Wednesday, May 11, 2005

.:Today's LSS:.

Starting next week, I'm going to try and do a name that tune with my LSS. I'm going to talk about my LSS, but post the song the next day after people have made their guesses...

Emphasis on try.

But for today, all I can say is say your prayers and eat your vitamins!

Real American
Hulk Hogan Entrance Theme

When it comes crashin' down and it hurts inside,
You've gotta take a stand- it don't help to hide.
If you hurt my friends then you hurt my pride.
I gotta be a man - I can't let it slide.

I am a real American,
Fight for the rights of every man.
I am a real American,
Fight for what's right - fight for your life!

Well I feel stronger 'bout right and wrong
And I don't take trouble for very long.
I've got something deep inside of me,
courage is the thing that keeps us free!

I am a real American,
Fight for the rights of every man.
I am a real American,
Fight for what's right - fight for your life!

I am a real American,
Fight for the rights of every man.
I am a real American,
Fight for what's right - fight for your life!

If you hurt my friends then you hurt my pride.
I gotta be a man - I can't let it slide.

I am a real American,
Fight for the rights of every man.
I am a real American,
Fight for what's right - fight for your life!

(repeat until fade out)

.:Meandeck Doomsday: A Primer, Part II of III:.

In the first installment, I talked about what Meandeck Doomsday was, and what were its components.

Before I go on, I'd like to call your attention to a suggestion: instead of Memory Jar, Frantic Search or a second Rebuild could be a lot better in the deck. Both can be pitched to Force Of Will, and the Search can help your threshold and storm count at the same time. Playtest for yourself and see if you agree with this change to the deck.
In this second installment, I will now talk about how to play the deck in a lot more detail, particularly on how to carry out Plan A, B, or C. I'm going to discuss it in the order that games are played, just to give some semblance of organization to the article.

A. Before The Game Begins

Before the game even begins, what you really have to do is to shuffle the deck well. It's fairly obvious that the deck, due to its intense deck manipulation, would definitely have groups of cards clumped together that casual side shuffling can't free up. Given how you only have fourteen lands in the deck, it's highly advisable you use a pile shuffle when you shuffle the deck to maximize randomization. I know this advice has been given numerous times, but it bears repeating. Make sure to do riffle shuffles again to keep within tournament rules after doing the pile shuffle.

At the same time, it's good to have knowledge on your opponent assuming a tournament setting. If, for instance, you know that the opponent seated across you is an FCG player, then you'd know it's a lot smarter to use Unmask than Duress on him due to the sheer number of creatures he'd potentially have. Knowledge of your opponent's deck acquired through legal means is an immense plus for you, as your opening Duress or Unmask might very well dictate the pace of the game.

If you can't determine the deck your opponent's playing, fret not. Most opening plays do give you a good idea what the deck would be (Though I doubt I can enumerate what those plays and what decks are signaled by those plays are.), and assuming you're on the draw, this can help you plan accordingly. I doubt you'd want to take Doomsday to a tournament where you have no idea who/what you're playing against, but if you insist...

Going first or second is not that important to you, unless you're fighting fast combo like Death Long and Belcher, or decks that run Duress and other forms of discard. You'd want to go first in these circumstances. Otherwise, going second might actually help, as you can definitely use all the card draw you can get.

Other than this, there really isn't much to help your game out even before you play it.

B. The Opening Hand

Mulling a hand is one of the more critical decisions a player has to make. Allow me to shuffle my deck right now and draw three opening hands, and see whether or not I can keep or mull those hands away instead...

First hand: Polluted Delta, Necropotence, Dark Ritual, Force Of Will, Chrome Mox, Island, Duress.

Second hand: Beacon Of Destruction, Polluted Delta, Force Of Will, Brainstorm, Vampiric Tutor, Tendrils of Agony, Unmask.

Third Hand: Polluted Delta, Mana Crypt, Island, Brainstorm, Doomsday, Doomsday, Unmask.

Pretty interesting opening hands here. All of them have a fetchland plus one form of disruption or another. The first and the last hands are obviously worth keeping, while it's a genuine gamble to keep the second hand. Why is this so? Here are factors you have to consider when looking at your opening hand.

1. Mana Considerations: Unless you're on the draw or have a way to draw cards or a couple of disruption/permission cards in your opening hand, you have to mull away a hand with less than two mana sources. You automatically mull away a hand of no mana sources as well, for obvious reasons. The second hand only had one land, but had a Brainstorm to perhaps help you draw into more mana. That being said, it's still a gamble to keep a hand like that.

2. Disruption/Permission Density: Assuming you need to disrupt your opponent, can you do it? You might have an opening hand of Land, Mox, Land, Doomsday, Chromatic Sphere, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, but if your opponent had Force Of Will, then it's obvious you will lose that game if you tried to go all-in on turn one. All hands had at least one source of Disruption/Permission, so if this were the only criterion, I would've kept all three hands. You have eight pieces of Disruption with four Duress and four Unmask. You have four pieces of Permission with Force Of Will. The odds of you drawing any of them are pretty high in a seven-card opening hand.

3. Business Spells: In my book, business spells in the deck would be cards that help you draw or tutor for other cards, barring those that cost 3 mana and up, due to the fact that this is just an opening hand. That being said, Brainstorm, Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Demonic Tutor, and Lim Dul's Vault all count as business spells. If you don't find an automatic combo from your opening hand, all these cards will help you find what you need. While the first hand definitely didn't have business spells, the presence of Chrome Mox, Duress, Necropotence, and Dark Ritual all pointed you to dropping lots of cards from your opening hand, reloading from Necro, and then hopefully winning next turn (Particularly if you go second, and you draw a black card for Imprint on the Chrome Mox.). The other hands have a Brainstorm, which, when coupled with a fetchland, should be enough business to tide most opening hands over (Only the third hand can do this without any other cards drawn. The second hand can't.).

4. The presence of “dead” cards: In theory, no card in this version of Doomsday is a “dead” card when you have it in hand, save for Beacon of Destruction. Despite that, holding a whole bunch of Brainstorms and no source of blue mana to show for it, or holding three copies of Doomsday with no Unmask to pitch the D-Days to, or having Tendrils in your hand with no rituals to accelerate into it and fire a warning shot to buy time, or a Mox Diamond with only one fetchland in hand, or a mana-light hand with Mind's Desire or Memory Jar, are all classic examples of good cards being dead cards. Even Yawgmoth's Will can be a dead card given circumstances where you can't send useful spells to your yard. That being said, The second hand has a notorious count of two dead cards: Beacon and Tendrils. Mulling to six and not holding either card is almost always going to be better, as a Beacon in hand is as bad as drawing one less card already, and an uncastable Tendrils is about as bad. The more I look at it, the more hand number 2 becomes a dubious hand to keep. Anytime you find Beacon in your opening hand, you automatically have to look for something good in your hand before you even consider keeping it. This is a given.

5. Your opponent: If your opponent is mulling to six, give him some time before you consider mulling as well. Sometimes, if your opponent mulls, you can pretty much keep hand number two already. Inasmuch as your opponent is hoping you'd mull your hand away, only a genuine mana screw would make you automatically throw your hand back in, and all the other hands you can get are workable one way or another.

As you noticed with this random sampling above, Doomsday's advantage is that for a combo deck, it rarely has horrible opening hands. There is usually a way to work around what you already have. That being said, don't sweat the opening hand too much. If you shuffle well, you hardly will have problems getting horrible hands, barring a Beacon Of Destruction in your opening, which happens a lot, for a one-of.

Notice how I didn't ask you to look for any combo pieces (Doomsday, a means to cast it, and card draw.) in your opening hand. This is because if your hand is worth keeping, you really should find combo pieces (If you don't have any, that is.) within two turns via your business spells, while you also disrupt them from ruining your gameplan. Having disruption and business in your opening hand is more important than having the combo pieces in your opening hand, unless you're fighting a deck that can't stop your combo at all.

Digression (Na may kuneksyon pa rin):

As my recent tournament report draft sadly got deleted, I may as well mention here the fact that during the “Round Of Music” where me and my opponent (Jaytyah.) were singing “The Closer I Get To You” (LYRICS HERE!!! Finally!!!) to each other (That's a sight to see. Two guys, plopping down power, singing, each of them knowing only one line each from the song.) and the guys on the other tables were singing “Joy In My Heart”, I kept a horrible opening hand that had two Force Of Will, one Brainstorm, a Fetchland, A Mox Diamond, a Timetwister, and a Beacon. I guess all the singing effectively dropped my strategy down the drain for that round, but at least you can see that such a hand should not be kept. By the way, that was the only match I lost in that tournament, underscoring the fact that knowing when to mull can really help.

C. Actual Game Strategy

When you play out Meandeck Doomsday, always remember that there are three roads to victory, each with their own unique variations: Plan A (The “Doomsday, I win” plan.), Plan B (The “Doomsday, done, I win” plan.), and Plan C (The “Oops, I win” plan.). When you look at your opening hand, you begin to determine which is the easiest plan among the three to achieve with what you currently have and what you expect to have.

No matter what the plan you would go for though, you have to take note of things you would definitely have to do to optimize your gameplay against your opponent.

1. Land Plays: You don't always have to play land, as you need only a few lands to pull the combo off. This is only a consideration if your opponent could Wasteland or Strip Mine your land, though. If your opponent doesn't run a complete set of strip effects, you have a slight advantage, as fetching dual lands from fetchlands are definitely better than fetching basics when the opportunity presents itself. Moreover, try to get two islands into play asap (Basic or non-basic.) if you have a gush in your hand. Luring out a Wasteland/Strip Mine via Gush is always fun. Try not to break fetchlands until you really need to. You never know when you can Brainstorm some of your less preferred cards away.

2. Mana Plays: Hold onto all your mana sources until you run into a good reason to drop them on the table. No need to play Chrome Mox unless you really want to cast something right away with the mana jump, for instance. No need to play the Mana Crypt until you're going for a storm count already, either. Of course, the moment you have Necro on the table, forget this one. Otherwise, holding onto your mana until you need it is always a good idea, barring being blocked by a Trinisphere just when you thought you could plop your mana down already. Always be on the lookout for a Mind's Desire if you see a hand that has enough acceleration and disruption to pull off one.

3. Disruption and Denial: Don't be afraid to pitch cards like your sole Doomsday to Unmask if your opponent is holding something really important. Most players who use Unmask seem to want to wait four turns just so they can hardcast it instead of pitching for it, which is ludicrous in your deck. Four turns of uninterrupted land drops is a pretty lucky break for Meandeck Doomsday, one that cannot be relied upon to happen even half the time. At the same time, permission only comes in the form of four copies of Force Of Will, so it would be a good idea not to be counter-happy, all the same.

4. Business: Use your tutors to fetch what you REALLY need at the time. If you don't really need something at the time you use a tutor, then simply get an Ancestral Recall instead. Use your Brainstorms sparingly if you see the potential to go for Plan A. You might not come across any means of card draw otherwise.

All in all, these are the common things you have to be aware of when playing the deck, regardless which route you intend to take.

D. In Depth: Plan A

D.1. How Plan A Works

Plan A is the ideal way to win with this deck because it’s usually the safest road to victory. This usually involves you playing Doomsday, then having some form of draw, then enough mana to pull off a storm count that would allow you to cast the lethal Tendrils or lethal Mind’s Desire into a Beacon Of Destruction.

As with all plans, always concentrate on disrupting your opponent while you’re protecting your combo.

The symptom for Plan A is fairly simple: you need Doomsday, the means to cast it, and the means to draw cards from your deck after resolving Doomsday.

D. In Depth: Plan A

D.1. How Plan A Works

Plan A is the ideal way to win with this deck because it’s usually the safest and most consistent road to victory. This usually involves you playing Doomsday, then having some form of draw, then enough mana to pull off a storm count that would allow you to cast the lethal Tendrils or lethal Mind’s Desire into a Beacon Of Destruction.

As with all plans, always concentrate on disrupting your opponent while you’re protecting your combo. Duress and Unmask your way to victory, because once you cast Doomsday, there will be no turning back for you. What makes Plan A much better than any other plan is that if you know what you're doing, there is no way for you to fizzle out (Unlike Plan C.), and there is no way for your opponent to do anything about it after being disrupted (Unlike Plan B, which entails you passing the turn to your opponent.). This means that unless you're being careless, Plan A is a surefire win when you pull it off.

The symptoms for Plan A is fairly simple: you need Doomsday, the means to cast it, the means to draw cards from your deck after resolving Doomsday, and the mana to cast the spells you're about to draw into, aside from the mana that the Doomsday stack itself would provide you. In some cases, it can go as low as 0 mana. In some cases, it can go as high as 1UUUU.

D.2. Sample Plan A Stacks

Here are some common ways to stack your deck for Plan A after casting Doomsday, assuming you're not holding the other combo pieces. If Necropotence is in play for you and you stand a chance of discarding your kill condition when you sac the LED in response to the Yawgmoth's Will, or if you don't want to lose your hand to the LED as well, feel free to substitute here and there with the stack.

1. If you have Chromatic Sphere in play, stack the deck this way after casting Doomsday (Storm: 1), from top to bottom: Ancestral Recall, Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Yawgmoth's Will, Tendrils Of Agony. After you make the stack, draw the Recall from the Chromatic Sphere, cast Recall (Storm: 2), draw the three cards (LED, Ritual, Will.), cast LED (Storm: 3), cast Ritual (Storm: 4), cast Yawgmoth's Will (Storm: 5), respond to the Will by saccing the LED, replay your LED and Ritual (Storm: 7), replay the Sphere (Storm: 8), activate to draw, and win via casting Tendrils (Storm: 9). As you usually use a Dark Ritual to cast the spell, you usually have a Storm of 10 by the time you cast Tendrils. You only need UB mana after Doomsday resolves to cast the Recall and the Ritual, one of which is filtered into by the Chromatic Sphere..

2. If you have a Brainstorm in hand and two additional irrelevant cards (You can't pull this off without two additional cards.) in hand, stack the deck this way after casting Doomsday (Storm: 1), from top to bottom: Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Yawgmoth's Will, Ancestral Recall, Tendrils Of Agony. Then, cast Brainstorm (Storm: 2), draw the Ritual, LED, and Will, return the two other cards, cast Ritual and LED (Storm: 4), cast Will (Storm: 5), respond by saccing the LED for mana, then replay the LED and the Ritual (Storm: 7), cast Brainstorm to draw the two cards and the Ancestral Recall (Storm: 8), cast Ancestral (Storm: 9), draw the two cards and the Tendrils, and cast Tendrils (Storm: 10). You need UB mana for this stack after Doomsday resolves to cast the Brainstorm and the Ritual.

3. If you have a Gush in your hand and two islands in play, stack the deck like this after playing Doomsday (Storm: 1), from top to bottom: Lion's Eye Diamond, Ancestral Recall, Dark Ritual, Yawgmoth's Will, Tendrils Of Agony. Cast Gush (Storm: 2), draw LED and Recall, cast LED (Storm: 3), cast Recall (Storm: 4), draw Ritual, Will, and Tendrils, cast Ritual (Storm: 5), cast Yawgmoth's Will (Storm: 6), respond to the Will by saccing the LED, replay Ritual (Storm: 7), replay LED (Storm: 8), cast Tendrils (Storm: 9). Notice that if you had more mana, it would be possible to cast Tendrils first before casting Will, so you can easily hit more than just 20 damage from your Tendrils. The mana you need after setting up this stack varies from 0 to B, depending on when you use the LED for mana. If you sac after casting Recall, you need 0. If you sac when you cast Will, you need B.

4. If you have only a Brainstorm in hand and no other card in hand, stack the deck like this after playing Doomsday (Storm: 1), from top to bottom: Ancestral Recall, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Mind's Desire, Beacon Of Destruction. Cast Brainstorm (Storm: 2), draw the Petal, the Ritual, and the Recall, keep and cast Recall (Storm: 3), draw the Petal, the Ritual, and the Mind's Desire, cast the Petal (Storm: 4), cast the Ritual (Storm: 5), then cast Desire (Storm: 6). The Mind's Desire will flip the Beacon over six times, dealing a total of 30 damage to your opponent. You need 1UUUB or 1UUUU (Depending on what color mana you sac the Lotus Petal for.) mana after casting Doomsday to pull all of this off in addition to the mana the stack can generate for you so you can cast the Brainstorm, the Recall, the Ritual, and have the mana up for the Desire.

5. If you have only a Brainstorm and one more card not named Beacon Of Destruction in hand, stack the deck like this after playing Doomsday (Storm: 1), from top to bottom: Ancestral Recall, Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Mind's Desire, Beacon Of Destruction. Cast Brainstorm (Storm: 2), draw the LED, Ritual, and Recall, return the Ritual and the random card, cast LED (Storm: 3) cast Recall (Storm: 4), and respond to that by saccing the LED, then you draw the Ritual, the random card, and the Desire, cast Ritual (Storm: 5), and finally cast Mind's Desire (Storm: 6). The Mind's Desire will flip the Beacon over six times as well, dealing a total of 30 damage to your opponent. Now, you only need UUB on your own aside from the mana the stack generates itself so you can cast the Brainstorm, the Recall, and the Dark Ritual.

6. If you have a Rebuild in hand, stack the deck like this after playing Doomsday (Storm: 1), from top to bottom: Ancestral Recall, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Mind's Desire, Beacon Of Destruction. Cycle the Rebuild to draw the Recall, cast Recall (Storm: 2), draw the Petal, Ritual, and Desire, cast the Petal (Storm: 3), cast the Ritual (Storm: 4), and cast the Desire (Storm: 5). The Mind's Desire will flip the Beacon over a total of five times, dealing 25 damage to your opponent. If in case they have a Platinum Angel, you might want to target that once as well. ;) In this stack, you need 3UU or 3UB on your own (Depending on what color mana you sac the Petal for.), in addition to the mana the stack generates by itself. 2 to cycle Rebuild, U for Recall, B for ritual, the additional 1U for mana for the Desire. Of course, you will requirements will be less either by B or U due to your Lotus Petal.

As is the case with all Plans, make sure you are clear to go the moment you cast Doomsday (Use your disruption.), and make sure you have the mana you need to pull the combo off. Make a miscalculation with your mana, and you'll pay dearly for it. Make sure you'll deal twenty damage after doing the combo, by the way. Alternatively, if your opponent uses a lot of fetchlands and FOW, I find that a storm of nine will usually do the trick. I'm still thinking up stacks that involve the Beacon when you're ACTUALLY holding the Beacon, so I'll edit when I come across those solutions.

D.3. Plan A In Action

Here's an excerpt from my now-incomplete tournament report of the last Vintage Olympics for the Realms. This is the second game in my quarterfinals match against Lauren, aka smbdy, who was using a Workshop deck. It's a pretty long game, but it underscores how easy it is to win with Doomsday if you know what you're doing. In fact, if I only had a Dark Ritual, I could possibly have win a lot earlier on...

... Second game saw me doing my regular sideboarding tricks, but this time, the game got funny. I remember this game fairly well, because it was amusing how it worked out...

My turn, I drop a Fetchland, then pass the turn to him.

He drops a Tolarian Academy and a Lotus, which I cast Force Of Will on. He then drops a Mox, and passes the turn to me.

On my turn, I disrupt him via Duress, then pass the turn to him.

His second turn, he casts some more artifacts, ending in a Smokestack.

On my third turn, I play another land, pass the turn to him.

On his third turn, he casts more artifacts, but I bounce them all via Rebuild at EOT.

On my fourth turn, I do nothing of consequence, but draw for Force of Will material.

On his fourth turn, he casts a Welder, Force of Will that right away, then he drops more of his artifacts.

On my fifth turn, I draw, then cast Chromatic Sphere. I now have three lands in play.

On his fifth turn, he casts all his artifacts again.

On my sixth turn, I topdeck a Hurklyl's Recall. I bounce all his artifacts again at the end of his sixth turn. My seventh turn yielded nothing of consequence.

He tries it all again on his seventh turn, so I needed to win on my eighth turn or slowly be locked down by the Smokestack.

Now, here's the deal: Plan A, due to the lack of a Lotus, requires a total of five mana, four of them black, one of them blue. Three of the black mana go to Doomsday, while the remaining black and blue go to Dark Ritual and Ancestral Recall, respectively. That being said, I only had three lands, and though I had a land in my hand to play (I refused to play the Underground Sea because he had a Wasteland.), I still needed one more mana to win.

My topdeck? Lotus Petal.

I used Unmask, then hardcast Doomsday, then proceeded to win with the standard stack from there. (Refer to Stack 1 in Section D.2.)

Match Standing: 1-1.

E. In Depth: Plan B

E.1. How Plan B Works

Plan B is usually Plan A in decks with Lotuses because it's so easy to play in our meta a first turn Doomsday, then pass the turn to the opponent, then win the following turn. The presence of the Black Lotus in the deck makes so much of a difference that what I consider to be Plan B in my sub-optimal build is actually Plan A when you have all the cards. Despite that, you will find that a lot of decks in the Philippine meta (Read: The Aggro decks.) really don't have anything to do against you in one turn when youcast your Doomsday with the intention of winning the next turn. For the most part, you will need to cast four spells in order to cast a fatal Mind's Desire into a Beacon Of Destruction for four times. At times, you will still go for the Tendrils kill instead.

The symptoms for Plan B are usually similar to the symptoms for Plan A except for one thing: you don't have any way to win with Doomsday on the turn you cast it. This means you find yourself without enough mana, or no card draw whatsoever to draw into your stack. Holding some artifact mana without a Mind's Desire in your hand is usually another sign that you ought to consider winning via Plan B. Unless you have a Time Walk, there are still times you'd find yourself losing the next turn after casting Doomsday, as you will pay half your life when you cast it, and if you intend to use Gush in your stack, a timely Strip Mine just might ruin your day, as well as being hit by a Draw7 spell, which happened to me in my third game against Lauren in the match I described above. Yes, his topdeck was Memory Jar. Yes, I had a Force Of Will for it. Yes, he had an active Welder so it didn't matter.

E.2. Sample Plan B Stacks

There aren't as many stacks for Plan B, and I don't intend to talk about how a player can weasel their way out of hosers (I think it should be easy to figure most of them out, anyways.). In any case, here are the usual stacks you'd want to use.

1. With at least two Islands in play and one more source of mana, stack the deck like this after casting Doomsday, from top to bottom: Gush, Lion's Eye Diamond, Chromatic Sphere, Mind's Desire, Beacon Of Destruction. Pass the turn. Draw Gush, float UU and bounce the two islands to cast it (Storm: 1), draw the LED and the Sphere, cast the LED (Storm: 2), cast the Sphere (Storm: 3), and replay one Island. Tap the replayed Island and the third mana source to float a total of 1UU in your mana pool, then sacrifice the LED to float 1UUUUU in your mana pool. Use the 1 to activate the Sphere, draw the Desire, and cast it (Storm: 4). Flip the Beacon four times to deal 20 damage to your opponent.

2. If you're holding exactly two other cards in your hand, stack the deck like this after casting Doomsday, from top to bottom: Timetwister, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Yawgmoth's Will, Tendrils Of Agony. Pass the turn. Draw the Timetwister, cast it (Storm: 1), and you draw the following cards: Doomsday, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Yawgmoth's Will, Tendrils Of Agony, and your two random cards. Cast the LED (Storm: 2), cast the Ritual (Storm: 3), cast the Yawgmoth's Will (Storm: 4), and then sac the LED for BBB in response. Replay the Ritual and the LED (Storm: 6), then cast the Tendrils (Storm: 7). Note that you will need a lot of mana (2UB) and luck here so your opponent doesn't draw permission. Note that you also need an additional three spells to deal lethal damage, which means those two cards in your hand aren't as irrelevant as they supposedly are.

3. If you're holding Beacon and at least one other card in hand, stack the deck like this after Casting Doomsday, from top to bottom: Brainstorm, Yawgmoth's Will, Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Mind's Desire. Pass the turn. Draw Brainstorm, cast it (Storm: 1), draw Will, LED, and Ritual, put back Beacon and the random card. Play LED (Storm: 2). Play the Ritual (Storm: 3). Play the Will, sac the LED for BBB in response (Storm: 4). Replay the LED and the Ritual (Storm: 6). With BBBBBUUU floating in your mana pool, cast Brainstorm (Storm: 7). Get Mind's Desire, and cast it (Storm: 8). From there, reveal Beacon a minimum of 7 times for 35 damage. You will only need UB for this, to cast Brainstorm and Dark Ritual.

These plans are all risky because they require you to pass the turn. Stack Number 2 for Plan B is particularly riskier because your opponent will also draw seven new cards from the Twister. Always weight the odds of getting hit by Strip Mine or Wasteland if you intend to go for Stack Number 1 for Plan B with only two Islands in play and no more than that. You will lose right away. There are some stacks where you might instead want to go for Tendrils kills, but they usually involve you holding a Ritual or other reusable mana sources after you cast Doomsday. I think those situations should be a no-brainer to piece together. A single Dark Ritual ups your spellcount by two right away, and a standard Tendrils stack of Ancestral Recall, Lion's Eye Diamond, Tendrils Of Agony, Chromatic Sphere, Yawgmoth's Will already yields a storm of 7 without recasting the Doomsday or the Ancestral Recall on your opponent. A Dark Ritual in hand automatically ups the count to 9, and all you have to do by then is cast Doomsday a second time.

E.3. Plan B In Action

This is an excerpt from the same tournament report that never got finished. This time, it's my second game against Mike, aka Oldschool, and he was using a Masknaught/Stax variant. Notice how both decks I featured so far are both mismatches...

In the second game, I sided in a lot of hate against the deck, and it really saved me in the second game. We shuffled and cut, and my opening play was just a Chromatic Sphere.

On his turn, he played an Ancient Tomb, and played a Chalice of the Void for 1, which I used FOW against. On my turn, I drew, played a land, then passed the turn.

His turn, he topdecked another Chalice, and played it again. I responded to that with a Vampiric Tutor, and let the Chalice resolve. I then drew my card for the Vamp on my turn. I played a basic land again, then passed the turn. He played a City of Brass, then passed the turn.

On my turn, I played an Underground Sea, then played Back To Basics. He didn't have too many lands on him, so he started playing really slow. We went draw, go for a few turns until he managed to plop down a Juggernaut. I already had an Energy Flux in hand by this time, but not enough mana to cast it. I drew nothing of consequence, then passed the turn.

On his turn, Mike swung for five, and I was down to nine life, after all that fetching and FOWing. I topdecked nothing good again, still two Swamps only in play, and a locked down Underground Sea. Mike got to swing one more time, but he was still pretty much tapped down because of B2B.

I then topdecked a Mana Crypt, played it, activated the Sphere for U, drew, and played the Flux then played an Island, which I drew off the Sphere. Mike cleared his board of artifacts on his next turn, and was still locked down by the B2B.

On my turn, with the mistaken notion that I only had three life left, didn't pay for the Crypt's Flux upkeep, but flipped a coin anyways. I took three damage, and shook Mike's hand, but Mike (I am giving MAJOR props to him on this one.) pointed to our life counters and reminded me I still had 1 life point left. I realized I couldn't cast Doomsday, though. Despite that, I still saw good odds with what I had. I had D-Day and Tendrils in hand, and topdecked a land. I played the land, then cast Tendrils to make my life total 3 again.

On Mike's turn, he drew, but didn't find any mana. On my turn, I drew a card, played an Underground Sea, and cast the Ritual to cast Doomsday, setting the stack to: Gush, Lion's Eye Diamond, Chromatic Sphere, Mind's Desire, Beacon Of Destruction. I then passed the turn, knowing full well that nothing short of a topdeck into a Workshop would save him, assuming he had 3Sphere in his hand. He couldn't use Wasteland to stop my Gush, either. I had three Islands already, including the Underground Sea on the table that was tapped down by the B2B. So he drew, played then used Wasteland on the Sea, and then passed the turn to me.

I drew Gush, floated UU from the Islands, bounced it to cast Gush (Storm: 1), drew LED and Chromatic Sphere. I replayed an Island, tapped it to cast the Sphere (Storm: 2), then played the LED (Storm: 3). I activated the LED, then tapped a Swamp for B. I now had BUUUUU floating in my mana pool, and I activated the Chromatic Sphere to draw the Desire and cast it (Storm: 4). Mike took 20 damage from the Beacon, although he had around 11 life or less due to Ancient Tomb and City Of Brass already.

Match Standing: 1-1

F. In Depth: Plan C

F.1. How Plan C Works

Plan C is usually the plan that makes you just win at random. As Doomsday is usually not involved in Plan C, all I can discuss are general things that point you towards winning via Plan C instead of winning via Plan A or B. Plan C usually means a TPS-style kill where you just play ten spells and then win. This usually involves plucking out a Yawgmoth's Will or a massive Mind's Desire.

When you draw your opening hand, and you find yourself with a lot of mana but no Doomsday, you immediately consider the possibilities of Plan C. Assuming you have business in the form of a Tutor or a Brainstorm, or you have card draw or Yawgmoth's Will, a hand sporting two Dark Rituals but no Doomsday should be considered right away for Plan C.

Holding Will or Mind's Desire or Timetwister usually means considering going for Plan C right away, assuming you have enough mana to pull it off. Truth be told, it's pretty hard to see if a hand is a better Plan C kill than a Plan A or Plan B kill if you happen to also have Doomsday in hand, but in general, Plan C kills are more fun to watch, particularly if you have Mind's Desire to work with. A mere Desire for 5 can usually yield you great cards, or at worst, five lands, which has yet to happen to me. This deck has so many spells to put to good use that a Desire will usually either disrupt your opponent's hand severely or make you draw a ton of cards or make you win right then and there. Plan C, as most TPS wins have shown quite clearly, are among the hardest to stop of wins, barring a Stifle. Getting into a counter war with your opponent when you actually have a Desire and not a Will usually makes them regret going counter-happy on you...

Having a Necropotence in play also means you will more than likely win via Plan C than any other plan. You usually gorge yourself for nine or so before the turn you intend to win, unless your grip is filled with good cards. That being said, make sure to save your Unmasks for the time you go for the Plan C kill. Same with Duress, really. It just helps to up your spellcount a lot. Truth be told, there isn't much to be said about Plan C other than if you see it's possible to pull it off, then go for it. Just go with your gut feel, as this deck doesn't have as many micromanagement issues as Meandeck Tendrils or Meandeath, making it a more straightforward deck to play.

F.2. Plan C In Action

Still an excerpt from the same old tournament. This time, my opponent was Quiccs, who was using the Elven Nation combo deck...

Quiccs and I considered an intentional draw at first, but we realized we'd jeopardize both of ourselves if we did that this round, so we instead played out our match. Both of us were combo decks, so it was bound to be interesting to see who can combo out faster.

In the first game, I had a decent hand of Brainstorm, Lotus Petal, Rebuild, a Fetchland, Duress, a Swamp, and an Unmask. Looked like a mess of a hand to me, initially, with no clear plan in sight. As I won the die roll, I opened with a Duress to pluck out his Skullclamp. Quiccs then started bringing down Elves on me in the next three turns, while I filtered my hand via Brainstorm to find myself holding a Lion's Eye Diamond, a Tendrils, and a Mana Crypt in addition to my original hand by the time I was going to die on his next attack. I knew this was a Plan C win, as I didn't have any Doomsday to work with. He had a few elves here and there and the elf that pumped a target creature, so I was running on a slightly faster clock on turn four. I was down to four life, and my topdeck was Dark Ritual. I knew I had to win now or at worst, stall for more life.

Play sequence went, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Mana Crypt (Storm: 4). I had 3 black mana, I floated the colorless mana from the Crypt, tapped an Island, then cast Rebuild (Storm: 5). I replayed LED, Petal, and Crypt (Storm: 8). I then used Unmask to pluck an irrelevant card from his hand (Storm: 9), then cast Tendrils (Storm: 10). I had no other spells I could cast in hand, so you might say I got extremely lucky on that point.

Match Standing: 1-0.

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