Me: Hey Becks are you going to Hanover?
David Besso: Nah I’m too busy with my girlfriend but I do have a deck for you…
David Besso: …
4 Ancestral Vision
4 Mana Leak
4 Spell Snare
3 Vedalken Shackles
3 Engineered Explosives
2 Venser Shaper Savant
3 Vendilion Clique
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
3 Path to Exile
1 Jace Beleren
4 Spellstutter Sprite
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Polluted Delta
4 Flooded Strand
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Steam Vents
1 Breeding Pool
3 Riptide Laboratory
I wasn’t really impressed at first with this list but to be honest I didn’t really have other options. I hadn’t played any Extended after Worlds and my result there (1-4-1) wasn’t very satisfying either. I decided to give it a shot and promised to test the deck in the week before GP: Hannover. Five days later and obviously zero games later (for some reason I ended up playing several games of Agricola instead) I still had no clue what to play. I chatted some more with David and I told him I’d play his deck if he would mail me some sideboard plans. Here is the mail he sent me:
Mirror match or any NLU/Ancestral Visions deck:
+ Jace Beleren in every case.
+ Threads if they play Tarmogoyf. I noticed the aggro plan in the mirror is sometimes the best idea. If they can go for goyf turn 2 they can just try to protect him so it's not a bad idea to add more ways to deal with it.
+ Ancient Grudge is needed if they have Shackles.
The point here is that you dont want to board out many cards. Path to Exile is damn good versus Sower/Glen Elendra. Sometimes on the play you can just go for Glen turn 4 and Path their Sower next turn. Path can make their Spellstutters fizzle sometimes and kill Mutavaults.
Explosives is not that good. It seems to me that you can easily Snare the two-mana spells and you prefer Grudges for Shackles. even if you run my manabase (and not the Kataki one with only two colors) you can’t really think about Explosives for 4 so Path is still better. Jitte itself is better than Explosives. So I think that Explosives is the card to cut. I don’t like Jitte either it never won me games in the mirror. A 4 mana sorcery Snareable too many ways to make it fizzle… Obviously without Ancient Grudge your matchup is hell when they are running Shackles so I suggest to play them over Kataki.
Mana Leak is damn slow on the draw. Glen Elendra is also slow but impacts the game a lot more because it trades/chumps and gives you time. I'm not a huge fan of Leak versus aggressive decks though. Jitte hardly does anything.
+3 Canonist? (you have to consider it I think it's not that good) +3 Relic +1 Jace
Definitely a good plan. What you sideboard out depends on the version they are playing. As Death Cloud has fallen off the metagame youu will face Bitterblossom Knight of the ReliquaryKitchen Finks Tarmogoyf as main threats. Relic is the nuts against them . It’s hard to decide what to take out.
Leak is needed versus Choke and to stop their aggro plan. It seems like you shouldn’t board in Canonist because it affects Crime (you already have Relic) and it fights with Explosives for two (which you need to kill Blossom/Tarmo/opposing Jittes)
+ Circle of Protection: Red
COP is obviously the nuts. The matchup is really bad for you so mulligan aggressively for it or keep hands with leak and ways to get there to draw COP (so with Explosives or Path etc.) Jace is bad so he gets cut after board. Jitte is probably needed but don’t expect it to get there as they have Vortex + Grudge. Shackles is worse than Threads. I would board out 1 Jace 2 Jitte 2 Shackles. If they decide to sideboard Ancient Grudge they won‘t have targets that way and you dont invest tempo on cards that are not that effective in many situations. Engineered Explosives and Path have to be played in really aggressive ways.
I had my doubts. First of all sideboarding out Jitte against Naya seemed just wrong. Then again when you have a Circle of Protection: Red they’ll be holding a lot of burn and your creatures will just die anyway. I also didn’t like Jace and thought that Future Sight or Teferi was just better for the mirror. The manabase looked greedy as well. Eight sac lands four painlands and eight lands that don’t produce Blue…
But who was I to complain? It’s not like I had the time to test and find a better version. Of course I couldn’t just register the same 75 right? So on Saturday morning I made some minor changes and here is what I registered for GP Hanover:
- 2 Glen Elendra Archmage
- 3 Sower of Temptation
- 4 Spellstutter Sprite
- 3 Vendilion Clique
- 2 Venser, Shaper Savant
During the first three rounds I was able to test against Elves and I was winning about 60% of the games (mainly after sideboard). Unfortunately none of the Belgians was running Zoo so I couldn’t test against that. That turned out to be a problem.
Round 4 versus George Dimitriadis from Greece.
George decided that it was better to let me start with 3.5 byes instead of 3 so he showed up 2 minutes late for the round. When we also got a deck check hopes were going up for a fourth bye. The judge came back and asked George if he could talk to him… unfortunately everything was alright so we would have to play it out the fair way.
In game 2 he curves out a nice turn 1 Nacatl Turn 2 Goyf (skillfully played before the attack) but I still decide to Path to Exile to Nacatl as I’m not holding an Explosives. Turn 3 sees George playing a Sulfuric Vortex and a Mogg Fanatic (while I obviously drew a Spell Snare) and a turn 4 Woolly Thoctar finished the deal.
Game 3 and my opening seven are: Engineered Explosives Glen Elendra Archmage and 5 lands which I mulligan. My next 6 cards give me Island Steam Vents 2 Engineered Explosives and 2 Path to Exile. Not great but I figured my Explosives would buy me enough time to draw a Plains. My next four draws were Path to Exile Island Sower of Temptation Path to Exile. When I finally draw my Plains the next turn things are already looking pretty bad but I still manage to stabilize on 3 life with Spell Snare and double Path in hand. Little G is holding only one card at that point so my hopes were going up again. On his next turn however George draws Mogg Fanatic (which my Spell Snare can’t counter) sacs it to hit me and his last card turns out to be a Volcanic Fallout. Great.
Round 5 versus Christian Mauhart from Austria
Christian is playing TEPS and game 1 takes a pretty long time. After about 10 turns Christian had played 3 Ponders and had yet to shuffle once. He still had only 4 lands so his hand was full of gas. The turn before I’m killing him with double Sower and a Spellstutter Sprite he goes for it and gets there with a Mind’s Desire for 6 finding a Peer Through Depths with which he is able to find a third Manamorphose to cast the Tendrils he was holding.
Game 2 is a slaughter as I resolve 2 Ethersworn Canonist in the first three turns and Christian never comes up with an answer.
Game 3 I punted several times. In the early turns I suspend 2 Ancestral Vision. The turn before my first Ancestral Vision comes Christian is still stuck at Island + Steam Vents and I resolve a Vendilion Clique to which he responds with a Magma Jet. I decide to Spell Snare so I can put some pressure and figured I would draw some counters with my Visions anyways. He reveals the following seven: 2 Rites of Flame 2 Manamorphose Tendrils Seething Song and Mind’s Desire. I take the Mind’s Desire but unfortunately I draw 3 blanks off the Visions. On his next turn my opponent plays Rites of Flame without playing a land first. I can Cryptic Command right away but if he drew a land I’d be dead that way so I decide to wait for Seething Song. What was I thinking?!. Christian had played Ponder two turns before and didn’t shuffle. If there was a land on top he would have probably put that first and played it the turn before. Instead of the land his draw was Desperate Ritual which I couldn’t counter as that would leave him with just 3 mana for his Seething Song and enough spells to kill me with Tendrils. I am able to counter his Seething Song though which leaves him with 3 mana. His double Manamorphose give him a land and he kills me with exactly 8 spells while I’m at 16.
After the match I took some time to analyze the last game and it turned out I punted at least three times.
First of all: I shouldn’t have countered the Magma Jet. I would be drawing 8 cards in the next two turns so there was a good chance I’d draw a Canonist or another Clique to put some pressure. Second the turn after the Clique I played a Flooded Strand instead of an Island. I had to crack it so I could play my Cryptic Command and that put me on exactly 16 life. Third I should have just countered the first Rites of Flame.
Round 6 versus Adam Galka from Poland
Again I’m paired against Zoo (Domain Zoo this time) and in game 1 my draw is once again too slow and I get completely slaughtered.
Game 2 I win on the back of three Circle of Protection: Red (I needed all three as he had Thoughtseize + Duergar Hedge-Mage for the first two).
Game 3 sees Adam stuck on 2 lands for several turns but his first two turns give him 3 creatures nonetheless (with me once against holding Spell Snare and no Explosives). On his third turn he plays Seal of Fire which I decide to Mana Leak because my only chance at that time was Threads of Disloyalty or Sower of Temptation. On turn 3 I play the Threads on the Wild Nacatl and on turn 5 I draw a Sower of Temptation which steals his Goyf and gets me back in the game. I am at one however and tapped out at that time... but for once in my life things went right and he just played another Goyf. On my turn I play and equip Jitte and that was that. Good thing I didn’t listen to David heh.
Round 7 versus Stefan Kappel from Austria
Stefan is playing the Gifts Loam deck I wrote an article about a month ago. Turns out the deck can’t really beat Faeries because it only plays one Raven’s Crime and I win in two easy games. It’s pretty ironic that the only easy win I had during the tournament was against the deck I wrote an article about few months ago. Stefan ended up going 6-3 with only one bye so I guess the deck wasn’t that bad after all.
Round 8 versus Dmitry Moiseev from Russia
This round was an anti-climax. Dmitry is running some weird 4 color Doran-War Monk deck and I’m never in any of the two games. Game 1 I only draw Spell Snares Spellstutters and Mutavaults while he destroys me with Doran and Rhox War Monk.
Game 2 is much the same except for the fact that he has Swords of Fire and Ice now to make things worse. In both games my hand was full of cards that did nothing (Glen Elendra Spell Snare Sower in game three when he had Swords)… In game 2 I probably made the wrong play by playing Explosives for 2 to kill his Tidehollow Sculler (which was hiding my Sower) instead of just getting my third color and destroying his Swords instead. The Sower turned out to be useless anyway as the Swords give the only creature he played protection from Blue. I obviously drew 3 Spell Snares after the Explosives and his Sword made short business of me.
Round 9 versus Thomas Manderla from Germany
I decided to play another round just to test the deck a little more. I got paired against Zoo once again and didn’t stand a chance in any of the games.
After the tournament I wasn’t really disappointed. I got what I deserved and this tournament proved once again that it’s necessary to practice before going to battle with a deck like Faeries. The only change I made to the maindeck turned out to be wrong. Vedalkan Shackles is just far better than Sower in a format full of Tarfire Seal of Fire and Path to Exile. I was right on the manabase though. 8 saclands hurt far too much and the lonely plains ended up being awful as well. 7 ‘colorless’ lands is more than enough and you can’t really afford having another non-blue land. Path to Exile on the other hand was the b00ters. It’s your only way to fight a Woolly Thoctar Doran the Explorer or any other big guy. If it is worth the trouble I’m not sure. I think that playing straight mono Blue without any saclands is just better. The Circle of Protection: Red was nice but playing them isn’t enough. Once you resolve one your opponent will be keeping all his burn for your creatures so Jitte doesn’t win you games anymore. Your only path to victory is Threads on a Goyf at that time but even that sometimes fails. If you decide to run another color just run Tarmogoyf yourself like Helmut Summersberger or Gaudenis Vidugeris. Zoo is your worst matchup and the best way to fight them is with a big fat Lhurgoyf. Maybe a Ugw version could be successful as Path combined with Goyf should be enough to beat Zoo.
GP: Hanover was my last tournament for at least two months. There’s no GP in Europe for a while and I’m too busy with school anyway. I’ll also have to skip PT: Honolulu because of exams. In July I’ll be back and you’ll definitely hear more from me then!
Last time I promised to talk about the Swans deck in Standard but I thought that you’d learn more from this article than from one with a deck I only played at a local Japanese tournament. For those of you who really want to play Swans in Standard here is the list Mitamaru advised me to play.