Thursday, May 6, 2010

An Epic Post on Mythic (Part 4)

I should've taken more detailed notes.

This post was meant to be a full match report, but it got cut off. Herein I discuss the Mythic vs UW matchup more in depth as well as talking about my four rounds against UWx decks at the PTQ. 

First some numbers. I'm noting this because people were interested in these.

My mulls: 2
Games where I mulled: 2
My opponents' mulls: 10 (including one guy who mulled to 3, he alone accounted for 5 mulligans)
Games where my opponents mulled: 6

(At least one game where I should have mulled and didn't. AT LEAST.)

Rounds where I won the die roll: 4
Rounds where I lost the die roll: 6

The UWx Matchup
I played against 4 UWx Control decks during the PTQ, which is almost half the rounds I played. No question it was the DtB in the room. Smart players knew this and prepared their decks for the UW matchups. Jund was definitely present, but it was not the heavy presence at the top tables that UW was. (Same story at the NY PTQ.)

I faced UW in round 1 (Fai) and round 5 (Eric). In the Top 8, I faced two UWR decks. Elijah Herr (finals) was playing Laskin Control. Brian Lynch (Melissa DeTora's fiancee, I think) was playing his own version of UWR (semis). I 2-0'ed all of these matches and won the die roll in 2 of them. 

Basically any hand that had: Thornling, Finest Hour, any Planeswalker, or Dauntless Escort had a plan going for it. Rafiq, despite making my board vulnerable to Wrath, at least could be used to get my opponent into a life-total range low enough where the rest of my cards could be used as a threat. Against UW, I generally only needed 2 plans: Plan A, Plan B, to win. Although I do recall that in the first game of the day, he managed to deal with two of my plans: Dauntless Escort, Gideon Jura, before I was able to land a third: Elspeth. And win off Elspeth. She went Ultimate, and he could no longer deal with my threats through the normal way (Wrathing). It's nice to have as many plans against UWx as possible. What's especially nice about each Planeswalker is that in themselves each one is a plan, but they can also be used in conjunction without overextending or making vulnerable any of your other plans. Whereas, dumping more creatures down just opens you up. And of course, you always have super-plan X at hand (manlands). 

I want to discuss this more at some point and why I think this strategy can be better than having 4 Sovereigns of Alara and 2 Eldrazi Conscriptions. Although I do like the Conscription build and almost ran it myself at the PTQ.

In terms of sheer power and board impact (against UWx specifically), I think Mythic's threats can be ordered as such:

Gideon Jura's board impact is entirely circumstancial - if they have a Baneslayer on defense, he's amazing. If they have a bunch of Walls that can't swing anyway, not so much. The reason Thornling is lower than Baneslayer here is that Thornling is very mana-intensive, and you can't really play it without disabling all your own mana sources. Its demands are greater than Baneslayer. I didn't bother putting Jace on the list because, well, he doesn't count as a threat; it's more that he is there to get into Jace battles with the opponent.

In terms of how difficult UWx finds each threat to deal with, I think they are ordered this way (at least preboard):

Postboard, Flashfreeze lowers all the green spells on the list. Finest Hour in particular, you have to be careful of playing into open mana; it's vulnerable to both Negate and Flashfreeze. Postboard also, I feel that having 4 Dauntless Escorts and X number of Negates improves the resiliency of all your creature permanents. But I certainly don't fault anyone for removing the Rafiqs post-board.

These lists are an oversimplification, so I don't think anyone should think of these as a strict ordering. Just a general guideline.

Elijah, running Laskin Control, mulled to 5 in game 1 against me, and that helped me take down game 1. I was aware that he wasn't running many Wraths in the main and thus just played out a bunch of dudes (but still holding a few cards in case). He managed to stay in it by O-Ringing my first couple plays. But I guess he eventually ran out of answers. Having mainboard Dauntless Escorts against this particular build seems good. 

In game 2, he mulled again once. I vaguely recall killing a bunch of planeswalkers when playing him, but at this point I was oblivious to the Laskin list and was just playing it out like a fool. I killed every Planeswalker he put down, and he played all of them against me at some point. I had the advantage of getting down Finest Hour early, and his Wall of Omens never blocked Lotus Cobra in the second attack step, by which point it was a 4/3. Later, I played a second Hour, and I swung with Celestial Colonnade 3 times (for 6, 8, 10.) Where were his Path to Exiles? I don't know. 

Good to note: If Gideon +2's, and you have Finest Hour out, your creatures have to attack Gideon in both combat phases. This came up. 

The thing I like about playing against the Laskin list is that they take up time to set up -- turn 2 Wall/Seas, turn 3 Divination, and then turn 4 they go Walker-crazy. But by turn 2, I already should have a threat that needs their attention (that a simple Wall/Seas isn't going to help with). So they can either use their third turn to O-Ring, or they can Path my guy. But I can keep applying pressure and not give them a chance to Divinate to fill their hand, or if they do Divinate, I can try to punish them for tapping out. 

This matchup is all about A) going first and B) presenting threats early and often. They don't play Everflowing Chalice, so you neeever have to worry about turn 3 Wrath, which is a nice feeling. And since they aren't using Bolts with their red mana, they will never kill your early manadorks. You can set the pace of the game, and try to make them catch up to you. (Assuming your hand does something.) 

Obviously, I do think the UWR deck can make some key adjustments to improve this matchup. But the more I look at it, the less I worry. And as long as people keep copying Laskin's 75 or Stark's 75 -- and I'm sure many will ... seems fine.

I'm going to stop here. I'll cover the other matchups next time. :)