Opponent on slightly too many. No cards in hand.
While we can't actually put them to zero this turn no matter what we do, we can put them into three different kinds of lethal, next. They have no cards and no guys! To win, they'll have to pull something specific. We don't even know what that is! But we are on three. So, an unblocked Robber of the Rich or topdecked Bonecrusher Giant won't do it.
We determine the right course of action is to swing for four with one Faceless Haven but leave up our remaining mana. That can be either another Haven activation (to play defense if need be, or a tap of the Castle. But we really don't want to do that. What if we accidentally go to two and then die to an end-step Stomp?
No, no. We'll cast the card in hand.
Post-combat Rankle, Master of Pranks.
The Throne of Eldraine Faerie Rogue is about as good as Faceless Haven on defense; but has the additional superpower of being able to prevent a Phoenix of Ash from killing us straight. Given they have no cards in hand, we can just double-Haven the next turn and win this close one, yeah?
THE SHUFFLER HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR.
How many copies do Mono-Red mages in general play of this card? Zero.
How many does this opponent probably play? Let's put it on one.
Holy Pikula! For them.
Frustrating! But brings a smile to the corner of your mouth anyway. Teachable moment, honestly.
Last month I started off kind of late and topped up on Diamond 2. To be fair, I didn't go at it with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns or anything (I was actually much more enamored of quick drafting decks in the Forgotten Realms); but from a humble, relatively inactive, Bronze start I got most of the way there.
One thing I realized as I got higher and higher up the ladder was that I kept losing to the same deck over and over. Or like the same brand of deck. It is beyond me that some people play such lame things as a 1/3 Dwarf for while others summon the hero of Icewind Dale, Drizzt Do'Urden himself in their non-human creature slots... But Winota - bane of my existence and letdown of my Ladder - glues them together in builds various.
Is there, in fact, a deck that can beat up on Winota consistently?
I was in this mode where I was crushing White Weenie with Mutate and losing frustrating games down 1,000,000 life points with Mono-Red but hated the Joiner of Forces with both. You grok?
This seemed like the best option:
Mono-Black Hateful Eidolon | AFR Standard | Michael Flores
- Creatures (19)
- 2 Rankle, Master of Pranks
- 3 Aphemia, the Cacophony
- 3 Eyetwitch
- 3 Murderous Rider
- 4 Hateful Eidolon
- 4 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
- Artifacts (1)
- 1 Poet's Quill
I am playing a Best-of-One list modified from a CovertGoBlue video from pre-Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms... But the concept seemed eminently portable.
Kill all their guys. Without guys, they can't kill you. Eventually, kill them with [whatever].
While nominally a "creature" deck, Mono-Black Hateful Eidolon plays the Control in most matchups. After all, it has 14+ point removal cards that are relatively low on the relevance register against Control or Big Spell decks.
Is this the best deck for a truly open field? Probably not. In fact, Emergent Ultimatum might be the single most popular deck at the top of the ladder.
But it just might be the best overall at horrifically mutilating small creature decks. And lots of them - White Weenie, Winota, Mono-Red, Mono-Black... - all fall under a broad umbrella of folks who play one-toughness creatures early and whose leverage engines can be shut off before they reach their minimal resources to operate.
"Best," I found, did not mean "automatic win". That I found a little frustrating. Like, I feel like I've done a lot of losing good matchups over the past couple of days with Mono-Black; and it always surprises me a little when the opponent comes back... But maybe it shouldn't (see below).
Still, Mono-Black Hateful Eidolon has been rewarding in its way; and for those of you who get some utility out of just being "right" (like every time a favorable matchup appears), this choice should give you a few warm and fuzzies.
Let's do a SWOT!
For those of you who don't know, a SWOTis a type of business analysis that was ported lovingly over to Magic: The Gathering by some genius a decade or two ago. It is a good way of understanding not only where your deck is and what it does... But also contextualizing what is going on around it. Briefly, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
- Strengths - Positive, internal, qualities
- Weaknesses - Negative, internal, qualities
- Opportunities - Positive, external, qualities
- Threats - Negative, external, qualities
If you haven't caught on yet, don't worry! It's a pretty straightforward way to think about Magic decks once you get going.
The first, best, Strength of this strategy is its overlapping card advantage engines.
Hateful Eidolon + creature enchantments [+ one of the opponent's hapless small creatures] is THE reason to play. Even on the play, I often sandbag my 1-drop so the opponent will play into it. Turn two Hateful Eidolon + Dead Weight or Mogis's Favor is so demoralizing to the opponent. This engine helps you draw into lands and un-does potentially card disadvantageous interactions. For instance, if you have to double up Mogis's Favor and Mire's Grasp on an opposing Questing Beast... Normally that is a one-for-two but with Hateful Eidolon on the battlefield it's a party.
This is perhaps the best Lurrus of the Dream-Den deck in all of Standard. I think so in part because of its ability to overpower other Lurrus decks. Man does a Rogues deck fuel your engines. The ability for Lurrus to play fuel for other engines while establishing a more dominant, often wider, battlefield can make you feel invincible. Lurrus with Hateful Eidolon already down? Dead Weight that, re-buy the Dead Weight onto that? You can almost hear the table snap beneath the gravity of double Dead Weight!
Obviously, this is a very good Aphemia deck, though Aphemia can sometimes come into conflict with Hateful Eidolon or Lurrus engines.
Finally, I am currently playing a mild Lesson / Learn engine.
I got Poet's Quill from the CGB video (any amount of sideboard access being of great additional value in Best-of-One) but the Eyetwitches also gave me something to do early if I didn't draw Hateful Eidolon. These have been 1/2 discard Rogues and 1/1s aspiring to be 5/5 Demons also.
A small side note beyond the engines: This deck has quite a bit of lifelink. Hateful Eidolon, Lurrus, Murderous Rider, and the aforementioned Poet's Quill are all sources of life gain. Pair lifelink with a big Demonic Embrace buff and you can win a lot of games purely by evasion and racing.
In a way, this deck is two different decks.
One deck has an uncontested Hateful Eidolon on the battlefield. Man, those games feel easy.
The other is desperately trying to keep pace with Mogis's Favor. I mean, you can if you're up against Rogues or you have Lurrus in play... But it is not easy.
The deck is therefore fundamentally inconsistent. You often hold your Eidolon on turn one. You don't want to expose your precious 1-drop before you can get a little value out of it. It's pretty cool to kill their creature on turn two while drawing a card, of course.
This deck can have severe challenges even in games where your plan is operating. The cards are just not that powerful individually. God forbid the opponent draws multiple copies of Esika's Chariot.
I have found it to be shockingly - shockingly - good against decks with a Yorion Companion. Like a deck with this many point removal cards should not be good. But sometimes you Mogis's Favor your own guy to take two turns off the clock, am I right?
I'm certainly not saying that I want to play against Emergent Ultimatum first choice... But I have been pleasantly surprised at how many times I didn't flat-out lose. Good curve, even and odd casting costs, haste and creature lands all? Get there!
This is literally the worst thing about playing this deck: You can be over-the-topped, even when you seem to be winning.
I had a Bard Class deck on the ropes last week. Complete and utter domination in terms of killing their guys and drawing cards, chip-shot style. But being Mono-Black, I could not destroy their Bard Class; and at the point they untapped with five lands on Level 3 I was just utterly destroyed. They drew an appropriately-costed catalyst and it was off to the races.
This isn't terminal. Clearly. But you must Must MUST be cognizant of the fact that basically everyone big can come back to dominate you even if you seem to be up five cards.
My best advice? Win quickly. The surest way to keep the opponent from drawing into super bomb bombs is just to kill them.
Still running with it.