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Against the Odds: Retreats!!!


Hello everyone and welcome to episode twelve of Against the Odds. First off, thank you all for voting in last week's poll. After nearly six thousand votes cast, Retreats (Standard) ended up the winner by a whopping 5% of the vote!

Eater of Days and Dragon Tempest came in second and third, so they survive to the next poll ... which is not happening this week because I have something special planned for the next installment of Against the Odds. On the other hand, Fluctuator and Underworld Dreams finished at the bottom of the poll and will drop off the ballot altogether. 

Anyway, we'll talk more about Retreats!!! in a minute. First let's get to the videos. Just a quick reminder. If you enjoy Against the Odds and other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Against the Odds: Retreats!!! Into

Against the Odds: Retreats!!! Games

The Deck

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This one is fairly simple. We play 16 Retreats, 33 lands, and a small number of removal spells to keep us alive. Clearly the most important aspect of the deck is the namesake Retreats, which can be broken down into two groups. Retreat to Coralhelm and Retreat to Kazandu form the "help keep us alive" group. Their purpose is to keep us alive long enough to win the game. Retreat to Coralhelm does this by tapping down creatures with the help of fetch lands. Retreat to Coralhelm is also essential because it helps us get away with playing 33 lands by doing a Thassa, God of the Sea imitation, letting us Scry for free every turn. Retreat to Kazandu, on the other hand, gains us a lot of life and gives us some chance to keep up with aggro decks. 

Retreat to Emeria and Retreat to Hagra are our finishers. Retreat to Emeria lets us make an endless stream of 1/1 Kor Ally tokens. In the late game it lets us push through damage by pumping our team. Since we don't have any creatures to speak of, Retreat to Hagra drains our opponent with every land drop. Since we have 33 lands, it is entirely possible to win the game with Retreat to Hagra alone. 

Otherwise, we have a bunch of fetch lands which allow us to double-up on our Retreat triggers. More importantly, fetch lands let us trigger landfall during our opponent's turn which is especially important with Retreat to Coralhelm. We have a bunch of fetchable lands in the form of Battle for Zendkar duals and basics. Finally we get six creaturelands, which give us a Plan B when we fail to get a Retreat online. 

The rest of the deck is a few wraths and targeted removal spells, along with a couple copies of Dark Petition to help us find the right card at the right time.

The Matchups

Our best matchup is against control decks that don't have access to Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. In these matchups the incremental advantage of our Retreats can take over the game. Our control opponent typically isn't fast enough to punish us for clunky draws. Against aggro, we really need things to go right to have any chance at all. While the lifegain from Retreat to Hagra and Retreat to Kazandu helps, we really need to draw one of our wraths to stabilize. While it didn't come up in our matches, I think we might have some shot against midrange. One thing to keep in mind is our answers are limited, and we really need to draw the right cards to handle Siege Rhino and Thunderbreak Regent.

The biggest problem with the deck is its composition. To actually have a chance of winning the game with Retreats we need a lot of lands. Sometimes we draw a ton of lands and not very much action. On the other hand, playing a less-dedicated Retreat strategy is against the spirit of Against the Odds. If there is one thing I learned in making these videos it is many of the Retreats are powerful, but they work better as supporting actors than leading men or women. 

The Odds

Technically we went 3-7 with the deck, which would put the odds at 30%. This number is aided by a game where our opponent mulled to three and scooped on turn one. In actual games of Magic, we went 2-7, which is probably more realistic. I felt like we came somewhat close to stabilizing in a couple of games, and we probably could beat Turbo Turns, but a combination of me not knowing how to best play the deck and our opponent drawing well did us in. That said, the match against Esper Dragons was awesome. It definitely showed the power of the archetype. Given enough time and the right matchup, the deck can work.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week since I've got something spicy brewing. When the poll is back it will contain Eater of Days and Dragon Tempest for another shot at glory, along with three new options.

Conclusion

That's all for today. What other ways are there to build Retreats? Do you think any of these cards will make an impact in Standard? What is the maximum number of Retreats you could imagine in a competitive deck? As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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