When we left Make the Play Monday, our deck was a Naya Midrange tournament champion by Justin Crandall.

Crandall's deck is a mix of Ramp, powerful creatures, and Planeswalkers, and a little removal.

Like many decks of this ilk, it can produce a wide variety of draws, some quick and explosive, others clunky and slow. Draw the right combination of green mana and two drops, and it can stabilize you defensively, then start dropping bombs. Draw the wrong mana, or no Ramp… And you have a hand full of fives.

DECKID=1202096

This week, we were asked to rank handful of hands. What differentiated one hand from another? Which would we toss back, and which would we keep?

The hands:

Hand A
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Sacred Foundry

Hand B
Courser of KruphixSylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple Garden

Hand C
Courser of Kruphix
Voyaging Satyr
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple Garden

Hand D
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple of Abandon

Hand E
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Xenagos, the Reveler
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple of Abandon

For this week, our assumption was that we were on the draw in each case.

Hand A v. Hand B

Hand A
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Sacred Foundry

Hand B
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple Garden

The difference between these two hands is Sacred Foundry versus Temple Garden only.

Sacred Foundry can help us play Keening Apparition (and we have two copies of Keening Apparition) but I wouldn't keep a speculative one-land hand just to play Keening Apparition (which I don't think beats anyone). The more attractive option for me is to be able to play Sylvan Caryatid, which Sacred Foundry doesn't help us play. Ergo I would rate Hand B as being better than Hand A.

B > A

Hand B v. Hand C

Hand B
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple Garden

Hand C
Courser of Kruphix
Voyaging Satyr
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple Garden

The difference between Hand B and Hand C is Sylvan Caryatid versus Voyaging Satyr.

I was actually a little curious about this deck, in that it played Voyaging Satyr but not Elvish Mystic. Elvish Mystic would have allowed Crandall play a second-turn Courser of Kruphix; the deck does not play Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx so there is nothing particularly explosive coming from the Voyaging Satyr camp here. As such I would rate Hand B over Hand C. I would still rate Hand C over Hand A, because the presence of green mana to drive Voyaging Satyr is still better than the R/W mana of Sacred Foundry for Keening Apparition only.

If "all" you can do is play a Voyaging Satyr, you should still be able to make Courser of Kruphix, which will help your deck keep flowing forward.

B > C

C > A

Hand B v. Hand D

Hand B
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple Garden

Hand D
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple of Abandon

The difference between our (at this point) reigning champion Hand B and Hand D is Temple Garden versus Temple of Abandon.

There are two things to consider here:

1. Temple Garden makes G/W, which helps us cast either Sylvan Caryatid or Keening Apparition if we draw any land on the first turn.

2. Temple of Abandon helps us cast only Sylvan Caryatid, not Keening Apparition; further if we draw a land that enters the battlefield tapped on turn one, Temple of Abandon does not help us cast anything on turn two. In that case it is actually inferior to Temple Garden in two ways despite giving us the advantage of increasing our likelihood of drawing the second land that would allow Sylvan Caryatid to turn our hand on.

I do think that Hand D > Hand B because any route to playing Sylvan Caryatid will give us enough color fixing to play Courser of Kruphix… But it's not a runaway advantage by any means. For instance if we are playing against Mono-Black Devotion with Thoughtseize and Devour Flesh, the lost ability to play Keening Apparition will slow us down if we draw, say, Mountain or another Temple of Abandon.

Hand D > Hand B

Hand D v. Hand E

Hand D
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Chandra, Pyromaster
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple of Abandon

Hand E
Courser of Kruphix
Sylvan Caryatid
Xenagos, the Reveler
Stormbreath Dragon
Keening Apparition
Keening Apparition
Temple of Abandon
The difference between the last two hands is Chandra, Pyromaster versus Xenagos, the Reveler in a contest of four mana Planeswalkers.

An active Xenagos, the Reveler probably helps us to grind the gears of our deck forward during the middle turns of the game, but I'm not crazy excited over it or anything.

On the other hand, I salivate at the prospect of having Courser of Kruphix and Chandra, Pyromaster on the battlefield at the same time and don't know why more folks aren't playing decks based around this combination (even Crandall plays only one copy of Chandra, Pyromaster).

The biggest knock on Chandra is that you don't know when her [0] activation is a wasted turn… But Courser of Kruphix not only solves that for you, but gets to run with Temple of Abandon and Temple of Plenty to help set the top card (while filtering deeper with Courser, with or without Chandra's help).

This combination of potential card advantage and the knowledge required to refine and direct that card advantage is much more exciting to me than just spitting out 2/2 creatures with Xenagos, the Reveler. Ergo I hold Hand D in higher esteem than Hand E.

For formality's sake: D > E > B > C > A

The question remaining is which of these five hands, if any, I would keep on the draw.

For me the only questionable hand is Hand D. The prospect of the two-card combination makes me fairly excited to play Hand D, to the point that I might be willing to gamble on it. It is the kind of hand you feel like a genius for keeping (when it works out), even if it doesn't work out all the time. Again, Hand D is dramatically worse against Thoughtseize + Devour Flesh than other kinds of decks / hands.

I don't know that, sight unseen, I would factor the chance that my opponent was Mono-Black Devotion or some similar on turn one; and as such might just keep Hand D (especially if the memory of Patrick Chapin in the Top 8 of the most recent Pro Tour were fresh in my mind). I would not keep any of the other four hands.

Mike Flores's answers:
D > E > B > C > A
Keep Hand D only



As the Pro Tour Historian and a frequent commentator of big Grand Prix and Pro Tour matches, Brian David-Marshall has had the chance to compare many hands like these… and shake his head at the folly of bad keeps.
"Is there some reason you think I am wanting to keep one-land hands? Even on the draw with a scry land I would prefer to mulligan into a more reliable opening hand. There are just two tiers of hands for me.

"Tier 1 -- The soft keeps

"You can keep both hand E and hand D -- in that order for me -- since you get your draw step, a scry trigger from your Temple of Abandon and another draw step to find land number two. You already have green so you should be able to play a Caryatid -- but you do still have 11 lands in the deck that come into play tapped so you might not be doing anything until turn three. You are going to feel like a genius when this hand pays off but be prepared for the room to tilt out from under you when it doesn't.

"Tier 2 -- The soft mulligans

"The next tier are the ones with green sources but no scry trigger. The thing that I almost prefer about these hands is that if you draw a scry land in your first draw step you know that you can make plays for the next few turns. The reality of seeing one fewer card over those first two turns makes these very mulliganable for me but I could see scenarios where I talk myself into not paying attention to my better judgement. I like hand B a little better than C because of hexproof on the Caryatid. You just know that Voyaging Satyr is going smell like burnt fur before you even move to an end step.

"Tier 3 -- The hard mulligan

"I don't even want to keep hand D or E. I already feel terrible about some sliding door universe where I kept hand B. Way too much needs to go right for you for Hand A to be even playable.

Brian David-Marshall's answers:
E > D > B > C > A
Mulligan all hands.

And now for what we've all been waiting for!

For agreeing with Yours Truly, Christopher Luther wins $25 in TCGPlayer.com store credit.

For agreeing with Celebrity Guest Brian David-Marshall, Alan Janzen wins $25 in TCGPlayer.com store credit.

Congratulations Christopher Luther!

Congratulations Alan Janzen!

Thanks to everyone for participating, liking, commenting, and generally speaking -- your continued readership and support.

LOVE
MIKE