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Against the Odds: Mass 'Em Up (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode fifty-nine of Against the Odds! Last week on our Against the Odds poll, we had an incredibly close vote, with Permeating Mass sneaking out the victory with 25% of the over 4,200 votes cast, just barely surpassing Saheeli Rai and Mortal Combat in Modern, which each took home 22% of the vote. Meanwhile, Ghirapur Orrery and Chance Encounter came in at the bottom of the pile and will drop off this week's poll for new options. As such, today we are heading to Kaladesh Standard to build around one of the most challenging cards we've had in a while: Permeating Mass. How can we go about breaking a one-mana 1/3 with a unique triggered ability? Let's see!

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: Mass 'Em Up (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Mass 'Em Up (Games)

The Deck

When I realized that Permeating Mass was the winner of our poll, I immediately did a search for Lure (or something similar) in Standard, thinking we could use some pump spells or equipment, Lure up our Permeating Mass, and use the combo to turn all of our opponent's creatures into 1/3s. Unfortunately, there isn't a Lure effect in Standard, so that possibility was off the table. Then, I realized that there really wasn't anything in Standard to force our opponent's creatures to block, attack, or otherwise make them get into combat with our Permeating Mass, which means we had to go really, really deep. In the end, we wound up with a deck featuring Permeating Mass, ways to find and protect Permeating Mass, and a couple of payoff cards that can take advantage of turning all our opponent's creatures into copies of [[Permeating Mass]. 

Masses

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One of the challenges of building around a single card is that in some games, we simply won't draw the namesake card, which makes it important to play other cards that can help us cycle through our deck and find the card our deck is built around—in this case, Permeating Mass. Grapple with the Past gets us three cards deep into our library to help us find a Permeating Mass; plus, it works well after we find a Permeating Mass because we can use our Permeating Mass to block, mass up one of our opponent's creatures, than immediately get back the Permeating Mass with Grapple with the Past, and cast it for only one mana. Vessel of Nascency digs four cards deep into our library while also stocking our graveyard with an enchantment and three other cards, which helps us turn on delirium. Once we have delirium, Traverse the Ulvenwald becomes the most efficient way to find a Permeating Mass

Protection

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Selfless Spirit and Blossoming Defense help us keep our Permeating Mass alive once we find a copy. We can block something with Selfless Spirit, block something else with Permeating Mass to mass it up, and then sacrifice our Selfless Spirit to keep our Permeating Mass around. Blossoming Defense, on the other hand, lets us fizzle a removal spell like Grasp of Darkness while also boosting the toughness on Permeating Mass to allow it to survive combat. 

Tricks

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One of the things I realized while building the deck is that Standard has a lot of powerful fliers—Archangel Avacyn, Spell Queller, Selfless Spirit, Emrakul, the Promised End—and if our plan was to mass up all our opponent's creatures, we'd need a way to mass fliers as well. Thankfully, there are a few good options in the form of pump spells. Vines of the Recluse and Aim High not only provide a toughness boost that allows our Permeating Mass to survive combat but also gives our Permeating Mass reach so we can mass up fliers. They also line up really well with the format, with Vines of the Recluse essentially being one mana, "turn target attacking Archangel Avacyn into a Permeating Mass." Meanwhile, Give No Ground has some blowout potential, especially combined with other pump spells, allowing us to turn all of our opponent's attackers into Masses all at once. 

The Payoff

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So, we've established that our deck is really good at massing up our opponent's creatures, but how do we take advantage of the fact that we can turn all our opponent's creatures into copies of Permeating Mass? We have two ways. First, and most importantly, we have Declaration in Stone, which can exile all of the creatures we mass up for only two mana, turning it into the most efficient Wrath of God ever. Second, we also have a copy of Archangel Avacyn (which we can flip at will with the help of Selfless Spirit), and when Archangel Avacyn flips, it happens to do three damage to each creature—exactly enough to kill all of the copies of Permeating Mass on the battlefield. 

The Finisher

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Last but not least, we also have a single copy of Emrakul, the Promised End to help us close out the game after we mass up our opponent's stuff. One of the problems with building a deck around 1/3s is that we don't really have a good way to kill our opponent even after we turn everything into copies of Permeating Mass. Emrakul, the Promised End is one of the most guaranteed finishers in Standard, usually closing out the game in just an attack or two, while letting us mess with our opponent's plans while we control their turn. It also takes advantage of the fact that Grapple with the Past and Vessel of Nascency naturally fill our graveyard to reduce the cost of Emrakul, the Promised End

The Matchups

Our plan revolves around using Permeating Mass to mass up our opponent's creatures, which means we really want to play against decks that are trying to win the game with creature combat. As a result, matchups like Grixis Control, Jeskai Control, and UW Aetherflux are pretty bad because our opponent doesn't really have creatures to mass up. While we have some sideboard stuff that helps (like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar), we still want to play against creature-based decks. 

As far as creature decks, we'd rather play against decks that are a bit slower like GB Delirium or UW Midrange than really aggressive decks like RW or Mardu Vehicles, even though Permeating Mass provides a good early game roadblock against aggressive decks. While I don't really think we are favored in these matchups, as least our plan of massing up creatures has potential to work. 

The Odds

We only got in four matches this week because some of our matches went really, really long (which will happen when the entire plan of a deck is to turn all creatures into 1/3s), and we ended up winning two of them, good for a 50% match-win percentage. We also managed to get in 10 games and won five (giving us a 50% game-win percentage as well). As far as Permeating Mass itself, I think our record for most Masses on the battlefield at once was six, and the most we got to exile with a single Declaration in Stone was three. 

On the other hand, one of our match wins was against a deck that really didn't care about Permeating Mass (UW Aetherflux), so while we managed to win, it doesn't really feel right to attribute it to the real plan of our deck. That said, we came incredibly close to winning the match against Bant Midrange, ending up just a single mana / point of damage short after massing up a bunch of our opponent's creatures. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! 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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