State of the Meta—Called Shots and Attracting Hate: The Story of a Game-Changer

I’m gonna 4-0 Modern this week! Okay, if you’re reading this it’s Thursday already and I’ve either totally blown your mind or you are laughing at how completely wrong I am. Either way, know this: One man can make a difference!—a difference in the meta, that is.

After talking with Li and Orlando a couple weeks back about play styles and pet decks, I realized that I miss the old days. I know you’re feeling like I’m pulling a Michael J. Flores here, but back when I was a 20 year-old Planeswalker there was a deck called Replenish. I’m not going to go into the way the deck works or why it was so awesome (Michael J does that in his OMG), but I will tell you that I went from being another rank and file grinder in my scene going from 5c green to MUC to Control Black (during Urza’s Destiny) to becoming one of the scourges of the local MTG scene. Getting paired against me in the first round was often a death knell for your dreams of making top 8. Back when the ratings working differently, in two months of 8k and 16k tourneys I managed to pull my rating up from 1580 to something like 1860. Back then you could Q for a PT just on rating. I was good ol’ New Jersey success story.

The deck was the reason. Replenish put me there.

What does this have to do with you 4-0ing Modern last Tuesday (potentially), Durdle Magus?

Everything. Oh oh oh—hold on! Ill feed you, baby birds. See, Replenish was a combo deck. Yuck, right? That’s not Magic! That’s what I thought too. You see, there are two kinds of Magic Players: Planeswalkers that accept and understand combo, and Planeswalkers that haven’t played with a combo deck. The latter demand bannings for kill cards and their enablers, while the former are too busy winning to worry about what other players are doing. Long story short, I’M PLAYING EGGS!

But, Durdle Magus! You haven’t played the deck once in a tournament setting!

Stop calling me that! It’s Combo Conjurer now. (Ed.’s note: More like Sous Chef!) Ahahahaha, feel the power! (Sorry, I’m sure reading maniacal laughter isn’t as cool as hearing it.) The really great thing about playing a combo deck is that you can practice alone. At least to learn the ins and outs of the deck.

Then once you understand the deck, you must learn its weakness. Currently, no one is really playing Eggs at TNM. There’s not a lot of sideboard hate. There is a little, but without being on the radar I’m relatively safe for a a week. After my 4-0 you can bet there’s gonna be some attention (maybe even maindeck) for combo.

The true test of a combo player is playing around the hate. My sideboard is more important now than ever before and I need to navigate shark infested waters in order to cook my opponent’s breakfast.

But Eggs is really boring to play against!

At least that’s what the haters say. It’s what keeps some great players off combo altogether. My first reaction to Eggs was, “Gross!” But, like all things powerful and corrupt, I was inevitably lured in. If you understand what’s going on, or even if you’re just trying to, its really neat to watch the decision process that goes into Going Off.

What if you fail(ed) miserably? Isn’t everyone gonna laugh at you?

I doubt that. I’m surrounded by my friends (I hope they’re still my friends after they find I went combo). Worst case scenario, I learned how to beat a deck I’ve lost to myself. Best case, I’m the scourge of Modern! I’m having so much fun practicing and learning the deck that it doesn’t really matter either way.

I thought it would be fun to leak my decision slowly to my fellow HotC Moderners. Here are some reactions totally out of context.

Li: I knew you were a dirty combo player!
Matt: You can’t do Evil and think that I’ll keep it a secret.
Jess: It’s a really good deck. I have it built.

Here’s to my inevitable and incredibly epic 4-0!

Zac Clark, Combo Conjurer Sous Chef

UPDATE: Sadly, I did not 4-0 Modern. It seems the odds were stacked against me from the beginning. Let’s start with my first speed bump. Modern only had 9 people this week, so there were only 3 rounds. At first I was worried I’d have to play the deck sans 2 Reshapes. Big ups to Mike Herbig and Mike Simpson for connecting the dots on that one. Fully maindecked, and only missing a pair OD Leyline of Sanctity for my board I entered the TNM hopeful and a little nervous.

Right before the tourney I solo’d the deck in front of Zach Barash a couple times and he pointed out a couple things I hadn’t realized. Chromatic Star’s synergy with Reshape was a pretty huge one, also a couple percentage shaves too. Then there was the Art of Partially Going Off. Needless to say, a little critiquing is a good thing.

Round one I played Brook Li who was on Jund. The best fair deck vs the best unfair deck. Game one I fizzled. Pfffft I think went off a turn early. The second game Brook found some discard and a Stony silence. Things progressed from there quite quickly.

0-2 games 0-1 matches

In round two I received a bye. This was becoming a joke. I actually thought about spending my “free hour” at Taco Chulo drowning the last match’s sorrows in cheap tequila. But that’s probably not a good preparation for round three (depending on how many shots of Cactus Jack Tequila I did, I could have technically been on round 6-7 when I got back to playing Magic).

0-2 games 1-1 matches

Round three I played Billy, who was on Naya aggro. His take on the Gruul deck that Matt Jones has been loving these last few weeks. Billy had already conceded as the match began because he was 0-1-1 and couldn’t get any packs. I told him I needed the practice so I’d give him one of the packs if he played it out. First game I went off on turn 3 thanks to a Reshape. It was dicey at first but I finally rocketed into the stratosphere with Sunrises and Rewards ending the game with Pyrite Spellbomb. In the second game I sided out the Spellbomb and a Silence to include my two other win conditions. Balefire and Lab Maniac. Billy slaughtered me after I whiffed, again I think I went off a turn early. In game three I kept a greedy greedy hand that was two Lotus Bloom, one Reshape, one Ghost Quarter, one Second Sunrise, and one Chromatic Star. I topdecked an Island and patiently waited for my Blooms to…well bloom. With three Lotus Blooms it’s pretty easy to go off. I drew into more Spheres and Stars. I decided to take the Lab Maniac route to victory, mostly because I haven’t won a game with an alt win con…ever, I think. Billy was a good sport and I think he wanted to see the deck work as much as me. I opened an Ogre Slumlord and Billy opened a Steam Vents, so who really won?

Eggs is a really strong deck. I’m tempted to play it again but I may try Fish or UW while I’m trying to build Gifts. As always I’m looking forward to next week when I will attempt to 4-0 modern again, maybe even with a combo deck.

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Comments
9 Responses to “State of the Meta—Called Shots and Attracting Hate: The Story of a Game-Changer”
  1. Tim says:

    Wow. Only 9 people? Monday night legacy might outdraw modern. (but then again, it’s hard not to outdraw anyone when you get to play with JTMS!)

  2. danaflops says:

    Haha, I love me some combo. Combo isn’t dirty unless it’s resilient 9 ways from sunday and can win every time on turn 2. The current combo decks are glass cannons, and unfortunately I think most people just tend to focus on the cannon part and not the glass bit. Honestly, the more I think about it, I’m just going to declare this summer the Summer of Combo and play combo decks in every format. Screw you, meta! I fart in your general direction.

  3. Josh Kaufman says:

    Hey seriously wtf. I’ve had ieggs sitting at my house, all 3 versions (pyrite spell bomb, banefire, and storm), but people were getting all bitchy about someone playing eggs.

    There is a ton of hate for eggs though. Stony silence being 1, and in pod I main deck ethersworn canonist and side in RIP. But my modo version plays canonist and ninja of the pale curtain maindeck. It’s auto scoop against eggs.

    I didn’t show up on Tuesday because I was not in the mood after Scott Levines funeral. I’ll be there next time and let you playtest eggs after I 2-0 you.

    And to show off, my official 10th 3-1/4-0 giving me my promo plateau playing my miserable version of esper control. Look for TERROl2 at the bottom:

    http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Digital/MagicOnlineTourn.aspx?x=mtg/digital/magiconline/tourn/5294186

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