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Spreading Cheese – Anticipate the Unanticipated

So I’ve been thinking of what to write this week. It’s really been a slow week in the Magic world. On news about me, the white deck I built last week seems to be pretty good. I lost only one round, and that round I drew the worst hand I ever drew in my history of Standard Magic. It’s game 3, I’m on the play. The hand I draw:

3x Voltaic Key
4x Plains

      

Ugh. Can’t keep this hand. Have to mulligan. So I go down to 6, doing several thorough riffle shuffles. The hand I draw:

3x Voltaic Key
3x Plains

Now, I’m sure I shuffled properly, and there are only three keys in my deck, so this sucks. Obviously, since I didn’t keep the previous hand, there’s no way I’ll keep this one. I do several riffle shuffles, a pile shuffle, and several more riffle shuffles. The hand I draw:

2x Voltaic Key
3x Plains

Now this is truly awful. I can’t conceivably go down to 4, but this hand is just bad. But I have to keep. And keep I do. Turn two, I draw a card, and it’s… Voltaic Key. Wow. This has to be some kind of cosmic joke. Thankfully, I take that one loss, beat everything else, and split top 4. I recommend that you try out that white deck, it doesn’t have too many top money cards, and is really fun to play. I’m the kind of person who likes war of attrition decks, and this deck helps you establish that.


Me and Brendan playing each other, splashing Orange for BigHeadJoe

While I was talking to Brendan (who did some excellent coverage of one of our FNMs), he mentioned playing Precursor Golem, which got him, me and Joey into talking about potential applications for the card. Joey thought of a Tainted Strike+Distortion Strike approach.

That’s a pretty cool idea, as you can also run Creeping Tar Pit for some continuous unblockability. I’ve given it some thought, but the problem with Precursor Golem is that you still get sad even if you counter the removal targeting him, because the copies still target the other golems. Thankfully, there’s a way to get at least some value out of your Golem in response, courtesy of Twisted Image.

If at first you go “huh?”, don’t fret. I didn’t see it when I first glanced over the card. But reading the second ability, you should realize that the “draw a card” part is copied once per Golem too. If you have two Precursors, it’s copied twice per Golem. Otherwise, I believe ditching the poison path and going green for Vines of Vastwood seems like a more stable option for me. Green also gives you Withstand Death to further protect your golems, and quite a selection of ramp spells you can utilize to get your Golem into play early. It’s bad for your curve, but there’s also Garruk’s Packleader to draw 3 card per Precursor. Finally, I’d also like to remind you of Dread Statuary, since in its creature state, it’s also a Golem. I drafted a rough list, it’s not really great, but it’s workable, and wins games in an explosive manner. I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work to be really good, but if you’re interested, there’s a good discussion down at the MTGSalvation forums.

While testing for the Golem deck, I realized that one problem was keeping the Golem alive through one turn of your opponent’s, in which they can resort to getting rid of it with all kinds of removal. As an answer for that, I decided to use Leyline of Anticipation, bringing in the golem at the end of their turn and attacking next turn for the win. What I didn’t expect, is that it would solve one of the greatest problems I had when playing a control deck.

While playing control, in the current environment, you tap out for one turn to play a threat, you get countered out, and you’re done. Your opponent will sneak in a huge bomb the following turn, and you will pretty much lose the game unless you get some awesome topdecks.

For those in the know, this style is referred to as Tapout control. Also, most of those in the know would probably know the other style of control, where you wait for your opponent to play threats, respond accordingly, keep control of the game, and slowly turn it towards your favor. This is called Draw-Go control. One key element that you need for permission control is instant speed card draw, which this format lacks, except for Jace’s Ingenuity, which is so expensive that you wouldn’t win any counter wars after casting it anyway. Thankfully, we have Leyline of Anticipation, which makes all of our spells playable at instant speed. You can delay making a decision to the last possible moment, so you can always maximize your mana and never face unexpected circumstances. I believe I am obliged to utilize this.

Now, it’s time to put on our thinking hats and think about deckbuilding (and also listen to some thinking music, for example some instrumental guitar shred a la Animals as Leaders -CAFO). One thing that is critical with playing a deck based around Leyline is that, you really want it in your opening hand, but you really don’t want to draw multiples. To address that, we will play 4 Leylines (and mulligan aggressively perhaps), and also play See Beyond, killing two birds with one stone. We can both get rid of extra Leylines, and have instant-speed card draw. If we don’t have Leylines to begin with, well, drawing two cards is a pretty good way to get to one. Also, the recent all-star Preordain only gets better with Leyline. Sea Gate Oracle at instant speed provides both card draw and surprise blocking.

Now, before we commit to any other color, let’s make sure we actually play counterspells so that we can make use of our card draw. Mana Leak is the unquestionable authority in the format right now, and Cancel/Stoic Rebuttal comes in at a close second place. Alright, let’s see what we have:

4x Leyline of Anticipation
4x Preordain
4x Mana Leak
4x Cancel
3x Sea Gate Oracle
3x See Beyond

Now, we need some removal. The main argument most people have against Journey to Nowhere is that it isn’t an instant, while Doom Blade is. Well, our Journeys are instants and they can also take care of Percy and Ulamog! What more can we ask for? Instant speed Consume the Meek variant that costs less and doesn’t discriminate against big creatures like Frost Titan? Sure, I’ll take Day of Judgment! I guess that pretty much covers everything in the removal department.

Now we have:
4x Leyline of Anticipation
4x Preordain
4x Mana Leak
4x Cancel
3x Sea Gate Oracle
3x See Beyond
3x Journey to Nowhere
3x Day of Judgment

Alright, that’s really cool, but we actually need to win games! Let’s play some threats. Wurmcoil Engine is amazing because it is a surprise blocker that kills anything, and beats Frost Titan since Frosty can’t tap something that’s not there. But we should also diversify our threats, against Memoricide and the like. Baneslayer Angel is always a nice surprise at instant speed, and since no one has fliers, it’s pretty good. Actually, one deck does play fliers: UB control, which plays a Demon. Baneslayer’s cool with that, so we’re cool with that.

4x Leyline of Anticipation
4x Preordain
4x Mana Leak
4x Cancel
3x Sea Gate Oracle
3x See Beyond
3x Journey to Nowhere
3x Day of Judgment
3x Wurmcoil Engine
3x Baneslayer Angel

By the way, I’ll be playing 25 lands:
4x Seachrome Coast
4x Celestial Colonnade
3x Glacial Fortress
3x Tectonic Edge
6x Island
5x Plains

The choice of the last card is difficult. I don’t want to play a Planeswalker, because they don’t really do anything at instant speed. I want to play Wall of Omens because it’s good against RDW, but it’s not a threat, and I feel a little low on threats, and it’s not really effective with only a single copy. The miser in me says Angelic Arbiter, because at instant speed you can really mess up their game plan. But it costs too much. Oh well. At least it’s a threat.

4x Leyline of Anticipation
4x Preordain
4x Mana Leak
4x Cancel
3x Sea Gate Oracle
3x See Beyond
3x Journey to Nowhere
3x Day of Judgment
3x Wurmcoil Engine
3x Baneslayer Angel
1x Angelic Arbiter
———————————————–
4x Seachrome Coast
4x Celestial Colonnade
3x Glacial Fortress
3x Tectonic Edge
6x Island
5x Plains

The cool thing about this deck (other than the fact that Leyline of Anticipation makes it AWESOME) is that it’s not an awful deck if you don’t draw your Leyline. It’s just a run of the mill UW Control deck without Planeswalkers. Yes, I realize that many of you are twitching because I didn’t play a Jace or something, but I believe the slots that would have been dedicated to 3 copies of Jace can be better dedicated to card draw, as long as you have your Leyline in play. Without Leyline, the deck really does suffer from not having Planeswalkers, but with it, you’re good to go.

You can replace the Angelic Arbiter if you really want to; as I said, I’m not too sure on that choice. As for a sideboard, come on. You should know how to sideboard in a UW deck by now. This deck isn’t really different. The sideboard is run-of-the-mill, but don’t be afraid to play sorcery-speed cards. If you’re really lost, refer to my previous articles for some advice.

Beware, though, the deck is really hard to play. You need to get used to the Draw-Go style. Just take it slowly, thinking each decision out until you get used to the deck. It’s not as bad as it initially seems, but if you seem to be bad at playing it, don’t worry.

So that’s the end of my weekly ramblings. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope I was able to provide you with something beyond your anticipations. Ha! You didn’t anticipate that joke, did you? I can go like this all day, I’m sure you can anticipate. Alright, alright, maybe I’m crossing the leyline.

Next week, I’ll talk about Poison yet again. And Tempo. You didn’t anticipate that, did you?

-N

P.S: Follow me on twitter at @nayon7

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  1. Sean
    November 17, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Y’know, If you’re going to play an expensive angel at instant speed, why not Sunblast Angel? It’s like a 5th Day of Judgement, too, since you can get into situations where your opponent declares all his creatures in the attack, then you lay down the angel to sweep the board.

    Of course, I can see Arbiter being similar. If your opponent plays something first main phase, respond with the Arbiter. No attacks!
    Likewise, if he attacks, respond with the Arbiter. Silence!

    But for one mana less you get “if you attack all-out, I do a one-sided Wrath.” Seems good, no?

  2. November 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

    You’re right. That seems like a good idea, I guess I didn’t want to add it because there are already 4 wraths, but sure, it seems good. That’s a good option over arbiter.

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