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Spreading Cheese – Spanish Inquisition Part 2 & Back to Standard

Hi all. This week’s article’s first part will be a continuation of Spreading Cheese 8. So you should all read that before we go on, since I will assume you have familiarity with the concepts discussed there.

First, let’s discuss a few sample hands with the lists. Note that I am ignoring the presence of Force of Will for now, because you will just have to play around that and take it slower. I am also presenting you with bad hands to show you how to make good decisions in bad situations. Let’s go with the first list I mentioned in that article, the metalcraft tallmen landless belcher list:

Vine Dryad
Cruel Bargain
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Wild Cantor
Culling the Weak
Diabolic Intent
Shield Sphere

Now, we can’t keep this hand. If only we had one black or green mana source, we could easily go off with Shield Sphere, CtW, then our choice of Diabolic Intent + Dryad or Cruel Bargain, both would lead somewhere. No mana = no game though. If you want to, you can always keep this hand and wait for mana. But we’re trying to demonstrate something here, so no keep. Mulligan.

Cruel Bargain
Goblin Charbelcher
Phyrexian Walker
Culling the Weak
Chrome Mox
Shield Sphere

Now this is an interesting hand. It’s basically a miser’s hand, you imprint the Bargain on the Mox, play a walker, sac it to CtW, play Belcher. If you draw a mana source, you win instantly, and almost no decks can answer that game 1. It’s a huge gamble though. I would keep this hand at five cards with one tallmen gone. But at six I am still faithful. For the record, tried to see what would happen if I kept, and I didn’t draw enough mana for the Belcher for 7 turns. Mulligan.

Phyrexian Walker
Shield Sphere
Infernal Contract
Goblin Charbelcher
Lion’s Eye Diamond

This isn’t going too well. This mulligan streak seems like it will end up in oblivion. This version of the deck can’t really go down 5 cards. So what happens at this point? Do you just give up, lose game 1 and suck it up? No. You just keep testing the deck until you’re convinced this won’t happen. With most lists I’ve run, I “fizzled” only one or two times, out of the hundreds of games I tested and played. To be honest, I hadn’t really tested this list, I had just taken it from someone I knew, but with this kind of deck, people’s reports are really shaky and you have to test and be careful. Let’s try again to see if this was a bad streak.

Cabal Ritual
Infernal Contract
Culling the Weak
Mox Opal
Dark Ritual
Chrome Mox
Lion’s Eye Diamond

Now this looks interesting. I’d keep this. Here’s how I would play it: Opal, Chrome imprinting CtW, LED, tap Opal for B, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual (BBBB floating), Infernal Contract. In response crack LED. Now, here’s the usual dilemma of the SI player: What color do you crack the LED for? This is why you really want to know the deck. Here, I’d crack it for GGG because we already have one black floating and can get one more from the Chrome, so as long as we draw one more black source we can play another contract. If we crack for BBB we are sure to be able to play another contract, but any green card we draw is dead. But then again, this version doesn’t have too many green cards so I’m not sure. Let’s see what happens:

Storm count: 6
Life: 10
Graveyard: 4 cards
Mana: BGGG
Hand: None
Drawn:
Infernal Contract
Eternal Witness
Shield Sphere x2

This is… difficult. Cracking the LED for BBB might have been a better option, but we can manage. Cast Witness with the GGG, bring back Dark Ritual. Cast the ritual with B, cast Infernal Contract.

Storm count: 9
Life: 5
Graveyard: 6 cards
Mana: None
Hand:
Shield Sphere x2
Drawn:
Elvish Spirit Guide x2
Phyrexian Walker
Infernal Contract

Bummer. Turns out we should have cracked the LED for BBB indeed. That way, we would have BBBB in the pool, cast the contract we drew and still have B floating, then use ESGx2 and cast witness, bring back Dark Ritual, tap the Chrome Mox for B, and then cast the new Contract. I tried that avenue of play, but that didn’t yield anything either. It might have been another misplay on my part, because I’m not really familiar with this deck, so I won’t say anything.
My point is that SI lists are difficult to approach, there are bad lists, but sometimes they’re so hard that maybe it’s you who isn’t good enough. I’ll demonstrate an example from my own list for contrast, I’m talking about the Land Grant list of my own from last week. The deck is quite unstable though, sometimes you just draw bad. Let me give an example of a difficult hand.

Dark Ritual x2
Chrome Mox x2
Infernal Tutor
Infernal Contract
Summoner’s Pact

This is a difficult hand, but I’ll bite. Note that my first instinct was to imprint both moxes and draw away, but restraint is key here. We can always cast the mox later, so hold off on committing your resources until you don’t have to. This way we can imprint something else we draw. But don’t hold off on the Dark Rituals because there is never a better mana source than it, and if we go Mox, Dark Rit, D4 into no mana sources, we can’t cast the second Ritual. The line of play is: Cast Mox, imprint IT, cast Dark Ritx2, cast D4.

Storm Count: 4
Life: 10
Graveyard: 3
Mana: BB
Hand:
Summoner’s Pact
Chrome Mox
Drawn:
Ill-Gotten Gains
Culling the Weak
Odious Trow
Goblin Charbelcher

There are several lines of play, most of which don’t lead anywhere interesting. I’ll play it safe. I pass. I draw another Chrome Mox. This is slightly unfortunate. I pass. I draw a Cabal Ritual. We’re done. Play Mox imprinting IGG. Tap both moxes to cast Ritual, have BBB in pool. Cast Mox imprinting Trow. Cast Pact, fetching Dryad Arbor, then play it. Play CtW sacrificing Arbor, BBBBBBB in pool. Play Belcher and activate. This should, in all likelihood, win the game. This was a rough hand but it can kind of pull it anyway.

Let this be your warning: SI isn’t the most stable deck out there. But then again you’re playing combo. It’s a choice of speed vs. consistency. By the way, I put up two of my worst hands up there, it usually is better. I just wanted to show you that it can and will get bad. So do you have to play inconsistent decks that fizzle all the time? Not at all! Let me introduce to you a SI variant called Quasi SI. This list sacrifices speed in favor of consistency. Note that this list isn’t my list, they belong to a person who goes by the name of Vacrix, so thanks to him, wherever he is.

QSI
4x Polluted Delta
4x Underground Sea
3x Phyrexian Walker
4x Shield Sphere
4x Cabal Ritual
4x Culling the Weak
3x Cruel Bargain
3x Meditate
3x Tendrils of Agony
4x Dark Ritual
4x Brainstorm
4x Cabal Therapy
4x Infernal Contract
4x Chrome Mox
4x Lotus Petal
4x Ponder
Sideboard:
1x Meditate
4x Dark Confidant
4x Rebuild
2x Wipe Away
2x Island
2x Swamp

This is a much more consistent build that also has some game against control. It’s slower, but it has more D4’s in the form of Meditate. It’s skill intensive to play in a completely different way, the original lists are based entirely on your own interactions with your deck, while this version also considers how to play against a real opponent too.

I’ve played SI in many tournaments, and I’ve encountered mixed success. My stubbornness got the better of me sometimes, because I was playing combo in a metagame where everyone was playing either Merfolk or CounterTop, but then I started running QSI and it did better. Let me warn you one final time, make sure you know what you’re getting into when playing this kind of deck. I was also going to post another deck list, but I didn’t have permission to post that one and it includes some sick new tech so I won’t post the exact list. But I can give you a hint: Take my Belcher list, get rid of the Manamorphose and 2 Tendrils. Move the Belchers to the board and make them 4. Make some more room in the main deck for 4x Pain’s Reward and 4x Death’s Shadow. This is still untested, but it is the bleeding edge of technology and it seems promising.

Overall, SI is difficult to play, difficult to explain, and sometimes unstable. You need to accept that if you’re going to play with it. It may push away some Spike players due to the unstability, but I’ve never had more fun in Legacy tournaments since I started playing with SI. What’s also great is that there is always room for improvement, unlike other top standard Legacy decks this deck is very much a work in progress, and every month someone comes up with some new tech which makes the deck even more fun to play. So you should at least give it a try, let the deck sink in for a few days and try it again. I hope you’ll have fun.

Whew! Now that I’ve tackled Legacy, let me return to Standard, which I am infinitely more comfortable in. Now I shall surprise you. Of course you have realized that Patrick Chapin has posted a new RUG variant. I have to admit, I want to play this deck. It’s infinitely better than the Frost Titan list in my opinion. I love it, especially for the inclusion of Tumble Magnet. I’ve played around with that card and being a fan of its predecessor, I really like it. I hadn’t found a home for it in Standard, but this deck seems about right. So, I haven’t written Standard articles for two weeks now, but I’ll at least give you some advice. Go play that deck. Here’s the list for those without premium. Yes, this time Patrick Chapin wins.

By the way, before I went into Legacy mode, I had promised a poison deck. I’ve been thinking about taking the Infect archetype to different places lately, but I haven’t been able to come up with something interesting. Don’t worry, I will be back on track next week! Until then, may you have fun, no matter what format you play.

P.S: Follow me on twitter @nayon7.
P.P.S: You didn’t think I’d forget to plug some metal, did you? Let’s have a new song: The Human Abstract – Faust

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  1. December 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    You’re interested in taking infect to different places? How ’bout this for different?
    http://magic.tcgplayer.com/db/deck.asp?deck_id=736470

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