Black Propaganda: Contempleating Orlando and Updating BUG by Thomas Rickarby

Who needs enemies: NQ 2011 Tournament Report from Milton Keynes by David Bevan


New Phyrexia, new metagame… So what’s new?

Splinter Twin/Exarch.

Taking second and third place at the SCG Orlando open, this two-card combo is the real deal. People will be playing it, so you must be capable of beating it. In theory, this deck weakens RUG as a choice, since lightning bolt doesn’t disrupt it and Mana Leak doesn’t seem like enough against a deck packing seven discard spells alongside its own Mana Leaks. There may be potential ways that RUG can evolve to improve its chances, including playing the combo itself, but whether this will be enough in the long run is something for metagame to decide.


Sword of War and Peace/Batterskull.

These comprise the main, if not sole, additions to the Caw-Blade archetype. They will no doubt assist greatly against the current swathe of aggressive decks. More importantly, Sword of WaP will be an important card in the Caw-Blade mirror and the metagame is already changing to compensate. It trumps both Squadron Hawk and Emeria Angel, which I have been informed were crucial for protecting Jace.

I feel I can say all this with relative confidence, but now I must get down to the dirty work of guessing and theorizing. I welcome your comments on my analysis, at the end of this article I will update my BUG list for the coming PTQ season. Depending on how the list does over the weekend I will either make some adjustements or find something new to play.


Beating Grixis Twin.

Though powerful, Grixis Twin has a clear weakness which it is possible to exploit. Let’s begin with its three colour mana base. Much like storm combo decks in Legacy, Grixis Twin has a lightning fast kill backed up with filtering and disruption. However, this comes at a cost and the deck is weak to a well timed tectonic edge. It is possible for skilled pilots to play around Tectonic Edge, but only by drawing Scalding Tarns or using Exarch to untap a red source with six mana in play. The first option is draw dependant, whilst the second option opens them up to a potential Spell Pierce or Mana Leak.

Tectonic Edge is good because it gets bypasses their disruption, but there is another card in the format that bypass their current discard suite: Acidic Slime. Although weak to Mana Leak, Acidic Slime cannot be hit by either Duress or Inquisition of Kozilek, making it a fine choice and as a bonus it also destroys basic mountains and is reasonably good against Valakut and Caw-Blade. Using our own discard spells to force a Slime through and Lotus Vobra to accelerate it out on turn 3, Acidic Slime might prove to be a valuable tool in the match up.

Another way of bypassing the disruption package of Grixis Twin is to run too many cards that they need to answer. Adding Mana Leak, Go for the Throat and even Spreading Seas won’t hand you the match on a silver platter, but it will give you some tools to do battle with. After sideboard, a resolved Memoricide on one of their combo pieces should make it an uphill battle for them to win. Again, a combination of mana acceleration and targeted discard spells should help to make this a reality. It also dodges Inquisition of Kozilek, which is nice.


Beating Caw-Blade.

Caw-blade is a bit like Faeries, if you think your brew can beat it consistently, you probably need to test against a better pilot. The Caw-Blade deck is changing though, with War and Peace and Grixis Twin in the Format, it seems like players have been adding black for Go for the Throat and Vampire Nighthawk. This is great news! Another three colour mana base to exploit! I also expect to see some straight blue white versions of the deck, packing four Tectonic Edges and multiple Jaces, following suite from Edgar Flores.

Lotus Cobra really helps in this match up, especially against the blue white version and if plan to run some mana disruption, this will also help out against Dark-Blade. Even though Go for the Throat is a card, I still plan to run Consecrated Sphinx in my sideboard, if only to beat the blue-white version of Caw-Blade (trust me, it’s a house). One mana discard spells help, as does Mana Leak, Creeping Tar Pit and Explore (important Memo – this format is all about Jace). I never feel favoured against Caw-Blade, but they are tending to omit Mortarpod and Sword of Body and Mind in favour of Batterskull and Sword of War and Peace – this should help things somewhat.

Beating Everything Else.

Valakut and RUG are no longer tier 1 decks, but people will still be playing them (because they have the cards and new decks are expensive). I also expect to see Vampires, Boros and red deck wins, so I will need a plan against those decks. In Britain, I think we tend to see more Naya than we do in the states, so I need a plan against that deck too. In particular Vengevine is a massive pain, even if it does get completely hosed by Valakut.


Let’s make a list!


4 Lotus Cobra

2 Acidic Slime

3 Grave Titan


4 Preordain

3 Explore

4 Inquistion of Kozilek

2 Duress

2 Mana Leak

3 Go for the Throat

4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

1 Garruk Wildspeaker


4 Creeping Tar Pit

4 Darkslick Shores

4 Misty Rainforest

4 Verdant Catacombs

4 Forest

2 Island

2 Swamp

2 Halimar Depths


2 Consecrated Sphinx

3 Disfigure

1 Doom Blade

2 Memoricide

3 Obstinate Baloth

2 Precursor Golem

2 Spreading Seas

Let me know what you think in the comments!


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I have been playing this game on and off since Urza Saga, at many different levels of interest and ambition. I'm also a big fan of legacy, but will basically play any format that appeals. In all things I tend to favour the "fruity" over the conventional, sometimes to my extraordinary benefit, but often it doesn't work out that way. I've recently started to play much more competitive magic and the plan is start to see some improvements in my game.