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My Grind to Mythic Season 2 (Standard, Magic Arena)

A new season has arrived and the Mythic Invitational has been announced so that means we're an esport now! This means we've got more people from other games and new players hoping to push into the competitive scene. There's definitely more riding on the line now if you're trying to ladder. I'm here to give you a few things I noticed and how I played specific matchups with my deck while laddering. Just like the last article, I'll give you a few tips to keep your head in the game.

How I Grind the Laddering System

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Laddering mentality was a huge part of the last article but I want to touch upon it for all the new eyes. I've talked with a lot of people and not many people have done the laddering system so for them this will be an entirely new experience. Let's first start off with the fact that yes, this will require time. But the convenience is you can do it from your home as opposed to traveling far and wide to become the very best. Now while you're grinding, your state of mind is extremely important. Tilting easily or not knowing when to concede will make this a long and scary ride. As I mentioned last time, it is of the utmost importance of knowing when to concede. Also please understand that you WILL go on terrible losing streaks because variance is a part of every card game. Don't get discouraged and keep pushing forward. Don't immediately make changes to your deck after one loss. This doesn't mean your deck doesn't need tuning for a specific meta but don't go fixing something that isn't necessarily broken.

The amount of times I've lost ten in a row and then went off on a fifteen game win streak is absurd. I know this may seem like a joke but I treat Laddering just like going to a Grand Prix/Magicfest. If I'm at a Grand Prix or any other major MTG event, losing one game can easily put some people into a weird mental spot, thus causing them to tilt and affecting their play for the rest of the day. Don't worry about that and don't take the negativity from your previous game into your next match up. Obviously, one loss at a GP is probably like 5-10 losses on the ladder. Maybe even more but I'm not here to argue the math behind that. Just know that tilt can really hurt your play. Now that I've mentioned that, let's talk about my deck and my card selections and so on....

Just like last time, I chose to only use Control decks. This means your games will go for a while and if you want to just grind to mythic as fast as possible, aggro decks will always be the recommended choice as those decks will try to shut the door early and force opponents to have the correct answers.  Last time I wrote an article was for Season 1 of the ladder I was on Grixis Control but with MTGRNA here for season two and the number of problematic enchantments, I've had to switch to a different type of control.

Esper Control

Why Esper Control?

From the start of spoiler season, we saw a ridiculous amount of enchantments that are insane and can run away with games and Mortify is too sweet right now. Especially when you factor in a best of one format requires diverse answers.

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This card is amazing as it allows us to not only remove problematic creatures but even in control and Nexus of Fate match-ups I still have targets as this can hit Search for Azcanta, Ixalan's Binding, and Wilderness Reclamation. Since hitting mythic, I've actually gone up to 4 copies as the Nexus decks tax your counterspells as you only have so many hard counters in Absorb and Negate and this will allow us to save our counters for their Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Speaking of Absorb... 

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With the amount of Red Deck Wins and aggro to midrange matchups, the bonus of gaining three life is absurd. We've already forgotten about Sinister Sabotage as the three life has already proven more valuable. This card has made our opponents figure out if they're going to be casting any spells when you're at a lower health total as that could potentially bring us back into the game! 

With the amount of Mono White I've been seeing on the ladder, I've gone back to adding one to two copies of Settle the Wreckage

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The White Weenie decks have cards like Dauntless Bodyguard and a ton of toys in Tithe Taker and Hunted Witness which all leave something behind even after blowing up their board, so we want something can exile those threats clean. Also, Gruul has unfortunately been absent from the ladder so we haven't seen much of Gruul Spellbreaker. At the time this article is being written, nobody is playing around Settle. I've seen so many people swing in with their boards and this is the best thing to punish them. You used to be worried about ramping your opponents but with how great mana is right now, nobody is playing a ton of basics so at most people are getting 2-3 basics unless they're mono red or mono white. This card also helps us play around cards like Unbreakable Formation.

Would it really be my deck if I wasn't main decking Unmoored Ego?  

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This card has only gotten more targets with MTGRNA arriving. I've been bouncing between one to two copies because I'm looking to name cards like Hydroid Krasis as that card is one of the key cards that will keep Sultai Midrange in the game. Let's not forget the Guildgate decks. If they're the Gate Colossus you can name that card as that's their main way to exhaust your deck of removal but if they're the nexus version name Nexus of Fate and Expansion // Explosion. Outside of those two cards, I don't normally have to worry about their infinite mana. 

Chemister's Insight vs Precognitive Perception

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I often get asked about why do I play one over the other. My answer to that is that best of one requires specific answers and cards at certain times and now normally in best of three, I would play a healthy mixture of both for curve reasons but in best of one, I don't want too many cards that don't affect the board. Because of that, I had to chop one or the other. The Addendum side of Precognitive Perception has been huge and at the very worst it will just be a Jace's Ingenuity. The Scry 3 does exactly what we need in this format which is looking for a specific answer. We also won't have many opportunities to cast both sides of Chemister's Insight as opponents will always be pushing some threats and we need to leave mana up. If you're ever at the part of the match where you can cast insight + interaction then you're better off spending one more mana to Scry 3 and then drawing three which is 6 cards as opposed to 4 cards. Best of one is all about card selection and the right answer at the right time. I also don't think I've lost a game where I've kept three cards on top so I can't stress how good that Addendum ability is even though it is costly at five mana.

Your Wincons:

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For those that aren't familiar with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and how we win with him, it's quite simple. You'll probably lose a Teferi or two along the way but as long as you have one, you can never deck out and after a certain point, you'll have gotten your Teferi Emblem. Yes, their lands will all be gone. After that point, you'll use Teferi's -3 ability to target itself and put it back into your deck. An important thing of note is that your Teferi needs to be at 4 counters or else the Teferi will be dead and gone before you can shuffle it back into your deck.

Our other closer is Chromium, the Mutable. People have often asked why this over Nezahal, Primal Tide and even though Nezahal draws us cards, it's still a seven mana threat at sorcery speed. Chromium has flash and has evasion in flying and an ability that can protect itself which is all we need. Unfortunately, this card is a necessary evil. I've tried other win conditions in its place but there really isn't anything else that can replace it. I've tried Karn, Scion of Urza and the planeswalker felt really lackluster as it didn't pack as hard a punch. But yeah, the elder dragon also doesn't play well with your board wipes outside of Settle the Wreckage so once this is on board, be ready to see your aggressive or midrange opponents try to flood the board to a point where they're going to try to tempt you to board wipe. All of that being said, the seven power and toughness threat is a very quick clock as seven power isn't a joke.

A thing of note with Chromium is to be careful as any damage marked on Chromium will still transfer over to his 1/1 form meaning if I block a 1/1 and then my opponent tries to do some kind of effect to make me discard a card to transform and protect it, the elder would instantly die as it would become a 1/1 with an X amount of damage marked on it. This also applies to any -X/-X effects like Moment of Craving.




Disclaimer: These are the matchups I consistently ran into on the ladder, but it varies from person to person. It also varies depending on what rank you are.

Red Deck Wins:

Boy oh boy what hasn't been said about this deck ?? Right now this deck can get you down to ten health easily by turn three. They've gotten some insane new toys like Light Up the Stage and Skewer the Critics. You would think with all of these toys that we'd probably have a bad win/loss ratio to red but I've actually a very solid win rate (60+ %) against them thanks to cards like Absorb keeping us in. With Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Mortify, cards like Experimental Frenzy aren't as backbreaking as they used to be but make sure your game plan involves some way to deal with this before you fire off all of your counterspells and Mortify.

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These two cards are the new all-stars for red. Before I used my health as a resource (yes, even against red) and then removed their threat at the end of their turn, but be careful as now, it might be the right play to kill a simple 1/1 Fanatical Firebrand before damage thus forcing them to spend more of their resources to trigger spectacle. That logic is also something to apply to Skewer as a simple shock or pinch from Firebrand can lead to the opponent going off with a random surprise nine points of damage to your dome. Unfortunately, it's not intuitive of when to fire off Absorb as you'll have to assess your situation as sometimes I'll let burn spells resolve and hit my face even if it brings me down to four or five health. This seems risky but if they're out of cards you know you'll be okay. Just be wary of them stockpiling burn. Whatever you do, keep in mind most of your opponent's deal damage in increments of three so try to stay at four, seven, and so on.

White Weenies:

People were very focused on Red Deck Wins that people forgot about this little menace that can flood the board with one-drops. To be completely honest, I find this match up more terrifying than red deck as that matchup is very straight forward, but in this one, we've got to play against their new toys in Tithe Taker and most importantly.....Unbreakable Formation. If they fire that card off at any point, it is for sure game over. If I draw Unmoored Ego in this matchup, most of the time I'm naming Formation as blanking one of our board wipes is too brutal. If you're running into this match-up a ton then maybe it's time we go back to more Settle the Wreckage or addition of Cry of the Carnarium. This will help us combat all their threats that leave little creatures behind and all of their Indestructible effects 

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As I mentioned above, Tithe Taker doesn't seem like much at first glance but then when your opponents start playing multiple it starts getting real concerning. This will push our Absorb and interactive answers back a turn as the cost goes up. The other thing that can be an issue is the 1/1 it leaves behind. This doesn't seem like much but when you're staring down Tithe Taker and an army of Hunted Witness it gets scary as they can follow up with a Legion's Landing and keep their foot on the gas pedal. It's because of this that in some situations, I'll take damage from some bigger threats to remove anything that leaves a critter behind to make it so that our board wipes will leave us with a nice spotless board.

Nexus Variants: 

It's safe to say at this point, most of these decks will have Nexus of Fate, Wilderness Reclamation and Search for Azcanta.

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If they're playing Nexus of Fate I will always name that card with Unmoored Ego as that is their main way to lock you out permanently. I also try to hold as many Mortify as I can find as removing their Reclamation makes them play the fair game. If you've already removed all of their Nexus from their deck, you can start casting Mortify on their Gift of Paradise if you think they're the Expansion // Explosion variant that can only make red from the Gifts.

Niv Mizzet Variant

There are so many variations of Nexus but it's still the gameplan....find their infinite loop of Nexus and then cheese you out with infinite turns. The most problematic version of these decks for us would be the Temur variation that is counterspell heavy and winning with Niv-Mizze, Parun. They do the same thing we do but with way more efficient ways to go through their deck and can counter us back. Yeah, they have the potential to go off with Wilderness Reclamation + Expansion // Explosion but let's be honest.... they don't even have to do that. They can sit back and just ramp until they're comfortably ahead. I was hitting a pocket of the nexus decks that had permission spells so I actually went up Unmoored Ego.

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Their key three pieces are Nexus of Fate, Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and Expansion // Explosion. There's no way to tell but some of these decks have opted to just cut Nexus of Fate so you'll have to use Thought Erasure to assess the situation. Also be careful as they can use the Expansion to copy your spell and rip all the Teferi's from your deck.

Bant Fog Variant
This is the variation we want to run into every time. They usually don't play many counterspells if any at all. This matchup I will aggressively dig for Unmoored Ego.

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Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a powerful card but if we're able to snag all of their Nexus of Fate they just draw more fogs and cards that don't really stop us. Even if they have a bunch of mana thanks to Reclamation.  Not saying that using Ego on them is an auto-win but its definitely in your favor. I've also seen these decks run cards like Hydroid Krasis and that card is easy for us to answer and will just draw them more cards that we can deal with easily as we have many ways to play the one for one game. I haven't seen many Dawn of Hope but I'm not ruling it out either. This matchup is very easy to play as they don't really have many ways to deal with our own Teferi so you can just run away with the game with our Hero of Dominaria. Just be cautious of when you're tapping out. I always want to have counter mana as a backup.

Guildgate Variant

This version is a lot like the Temur Niv-Mizzet variant but instead, it plays a ton of guild gates. Its engine comes from Guild Summit which we have an answer to in Mortify 

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Try not to bin all of your removal as some of them play Gatebreaker Ram. They won't always deploy it on turn three. They'll wait until late game after you've thrown away most of your creature removal spells so be careful how much you're drawing. I've also seen a decent amount of the Guildgate or just Simic Nexus decks start to run multiple copies of Mass Manipulation 

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The Guildgate version makes even more mana than all of the other versions because of cards like Circuitous Route combined with Growth Spiral. These decks are getting more crafty so a huge load will be lifted off of our shoulders if we can find that Thought Erasure. Erasure helps us play around all the things in their deck as the information is just too important. I haven't seen many play Niv-Mizzet, but be prepared for the ol' Parun!

Esper Control

Well there's kind of good and bad news with Esper Control. We have a ton of diverse answers for creatures and combo strategies but for Control it's kind of a crapshoot. It comes down to who is more tuned to beat the mirror. By trying to beat the mirror, you sacrifice your aggro matchup so I imagine that there aren't many versions hardcore dedicated to the mirror. Not saying they don't exist but it's unlikely. How these matchups go is who can draw more of the right half of their deck. 

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Outcome 1

These matchups end as early as turn three if you successfully resolve an Unmoored Ego on turn three naming Teferi. Sometimes you'll have to play it out but most of the time they'll concede. If you're locked into playing it out, just make sure you draw less than they do as they will eventually deck out as you've already had them lose four cards from their library. It's even better as those four cards are their main way of card advantage and staying in the game. After ripping Teferi, you don't care about anything else in the match. You can deal with Chromium very easily as you have multiple board wipes and spot removal that you've been waiting to use. 

Outcome 2

You haven't resolved or gotten to Ego their Teferi, Hero of Dominaria..... well time for us to sit in for a grind fest. As mentioned above, you're just going to have to hope to draw the right half of your deck but know that your opponent may have an intimidating hand full of six to seven cards but how many of them are dead spot removal spells and board wipes? Obviously, the information we gather from Thought Erasure in this matchup will be amazing but it's always good to remind yourself that your opponent has a high probability of having a ton of dead cards as the cards that matter in this match are quite simple 

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These 5 cards are easily the most important. Thought Erasure will help us line up our answers and figure out what to play around and Surveil to help us go through our dead cards. Search is also another wonderful way of filtering but know that nothing good can stay as Mortify will deal with this if they've got it. It'll be up to you and what you've got if you want to fight for this card. I have Absorb listed but all of your counterspells are needed in this matchup. Ego is just the obvious nail in the coffin. Teferi is self-explanatory. Chromium isn't mentioned as it really is quite easy to deal with it. You can just target it with a Moment of Craving and then they can figure out what they want to do after that but if it resolves, it will die if you force them to transform it. This isn't even mentioning all of our board wipe effects.



It's been another fun and exhilarating season. I'm going to try to see if I can stay near the Top 8 of the Mythic Ladder just to see if I can do it even if I'm already attending the Mythic Invitational. As always, I'm excited to try new formats so I'll have to try out this Duo-Standard format and I'm really going to need to test a wide range of best of one decks to prepare. Grinding a ladder and building for the Mythic Invitational will require different numbers and potentially different cards so please keep in mind that these numbers are for a ladder. Esper Control has so many diverse answers that I love grinding with the deck but know the deck requires patience. It will reward you for tight play. 

See you all out there on the ladder!



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