ‘Walker costs four, it will probably find itself in six of the decks of a Top 8. He might see more play in Extended, however, since the Affinity – er, Tempered Steel deck is already running around.

To be honest? I can even see Tezzeret in an artifact based Control deck in Extended. Looking at the top 5 cards of the deck is almost as good as Brainstorming, you also get Chalices (of the Overflowing kind), Mox Opals, Pithing Needles, Wall of Tanglecord, Masticore, Wurmcoil, etc. Think about it.

16.   Blightsteel Colossus – Why bother? Shape Anew in Standard and Extened. Tinker in Vintage. This is card is ok (Understatement, I know.)

17.   Inkmoth Nexus – Saying that it will see even in control decks is a little optimistic. In Extended, Mutavault is a lot better in most decks, maybe Affini – Tempered Steel decks might want this. In Legacy, I can see this replacing Blinkmoth Nexus in the Tempered Steel Affinity decks since you can just Cranial Plating this and then go to town on their ass for lethal in one hit. In Standard, seems ok, will see play in the obligatory Infect decks, and if those Shape Anew decks come up, it might have a place there. I won’t deny that the Nexus is very good, but it’s not good enough to play it in every single deck. On the other hand, it could replace manlands, since it also doesn’t die to GfT. We’ll see what happens and keep an eye on this card.

18.  Lead the Stampede – This is a card that had been missing for awhile. Somebody mentioned that it was like playing Goblin Ringleader or Sylvan Messenger (might have been Steve Sadin on the Magic Show), and I’m inclined to agree with him. Despite not getting a 2/2 creature, being able to look at the top 5 cards and keep any amount of creatures from those 5 is certainly very powerful. Card Advantage never looked so good. This has potential across multiple formats.

*****

III. Closing Tips

Finally, the end of this article is nearing. So, stick for a little longer. Before I finished I wanted to give some tips to players out there who qualified for the Pro Tour or are just planning on hitting up a GP. These tips are all pretty obvious and some not so obvious. I will repeat the first four tips I gave in the Pre-Release section and then continue from there.

Tip #1: When drafting, I would suggest you pick at least one Signal Pest, you won’t regret it. It seems like a hassle if he ever happens to be alone, since you’ll have to equip him with something in order to make him useful. On the other hand, the power that he adds to the board mitigates those little awkward moments.

Tip #2: Never underestimate the power of sideboarding in Limited formats. You get to have +15 sideboards for a reason. This deck was a prime example of why sideboarding in Limited is a boon you should not take for granted. This is especially true in a format where it is divided by two very different strategies (albeit with the same goal and perhaps the same means), where you need to be as prepared as possible. Those going to any high-end Limited Tournaments take heed and you will do better.

Tip #3: In Limited, don’t play cards that “could” win the games; instead play cards that will win the game. Let me clear this up – in my deck, you have 13 creatures that “can” win the game, yes, but they don’t need things to go right to win it. I mean, Concussive Bolt needs Metalcraft in order for this to have the complete effect, otherwise it is just a crappy Lava Axe. The times that you can get Metalcraft are always a guarantee (especially in this deck) where you can get a Master’s Call, attack few times and then have to throw away a token or two in other to stymie your opponent’s offense while you strike back. Creatures, on the other hand, will always be a 2/2 or 3/4 or a 4/4. Not to mention that the Bolt is just a one-shot effect, creatures last for more than a turn which is why Metalcraft cards like Chrome Steed and Razorfield Rhino are so good.

Tip #4: In Limited and in every other format, you should never play cards that do not complement your strategy. For example, if you are playing a RW hyper aggressive deck in Scars Limited, do not play with Soul Parry. It is a nice little trick to combat Infect decks, however, in the mirror match, it is just a terrible Fog (and Fog is still terrible in aggressive decks). I think the only archetype that can disregard this is Combo, because it heavily depends on what position you, as a player, want to be. For instance, Ad Nauseam in Legacy usually plays a full set of Thoughtseize and some Duress, since it is trying to aggressively combo out, it use the discard to proactively take away your opponent’s chances of stopping you. In the other spectrum, we have Spring Tide, since it is an arguably slower deck and a little less explosive than Ad Nauseam, it uses reactive cards like counters to stop other people from comboing, creature decks from killing you, and Control decks from, well, controlling the game, all this while it cantrips into its combo pieces with Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, and Remand (to name a few).

I have also seen Ad Nauseam decks play counters instead of discard, but I think the more proactive approach is better for this combo.

Tip #5 – I wanted to talk about this to a couple of people I know, but I haven’t gotten the chance. I keep seeing people make the same mistake over and over again. One would have thought that they would have learned by now, but apparently not. This is the tip that inspired this monstrous article.

Pro Tours, Grand Prix, PTQs, and FNMs are all different. I know, “thank you Captain Obvious”, to you I will say, “Yeah, they are different, but not in the way that you think.” Besides the prize pool, the trophies, the titles, and the way you qualify for them, what also changes is the caliber in player. This is the most important aspect. At FNMs you usually have the scrubs (no offense) that play with their grandmother’s Mono-Green deck (assuming their grandmother’s play and they happen to be pretty bad at deckuilding). Here you see randomness at its finest in terms of decks you see, thus the influx of random decks creates a pretty random metagame.

Then, you go to a PTQ. Things are more serious. Players here are more prepared and some will bring homebrews, but their grandmother’s didn’t build this one. Some get techy trying to catch their opponent’s off guard, but here the metagame is pretty much the same and you can expect to see the same Tier 1 decks of its respective format.

Then you go to a Grand Prix. Just like a PTQ, but with more rounds to play in and the decks have gotten techier and these decks are now build more professionally. Pro players take their fine-tuned and proven decks to battle and whoever spent the time to break the format might get far with something new. Here you prepare a lot more than you do to a PTQ. When you go to a Grand Prix, you must be able to follow shifts in metagames. If 4cc is losing its edge and it is apparent, change your deck, because you know it won’t perform well at the GP. If you see Faeries making everyone miserable, you will need to play something that can somewhat battle the Faerie Menace. Don’t just stick to playing a deck that will just get demolished by the one that has become 30% of the metagame. I repeat: When going to a GP, follow metagame shifts. If you do, you might get to Day 2 more times than not.

Last but not least is the Pro Tour. I keep seeing people going to PTs and they take that Jund deck that has been beating everyone else for the past 2 months and then go 0-4 drop at the Pro Tour. You know why? Because Pro Tours have a different metagame altogether, especially now that every Pro Tour is after some form of format rotation or the introduction of a new set. Look at Pro Tour Amsterdam. Once Wizards made its announcement to rotate the entire format, everyone thought that Faeries and Jund were going to dominate the metagame even with Punishing Fire in the mix. Come PT Amsterdam and the Top 8 was Doran, White Weenie, a Merfolk deck, and Grixis Control. No Faeries or Jund in sight.

What is the point of that whole paragraph? To advice all of you to think beyond the current metagame when going to a Pro Tour. I’m sure GP Paris will be filled with very interesting Standard deck considering that it is a week after Besieged becomes legal and won’t be available on MTGO for a awhile. But Pro Tour Paris will be a different story. The Pros will test, will see what works or not, and you have to prepare to battle against whatever they cook up. You have to make your research and build your deck according to what you think THEY will play. And most of them won’t play just some cookie cutter control deck with Besieged sideboard cards. Their decks will morph. This won’t be another PTQ or a GP.

My God, alas, I finish. I hope you enjoyed this very long article and you actually got something out of this. I’m probably wrong about a thing or two, but hey, who isn’t from time to time? I’m always right anyway, I’d like to be wrong once in a while *wink*. Certainly, this article was a bit more lighthearted than my other works; hopefully, it was as entertaining as I thought.

Until next time,

Chris


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