Aaron Forsythe once wrote, and I'm paraphrasing here, that tech is something to be bottled and let loose at the most devastating time possible. In short, if you have a new deck that is going to wreak havoc on the scene, you'd best keep it under wraps until just the right time.
Unfortunately for me, there is no right time this year. But let's back up a little bit.
As most of you know, I write the “Building on a Budget” column over at MagicTheGathering.com. Those decks have several restrictions, but among them are that A) the decks must cost thirty tickets or less using Magic Online prices, and B) the decks are tested in the casual testing rooms. Around December, I hit upon a deck that abuses the combination of Cloudpost and Vesuva. It looked a little something like this:
You can read about the deck's exploits in the Magic Online casual room here, but suffice it to say that the deck went 25-0 in games. This far outperformed any other deck I'd run for my Wizards article (though there have been many decks that had a 60-70% win percentage in the casual room), and I fully wasn't expecting to go undefeated with my 8-post deck. I just had to take it to the tournament practice room.
After my article had been submitted, and I had met my deadline, I started playing the above decklist (unmodified, no sideboard) in the tournament practice room (best two-out-of-three) to see how it would stand up. I mostly just wanted to lose a few games, as odd as that sounds. No deck is perfect, and I didn't want a 25-0 record in the casual room to inflate my heads with thoughts of “Man, I'm the world's greatest deckbuilder!”
So imagine my surprise when I ended up going 10-6 in matches that day against tournament-level Extended decks. I beat three straight Dirty Kitty / Goblin decks, two U/W/R Angel decks, a U/W Urzatron deck, TEPS, Domain Aggro, and two rogue decks, while losing to three TEPS decks (which is all over Magic Online), one Boros deck, Tooth and Nail, and Flow Rock. Remember: This was with the unmodified, budget version of the deck.
I got to work immediately.
The goal of the 8-post deck is to get up to thirteen mana, and then Mindslaver-lock your opponent. This can be accomplished with Academy Ruins, an Island, and any other combination of lands that produce eleven mana. Most typically, I end up with two Forests, three Cloudpost / Vesuva, an Island, and the Ruins. This gives enough mana to activate the Ruins, and then play/activate Mindslaver. Outside of Disrupting Shoal and / or an active Counterbalance, there isn't really anything that can be done once the lock is achieved.
You'll recognize many of the cards from various Tooth and Nail builds. This is not coincidence — Green has the best ways to search up non-basic lands in Extended, and so there will be much overlap between decks that want to put together either many Cloudposts or the Urzatron. Reap and Sow and Sylvan Scrying form the basis of the tutoring, while Sensei's Divining Top (combined with shuffle effects) mimics the power of Brainstorm.
The budgetary concessions in this deck were the Krosan Tuskers, and Wurmcallings. Once I had decided to debudgetize the deck, I immediately swapped the two Wurmcallings for two Demonfires, and took out the Tuskers for two copies of Thirst for Knowledge and two Eternal Witness. For the sideboard, I started with 4 Krosan Grip, 1 Spell Blast, 3 Trickbind, 3 Tormod's Crypt, 1 Academy Ruins, and 3 Plow Under. Here's how the first non-budget version of the deck looked:
As a non-budget build, the 8-Post deck began playing at around a 60% clip. I began having a much better game against TEPS post-board (and in fact, I had a run where I won five straight matches 2-1 against TEPS, losing every single game 1), since I could now Plow Under and Trickbind them into enough of a stall so that I could Slaver them once and win. I continued to dominate Goblins, as they couldn't fight through Moment's Peace effectively. I was losing a lot to decks that ran straight burn (Gruul, Boros, Domain), crushed every U/W Urzatron variant I came across, and split down the middle with Affinity, depending on how many Shrapnel Blasts they drew.
In general, the game plan for every match went the same. I'd get down an early Cloudpost, use Sakura-Tribe Elder to either grab my second Green, or fetch an Island, use Moment's Peace to buy a couple of turns (it is a double-Time Walk against most creature-based decks), and then Mindslaver my opponent. This would set them back another couple of turns in most cases, and I was able to Mindslaver most games on either turn 4 or 5. For instance:
Turn 1: Cloudpost
Turn 2: Forest, Sakura-Tribe Elder (sac for an Island)
Turn 3: Cloudpost, Reap and Sow (for a Cloudpost).
Turn 4: Mindslaver.
The games I lost against any creature-based deck were ones in which I didn't see a single Moment's Peace, or ones in which they packed as many burn spells as creatures (i.e., Mike Flores's 20 / 20 / 20 creature/burn/land paradigm). The TEPS match came down to my sideboard (did I draw a Plow Under plus acceleration, and / or did they Burning Wish for Duress before going off, so I could / could not Trickbind), and I seriously worked over any sort of mid-range or long-range control deck. I learned how to play around Destructive Flow easily (more on this on the match-by-match breakdown later), and found that the Cloudpost engine was a lot more resilient than the Urzatron engine. Here's a few reasons why:
You don't need three types of Cloudposts to get your mana engine going. You just need one Cloudpost (or an opponent's Cloudpost!), and any combination of Vesuva / Cloudpost thereafter. With Urzatron, you need a Mine, Power Plant, and Tower, or you're bust.
You only need to devote eight slots in your deck to colorless mana with Cloudpost / Vesuva, whereas you need twelve for Urzatron.
Cloudposts generate more mana than Urzatron pieces. Here's a handy chart:
1 Cloudpost = 1 Mana. 1 Urza Piece = 1 Mana.
2 Cloudposts = 4 Mana. 2 Urza Pieces = 2 Mana.
3 Cloudposts = 9 Mana. 3 Urza Pieces = 7 Mana.
4 Cloudposts = 16 Mana. 4 Urza Pieces = 10 Mana.
It is easier to manage getting both colored and Cloudpost mana onto the board at the same time with Cloudposts (since you need less of them to accelerate more) than it is to get online with the Urzatron. This is also a function of the deck running Green instead of Blue/White — most Urzatron decks are U/W, and rely on card drawing and Sensei's Divining Top to get their Tron together. This deck just either searches for Cloudposts outright, or accelerates mana with Reap and Sow and Sakura-Tribe Elder.
Fast forward a month of testing, and hundreds of matches of play, both off-line and online. The deck went through a number of changes, all of which would take another full article to explain. What I'd rather do is something I find eminently more useful: I'm going to give you the current version of the deck, and then run down every relevant Extended match to let you know what you need to do to win, how to sideboard, and miscellaneous facts you should know about the matchup.
I truly believe this is a PTQ-caliber deck, and one that is capable of winnings multiple slots for Yokohama. The reason I am writing this article is in the hopes that this deck ends up winning those slots — I have no time personally to play in any PTQs this season, and I want other people to carry the torch for me. This is my reason for letting the genie out of the bottle is pure ego, and I freely admit it as such. I want people out there playing my deck, and I want them winning with my deck, because I want to prove that this was, in fact, a successfully built pile of 75 cards.
Here's the current build of my 8-Post deck:
Card by Card Notes:
You'll notice that the core of the deck has gone largely unchanged. The deck still seeks to win through a Mindslaver lock, and uses Sylvan Scrying / Search for Tommorrow / Sensei's Divining Top / Reap and Sow as the mana engine. Oblivion Stone, Mindslaver, and Moment's Peace have stayed as well. Here are the notes about the cards:
Demonfire: Ran as a one-of, and the kill condition against mid-range control decks (U/W Urzatron and the such). This is probably the most sideboarded card, but the Ancient Grudges in the board are the key to tipping the scales against several decks in the field (especially Affinity and Chant decks). Demonfire randomly takes out a creature early in the game. It's also key to have Demonfire as an alternate win condition to Mindslaver or large creatures. I've faced off against decks that dropped Meddling Mage for Ancient Grudge, Meddling Mage for Triskelion, Pithing Needle for Mindslaver, and Pithing Needle for Oblivion Stone, and I've won through Demonfire alone.
Fabricate: Fabricate was a late addition to the deck, but it ended up being very worthwhile. In addition to being a shuffle effect, it also allows a silver-bullet strategy for a deck-within-a-deck. Right now, the three silver-bullets are Jester's Cap (against any deck with narrow win conditions), Sundering Titan (against Aggro and mid-range control) and Triskelion (against Aggro). It also has the ability to grab Tormod's Crypt, Chalice of the Void, Oblivion Stone, Mindslaver, and (on the rare occasion) Sensei's Divining Top. The existence of Fabricate in the deck also allows for the deck to be further customized to the metagame, as you can add things like a single Crucible of Worlds (if you expect heavy LD) or the such to the deck.
Fact or Fiction: For a while I was trying out Thirst for Knowledge, and the reasoning behind it was to be able to either clear out three cards from the top of my library for Sensei's Divining Top, or to have something to do with a second Top drawn during a game. It quickly became apparent that without multiple artifacts to pitch, I was basically drawing three and discarding two every time. Early into testing I switched them into Fact or Fiction, which has performed admirably.
First, I don't care half the time if I get an artifact dumped into the graveyard. Academy Ruins can use Mindslaver from the graveyard just as well as from the hand. The same goes for Oblivion Stone and Moment's Peace. Second, Fact or Fiction still clears away the three cards I've already seen with Sensei's Divining Top, allowing a fresh look into the future. Third, with eight two-drop acceleration spells plus the two Cloudpost / one Island draw, I can just as easily cast Fact or Fiction on turn 3 as I could Thirst for Knowledge. Last, Fact or Fiction combos ridiculously well with Mindslaver. In many games, I've cast Mindslaver, waited a turn to activate it so I could have some mana free, and then cast Fact or Fiction on their (Mindslaved) turn, giving myself a pile of all five cards.
Jester's Cap: This would not be in the deck without the Fabricates, as having just one would be too unreliable as a hoser for combo decks. The Demonfire is a late game finisher — Jester's Cap needs ideally to go off on turns 3-5. This is a backbreaker against several decks in the field, including TEPS, Aggro-Loam, Friggorid, and Chant.
Mindslaver: The backbone of the deck. The main goal of the deck is to recur Mindslaver with Academy Ruins, and then kill / deck your opponent with his own cards. The earliest you can activate/play Mindslaver is turn 4 (Cloudpost / Cloudpost / Cloudpost / Basic land draw, substituting Vesuva for any of those Cloudposts past the first). Against some decks, that's the game (particularly TEPS — it's hard for them to win with no lands on the board and no cards in hand). Against other decks, you get to make them kill their own creatures (Affinity, Goblins, Boros, Trinket Mage U/W/R), kill their own lands (Aggro-Loam, Tooth and Nail), discard their hand (Friggorid, Domain Aggro), or any other amount of nastiness. At the worst, Mindslaver is a ten-mana Time Walk. At its best, it cripples your opponent so thoroughly, they have no chance of coming back to win.
Moment's Peace: The second most sideboarded card in the deck, but also the absolutely, hands-down most important card to beat aggro decks. Against Aggro-Loam, Goblins, Boros, Domain Aggro, U/W/R Trinket Angel, Friggorid, Affinity, and Tooth and Nail (which primarily uses Kiki-Jiki and Sky Hussar as a win condition), Moment's Peace is two consecutive instant-speed Time Walks for two and three mana. Given that 8-post will win against aggro if allowed to survive past turn 5, getting those early Time Walks is crucial. Moment's Peace is, shall we say, less useful against decks that are heavy control (Chant, U/W Urzatron) or combo (TEPS, Balancing Tings). Well, I take it back — I like to leave one copy in against TEPS, on the off chance that they get the Empty the Warrens draw, instead of the Tendrils of Agony draw.
Oblivion Stone: The main removal spell in the deck, and a great tool against pretty much everything except TEPS. Against Aggro, it's a Wrath of God (and given how quickly the deck can accelerate mana, this usually will happen on turn 5). Against control, it wipes out their largest creatures, mana accelerants (Talismans, Signets, Lotus Bloom during Upkeep, Chrome Mox), takes care of many sideboard hosers such as Leyline of the Void, Destructive Flow, and Dwarven Blastminer (more on these guys later). Against a couple of decks, I go down to only one copy (as a Fabricate target). Against some decks, my plan is to literally recur Oblivion Stone every single turn with Academy Ruins until they stop dropping threats. I've had games against Boros and Affinity where, for five to six consecutive turns, I've played and blown up Oblivion Stone against their single (new) creature, until they drew a non-threat.
Reap and Sow: Unlike Sylvan Scrying, Reap and Sow lets you put a land straight into play — and untapped, if it's not a Cloudpost / Vesuva. Most of the time, you're going to want to Reap and Sow for a Cloudpost on turn 3 (on the back of Wall of Roots, Search for Tomorrow, or double Cloudpost / Forest). A turn later, Reap and Sow will not only fetch a land, but it will also set your opponent back one. This is less important against aggro decks, but it is key against TEPS and control.
Search for Tomorrow: This used to be the slot for Sakura-Tribe Elder, but in recent testing I've found that Search for Tomorrow is just superior. If you suspend Search on turn 1, you get an extra land on turn 3. This is identical to playing and sacrificing Sakura-Tribe Elder on turn 2. The bonus comes if you get a Wall of Roots on turn 2 — you can then play a second turn Wall of Roots, and immediately suspend Search for Tomorrow. If your first-turn play is Sensei's Divining Top, your second turn play can be Wall of Roots / suspend Search / activate Top on your opponent's turn. Sakura-Tribe Elder would just be sitting in your hand. Later in the game, Search for Tomorrow acts as a shuffle effect (for Top), plus it gets you an untapped land. In the mid-to-late game, this is key versus Sakura-Tribe Elder, because sometimes you just need that first source of Blue (or Red) to cast Fact or Fiction / Fabricate / Demonfire, and with the Elder, you'd have to wait a turn to use it.
Sensei's Divining Top: In a deck with this many shuffle effects (thirteen, plus Fact or Fiction, plus Cap if you're desperate to shuffle), chances are you'll see new cards with the Top fairly often. The Top also allows you to put an artifact back on top of your deck with Academy Ruins, and then draw said artifact; this is good if you need to recur, say, an Oblivion Stone that you've had to previously use / discard right there and then. Chad Daniel, one of my playtest partners at StarCityGames (the store), has even gone as far as to modify his version of 8-post to include a copy of Steam Vents, Breeding Pool, and Stomping Ground, just to take advantage of 3-4 copies of Bloodstained Mire and Wooded Foothills, in turn just to take advantage of adding in 3-4 more shuffle effects to the deck for the Top. I haven't tested this yet (I'm afraid of the loss of life against aggro, and / or having more non-basics in the deck), but it is definitely worth trying out in the future (testing is never truly finished, unless you like having tech move past you!)
Sylvan Scrying: I think my favorite Scrying play is to get turn 1 Cloudpost, turn 2 Forest / Sylvan Scrying for another Cloudpost. Later in the game, it can fetch an Island, the Mountain, or Academy Ruins (or just more Cloudposts / Vesuvas if your heart desires). I've tinkered with adding in silver-bullet lands in the sideboard to help combat certain decks (such as Blinkmoth Well against Chant, or Boseiju against Urzatron), but so far they haven't really been necessary.
Sundering Titan: A one-of, and great against a field of Aggro / Burn. With all the dual lands running around right now, Sundering Titan is very likely to be a one-way Armageddon. I've had many games against Boros where I took out three of their lands, and left them with a single basic, facing down a 7/10 creature against their 2/1s and 2/2s. This is definitely not a card that is good against all decks (do Affinity and TEPS even run basic lands? Not that I've seen!), but it's a third win condition for the deck, behind Mindslaver lock and Demonfire for twenty.
Triskelion: A fourth win condition, and amazing against Aggro. What doesn't Trike kill? It deals with those pesky Dwarven Blastminers, Soltari Priests, X/2 creatures, Skirk Prospectors, and Meddling Mages. It usually won't go all the way, but it'll serve as a one-turn stopgap that can block and then kill off some pests.
Wall of Roots: Wall of Roots was a hugely valuable addition to the deck. For a while, this slot belonged to Simic Signet, as a way to produce off-color mana and accelerate to four mana by turn 3. There were two problems with the Signet — one, it doesn't block, and two, it leaves you with no mana up on turn 2. Wall of Roots solved both of these problems. Many games, you want to play Cloudpost on turn 1. This means that you can be stuck with Search for Tomorrow or Sensei's Divining Top in your hand. Wall of Roots allows you to have plays such as “Turn 1 Cloudpost, turn 2 Wall of Roots / Top (activate Top on your opponent's turn) or turn 2 Search for Tomorrow.” Since you can use it once on each player's turn, you essentially get a free Top search during your opponent's turn. When mana is tight, this is crucial. I can't tell you how many times I've won the game due to this one extra floating mana, but it's innumerable. That Wall of Roots stops or slows aggro is just gravy.
Academy Ruins: Don't play this until you have to. If it gets destroyed, you're onto plan B: Triskelion / Sundering Titan / Demonfire for the win! Also keep in mind that if your opponent also is playing Academy Ruins, you're going to want to use your Vesuvas to kill his land, before you play yours.
Cloudpost / Forest / Island / Mountain: Self-explanatory.
Vesuva: Acts as land destruction against legendary lands, or as Cloudposts #5-8. Reverse that — it's Cloudposts #5-8, and sometimes you kill a Shinka or an Eiganjo. Every now and then, you'll have to copy an opponent's Island or Mountain to gain access to off-color mana, but that's pretty rare. Also note that Vesuva counts as whatever land it copies. People assume that this deck rolls over and dies to Destructive Flow and Dwarven Blastminer, but there are only five non-basic lands in the deck if I want there to be. I've had plenty of games where Sylvan Scrying; Vesuva; and Reap and Sow have gotten me all basic lands, and I've just Oblivion Stoned my way to clearing out any recurring non-basic land destroyer.
Rather than go over the sideboard here, let's take a look at how 8-Post plays against most major decks in the field. I'll include my typical Sideboard strategy against each deck, along with helpful tips and notes.
Alphabetically then, shall we?
Affinity can be a tougher match pre-board, just due to the burst damage that can be done on turn 3 with a Cranial Plating. Without Plating, they can't damage you fast enough to win. With Plating, you'd better have a Moment's Peace. In fact, Moment's Peace is the key to winning this matchup. If you get it, they can't win. You buy two turns, and then use Oblivion Stone to blow up their world. Remember to save Reap and Sow to kill their Blinkmoth Nexus, because Oblivion Stone can't kill lands!
In: 3 Ancient Grudge, 1 Moment's Peace
Out: 1 Sundering Titan, 1 Mindslaver, 1 Fabricate, 1 Demonfire
Sundering Titan is pretty useless against a deck that runs artifact lands and Glimmervoid, so it's out. Even after board, Affinity can't deal with Moment's Peace (no Flaring Pain or Countermagic = sorry guys!). Ancient Grudge shuts down the Cranial Plating problem, and I have no qualms about fetching up that golden Mountain on turn 2 with Sylvan Scrying. Between double-Shatter and double-Time Walk, your card (and time) advantage is too great for Affinity to overcome.
Special Note: If you Mindslaver them into Pithing Needle, name either Cranial Plating or Blinkmoth Nexus. If you Mindslaver them into Arcbound Ravager (or Atog), congratulations! You win the prize. One-sided Obliterates are some good.
Game 1: 50/50
Games 2&3: Favorable
This entire match comes down to Devastating Dreams — either they have it, or they lose. Terravore is the only real threat you have to face down (Wall of Roots stops Werebear pretty well), and they have no way to deal with Oblivion Stone main deck. Moment's Peace definitely stays in to stop Terravore twice, and the first artifact I'd go for is Jester's Cap, to take out Burning Wishes and Devastating Dreams. Past that, I've had little trouble beating Aggro-Loam both pre and post sideboard.
In: 3 Chalice of the Void, 3 Tormod's Crypt
Out: 1 Triskelion, 1 Sundering Titan, 1 Moment's Peace, 1 Mountain, 1 Demonfire, 1 Oblivion Stone
Chalice of the Void set for two just outright hoses this deck — half their important spells cost two mana (Devastating Dreams, Life from the Loam, Werebear, Burning Wish, Nostalgic Dreams, Ancient Grudge off the board). Tormod's Crypt is there for making Terravore more manageable.
Game 1: Slightly Favorable
Games 2&3: Favorable
I've only faced off against this deck once (against local Pro player DJ Keese), but we played about 10 games total. My record? 0-10. 8-Post can deal with one-for-one land destruction, but it can't deal with Armageddon plus Mind Twist, especially on the back of Insidious Dreams. I haven't tested against the deck since adding in the Jester's Caps, but this is just one of 8-Posts's bad matchups. However, since virtually nobody is running this deck (partly due to its poor showing at Worlds, and partly because Tings folds to most current Aggro / Burn decks), I don't consider this a deal-breaker.
Game 1: Heavily Unfavorable
Games 2&3: Heavily Unfavorable
Boros Deck Wins
If you had to break down the field into the five decks you are most likely to face at a given PTQ, the most popular decks would be Boros, Goblins, TEPS, Trinket Angel, and Urzatron (at least, based on early PTQ reports). That's a field of one aggro deck, one aggro-combo deck, one combo deck, one aggro-control deck, and one control deck. In other words, you literally have the full range of decks to face off against. I'm happy to report that 8-Post has a favorable record against four of these five decks, and Boros is one of them.
Boros has a hard time dealing with Wall of Roots and Moment's Peace in game 1. All you need to do is buy enough time to get either Sundering Titan, Mindslaver, or Oblivion Stone, and you win. As long as you can hold off the creatures on turns 3-4, they can't burn you out fast enough to keep you from taking complete control of the game. If they are running the Boros variant that runs 4-8 land destruction spells, it's a little tougher, but 8-post has enough land and search that it is resilient to individual land destruction spells in those quantities.
Game 2 becomes even more lopsided in 8-posts's favor. Boros can't deal with Hail Storm. I will readily admit that Hail Storm looks like a horribly janky card, but it kills virtually every aggro creature in the format, gets past Protection from Red, and forces your opponent to over commit through the aforementioned Wall of Roots, Moment's Peace, and Oblivion Stone. None of Boros's creatures have a toughness of more than two (at least, not typically, given Savannah Lions, Isamaru, Kataki, Soltari Priest, Knight of the Holy Nimbus, Grim Lavamancer, and Dwarven Blastminer), and so they all go down to an instant-speed Green Pyroclasm.
One note: Dwarven Blastminer is annoying to play against, and it shows up in four different matchups: This one, Goblins (though less frequently there), The Rock, and Trinket Angel. I usually hold off playing my Cloudposts until turn 3, when there isn't a morph or an active Miner on the field. It's fine to just play the basic acceleration game, with Search for Tomorrow, Reap and Sow, Vesuva, Sylvan Scrying, and Wall of Roots adding basic (or non-land) mana to the board. It's pretty easy to get to eight basic lands in play with this deck (Oblivion Stone range), especially when you can usually drop your artifacts in this match without needing to activate them on the same turn.
Chalice for the Void set to two is usually game over. No creatures plus No Burn = No chance to win.
Game 1: Slightly Favorable
Games 2&3: Favorable
Of all the Aggro decks, this one is the hardest to play against for 8-Post. Unlike Boros, Domain has larger creatures, more intense burn spells, and faster damage. Gaea's Might for five and Tribal Flames for five is a lot more pressure than Soltari Priest for two and Lightning Helix for three. Like Boros, Domain Aggro has huge problems fighting through Moment's Peace in game 1. Unlike Boros, they only have to use a single spell (Tribal Flames) to kill Wall of Roots, Triskelion doesn't take out X/3 creatures as well as it takes out X/1 creatures, and Grim Lavamancer activates a lot earlier when you're playing a billion sac lands. On the other hand, Sundering Titan is a one-sided Armageddon, so that counts for something!
In: 3 Chalice of the Void, 1 Moment's Peace
Out: 1 Mindslaver, 1 Mountain, 1 Demonfire, 1 Jester's Cap
After the board, you have Chalice of the Void on your side. Boros isn't affected as much by a Chalice for one as it is by a Chalice for two. The opposite is true for Domain Aggro — you shut off Gaea's Might, Isamaru, Savannah Lions, Lava Dart, and Grim Lavamancer. This means you can drop Chalice for one on turn 2, and then Chalice for two on turn 3 or 4. Be sure to use your Moment's Peace before you drop a Chalice for two! Overall, I've tested this match a ton against local Pro Chris Woltereck, and I've faced Domain Aggro online, and I can say that usually whoever plays first, wins.
Game 1: 50/50
Games 2&3: 50/50
Friggorid is capable of attacking quickly, stripping out your hand with Cabal Therapy, and finishing with a quick Tog. Thankfully, 8-Post relies on having mana acceleration and search, so those early Cabal Therapies usually end up missing key cards (such as Vesuva and Cloudpost). Friggorid is pretty helpless again Moment's Peace, has troubles fighting through Triskelion, and up-and-dies to being Mindslavered (as that usually ends in a large amount of dredging, Psychatogs eating entire hands and graveyards, Ichrorids removing other Ichorids from the game, and self-Cabal Therapying). One huge key to this match is drawing Sensei's Divining Top: Friggorid can't make you discard off of the top of your deck. Nor can they deal with Academy Ruins recursion.
In: 2 Jester's Cap, 3 Tormod's Crypt
Out: 1 Sundering Titan, 1 Demonfire, 1 Mountain, 1 Oblivion Stone, 1 Reap and Sow
I usually take out the one Reap and Sow instead of the Scrying so that I can cast Scrying immediately for a Vesuva / Cloudpost, which protects my hand a little more against Cabal Therapy than Reap and Sow (which is a turn 3 or 4 play). Friggorid doesn't like to be Capped, and it doesn't like to be Crypted even more. In dozens of matches against Friggorid, I've lost exactly one, and that was also the only match where I lost a game 2 or a game 3. There are just too many ways you can hose their deck, and you have too many cards that can't be hosed by theirs.
Game 1: Favorable
Games 2&3: Heavily Favorable
Goblins / Dirty Kitty
I'll let you in on a little secret: I have only a vague clue why 8-Post demolishes Goblins (particularly Dirty Kitty) so easily, but a lot of it has to do with the lack of non-Goblin Sharpshooter burn in the deck. Moment's Peace and Wall of Roots can hold down the fort for the first few turns, and usually by then you can drop Oblivion Stone or Triskelion to mop up any combo pieces they have left. They lose half their team (to self-sacrifice) when Mindslavered, and they have a ton of cards you can top deck (Skirk Prospector, Goblin Matron, Goblin Sledder, Goblin Sharpshooter) that will take out their entire board (and sometimes hand).
In: 3 Chalice of the Void, 3 Hail Storm, 1 Moment's Peace
Out: 1 Sundering Titan, 1 Mountain, 1 Demonfire, 1 Jester's Cap, 2 Fabricate, 1 Sylvan Scrying
Much like the Boros match, Hail Storm is an absolute wrecking ball. Unless they have Sledder in play, they lose their team. Even if they have Sledder in play, they usually lose half to two-thirds of their men. Chalice of the Void for one is the advisable number — keeping Goblin Sledder and Skirk Prospector off the board is the best you can do against this deck. Killing Goblin Warchief and Skirk Prospector as soon as possible (even if it means dropping and shrinking a Triskelion immediately) is advisable.
I've played nearly two-dozen matches again Dirty Kitty and Goblins. I've lost two matches, and one of them was to inexperience against Clickslither (I tapped out of Green with a Moment's Peace in hand against an empty board).
Game 1: Heavily Favorable
Games 2&3: Heavily Favorable
Scepter / Chant
I have never faced off against this deck, mostly because of the prohibitive price of Orim's Chants on Magic Online. Chad says he's 0-4 against Scepter Chant, as they name Ancient Grudge with Meddling Mage, Oblivion Stone with Meddling Mage, and then Scepter lock him. I wish I could tell you more about this matchup — it's possible that the sideboard of 8-Post needs Echoing Truths (they were there at one point) as a way to deal with Meddling Mage and / or Isochron Scepter, but I'm not going to speculate on the one matchup I've never played myself.
When I first started out testing the non-budget version of 8-Post, I won five straight matches against TEPS — losing game 1 and winning games 2 and 3 in each of those matches. Obviously no deck is going to have a 100% win percentage against the 100-pound combo gorilla of the format, but you have a lot going for you.
First, you have some land destruction in the deck (Reap and Sow). Against TEPS, I almost always aim Reap and Sow at their lands, because that buys you a full turn to develop your board. It's basically Moment's Peace against combo. Second, you have that one main deck Jester's Cap. Against TEPS, two Caps is a win. One cap is a virtual win — you go for three Burning Wish, or two Burning Wish and a Mind's Desire (depending on what they have in hand). Fourth, they lose if Mindslavered. All of their lands (except Gemstone Mine) sacrifice. All of their spells can be thrown out for maximum ineffectiveness (Rite of Flame, Cabal Ritual, Burning Wish).
In: 3 Chalice of the Void, 2 Jester's Cap, 3 Ancient Grudge
Out: 1 Sundering Titan, 1 Triskelion, 3 Moment's Peace, 2 Oblivion Stone, 1 Forest
In game 2, you have a number of tools against TEPS. Ancient Grudge is great for destroying early Chromatic artifacts (Mox, Spheres, etc), Lotus Bloom (during their upkeep, once it's in play), and Pithing Needles (which they're going to bring in against you). Chalice of the Void to zero (if they are about to resolve a Lotus Bloom) or one (if they aren't, to stop Rite of Flame, Duress, and Chromatic cards) stalls their deck. TEPS is capable of pulling out some spectacular wins, but you're equally capable of pulling out some spectacular mana development, and hitting them with a game-ending Mindslaver on turn 4 or 5.
Game 1: Slightly Favorable
Games 2&3: Favorable
There are two distinct versions of The Rock out there: Aggro-Rock and Gifts Rock. The version that runs Destructive Flow is a pain to play against, because they couple Destructive Flow with Duress and Cabal Therapy. Cabal Therapy usually doesn't hurt as much against Friggorid because they only get one shot with it. Being hit with Duress on turn 1, and double Therapy on turn 2, with a Flow on turn 3 is just painful. This is a match where you want to aggressively mulligan into Sensei's Divining Top, so you can play off of the top of your deck. Thankfully, neither version of Rock can kill you that quickly through Wall of Roots and Moment's Peace, but they sure can stunt your development. My matches against Flow Rock have come down to top decking. Against non-Flow Rock decks, my mana development usually allows me to do some pretty stupid things with Mindslaver and Oblivion Stone mid-game, resulting in a win.
In: 1 Tormod's Crypt, 3 Chalice of the Void
Out: 1 Oblivion Stone, 1 Forest, 1 Moment's Peace, 1 Mindslaver
You really want to get a Chalice for one down as soon as humanly possible, to stop Duress, Birds of Paradise, Llanowar Elves, and Cabal Therapy. The one Tormod's Crypt is there as a Fabricate target, in case you have to deal with Genesis. Both versions of The Rock have a hard time with Sundering Titan, and this is one of those matches where you can win with a large Demonfire if need be.
Game 1: 50/50 (Flow), Favorable (Non-Flow)
Games 2&3: 50/50 (Flow), Favorable (Non-Flow)
Tooth and Nail
0-6 against Tooth and Nail so far. A lot of the strategy against Tooth and Nail also applies to the mirror match of 8-Post on 8-Post; basically, whoever gets the most Reap and Sow, the first Mindslaver, and the first Sensei's Divining Top wins. I've had some pretty bad beats against Tooth and Nail — for instance, I Capped a player on turn 3 (triple Cloudpost draw) taking out three of his four Tooth and Nail (the last one was still in his deck). His game? Turn 1 Urza's Mine, Turn 2 Sakura-Tribe Elder (get a Forest), turn 3 Urza's Tower (I Cap him), turn 4 Urza's Power Plant, cast Tooth and Nail getting Kiki-Jiki plus Sky Hussar, good game. Sigh.
In: 2 Jester's Cap, 1 Tormod's Crypt
Out: 1 Oblivion Stone, 2 Moment's Peace
I leave in one Moment's Peace so that I can live two turns through Kiki-Jiki / Sky Hussar if need be. The one Crypt is to stop Eternal Witness shenanigans. This is a match where you can burn them out for twenty with Demonfire — especially if they are playing Cloudposts and not the Urzatron.
Game 1: Unfavorable
Games 2&3: Heavily Unfavorable (due to Plow Under)
Trinket Angel (R/W/U)
I tend to have beaten this deck a lot, because I can reach enough of a mana density that they either cannot counter all of my threats, or they run out of Memory Lapses/Remands. Trinket Mage for Pithing Needle hurts, but you have multiple cards they need to stop (Sundering Titan, Triskelion, Demonfire, Oblivion Stone, Mindslaver) and enough time and ways to shuffle that you can usually kill them before they kill you. There's not usually a lot of pressure, Moment's Peace stalls against Meddling Mage and Lightning Angel (assuming they can fight through Wall of Roots), and they can't kill Academy Ruins game 1, meaning you can keep bringing back Mindslaver and Oblivion Stone until they stick for good.
In: 3 Ancient Grudge, 3 Hail Storm
Out: 1 Oblivion Stone, 1 Sundering Titan, 2 Fabricate, 1 Forest, 1 Sylvan Scrying
I like to leave in the one Cap so I can take out their sideboard cards. Hail Storm keeps Meddling Mage from attacking / living, and it takes out a bored Dwarven Blastminer (when you stop playing non-basic lands). Ancient Grudge deals with a ton of artifacts in their deck, including artifact lands, Pithing Needle, Chalice of the Void, Engineered Explosives, and anything else you might face across the table. This game usually plays out the same as the first one — you have too much mana, and they have too few ways to stop your threats.
Game 1: Favorable
Games 2&3: Favorable
This also encompasses the Cloudpost version of U/W control, which is less problematic (because you can capitalize on their Cloudposts, especially with your Vesuvas, if they don't have one). In short, you have more ways to search out your acceleration, you can destroy their lands (Reap and Sow), you can accelerate into Mindslaver first, and you can kill them through Spell Burst (Demonfire). Their creature kill is useless against you, they have too few colored mana sources to counter everything. In short, they have too many dead cards and too few threats to stop you game 1. Just remember: If you are going to win with Demonfire, set up your deck so that you have a land on top, then activate Sensei's Divining Top (to get the Top off of the board), then Demonfire them (after playing the land) so that they cannot bounce your Top and then counter your Demonfire.
In: 3 Ancient Grudge, 2 Jester's Cap, 1 Tormod's Crypt
Out: 1 Sundering Titan, 1 Triskelion, 3 Moment's Peace, 1 Search for Tomorrow
Urzatron has a ton of juicy targets for Ancient Grudge, including Signets, Talismans, Pithing Needles, and their own brands of artifacts. Outside of Meddling Mage, there isn't much that they can bring in to worry you. Moreover, you usually have Vesuva to deal with their Academy Ruins — if they are playing Urzatron, they can't deal with yours effectively at all.
Game 1: Heavily Favorable
Games 2&3: Heavily Favorable
I hope you enjoyed this primer on 8-Post! If anyone takes this deck to Top 8 (or win) a PTQ, please e-mail me at Ben@starcitygames.com and let me know! I want to hear tales of success people — this deck can be a success, it just needs people who have the time and availability to play it!
Until next time,