I've been working on a deck.

Remember when I said "What happens when the combo decks start playing Force of Will and decent mana and can either race or ignore Counterbalance?" I ask because it might have gotten lost amidst all of the other things I said that you hate me for.

Well, I have a story for you.

It began at the Seattle SCG 5k open. Cedric and I were watching a match, and he mentioned possible broken things his friend had told him for the Grand Prix. He muttered some words. Somewhere among them were the words "Hypergenesis" and "Force" and "of" and "Will."




Gears began turning. You obviously get Show and Tell. You obviously play Emrakul and Progenitus, but after that you need your fatties to be blue creatures so you can pitch them to Force of Will or Misdirection. We happily brainstormed, but we didn't have a shuffle effect, so the development got stunted a little bit.

A couple weeks later on my way home from work, I decided to stop by the local store. As luck would have it, there was a Legacy tournament being held about 8 minutes from the time I arrived. In those 8 minutes, I was able to put together the following list:

This list was built by frantically pulling cards out of people's binders in the minutes leading up to the tournament, so it was obviously not the ideal 75 (the store didn't have Ardent Plea, look at that sweet fetch land configuration, etc.), but I went 4-1 in spite of this, losing only to some pretty fortunate sequences from Merfolk (which is, admittedly, an unfavorable matchup), and 4-0 8-0'ing every other deck I played against.

Sideboard cards were discussed, lines of play that allow the deck to beat Merfolk were discussed, and ultimately, it was determined that we should accept flipping coins against Force of Will decks and try to trump their sideboarding. The reasoning for this line of thought is thusly: if your opponent doesn't have Force of Will in their deck, they are just stone dead.

In my three tournaments playing the deck, I am 22-3 in games against non-Force decks (Lands, Eva Green, Zoo x3, Aggro Loam x2, Dragon Stompy x2, Life Combo, and Goblins), and 8-11 in games against [card]Force of Will[/card] decks (Merfolk x2, Boddy Horizons, Dream Halls, Team America, Tezzeret, Natural Order CB).

As I write this, it is Sunday night, after the conclusion of a Legacy for a Lotus tournament a few miles north of Seattle. I made the finals. I lost to Merfolk. It was a very close three game match. If I had the sideboard I should have had, I might have won. Here is the list I played:

A couple of notes about the deck:

Ardent Plea is blue, but Violent Outburst is an instant. Edge: Outburst. Letting your opponent attack first with Hypergenesis is not very good, especially when you aren't putting Bogardan Hellkite, Angel of Despair, and Terastodon into play to dominate the board. Add to that the fact that you are usually only putting one guy into play anyway, and that's all the reason I need. Forget about the fact that Simian Spirit Guide and Elvish Spirit Guide make red and green mana, respectively. How convenient!

City of Traitors: This slot has been back and forth between additional 5-color lands, Tinder Farm, Irrigation Ditch, and Ancient Tomb. I decided on City because I was trying to gain an edge against the cards Daze and Cursecatcher, without adding to their clock. The Invasion lands don't really help all that much because it just gives them a very juicy Wasteland target. With City, you can sequence two basics into City and then you only need to Force their Force rather than have two pitch counters against Force and Daze combinations.

The dual land configuration: After playing the finals, I believe there should be 4 Flooded Strand, 3 Misty Rainforest, and 1 Plateau and 1 Tropical Island in place of one of each of the existing duals. I had some times against Merfolk where I really wanted to cast Violent Outburst, but had to fetch an Island into play in order to do so, and lost because of it at least once.

Ingot Chewer is the best card in the sideboard. I played one too few.

I have a crush on Vendilion Clique. It's probably better as the 3rd Misdirection and an additional fatty (either Sphinx of the Steel Wind or Angel of Despair).

Angel is there to beat decks that have game one Ensnaring Bridge or some other nonsense (I'm looking at you, Reanimator-with-Blazing-Archon!)

Inkwell Leviathan isn't really necessary, but mise.

I honestly cannot remember how I sideboarded each match, because the sideboard was kind of poorly constructed, so it didn't flow very well. I boarded Ingot Chewer in every single round though, except the first.

Round One, FIGHT!

James Hsu with Team America.

I won the roll and had turn 2 Show and Tell for Progenitus but elected to wait to draw a blue card for my Force. This also allowed me to develop my mana, since he was a little choked. A couple of turns went by, and I Forced his Force, then Misdirected his Spell Pierce and attacked him twice. It may be worth noting that I chose to Force first rather than Misdirect since the life point is basically irrelevant at that point, if I don't need to use the Misdirection, I would rather not show it to him.

Game two I got unreal lucky to win, although he wasn't in much of a position to win either. He had 4 cards in his hand after Brainstorm had resolved, and I EOT'd an Violent Outburst with a hand full of fatties, and he Forced. Then I untapped and played Show and Tell, which he Forced. So he was out of cards but his top two were known (by him). He drew and passed. I drew a Spirit Guide and passed. He drew and passed again, and I drew Show and Tell. I tapped my City of Traitors and Island leaving up my Forest to play Show and Tell, and he Spell Pierced. I paid by removing Simian Spirit Guide and tapping my land, but his other card was Daze. He untapped, drew, and passed, and I peeled another Show and Tell for the victory. It is worth noting that I fetched wrong in this game by not getting a red mana source, which left me with only Show and Tell as out, instead of having both Show and Tell and Violent Outburst.

1-0, 2-0.

Round Two FIGHT!

Loren Maynard with BG Hexmage / Eva Green type deck.

I won the roll and kept a turn two Violent Outburst with Force backup, but he Wasted my Savannah, so I was left trying to topdeck another mana source. His third turn Hymn to Tourach met my Force of Will, and instead of drawing a land, I drew Misdirection. Luckily, he played another Hymn to Tourach. Yes, please! Then I drew the land, and put like an Emrakul and a Progenitus into play.

Game two I mulliganed, and he had a Thoughtseize for my Force, and a Living Wish for Karakas for my Emrakul (It never actually made it into play, but you know what I mean), and then a quick Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths right after.

Game three he Wasted my first land, but I had two more and a Spirit Guide to go with the Outburst and Force of Will backup.

2-0, 4-1.

Round Three – Matt Whitehead with Life Combo

Game one he mulliganed to 5, and didn't really do much while I had a fairly good draw involving a turn 2 Show and Tell for Emrakul.

Game two I had Ardent Plea fairly quickly, but he had a Mother of Runes in play, and put Shaman En-Kor, Task Force, and Doran, the Siege Tower into play. That only sort of trumped my Emrakul and Ingot Chewer. Emrakul was forced to chump and I didn't draw a Progenitus, so he got that one.

Game three was pretty epic. I played Hypergenesis when he was stuck on one land, with Force backup for whatever Worthy Cause shenanigans he may or may not have had in his deck. Unfortunately, he put a Kor and a Daru Spritualist and a Diamond Valley into play. I had Form of the Dragon and Angel of Despair though, so we were in for a real long game. We both thought the other guy couldn't possibly win. I thought that I was going to eventually get Emrakul down and Annihilate him to death, and I couldn't deck because of the presence Progenitus and Emrakul in my deck. He countered by drawing Volrath's Stronghold, and mentioning that if a Living Wish ever resolved before I got Emrakul down, he could recur a Harmonic Sliver on my Form of the Dragon. I showed him two Force of Wills in my hand, but he wanted to play on. Rightfully so, since he actually had much more of a chance that I had given him. It was a pretty tense situation because we both really didn't want to draw. I eventually drew a Show and Tell, and got the Emrakul down. He tried for Living Wish, but I Forced it, and he chose to concede even though there was only like 8 minutes left on the clock. If we had both played lightning fast from that point, it would have been close, as he had about 20 cards left in his deck.

3-0, 6-2.

Round Four – Peter Smutko with UW Tezzeret

Peter made Top 8 of the Indy 5k with the same deck, and he knows it pretty well, so I was a little worried about the matchup. I did know that he only had 4 Force of Will maindeck as disruption though, so I was pretty sure I could get game one.

That went according to plan, as I turn 2 Showed a Progenitus into play after Forcing his Force. Unfortunately, the next two games didn't. They weren't really that close, though I had opportunities to get him. He played Chalices, Canonists, Meddling Mages, Ensnaring Bridges. I was ready for all of them but the Mage, which was too bad since I drew like 5 cascade cards but no Show and Tells. Frowny face.

3-1, 7-4.

Round Five – Mike with Zoo

Mike was one of the guys who loaned me a bunch of the cards I needed when I was scrambling to get the deck built the first time I played it. He's a pretty good dude, but unfortunately, we didn't get to chat much, as the match was over in four turns.

Game one: Turn two Violent Outburst. Oh hai Loam Lion! Meet my friend, he tears the Aeons!

Game two: Turn two Violent Outburst. Oh HAI Wild Nacatl! You would get along great with my other friend, Progenitus. Why don't you two hang out for a while? No? You'd rather hang out in the graveyard instead? Ok, I guess that's cool. See you later, I guess.

4-1, 9-4.

Round Six – Jacob Arvidson with Zoo

Game one I cast the card Violent Outburst. That's really all that matters.

Game two he mulliganed, and I joined him. He decided to go to five, so I kept my 6 card hand, even though it was kind of slow. I could suspend Hypergenesis on turn 2, and I figured that would probably be enough time, especially if he keeps a hand with only one creature, or a couple of two drops. He actually went to 4 cards, but luckily for him, his 4 cards were two fetches, a Wild Nacatl, and a Chain Lightning, and his turn 2 draw step was Qasali Pridemage. That's why they play 'em out, folks. Mulligan to four in the absolute nightmare matchup and you can still win one every once in a while.

Game three though... well, his poor army of kitties met a very Violent end. Progenitus and [card]Sphinx of the Steel Wind[/card] stepped in front of his attackers, and I probably Force of Willed a spell or something.

5-1, 11-5.

Quarterfinals – Dan Mortenson with BR Goblins

I knew Dan had Stingscourger and Warren Wierding in his deck, so I was probably going to have to be on the "draw Sphinx and Force of Will" plan. My opener was Force, a blue card, Island, City of Traitors, Show and Tell, Sphinx, and some other card. I'll take it.

He almost got me though. On his last turn, he was at 1, and topdecked Goblin Ringleader, Aether Vialed it in, and revealed Wierding, Wierding, Goblin Matron and a land. He had a Badlands, a Taiga, and a Mountain in play. He also had a Goblin Piledriver, a Goblin Warchief, and a Warren Instigator joining his Ringleader. He cast Warren Wierding, and I Forced it. Then he played Bloodstained Mire, realized he was at 1, and packed them in. Some people were discussing a line in which he Matrons for another Piledriver, but then I just force that since he can't play the Wierding. Also I was at like 40, so he was drawing pretty thin.

Game two he kept a one lander without Vial or Goblin Lackey, and didn't draw a land on turn 2. He did play a Lackey, and I, for some ridiculous reason, decided to wait to Violent Outburst until his attack step, rather than this particular end of turn step. I had been Outbursting in combat so often that I just wanted to make sure I ambushed his lackey. I failed to realize that he would get to put his goblin into play anyway, since Hypergenesis would be on the stack. So when he attacked I put Ingot Chewer, a Spirit Guide, and Emrakul into play, and he put Ringleader, Matron, Matron, Warchief into play. Uh Oh. Even if he gets the Stingscourger with the Matrons, I have two more Violent Outbursts in my hand, so I'm probably in fine shape anyway. But, he doesn't go for the Stingsourger, and instead just casts Wierding. I sac a Spirit Guide, and Annihilate his board. 6 more Aeons Torn.

6-1, 13-5.

Semifinals – Phil Herman with Aggro Loam

Game one was a real squeaker. I fetched a couple times, and let him Wasteland me a couple of times when it didn't let him get too far ahead. Then I set up the powerful combination of Forest and Island, while holding the City of Brass in my hand. He played Devastating Dreams for 1 with Tarmogoyf in play, so I had to Force it so that I could get to three mana. The next turn, I played my City, and he wasted it during his first main phase, which prompted the Outburst. I was at 14, and put Progenitus and Angel of Despair into play. He put Dark Confidant, Seismic Assault, and Terravore into play, with a Life from the Loam in the graveyard. Oh boy, time to do some math. He had two cards left in hand, which were both lands (from Life from the Loam that turn). His Terravore is currently a 7/7, and obviously getting bigger. The Goyf was a 4/5, so if I kill the Assault, then he domes me for 4 and I trade with his Goyf (the enchantment would make it a 5/6, and my angel is a 6/5 from Outburst). That puts me on 10, and dead to him dredging any land with his Loam the next turn. If I kill the Terravore, then he can trade a land in hand and his goyf for my angel, but that doesn't seem like a profitable trade for him. I was at 14, so if he dredges Loam, he can attack with Goyf and Confidant to put me to 12, and then Loam back 3 lands and get me to 2. So this line loses to him drawing a land with Confidant, but the other line loses to him dredging a land with Loam.

I killed the Terravore, he flipped Mox Diamond. There is justice in the world.

Game two we both mulliganed and I kept a turn 2 Outburst hand but no Force and no fatty. He played Chalice of the Void for 0 on his first turn. Guess I need to draw a Show and Tell or Ingot Chewer now.

Draw: Show and Tell. Alright I guess I need to draw a fatty now.

Draw: Progenitus

For one day, for one single day in my life, I felt as though I was blessed by Jesus.

7-1, 15-5.

Finals – Josh with Merfolk

I hate that I have to write this paragraph. Nothing would have made me happier than to defeat Merfolk in the finals and then tell everyone to suck it. But, alas, the haters can (and will) continue to hate.

Game one was "close." He lead on Mutavault Aether Vial, and I elected to Force, since he was basically telegraphing no blue source. He Forced back, and now I just needed to draw an Outburst, Plea, or Show and tell in like 3 or 4 turns for the Progenitus that was in my hand. Unfortunately, I drew it a turn (maybe two, I'm not actually sure) too late, and I got Islandwalked to death.

Game two was one of the best games I have played in a long long time. It took every ounce of my abilities to squeak that one out.

My opener was City of Brass, City of Traitors, Ingot Chewer, Show and Tell, Emrakul, and a Force.

My first turn: GO.
If I play either land and he has Wasteland, I am basically dead, and if he plays an Aether Vial (off Mutavault or Wasteland), then I can play my City and Chew it up. If he plays Vial off of Island, then I can wait a turn to make sure I don't get my Chewer Dazed.

He leads on Island Vial, and I draw Volcanic Island. I play it, and pass. He ticks up his Vial and passes. I play City of Brass, and Chew his Vial. He Vials in Cursecatcher in response, commenting that "this hand just got a lot worse." Josh untaps and plays another Aether Vial. I untap and summon Simian Spirit Guide. He draws and plays a land and a Silvergill Adept, then passes. Josh then plays another Adept and passes, while I develop my mana and wait for a blue card to pitch to Force of Will, since the Spirit Guide is holding his team off pretty well. I draw a blue card, play Show and Tell, Force his Force, and put Emrakul into play. He puts Merrow Reejerey into play. Then he untaps and Vials in Lord of Atlantis, and swings for 14 to put me on 5. I then crack back with Emrakul, and he Echoing Truths my Spirit Guide before sacrificing two Adepts, a Cursecatcher, two Islands, and an Aether Vial to leave him with Lord and Merrow Reejerey. I replay my Spirit Guide, and pray he doesn't draw a Cursecatcher. He doesn't, and somehow we grinded that one out.

Game three was a little anti-climatic, as he mulliganed, and I kept a hand that was kind of loose, but good if he was on Aether Vial. Instead he had 3 Cursecatchers, and I drew a second Ingot Chewer, and then 4 straight Misty Rainforests. I played Elvish Spirit Guide on turn 3, but he Dazed it, and I was just hoping to get to 5 mana to play Ingot Chewer, but it never happened. I ended the game with two Ingot Chewers and two Form of the Dragon in my hand, and a Force of Will that I never drew a blue card for.

If the Forms had been Volcanic Fallout, like they were 24 hours ago before I switched them (since Form is so much better against New Horizons and stuff), I probably would have won myself a [card]Black Lotus[/card]. Oh well.

Steven Birklid
business_socks on MODO