Welcome to the Jungle: Sideboarding versus Midrange and Control

Welcome back again! I hope my previous article was able to help you all with the more explosive matchups you will face and I hope this one will help you with the more grinding matchups.

A Quick Refresher

The Deck

[deck title= AZooni (Big Zoo) ]
[Creatures]
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Scavenging Ooze
4 Knight of the Reliquary
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/creatures]
[Spells]
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Lightning Helix
2 Ajani Vengeant
[/spells]
[Lands]
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Windswept Heath
4 Arid Mesa
2 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Kessig Wolf Run
2 Forest
2 Plains
[/lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Spellskite
3 Blood Moon
2 Choke
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Deflecting Palm
1 Bow of Nylea
2 Batterskull
2 Engineered Explosives
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Sideboard Breakdown

[card]Blood Moon[/card]

Blood Moon is a fantastic card out of the sideboard and is there to give you free wins or stall the game until you can reach a dominant position. This card is a must against all three-or-more-color decks and can even dominate two-color decks.

[card]Choke[/card]

If your opponent plays [card]Island[/card]s, you play Choke. I don’t think it can be any clearer than that.

[card]Spellskite[/card]

I really like Spellskite. It stonewalls aggro early on and can help you win the burn matchup. I like Spellskite especially in game three of the control and Pod matchups to protect your [card]Blood Moon[/card]s and [card]Choke[/card]s from their removal.

[card]Engineered Explosives[/card]

Board sweepers are really good and Explosives is no different. If they play creatures, you should play Explosives.

[card]Batterskull[/card]

Burn, midrange, control: all of these are matchups where Batterskull can shine. It is your most resilient threat (next to Thrun) and when paired with your creatures can be very potent.

[card]Ancient Grudge[/card]

Good versus artifacts.

[card]Bow of Nylea[/card]

I think this card is the best card in my sideboard. Every ability on the card is good. The graveyard one, although you use it the least, can be very strong. It lets you bottom some strong cards from your graveyard, and with your large amount of fetch lands, you can shuffle and redistribute your used powerful spells back into your deck.

[card]Deflecting Palm[/card]

If you expect to get hit with a lot of damage from a single source, play this card. Creatures holding [card]Cranial Plating[/card], Tron’s creatures, Bogles, Ascendancy Combo (choose the creature, and yes, you can choose Caryatid) are great sources for this card to choose. Palm also has bonus points versus Burn, where it basically acts as an extra [card]Lightning Helix[/card].

Let’s Begin with UWR

[Deck Title=UWR Control]
[creatures]
3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Restoration Angel
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Keranos, God of Storms
[/creatures]
[Spells]
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Mana Leak
3 Electrolyze
3 Lightning Helix
3 Path to Exile
3 Cryptic Command
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Remand
2 Spell Snare
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Ajani Vengeant
[/Spells]
[lands]
4 Celestial Colonnade
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Island
3 Tectonic Edge
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Sulfur Falls
2 Flooded Strand
2 Steam Vents
1 Arid Mesa
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Mountain
1 Plains
[/lands]
[sideboard]
2 Stony Silence
1 Batterskull
1 Spellskite
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Combust
2 Counterflux
1 Celestial Purge
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Anger of the Gods
2 Wear // Tear
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

I personally love this matchup. You need to establish multiple threats early and luckily your deck is great at that! They have no answers to [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card] in the first game and you can ride him or a large [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] to victory. I approach this matchup as if they are a critical mass burn deck so I want to apply a lot of pressure and force them to engage with me before they want to.

Sideboard out 4 [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card],  2 [card]Lightning Helix[/card], and 1 [card]Path to Exile[/card]

Sideboard in 3 [card]Blood Moon[/card], 2 [card]Choke[/card], and 2 [card]Batterskull[/card]

The sideboard plan is to lock them out and kill them while they sit there doing nothing. [card]Batterskull[/card] is great because you can cast it through your [card]Blood Moon[/card]s, which in and of themselves are game winners in their own right.

Blue Moon

[Deck Title=Blue Moon]
[creatures]
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Vendilion Clique
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Serum Visions
4 Cryptic Command
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Remand
3 Spell Snare
3 Vapor Snag
2 Electrolyze
2 Mana Leak
1 Dig Through Time
3 Blood Moon
2 Vedalken Shackles
1 Batterskull
[/spells]
[lands]
8 Island
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Steam Vents
2 Flooded Strand
1 Mountain
[/lands]
[sideboard]
1 Blood Moon
1 Batterskull
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Spellskite
1 Counterflux
1 Magma Spray
2 Negate
1 Keranos, God of Storms
3 Anger of the Gods
2 Vandalblast
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

In the first game its easy to get caught thinking you are playing against UR Delver or Splinter Twin, but in both of those matchups (Delver moreso than Splinter Twin), you should be fetching basics to keep yourself from getting burnt out. Qasali Pridemage is your allstar keeping [card]Vedalken Shackles[/card] at bay and your [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s under your control.

Sideboard out 4 [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]

Sideboard in 2 [card]Choke[/card], 2 [card]Batterskull[/card]

If you choke your opponent, you should win. I like to leave in all of my removal, including the [card]Path to Exile[/card]s, because I expect to see [card]Batterskull[/card] and [card]Spellskite[/card] in the post-board games.

Pick Your Poison (BG, Jund, or Junk)

In these matchups, your sideboard plan is the same in all matches but for shits and giggles, here are three decklists.

[Deck Title=The Rock]
[lands]
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Treetop Village
4 Twilight Mire
4 Swamp
3 Overgrown Tomb
2 Marsh Flats
1 Forest
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Woodland Cemetery
[/lands]
[creatures]
4 Dark Confidant
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Phyrexian Obliterator
3 Scavenging Ooze
2 Courser of Kruphix
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Thoughtseize
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Dismember
1 Slaughter Pact
4 Liliana of the Veil
[/spells]
[sideboard]
1 Scavenging Ooze
3 Fulminator Mage
3 Creeping Corrosion
1 Drown in Sorrow
1 Damnation
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Torpor Orb
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Batterskull
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

[Deck Title=Jund]
[creatures]
4 Dark Confidant
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Scavenging Ooze
2 Courser of Kruphix
1 Olivia Voldaren
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Abrupt Decay
3 Thoughtseize
2 Slaughter Pact
1 Terminate
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Anger of the Gods
3 Liliana of the Veil
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
[/spells]
[lands]
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Raging Ravine
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Forest
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Swamp
1 Marsh Flats
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Stomping Ground
1 Blood Crypt
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
[/lands]
[sideboard]
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Olivia Voldaren
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Choke
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Batterskull
1 Shatterstorm
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Golgari Charm
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Grim Lavamancer
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

[Deck Title=Junk]
[lands]
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Marsh Flats
3 Tectonic Edge
2 Stirring Wildwood
2 Twilight Mire
2 Treetop Village
2 Swamp
1 Forest
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
1 Temple Garden
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Misty Rainforest
[/lands]
[creature]
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Dark Confidant
3 Scavenging Ooze
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Thoughtseize
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Slaughter Pact
2 Path to Exile
2 Lingering Souls
1 Darkblast
1 Dismember
4 Liliana of the Veil
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
[/spells]
[sideboard]
1 Lingering Souls
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Stony Silence
2 Skinrender
3 Fulminator Mage
1 Aven Mindcensor
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Black Sun’s Zenith
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Sideboard out 4 [card]Noble Hierarch[/card] and 4 [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card]
Sideboard in 3 [card]Blood Moon[/card], 2 [card]Batterskull[/card], 2 [card]Engineered Explosives[/card], and 1 [card]Bow of Nylea[/card]

In these matches, you want to try and topdeck better than the BGx decks, and yes, it is possible. This is why you cut all the little fluff that couldn’t become a threat late in the game. [card]Blood Moon[/card] wins games on its own, and the player with the last [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] standing also tends to win the game. Seriously, it is the best card in the matchup, so make sure you deploy Goyf into removal first so you can eat it with your Ooze.

[deck title=The New Junk]
[creatures]
4 Siege Rhino
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Scavenging Ooze
2 Courser of Kruphix
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Thoughtseize
3 Lingering Souls
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Darkblast
1 Duress
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Dismember
1 Slaughter Pact
3 Liliana of the Veil
[/spells]
[lands]
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Marsh Flats
3 Treetop Village
2 Swamp
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Twilight Mire
2 Windswept Heath
2 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple Garden
1 Godless Shrine
1 Forest
1 Plains
[/lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Drown in Sorrow
1 Golgari Charm
3 Leyline of Sanctity
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Timely Reinforcements
2 Stony Silence
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Creeping Corrosion
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Honestly, I would sideboard the exact same way as I do with other BGx decks and just fight the topdeck/attrition battle.

GR Tron

[Deck Title=GR Tron]
[creatures]
4 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Pyroclasm
4 Sylvan Scrying
4 Relic of Progenitus
4 Karn Liberated
4 Chromatic Star
4 Oblivion Stone
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Expedition Map
[/spells]
[lands]
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower
3 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Forest
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Eye of Ugin
[/lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Torpor Orb
2 Platinum Angel
1 Sundering Titan
2 Choke
4 Nature’s Claim
4 Combust
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

You have to be a conservative aggro deck in this matchup—and I know that sounds weird. You don’t want to overextend against them into a [card]Oblivion Stone[/card]. [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] will hopefully be there to be your second wave of attacking.

Sideboard out 2 [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card], 2 [card]Lightning Helix[/card], and 1 [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]

Sideboard in 3 [card] Blood Moon[/card], and 2 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card].

Just add better removal and try to lock them out. Blood Moon while ticking up [card]Ajani Vengeant[/card] is a blowout, or just use the Moon to delay until you can kill them.

Mono U Tron and UW Tron also exist, but I don’t view them as being the most competitive.

For Mono U, I would side out 4 [card]Lighting Bolt[/card], 2 [card] Lightning Helix[/card], and 1 [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card].

I would side in 3 [card]Blood Moon[/card], 2 [card]Choke[/card], and 2 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card].

For UW I would board the same as GR Tron, unless they played an insane amount of Islands.

The Faerie Conclave

[Deck title=UB Faeries]
[Creatures]
4 Spellstutter Sprite
2 Mistbind Clique
2 Vendilion Clique
2 Snapcaster Mage
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Thoughtseize
3 Cryptic Command
3 Spell Snare
2 Dismember
2 Mana Leak
2 Shadow of Doubt
2 Smother
1 Go for the Throat
1 Tragic Slip
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Bitterblossom
[/spells]
[Lands]
4 Mutavault
4 River of Tears
4 Secluded Glen
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Island
3 Creeping Tar Pit
2 Ghost Quarter
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Negate
1 Squelch
1 Damnation
2 Duress
1 Darkblast
2 Sower of Temptation
1 Spellskite
1 Pithing Needle
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Batterskull
1 Memoricide
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

What I have found with the Faerie matchup is that you just need to be all-out aggressive in game one. Killing their [card]Bitterblossom[/card] and deploying a large amount of threats is just too much for them to handle. Maindeck Thrun also just makes them jump through hoops to win.

Sideboard out: 2 [card]Lightning Helix[/card], and 4 [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]

Sideboard in: 3 [card]Blood Moon[/card], 1 [card]Bow of Nylea[/card], and 2 [card]Batterskull[/card]

Just kill their meager threats post board, and if you resolve a Blood Moon, you should win. I think it appears obvious why you don’t side in Choke for this matchup, but I’ll explain anyway: Faeries does not play Islands.

Sideboarding Mastery

Well thats all for this week! thanks for checking in and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you could have and I will be back next week with my final installment on sideboarding versus the combo decks of the format.

About the Author
I am a full time student at Hampshire College and a Modern format specialist. I have been playing Big Zoo since the unbanning of Wild Nacatl. I hope you enjoy my writing and through it I can help us all improve and people and players in the Magic community.

One comment on “Welcome to the Jungle: Sideboarding versus Midrange and Control

  1. Davide says:

    Really interesting, like always!
    Thank you for your analysis, I want to read about Scapeshift and Jeskai combo.

    For the GP Milan I’ll play this deck with a little changes, but the core is the same.

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