At this point, there isn't really a lot for me to talk about. Nothing very interesting is happening, and I have no incentive to play any formats, as there are no tournaments before the release of Mirrodin Besieged - at least not for me, since I'm not going to Atlanta (summer vacation for us makes the tickets incredibly expensive). Because of that, I'm going to write about my second favorite subject - Faeries (favorite is myself, in case you don't remember).
I've written a lot about Faeries before, because I've played Faeries a lot before. This article will not be mainly about a decklist for two reasons - first, I don't really know exactly what decklist I would play, and second, Luis has just written an article about that. I will mention what my choices would likely be if I had a choice to make, but this article will be on how to best play the deck, pretty much a compilation of what I have written about it in the past years. I hope that, if you choose to play Faeries, this article will help you in your tournament. I will talk about how to play each particular card that I think is challenging, and then the deck strategy as a whole.
This is, in my opinion, the most important card in the deck. It is not necessarily the best, or the one you'd rather have in your opening hand - that is probably [card]Bitterblossom[/card], because it makes your entire deck better - but it is also one without which the deck could not exist, and it is probably the easiest one to misplay. The first thing you must have in mind with Cryptic is that it has four completely different abilities, and this deck uses all four, a lot more so than any other deck ever has. Whereas most decks default to [card]Dismiss[/card] or [card]Repeal[/card], with occasional use of the others, with Faeries you will mix and match all of them. It is not uncommon for you to Tap and Bounce, Counter Bounce and Counter Tap, as well as sometimes even bouncing your own guys with it (and I have more than once tapped my opponent's team and bounced a land of my own, so that I could attack with [card]Mutavault[/card]), and if you are not aware of those possibilities at all times you will lose games that you could have won.
The reason Cryptic is so important in this deck is that it's the card that is perfect on a race (and you will find yourself in a race very often with this deck), while also being good in all the other scenarios, such as when you're playing aggro-control or even control. A big characteristic of the Faeries deck is that it changes roles a lot during the game, and Cryptic will be good no matter which role you assume.
Another important point with Cryptic is that you will use it a lot more aggressively than the control decks do, often tapping their board so that they cannot block your two [card]Mutavault[/card]s, which will result in you winning a turn earlier, or bouncing one of their lands so that Cruel is not a threat for another turn, for example.
Since Cryptic is so versatile, it is important to know what role you think your Cryptics are going to play in the match, and save them for it. It has often been said that misassignment of role = game loss, but very often so is missassignment of Cryptic. In general, the more ahead you are in the game, the more you're going to [card]Dismiss[/card] things - in this situation, they're more expendable and they help increase the advantage you already have - you are already winning, you don't need them to do great things, you just need them to be solid and press your advantage. The more behind you are, the more you're going to need your Cryptics to get you a win out of nowhere - as such, you should conserve them for the "big turn", or big sequence of turns. If you feel like you're behind in the game, you should start considering Cryptics for fogs and alpha-strikes.
I remember when, a couple years ago, Alex Bertoncini won two SCG opens in a row while taking out a Cryptic Command in the mirror, and when I read that I almost fell off my chair. In fact, I remember going to dinner in a GP with a bunch of people, and then the conversation went to "things that people do wrong and win anyway", and I mentioned "the SCG kid who took out a command and won both tournaments, LOLOLOL what an idiot", only to have a blond kid directly in front of me reply with "yeah, that's me :(". Oops. Anyway, Jon Randle deferred the killing blow by only maindecking three in his 6-0 Worlds deck. Whatever you do, DO NOT DO THAT. Take out a card at random before you take out a Cryptic from your Faerie's deck.
Mistbind Clique's four-of status is not as clear cut as Cryptic's, and people still cut her (him? them? probably them, since it's a Clique after all) from time to time. I believe that is wrong - Mistbind is another of those cards that help put the nail in the coffin when you're ahead, and that swings the game in your favor when you're behind. The trickiest thing with Mistbind is, of course, when to play it.
As a general rule, if you know their hand you just want to go for the throat, which in this case means to play it on upkeep. The same if you're so ahead that you don't care what they do (those old [card]Bitterblossom[/card] into Spellstutter into Mistbind hands). For this reason, Vendilion into Mistbind is such a strong play. If you don't know their hand, you generally don't want to expose your Mistbind to a single piece of removal - it's better to wait until you can either protect the guy you were going to champion or until you have more guys in play.
The mistake most people make with Mistbind is that they always want to play it on their opponent's upkeep. Of course you CAN play it on their upkeep, but you don't have to - I'd estimate I play it on their upkeep a lot less than fifty percent of the time when I play Faeries, usually when I'm ahead or know their hand. It is very common to play it at the end of the turn, in a way that doesn't make you tapped out if you lose a war over it, generally against other blue decks. It is also extremely useful to know that you can play it mainphase, again against other blue decks too - it is not a rule, but in general most decks that can counter a [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] cannot remove it very easily once it's in play. As such, if you can sneak a Mistbind mainphase while your 5cc or mirror opponents are tapped out, you generally should.
Another common play is to wait for them to attack, and then Mistbind them. Most people have it imprinted on their minds that you attack and then you play spells, especially against a deck with [card]Cryptic Command[/card] and Spellstutter, so if you Mistbind during their attack you will achieve the exact same goal as Mistbinding on upkeep (that they cannot play anything) plus you will eat an attacker. Not only that, but you give them less information - if you have Mistbind in play, they might not want to attack with everything to leave something to block - and for this reason it is also often correct to Mistbind during their attack even if you are not going to block anything. This almost always gets them - if Mistbind eating an attacker is a threat, there is a chance they will consider it and play their spell pre-combat, but if Mistbind is not relevant to the attack, they will almost certainly ignore that you can play it if you haven't played on upkeep.
Not playing Mistbind on their upkeep also has the added benefit of making them think about what you have - one of Faerie's greatest strengths is that it is incredibly hard to play against, sometimes impossible, since all the spells they have are instants and they all interact with you in a different way. If you don't Mistbind, you could have Command, Agony Warp, Scion, Leak, Stutter, even Mistbind. If you Mistbind on their upkeep, they know that, for this turn, all you're going to have is Mistbind.
Another, less frequent use of Mistbind is in response to removal, to "save" your guy but that is usually pretty obvious when it happens, and it often happens against Red decks in sequences such as they play something, you Stutter it, they bolt your Stutter, you activate Vault, they bolt Vault, you play Mistbind. You also often play it after blocks are declared, so that you do not lose another guy for championing - this is especially important when racing, and sometimes it is better to chump their Demigod and then champion it away than simply trading with the Mistbind. And then there is getting rid of [card]Bitterblossom[/card] when you're dying, but that is generally the most obvious of them all. If you need to get rid of Blossom and they kill Mistbind with the trigger on the stack, you can Champion it anyway and it will stay removed forever.
The last important aspect of Mistbind is what you're going to champion, which is sometimes obvious and sometimes not. The greatest mistake in my opinion happens when you have Bitterblossom and a couple tokens, and people just blindly champion a token when often they should champion the Blossom. To know what to do, you just have to do simple math - again, do not be scared of math. If they're at 18 life and you have a Blossom and two tokens, if you champion a token you'll deal 5 + 6 + 7 damage and kill them in three turns. If you champion the Blossom, you'll deal 6 + 6 + 6 damage, which kills them in the same three turns, except you don't lose three life and you don't lose a token in case they kill the Mistbind on the spot, so it is sometimes the right choice. If you ever have the option of championing Spellstutter or a Token, champion the Stutter, but be aware of it - it seems to me that people often forget what they have under their Mistbinds. If they play a spell you must counter, you can kill your own Mistbind to Stutter it, and they can do the same to you - Spellstutter is not optional, so be aware that they can kill your Mistbind in response to you playing a spell.
Finally, remember that you only have to champion when Mistbind resolves - you never want to activate Vault and play Mistbind, for example - it's better to just play Mistbind and then, if it resolves, activate Vault. And also remember that if you have 8 mana and two Mistbinds, you can play one and the other and end up with one in play.
I feel like Vault is a very underappreciated card in the Faeries deck - most people almost never talk about it; it is just a normal four-of like [card]Secluded Glen[/card], but to me it is as important as the previous cards I've mentioned, and I truly believe that without that card the Faeries deck would not exist. I have mentioned before that with Faeries you must think of attacking even when you're on defense, and Mutavault is one of the cards that people tend to overlook when they're losing - basically, if you aren't blocking or using the mana, attack! If you are playing Faeries, I'd say the mistake you are most likely making is not being aggressive enough.
In the ideal world, Mutavault is always going to be your first land if you aren't casting anything (though be aware that you might have to cast [card]Agony Warp[/card] turn two, if you play that card). Even if you have [card]Bitterblossom[/card] turn two, still play the Vault first - in this case, if they [card]Thoughtseize[/card] your Blossom away, you can attack with it (and they're already at 16!). When given the choice between attacking and leaving mana up to bluff something, the correct is usually to attack. Even if you do have something, you might prefer to attack anyway - for example, against 4cc, there is nothing you'd want to [card]Mana Leak[/card] turn two, so attack away if you are on the play (and they can't Bolt it). Even if you have Stutter, you still want to attack - it is not worth it trying to counter their Preordain in my opinion, because a lot of lists don't have them, a lot of the time they don't draw them, and a lot of the time they won't even play the turn two so that they have mana open to counter your Jace or Vendilion.
As the game progresses, your Vaults assume a different role - they become food for Mistbind and Spellstutter, and they threaten the last points of damage through a Cryptic. Mutavault is also a powerful weapon on defense, especially added by Agony Warp or Scion, and you should not be very conservative with them - you do not need more than four lands to work with most of the time, so feel free to block and trade away your Vaults - double blocking with the is especially relevant and often overlooked.
Spellstutter Sprite is a card that ranges from the worst to the best from game to game. For that reason, some people decide to play three - I like to play four of them. In my opinion, there are two approaches - either you keep the number of synergistic cards to a minimum, so that their drawback is less relevant because you have fewer of them, or you play as much of them as you can, so that their drawback is less relevant because you often have the synergy. I respect either approach, but I like the second one better myself, so I play four Stutters.
There are two mistakes people make with Spellstutter - the first is not playing them. Sometimes, you just have to play your Spellstutter without a target to put some pressure on them, to champion with Mistbind, to increase the Faeries count for the next Spellstutter. Again, you should do the math, and you should try to reason if the Spellstutter in your hand is ever going to counter anything. Without [card]Pendelhaven[/card], this is less common, so you will not lose many games if you just never play Stutter turn two, especially if you don't play Scion, but being aware of your options is never bad.
The second mistake is being too eager to play them. In the early game, or if you don't have any Faeries, you should be very aggressive with them - always counter [card]Preordain[/card] or [card]Ponder[/card], a turn two [card noble hierarch]mana guy[/card], even a [card]Manamorphose[/card] - basically anything and you're getting a good deal out of it, so spend them. As the game progresses and you have more Faeries, though, your mindset has to change. In those games where you have Bitterblossom, four tokens and a Mutavault, Spellstutter is a hard counter, and should be treated as such - you are no longer happy with trading it for a [card]Llanowar Elf[/card], you want to save it for the [card]Cloudthresher[/card].
Vendilion suffers from the same problem Mistbind does, in that people generally miss the correct timing to play it. You can play it on their draw step, and it is sometimes correct to do so, but not always - by playing it on their draw step, you usually open yourself to losing to a sequence of two topdecks, and that is an unnecessary risk. If I have [card]Mana Leak[/card], [card cryptic command]Cryptic[/card] or an online [card spellstutter sprite]Spellstutter[/card] in hand, I will almost never play Vendilion on their draw step - the correct timing is generally the end of their turn. You can also play it on your main phase, though that is less likely to be good than Mistbind, because any removal spell will kill it at any time, so it is not worth tapping out for.
In the early game, you usually just want to take their best card - there is no way you can plan everything that is going to happen for the rest of the game, so just get rid of it. If it's later on, then you have the possibility of knowing if you can beat what they have or not - try to figure that out, and if you can beat their cards plus whatever they might draw, but cannot beat a certain sequence of draws, then have them keep it.
[draft]Scion of Oona[/draft]
Whether to include Scion or not in your deck is part of the same problem as whether you want the fourth Spellstutter. Myself, I like Scions - again, I would rather decrease the number of times where my synergistic cards are bad by simply overloading on them and ensuring that I always have some instead of cutting them. I think both approaches could be correct, and Luis, for example, does not have Scion in his list.
I think Scion is important because it helps a lot in the transition from control to aggro - sometimes with this deck you just have to kill them all of a sudden in two turns, and Scion helps with that - it is an aggressive card, and I like to play this deck aggressively. Again, if you are making one mistake with this deck, it is probably not being aggressive enough. It is also another card for you to play when you have a window and put some pressure in them, and it makes every single one of your cards better at the expense of being a dead card sometimes, and I think this is a risk worth taking. I do think it is a zero or four card - I've seen lists playing two, and I don't like that. You have to choose a side!
[draft]Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Inquisition of Kozilek[/draft]
Discard and Planeswalkers - I group those together because I think they complement each other extremely well - discard makes sure your Planeswalkers will resolve or survive, and the Planeswalkers make sure you don't get to those situations where you are in topdeck mode and start drawing useless cards. I think you cannot play four discard spells and no Planeswalkers, or those happen too often - if I only have four slots, I'd play 3/1. With 5 slots 3/2, and with 6 slots 4/2 or 3/3. I don't like playing more than four discard spells in general, and I will play a fifth only if I have access to a third Planeswalker.
To play this many cards, you have to forego something - generally [card]Scion of Oona[/card]. This changes the focus of the deck a little bit - you are now more control than aggro, and you have a harder time changing from one to the other, which, again, is fine but I prefer the other way.
As far as which Planeswalker, I think that, the more discard you play, the better [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] becomes. If you play five discard spells, I would play two Mind Sculptors and one Beleren. If you play only three discard spells, though, I would play more Belerens than Mindsculptors, if any. The reason for that is that the four casting cost slot is really important and already crowded, and I don't like tapping out on four (again, they never know what you have if you don't tap out). If you have a ton of discard, though, you will get much more often to the scenario where no player has any business, and in this kind of board big Jace easily dominates.
Big Jace is generally easier to play than small Jace - with small Jace, against any deck that can attack it you usually want to +2. +2ing it is fine, because your deck is very synergistic and each spell gets better with each other spell - if you could randomly decide that each player draws 3 cards in the middle of the game, you would most of the time do it. If they are attacking small Jace to negate the +2, it's also good for you, because that gives you more time to play the new spells you drew.
As far as sideboarding Jaces go, I think that, if you want something against control or the mirror, [card]Jace Beleren[/card] is better - the fact that it gets in play before their Jaces or Cryptics no matter who is on the play is way too important, and the advantage it will give, though not as good as big Jace's, is often enough. If you want something to complement the Wall/Wurmcoil/removal plan against aggro, then Jace TMS is better, because you will get into stalemates where you just need a powerful card more often.
Regarding which discard spell, I like both and think any split is acceptable. [card]Thoughtseize[/card] takes [card cryptic command]Cryptic[/card], [card mistbind clique]Mistbind[/card], [card cruel ultimatum]Cruel[/card], [card jace, the mind sculptor]Jace[/card], [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], [card demigod of revenge]Demigod[/card] that Inquisition does not - those are very relevant cards. Inquisition, on the other hand, does not cost you two life, which in this deck means so much more than it seems. I like a split, so that you don't flood yourself with Thoughtseizes that you can't cast.
Managing your Life
One tough aspect of the deck is managing your life total. In this aspect, it shares with control decks that your life is a resource that you can use. It is important to realize that, due to Bitterblossom, life usually does not only mean life, but extra turns and cards - it is almost as if you have a [card yawgmoths bargain]Bargain[/card] in play and can translate life into cards, so spending cards to preserve your life is a winning proposition. If your opponent attacks with a 3/3 into your Blossom token and you block, you are not only gaining three life, but three extra turns with a Bitterblossom in play, three turns in which you can draw cards, make tokens and attack. At the same time, blocking with a token means you're not attacking with it - if you block on turn three and live to turn twelve, then that is nine damage that token would have dealt, so, theoretically, you want to delay blocking as much as possible. This is somewhat misleading - if, instead of living to turn twelve you live to turn fifteen because you blocked, then the amount of tokens you have by then, attacking for three turns, will generally deal more than that nine damage.
Of course, the scenario happens when you have a Bitterblossom in play - if you do not, you should treat the game as if you were playing any other deck, so do not go around chump blocking their [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] with your Scions on turn three because "PV told you to block". If you have two Bitterblossoms, you pretty much always chump block, no matter how small the attacker is - if you go Blossom, Blossom and they attack with Mutavault on turn 3 when you're at 19, block!
Life management is especially important in the mirror, because [card]Bitterblossom[/card] offers such a great board advantage that it usually shifts the focus of the game completely from board to life. The person with Bitterblossom knows they cannot ordinarily lose the game, and the person without Bitterblossom knows they cannot ordinarily win, so you have to try to steal a win by killing them before they can kill you, because make no mistake, they will kill you. The way you do that is by attacking their life total above all else, and hoping their Bitterblossoms kill them. [card]Mutavault[/card] plays a very big role in this, and so does [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card]. [card]Cryptic Command[/card], of course, becomes the most important card for the player who is trying to attack, and the tap your guys mode is often the most used in this situation to try to sneak in the last points of damage, or even a couple damage when you get a window to speed up the clock.
A Bitterblossom alone takes seven turns to kill an opponent, and once you take into factor random [card]Mutavault[/card] attacks and potential [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s that they played, it is not unreal that they just get raced by Tar Pit. When you are facing an opposing Blossom, then you start doing things that you wouldn't ordinarily do, such as attacking with [card]Mutavault[/card] into their open mana - there is no reason to risk losing a land on turn four in a normal circumstance, but this is not a normal circumstance, here you just attack and hope they don't have it. If you have Tar Pit and Command, you often have to try attacking with the Tar Pit - if they have a removal or Mistbind, well, that sucks, but you are not winning by waiting and sitting into your counterspells, this is what they want to do.
Before you choose your removal spell, you have to decide what you want to kill. What I want to kill right now is [card]Putrid Leech[/card], [card]Demigod of Revenge[/card], [card]Fauna Shaman[/card], [card]Mistbind Clique[/card] and [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card]. The only card that kills all that is [card]Grasp of Darkness[/card], which is kind of hard on the mana and requires playing more [card]Sunken Ruins[/card] than I would like. [card]Doom Blade[/card] is not really the best choice, because it doesn't kill half the list, so that leaves [card]Agony Warp[/card], [card]Disfigure[/card] and [card]Smother[/card], and I like the first two a lot better. The reason I like the -x/-x removal better is because, though they don't kill the big guys, they team up with a guy to do so, whereas [card]Smother[/card] just sits in your hand if you're facing Mistbind. I can see myself playing a mix of Agony Warps and Disfigures, perhaps even one Grasp, but I do not really like more than four removal spells - for the 15th time, I'd rather go for a more synergistic than controllish list, so I cannot flood my deck with removal and discard when I already have Scions and Spellstutters for situational cards. It is perfectly possible that, depending on the metagame, this selection might change, with as much as 4 disfigures over anything else.
As for [card]Peppersmoke[/card], I don't like it. I've played it once, if I recall (GP Seattle), and it was a fine card - not impressive and not disappointing, exactly what you would expect [card]Peppersmoke[/card] to be. For me, you need more right now - it is not good enough in the mirror to make up for the times in which it is dreadful, especially when not everyone in the mirror plays Scion. The moment my opponent plays [card]Fauna Shaman[/card] and I cannot kill it because I have a Peppersmoke, I will not care how many cards I drew throughout the tournament, I'll hate this Peppersmoke more than anything. It also doesn't kill [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card], which, as I've mentioned, is one of the cards that will steal wins from you. I know, I know, the guy won the MTGO PTQ with Peppersmokes, good for him. The other guy 6-0ed worlds with 3 Cryptics; doesn't mean it's correct. For that matter, it being my opinion that Peppersmoke is bad also does not make it correct either, but, hey, everything that I write is just my opinion (other than 3 Cryptics, that is definitely wrong).
Faeries is a deck that mulligans a lot, and does it very well. There is the aspect that every card you have makes all the other cards better, which would discourage mulliganing, but some of your cards are so much better than the others *cough* [card]Bitterblossom[/card] *cough* that it is worth mulliganing because drawing them will make up for any amount of cards you lost. I've mulliganed to 5 many times with this deck, and I've won many of those games, probably much more than I would with any other deck, because my 5 included a Bitterblossom. That does not mean you should mulligan every hand without Blossom, though, or even that you should aggressively do so - when you see your opening hand, you must look for two things - either it has a Bitterblossom, or it has a plan.
Bitterblossom hands do not need a plan - Bitterblossom is the plan by itself. It will power up every other card in your deck, and whatever you happen to draw you will be able to fully utilize. Hands without Blossom, though, need to have something going for them - you need to look at them and figure out what you're going to do.
[draft]2 Mistbind clique
2 cryptic Command
creeping tar pit
Is not a plan, and neither is
On the other hand,
[draft]2 Scion of Oona
Creeping Tar Pit
is a plan, as is
Creeping Tar Pit[/draft]
Do not be afraid to mulligan hands that don't do anything, because you are playing a deck
that can afford to do so.
I will also pretty much never keep a one lander. I know it is tempting sometimes, but I find that the deck is good enough, and mulligans well enough, that you don't have to risk it. Remember, sometimes, you lose even if you do draw the land - people often say "I had a 60% chance to draw a land in two turns!", but they don't take into account that, in a lot of those 60%, they're going to lose no matter how good they think their hand is - I know that I've certainly lost games in which I thought my hand was the nuts. I will also never keep a Black hand without a Swamp, which is basically any hand that needs a Black mana to have some play. Of course, I will keep Scion, Mana Leak, Thoughtseize, Bitterblossom, Island, Island, Island, but I will not keep Mistbind, Bitterblossom, Thoughtseize, Agony Warp, Island, Island, Island. Sure, if you draw a black land, the hand is very good, but if you don't, you don't do anything. I am not a gambler.
Mulligans are also one of my problems with [card]Preordain[/card] - one of three, the way I see it. The first, and most easily dealt with, is the slots - I think I don't know what to take out, but you surely could take something out for Preordains - say, a land, a removal, a discard spell and a Jace for example, or even a Scion or a Spellstutter. The second is the curve, and that is a much bigger issue, especially if you play Scion - sometimes, there is just no time for you to play Preordain, with everything you have to be doing. Even turn one is not always good, because of discard spells, turn two is not good because of Blossom, Leak and Spellstutter, turn three because of Jace, Scion and Vendilion, turn four because of Command and Mistbind, turn five because of Vendilion + Stutter, or Mutavault + Scion... basically, it is very hard to find a spot on your curve where you have nothing, because Mutavault offers a lot of flexibility - you might Preordain on turn 5, but then you can't activate Vault, block and play a 4 casting cost spell for example. I believe Preordain is only truly not a liability on turn one (but then it is also not as good, because you don't necessarily know what you need or what they're playing) or on turn 8, and any time in between you are probably giving up something for a Preordain, even if it is just an untapped land - it is much easier for your opponent to play when you have three lands up than when you have four, even if you don't have anything. This, of the three, is my biggest problem with it.
The third aspect is mulligans. Preordain is a card that will help you when you do mulligan (which you will, a lot) because it will fix your draws for you in those hands that are not good but you can't afford to mulligan more. It is especially good when you mulligan to five, because it gives you more chances to find the cards that are worth many cards - a 7 card hand with Blossom is better than a 7 card hand without, but a 5 card hand with Blossom is absurdly stronger than a 5 card hand without, and Preordain will help you find it - this is, in my opinion, the biggest strength of the card. On the other hand, Preordain will make it very hard for you to mulligan on the first place, because you will have 4 of a card that could be anything. I generally accept that Preordain can be a land if I need it, so if I do play it, I will keep a one-lander Preordain that has enough game on two lands (which is a lot less hands than people think, in my experience). The problem is with the hands that need a plan, and with Preordain it is much harder to have a plan, because you don't know what it'll end up being. If you do play Preordain, which I do not but also do not consider a terrible decision, then you have to be very careful for it not to make you keep hands that you shouldn't - you can only decide on the fate of two cards with Preordain, after all, so keep in mind that, although Preordain could be anything, it is not everything - don't count on it for necessarily providing what you need every time.
[draft]creeping tar pit
Lands - At this moment, I think you need 26 lands. Between Edges, Tar Pits and Mutavaults, you have a lot to do even if your curve is not exactly high, and you need to hit four - I've lost more games with Faeries because I stumbled on three lands than to anything any of my opponents have ever done. Even if I play four Preordains, I would never go below 25, and I suspect it might be better to play a 26th land (likely an Edge) over the fourth Preordain anyway.
Sideboarding - Sideboarding with Faeries is hard because of the old synergy etc etc. Because of that, you generally want a different plan in the board, so that you can take out all the synergistic cards - that way you don't get crippled by having some, and then having those not doing anything because you don't have any others. At PT Hollywood, the first tournament in which I played the deck, I had [card]Razormane Masticore[/card], [card]Murderous Redcap[/card] and [card]Damnation[/card] in my sideboard for a "transformational" plan. Nowadays, it seems the usual is [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] (another reason to play 26 lands), which is much, much better than Masticore ever was, and he comes aided by [card]Wall of Tanglecord[/card]. I like both those cards, and I especially like them together. I also kind of like [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] against Jund – it is especially good against [card]Vengevine[/card], Demigod and [card]Anathemancer[/card], and it is a considerable threat on its own, capable of swinging many races, but you can’t play both Clique and Wurmcoil, and Wurmcoil seems better, unless people start packing a ton of [card]Deglamer[/card]s, and even then it might still be better. After sideboarding, the versions with Big Jace have an advantage against the creature decks, because they fit the control plan that you are trying to assume better.
Against control decks, you don't need much - your maindeck is already good against them, and your only bad cards are your removal spells. People have tried to find a trump for the mirror since the deck was born, but a long time ago I've accepted that there just isn't anything - the best you can do is add a couple of one mana discard spells (though there is also a limit for those, you really don't want too many), and then the next best thing is probably [card]Sower of Temptation[/card], which is randomly an excellent card against many matches. I would play four Sowers before I put a single Peppersmoke in my sideboard. It is hard to say a certain sideboard is correct – it all depends on what you expect and on the list you end up playing.
Decklist - I said this article was not about a decklist, but I'm going to give you one anyway so that you can have a comparison of styles from the one from Luis article (and because I know half the people only want a decklist anyway). I truly do not know which one is the best, but this is the one I prefer, and I would play something like that if Atlanta was today (and I was going!):
4 [card]Scion of Oona[/card]
4 [card]Mistbind Clique[/card]
3 [card]Cryptic Command[/card] (kidding, kidding)
4 [card]Spellstutter Sprite[/card]
3 [card]Mana Leak[/card]
2 [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]
1 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
2 [card]Jace Beleren[/card]
2 [card]Agony Warp[/card]
2 [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]
3/4 [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card]
Average assortment of colored lands until you hit 26, with as few Sunken Ruins as possible, hopefully zero. If you play Grasp over Disfigure, I can get behind one or two. I can also see removing a discard spell, a Jace or a removal spell for a third Vendilion.
So, to sum it up, if you want to play Faeries, those are the most important points:
- In the dark, you should be more aggressive than you're being. Faeries is an aggro-control deck, but it is much more in the "aggro" end of the spectrum than people believe - your cards are capable of hitting hard, and you are extremely well equipped to win a race, which is very often your only option.
- All your cards do multiple things. [card]Cryptic Command[/card] has 6 different combinations, and you might have to use them all in a tournament. Mistbind and Vendilion can be played at any moment, and each situation requires a different timing. If, over the course of a tournament, you always play your Cliques in the same step and you always use the same mode on Command, you're probably doing something wrong.
- Do not be afraid of mulliganing, Faeries is a deck that mulligans very well.
- Use math to know when you should block and when you shouldn't, and be aware of everyone's life totals. Chump blocking is often the correct choice, because life total translates into more cards, more creatures and more attacks.
- Stop calling the deck "Fae". Fae is ugly and sounds terrible, Faeries is a much better name.
I hope you've enjoyed this, and I hope it helped if you wanted to play Faeries! See you next week,