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Against the Odds: Lupine Prototype


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode forty-seven of Against the Odds! Last week on our all-Eldritch Moon Against the Odds poll, Lupine Prototype sneaked out a victory over Deploy the Gatewatch and Mind's Dilation, taking home 28% of the nearly 4,000 votes cast. As such, this week, we are heading to Standard to play a deck built around a 5/5 that only costs two mana but comes with a significant drawback. Can we make the Wolf work? We're about to find out! Then, for next week's Against the Odds, we're going to have a special episode because there's one more Eldritch Moon card that I really, really want to build a deck around, so no voting this week, but don't worry. Voting will return next week, and we'll be getting back to normal with a mixture of formats and options! Anyway, let's get to the videos, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Lupine Prototype Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Lupine Prototype Games

The Deck

My initial idea for building a Lupine Prototype deck was to go the madness route, try to discard our own hand as quickly as possible (hopefully while getting some value from random madness creatures, Fiery Temper, and Alms of the Vein) to turn on our Lupine Prototype, and win the game quickly before our opponent has a chance to outclass our plays. I actually built and played a couple of matches with the deck, and it just felt horrible, and not the good kind of fun, janky Against the Odds horrible, but just downright bad. As a result, I audibled to my plan B—a discard deck that's more focused on getting the opponent empty-handed, while also playing a lot of cheap discard and removal spells that allow us to empty our hand as well. 

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Lupine Prototype is such a weird card. As a two-drop, it's extremely above the curve in terms of power and toughness, but the problem is that it all too often does literally nothing. As such, one important aspect of our deck is to make our Lupine Prototypes good even when they can't attack or block. As a result, the most powerful thing our deck can do is sacrifice a Lupine Prototype on Turn 3 to Tormented Thoughts, which makes out opponent discard five cards. In theory, this should be all (or at least most) of their hand and leave them with only two or three lands on the battlefield. As an added bonus, this also makes it easier to keep our opponent's hand empty with additional discard spells, allowing us to attack and block with any future copies of Lupine Prototype. Basically, our main goal is to empty our opponent's hand of resources on Turn 3 and then kill our opponent before they have a chance to recover. 

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Since Tormented Thoughts is such a major piece of our deck, I didn't want to rely on Lupine Prototype alone as a sacrifice target; Pitiless Horde essentially functions as Lupine Prototypes five through eight when it comes to building our own Mind Twist. Pitiless Horde is also an important part of being able to close out the game quickly after we resolve a Tormented Thoughts. One thing I learned while playing the madness build of Lupine Prototype is that just making an opponent discard five on Turn 3 isn't good enough, the plan needs to be backed up by pressure, because sooner or later, the opponent is going to draw more cards, replenish their resources, and get back into the game. 

Meanwhile, Asylum Visitor takes advantage of the fact that we are trying to get our opponent (and also ourselves) empty-handed to turn on Lupine Prototype, allowing us to draw one or even two extra cards each turn. Discounting Tormented Thoughts, our deck is playing a lot of discard spells, and one of the problems with playing a lot of discard (see Modern 8 Rack) is that once an opponent is empty-handed, all of the discard spells become dead draws. Drawing extra cards from Asylum Visitor helps make up for some of the bad draws we have when peeling Mind Rots and Duresses in the mid and late game. 

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Our discard spells serve two purposes in our deck. First, they help us get (and keep) our opponent empty-handed so we can attack and block with our Lupine Prototype. Of course, they also help to disrupt our opponent by getting rid of the cards they were planning on using to kill us. Second, cards like Duress, Transgress the Mind, and Mind Rot are also fairly inexpensive, so they allow us to get empty-handed as well. Over the course of a long game, being empty-handed ourselves is the most guaranteed way to turn on Lupine Prototype, since our opponent will try to hold onto lands and other bad cards to keep our Lupine Prototype from being able to attack and block. 

Collective Brutality is probably the poster child for this plan. Not only does it allow us to (almost) Duress our opponent, but we can also use it to discard any two cards from our hand, which helps turn on our Lupine Prototype. While it's not ideal, we can also Mind Rot ourselves if we are really desperate to run out of cards. 

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Finally, we have a bunch of removal to clean up any creatures that happen to slip through our discard, to make sure our Lupine Prototypes and Pitiless Hordes can keep attacking and close out the game. Grasp of Darkness is just the best early-game removal in the format. Ruinous Path has the upside of allowing us to kill a planeswalker as well as a creature. Languish is sort of a combo with Lupine Prototype, since it will hopefully kill all of our opponent's creatures, but our Lupine Prototypes have enough toughness to survive, hopefully making it more of a Plague Wind than a Damnation. Last but not least, we have a single copy of Remorseless Punishment, which seems pretty good if we can get our opponent empty-handed, since they will either have to take five or ten damage (a good number in our deck, since both Lupine Prototype and Pitiless Horde hit in increments of five) or sacrifice one or two creatures or planeswalkers. The problem is there's a ton of variance involved in the card, and it will be horrible n some matchups, but there's also the dream scenario of killing an Emrakul, the Promised End and Elder Deep-Fiend while our opponent is out of cards and at four life.

The Matchups

The matchups for Lupine Prototype are pretty straightforward. Aggressive decks are our worst nightmare, since we are playing a two-drop that can't block. A deck like Wr Humans can already have six or more power on the battlefield before we even cast a Tormented Thoughts. Against various Burn decks, the damage we take from our own Pitiless Hordes is problematic, and against Bant Company, Spell Queller on Tormented Thoughts is a huge blowout (we lose our creature ,and even if we kill the Spell Queller to get back our Tormented Thoughts, it doesn't do anything). In these matchups, we are pretty much leaning on a Turn 4 Languish, which may or may not be good enough to win the game, even if we do happen to draw a copy. 

On the other hand, we want to play against slower control decks because our ample discard is amazing in these matchups. When our opponent is slowly trying to build up mana to cast Ob Nixilis Reignited and Emrakul, the Promised End, the combination of Tormented Thoughts, Mind Rot, and Transgress the Mind is great. Plus, as I mentioned before, Lupine Prototype dodges a lot of the most common removal, thanks to the combination of being colorless and having five toughness. 

The Odds

All in all, we managed to win 2 of 6 matches (33.33 match win percentage) and 5 of 14 games (35.71 game win percentage). We came incredibly close to beating GB Delirium in our first match, only to have our opponent top deck an Ishkanah, Grafwidow the turn before they would have died, which was disappointing, although we also got an easy win against a UB Prism deck that didn't seem to stand a chance against our discard. As a result, I think our results are fairly representative of the deck's true potential. 

As far as Lupine Prototype itself, it just isn't very good. The combo with Tormented Thoughts is awesome (even though it wasn't always game winning), but otherwise there were a lot of times we really needed to be able to block with Lupine Prototype and couldn't. It just takes way too much work to make Lupine Prototype good (I mean, we literally cast Mind Rot on ourselves one game), and the payoff (a 5/5 on Turn 4 or 5) simply isn't enough. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

As I mentioned in the intro, we're not voting this week. Next week, we'll have one more Eldritch Moon episode featuring a card / deck that I'm really excited to play. After that, we'll get back to normal for a few weeks, with a mixture of Modern, Standard, and Legacy on the polls as we wait for Kaladesh (with the paper prerelease only five weeks away!)

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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