Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Epic Post on Mythic (Part 1)

See, it's funny because I didn't describe the post itself as Mythic.

As my focus shifts to Extended, everyone who hasn't Q'ed yet should be eating and breathing Standard. And I plan on leaving all my notes behind for those interested in them. First comes decklist.

Mulldrifting Mythic

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Knight of the Reliquary
3 Rhox War Monk
1 Dauntless Escort
2 Rafiq of the Many
4 Baneslayer Angel
2 Thornling
---------------------------28 creatures

1 Gideon Jura
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Finest Hour
---------------------------5 spells

4 Misty Rainforest
4 Verdant Catacombs
6 Forest
2 Island
1 Plains
1 Sunpetal Grove
2 Sejiri Steppe
4 Celestial Colonnade
3 Stirring Wildwood
---------------------------27 lands

4 Negate
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Gideon Jura
3 Qasali Pridemage
3 Dauntless Escort
2 Vapor Snare
1 Mind Control

Highly Recommended change for SB: -1 Negate +1 Jace, TMS

Q: What's with the misers? 
I know everyone will ask that first. It almost looks like I "couldn't make up my mind" on which planeswalker I wanted most and then decided to run all of them. ;) But I had specific reasons for each one.

On Gideon... 
I almost replaced one Baneslayer Angel with him because the two cards are so similar - they're both big threats, they have the same mana cost, they can both have big impacts on the board. But then I realized: wait, not run 4 Baneslayer Angels? Am I stupid? Maybe, but that still doesn't justify going below 4 Baneslayers.  Instead, Gideon takes up the spot Sphinx of Jwar Isle would normally take, and undoubtedly that's an upgrade. I came across very few (no?) decks running a full set of Paths or Terminates.

On Elspeth...
She takes up a Rafiq spot because she performs very similarly. Despite not giving as large a punch, she makes up for it by providing Evasion, which is excellent against Jund decks. Against control decks, the effect is certainly much weaker and much less impactful, but control decks have a massively hard time dealing with her. So she is more likely to stay on the board longer -- dishing out tokens, getting past Walls, letting me punch Jaces in the faces, and then eventually ultimating to invalidate all their Wraths. I used her Ultimate once against a UW deck at the PTQ (game 1), and although I was sad to lose my planeswalker, I think my opponent was sadder that my Celestial Colonnade with Exalted wrecked Baneslayer in a head-on collision. He paused when I didn't put Colonnade in the graveyard, reminding me of Angel's first strike. Then he remembered.

On Jace...
The Sovereign deck with Eldrazi Conscription plays 3 of these in the main. And my friend Elliot also played 3 in his regular Mythic build. I never felt right about doing this, however. (Could be wrong.) But Jace doesn't fall into Mythic's plan. It isn't itself a damage-dealing threat, nor does it amplify damage. It CAN provide tempo and push damage through using its bounce-trick, but this is going to work best only in certain conditions - when they have only one blocker, for instance. And when the blocker isn't Wall of Omens, Bloodbraid Elf, or other manner of 187 creature.

I found Jace to only be amazing given the condition that my opponent was also playing Jaces. I could drop my Jace earlier if lucky, at which point, my opponent could waste a turn getting rid of my Jace by playing theirs. Or they could, y'know, actually deal with the threats on board. I'm sure anyone who's pre-emptively played a Jace knows how awesome it is.

And decks like Polymorph were playing it, too, so it came in handy quite often.

I ran one in the main as a concession that UW had the greatest representation AND to have room in my sideboard for other things. After sideboard, I wanted 3 total. Storing one in the maindeck as a happy surprise didn't seem to hurt, although I wouldn't blame anyone for swapping in the Gideon for him.

The abilities themselves on Jace were underwhelming. I fate-sealed, I brainstormed, I bounced. But I never got huge value out of the first two abilities. Well, I got value in a sense. But the Mythic deck has less ways to abuse this kind of value than, say, a control or combo deck. Threats are threats. The question is: do you have the answer? If the Mythic deck isn't asking these questions, it's not doing its job. If it's fiddling around with people's decks, it certainly doesn't hurt, but it certainly doesn't get the job done.

The bounce ability was still really useful, and I got good value out of it. But I wouldn't run a bunch of Jaces just for that. Like I said, Mythic's Jace is just to give the finger to other Jace decks. If they have their Jace out first, try to kill it. Then play your Jace. You have a much easier time killing Jaces than they do, that's for certain.

One Final Note...
There's another reason I decided to not go "triple" on a Planeswalker and just run 3 different ones. Against a UW deck, it's not unreasonable to expect your planeswalkers to live for some time. Thus, I didn't want any stuck in my hand because of my opponent's inability to get rid of the one on the board. Being able to have 2-3 planeswalkers on your side at a time is anything but fair.

On Dauntless Escort...
Against decks not running All Is Dust, Dauntless Escort is like a Negate on a 3/3 body. People seem to not like him that much. I don't really know why, but perhaps it just gets Bolted, and they feel like they wasted their 3rd turn. It's even worse if they untap and play Consuming Vapors when you have nothing but an Escort out.

That being said, Rhox War Monk is hella useless against UW decks. So useless in fact I had to get rid of one to make room for anything remotely more useful. I didn't want to replace more of them. My goal was not to be "pre-boarded" for the UW matchup. It was to get an edge without sacrificing much of anything. So I shaved off a Monk, and I was happy with this change.

After board, I have a full 4, which I was very happy with. I never boarded in all my Negates against a regular UW deck, since this dilutes the number of threats I have. Instead, I boarded in actual creatures that could easily be played before my opponent could cast a Day of Judgment.

My "general" plan for sideboarding is as follows. Assuming I made the recommended change of one more Jace in the SB. More detailed explanation will be given in my tournament report.

It's totally possible these are off +/- a card or two. But the overall idea is what's important. 

vs UW
-2 Baneslayer Angel -3 Rhox War Monk -1 Birds of Paradise
+2 Jace, TMS +1 Gideon Jura +3 Dauntless Escort

vs Open the Vaults or Time Sieve
-3 Rhox War Monk -4 Baneslayer Angel -2 Thornling -1 Elspeth -1 Gideon
+3 Qasali Pridemage +3 Dauntless Escort +2 Jace, TMS +3 Negate

vs Polymorph
-4 Baneslayer Angel -2 Rhox War Monk
+3 Negate +2 Jace, TMS +1 Gideon

If they're running Awakening Zone/Eldrazi Temple, -1 RWM -1 Dauntless Escort -1 Noble Hierarch +3 Qasali Pridemage

vs Red-based Aggro
-1 Dauntless Escort -1 Jace TMS -2 Thornling
+1 Gideon +3 Negate

vs Mythic
-3 Rhox War Monk -2 Thornling -1 Elspeth
+2 Qasali Pridemage +2 Vapor Snare +1 Mind Control +1 Jace TMS

vs Jund
Depends a lot. No, seriously. Any of the following cards can be used based on your opponent's build and sideboard and general disposition:

3 Negate 

But I would never board in all of these. I'd have to choose very carefully based on what I see in games 1 and 2.

To be honest with you, I am not sure about the level of effectiveness of any of these particular cards in the Jund matchup. I can only give vague estimations. For instance, Dauntless Escort is probably good against Consume the Meek. Negate is probably needed against Consuming Vapors. I haven't verified how good Gideon is. Control Magics are needed against Bloodwitches and Masters of the Wild Hunt. Baneslayers can be excellent or they can be terrible. Rhox War Monk can be good, but it depends entirely on the opponent's play style and his or her Jund build. Jace is underwhelming. 

How does Vengevine affect the matchup? I can guess, but I can't definitively say. They're probably eternally annoying for the planeswalkers in the deck. In essence, it's kind of like they are running their own Rafiqs. The damage can amplify at an instant, and so it becomes more important to stay above a certain life total. 

People, for the most part, have not yet bothered to evolve their Jund builds to reflect current T2. I notice people holding onto the old vestiges of Jund, Old Reliable, probably because they have yet to taste the new meta. UWx will evolve quickly, too, to deal with the threat that Mythic brings - particularly Mythic builds like mine. There is no question one can build an effective counter to the Mythic deck. I think it already exists and has won a tournament. I will mention it in the next post.