This past weekend I played a somewhat different look at the Abzan Midrange deck in a local Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier.

The shell is similar to the deck Dan Musser used a week or so ago to make Top 8 of the Washington, DC Standard Open, but with some pretty telling (daring?) (deranged?) differences.

To wit:

DECKID=1228632

The first difference is the inclusion of Satyr Wayfinder.

I shifted some cards around on the top end, but some important shifts were the 26th land, one Read the Bones, and one Utter End to include the Satyr Wayfinders. I just don't like Utter End, so when it came time to cut cards that was the first one I got rid of. It's the same cost as Sorin, Solemn Visitor and Siege Rhino (i.e. is costed as an "I win" card) but is basically just a one-for-one removal.

The land and the Read the Bones have interesting intersection and overlap with Satyr Wayfinders. Satyr Wayfinder is a card - like Read the Bones, that can help fix your draw - that is, if not card advantage, potentially card advantage; unlike Read the Bones, Satyr Wayfinder can be great at preserving your life total instead of putting pressure on your own life total.

I was actually a little bit up in the air cutting the 26th land. The push-pull on this is that Satyr Wayfinder in the context of a 25 land deck (with Courser of Kruphix no less) is like playing 29/60 land already! But on the other hand, cutting a land actually decreases the hit percentage of Satyr Wayfinder. The tension here is that this version has a second eight mana spell (you know, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon) and implies a greater need for intensive operating mana (due to the extra copy of Tasigur, the Golden Fang).

Ugin and Tasigur are basically the best cards in Fate Reforged, and I wanted to put a greater emphasis on them instead of just solo copies of each that you will often see in decks like these. I thought that was doubly important because of the inclusion of Satyr Wayfinder. One thing you don't want to do is flip over all your awesome semi-soft locks on the second turn with Satyr Wayfinder and curse the fact that you included this awesome enabler in your deck.

Satyr Wayfinder and Tasigur, the Golden Fang obviously have tremendous synergy with one another, with Satyr Wayfinder one of the best ways to set up a third turn Tasigur.

There is another fairly daring change to this deck. Check out the mana base. See what's missing?

I didn't play Sandsteppe Citadel!

I kept largely the same model as many other Abzan decks (twelve lands that enter the battlefield tapped) and just swapped Temple of Plenty in straight up. The thinking here is that I have another land to set up Satyr Wayfinder + an untapped land on the first turn, but that late in the game my topdecks get much, much better.

I didn't think that not playing Sandsteppe Citadel was that big a deal. Despite cutting it I still had 14 sources of black mana, which is as many as I played to great effect in tons of monoblack beatdown decks in the late 1990s.

After a pretty sweet run at the LGS level for the past couple of months I...had a disappointing run. But luckily, there are lots of teachable moments that came out of the tournament!

I think I missed on more turn two Satyr Wayfinders in this PPTQ than I have lifetime on MTGO. But there are still things I wish I had done a little bit differently.

Following are three things that I could have done a bit better.


Pre-Game Scenario

Find the Mistake


Scenario A

It is game three.

The opponent is playing a RW Devotion deck with cards like Goblin Rabblemaster, Hammer of Purphoros, Fanatic of Mogis, newcomer Mardu Scout, and of course Purphoros, God of the Forge.

You've split the first two games and have sided into an anti-beatdown configuration for sideboarded games. Basically cutting expensive cards like Elspeth, Sun's Champion and End Hostilities + your two maindeck copies of Thoughtseize for fast defense, like the other two Bile Blights and Pharika's Cure + the third copy of Sorin, Solemn Visitor for additional life gain.

This is your post-draw turn one hand:

Bile Blight
Siege Rhino
Abzan Charm
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Satyr Wayfinder
Temple of Malady
Windswept Heath
Forest

The sequence for this hand almost speaks for itself. Almost.

You have a Bile Blight already.

Your first turn Temple of Malady reveals a second Bile Blight.

Keep Bile Blight or push it to the bottom?


Scenario B

It's pretty deep into game one.

The opponent is playing Gerard Fabiano's Sultiai Tap Out deck. Not a deck "like" Gerard's Tap Out deck...he nugs you with Rakshasa's Secret at some point!

He has a ton of cards removed from game from various delves and only a few cards in his graveyard:

Polluted Delta
Thoughtseize
Murderous Cut
Dig Through Time

He has a ton of lands in play (call it six) of all his colors but only two cards in hand. Sadly, they were gotten by Dig Through Time.

Last turn he let you resolve a Siege Rhino but killed it with that 'Cut.

You've had cards and cards in hand for turns, but they don't line up very well against Sultai Control.

You rip...

Elspeth, Sun's Champion! (A pretty good card.)

So this is your hand:

Llanowar Wastes
Murderous Cut
Bile Blight
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
End Hostilities

This is your current land situation:

Forest
Temple of Malady
Temple of Plenty
Temple of Silence
Temple of Silence
Windswept Heath

Your graveyard and removed from game situation is pretty complicated.

Removed from Game you have:

Courser of Kruphix
Siege Rhino
Hero's Downfall
(Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver got you for a turn)

You have a ton of cards in your graveyard:

Temple of Silence
Hero's Downfall
Hero's Downfall
Read the Bones
Abzan Charm
Siege Rhino
Siege Rhino
Courser of Kruphix
Satyr Wayfinder
Satyr Wayfinder

Or something like this:

Not that it probably matters for this play, but you're well over 20 life (maybe in the 26 point range) and he's down to 10 from Rhinos, etc.

Play your turn.

This is Make the Play Monday!

If you've read those words before, please keep reading because this is the "And Now for Something Completely Different" edition of Make the Play Monday. ;)

Usually we talk about involving a Celebrity Guest for the Friday follow up, but because this is just about some small things I wish I had done differently in a particular tournament, Flores Rewards Friday is just going to be me doing the follow up this week.

But in exchange, we're upping prizes to three winners instead of just two this week!

So, you know, give it 150%

Everything else is the same as always.

Magic is a game where your success over time is largely dictated by the quality of your decisions. This is a column that presents scenarios, sometimes common, sometimes subtle, that are designed to challenge readers, prompt conversation, disagreement, debate, and collaboration...and ultimately aid in long-term improvements in long-term in-game decision-making.

So as with every week, I ask you to submit your answers to these questions in the comments below:

1. Find the Mistake
2. Keep Bile Blight or push it to the bottom?
3. Play your turn

As I said a moment ago, for this week TCGplayer is upping prizes to three winners instead of the usual dos.

And because this is And Now for Something Completely Different, you only have to get one right to [potentially] qualify.

So on Friday, one lucky responder who found the mistake will earn a $25 TCGplayer.com gift certificate.

One lucky responder who finds the right line, strategically (RE: that Bile Blight), will earn a $25 TCGplayer.com gift certificate.

Plus one player who best runs out that turn will earn a $25 TCGplayer.com gift certificate.

And all of us -- YT included -- will bask in the greater likelihood of future victories.

Hopefully.

See you Friday!

LOVE
MIKE