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This Is Goodbye

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If you want something but do nothing about it, it won’t happen. If this sounds shockingly obvious, that is because it is. Yet it is surprising how many people will whine about not getting something when they do nothing to make it happen. You have to go out and grab the opportunities that are there, and sometimes you have to make those appear. You have already read last week about how I am embracing the new system to get to Pro Tour: Honolulu. This is a perfectly fine example for grabbing the opportunity. I could (and was going to) just stay at home and ultimately not qualify. But I threw caution to the wind and wound up on a plane flight to California. While seizing this opportunity, another one presented itself, one I could not refuse.

When I finished thirty-second at Pro Tour: Nagoya, Trick contacted me about writing for GatheringMagic. My gut reaction was actually to say no. I had no experience in creative writing and very little Magic experience under my belt. Who, after all, would want to read my work? I was never very good at English at school thanks to a string of lackluster teachers, which meant my writing skills were lacking. I was also incredibly worried that I would embarrass myself, or bore everyone to death, and eventually have to crawl under a rock and hide. However, I spent a while chatting to Trick about my concerns, and after sleeping on it, I made myself say yes. The opportunity had to be taken if I wanted to make a name for myself in Magic: The Gathering.

You have been reading the effects of that decision over the last four months. It has been hard. Sometimes, you sit down to write and your mind is completely blank. Add to this the pressure of having a deadline, and it suddenly becomes very difficult indeed. I have grown a lot over those past months as a writer thanks to the help and advice of Trick and Debbie. My grammar is improving, and I’m beginning to understand the proper use of the semicolon, a previously mysterious symbol. I’m told I have a writing style that engages the audience and tells a story. This is good, because I don’t think I can write any other way. I’m sure my PhD thesis is just as chatty. Luckily, I have a boss to rewrite my papers into science-speak.

Where is this all leading to? Well, I regret to inform you that this is my final article for GatheringMagic. The opportunity that presented itself while on my Planeswalker Points–harvesting trip to the U.S. was to become a writer for ChannelFireball. As excited as I am about this new venture, I am really sad to be leaving here. I initially considered writing two articles a week, one for each website, which everyone was happy for me to do, but on reflection, I just wouldn’t manage it. GatheringMagic will always have a special place in my heart. I am indebted to Trick for giving me the chance to prove myself, and to Debbie, my editor, for her incredible patience with my work. I also want to thank you, my audience, for taking the time to read and comment on my articles. The support from you guys has been fantastic and really encouraged me to go out there and make a name for myself. I wish you all the best of luck in your Magic endeavors, and do not hesitate to introduce yourself if you bump into me at an event. I love a good chat.

As a parting gift, I want to give you my current Standard deck, with sideboarding guide, that I piloted to the finals of a side event at Worlds to win enough product to pay for my plane ticket. It’s G/W Township, which, while very expected, is still very strong in the current meta. The mana is really awkward in the deck, with lots of wwspells, so I cut a spell and added an extra land to help consistency. Post-board games are really fun because you board in whichever Sword makes your opponent cry and . . . make him cry. Anyway, here’s my list:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

2 Blade Splicer

2 Geist-Honored Monk

4 Avacyn's Pilgrim

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Hero of Bladehold

4 Mirran Crusader

2 Mikaeus, the Lunarch

[/Creatures]

[Planeswalkers]

1 Gideon Jura

3 Elspeth Tirel

4 Garruk Relentless

[/Planeswalkers]

[Spells]

3 Oblivion Ring

2 Mortarpod

[/Spells]

[Lands]

5 Plains

8 Forest

4 Gavony Township

4 Razorverge Thicket

4 Sunpetal Grove

[/Lands]

[Sideboard]

2 Blade Splicer

1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

2 Thrun, the Last Troll

1 Gideon Jura

2 Celestial Purge

2 Naturalize

1 Oblivion Ring

2 Sword of Feast and Famine

2 Sword of War and Peace

[/Sideboard]

[/cardlist]

Against Mono-Red

−4 Mirran Crusader

−3 Oblivion Ring

−2 Garruk Relentless

+2 Sword of War and Peace

+2 Naturalize

+2 Celestial Purge

+2 Blade Splicer

+1 Gideon Jura

Mirran Crusader is easily killed, unlike Hero of Bladehold. Blade Splicer is just better here as a tempo play, as you get two guys which can’t be killed with one Arc Trail. Naturalize is for the Shrine when your opponent has foolishly tapped out, and Purge deals with Chandra's Phoenix. Gideon Jura is a powerhouse against opponents, whereas Garruk is too easy for them to kill. Sword of War and Peace is still amazing against mono-Red. That, plus Elspeth and Gideon, means this matchup is pretty good for us.

Against Wolf-Run Ramp

−1 Elspeth Tirel

−1 Gideon Jura

−2 Blade Splicer

+2 Naturalize

+2 Sword of Feast and Famine

This matchup is fairly even and a bit of a race. I like the Green Protection and discard that the Sword provides. The Naturalizes are to deal with Inkmoth Nexus, preferably after pump. You may want to bring in the fourth Oblivion Ring for Titans, but when you want to race, they might just clog up your hand. They tend to bring in sweepers like Blasphemous Act after boarding, so don’t just play out your whole hand. Keep something in reserve.

Against Mono-Black Infect

−3 Elspeth Tirel

−2 Garruk Relentless

−1 Hero of Bladehold

+1 Elesh Norn

+1 Gideon Jura

+2 Sword of Feast and Famine

+2 Naturalize

Elspeth is not relevant in this matchup, as the life-gain is pointless. Gideon, however, can gain us precious time. Elesh Norn prevents opponents from activating Nexus, and Naturalize kills it and Lashwrithe. The Sword helps to protect our creatures from removal and creatures. Garruk is okay in this matchup, as he can normally kill a guy, but I think he is the right thing to cut. I could be convinced otherwise.

Against G/W Township

−2 Blade Splicer

−1 Gideon Jura

+2 Sword of War and Peace

+1 Oblivion Ring

+1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

I have spoken to a number of people about the mirror, and they all take out Mirran Crusader. I figure if you put a Sword of War and Peace on it, there isn’t a thing in the deck that can block it. This is how I win the mirror, and it’s pretty brutal. If other people start doing this, I recommend bring in the Naturalizes. Elesh Norn completely hoses your opponent’s board if he hasn’t had an active Township or similar. Other than that, the extra Oblivion Ring is to make sure you have the planeswalkers, not your opponent. A card to consider for the mirror is Ghost Quarter. I haven’t tried this yet, but the match depends a lot on who gets an active Township first, and this might help it be you.

Against U/W Control

−1 Gideon Jura

−2 Mortarpod

−2 Blade Splicer

+2 Sword of Feast and Famine

+2 Thrun, the Last Troll

+1 Oblivion Ring

This boarding depends a little on the exact build and win condition. If opponents rely on Inkmoth Nexus, you may want a two/two split of Oblivion Rings and Naturalize. This matchup is definitely in our favor, and once we’ve added Thrun and Swords, it’s pretty good.

All right. That’s enough to get you going. I highly recommend running this deck. It is powerful and great fun. Feel free to tell me my sideboard is totally wrong or point out some awesome secret tech that I have missed out on in the comments below. Goodbye, and thank you for reading.

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