Perilous!

Posted in NEWS on June 26, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome to the first week of Magic 2015 previews here on Perilous Research. When playing Magic, it's not unusual to find ourselves facing an insurmountable force from our opponent. When playing control decks, we never know what kinds of threats we might be facing. Sure, we may have filled our deck with creature removal, but what happens when our opponent is beating us with enchantments, indestructible creatures, or artifacts? Today, we'll be discussing an exciting new card from Magic 2015 that's sure to help us circumvent certain peril.

Art by Sam Burley

Back in the old days of Magic, Nevinyrral's Disk was a powerhouse. I recall one of the first games of Magic I ever played, I was armed with a red-green deck filled with reasonable creatures, some pump, and some burn that I had borrowed from my brother's friend. My older brother was playing a green-blue deck that went much larger. I had a great draw and over the course of the first four turns of the game I played Llanowar Elves, a three-mana creature, a four-mana creature, and then a five-mana creature. I had ran out of gas, but my brother's life total was dwindling and I was way ahead on the board. Then he played his fifth land, cast Nevinyrral's Disk, and passed the turn. I drew another land and attacked with everything. Fog. Suddenly, I found myself with no board against my brother, who cast back-to-back Mahamoti Djinn and then protected them with countermagic.

Board sweeping effects are like Judo: we use our opponents' velocity against them. Every threat beyond the first that gets gobbled up by our board sweeper puts our opponent further in the hole. Magic can be a game of numbers, and a card that singlehandedly deals with multiple threats gives us a brand of card advantage (the overarching strategy that involves trading cards for more cards) even better than drawing extra cards.

In middle school, I met a friend who went to Magic tournaments, Ryan Brower. We played during recess, and Brower would repeatedly trounce me with a Blue Control deck that he called "The 'Buehler' Deck."

The "Buehler" Deck—Randy Buehler

Download Arena Decklist

The deck was full of countermagic, but Brower didn't bother countering my spells unless they posed an immediate threat. Instead, he let me get two or three threats on the table and then used Nevinyrral's Disk to clean up and start over. Once I was completely out of gas, he used Whispers of the Muse to grind out some extra cards and he slowly killed me with Stalking Stones or the occasional Rainbow Efreet.

Eventually, I learned not to play multiple threats onto the board. I played a single creature and attacked with it until Brower went ahead and popped Nevinyrral's Disk before I would try to play another threat. Brower quickly adapted and started aggressively countering my early plays. He still won the vast majority of games, but I had found a way to overcome his deck's most efficient card-advantage engine. I watched Brower start the game with six lands and Nevinyrral's Disk against other friends and, invariably, they would have one or two cards in their hand and nothing in play on the fifth turn of the game.

Since then, we've seen some newer artifacts that allow control players to escape the most dire situations. Most notably, Oblivion Stone has remained a force to be reckoned, even in a format as large as Modern.

Blue Tron has been one of the surprise archetypes of this Modern season. The deck's access to huge amounts of mana make it a force to be reckoned with against other control strategies, while the countermagic and haymakers give it a strong game plan against the midrange creature decks like Jund. Sometimes, things get out of hand and the Blue Tron player needs to reset the board. In these situations, Oblivion Stone is the Get Out of Jail Free Card we need.

Shoktroopa Tron—Shoktroopa

Download Arena Decklist

Unfortunately, Oblivion Stone isn't good enough against the format boogieman, Melira Pod. The Pod deck is filled with persist creatures and Voice of Resurgence that bounce back from the graveyard to deal a finishing blow. If only there were an Oblivion Stone that truly dealt with the threats of the format in indissoluble fashion. Fortunately, there is!

Things can get perilous against decks like Melira Pod. That's why Perilous Research, DailyMTG.com's exclusive Magic Online column, is excited to announce Perilous Vault. It doesn't matter what the landscape of the board is when Perilous Vault hits the table. Once activated, we'll be free and clear of any and all pressure from the opponent.

Let's take a look at a Modern deck that takes full advantage of Perilous Vault!

Perilous Blue Tron by Jacob Van Lunen

Download Arena Decklist

With a deck like this, we can overcome any and all obstacles in our quest to lock up the game with Mindslaver and Academy Ruins. Perilous Vault deals with the entirety of our opponent's board more efficiently than even Cyclonic Rift. Melira Pod and other decks with persistent threats will quickly find themselves without a board. Against other combo strategies, like Splinter Twin, we can wait until the later stages of the game and stick a Perilous Vault to ensure that our opponent can never actually combo us out.

In Standard, we can use Perilous Vault in conjunction with other powerful board-sweeping effects to ensure that our opponent never has a chance to put him- or herself in a winning position. The card also has great synergy with Obzedat, Ghost Council, because we can activate it on our opponent's turn and return our legendary spookster to continue the beats on the following turn. Last weekend, we saw White-Blue Control have a great deal of success at Grand Prix Chicago. Perilous Vault seems like it could fit nicely into a deck like the one played by Adrian Sullivan. Let's take a look Sullivan's White-Blue Control deck and see where Perilous Vault might fit in.

White-Blue Control—Adrian Sullivan

Download Arena Decklist

Supreme Verdict is an obvious four-of here, but we can easily cut down on the number of Planar Cleansing we play if we're going to be playing with Perilous Vault. We'll want a lot of countermagic to ensure we can win a counterwar when our control opponent attempts to stick an Ætherling. We don't need to be playing any win conditions, but we'll definitely be going up to four copies of Mutavault. Quicken became a necessity for White-Blue Control because of Obzedat, Ghost Council and Stormbreath Dragon, but Perilous Vault allows us to deal with both of those cards quite handily.

Here's a rough sketch of White-Blue Control with Perilous Vault:

Perilous White-Blue by Jacob Van Lunen

Download Arena Decklist

With this setup, our deck has the ability to grind out any opponent. We're playing 27 lands because it's extremely important for us to hit at least our first four land drops with absolute consistency.

It's perilous out there, so don't be caught off guard. Send that insuperable force on the other side of the table into obscurity with the force of Ugin, the spirit dragon. Join me next week for another Magic 2015 preview and don't miss all the previews here on DailyMTG.com in the days leading up to the Magic 2015 Prerelease.

Knowledge is power!