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Against the Odds: The Pingining


Hello everyone and welcome to episode thirty of Against the Odds. First off, thanks to all of you for voting in last week's poll. Hidetsugu's Second Rite rode a wave of support to first place with just under 5,000 votes cast! Coming in second and third (and returning for another shot at glory) were Zada, Hedron Grinder and Muraganda Petroglyphs, while Sunforger took a huge plunge to fourth, alongside Meren of Clan Nel Toth. As such, this week we'll try to figure out a way to win with Hidetsugu's Second Rite in Modern. I have a deck modeled after old B-horror movies like The BirdsThe Pingining!

We'll talk more about The Pingining in a minute. First let's get to the videos. 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: The Pingining Deck Tech

Against the Odds: The Pingining Games

 

The Deck

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Building a deck around Hidetsugu's Second Rite ended up being way harder than I thought. The most obvious direction to take the build was towards Burn, but for some reason that didn't feel right. If I just stuffed the deck full of Lava Spikes, Lightning Bolts, and Rift Bolts, we wouldn't need Hidetsugu's Second Rite  to win the game. My second idea was to look for cards that could deal ten damage, and while there are a few like Booby Trap and Sorin's Vengeance, they are really expensive. Plus in Modern, no one stays a 20 life because of fetchlands and shocklands, so even if we lived long enough to resolve a Sorin's Vengeance, the odds that it would put our opponent to exactly 10 life would be slim. Finally, I considered Sorin Markov himself, since he can set an opponent's life total to exactly 10. Here we had some problems. First, Sorin Markov is six mana. We'd not only have to cast him, but also wait a turn to set our opponent's life total to 10 unless we had access to 10 mana, which was just too much. 

What we needed was a way to make our opponent lose life, but in small increments that we could control. That way we could get our opponent to 10 life while they were tapped out or at least didn't have a fetch or Spellskite to easily manipulate their own life total. Once I factor in these variables, the obvious choice was pingers (creatures that deal one damage, often repeatably, by tapping). We could slowly drain away our opponent's life total, and then win with a Hidetsugu's Second Rite out of nowhere!

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In all honestly, there isn't a whole lot to say about the deck. We are playing pingers, lots and lots of pingers. In fact, apart from Hidetsugu's Second Rite and one super spicy card we'll talk about in a minute, every single card in our deck can deal one damage to our opponent (except for Grim Lavamancer, which can deal two damage). Some, like Mogg Fanatic and Sparkmage Apprentice are one shot effects, others can be used over and over again.

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As such, our plan is to ping our opponent down to 10 life, then finish off the game with a copy of Hidetsugu's Second Rite. When all else fails, our Plan B is to ping our opponent to death. The good news is that while one damage isn't much, when we get a critical mass of creatures that can deal one damage every turn, it adds up fast. This is where the comparison to The Birds comes in. Sure, Vulshok Sorcerer might not be scary, just like a single seagull might not be scary, but when we have an entire flock of Vulshok Sorcerers, we can actually peck  ping opposing creatures to death fairly easily. 

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I promised a super spicy, secret-tech card, so here it is: Fiery Justice. Once our opponent figures out that our plan is to kill them with Hidetsugu's Second Rite, one of the easiest ways to counter that plan is by getting their life total below 10. This is where Fiery Justice comes into play. Essentially, in our deck, Fiery Justice reads, "Target opponent gains a number of life between 1 and 5 of your choosing." If our opponent fetches and shocks their way down to 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 life, we can use Fiery Justice to get them back up to 10, which turns our Hidetsugu's Second Rite back into a game winning threat. 

Answers to Specific Problems

I briefly wanted to mention a few cards that are in the 75 to shore up specific problems. 

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Typically Modern decks play Ghost Quarter to deal with Eye of Ugin, Eldrazi Temple, Tron lands, or creaturelands. Well, in our deck, we are playing Ghost Quarter as a way to force our opponent to crack fetchlands (and to kill painlands). It is pretty much impossible to win with Hidetsugu's Second Rite with a fetchland or painland on the battlefield, so even though blowing them up with Ghost Quarter isn't good value, it's worth it in The Pingining.

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Pithing Needle is a four-of in our sideboard because it deals with two very problematic cards. First, it offers a way to keep our opponent from manipulating their life total with fetchlands. Secondly, it stop our opponent from activating Spellskite

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Destructive Revelry is another four-of sideboard card that deals primarily with two cards. First off, it's another answer to Spellskite, which is one of Hidetsugu's Second Rite's natural enemies. Second it can hit Leyline of Sanctity, which locks out our entire deck. 

The Matchups

First off, our deck really isn't that fast. When we are not winning with Hidetsugu's Second Rite. it's actually quite slow. Decks that can kill us quickly with burn spells are really, really difficult to beat. Otherwise, we have trouble with fetchlands, shocklands, painlands and Spellskite. The problem is that pretty much every deck in Modern is playing some number of these cards, so does this mean every matchups is bad? Not exactly. 

The one thing that stuck out the most about Hidetsugu's Second Rite is that it's much, much better in game one than it is in games two or three. When our opponent isn't expecting Hidetsugu's Second Rite, it can pick up quite a few free wins. However, once they know it is coming it's pretty much impossible to get the kill in with it. It's almost like 90% of Modern decks are playing lands that read, "If X is on the battlefield, counter target Hidetsugu's Second Rite." While it probably isn't a good idea to play Hidetsugu's Second Rite in a competitive Modern deck, if you're crazy, my plan would be to attempt to kill with it in game one. Once an opponent sees it, sideboard it out for games two and three. 

The good news is that we actually have some good matchups, not so much because of Hidetsugu's Second Rite, but because some decks just can't answer an endless stream of pingers. This advantage was most noticeable in our match against Delver, where our opponent spent most of the game passing their turn because all of their x/1's (Delver of Secrets, Snapcaster Mage, Young Pyromancer and Vendilion Clique) would die as soon as they cast them. I think the Affinity matchup would play out similarly, and we probably have some game against decks like Infect as well. Essentially, the more our opponent relies on one and two toughness creatures, the better our deck becomes. 

The Odds

Shockingly, we won 9 our of 19 games (47%) and 3 out of 7 matches (42%), which actually makes The Pingining one of the most successful Against the Odds decks we've ever played. Plus, these numbers include two matches against Burn, where our primary game plan was to lose game one as quickly as possible and then try to mulligan into Leyline of Sanctity. If we discount the awful Burn matchups, our deck went  8-6 in games (57%) and 3-2 in matches (60%). While I honestly have no idea why this deck worked, it did, and I'm super surprised and very happy with the numbers.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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*You've probably noticed that the last couple polls have been weighted towards Modern with only one Standard option. That's because we are in this odd dead period where Shadows over Innistrad isn't out yet on Magic Online. Don't worry, it comes out next, next Friday (April 15th), we'll be heading full force in Shadows over Innistrad — first with a very special edition, then with an all Shadows over Innistrad poll!

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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