With Star City Games: Philadelphia approaching, I've been doing more analyzing to the gain the slightest edges in match-ups. Since my last article, Jordon Robbins has won an SCG IQ and top 8'd a classic, with a list similar enough to the standard. The main difference being the second Empty the Warrens in the sideboard. I have tested three in the sideboard for Death & Taxes as well as Delver Variants but it felt like you were forcing yourself down a line since the raised casting cost makes Ad Nauseam much worse.
It appears that Jordon discovered that two copies of Empty the Warrens may be the sweet spot as a compromise. I'm going to begin testing that this week - one thing I find odd about Jordon's list is that playing multiple Empty the Warrens really benefits from a higher number of Chrome Mox, yet he only plays a pair in favor for a third Duress. To each their own, but the third Chrome Mox has more mileage in my opinion between Empty the Warrens and Ad Nauseam.
While Jordon's top 8's and Empty the Warrens numbers aren't worth an article on their own, it did raise a question in my head.
"Do we actually need Chain of Vapor?"
My immediate reaction is yes, but upon sitting down and thinking about it for some time, I'm not so sure. By being fast enough, we can eliminate the need for bouncing things - especially since the match-ups where Chain of Vapor is good, they don't have Force of Will.
Match-ups where Chain of Vapor is valuable:
- Death & Taxes / Maverick
- MUD/Chalice of the Void decks
It's not a very long list, in fact, it's almost sort of narrow (Chain of Vapor isn't even that great against Chalice of the Void). That said, the cards we replace them should help in these matches while being useful in more and/or help the strategy of staying fast.
Consider Thoughtseize for these reasons:
- Against Lands I tend to side out Cabal Therapy and keep in Duress as they either have Thorn of Amethyst, Sphere of Resistance, Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere and it's tough to guess which one is correct. That said, Thoughtseize helps here and comes down proactively rather than costing a turn. Keep in mind, we bring in Abrupt Decay in this match-up anyway. Which would mean, the loss of Chain of Vapor isn't as important. The second Empty the Warrens here has little effect as the card isn't very good in this match-up for a few reasons.
- The current plan for Death & Taxes is to take out two Duress and two Ponder or Void Snare, two Thoughtseize and Empty the Warrens. If you decided to, you could also bring in the Bayou and the copies of Abrupt Decay. This plan would lean slightly heavier on Burning Wish for Massacre, but would be very aggressive, proactive and more effective with the basic Swamp (six discard spells and Massacre). The downside is resolved hate would be a slightly larger pain, due to this, I would bring in Abrupt Decay on the draw but not on the play. Either way, I think this plan is good here.
- For Chalice of the Void decks, Chain of Vapor isn't great since the artifact is often set on one. It's really only there to deal with Trinisphere or Lodestone Golem, which don't come down before discard in most cases. I think the difference is marginal here, especially when paired with Abrupt Decay.
- Against Burn, Thoughtseize admittedly isn't very good. We need to go from siding in Chain of Vapors to Abrupt Decay - a marginal loss.
- Now is where we start to gain matchups. With two Thoughtseize, we gain a Burning Wish target for game one and most post-sideboard games.
- In the storm mirror, we have the option of going up to eight discard spells (taking out Empty the Warrens and a Chrome Mox) or seven disruption spells leaving one as a Wish target.
- Lastly, discard can come in against control decks such as Miracles or Stoneblade to discard key cards like Counterbalance, Force of Will or even things like Batterskull (Where Chain of Vapor is useless).
Now that we've discussed the changes, let's take a peek at the list!
- 4 Burning Wish
- 4 Infernal Tutor
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Ponder
- 4 Gitaxian Probe
- 4 Cabal Therapy
- 2 Duress
- 1 Empty the Warrens
- 1 Ad Nauseam
As I mentioned in the last article, I would like to move Bayou to the main deck in order to create a sideboard slot. This would create space for:
To me siding up to fourteen lands against Tempo decks requires taking out something like a Chrome Mox or Ponder. Which are actually decent in that match-up as it's mana and consistency in a match where they attack our mana. Meaning, I see even less of a reason to spend a board slot on the land, yet I find myself very hesitant to play seven fetchlands and six actual lands. Part of the reason is I don't know how optimal it is, if someone can provide numbers on the percentages for difference I'd be interested. The alternative would be to cut the Basic Swamp and play the fourth Bloodstained Mire.
Star City Games: Philadelphia
The event is only three weeks away, plenty of time for preparing and testing - can't wait to see everyone there! Until next time, keep storming!