Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Epic Post on Mythic (Part 5)

Now that I covered almost half of my matches with the last post on UW, I can try to go into the rest, which were ALL different.

I faced:
Rb Brew
Open the Vaults
Time Sieve (Quarterfinals match)
UG Polymorph
Noah Walker's Bant Trap (2nd round, Top 8 deck)

Is that one mean Variety Pack or what? I was expecting to face more Jund. The only deck I lost to out of these was the Bant Trap, where I lost 0-2. Against Open the Vaults and Rb I lost game 1. Against Polymorph I lost game 2.

The Art of Playing Against Artifacts
Against the Open the Vaults deck I had luck on my side. My Open the Vaults opponent mulled a total of 5 times (the last game he mulled to 3). I won after my sideboard helped me out in game 2, but without a heavy sideboard plan against Vaults, Mythic appears to be the dog.

People have been asking me lots of questions about Time Sieve and TurboFog -- all these decks that revolve around taking extra turns. I (oddly and coincidentally) have a lot of experience against these decks. Namely because I helped Dan Rein test his TurboFog deck for PTSD, and from that alone I gained about 10-15 hours of experience just playing against Fog. Many people don't even have the patience to go through a single match against Fog. But trust me, it helps to test.

Then, my friend Joe Shi, after Prophetic Prism came out, wanted to run Time Sieve. So I helped him test his build. Another friend wanted to run his own version of TurboFog, and I played a few games with him recently with my Mythic deck.

I guess I'll tell you the numbers since I did record them. But I strongly advise against taking these as end-all. They don't tell the whole story. They indicate rather that the Artifact decks have certain weaknesses that can be exploited, and they are not consistent enough. The numbers are a bit skewed, but we didn't actually test that many games, so there was variance.

Jund vs Time Sieve, preboard: 4 - 7
Mythic vs Time Sieve, postboard: 10 - 2
Mythic vs TurboFog, preboard: 4 - 2

I found, in my experience, that these decks were perfectly beatable with both Jund and Mythic. Without a sideboard, the matchups were maybe 50/50. Who won depended on a lot of factors, but by no means did the matchup wholly favor one side over the other. After sideboarding, I felt I had more cards to add to help gain an edge.

If you want a deck that probably beats UW no matter what, these decks might be the way to go, but I can't say as many nice things about their Jund/Mythic matchup.

Why does Mythic have a 50/50 matchup? Don't Fog decks crush Bant? They're designed to beat Aggro! Mythic has no disruption against them! 

There are two ways to beat the Fog/Sieve deck game 1. Usually going first is a big deal here.

  • The fog deck loses to itself - either they miss a land drop, get color screwed, or maaaybe fizzle out somehow. Any big stumble on their part usually gives you an opening to deal the final blow.
  • I land a damage multiplier. Namely Rafiq or Finest Hour. I've found Rafiq to be fantastic in this matchup. Probably single-handedly wins games for me. 

As soon as I drop a damage multiplier, I will typically present lethal the next turn. This makes them pause what they're doing and leave up mana. At this point, they need to go off pretty soon or else the threats I present will quickly run them through. If they need to give me another turn, they must always have the fog. Counterspells or any other form of disruption will do nothing.

The first six turns are crucial. If the Mythic deck distracts itself at any point by attacking a Jace, playing a non-threat (like Jace), or just not pushing damage through in some way, the combo deck will stabilize. Having a first turn manadork is also crucial, but a second turn Lotus Cobra with a fetch can keep you up to speed.

After sideboard, the deck will have 3 Negates, 3 Qasali Pridemage, 3 Jace 2.0. What will it drop? Baneslayers, Gideons, Thornlings, and a 3-drop.

I said Jace was a distraction, so why do I board him in? Well, for one thing, it's simply more relevant than any of the cards I'm dropping. Secondly, if I'm already presenting lethal, I can try to drop Jace simply as a way to kill their Jace, disrupting their CA engine. Whether it's old Jace or new Jace, it's a way of killing off a Howling Mine, while keeping my damage focus on the opponent.

Negates and Pridemages are both amazing here. Negate on an Angelsong typically wins the game. Both Negate and Pridemage make Time Sieve (the card) itself more vulnerable, making it harder for your opponent to just play the card whenever.

Against the Time Sieve deck in the quarters, my opponent was on the play both games, and neither of us mulled. But he kept a two Plains hand game one and didn't get there. Game 2, I exploded, could've won a turn earlier and that mistake could have cost me the game, but his hand didn't seem to have anything in it. So he just passed the turn back to me, and I won on the following turn.

The turn where I could've won earlier, I had two Lotus Cobras, a Jace, and a basic land in my hand. I had a Lotus Cobra on the board and a KotR on the board. I needed to play both Lotus Cobras, my Jace, bounce one of his Pilgrim's Eyes, and activate both my Stirring Wildwoods, then jump the Cobra with Elspeth. And swing. And I think I had the mana capacity to do all of this; I just didn't see it fast enough, so he called a judge for slow play. (We only have inf. time in theory.)

I gotta tell you, the only cool, chilled out person I played in the Top 8 was my finals opponent, Elijah Herr. High five to him for keeping his head after mulling to 5 game 1. My other opponents were not as chill; one kept fishing for the judge and the other may have tried to cheat, but it is unclear whether it was intentional. So let's just say my quarterfinals opponent started tilting me with the way he was acting. And I definitely wasn't focused enough to figure out the play that turn under 2 minutes or whatever.

For next time, I think I know what to do. (Just use pen and paper. And ignore the opponent's emotional signals.)

Jund: The Longtime Foe 
I only played against one Jund deck, but I think this matchup is one we mostly know everything about by now. There have been a million articles written about it. I recommend reading one of them. I think I wrote one a while ago in fact.

To recap:

  • Jund wins when they draw enough answers
  • Mythic wins when they present more threats
  • Mythic wins when they present an unanswerable threat (Sphinx or Thornling)
  • Jund can win if their token chumpers can effectively stop Mythic from getting through while simultaneously finding ways to deal damage/improve board position
  • Jund can win by effectively disabling Mythic's mana early in the game
  • Blightning is sometimes good, usually on the play - if Mythic's start is slow, a double Blightning will incapacitate them; if Mythic's start is fast, Blightning will do nothing
From the list, it seems like Jund has all kinds of ways to win randomly. But the reason the matchup is still typically in Mythic's favor is simple -- all of Mythic's cards are relevant against Jund at all times. Only a subset of Jund's cards are relevant against Mythic and which ones will depend entirely on the circumstance. 

After sideboard, Jund has more of a fighting chance, assuming it sideboards correctly and is using the right cards. 

The best card against Mythic at all times is Malakir Bloodwitch. Which I suspect people will just start maindecking. Even though Jace is presumably "bad" against Jund, it seems reasonable to save Jace for the moment when you need to get rid of a Bloodwitch. At which point Jace suddenly wins games. Winning through a Bloodwitch is too hard and it seems imperative to have answers to her. And now we have to worry about her more pre-board. 

Currently, answers preboard are: Gideon, Jace, Thornling, Sejiri Steppe, and any sufficiently threatening manadork. Hopefully enough for now. 

UG Polymorph Means Business
I tested against Alex West wielding this deck, so I feel a little more comfortable talking about it. But EVERYone's Polymorph build is different, so it will become hard to generalize, especially if people are using different sideboard strategies.

If Emrakul comes down, you better hope you have a Jace to bounce it back. Otherwise you lose. My opponent playing in the PTQ Polymorphed Emrakul, and I aaalmost thought I could come back from Annihilator 6 until he just played All Is Dust, crushing all my hopes and dreams. But yeah, you probably still don't come back from Annihilator 6. 

The way to win against this deck before that happens is to just wail on 'em (preboard) until they start having to use tokens as chumpers, and that is when you know. 

What do you know? You just know. The sooner they start chumping, the better. I think it may almost be better to at least give them the option of chumping (unless they have lots of tokens to spare) rather than just flying over them (unless that would win the game). But this, I am not sure. I didn't test any preboard games.

Postboard, I like my options: Qasali Pridemage, more Jace, Negates, and Path to Exile (which is in my sideboard now - it should probably be in yours). This is a LOT of options, and I get to rid myself of every irrelevant card: Baneslayers, Thornlings, Gideons, 3-drops. Having all four of these sideboard options let's me fight Polymorph decks in a lot of ways, from a lot of angles. So I feel comfortable with my post-board chances.

Pridemage may or may not be relevant depending on the build, though.

As is typical against any combo deck, I keep Rafiqs and Finest Hours always. And I never board out manadorks (a single BoP might reasonably come out but typically not more). 

Against UR Polymorph, I have no experience and thus cannot say anything. I can only assume the matchup is harder when they have burn spells.

Two Home Brews
I faced two homebrews, one of which was excellent and the other seemed like it needed work. However you probably don't care. So I'm not going to talk about these. :) Try out Noah's Trap build, though. It was very solid! Not to mention UNDEFEATED in the Swiss!