About the Author
@RyanArcherMTG     -     Email     -     Articles Ryan Archer is a PTQ grinder and a Magic financier. When he's not making top eight in a tournament or looking for the next card to spike, he's playtesting as a member of Team RIW or writing articles for or

Burn-ninating Your Opponents in Cube

Welcome back, brewers. I know I write a lot of articles to make you a better Magic player. These articles are often focused on playing better, understanding your outs, and grinding out matches to understand what cards are important. I love to play this way. I love to learn and get better with a deck. But every once in a while, it’s nice to sit back and have fun for no other reason than you love Magic. This, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the Cube format. Others have talked about what cubing is, so I won’t bore you with explaining it again. Just know it is a drafting format where you play with the most powerful spells in Magic history. There are very few formats where you will see a [card]Wall of Roots[/card] equipped with a [card]Skullclamp[/card]. You hardly ever see a super friends list with [card]Ral Zarek[/card], [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card], [card]Ajani Vengeant[/card], and Chandra, but it happens in Cube. Magic is all about having fun. Ajani Vengeant This week, I was fortunate enough to be able to draft a cube and I wanted to do a quick report about this awesome way to play Magic. Some things you need to know: People generally want to play midrange and control decks because of all the interactions and combos that can happen in Cube, but that means that one or two aggressive decks at the table can be very powerful. My cube is fully powered and plays all the best, most powerful spells in Magic, including [card]Black Lotus[/card], [card]Ancestral Recall[/card], [card]Moat[/card], [card]Mana Drain[/card], [card]Jace the Mind Sculptor[/card], [card]Demonic Tutor[/card], [card]Survival of the Fittest[/card], and… er… [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]? Sorry, red. Let’s quickly go through the draft portion. My first pack is very mediocre for such a powerful cube. I end up first picking [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]. The next pack reveals one of my favorite cards, [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]. A red-green midrange deck sounds good, or so I thought, as the next few picks reveal some very good one-drops. [card]Greater Gargadon[/card], [card]Rakdos Cackler[/card], and [card]Wild Nacatl[/card] join the team. We round out pack one with some good burn and a few mana fixers. Pack two opens up with a [card]Black Lotus[/card]. “Don’t mind if I do,” I think to myself. The next pack we pick up [card]Skullclamp[/card]. We round out the deck with more of the same. Some (seven, to be exact) excellent burn spells, a few more four-drops including [card]Masticore[/card], [card]Flametongue Kavu[/card], and [card]Hero of Oxid Ridge[/card]. Plus at least eight one-drop creatures. We are solely lacking in the two- and three-drop spots, only finding a [card]Keldon Marauder[/card], [card]Manic Vandal[/card], and one other two-drop. But that’s okay as the plan quickly becomes apparent. One-drop, followed by one-drop, one-drop, followed by burn spell, followed by four-drop, followed by the next game.  We had to make some difficult decisions when deck building, but ultimately decided five-drop Chandra needed to stay on the bench.


Round 1

We are playing against an opponent who was fortunate enough to draft the super friends planeswalker deck. He was on three colors and his deck had some very powerful cards, including [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card], [card]Ancestral Recall[/card], and [card]Wrath of God[/card] (must be nice). I open up game one with a quick start of three one-mana guys. He’s a little slow but is eventually able to deal with my guys with his own burn. He drops a planeswalker, which I have to burn out. He then drops another one and starts to gain some incremental advantage. I slowly start to lose and can never really recover. Game two is much better for me. I cast turn-one [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] which does some damage before my opponent can send it on a [card]Journey to Nowhere[/card]. I am able to cast several more creatures, including [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], and my opponent is overwhelmed. Game three starts the same game one, but I am able to hold on and deal a sizeable amount of damage before my opponent is able to cast balance and wipe away my whole team. A [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] the next turn is not enough to save him, because I have enough points of burn in my hand. The match is over.

Round 2

This time we are playing against a very grindy green-black deck. His deck included tons of black removal, [card]Primeval Titan[/card] to go get [card]Volrath’s Stronghold[/card], as well as some other cute lands. His deck also included the all-star enchantments of [card]Survival of the Fittest[/card] and [card]Recurring Nightmare[/card]. Each of those are a first pick in my book, but both… jeez. The first match opens up with me being offensive again. I get stuck on three lands and can’t seem to cast my four-drops.  Luckily, my opponent seems to be flooded. Not being able to mount an offense, I am forced to use two burns spells on a Primeval Titan, and another one on Ob Nixis. Eventually, I draw some land and start casting four-drops. My opponent has played a land every turn of the game and is left with twelve cards in his library, with sixteen of seventeen lands in play. He drops one more creature, and if he attacks with it, I’ll be dead next turn. Like a luck sack, I rip the burn spell off the top to finish him off. Game two is a little less exciting as we both trade off resources early, but I draw a good mix of lands and spells and am able to start casting my four-drop creatures. [card]Flametongue Kavu[/card] kills his only creature and a hasted Hero of Oxid Ridge later, we are off to the finals.


Round 3

The third round start off with us playing against a blue-black control deck. He has a lot of removal and permission in the form of [card]Mana Drain[/card] and Venser. We are on the play and again are able to turn one cast [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] off [card]Black Lotus[/card]. It is only able to attack once, however, as he has [card]Snuff Out[/card] ready after his turn. I am able to keep playing threats and eventually can burn him out. The second game played out much like the other games. Because the deck has a lot of redundancy, I really felt like I was playing a constructed deck. So many one-drop creatures meant I was always able to pressure my opponent early and they always felt like they had to react instead of playing their game plan. Cube drafting is one great experience it combines the fun and randomness of drafting with the power of a constructed deck. If you haven’t yet tried it, I strongly urge you to do so. Thanks for reading.

Let’s Play Standard – Jeskai Tempo Breakdown

Welcome back, brewers. Today we are going to be talking about Standard. Were you as sick of the last Standard format as I was? See ya later, [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card]. Thanks for making life miserable for us GW mages.

Anyway, I was an avid GW player in the old format. I loved the beef of my giant creatures and just crashing through. The deck always felt like it needed removal, though. So obviously when it came time to switch over to the new format I picked up Abza… Jeskai Tempo.

The Jeskai Tempo deck that Kevin Jones played to win an SCG Open feels great. All the spells feel really powerful and it feels like it rewards good plays. Jeskai seems like it has a really good place in the format. It can burn and block the aggro decks, while flying over the green decks. I also really didn’t have a problem against my control opponents, at least so far.  The deck also feels like it can be modified to fit any metagame, which will give it a lot of staying power as long as people adapt to it. Name aside ( I think it should be called Jeskai Burn as there really isn’t much tempo to it), this is a really solid choice for any player moving forward.

So you want to play Jeskai Tempo, too? Great, that’s probably why you’re here, and you’re in for a treat because we are going to break down each card choice in the Kevin Jones special right here.

The Creatures

[cared]Mantis Rider[/card]

This, in my opinion, is the reason to play the deck. There are a lot of green decks that play a lot of big ground blockers. Mantis Rider is able to swoop overhead and bash the opponent for three. Worst case, he will make your opponent waste their turn with a removal spell. If not, you get to attack again and again. He is also especially good at dealing with planeswalkers. Bye bye, Xenagos.

mantis rider

[card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card]

Many people have already talked about why this guy is so good. In this deck he can win games on his own. You are able to clear the way with your burn or again force your opponent to spend their turn to deal with him. Having two in play is absurd.

[card]Seeker of the Way[/card]

Now here’s a card. This is a two drop that lets you start attacking early. The fact that he’s a 2/2 lets you swing past opposing Caryatids with the bluff of a burn spell to the face. The lifelink is huge against aggressive decks, but is also equally good against midrange decks. Often times the midrange player will stabilize at a low life and start attacking. You are drawing off the top of your deck looking for that last burn spell. The higher your life, the more turns you have to draw your out. I think this could be a four-of.

The Burn

[card]Magma Jet[/card]

Magma Jet is a very versatile card. It can help you set up your draws early so you get that third color of mana on turn three, or it can dig you into that last burn spell off the top when your opponent is low on life and stabilized. It can also kill an early mana creature. The only real downside is that it only deals two damage.

[card]Lightning Strike[/card]

I think this may be one of the weaker cards in the deck, but it is still necessary. This deck wants to be able to cast two cards in the late game and this will definitely help. Three early damage or being able to kill a Rabblemaster is not too shabby, either.

[card]Stoke the Flames[/card]

Four damage for four is great. Four damage for less than four is insane. Be sure to be aware that you can tap your Rabblemaster tokens to avoid the suicide attack. You can also tap the [card]Mantis Rider[/card] after it attacked for some more free mana.

The Utility

[card]Banishing Light[/card]

This card gets everything out of your way. It’s nice to have a way to remove a creature that has five or more toughness. Its also very good at removing the god weapons that gain life, [card]Bow of Nylea[/card] and [card]Whip of Erebos[/card]. These are continual sources of life gain that you may have a hard time beating.

[card]Jeskai Charm[/card]

This card does everything from four to the face to putting a big blocker back on top of their deck to gaining life and winning the creature war in an aggro matchup. You don’t need me to tell you why this one is good.

[card]Dig Through Time[/card]

This card is very good in the late game, obviously, and there is nothing you want to draw more in a long game against a removal deck. Being able to choose two of seven sets up your perfect next turn, from double [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card] to eight damage to the face. Often you can tap five lands on turn five and cast it. This card gives the deck reach against slow decks. I’m not so fond of it in the aggressive matches.

[card]Steam Augury[/card]

At first, I hated this card and refused to play it. Then I started to warm up to it. Now I feel like it’s the first card out of the deck if you want to try other cards. This dives deep to provide some additional cards, but your opponent will not give you the one that will win the game. This also fuels delve, so it shouldn’t be overlooked in a non-aggressive meta.

The Planeswalkers

[card]Chandra, Pyromaster[/card]

Chandra’s plus-one really shines here. Not only can it remove a blocker, but sometimes it can kill that annoying elf or satyr or human that’s in the way. Clearing out a bigger blocker to get your Rabblemaster through is huge. I haven’t been too fond of the zero ability in this deck, as it feels like you always have things to do, unless the game goes very long. I’ve never ultimated her but that probably feels really good.

[card]Sarkhan, the Dragon Speaker[/card]

Sarkhan or Stormbreath? The debate rages on. I think Sarkhan is better in this deck because you really want the versatility. You sometimes want to clear the way and kill that [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card]. Indestructibility is cool, but it still will die to a [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] before the activated ability resolves. I think the dragon could be better in a meta of lots of white removal.

The Lands

Not much to say here. The lands help you cast your spells. You need all three colors to function. Some tips:

  • If you have the option to fetch blue or white and it doesn’t seem to matter, fetch blue so that your [card]Dig Through Time[/card] can be cast and the cards you draw off of it can be cast. T
  • The fetch lands help with Dig Through Time also, so count that as two mana when you’re ready to cast it.
  • The temples really help you out early and late. I really like the eight this deck plays.

Join us next time when we discuss the Jeskai deck against the different decks in the meta. Thanks for reading and remember: burn them in the face!

Three Ways to Draft With Two People

Welcome back, brewers. Today we are going to take a step back from Constructed, at least until the new set comes out, and take a look at Limited. Playing Limited Magic is as fun as it is rewarding. Building your deck is very challenging and playing against a wide variety of different cards offers up its own set of challenges.

But drafting takes several people getting together to pull off. You need at least four people, and with that few, those drafts often aren’t very fun. With four people, you get to see each pack multiple times so you can strategize in a way that you normally wouldn’t be able to. Drafting team-style with six people is awesome and lets you cheer for your teammates. And then we have the normal style, where you play with eight people. But what do you do if you, like me, have no friends?

Often times, you will be in the mood to draft and you don’t have many other people near. This happens a lot less than when I started college as Magic Online has grown out of control, but maybe you don’t have any money for online packs.

Side note: Make a Magic cube. They are awesome. You get to play with the most powerful Magic cards. You get to play with interactions that you wouldn’t get to play with in any other format. The other night, I cast a turn-one [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] off of [card]Black Lotus[/card]. This is also a way to draft and play Limited Magic over and over again without having to buy new packs. It is worth the investment.


Okay, let’s get back to you not having any friends. You’ll need to find at least one, because today we are going to go over three different ways to draft with only two people.

Side note: I have been playing these formats for a long time and I don’t actually know what they are called now, as I’m sure at one point they were differently named at one point. Also, I did not invent them. I just love them. If you know the names, let everyone know in the comments.

The First One

All right. First up is the [card]Fact or Fiction[/card] format. Here’s what you do: shuffle up six packs in to one giant pile. You can use packs from any set, but again, I love to do all these formats using my cube. The first player will reveal the top five cards from the community pile. They will separate the five cards into two piles. The other player will choose which pile to add to their drafted cards. Then the other person will get a chance to reveal five cards and separate them into two piles. Each player will alternately reveal five cards until all the cards are drafted.


This is a very skill-intensive way to draft. There is a lot of known information because you get to see all the cards that are drafted. You will know what colors your opponent is and you will know what overpowered cards they have. Let’s say we are drafting with my powered cube. I flip up [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card], [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], [card]Doom Blade[/card], and [card]Skullclamp[/card]. Our opponent is playing a UW control deck. We know that Jace is so powerful that we can probably put it in a pile by itself and it will be taken. Other times you can try to get your opponent to take a pile by incentivizing them with a sweet offer. Again, because the cards are revealed, you can really put some skill into how you draft.

The Second One

Next up is the Binder Page format, called so because the layout look like cards in a binder page. In this style of drafting you will again take six packs and make one giant stack of cards. This time you will take nine cards and lay them in a three by three grid face up by without predetermining the order. This time each player will go back and forth drafting a row or a column from among the nine cards until all cards are gone. Then repeat the process until all cards are drafted.

Again, all the card information is seen in this format, so you can draft based on what your opponent is doing. This format is relatively easy and fun to play. Drafting cards this way can lead to some unreal cards combinations being drafted at one time. One person is always going to draft the first three cards of the nine, but after that who knows. Are you going to take a column of three cards and let your opponent take the last three cards? Maybe there is a two-card row you would rather take instead.

The Third One

The last format is Winston Draft. This format takes a little bit longer to explain and is also a little bit more luck-based. Again, shuffle up six packs into one large community stack. Place one card in each of three different piles. Each person, during his or her turn, will look at the first pile. If they want that card they draft it and replace it with a face down card from the stack. If they don’t want it, they will put it back and they will add another face down card from the stack to that pile. If they put the pile back they will move onto the next pile repeating the same actions. If they draft a pile, it’s the other person’s turn. If they go through all three packs and don’t draft one, they will take a random card off the stack and add it to their deck. Keep going until all the cards are drafted. It’s also important to note that you will draft all the cards from each pile not just one of them.


In this style, not all the information is known. It is also possible that one person might get lucky and get all the good cards because the other person put them face down.

Sometimes You Just Want to Draft with Two People

I personally enjoy drafting each of these different ways. I do it with my cube all the time when I’m just hanging out with one other person or while we are waiting for a group to show up and draft normally. Because you are only playing with two people, the drafting portion is very quick. This style of drafting is perfect for when you are sick of a mono-black and mono-blue Standard (I can’t wait for rotation). Or just want to bust open some prize backs but hate to just open them. Try these formats out. I’m sure you will like them too.

Learning Legacy – You Probably Shouldn’t Stifle That

Welcome back to Learning Legacy, brewers. I received a positive response to the “You Can Stifle That?” section I’ve included in some of these articles. Several people have commented and even suggested interactions to talk about.  The suggestions, as well as a specific interaction of my own at a high-level tournament, sparked an idea.

Welcome to…

You Probably Shouldn’t [card]Stifle[/card] That

This article is all about interactions that come up that you might be tempted to respond with a [card]Stifle[/card] but really shouldn’t. Just don’t do it. Just because a trigger happens in Magic, it does not mean you need to tap your blue mana and counter it. You may be asking, “I love to counter things, so why shouldn’t I counter this trigger? After all, triggered abilities don’t always occur.”

Today, we will look at situations that can happen in Legacy where your [card]Stifle[/card] does not really do what you want it to do (at least from a RUG Delver perspective). There are times when your stifle will do nothing even when you think it is doing something. We will start out easy and progressively and move too less obvious examples. Keep in mind that all of these examples may seem fairly obvious now, but trust me: when you’re grinding Legacy all day and your brain is tired and you’re close to making a top eight and you just need this one more win, casting [card]Stifle[/card] in these situations may seem like a good idea.

vexing devil

[card]Vexing Devil[/card]

You’re playing against a mono-red opponent. You have had Stifle stuck in your hand for a few turns and you quickly realize that their deck doesn’t have that many targets.  You get frustrated with the dead card in hand until your opponent plays [card]Vexing Devil[/card]. You smile as your opponent puts the triggered ability on the stack. Do you [card]Stifle[/card] it?

NO. Stifling this ability actual does nothing. It’s the same as not paying four life, which keeps the creature in play. You’re better off saving that [card]Stifle[/card] to put back with a [card]Brainstorm[/card].

pillar eidolon

[card]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/card] / [card]Pyrostatic Pillar[/card]

We’re still playing against our mono-red opponent. It’s game two and our opening hand again has a [card]Stifle[/card]. Ugh. Anyway, a few turns progress and our opponent resolves an [card]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/card]. We want to resolve our [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] but not take too much damage. Luckily, we have [card]Stifle[/card].

WAIT. Don’t [card]Stifle[/card] the Eidolon trigger when you play the [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. The [card]Stifle[/card] will counter the original trigger, sure, but by playing the [card]Stifle[/card], the Eidolon will trigger again. The net exchange from this play is a resolved [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], a discarded [card]Stifle[/card], and you still taking the damage. As a RUG player, it is much better to not let these cards resolve at all. Our whole deck is basically ones and twos.



All right, we won against our Burn opponent. Onto the next round. This time, we are facing a blue deck, and unfortunately, they have played and resolved a [card]Standstill[/card]. We know we need to break it and let our opponent draw three cards sooner or later. We untap and draw [card]Stifle[/card]. The plan is to play our Goyf and then we can counter the [card]Standstill[/card] trigger with our [card]Stifle[/card].

DON’T. This example is similar to the one above. When we play the Goyf, the [card]Standstill[/card] will trigger. If we cast [card]Stifle[/card] to counter the trigger, we will again be triggering the [card]Standstill[/card], which will let our opponent draw the cards anyway. Again, this seems intuitive now, but it’s easy to forget in an actual game.



Our [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] went the distance and we were able to win the last round too. We’re 2-0 and playing against a more established popular deck, UW Miracles. We got our opponent down to two life, but things are not looking good. There is a [card]Counterbalance[/card] on the board. We have [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and Stifle in hand. We think to ourselves that we can [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] the opponent’s face while he’s tapped out and then [card]Stifle[/card] the [card]Counterbalance[/card] trigger.

STOP. While there may be a small percentage of the time that Stifling the [card]Counterbalance[/card] trigger is correct, this situation is not one of them. When we cast Bolt, the enchantment will trigger. If a one-drop is revealed, it will counter the Bolt. If we try to [card]Stifle[/card] the trigger, it will trigger again, and that same one-drop will counter the [card]Stifle[/card] and then the other trigger will resolve countering the Bolt.

dark depths thespian

[card]Thespian’s Stage[/card]-[card]Dark Depths[/card] Combo

So we lost the last game but went on to win the match. Way to go, us. We now are playing against a new opponent who is playing Lands. She has assembled the combo of [card]Dark Depths[/card] and [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] and is threatening to make a 20/20 indestructible Gerry Thompson unless we stop her with our [card]Stifle[/card]. When she goes to copy the Dark Depths, which will make her sacrifice the original, we will [card]Stifle[/card] the triggered ability that makes her sacrifice the new [card]Dark Depths[/card] ([card]Thespian’s Stage[/card]) and she will end up with nothing. This plan will totally work, right?


Just kidding. No. This interaction is quite tricky, and in fact, I lost a game at an SCG Open because I did just what was described above and found out from the judge that it doesn’t work that way. The trigger will go on the stack, but if you [card]Stifle[/card] it, it won’t be sacrificed. It will then continue to have zero counters and trigger again. The best thing you can do is go back to when she activates the [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] targeting the [card]Dark Depths[/card] and counter that. It won’t permanently solve the problem, but it will buy you another turn.

Well, there you go. You managed to go 3-1 successfully piloting your [card]Stifle[/card] deck. I hope you enjoyed the different approach this time. If you have any suggestions for a topic you want covered, feel free to leave it in the comments.

 You Can Stifle That?

Did you know that you can [card]Stifle[/card] ninjitsu? Ninjitsu is an activated ability, so if you choose to [card]Stifle[/card] it, the creature is returned, the ninja is revealed, but the card will not go into play. That’s a pretty awesome tempo advantage against any [card]Ninja of the Deep Hours[/card] decks you may play against.

Thanks for reading.

Learning Legacy: Lessons from Losing

Welcome back to Learning Legacy, brewers. Last time, we took a look at the RUG Delver deck that I decided to champion. I truly believe that to be successful in Legacy, you really need to pick a deck and stick to it. RUG Delver is what I will stick with. This series is dedicated to showcasing my journey out into the Legacy wild: what I learned, how I tried to get better, what worked, and what didn’t. For reference, here is the list that I have been playing.

[deck title= RUG Delver]
*4 Delver of Secrets
*4 Nimble Mongoose
*4 Tarmogoyf
*4 Brainstorm
*4 Ponder
*4 Force of Will
*4 Daze
*2 Spell Pierce
*2 Spell Snare
*4 Lightning Bolt
*2 Forked Bolt
*4 Stifle
*4 Misty Rainforest
*4 Scalding Tarn
*4 Wasteland
*3 Tropical Island
*3 Volcanic Island

When you’re just starting out in a format, you’re going to lose. Trust me: I lost a lot. This is normal and you should not let it discourage you. You should, however, learn from it. With this article, I’ll be going over several games I lost while testing and what I learned from them.

Losing to Learn

“If you learn from a loss you have not lost.” –Austin O’Malley, Keystones of Thought

“I should not have done that.” –Ryan Archer, Said numerous times while testing

Belching Victories

Let’s set the scene. We are playing against Belcher. This is a combo deck that tries to get lots of mana and either kills you with [card]Goblin Charbelcher[/card] or storms for a lot and casts [card]Empty the Warrens[/card]. Either way, RUG Delver is very good against this kind of deck. We have early pressure and lots of counter magic. Its game two, our opening hand is double fetch land, [card]Volcanic Island[/card], [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], [card]Spell Pierce[/card], [card]Brainstorm[/card], and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. It’s not the best hand, but we have both early pressure and a counter. We are on the play because somehow we lost game one. My thinking is to play the Delver and then follow it up with counter magic and [card]Brainstorm[/card] on the next turn to refuel our hand. So we lead with [card]Volcanic Island[/card] (saving the fetch land for [card]Brainstorm[/card]) and cast Delver.

So what happened? Because I was tapped out, my opponent went for it and was able to cast an [card]Empty the Warrens[/card] for 12 goblins. I lost. The most important thing to do against this kind of combo deck is survive. I didn’t have a free piece of counter magic, so I should have left mana open and played a threat when I could back it up with counters.

empty the warrens

Lesson learned: respect your combo opponents and their ability to go off. Even with a deck full of counter magic, you can still lose. Play slowly and make sure you stick a threat when you are able to.

Almost a Mirror

Next up, we are playing against Blue-Red Delver. Like ours, this is a tempo deck full of cheap creatures backed up with counter spells and burn. This is game one and we trade spells back and forth. I have a Tarmogoyf in play (a 4/5) and my opponent casts a [card]Young Pyromancer[/card]. I have [card]Force of Will[/card] in hand but would have to remove my only other card, a [card]Brainstorm[/card], to cast it. I choose not to.

So what happened? He was able to chain some spells together to make lots of 1/1s. These are enough for him to block the Goyf and eventually find enough burn to make me lose.

Round two, same opponent. I have him on the ropes. I have drawn a lot of my green creatures, which he has a tough time burning out. I play my fourth land (two Volcanics and two Tropicals in play now) to cast another [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and a [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card]. I am at 16 life and my opponent has one card. I now have lethal on my next turn.

So what happened? He cast end-of-turn [card]Price of Progress[/card], putting me to eight. He untapped, played [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], targeted [card]Price of Progress[/card], and killed me.

price of progress

Lesson learned: always understand which cards are important in each match. This is especially important in Legacy because there are so many powerful cards.  In the first match, I should have realized that the [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] was a fantastic way of blocking my ground creatures, so I should have countered it. In the second match, I should have realized that burn decks play [card]Price of Progress[/card]. I should have paid more attention to the lands I was playing to try to play around Price if I could (and in that match, I totally could have played around it).

Miracles Happen

Last example. We are playing against Miracles. Miracles is a UW control deck that plays [card]Entreat the Angels[/card] as a win condition and [card]Terminus[/card] as a one-mana miracle wrath effect. We get our opponent down to three life, mostly on the back of a thresholded [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] that dodges [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] all day long. Our opponent is dead next turn if our Mongoose survives. He has been digging and looking for a [card]Terminus[/card]. He’s down to just one card in hand (a [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card]). He needs a miracle. Our hand is a [card]Stifle[/card], a [card]Volcanic Island[/card], and a [card]Spell Pierce[/card]. He has seven lands and goes to untap, upkeep, and draw…he then reveals the [card]Terminus[/card].


So what happened? Our opponent revealed the [card]Terminus[/card] and then went to cast it for one mana. We could’t counter it because he had too many lands in play. We cursed our opponent for his awesome luck and proceeded to lose as we drew nothing and he controlled the game from there.

Lesson learned: always understand how your cards interact with their cards. In Legacy, there are a lot of different cards. Some of the interactions may not seem intuitive, but this is just another reason to stick with one deck. Miracling a card uses a trigger. With that trigger on the stack, we could have [card]Stifle[/card]d the [card]Terminus[/card]. Our opponent would have drawn it as normal and he would have had to cast it for six mana. We would have been ready with [card]Spell Pierce[/card] and attacked for the win on the next turn.

So Pay Attention

Thanks for joining me on this little Legacy life lesson. In the future, I will not make these same mistakes. You should also learn from your mistakes to make sure you don’t repeat them. In the above examples, I was just playing practice games, but you better believe this will help me in the next large tournament.

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” –Donald Trump

This Week On: You Can Stifle That?

Did you know that you can [card]Stifle[/card] the living weapon trigger on equipment? This comes up most of the time in Legacy with [card]Batterskull[/card]. When it enters play, the living weapon trigger will go on the stack. If you [card]Stifle[/card] it, they are left without a germ token. This is important for RUG because it gives us much-needed time to attack though without a blocker and without them gaining life. Just be careful, because they can always pay mana and return it to their hand.

Thanks for reading.

Learning Legacy – A Beginners’ Guide to RUG Delver

Welcome back, brewers. Today we are going to talk about little-known format called Legacy. Legacy is a great format because you can basically play any deck you want. Every play style is represented; even the person who only wants to play lands can win. It Is also a format where every turn matters. Turn one can be riddled with options and you can make mistakes turn one that can lose you the game. What other format has pressure like that? Play skill rewards legacy players. Because the format is so diverse and every turn matters, it is very important to know your deck.

One of the reasons I did so well in standard was because I ran the same GW deck for over a year. Sure, there were tweaks to the deck; adding Ajani, playing around certain cards, coping with the rise and fall of Mono Blue, but the basic play of the deck remained the same. I have played the Mono Black match up so many times I can usually tell who will win by turn 4. If they play removal spell on two and removal spell on three, you’re probably dead.  I also know a lot of the tricks with the deck; all of the subtle nuisances for each deck do not come easily. You need to practice and playtest and the more you play with a certain deck the better you get with it. Duh.

Legacy does not rotate. Also, there have not really been a lot of banning announcements that have affected the legacy format. This means that your deck and the legacy environment will not change very much. You will play against a [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] deck. You will play against a combo deck. You will play against dredge players, as much as I hate playing against them. If you learn the matchup you will have this knowledge for a long time. What does this all mean? Well in my opinion, to get better at legacy you should pick one deck and stick to it.

I am new to legacy. I have made that clear in many articles, but I have decided to take my own advice. I have found a deck that I love to play and will continue to play it and hone my skills. This article series, Learning Legacy, will highlight how I grow as a Legacy player, my first reaction to cards and decks and how that changes with experience. Hopefully, many of the people reading this are in the same boat and can learn something from this approach. We will look at what works and what doesn’t and reactions to cards, strategies, combos, and decks. This is something that I think new players and experienced players can relate to and hopefully learn from . The deck I chose?

RUG Delver. (yes I have fun when my opponents can’t cast spells).


RUG Delver is a brutally-fast tempo deck. You want to start a fast clock (Delver) and stop them from doing anything. This can be achieved by denying them land with cards like [card]Stifle[/card] and [card]Wasteland[/card], countering their spells with your free counter magic with [card]Daze[/card] and [card]Force of Will[/card], or by burning their creatures with [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] or [card]Forked Bolt[/card]. If things go right, you will be done with your round in a matter of minutes. When things go wrong you have to fight for your win and it’s a lot more difficult.


To start, let’s go through RUG Delver very quickly so you understand what the deck is doing and why it plays certain cards. Here’s what I played at the invitational.


[deck title= Imperial Painter]



*4 Delver of Secrets

*4 Tarmogoy

*4 Nimble Mongoose



*4 Brainstorm

*4 Ponder

*4 Force of Will

*4 Daze

*2 Spell Pierce

*2 Spell Snare

*4 Lightning Bolt

*2 Forked Bolt

*4 Stifle



*4 Misty Rainforest

*4 Scalding Tarn

*4 Wasteland

*3 Tropical Island

*3 Volcanic Island



The Deck

[card]Delver of Secrets[/card]

The deck’s namesake. The deck is half instants and sorceries so it will flip a lot. Also, flying is extremely relevant to get over other creatures.


Another cheap threat. It is often huge very quickly with all the cantrips in the deck.

[card]Nimble Mongoose[/card]

Often underrated. It quickly becomes a 3/3 and not being able to target it often strands [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]s, [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s, and [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] in your opponents hands.


The best card in legacy. Lets you find exactly what you need and shuffle away the chaff.


Again, RUG Delver is trying to find the exact card to disrupt what your opponent is doing. You can often ponder, find it, and shuffle away the rest.


Some decks don’t play this but I love it. Most often used to stone rain an opponent’s fetch land but has lots of other uses.

[card]Force of Will[/card]

To stop what ever your opponent is doing. The card disadvantage makes it not great against fair decks, but it’s essential against the combo decks.


Another free counter spell. RUG delver will deny your opponent mana which means that they usually don’t have time to play around Daze.

[card]Spell Pierce[/card]

Some of the best cards in legacy cost two. [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] comes to mind.

[card]Spell Pierce[/card]

Same as daze your opponent will not have enough mana to play around it if things are going well. A lot of the most powerful things to do in Legacy are not creatures

[card]Lightning Bolt[/card]

Kill their guys or make them take it to the face. A very quick way to close out a game

[card]Forked Bolt[/card]

Especially good against Maverick or Elves and two damages usually is enough to take out whatever creature you need to.


All your fetchlands find all your duals. Fetch lands help to shuffle away bad cards from Ponder or Brainstorm. They also help turn on [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].


Especially important to take out your opponents land. Sometimes times they will get color screwed or they might not even have another land. It’s also important to note that wasteland isn’t able to cast a single card in your maindeck outside of Tarmogoyf. (You want to be using the free side of your counterspells.)


This was the first installment of “Learning Legacy” so I decided to keep it light. In the future, I would like to talk about RUG Delver’s Sideboard, The strategies against other decks, as well as how other decks operate. I want to look at legacy’s interactions and combos, along with strategies to get better at a format that doesn’t rotate. Like I said my goal is to get better at this format and I’d like to take you all along for the ride. I would also like to do a mini column within each Learning Legacy and that is to talk about one of the more complicated and less intuitive cards out there, [card]Stifle[/card]. For this we will look at relevant cards that you can stifle that may not seem so intuitive.  The name?

You can Stifle that?

Did you know that you can Stifle miracle cards? That’s right; when an opponent reveals a miracle card with its ability the miracle trigger goes on the stack. You can then stifle the trigger so that they do not get to cast the card with its miracle cost. They do get to draw the card as normal but they will have to pay full price if they want to cast it now. This is not a problem for RUG Delver as we can stop their mana growth and counter the overly costed spell with [card]Daze[/card] and [card]Spell Pierce[/card].

stifle terminus


Thanks for reading. If you have any specific requests for article topics feel free to leave them in the comments.

A Legacy Interview about Maverick, SCG Open Top 4

What’s up, brewers? Welcome back. Today we are going to talk about Legacy, and since I don’t know very much about Legacy, I decided to take the opportunity to talk to someone who does. This article will feature an interview of my good friend, Mr. Thomas Herzog. Tom is known locally as being an awesome Magic player. And he really proved that when there was a Legacy Open in his backyard. That’s right, Tom skipped out on spending Easter with his family to demolish the competition (the same one where I had a rather mediocre finish in Standard the day before).


This is a rather cool article for me to write because Tom got me back into competitive magic. He always wanted to test every format and it was fun to test with someone who was so good. His help pushed me to be the better player I am today and it’s always good to see someone who puts in the work succeed. Tom is no stranger to competition. Back in college, he used to play on the Michigan State basketball team, which is cool if you follow the second best school in Michigan for sporting events (for those of you from out of state, U of M would be the first).

Tom took his trusty Maverick deck, and even though some people think the deck is dead, Tom was able to place fourth, losing to RUG delver, the deck he was able to beat in his quarterfinals match. Maverick is a green-white good stuff deck, where you play a lot of reactive and proactive creatures. [card]Mother of Runes[/card] can shut down removal. [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card] is key to stopping the combo decks. [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card] is very effective at destroying [card]Batterskull[/card] and [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card]. And [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] can quickly make your opponents dead.

Today I was able to sit down with Tom and ask him some questions about his deck, as well as some of the hard-hitting questions that everyone wants to know. Let’s go.

Tom you appear to be slightly taller than the average person. How tall are you?

213 centimeters. Feel free to convert that later. [Ed.—That’s just under 6’10”]

Do people assume you play basketball because you’re so tall?

Yeah, all the time. They say, “You’re tall; do you play basketball?” My response has become, “You’re short; do you play mini golf?”

Don’t you play basketball?


Did they play minigolf?


Anyways…what deck list did you settle on for the event?

[deck title=Maverick]


*4 Deathrite Shaman

*4 Mother of Runes

*1 Noble Hierarch

*3 Qasali Pridemage

*1 Scavenging Ooze

*2 Stoneforge Mystic

*1 Gaddock Teeg

*4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

*4 Knight of the Reliquary

*1 Dryad Arbor



*1 Sword of Fire and Ice

*1 Sword of Light and Shadow

*2 Sylvan Library

*4 Swords to Plowshares

*1 Umezawa’s Jitte

*4 Green Sun’s Zenith



*2 Forest

*1 Plains

*1 Bayou

*1 Horizon Canopy

*2 Savannah

*1 Scrubland

*4 Verdant Catacombs

*4 Wasteland

*4 Windswept Heath

*1 Gaea’s Cradle

*1 Karakas



*2 Ethersworn Canonist

*1 Qasali Pridemage

*1 Scavenging Ooze

*1 Choke

*2 Oblivion Ring

*2 Path to Exile

*1 Zealous Persecution

*1 Gaddock Teeg

*4 Thoughtseize



With Legacy so full of fun and interesting decks, why did you settle for this one?

Maverick really fits my play style. I really like to play a sort of aggro-control deck. You generally have a good matchup against any deck that combos off on turn one. The deck has solid mana and a brutally efficient curve. I like a deck without [card]Brainstorm[/card]s and counter magic. You can play hate bears to fill [the disruption] role, and hate bears attack.

What are Maverick’s best matchups?

Maverick is a very versatile deck. Because you play a lot of creatures with abilities, you can tune those creatures for whatever expected meta you think will be at any given tournament. Expect a lot of combo? Be ready with [card]Gaddock Teeg[/card] and [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card]. Playing against creature decks? You have larger creatures and [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card].

Generally, any fair deck is a fairly good matchup. You have a lot of graveyard interaction. You have creature removal. You have [card]Mother of Runes[/card] to protect your threats. And you have the biggest creatures in Legacy. The whole deck is very synergistic. You also get to play [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]. The equipment is very good in this deck. You generally have multiple creatures in play and Jitte can easily take over a game. You also can play [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card] to attack through [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card].

Yeah, and [card]Batterskull[/card] is also pretty strong at stabilizing the game, right?

I don’t play [card]Batterskull[/card].

Why not?

It’s because I’m not as devoted to the Stoneforge plan. With only two Stoneforges, you draw the Skull without the Forge a lot more often. It sucks paying five mana to play [card]Batterskull[/card]. I want all of my cards to be good on their own, not just when I tutor them up. I’ve played four Stoneforges before, and in that deck, Skull is generally very good.

What are some of Maverick’s worst matchups?

Generally, the turn-one combo decks are a big problem. You don’t have any way to interact with them when they go first. Decks like Belcher and Sneak and Show can go off so fast and there is no way to beat their god hands. Generally, the only way to interact with them on turn one is [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] and [card]Wasteland[/card]. If you make it to turn two though, you can usually be okay. You gain access to Thalia, [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card], and can have an active [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. All of which are very good in their respective matchups.

Maverick isn’t doing anything busted. If another deck has a very good draw, it is difficult for Maverick to win. In the Swiss matches, my only loss was to a Jund deck that cast [card]Punishing Fire[/card]. I just couldn’t stop it and he was able to kill all my guys.

What’s your favorite card in the deck?

That’s a tough one because the deck feels so cohesive. All the pieces generally work off each other to make the deck really powerful. My favorite card is always changing. Right now it’s between Thalia and Knight of the Reliquary.

Thalia is really good against all the combo decks and also really good against RUG Delver. Most of their deck gets hit and it basically doubles the casting cost of everything in their deck. I really like making [card]Brainstorm[/card] cost two. Thalia is so good that when I draw a hand against an unknown opponent and it doesn’t contain Thalia, I often think hard about whether the hand is a mulligan or not.

[card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] is also very good. This deck plays [card]Wasteland[/card], so once you resolve Knight, you can start turning all your lands into Wastelands and just make it so your opponent can’t cast spells—all at the same time as growing Knight. Knight is also very good against [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card]. Generally your knight grows so large that they have to hold their TNN back. They can’t race your 10/10. Knight also lets you tutor for [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card], if you need a lot of mana say for your equipment, or lets you get [card]Karakas[/card].

Is there anything you would change from your winning decklist?

I would cut an [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card] for another [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]. They are both good against Elves, but Persecution is good against Delver decks and kills [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card]. It also blows out Death and Taxes. Other than that, I liked the deck that I played.

What was your favorite moment from the tournament?

It has to be my top eight match that was captured on camera. The board was me with an active [card]Mother of Runes[/card] with a [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card], and a summoning sick [card]Mother of Runes[/card]. I cracked a fetch on my turn to play around [card]Stifle[/card], but it put me to three. He had three [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card]s that all had threshold. He attacked with all his guys. I played [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]. I was able to block two Mongooses, save the non-active Mother, and go to one. He was left with only one sad, lonely goose and I was able to win from that position.

Whats your favorite thing about Magic?

I love competition. Magic is like basketball that you play with your mind.

Patrick Sullivan tweeted that you were the first D-1 athlete to top eight an open. Are you?

As far as I know. Probably. Anyone else out there, hit me up.

Some people are saying that you brought Maverick back, did you?

I’d like to think so.

Well there you go: a quick look at the inner workings of the GW deck of Legacy. Have a question about the deck? Sound off in the comments. Have a cool story about Legacy? Leave it in the comments. Also a D-1 athlete that top eighted a large Magic event? Leave your story in the comments. Thanks for reading, everyone.

How Not To Lose – Playing To Your Outs

Welcome back, brewers. Today we are going to take a look at a fundamental of Magic that many new players overlook: it’s called playing to your outs. Playing to your outs involves understanding game state and figuring out what you need to do to win the game. Sometimes it’s easy to know what you need to do to win. Let’s say you have a bunch of dudes out and you need your opponent to not draw a removal spell in order to just attack and win. Often, it is much harder and requires you to make plays that may seem counter intuitive. Later in the article we will take a look at some examples of some situations where the outlook is starting to look dire, and what we need to do in order to win. But first, let’s take a look at some different levels of players. After all, we all started somewhere.

The New Player

The new player, as the name suggests, is new to the game. He understands that he needs to use mana to cast his spells. He can do math but doesn’t really understand the deep mechanics of the game and the subtle nuances that graduates one to the next level of play.

The Experienced Player

The experienced player has been playing for a while. He understands the concepts of card advantage and maximizing his mana every turn. The problem is that he often fails to realize that these concepts are guidelines and not rules.

The Plays-to-His-Outs Player

This player has also been playing for a while, but his understanding is different. He can decide in the context of the game what the best plan of attack is depending on the situation. He knows that even when he is losing, he needs to make certain plays in order to maximize his chances of winning. Often this comes from making plays that others would not make, if those plays give him a chance to draw that one card of the top that will save him.

That’s what it is all about. Making plays that put you in a position to win the game, even when there is still only a small chance to win. You need to recognize that someday you will be put into a losing situation. Instead of rolling over and dying, you need to sit up straight (optional) and figure out what you need to do to win. Maybe it’s a card you need to draw. Maybe it’s a card you hope your opponent doesn’t have. Figure out the path to victory and figure out what you need to do in the game to put you in a position to win. Don’t be a mindless drone preaching about card advantage or any Magic concept. You may need to make plays that are card disadvantage in order to win.


For each example, I will explain what the situation is and explain how each person reacts. I will exaggerate for the purpose of teaching you. I will also try to make these examples as simple as possible to prove the point. Let’s go.


The opponent’s board has three 4/4 creatures, one of them has flying and is tapped, and he has five cards. He’s playing green-black. He has no untapped mana. He is at six life.

Our board has three 3/3 creatures, we have no cards in hand, and have five untapped mountains. We are at 16 life.

Things don’t look good for us. With a hand full of cards, it’s likely he will keep playing creatures and beat us even if we are able to kill his current creatures. He probably also has a removal spell. Let’s take a look at what each of the different players will do.

Tyler – The New Player

“I don’t want to lose any of my awesome creatures so I better not attack. “ Tyler loses.

Steven – The Experienced Player

“Well… I could sit here and double block his guy and try to draw something better than all the cards in his hand.” Steven loses to his opponent playing lots of spells.

Billy – The Plays-to-His-Outs Player

“I’m probably not going to win this if I wait too long. I’ll attack with everything, knock my opponent down to three life, and hope to draw one of my burn spells. “ You know what happens? Billy attacks with everything and knocks his opponent down to three, his opponent attacks Billy to eight, then plays two more creatures. Billy draws [card]Lightning Strike[/card] and domes his opponent for the win. Way to go Billy! You the man!

deal with it

In this match, it is clear that we are going to lose based on card advantage alone, plus he has a flier to eat away at our life. He can also probably play more creatures. By attacking all out and losing some of our guys, we were able to have a turn to be able to draw the ability to win in an otherwise unwinnable position. You have to understand that even though we traded our board position for three damage, being able to ever attack was looking less and less likely. Figuring out what you can draw to win is key.


Our opponent is playing Esper Control. We are GW Aggro. He has one [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] in hand. We also have one card in hand, a creature. We both have lots of mana, and our opponent is at a low life total. You already have three creatures in play tapped after attacking. Should you play the last creature in hand?


Tyler – The New Player

“Of course I’m casting my creatures. I love creatures. [card]Craw Wurm[/card]. Go. “

Steven – The Experienced Player

“I don’t want to lose all my creatures if he has a [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. I better wait.”

Billy – The Plays-to-His-Outs Player

“If he draws the Verdict, I’m basically dead either way, so I’m just going to play this guy to try to maximize my outs. If he has a sweeper, I’m not in a good spot, but I wasn’t winning that game anyway. If he only draws a removal spell, I’ll be in much better shape.”

Your opponent draws six cards off the Revelation. He doesn’t hit a Verdict and dies shortly afterward, not drawing an answer to all four of your guys. Billy’s going to win a PTQ.


You and your opponent each have one card. Yours is a land. You’re pretty sure his is a combat trick. You know his next card is a removal spell (because you’re awesome). You have two 2/2 fliers and he has a 4/4 flier. If you can’t kill the flier you’re probably going to lose. He has more life so racing is not an option. He attacks with the flier. What do we do?

Tyler – The New Player

“I’m going to block with one of my fliers so that I don’t take damage. Plus I love mister birdsy (the other flier) and I don’t want him to die.”

Steven – The Experienced Player

“I’m not going to double block because I’m pretty sure he has a pump spell. I’ll take it.”

Billy – The Plays to His Outs Player

“I’m going to double block. If he has the pump spell, I’m not going to win anyway. I’m just going to have to hope he doesn’t have it.”(I don’t know why Billy is explaining his play when his opponent is right there.) You know what happens? His opponent had the combat trick and Billy lost. You know why? Because sometimes they are going to have it. Sorry, Billy. The point of playing to your outs is to give you the best chance of winning. Sometimes they are going to have the removal spell or the Verdict or the pump spell. Understanding what you need to do in each situation in order to win is key, especially when things are looking bad.

i Knew it

Have an example of a time you played to your outs and got there? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for reading.

GW Scion – Post-Born of the Gods

Welcome back, brewers. Surprise, surprise, today I’m going to talk about GW Scion. It’s been a while since I last wrote about it. In fact, it was before Born of the Gods was even released. Now that the new set has been out for a while and I’ve had a chance to play with it, I feel comfortable discussing this deck again. And guess what? It’s still my favorite deck in the format.

Born of the Gods shook things up…somewhat. Mono-Black Devotion is still the most popular deck. There’s still a UW/x control deck. Green/Red monsters has gained popularity. There’s still a Mono-Blue Devotion deck, but now it’s splashing white. I’ve found that the GW deck can hold its own against a lot of the field.

With this article, I want to give a complete overview of the deck moving forward. I’ve noticed that there are not a lot of people playing the GW archetype, so someone’s got to inform you all.  I want to go over all the potential new cards from BNG that could possibly be added to the deck. Lets take a look at each popular matchup and what the GW player needs to do to win. I’ll go through the latest version of the deck I’ve been playing (and still winning with). Seriously, I don’t know why more people aren’t playing it. First up, take a look at the latest version I would play if I were playing in a tournament tomorrow.

[deck title=GW Scion]


*4 Experiment One

*4 Voice of Resurgence

*2 Fleecemane Lion

*1 Scavenging Ooze

*2 Boon Satyr

*2 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

*3 Loxodon Smiter

*2 Polukranos, World Eater

*3 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi



*4 Advent of the Wurm

*3 Call of the Conclave

*4 Selesnya Charm

*2 Ajani, Caller of the Pride



*4 Temple Garden

*4 Temple of Plenty

*7 Plains

*9 Forest



*2 Banisher Priest

*2 Gods Willing

*2 Mistcutter Hydra

*2 Unflinching Courage

*2 Glare of Heresy

*2 Rootborn Defenses

*1 Skylasher

*2 Druid’s Deliverance



Born of the Gods in GW Scion

First you’ll notice that there are not a lot of cards from the new set. Why, you ask? I’ll tell you. I went through Gatherer to review every green or white card from the new set, and anything close enough to Constructed, we will discuss. Let’s go.

[card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/card]

The king is here and he’s…eh. I like Brimaz, but he’s really not the powerhouse I thought he would be. He’s basically a [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] most of the time. He is a huge lightning rod, which can be good or bad. The fact that he has vigilance is not as relevant as you’d think, because the number of aggressive decks has gone down. He does have one really cool application, and that it keeping a [card]Desecration Demon[/card] tapped, which has come up. To be honest, Brimaz is more of a problem for GW to beat than a tool it can use. I don’t like to play against it and it seems really good coming from the BW deck or added to UW.

[card]Courser of Kruphix[/card]

Not exactly what the GW deck want to do. The deck is already full of three-drops and you really need to attack hard and fast. The deck really doesn’t have anything to do with extra mana, so this one can stay in G/R monsters.

I did have an idea of using this card with [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] and [card]Soldier of Pantheon[/card] to trigger [card]Archangel of Thune[/card], but it probably wouldn’t be good unless you draw the angel.

[card]Eidolon of Countless Battles[/card]

To be honest, this is not a card I have tested yet. Again, the problem lies with the overabundance of three-drops. This card seems good though, as it will help protect against [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. Its bestow cost is very aggressively costed, but I worry about drawing it and it being only a 1/1 when it could be a cat king.

[card]Fated Intervention[/card]

This card seems to slot right into the deck, but two 3/3s is just not enough for me. The fact that it is good against Verdict is nice, but in a format of [card]Bile Blight[/card], this cards seems flat. I’m still a fan of the Scion.

[card]Karametra, God of Harvests[/card]

Evaluating this card is easy, because it is literally poop soup. Because the four-mana slots are so important, I remember thinking that the GW god would need to be costed at three mana in order for me to even think about it. You could even have tried Trostani to turn it on in a token deck. At five, it just sucks.

[card]Revoke Existence[/card] / [card]Unravel the Aether[/card]

I started off with two copies of this effect in the sideboard, but never boarded them in. The idea was sound, as every deck has something you can hit and both hit the gods, but each deck only has one or two targets. I rarely wanted to dilute my deck to try to answer a card they may not even draw. In the end, I ended up with zero.

[card]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/card]

A solid two-drop, but not exactly what we are looking for. We already have access to two-mana 3/3s. The effect, while powerful, will rarely come up. UW will have an answer to this and then cast its Revelation. I could see playing some of these if card draw got more popular, but for now, I’d rather play with centaurs.

Matchups Explained

As you can see, GW didn’t really get that much help from BNG. What did happen though are slight shifts to the metagame. Lets take a look at each match up that you will face.

Mono-Black Devotion

I’ve always felt that this is a favorable matchup. You want to be fast and play creatures quickly, forcing them to respond. Ideally, you can curve out with [card]Experiment One[/card]. Their [card]Thoughtseize[/card] is usually strong, as it will disrupt you from curving out. Their removal is also usually strong because the fewer creatures in play, the stronger their [card]Desecration Demon[/card] gets.  Even the dreaded play of turn-two [card]Pack Rat[/card] can be beaten fairly easily with a fast curve. Always attack into the [card]Pack Rat[/card]. If they ever block your creatures, it’s usually good for you because it will shrink the rat army. Basically none of the creatures in the black deck are good against us. If they are playing white, [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] is a problem, but can be beaten.

I generally board out some number of Polukranos, [card]Boon Satyr[/card], [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card], and [card]Call of the Conclave[/card] for [card]Banisher Priest[/card] and [card]Gods Willing[/card]. The former are all just dumb creatures that die to removal, the latter will remove [card]Pack Rat[/card]s and protect against removal. Make sure you don’t dilute your deck too much, because you need to keep a curve and be aggressive. They will, more than likely, bring in more removal and [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card]. The zombie is very good at two-for-ones but by itself is not enough.

UW / UWb / UWg Control

Next up, let’s take a look at the most popular control deck in the format and its many variants. Overall, I would like to play against the UW version the most, followed by UWb then UWg. UW really doesn’t have good spot removal and its best weapon, [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], can be played around. UWb has some good early answers to our creatures, but not enough. I’m not so sure why the addition of green causes so many problems. [card]Kiora, the Crashing Wave[/card] feels like a house—always negating our best creature is difficult to play around. When Kiora is teamed with [card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card] or [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card], it is almost lights out for the GW mage. I also noticed that the decks that add green also generally play [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card], which is very difficult to play around. You basically need to keep deploying creatures and hope they don’t have it. But guess what? They always have it.

To win against the control deck, you need to make them keep reacting to you. Play aggressively, but make sure to play around a sweeper effect. When you force them to cast their [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] early or spend a turn trying to find an answer, you will usually win. I like to board out the same types of creatures as against Mono-Black Devotion, such as Polukranos, [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] and sometimes [card]Selensya Charm[/card]. The flash creatures are very good here, but a 2/2 is usually not enough. I board in [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] and [card]Glare of Heresy[/card] to protect my creatures and kill their [card]Detention Sphere[/card]s or Elspeth.

Although it may seem tempting to try to kill your opponent quickly, I’ve found that when there is a planeswalker on the other side of the table, you should always try to kill it. Don’t let your opponent get another activation off that Jace—he may find an answer. Another trick is when your opponent pluses Kiora on a creature you have, attack with it anyway to help play around [card]Celestial Flare[/card].

GR Monsters

The Green-Red Monsters matchup can go one of two ways. The first is you play a lot of high power guys and overwhelm them. The second is that they start to gain lots of card advantage off of [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] and Domri and slowly kill you with giant guys. Overall, I would say that this matchup is fairly even depending on what they draw. You still don’t want to play against [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card], because you have no way to interact with it besides racing. But every other creature they play is either too small to matter (i.e. mana dork) or large but removable with [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]. Play around [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card], as that card can really turn a game from absolute winning to losing. All the guys with five toughness are crucial in this matchup because you don’t have to worry about their sweeper.

Exception! The Jund version of this deck is a nightmare to play against. They have all the same threats that you are worried about plus the spot removal that can give them the time to set everything up. I’ve played against this matchup a few times with mostly unfavorable results. The problem with sideboarding against this deck is that it has so many angles. Do you board a [card]Plummet[/card] to take care of the dragon? Do you board a [card]Pithing Needle[/card] to take care of planeswalkers? How about [card]Gods Willing[/card] to dodge removal? [card]Last Breath[/card] to take out early blockers? There is really not a good path to take other than to be fast and resilient. Avoid Jund Monsters if you can.

Mono-Blue Devotion

Azorius is the new Mono-Blue Devotion in town. GW players always feared the mono-blue menace, but I have found the matchup to be not so bad. They basically have two cards that you care about: [card]Master of Waves[/card] and [card]Thassa, God of the Sea[/card]. You have answers to both of those cards in the main. Polukranos can scare away a master even before it is cast. Thassa is stopped by [card]Selensya Charm[/card]. Both are answered by [card]Banisher Priest[/card]. Adding the white may make them better against other decks, but I have been winning a lot more against the blue menace ever since white was added. Maybe they reduced their threats and slowed down enough. I’m not sure.

[card]Cyclonic Rift[/card] is their best card and gives them inevitability. Other than that, board out some of your slower cards and bring in your pro-blue guys. Make them waste their Rift early and dodge their two good spells—you’ll be okay.

Boros Burn

The new kid on the block. I’ve talked to people who play this deck and they said that they would like to play against GW. I have found that the matchup from GW side is fine. As with the GR deck, this match can usually go one of two ways. You play very big guys very quickly and they lose. Or they get down an early [card]Satyr Firedancer[/card] and burn you to the face, killing all your guys in the process. If they don’t get down a turn-two Satyr, you’re probably fine, as you can race their burn spells. If they do get it, you better hope the rest of their hand is lands. The rest of their creatures are garbage that you completely outclass.

I usually just board out Scion for +2/+2 and lifelink, but watch out as they also play [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card]. Be fast and kill them quickly, but watch your life total—they can deal an absurd amount of damage from nowhere.

Those are the big five and you have reasonable game against everything. I would not want to play against UWg or Jund Monsters, but fortunately those decks are not super popular right now. Mono-Black Devotion seems favorable, as it has always been.


Now that you know the decks you will play against, lets take a closer look at some of the changes to the specific cards and numbers that we are now using. I have been playing this version with some minor tweaking for the last few weeks and have had some good results, including quite a few more QPs than normal.

4 [card]Experiment One[/card]

I often think that I should change this card with [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] to give the deck some explosive power, but I worry that it will die to [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] without much benefit. There are some games where you start with one or two of these and they just grow so large your opponent can’t deal with it.

4 [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card]

This card is still good. Being able to make your opponent play on his own turn is huge. Watch out for some lists that play [card]Last Breath[/card] or [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card]. Those are cheap ways to remove Voice without giving you a token, and believe me: you want the token.

3 [card]Call of the Conclave[/card]

I switched from [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card] to a few [card]Call of the Conclave[/card] as a concession to [card]Bile Blight[/card]. These are usually the same thing, but the fact that the centaur is only green can help against [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] or [card]Soldier of the Pantheon[/card]. You are also playing more populate cards, so having another token helps.

2 [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card]

Fleecemane is still good. When it is monstrous, it can’t be stopped by almost anything. Monstrous [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card] is often the best target for [card]Unflinching Courage[/card].

1 [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]

This spot is flexible. I’m not in love with [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card], but it is good to play late in a game where a lot of creatures have died. That Ooze will get large! I have seen a few graveyard-based decks online, which this certainly helps against. There are also some burn decks, so if they burn out your creatures early, this card will help you gain some much-needed life.

4 [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]

The card is primarily to remove big threats, especially [card]Desecration Demon[/card] or all the big guys in the GR Monsters deck.  The other modes are used to push through damage quickly. The knight having vigilance does come up every once in a while, so don’t forget about it. The knight token is also a good target for our next card…

2 [card]Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/card]

Ajani is great. It forces your opponent to deal with it while simultaneously pumping up your guys. It can be used to deal a bunch of surprise damage, especially in conjunction with end-of-turn [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card]. Two feels like the right number because you rarely want to draw more than one. I’m often in a position that I can’t win and my only out is Ajani.

2 [card]Boon Satyr[/card]

I dropped the number of [card]Boon Satyr[/card]s from my previous list from four to two. The card is still very good, especially against UW-based control decks. But because many people are moving more toward creature decks, the two toughness on [card]Boon Satyr[/card] can be a liability.

2 [card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/card]

All right, a new card. I discussed Brimaz in detail above. I only play with two so I don’t draw too many. The GW deck doesn’t have a lot of ways to generate card advantage so having too many of these stuck in your hand could result in a loss.

3 [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card]

This guy packs quite the punch for a three-drop. The three-drop spot is fairly deep so we only play three.

4 [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card]

In my opinion, the reason to play this deck. Making your opponent worry about your four untapped mana is a great feeling. Great with populate, but also great all the way around.

2 [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card]

A big threat, but also great against [card]Master of Waves[/card].

3 [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card]

I went into detail on my opinion of this card in previous articles. All of my previous statements still hold true. I don’t know why people aren’t playing this card.

4 [card]Temple of Plenty[/card]

I never would have guessed that the GW deck would want a scry land so bad, but I was wrong. The scry land is excellent here. Not only does the deck really need to hit green and white mana, it doesn’t want to risk being flooded out. The deck also doesn’t want to draw small creatures late, like [card]Experiment One[/card]. [card]Temple of Plenty[/card] is just what the doctor ordered.

4 [card]Temple Garden[/card]

7 [card]Plains[/card]

9 [card]Forest[/card]

You basically need both colors as soon as possible. I play an extra Forest to be able to cast my four-drops on turn four as reliably as possible.

I Hope You Learned Something

Well, there you go. Now you too can be a champion for Selesnya. Keep in mind this primer is just a guideline. Feel free to sideboard based on what your opponent is playing. I constantly change the maindeck around to try new things and depending on what decks I expect. Remember, part of the appeal to play a deck that is off of everyone’s radar is they don’t normally know how to play against you.  If you have any questions feel free to list them in the comments. Thanks for reading.

A Constructed Player’s Finance Article: Two Approaches

Welcome back, brewers. This week, you’re getting a slightly different article. Considering that this is Brainstorm Brewery, I wanted to write a finance-related piece for once. Fair warning: I’m a player first and a financier second, but I thought it might be interesting to see how a player takes a look at finance. I also want to write generally and in doing so there will be exceptions to what I say (as is always the case with finance).

I’ve had my fair share of victories and defeats when it comes to the monetary side of MTG. When it comes to MTG finance, I think there are many different and successful paths one can take. I think it’s difficult for someone to talk about finance when not actually participating, and as such, I want to talk about two different approaches that I have taken and the outcome of each.

As players, we have a distinct advantage to finance: we (should) have a better ability to evaluate cards. Being able to determine the power level of a card when it is released can lead to understanding how often and where the card will be played. Understanding that the card will be a four-of in the most popular deck should lead to a higher price than if the card is a one-of in a sideboard. Understanding that a card will need a specific format to work in, or knowing that a card isn’t very good when other people are going gaga for it, can lead to gains. When we understand how the card will be used, we will win.

One approach is to take a look at cards from a new set and figure out which ones are really popular that no one is talking about. This is the approach that I took when Dragon’s Maze came out. I saw cards like [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card] (people were talking about this one) and [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] and thought that the power level of these cards was very high. I started brewing decks, mixing these new cards with existing ones. I thought of how the metagame would exist with them. I built decks and played with them. I playtested and everything was going great. I saw [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card] and the deck was complete. (Betcha thought you could make it through one of my articles without me mentioning GW Aggro, huh?) I was beating everything. I bought in.


I was still fairly new to the speculation side of MTG finance, but I was hooked. I knew the power level of these new cards and no one else did.  I thought it was a slam dunk. I bought playsets of Voices for $25 to $30. I bought a playset of foils for $50 a piece. I bought [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] at $5, convinced that it would be the next [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]-like spike. I bought plenty of [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card]s for $2. I bought Trostani. I bought [card]Armada Wurm[/card]. I bought foils of everything, convinced I broke the format.

I took the deck to FNM and I won. I tweaked it and I won more. I have never done so well with a deck before, let alone one that no one else was playing. I wasn’t even playing [card]Thragtusk[/card]! I was and still am convinced that Scion is just better. I played the deck at a classic and made top eight. The problem? No one else was playing it. I was speculating on cards that were definitely good, but no one was playing.  A lot of the green-white cards never really went up at all.

When trying to make money on a card, it doesn’t matter if you think it is good if no one else does. 

Another technique I like to use is to check the price differences between MTGO and paper. As many of you know, prices fluctuate very quickly online. People are able to buy very quickly and then sell just as quickly. Oftentimes, looking at MTGO discrepancies is a way to see what the card in paper will do. Other times, cards in real life and MTGO just behave differently. But I still like to look at the MTGO market and try to figure out what will happen in paper.

I don’t claim to be an MTGO finance expert. In fact, I don’t often speculate online because of the fickle nature of the economy. But understanding how a card is behaving online will help greatly in understanding its paper prospects. Constructed players can see what decks are doing best online and relate that knowledge to paper events. We can see how different decks are set up. How many of each card is played. We can anticipate shifts in the metagame and which cards will benefit. This is a great tool to know because people who play online tend to favor aggressive decks which skews the format. Each shift is an opportunity to make money.

One of the easier ways I have found to use MTGO as a tool is to see which cards are overpriced compared to their paper brethren. MTGO tends to have less expensive cards in general, so when I see a digital card that has a much higher price than the paper version, I tend to take notice. Then I try to understand why the card is worth more.

  • Were fewer printings available online?
  • Is it being used in a deck online that is more popular than real life?
  • Has the metagame adjusted online but not quite in real life yet?
  • Did it see a spike or steady rise online but not in paper?
  • What recent changes could have caused this card to move?

If I find a suitable card I will look closer.

  • Do I think this card is good?
  • Do other people think this card is good?
  • Is the deck good?
  • Is it seeing play in the maindeck or sideboard?
  • How many copies are seeing play?
  • Do I think this deck will catch on?
  • Is this the best at what it does?
  • What is this card good against?
  • Does the deck that plays this do well against my perceived meta?

And on and on, but you get the idea.

Let’s take a look at some recent examples of cards that this technique recently worked for.


Several months ago, when Theros was just released, there was a little card named [card]Threads of Disloyalty[/card] that hit my radar. Modern decks were playing it as a way to take the best creatures in the format. Nothing was safe from the blue mage (at least with a mana cost of two or less). That Tarmogoyf is mine! That Dark Confidant is mine! Basically all the best creatures in the format could be stolen away. At the same time, blue decks seemed to be gaining in popularity. The card was around 18 tix online, but in real life, copies could still be purchased for around $5. I remembered playing against it back when it was Standard legal and it was annoying then. The card seemed to be the real deala good answer. I assumed that no one was paying attention to Modern at the time and associated that with the price discrepancy. I decided to pick up a few playsets, even though no one was talking about them at the time. The card caught on in a big way.





A more recent example was influenced by the latest bannings and unbannings in Modern. I missed the boat on the more obvious specs, deciding to sleep that night instead of waiting up and buying in. I waited a few days, watching all the blue/black stuff go up in price, and elected to try my luck with the tier-two specs: cards that would be affected if tier-one cards got big. I checked the prices online for a few cards and noticed a large discrepancy between the 20 tix that MTGO was requesting for [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] and the $8 to $10 real-world price tag.

I really liked this card for four reasons:

1)      It was a very powerful standard card.

2)      Mythic

3)      It is a card that can be used against faeries

4)      I had previously seen a Jund deck that played this and [card]Lotus Cobra[/card]. Since Jund just lost [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], it would be looking for a new shell to play with and I thought that this could be a good way to adapt.

I ended up getting several playsets locally for around $8. I also cashed in some online store credit, picking up nine more copies. Shortly after, the card started to move. It didn’t spike, but it has made slow gains and is currently up to about $15 TCGplayer mid. We will have to see what the Modern format has in store to see what happens next for [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card].

Using this system, let’s take a look and see if we can find a new spec target. I browsed and I saw a large price difference between [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] on MTGO (at about 28 tix) and real world at about $18 [Ed. note: at the time of this writing. Geist spiked to $18 over PT weekend]. Taking a look at the potential for Geist, we see:


1)      The card was a powerhouse in Standard.

2)      Mythic, usually played as a three- or four-of.

3)      The card already sees some play in the UWR decks.

4)      The card is affected by the bannings as well and could be played in some versions of Zoo.

5)      The card appears to have bottomed out, but is already starting to rise.

The time may have passed to buy in deep, but this is a prime target for trading.



[card]Past in Flames[/card] is another card that could see a large increase in price for paper. The card is:


1)    Mythic.

2)    Played in Modern.

3)    Played sometimes in Legacy.

4)    Very good against Zoo.

The MTGO version is creeping up to 12 tix and the paper version is at $3.50.


So there you go: two very different approaches that a competitive player can use to help determine which cards could go up. I think both can be successful. Use your skills at evaluating good cards for Constructed and apply them to the finance game. Seeing as this is my first finance article, feel free to leave some comments or criticism below. Thanks for reading. I will be back next time with a look at GW in the new standard. Can we survive even with Karametra as our god? Find out next time.

Putting GW Scion Through the 20-Game Challenge

Lately, I’ve been a little down on GW’s chances in the new metagame. You may have noticed that recent results show mono-blue and mono-black winning almost ever tournament. Neither of these matchups are great and sometimes these decks can have hands where you just lose. I love GW Scion too much to just quit, however. I need to determine if the deck is still good enough against the changing metagame. Does GW Aggro still have a place?

What is the 20-Game Challenge?

The 20-Game Challenge is how I evaluate whether a deck is still good enough. Lately, Standard is an ever-changing and unfamiliar place. Decks are constantly changing and adapting, and because of this, your Standard deck from two months ago may not be good anymore. For example, mono-black used to be a very good match up against my GW Scion deck. GW could just keep jamming creatures that mono-black would have to deal with. [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] was only a 2/3 and [card]Desecration Demon[/card] would never untap. Then the deck adapted four [card]Pack Rat[/card] in the main, turning a good matchup into a very close one.

In situations like these, I like to is study the metagame and make small changes to the deck I am working on. These small changes don’t affect the deck’s overall goal—you should already be familiar with the way your deck plays. What this does is let you try out new cards and see how your deck does against the shifting card choices from other decks. Twenty games is not enough testing to completely understand all the matchups. Don’t just replace your normal testing with this method. What it does do is determine if your deck is still good enough and whether you should continue to test.

You could theoretically complete 20 games wherever, but because of my lack of time, I like to play in MTGO two-man events. This lets you play quickly against lots of different people and deck types. Make sure you choose a place where your results are going to mean something. It’s much easier to think your deck is awesome when you play all your games in the practice room.

The Deck

Below is the deck that I ran for 20 games straight. I will conclude with observations and changes.

[deck title= GW Scion]


*4 Experiment One

*4 Voice of Resurgence

*1 Scavenging Ooze

*4 Fleecemane Lion

*2 Loxodon Smiter

*1 Banisher Priest

*4 Boon Satyr

*2 Polukranos, Eater of Worlds

*3 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi



*4 Advent of the Wurm

*3 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

*4 Selesnya Charm



*4 Temple Garden

*4 Selesnya Guildgate

*9 Forest

*7 Plains



*1 Polukranos, Eater of Worlds

*1 Last Breath

*1 Pithing Needle

*1 God’s Willing

*2 Unflinching Courage

*2 Mistcutter Hydra

*2 Banisher Priest

*3 Glare of Heresy

*2 Useless cards



The Results

I kept a list of the decks I played against, my record, and occasional notes about something that happened during the game.

GW W 2-0

Rw Devotion W 2-0

Bant Midrange W 2-0

Esper Midrange Splashing Red W 2-1

Green Devotion Splashing Blue W 2-1 (Mulled to five in game three)

Black Devotion Splashing White W 2-1 (Turn-two [card]Pack Rat[/card] all three games)

RB Aggro L 1-2

Esper Midrange W 2-0

Black devotion L 1-2 (Mulled to five then flooded against [card]Desecration Demon[/card])

GW Chronicler W 2-1 (Games were won based on keeping [card]Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/card] alive)

UWR Aggro W 2-1 (All his X/1s died to Polukranos)

Black Devotion W 2-0

GU Something W 2-0 (He was not so good)

BW Aggro L 1-2 (Mulled to five and six cards in my two losses)

Bant Evolve (GW Splash U) W 2-1 (Scion goes the distance)

Mono-Black Devotion W 2-0

GW SCG Deck W 2-1

RBW Control L 1-2

GR Monsters W 2-1

Mono-Red L 0-2 [card]Madcap Skills[/card] both games to make 4-1s that don’t die to [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]

Overall match record: 15-5.


  • There were a lot of different decks that were represented and the GW deck did well against all types.
  •  GW lost to some of aggro decks, which surprised me. A lot of the new aggro decks have a lot of reach to close out games. [card]Brave the Elements[/card], [card]Boros Charm[/card], and [card]Fanatic of Mogis[/card] can all end games very quickly. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are safe. Because of this, it is very important to decide when to switch roles and attack. Too early or too late can often spell disaster.
  • Mono-black was not as difficult as I previously thought it would be, even with main deck [card]Pack Rat[/card]. I ended up winning three of four games against the format’s most popular deck. I also ended up noticing something else very strange: GW can beat a turn-two [card]Pack Rat[/card]. You have to race it. Always attack even if it means that you will trade because when you make opposing rats smaller, you are basically setting your opponent back a turn. Oftentimes they won’t block, which just equals more damage you’re getting through.

Times I beat turn-two [card]Pack Rat[/card]: 4

Times I lost to turn-two [card]Pack Rat[/card]: 2

  • I am the king of the GW mirror. Scion helps a lot with that.
  • Mono-Green Devotion used to be a very difficult matchup. Ajani fixes this problem. Oftentimes, they will play nothing but ramp the first few turns. This gives you the time to set up a few blockers plus Ajani. Each turn, you can plus Ajani and your opponent will not be able to break through. Ultimate FTW. [card]Experiment One[/card] does not care where the counters came from to regenerate. This makes it a nice wall to protect Ajani. The green devotion that splashes blue does not fall to this tactic because they play [card]Cyclonic Rift[/card].\

Times I won with Ajani: 6

  • The new Esper Midrange deck that took America by storm seems like a solid matchup for GW. The creatures are annoying, but we have the answers. Scion’s birds can block the 3/1 flier. Polukranos can kill basically every oposing X/1 creature—and you have [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] for Obzedat.


[card]Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/card] is the bees knees. This is a card I have been hesitant to play because it is not actually a creature, but let me tell you—I was wrong. This card is the Swiss army knife the deck was needing. Against control, he turns your creatures into must-kill threats by pumping them every turn, then threatening to deal double damage. Against aggro, he makes all your creatures bigger . On turn two, I like to EOT make a knight with [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] then play Ajani on turn three. Plussing Ajani to make a 3/3 vigilant knight that attacks and blocks is pretty good against aggro. Against midrange, he is a must-answer card that can ultimate to win the game or just combine with [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] to give us a 5/5 flying, double striking, trampling wurm. Ajani breaks stalemates, makes your creatures bigger, and can win the game on his own. Play this card.

What Should Be Changed?

To be honest, the deck has been running well. I’m not sure if the correct number of Ajani is two or three, but I like the current number. The deck has been skewed towards green so that it can beat a [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card], but [card]Boon Satyr[/card] has been less than stellar for me, since he can’t block against aggro decks. I would probably reduce the number by one. I would also cut a [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card]. It’s very good, but oftentimes I draw it only to be stopped by a 2/1 with protection from multicolored. It has also been the target of a [card]Detention Sphere[/card] when there is more than one copy on the battlefield, and Sphere seems to be one the rise.

-1 [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card], -1 [card]Boon Satyr[/card]

So what would I add in? As much as I hate it, I think the deck needs to maindeck more [card]Banisher Priest[/card]s. The card is just so good at its job. You need to kill [card]Pack Rat[/card], [card]Master of Waves[/card], and a surprisingly high number of times, you need to kill a god. All your cards can be blocked by every god, so you need a good way to break through.

+2 [card]Banisher Priests[/card]

I also wasn’t a big fan of the [card]Last Breath[/card] and the [card]Pithing Needle[/card] in the sideboard. I probably need to replace them with mono-blue hate. [card]Skylasher[/card] seems fine.

This week I want to start a new segment entitled “What do you think of this GW card, Ryan?”

What Do You Think of This GW Card, Ryan?

With spoiler season upon us, I want to jump to the very top. The card we have all been waiting for. The reason to be playing all these green and white mana symbols. The one, the only, the green white god!



What the hell is this?

You mean to tell me that red-green gets to make creatures hasty and big…and we get to…put a land into play? Hold on, I have to reread this. No, that’s what it says. Well, needless to say, this card sucks for competitive Magic. I would not play this at five mana. I would not play this at three mana. Ramping on turn six is not what any deck is looking to do right now. Some cards might come along that make that ability mean something, but for now, just don’t play this. So much for those Trostanis people have been speculating on.

Next time, I will take a look at what cards from the new set might make a way into the future GW Scion. Hint hint—it’s Brimaz. That card is bonkers.


Have a card you want me to review on “What do you think of this GW card, Ryan?” Throw it out in the comments or on Twitter. Yeah, I started using it. So follow me at @FyanArcherMTG. Thanks for reading!

Ryan Archer – How to Deal With Being a Loser

In every game of Magic, there is a winner and a loser. This is never more evident than playing in the first round of a large tournament. Sure, all of us want to win, but the truth is that some of us will lose that round. In fact, half of us will. That’s a lot of people at even semi-large events. In fact, most everyone in any given tournament will be a loser. Even the guy who places second will feel like a loser because he almost got there (though he shouldn’t, second place is still very good). All this losing can take a toll on the best of us. The trick is to be ready.

Magic is a game of variance. The cards you draw are random. This can lead to the better player losing because his opponent drew better than him. We have all lost to someone when we thought we should have won but instead just drew lands. If you haven’t, keep playing, it will happen to you, and you will hate it. If you want to grind tournaments, you need to be able to handle losing mentally. It’s important to keep your cool, not only in the a current tournament when riding the X-1 bracket, but also in future tournaments.


Tilt is that feeling of unnerve that can happen when we make a bad play and get punished, or when our opponent gets lucky, or maybe when we just plain lose. I bet almost everyone has ended a round of Magic and walked over to a friend.

“Get there?”

“No, my opponent was so lucky. I [card]Thoughtseize[/card]d him and took his [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. He ripped another one the next turn and cast it to kill all my creatures. Then he ripped [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card]. He was just so bad. I wish I was as lucky as he was. I hate [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. I hate Magic.”

On and on and on.

It’s sometimes very hard to lose a game. Maybe you’re playing in a PTQ and your dream is to make the pro tour. Maybe you’re playing in an open and you’re playing for top eight only to have your opponent top deck the one card he needs to win. Overcoming tilt is a very difficult skill to acquire, but it is one you must acquire in order to do well in real tournaments. Here are some things I do to help overcome tilt.

Realize That Sometimes People Get Lucky

Let me say this again: Magic is a game of variance. You can practice every matchup and still lose to only drawing land. It’s just part of the game. Even the dice roll and going first can lead to a huge blowout, and the dice are also random. You just have to deal with it. Understand it. Sometimes you will get lucky, sometimes they will. I bet you don’t agonize over the time you got lucky to win. Though, [card]Thoughtseize[/card] guy above, sure remembers that sting when his opponent got lucky.

I heard somewhere that the best Magic players, I’m talking pro-level players, can only hope to have a win percentage of 70% against a field of good players. That means in a ten round tournament, they had to get lucky twice to make top eight at 9-1. Crazy.

Take a Closer Look at Why You Lost

In my experience, this is the single most-helpful technique you can perform to get better at Magic. It’s very easy to just claim your opponent got lucky, but it’s much more difficult to admit you lost because of you. After every losing match, I like to replay each game over in my head to try to understand what happened. In the game, oftentimes we get tunnel vision and are so sure our opponent will do something based on the plays made so far. Maybe he is playing a control deck and he didn’t cast a removal spell on turn three so you assume he has a [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. You play the rest of the game assuming he had the card and don’t commit enough to the board out of fear, and eventually you end up losing.

If we think about the match afterwards, it’s easy to pick up on things that we didn’t think about during the games. Maybe during gameplay you didn’t consider that the opponent mulliganned and could have kept a sketchy hand. Maybe he played [card]Divination[/card] on turn three to try to draw his fourth land. Maybe your threats were not big enough to warrant a removal spell. Maybe his plan was to play a [card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card] to stop your attack. The point is, don’t let one possible play distract you from other potential reasons your opponent is playing a certain way.

The other person in the match to take a look at is yourself. Odds are you didn’t play perfectly. Maybe you made a bad attack, maybe you played your [card]Thoughtseize[/card] too early, maybe you played your creatures in an incorrect order, maybe you forgot a trigger, or maybe you forgot to do something obvious. When you realize that you made a mistake, things will go much better for you if you catch yourself before making that mistake again. But mistakes are not always obvious.

At a recent tournament, I had two bird tokens and a [card]Scion, of Vitu-Ghazi[/card] in play. I had a [card]Boon Satyr[/card] in hand. I wanted to get in as much damage as quickly as possible. He had one untapped mountain. I attacked with the bird tokens and wanted him to shock a bird and in response I would cast the Satyr. When he didn’t cast it I thought the coast was clear so I paid five mana to enchant my 1/1 flyer. He then cast shock in response. Afterwards I realized there was no reason for him to shock the bird and I should have waited. There was a lot more going on, but you get the basic idea.

Reevaluate Mulligans

Another area to improve is your mulliganning skill. Do you mulligan correctly? If not, you may be losing games because of it. You should be aware of what hands you keep against what opponents. One could write a whole article about how to mulligan, and I’m sure someone has, but just be aware that the mistakes could have happened as early as your starting hand.


Scion GW Update

For the last few weeks, I have been working on updating the GW list I have been playing. I noticed that a once-good matchup has been moving slowly towards the not-so-good side of the spectrum. Mono-Black Devotion used to be favorable, but a recent change to the list changed things. That move?

[card]Pack Rat[/card]. Times Four. In the Main.

It is very difficult to beat that card when played on turn two. This led to me adding two [card]Last Breath[/card] to the main. [card]Last Breath[/card] is very good at attacking [card]Master of Waves[/card]. I also shifted the deck to be more green to be able to attack through a [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card]. Here is my most recent list.

[deck title=GW Scion]


*4 Experiment One

*4 Voice of Resurgence

*4 Fleecemane Lion

*1 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage

*3 Loxodon Smiter

*4 Boon Satyr

*2 Polukranos, World Eater

*3 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi



*4 Selesnya Charm

*2 Last Breath

*1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

*4 Advent of the Wurm



*4 Selesnya Guildgate

*4 Temple Garden

*7 Plains

*9 Forest



*1 Last Breath

*1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

*1 Ratchet Bomb

*1 Pithing Needle

*1 Polukranos, World Eater

*2 Gift of Orzhova

*2 Glare of Heresy

*2 Mistcutter Hydra

*2 Rootborn Defenses

*2 Banisher Priest



I played this list in a PTQ over the weekend and didn’t do so well. In fact, I didn’t win a match. My opponents were just so luc—eh—nevermind. I still like the deck and I will continue to work on it. I’m hoping we get some late Christmas presents in the next set for GW.

Have any tips to keep you from tilting? Have any questions about the changes to my GW decklist? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Ryan Archer – Making Your Opponents See Red in Legacy

Today I’m going to do something that may seem crazy to those of you who have been following my articles here on Brainstorm Brewery: I’m not going to talk about green-white in Standard. Lately, there have been next to zero Standard tournaments in my area, and as such, I have been focusing my attention on another format. A format which which I am not so familiar – a format called Legacy.

You may be asking, “Why do I need to care about Legacy?” Well for starters, it’s one of the most skill-intensive and fun formats around. It’s half of the tournament for Star City invitationals, where you can win a ton of money and other fabulous prizes. (Fabulous prizes equal getting your likeness turned into a goat.) That’s why I decided to take the plunge into Legacy: the invitational. I don’t necessarily care much about the token part, though during the car ride to Indianapolis my group and I tried to decide which token we would make when we won. Many great choices were thrown around including a [card]Pack Rat[/card] token, a wurm token, an ooze token, and my pick, an angel token, because you never really see any male angels. Also, I’m slightly overweight so could you imagine this fat flying male angel coming to save the day? I wish I would have won that tournament.

So let’s go back. I just made top eight at the SCG classic in Lansing. All of a sudden I’m qualified for my first invitational. I know nothing about the format. I don’t know how the decks interact. I know nothing. I also don’t have a lot of time. I decide that since I don’t understand the other decks well that I should play a combo deck. I start looking at deck lists. I find nothing. Then all of a sudden I see Reuben Bresler make the finals of an open with the following red monster. I know, I know, it’s not a GW midrange deck, but it’ll do. I changed the [card]Ratchet Bombs[/card] in the board to [card]Tormod’s Crypts[/card] to handle [card]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/card] and arrived at this:

[deck title= Imperial Painter]


*1 Goblin Welder
*1 Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
*1 Phyrexian Revoker
*1 Spellskite
*2 Magus of the Moon
*4 Imperial Recruiter
*4 Painter's Servant
*4 Simian Spirit Guide



*2 Chandra, Pyromaster
*3 Sensei's Divining Top
*4 Grindstone
*4 Blood Moon
*3 Lightning Bolt
*3 Pyroblast
*3 Red Elemental Blast



*3 Arid Mesa
*4 Ancient Tomb
*4 City of Traitors
*9 Mountain



*1 Magus of the Moon
*1 Phyrexian Revoker
*1 Red Elemental Blast
*1 Manic Vandal
*4 Thorn of Amethyst
*2 Ratchet Bomb
*4 Ensnaring Bridge
*1 Pyroblast



This deck had everything that I wanted. It was a combo deck. It seemed easy to play and it seemed a little more forgiving than something like storm where if you make a mistake while comboing off you will lose. It also plays maindeck [card]Blood Moon[/card]. That’s right, in a world where everyone loves to play duals and fetch lands you get to play maindeck [card]Blood Moon[/card]. I figured in a format in which I know nothing, I might as well play a card that, against a lot of decks, completely shuts off their ability to play the game. Some lists play zero basics. I got no practice, but that’s okay because I had to work the Friday of the Invitational and missed it, instead playing in the two SCG opens on Saturday and Sunday.

The Legacy open went nowhere. I was tired from having to wake up early for top four of the Standard open. My opponents drew very well and I mulliganed a lot. I went 1-2, not really learning anything interesting about the format other than my opponents’ nut draws. I vowed that next time I would be ready for Legacy.

Since then, I’ve stuck with the deck, learned to play it, and have gotten better with the various lines of play. Since there haven’t been any large local Legacy tournaments, I figured I’d do a tournament report based on some smaller local Legacy events. But first, some quick discussion on how the deck works and some subtle nuisances. I’m going to assume you know nothing about the deck so some of the first few points may seem obvious.

  • The deck’s primary win condition is to play both [card]Painter’s Servant[/card] and [card]Grindstone[/card], which combine to mill your opponent out with only one activation. [card]Painter’s Servant[/card] turns all cards to the chosen color everywhere, including your opponent’s library, so no matter which two cards are milled with [card]Grindstone[/card], the milling will continue until there are no cards left in your opponent’s deck.
  • When you play [card]Painter’s Servant[/card], you should almost always name blue. You play six maindeck [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card] effects, which are already good at countering counterspells, but with Servant in play they become [card]Vindicate[/card] or a one-mana straight-up [card]Counterspell[/card]s. Same with [card]Jaya Ballard, Task Mage[/card].
  • Against multicolored decks you should try to play a [card]Blood Moon[/card] as soon as possible. They usually play very few basic lands and you want to turn off their fetch lands so they can’t fetch up a basic.
  • [card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card] can stop mana abilities of permanents. This is useful against decks that play [card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card], and is different than how [card]Pithing Needle[/card] works.
  • You can fetch any creature in your deck with [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card]. Most times you probably just get [card]Painter’s Servant[/card], but there are times you want your silver bullets.
  • Don’t be afraid to beat down your opponent with your small creatures. I’ve won several games by locking out the opponent and just attacking for the win.
  • If you play [card]City of Traitors[/card] and cast a [card]Blood Moon[/card], you can play more land without having to sacrifice your [card]City of Traitors[/card].
  • If you have a [card]Goblin Welder[/card] and a [card]Grindstone[/card] in play with a [card]Painter’s Servant[/card] in the graveyard, you can activate the [card]Grindstone[/card] and activate the Welder in response, exchanging [card]Grindstone[/card] and [card]Painter’s Servant[/card]. The [card]Grindstone[/card] ability will resolve and everything will be blue, milling out your opponent.

So now that you’re an [card]Imperial Painter[/card] expert, on to the matches.

Tournament 1

Round 1 Against the Local Ringer Playing Elves

So I know my opponent and I know what he’s playing. I curse my bad luck because not only is he good (placing top eight at several Legacy opens), he’s also playing a mono-color deck. “So much for those awesome [card]Blood Moon[/card]s,” I think to myself. I really miss those [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card]s now. I don’t really know this matchup, but I do know we are both combo decks racing to win.

Game one, I mulligan and keep a hand with a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], a combo piece, some lands, and a [card]Blood Moon[/card]. I play out my [card]Grindstone[/card]. He plays some elves. I draw a [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], play it, and bolt an elf. He plays some more elves. I play [card]Blood Moon[/card], having nothing else to do, but at least it shuts off his [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card]. He plays more elves and creates a bunch of mana off of [card]Heritage Druid[/card]. He plays [card]Natural Order[/card], finds [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card], and attacks me for lethal.

I sideboard in [card]EnsnaringBridge[/card] and anything else I can find for the [card]Blood Moon[/card]-type cards. Game two, I play [card]Ensnaring Bridge[/card] early to stop him from attacking – or so I think. He builds an army and casts [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] to find [card]Viridian Shaman[/card], then proceeds to kill me the exact same way.

We played about eight matches afterword so I could learn the matchup. I won one. I really don’t have any advice to help with this one except hope to avoid playing against it.

Round 2 Against Esper Stoneblade

My hand is great and has both combo pieces, until he casts [card]Thoughtseize[/card] on both turn one and two to strip away both of them. I have some time to set up, but the turn before I can mill him, he attaches [card]Batterskull[/card] to [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] and attacks for exactsies.

Game two, I board in more [card]Blood Moon[/card]s and counterspells. Again, he turn-one [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s me, taking my combo piece, then casts [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] to rid me of the rest of them. I now have no choice but to beat him down with creatures. I start destroying his lands with [card]Wasteland[/card]. He plays a [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], which fetches a [card]Batterskull[/card] before dying to my [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]. We trade resources for a while and both end up low on cards. I play [card]Blood Moon[/card] and he concedes. A little premature, I think, with a [card]Batterskull[/card] in hand and me having to attack to win. Game three, he plays [card]Tundra[/card]. I play turn-one [card]Blood Moon[/card] that doesn’t get countered and he concedes again.

Round 3 Against Death and Taxes

I draw well in game one. He plays [card]Aether Vial[/card]. I play [card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card] naming [card]Aether Vial[/card]. He doesn’t really mount any kind of offense before I assemble the combo and beat him. Game two, I play some disruptive creatures but I also play some creatures that prevent him from attacking. [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card] is able to find [card]Painter’s Servant[/card] and also block, which helped a lot, as a lot of his guys only had one toughness. Eventually, I find the land I’m lacking and combo him out.

I end up going 2-1 which is good enough for third place.

Tournament 2

Round 1 Against Dredge

I keep a hand of both combo pieces, a [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], and lands, including [card]Ancient Tomb[/card]. I have the option to play Servant first, but choose not to so I can cast Top and [card]Grindstone[/card]. This turns out to be a mistake, as I draw [card]City of Traitors[/card], so instead of killing him on turn two, he gets an extra draw step. Luckily, he doesn’t dredge anything relevant.

Game two, my hand is decent while his hand is [card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card], [card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card], [card]Golgari Grave-Troll[/card], and four irrelevant cards. He says, “Hope this is enough,” cracks a Diamond to get the Troll into the graveyard, dredges nothing relevant, and passes. I play [card]Grindstone[/card] with Servant in hand. He dredges again and hits [card]Cabal Therapy[/card] and [card]Narcomoeba[/card]. Sacking the [card]Narcomoeba[/card], he correctly names [card]Painter’s Servant[/card]. He sacks the second Diamond, again just to get the Troll into the graveyard. He dredges one more time, and again hits nothing relevant. The next turn he has to draw a card instead of dredge – a good position for me. I eventually draw [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card] to find [card]Painter’s Servant[/card] and finish him off.

Round 2 Against Belcher

I know my opponent but I don’t know what he’s playing. He wins the roll and starts playing spells gaining mana. I pretend to think about whether or not I want to [card]Force of Will[/card] something, but eventually with six red mana, he casts [card]Burning Wish[/card] to find [card]Empty the Warrens[/card], making 14 goblins. I concede before he sees a card from my deck.

Game two, I mulligan to six but keep a first-turn [card]Thorn of Amethyst[/card] hand. The Thorn is too much and I combo him out quicker than he can combo me out. Game three is wild. I play an early Revoker naming [card]Goblin Charbelcher[/card]. I also play an early [card]EnsnaringBridge[/card] to stop the goblin tokens. I then play a Thorn and he starts to build his hand. I play another Thorn and he sighs, but continues building his hand. I play every defensive card I draw,  just in case. I end up with tons of permanents but fail to draw a [card] Painter’s Servant[/card] or [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card]. I just end up milling him out the natural way with [card]Grindstone[/card] over many turns.

Round 3 Against RWU Delver

We both keep our initial seven cards. He starts things off with a [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] fetching a [card]Batterskull[/card], something about which my deck cares almost zero. I play [card]Grindstone[/card] and get a [card]Painter’s Servant[/card] [card]Force of Will[/card]ed. He is applying almost no pressure and I play [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card], getting another servant. I am able to stick one this time, and when he goes to make it a farmer with [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card], I have a [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card] waiting. I untap and mill him out.

Game two is awesome for me. He plays [card]Tundra[/card] and casts a [card]Ponder[/card]. I play [card]Ancient Tomb[/card], exile a [card]Simian Spirit Guide[/card] for mana, and cast [card]Magus of the Moon[/card], which he doesn’t counter. From then on I have every answer for everything he does. Turn two, he plays [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] and I follow up [card]Spellskite[/card]. He plays [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card], I play [card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card]. I end up drawing the combo and mill him out while he has six mountains in play and a hand full of cards.

3-0 which, because of tie-breakers, is good enough for first place.

Summing Up

I think that this deck is great for anyone trying to get into Legacy. Now obviously, I’m not trying to claim that I’m the best by showing you some small tournament results, but the deck is fun and interactive and I wanted to demonstrate that. You are really able to punish some of the greedy mana bases that the format has to offer, especially now that everyone is going ga-ga for [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card].

Do you have a suggestion for someone new to Legacy? What’s your opinion of the new [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] format? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for reading.

How to Sideboard and Win with Selesnya Aggro

Welcome back disciples of Vitu-Ghazi! Today we are going to take an in-depth look into sideboarding strategies with the green/white deck that I played at the SCG open. If you haven’t read my previous article where I broke down all of the card choices for the deck, you can find it here. I also want to discuss some of the cards that are difficult for the GW deck to beat. And lastly, I received some questions after the last article, so we can cover that, too. Ready? Let’s go.

Thoughts on Sideboarding

Sideboarding is an often-overlooked topic in the game of Magic. I find this very strange because you will play just as many, if not more, sideboarded games as maindeck in any given tournament. Players will often do a lot of playtesting with their decks before boarding and not bother testing the sideboard games. Again, this is a mistake because sideboard games are very different. Control decks generally become a lot better because they are able to sideboard out all the dead cards against you and board in cards that are especially good against you. Decks with fewer colors, i.e. the mono color decks, tend to have fewer options when it comes to sideboarding, so they not be as strong as a two-color deck could be. Aggro decks usually don’t have powerful cards to board against each deck because they stick with their initial strategy of just killing you fast.

Another mistake I see a lot is when people over sideboard. You don’t want to be sideboarding so much that you are no longer accomplishing the deck’s initial goal. Let’s look at aggro again. Maybe you’re a mono red player that is playing against Esper Control. You want to bring in four [card]Burning Earth[/card], which is good, and then you decide that you should bring in four [card]Skullcrack[/card] to prevent them from gaining life with their [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]. Ok, maybe? Then you see your [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] and decide you need that to kill their Blood Baron because you can’t win if they play it. You end up boarding in so many non-creature spells that you have to board out some creatures and now you are not fast enough to kill them before they start playing powerful spells. Obviously, this example is a little far-fetched but you get the idea.

Before going through my sideboard guide, I also want to explain that sideboarding is a strategy that should not be set in stone. I will deviate from this guide in a tournament depending on what I see from an opponent. You should use this guide as an example and not the rule. For reference here is the deck I played at the open:

[deck title= G/W Aggro]

*9 Forest

*7 Plains

*4 Temple Garden

*4 Selesnya Guildgate


*4 Experiment One

*3 Fleecemane Lion

*4 Voice of Resurgence

*1 Banisher Priest

*4 Boon Satyr

*4 Loxodon Smiter

*1 Polukranos, the World Eater

*3 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi

*2 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage



*4 Advent of the Wurm

*4 Selesnya Charm

*2 Rootbound Defenses



*2 Pithing Needle

*2 Banisher Priest

*3 Mistcutter Hydra

*1 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi

*2 Unflinching Courage

*1 Brave the Elements

*1 Druid’s Deliverance

*1 Gods Willing

*1 Last Breath

*1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice




First up:

Mono Black Devotion

Game one is usually very easy for GW aggro. They play a lot of creatures that don’t really worry you. They attacked with a 2/3 flier? So what? They played a 2/4 and drained some life? Don’t care. They played a giant 6/6 flier demon? Snack on this bird for a second while I kill your master.

The best way to win against mono black is to put a lot of pressure on the board quickly. As long as you can pressure them early, even if they spend their turn to kill a guy you are still attacking them for damage. That adds up and you can finish them off with your big threats. Eventually they run out of removal and they have to play their mediocre creatures.

I found that the only way for mono black to keep up is with an exceptional hand with a lot of removal followed up by an [card]Underworld Connections[/card]. The enchantment is a great way for mono black to be able to handle our creatures and still have enough gas left over to finish out the game. They need to be able to kill our early threats though, because if they don’t, tapping out on turn three to do nothing is usually good game.


– 2 [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card], – 2 [card]Experiment One[/card]

Against the midrange decks I tend to take out [card]Experiment One[/card] because it usually gets outclassed fairly quickly. Also, your plan is to take over the game through populating. I also take out [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] because it costs too much to try to “get” mono black.

+ 1 [card]Gods Willing[/card] + 1 [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card] +1 [card]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/card] +1 [card]Brave the Elements[/card]

Again, your plan is to overwhelm them through population. We bring in some cheap protection spells to protect our early aggression or our populating cards.

The matchup gets a lot tougher after board but still probably favorable. They bring in cards like [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card], [card]Pack Rat[/card], and more removal.

Some things to keep in mind:

– If they play [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card] early, they now have a seven-turn clock to kill you. You need to play aggressively to outrace it.

– If they play [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card] and your only creature is [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card], they have to take it.

– Turn-two [card]Pack Rat[/card] is a reality. It can be beaten but it is difficult. If you’re worried, you can bring in [card]Pithing Needle[/card].

– Try to keep a mana up to protect your important populate creatures by casting [card]Gods Willing[/card] or [card]Brave the Elements[/card].

Mono Red

There are a few different mono-red decks out there. There’s a fairly fast deck with a curve that stops at four with [card]Fanatic of Mogis[/card], and then there is the devotion-style deck that plays some bigger spells like [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card]. Both of these matchups play out similarly. GW’s creatures are too big and aggressively costed for mono red to smash through. They may have a [card]Firefist Striker[/card] to get through but that’s usually not enough. Usually, the only way they can win is with [card]Fanatic of Mogis[/card], so make sure to pay attention to the number of red symbols on your opponent’s side of the field.


– 1 [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card], -2 [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card], -2 [card]Boon Satyr[/card]

Scion comes out because it is a little slow. I don’t take them all out because I like the fact that the card turns the tide very quickly and lets you start attacking while leaving back three fresh blockers. [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] is just not needed. I don’t really like [card]Boon Satyr[/card] in matches where there are a lot of creatures. In this case he doesn’t block anything and survive.

+1 [card]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/card], + 1 [card]Last Breath[/card], + 2 [card]Unflinching Courage[/card], + 1 [card]Druid’s Deliverance[/card]

The goal after board is to try to gain as much life as possible. [card]Last Breath[/card] can help to take out problematic creatures like [card]Firefist Striker[/card]. [card]Druid’s Deliverance[/card] is just to not die and sometimes make a two-mana wurm. The fog is sometimes relevant against [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card].

Post board I feel confident about the matchup. The plan is the same except now you have a way to get out of Mogis range.

Some things to consider:

– The deck has zero ways to interact with [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] at the moment. We can race it and gain life. If the card starts seeing more play we might want to play something like [card]Arbor Colossus[/card].

– [card]Druid’s Deliverance[/card] only stops combat damage to the player. Feel free to block and destroy their team.

– [card]Last Breath[/card] can be used on your own creatures to gain some life in a pinch.

Mono Blue

Luckily, I did not have to play against mono blue at the open. I feel that this matchup is not that great. When the deck was gaining popularity I changed the maindeck of GW to include a [card]Banisher Priest[/card] and a [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card]. The sole reason was to be able to deal with [card]Master of Waves[/card]. This matchup is really swingy because they play a bunch of stuff we don’t care about, [card]Thassa, God of the Sea[/card], and [card]Master of Waves[/card]. GW cannot beat a resolved [card]Master of Waves[/card]. You have to kill it or you will lose. Thassa also makes it so attacking is not a good option because of her indestructibility. Mono blue can usually block and Thassa will kill one attacker. You can [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] Thassa, though. The matchup usually comes down to how many of the above cards they draw.


– 4 [card]Experiment One[/card] -2 [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card]

Again, [card]Experiment One[/card] comes out because [card]Frostburn Weird[/card] blocks it. [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] doesn’t do anything

+1 [card]Last Breath[/card], +2 [card]Banisher Priests[/card], +3 [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card]

The [card]Last Breath[/card] is strictly to kill [card]Master of Waves[/card]. Do not play it to kill anything else. [card]Banisher Priest[/card]s deal with Master or Thassa. [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card] is to break through their wall of creatures and deal the final points of damage.

From what I’ve seen, mono blue doesn’t really board in anything particularly relevant, maybe [card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card] to stop all your creatures.

Some things to consider:

– I’ll warn you again, kill [card]Master of Waves[/card] or you will lose.

– Mono blue has access to [card]Cyclonic Rift[/card], which is very effective if you are going the populate route to try to break through.

– [card]Judge’s Familiar[/card] can be sacrificed to counter an [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card]. Don’t forget about that little guy.


Esper Control

I believe Esper control is a good matchup for GW. You have maindeck [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] and lots of flash creatures. The ideal hand for GW would be early aggression, especially [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card], followed up with flash creatures and a [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card]. You need to play guys early and leave up mana for Rootborn in case of [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. When they do not cast Verdict you can flash down another threat. You’re not so worried about the one-for-one removal. The plan is to apply so much pressure that they have to waste a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] early, maybe for one or two, looking for an answer. If they cast a big Revelation, it’s usually tough to come back.


– 1 [card]Banisher Priest[/card], -4 [card]Selesnya Charm[/card], -1 [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card]

[card]Banisher Priest[/card] doesn’t kill anything, neither does Charm. A 2/2 with flash is not good enough. Smiter is just a little too slow.

+ 3 [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card], + 1 [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card], + 2 [card]Pithing Needle[/card]

Scion is just another big threat that cannot be one-for-one’d. In this matchup I rarely try to populate out of fear of Verdict but usually the birds left behind do some work. [card]Pithing Needle[/card] is mainly for [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card]. It is very difficult to beat it, but don’t be afraid to put one down naming [card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card] if you need to. [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card], while not as good as it is against straight UW Control, is very good after they cast a Verdict. It is also a lot of quick damage when you end-of-turn cast an [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card], untap and cast [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card], attack for a lot.

Post-board games get better for Esper but GW should still be favored. Don’t be afraid to mulligan if your hand doesn’t look like it’s fast or resilient enough. It’s tough to win through a [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] but it is not impossible. You should know that they usually would not cast Baron with the intent to Verdict so you can play out more creatures than you normally would. Birds plus [card]Boon Satyr[/card] fly over Blood Baron quite nicely.

Some things to consider:

– I’ve seen more Esper lists moving Blood Baron to the main. This does not help out the matchup.

– It’s very tough to win after they cast [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] for four or more. Try to be fast enough that they need to cast it earlier.

– If they ever cast [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] and you have an available [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card], you’ve probably just won the game. It’s that good.

GR Devotion

The GR devotion matchup is only as difficult as the number of planeswalkers they have. The rest of their deck matches up fairly poorly against our deck because they have small, stupid mana guys and we have 3/3 creatures. We have the ability to go big with wurm tokens and populate, which is especially good on [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card]. Our [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] hits all of their important guys, especially Polukranos. Some lists run the Dragon but the latest SCG open-winning list did not. The main problem is [card]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/card]. It’s tough to attack through their guys to kill him and once he starts +1’ing you’re usually too far behind.


– 2 [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card], – 4 [card]Experiment One[/card], -1 [card]Boon Satyr[/card]

Very similar to other midrange decks, [card]Experiment One[/card] gets outclassed too quickly, and the other cards just aren’t that good.

+ 2 [card]Banisher Priest[/card], + 2 [card]Pithing Needle[/card], + 1 [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card], +1 [card]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/card], + 1 [card]Brave the Elements[/card]

The [card]Banisher Priest[/card]s are there to remove the big monsters. Oftentimes GR will have some mana guys and then play one big threat. You want to have a way of removing their blocker to keep applying pressure. Don’t think that it will stay gone for good because GR can definitely kill a 2/2. It’s more of a tempo play or a way to get at their planeswalkers. [card]Pithing Needle[/card] is there to name Garruk but can also name other planeswalkers, or can name creatures to stop monstrous. Scion and Trostani are to go big and [card]Brave the Elements[/card] is a way to break through or dodge removal. GR devotion will bring in [card]Wasteland Viper[/card] as a way of doing tricks with Polukranos. It’s good against us.

Some things to consider:

– [card]Domri Rade[/card] plus a large creature can kill anything on your side of the field. I made the mistake once of thinking that my Trostani was safe from [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card]. Then he Domri fought it with [card]Ruric Thar[/card].

– [card]Arbor Colossus[/card] may not seem like much but he can favorably block every guy on our team.

– Killing their creatures lowers their devotion. Often times GR devotion won’t block when other decks would. You can use this to attack more aggressively.


Last week I received the question, “Why no Trostani?” I’m assuming he meant in the main. Well the reason is that the core of the deck is an aggro deck. You want to be aggressive against a lot of decks. By applying a fast clock you make your opponent react to you. Trostani, while being a very good card, is not so good for the aggressive plan. Trostani is at its best against decks without one-for-one removal or [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. So if you expect a lot of GR, junk, or aggro decks, Trostani would be fine for the maindeck. For the open, I expected a lot of mono black and Esper decks so I moved her to the sideboard.

Let Me Know Your Thoughts

Well there you go – a deep dive into the matches and sideboarding of GW. There is a lot to cover so I probably missed some. If you have a matchup you would like me to discuss, leave a question in the comments. You can also comment on what you thought about each sideboarding decision or on what you think could change in the decklist. Currently, I am trying to find room for one [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card] in the 75 to deal with dragons and Blood Barons. I will respond to each and every comment below so let me know. Thanks for reading.

(Almost) Getting There With Scion of Vitu-Ghazi – Open Top 4

Welcome Brew Crew. First some introductions, my name is Ryan Archer and I am a member of Team RIW. I’ve been playing Magic for a long time, but recently focused on my goal of making the Pro Tour. When Dragon’s Maze was released, it introduced some of my favorite Standard cards: [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] and [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card]. I really liked the power level of both of these cards and was surprised that no one was as excited about them as I was. I began my journey towards creating the deck that I am now playing GW Aggro.


Why Brainstorm Brewery? Well, probably like most of you reading this, I am also interested in MTG Finance. I have been working for RIW Hobbies for almost ten years now and as such, have seen the cyclical rising and falling of Standard card prices, the slow rise of eternal-playable card prices, and the crazy spikes from EDH cards. I have always been involved in MTG finance but it wasn’t until I tuned into the Brainstorm Brewery podcast that the fire was ignited. I have been making money on Magic more now than ever, and I have these guys to thank.

I read [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card] and I immediately thought the guy was the Nutter Butters. I thought to myself, “I am going to go deep on this guy and am going to make a lot of money.” I got in cheap enough that even if it didn’t hit big I wouldn’t lose much. No one was playing it, so I decided I would brew a deck that did and then surely the price would go up. All I would have to do is win a few events, with a deck that no one’s seen, playing a card no one thought was good, and that would be enough. Well, I accomplished the first part but the price on Scion still hasn’t budged. It’s time to keep trying.

Why should you care about what I have to say about this GW Deck? On several occasions I have been called the GW master (I said it about myself – still counts). I also have been tearing up the Constructed scene here in Michigan. I won the Professional Events Services-sponsored Michigan states tournament. I also came in second and third at the Michigan TCG states one week later.


That’s right, I got to be state champion for a whole week. With all the states tournaments next year we should take all the winners and make them play out a top eight to see who the real state champion is. Most recently, I took the GW deck to a third-place finish at the SCG Open in Indy.
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All right, enough of the sick brags (though making second and third at the same tournament kind of warrants them). It’s time for the real reason you’re here. Let’s discuss the deck list I played at the Open.

I primarily expected a lot of Mono Black, Mono Blue, and Esper Control decks. This GW deck has a pretty good game against Mono Black and Esper, along with any aggro or midrange deck that don’t play [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card]. Mono Blue is an okay matchup but if they ever play [card]Master of Waves[/card], you cannot win. Also, [card]Thassa, God of the Sea[/card] is a huge beating to play against.

For this article, I don’t want to do a tournament report. Because the deck is fairly unknown, I feel it is better to go over the card choices and explain the numbers and why certain cards made the cut.

I was fortunate enough not to have to play against Mono Blue all day. I had a bit of bad luck in some of the matches I lost, but that’s Magic. It’s very difficult to not run into bad luck when you play twelve matches.

Onto the card choices:

4 [card]Experiment One[/card]

Against certain decks it’s very important to put a lot of pressure on them from the beginning. Experiment One does a good job at attacking early while still growing and being relevant in the late game. His regenerate ability is especially good against removal from Mono Black and [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] because you have no shortage of creatures to start growing him again.

3 [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card]

Like I said, early pressure is important and the lion has decent stats. I think his monstrosity ability is just okay, because he either gets outclassed by larger monsters, or their decks have sacrifice cards like [card]Far // Away[/card] or [card]Devour Flesh[/card]. He also doesn’t match up well against [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card].

4 [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card]

I don’t know what else to tell you about this card you haven’t heard already. It is awesome. Good against every deck. Some of the removal in this format targets attacking creatures, which can be very awkward when staring down a Voice. The token gets huge and can be populated. Do not sideboard this card out.

2 [card]Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage[/card]

LOL wut? Don’t laugh, this card is great. It can break open midrange mirrors by populating two wurms a turn. It is also a good top deck against Mono Black or Esper when they have spent all their resources to kill your team and you’re both low on cards. Play this and kill them with an army of centaurs. Guildmage is better later in the game so only two are necessary.

4 [card]Loxodon Smiters[/card]

I’ve seen some recent lists move away from this guy but I don’t understand why. A 4/4 for three is great. Sometimes your blue opponent will pass the turn with mana up hoping to counter your spell and you play this guy. Frown town for your opponent. He smashes in for a lot and is a great blocker against the aggro decks. I have yet to make my opponent target him with a [card]Thoughtseize[/card] but I’m going to keep trying.

4 [card]Boon Satyr[/card]

Alright! The card I was most excited about from Theros. This card has been an all-star. It has flash against Esper decks. It makes combat math a nightmare for your midrange opponent. You have not lived until you bestow [card]Boon Satyr[/card] onto your wurm token. There’s one more trick but I’m saving it to mention with Scion.

1 [card]Banisher Priest[/card]

I have to admit I don’t love this guy, but he does fill a role. That role? Kill [card]Master of Waves[/card]. Sure, he can do other things, like make your opponents waste their removal on him. But you really need to kill the blue menace. I made space for one in the main to help out the Mono Blue match (he can also eat a devoted Thassa). He wasn’t bad in the GR matchup either, so there is that. I would not play more in the main because he is so bad against Esper.

4 [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card]

If I have to explain to you why a 5/5, for four mana, at instant speed, that has trample, should be in your GW deck, you’re playing the wrong game. I would rather populate the wurm than an elemental in most cases, just to let you know. Also of note, he is only green which means he wins fights with Blood Baron.

1 [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card]

Come on, this guy eats worlds, how could you not love him? He passes the Blood Baron test and also kills [card]Master of Waves[/card]. Basically a 5/5 for four in this deck but he earns his keep.

3 [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card]

Oh boy, strap yourself in. I have a lot to say about this guy. But first, a short story of the time I met Ryan Bushard:

It’s July 2013. M14 just came out. I’m playing in the SCG Classic in Lansing. I’m playing a pre-rotation version of the GW deck. Basically the same deck, because not much rotated. Round four, I play against someone whose friend is next to him wearing a Brainstorm Brewery Shirt. I tell him I like that podcast and he says Ryan is here if you want to meet him. I say naw, trying not to seem too eager. I finish the tournament in the top eight but before it’s announced I run into the same guy who is with Ryan. I shake Ryan’s hand and explain that I really like the show and that it got me into speculating. He asks what cards I’m looking at and I explain that I went deep on Scion of Vitu-Ghazi. He smiles and explains to me that the card could be a good choice because the casual crowd could like it one day. He is obviously trying to be nice, but I can tell he doesn’t approve. I smile and explain that I just made top eight with three copies in the main deck. He stares at me blankly before smiling and congratulating me. Later on, Ryan Tweeted “just bought 174 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi #mistake?” I laughed to myself reading it, and on the next Brainstorm Brewery podcast Jason’s pick of the week was [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] and Ryan’s was [card]Scion of Vitu-Ghazi[/card]. Just wanted to let you know, Ryan, that I am still working on making this a profitable spec.

Okay, back to Scion. Let me first explain why the other choices for five drops are bad. The answer is: all the one-for-one removal that is getting played right now. Both [card]Kalonian Hydra[/card] and [card]Archangel of Thune[/card] do nothing when immediately targeted by a [card]Doom Blade[/card]. I need a little more resistance from my five drop.

So Scion, with nothing on the board, is a five-mana 4/4 that makes two birds. That’s six power for five mana spread across three bodies and two of those bodies have evasion. When they [card]Doom Blade[/card], you’re still left with two guys. Some sweet plays that Scion enables:

  • Against midrange decks you can live the dream and cast turn-four Advent, untap, cast turn-five Scion. That’s fifteen power when you had none. Their one-for-one removal is not so good now, huh?
  • That same play is also good enough to seal away most games against aggro decks.
  • The three creatures power up an elemental token from out of nowhere and Scion can make more elementals.
  • The birds are great creatures to feed to a [card]Desecration Demon[/card].
  • The birds can fly over a stalled ground board state.
  • The birds are really good at attacking planeswalkers.
  • The birds can be suited up with [card]Boon Satyr[/card] to take huge chunks out of your opponents life (or planeswalkers).
  • Your opponent can’t play an [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card] and -3 to kill all your creatures because the birds survive and kill Elspeth.
  • The birds can block your opponents flying creatures.
  • The birds can fly over Blood Baron.


I’m making a case for the birds because if you ever populate something bigger you’re probably winning already and you don’t need me to tell you that’s good. By the way, all of these situations have happened to me while playing, and yes, they did feel great.

4 [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]

This charm does everything. Sometimes it’s an early attacker that can be populated. Sometimes it’s a combat trick that your opponent must respect (which can allow you to get some free attacks in). Most of the time it’s a removal spell for the cards you can’t deal with, the big ones. I’ve removed huge [card]Revenant Hunter[/card]s, [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] in response to monstrosity, [card]Desecration Demon[/card]s, and it’s also a great answer to the gods.

2 [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card]

A nice answer to removal, but mostly just there to beat [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. If you can save your team from a Verdict and make your opponent waste his turn you have probably already won. I do sometimes cast it just to make a wurm.

[deck title= G/W Aggro]

*9 Forest

*7 Plains

*4 Temple Garden

*4 Selesnya Guildgate


*4 Experiment One

*3 Fleecemane Lion

*4 Voice of Resurgence

*1 Banisher Priest

*4 Boon Satyr

*4 Loxodon Smiter

*1 Polukranos, the World Eater

*3 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi

*2 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage



*4 Advent of the Wurm

*4 Selesnya Charm

*2 Rootbound Defenses



*2 Pithing Needle

*2 Banisher Priest

*3 Mistcutter Hydra

*1 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi

*2 Unflinching Courage

*1 Brave the Elements

*1 Druid’s Deliverance

*1 Gods Willing

*1 Last Breath

*1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice



This article has already gone long, so in my next article I will cover the sideboard and any changes I would make to the deck. In Constructed Magic, formats are constantly shifting so you should be adapting your deck to beat what decks you expect. Just be sure to not change so much that your deck is not accomplishing its original goals.

Please let me know what you think in the comments and make suggestions of any future topic you would like me to cover. I’m a tournament player first and a financier second, so I can discuss a wide range of decks across multiple formats. I like the idea of reviewing some format or deck and then giving feelings on the financial opportunities from a tournament player’s perspective. Let me know if that’s something that interests you. Thanks for reading.