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Arcane Laboratory – A Modern UWR Geist Primer

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

I always say play what you know. Then when planning for a local GPT for Boston I decided to play UWR Splinter Twin…after putting much effort into my UWR Geist deck. I went a poor 2-3. I had a lot of games where I’d have just won if I drew Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Unfortunately, my mising capabilities were off that day.

It’s time I stop over-thinking and just take my own advice. In order to help prepare myself for my month of grinding Geist games before GP Boston I’ve decided to write a primer for the deck. This type of exercise has two-fold benefits:

1. I have a lot of players who ask me where my current Geist list is at. Somehow I’ve managed to become one of the foremost Geist players. Even my opponents at the GPT were surprised when I first flashed in a Deceiver Exarch.

2. Writing this primer will help collect my thoughts into one convenient location for everyone, including myself. It will help me really work through everything I’ve learned with the deck and renew my focus on what matters in specific games.

The goal for the deck is pretty simple. Stick a Geist of Saint Traft, get a few hits in, finish opponent off with Burn spells, Celestial Colonnade, or a Dragon. Geist of Saint Traft is so powerful in the pressure that the card can put on an opponent. He can close out the game in 3 turns if left uncontested with most opponents starting the game at a virtual 16-18 life after fetches.

The deck wants to function as a midrange deck disguised as a tempo deck. It contains very efficient threats in the form of Geist and Vendilion Clique. You back these up with efficient disruption spells in Remand, Spell Snare, burn, and Path to Exile. This formula presents a very strong early game that can steal wins from opponents who stumble.

These are backed up by the more expensive spells. Cryptic Command is just so much value and does literally everything. Ajani Vengeant and Stormbreath Dragon are heavy hitters that are tough for opponents to get off the table. They are great follow ups after an opponent wastes resources getting your Geist off the table. Likewise, Celestial Colonnade functions similarly. It’s also amazing when your Jund opponent tries to Terminate your attacking Colonnade only to be met by a Spell Snare cast of the now safely attacking Colonnade.

Ajani Vengeant has two functions. The first is to give any control deck you play against massive headaches. The second is to clear a path for Geist to get some key hits in. Oh, did I mention he can also just neuter a mana-starved opponent too? Yeah, he’s sweet.

Finally, I changed out the Tectonic Edges for Ghost Quarters. Tron is on the rise currently and being able to activate Ghost Quarter before they get their Tron online can be the difference between a win and a loss. This change also has further applications when we look to the sideboard.

There we find that I’ve further delved into the world of amazing singleton answers. I really like having a wide variety of very powerful, but specific effects waiting in the wings for games two and three. The main change from my previous list is the addition of a few new cards while shaving some of my older ones that weren’t pulling their weight.

Aven Mindcensor is the card I’ve been the most impressed with lately. Disrupting opponents fetchland activations is sweet, but that is really just the beginning of what this card does. Flashing one into play in response to a Birthing Pod activation is on top of the list. Close behind is Expedition Map and Eye of Ugin. Other hits include Gifts Ungiven, the transmute mechanic, Chord of Calling, and even stops an opponent from searching most of your own deck with a Surgical Extraction! You should also see your opponent’s face when you Ghost Quarter their land with one of these guys out. Hallowed Burial is another card I’ve come to give more respect to. Green Midrange decks seem to be increasing in popularity. Not only does Burial tuck away Pod’s creatures to reset them, it also tucks Jund players’ Goyfs, Bobs, and Thrun. It’s a perfect fit alongside a Wrath of God.

This is all great information but lets get some real good stuff out. More than just the basics: match-ups and sideboarding strategies! I’ll detail the four major archetypes that I’ve been running up against lately. I’ll be writing a more in depth sideboarding guide for the rest of the format for next week.

Jund is gaining a larger footing in the metagame as it adapts strategies to put the correct amount of pressure and disruption into play. Unfortunately this is one of the archetypes that takes advantage of playing Liliana of the Veil, likely our worst nightmare incarnate. The good news is that the match is winnable. Game 1 you need to focus on holding Paths for Goyfs and Raging Ravines. These are the cards that will actually kill you out of their deck. Luckily for us Jund actually does a reasonable job of dealing damage to themselves through their fetches and Dark Confidant triggers. This allows us to craft a game plan where all we need to do is get a hit or two in with whatever creatures we can keep in play. After that it’s just a few burn spells and snapcasters that are needed to finish them off.

IN: Wrath of God, Hallowed Burial, Celestial Purge, Threads of Disloyalty, Batterskull, Counterflux.
OUT: 2 Electrolyze, Stormbreath Dragon, 2 Geist of Saint Traft, 1 Remand

Post board we load up on answers to their hitters and bring in a few additional ways to win by taking out our threats that they readily have answers to. Our game plan is similar to game one but we want to grind a little longer.

Birthing Pod is a deck I’ve always despised playing against. It’s very resilient and the cards they play are robust enough to win the game without even needing to combo out. Our plan for game 1 is simply to find ways to get Geist of Saint Traft to connect in order to close the game out as quickly as we can. The longer the game goes, the more the pod deck becomes favored as they develop their board to overwhelming states or win with one of their combos. I’ve found that Pathing their Kitchen Finks and Remanding their Pods to be the best way to do this.

IN: Hallowed Burial, Counterflux, 2 Aven Mindcensor, Relic of Progenitus
OUT: 1 Spell Snare, 4 Lightning Helix

Game 2, and likely 3, we bring in some cards to help us keep their board and pod plan disrupted. Aven Mindcensor is really the key to this. You can get some hefty blowouts when you flash it in response to their pod activation. Our plan is still to kill them with some Geist hits, we just actually have the support to do so.

UWR Kiki Control is where it seems most of the Twin players gravitated after Sean McClaren’s success with the deck. This is actually a very easy match for us. See, they don’t have much to answer Geist with once it hits the table and they die in three swings. Ajani and Stormbreath are usually enough to kill them if the games do go longer.

IN: Batterskull, Combust, Counterflux
OUT: 3 Cryptic Command

We really just do not need the Cryptics. Efficiency is the name of the game. If it costs 4+ it needs to be able to kill our opponent. Combust is a great include to help ensure we don’t get combo’d out and it also kills opposing Colonnades. Counterflux is a solid answer to Anger of the Gods.

Tron is another deck is just despise. It’s very boring to play against as the games always play the same way for them. They assemble Tron and start dropping heavy hitters. Game 1 we need to finish them off quickly with Geist. Path to Exile can help keep Wurmcoil Engines out of the way and Karn can’t touch the ghostly warrior.

IN: 2 Stony Silence, Sowing Salt, 2 Aven Mindcensor
OUT: Stormbreath Dragon, 2 Spell Snare, 2 Electrolyze

Stony Silences and Mindcensors disrupt our opponent from assembling Tron. Hopefully this will give us enough time to kill them. Sowing Salt will usually cause them to scoop, but we really can’t afford to play more than one in our sideboard.

Next week check back in for a more complete sideboarding guide for the rest of the format. I will also be back to streaming Tuesday. Catch me there playing this very deck at 8:30pm EST on www.twitch.tv/legitmtg, until then PLAY WHAT YOU KNOW.

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