April 25 2016 Monday at 12:43 PM

Duels Diaries April 25th, 2016

Your Tournament Primer-

Magic Duels tournament season is upon us!  In the coming weeks there will be tournaments for all three of the Magic Duels platforms.

XB1 - http://forum.nogoblinsallowed.com/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=14505&sid=7affcab92f8631769220a2c551ce2bc9

Steam - http://forum.nogoblinsallowed.com/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=14448&sid=7affcab92f8631769220a2c551ce2bc9

iOS - http://forum.nogoblinsallowed.com/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=14093&sid=7affcab92f8631769220a2c551ce2bc9

For a spiky try-hard like me, there is nothing that gets my blood pumping like a good tournament.  It lets me put all these hours of trying to make great decks to good use.  But what if what has come of those hours isn’t satisfactory?  Well, that would suck!  Thankfully I had a decent week of battles and I feel I am closer to finding my weapon of choice than ever.  For today’s entry, I am going to forgo the records and results.  They don’t mean much right now, because the decks I played against randoms have better records than the decks I playtested against Gemini, but the decks I tested with are certainly stronger than the ones that crushed the one and two ranks.  Instead, I am going to go over the major archetypes, at least as I see them, and discuss some strengths and weaknesses.  Oh, and decklists, lots of decklists.

Superfriends aka Four and Five Color Walkers - courtesy of Randomname

Creatures

4 x Sylvan Ranger

2 x Sylvan Advocate

1 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer

1 x Linvala, the Preserver

1 x Greenwarden of Murasa

1 x Woodland Bellower

1 x Ulvenwald Hydra

Enchantments

2 x Oath of Chandra

2 x Oath of Gideon

2 x Oath of Nissa

Sorcery

2 x Call the Gatewatch

1 x Declaration in Stone

4 x Explosive Vegetation

2 x Planar Outburst

2 x Radiant Flames

Instant

2 x Anguished Unmaking

Planeswalkers

1 x Ob Nixilis Reignited

1 x Sorin, Grim Adversary

1 x Nahiri, the Harbinger

1 x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

1 x Chandra, Flamecaller

1 x Arlinn Kord

Lands

2 x Shambling Vent

2 x Needle Spires

2 x Hissing Quagmire

2 x Canopy Vista

2 x Cinder Glade

4 x Evolving Wilds

4 x Forest

2 x Plains

2 x Swamp

2 x Mountain


This deck is the power test of the format.  If you don’t pressure them or have answers for them, they will just beat you over the head with a lot of mythic rares.  I feel like in any tournament this will be a popular archetype that you are likely to face, and it comes with many faces.  Any four color combination, five color builds, and even some three color builds all fall into the “good mythics” archetype for me.  Little synergy, aside from an Oath or two, and a lot of power.  The weakness of these decks are in the early turns.  Typically they will spend the early turns playing mana-fixes, Oaths with minimal board impact (except for Chandra’s which is why that Oath is likely the best), and tempo-negative plays like Call the Gatewatch (I card I disagree with, but this isn’t about what I would play, it is about what I see others playing).  Oh, and most of their lands will enter the battlefield tapped.  You have to punish them in these early turns, either by setting up a better endgame (ramping, drawing cards, making sure you will have a counter ready) or by just crushing them (Nantuko Husk with Carrier Thrall, awesome green two and three drops, dork plus pork plus Always Watching, Fevered Visions).  If you are thinking about playing Walkers, think more clearly about your opening turns.  Your curve likely needs to be lower, and you likely need to cut your worst tempo-negative plays.  You also likely need to add another land because missing a land-drop or a color may as well be GG.   What you want it a safe space for your sensitive planeswalker to do what they do, and that means efficient removal, sweepers, solid blockers/speed bumps, stuff like that.  At the same time, if you become all answers you run the risk of running into the control deck or ramp deck that doesn’t care about those answers at all, and they have more ways to kill your threats than you have threats.  I think there is also opportunity for more aggressive Superfriends lists that play a lot of creatures to keep the opponent off balance, then follow-up with the backbreaking walkers.  More on that to come.

White Aggro - courtesy of WeCoxist

 

Creature(26)  

3x Expedition Envoy  

3x Anointer of Champions  

1x Kytheon, Hero of Akros  

2x Knight of the White Orchid  

2x Thalia's Lieutenant  

4x Topan Freeblade  

2x Hanweir Militia Captain  

3x Consul's Lieutenant  

2x Bygone Bishop  

2x Kytheon's Irregulars  

1x Archangel of Tithes  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

Instant(7)  

3x Enshrouding Mist  

2x Expose Evil  

2x Make a Stand  

Sorcery(2)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

Enchantment(2)  

2x Always Watching  

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

Land(22)  

20x Plains  

2x Westvale Abbey


The plan of dork, dork, Always Watching or Thalia’s Lt. is really tough to compete with, but since that is rare-dependant it only happens in about 60% of their games.  Still, that means it is more than likely to happen to you.  This is the test of if your deck can handle early, wide aggression, and I expect some players to play this in the upcoming events, particularly because it seems to have a great matchup with last year’s Ramp deck.  Before you get all “one sweeper kills it blah blah rah rah”, consider that the wise White Aggro player will likely be able to save one of their guys with Enshrouding Mist or all of their guys with Make a Stand, or they will have creatures bigger than your Languish/Radiant Flames thanks to Always Watching, renounness and Thalia’s Lt.  Yeah, this White Aggro is more pain than you are used to from the archetype.  Playing against it, you want decent spot removal starting in the two slot - Declaration in Stone of course, don’t be too picky about what to cast it on.  Aside from that, Oath of Chandra, Grasp of Darkness, Twin Bolt, Fiery Impulse and Reave Soul should all be considered, and you likely are not playing enough of these cards because you got some sweet new mythic to cram into your deck.  Make space for some early spot removal or you likely won’t live long enough to see your sweet new mythic.  If I am playing White Aggro, I really love Nimbus Wings in the deck.  Turn two renown guy, turn three Wings is completely out of range of Radiant Flames, and the Ramp player likely can’t Thunder it for many turns.  The Walker deck either needs spot removal,  or it eats a Walker on sight.  I also would lower the land count, and probably the curve.  Still, it is hard to get away from Westvale Abbey and it is hard not to use Archangel Avacyn.

Gruul Eldrazi Ramp - courtesy of Kryder

 

Creature(15)  

3x Jaddi Offshoot  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

1x Woodland Bellower  

1x Ulvenwald Hydra  

1x Oblivion Sower  

1x Omnath, Locus of Rage  

1x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger  

1x Kozilek, the Great Distortion  

Sorcery(16)  

3x Rolling Thunder  

3x Ruin in Their Wake  

2x Radiant Flames  

4x Nissa's Pilgrimage  

4x Explosive Vegetation  

Enchantment(4)  

2x Oath of Nissa  

2x From Beyond  

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller  

Land(24)  

1x Plains  

3x Mountain  

10x Forest  

4x Evolving Wilds  

1x Rogue's Passage  

5x Wastes  

There seems to be a lot of disagreement on Ramp.  Is it still great?  Is it even good?  People have strong opinions.  I think the main thing keeping people from being consensus on Ramp’s awesomeness is that many players are ramped-out.  We played with and against it too much for six months, and now we are thrilled to play anything else.  But in a tournament, one should always consider a good/great deck and how to play it or beat it.  If I am playing against Ramp, many of the things I mentioned for Superfriends apply - lower your curve, remove your tempo-negative plays.  I’ll add another, play good universal removal spells like Declaration in Stone and Anguished Unmaking.  Also, find ways to gain life in a good, proactive way so you don’t get burnt out by Rolling Thunder.  These include Kalitas, Ayli, Linvala, Lantern Scout, Westvale Abbey, Sorin and others.  And of course, if you are more of the creature-loving type, be aggressive.  You probably need to lower your curve a bit and play some hard-hitting two and three drop creatures.  If you are playing control, you likely have better answers for Ulamog but worse answers for Kozilek and Gaea’s Revenge, so consider those cards as you build your deck.  If I am a Ramp player, for the first time I likely have more ramp spells available than I need.  Choose wisely, as which ramp spells get used will construct a framework for your deck.  Turn two ramp is faster, but less reliable since Cultivator can die and Ruin doesn’t always ramp.  Turn three is more reliable and more card advantage since Pilgrimage grabs two lands, but it means you have to have a plan for what to do with turns one and two.  If you run all of the ramp spells, it is likely you will flood badly, I really don’t endorse more than twelve, and that includes Renewal, a card that I think is still rather important.  Another consideration is that your big dudes aren’t as likely to survive with all the great removal spells around.  I like either going the hexproof route with Revenge and Crusher or going the spell-based route with Rolling Thunder, Ravaging Blaze and  Fall of the Titans.  Catching those mages with hands consisting of Declaration in Stone and Anguished Unmaking off guard will likely matter very much.  You also can’t Ob Nix or Sorin gain/drain a hexproof creature or a massive burn spell.

That sums up what I feel I am most likely to play against, and it forms the framework of how I test, build and prepare.  Now I’ll go down the list of decks and deck types I am considering -

Jund Crats

Creature(29)  

3x Blisterpod  

2x Carrier Thrall  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

3x Sylvan Ranger  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

3x Elvish Visionary  

3x Duskwatch Recruiter  

4x Nantuko Husk  

2x Tireless Tracker  

1x Liliana, Heretical Healer  

2x Smothering Abomination  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

1x The Gitrog Monster   

Sorcery(5)  

1x Bone Splinters  

2x Act of Treason  

2x Chandra's Ignition  

Planeswalker(2)  

1x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar  

1x Arlinn Kord 

Land(24)  

2x Swamp  

2x Smoldering Marsh  

1x Mountain  

2x Cinder Glade  

4x Forest  

2x Hissing Quagmire  

2x Woodland Cemetery  

2x Dragonskull Summit  

2x Rootbound Crag  

1x Westvale Abbey  

4x Evolving Wilds

An opening with dork, dork, Nantuko Husk is a great way to get ahead of your opponent and keep getting in damage.  Follow it up with an Act of Treason, and you are way ahead.  The things that likely need to change are the top end.  Kalitas I am sure about, he stays.  Gitrog and Abomination are card-draw engines that may be overkill, and both could be cut.  We already get tons of value off Tireless Tracker and Duskwatch Recruiter if we want it, and I may return Evo Leap to the deck.  It is also hard to say if there is enough spot removal here.  The mana is a challenge, and far too often my lands enter the battlefield tapped, so maybe I should cut a few non-basics and max-out on Sylvan Rangers.  The deck has great matchups all over the place, but when it loses it loses bad, typically to awkward manabase and a slow draw that walks into a sweeper.  Playing against this deck, you want to kill Husk at all costs, and you also need removal for the Recruiters and Trackers.  The best way to deal with Smothering Abomination isn’t to kill it, but to kill as much of everything else as possible.  If you are a control deck, Evo Leap has to go.  If you are not, just power over it with flying and trample.  The deck is very weak to both, and rock solid against everything else.

Bant CoCo without CoCo

Creature(23)  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

3x Duskwatch Recruiter  

1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  

2x Tireless Tracker  

3x Reflector Mage  

3x Bounding Krasis  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

2x Woodland Wanderer  

1x Outland Colossus  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

1x Woodland Bellower  

Instant(1)  

1x Disperse  

Sorcery(4)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

2x Rabid Bite  

Enchantment(2)  

2x Oath of Nissa  

Planeswalker(4)  

1x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Kiora, Master of the Depths  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

Land(26)  

2x Plains  

2x Prairie Stream  

3x Island  

4x Forest  

2x Lumbering Falls  

2x Canopy Vista  

2x Glacial Fortress  

2x Sunpetal Grove  

2x Hinterland Harbor  

1x Westvale Abbey  

4x Evolving Wilds

In Standard, Bant decks have been playing awesome creatures and Collected Company and have been cleaning up.  We don’t have Collected Company, and that makes this deck an aggressive mix of tempo and midrange, basically a good-creatures deck that brings the beats.  The deck has real issues playing from behind, so it likely needs it’s curve lowered.  Bellower, Warden and Colossus should probably be Lantern Scouts and Lambholt Pacifists, which hit really hard and also stabilize against early aggro.  Oath of Nissa is an attempt at mana fix without giving up our two drop, and it is important with the double-colored costs of Nissa and Gideon.  Big Jace is more of a tempo play in this deck since plan A is to get them on the backfoot.  Big Jace comes down and plays like a Disperse with Rebound.  Baby Jace doesn’t have many flashback targets, but what he does target is removal, specifically Declaration in Stone, and he helps smooth out the land-heavy draws.  Perhaps he could be another aggressive two-drop or another removal to get right to the point, but he also has the upside of drawing the opponent’s attention away from your other creatures.  Smarter players would and should ignore Jace and deal with the threats that have power and toughness.  A card I have seen do well in other Simic and Bant lists is Alter Ego, and it may deserve a spot.  If you play against this deck, be very clear with yourself about who is in the lead in the game.  Either be the beatdown and keep the deck on the defensive, because it doesn’t play well from behind, or be the control and kill everything early and go over-the-top late.

Color+Eldrazi

 

Creature(25)  

3x Runed Servitor  

2x Eldrazi Mimic  

3x Thopter Engineer  

3x Vile Aggregate  

2x Eldrazi Obligator  

2x Matter Reshaper  

3x Juggernaut  

1x Akoum Firebird  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

2x Pia and Kiran Nalaar  

2x Reality Smasher   

Instant(6)  

3x Spatial Contortion  

2x Warping Wail  

1x Titan's Presence  

Sorcery(2)  

2x Exquisite Firecraft  

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller   

Land(26)  

12x Mountain  

4x Evolving Wilds  

2x Westvale Abbey  

1x Wastes  

1x Warped Landscape  

2x Ruins of Oran-Rief  

1x Rogue's Passage  

3x Foundry of the Consuls

I have struggled, and will likely continue to struggle to find the best way to use the colorless Eldrazi.  I have tried just about everything.  Some NGA folks like GB Eldrazi with a lot of control elements, and I have found it easy to go over the top of that deck, along with most midrange decks.  The problem is consistency.  Those games where Thought-Knot and Reality Smasher show up, the deck, regardless of the other color, is hard to beat.  As two-of rares, you can’t rely on that, and in the games where only one of them shows up, or none, you’ll wish you played a deck with more synergy or that made better use of its manabase.  Playing against this deck is about having a bigger, badder late game and having plenty of ways to kill the Eldrazi, or getting under them and taking advantage of awkward lands like Ruins of Oran-Reif.  Don’t forget about Smasher, try to avoid casting a walker right into it, and hold an unwanted land to discard with your removal spell.  

Esper Control


Creature(6)  

1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  

1x Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim  

3x Reflector Mage  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

 

Instant(9)  

2x Disperse  

3x Grasp of Darkness  

2x Scatter to the Winds  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

Sorcery(13)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

1x Angelic Purge  

3x Read the Bones  

3x Coastal Discovery  

2x Languish  

2x Planar Outburst  

Enchantment(2)  

2x Oath of Jace  

Planeswalker(4)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

Land(26)  

2x Prairie Stream  

2x Shambling Vent  

3x Plains  

3x Island  

2x Sunken Hollow  

3x Swamp  

2x Isolated Chapel  

2x Drowned Catacomb  

2x Glacial Fortress  

2x Drownyard Temple  

1x Westvale Abbey  

2x Evolving Wilds

For me, Esper is about figuring the right mix of answers and card draw, and then whether or not to use creatures and how many to use.  Getting max-value off sweepers means having no creatures of your own, while having no creatures means less defense for your planeswalkers.  All this, and you have to keep drawing cards, or you just flood out and that is sad.  Three of your four planeswalkers draw cards.  The rule of thumb should be not to cast a walker like Ob, Sorin or Jace to kill something, aka minus, unless you absolutely have to.  Even when my opponent has a few creatures, if they can’t clearly kill my walker, I play the Walker and plus it.  Most of my deck can block or kill creatures, so I am likely to draw a solution to the problem.  Most of my deck doesn’t draw more cards, and drawing more cards is crucial to getting ahead and staying ahead with control.  Looking at my list above, I likely have too much card draw and too few answers, as drawing into more draw doesn’t kill anything.  Oath of Jace is a very tempo-negative, turn three play that is only a one-card advantage in the end, and should likely get cut.  Similar to planeswalkers, where you never evaluate them based on the ultimate, you should never evaluate an Oath based on the second ability, only on the EtB ability.  That is what makes Oath of Jace and Oath of Gideon underpowered generally, and it makes Oath of Nissa and Oath of Chandra respectable cards.  I am also certain I should cut the Westvale Abbey and run just a single Drownyard Temple, the mana is bad enough as it is.  Instead, we can add more basics or up the Evolving Wilds count.  Playing against Esper is often about sticking a Walker, or an Evo Leap, or going huge with Eldrazi and/or huge burn spells.  Value creatures like Tracker and Duskwatch are also a big pain, as creature-based card advantage makes spot removal into a bad deal, and forces the Esper mage to draw more cards to dig out.  With so many threats in the format, Esper feels like a glutton for punishment, but some mages dig the struggle.

Geistramp -

Creature(5)  

2x Thing in the Ice  

1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

1x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger  

Instant(6)  

2x Fall of the Titans  

1x Kozilek's Return  

3x Geistblast   

Sorcery(23)  

2x Rolling Thunder  

3x Ruin in Their Wake  

4x Pieces of the Puzzle  

2x Radiant Flames  

2x Nissa's Pilgrimage  

4x Explosive Vegetation  

2x Pore Over the Pages  

1x Part the Waterveil  

1x Crush of Tentacles  

2x Nissa's Renewal   

Planeswalker(2)  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller  

Land(24)  

4x Island  

3x Mountain  

12x Forest  

1x Wastes  

4x Evolving Wilds  


Since Gemini and I threw this deck out there last week, a lot of people have contacted me to talk about it.  It is the format’s ultimate solitaire deck, and in many ways it remains a work in progress.  I don’t think we have fully tapped into the best build, there is a lot of room for testing and innovation.  Playing against it is all about killing it early.  Sitting back is doom, and it reminds me of combo decks of old like Heartbeat of Spring.  Just having one counterspell ready will not save you, and the deck can gain a stupid amount of life and draw a stupid amount of cards if you do nothing, so it must be attacked, early and often.  Playing with it, there are a lot of things to be tested.  While Pieces of the Puzzle is awesome, it could be removed as sometimes you self-mill crucial lands to the combo.  Displacement Wave is an interesting card that also mixes with Greenwarden for infinity loops.  Sweepers like Radiant Flames rise and fall in value depending on the matchup, and may not be needed at all, it is hard to say.  Ramp lands, draw cards, do busted stuff with Geistblast is the real heart of the deck, what you do around that is rather optional at this point.

UR Prowess

 

Creature(16)  

2x Thing in the Ice  

2x Abbot of Keral Keep  

4x Mage-Ring Bully  

3x Stormchaser Mage  

3x Jhessian Thief  

2x Jori En, Ruin Diver  

Instant(12)  

4x Fiery Impulse  

4x Expedite  

4x Titan's Strength  

Sorcery(8)  

4x Slip Through Space  

4x Clutch of Currents  

Enchantment(2)  

2x Molten Vortex  

Land(22)  

2x Wandering Fumarole  

6x Island  

9x Mountain  

3x Highland Lake  

2x Sulfur Falls  


This deck is something between a deckbuilding challenge and a playing challenge.  It seems no matter what I do, I can’t get the right mix of spells and creatures that don’t completely suck to make this deck work.  The more I play it, the more I think that the hyper-aggro plan is a bad one and that the deck should just be a collection of Stormchaser Mage, Fevered Visions, and a lot of burn spells to accompany them well.  Maybe that is more of a midrange-meets-tempo build, but the more I play with junk like Mage-Ring and Thief, the more I think I don’t need them at all, and I should just be casting more burn spells.  Playing against this is straight forward, kill every creature you see, they don’t have many or many good ones.  If you have already followed my advice about adding more spot removal and lowering your curve, just make sure you kill the Stormchaser Mage and you will be fine.

Abzan -

 

Creature(22)  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

3x Sylvan Ranger  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim  

2x Tireless Tracker  

1x Liliana, Heretical Healer  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

2x Woodland Wanderer  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

2x Reality Smasher  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x The Gitrog Monster  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

Instant(3)  

1x Grasp of Darkness  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

Sorcery(3)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

1x Reave Soul   

Enchantment(2)  

2x Oath of Nissa   

Planeswalker(4)  

1x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

Land(26)  

2x Shambling Vent  

3x Plains  

2x Swamp  

2x Canopy Vista  

2x Hissing Quagmire  

3x Forest  

2x Sunpetal Grove  

2x Isolated Chapel  

2x Woodland Cemetery  

4x Evolving Wilds  

1x Wastes  

1x Westvale Abbey  

This is the color combination that I believe can find the right mix of creatures, good removal and planeswalkers to play a good midrange game.  That said, I don’t think I have found it yet.  My adventures with Eldrazi created yet another super-clunky mana-base, so getting ahead on the board was hard.  I could cut the Eldrazi from this list, once again I would lower the curve and add more spot removal.  Grasp of Darkness is awesome when you can cast it, and I think we can make it work.  The creatures we can access are awesome at nearly every slot of the curve, so it will be hard for the opponent to out-class us before turn six, and if you have a removal spell we can likely get too far ahead.  Some of those removal spells also double as planeswalkers, and while our opponent has to deal with our creatures, the walkers can generate value and grind them out.  Classic midrange.  Again, the list above isn’t where I want to be, it just demonstrated the concept, maybe you can find the right mix!

As I don’t feel I play or work on these decks enough to provide builds, I will just provide some advice on playing against them -

Simic Tempo - Prioritize killing their creatures, preferably with instants and playing around counters, as opposed to developing your own board.  You can’t and shouldn’t be able to expect to block their critters.  If you lowered your curve and added some spot removal, you are likely in a fine place.

Red Aggro - Same basic rules as Simic Tempo, but once you turn the corner close the game out fast.  Over time these decks can and will draw plenty of burn for your face.

UB Reanimator - This is one place where cheap spot removal doesn’t help you, but tag-all spot removal like Declaration in Stone and Anguished Unmaking can be back-breaking.  Get a board and apply some pressure, but prioritize getting one of these cards in your hand for the moment of reanimation.

BW Life - Synergy-driven creature decks like this, Thopters, Elves and Allies are beaten in very similar ways - pick the part of the creature strategy that you can break up and remove it, or kill them all.  If you are control and have sweepers, kill them all is for you.  For everyone else, if you have spot removal use it wisely and take out the most important part of their attack.  If they have multiple cards that gain life but just one thing that triggers from it, take the things that triggers.  If they have plenty of triggered effects but just one Kalastria Healer, kill that.  Using spot removal wisely is a practice, not a catch-all answer.  Whether to kill the Thopter or the Engineer depends on a lot of other things in the game, so be thoughtful before you use that Grasp of Darkness.

UW Reflector Mage - Similar to Bant Tempo, don’t cast a creature expecting to block with it.  If possible play multiple creatures in a turn instead of one big one, and use your removal to keep the pressure low so that Reflector Mage doesn’t blow you out.  Mage is annoying, but a two-three for three is rarely the problem, the other creatures apply the beating, so keep the other creatures under control.

All the other stuff I am not talking about - Know your game plan, know theirs.  Know when it is time to execute your plan, and when it is time to take a break to disrupt theirs.  Think long term.  What does the opponent’s endgame look like?  What does your endgame look like?  Who will get there first given this board?  This will help you make the right choice between being the beatdown or being the control.  This will help you know when to cast a creature and when to cast a removal spell.  This will help you pick winning lines, something that is getting more complicated the more cards get introduced to the format.  Know thy enemy, and more importantly, know thy self.  Good luck to all in your tournament preparations!

<3 CGB

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CGB’s Deckbox - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/decklist?userId=CovertGo%20Blue