Neobrand Combo Primer Part 3: Sample Game Walkthrough & #Sideboardguide

In part 2, I covered a lot of theory about how to play the deck, but I understand that imagining how to apply these in a real game is hard.  As such, I will go through a sample match to illustrate some of the concepts, as well as provide the sideboard guide for the top decks.

  1. Game Walkthrough

Game 1 on the play, in the dark

This hand has everything you could ask for: an Allosaurus Rider, two green cards to pitch, a Neoform, and mana to cast a turn 2 Neoform.  Extra credit for the hand having a SSG to start the combo, as well as a Summoner’s Pact you can use for a Wild Cantor or an Autochthon Wurm during the combo if you draw another green card in your two draws.  This is one of the best hands you can have, save for turn 1 combo hands.

Turn 1A: Opponent goes turn 1 Goblin Guide->reveal Griselbrand.  If it didn’t reveal such a distinct card, I would play out the Island to bluff a different deck.

Turn 1B: I draw the Griselbrand. As played, I play out the Gemstone Mine on the off chance that Goblin Guide gives me a Tranquil Thicket.

Turn 2A: Goblin Guide reveals Tranquil Thicket (rewarded!).  Opponent plays an Eidolon and passes.  I do not cycle here because I think the Eidolon will severely limit my ability to manage the library size with Summoner’s Pacts and Manamorphoses, so I opt to not cycle to keep the library size divisible by 7 (49) to start the combo.

Turn 2B:  Island->Allosaurus Rider pitch two Eldritch Evolutions->Neoform take two damage.  Note that I keep the Summoner’s Pact as it can have utility later on in the game.  I decide to pass here, as in game 1s Burn does not have problematic cards like Path to Exile or Deflecting Palm, so Griselbrand should do the trick here.  If I draw 7, I die to three 1 mana burn spells. The worst case scenario would be a triple Lightning Bolt to Griselbrand.  Any combinations with Lava Spikes or Skewer the Critic will not work to kill Griselbrand.

However, I note that if I were going to just Neoform and pass, I should have cycled the Tranquil Thicket.  That’s a small mistake for sure.  Note that if the opponent attacked, I would not block as to enable a 2 Lightning Bolt/Skewer hand to kill Griselbrand.

Turn 3A: Opponent plays Grim Lavamancer->Lava Spike, pass. 

Turn 3B: I draw an Allosaurus Rider, which is food for Nourishing Shoal and another blocker.  My plan should be to present a two turn clock and not risk anything by drawing.  I attack, but I choose to draw which is a huge mistake.  It’s hard to miss from this spot, but there’s a possibility I miss and go down to 12, at which point I’m dead to 3 1 mana spells again.  I do draw an exceptionally bad batch of 7.  Remember – there’s no harm in passing if you have an unbeatable board!

I plan on playing the Allosaurus Rider as a blocker but I elect to cycle the Thicket first because it’s free.  Lo and behold – a Nourishing Shoal!  However, rather than gaining 7 to go to 19 and passing, I double down on my mistake and keep going, thinking at worst I’ll be back up to 12.

Luckily, I draw another Shoal.  At this point, I should have the win in hand given that I have plenty of mana and Laboratory Maniac already in hand.  However, If I Pact for a Wurm, I die to Eidolon and Bolt.  So I should Shoal pitch Allosaurus Rider (gain 7), Pact taking 2 for a Wurm, and Shoal pitch Autochthon Wurm (gain 15), putting me to 25 and being safe from any shenanigans going forward.

Turn 3B cont.: Nourishing Shoal pitch Allosaurus Rider (12 life)->Summoner’s Pact for Autochthon Wurm (10 life)->Shoal pitch Wurm (25 life).

At this point, my opponent has seen enough and concedes.

Game 2 on the draw vs. Burn

Sideboard philosophy: You are a faster combo deck with a 0 mana gain 15.  You are favored as long as you can execute your plan in a reasonable timeframe.  Burn tends to play Paths and Grafdigger’s Cages, but you generally shouldn’t dilute your deck too much.  I like Serum Visions a lot more on the play, as on the draw you may not want to cast multiple Serum Visions after an Eidolon of the Great Revel.  Since the list I was playing had 2 Dissenter’s Deliverances, I elect not to bring in many Oxidizes.  I think Pact of Negation is defensible, but if they are leaving up mana for Path/Skullcrack, you are likely not getting pressured enough to be worried. One may be OK, though.

Suggested Sideboarding: Present your 60 on the play, -4 Serum Visions +1 Oxidize +1 Pact of Negation +2 Leyline of Sanctity on the draw

Against Burn, I’d like to present a turn 2 Griselbrand on the draw.  This 7 is on the lower end of keepable, as it’s missing a piece.  However, Grove can cantrip, and Life Goes On can buy some time.  If this only had Eldritch Evolution and not Neoform, I would likely mulligan.

Turn 1A: Mountain->Monastery Swiftspear->attack

Turn 1B: Draw Edge of Autumn. Not the worst hit considering it wasn’t an Allosaurus Rider, as it cycles.  I lay a Botanical Sanctum, go

Turn 2A: Bloodstained Mire->Suspend Rift Bolt->attack/pass.  Given that Burn should be pressuring your life total ASAP to reduce your ability to draw with Griselbrand and the lack of turn 2 plays despite that, I put my opponent on a range heavier on disruption (Path, Skullcrack).  I also elect to cast Life Goes On here, which puts me to 22 for another Griselbrand draw (I already had enough spare green cards).

Turn 2B: I’m fortunate enough to draw a Summoner’s Pact, and now comes the first go/no-go decision point.

Starting with two lands and having to use Summoner’s Pact means that I need to win this turn or pass with 2 SSGs in hand (32% to draw the two in the first 14 cards, by the way).  Waiting will reduce the Pact burden and give us one more mana to work with.  The question becomes what could happen if we pass.  They currently have 5 points of damage on-board.  Any spell means at least 9 in total, which would put us to 13, which brings the number of draws we can take from 3 to 1.  I figure that that is an unacceptable risk to take, so we go for it here.  If we have to fight a Path, we’ll try and figure it out on the way.

Turn 2B cont.: Gemstone Mine->Summoner’s Pact for Allosaurus Rider->Allosaurus Rider pitch 2x Eldritch Evolution->Neoform

As mentioned in the last article, the biggest concerns from this point are 1) life, 2) mana, 3) accessing Laboratory Maniac.  Life to keep going is by far the most important factor.  If all fails, 2 SSGs can hopefully keep us alive and set us up to win in two turns.

Unfortunately, our first draw 7 is met by a Path as we feared.  This is what the singleton Pact of Negation would be for.  As we haven’t boarded it in, we can either 1) fight through it and win with the Maniac without Griselbrand, or 2) draw enough, gain enough, and get to 2 SSGs to win in a few turns.  Drawing 7 in response is mandatory, though.

Turn 2B cont.: Draw 7->Path to Exile->Draw 7 in response. Here, we’ll need to carefully reconsider each decision point after every draw.  It’s possible we stop midway.

We have some food for the Shoal and mana, but no life gain yet.  We keep drawing. Draw 7 more.

Now we are in business.  Note that we have 4 total mana (4 SSGs) so we can even fire off a Life Goes On or Serum Vision.  If we Pact for an Autochthon Wurm here, note that we need to win this turn as we can no longer pay for Pact.  Also, we would put the library at X/7+6.  We have 4 Manamorphoses, 1 Edge of Autumn, and Summoner’s Pacts to get through everything in the library.  So we should be OK.

Summoner’s Pact for Autochthon Wurm->Nourishing Shoal pitch Wurm->Draw 7 more. We hit a Nourishing Shoal+Wurm in the next 7, so this should all be OK.  All we need to do is set up a spot where after the Path and the original draw 7, I can get my library empty for the Maniac.  That means getting your library size ideally to X/7+4, so 4 Manamorphose+Edge of Autumn can do the job.  Or just draw the Pact of Negation and make this infinitely easier.

Summoner’s Pact for X.  This is done to thin the deck. Ideally, I hit more Summoner’s Pacts with green creatures left in the library to thin the deck some more.

However, the next 7 yields me nothing useful (Summoner’s Pact to thin or Pact of Negation to counter the Path)  and now I’m in a bit of a precarious spot.  I still have 4 Manamorphoses, 1 Edge of Autumn and 1 mana to cycle with Dissenter’s Deliverance.  How do we maneuver into a spot where even after Griselbrand is gone, we can draw all the cards in the library?  Note that we still have our original draw 7, so we have to go through the remaining 5 cards manually…

As seen in the picture below, we are at an effective 5 cards in the library after the original draw 7 (note we have already drawn our only basic).  Note that we already have 3 of the 4 Manamorphoses, 3 SSGs, Edge of Autumn and Dissenter’s.  We can use the 4 Manamorphoses, Edge and Dissenter’s to draw 6 cards as long as the last Manamorphose isn’t the actual bottom card of the library.  So statistically we should still be good to go.

Manamorphose 3 times->Let the Path resolve and fail to find->let the original draw 7 resolve. The Manamorphoses are ones I have to fire off this game anyway so it’s free to do so to look for a Pact of Negation to win the game on the spot.  The 3 draws are all bricks and I let the Path resolve. However, here I make a humongous mistake!!  I was going to have to fire off an Edge of Autumn anyway to get through my library, so I should’ve done that here.  I just gave up a 1/9  chance that the next card is a Pact of Negation and win the game on the spot by countering the Path! Hopefully this won’t bite me in the behind here..

As long as the last card is not Manamorphose, we should win.  We’ll draw the last SSG along the way, have 2 cards remaining in the library, and go for a combination of Manamophose/Edge of Autumn/cycle with Dissenter’s and win the game.

The draw 7 doesn’t yield me the Manamorphose! Now I’m getting really nervous.  If the last card is actually Manamorphose, I can’t win.  I get a bit lazy and Pact to see the last two cards, which are both the key cards that I’ve needed all this time.  What started as a seemingly easy win is now a coinflip.

.. And I draw the Pact!  Because The last card is Manamorphose, I can’t cast it after Laboratory Maniac.  Therefore, I lose a game where it looked like such a lock to be a win.  There were a lot of microdecisions and I was doubting myself after wondering how many mistakes I’ve made, but upon review the only mistake I’d call out is not cycling the Edge of Autumn when Pact of Negation was still an out.

It feels bad to lose a game based on one card out of 60 being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but hopefully this illustrated how thin the margins can be with this deck!

Game 3 on the play vs. Burn

The 7 is two mana sources away with a Serum Visions for a turn 3 Griselbrand.  While acceptable, I can see arguments for and against this hand.  In the end, I keep as we have the actual Allosaurus Rider, and Manamorphose allowing me to have more outs (SSGs can now be filtered into GG).

Opponent also keeps 6.

Turn 1A: Island->Serum Visions draw Pact of Negation and scry 2x Summoner’s Pact to the bottom. An easy decision considering all you need is mana.

Turn 1B: Fetch Sacred Foundry->Lava Spike. I’m ecstatic to see a non-creature hand from the opponent.

Turn 2A: Draw Summoner’s Pact->pass. Didn’t I scry those away..?

Turn 2B: Mountain->go.  This makes Path to Exile/Skullcrack way more likely..

Turn 3A: Draw Nourishing Shoal->move to End Step->Lightning Helix->Discard Eldritch Evolution. This isn’t looking good..! I can hopefully at least draw a big fatty to pitch to Nourishing Shoal when the opponent has tapped out.

Turn 3B: Fetch Mountain->Swiftspear->go.  Clearly, the Swiftspear was just drawn off the top.  That the opponent declined to play anything makes me really suspicious.  Now I’m almost certain that the opponent is holding up Skullcrack, which makes the Nourishing Shoal in my hand very tricky to play.

Turn 4A: Draw Chancellor of the Tangle->move to discard intending to pitch a Pact of Negation. If my opponent taps out, I’m going to take my opportunity to Shoal pitch Chancellor while Skullcrack is down.  The opponent does nothing, and I pitch the blue Pact, reasoning that because I have the Allosaurus Rider, I can win by passing with a Griselbrand and therefore I don’t need to be reckless with Pacts.

Turn 4B: Fetch Sacred Foundry->Bolt->Attack me down to 8 and pass. Not sure why the opponent fetch/shocked main phase.  Perhaps they are representing Path+another white spell? If so, I’ll be very hard-pressed to win this game..

Turn 5A: Draw Simian Spirit Guide. We need to get going here.  How to sequence this is interesting, but I’m fairly sure we just need to Manamorphose into UG.  Granted, 4 Neoforms become outs at that point, but at the expense of 4 SSGs if we make GG (all 13 untapped lands are outs regardless of what we make).  I elect to gamble on the Neoform as they make comboing much easier if we do hit, and if we don’t at least we can cast Serum Visions if we draw it.  Pitch SSG, Cast Manamorphose make UG->Draw Waterlogged Grove

This is the dirtiest of all the outs, since cheating in Griselbrand means we can’t even draw 7!.  However, our hand is our hand.  At least we don’t have to pay for a Pact because we have the rider.  We just need to cheat in Griselbrand, leaving Nourishing Shoal up, and hope.  Play Waterlogged Grove->Allosaurus Rider pitch Chancellor and Pact->take 1 to cast Eldritch Evolution->Pass

Given that our read is Skullcrack, we need to be very careful playing around that.  Hopefully, we draw a green card and we can Shoal in response to put the game away at some point.

Turn 5B: Inspiring Vantage->Goblin Guide->Pass.  I’m almost certain the last card in the hand is Skullcrack.

Turn 6A: Draw Allosaurus Rider.  Excellent.  Now we can attack to threaten lifelink and put the game away.  If they have Skullcrack, we can Shoal and gain 7 in response.

They do and we do! The rest of the game is academic, and I win a match that had many ups and downs.

Even though the combo turns were early and the games may have appeared mindless from the outside, I hope this highlighted some of the concepts that I highlighted in part 2 of the article and how interactive this deck can be!

  1. Sideboarding

Now the part everyone’s been waiting for!  Generally speaking, you are a combo deck that’s almost always asking the question, not answering.  Therefore, we want our sideboarding to be minimal and efficient.  Generally, the cards that come in are obvious.  As for cards that come out:

  • Serum Visions is much better on the play, and become much worse in fast matchups
  • Edge of Autumn, Life Goes On 1-2, and Wild Cantor are some of the weakest cards of the deck.

Here’s my most current list that I’ll be referencing.  This is also my frontrunner for GP Las Vegas:

[deck title=Neobrand – finalnub]
4 Allosaurus Rider
2 Autochthon Wurm
4 Chancellor of the Tangle
2 Griselbrand
1 Laboratory Maniac
4 Simian Spirit Guide
1 Wild Cantor
1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
1 Edge of Autumn
4 Eldritch Evolution
2 Life Goes On
4 Manamorphose
4 Neoform
4 Nourishing Shoal
4 Serum Visions
4 Summoner’s Pact
4 Botanical Sanctum
4 Gemstone Mine
1 Island
1 Tranquil Thicket
4 Waterlogged Grove
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Leyline of Sanctity
3 Oxidize
4 Pact of Negation
3 Slaughter Pact
2 Veil of Summer

Vs. Hogaak (Very favored)

-1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
-1 Life Goes On
-1 Serum Visions
-1 Serum Visions (Draw)
+2 Veil of Summer
+1 Leyline of Sanctity
+1 Leyline of Sanctity (Draw)

  • One of the main reasons to play this deck right now.  Hogaak as constructed is not structurally set up to combat Neoform. Truly tragic that it’s about to go
  • Matchup is mostly a race except Carrion Feeder can throw a wrinkle on the combat math as it can deny lifelink if Griselbrand is blocking
  • Post-board, it’s generally pretty obvious when they are holding up an Assassin’s Trophy.  If you have the read, you can just pass on turn 2 so you can combo with Veil backup.
  • Veil is amazing for this matchup, as it both ruins Thoughtseize and Trophy on Griselbrand/Laboratory Maniac.  It’s a common pattern to stop comboing (as long as you don’t have any Pact obligations) once you can produce a Wild Cantor/another open green mana to Veil
  • Lately, the lists have started to play ~5 discards (heavily weighted towards Brutality for the red matchups).  Before they were only playing 2-3 Thoughtseize so I was happy with just Veils.  As it is now I’m happy to bring in some Leylines to blank their, but you want the right ratio of answers vs. their threats.  In generally I’d like Leylines more on the draw where you can’t Veil their turn 1 Thoughtseize, whereas you can do that on the play.
  • Sample Enemy SB plan: +? Trophy, +1-2 Thoughtseize, +2-4 Collective Brutality

Vs. Jund (Favored)

-1 Edge of Autumn
-1 Life Goes On
-1 Wild Cantor
-1 Life Goes On (play)
-1 Chancellor of the Tangle (draw)
+2 Leyline of Sanctity
+2 Veil of Summer

  • Matchup is surprisingly favored.  You’d think that discards+Liliana+clock is bad but them playing Wren over Confidant is a huge boon for us.
  • MD can range from 6-8 discard and 0-4 Trophy. Liliana of the Veil is a huge problem if the opponent can weather the storm in the first few turns as she can exhaust all of your resources and playing out an Allosaurus is no good against her Edict.
  • A very common play pattern is to combo and stop as soon as you can produce other Allosaurus Riders+evolution spell (then you can re-combo next turn with an extra land) or Wild Cantor (both serve as food for Liliana Edict)
  • Veil of Summer works overtime here.  I’ve countered anywhere from turn 1 Thoughtseize to Liliana Edict/Ultimate and Fulminator Mage
  • Dissenter’s stay in as lists generally have 0-2 Grafdigger’s Cages and the floor as a green cycler is high.  My current list only has 1 Dissenter’s Deliverance unfortunately, but these lists play 0-2 so I’ll take my chances and not bring in Oxidizes in the dark.
  • I shave a Chancellor on the draw as the odds of you turn 1ing is much lower against the likely turn 1 discard
  • Sample Enemy SB plan: +0-3 Fulminator Mage, +0-2 Grafdigger’s Cage, +0-2 Collective Brutality

Vs. Izzet Phoenix (Neutral to slightly unfavored)

-1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
-1 Serum Visions
-1 Wild Cantor / -1 Edge of Autumn (Play)
-2 Serum Visions (Draw)
+4 Pact of Negation

  • Pre-board, the matchup is favored as Izzet should have no relevant interaction mainboard and you are faster than them.  Note that its clock can be pretty disguised with Aria/Phoenixes so if you are presented with an option to jam or wait, chances are jamming is correct.
  • Think carefully in cases where the opponent is threatening to flip Thing after Griselbrand has entered play.  It’s still possible drawing 14 is correct sometimes
  • Post-board, they have a wide variety of hateful things for us.  These include Force of Negation, Spell Pierce, Blood Moon and Narset, Parter of Veils. You can play through Blood Moon somewhat with Manamorphoses, but in general if you have a chance to jam you jam, as you don’t have the ability to sculpt your hand like they do.  If they have it, too bad!
  • Both their turn 3 bombs (Blood Moon and Narset, Parter of Veils) are more or less game over
  • Sample enemy SB plan: +? Vapor Snag, +3-4 total Spell Pierce/Force of Negation, +1 Narset, Parter of Veils, +1-2 Blood Moon

Vs. UWx (Very unfavored)

-2 Life Goes On
-1 Serum Visions
-1 Edge of Autumn / -1 Serum Visions (play)
-1 Griselbrand
-1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
+4 Pact of Negation
+2 Veil of Summer

  • This likely would’ve been a fine matchup before MH1/WAR.  Too many of UW’s new toys are devastating for you in one way or another.  These include Dovin’s Veto (only way to beat it is go under it or Veil of Summer), Force of Negation, Narset, and Teferi
  • In the mainboard, they seem to have 4 total permission cards that they can play on 2 or less mana.  Most seem to be something like 1 Spell Snare, 1 Mana Leak, 1 Logic Knot, 1 Spell Pierce.  If you have the option, elect to jam Eldritch Evolution over Neoform, but I doubt that you’ll have the luxury
  • ^ is in addition to the ~3 Force of Negations main and ~2 Surgical Extractions main
  • Games rarely get better, so chances are you are best off jamming at your earliest convenience, even post-board where you have some pretty useful cards.  The issue with waiting is that UWx slamming T3feri or Narset can undo all of the sculpting you may have done to this point
  • Enemy MD plan: 3-4 turn 2 or earlier counterspells (Pierce, Knot, Leak, Snare), ~3 Force of Negation, ~2 Surgical Extraction, ~3 Narset, ~2 T3feri
  • Enemy SB plan: +1 Dovin’s Veto, +? Vendilion Clique

Vs. Eldrazi Tron (Neutral to slightly unfavored)

-3 Serum Visions
+3 Oxidize

  • This matchup should be pretty good theoretically, but I haven’t had much success against them.
  • It’s possible with Karn, the Great Creator that they have too many angles pre and post-board that it evens out to be an even matchup (fast TKS, fast KGC into Needle/Cage, fast Eldrazi beatdown, Chalice on 0)
  • Karn and the presence of Hogaak have forced decks like Eldrazi Tron to compress their sideboards, so the post-board games shouldn’t change much.  Expect them to board in the 1 Cage and 1 Needle and the KGC bomb to e strictly Lattice or Liquimetal Coating
  • Sample Enemy SB plan: +1 Grafdigger’s Cage +1 Sorcerous Spyglass

Vs. Gx Tron (Very favored)

-1 Life Goes On
-1 Edge of Autumn (play)
-1 Serum Visions (draw)
+2 Oxidize

  • Unlike its little spaghetti brother, this is a very good matchup.  Tron puts up very little resistance on turns 1-3.  Most of their bombs don’t matter.
  • Using the same logic as I used above, Gx Tron has also been forced to be very focused with its sideboard space with Hogaak.  Starting a sideboard with 4 Leylines really limits what can go into your SB, especially if you insist on playing the Karn package.
  • As you can see, the sideboarding is very minimal because your main plan is already very good against them and their SB currently aren’t flush with hate cards for Neoform.
  • The non-Karn, the Great Creator lists have more room, but you shouldn’t expect more than an errant Warping Wail and Grafdigger’s Cage.  Indeed, the MC Barcelona winning list had 1 Warping Wail, so it may become more common going forward (which is weird because that card is only good against Thing in the Ice? Right now? There’s no Scapeshifts or Past in Flames these days)
  • The Karn, the Great Creator lists shouldn’t have room for Warping Wail.  But if you suspect that your opponent has Warping Wail, consider boarding in one Spell Pierce for a Serum Visions
  • Sample enemy SB plan: +0-1 Grafdigger’s Cage, +0-1 Pithing Needle, +0-1 Warping Wail

Vs. Humans (Slightly unfavored)

-1 Life Goes On
-3 Serum Visions
+3 Slaughter Pact
+1 Engineered Explosives

  • Like your matches against UW, most of your games are decided from turn 0-2, so consider your starting hands very carefully
  • Feel free to play out your EE preemptively on X=2, as their relevant hatebears are all at cmc=2
  • 1-2 Grafdigger’s Cage seems stock in today’s Humans list.  I wouldn’t expect too many other changes as there’s a lot of good hatebears in their maindeck already.  This is why Deliverances stay in (it’s also nice to blow up a Vial sometime)
  • Sample enemy SB plan: +1-2 Grafdigger’s Cage, +? Sin Collector, +? Gaddog Teeg

Vs. Mono-Red Phoenix (Very favored)

On the play: Present the starting 60

On the draw:

-1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
-1 Serum Visions
+2 Leyline of Sanctity

  • This, Hogaak and Burn are the other reasons to play this deck.  For a deck with a real fizzle rate, it’s nice to have matchups where Griselbrand staying on the field will win the game most of the times
  • That said, if they start with a Soul-Scar Mage, consider that it won’t take that much to kill or weaken the Griselbrand to their advantage.  Consider all permutations of spells if they make a suspicious attack
  • Because most lists play Arclight Phoenixes and because of Hogaak, most lists can’t afford to play Grafdigger’s Cage.  They are close to having to present their 60 like us (for very different reasons)
  • Be frugal with your Manamorphose usage as Blood Moon is one of the few ways to get you.  Observe their turn 3s carefully
  • In general, aim to keep hands that can produce a turn 2/turn 3 Griselbrand on the draw/on the play
  • Sample enemy SB plan: +0-3 Blood Moon, +0-2 Surgical Extraction

Vs. Burn (Favored)

-1 Wild Cantor
-2 Serum Visions
-1 Edge of Autumn (play)
-1 Serum Visions (draw)
+1 Oxidize
+1 Pact of Negation
+2 Leyline of Sanctity (draw)

  • Similar matchup as Mono-Red Phoenix, except that they have Eidolon of the Great Revel, they are more spell dependent, and they likely have Grafdigger’s Cage postboard
  • Lists seem to play 0-2 Grafdigger’s Cage.  Deliverances are fine as a high floor hedge
  • Be mindful of Path to Exile or Skullcrack where possible.  It’s often correct to fire off an errant Nourishing Shoal if they tap out of Skullcrack mana just so you can buy those crucial turns
  • As with against Mono-Red Phoenix, aim to keep hands that can produce a turn 2/turn 3 Griselbrand on the draw/on the play
  • Serum Visions aren’t great against a deck with Eidolon of the Great Revel, especially so on the draw
  • Sample enemy SB plan: +0-2 Grafdigger’s Cage, +? Skullcrack, +? Path to Exile

Vs. Urza (Neutral)

-1 Edge of Autumn
-1 Life Goes On
-1 Wild Cantor
-1 Serum Visions
+3 Oxidize
+1 Engineered Explosives

  • I thought this would be a good matchup on paper as they are slow to disrupt you and can’t kill you fast enough (also Laboratory Maniac goes through life gain), but in my limited matches vs. them it seems more even to me.
  • In their 60, expect 1-2 Cage, 1-2 Needle, 3-4 Whir of Invention and 0-3 Goblin Engineers to tutor these hate pieces
  • Postboard, expect the black versions to bring in at least 2 Thoughtseizes
  • Setups where they show an open Whir of Invention for Grafdigger’s Cage is quite annoying, so try to go under that if possible.  If not, because they don’t clock you, you can also try to sculpt your hand into a hand that can kill a tutored Cage before your evolution spell resolves
  • Keep in mind that this archetype is brand new, so ready for almost anything (Ashiok, Clique, etc.)
  • Sample enemy SB plan: +2-3 Thoughtseize, +1 Grafdigger’s Cage

Well there you have it! I tried to convey everything that I’ve learned in the last few months on the deck and hope people found it helpful.  I hope some of you will take away that the deck’s power level is unacceptably high for Modern, there is a lot of play to it in the games, and that it’s very well positioned while Hogaak is still legal.  I honestly don’t know what’ll happen to the deck once Hogaak gets banned.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the format becomes more interactive and decks like UW and blue Shadows variants rise up to police a deck like this.  Until the deck becomes unplayable or banned, I’m sure to continue playing it though! Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep on turn 1ing!