So Many Insane Plays - Eternal Potpourri: Doomsday, Gifts, and Legacy Flash
By the time you read these words, Grand Prix: Columbus will be in the history books. Unfortunately, I'm writing from the other side of the historical ledger right now. I'm sitting at home, sick with a hacking cough doped up on Zithromax, Zicam, and Tylenol. This week's article is going to be shorter than usual.
I know my Vintage regulars are livid that I've been writing about Legacy these last few weeks. To satiate them, I'll throw them this bone:
- 1 Black Lotus
- 1 Lion's Eye Diamond
- 1 Lotus Petal
- 1 Mox Jet
- 1 Mox Sapphire
- 1 Necropotence
- 1 Ancestral Recall
- 4 Brainstorm
- 2 Cabal Ritual
- 1 Chain of Vapor
- 4 Dark Ritual
- 4 Force of Will
- 1 Gush
- 1 Mystical Tutor
- 1 Pact of Negation
- 1 Vampiric Tutor
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 4 Doomsday
- 3 Duress
- 1 Imperial Seal
- 1 Mind's Desire
- 1 Tendrils of Agony
- 1 Time Walk
- 3 Unmask
- 1 Yawgmoth's Will
A few words first.
First and foremost, this is the most fun puzzle deck in Vintage. Gifts Ungiven puzzles are often intense and difficult, but the solution generally follows an intuitive path. It's the details that are difficult. Doomsday puzzles present the most intriguing and interesting mind-benders in Vintage Magic. If you love puzzles, this deck is for you. No game will be entirely the same.
The standard Doomsday kill is probably one of the coolest kills in Magic history:
You Doomsday these cards:
You draw Ancestral and play it drawing Dark Ritual, Black Lotus, and Desire. Then you play Desire for four. You reveal Beacon and play it with Desire copies on the stack. Repeat three more times and win the game.
I couldn't wait to play Street Wraith. Thirty minutes into my first test session I came across a puzzle I couldn't solve after another thirty minutes of reflection. My teammate Mike Herbig came up with a solution that blew my socks off.
Here was the puzzle:
My opponent has three cards in hand and a Null Rod on the table. (He's playing Fish).
I have just cast Dark Ritual into Doomsday. It has resolved.
My hand is:
How do you win? Further assume that your opponent has an Extirpate in hand!
I tried to think of combinations with Gush (to replay lands for Desire), but I couldn't get anything to work.
Here's Mike Herbig's solution:
Cast Brainstorm, put Research, fetch back.
Ritual, Ritual, Desire 4
Flip fetch, Research, Ancestral, 1 Desire left
Cast Research for Research
Flip a Research
Cast Research for Ritual, Ritual, Tendrils
Cast Ancestral Recall
Ritual, Ritual, Tendrils for 10
Thinking of that in actual game play is probably impossible. Putting Ancestral Recall as the last card is so counterintuitive! Even if you figure that much out, good luck with the rest!
If you are interested in reading more about Doomsday puzzles and understanding the mechanics behind the deck, check out this article:
This article provides an overview to eighteen different possible Vintage scenarios in which you have to construct Doomsday Piles. Each stack is different depending on the number of cards in your hand, the mana available, and the resistance you are facing. This article is considered by many to be their favorite article that I've written. I still get email about it to this day.
This article is a StarCityGames.com tournament report where I faced some of the best Vintage players around. It will give you a taste of how the deck operates under tournament conditions.
Since those articles were written, many excellent cards have seen print that can be used to improve Doomsdays power and resilience. Perhaps none more so than Street Wraith. Street Wraith dramatically increases the deck's ability to win on turn 1, and win the same turn that you resolve a Doomsday. Repeal was once a solid inclusion into the deck, but Street Wraith just replaces it. Pact of Negation is also an interesting card. Ultimately, it didn't test very well, despite being theoretically powerful. It just wasn't sufficiently better than the alternative options. It earns one spot in here because you can put it into Doomsday Piles to protect your win. Finally, Research / Development replaces the traditional Beacon of Destruction kill. You can Research in more Researches as well as cards you've removed and other cool plays. I'll be talking more about this deck in the future.
While we are on the topic of Vintage, someone on the Mana Drain forums asked if there was a Meandeck Gifts primer. Unfortunately, I never wrote a primer on the deck, but I have written many articles about the deck. I've compiled here, for easy reference, some of the most important strategic articles on the deck, and I've excluded articles that mostly talk about tweaking.
Finding the Gifts Deck
This article provides an overview of various Gifts lists at the time and explains the card choices in MDG that differentiate it from the Gifts list of that time. It also provides some basic Gifts piles.
Here is the associated Mana Drain thread. That's where I actually spoiled the deck to the public.
Playing Meandeck Gifts in Vintage
This article was published a few months later and provides an important analysis of how to fight the Stax and Control Slaver matches.
Gifts the Puzzling
This is a Gifts Puzzle Article that presents some Gifts scenarios and posits solutions.
Bluffing Drains and Storming Brains: How to Play Control in Vintage
This article isn't on Gifts per se, but it is about how to play Control in Vintage.
There are many other articles on MDG in my archive, but those are the big ones:
I hope that helps anyone who may be curious about the deck and how to play it!
First of all, two and a half weeks ago (by the time you read this article), I did a podcast interview with Ian Degraff of Team ICBM (I Can Beat Meandeck (grrr!)). It's thirty minutes of me being interviewed about Flash, erratum, and Vintage. If you are curious, check it out.
Second, we've seen a dramatic shift in the Flash decks. Not only has Flash transformed the Legacy paradigm, but the response has transformed the Flash deck. I'm not sure how much of this will be obvious by the time the Grand Prix arrives, but most of the people who have been slowing their Flash lists down to compete with the Fish type decks are now vulnerable to traditional decks like Goblins and Boros, and more hate like Tormod's Crypt and Pithing Needle.
As such, I've completely re-evaluated all of my options and decided to rebuild Flash from the ground up:
If Flash is banned, I believe that this will be the best Hulk Flash list, and a reference point for historical analysis. Patrick Chapin and I (with the help of others) have come up with a number of great Flash list. Some of Patrick's lists have revolved around Living Wish. He may write about these someday. We've been working hard to really figure out how to do Flash right.
Here are the key points:
1) Speed Flash lists are some of the fastest decks ever seen in Magic, let alone Legacy, and they murder the traditional Legacy field (Goblins, Threshold, Burn, Rifter, etc)
2) Speed Flash lists lose hard to hate and Fish-type decks. As a consequence, people have been slowing down their Flash lists from winning on turn 2 to winning on turn 4. To make Flash more powerful, they have also switched to the Kik-Jiki kill. This opens up even more vulnerabilities.
3) I believe a lot of players at the Grand Prix will either be unwilling or unable to play Flash, and they'll all be aiming at it instead. Thus, being slow isn't acceptable because you have to now disrupt matchups (like Goblins) that you could once just goldfish over. And you still don't have a great match over Fish-type crap.
4) Conclusion: You must play a Flash lists that:
- Has a modulated speed: one that can goldfish over Goblins etc, but can slow down to handle hate decks.
- Is designed around hate.
This is precisely what I've done.
* The Kiki-Jiki kill takes up less space, but is more vulnerable. I lose five slots here, but I get to ignore Tormod's Crypt, Pithing Needle, Extirpate, Swords to Plowshares, and even burn! Hell, double Mogg Fanatic can hold off the Feeder kill.
I remain firmly convinced that the five slots you save by running the Kiki-Jiki kill are not worth the agony you have to go through to tactically fight what everyone will be throwing at you.
The weak spot in Flash is the Kiki-Jiki kill. Since everyone is running it, it is the perfect time to return to the Disciple kill, as I will just be immune to so much hate. The card quality loss isn't actually that significant if you test the deck against hate-type decks. You'll realize what I'm talking about.
* Lim-Dul's Vault is the best engine to set up the kill when you don't have the natural nuts. It's fast enough to ensure that you can goldfish quickly if need be. On the other hand, it also helps you slow roll in those matchups where that's what you need to do.
* A lot of the hate and resistance this deck faces is instant speed: Force of Will, Daze, Stifle, etc. Xantid Swarm deals with all of it. If you can get it on board, then you can't be stopped by that stuff. I would run Xantid maindeck, but I need Duress for the mirror match.
We'll see if it works. I don't expect to win Grand Prix, but I do intend to have a lot of fun!
Until next week,