Pondering—Preparing for AC

Ponder

[Because I’m lazy and unoriginal, I have named my HotC column “Pondering,” which is ironic, considering Ponder is banned in my two favorite formats, Modern and Standard. Though I suppose it’s better than naming my column “Grabbing Constructed by the Tusks.” God I hate that card.]

I’ve been running UW Geist for a few events now, trying to get in enough reps that I’ll be prepared for this weekend. I expect to see a lot of this deck in Atlantic City, and have already begun tuning it for the mirror.

Playing the deck is hard. I’ll even go so far as to say that it’s harder to play for former Delver players. Being a Geist deck with ways to get rid of blockers, it is very difficult to not go aggro, overcommit, and attempt to tempo out your opponents when you don’t have the resources necessary. This deck is not Delver. You don’t have Ponder to dig you out of holes; you don’t have Vapor Snag to force in that crucial extra point. Hell, you don’t even have a true removal spell anymore, short of Charming to the top then milling it away with Though Scour.

You are not the beatdown. I repeat: you are not the beatdown.

I find that, unless I’m against creature-less control decks, I never go on the offensive until I get down two Angels. Until then, it’s about keeping a full grip, getting maximum value with Augur, and waiting until my opponent commits to a play and creates an opening. Only at that point can I shift into tempo mode and start spending the resources I’ve accumulated all this time into killing my opponent.

It’s tough, and sometimes extremely daunting. I’ve run up against both GB Kibler and Dark Naya a ton lately. The Kibler deck seems manageable, as they are extremely susceptible to Unsummon and Azorius Charm, and Ranger’s Guile only does so much for them post-board. The real problem is committing to a race only for Bant or Naya to play a Thragtusk. Then another. And another. Games like that, I am convinced, are completely unwinnable for this deck. I’d have to stick a Pike (which I run over the singleton Think Twice) and get in multiple hits. No small task.

The transformative sideboard keeps hopes alive. Being able to go full control with Verdicts and Jaces seems okay, but it only really seems that way because the other options are just terrible in comparison.

I’m honestly not feeling super confident about AC, but I’m going for the sake of having fun with my friends. I’m sticking to this deck because, while Red can sometimes just have the nut hand that no deck can answer, I hate the helpless feeling I get when I’m out of steam by turn 5 and praying for a Thundermaw. I just hope I play well and come back with decent results.

Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.

[EDIT]

Below is the list I’d run, ideally, if I can find one more Jace:

Deck: UW Geist

Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard

Creatures:16
4 Augur of Bolas
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Restoration Angel

Spells:20
4 Thought Scour
4 Unsummon
4 Azorius Charm
2 Feeling of Dread
1 Runechanter's Pike
2 Dissipate
3 Sphinx's Revelation

Lands:24
1 Cavern of Souls
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
8 Island
3 Moorland Haunt
4 Plains

Sideboard:15
3 Dispel
2 Purify the Grave
3 Knight of Glory
1 Detention Sphere
3 Supreme Verdict
3 Jace, Memory Adept
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Comments
16 Responses to “Pondering—Preparing for AC”
  1. Matt Jones says:

    Ponder isn’t banned in Standard. It rotated.

  2. Matt Jones says:

    Did you ever notice that guy’s face in the background of the art for this card? Man. Totally ruins an otherwise amazing card art.

  3. You should shave a moorland haunt and add another cavern of souls since both of them basically produce colorless and once you have one moorland haunt you don’t need the second and once you have the second you don’t want the third. Also you should try spectral flight as 2 of, i played yesterday U/w/r and went 3-1 and only because the guy literally had the nuts, 3rd turn armada wurm on the play first game, i crushed him game 2 and he topdecked nothing but spells in the 3rd game after his fifth and last land

    • Li Xu says:

      I can see changing it to go all-in on the Geist plan. I’ll try Spectral Flight in place of Pike and maybe cut a Feeling of Dread.

      • You’re playing two colors you could shave a plains out of the deck since your only high drop is restoration angel, i ain’t gonna count the sphinx’s revelation. You could also cut an unsummon since it isnt as powerful as feeling of dread especially in the all in geist plan, youre taking away 4 blockers compared to just one.

  4. Zac Clark says:

    Pretty sure that’s a young Leonard Nimoy… Saying, “Fascinating!” Off to the right David “Bones” McCoy scoffs, “Jace is Dead, Jim!”

  5. David McCoy says:

    “Damn it, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a planeswalker!”

    Does the standard format feel incomplete to anyone else? Perhaps this is because it’s my first time playing Magic after a block rotation but there seem to be plenty of viable decks, none of which feel like a complete 60.

    Or maybe it’s just my reliance on aggressive strategies and the fact that I’m waiting for Gatecrash to give me Boros AND Gruul…

    • Li Xu says:

      No, you’re spot on about that. It tends to happen post-rotation, since the card pool is the smallest it can be. Incomplete mana bases also shut down a lot of potential decks.

    • Zac Clark says:

      Definitely, it feels incomplete and too grindy mostly because there is not enough variance in deck building. I blame the lack of Multi-color fixers like city of brass or gemstone mine.

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