Mythic beatings at the 1K

While select members of the ChanneFireball crew were off in Minneapolis dominating U.S. nationals, I attended the most recent even in the ChannelFireball 15K Summer Series.
Click through to the extended entry for my tournament report, and some thoughts about preparation.

So, I’m currently taking care of one injured pet and two sick ones, which has been dominating my mornings and evenings (fun fact – rabbits don’t enjoy being placed on IVs). As a consequence, Saturday morning rolled around and caught me with my general strategy in place, but with a few of the specifics still floating around. The upshot of all this was that I grabbed what I thought were the necessary cards to reset my deck, and then headed off to Superstars to avoid missing signups.
Once I arrived, I realized I’d left a couple cards I had been thinking of using at home, and that made a few choices for me. On the whole, though, I think it made the correct choices for me, so there you go. Here’s the deck I brought:
Goodall Naya

31 Creatures:
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch
Stoneforge Mystic
Fauna Shaman
Qasali Pridemage
Cunning Sparkmage
Knight of the Reliquary
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Bloodbraid Elf
4 Spells:
Basilisk Collar
Oblivion Ring
Naya Charm
25 Land:
Stirring Wildwood
Evolving Wilds
Arid Mesa
Jungle Shrine
Sejiri Steppe
Raging Ravine
Sunpetal Grove
Misty Rainforest
15 Sideboard:
Path to Exile
Relic of Progenitus
Qasali Pridemage
Naya Charm
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Obstinate Baloth
Ajani Vengeant

So, by way of explanation:
Birds – I was planning on four copies, as in my last article, but I forgot the extra at home. On balance, I think three is actually a good number, and I was happy with my bird count.
Pridemages – I’ve been considering the “make my clock faster” approach to dealing with Ramp. I’m not super-fond of it, but, if I’m going to do it I want to have multiple lines of attack baked in. Rather than swap in Thoctars, I went for everyone’s favorite exalted bear, since it can impact many other decks in the format, and has multiple ways to attack Ramp. Thus, two in the main, two more in the side.
Okay, enough of that. On to the rounds!
Round 1, versus Josh Silvestri playing Jund
As our first game started, one of our neighbors glanced at Josh’s board and remarked that it was “Jund day.” Apparently so, as many people turned up with their Jund decks. I certainly would have been happy playing against Jund all day.
Game one opened with an exalted Vengevine from me and a pumped Leech from Josh – but not in combat with each other. Instead, Josh let the Vengevine hit him twice while he rushed me with the Leech. The Vengevine eventually traded with a Sprouting Thrinax, only to be recurred by a Bloodbraid into some random creature. Josh ended up trying to Blightning me down into direct damage range, but with both of us at 5 life, I was able to remove his now-blocking Leech with an Oblivion Ring and swing in for the win.
I sideboarded like so:
+1 Linvala
+1 Obstinate Baloth
-1 Qasali Pridemage
-1 Naya Charm
Game two saw the expected early-game progression for Jund-versus-G/W/x, as my first two Knights ate removal. Josh then dropped a Siege-Gang Commander, which made it an excellent time for me to cast Sparkmage, Collar him up, and take that sucker out before Josh could untap. I finally hit my third Knight, and was able to start attacking with Knight and a Stirring Wildwood, while pinging Josh with the Sparkmage.
Actually, it’s more accurate to say “While first forgetting to ping Josh with the Sparkmage.” After missing the first opportunity to EOT ping him, I wrote SPARKY and then REMEMBER SPARKMAGE across my note sheet. That’s one of the nice aspects of taking notes – not having to rely on your brain for things like this.
Josh played some Thrinaxes at this point, I think, but I landed Linvala, and his range of outs narrowed tremendously. Two turns later, that was that.
Round 2, versus Jeff playing Valakut
My opening hand contained one of my two main deck Pridemages, which immediately placed me in the position of deciding how much faith I had in my game plan as Jeff played a turn-two Khalni Heart Expedition. After a bit of internal debate, I decided that I had to stick my my theoretical guns and, using Hierarch mana, dropped and sacrificed a turn-two Pridemage to take the Expedition out.
This turned out to have been an excellent idea, as Jeff’s turn three play was “land, Harrow, go,” which would have given him access to a turn four Primeval Titan.
As it was, I managed to hit a Fauna Shaman while O-Ringing his eventual Titan out of the way, and before he could manually assemble the Valakut kill I was swinging in with two hideous waves of Vengevine and Bloodbraid action (his life score goes 20, 19, 18, 11, -3).
Going into game two, I sideboarded into the full (and extensive) ramp package:
+2 Qasali Pridemage
+2 Naya Charm
+4 Ajani Vengeant
-1 Basilisk Collar
-1 Stoneforge Mystic
-1 Oblivion Ring
-4 Cunning Sparkmage
-1 Linvala
Game two saw Jeff mulligan to five, which is never good.
As I went into my third turn (with a Bird on the field) Jeff did something interesting – he cracked his Evolving Wilds before I did anything. That led to this exchange:
Me – “So, to clarify, do you mean to do that at the end of my turn, or now?”
Jeff – “Now.”
I asked because I didn’t want any misunderstanding about what was about to happen next (also, I kind of felt bad about it, even if this is pretty much a play error on his part).
I cast Ajani Vengeant, and locked down the Forest he’d grabbed with his Wilds. As it was his only Forest, this was going to really limit his ability to ramp his way out of that mulligan. Jeff tried to stave off the upcoming Armageddon by using Volcanic Fallout to kill my Fauna Shaman and zap Ajani, but it was already too late to stop my growing Knight, and she took the game home.
At first I thought the Wilds misplay came about solely because Jeff had mentally checked out following an unpleasant mulligan to five, but I noticed him cracking a Wilds early during in opponent’s turn in a subsequent round.
Perhaps not needless to say, this is generally not a great idea. It hands off more information to your opponent and it can lead to unfortunate situations getting locked out of a color by Ajani.
Okay, so that was the new anti-Ramp plan more or less working, and on to round three.
Round 3, versus Orie playing Mythic
You know, I honestly wasn’t expecting to see a lot of Mythic last weekend – and overall, there weren’t many Mythic decks present. As you’ll see, though, I had the misfortune to run into two of them.
Game one saw our decks kick out Knights and other nonconsequential creatures to stare each other down…until Orie cast a Baneslayer and I never saw a Shaman, Mystic, Sparkmage, or Collar. The Baneslayer killed me in short order.
+2 Path to Exile
+1 Linvala
-2 Qasali Pridemage
-1 Oblivion Ring (I think)
I don’t actually think that sideboarding is correct, but it turned out to be inconsequential as Orie’s plays in game two looked like this:
Turn one: Misty Rainforest, crack Misty for Forest, cast Noble Hierarch
Turn two: Tap Forest and Hierarch for Lotus Cobra, play and crack Misty Rainforest for some land, cast Knight of the Reliquary
Turn three: Tap three lands (3), Hierarch (4), play, crack and tap a fetch (7), tap Knight to sac Forest and grab another land (8), cast Eldrazi Conscription on Lotus Cobra, swing for 13 with Annihilator 2.
My own turn four draw did not solve this situation, and the round was done with scads of time left over, so I went and grabbed some Popeyes before returning to watch the slower matches in the round finish.
As I said, I wasn’t really thinking about Mythic going into this event, which was a mistake (one of a type I may address in a later In Development). That said, I don’t know what I could do about that third-turn Conscription. Ugly.
Round 4, versus Sam, playing Mythic
So yeah, neglecting that match up was a mistake.
In game one, I hit the turn two Sparkmage, which seriously inhibits (read: kills) the Mythic game plan, as it simply can’t keep any of its accelerators on the board. While Sam was struggling to develop any kind of real board presence, I deployed a Fauna Shaman and the Bloodbraid and Vengevine beats ensued, taking down game one.
+2 Path to Exile
+1 Linvala
-2 Qasali Pridemage
-1 Oblivion Ring
I was actually, for some reason (most likely sleep deprivation), convinced that Sam was playing Naya-splash-blue. He wasn’t – it was pure Mythic.
In game two, we started with a bit of a Linvala fight, as he Pathed my Linvala and cast his, only to see me legend rule her out with my second copy. After this, I was feeling pretty good about things as I managed to swing in with an exalted Vengevine and then a double-exlated Bloodbraid, only to find myself suddenly on the wrong side of a Conscripted Birds of Paradise backed by Sovereigns. Ouch.
Game three looked pretty good for me, until Sam cast Gideon Jura, tapped out my team with his provoke effect, and killed me with another Sovereigns-backed Conscripted critter.
So, clearly my mind was nowhere in the territory of even recalling the idea of Conscription kills. Hm. On the minus side, I was out of contention for the top eight, but on the plus side, I think I’ve received some valuable insight into preparing for tournaments when my time is limited. I’ll write more on that in the future.
Round 5, versus Paul playing Naya
Paul started the round by asking about my record. As I was 2-2, and he was 2-1-1, he asked if I’d concede the round. Although I’m generally sort of automatically concession averse, this is one of those cases where it makes a ton of sense to do so. After all, he’s still in contention, and I know for a fact I’m out. So I conceded the round, then asked to play a couple games afterward.
Game one was an attrition war in which I was always a step behind, which led to Paul knocking me off with Vengevines.
Game two looked like it might have been going Paul’s way as well, until Linvala showed up in my hand and demonstrated her ridiculous power in the mirror. Consider:
Paul’s board, pre-Linvala:
1 Noble Hierarch
2 Birds of Paradise
2 Cunning Sparkmage
2 Forest
1 Plains
Paul’s board, post-Linvala:
5 0/1s
2 Forest
1 Plains
What I didn’t know at the time was that Paul also had his other two Birds in hand, making this an especially dismal Linvala for him to deal with. With one spell, I converted Paul’s board from six mana and two points of direct damage per turn into just three mana and some warm bodies.
It’s anecdote, but it sure makes me want to pack in an extra Linvala or two. Note that Josh Utter-Leyton’s Mythic build ran a full four Linvalas in the sideboard.
After this one sideboarded game, I realized Paul might want to go take a break himself, get some food, or whatever, so I packed it up and let him go do his thing.
I hung around to play my next round because (1) I like Magic and (2) the Summer series has an overall competition based purely on number of match wins, which successfully achieves its goal of incentivizing you to remain in the tournament even when you’re out of contention for top eight.
Round 6, versus Kyle playing Jund
I was happy when Kyle cast Leech as his first play, as Jund is perhaps my second-favorite matchup for this deck (UW Control being the first). He swung with a pumped Leech, and I swung back with an exalted Vengevine. I think he tried one more swing after that, as well as killing my Vengevine, only to see me Bloodbraid into a creature, recur Vengevine, and kill him with hasty critters.
+1 Linvala
+1 Obstinate Baloth
-1 Qasali Pridemage
-1 Naya Charm
Game two started with an early Leech and Thrinax for Kyle, as well as a Thought Hemorrhage for Vengevines. I don’t think I’d board in Hemorrhage in this matchup, as unless it hits a Vengevine in hand, it’s probably not better than simply playing more creatures or more removal (and yes, I know it can hit them in the graveyard, too, but still…). However, my hand was not super active, giving me double Sparkmage and not a lot else. Consequently, I didn’t have much I could do when Kyle played a Malakir Bloodwitch. Obstinate Baloth gave me an extra turn, but I drew nothing relevant off the top and the Bloodwitch killed me.
In game four, I think Kyle killed my early Hierarch only to find he had no more removal for my Fauna Shaman. Dr. Goodall did what she does, searching up a Vengevine and then a Bloodbraid. While Kyle tried to stem the tide by filling his board with creatures, I just kept running Vengevines into his dudes. Eventually I had two Vengevines in the graveyard and used Shaman to pitch a third one, leading to this exchange:
Kyle: “Bloodbraid, right?”
Me: “No. Knight.”
Kyle: “That means you already have a Bloodbraid in hand, doesn’t it?”
I just nodded, then cast the Bloodbraid, hitting a Bird to get back the triple Vengevine team before I cast the Knight. It was over soon after that.
Summing up
I had a great time, as usual for a Superstars event.
I was happy I stuck to my guns on the anti-ramp plan, as that worked out appropriately.
It was foolish of me to not have Mythic on my mind as a possible pairing going into this event. Even though Mythic is not nearly as common as it once was, it is still a powerful deck that shows up a reasonable amount of the time. So far this month, Mythic is the fifth most successful deck in Standard events on Magic Online, making up 5.4% of the 4+ match win decks. For the curious, here’s the current 4+ top ten from MTGO:
Valakut – 20.6%
Jund – 14.7%
UW Control – 13.5%
Naya Shaman – 10.6%
Mythic – 5.4%
Pyromancer’s Ascension – 4.2%
Overrun – 4.2%
RDW – 4.2%
Polymorph – 2.7%
Eldrazi Ramp – 2.5%
I don’t know if the breakdown of archetypes matched, but my rough impression of frequencies at the 1K was similar to this, with a handful of other archetypes making appearances. I’d actually considered my game plan against Ascension and RDW, but nonetheless neglected the more common Mythic. In the future, I’m going to make sure I spend my time more appropriately. Certainly, Mythic didn’t demand extensive testing, but it needed some testing.
I’ve been enjoying the Summer Series, and will continue to try making it to as many of the events as I can. if you’re in the Bay Area, you should come on down and join us.

1 thought on “Mythic beatings at the 1K

  1. Mythic tends to be underrepresented because of card cost, which affects the MTGO metagame more than paper.
    On another note, this under-representation (in both formats) is the big reason I think mythic rares are bad for the game. Card prices really shouldn’t affect deck choices to this degree.

Comments are closed.