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Thread: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

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    [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    (Note: This is only going to be about the UB-based versions of the deck, mainly about the UBR one, but you're welcome to discuss other possible splashes instead of red, since there may be less need for it due to future metagame evolvements. For UGR lists check out Next Level Threshold, this deck evolved from the old UGR-Faeries lists. When talking about this very deck I will refer to it as BitterStalker from now on.)



    Overview
    1. Introduction
    1.1 Current List
    1.2 History Of The Deck
    2. Classification And Playstyle
    3. Structure
    3.1 The Core
    3.1.1 The Manabase
    3.1.2 Threat-Density And Explanation
    3.1.3 Utility & Disruption
    3.2 Additional Cardchoices
    3.2.1 Removal
    3.2.1.1 Spotremoval
    3.2.1.2 Massremoval
    3.2.2 Other Cards
    3.3 The Sideboard
    3.3.1 Sample Sideboard
    3.3.2 Sideboard Options
    4. Matchup Analyses
    4.1 Merfolk
    4.2 Goblins
    4.3 Zoo
    4.4 TES
    4.5 Dredge
    4.6 Threshold & New Horizons
    4.7 Landstill
    4.8 Counterbalance Top
    5. BitterStalker Compared To Other Tempo-Decks
    6. Additional Reading
    6.1 What splash is best.
    6.2 Exploiting Tempo
    6.3 Spell Pierce vs. Spell Snare
    6.4 Why this deck shouldn't be called Faeries.
    6.5 The Old Thread



    1. Introduction

    1.1 Current List

    From now on I will always show the list I'm currently running in this section. As almost no one else really plays this deck these days, I figured it would make more sense to have just one section for decklists. Also, the old list that has been shown here, was pretty much outdatet.


    This list is nothing too special. It's the product of tons of testing I've done with the deck. The most recent changes are the configuration of the removal-suite and the inclusion of the fourth Bitterblossom and the second Umezawa's Jitte. I'm playing the deck as aggressively as possible right now, but it still has strong control-capabilities.

    The sideboard is for an open metagame with some number of Ichorid, Zoo, Merfolk, Goblins, (storm-) combo, control variants and other tempo decks. Look at 3.3 The Sideboard for further explanation.

    1.2 History Of The Deck
    Mainly, this deck evolved from T2 Faeries. A lot of the archetype-defining cards were Standard-legal together since a lot of them were printed in the Lorwyn block. Since I didn't play Magic during that time I don't know much about that era in T2, but apparently the deck (UB Faeries) was format-defining.

    I'm sorry for the lack of sample decklists from back then, this is due to the lack of DeckCheck right now, but hopefully I will be able to edit this post and attach some lists from back then.

    There have been several versions in Legacy featuring a lot of cards from these T2 lists, most of them straight UB. During that time the lists were really close to their T2 and Extended counterparts and the main differences were the addition of Force Of Will and Brainstorm and a more stable manabase due to fetchlands and duals. These lists were not focused on tempo-play but rather on control. Much of the cards played in these lists are considered clunky now (Sower Of Temptation) or are just outdatet (Scion Of Oona and Ancestral Vision).

    They started experimenting with Counterbalance and a white splash (mainly for Swords To Plowshares) during early 2009, following Gabriel Nassif's GP win with a four-colour CounterTop list in March 2009; from about that time there were also some results from UBG-lists featuring Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf (sorry again for the lack of reference).

    To my knowledge people starting playing the now typical UBR BitterStalker lists in Legacy during mid-late 2009. This was when people started combining the namesake-threats Bitterblossom and Tombstalker and the manadenial/tempo-elements with the now typical red-splash. Since then, neither the structure of the deck nor the actual cardchoices have changed much, but lists have become way more streamlined.


    2. Classification And Playstyle
    BitterStalker is essentially a control deck, but it has much more reasonable clock than typical control variants, much akin to Next Level Thresh for example. We also have a lot of tempo-disruption elements which play an important role in this deck. Despite the relatively high threat-density for a control deck, this deck is not really aggro-control, as you usually only have one aggressive turn over the course of a game. This is the turn you drop a threat; in general turn two for Bitterblossom and turn three or four for Tombstalker.

    One thing that separates BitterStalker from other control decks is the lack of control-bombs, we don't really have a way to gain significant card advantage. We have to rely on tempo-advantages and card quality.

    When playing BitterStalker (or basically any other deck) you should always seek to benefit more from your turns than your opponent benefits from their turns. The best way to achieve this is to develop your own board-position while preventing your opponent from doing so. Spellstutter Sprite and Bitterblossom are really good at doing this.

    Spellstutter Sprite is obvious: you counter a spell and drop a creature at the same time for only two mana, achieving tempo- and cardadvantage, both of which are crucial to winning with this deck. Timing your Spellstutter Sprites is really important; you don't want to waste them on unimportant spells, but you also want to play them as early as possible, preferably countering their one drop on turn two after you led with Stifle. An example where it's important to keep them for important spells is when you cast Tombstalker. When you do this, you want to make sure that you didn't just waste your important threat, so it's often good to keep mana open for Spellstutter Sprite to counter your opponent's Swords To Plowshares or Path To Exile.

    Bitterblossom is less obvious, but should be clear after short explanation. With Bitterblossom you do something that you often get told to not do: overextending. The thing about Bitterblossom is thats after an initial investment of two mana, you get a free creature every turn; you're developing your board-position without spending mana to do so, saving mana to play countermagic, removal and cards like Brainstorm. I'll say more about Bitterblossom's qualities in the main part of this primer.

    Summed up this basically means: do as much as possible for the lowest amount of mana. This deck can often easily operate off of two lands (though it's often good to make more landdrops), maximising the power of your cantrips, as you usually don't have to search for landdrops and can put excess lands away with your Brainstorms.


    3. Structure

    3.1 The Core

    The core of the deck generally looks like this:


    This is 42 cards and leaves quite some room for variation, though usually most lists are packing 6-7 pieces of removal maindeck and usually have two additional threats, usually the second Vendilion Clique and either the third Tombstalker or the fourth Bitterblossom (some lists have all of them). Most of them also have another four pieces of countermagic in the maindeck and play the full set of Stifles. On top of that there are usually 19-20 lands (sometimes even 21, which would be three more than here, but this is rather uncommon). This makes 57-60 cards, so effectively there are only about 3 flex slots.

    Note that removal and additional countermagic will be discussed in 3.2 Additional Cardchoices as there are a lot of choices and some of them, even though heavily played, just don't belong to the core of the deck.

    3.1.1 The Manabase


    This is basically what all lists share. Since 20 lands is the most common number, there's not much variation here; usually only additional Volcanic Islands, a singleton Badlands or a basic Mountain are played. I don't think this deserves further explanation, but I'll drop some lines on each card.

    Island
    Some people say that this is the strongest card ever printed. One might argue that duallands are better than this one, but in a metagame full of Wastelands and sometimes even Blood Moon or Magus Of The Moon it's not exactly a bad idea to have one of these in your deck. Stifle is a way less common card, so it usually should not be that hard to get this card when you need, even if you only play one. Considering the deck is blue based it's a really good idea to have this one. Plus the deck can operate off of almost any two lands anyway.

    Mountain
    This is a rather uncommon choice and way less seen than the other basics, since most lists have a singleton Badlands instead of this. But depending on your other choices, it's often a good idea to have this one as well, as your red cards (Firespout and Lightning Bolt for example) are usually important against decks with manadenial in the form of Wastelands, i.e. Merfolk and Goblins. You don't want to get manascrewed and therefore be unable to cast your removal against these decks, so if your metagame is full of these, you should definitely consider running that basic Mountain, as it doesn't significantly weaken your manabase. In fact, it increases your chances against your common matchups.

    Swamp
    There are players out there who think this one is actually more important than the basic Island. In a way, they're right. Your removal spells are usually black and you want to consistently have that black mana to cast them. You also need to have two black mana to cast Tombstalker more often than you need to have access to two blue mana, although there are exceptions to this rule, of course. Another thing that speaks for the inclusion of a basic Swamp is that it is harder to manascrew you blue than it is to screw you on black mana.

    Like I said before, the deck is easily capable of operating off of two lands, and Island and Swamp is often all you need.

    Badlands
    Lists without the basic Mountain often play one of these instead. It basically has the same purpose: smoothing out your manabase. It also makes it possible to cast a wide variety of cards off of two lands, thus it's often found in lists that utilise Terminate, so that you can cast almost all off your cards off of Badlands and Underground Sea.

    It's quite common to see this one as the 20th land.

    Underground Sea
    The most important dualland in the deck. The deck is naturally UB-based and it's helpful to have some of these in your list, so that you have a wider range of options with fewer lands on the battlefield. The typical number for these is three.

    Volcanic Island
    Definitely not as important as Underground Sea but nonetheless very useful. Against decks without Wastelands you don't want to always fetch for the basic Mountain when you need red so having one or two Volcanic Islands in your deck often comes in handy. It's also important to note that you can get this one off of Polluted Delta, a criterion that the basic Mountain doesn't fulfil.

    Polluted Delta & Scalding Tarn
    Probably the most important part of this deck's manabase. Fetchlands help stabilising it way more than duallands do, and on top of that, they have other important purposes. They would be worth playing only to find the right basics when needed, but doing this and at the same time helping to fuel your Tombstalker and maximising the power of your Brainstorms makes them outright awesome.

    Since you only need eight of them at most, these two are more common, but sometimes you can find lists playing Bloodstained Mire. I recommend maxing out Polluted Deltas, then maxing out Scalding Tarns; you shouldn't need more. But if the basic Swamp is that important for you to reliably find, you can play some number of Bloodstained Mires.

    3.1.2 Threat-Density And Explanation


    Only counting actual threats, this deck almost always has exactly eight of them. As you can see, there are already six of them in the core so there are really only slight differences for the choice of threats. The most common practice is to have the second Vendilion Clique and the third Tombstalker, but there are some people who rather want to max out their Bitterblossoms, which can be done in addition to adding another Tombstalker or Vendilion Clique or at the cost of one of them.

    Tombstalker
    In regards of raw power, this is the deck's most efficient beater. In fact, it's the deck's only real beater. It's naturally a four turn clock, but in quite often you only have to swing three times with him, as your opponents usually have fetched a few times, cast a Force Of Will and you will often have swung with a Spellstutter Sprite.

    It's really good that Tombstalker is flying, even though it doesn't have a big deal of influence on the fact that you can play him together with Firespout.

    Alongside Tarmogoyf and Knight Of The Reliquary this is the format's most cost-efficient creature. You will usually cast him for two mana (three at most) and his drawback isn't even a real drawback. Of course you can't just drop him on turn two, but you only want to play him when you can protect him anyway.

    Due to the fact that you can't really cast more than one (and don't need to) over the course of a game, you usually only want to have three of them in your deck. This is a good number to draw him frequently but to not have him clog your hand. Remember that you want to benefit as much as possible from your drawsteps and cantrips.

    Not that you will ever need to know this, but note that you can remove any number of cards from your graveyard when you cast him, not only six. I never needed this, but perhaps this will one day win one of you a match, so it's probably worth knowing.

    Vendilion Clique
    Another flying beatstick, this time with useful utility.

    At first it has Flash, which benefits the deck's tempo-play. Against decks that mostly operate on sorcery-speed this is really good. You can keep mana open for countermagic, removal and whatnot and if they don't do anything, you can cast it end of turn, effectively never having tapped out. It's ability to disrupt your opponent makes for another good way to use it's Flash-ability: to cast it during your opponents draw step. Casting it in your opponents draw step means that you see the highest amount of cards without them being able to cast any of these. Again, this is really strong against decks that mostly operate on sorcery-speed. Against decks with instant-removal, it's often good to have countermagic when casting Vendilion Clique; Spellstutter Sprite is really nice in here. You can also use Vendilion Clique to bait removal and clear the way for your Tombstalker.

    For Vendilion Clique it is actually important that it is flying in regards to Firespout. It's also quite cool that it's a Faerie, even though it isn't necessary.

    Bitterblossom
    Hands down the best threat in the deck. It's relevant for both of the deck's faces (tempo and control) and still it's often only played as a three-off. The reason for this is simple, it's basically the same reason Tombstalker is only a three-off: they suck in multiples. Bitterblossom is slightly better in multiples, though, especially against control-variants where you want to win the game as soon as possible, preferably before they can drop their bombs. For Bitterblossom there are more reasons to run the full set than for Tombstalker.

    I elaborated this before, it's both tempo- and cardadvantage. You turn one card into several little threats at the cost of two mana and a few life. A turn two Bitterblossom paired up with (free) countermagic (Force Of Will, Daze) can win games on its own. It's also very resilient, and there is not much one can do about it. Your opponent has to remove it instantly after you dropped it, or they're likely to lose the game. Otherwise you still got some tokens out of it, so your opponent didn't actually stop you, they just prevented you from further developing your board. The thing is that you probably developed your board enough. There are basically two cards that are good against Bitterblossom: Engineered Plague and Pernicious Deed. The first one turns Bitterblossom into a rather bad joke, only costing you life turn after turn. The second is not as good as it seems. They have to spend five mana on removing your Bitterblossom and tokens, so that will likely take some time, so that you can find answers to their answers. Stifle for example is quite good against Pernicious Deed.

    The fact that Bitterblossom powers out your Spellstutter Sprites also speaks for its inclusion to the deck. In the end it's up to you to decide if you want to run the full set.

    3.1.3 Utility & Disruption


    These are the core-cards that are left to discuss. Let's look at them.

    Brainstorm
    Now this is what's called a "format staple". In almost all blue decks in the format you are going to find a set of Brainstorms. There's a reason for this. They help smoothing out your draws; increasing your card-quality significantly. The interaction of Brainstorm and fetchlands (Polluted Delta and the like) is often referred to as being an essential Ancestral Recall. This is not entirely true, but it's a very strong interaction nonetheless. It helps you finding threats or answers in time, and it occasionally helps you hiding your important cards against discard. It can also completely turn the tide when you get unlucky with your draws. You can just cast your Brainstorm and get rid of excess lands or excess threats, powering out your Tombstalker or possibly Ghastly Demise.

    I won't elaborate all its uses here. If you play Legacy for some time you know how good it is anyway, and if not, there are several articles on the correct use of Brainstorm, which you should definitely read.

    Daze
    In a way, this is another format staple. It's a great card on its own, but it also helps us achieving our main goal when playing this deck: creating a tempo-advantage by laying down threats and still be able to deal with your opponents threats, or sometimes handling multiple threats at the same time. Daze can also help smoothing out your landdrops. When you're set back one landdrop, you're technically not going to miss one, and like I said several times before (and probably will repeat a few more times) this deck can operate off of few lands anyway. It has great synergy with most of the cards in your deck. It's awesome when paired with Stifle and Wasteland as your opponent is less likely to have the extra mana to pay for your Daze. It's also pretty good after a turn two Bitterblossom or when paired with Spellstutter Sprite against Zoo for example, when your opponent tries to play around your Daze by casting a one-drop on turn two instead of running headfirst into your Daze or possibly Spell Snare and you counter their first one-drop and then cast Daze on the burn spell they want to use to neuter your Spellstutter Sprite.

    Like with Brainstorm, there are quite some articles on this card, and most people should know how it works. A lot of people are running the full set of Dazes, you should always consider doing so.

    Note that the threat of Daze is often even more dangerous than you actually having it. This is due to the fact that players often try to play around your Dazes. When you have them in hand, this makes them dead cards (which is usually not even that bad), but when you don't have them, you gained tempo on them without even doing anything about it since they develop slower than they usually would.

    Force Of Will
    Again, format staple. As you can see, this deck is packing a lot of cards that have proven to be good. And like Daze, this card perfectly fits this deck's playstyle. At the price of one extra card and one life this card gives you an awesome tempo-advantage, allowing you to tap out for removal, threats, or other disruption, but beware of opponent Dazes. You really don't want to waste this card (plus the card you pitched to cast it).

    It gives you an out to (essential) turn one kills like double Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam or stuff like turn one Trinisphere, even though the latter is less common.

    Spellstutter Sprite
    The reason this deck is often referred to as Tempo Faeries, even though I think this term is inappropriate.

    Anyway, this card is one of the reasons for this deck's strength; as it's both, countermagic and a (small) body. Nevertheless, it often gives you an important tempo-boost and multiples of these often result in wins. When you cast the second one, it's often over for your opponent, even when they can't figure that out. But you should have achieved so much tempo- and cardadvantage by then that they won't be able to do much anymore. This card is essential for the deck's success and often makes for really good plays when combined with the other cards of the deck, obviously Bitterblossom, but also Tombstalker. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference when paired with the latter one, but that often means that your clock is going to be one turn faster, which is sometimes crucial for tempo decks, even though this deck has the means to get out of awkward situations.

    Stifle
    This one is typically played as a four-off, but some lists only pack three of them. Note that a turn one Stifle on a fetchland does not only give you a tempo-boost, but can also really shake up your opponent, especially when paired up with Wasteland, thus resulting in even more tempo-advantages and virtual cardadvantage, as they can't cast all of their spells. Note that even the threat of Stifle can have an impact on the game, as it might make your opponent play around it and then run into your Wasteland, much like with Daze. And speaking of Daze, these two have great synergy as well. Stifle also has synergy with Spellstutter Sprite, allowing you to counter their first spell in a game with Spellstutter Sprite, giving you a massive tempo-boost.

    As you can see, the deck has a lot of synergy between its cards.

    Anyway, there are more things you can do with Stifle, like countering Qasali Pridemage's ability targeting your Bitterblossom or countering your opponent's Wastelands. The card is not as narrow as some people seem to think.

    Wasteland
    In a way, this looks like it does the same as Stifle: manascrewing your opponent and thus gaining tempo. In a way, this is right, but manadenial is not the most important factor of both cards. Of course manadenial is strong and can sometimes just win games on its own, just because it's virtual cardadvantage since your opponent can't cast all of their cards. What makes them strong is the tempo you gain off them, and this is where they differ.

    You want to use your Stifles as early as possible, preferably on turn one. This way, you get the most benefit; Stifle on an opponent's fetchland sets them back a turn. You traded one for one, and essentially you didn't do anything on your first turn either. But in your turn two you actually are in turn two since you had a (profitable) landdrop, while your opponent will essentially only be in turn one (and possibly be manascrewed). You developed your board while your opponent could not do so.

    Wasteland is a bit different. You usually do not want to use it on turn one, it doesn't help you. A turn one Wasteland is nothing but manadenial. It doesn't help developing your board, it sets back both you and your opponent, and if your opponent had a one-drop (Wild Nacatl or Goblin Lackey for example), you played tempo on yourself, your opponent could develop more profitable than you could. So when is the best time to use it? In general the answer is on turn three, after you started actively developing your board, but a turn two Wasteland can often be really strong as well. The reasoning for this is that our deck has a fundamental turn two; what you do on turn two is crucial for the outcome of your games.

    Like I stated before, you usually start actively developing your board on turn two; you don't want to delay your Spellstutter Sprite or Bitterblossom, these cards are usually best when played early; you should always seek to play them as early as possible. The best situation to use a Wasteland is after you did something your opponent needs to answer, this way you essentially only set them back a turn because you already did what you needed to do, while they still have to find the (right) answer to it.

    Another reason to not use it on turn one is its synergy with Daze. When used on turn one it doesn't increase the strength of your Dazes, but when you already have an island on the battlefield, your Daze becomes stronger, you actively benefit from your Wasteland.

    3.2 Additional Cardchoices

    3.2.1 Removal
    Obviously there's more to the deck than just the core, even though it makes up for most of the deck. Another important part of the deck is its removal-suite. The deck always plays removal, usually 6-7 pieces of mass- and spotremoval combined, but there are lists that play more. The only reason that this is not part of the core is that there are a lot of options. And there aren't only lots of options, the variety of removal actually being played is indeed very wide. Some people only pack spotremoval maindeck, other people play splits of spot- and massremoval. There is no absolutely right thing to do, there aren't even "best" pieces of removal, since it's pretty much of a metagame choice. Playstyle also has great influence, as has the rest of the deck.

    3.2.1.1 Spotremoval
    Having access to (cost efficient) spotremoval is important in Legacy. You need to deal with cards like Tarmogoyf, Knight Of The Reliquary, opposing Vendilion Cliques and a lot more, for example Goblin Lackeys or merfolk lords. You don't want to lose just because you didn't have the counter at the right time.

    I apologise if I don't discuss all choices in detail, but there really are a lot of viable options. Also, due to the fact, that this pretty much depends on your metagame, I won't give any judgement about what to play.

    Diabolic Edict
    A classic that has suffered from the metagame-evolvements. Due to the aggressive nature of Legacy, this is not commonly played anymore, since most decks with creatures tend to have more than one at a time on the battlefield. It's quite good against Threshold-variants with Nimble Mongoose or decks with Progenitus, but the former are usually packing Spell Snare, waiting to counter your removal, and the latter ones often have a Dryad Arbor to fetch for, as have most Reanimator-lists this card would otherwise be good against.

    Fire // Ice
    This one has been really good in the past, as it could often create nice cardadvantage, but due to the recent power creep in creatures it has suffered a lot. On the one hand it's pretty bad that your two-mana removal spell can't kill your opponents one-mana Wild Nacatl, but on the other hand it can still be really versatile, so it's always worth looking at.

    Ghastly Demise
    This is cost-efficient, but conditional removal. You'll find yourself unable to kill your opponents one-drop with it from time to time, but it's really good at killing merfolk lords, especially Coralhelm Commander in response to a level up.

    It has a bit of antisynergy with Tombstalker, but its speed makes up for that. Also note that it can't kill black creatures and you sometimes won't be able to kill a Knight Of The Reliquary or Terravore because they're just too big for it.

    Lightning Bolt
    This card sure is cost-efficient, but like every other piece of removal it has some downsides. It can't kill bigger dudes, but I think its power during the first two or three turns of the game makes up for that. The major downside is that it's red. Against tribal aggro, you neither want to fetch for a dualland on your first turn, nor do you want to fetch for a basic Mountain. This is less important against Merfolk than against Goblins, since you don't need your removal as early against Merfolk as against Goblins, but it's at least sometimes important. If you consider playing Lightning Bolt, you might as well consider Flame Slash, but that doesn't give you any reach and might be subpar due to being a sorcery and thus making you unable to react properly. If you expect a lot of Zoo it's reasonable to include a few maindeck Lighting Bolts, as they really help against their early creatures, but keep in mind that recently more and more Zoo-lists are running Wastelands as well.

    Smother
    Hits almost every creature in the format for a reasonable cost, but gets hit by Spell Snare. Two mana might sometimes be too slow, but it's definitely worth mentioning. It's almost the same as Terminate, only with a better manacost and with less potential targets. I'd also always play Smother over Go For The Throat as it has more potential relevant targets. It doesn't hit opposing Tombstalkers though, and with more and more Team America lists spiking up, you might want to do the change.

    Snuff Out
    Snuff Out, compared to other spotremoval, enjoys an awesome tempo-advantage. You can cast it without leaving mana open for it, but this comes with a cost. Often four life is less than what the creature you're going to remove would deal to you, so it's not that much of a downside. You can also hardcast it during the mid-lategame, which kind of makes up for the potential early lifeloss.

    It might also be a downside that it can't hit any black creatures, but there aren't much of these in the current meta anyway, basically only Tombstalker and Dark Confidant. If your meta is full of these, you should probably play something else.

    Like with Force Of Will, just make sure to not run it into Daze. This might end up killing you.

    Terminate
    In the past, this has always been the most widely played piece of spotremoval in BitterStalker. Like Diabolic Edict, this is another classic. It kills every creature except for those with shroud or protection from black and/or red. Notable examples for this are Progenitus and Dark Depths tokens, though they are not that common anymore.

    Terminate's two major downsides are the colour-requirements (which is not that bad, but still subpar) and the susceptibility to Spell Snare, which is heavily played in the current meta. These are the reasons for more and more people dropping Terminate.

    3.2.1.2 Massremoval

    Engineered Explosives
    Probably the most versatile piece of removal in the format. It hits basically everything, from Chalice Of The Void over Empty The Warrens tokens to Tarmogoyf and back to Sylvan Library. Oh, and it nicely plays around Counterbalance, while still being able to blow it up. Did I mention that it can kill Jace, The Mind Sculptor, given that you have an off-colour dual in your deck?

    It's also really good against Zoo for example, since your opponents will often try to play around your Dazes. And in fear of your spotremoval, they might tend to overextend into a crew of Wild Nacatls, Steppe Lynxes and Grim Lavamancers. Really an awesome card.

    Firespout
    Not as versatile as Engineered Explosives, but still very powerful. It's a key card in winning your tribal-matchups, so you should keep some of them ready if your meta is full of these decks. It also plays nicely with your creaturebase, as it will never hit any of your own creatures. Its only downside is that it doesn't hit any fatties.

    Grim Lavamancer
    Recursive spotremoval and additional reach. Sadly he doesn't fit the deck and the creatures he's supposed to kill are either to big (Merfolk) or too many to deal with them all (Goblins). He's also not that good against Zoo. The antisynergy with Firespout and Tombstalker (possibly even Ghastly Demise) doesn't help him either. He's indeed pretty good against Enchantress, but that's not exactly a metagame-defining deck. Having Grim Lavamancer as your spotremoval of choice also helps against control variants, as it increases your threat-density.

    Umezawa's Jitte
    Just like Grim Lavamancer, this is both, recursive spotremoval and a possible wincondition. Just like him, it's better against tribal aggro and worse against Zoo. But unlike Grim Lavamancer, Umezawa's Jitte actually has synergy with your deck. Be it the fact, that your creatures are evasive or that you have recursive token-production (Bitterblossom), this card really benefits the deck, despite being a bit clunky. An equipped Tombstalker is nothing to scoff at and ends games quickly. Even with Spellstutter Sprite it's really good against control-variants; it easily turns all of your creatures into relevant clocks.

    3.2.2 Other Cards

    This section is probably going to be quite long, as it deals with a lot of different kind of cards, for example cantrips and additional countermagic, but also other utility, like lategame-engines or manlands. This is also the section that is most likely to grow, so maybe you should check it out from time to time.

    Jace, The Mind Sculptor
    To put it short, he's too slow for BitterStalker. We can't abuse him like other decks can, neither do we want to have like six lands in play to cast him around Spell Pierce. Even if we could actually cast him, we couldn't protect him properly. We don't have effective cardadvantage-engines like control decks have, or virtual cardadvantage like Humility + Moat and the like, so having that many lands means that we haven't drawn enough disruption to defend ourself and/or we haven't drawn enough threats to actually win the game. If this is the case, a Tombstalker would probably the best card we could draw, as we don't have to protect it as we have to protect Jace, The Mind Sculptor.

    If there were more true control variants I could see myself packing some of these in the sideboard, though I think that other additional threats like Grim Lavamancer for example would probably be better.

    Mishra's Factory & Mutavault
    Just quoting myself on this, I think I described it pretty well:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jona View Post
    I don't like manlands in this deck. At first, we don't need them. Secondly, they don't fit the deck's playstyle. This deck is pure tempo. This is not control, even though it sometimes plays like control and often plays the control-role. But there's a huge difference in playing control and actually being control. Control wants to drag out the game, because they get better as the game goes on. They have cardadvantage engines and stuff, we don't have anything like this (except you play Jace, The Mind Sculptor, who doesn't fit the deck either, for these exact reasons, or you count Firespout/Engineered Explosives/Umezawa's Jitte as cardadvantage engines). We benefit from manascrewing our opponent and/or out-tempoing them. We often use all our resources, since we want to play (win) as fast as possible, but without having to go all-in. Like I stated several times before, the best play this deck can make is going turn one Stifle a fetchland and turn two drop Bitterblossom with counterbackup (preferably Daze). We also don't need our landdrops as much as control does. This deck is perfectly fine with having three landdrops an entire game. This is basically what I described in regards to Ponder. We want to draw as much actual disruption as possible. When playing Ponder, we might find the right cards more easily, but we don't achieve cardadvantage plus we have to make more landdrops. Essentially this means that we need one more card when we cast Ponder. Mutavault, in a way, has the same problem. It looks like it serves two roles at the same time, but it doesn't. It seems to be mana-producer and wincon at the same time. The mana-producing aspect of Mutavault is almost completely irrelevant, as we almost never need colourless mana anyway. To be a wincon, it needs mana, every single turn you want to attack with it. It costs you one landdrop and requires you to have another landdrop after it to have the same mana as before, essentially costing two cards.
    Ponder
    In theory, this is a good card. In practice, it doesn't fit BitterStalker, as it slows us down. Just think about what you're going to search for with Ponder. You almost always want to hit some disruption. If you're looking for additional lands, then why do you cast Ponder? You should be keeping mana up for disruption and not tapping out to cast cantrips. This is one of the things you almost never want to do with BitterStalker. Considering you're always going to look for disruption it would be better to just have disruption instead.

    Another thing is that Ponder requires you to make additional landdrops in that it is, like Brainstorm, best when coupled with fetchlands, thus making your draws less effective by not letting you use your Brainstorms to full power, since you have to keep fetchlands for future Ponders.

    Preordain
    This looks a lot like Ponder, but the difference is that it doesn't require you to have a fetchland ready to shuffle away the bad stuff you have just seen. It might be a bit better in the mid-lategame, but you still don't want to tap out early. In general we can say that non-Brainstorm cantrips are rather bad in this deck. Not being able to cast them at instant speed is an important downside.

    Spell Pierce
    Nice countermagic for one mana. This can help us in a lot different ways. It's main purpose would be to protect our threats, like for example countering the Swords To Plowshares that targets our freshly cast Tombstalker or countering the Force Of Will that's being thrown at our Bitterblossom. It's second important use would be to protect ourselves in countering our opponents Jace, The Mind Sculptor or Ad Nauseam for example. Spell Pierce is a very versatile card, but it's not exceptionally good against control, unless we can resolve an early threat (which should be our main goal anyway), otherwise they're just going to pay that two extra mana.

    Spell Snare
    Another nice piece of countermagic for one mana. This helps more with out-tempoing our opponents. Against Zoo, you can counter their turn two Tarmogoyf without having to bounce your land (Daze); against other tempo decks you can counter their Tarmogoyf or Dark Confidant on turn two on the play while still being able to pay for Daze. It generally competes for the same slot as Spell Pierce, look at 6.2 Spell Pierce vs. Spell Snare for further insight on that topic.

    Standstill
    Another card that looks really good in theory. I think it actually has the potential to be good in BitterStalker, but that would slow us down a lot. It also doesn't help that manlands are pretty bad in this deck and we can basically lose to our own Standstill due to one single removal-spell. Way too narrow for this deck, but someone might put it to good use.

    3.3 The Sideboard

    3.3.1 Sample Sideboard


    This is my current sideboard. Like I've said before, this is for an open meta. You have something to bring in against basically every deck with this board. Lighting Bolt is a really good card to bring against any form of aggro except maybe Bant variants, which have rather big creatures.

    Depending on the kind of aggro you expect in your meta, you cut play around with the Lighting Bolts and Firespout, but Firespout is the best bet if you expect both Goblins and Merfolk; it's not that good against most modern Zoo variants, though (not that you would need it).

    If you expect a lot of Goblins, you should consider Engineered Plague instead of Firespout, which is really strong against them, but rather bad against Merfolk, where additional spotremoval is better than Engineered Plague. In this case you could probably cut some of your Lighting Bolts for Red Elemental Blasts or Pyroblasts, which also help against control variants.

    If you don't expect a lot of Dredge, cut the Ravenous Traps for Extirpates, which are better against other graveyard-based decks and also help against decks like Show And Tell / Emrakul.

    The Spell Pierces are in here because they're pretty versatile in the current meta, but another hardcounter would be better. Again, look at Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast or perhaps even Negate, it's actually quite strong. Dispel is another option for cheap countermagic, but I always considered it too narrow.

    3.3.2 Sideboard Options

    Blue Elemental Blast / Hydroblast
    These help improving your Goblins matchup, but have only few other uses outside of that. You can bring them in against TES to counter their Burning Wishes for example, but I don't recommend doing so. You rather want some one-mana removal that can't be countered with Red Elemental Blast, as these also help in other matchups. Lightning Bolt comes to mind.

    Diabolic Edict
    You might want to pack some of these if you're expecting to see a lot of Emrakul, The Aeons Torn and Progenitus. Look at 3.2.1.1 Spotremoval for further explanation.

    Engineered Explosives
    You should have at least three of these somewhere in your 75. Look at 3.2.1.2 Massremoval to find out why.

    Engineered Plague
    This card helps against tribal-aggro, but I don't recommend playing them. It's quite strong against Goblins, but against Merfolk they're only good in multiples. When you have two of them, they're really good against them, but only as long as they have less than two lords on the table. If they have, any piece of spotremoval is better.

    Extirpate
    A silverbullet against Life From The Loam-based decks. You often just win after resolving it against them. It's also quite good against Dredge but be sure to play it right. Look at 4.5 Dredge for further explanation.

    In the past it has been really good against Threshold-variants of any kind since you could Wasteland their Tropical Island and then Extirpate it, preventing them from casting any of their threats at all. But recently more and more lists are packing basics and the appropriate fetchlands so it's not as strong as it used to be. I don't recommend bringing it against them anymore, unless you know for sure they don't have basics.

    Faerie Macabre
    Another piece of gravehate. It's not that good against the most common graveyard-based decks, but in exchange it's really strong against Reanimate since they can do almost nothing about it (except for letting you discard it of course). But considering Reanimate is on the decline, I don't recommend running them, you should rather run Extirpate and/or Ravenous Trap, depending on your meta or what your expecting the meta to be.

    Firespout
    This is the best card we can bring against tribal-aggro, and it's also quite good against other aggro-decks like Zoo (but only against the faster, one-drop heavy builds). Like with Engineered Explosives, you should have about three somewhere in your 75. Look at 3.2.1.2 Massremoval.

    Lightning Bolt
    It might look a bit odd to see Lightning Bolt as a sideboard card, but it works really well for me and several other people. You don't need the additional removal maindeck, but it's good to have some of them for your aggro-matchups. Again, look at 3.2.1.1 Spotremoval for additional information.

    Mindbreak Trap
    If you're really worried about combo (I mean seriously worried) you can run some of these, but in general they're too narrow. Depending on what your maindeck looks like (basically whether you run Spell Pierce or Spell Snare) you usually either want to have Spell Pierce or even Mystic Remora in your sideboard, as they also help against other decks.

    Perish / Nature's Ruin
    These used to be heavily run, but are rarely seen anymore these days. If you expect a metagame full of Bant-variations, you might want to have some of them in your sideboard, but against all other decks, we usually have better answers in Engineered Explosives and Firespout. It's quite good against Progenitus though. With the recent rise of Zoo decks featureing tons of green fat, these might probably be worth looking into again.

    Ravenous Trap
    Not counting Relic Of Progenitus, which also has other uses, this is the best card to exile your opponent's whole graveyard in one shot. Just like with Daze and Stifle the threat of this card is often enough to slow down your opponents. Unlike basically every other hatepiece you can bring, they won't see this coming, making it harder for them to play around it.

    Whether to run Ravenous Trap or not depends on what you want to beat with it. If it's mainly Reanimate or decks with Life From The Loam, you're most likely better off with Extirpate or Faerie Macabre, but against Dredge Ravenous Trap is just golden.

    Red Elemental Blast / Pyroblast
    These are mainly good against Merfolk, but they also help against control variants and basically everything with Force Of Will and Brainstorm. But since all of these matchups except for Merfolk are rather good for us, you might want to have additional spotremoval like Lightning Bolt instead.

    Relic Of Progenitus
    Hands down the best piece of graveyard-hate ever printed. It helps in a lot of common matchups, basically against everything with Tarmogoyf and every other deck that relies on its graveyard as a resource (Dredge comes to mind).

    It helps slowing down all of these decks significantly and when paired up with countermagic, it can win games against Dredge, as they won't be able to get into the game at all.

    Spell Pierce
    This is a quite good sideboard card, much better than it is in the maindeck right now. It helps against quite some decks and is always a strong contender for about three sideboard slots. It competes with Mindbreak Trap and Mystic Remora and is much less narrow than these. Look at 3.2.2 Other Cards and 6.2 Spell Pierce vs. Spell Snare as well.
    Last edited by Jonathan Alexander; 03-19-2011 at 06:13 AM.

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    Re: UBR BitterStalker / Tempo Faeries

    4. Matchup Analyses
    (Note: Right now, this is focused on my personal testing-gauntlet, these are mostly the current decks to beat, I think this is reasonable. If you want to have any other matchups included, just tell me. These matchup estimations are assuming you're playing something close to the list presented in the beginning of this primer. Even slight changes in the maindeck can have a significant influence on the outcome of your matches.)

    4.1 Merfolk
    Our countermagic is not as good here as in other matchups because they have Mutavault and AEther Vial. The power of your Stifles depends on their build, but most of the time they're pretty useful, even if you only use them to protect your lands from their Wastelands. Keeping your spotremoval for their Coralhelm Commanders and Mutavaults (which you can also hit with Wastelands), having Firespout for the rest of their creatures and landing early threats are key here. They can't do much against an early Tombstalker backed up with a way to slow them down (spotremoval our Spell Snare if you have it). Our worst card in this matchup is probably Force Of Will since we often can't even counter their stuff and they're able to easily create cardadvantage. Note that you can counter their turn one AEther Vial with it, which can slow them down considerably, especially when paired up with manadenial. This is a stronger play against lists that splash a colour. Force Of Will is not terribly bad though, since we tend to have more life draws than them. It's still the the card I like to see the least here.

    Since most builds can't handle resolved Artifacts or Enchantments Umezawa's Jitte comes to mind. It's good with our evasive creatures and they can't do much about it. More spotremoval, for example Lightning Bolt or probably Engineered Explosives would also be good. As long as you have them, bring your Pyroblasts/Red Elemental Blasts.

    The last thing that comes to mind is Pithing Needle. It can shut down their AEther Vial, Coralhelm Commander and Mutavault, all of which are key cards in their deck.

    Make sure you don't play this matchup to aggressively, you're usually control and they're the beatdown. You should try to control the game and then drop a threat that ends the game quickly; preferably Vendilion Clique or Tombstalker. Don't waste your spotremoval on irrelevant stuff.

    All in all the matchup is quite even preboard and slightly favourable postboard. Assuming you have maindeck Firespouts, it's slightly favourable preboard. With non-abysmal hands and tight technical play you should be able to win this matchup. Just force them to overextend into your sweepers, as most lists don't have a way to gain significant card advantage, only few of them are packing Standstill these days. You should then be able to develop a favourable board-position.

    4.2 Goblins
    Plays out pretty similarly to Merfolk. They have a lot of creatures we often can't counter and a bit of manadenial. With Goblin Lackey and AEther Vial they can often out-tempo us. Instead of countermagic they have more creatures and usually some kind of removal. On top of that, with Goblin Ringleader and Goblin Matron, they have useful cardadvantage.

    Again countermagic is worse than actual removal and early threats really help, as against Merfolk we preferably want to cast an early Tombstalker. Stifle is better here than against Merfolk since Goblins is almost never mono red and they have quite some triggers we want to counter, for example Goblin Ringleader's.

    Umezawa's Jitte and additional removal, preferably something that deals with early Goblin Lackeys would be nice here as well. Builds with green might bring Krosan Grip, so think twice before you bring in too many Artifacts/Enchantments.

    Preboard this is probably our worst matchup amongst the most important decks, but it's not that bad when you have some Firespouts maindeck. If not, you should bring some postboard. This is unfavourable preboard and slightly unfavourable to even postboard.

    4.3 Zoo
    I actually think that this matchup is better and easier to handle than Goblins, it's basically the best of our aggro-matchups. They're able to deal a lot of damage early but they don't have any way to get cardadvantage except for Sylvan Library (new lists sometimes pack some Elspeth, Knight-Errant, but this is only about traditional Zoo). If they resolve either one, they'll frequently put down additional threads. They have Path To Exile or sometimes Swords To Plowshares for our Tombstalker, burn spells for all of our faeries and Grim Lavamancer and Qasali Pridemage to deal with Bitterblossom. These are basically their most important cards in this matchup, though Tarmogoyf and Knight Of The Reliquary can be quite important as well. If they overextend into one-mana dudes, you have Engineered Explosives or Firespout to slow them down and gain cardadvantage. Firespout is similar to Engineered Explosives but it's a bit slower and less versatile. It can be really nice nonetheless.

    Our manadenial plan (Stifle and Wasteland) is very strong in this matchup, and they're quite vulnerable to manascrew.

    Our weakest cards are usually Force Of Will and non-Brainstorm-cantrips. Daze might sometimes seem subpar as you don't want to slow down yourself, but it's often quite helpful.

    Umezawa's Jitte is not as good here as it is against Goblins and Merfolk since they have loads of removal, but you want to bring additional spotremoval and max out on Engineered Explosives preboard. With Engineered Explosives you can stop an early assault. Some people like to take out Bitterblossom here because of Zoo dealing much damage early and being able to deal the last points of damage with burnspells, but dropping it early often results in wins when paired up with a bit of disruption in the form of Spell Snare and spotremoval. An early Relic Of Progenitus is also quite good against them since it stops a lot of their threats and slows them down considerably. Perish is a card that can easily provide cardadvantage but it's not that heavily run these days. If you have them, think about bringing them.

    The matchup is pretty much draw-dependant, but preboard it's even to slightly favourable. Postboard it often looks a bit better for you, as you usually bring in about 4-6 useful cards and they usually don't have much to bring (Red Elemental Blast is not exactly good against us). Tight technical play is often required to win here, but you can sometimes just have the nut hand and stomp them.

    4.4 TES
    This is one of our better matchups. We have around fifteen counters maindeck, which makes it quite hard for them to resolve game-breaking spells. We also have our manadenial-plan, which can slow them down considerably, as they often spend the first two or three turns casting cantrips. We have Wasteland for their mana-producing lands, but also Stifle for their fetchlands (some lists run basics) and Chrome Moxen (you can Stifle the imprint-trigger). We have slightly less relevant spells than they have, but they need the right combination of them, whereas we usually need a good amount of them. (We have Force Of Will, Spellstutter Sprite and Spell Pierce/Spell Snare, opposed to their 7-8 pieces of disruption plus Infernal Tutor and Burning Wish. They also have a singleton (rarely two) Ad Nauseam.) With a moderately good hand you will often be able to beat them preboard.

    Postboard it gets a lot better, as you can get rid of your spotremoval (bring/keep some number of Engineered Explosives, they're pretty useful as they might bring Xantid Swarm or Dark Confidant; it's also good against Empty The Warrens) and get more countermagic or stuff like Mystic Remora.

    Slightly favourable preboard, quite good postboard I'd say. Try to drag out games as long as possible, you only get better and your Wastelands often hit them pretty hard, making it easy for you to achieve tempo- and cardadvantage.

    4.5 Dredge
    I'm not gonna lie, I hate this matchup. Not because they're incredibly strong or something, it's just that this is incredibly draw-dependant. You can sometimes randomly steal game one, but expect to lose it anyway. But when they have bad dredges, you have a good grip, can counter their attempts to go off (they can still slowdredge) and have one or two Stifle(s) for their Narcomoebae, you can win. You really have a lot of dead cards in this matchup, mainly your removal (it will almost never help you, no matter what you're packing), your Spell Snares and, to a lesser extent, your Stifles, though they come in handy from time to time, mainly because of their Narcomoebae and their Cephalid Coliseums. List with maindecked Spell Pierces are slightly better here.

    Postboard your chances are much better, it's actually favoured for you. Relic Of Progenitus is usually the best card you can bring against them, backed up with countermagic for their discard-outlets you often just win with it, assuming you get it online on turn one or two. If you're going first you might want to not cast your Relic Of Progenitus on turn one. This way they often think they can safely slowdredge, which buys you at least one turn. For those who think it's not good to bring Relic Of Progenitus because of your own Tombstalkers, it almost never matters, but you can try out Phyrexian Furnace instead, as the first ability is the more important one most of the time. But note that these are worse in other matchups, namely against decks with Tarmogoyf, Knight Of The Reliquary or Grim Lavamancer and the like.

    Extirpate is also a good card to bring, but make sure to play it right. That means you shouldn't waste them on your opponents' dredgers but on their business. Their most important piece of business is Ichorid, as it often results in massive cardadvantage for them. Next comes Narcomoeba, it does basically the same as Ichorid, but only once. Like I stated before, it's a good target for your Stifles.

    When you play cards that remove their entire graveyard at once (Tormod's Crypt or Ravenous Trap), be sure to use them at the right time. This usually is in response to their Narcomoeba triggers, but can also be in response to their Bridge From Below triggers when they cast Cabal Therapy or Dread Return.

    One card they rarely play but that's nevertheless really good against us is Firestorm, as it's uncounterable discard and can destroy multiple Bitterblossom tokens or even Tombstalker.

    If you expect to see a lot of Dredge, you should consider playing white instead of red so you have useful removal in the form of Swords To Plowshares, but this is generally a rather bad move overall. By the way, this is another matchup where Engineered Explosives is better than Firespout, simply because it costs one mana less. It can also occasionally draw hate (Ancient Grudge) that would otherwise be thrown at your graveyard hate, but this is unlikely.

    Please note that all of this is not me complaining about the brokenness of Dredge, I just don't like how the matches play out. For reference my tournament record against Dredge is something like X-3 or X-2, and I faced a lot of it throughout the year. Maybe I'm going to rewrite this section with less personal opinion.

    4.6 Threshold & New Horizons
    These matchups basically all play out the same and, like the Zoo matchup, all both require tight technical play and are a bit draw-dependant. It's also a good idea to play first (i.e. win the dice-roll) as you then can fetch for your basic Island (it's often the strongest land to lead with, especially against these decks) without them being able to cast Stifle and threaten them with your own one (and preferably actually have it). Be sure to use your Dazes wisely, you might lose a game or two just because you set back yourself a turn.

    You are better at developing a Wasteland-proof, strong manabase than they are and are therefore better in the lategame, as you will often have access to more resources or will be able to use your resources effectively. This is not true against New Horizons, they also have a strong manabase, but in exchange they have less disruption. Their manacurve is quite high though, so your Dazes are somewhat strong here, despite them packing a lot of lands.

    These decks usually have more threats than we have, but they're worse than our threats (Terravore is an exception). We also have our Spellstutter Sprites, which can counter gamebreaking spells (Swords To Plowshares, Nimble Mongoose), but make sure to not run them into their Spell Snares or spotremoval. Umezawa's Jitte also gives us a decent shot at outright winning the game. The fact that we're often able to draw more actual business just due to the very nature of our deck is beneficial as well.

    Depending on what you're up against you don't want your Spell Snares postboard, as they're often rather dead (this is especially true for New Horizons, they have almost no important spells with a converted manacost of two, except for Tarmogoyf), though they're really strong against the recent UGB Tempo Threshold. Depending on your removal-suite you might want to side out some of it (Ghastly Demise or Snuff Out against UGB Tempo Thresh, burn spells against almost all of them).

    What you want to bring is Relic Of Progenitus, it slows them down considerably, and is good against most all of their threats (it kills Terravore by the way). You might also want to have additional Engineered Explosives, as it's efficient, versatile removal (and can hit Nimble Mongoose by the way), just don't run it into their Stifle.
    You're definitely the control most of the time, but still be aggressive. Don't tap out until you're sure you can win and focus on handling their threats. This will usually be the way to win here.

    (See 5. BitterStalker Compared To Other Tempo Decks for some more insight on this topic.)

    4.7 Landstill
    Like in most other matchups, it's quite important to land an early threat here. It's also good if you can play a bit of tempo on them, but it isn't necessary. You're definitely the better deck with lower amounts of lands on the battlefield, though. Your major disadvantage here is that you have no means of generating cardadvantage, except for Bitterblossom, which really shines in this matchup. It's good for you that they're likely not going to cast any threats at all (except for Jace, The Mind Sculptor) and they won't be able to block your creatures in general. Sometimes it's a good idea to counter a Brainstorm with a Spellstutter Sprite, but in general that matchup plays out pretty straight forward. Lists with Pernicious Deed are better at dealing with your Bitterblossom, but don't have much against your Tombstalkers except for countermagic and Jace, The Mind Sculptor. Against these lists, it might be a good idea to keep your Stifles in hand for Pernicious Deed instead of throwing them at their fetchlands, considering they probably won't run them into your Stifles anyway.

    Postboard you don't have much to bring, except for probably Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast or Spell Pierce. They're not likely to have anything either so it will be pretty similar to the preboard matches.
    All in all its rather favourable for us and when you land an early Bitterblossom, you have almost won.

    Sorry for not having tested this matchup extensively, as it's on the decline and I almost never face it in tournaments.

    4.8 Counterbalance Top
    This is quite good as well, like the Landstill matchups. At first, your Tombstalker usually resolves through their Counterbalance. Secondly you can easily prevent them from resolving said enchantment with your fifteen maindecked counters and your manadenial. Thirdly, lists with maindecked Engineered Explosives have an out to it anyway. The other most important card that you should prevent them from casting is Natural Order, despite you being able to handle their Progenitus or sometimes even outrace it (you're usually dealing more damage early). For decks with Thopter Foundry, just use your Spell Snares. Jace, The Mind Sculptor is not that strong against us, Bitterblossom is constantly creating new creatures and bouncing Vendilion Clique or Spellstutter Sprite doesn't really help them at all. It's quite strong against our Tombstalkers though.

    As against most control-strategies, rushing out an early Bitterblossom is really strong here, they usually can't do much about it, unless they have Engineered Explosives, which is easy to deal with.

    Don't be too shy with your Spellstutter Sprites, just use them for their Sensei's Divining Tops. You don't have many targets for it at one anyway and this can really help you, as they have lower card quality. Plus it prevents them from looking you out of the game effectively

    Postboard it doesn't change much at all. Some of us have Red Elemental Blast or Pyroblast to bring in, others don't. Just bring your Engineered Explosives fi you don't have them maindeck and keep winning.

    These matchups are pretty favourable, as they're rather mana hungry and we have mana denial. The also tend to rely on single cards which is nice for decks with countermagic (we have some, by the way).


    5. BitterStalker Compared To Other Tempo Decks
    This part could as well be the first one of the primer, but it could also be filed under 6. Additional Reading. I believe it deserves its own category because it's quite important to know why you'd want to play this deck over other decks. Since I'm going to compare some of BitterStalker's functions and qualities to those of other decks I don't think it should be in the first section of the primer. You need to know the deck to understand it.

    One of the main reasons to play BitterStalker over other tempo decks is its very resilient manabase. Against decks with Wastelands as their only manadenial, you can easily fetch for your basics. Of course this isn't enough, but paired up with the fact that you can cast almost all of your spells off of basic Island and basic Swamp, this makes for a really strong manabase. Other decks don't even have basic lands at all, so this is one of BitterStalker's major advantages when compared to them. New Horizons for example has a quite strong manabase as well but they're often running a lot of lands; some lists have up to 23. BitterStalker usually has 19-20 lands, so we have more slots for business. UGw Tempo is definitely the deck that comes closest to our manabase, not only because the manabase is pretty similar, but also because they have Noble Hierarch to help smoothing out their manabase. This makes their manabase really strong, but it comes with a few sacrifices; like New Horizons they have less slots for actual business, despite Noble Hierarch being a really good tempo card in that it helps developing their board-position in two ways at the same time. Regarding the manabase it's also good for us that we can play removal in the same colour as our threats and therefore have to rely way less on our splash-colour (which is indeed only a splash-colour in BitterStalker).

    The next important advantage BitterStalker has when compared to other tempo decks are its threats. The namesake cards, Bitterblossom and Tombstalker are really good tempo cards. Both are cheap evasive beaters that can quickly end the game. What's really good about them is that they don't share any weaknesses, in fact they don't have much in common at all. This is really important when you compare BitterStalker to other tempo decks, as they often need the graveyard as a resource for their creatures. Our creatures don't die to a Relic Of Progenitus, and though it can slow down our Tombstalker, it does nothing against our Bitterblossom. It's hard for our opponents to hate out all of our threats at the same time, and when they focus on one of them, we might come up with the other one instead.

    Another reason to play BitterStalker instead of Tempo Thresh for example, is that we can more easily develop our board while still disrupting our opponent. Spellstutter Sprite is a good example for this, as is Bitterblossom. I explained this in detail in the main part of the primer, so it should be clear. But it also helps that we have a low manacurve, like most other tempo decks (New Horizons is an exception here).

    This sounds pretty nice, but what do other decks play what we don't have access to (or can't profitably play)?

    The most obvious thing is the lack of Tarmogoyf. Tarmogoyf is an undercosted beater that fits the concept of tempo decks pretty well. But it doesn't fit our deck well and we have good beaters anyway. There have been lists with Tarmogoyf instead of Tombstalker nonetheless, but this was somewhere in mid 2009 or something (sorry again for the lack of DeckCheck-evidence). When speaking of Tarmogoyf one could also mention the lack of gigantic creatures like Knight Of The Reliquary.

    One thing most tempo decks don't have but that you can find in New Horizons and UGw Tempo is Swords To Plowshares. I once said that you need to have a good reason to not play Swords To Plowshares in a blue deck in Legacy and I stand by this statement. Trust me, I'd love to have Swords To Plowshares, but actually we have a good reason to not run it: Firespout. Overall, Firespout benefits our deck more than Swords To Plowshares would, but over time, this might change, due to less tribal aggro for example.

    The last major downside BitterStalker has when compared to other tempo decks is the lack of proper Artifact- and Enchantment-removal. Luckily we have Engineered Explosives to make up for that and a lot of countermagic to back that up, but it would still be nice to have a Disenchant-effect that's actually worth playing. Anyway, Engineered Explosives deals with most of them well enough, and stuff like Moat is just irrelevant.


    6. Additional Reading
    Right now, there won't be much here, but I hope to collect tournament reports, videos and the like here. I'd also like to gather explanations about several cardchoices that compete for the same slot or useful articles in general.

    6.1 What splash is best.
    The question what to play as the third colour in BitterStalker comes up quite often. The agreed upon answer is red, but there are three other possibilities: white, green and nothing.

    First off, we need to think about why (and if) we even want a third colour at all. The reason for this is simple; we don't want to lose our aggro-matchups (Merfolk and Goblins are more important here, we can win Zoo without the splash).

    The card that improves these matchups most significantly is Firespout, which is red. Red also gives you access to unconditional spotremoval as well as cost-efficient spotremoval (Terminate, Lightning Bolt). All of these cards are even frequently maindecked, I think this speaks for their power.

    When playing white, we would get Swords To Plowshares and Path To Exile, but against tribal we would have to rely on Engineered Plague, which is far from Firespout's powerlevel. We'd also get Enlightened Tutor, which looks quite cool, but BitterStalker is not the right deck for Enlightened Tutor, since it's way too slow for us.

    The worst colour to add is green. With green you have access to Tarmogoyf maindeck and Krosan Grip postboard, but that's it. Neither of these card warrants green's inclusion. On top of that we wouldn't even want to play Tarmogoyf; the threats we already have are better anyway, as they're more resilient.

    The last option is to play straight UB. Obviously it doesn't give us any new answers, but it's better for our manabase (albeit only slightly), which is the next thing we need to consider when thinking about additional colours as the matchups we need to improve are against decks that have Wastelands. Note that when playing straight UB you usually still want to have an off-colour dual to be able to cast Engineered Explosives for three, so it's really only a slight difference.

    Again, the best colour is red if you're looking to have a manabase that's as strong as possible. There are quite some lists that don't even have any red cards maindeck and only utilise red postboard. This is a major advantage when compared to white, where you would definitely want to pack some Swords To Plowshares maindeck. With red, you often only need to cast a single Firespout over the course of a game, so that you can fetch for your Volcanic Island when you need it and then have it Wastelanded without being in big trouble.

    6.2 Exploiting Tempo
    My mini-article on this topic is here, I think that it will help you understanding the deck and will improve your performance with a bit.

    6.3 Spell Pierce vs. Spell Snare
    This is a quite important choice one has to make when playing BitterStalker. I'm just going to quote myself on this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jona View Post
    As for Spell Snare vs. Spell Pierce. I always liked Spell Pierce way better but recently I figured that in the current meta Spell Snare is better to have, much like I recently figured that Engineered Explosives is better than Firespout in the current meta. There are a few reasons for this. The first is Survival. Against them, you want a hardcounter for Survival Of The Fittest, Umezawa's Jitte and whatever else. They easily ramp to 4+ mana, being able to play around Spell Pierce. In this matchup, Spell Snare is obviously preferable.

    Then there's Merfolk. They have hardly any important targets for Spell Pierce, basically only Force Of Will and AEther Vial, sometimes Umezawa's Jitte and rarely Standstill. Countermagic is generally rather weak against them, I usually prefer having removal in this matchup. But being able to hardcounter Coralhelm Commander, Lord Of Atlantis and the rarer Standstill and Umezawa's Jitte is nothing to scoff at, especially when it only costs one mana. You see, Spell Snare is better here as well.

    Against storm combo (mostly TES), you definitely want Spell Snare over Spell Pierce. They won't run their protection into your softcounters anyway and apart from that the important things you can hit are their tutors and Ad Nauseam (note that you counter Diminishing Returns and Ill-Gotten Gains by countering the tutor they use to set it up). Since it's not that hard for them to play around softcounters, it's pretty good to have a hardcounter for their tutors. They all cost two mana. As a side note, they sometimes bring in Dark Confidant, Spell Snare is good here as well.

    Then there's Zoo. Like Merfolk, they hardly play any noncreature spells, especially those which are worth countering. In general you want to counter Path To Exile on your Tombstalker and Sylvan Library. When you can cast Tombstalker, they usually already have the mana to pay for Spell Pierce. Sylvan Library is also another lategame-card, hence it's better to have a hardcounter against it. You see, it's not that important to counter noncreature spells against them. They have a lot of nasty creatures, though. For example Qasali Pridemage, which will eat your Bitterblossom for breakfast. And countering Tarmogoyf is not that bad either. Another matchup where Spell Snare is preferable.

    Against Goblins, Spell Pierce is outright awful. You don't need it there, except you want to gamble on you being able to hit their AEther Vial and in turn possibly have dead draws. They sometimes have Warren Weirding, which is actually worth countering, but only as soon as you have Tombstalker or Vendilion Clique as your only creature. Note that this will be in the lategame, where they definitely will have the mana to pay for Spell Pierce. Spell Snare on the other hand is a hardcounter for Warren Weirding and most importantly Goblin Piledriver, Stingscourger and Mogg War Marshall (he can be really nasty, trust me). I'm not saying that Spell Snare is the best card for this matchup, but luckily we have Firespout, Umezawa's Jitte, spotremoval, Tombstalker and a lot of other stuff to deal with them.

    In tempo matchups Spell Pierce actually is slightly better, except against UGB Tempo Thresh, where you want Spell Snare for Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant, most of their other cards aren't really important, since they're either cantrips or countermagic/removal. Now what is more threatening, a threat or a Ponder? Against lists with Tarmogoyf as their only important card with converted manacost of two, Spell Pierce is slightly better.

    Against CounterTop variants it depends. Usually you want to hardcounter their Counterbalance or Tarmogoyf or Qasali Pridemage or whatever else they have, but having a counter for Natural Order and Jace, The Mind Sculptor is not bad either. Spell Pierce can also counter Stifle against Dreadstill, which is nothing to scoff at either. In these matchups, we have no clear winner, like in the tempo matchups.

    Against other control variants you don't really want either of them. Against variants which still actually play Standstill, you definitely want Spell Snare. Spell Pierce isn't that good here because games often last long against them and therefore they tend to be able to develop a good manabase, being able to pay for Spell Pierce anyway.

    Of course these are not all decks you might face, but these are, in my opinion, the most important ones. Against Dredge Spell Snare obviously sucks and Spell Pierce is sometimes quite cool, against Enchantress Spell Snare is slightly better, considering the rise of the new lists which are focused on spells with converted manacosts of two (Living Wish).
    6.4 Why this deck shouldn't be called Faeries.
    Actually, the reason is simple. This is not a tribal deck. The highest amount of Faeries you will find in BitterStalker is ten, but nine is way more common. Goblins has 30+ Goblins and Merfolk has 20+ Merfolks. These decks are actually depending on their tribe, BitterStalker is not. We would play Vendilion Clique and Bitterblossom even if they weren't Faeries. It's not important for a creature to be a Faerie to work in this deck, we're looking for other qualities, namely utility and the ability to gain tempo.

    Like I said, we have nine Faeries. New Horizons has seven Lhurgoyfs. We don't call that deck Tempo Lhurgoyfs, do we? We should rather focus on what actually matters for the deck and calling the deck Tempo Faeries clearly gives a wrong impression of what it might be to someone who doesn't know the deck. Both Bitterblossom and Tombstalker define the deck way more than the fact that it happens to contain a few Faeries.

    We also don't have anything in common with the playstyle of other tribal decks, as they're often forced to overextend due to the nature of their decks, their creatures directly influence each other and are often best in multiples.

    Nevertheless, this doesn't make Engineered Plague a bad card against us. But this is mainly because it completely stops two of our threats. It's still easier for us than for Goblins to fight through it, though.

    6.5 The old thread
    Is here. Lists similar to our current lists start being discussed around page 14, it's probably quite interesting to read.
    Last edited by Jonathan Alexander; 03-19-2011 at 06:14 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Nice primer Jona. Really enjoyed it and makes me want to pick up UBr Faeries again (well you say it's not called Faeries but I'll call it that :P). I played UBr and UGr for a few weeks (not extensively) but UBr definitely fit my playstyle. Not playing green, you lose out on Goyf + Grips, but playing black you gain Tombstalker, Perish, Terminate, Engineered Plague even, Extirpate and a lot more option.

    In your primer you raised that losing green = losing answers to artifact/enchantment. Red still gives you outs to artifacts, but your sideboard can't be universally condensed with the loss of Grips. However, for Enchantments, I ask you to look into Dystopia. It hits everything that is relevant in Legacy: Enchantress, Humility, Moat (this deck screws Moat), Oblivion Ring, White Stax etc. It doesn't hit Counterbalance but your deck already has many inbuilt resilience against Countertop (Tombstalkers, Sprites that get in via battling CBTop stacks and Mutavault).

    Dystopia also serves as a tempo card because when you play it, you are always guaranteed to Edict one of their permanents (usually creature agains Zoo/Bant/Progenitus/Enchantress). Not to mention, the cummulative upkeep is quite a joke when you consider paying 1,2,3 life to destroy 1,2,3 permanents with just an initial 1BB requirement.

    Good read, I'll definitely pick this deck up again. I used to run Jittex2 maindeck but often felt they were slow, however I feel that they are still needed since they shore up game 1 matchups against everything if you draw them. It's great against tribal and control, and just super with flyers. The only thing I hate about Jitte is that it always ends up being 6 mana before it does anything (2 to cast, 2 to equip, dude gets plowed, 2 to equip again). But once that phase is over, you win. Sometimes it's just hard to get to that phase and risk losing tempo while you are trying to establish tempo. I was even running Snuff Outs to make up for playing 2 Jittes so that I could free up my mana-usage, but perhaps I can attribute more of my failures to Snuff Out + BBlossom killing myself.

    Regardless, good job on the primer! And in my opinion, Tombstalker >>> Goyf. The only thing stopping Tombstalker from being overly played like goyf in Legacy is not really the Delve drawback. It's really its BB that limits it to black-based decks, and we all know how black-based decks aren't too popular outside of control or combo shells.

  4. #4

    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    I prefer the term Faestalker over Bitterstalker, but they both have a nice ring to it.

    I've been experimenting with a white splash, mostly for Swords, but also for an E. Tutor toolbox. I still think the red splash is much stronger, but here's my list for comparison:


    Lands: 18
    4 Wasteland
    3 Polluted Delta
    2 Flooded Strand
    2 Marsh Flats
    3 Underground Sea
    2 Tundra
    1 Island
    1 Swamp

    Creatures: 9
    4 Spellstutter Sprite
    3 Tombstalker
    2 Vendillion Clique

    Non-creature: 33
    4 Force of Will
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Daze
    4 Stifle
    4 Swords to Plowshares
    3 Spell Snare
    3 Bitterblossom
    2 Snuff Out
    2 Enlightened Tutor
    1 Umezawa's Jitte
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Sensei's Divining Top

    Sideboard: 15
    2 Engineered Plague
    2 Spell Pierce
    2 Submerge
    2 Extirpate
    1 Umezawa's Jitte
    1 Relic of Progenitus
    1 Thorn of Amethyst
    1 Ethersworn Canonist
    1 Mystic Remora
    1 Dystopia
    1 Engineered Explosives


    I recently cut an Extirpate for Thorn in the board, and I've been shuffling around the Tutors from main to side a lot. I think my list is too cute, so I'd love so feedback from you guys. I have much trouble against tribal/aggro without Spout, but I make up for it with better spot removal and a more reliable EE. I just feel like E. Tutor is sacrificing too much CA for the sake of reliability. I removed the Curfews for a more varied maindeck toolbox and additional spot removal.

    In reference to the actual ( UBr ) list, I would definitely go for Dystopia somewhere. I too have issues with maindeck'd Jitte, but it really is necessary for certain decks, and the fact that it pairs so well with flying beats ( not even counting Bitter + Jitte interaction ) means it's a definite include. I also maindeck Bolts over Demise in my UBr list, as I find them too conditional. We should be able to chump/counter midgame fatties while we fly overhead.

  5. #5
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    First off: Thanks.

    About not playing green: I don't think it's a major downside that we don't have access to Krosan Grip. You should maindeck Engineered Explosives anyway, which is way more versatile and also plays around Counterbalance. I agree that both black and red are definitely stronger than green, both colours bring something unique to the deck. Having access to real spot- and massremoval is also a major advantage.
    So far I never had any problems against Enchantress. They really don't have much we care about; usually they have like 6-7 cards maindeck we need to counter (lists with Living Wish have more), if we do, they can't win. Just make sure to not run your Bitterblossom into their Elephant Grass and lose to it. If ever find that the matchup gets worse, I'm going to try out Dystopia. But for now, 15 counters +2 Engineered Explosives maindeck has been enough. I might include it in the list of possible sideboard-options (which I still need to write), but personally I haven't had any testing with it since I didn't need it. I don't like its manacost, though, it looks really slow.

    As for the white-splash: I think the real problem is that it brings nothing except Swords To Plowshares. I agree with you that it's just too cute (I tested lists with white extensively by the way). Most of white's good sideboard options (Aura Of Silence; Wing Shards) require double white, and this is just not good for the manabase. The Enlightened Tutor package slows the deck a lot, this is not exactly where we want to go. We want to play as much tempo as possible, and if we can't we need to control the boarstate as effiecient as possible. Having an Enlightened Tutor toolbox doesn't help both plans enough I think. If anything, I would go back to a Trinket Mage package, but the last time I had them in my list was almost a year ago, this was when Dredge was really popular in my area (almost half of my tournament matches were against Dredge).

    I'm definitely going to write something about which third colour to play, this seems to be something that comes up from time to time.

  6. #6
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    I think red splash is best. Eplague doesn't do best against Tribal outside of Goblins and Firespout can be devastating against Zoo once you've pinpoint your counters on their bigger dudes. I have a friend (Esper3k) who swears by Dystopia, and I can testify to its power. He plays eva so he can power it out early, but that's irrelevant. In fact, the power of Dystopia comes as a lockpiece. You counter (discard/disrupt in the case of eva) most threats, and then put out a Dystopia locking the board out completely while winning the game from there.

    It's a pretty terrifying card that so happens to be a non-green deck's answers to relevant enchantments. The only thing you can't answer is countertop, but by then if you haven't been able to get a Bitterblossom/Tombstalker in and losing the counterwar, you just have to accept they had a better draw than you did. I have not played the deck much though (only 3 tourneys total, mix of UBr and UGr) so I won't know best. All this is just me spouting stuff from experience. What's your feedback on Jitte? Yes or no? Would it be good in a meta of tribal, Countertop? I would assume so since it turns every creature into a dumb Jitte equipping creature.

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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Why was the Faeries/Fae Stompy thread closed? This deck has nothing to do with it. I'm looking at about six common cards, plus some islands. Not to mention the plans are about as different as any two plans can be. Even the opening note specifying what the thread is about shows this has nothing to do with Eldariel Faeries.

  8. #8
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    The Faerie Stompy thread was not closed. If you want to discuss Tribal Faeries in Legacy (which this deck is not), create a new thread for it.

  9. #9
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Faerie Stompy isn't Tribal Faeries...

  10. #10
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Malakai View Post
    Why was the Faeries/Fae Stompy thread closed?
    Faerie Stompy is still open, it's just buried a couple of pages within this forum. Only the Faeries thread was closed since that would be mostly redundant to this newer thread.

  11. #11
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    I slightly updatet the primer, the only real important things are the inclusion of possible sideboard options and something about which additional colour to run. As you can see, I agree on red being the best, as most people do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Metalwalker View Post
    I think red splash is best. Eplague doesn't do best against Tribal outside of Goblins and Firespout can be devastating against Zoo once you've pinpoint your counters on their bigger dudes. I have a friend (Esper3k) who swears by Dystopia, and I can testify to its power. He plays eva so he can power it out early, but that's irrelevant. In fact, the power of Dystopia comes as a lockpiece. You counter (discard/disrupt in the case of eva) most threats, and then put out a Dystopia locking the board out completely while winning the game from there.

    It's a pretty terrifying card that so happens to be a non-green deck's answers to relevant enchantments. The only thing you can't answer is countertop, but by then if you haven't been able to get a Bitterblossom/Tombstalker in and losing the counterwar, you just have to accept they had a better draw than you did. I have not played the deck much though (only 3 tourneys total, mix of UBr and UGr) so I won't know best. All this is just me spouting stuff from experience. What's your feedback on Jitte? Yes or no? Would it be good in a meta of tribal, Countertop? I would assume so since it turns every creature into a dumb Jitte equipping creature.
    The thing about Dystopia is that I don't see any need for it. There are no important enchantments and with 1BB it's a bit too slow for this deck, as we want to be able to operate with as few lands as possible.

    Umezawa's Jitte is a solid maindeck card, but I don't think you should run too many of them. I think Bardo had a list with three of them maindecked (sorry if I'm mistaking, this was in July or something), which are too many for my taste, because, as you already pointed out, it's a giant tempo sink. It's still really strong againt tribal and less narrow than Firespout. I really like that it's also quite good against control variants, turning your Spellstutter Sprites into serious threats.

  12. #12
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    I would love to hear your opinions on these particular options:

    1) Trinket Mage (allowing for Needles, fetchable Explosives, and fetchable hate like Relics without extending into a white splash.) I've been using it, and it tends to lend itself to a much more control oriented build (gaining advantage in the mid-game) rather than a tempo build (wrecking the early game while still settting up)

    2) Riptide Laboratory (I see your real passion is for Curfew...which is nothing short of awesome.) Does Curfew belong in a sideboard? The only real reason to play RipLab would be if you played #1 (Trinket Mage) or if you had a higher land count to accomodate activations. I don't advocate using this, I'm just curious about why it's bad (or how it could be good) if you are using a more controlling build rather than a tempo build.

    3) Chrome Mox (I have always used a full playset of Bitterblossoms because of how potent it can be, and I really love a turn 2 BB.) Mox allows the extras to become fodder and accelerate your mana, allowing ridiculous plays like Spellstutter Sprite + Daze turn 1, or a turn 1 Bitterblossom. I'm currently using 2 Chrome Moxes, for reference. It also allows for a turn 1 Trickbind...which brings me to...

    4) Trickbind - does it have any use in the sideboard? Is Stifle good enough to functionally play 'more copies' of it?

    Thanks!

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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I would love to hear your opinions on these particular options:
    Sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    1) Trinket Mage (allowing for Needles, fetchable Explosives, and fetchable hate like Relics without extending into a white splash.) I've been using it, and it tends to lend itself to a much more control oriented build (gaining advantage in the mid-game) rather than a tempo build (wrecking the early game while still settting up)
    You've basically said everything that's important about Trinket Mage yourself. It pushes the deck more towards control, and this is its problem. Sure it's nice to have fetchable Relic Of Progenitus and Engineered Explosives, but this is really slow. I used to run this when I first started playing this deck and was testing a lot of things (back then with Cloud Of Faeries and Standstill, more of an UR-list). This is somewhere between control and old fish-lists then, but neither of them are viable in the current meta. Legacy has become way too fast for this of decks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    2) Riptide Laboratory (I see your real passion is for Curfew...which is nothing short of awesome.) Does Curfew belong in a sideboard? The only real reason to play RipLab would be if you played #1 (Trinket Mage) or if you had a higher land count to accomodate activations. I don't advocate using this, I'm just curious about why it's bad (or how it could be good) if you are using a more controlling build rather than a tempo build.
    Again, I get where you're coming from, and again the reasoning why it doesn't work that well is simple: it's too slow. Back in 2009 you could easily run stuff like Riptide Laboratory, Sower Of Temptation and a Trinket Mage toolbox, but all of this doesn't work right now since the meta has become way too fast and aggressive, mainly due to the recent power creep in creatures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    3) Chrome Mox (I have always used a full playset of Bitterblossoms because of how potent it can be, and I really love a turn 2 BB.) Mox allows the extras to become fodder and accelerate your mana, allowing ridiculous plays like Spellstutter Sprite + Daze turn 1, or a turn 1 Bitterblossom. I'm currently using 2 Chrome Moxes, for reference. It also allows for a turn 1 Trickbind...which brings me to...
    Nothing is as awesome as turn one Bitterblossom with Daze-backup. But if anything, I'd run Lotus Petal, as you rarely need continuous mana sources, you usually only need to get ahead as early as possible and then proceed to counter their removal and remove their threats. I'm sometimes running a list with Lotus Petal instead of Curfew, but I generally prefer the list with Curfew as it's a bit stronger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    4) Trickbind - does it have any use in the sideboard? Is Stifle good enough to functionally play 'more copies' of it?
    Not really. You don't want to keep two mana open for this effect. Not being able to use it on turn one is a huge downside and letting Trickbind eat up sideboard-slots isn't that good either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Thanks!
    You're welcome.

  14. #14
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Sorry for being an annoyance, but just another short question: Is Curfew sideboard material if you don't run them maindeck?

    BTW, the Trickbind question was tied directly to the Chrome Mox question...if you end up using Chrome Mox, you would have the option of making sure you had 5-7 copies of Stifle to make sure it happens turn 1 when it really counts (I read that in your primer, BTW...lol)

  15. #15
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    I approve of this thread, and it makes me want to toss my CounterTop pieces out the window and start playing Tempo decks again :)

  16. #16
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    Jonathan Alexander's Avatar
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Sorry for being an annoyance, but just another short question: Is Curfew sideboard material if you don't run them maindeck?

    BTW, the Trickbind question was tied directly to the Chrome Mox question...if you end up using Chrome Mox, you would have the option of making sure you had 5-7 copies of Stifle to make sure it happens turn 1 when it really counts (I read that in your primer, BTW...lol)
    Whoops, sorry for leaving this out. Depending on what you run maindeck instead of Curfew, you can move it to the sideboard, but I think it's better off in the maindeck. It's a bit like running sideboard Stifles, it feels a bit weird to bring them in if they're not maindeck.
    Having both, Trickbind and Chrome Mox / Lotus Petal eats up too many slots I think. Note that with Lotus Petal you can start using your Dazes from turn one on, given that you cast a Bitterblossom. You still have Spell Snare for their two drop then. If you want additional tempo against decks where you want the turn one Stifle (mainly Bant and Zoo) try out Submerge in your sideboard.

    Oh, and I agree that tempo is stronger than CounterTop right now since the format's becoming faster and faster.

  17. #17
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    I might as well share my list as well. This is what I've been tinkering with, and this is probably pretty close to what I'd sleeve up if there was a tournament today.


    4 Polluted Delta
    3 Scalding Tarn
    3 Underground Sea
    3 Volcanic Island
    1 Badlands
    4 Wasteland
    1 Island
    1 Swamp

    4 Spellstutter Sprite
    2 Vendilion Clique
    3 Tombstalker

    4 Brainstorm
    3 Ponder
    2 Spell Pierce
    4 Stifle
    4 Daze
    4 Force of Will
    3 Bitterblossom
    2 Smother
    2 Terminate
    2 Firespout
    1 Umezawa's Jitte

    Side:
    2 Spell Pierce
    3 Submerge
    3 Lightning Bolt
    3 Pyroblast
    2 Extirpate
    1 Ravenous Trap
    1 Tormod's Crypt

    As is evident from above, I don't run any Engineered Explosives, but I do run Firespout. I prefer Firespout because Goblins, and their very diverse mana curve is a common deck at most tournaments I play in. The two slots of Firespout in the maindeck could just as well be Engineered Explosives though, it's a metagame call.

    I also cut Spell Snare from my list, despite it being MVP for the last two tournaments, because come January 1st, it's main target and the biggest reason for its inclusion will be banned. I have Spell Pierce in there instead, because it goes together well with the whole mana-denial plan, and it can hit stuff that are tough to deal with - planeswalkers for example. It is also decent at stopping TES and other combo decks, and while it is not a hard counter for Infernal Tutor and Burning Wish, it can at least deprive them from some mana, which heavily restricts their possible Tutor/Wish targets, and it can even stop them cold sometimes. I don't expect any decent enough TES pilots to run headlong into Spell Pierce, but the threat of flying 5/5s can disturb some.

    The Submerges in the sideboard could also just as well be Curfews or some other stuff. The reason I run Submerge is because they're great against Zoo and green-based creature decks in general and they're a complete beating against Rock, another popular archetype here in Sweden. Other than the above, I guess the list is fairly stock.

  18. #18
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Jona - The primer is really fantastic work. Excellent stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jona
    Umezawa's Jitte is a solid maindeck card, but I don't think you should run too many of them. I think Bardo had a list with three of them maindecked (sorry if I'm mistaking, this was in July or something), which are too many for my taste, because, as you already pointed out, it's a giant tempo sink.
    I stand by 3 as the correct number. Yes, it's a tempo sink, but when it sticks, it wins the game against many decks. I'll usually find a way to stick #4 in the board since you can't always count that the first will stick; note too that an opposing Jitte is pretty much murder against Fae, so you'll need to disenchant your opponent's with your own, on occasion.

  19. #19
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    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Jona View Post
    Note that with Lotus Petal you can start using your Dazes from turn one on, given that you cast a Bitterblossom.
    How is this different than Chrome Mox?

    Oh, and I agree that tempo is stronger than CounterTop right now since the format's becoming faster and faster.
    Fully agree. CounterTop is slower on the table than Stifle, and in some cases slower on the table than Qasali Pridemage. CounterTop typically uses NO-Pro (or Goyf for more traditional setups), but it takes a lot of time to get 4 mana ( if ever, against tempo decks like BitterStalker or Tempo Thresh) and maindeck Spell Snare makes life pretty tough. This is where Spell Snare shines, because you don't have to worry about saving it for Force of Will (uh, because it doesn't work...) like with Spell Pierce. This frees up Daze to work over FoW, and Spell Snare stays open for threats. Love it.

  20. #20

    Re: [Deck] Tempo Faeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    How is this different than Chrome Mox?
    Lotus Petal doesn't cost you two cards, it costs you one. Chrome Mox needs a card to imprint on it taking away more tempo from a fully-tempoed-out (or should be) deck.

    I was going (and still am) to throw my 10 cents into the mix with Jona's explanations of the cards he used but my IE crashed and of course my work wasn't saved. Now I'm doing it in Word and am going to paste it onto IE. Should be done sometime tonight.

    Purgatory's list looks a lot like my list. I STRONGLY suggest you try Preordain instead of Ponder. It is way better in a tempo deck.

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