As far as new cards go here's my evaluation:
Kaya's Guile has been amazing in the format. Many decks utilize the graveyard (whether as an all-in plan or for extra value) so having main-deckable hate is essential. Our three drop slot is already clogged full but I like this as a 2-of mainboard.
Force of Despair is just OK. If there are a lot of decks going crazy with blazing fast starts it's a good sideboard card. Aether Vial decks get around this card pretty handily by only playing one card a turn. I think we have better options for those decks.
Silent Clearing is great. We already don't take much damage from our mana base so a few extra points is no big deal. Having something to do late game when we flood is essential in a 25 land deck.
Nether Spirit was fine for the short time I used it. But in a meta full of graveyard hate it's tough to justify. Plus we have fulminator and RIP in the sideboard making it less useful.
I haven't tested Plauge Engineer but it seems very powerful.
As far as playing Esper pox, it's just too tough on the mana. We run very few basics already and don't have much room for a third color. I don't think a cantripping creature is worth a splash. Therapist is for a different meta I think. He's very slow.
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Jun 3, 2019You also missed Force of Despair and Plague Engineer. Both will be very potent sideboard cards. I'm excited to be able to test these cards!Posted in: Control
I'm sure you've all seen the sad news that mtgsalvation will be closing down early in July: https://www.mtgsalvation.com/articles/49777-the-end-of-an-era
I'll be sure to update the primer before then. I haven't heard many complaints about it so I hope my evaluation has been good so far.
I also want to remind everyone that we have a bw pox discord here: https://discord.gg/C6pe9rb where the community can hopefully continue for some time. I'll add this link to the primer also.
Thanks everyone for the great discussion here!
May 8, 2019Ashiok is good in legacy because fetches are very widely used and you can play ashiok turn 1 with dark ritual. In modern playing ashiok on turn 3 is usually too slow. I've found it's only ever really good against Primeval Titan decks and that's too narrow to deserve a sideboard slot to me. The Graveyard hate aspect of ashiok is probably too slow and too low impact.Posted in: Control
I think Ashiok has the same issue as Kaya does in our deck. 3 mana isn't cheap for us due to smallpox so we want our cards to have big impacts on the game. Kaya and Ashiok don't affect the board in a meaningful way and are just incidental hate cards.
May 7, 2019There have been a few 5-0s recently online with lots of differences to discuss. One of these lists is my own so thanks for letting me brag a bit!Posted in: Control
There's a lot of ways to build the deck but it seems like the core is pretty similar. I think it shows that Smallpox and Thoughtseize are both very well positioned in the meta. There are lots of decks that can get dismantled by stripping the right card and lots of single threat decks.
There is probably a lot of personal preference in these lists but the win cons are all at least a little different. Planeswalkers seem to be the go to since they utilize the ramp from flagstones so well but you want to support them with tokens / bloodghasts / utility creatures and there isn't much consensus on which you should be using.
May 5, 2019Reactive removal sets you behind against planeswalkers. Any planeswalker deck is going to be a bad match up, there's not much fixing that. And trying to out control the control deck isn't the way to fix the match up. The best plan against them is thoughtseize + a fast clock before they can top deck another one.Posted in: Control
Killing Leyline is a plus but if it doesn't also kill chalice then it's probably not better than disenchant.
Disdainful stroke is good because it stops planeswalkers from activating unlike despark. Roughly half the relevant cards at cmc 4+ are planeswalkers.
Apr 24, 2019Definitely some luck involved since I didn't play optimally - still learning the deck. But the deck sure put in a lot of work.Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
I hear you on Ashiok. They are only really good in the long grindy games. It seemed like the deck struggles late game due to all of it's early game cards (spell pierce / IoK / spellstutter). I'll also admit that it's a pet card of mine. Maybe either Liliana of the Veil or Last Hope is better as a late game grindy card though.
Apr 23, 2019Been trying a variation of Yuta's UB Faeries / Control. I've gone 4-0 and 2-0-1 (ID, lost the "for fun" match) at the last two events I took it to.Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
I've beaten 2x Tron, Esper, BG Rock, Infect, Bogles, and lost to Death's Shadow. I felt like I got lucky in a lot of games but the deck has a lot of play to it and I have a lot to learn.
here's my list. I'm open to criticism / suggestions.
DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards Land (24)
4 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Watery Grave
4 Darkslick Shores
3 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Field of Ruin
2 Spell Pierce
4 Fatal Push
2 Cast Down
3 Cryptic Command
4 Serum Visions
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Snapcaster Mage
3 Spellstutter Sprite
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
3 Liliana of the Veil
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Shadow of Doubt
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 To the Slaughter
The play patterns with Liliana were pretty difficult to navigate. She seems a little awkward in the deck. Should I cast my spellstutter sprite for no value and +1 or hold up the sprite and hope? I've played a lot of decks with Lotv but those decks played fewer instants.
The land base was difficult to manage as well. It seems like we want to shock aggressively since we have such high mana requirements. We also have a lot of fetches (if you include FoR) and not a lot of fetchables. For that reason I went down a colorless land for another basic but I think I might want a third dual land (watery grave, etc).
Spell Pierce / Spellstutter have felt really strong. I'm debating going up on either / both but too many conditional counterspells might be bad.
In my 4-0 I had +1 Bitterblossom +1 Hero's Downfall -1 Cast Down -1 Clique in the mainboard as compared to this list which was the 2-0-1.
I have a lot of Midrange / Control / Big Mana in my meta so any suggestions for sideboard cards / how I should handle each match up is appreciated.
Apr 15, 2019I've never used Pack rat. It seems too slow I think. We already have a good late game plan. Control can be tough if you don't have a fast start but pack rat is not great against control decks. I'm not sure what combo deck you are talking about specifically but I feel that we have a good match up against most combo decks already. We aren't like 8rack where we need a plan B.Posted in: Control
Spoiler season isn't over just yet but there's already been a lot of sweet cards spoiled that I wanted to bring up.
Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage: This card will probably be good in 8rack and I think we could leverage it too. We tend to get our opponent's empty handed. 2 damage a turn isn't the most relevant thing though. But 3 mana discard 3 could be useful. Not sure about this guy but he's worth some testing.
Liliana's Triumph: This is probably the card I'm most excited for. It's sometimes a 2-for-1 and always a diabolic edict. I could see this replacing collective brutality in non-burn metas and potentially cast down. It makes us weaker to go-wide decks though. Going all-in on edicts may be a mistake. Not sure.
Gideon Blackblade: May just be worse than Gideon of the Trials but giving out life link is relevant. Being weak to our own smallpox is a problem.
Spark Harvest: Bonesplinters isn't great but hitting planeswalkers and having an alternate cost to saccing a creature seems good. Probably too weak.
Ashiok Dream Render: Lot's of hate in one card. Doesn't 1-for-1 but maybe that's OK. This may be a sideboard card. It also might be too slow.
Mar 28, 2019With 6 targeted discard spells it's important to get that turn 1 black source. It's suggested to run about 14 untapped black sources for turn 1 discard. You also have no double black so your most black-intensive play is turn 1 discard. Because of this all your black sources should function turn 1 and the rest of your lands can be white and colorless. For this reason I suggest cutting all Isolated Chapel and Fetid Heath if you can hit 14 black sources without them. Hope that made sense, not sure if I worded it very well.Posted in: Midrange
So to work off of this suggested mana base, 4x Courtyard, Caves, and Godless Shrine are all good. 2 vents are good even if they are tapped, they have other utility. That right there puts us at 14 blacks sources (though two are tapped). I would cut both Isolated Chapel. The 1 Swamp is probably worth keeping which puts us at 15 black sources (13 untapped) which is probably enough. You'll have a 89% turn 1 and 96% turn 2 for a discard spell.
Basically my point is: you want about 14 black sources, you want as many as possible to function on turn 1, so Isolated Chapel and Fetid Heath probably aren't for you.
Mar 22, 2019I agree on not wanting creatures in the deck but certain creatures are OK. As long as it's good against most removal it's OK to run. Lingering Souls is good against removal because one removal spell only hits 1/4 of it's power. Along the same line Pouncer is good against (non-path) removal because it can come back in the late game. That said, I wasn't impressed with Pouncer overall. It just ended up being a weak creature most of the time. 5 mana is probably too expensive also.Posted in: Control
I've been disappointed in just about everything asking for 5 mana including vault of the archangel and ifnir deadlands. I don't think it's a matter of adding more land to the deck either, the deck feels like it's meant to sit around 3 lands in play for a while until it finds the fourth off the top of the deck. Saccing and discard lands is important to keep the pressure on with pox / liliana / brutality. Vault was very powerful but wasn't necessary most of the time. That could just be my meta though. I also don't like colorless lands in the deck as I said in my last comment. The deck is very color hungry so I'm OK not playing mutavaults / Vault of the Archangels / Ghost Quarters. These lands can also mess up curving out.
As for tap lands, I agree we don't want a lot of these. They are tough on the curve in the first 3 turns. I'm not worried about them slowing down 4 drops though since usually we end up drawing into these late game. Usually we don't curve into them. As a counter to your anecdote, Shambing Vent has won me a ton of games. They lose a lot of value behind a bridge so I understand you valuing them less. Late game they are a good blocker or even a decent attacker. One of my favorite things about them is that they make sorin a viable win con. You can play sorin, make a vampire token, and next turn start attacking for 6 with lifelink. Not as fast as Gideon but if our opponent has 2 fetches or a shock it's still a 3 turn kill. Vents is also what I think really seals the burn match up. We already have a good match up and Vents makes it great.
I think it's good to discuss the merits of each utility land but I think we have very different metas (seems like you have a lot of aggro where I have almost no aggro) so I think it's important to talk a bit more general.
The whole reason to run utility lands is that Smallpox is only a 4 of. If we sacced our own lands consistently once per game it would be easier to come to a conclusion on a good number of lands to run but 4 smallpox is not consistent. You have a 40% chance to see it in your opening hand. You also have to figure in flagstones which is like not saccing a land at all. So some games we end up at 4 lands and some we end up at 3. Since the deck has a fail rate (roughly 25% chance you have a pox and no flagstones in your opening hand) we need to be sure our deck can do something when we flood or when we have very few lands. Most lists tend toward the "do something when we flood" side since we rely on 4 drops to win the game (similar to how UW control plays a bunch of utility lands). We also are color hungry with gideon of the trials, smallpox, and honestly flagstones makes our mana base a little weird.
So it ends up being pick 2 of: untapped, colored, utility. Worded another way it's pick 1 of: colorless lands, tap lands (vents), or no utility lands (more basics maybe). We can't run colorless lands because the deck is color hungry. We can't run tap lands because we need to have a low curve. We can't cut all utility lands because then when we end up flooding we have nothing to do.
Since there's very few options that cover all three of untapped, colored, utility you just have to decide what works best in your meta. In an aggro meta tap lands mean death so I would say cutting vents is right for you. In a slower meta where I want to play more color hungry planeswalkers (like gideon of the trials) I can't play colorless sources. Really it just depends on the meta.
This thought process is the reason I wanted to try Ifnir Deadlands, Shizo Death's Storehouse, and Tomb of Urami. All three are untapped, colored, utility lands (specifically black which we want a lot of). The issue is that they are all much weaker than vault of the archangel or mutavault or shambling vent.
Mar 18, 2019Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to SCG regionals due to bad weather. Instead I've been able to do a lot of testing at my lgs. Still trying to figure out the right cards to put in the flex slots of my deck.Posted in: Control
You have a good dredge match up? that's pretty surprising. I guess Kaya and Ensnaring Bridge must help a lot.
We have had a lot of discussion about removal spells in the discord. Starting with 4 push / 4 smallpox / 4 liliana / X Brutality it's sometimes nice to have an instant speed way to deal with large creatures like Gurmag Angler or Primeval Titan. Cast Down and Dismember miss some key creatures so I would advise against them. Murderous Cut seems like a good choice if you aren't running RIP (which I do so). But you could figure that you don't want RIP against the decks you want Cut so that just depends on your SB plan. Other options include Condemn, Oust, Path to Exile all of which have their own issues.
I've been testing Path and I actually really like it. I bring it in when I don't want to play the mana denial game or when it's important for the match up. I use it against Aggro / Graveyard based decks / Amulet Titan / etc. It's definitely not a main board card but it has been worth the sideboard slot so far.
Lost Legacy is an interesting card. Unfortunately it can't hit Ensnaring Bridge (I would prefer a card that could hit all 3 of: Bloodmoon / Bridge / Liliana the Last Hope). But it seems very powerful against the right decks.
Now I'll talk about the testing I've been doing. Here's my list with the flex slots removed:
For spells I've been testing a lot of things but I've been focusing on alternate win cons. I tried Kaya for a little bit but she seemed pretty low impact. Gideon of the Trials has been amazing for me and I'm probably going to stick with at least 1 in the main from now on. I've been testing Smuggler's Copter which is fine but I feel like I need more creatures for it to be very effective. Currently I'm testing Adorned Pouncer which is fun but honestly a 1/1 double strike is way too weak. It should be "discard fodder" but I don't always have a need to discard it so it ends up being pretty weak until very late game. Not very impressed so far.
As far as Lands I used to play a lot of Mutavault but it never felt like I needed the fifth man land. 2 power usually can't win us the game anyway. I also wanted the 14th turn one black source since too often I was forced to lead on Shambling Vent or Fetid Heath and missed the turn 1 discard. Colorless lands were a bit of an issue because I've had to mulligan a lot of hands with 1 Fetid Heath and 1 Colorless land which would have been a keep otherwise. Maybe I'm just getting unlucky but I think I want another black producing land. Shizo, Death's Storehouse is OK but not the most useful. I also wanted to test Ifnir Deadlands. Might be useful against go wide creature decks. Tomb of Urami has also been considered but that seems like more of a joke. There's also just adding another swamp which would help with Bloodmoon a little.
For the sideboard I've mostly just been running Path to Exile. I tried Kalitas but really 4 drops aren't what this deck wants they are sometimes just too hard to cast. Like you said, we want the deck to stay very low to the ground. Asylum Visitor was fun but useful mostly against decks where we are already favored. Didn't get to play with it much but I figured I should focus on other match ups.
Mar 4, 2019Great write up! thanks for the update.Posted in: Control
I'm getting ready for SCG regionals next weekend and it's good to see what the meta is looking like. I feel like both versions of affinity are pretty tough. Both versions are very fast and edicts are pretty weak against them unless you have a lot of Push / Brutality. I will be sure to bring Stony Silence even though I've been debating cutting it in my local meta.
Eldrazi Tron is a tough one ya. Not a very common deck these days either. Edicts are good but we need a lot of them.
I have also felt like Pheonix is a good match up. We are good at emptying their hand and then we just need to kill a few creatures and they have a clear board.
Mar 1, 2019Ya, the idea is that both gideons are legendary creatures and so is kalitas. I'm also very happy to have the 14th turn 1 black source and 20th turn 2 black source. Those numbers make it "ideal" based on that Frank Karsten article. I may have more black sources than needed since I'm playing Urborgs but turn 1 has been rough recently so I'd like to improve that a little bit.Posted in: Control
Kalitas is intentionally in the sideboard to get around removal after it's been boarded out. He's only there for aggro and graveyard decks - decks that are light on removal. Against dredge I board out my Smallpox anyway. It's OK to play a few creatures in a smallpox deck especially since we have so many tokens to sacrifice too. And even if I'm forced to sacrifice Kalitas to Smallpox I still get a token from the creature my opponent sacrificed. I'm not sold on him yet but I want to test him out.
I would gladly play the fourth thoughtseize (or perhaps a duress) in the sideboard but I feel like we have more important things to sideboard for. I'm not completely opposed to play 4 TS main but I feel like I board them out a lot so I'll try the surgicals for now. Mana Tithe as a 1 of was always great for me so that will be what I fall back on if Surgical doesn't feel right.
I know that RIP / Surgical isn't the best combo. Hopefully that doesn't hurt me too much. Luckily the only match ups I want both are against something like Dredge - decks that abuse their graveyard to the max. Otherwise I only use one or the other for most match ups.
Good luck at the GP! A report would be great!
Feb 28, 2019It's tough to say what you want to do game 1 against an unknown opponent. The main thing is you usually want 3 lands and something to do the first few turns. So Serum Visions / Thoughtseize / Fatal Push / Counterspells are things you want to look for. You can't keep a hand of 4 lands / Jace / Cryptic / Damnation. You'll never do anything with that. You need hands that do something even if it's just a serum that can dig for more stuff.Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
Against Jund your opening hand it's too important since it's going to be discarded quickly. Serum Visions is great becuase you can set up your top decks and they can't get Thoughtseized off the top of your deck haha. You'll also want some removal for their creatures if you can.
Same with 8rack. Your opener isn't too important. Just try to set up your plays with Serum Visions. Planeswalkers are great in the match up so try to defend them from discard spells with counterspells of your own.
For Dredge you want graveyard hate in your opener (pretty straight forward, I know). If you can discard their first faithless looting effect and counter their second you should be OK to start setting things up. If you can't stop their lootings you need graveyard hate.
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