It only takes one to dream of walking the moon. But only a hivemind can send someone to the moon and back. When we have sweet ideas, it’s tempting to keep them to ourselves to reap the full rewards. But if we don’t share, the spaceship never launches.
When I saw Epic Experiment, I dreamed of walking the moon. I tried alone and I failed. But I was wrong. I never should have tried alone. I was surrounded by people. I still am.
These were my words last month:
Too slow huh? Too fragile? Too inconsistent?
That is the sound of me eating my words. But first, let’s talk about how the rocket got launched.
Last week I was streaming Return to Ravnica drafts (twitchtv.com/TravisWoo) when one of you guys showed me THIS!
Make the deck even better huh? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
But first, what the hell is going on here?
Alex is ramping with Farseek, Ranger's Path, and Boundless Realms. Then he is casting an enormous Epic Experiment. He takes ludicrous extra turns. He creates ludicrous mana. And he casts an x = ludicrous Devil's Play to the face. I like it!
Top 8 is pretty tough in a 102-player tournament. So this budget, preliminary list has potential. Obviously, Alex ran straight through control round after round, and a hyper aggro creature matchup would have likely derailed his ride. If it had, we may have never seen this list. But it didn't, and the challenge is now on us to make this deck into a metagame-warping, R&D-regretting menace.
Enter Ben Hayes
Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night. That’s all it took for us to unlock it. Seriously. We have a deck that shrugs off control decks. A deck with an insurmountable endgame. A deck that laughs at removal, life gain, and Angel of Serenity. And a deck that can hang with the fastest of the fast Zombie and Dirty Red decks. A deck to send a man to the moon and bring him back (if he doesn’t prefer to stay).
The EPIC EXPERIMENT
(By Travis Woo, Ben Hayes, Alex Wennerberg, and the Hive Mind)
We start by accelerating with Mana Bloom, Farseek, and Ranger's Path. Maybe we miracle an early Temporal Mastery or Terminus (with the help of Think Twice). We buy time with Increasing Devotion and Terminus. And then, when the time is right, we Epic Experiment for x where x = WHAT IN THE HELL.
We start flipping. We flip a Terminus. Bottom all creatures. We flip a Temporal Mastery. Queue up one extra turn! We flip an Increasing Vengeance. Queue up another turn! We flip a Boundless Realms. We pull 10 basics from our deck. We flip an Increasing Devotion. We make men.
We take another extra turn. We attack with 35 men.
Our opponent rages and flips the table. He is forcibly restrained by twin 6’4", square-jawed, level 1 Magic: the Gathering judges.
This is… The EPIC EXPERIMENT.
The description above is optimistic but accurate. Not all of these things happen. Sometimes it takes a different route to get from point A to point B. But point B generally involves an abundance of spells in our opponent’s face with them crying. This much is accurate.
Make a mental note of the sideboard. I am going to explain the cards as we cover the matchups.
Vs. Hyper Aggro (Zombies, Dirty Red)
Against a hyper aggro deck it is important to ramp with Farseek or Mana Bloom. A stumble could mean death. Increasing Devotion and Terminus are crucial for buying time. At 9 mana, it might be Epic Experiment time, or it might be flashback Increasing Devotion time. Oftentimes it works, but sometimes we get rolled—especially on the draw. Being on the draw against hyper aggro is the scariest thing while playing this deck (although we can win with a stumble from them or an early Terminus). This is why I have built a sideboard designed to crush even the fastest of the hyper aggro decks.
We have these cards in our board:
After sideboarding, our deck configuration looks like this:
We ramp with Mana Bloom and Farseek. We buy time with Jace and Huntmaster of the Fells. We pull ahead with Thragtusk or Increasing Devotion. We clear the board with Terminus. If that isn’t enough, it’s not long before we flashback Increasing Devotion and take an extra turn. Overall, hyper aggro can be tough, but we are prepared to win the match.
Control is easy. REALLY EASY. Exactly as easy as Alex Wennerberg’s perfect swiss 5-0 suggests. Most of their cards don’t interact with us at all. I admit that it is a little easier to kill with Devil's Play than 1/1 Soldiers in the first game, but a kill is a kill. The game goes long, we get lots of mana, and if the Soldiers don’t kill the enemy, we eventually resolve an Epic Experiment. Turns will be turns, and Soldiers will turn sideways.
The main way control decks interact with us is through counterspells like Izzet Charm, Syncopate, and Dissipate. I have already started getting questions about how to beat these cards, so I am going to explain here. It’s not hard.
How to beat counterspells:
1. They tap out. The sad reality for our opponent is that eventually they will need to tap out or slowly lose a long game. They need to commit a planeswalker or threat to the board or deploy an answer for Soldiers. If they tap out at the wrong time, they tap out for good.
2. They don’t have it. We’ve gone over this before. Sometimes blue decks just don’t have it!
5. Increasing Vengeance. Increasing Vengeance is a good way to slip an Epic Experiment past a counter wall. This does require setting up 3 red mana, which won’t automatically happen by the late game, so be aware of that mana requirement as you ramp in the mid-game.
For sideboarding against control we have these cards:
Jace, Architect of Thought is an early game threat and answer to clone copies.
Our post sideboard build against control looks something like this:
Overall, playing against control with this deck is a JOY! =D
Midrange is the hardest to sideboard for, because these decks come in all shapes and sizes. Their disruption and their threats are diversified. It is on you to judge the speed of the deck and the effectiveness of the game 1 strategy (Hint: it is usually effective).
Building the Mana
For mana conscious mages, here is the mana base, for which there are many constraints:
In the early game we need G, W, and U.
In the mid-game we need G, R, WW, and UU.
In the late game we need G, RRR, WWW, and UU.
We must play enough non-Forests for Farseek—Temple Garden, Island, Hallowed Fountain, Plains, Mountain, Steam Vents.
We must play enough Forests for Ranger's Path—4 Temple Garden 6 Forest.
We must play enough basics for Boundless Realms—6 Forest, 4 Island, 1 Plains, 2 Mountain.
Right now the mana is pretty good. 25 lands with 13 basics is plenty. When Breeding Pool and Stomping Ground are legal, they are going into the deck, and I don’t have a huge problem dropping to 11 basics when the time comes.
Adjusting for Your Meta
The deck is currently metagamed against aggro decks. If your area is all control, you are playing the right deck. But you could make things even easier by swapping Mana Bloom for maindeck Jace, Architect of Thought as Ben Hayes is doing. Personally I feel that control is easy enough already that we can afford the extra edge against aggro and beat both game one.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is obviously great against us, so if white aggro is really popular I would be prepared to sideboard in the creature plan and potentially Rolling Temblor as well. Right now we only have Terminus, Izzet Charm, and creatures for fighting Thalia.
Right now Increasing Confusion is in the main so that we don’t fold to a a game 1 Jace, Architect of Thought +1. I am unhappy that we have to do this because Increasing Devotion is the more flexible card, but the metagame dictates it. It also protects us from Slaughter Games. I would prefer if we could play the more versatile Devil's Play, but our mana base can’t support the RRRRR mana requirement of flashback plus Increasing Vengeance.
The EPIC EXPERIMENT LIVE
I will be playing with this deck LIVE at Wednesday 2pm Pacific Time on twitchtv.com/TravisWoo. I will also be recording a video of matches with this deck to go up here on channelfireball.com in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled!
Enjoy your trip to the moon!
(Special thanks to Alex Wennerberg, Ben Hayes, and Magic: the Redditing)
Questions! Comments! Think there’s something I missed!?