S'il y en a que ça intéresse, je poste la FAQ disponible ICI
et réalisée par itsUnfair :
I’m tired of these common mistakes in deckbuilding
Ok, so there is so much wrong, so so much. I see people who just seem to randomly pick up 75 cards and play them because they don’t understand why different cards are usually included in the decklists.
Here I’ll try to explain my reasoning behind like, everything, in legacy UWx miracles. You don’t necessarily have to agree with me on everything, but if you do break one of my deckbuilding “rules” you should at least have thought about it and have a good reason and not just “feel” or ignorance.
Yes, this might come of as a bit angry, or rude. But I’m not trying to sell miracles as a deck to you, or really anything. Someone else already did that.
Here I’m going to explain why different cards are used, or not, and other general deck building tips. I’m not going to provide any perfect decklist or such, but rather try to answer a lot of questions about different deckbuilding decisions, and a little about sideboarding, and then let you build your own deck, while at least avoiding the most common pitfalls and also understand the thoughts behind different cards.
The Big, Fat, & (just a little bit) Angry FAQ
The reasons to play with a basic mountain are in my opinion 2: Either, because you play with From the Ashes (FTA) and never want to end up with 0 red sources left in your deck. Or, more commonly, because you want to board in a significant number of red cards (especially sorcery speed cards) against decks with wasteland and possibly Life from the Loam. So what does that actually mean?
If you want to play pyroclasm against d&t you should probably have a mountain. But it is also possible to play with 3 Volcanics.
If there is a very common matchup with 4 wastelands where you need to board in all your blasts and possibly more red cards you should probably play a mountain.
What do I recommend? Right now, I would not play a basic mountain, the reason is that right now the main blue decks that you want blasts against are all playing either 0 wastelands, or very few. Go back like 1 year from now when Shardless was the main BUG deck (before Leovold essentially) that we really needed blasts against (Ancestral+Jace) but who also often had up to 4 wasteland, mountain especially out of the sideboard, was very common and it made sense. But now the meta is different. Stoneblade decks that play wasteland are less common (they usually opt to splash a 4th color instead (bant+Leovold)), and the same is true with the BUG decks, now they play 4 colors for Leovold+red, and can’t fit any wasteland or only very few, so there is less reason to play mountain there. The other main blast matchups are largely unchanged, namely things like the mirror and show & tell decks. One reason to play mountain would be if you really really want a high number of blasts against the delver decks, but I don’t think that is necessary right now, maybe that could change if they started playing like 4 TNN in the future though.
The best sweeper is really Terminus. It is one of the main reasons why this deck is viable at all. We have access to some of the best removal in all of legacy in both Terminus and Swords to Plowshares. But there is always a small argument for splitting your removal into different cards, cards like Sanctum Prelate, Stifle, Meddling Mage, or Gaddock Teeg, all gets much worse if we have varied our removal suite. I would argue that Supreme Verdict is a good 1:of right now, and so is possibly Pyroclasm, Kozilek’s Return, and EE. Let’s talk shortly about each one:
Verdict is the most expensive at 4 mana, but it does work against almost everything: Delver, elves, d&t and eldrazi. The main disadvantages of verdict are: Rishadan Port can easily stop it if they have a good read on you; Doesn’t work against Teeg decks; Is so costly so you can rarely play both SV and another spell during the same turn. The last one is probably the biggest, since it is one of the main reasons why Terminus is so good, we win a lot of games against creature deck by untapping, drawing and casting terminus, and then landing a proactive value card on an empty board, such as Jace the Mind Sculptor.
Pyroclasm is really nicely costed to deal with cards like thalia or empty the warrens tokens. I would argue against playing with it unless you play a basic mountain though, but more about that in the d&t section.
Kozilek’s Return The instant speed makes this a real blowout against decks like elves and any stoneforge mystic decks. The main disadvantage with both this and pyroclasm is that they don’t kill everything. Namely eldrazi decks completely ignore these cards, but also most BUG decks right now have too many cards that survive, like Gurmag Angler, Leovold, True-Name Nemesis. So if you do decide to play with these right now it is almost only for decks that have Stoneforge Mystic, Empty the Warrens, or Elves. Another big reason to play with these two red sweepers is Monastery Mentor, if you play a deck with 3 or 4 Mentors I think these gain a lot of value again, since you can still use it with Mentor out compared to Supreme Verdict or Terminus. Another common reason to play this over Pyroclasm is against Death & Taxes, since it gets around the protection from red out of Mother of Runes, and you can’t get ported out of red.
EE is a good catch all answer, the main reason to play it is really that it can function as both a sweeper and as a disenchant effect, even though the sweeper part is only true against very low curve decks or against any token strategies. It is really nice to be able to board out all your terminus against storm, but the card is not really a reliable sweeper against many other decks. If the delver decks go back to RUG (with nimble mongoose) again then EE gains a ton of value once more, but now that they are mainly grixis with stifle it is not at its best. I still like playing the 1:of EE, but the 2:nd copy that was common last year has lost a lot of its appeal. EE also works great with Monastery Mentor, as you can usually cast it cheaply (1 or even 0 mana) in order to gain as many triggers from mentor as possible the same turn you played it just to trigger mentor, and then potentially blow it up later.
So even though we can no longer establish the classic and dreaded Top+CB lock counterbalance still shows up in some decklists, why you may ask? Well there are a few reasons, I’ll try to outline them here:
Against decks like storm we could really use this effect g1, and no matter what cmc is on top it is almost always relevant. Especially since we have so many dead cards in the main deck in this matchup we can’t really attempt to grind them out with cantrip for more and more counterspells anyways.
This type of effect is very useful in the deck, and it is somewhat disconnected to the frequency of successful flips strangely enough. You see, we need some kind of card in the deck, that incentivizes the opponent to stop slow rolling creatures, every turn they should be faced with the decision to either play all their creatures and lose to Terminus, or slowroll their creatures and get punished by this card. That card can be anything, but it should preferably be a permanent that generates card advantage over time, something that is difficult to remove, and that can’t be ignored. Jace serves this function to a certain degree, but it is still a 4 drop so it can easily get say spell pierced or dazed, and also we can’t play that many copies. I mention this a bit more in the section “Number of Proactive vs Reactive cards”. Another card that can have a similar purpose for us here is actually Search for Azcanta, the discussion about if that card is good or not I won’t try to take here though. But it is worth considering that some number of cards with this type of effect are almost assuredly necessary in order to make a good miracles deck, it is mostly a question about finding what cards do it the best. If we don’t have this, good players can easily figure out a strategy that abuses our weaknesses (like never allowing terminus to kill multiple creatures).
Even without top we have a fairly high percentage to counter a spell with this deck, and that is still powerful. Also the true hard lock of top+cb and floating 2 common cmcs on top forever was surprisingly often a win-more scenario, and it turns out that just winning is enough. Sure, I’m not trying to say that the card hasn’t gotten worse than it was pre ban, but it is still a powerful effect together with all our cantrips.
I’m not trying to say that you must play Counterbalance. There are still a number of problems with the card, like if you cast it and then miss all the flips it obviously wasn’t worth it. I’m just trying to explain the reasons why someone might play it, and what function it serves in the deck. If you think the card’s power level is too low I recommend you to find other cards that can fill this role and solve the problems we otherwise use CB for, cards such as Ethersworn Canonist against storm decks post board.
This card is a bit weird. In my eyes it works best together with Predict, and Portent. Firstly it should be noted that UA was first introduced into miracles right after the ban of top, when we were experimenting with the lists and found that the sideboard map didn’t work out like we wanted it. At that time UA was first added as a card that you could play multiples in the main deck in order to cut disenchant effects from the sideboard (before this it was common to use 3-4 slots in the sideboard for cards like Disenchant, Wear//Tear, EE, and CJ).
The main deck UA was included as a card that could both act as a cheap and good catch all answer (CJ is 3 mana and sorcery speed, urgh), but also as another way to setup predict. Around this time we were playing a deck that had just cut all its counterbalances and wanted other ways to generate card advantage and stop combo decks. So we added extra predicts (up to 4 copies) for the card advantage engine, and also added extra Counterspell (up to 3 or 4 copies) for the anti combo, now since we had just added 7-8 new instants, we really wanted our removal to also be instant speed so that we could have all the flexibility and hold up predict/CS/UA/snapcaster at all times. Maybe this story won't help you much in deckbuilding though, so here are some tips:
If you play UA you need some other good answer for TNN since UA can’t get it (compared to CJ).
If you play UA you need a significant number of white sources (since it costs WWX).
If you play UA you need a significant number of ways to manipulate your opponent's library. Sometimes it is fine to cast UA for 0, and then have them re-play their card next turn, this is mostly against Chalice of the Void (CotV) since it gives you a 1 turn window to cast all your stranded cantrips which is often enough, or against big cards that are bad tempo (like if you have a mentor out and they cast keranos or batterskull then UA=0 will usually be enough to win). But most of the time you don’t want them to redraw the card, or you at least want the option to stop it, since you can’t always hope for them to fetch at an opportune moment. I wouldn’t play UA without at least 5 -non jace- cards that interact with my opponent's library, primarily Predict & Portent.
So, this is obvious to most of you, but you need some kind of disenchant effect, cards like Chalice of the Void exist in legacy. The reason why we often play the card Disenchant instead of say Council’s Judgment or Wear//tear are these:
CJ - Disenchant is an instant, it makes a huge difference against some decks, namely Stoneforge Mystic decks. It also costs less mana. Against these decks you have enough creature removal as it is, so if you know that all you need is artifact removal in those situations then this is much better. Instant speed makes a big difference since it allows blowouts when they want to use their equipments, but also because it allows you to hold up Counterspell. The extra mana also is huge, it is 50% more mana after all, but specifically when you want to try to snapcaster it it matters a lot. Also, against certain sideboard cards from the opponents it once again makes a huge difference if it is an instant and cheap, the most notable example is Choke.
Wear//Tear - Wear//Tear is a more powerful version of Disenchant for the same or less mana, so why would you play Disenchant? The reason comes down to fetching mainly, and secondly to the basic mountain again. If you are not going to board in any other red cards against a deck, say D&T, RG Lands, or Eldrazi, than your Wear//Tear, then fetching gets really weird, since you will often have to preemptively fetch out your volcanics just so that if you later draw a Wear//Tear you can cast it, but that has some obvious downsides. So I would say that if you have enough other red cards so that you would be boarding in more than just Wear//Tear in these non blast wasteland matchups then you should play Wear//Tear over Disenchant since you will be fetching red sources anyways, but not otherwise. Also, trying to split 1, 1 between these two makes little sense, don’t do it.
2:nd Arid Mesa vs extra blue fetch
The second Arid Mesa gives you more white fetches obviously. I would argue that you should play this if:
If you play Blood Moon or Back to Basics in your sideboard it is very important to have find both a fetch for basic plains and a fetch for basic island in the first 3 turns, so it would make sense to skew your fetches slightly closer to 50-50.
If you play a high number of WW cards (Other than Terminus) as well as 2 or 3 basic plains. For example if you main deck 3 or more cards that all cost WW (CJ, UA, Gideon, Entreat) I would also want more white fetches. In these decks you usually want to have on turn 4: Plains, Plains, Island, Island. So it makes sense to once again skew your fetches slightly closer to 50-50 blue & white. You still want slightly more blue fetches though, since cards like ponder can filter your draws as long as you have found the first basic island.
If you play with a basic mountain. If you play with a basic mountain you should really try to get all 10 fetches (4 Strand, 4 Tarn, 2 Mesa) if possible. But in these cases it is not so much about cutting any other blue fetches.
I would not play the 2:nd Arid mesa if I didn’t have any WW cards (The builds with Mentor+EE and only 1 basic plains) since you don’t need to draw white fetches as often, and also because these lists sometimes have so few targets for mesa that you could run out of them very early.
Flash VS Slam
Decide on your gameplan in each matchup. Can you play completely reactively, do you have the best answers and enough of them? The whole thing about “who’s the beatdown”, this is especially important in the mirror, because in most other matchups we are obviously the more controlling deck (any creature deck), or at least the more reactive one (combo), but in the mirror that is only true for one of the two players. Of course this all goes back and forth depending on what kind of hand you draw, but you should also keep this in mind when building the decklist. For example:
If you are playing straight UW, with few predicts and no blasts, and you are playing against a heavy blue deck, say the mirror, then you are most likely going to see the best results by just repeatedly slamming threats, curve out that turn 2 CB, t3 Mentor, t4 Jace. Yeah it is stupid and not at all elegant, but you can’t play the draw go game against someone with better EoT plays and better late game counterspells.
If you are playing a high number of Flusterstorms you should probably be more aggressively slamming stuff in all matchups in general, compared to if you had more CS. Flusterstorm is great at making sure your mentors resolve, and also easy to leave up mana for while also casting other spells (like Search).
If you think it is best to play the “flash” playstyle, that is, not making any decisions until after your opponent has had their turn, and then use your mana in their EoT. Then you need to add additional plays for their EoT in your decklist, 4th snapcaster, extra predicts, extra Cliques, maybe Venser, stuff like that. You should also have more countermagic in general.
No matter what playstyle you believe is best in the current meta you need to understand that these are just small deviations from the norm. You will still need some powerful sorcery speed threats to play in the “flash” decklists, stuff like CB maybe, or Mentors, stuff that punishes people who don’t respect you but instead tap out during their turn all the time. And the same is true the other way, even if you jam your deck full of curve out powerful shit like mentors and Search for Azcanta, you still need to be able to play the instant speed game fairly well if the matchup demands it, for example when you play against Sneak & Show or other combo decks it is probably stupid to tap out for a mentor on turn 3 when you could keep a Counterspell up.
Number of Proactive vs Reactive cards
So I already explained a little bit about why you need both of these things. But to expand upon that, in some matchups it is really important that you can play one of these, and in others it is really powerful to be able to play the other. For example against an eldrazi stompy deck with a cavern of souls in play you would probably do much better to just play more in sorcery speed, since you usually get much more payoff for each mana invested in those cards. So the thing it really comes down to is adapting. And in order to adapt you’ll need to make sure you can map your sideboard. You need to have a mix of both proactive and reactive cards in your sideboard, and roughly enough so that you can swap out proactive cards in the main deck against reactive ones from the sideboard when you just need to be all reactive (for example against belcher) and the same is true the other way around, if your opponent is playing something super duper fair like Nic Fit you just really need that each card in your deck pack as much of a punch as possible, you know exactly what they’ll do each turn, so you just need to be able to deal with it. A good thing is that our cantrips let us draw the correct cards for each situation, to a certain extent, so even a fairly small number of “perfect” cards can make a big difference. In general I would try to have at least like 6 proactive cards in the main deck, stuff that people can’t ignore, that forces them to react to you and not the other way around. This includes: Search, CB, Mentor, Jace, Gideon, Entreat. I would also try to not only have reactive cards in the sideboard, even though they usually make up the majority of the sideboard.
Good rules of thumb
When building my deck I uses a lot of shortcuts. This is because we have in the past tried a lot of stuff, and we now know that certain numbers are incorrect, and can get ignored, and that other are correct (or approximately so). These are my rules:
4 Answers to CotV. I see a lot of lists that seem to pick their sideboard cards randomly, but the truth is that the sideboard numbers are very much connected to the main deck cards. It it somewhat fine to go down to 3 of these, especially if you play Spell Snare. But in general I think 4 has proven to be very good. And what I mean by this is that if you want to beat for example Eldrazi Stompy, then you almost always benefit more from the 4th disenchant effect before any land hate effects. But more on that later. The short thing is, don’t be greedy and skip these. Don’t play only 2 of them and believe that you will be fine since you have force of will.
White sources. If I play with at least 4 cards that cost WW (other than terminus) such as Entreat the Angels, then I want 5 White sources (usually 3 Tundra 2 Basic plains). But if I play with no WW cards in the main deck and only 1-2 in the sideboard then I can go down to 4 such lands (2+2 or 3+1). I would not go down to only 3 lands that produce white mana in any list, and also not up to 6. These numbers are well tested and work.
Basics. I always want at least 4 Basic island, and never more than 6 (possible in builds without red). If I play Entreat I want at least 2 Basic Plains, if I play only mentors 1 is possible. 3 Basic Plains is possible in some Back to Basics builds but I wouldn’t play it at only 20 lands.
Number of lands. 20 Lands is the norm today. At least in the builds with 2-3 Jace & 2 Entreat. In the past we have experimented with this a lot. We saw decks with 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, or even 23 lands. The short answer here is to only differ from the 20 Land norm if you make the corresponding changes to your curve, for example if you play 3-4 mentors, no Jace or other 4 drops, no Entreat, no CJ, then you can probably play only 18 lands, especially if you have a sideboard mountain. The same is true from the other direction, say you want to play more than 5 cards that cost 4 or more (like 4 Jace + 2 ETA, or 2 Jace, 2 Gideon, 2 Nahiri, or any Future Sight builds), then you should probably play a 21st land.
1 plan B in the sideboard. This is obvious and most people do it already, for example if you have ETA in the main it is usually a good idea to have mentors in the sideboard so that you don’t get too predictable, but I wouldn’t go too deep on this because that would only be wasting sideboard slots. Even just 1 slot in the sideboard is enough. For example most of the lists with Mentor in the main have either 1 EtA, 1 Gideon, or 2 Cliques in their sideboard now a days.
I want at least 18 lands that can produce blue mana, including fetches. So that means that if I want to add a 3rd plains I go up to 21, same with Karakas, Cavern of Souls, or basic Mountain. There are some exceptions, for example if I play with way fewer UU cards (fewer CS, fewer snapcaster/Cliques and no CB) I can go down to 17. But you have to understand that every time your first 3 lands include 2 non blue lands it is awful and most of your turns will just be ponder go. And also that when regarding whether to keep or mull you always need at least 1 blue land. Now that you don’t even have top as a colorless cantrip there is almost no opening hand without blue that is keepeable.
Answers to Chalice
You need them. I aim to play 4 of these. If you play less than 4 you should ask yourself if you have compensated for that in some other way or if you just want to gamble and hope not to play against CotV (bad idea). Of course Chalice is not the only non land non creature permanent that you need to answer, but if you have this one in mind primarily you will usually end up with sufficient numbers for most other things (It turns out Disenchant can also kill Pithing Needle & Food Chain for example).
Splitting your answers
This is a fairly common thing for control decks, and Miracles is by no means the first deck to do it. The basic idea is that you want as much flexibility as possible, even if that means you won’t always have the most copies of the most mana efficient card at all times. It really boils down to the idea that you would rather draw 1 each of A & B instead of 2 copies of either one, because at least for the first card the opponent casts that you need to deal with, you will have as much flexibility as possible. For example the split of 1 EE 1 CJ has been very common in miracles for quite a while, because both cards have their distinct advantages and disadvantages it is very difficult to evaluate which really is better, and to a certain degree it doesn’t matter, even if you find that say EE is better by some sliver of a percentage in the average case, then you’ll still get into a number of situations where EE can’t get you out but CJ could, and then just having the ability to draw CJ is very important, especially with the high number of cantrips and card selection this deck offers. The same thing is also true for other answers, you’ll see people who add Supreme Verdict to their deck even if they only have 3 Terminus. Or people who play 2 Flusterstorm 1 Spell Snare 1 Spell Pierce. This idea really gets amplified by the fact that we have snapcaster in the deck as well. Because when you draw your Snapcaster Mage in the mid to late game and look down at your graveyard to see what options you have, then it doesn’t matter if there is a 2nd or 3rd copy of any card there, the thing that matters is how many different 1st copies you can find.
Pyroblast & REB
The idea behind the split is that you dodge cards like: Surgical Extraction, Meddling Mage, Cabal Therapy, and possibly others. The interaction with Misdirection isn’t really a relevant thing when determining which one to play, but it could theoretically come up when you play. However if you play with a very high number of Monastery Mentors in your deck it might be worth considering ignoring the split and just play pyroblast, since it can always unconditionally provide you with a prowess trigger for lethal even if there are no blue targets around. All these things are very small percentages of course, so it largely doesn’t matter. It is kind of at the same idea as having the same art for each basic land of the same kind so that the opponent can’t figure out how many copies of each you play.
Ok, Karakas is cool, I get it, you can do some nice stuff with clique & venser, but do you need it? Well, it turns out that no, not really, Miracles has in the past been able to put up some really impressive results even without Karakas. Anyhow, here’s my thoughts in a list:
Karakas can act like a 5th white source in a deck that needs it.
Karakas should never be played in a list without Clique.
Karakas is very good in a few matchups such as Show & Tell decks or Reanimator decks. If you are playing a list with 1-2 Karakas you can possibly go down a little bit in sideboard cards against those decks (-1 Containment Priest for example).
If you play Karakas you probably want at least 3 legendary creatures.
Karakas is almost always too greedy in a 3 color build. You already have enough other requirements from your mana base to fit a karakas here. It is possible but I would advise against it. Double so if you are thinking about playing with a basic mountain.
Karakas is usually really awkward in a straight UW build. One of the main reasons to play without the red splash is that you can blank wastelands in order to gain virtual card advantage much more often, and also that you can get to play with multiple copies of Back to Basics, neither of these two things work very well with karakas.
Mentor could require an entire FAQ of its own. But here are some short things:
If you play main deck mentor you want more cantrips. You want to be able to chain spells into more spells in order to trigger it efficiently. I would play at least 13 cheap cantrips (usually: ponder, portent, brainstorm, predict).
If you play main deck mentor you want your other non creature cards to cost less mana, for example CB/Search > Jace, or EE > CJ, so that you can more easily play one of them during the same turn that you play mentor.
If you play sideboard mentors the above things are not quite as important, but you should still keep them in mind while sideboarding (if you board in mentor don’t board out predicts for example).
The threat of mentor forces many decks to keep in removal against you. Don’t let your opponent know if you have the mentors in your sideboard or not. This is not really a thing on mtgo but in paper you should not give away free information.
Main deck mentors require you to play more ways to stop certain removal spells from resolving, for example in a ETA list you can play more removal and fewer counterspells, and your counterspells can include stuff like Spell Snare that hits very few common removal spells, but a lot of other stuff. If you play Mentor instead you gain more from playing counterbalance or flusterstorm, and can at the same time cut a little removal (usually the 4th terminus) since mentor provides you with another way to control the board.
Main deck mentors benefit from more tempo-oriented cards. Cards that can trade up in mana get much better if you have 3-4 mentors, mentor provides you with a way to take over the game while your opponent still has spells in hand that they didn’t have time to gain value from (inf value from life from the loam engines comes to mind as an obvious example), here we have stuff like: Force (don’t board it out as much), daze, UA, Flusterstorm. But we also try to avoid stuff that trades down in mana since our hands could otherwise get very clogged up with 3 and 4 drops, so slightly fewer copies of: Jace, Supreme Verdict, CJ.
Number of Wincons
You are a control deck, you only want to spend the absolute minimum number of slots on something as unimportant as winning the game. But unfortunately you need stuff here. I really try to not play more than 3-4 white wincons + jaces. You can add more stuff (2 entreat + 4 mentor + gideon) of course, but there are some seriously diminishing returns, at least if you still want to play a UW control deck, if you believe that it is better to play more midrange, I would recommend you just play stoneblade or esper mentor, or if you dare, my sweet mentor 16 cantrips deck: http://mtgtop8.com/event?e=15948&d=298167&f=LE
You probably want one. If you only play say 4 Mentor main deck and nothing else in the 75, it is easy to get hated out, but if you just have that 1 entreat in the sideboard for example, you can laugh at your delver opponent when they play a Dread of Night. The same is true the other way around, if you only have Entreat you will get shit on in the mirror when your opponent boarded in 4 Flusterstorms and 3 mentors.
Why are you playing Clique
Against combo decks such as Storm or Sneak & Show you eventually need to kill them, you can try to just have infinite card advantage and it works alright up to a certain point, but you will get some serious diminishing returns, and it is also really annoying for them if you can attack them from multiple directions, so instead of adding that 5th blast or 4th fluster you should really consider some kind of hatebear. And Clique is the most versatile one. Another option is Ethersworn Canonist or the 4th Snapcaster, you just need something to deal the damage, to force them to react to you and not just wait around forever until they draw their Boseiju or Defense Grid or whatever. Another reason to play with Clique is if you play a particularly high number of Jaces or Counterbalances, since Clique allows you to curve Clique -> Jace against other blue decks when they are just trying to hold counterspells up, this was very common if you wanted to win the mirror before the top ban, since it forced the opponent to both tap some lands, and use some countermagic, right before you untap, so that you could then more easily win a fight over say CB on your own turn. Another small but relevant reason to play Clique is that it kills Jace the Mind Sculptor in one hit, a card that can very strong against miracles if you don’t come prepared, for example if you don’t play red you’ll need to consider things like this so that you have more outs to get rid of a resolved Jace.
Why are you not playing Clique
While it is true that Clique is the most versatile anti-combo creature it is also the one that is the least impactful most of the time. It can almost always get boarded in and it really helps the sideboard math in multiple matchups, but it is also almost never that amazing. If a list is not playing with clique it is because they want more narrow but also higher impact cards. Other reason why someone might not play with Clique right now is:
They don’t play any mentors or CB and just want to completely blank Abrupt Decay and similar cards post board if the opponent decides to leave them in the deck.
They believe that Baleful Strix is too common and want to use these slots to other cards that are higher impact in such BUG matchups.
They already have enough other creatures or win conditions that (for example 4 mentor 2 entreat) that they don’t think they can afford to add more “wincons” into the sideboard but need the other slots for high impact reactive cards (surgical, blast, fluster, disenchant, etc).
I think most of you have this in mind already. But seriously, don’t jam 6 different 4 drops into the deck (Nahiri, or Moat, or whatever) without making sure you change other stuff. Like add a land or cut that Supreme Verdict. Also consider the fact that snapcaster is not really a 2 drop, it is most likely a 3 drop with some rarely used kicker. I see some people try to replace their 2 drops with additional snapcasters while also adding mentors or cliques.
High number of cantrips vs unnecessary stuff
Ok. Here is the one that really gets me frustrated. I see way too many people, especially those who are new to the deck, cut the cantrips and add random shit they don’t need, like main deck Back to Basics or Gideon when they already have 2 ETA. The thing is this, this deck already have some absurdly powerful cards, all it needs is to have the correct cards at the correct time, sure you can cut all your portents for blood moons, and they might win you a game every now and then, but the number of games you lose because you miss your 3rd land drop or because you can’t find a terminus in time is going to be significantly higher. Our deck does play more cantrips than almost any other non combo deck in legacy, but it also makes sense, the whole idea with the miracles cards is that you need to manipulate your draws to make them powerful, and if you could reliably do that with only 8-9 cantrips then every blue deck would play some number of them, or at least some other deck. So in short, don’t cut the portents because you want to add more “fun offs”, and also if you add all the cards you think you should have into a pile, and find that it is 61 cards, then I would really recommend you to go through all other cards multiple times over and find something to cut there before you take the easy solution and just cut a cantrip. I don’t say that you need to play 12 of the 1 mana cantrips in every list, but your goal should probably be to do that as often as possible, or to be as close as possible. Right after the ban when everyone was experimenting with everything and no one was having any success yet I wrote this post on the mtgthesource forum, and then proceeded to pick up some 5-0’s immediately to prove my point: “You are all playing way way too few cantrips. The reason miracles was so good was because it was very consistent. If you count top as a cantrip most lists had 12-16 cantrips. Now most of you seem to think you can do the same with only 8-10 while replacing the other cards with useless stuff. You can try that for a while but you will never find it as consistent, the stuff you get to play in the extra slots might look good though. Trying to go down on cantrips when you don't have top is insanity, you should go the other way and add more. We all know that the deck can sink a mana or two into cantripping almost every turn and be fine, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to use top before the ban.” Other than the simple 1 mana cantrips we do have other cards that also increase other consistency in different ways, for example Search for Azcanta could help us to not draw any white cards in blue matchups. So if you play many of these cards you can cut a few cantrips. Also you want to weight the number of cantrips in your deck against the cards that you dig for, if all the spells that you dig for are tempo-negative or they don’t play to the board, cantripping for them is much worse, since you are essentially spending extra mana on them you will need to recuperate that when you cast the cards that you find of your cantrips, Terminus is an excellent example of a spell that is great together with cantrips since even for 2 mana more it is still worth it. If you start cutting these cards, either during deckbuilding or sideboarding, you should also consider shaving a cantrip, and the opposite is true as well, if you add more such cards you can have extra cantrips. Example: 1. If you sideboard out terminus and board in Counterspell you probably want to shave cantrips. 2. Long before the top ban Reid Duke played a list with 4 Jace the Mind Sculptor and Supreme Verdict (1 main, 1 side) as well as only 3 Terminus, since these cards are more tempo negative than the “normal” setup at the time he had fewer ponders and extra lands instead.
If you want to share your decklist, or if you want to bring your deck to a big tournament. You should seriously consider writing a proper sideboard map. It will teach you a lot about how many slots you need to have for each opponent. Apart from the obvious things like “oh I want to board out all removal against sneak & show so I’ll need an equal number of sideboard cards to board in” you should also consider what The Brainstorm Show recommended in their episode about sideboards, which is to put a score on each card in each matchup, so that you make sure that you make significant upgrades, and so that the more widely boarded in cards (like Clique) can get compared to more narrow cards (like containment priest).
For the storm matchup you need both counterspells and hate permanents. Yes, it is technically possible to just have a ton of countermagic but it will almost assuredly not be the most slot efficient solution. Cards like Ethersworn Canonist or Leyline might seem very narrow, but something like that is needed, you can’t pretend that storm isn’t a thing or that you will be fine with only your 2 Flusterstorm.
You mainly need an answer to Chalice. If you have that you are usually good, Chalice is easily the number one most common way they beat you. Cards like Blood Moon or Back to Basics also do work here of course. You mainly want to make sure that you can board out all dead ish countermagic like Counterspell or Counterbalance and instead board in cards that directly interact with the board. Also having just a 1 off clique somewhere in the deck is surprisingly useful as they sometimes open up with hands that have 2x Ancient Tomb, and then you can just aggressively cantrip towards your clique and punish them, Ancient Tomb is supposed to have a drawback, but if your only attacking creatures are Angel Tokens then it doesn’t really matter if they are at 20 or 6 life, you still need to do all the same setup with hitting extra land drops and triggering the miracle draw.
Once again, cards that interact with the board are better than countermagic. You want to really diversify your answers here since they have a ton of different threats that best get answered by different removal. Also, jace is awesome against all these “fair” decks. While sideboarding this is a matchup where you usually cut a little bit of everything but not all the copies of any one card, yeah, it is weird and reminds us more of playing a combo deck.
Respect Tireless Tracker, Respect Marit Lage. Surgical is awesome, and early Mentor can easily outclass punishing fire. This is one of those matchups where if you don’t play any nonbasic land hate effects you should really consider a 3rd surgical instead of the containment priest in order to make the sideboard mapping work.
While not super common right now miracles was the biggest (and best) deck last year at this time, and many people still have the cards laying around. Here you need to really keep the “flash vs slam” gameplans in consideration. The best way to beat the mirror is to play both the best proactive cards (Cb, Mentor, Gideon, Search, Squadron Hawks) and the best reactive ones (blasts). Right now I would not board out any Jaces here, but if we go back to to a meta of 4 counterbalance that could change. There is a ton to say about this matchup but I’ll save most for some other time. Some small things that could be worth keeping in mind:
Mentor is very good in the mirror. It dodges most of the common counterspells (fluster, snare, blasts) and require your opponent to dig for a sweeper, if they play supreme verdict that is also a tempo positive trade for you, but even if they use Terminus they usually had to “waste” multiple cantrips to find it instead of finding blasts or predicts or such.
If you play a UWR CB mirror you should respect CB a lot, for example, before the ban I had the rule: If I’m on the draw and I have the opportunity I always fake a blast on turn 1 (never cantrip if you can leave up a fetch). That is not quite as necessary now since those 4 blast 4 CB mirrors are much less common, but similar things are worth keeping in mind.
Death & Taxes
Here is a matchup where I see a lot of people making mistakes. First, regarding red, you really have to decide during deckbuilding, are you going to play like a two or a three color deck post board here. And since it is right now possible to have a favourable matchup against Death & Taxes without boarding in any red cards I really prefer that. So don’t play that 1:of Pyroclasm or 1:of Wear//Tear and force yourself into fetching volcanics against a deck with this much mana denial. Just find another card and then play like a straight UW deck whenever possible. And if you decide to play with red, then make sure that you bring the best stuff and accept the worse mana, play those wear//tear over disenchant if you are going to board in Pyroclams and a basic mountain anyways. Simply decide first and then go all out of that. Secondly, work on the sideboard math properly here, if you play 4 CB and want to take them all out you probably need more sideboard cards to board in compared to if those 4 main deck slots were 2 predicts 2 UA. Just think before you add cards, it is that simple.
The solution is not to play 30 lands, but if you have a sideboard mountain you should board up to 21 lands. The answer is also not to play infinite 1 for 1 removal, since you will need more lands in play than they do at any point in the game you will also need extra card advantage to make up for this, otherwise you will just die empty handed with 6 lands while they have 3 lands and 1-2 creatures. Last, you need to threaten something proactive, some delver decks have gone to great and ridiculous lengths in the past to punish us if we just tried to play reactive magic, Winter Orb is probably the best example of this. It doesn’t really matter what proactive cards to play though, it could be search, or CB, or mentor, the point is that they should always feel afraid, they should have some pressure on them to play out that extra creature instead of slow rolling to play around terminus, they should not dare to brainstorm back or sideboard out that force of will and be left shields down even though it is bad card advantage, etc etc. You just really need to make 100% sure that the lategame is yours, that their pathetic attempt at “grinding card advantage” is not enough, so that they need to be aggressive even in the face of terminus or supreme verdict or EE.
Shardless BUG and 4c pile (hymn + jace decks)
Blasts are great, swords to plowshares are fairly poor but you need to leave in like 2 copies since you don’t want to terminus for every single lone deathrite. Since most of these decks have switched away from wasteland in favour of more greedy mana themselves we can also rely more on only 2 Volcanic Island than we could before (when we almost always had to play either a 3rd Volc or a basic mountain). Another thing that is important to keep in mind against Hymn+Leovold decks is that you want to make sure that the cards to play in order to gain an advantage (predict, CB, Jace, etc) do actually play to the board, you don’t want your entire “advantage” to be in the form of cards in your hand, but instead in the form of permanents on the battlefield if possible, this makes it so that any hymns that come later than turn 2 or turn 3 get much much worse. But you of course want to do a bit of both, especially since Abrupt Decay could otherwise destroy your day and take away your day and everything you have fought for.
Reanimator and RIP
I see a lot of people adding Rest in Peace into their sideboard right now and I don’t really understand, it is possible that I’m missing something but it is also possible that they are just modern players that haven’t used their brains. So here is the thing. RIP is great against slower graveyard decks, it kills dredge hard, it makes those mongoose+deathrite+goyf decks look pathetic, yeah, it seems great right? Wrong. No one is playing that BUG deck, even just goyf is super rare right now, also dredge is not that common, and we could just containment priest for them. What else? Oh right, snapcaster, against almost every deck that you want graveyard hate you also want to keep in snapcaster, and that is not a combo. What else? Reanimate. Right, reanimator, against reanimator RIP is bad, it is just way too slow, you need to mulligan every hand that doesn’t have a force or some other kind of turn 0 / turn 1 interaction, you basically need to play surgical here or else they just kill you. And if you survive to turn 2, well then you don’t need RIP anymore, you are already like 80% favored to win, don’t bother with sideboard cards for the win more situations. What else? Lands, lands is probably the 2:nd most common GY deck right now, and it boards in 4 krosan grips because they have to respect blood moon, just play surgical on them, one of those will forever cripple them enough. Yeah, before I started playing legacy I also hated Surgical, but now I see why you need it here. However, if you decide to play a list without Snapcaster Mage in it, then I would once more consider RIP, if only because it is quite good against those BUG decks with Deathrite+Snapcaster+possibly less common others (Kess, Goyf, Lilia LH minus ability), but only now because you suddenly don’t have any cards of your own that interacts with said graveyard, if so I would still play at least 1 Surgical because of Reanimator though.
4th snapcaster mage
This is a value card, it also makes sense that a 4th would be great since we already play 3, why not a 4th? Well it turns out that the main deck doesn’t really have enough good flexible 1 mana spells to make a 4th snapcaster than good in game 1, honestly even the 3rd is kind of mediocre. But postboard this usually changes, we have a lot of cheap cards in the sideboard, like Flusterstorm, pyroblast, disenchant, surgical, so in g2 & g3 snapcaster is truly awesome, and a 4th copy would be awesome as well, but now the question is mostly, is it worth a sideboard slot, or would you rather just play another answer directly? That is up to you, but this is the reason that some play it and some don’t. You can play it in the main if you want to “save” a sideboard slot as well, but you will have to accept that game 1 is going to be worse, since you’ll draw a lot more of those double snapcaster hands that only have cantrips and no interaction in the GY while you are playing against a combo deck.
Nonbasic hate is very powerful, but the slots are very difficult to find. If you don’t play any you will need to have some other gameplan against those decks (basically, ask yourself the question of how you beat punishing fire, or eye of ugin searches). Anyhow, here’s a summary of the most common hate cards:
Blood Moon - This one stops everything, sure that eldrazi player could have a basic wastes but don’t bother considering that now. This is the best answer to those annoying 4 or 5 color value decks that just pile up all good cards they own. Some of them are seriously playing 1 basic island and 2 Hydroblasts because they have no other good way to beat this. Others have to always keep up G+B and a abrupt decay in hand during the late game because if they tapout they would instantly lose to Blood Moon. The disadvantages of moon is: It is the card that punishes us the most on this list, since we can’t fetch any more; Since it is usually cast with just one W and one U in play you should consider this while deckbuilding and sideboarding, and favor mentors instead of entreat as your wincon for example; It requires tuning your fetches slightly, since you want to really make sure you had access to a basic white source before you play it and not just a tunda.
Back to Basics - This is the card that do the least damage to us (you can still fetch out additional basics, and use the shuffle effects to improve the cantrips), but could also be the easiest to ignore or beat for the opponent, for example your opponent can still make a Marit Lage token through it. If you want to play this in a 3 color build you will most likely need a basic of the 3rd color, or make sure that you don’t board in any cards of that color in the same matchups as you board in B2B (Similar to how Joe Lossett did in his legends build pre ban).
Ruination / From the Ashes - These are worse against BG Depths than any of the previous, and they also more or less require you to play a basic mountain, but otherwise they are quite sweet. A well times Ruination can really ruin someone's’ day.
Dwarven Blastminer - This is a troll and a jerk card. Fun, but don’t play it.
Search for Azcanta & Karakas - While playing with these cards you have to weigh the land hate against these lands’ utility in the matchups. Sometimes it is just the case that if the land hate resolves you don’t care because you are going to be winning anyways and this stuff is just win-more, but other times not. Overall Search is the best with Ruination / From the Ashes, since you can usually set it up so that there is no conflict at all, you might even get value if From the Ashes feeds the GY enough to flip Search afterwards. But Search is still fine with B2B and Blood Moon, you’ll just not flip it if you draw both but keep the scrying (milling) machine going, it also turns out that this scrying gets much more useful when you can no longer fetch under a blood moon in combination with your cantrips. However with Karakas it gets worse, and if you really want to play with 2+ copies of nonbasic land hate I would recommend you to not play any copies of Karakas in the same list.
Advancing your game plan
This is going to be a very theoretical section, maybe a bit too abstract, but I’ll try to come up with some concrete examples towards the end of it. While most sections up till now have mostly talked about Tempo-advantage, and Card-advantage, and possibly attacking from multiple angles and diversifying your answer, there is still one very important point I have skipped. And that is the idea of your game plan.
The idea is that every turn you should try to advance your game plan if possible. Especially game 1 you rarely have the perfect mix of interaction in your deck to really lock the opponent out from ever achieving theirs, so if you don’t advance yours but just try to stop everything that your opponent is going, then they are still slowly slowly going to advance theirs (kill you), so you really need to do this.
This mostly comes up when playing, but also a bit during deckbuilding. For example, when playing you might sometimes run into games where your current suit of interaction aligns very poorly to what your opponent is trying to do, most notably this comes up against Storm and against Lands. So what do you do? Well you try to complete your own gameplan as fast as possible, ignore things you can’t deal with, and deal with the others as well as you can, kind of like patching up a leaking ship while trying to race past the finish line. For example the lands deck might have Life from the Loam together with Ghost Quarter, and many builds don’t have any way to permanently stop that game 1, so what you really need to do then is focus on hitting every single land drop, forcing any explorations, maybe even force a loam, save 2 fetches in play and 2 white sources in the deck, and then try find entreat the angels while you still have enough mana left. Basically, play to your outs.
The most notable mistakes I see here are when people haven’t thought far enough ahead, they cantrip badly in the first few turns and miss their land drops because they see some good interactive cards like CJ or Terminus, and then they lose because they didn’t make any progress, and eventually the opponent got past their interaction. You should always remember that the entire reason you play with cards like Terminus, Counterspell or Swords to Plowshares is really so that you can survive long enough to play out your real gameplan and wincon. The interaction in the deck is a means to an end, and don’t forget the end.
For example, if you are playing a Entreat the Angels build of the deck, you should really try to hit a land drop every turn of the game if possible. Sure, there are some exceptions, and you shouldn’t throw all thoughts of value out the window in order to advance your game plan, like sometimes you should be patient and wait for a setup card instead of cycling a predict with a unknown top card. Another thing you should keep in mind is that you sometimes need say no to that miracle trigger on entreat on turn 5, because that is your only copy of ETA and you’ll need to set it up to make sure it resolves against daze, spell pierce, or force, much later.
The opponent should always feel like they have a timer ticking above their head, like they have to do something or else you will just get into a lategame that very much favours the miracles deck. And in order to make this happen you need to always make progress towards that end game. Not necessarily every single turn (we can still win even if we miss a land drop), but you should make sure you don’t suddenly stop making progress for a long time. This is also why we play so many lands. Progress also isn’t just in terms of land drops, it could be in other forms, it all depends on the matchup, for example in the mirror progress is very much in the form of cards in hand and number of card advantage permanents in play, and the game plan is usually all about resolving those important card advantage spells, but if you do, then suddenly other cards such as ETA that the opponent could cast later mean much less.
You should also remember to ask yourself if you really do have inevitability in each matchup. Because when you do it is quite easy, you can miss a land drop or two and just play the game of card advantage, and then you can win with whatever sometimes later when you have drowned the opponent in cards. But when you do not have inevitability, then that is where things get tricky, for example against that annoying Eye of Ugin or Punishing Fire + Grove, then you really need to make sure you make progress towards your wincon. Because if the game goes too long then suddenly mana is plenty (tempo doesn’t matter) and suddenly card advantage don’t matter either (It is really difficult to grind against Eye of Ugin searching up Reality Smasher or Ulamog/Kozilek every turn).
How does this relate to deckbuilding? Good thing you ask. The primary question you should ask yourself when designing the deck is “What is my game plan?”, sure it might depend on the matchup, on your hand, or whether this is pre or post board, but you should always have a plan, and the entire 60 card deck at any time should be built with this plan in mind. For example, if you play with monastery mentor in the main deck, then you should consider how you are going to make sure mentor can do its thing. Especially game 1 most other decks have a lot of removal which is otherwise somewhat dead again us if we don’t have mentor, what is your plan against that? You can either say that blanking removal is a dead concept, and that the opponent would just brainstorm such cards away anyways, and just try to grind 1 for 1 until the opponent runs out of actual cards and ignore the virtual card advantage idea. Or you could play cards that protect your mentors, for example CB with a 1 on top is very likely to keep mentor alive against most of the decks in the format, so then your game plan suddenly becomes: Hit your early land drops, Gain enough card advantage to resolve my threats, Resolve CB, put a 1 on top, Resolve Mentor, Trigger Mentor multiple times.
Another example is the obvious 2 plains one. If you play with entreat the angels you should probably have 2 basic plains in your main deck, because when you have ETA in the deck the idea of having WWX up every single time you draw a random card becomes very important for your game plan, just in case it turns out to be this miracle card. And the best way to make sure you can keep WWX in play (When X is usually just a great number of basic Islands or Volcanic Islands) at any time, is really to play with basic plains, just to stay safe from those wastelands.
If you are new to miracles or just curious in general. If you want to learn more and improve. Or simply haven’t thought much about magic theory in this way before. There are a multitude of reasons why you could be interested in additional reading. Maybe you have already read some of these, or maybe you find all of these too simple for you, but I’ll add them here anyways. All of these resources are not directly related to Miracles either, but when you are playing a control deck it is important to understand what your opponent is doing as well. Here are some good guidelines for how to proceed with reading:
The Miracles Primer in the first post of the UWx Miracles thread on mtgthesource is a great resource to learn more about the miracles deck: http://www.mtgthesource.com/forums/showthread.php?31855-Primer-UWx-Miracle-Control
The article by PV called Countering Spells: https://www.channelfireball.com/articles/countering-spells/
The article by Nick Spagnolo called Casting Blue Spells: http://magic.tcgplayer.com/db/article.asp?ID=9237
The article by Reid Duke called Control decks: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/lo/control-decks-2014-10-06
The article by PV called Reducing Variance: https://www.channelfireball.com/home/pvs-playhouse-the-art-of-reducing-variance/
The article by PV called Technical Play: https://www.channelfireball.com/home/pvs-playhouse-technical-play/
The article by Mike Flores called Who’s the beatdown: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/fundamentals/3692_Whos_The_Beatdown.html
The follow up article by Zvi Mowshowitz called: Who’s The Beatdown II: Multitasking: http://magic.tcgplayer.com/db/print.asp?ID=2754
The article by Reid Duke called Thoughtseize you: http://www.starcitygames.com/article/26855_Thoughtseize-You.html
The article by Chad Ellis called The Danger of Cool Things: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/fundamentals/3689_The_Danger_Of_Cool_Things.html
Disclaimer or Something
This FAQ is all my thoughts, I’m not trying to prove that any of this is objectively correct, the only thing I can do is try to present my thoughts, and hope you get convinced. If you think this is stupid then by all means, I’m not going to stop you from winning the next legacy GP on your own.
If you have read enough magic theory and/or played enough you will probably recognize that many of the things I talk about here are common advice that apply to many different decks, and are just hiding under a thin disguise of examples using cards from the miracles deck. Good.
Most of the things in this are still short answers, there is a ton more I could say about how different cards interact with each other, I skipped some of it because this is already long enough as it is, and other things because they are obvious enough I hope (UA can’t take TNN, Kozilek’s Return can kill haste creatures before they attack, etc), included here is the fact that I tried not to repeat what is already printed on the cards, such as “Clique has Flying”.
I also discuss a lot of different cards in here. And even if it might seem like I favour some more than others it should be noted that I did not intend to say “Don’t ever play card X!”. I have myself played with some really really bad lists in the past. I also don’t think you should play with all the cards mentioned here, you just don’t have the slots for that. Miracles deck building contains a lot of trying to prioritize different cards over their alternatives."