Home > Decklists, Musings, Spreading Cheese > Spreading Cheese – Bluntness, Cheating and a RUG Beater

Spreading Cheese – Bluntness, Cheating and a RUG Beater

Hi readers! This week I’ll be different. I’ll focus less on the decks and more on some general Magic talk. Before we begin, I want to make a few things clear. Some people seem to have the opinion that my column is about building ‘janky’ casual decks. So let me clarify. The purpose of my column is to make people think differently about Magic and have fun.

I do build rogue decks, true, because the only kind of deck that anyone can build is a rogue deck. If your deck is UB Control, RDW, RUG Control (I’m going to get to that) etc, you didn’t “build” a deck (unless you are the actual person who came up with the deck and Top8’ed with it, in that case, I sincerely congratulate you); you just netdecked it (let’s not argue about the semantics, you all know what I mean). Building a deck is coming up with your own idea and executing it. Building a deck is NOT replacing Mana Leaks with Deprives in some Gerry Thompson list. That’s netdecking and making adjustments to the list.

It’s true that the decks I build aren’t up to par with top tier decks like RUG Control. That is because I am also one person with a limited viewpoint. My goal is to show you ways to think about deckbuilding, so you can take those tools and build your own decks. Does this mean that if you’re a Spike who just takes whatever list Top8’ed the most recent PTQ/GP/States/SCG Open/Random 5k, there is no point in you reading my articles? No. You might receive less from my articles, because you have already made your mind on what you want to do and you don’t want advice on how to build a deck. But you might learn to think slightly differently about cards and include some tech in your deck. You can also learn to assess cards differently, so you won’t go into a tournament in a new format with last year’s bad deck.

What tools you say? Go back and read my previous articles. The Deckspace, ways to win the game, DDRS. These are all important tools for deckbuilding. They’re not all relevant in every format (right now the onslaught of control decks in the meta makes life hard), but they are all ways to think. At the end of the day, decks go away but the skills you learned stay there.

Also, I won’t just talk about deckbuilding. I will talk about interactions in the domain of Magic and many other things in general (read further, you’ll see). It’s just that we’ve just received a new block, so the format is still fresh and there are still ideas for deck building. When the format settles, there will be less to talk about in the area of deckbuilding. Also, there really isn’t much to talk about lately. Yes, there are changes to WPN and draft order, but there isn’t really much to discuss about that. They are just facts that we have to accept and live with. Are you disappointed that Wizards decided to tighten the wallets/make more money by cutting WPN from non-affiliated TO’s? Well, Wizards aren’t a company that go back on their word (See Reserve list issues) even if it makes customers unhappy, so complaining about it isn’t going to change anything. Remember that Magic is a product and Wizards are a company that provides us with this product. They want to make money. Voting with your wallet can make them care, not much else can. Nothing to discuss. The draft order change can spike a bit of discussion, but Mirrodin Besieged isn’t released yet so there is nothing to discuss. What? You say you can try to draft old blocks in reverse order? Wait, what kept you from doing that in the first place? Why didn’t you think of it back then? I have always thought about doing that, and I actually initiated a reverse Ravnica block draft once. You’re saying that it wasn’t legal back then? Well, it’s still not legal, old formats will remain unchanged, so if legality was holding you down, you still can’t do it. If you truly never thought about it, well, maybe it’s time to think outside of the box a little bit, don’t you think?

Wow, I’m really harsh this week, aren’t I? Notice how there’s no disclaimer saying “if I offend anyone, I’m sorry, this is just my opinion.” Why should I need a disclaimer? When you are saying what you think is right, you shouldn’t be afraid to say it. How is this related to Magic? I’ll show you how, but you should also think about this in real life situations.

When you think your opponent is doing something shady, just say it. Don’t sit there and suspect something; confront your opponent. This is a game, and it is meant to be fun; I can understand people wanting to avoid confrontation, but you really don’t have anything to lose. If you fear for your reputation, don’t worry. If you are known to be a good person in your local store, their opinion of you won’t change anyway. Conversely, if you are known to be a prick, trying to act nice won’t change that.

What you CAN change, is your opponent’s behavior. Calling out someone on sloppy/shady conduct will force them to tighten their conduct in general. If they were honestly mistaken/sloppy, they will learn something and not make the same mistake again. If they were truly trying to exploit something, you will force them to back off and know that you are not to be trifled with, so they won’t try to cheat against you anymore. So in either situation, you don’t lose anything and your opponent gets what they deserve, whether it be good or bad.

While we’re on the topic, let me point out a few things in case some of you don’t know. The objective of shuffling your deck is randomizing it. The best and most legal way to do this is give your deck a few riffle shuffles or ‘push shuffles’ (take it into two halves and push them into each other), do a pile shuffle of seven piles, then a few more riffle/push shuffles. And by a few I mean at least 5. Afterwards, you present your deck to your opponent. Ideally, you should do the same thing to your opponent’s deck, but at FNM this is rather tedious, so either cut their deck into 3-4 pieces and put it back together in a different order, or give it a few riffle/push shuffles and then a cut. Don’t ask me why you should do this, because there are people who have more expertise in this subject than I do.

Introducing Mike Flores:

Now, it doesn’t mean your opponent is cheating if he doesn’t follow these rules to the letter, but you should recommend it to them, because this will help them randomize their deck better, making the game more fair. Note: if you mulligan a hand with 1-0 lands or 5-7 lands, you SHOULD do a pile shuffle, I know it’s tedious but believe me, it helps.

Also, always count the cards in your opponent’s hand. I’m not talking about simply asking them, I’m talking about actually counting the cards. I’ve caught players with more cards than they should have. This is especially easy to catch early game, because you can just count the cards they’ve played, add it to their hand and see if it adds up to 60.

Two interesting things that have happened to me: First, I was playing against a young kid. He always shuffled poorly, and always had 8-9 cards in his hand at the beginning of the game and claimed he had 7. When I asked him to spread out his hand so we could count clearly, he immediately took a mulligan, and I shuffled his deck properly when he presented (he didn’t present, I made him present). I had to “remind” him to draw six cards (he drew seven). It looked like he didn’t really know the game, but I knew that he did, and was just trying to look like he didn’t and was trying to get away with it. I would never have noticed if I didn’t pay explicit attention. Second: I’ve witnessed players with large hands draw extra cards more often than players with small hands. I know a player who I’ve seen to draw four cards with a Jace brainstorm, but they already had so many cards in their hand before, and I didn’t keep track of it before they drew, so I couldn’t prove anything. There were also other factors that made the situation worse, so it suffices to say that I try to never play with that player and be extra careful when I do. (To the players at Amazing Spiral: this player doesn’t play there, so don’t worry.)

Alright, enough with the grim discoveries, about cheating players, let’s talk about something else. I recently read the new Planeswalker novel, Test of Metal by Matthew Stover. It involves Tezzeret and Nicol Bolas, among other famous Planeswalkers. It continues the story from Agents of Artifice, but you don’t need to read AoA to enjoy ToM, it’s a completely different story. It’s also a really good story, but I can’t talk about it at all without spoiling anything. It’s more Sci-Fi than fantasy, which I prefer. The main storyline can be convoluted at times but it’s awesome, and there’s also a backstory, filling us in on the life of Tezzeret and some happenings in Alara. I definitely recommend it, and in my opinion it is the best post-Mending (post- Time Spiral block) novel (it’s actually the only good post-Mending novel, excluding AoA). If you think certain people act totally out of character and the dialogue is awkward, don’t worry, there’s all a good reason for it. The plot is very well-thought out, but my concern is that there is so much character development and crucial plot devices that Wizards will ignore most of what happens in the book, as they usually tend to do. There are rumors (confirmed in the book) that Tezzeret will show up in Mirrodin, so we will see how that goes soon enough.

In other news, how was your Game Day? Mine conflicted with the Rally to Restore Sanity, so it was slightly undercrowded. I decided to mise with a Mass Polymorph deck, placing second and losing only to UR Force, which I was hoping I wouldn’t face. My deck was simply a UG control deck with an added flavor of Token generating cards (and Garruk) and big scary creatures. I had played pretty much the exact same deck when M11 first came out (with similar degrees of success), except for having a win condition in Hagra Diabolist. The reason for the change was threat diversification to combat Memoricide (and I can also cast these creatures given enough time) and fear of Leyline of Sanctity. In the end, I decided the Diabolist version was better since I run 4 See Beyond and Preordain anyway. If your metagame doesn’t have control decks, I absolutely recommend that you play this deck, because you can Polymorph as early as turn 4 with 3 tokens and win:

Turn 1: Khalni Garden, 1 token 1 land
Turn 2: Land, Explore playing another Khalni Garden, 2 tokens 3 lands
Turn 3: Land, Growth Spasm, 3 tokens 5 lands
Turn 4: Land, Mass Polymorph bringing 3 Diabolists all triggering at the same time, seeing 3 allies thus triggering thrice for 3 = 3x3x3 = 27 life = win.

And believe me, this isn’t that extreme of a hand. I Polymorphed on turn 5 in most games. Of course, countermagic and Pyroclasm ruin your day, so don’t rely on this deck too much if you expect to face control. I have a sideboard plan in the works for this deck, taking out the Mass Polymorph element and becoming an aggro deck to beat control, but it’s not well formed yet, so I’ll post it later.

Speaking of control, my archenemy a.k.a. Patrick Chapin has finally pointed a light on RUG Control (Link of the list for those without SCG premium here). Yes, it’s an amazing deck that puts together control and turboland. I’ve been aware of this deck since it placed well in some states in the 2010 States Championships. I was just hoping that no one would realize how good it is and just keep playing UB Control/UR Control/Titan Ramp decks. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I want to say that this is a really scary deck that’s hard to beat. It also narrows down the deckspace even further. It’s especially hard to beat while you’re trying to beat other decks too. You can bet people will be flocking to play this, though. I’ve had a shell of a deck ready for this situation:

4x Leonin Arbiter
4x Tunnel Ignus
4x Goblin Guide
4x Lightning Bolt
3x Arc Trail
3x Ajani Goldmane
3x Emerge Unscathed
2x Sword of Body and Mind
2x Condemn
2x Sun Titan
2x Baneslayer Angel
1x Revoke Existence
1x Cerebral Eruption
4x Arid Mesa
3x Tectonic Edge
9x Plains
8x Mountain

Well, alright, it’s more than a shell of a deck. It’s also not that awesome of a deck, but it can beat RUG control without too much trouble and can hold its own against some other decks. White Knight, Kor Firewalker, Celestial Purge and Leyline of Sanctity in the board can take care of black and red decks. Against control decks, you might want Luminarch Ascension, and against elves you want Day of Judgment. Adjust your board accordingly. If you aren’t expecting to see any RUG Control or ramp, switch the Arbiter-Ignus package with 3x Stoneforge Mystic, 3x Cunning Sparkmage, 2x Basilisk Collar and Goblin Guide with Wall of Omens This way you become more of a control deck to deal with aggro. If you expect non-RUG control, play 4x Luminarch Ascension instead of Arc Trail.

Of course, needless to say, this deck beats ramp decks very easily, thanks to 8 hate bears in the Arbiters and Ignuses (Ignii?). Goblin Guide is there for the early damage. Yes, it gives them land, but they have a lot of ramp so they’ll get the land anyway, you might as well get in some damage before it’s too late. Also, if you get an Ignus, they won’t want to play the extra land. Sword is for Frost Titan, and Baneslayer is there for Persecutor (pre-empting its popularity since GerryT called it good). No Stoneforge Mystic, since Arbiter prevents searching. Emerge Unscathed is removal protection and also protects from Frost Titan and can let you go through with the Sword for an alpha strike. Arc Trail takes care of early game annoyances like Lotus Cobra and Oracle. One miser’s maindeck Revoke existence is good because almost everyone plays artifacts or enchantments. It takes care of Volition Reins, and that’s its most important purpose. The miser’s Cerebral Eruption is for Avenger of Zendikar (one copy for one copy). It can also be used to mise against Elves, Goblins, Poison, Myrs and Artifacts. The rest is fairly obvious. As you can see, this list is pretty much designed to beat decks that ramp, and Frost Titan decks. And RUG lies in the intersection of those two decks.

I actually had another deck to post this week, but I am forced to adapt to the situation to answer RUG. I couldn’t build a new deck, because I was really busy this week, so I couldn’t really playtest to my heart’s content. Still, I gave you two decks in spite of that (four if you include RUG)! Next week, I don’t know what I’ll talk about. Oh wait! I’ve talked about the ways to win the game in my first article, right? I covered poison and damage. I guess I should cover milling then! As I said, See you all next week.

P.S: Obligatory death metal plug, follow me on twitter @nayon7!

  1. deldobuss
    November 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

    So sad that it needs to be said, but you should always check for cheating! I am fairly new to tournament play, and I had a guy mulligan 4 times and still get 7 cards. I didn’t know that you had to drop a card for each mulligan. He was digging for his combo so he could have a guaranteed turn 4 win. Naive me then tried to mulligan and he stopped me and made me get 1 less card. It was then that I realized what he had done, but by then it was game 2 and I was just flustered.

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