We’re quickly approaching GP Boston/Worcester/Woosta/Myliverwilllikelynotsurvivethis. It feels like just yesterday that I was proposing my initial list for a UWR Geist deck to Scotty. Looking at that list compared to our current one shows just how far we’ve come with the deck.
We’ve brought Larry Swasey on board. We’ve put in the time. We’ve put in the thought. We’ve lost some games, and we’ve won even more. We’ve written about the deck countless times. But, what we really haven’t done is collected all of our knowledge with the deck into a one-stop-shop resource for everyone who wants to pick up and play the deck. That is, until now.
In his article from Monday Scotty did a very good job in discussing the cards that we considered for the deck but eventually didn’t make it or were cut. Instead I will just focus on some of the cards we will actually play with and the overall game plan.
First and foremost we are a Geist of Saint Traft deck. We’ve designed it to really maximize the effectiveness his holiness has on the battlefield. In doing so we crafted a very high-powered aggro-control build. The key to really succeeding with the deck is knowing when to shift gears between being the aggressor and the controller. Even more important is to know where you stand after sideboarding.
While playing the deck countless times we learned that the first rule to our deck is Always Jam. We’re a Geist deck, we want him on the board. The only time you should actually be holding up interactive spells instead of jamming Geist is when you believe your opponent will just kill you that turn. A lot of times a turn 3 Geist will result in you winning the game.
The Prime Directive is to resolve an aggressive threat and punch through damage while keeping your opponent from doing anything of real significance. Vendilion Clique and Geist are you best threats for this, but don’t be afraid to get that Snapcaster Mage into the red zone early. We’ve had plenty of opponents die to Ambush Vipers.
There will be games where you don’t draw one of these threats and then have to play a more controlling game. Keeping your opponent off kilter is the key to these games. Doing so will give you time to resolve a Restoration Angel, Batterskull, or Keranos. Once you do turn this corner it is very reasonable to close the game out quickly in conjunction with a Celestial Colonnade.
The second rule to the deck is to Know Where You Are. Understanding what is your current game plan is and being able to modify it on the fly is imperative. It’s very hard to know exactly what you should be doing when you first pick up the deck, but erring on the side of aggression will definitely lead you to more wins than trying to play a control game.
The third rule to the deck is to Watch the Mana. Not just your own mana, but also your opponents. By this I mean know what mana you need to cast the spells in your hand. I also mean know what you could possibly be casting your spells into. Knowing what options you need to keep open really helps you determine what mana to use or leave available.
While speaking on the subject of mana I feel like we also really need to expound the fact that you should always be trying to use your mana effectively each turn. Leaving a Remand up instead of casting a Geist for a turn can potentially be devastating to your tempo if your opponent plays two one cost spells. However, if your have a Lightning Bolt or Lightning Helix in addition to the Remand, leaving them open as options are much more alluring (but still not as alluring as Jamming!).
Now that we have the general information out of the way its time to get into what everyone really wants: match-ups and sideboarding! This article will include the information for what are being identified as the top 10 decks in the MTGO Modern metagame. There are definitely some key decks missing from this list that I’m sure everyone will want to information for. Don’t fret, there will be another 10 decks covered in such a matter on Monday in a follow up. It was really just too much information to pack into this single article.
Our game one is about surviving the onslaught. If you kept a hand light on removal and heavy on Restoration Angel, Geist, etc you’re in for a bad game. A hand with some Bolt/Helix/Path and a Snapcaster is really what you want. You can individually beat Cranial Plating and Etched Champion, but together they are unstoppable. You really just want to survive long enough to turn the corner with a Clique or Angel.
Games 2 and 3 we have to cut Geist because he just cannot power through Etched Champion and Remand is way to slow. We add some removal and a Batterskull to dig in for the hopefully longer haul. The game plan is still the same as game 1 except this time we know to mulligan threat heavy hands for ones with more reactive spells.
Game one our plan is to resolve a Geist or Clique while killing all of their guys. This is a matchup that taught me very well the importance of playing a source of untapped red mana even before a Celestial Colonnade. Killing their turn 1 mana dork will definitely put you in the drivers seat. After that you need to keep your Paths available to remove Kitchen Finks or Voice of Resurgence. If you can kill all their guys while getting in damage the game plays out very easily.
Clique is pretty terrible and is an easy swap for the Mindcensors that can lead to blowouts. Likewise, Remand is a bit sub-par in favor of our better removal. The games go a bit longer so having another strong late game spell is appealing. You still abide to the “kill all their guys” plan, and this time we have better tools for it.
3. GB(x) Midrange
Decks with Liliana are always scary to play against as Liliana of the Veil is likely the best card against us. The good news is that if you can dodge Lili, the games go rather smoothly. Your Paths need to prioritize Tarmogoyf but will also have to hit Courser of Kruphix and late-game Scavenging Oozes. Early Oozes and Dark Confidants are the primary Bolt/Helix targets for us. You need to play in a way so that you can’t get blown out by a Liliana. Sometimes this requires having a good read on your opponent. Watch how they sequence their spells. If they don’t seem to mind you pathing their Goyf, chances are they’ll have the Lili for your Geist. The key to winning is to let them do some of your work for you. Their mana will inevitably hurt them. A few hits from an Angel and a few burn spells is usually enough to do them in.
Games 2 and 3 we take out our worst card in the matchup to bring in our best answer to Goyfs/Lilis and of course our extra Skull. The games are going longer and we need to adapt our plan for that. In games 2 and 3 Thrun is actually more of a nightmare than Liliana. If an opponent resolves one we’re forced into a very awkward race situation. Try not to give them a window to resolve a Thrun by keeping the pressure up.
4. UR Twin
In Game one the plan is to simply resolve a Geist or Clique and get our beats on. As long as we play with the knowledge of when our opponent can combo us, its rather easy to force them to be unable to do so.
Games two and three allow us to bring some our better hate cards to bear. The plan is still to keep our opponent off their combo while being aggressive.
6. RG Tron
Game one is the typical resolve threat and keep opponent off their big huge idiots. Geist is very good at killing them. Clique is good at taking their fatties away from them.
Games 2 and 3 are more of the same except this time we have Mindcensor to interact with their Expedition Maps and Sylvan Scrying. Our burn spells are a bit clunky and not amazing. Counterflux can permanently answer a Karn Liberated.
7. UR Delver
Geist happens to be kind of subpar in this match up. He doesn’t stand up well to Snapcasters and Pyromancers with Elementals. Restoration Angel on the other hand is simply the stones. Game one we want to use our Geist to force them to trade for it while using our removal to prevent their board from really getting ahead.
Path is our worst removal spell and Geist is very bad. Purge is our hedge against their couple Blood Moons and the removal spells are great against their threats. Going longer is our plan here. Our opponent cannot beat our 5’s.
This is likely the matchup that is most easily won by resolving a turn 3 Geist. They don’t have any real way of interacting with such an early threat that can close the game out before they combo. Keeping them from combo’ing is the name of the game 1.
Sometimes our opponents will change their gameplan and become a strange RUG control deck with Inferno Titan as a finisher. They still leave in a few Scapeshifts to have a combo finish. We’re set up more for a longer game if it comes to that, but an early Geist will still likely just kill them.
9. UWR Kiki Control
Geist of Saint Traft is so good. We put them under immense pressure and a lot of our cards outside of Geist play on our opponents turn, an axis that UWR control in general does not fair well against. They key is to maintain our aggressive stance. Doing so will result in wins.
Electrolyze doesn’t kill much here, and Counterflux can just shut down their powerful spells. Combust takes out everything of theirs except Kiki, including Colonnades. The Batterskull is just an awesome threat that is hard for them to deal with. We want to keep being aggressive and force our opponent into a corner.
10. Gifts Tron
Similar to our GR Tron game one plan we want to be aggressive and keep them off of anything that will prevent us from just killing them. Sadly they do have a number of wrath effects in their mainboard so sometimes a single Geist wont be enough to get there.
Unlike GR Tron our opponent is much more of a control deck. The games will go a bit longer, making our burn less effective. The Gifts Tron deck is even more susceptible to being blown out by a Mindcensor though.
Man, that is a lot. Give it some time to all sink in. If you plan on playing this deck at GP Boston then I have one hell of a surprise for you. Scott, Larry, and I decided that we really really like the deck. We each recognize that it has been a team effort to get this far and to commemorate our journey we wanted to get a custom token made. We got a final version and shipped it to the printers. You’ll be able to get one of the tokens from us at GP Boston (while supplies last). If we have any leftover I’ll be sending them out to those that request one but weren’t able to make it to the GP. Enough of my rambling though.
TO THOSE ABOUT TO GEIST, WE SALUTE YOU!
Check back Monday for the second part to the sideboard and game-plan guide featuring the more fringe archetypes you could possibly face. Until then, GEIST ‘EM!
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