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UK MCQ V - THE SEMIFINALS SIDEBOARDING STANDARD INTELLIGENCE 05/06/2019

UK MCQ V - The Semifinals Sideboarding

 

Last weekend’s Mythic Championship Qualifiers, hosted by Axion Now, brought to a close the inaugural season of this new qualification method in the UK. Over the last three weekends we have seen five events, with varied metagames, representing the strength of the current Standard format. You can see Standard Intelligence’s coverage of the results both here on Axion Now and over on Standard Intelligence’s website: (www.standardintelligence.uk).

 

For the final event we wanted to try something a little different and we hope you’ll enjoy it and find it useful. We have managed to obtain the sideboard plans for the semi-final matches, and I will now go through them and explain some of the choices made.

 

‘Mono Red’ Vs. ‘Command the Dreadhorde’

 

As you can see from the lists below, the ‘Command’ deck is attempting to prey on midrange and control decks. These decks do not put their opponent’s life total under pressure, and, due to the lack of effective graveyard disruption currently available in Standard, can leverage the powerful effect of ‘Command the Dreadhorde’. ‘Commands’ access to lifegain with the Explore package of Wildgrowth Walker and eight Explore creatures, as well as Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord, gives the deck an ability to recoup any life lost early in the game so that it can overwhelm its opponents with a big Command the Dreadhorde in the mid- to late-game. Lifegain is very important in this matchup because ‘Red’ decks put life totals under pressure early and often, with turn 6 kills being reasonably commonplace.

 

4C Command the Dreadhorde

3 Breeding Pool

4 Command the Dreadhorde

1 Drowned Catacomb

1 Forest

1 Godless Shrine

4 Hinterland Harbor

4 Interplanar Beacon

1 Isolated Chapel

4 Jadelight Ranger

4 Merfolk Branchwalker

2 Overgrown Tomb

3 Paradise Druid

2 Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord

4 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

4 Teferi, Time Raveler

3 Temple Garden

1 Trostani Discordant

1 Ugin, the Ineffable

2 Vraska, Golgari Queen

2 Watery Grave

4 Wildgrowth Walker

4 Woodland Cemetery

 

1 Cast Down

4 Duress

2 Kraul Harpooner

1 Massacre Girl

1 Narset, Parter of Veils

2 Ritual of Soot

2 The Elderspell

1 Thrashing Brontodon

1 Trostani Discordant

 

Mono Red Aggro - Semifinal 1
2 Chandra, Fire Artisan

3 Experimental Frenzy

4 Fanatical Firebrand

4 Ghitu Lavarunner

4 Goblin Chainwhirler

4 Light Up the Stage

4 Lightning Strike

20 Mountain

4 Runaway Steam-Kin

4 Shock

4 Viashino Pyromancer

3 Wizard's Lightning

 

2 Dire Fleet Daredevil

1 Experimental Frenzy

4 Lava Coil

4 Legion Warboss

1 Rekindling Phoenix

3 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator



As such, the ‘Mono Red’ deck sideboarded to mitigate that lifegainand keep the pressure on a deck that requires a bit of setup before it can go over the top. Fanatical Firebrand and Shock are frequent cuts in this deck due to their relatively low impact if they don’t have important targets, such as Llanowar Elves, to remove. Instead, Tibalt, Rakish Instigator tries to shut down the lifegain in the ‘Dreadhorde’ deck entirely; the devil tokens he generates being incidental and of minimal importance. Lava Coil is also important for removing Wildgrowth Walker permanently, further hindering the oppositions effort to gain life. Finally, the last Experimental Frenzy comes in to ensure late game punch in an archetype which is classically known for running out of gas.

 

In

   

   

Out

   

   

 

For the ‘Command the Dreadhorde’ deck the best move is to not play its namesake card. In this matchup the card is more likely to be a liability, stuck in their hand with neither the mana or the life total to effectively utilise it. High mana ‘value’ cards are also cut as the card advantage they generate will take too long to come to fruition. The ‘Command’ pilot may simply be too far behind to claw their way back into the game at that point, explaining why a couple of Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and a pair of Teferi were also pulled out. In their place went a few cards that can help catch up the ‘Command’ player up if they fall too far behindon board: Ritual of Soot, Massacre Girl and another Trostani Discordant, with Trostani also providing another potential source of lifegain. Some number of Duress also come in, with this card serving as a multi-purpose piece to help protect some part of the lifegain package from burn spells, and a way of dealing with ‘Red’s’ sources of card advantage: Experimental Frenzy, Chandra, Fire Artisan andLight Up the Stage. Finally, Thashing Brontodon also comes in as defensive speed by blocking early and removing a resolved Experimental Frenzy late.

 

In

   

   

Out

   

   

 

In this match the ‘Mono Red’ deck managed to overcome the ‘Command the Dreadhorde’ deck. I think this will be fairly typical of the match up as the Command deck is primarily set up to fight a different part of the meta.

‘Mono Red’ Vs ‘Simic Nissa’

 

Our next semi-final also involved a ‘Red’ deck attempting to overcome a deck running an Explore package, with ‘Mono Red’ stacking up against ‘Simic Nissa’. This ‘Simic’ deck is a very interesting invention; not quite a stompy deck, not quite a ramp deck, but using elements from both. Nissa, Who Shakes the World feels like an under-utilised part of the format at the moment, especially considering her rather excellent pairing with Hydroid Krasis. In this deck Tamiyo, Collector of Tales is just trying to help put this combo together rather than stocking up the graveyard as it does in the ‘Command’ deck. Finally, and most curiously, for a deck running seven Planeswalkers, there is a copy of The Immortal Sun in both the main deck and sideboard. This feels very much like it is being used as an out against a Planeswalker heavy field that often has no way to remove it. Notably, Sun does not affect the passives on Planeswalkers, meaning the ramping effect of making all your Forests into better Sol Rings remains active on Nissa, even through the six-mana Artifact.

 

Mono Red Aggro - Semifinal 2

1 Chandra, Fire Artisan

3 Experimental Frenzy

4 Fanatical Firebrand

4 Ghitu Lavarunner

4 Goblin Chainwhirler

4 Light Up the Stage

4 Lightning Strike

20 Mountain

4 Runaway Steam-Kin

4 Shock

4 Viashino Pyromancer

4 Wizard's Lightning

 

1 Chandra, Fire Artisan

2 Dire Fleet Daredevil

1 Experimental Frenzy

4 Lava Coil

4 Legion Warboss

3 Tibalt, Rakish Instigator

 

Simic Nissa

4 Breeding Pool

3 Elvish Rejuvenator

2 Entrancing Melody

2 Field of Ruin

10 Forest

4 Growth Spiral

4 Hinterland Harbor

4 Hydroid Krasis

3 Island

4 Jadelight Ranger

4 Llanowar Elves

2 Memorial to Genius

4 Merfolk Branchwalker

4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World

3 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

1 The Immortal Sun

2 Wildgrowth Walker

 

2 Entrancing Melody

2 Forced Landing

2 Negate

2 River's Rebuke

1 The Immortal Sun

3 Thrashing Brontodon

1 Vivien Reid

2 Wildgrowth Walker

 

In this match up the ‘Red’ pilot sideboarded exactly as their counterpart had against ‘Command the Dreadhorde’, having identified that the main way they could lose this match was to a Wildgrowth Walker that got out of hand and gained too much life; meaning that Lava Coil and Tibalt, Rakish Instigator are again must-include cards. Experimental Frenzy also comes in out of the board again, surprising as the ‘Simic’ deck has much more ready access to cards like Thrashing Brontodon and Vivien Reid to remove the powerful enchantment. This suggests that the pilot was more interested in the higher upside of Frenzy than the perhaps more easily defended Chandra, Fire Artisan. It should also be noted that despite the existence of targets like Llanowar Elves in the ‘Simic’ deck, I do agree with the removal of Firebrand and Shock, as they have low impact elsewhere. The ‘Simic’ deck would also need to double ramp if it wanted to hit one of its powerful five mana plays, such as Nissa or Wildgrowth Walker into Jadelight Ranger, before a Goblin Chainwhirler could come down and clean up the Elves.

 

In

   

   

Out

   

   

 

As for the ‘Simic Nissa’ deck, we see the defensive speed and Frenzy-killing split card of Thrashing Brontodon being brought in, as well as a couple of extra Wildgrowth Walker for the lifegain they provide. Vivien Reid is also brought in, working as both a powerful late game source of card advantage and as a way of shutting down the ‘Red’ deck’s Experimental Frenzy card advantage engine. What we don’t see being brought in are the two copies of Forced Landing, a card which works excellently against Rekindling Phoenix. This suggests that either the ‘Simic’ pilot knew that there were no Phoenix present in his opponent’s list, or that the two extra copies of Entrancing Melody they did bring in were expected to be enough to deal with any potential Phoenix, while also being a flexible answer to other creatures. The Immortal Sun is mostly a six-mana paperweight in this match up, so it comes out easily. The pilot also trimmed on the ramp effects by taking out Growth Spiral and Elvish Rejuvenator, as well as Tamiyo, Collector of Tales - which is a slow card advantage engine and as such looks very weak against most ‘Red’ openers. There was a slight play / draw difference in the cards removed from the maindeck: on the play a Tamiyo was left in as it can come down before your opponent's position is overwhelming, and on the draw a Rejuvenator is left in instead in an attempt to steal back the ‘play’ by ramping and providing a speed bump for the next ‘Red’ attack.

 

In

    

   

Out (Play)

    

   

Out (Draw)

   

   

 

I should point out that both ‘Red’ decks made it to the finals, but no games were played, as one player decided that they would rather take the ‘Magic holiday of a Lifetime’ over an invite, flights and accommodation to Mythic Championship Barcelona, and so happily conceded the finals to an equally happy, newly minted Mythic Challenger.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this look into the semi-final matchups and how sideboarding went. If you did enjoy this article, or even if you didn’t, let us know as we are always looking for ways to improve our content.

 

About Standard Intelligence:

Standard Intelligence is a podcast focussing on the standard competitive metagame in the UK&I. Its aim is to let you know which decks are doing well, decks that may be advantageous to play, and technology for you to use against the likely decks at your next standard event. The show is hosted by PPTQ grinders Jack Patten and Simeon Beever. Simeon has been playing paper magic since Born of the Gods, but has been aware of magic since playing Shandalar many years ago. In the real world Simeon is a teacher, husband and father, though not necessarily in that order. Jack originally learned magic from a VHS tape in 1999, but only really started playing during Dragons of Tarkir. As a muggle, Jack will claim he is “The most overqualified house-husband in the world” having recently completed his PhD in Physics, though in reality he spends most of his time making Magic content. He still has the VHS tape.