MMM: Magic Metagame Musings: 3/8/12 – Cage Match

How is everybody’s deck handling the current metagame? I really thought my Titan’s Flame deck had the extra power it needed to dominate the games here in Nagoya, but on Saturday I went 2-2 at Hobby Station, and on Sunday last week I went 2-3 at Big Magic. Each of those losses were VERY close. I lost one game 3 due solely to Thrun (I ended up putting a Phantasmal Image in my sideboard after that), and two of the other losses were to FRITES decks. I handled one of the matches well with a well placed Surgical Extraction of Unburial Rites as well as another S.E targeting their Elesh Norn. But these aren’t the only decks that you should be worrying about. I’m not sure if the metagame back in the USA is the same, but you can be sure that many ideas from events in the USA get watched here in Japan and implemented. I believe everybody should be ready for these type of decks though. There are some great sideboard cards that everybody can use, and I quickly wanted to point them out.

  1. Surgical Extraction- All around awesome card. Phyrexian mana, goes in any deck . . . gets rid of nasty cards from the game, lets you see their deck, as well as their hand. If you don’t have one, get one. Effective against every deck.
  2. Grafdigger’s Cage – 1 mana artifact, can be played in any deck. Stops cards from being played from the graveyard or entering from it, also shuts down Flashback. With one or two of these, you can shut down a variety of decks. Burning Vengeance is destroyed by it. FRITES (the 4 color mana, Unburial Rites/Norn deck) also is heavily damaged by it, especially if you can counter any artifact destruction spells or bring your Cage back from your graveyard. Solar Flare also will have trouble if you get one of these out. Flare runs Lilliana, Sun Titan, and Phantasmal Images. If you stop those images from coming back, you more than HALVE their fighting power. UB Zombies also hurts against the Cage. Gravecrawler will be stuck in the graveyard, and Geralf’s Messenger will not be able to activate its undying ability. Decks using Birthing Pod/Green Sun will also be heavily hurt by the Cage. And although not many people are using U/B/W Spirits these days, shutting down Lingering Souls flashback ability make their deck a little slower, and just might buy you enough time to get a defense up. This card is a MUST have in the current metagame!
  3. Nihil Spellbomb – a poorman’s Cage, but still pretty effective. 1 mana artifact, tap and sacrifice to exile a graveyard. With correct timing you can get rid of the Elesh Norns and Unburial Rites the FRITES player just discarded, or take out an early game Geralf’s Messenger just as it hits the graveyard. Also very good against Burning Vengeance decks (even though you don’t see these too often). This is also a great card against Solar Flare, even better than the Cage actually since it would get rid of any artifacts or planeswalkers that happened to be in the graveyard at the time. Not all decks will be able to take advantage of the card draw, but it can still be played in any deck.

Another totally underutilized card is Buried Ruins, a land from the M12 Core set. You can add one colorless, or for 2 mana and sacrificing it, you can return target artifact card from your graveyard to your hand. This will let you get one more use out of your Shrine of Burning Rage, Ratchet Bomb, Wurmcoil Engine, or Spellbomb (or Grafdigger’s Cage if it was destroyed!), and you can do it as a one off so doesn’t disrupt your mana flow too much. I totally recommend putting one into your main if you plan on running any of the above cards or other powerful artifacts.

The metagame will definitely change in the next week or so, but you can be sure that Undying creatures and Flashback will be sticking around. Get these cards fast!