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CardShark Content - Matthew Smith (4/19/2005)

Forget
Forget
ForgetSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mike Kimble
Text:
Target player chooses and discards two cards, then draws as many cards as he or she discarded in this way.
about the worries of a first turn Trinisphere
Trinisphere
TrinisphereSet: Darksteel
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
154
Artist:
Tim Hildebrandt
Text:
As long as Trinisphere is untapped, each spell that would cost less than three mana to play costs three mana to play. (Additional mana in the cost may be paid with any color of mana or colorless mana. For example, a spell that would cost 1B to play costs 2B to play instead.)
or a Cabal Therapy
Cabal Therapy
Cabal TherapySet: Judgment
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
62
Artist:
Ron Spencer

Text:
Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards from it all cards with that name. Flashback - Sacrifice a creature.
triggering Academy Rector
Academy Rector
Academy RectorSet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
R
Number:
1
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Academy Rector is put into a graveyard from play, you may remove Academy Rector from the game. If you do, search your library for an enchantment card and put that card into play. Then shuffle your library.
for Illusions of Grandeur
Illusions of Grandeur
Illusions of GrandeurSet: Ice Age
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Text:
Cumulative Upkeep: 2When Illusions of Grandeur comes into play, gain 20 life. When Illusions of Grandeur leaves play, lose 20 life. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life.
. The most entertaining subplot of last years GenCon—at least for me—was to watch Mono-blue take the field by surprise. The most unfortunate event was to watch myself get paired against my good friend Kevin Cron with stax. (That's like reaching into a brown paper bag filled with two checks for $100 million, two checks for $10 million, and a check for $10 ... and pulling out the check for 10 dollars. Ouch.)

It is always around this time of year when the anticipation makes us forget about last year’s decks, and we begin to concentrate on the decks of today. Let’s not dwell on the memories of yesterday, and instead look forward to the promise of tomorrow. Speaking of promise, you could make a solid case for at least six decks to make a strong showing this year, but before we get to them let me explain why things might be a little different this year.

With GenCon still pretty far away, it may be presumptuous to stab at a metagame which is still very much up in the air. Nevertheless, I’m not expecting too much to change within the next few months, regardless of the release of a new set.

I began this series last year and failed to start early enough. Because of that, I’d like to start now and begin an analysis of the most prominent decks you’ll find in the field.

This year there is one exciting exception. As most of you know who care to read about the Vintage environment (and pretty much anyone else anyway) StarCity hosts a regular event known as the Power Nine Series. It is because of this event that the Vintage community has a reliable barometer for a (now) existent metagame. In fact, many would argue that these tournaments have defined the concept of the Vintage team and ultimately defined the metagame.

Understandably, it would be ill advised of me to rely on one source to determine a metagame which has never consisted of just those who dwell near Chicago, Syracuse, or Virginia (and don’t be too smug to believe that only Americans flop cards in Milwaukee). No, the GenCon meta has a delicious smattering of regional deck lists prominent—this is what makes it the single greatest tournament for Vintage enthusiasts all year. Regardless of the prize support, the title of Vintage Champion is the most coveted award available to date.

With everything on the line this year, the elite title, the posh Italian boosters, the spicy new art work, the brand new box of cards (36 whole booster packs), the 200+ person tourney...what is the real question? Well, it’s the same question as always, of course.

How does the Vintage player who is not part of a “secret” team do well at this event?

The answer never really changes: Do your homework and practice—The keys to success.

Showing up to a tournament of this caliber without doing your homework is like dating a girl with baggage – maybe you'll be happy for a few rounds, but there's a 95-percent chance it's going to end badly. (And I mean, BADLY, as in, ´´Why does it hurt when I pee?´´ or ´´I wonder who left 59 hang-ups on my answering machine?´´) Put plainly...you’ll want to read up if you plan on going to this, or any Vintage event this spring/summer.

A few weeks back I went to a Mox Jet
Mox Jet
Mox JetSet: Alpha
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Add 1 black mana to your mana pool. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.
tourney in Lansing and the three hour trip home gave me plenty of time to dissect the state of a post-restricted Trinisphere
Trinisphere
TrinisphereSet: Darksteel
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
154
Artist:
Tim Hildebrandt
Text:
As long as Trinisphere is untapped, each spell that would cost less than three mana to play costs three mana to play. (Additional mana in the cost may be paid with any color of mana or colorless mana. For example, a spell that would cost 1B to play costs 2B to play instead.)
environment. Upon entering I figured combo would be that elephant in the room in which no one either a. cares to play, or b. knows how to play correctly. The simple problem with people playing combo these days is temporal, not algabraic. Sure, you need to know your math, but more importantly you need to know when to make your move and you need to know if you have the right hand to begin with. More on this topic in another column because, no, I wasn’t playing combo. I was playing a deck that I figured had the best options against the entire, diverse field.


Landstill (Courtesy of Starcitygames-P9 Syracuse)

Plan B

.:Drawing:.
1 Ancestral Recall
Ancestral Recall
Ancestral RecallSet: Alpha
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Draw 3 cards or force opponent to draw 3 cards.

4 Standstill
Standstill
StandstillSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
When a player plays a spell, sacrifice Standstill. If you do, then each of that player's opponents draws three cards.

4 Brainstorm
Brainstorm
BrainstormSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Draw three cards. Then, put any two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.

1 Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction
Fact or FictionSet: Invasion
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.


.:Counter:.
4 Force of Will
Force of Will
Force of WillSet: Alliances
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
You may pay 1 life and remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Force of Will's casting cost. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life. Counter target spell.

4 Mana Drain
Mana Drain
Mana DrainSet: Legends
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Counters target spell. At the beginning of your next main phase, add X to your mana pool, where X is the casting cost of target spell.


.:Creature Removal:.
4 Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares
Swords to PlowsharesSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Target creature is removed from game entirely. Creature's controller gains life points equal to creature's power.

3 Nevinyrral's Disk
Nevinyrral's Disk
Nevinyrral's DiskSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
1: Destroys all creatures, enchantments, and artifacts in play, including Disk itself. Disk begins tapped but can be untapped as usual.

1 QWtyb21hJ3MgVengeance
Vengeance
VengeanceSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Keith Parkinson
Text:
Destroy any one tapped creature.


.:Creatures:.
2 Eternal Dragon
Eternal Dragon
Eternal DragonSet: Scourge
Cost:
7
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
12
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying.
3WW: Return Eternal Dragon from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.
Plainscycling 2

3 Faerie Conclave
Faerie Conclave
Faerie ConclaveSet: Urza's Legacy
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Number:
139
Artist:
Val Mayerik
Text:
Faerie Conclave comes into play tapped.T: Add one blue mana to your mana pool.1U: Faerie Conclave becomes a 2/1 blue creature with flying until end of turn. This creature still counts as a land.

4 Mishra
Mishra
MishraSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
3
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Power:
+0
Toughness:
-3
Text:
Double all damage dealt by creatures you control.
J3MgRmFjdG9yeQ==

.:Utility:.
3 Crucible of Worlds
Crucible of Worlds
Crucible of WorldsSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
114
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
You may play lands from your graveyard as though they were in your hand.

3 Disenchant
Disenchant
DisenchantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Target enchantment or artifact is destroyed.


.:Acceleration:.
1 Black Lotus
Black Lotus
Black LotusSet: Oversize Cards
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Adds 3 mana of any single color of your choice to your mana pool, then is discarded. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.

1 Mox Sapphire
Mox Sapphire
Mox SapphireSet: Alpha
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Add 1 blue mana to your mana pool. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.

1 Mox Diamond
Mox Diamond
Mox DiamondSet: Stronghold
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
132
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
When Mox Diamond comes into play, choose and discard a land card or sacrifice Mox Diamond.T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Play this ability as a mana source.


.:Mana:.

2 Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.

4 Tundra
Tundra
TundraSet: Revised Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
T: Add either U or W to your mana pool.Counts as both islands and plains and is affected by spells that affect either. If a spell destroys one of these land types, this card is destroyed; if a spell alters one of these land types, the other land type is unaffected.

4 Wasteland
Wasteland
WastelandSet: Tempest
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.tap, Sacrifice Wasteland: Destroy target nonbasic land.

4 Flooded Strand
Flooded Strand
Flooded StrandSet: Onslaught
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
316
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
T, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Flooded Strand: Search your library for a plains or island card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.

1 Plains
Plains
PlainsSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add W to your mana pool.

1 Strip Mine
Strip Mine
Strip MineSet: Fourth Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
T: Add 1 colorless mana to your mana pool.T: Sacrifice Strip Mine to destroy target land.


Sideboard (Courtesy of myself...I have altered this a bit since the lotus tournament. The new sideboard is formulated for a meta like GenCon)

4 Stifle
Stifle
StifleSet: Scourge
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
52
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Text:
Counter target activated or triggered ability.

3 Energy Flux
Energy Flux
Energy FluxSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
All artifacts in play now require an upkeep cost of 2 in addition to any other upkeep costs they may have. If the upkeep cost for an artifact is not paid, the artifact must be discarded.

4 Meddling Mage
Meddling Mage
Meddling MageSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
116
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card can't be played.

4 Orim's Chant
Orim's Chant
Orim's ChantSet: Planeshift
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
11
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Kicker W (You may pay an additional W as you play this spell.) Target player can't play spells this turn. If you paid the kicker cost, creatures can't attack this turn.




Landstill, the U/W version in my mind, is probably 2005’s Keeper deck without tutors. A slow control deck that has answers to virtually any other deck in the field, along with enough late game power to swing for the win. The one downfall? With a precious first turn dominated by mana acceleration in the likes of Mox, Lotus, Ritual and company, a first turn sideways land-go, doesn’t exactly inspire fear and respect.

There are, however, enough cards in this deck to instill fear and respect. Cards like Force of Will
Force of Will
Force of WillSet: Alliances
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
You may pay 1 life and remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Force of Will's casting cost. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life. Counter target spell.
, Mana Drain
Mana Drain
Mana DrainSet: Legends
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Counters target spell. At the beginning of your next main phase, add X to your mana pool, where X is the casting cost of target spell.
, and, yes, Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares
Swords to PlowsharesSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Target creature is removed from game entirely. Creature's controller gains life points equal to creature's power.
. Maindeck Disenchant
Disenchant
DisenchantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Target enchantment or artifact is destroyed.
is as accepted as maindeck Oxidize
Oxidize
OxidizeSet: Darksteel
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
79
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Destroy target artifact. It can't be regenerated.
for standard and Standstill
Standstill
StandstillSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
When a player plays a spell, sacrifice Standstill. If you do, then each of that player's opponents draws three cards.
is a decent replacement for Accumulated Knowledge
Accumulated Knowledge
Accumulated KnowledgeSet: Nemesis
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
26
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Text:
Draw a card, then draw cards equal to the number of Accumulated Knowledge cards in all graveyards.
or Ophidian
Ophidian
OphidianSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Snake
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Cliff Nielsen
Power:
1
Toughness:
3
Text:
0: Draw a card. Ophidian deals no combat damage this turn. Use this ability only if Ophidian is attacking and unblocked and only once each turn.
.

The upside? Well...the deck has holes, if you can look at it with the glass is half-full approach. The version that I took was taken from said Power Nine venue. The cards that glare at you right away are obviously Akroma’s Vengeance
Vengeance
VengeanceSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Keith Parkinson
Text:
Destroy any one tapped creature.
and Eternal Dragon
Eternal Dragon
Eternal DragonSet: Scourge
Cost:
7
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
12
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying.
3WW: Return Eternal Dragon from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.
Plainscycling 2
. Three slots that, in a classic Landstill design, are probably devoted to one more board control and two more mana acceleration.

Defining what this deck does, (are you looking for answers, or cards that will cycle under a Standstill
Standstill
StandstillSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
When a player plays a spell, sacrifice Standstill. If you do, then each of that player's opponents draws three cards.
) will be a major factor in finally taking the last step in the U/W version. The U/R version, while out of date, was very nearly as good as it could be for that time period. In order to understand how to fine tune this version, one must look at the function of each card in the U/R version and be sure that the replacements serve the same purpose, or do more to enhance the deck. A good example might be Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares
Swords to PlowsharesSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Target creature is removed from game entirely. Creature's controller gains life points equal to creature's power.
as a replacement for Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
. Functionly they can be very similiar, Swords kills creatures, and Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
can kill creatures. But obviously Swords is not Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
, and if in some crazy alternate universe the color was turned upside down and White was able to deal three damage then this deck would probably have started as U/W.

But it’s not like you couldn’t play the U/R version...it’s not like that SNL sketch about the Time-Life series for videos of family dysfunction, when every vignette (Thanksgiving, Easter, birthday, etc.) ended with Will Ferrell suddenly flipping over the dinner table and screaming, ´´That's it, [bleep] this, I'm out of here!´´ The U/R version is still around. It’s just not as appealling anymore..because of Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares
Swords to PlowsharesSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Target creature is removed from game entirely. Creature's controller gains life points equal to creature's power.
!

Swords is no Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
, that’s for sure, but Swords is an obvious upgrade. It doesn’t do those last few precious damage to your opponent, but it does help you breath a little easier in the Dragon match, and it also helps you to fry your critters and gain life in a pinch. I’m not saying that White deserves its own DVD or anything, but the real key to adding white is the power of Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares
Swords to PlowsharesSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Target creature is removed from game entirely. Creature's controller gains life points equal to creature's power.
and the respectable sideboard it provides.

Playing the deck requires you to make choices regularly, but your in luck because whatever you’re playing against will dictates those choices. Assuming that you are playing Combo you’ll want to keep two blue open, play spells on any turn but your own, and never counter the Tendrils! I like to slowly pick off key artifacts and colors, keeping a slight clamp on the Combo player while I store enough counters to defend against the tutors and card draw. Depending on what kind of combo I’m playing of course. The two most important decisions you’ll make in a combo matchup is this: should I keep this opening hand? or What do I need to sideboard? Never, and I mean NEVER give up in a match against a combo player. If you are playing against Dragon and have a White or Blue mana open, make them sweat it out and catch them, or mentally prepare, as he’s showing you his entire deck courtesy of Bazaar of Baghdad
Bazaar of Baghdad
Bazaar of BaghdadSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Tap to take two cards from your library, after which you must immediately discard three from your hand to your graveyard. If you don't have three or more cards in your hand, discard your whole hand. No spells may be cast between drawing and discarding cards.
on what you’ll need to bring in to beat him in game 2.

In theory the aggro match should solidly be in favor of the Landstill player. With 4 targeted creature kill and 4 board sweepers (let’s not forget recurring land from the Crucible) this deck probably has the best chance to hold a knife to Aggros throat like Stallone did in First Blood to Brian Dennehy:

“You want war? I’ll give you a war you wouldn’t believe.”

Other control...hard to admit but there isn’t a lot out there. Oh, there’s always Control Slaver, but the pool gets shallow after that. You can never discount mono-blue, and Oath is stuck somewhere between control and combo, but it probably leans more towards combo. Slaver isn’t a terrible matchup. The Slaver player has 8 or so counterspells and you have 8 or so spells that need to be countered. Oh wait...you also have 8 or so counterspells as well. Make sure you save your StP’s for their Welders and have fun with the match.

I know, I know...what about Hulk? Well, assuming this deck makes a “comeback” it is most likely a game one problem. It draws cards fasters, runs more counters, and packs more hate against control decks. The problem with Hulk though is that the current incarnation doesn’t seem to do well against the majority of the field. If someone finds the right build, and gets the right matchups, don’t discount Hulk out of the finals of a tournament; it’s never a BAD choice to play.

Match-up Analysis (Sideboarding)

A. Aggro

U/G Madness or U/G/w Bird [bleep}

What a wonderfully diverse field we had in the little 25 man Mox Jet
Mox Jet
Mox JetSet: Alpha
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Add 1 black mana to your mana pool. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.
tourney. I was able to play against both of these decks. Actually, both of these decks did exceptionally well, holding the top two spots going into the fifth round. I played the Madness deck in the third round and lost—my only loss of the day. I wasn’t suprised that the tenacious little deck did so well, as I outlined in my article: Making an Affordable T1 Deck (http://www.cardshark.com/content/view_article.asp?article_id=1919) in April two years ago, this deck is good! A friend and I designed a very similiar build and he snagged a Mox Emerald
Mox Emerald
Mox EmeraldSet: Alpha
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Mono Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Add 1 green mana to your mana pool. Tapping this artifact can be played as an interrupt.
with it. I had, though, assumed that I would have enough utility and mass removal to win the match with Landstill despite the tempo induced clock. I did manage to exact a small amount of revenge on my semi-final opponent who was playing the “upgraded” version.

Keys to the match: Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares
Swords to PlowsharesSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Text:
Target creature is removed from game entirely. Creature's controller gains life points equal to creature's power.
is good at slowing them down until you ramp up to 5 mana. Why five? Daze
Daze
DazeSet: Nemesis
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
30
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
You may return an island you control to its owner's hand instead of paying Daze's mana cost. Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1.
, of course. Crucible of Worlds
Crucible of Worlds
Crucible of WorldsSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
114
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
You may play lands from your graveyard as though they were in your hand.
is helpful against Roar tokens, Mongrels, and Rootwalla
Rootwalla
RootwallaSet: Tempest
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Lizard
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Roger Raupp
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
1G: Rootwalla gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Use this ability only once each turn.
’s, but if they pack Wonder
Wonder
WonderSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Incarnation
Rarity:
U
Number:
54
Artist:
Rebecca Guay

Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying As long as Wonder is in your graveyard and you control an island, creatures you control have flying.
you will have to find a different way to defend yourself, as the Conclave obviously doesn’t help too much. If you play against the mixed version don’t worry, unless they get a couple mages down that is. Mage aimed at StP and then one at Nev’s disk makes you cry. This is not a terrible match, especially if they are unaware of what you are playing. In both cases be wary of Daze
Daze
DazeSet: Nemesis
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
30
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
You may return an island you control to its owner's hand instead of paying Daze's mana cost. Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1.
/Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
.

Sideboarding: Whatever you do, don’t side out Disenchant
Disenchant
DisenchantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Target enchantment or artifact is destroyed.
! Back to Basics
Back to Basics
Back to BasicsSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Nonbasic lands do not untap during their controllers' untap phases.
is not your friend. The good news is aside from that, they really won’t have too much for you to worry about. You might consider putting in the Meddling Mage
Meddling Mage
Meddling MageSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
116
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card can't be played.
s if you want to shut down their Meddling Mage
Meddling Mage
Meddling MageSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
116
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card can't be played.
s, or you could put them in place to stop a Roar of the Wurm
Roar of the Wurm
Roar of the WurmSet: Odyssey
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
266
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Put a 6/6 green Wurm creature token into play. Flashback 3G (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
or Wild Mongrel
Wild Mongrel
Wild MongrelSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Hound
Rarity:
C
Number:
283
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Wild Mongrel gets +1/+1 and becomes the color of your choice until end of turn.
, perhaps a suprise game two against the U/G player before they put in their Waterfront Bouncer
Waterfront Bouncer
Waterfront BouncerSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spellshaper
Rarity:
C
Number:
114
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
U, tap, Discard a card from your hand: Return target creature to its owner's hand.
or Old Man of the Sea
Old Man of the Sea
Old Man of the SeaSet: Arabian Nights
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Marid
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Susan Van Camp
Power:
2
Toughness:
3
Text:
Tap to gain control of a creature with power no greater than Old Man's power. If Old Man becomes untapped, you lose control of this creature; you may choose not to untap Old Man as normal. You also lose control of the creature if Old Man dies or if the creature's power becomes greater than Old Man's.
. The original sideboard for this deck had two Wrath of God
Wrath of God
Wrath of GodSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Text:
All creatures in play are buried.
, so that could be an option you go with also.

Sligh/FCG/Burn

Depending on the version, whether it’s combo or burn, you will want to be very careful in this match. Crucible is your one and only friend in the world here, although don’t be afraid to StP your own creatures if you need the life. If you can stave off the first few rounds and drop a Dragon, you’ll most likely win. The main point here is to always watch what is on the board and be ready for anything.

Sideboarding: Sadly there isn’t a whole lot to sideboard, it’s not as easy as putting in Hydroblast
Hydroblast
HydroblastSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
Counter target spell if it is red, or destroy target permanent if it is red. (If this spell targets a permanent, play it as an instant.)
like the good old days. If your up against combo then Stifle
Stifle
StifleSet: Scourge
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
52
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Text:
Counter target activated or triggered ability.
is a likely option, Meddling Mage
Meddling Mage
Meddling MageSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
116
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card can't be played.
could stop some of that also.

TNT

Not too many people play this deck. Swimming in a sea of combo without a life preserver is not recommended. Notice that I didn’t entirely omit this archetype from the picture though. Every year someone does well with a form of TNT at GenCon and if you’re planning on doing well you’ll most likely have to face this deck. And if you do, be prepared for a good game. You’re going to lose some soldiers in this battle, most likely a lot of good men will die, and let’s not sugarcoat this...if you pull out a victory you’ve pushed this deck to its limit. The problem isn’t entirely fat creatures, it really stems from fat creatures on turn 1 and turn 2 and turn 3...

Sideboard: Energy Flux
Energy Flux
Energy FluxSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
All artifacts in play now require an upkeep cost of 2 in addition to any other upkeep costs they may have. If the upkeep cost for an artifact is not paid, the artifact must be discarded.
and possibly Meddling Mage
Meddling Mage
Meddling MageSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
116
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card can't be played.
s. Welder is a big concern here, as is Su-Chi. Believe it or not, when a 4/4 body keeps slamming into your factories, something eventually breaks.

B. CONTROL

Control Slaver

Perhaps I was just lucky, but I didn’t have any extreme problems with Slaver during the tournament. A smattering of early disruption from Wasteland
Wasteland
WastelandSet: Tempest
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.tap, Sacrifice Wasteland: Destroy target nonbasic land.
, and my miserly hoarding StP for Welder seemed to be enough to win me both games. It is understandable that Slaver packs more draw and probably more counters than Landstill, but looking at the matchup, one doesn’t feel like any threat the Landstill player draws will put them in a bad position (other than the Eternal Dragon
Eternal Dragon
Eternal DragonSet: Scourge
Cost:
7
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
12
Artist:
Justin Sweet
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying.
3WW: Return Eternal Dragon from your graveyard to your hand. Play this ability only during your upkeep.
Plainscycling 2
).

Keys to the Matchup: Early disruption worked for me. Disenchant
Disenchant
DisenchantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Target enchantment or artifact is destroyed.
mana producers, Wasteland
Wasteland
WastelandSet: Tempest
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.tap, Sacrifice Wasteland: Destroy target nonbasic land.
key mana sources, and save those Swords for the Welders. An early Crucible/Waste lock is the stuff Magic players dream of at night.

Sideboard: I’d toss in Chant, Mage and really consider the Energy Flux
Energy Flux
Energy FluxSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
All artifacts in play now require an upkeep cost of 2 in addition to any other upkeep costs they may have. If the upkeep cost for an artifact is not paid, the artifact must be discarded.
. If you can find enough to take out then go for it, but don’t sacrifice the Disenchant
Disenchant
DisenchantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Target enchantment or artifact is destroyed.
s for the Flux
Flux
FluxSet: Portal
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Ted Naifeh
Text:
Each player chooses and discards from his or her hand any number of cards and then draws that many cards. You then draw a card. (You choose first.)
.

Hulk

As I said earlier, it’s hard to say whether this you will see this deck. It’s like your friend who picks Duke to go all the way every year in the NCAA March tournament, and you won’t put $5 on it because you can never count them out. No matter which version is in style, it’s always a contender and it always wins pretty much the same way: Drop a Tog and swing. Eliminate that and you’ve won half the battle.

Keys to the Matchup: If you can, deny them black mana early. This won’t be easy, as they will be drawing a ton of cards. Save the StP’s for the obvioius, and try to save your important counterspells (Force of Will
Force of Will
Force of WillSet: Alliances
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
You may pay 1 life and remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Force of Will's casting cost. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life. Counter target spell.
) to push them through. Only take a chance on Nev’s Disk if you have six mana available or if you happen to get a fair amount off from a Drain—you should always leave mana open for a Drain or a Swords. Standstill
Standstill
StandstillSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
When a player plays a spell, sacrifice Standstill. If you do, then each of that player's opponents draws three cards.
doesn’t always help you out here, as it can also buy them time to prepare for the big turn.

Sideboard: Control is pretty much going to be the same all the way around. You want the Meddling Mage
Meddling Mage
Meddling MageSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
116
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card can't be played.
s, as they only have Snuff Out
Snuff Out
Snuff OutSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Mike Ploog
Text:
If you control a swamp, you may pay 4 life instead of paying Snuff Out's mana cost.Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated.
to deal with creatures, and the Orim
Orim
OrimSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
5
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Power:
+0
Toughness:
+12
Text:
Your creatures can block as though they had flying.
’s Chant to push through key spells. If you can get an early Mage set to Tog, and then another to either Fire/Ice (depending on what they are playing) or Snuff Out
Snuff Out
Snuff OutSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Mike Ploog
Text:
If you control a swamp, you may pay 4 life instead of paying Snuff Out's mana cost.Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated.
, then you might be in good condition.

Mono-U

Okay, I think it’s safe to say with some authority that you always have to test against this deck. If you not then you will be sorely suprised when it makes top eight at GenCon. The Landstill deck really gets to shine as it is supposed to because this match will not be determined in the first 3-4 turns. The Landstill player can finally get the Standstill
Standstill
StandstillSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
When a player plays a spell, sacrifice Standstill. If you do, then each of that player's opponents draws three cards.
and land lock established.

Keys to the Matchup: Swords kills ‘Phids, Factories kills ‘Phids, Nev’s disk kills ‘Phids...heck, you have an extreme advantage over the Mono-Blue player’s main drawing weapon.

Sideboard: The Orim
Orim
OrimSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
5
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Power:
+0
Toughness:
+12
Text:
Your creatures can block as though they had flying.
’s Chant would be handy, but aside from that there isn’t much you want to pull out. Watch out for the eminent Back to Basics
Back to Basics
Back to BasicsSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Nonbasic lands do not untap during their controllers' untap phases.
.

C. COMBO

Oath/Tendrils/Draw 7/Belcher/Dragon

Every year I predict combo to finally be the bride and not the bridesmaid, and every year it seems as though the combo players are not up to the task of taking that next step. This happens for a variety of reasons, one of them being that combo is a menatlly exahausting deck to play correctly. After seven rounds, or 9 hours or longer, it is not hard to make mistakes.

Keys to the Matchup: I’ve lumped all the decks together because the basic plan is the same. You need to counter the key spells and try to disrupt them long enough to sneak out 20 damage. There are exceptions—there are always exceptions—for instance, don’t waste your Disenchant
Disenchant
DisenchantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Target enchantment or artifact is destroyed.
s early against Oath. While those StP’s are quite handy against Dragon and it’s little Swarms, they are worth less than a Need for Speed
Need for Speed
Need for SpeedSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
209
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Sacrifice a land: Target creature gains haste until end of turn.
against Tendrils. If you counter anything against Belcher, counter that Belcher! You can try to dispose of the outlet by using Wasteland
Wasteland
WastelandSet: Tempest
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
T: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.tap, Sacrifice Wasteland: Destroy target nonbasic land.
s on the Bazaar against Dragon and not letting them get a Compulsion
Compulsion
CompulsionSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
34
Text:
1U, Discard a card from your hand: Draw a card. 1U, Sacrifice Compulsion: Draw a card.
out.

Sideboard: The good news is that you have a sideboard that smells like fresh home-baked cookies against combo. I would without question bring in everything but Energy Flux
Energy Flux
Energy FluxSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Kaja Foglio
Text:
All artifacts in play now require an upkeep cost of 2 in addition to any other upkeep costs they may have. If the upkeep cost for an artifact is not paid, the artifact must be discarded.
against all of these decks. Besides, I like to watch a combo player cry after a 35 minute turn because I cast Orim
Orim
OrimSet: Vanguard
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
5
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Power:
+0
Toughness:
+12
Text:
Your creatures can block as though they had flying.
’s chant in response to his last Dark Ritual
Dark Ritual
Dark RitualSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Sandra Everingham
Text:
Add BBB to your mana pool.
.

If the meta at GenCon this year is anything like it is now, I believe that you can expect this to be one of the greatest combo summers of all time. Or who knows, maybe everyone and their brother will be expecting combo to flourish (like they did last year) and the field will be anti-combo. I don’t believe the upcoming set will alter the state of things, but a big tournament (like the P9 series) will definately have an impact, as many believe that the prize support offered by StarCity is great enough to use whatever “tech” they may have come up with—this could mean that the Championship is a washout of the much more organized P9 series also. One relevant point to keep in mind though, the Championship is NOT a proxy event. (Even though I know there were MULTIPLE proxies in decks last year and not ONE of them was checked, not to mention marked sleeves, and the usual rules enforcement issues associated with Wizards stepchild format). The field can be a skewed when the same ratios of decks are not present because of card availability.

Regardless of how it turns out, I know that I would not hesitate to pick U/W Landstill over any other available option right now.

As always, send me a line if you have any ideas on the deck or other decks you believe need to be covered, as I’ll be busy working on the next installment of Defeating the Metagame: The Road to Vintage Championships.


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