It’s not every day that you register a sideboard for a best-of-one MTG Arena event, but we found a reason to do so this week: Mastermind’s Acquisition. Players like BBD and Ali Aintrazi have been mucking around with this tutor for quite awhile, so we decided to see what all the fuss is about after we were put onto the deck by a loyal viewer.
The central interaction of the deck is between Dovin’s Acuity and Omniscience. With an Omniscience out, Dovin’s Acuity almost always allows you to (slowly and ponderously) draw your entire deck and get your life total to absurd heights. Then it’s just a matter of picking which particular card you wish to win the game with—all of them are squirreled away in the sideboard!
This deck is actually quite competitive, although our video definitely doesn’t showcase that. In fact, quite the opposite—this week there’s a smorgasbord of horrific decision-making and poor plays. I don’t want to be the one to point fingers, but I really can’t help but feel that somehow, some way, it’s all Jamin’s fault.
1 Plains 3 Swamp 4 Glacial Fortress 2 Hallowed Fountain 4 Drowned Catacomb 4 Watery Grave 4 Isolated Chapel 4 Godless Shrine 4 Moment of Craving 4 Revitalize 4 Treasure Map/Treasure Cove 4 Mortify 4 Opt 4 Dovin's Acuity 4 Mastermind's Acquisition 4 Kaya's Wrath 2 Vraska's Contempt Sideboard 1 Negate 1 Clear the Mind 1 Psychic Corrosion 1 Cry of the Carnarium 1 Cleansing Nova 1 The Eldest Reborn 1 Ethereal Absolution 1 The Immortal Sun 1 Nezahal, Primal Tide 1 Emergency Powers 1 Omniscience 1 Sanguine Sacrament 1 Ixalan's Binding 1 In Bolas's Clutches 1 Lich's Mastery
As you can very clearly see, the main deck is completely bereft of anything remotely approaching a win condition. Instead, it’s full of an overwhelming amount of interaction to keep the board clear (perhaps to make up for skimping on removal in previous weeks), and ways to draw cards and gain life. That’s it—the only win conditions are all found in the sideboard.
There’s not too much to talk about when it comes to the main deck. The deck is consistent at doing what it does: drawing cards and and killing creatures. Treasure Map is something of an exception. It’s there to provide the option to ramp into big cards like Omniscience ahead of time.
The sideboard is where things get buck wild. Once you get to the part of the game where you can fire off a Mastermind’s Acquisition, you can grab yourself the Omniscience and start to go off with Dovin’s Acuity. Ethereal Absolution wrecks aggro decks, Lich’s Mastery is particularly good against midrange, and Nezahal is the go-to against control. Aside from these, Psychic Corrosion is the catch-all win condition.
The rest of the cards offer important utility. Clear the Mind resets your deck so you can mill them with Corrosion without milling yourself out, Ixalan’s Binding helps against planeswalkers, Sanguine Sacrament is another card to beat out aggro decks, and The Immortal Sun just does it all.
Most games follow a very similar pattern. You kill off creatures, gain life, and draw cards—a classic control game plan—until you can eventually carve out enough breathing room to fire off Mastermind’s Acquisition to get Omniscience, and win from there.
Dovin’s Acuity is a deceptively powerful engine card, and you should let it do its best work by casting Moment of Craving, Mortify, and Vraska’s Contempt in your main phase wherever possible. Be sure to use removal appropriately by balancing mana-efficiency against putting cards to their best use. For example, sandbagging Mortify for an Experimental Frenzy against Mono-Red, or relying on Moment of Craving against Adanto Vanguard against Mono-White. Remember that you can target your own Acuity with Mortify to return it to your hand if you want to cycle your Mortify.
You’ll gain a lot of life with this deck, which puts you in a good position against aggro… mostly. Mono-White is a great matchup, and Mono-Red is pretty good if you can stay out of burn range. Mono-Blue is very tricky, however. They can counter your removal with Dive Down, as well as actual counterspells, which is very awkward. Kill their Obsessions with Mortify, not their creatures, and play around Spell Pierce by Wrathing with 2 mana up (they usually don’t have that much of a clock, especially considering all the life gain in this list).
The control matchup isn’t all that bad either, as you can easily keep up on resources with all your card draw—the most threatening card is, obviously, Teferi. Vraska’s Contempt, Ixalan’s Binding, and The Immortal Sun are all heavy-hitters here, but the best card is secretly Negate. Find time to snag that before trying to resolve a key spell, and you should catch your opponent off-guard.
There’s a little bit of room to move things around in the main deck, of course, but it’s the sideboard where you can have the most fun. We deliberately played some sub-optimal cards in the board for the video, so things can be tightened up considerably there.
1 Plains 3 Swamp 4 Glacial Fortress 2 Hallowed Fountain 4 Drowned Catacomb 4 Watery Grave 4 Isolated Chapel 4 Godless Shrine 4 Moment of Craving 4 Revitalize 2 Treasure Map/Treasure Cove 4 Mortify 1 Search for Azcanta/Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin 4 Opt 4 Dovin's Acuity 4 Mastermind's Acquisition 4 Kaya's Wrath 3 Vraska's Contempt Sideboard 1 Negate 1 Clear the Mind 1 Psychic Corrosion 1 Cry of the Carnarium 1 Overflowing Insight 1 Duress 1 Unmoored Ego 1 Ethereal Absolution 1 The Immortal Sun 1 Nezahal, Primal Tide 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 1 Omniscience 1 Sanguine Sacrament 1 Ixalan's Binding 1 Lich's Mastery
What you include in the sideboard largely depends on what you’re expecting to come up against, and how you prefer to win. In many cases, you can simply win with Omniscience and Psychic Corrosion, freeing up the other 13 slots for you to do with what you will, but there’s something very satisfying about winning with Ethereal Absolution or Lich’s Mastery.
In any case, we’re backing up the all-star Negate with a copy of Duress, another mana-efficient way to play through counterspells. Unmoored Ego can be a terrific silver bullet in best-of-one, while Teferi is a boringly powerful card that is another interactive way to win the game (just don’t play The Immortal Sun!). Additionally, the garbage-tier Emergency Powers gets an upgrade in Overflowing Insight.
As mentioned above, this deck is actually pretty competitive. It’s a focused, streamlined control deck that cheats on win conditions by putting them in the sideboard instead of the main deck, and its reasonably good matchups against aggressive decks (outside of Mono-Blue) actually position it pretty well as a deck to grind ranks. Perhaps you can tune it further and make some real progress on the ladder!
As ever, we’ll be back next week with more silliness! Thanks to everyone who submitted decks—we’re looking to play another viewer-submitted list next week, so keep ’em coming in via Twitter: @thearenaboys!