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Magic Online Interviews


This week, I decided to interview some great Magic Online players I know to see what they are playing in various formats.

Robert Graves

The first person I decided to interview was Robert Graves.

Me: What are you playing in Standard?


Me: What matchups do you feel are unfavorable?

Robert: I haven't played anything that felt bad. I feel that as long as I draw a Trading Post, I'll eventually beat anything.

Me: How do most games play out?

Robert: Games against decks that attack are all the same. You cast Whipflare or Day of Judgment and use Tumble Magnet or Trading Post to stabilize until the Wurmcoil Engine part of the game. You play Wurmcoil and use Trading Post or Phyrexia's Core to protect and replay it until you win. The more controlling decks all lose unless they can hard-counter Mindslaver.

Me: So basically, Trading Post acts like Academy Ruins, giving you late-game inevitability against most decks?

Robert: Yes.

Robert: Another build I’ve been tinkering with is as follows:

(Note: He would play more Bonfires, but access to them is an issue for him on Magic Online at the moment.)

Andrew Shrout

Next up, I had the pleasure of talking to recent Magic Online Championship Series winner and notable Magic Online ringer JohnnyHotSauce (a.k.a. Andrew Shrout).

Me: What are you playing in Standard?


Me: What are your good and bad matchups?

Andrew: Delver is even to unfavorable, while Pod and Zombies are both favorable.

Me: That is somewhat surprising—most R/G pilots claim that Delver is a favorable matchup.

Andrew: There is basically no removal in this list, so it is very possible to die to an early Delver.

Me: What are you playing in Modern?


Me: There are some interesting card choices in here.

Andrew: Seal of Fire is better [than Lightning Bolt] because it prevents Pod from Chording an Ethersworn Canonist into play mid-combo. Also, it’s just generally better to stick your removal on turn one or whenever you have free mana. Otherwise, you will set yourself up for your combo turn and then your opponent will play a Canonist, Thalia, or whatever. And even if you had a Bolt, the 1 extra mana (or 2 in the case of Thalia! Awkward!) means you can't go off anyway.

Kiln Fiend is an additional win condition for Storm mirrors and against R/G Tron—a lot of people are on the Telemin Performance plan in the mirror, and Kiln Fiend can kill people often on turn three by itself if it is in your opening hand.

Empty the Warrens
Me: How do you feel about your matchups with Storm?

Andrew: I would play against Delver all day; I love that matchup. Affinity, burn, and other stupid linears are toss-ups, but I'm generally confident. Pod is bad. Basically, there are three types of matchups: Decks that can't beat Empty the Warrens are super-favorable; decks that can race Empty the Warrens but lack disruption are evenish; and Storm sucks against decks that race Empty the Warrens while disrupting you.

Me: It’s kind of surprising that Pod decks are a bad matchup.

Andrew: They have hate bears, and so any Birthing Pod or Chord of Calling is a hate bear. This alone wouldn’t be a problem, except Pod decks have a reasonable clock as well.

Me: It also probably hurts that Restoration Angel is good at protecting Pod’s bears, right?

Andrew: That, and Spellskite are both very good ways of protecting the bears.

Me: What Pauper deck do you like? I know you used to play a fair amount of it, but you stopped since Magic 2012 pack prices plummeted.


Me: This deck doesn’t actually look very good; why do you like playing it?

Andrew: This deck is the Jund of Pauper. You're the slowest creature deck, but you're full of two-for-ones and creatures that are hard to block. Also, you have an insane sideboard full of great trumps (such as Holy Light, Prismatic Strands, and Circle of Protection: Black).

Me: I guess that is a fair point, since slower implies that you can attrition other creature decks better.

Andrew: As a side note, my favorite play in Magic, I think, is to fetch a hand full of Squadron Hawks to go to eight cards so I can pitch Prismatic Strands during my discard step to beat many Storm and/or Infect decks.

John Cuvelier

Next, I had the good fortune of asking noted Magic Online ringer John Cuvelier (Gosu. on Magic Online) about his R/G Elves deck:

Me: What’s your game plan?

John: The game plan is to generate large Genesis Waves that hit Fervor so you can instantly kill your opponent. The Plan B is to just attack like a normal aggressive deck. Having four Ezuri, Renegade Leader means that being able to Overrun multiple times on turn four or turn five is very reasonable thanks to Copperhorn Scout.

Me: How do you feel about matchups in general?

John: The only decks we don't want to see are decks with multiple board sweepers (such as Wolf Run and Esper control). We can play around Bonfire of the Damned naturally and with Fervor and Ezuri in Game 1. In Game 2, we get Witchbane Orb to protect us from it. The deck goldfishes fairly consistently turn four or five and can kill early as turn three.

Me: The deck seems pretty sweet; I might have to try it myself.

John: Yeah, it's quite fun as well, which is an actual bonus when it comes to grinding events on Magic Online.

Adam Boyd

Next up, I managed to talk to Adam Boyd (StarCityGames Invitational Top 8 competitor and winner of many Pro Tour Qualifiers) about four-color Birthing Pod.

Me: What deck are you playing in Standard?


Me: How do you feel about the various popular matchups? What's the overall game plan?

Adam: Delver has actually been rough, but only when the opponent has a Delver and also an answer to my first mana guy. But that seems to happen a lot. Everything else has been relatively easy. We can go over the top of green decks with Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and then board in the sweepers.

There aren’t too many Day of Judgment decks, but as long as you don’t overextend and try to Pod out either a Wurmcoil Engine or a Thragtusk and then Phantasmal Image it, you are normally okay.

Hero of Bladehold has been a little problem.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into what some of the big Magic Online players have been playing. It is interesting to note that none of these people is playing Delver, which implies that the metagame is quite healthy despite the supposed dominance of the Insectile Aberration.

If you enjoyed this style of article, let me know, and I can certainly find more big Magic Online people to talk to about decks.

Leave any comments here or on @jkyu06.

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