Unlocking the Vault #58: Back to the Basics

Since the restriction of Lodestone Golem and Sphere of Resistance, the Classic format has been slowly working itself out. In the first DE after the restrictions on Feb 15th, ncsu31sb piloted an Affinity deck to a 4-0 finish. The other decks that finished in the money in that event were UR Standstill, White Weenie Sky Hussar, Pod Shop (AKA – Mishra’s Afterbirth), and another Affinity deck. [Editor’s Note: Thanks for calling the deck by its proper name :) – PlanetWalls] Seeing a deck like Standstill doesn’t shock me too much since it has a favorable control matchup due a higher density of countermagic as well as better card draw. I don’t have information on the entire field of decks that were played, but there were several Blue Control decks, mostly based around Tezzeret the Seeker, though none finished in the money.

Whether or not people have stopped trying to fight Affinity, it appears that the deck is still a force to be reckoned with. The deck is still blisteringly fast and can abuse Tangle Wire like no other deck. In place of the 3 Golems, ncsu31sb played 1 Crucible of Worlds and 2 Thorn of Amethyst in his 4-0 deck, while thewoof2 elected to add 2 Crucible of Worlds and 1 Phyrexian Metamorph in his maindeck while having a full set of Thorns in his sideboard. Both changes are sensible, though not what I initially predicted Affinity would try to play. That said, if trying to replicate the mana denial plan that Golem provided, Crucible and Thorn are a pretty efficient answer, even if neither is a win condition in their own-right like Golem was.

With a slightly slower format in mind, I elected to play the following deck in this past weekend’s DE:

The deck is actually a modified Legacy deck by Joe Bernal from a recent SCG Open. Where the deck shines is by grinding out an advantage with Stoneforge Mystic and True-Name Nemesis (TNN) backed up by permission, spot removal, and occasionally locking people out of the game with Back to Basics.

Here is the full breakdown of the metagame for the 17 decks that entered the tournament:

3 Affinity
2 Dredge
2 Dark Depths-Thespian’s Stage
2 White Weenie Sky Hussar
1 Boggles (Modern deck)
1 BUG Delver
1 Stoneblade Control
1 Esper Labyrinth Control
1 Bant Fish
1 Oath
1 UR Standstill
1 Tezzeret Control

Here are the videos from the DE:

The deck played as I expected. I was able to lock some people out with Back to Basics and TNN went the distance in a couple of games. If I were to play this deck again, I probably wouldn’t change much, though Supreme Verdict was the worst card in the deck throughout the tournament. I never cast it as the board states were never in favor of doing so. I’d leave them in there as they seem pretty good in some matchups like White Weenie, Affinity (if you can get it by Turn 4 without staring down a Tangle Wire, that is), and some Fish decks. Having seen the continued success of Affinity, I might modify the sideboard to include Energy Flux or Hurkyl’s Recall. Possibly swapping out the two Thoughtseizes, or one Thoughtseize and one Flusterstorm, but I’ll have to give it some more thought. Regardless, I was fortunate to have dodged Affinity in this tournament as my sideboard was not prepared for it (which was not by design; I simply did not build my sideboard effectively). I suggest that people don’t ignore it like I did.

Let me know your thoughts on the deck in the comment section below. Also, if you’d like to see me pilot a specific deck in a DE, let me know and I’ll try to accommodate in the near future!

Clan Magic Eternal
Follow me on Twitter @enderfall

  1. Love the deck! Was a pleasure playing you in the finals, and congrats on the win (and apologies for taking so much time…was my first time piloting the deck and I’m afraid it showed).

  2. Don’t rule out playing instants on your turn. It’s often correct to wait until the last minute to use Swords or Brainstorm, but not always. There was at least once when your only play was to use S to P on your opponent’s creature, but you waiting until their attack step to do it, rather than do it on your turn. All that does is give them another chance to draw a counterspell. Same thing with Brainstorm – the moment I remember most is round 3 where you said “we can’t draw a land” but you were holding two Brainstorms and passed your entire turn without doing anything, only to use Brainstorm on your opponent’s end step. And sure enough that Brainstorm drew you into a land.
    Back to Basics is powerful in Classic at the right moment though, that’s for sure.

  3. I’ve been trying to be a little less aggressive with my Brainstorms. It was probably the wrong thing to do in R3, but it’s something that I’ve been consciously trying to do in an effort to get maximal value out of each Brainstorm. I seem to be playing a little better by holding on to my Brainstorms, but that was a case where I needed the land and should have used it.

    As for Workshop decks, they are on my radar screen, but I haven’t had much time to test due to the school workload. I’ll try to get to it in April, though.

  4. I wondered why you labeled my deck as “Control” and then I watched your Round 2 video. :) I actually think of it more as a Fish-style deck and I think I just happened to draw into the spell half of my deck as opposed to the creature half when we played, which was probably bad for me because even though I was countering a lot of your stuff, I wasn’t really advancing my board. Watching Game 2 was kind of surreal…it looks like we both had the win in our hand and opening at one point in time, but were too afraid of the opponents’ counter to play it.

    The Snapcaster play in Game 1: I had a brain fart and thought I had a Plow in the GY, then realized it was in my hand after I played it. That being said, it looked like you had that one as I was pretty much cold to TNN pre-board.

    Nice deck and nice videos! Congrats on the 4-0! Just remember to actually pack Affinity hate next time. :) (I played it twice; did not go so well.)