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CardShark Content - Matthew Sablan (9/15/2004)

So you’ve gotten to the point where you can build a decent deck. Good for you. I’m impressed with your ability to either net deck or go rogue. But a part of the game that requires a good bit of skill, that is often overlooked by starting players, is the sideboard. Again, as with most of my articles, this is not intended for players with several wins under their belts (though a few of the Sideboard Strategies might be useful to peruse.) This is intended for the group of people collectively called ´´newbies.´´ I'm going to outline several basic points of Sideboard Theory, and a few strategies to remember when sideboarding.

Before we get into some basic concepts for sideboarding, let me define what your sideboard is (for constructed games.) Your sideboard is either 15 cards, or zero cards. You have no inbetween. Remember, with 15 cards, that's a good fourth of most people's decks. Your sideboard cards give you wiggle room to twink out your deck against certain archetypes you know you'll face. Many people, in the current environment, might sideboard a few Tel-Jilad's Justice
Justice
JusticeSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Ruth Thompson
Text:
During your upkeep, pay WW or bury Justice.Whenever any red creature or spell assigns damage, Justice deals an equal amount of damage to that creature's or spell's controller.
or Altar's Light
Altar's Light
Altar's LightSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
1
Artist:
Daren Bader
Text:
Remove target artifact or enchantment from the game.
, for artifact hate and Colossus removal. When you pick your sideboard, remember that your sideboard cards should be fine tuned to give you an edge, or serve some other strategic purpose.

Sideboarding for a limited game is much different then constructed. It is as many basic lands as you desire, and everything not in your main deck. In a draft, therefore, you'll have a slightly larger sideboard then in constructed games. Whether or not you'll have more playable cards then in a Constructed Sideboard is a bit luck, a bit skill. But that's a different matter. Besides picking the right tool for your opponent's deck with your sideboard, such as nixing any artifact removal if your opponent has none, or adding an enchantment removal if they opened up one of the few dangerous enchantment cards in a draft.

First and foremost, don't show what you're sideboarding. Basic, I know, but I've won a few games where my opponent decided to show me what a powerful hoser he had. But that probably just insulted everyone's intelligence. Sorry
Sorry
SorrySet: Unglued
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
27
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
Before playing any spell, if a copy of that spell card is in any graveyard, the spell's caster may say Sorry. If he or she does not, any other player may counter the spell by saying Sorry as it is cast.If any player says Sorry at any other time, Sorry deals 2 damage to that player.
, but I like to cover the bases. Second, you should try and have a plan of what you'll switch out for what. Shatter
Shatter
ShatterSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Shatter destroys target artifact.
s are probably a good thing to toss if you're going up against Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail
Tooth and NailSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
134
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Text:
Choose one - Search your library for up to two creature cards, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library; or put up to two creature cards from your hand into play. Entwine 2 (Choose both if you pay the entwine cost.)
, for example.

You get to sideboard between each game in a match. You're granted only a limited amount of time, and for each card that enters your deck, one must leave. With your limited time, and your desire to shuffle your deck properly, it is a good idea to know what is going out for what. I cannot stress this enough, don't waste time waffling. Have a sideboard plan, and stick to it. I generally build my sideboard in one of three ways. The first is what I call raw substitution, the second is the sideboard shuffle, and the third is the sniper build. I'll explain each of these in detail.

The first is the most common, raw substitution. You plan to remove one card for another, for example Silver for White Knight
White Knight
White KnightSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Protection from black, first strike
s, depending on your match up. You can, of course, do some slightly sneakier things, such as swapping out Loxodon Warhammer
Loxodon Warhammer
Loxodon WarhammerSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
U
Number:
201
Artist:
Jeremy Jarvis
Text:
Equipped creature gets +3/+0, has trample, and has 'Whenever this creature deals damage, you gain that much life.' Equip 3 (3: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)
s for Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
IExpbms=s to protect yourself from your opponents sideboarded in artifact hate, but that's about the extent of the trickiness you can get with raw substitution. I've even seen some people sideboard in basic lands for their artifact land equivalents, to prevent getting land scrweed to a deck heavy in the artifact destruction department. Raw substitution is meant merely to increase your odds against specific deck builds, or to counter something. If an opponent, for example, relies on Worship
Worship
WorshipSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
57
Artist:
Mark Zug
Text:
Damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 instead reduces it to 1 if you control a creature.
, bring in Naturalize
Naturalize
NaturalizeSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
275
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
and Demystify
Demystify
DemystifySet: Onslaught
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
24
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Destroy target enchantment.
. Your cards are versatile, most likely general removal, to assist in stopping threats (Demystify
Demystify
DemystifySet: Onslaught
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
24
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Destroy target enchantment.
) or countering answers (White Knight
White Knight
White KnightSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Protection from black, first strike
s.)

The second, the one I enjoy the most, is what I call sideboard shuffle. For example, online I run a Blue, heavy with artifacts and splash of red control deck sometimes. The sideboard contains all the working pieces of Ravager Affinity (Save the Disciple of the Vault
Disciple of the Vault
Disciple of the VaultSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
62
Artist:
Matt Thompson
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever an artifact is put into a graveyard from play, you may have target opponent lose 1 life.
, just Shrapnel Blast
Shrapnel Blast
Shrapnel BlastSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
106
Artist:
Dave Dorman
Text:
As an additional cost to play Shrapnel Blast, sacrifice an artifact. Shrapnel Blast deals 5 damage to target creature or player.
s.) If Control is not going to work, I sideboard and play a different deck. It's an eye-opener when the slow control deck puts down a second turn Ravager, Myr Enforcer
Myr Enforcer
Myr EnforcerSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Myr
Rarity:
C
Number:
211
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Affinity for artifacts (This spell costs 1 less to play for each artifact you control.)
, let me tell you! Screwing with your opponent's tempo, and what he or she expects from your deck can serve to disquiet, and force your opponent into a bad play. Or, perhaps, into a move that your opponent didn't even know was a bad play, because he or she had no clue what you were really playing. With this, your cards are less versatile, but they are strong threats to your opponent.

The third sideboard is the sniper build, which I named after the saying that some movie made famous: ´´one shot, one kill.´´ This build uses the meta-game the most. While with raw substitution you were sideboarding in some answers, with the sniper build, your sideboard is a finely tuned killing machine. Granted, your Q2hhbGljZSBvZiB0aGUgVoid
Void
VoidSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
287
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Choose a number. Destroy all artifacts and creatures with converted mana cost equal to that number. Then target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all nonland cards with converted mana cost equal to the number.
will be helpless for you against most opponents, but a Chalice for one or two can cripple certain decks, but only very specific decks. There’s to be no fooling around with the sniper build. Either your sideboard eliminates an opponent’s deck completely, or your not fine tuned enough.


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