Chasing Victory – (Hex)mages and Thopters and Swords, Oh My!


“LSV”: you really did break it
“LSV”: didnt you
Me: lol
Me: played some games have you
“LSV”: been depthsing today
“LSV”: its pretty unstoppable
Me: im fully aware!

I’ll be honest, I had my fair share of luck during the PTQ I won, and even the one that I t4ed before that. For example, in round one of the second PTQ, I made a 20/20 on turn one, on the play. Naturally, my opponent didn’t have the Path.

In a later round, after having seen my opponent’s entire hand, I played my third land and Slaughter Pacted his Vendilion. The odds were slim that he would draw a Cryptic next turn to kill me (by bouncing my land), and sure enough he did. Sadly for him, he elected to simply pass the turn.

After that game, during sideboarding:

3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: i need say this in sbing
3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: so no one can see
3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: i ripped cryptic
3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: and couldve bounced
3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: a land
3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: and killed u lol
3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: so bad
3:33 PM Thage: lolol
3:33 PM sneakyhomunculous: yeah sick play

Sometimes you just run good!

As I write this, PTQ results are pouring in over Facebook, and so far, it looks like my Depths/Foundry hybrid won three PTQs in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Detroit, in addition to making a couple of other Top Eights. Luis also seems to endorse the deck, if that above AIM chat is any indication. The results from this weekend further justify what I already knew: This deck is for real.

For reference, here’s the list I used to win my PTQ:

As I said in my last article, that’s very close to the list that I would recommend. However, a few things have happened in the last couple of weeks. For starters, the mirror is going to be extremely popular. Secondly, Elves is now a deck that you probably have to worry about.

Here is the list that I would be playing with today:

Nearly everyone seems to have ditched the sideboard Foundry and Sword, which I suppose I’m fine with. I wanted to bring in the extra copies of those against decks like Bant or Zoo which would be incredibly weak to that combo. They keep in the maximum copies of Path to Exile and other assorted garbage, and may keep hands that are otherwise weak, but have something like double Path or a single Ghost Quarter.

Opponents who haven’t played with the Depths deck typically overestimate the power of their disruption. I liked being able to max out on Foundries so that I could quickly pressure decks that try to overload me with disruption.

The thing is, I don’t necessarily need to pressure them when I’m packing quad Thirst for Knowledge and probably have inevitability. I should probably be trying to slow the game down.

So the deck is very good, that much is certain. Now how do you beat it?

From my experience, nearly all of my opponents have attempted to fight me with the wrong tools. During the last PTQ, I 4-0ed Faeries, and most of them sided in Relic of Progenitus, but for some reason didn’t seem to have Extirpate or Leyline of the Void. Granted, it’s not like my deck was popular at that point, but come on. Relic is terrible against Sword of the Meek.

Zoo decks are typically prepared for one part of the combo, but not both. If they do pack their deck with things like Ancient Grudge or Path to Exile, they often skimp on the threats, giving you enough time to work around their removal. There’s a delicate balance to be found.

While I am siding in more removal against Zoo decks, they should still be trying to fight me with cards like Meddling Mage, Gaddock Teeg, Kataki, and possibly Knight of the Reliquary. I probably have to find ways to kill each of those creatures at some point, all the while being pressured.

What you should name with Meddling Mage varies heavily on the situation. As I noted in my last article, my opponent could have locked up the game by naming Thopter Foundry when I had a Sword of the Meek in play, but instead named Damnation which didn’t even happen to be in my deck. I would probably just name whatever combo piece you can’t beat at the moment, rather than worry about what flavor of removal is in their deck.

Onto the matchups!


I played against this deck frequently in the first PTQs, but it seems to be dying out. The Saito style Zoo decks can usually be identified by its Noble Hierarchs and Bant Charms, while foregoing pure aggressive cards like Kird Ape, Steppe Lynx, and Tribal Flames.

They will often bring in Meddling Mage, sometimes Ancient Grudge, and sometimes Negate (despite it being incorrect).

+ 3 Deathmark
– 1 Into the Roil, 1 Duress, 1 Dark Confidant

Bobby is actually pretty solid here, as like I said, they tend to overload on answers rather than aggressive cards. The damage you take is manageable, and the matchup is more about attrition post board anyway. That said, you probably don’t want to draw multiples of them.

Some of these midrange Zoo decks might try to catch you off guard with Blood Moon, so if you think you see an abnormal amount of basics or something like that, maybe you should consider keeping in the bounce spell in addition to siding in the Dimir Signet.

I would sideboard roughly the same vs. Bant, although I would consider bringing in a Darkblast.


This deck is more concerned with racing than anything, so you can expect them to come out of the gates blazing. This matchup is much harder than Saito’s deck, despite Saito having more cards that interact with and disrupt you. Given enough time, you will be able to assemble either combo and be able to protect it, so rather than try and overload you with their answers, they just try to kill you. Overall, that plan is much more effective.

+ 3 Deathmark, 1 Chalice of the Void, 1 Darkblast
– 3 Dark Confidant, 1 Into the Roil, 1 Duress

Drawing one Confidant is almost always fine, as is Darkblast. Depending on their deck, Darkblast could become an absolute all star against them though. Kataki and Steppe Lynx are both incredibly threatening cards that Darkblast is quite good against. Feel free to keep in a [card]Duress[/card] or Confidant rather than bring in that Darkblast though.


I’ve had a lot of people tell me that this mirror is incredibly frustrating, but I think it’s quite the opposite. There are plenty of decisions to make on both sides, and watching someone perfectly craft a game state by choosing the right card with Duress, playing their lands in the right order, and knowing what to discard to Thirst for Knowledge is incredibly elegant.

My advice to someone who doesn’t want to play the deck because they dislike mirror matches would be to play better, or practice more so that you gain the ability to play better.

+ 1 Meloku, 1 Echoing Truth, 2 Duress, 2 Extirpate, 2 Darkblast
– 1 Slaughter Pact, 3 Vampire Hexmage, 3 Dark Depths, 1 Chrome Mox

If you are really worried about the mirror, you could play a maindeck Extirpate instead of the Duress, but overall, I wouldn’t want more than two Extirpates in this matchup. With all the Duresses flying around, you really want a bunch of action, so that you still have some game after you get disrupted. Extirpate just kind of sits there and looks stupid, unable to do anything.


Supposedly your “bad” matchup, at least until you gain access to your own Foundries. Suddenly, the matchup is a completely turnaround.

+ 2 Extirpate, 2 Duress, 1 Meloku
– 1 Chrome Mox, 2 Vampire Hexmage, 2 Dark Depths

They probably have Path and Cryptic maindeck with stuff like Repeal, Aether Spellbomb, and Celestial Purge also in their 75. Thopter Foundry is a way more reliable backup plan, but I still want to keep in one of each combo piece in case they manage to Extirpate you. Meloku is a solid second backup plan.

If they are extremely heavy on artifacts, you should definitely bring in the Hurkyl’s Recall.


Is this deck even being played anymore? Killing them with Dark Depths is probably way more reliable here, despite them having answers to your 20/20 but not necessarily your Foundry. Foundry is just way too slow, and it takes way too long to put you out of range of their combo kill.

Extirpate is a solid backup plan, combined with your seven Duresses. The Foundry plan is there in case they have a plethora of bounce spells, or to make a bunch of blockers to stave off their horde of 1/1s.

+ 2 Duress, 2 Extirpate
– 1 Into the Roil, 2 Thopter Foundry, 1 Sword of the Meek

Slaughter Pact is kind of useless, but they might bring in something like Tarmogoyf or Vendilion Clique. Your matchup is so good that you can afford to defend yourself against their potential sideboard plans without weakening your matchup too much.


Of all the decks in Extended, I feel like this is probably the one that is the most threatening. Despite my excellent record against it, that very easily could have been the opposite had they been prepared for me. However, I can’t bring myself to play Faeries, at least right now.

My deck is faster, plays discard instead of counterspells, which at the moment seems much better, and has two extremely powerful combos. Compare Bitterblossom to the Foundry combo for a second.

Still with me? While that comparison isn’t exactly fair, to some extent it is. Sure, the Foundry combo requires two cards to work effectively, but what is Faeries if not a deck that relies completely on synergy? Is Spellstutter Sprite good on its own? What about Mistbind Clique?

Those cards all tend to feed off each, so if I’m going to spend my time trying to assemble certain combos, I’m going to do it with combinations that actually win me the game.

I’ve tried to build a Faerie deck that I would like, but let’s be honest, all I did was try and figure out the best way to jam the Foundry combo into it.

+ 3 Duress, 1 Meloku
– 2 Dark Depths, 2 Vampire Hexmage

You could bring in a Darkblast to defend against Vendilion Clique and you could take out the Into the Roil to do it, but that leaves you incredibly vulnerable to Leyline of the Void.

A few people have told me that you should bring in the Chalice to counteract their [card ancestral vision]Ancestrals[/card]. While I agree that is probably a fine plan, it seems kind of awkward to have a miser’s Chalice in the deck when you need to have access to it at a very specific time. There are certainly enough tutors to find it though, so it’s probably worth doing, especially since if they don’t ever resolve Ancestral, it’s very hard for them to fight through your barrage of discard.

Faerie players, listen up! You need real graveyard hate to fight me. Your deck is already somewhat resilient to 20/20s, but right now, you simply can’t beat an active Thopter Foundry. At the very least, play a Pendelhaven or two to help with the mirror match. I would probably look into adding a land in the first place, but I would also consider cutting a Mutavault for a second Haven. You can thank me later.


While we weren’t even close to worried about this deck at the Pro Tour due to our overabundance of Chalices and Explosives, those cards kind of suck now. Thankfully, Darkblast is randomly good again, so that should give you enough hate cards to be favored in this matchup.

+ 3 Deathmark, 2 Darkblast, 1 Chalice of the Void, 1 Dimir Signet
– 3 Thopter Foundry, 2 Sword of the Meek, 1 Duress, 1 Thirst for Knowledge

The Signet comes in to fight Blood Moon. Your 20/20 should take them down with little resistance, whereas the Thopter combo is vulnerable to the various Viridian Shamans and Ancient Grudges that they should have.

Duress actually isn’t the worst depending on how their deck looks post-board, but I’d say that typically you’d rather have more Thirsts or Beseeches than a couple Duresses.


This should be an easy matchup, even without the Hurkyl’s Recall. They should be somewhat prepared for you with Pithing Needles, Thoughtseizes, and possibly their own Thopter Foundries (why aren’t more Affinity decks playing these?), but you have the tools to work around all of those cards.

+ 1 Hurkyl’s Recall
– 1 Into the Roil

You could try being more creative and siding in Duresses and maybe out some of the Thopter pieces, but overall, I’d say this quick swap is probably best.


Blood Moon or no? You should have enough answers for their other stuff

+ 3 Deathmark, 2 Duress, 1 Dimir Signet, 1 Echoing Truth
– 3 Thopter Foundry, 2 Sword of the Meek, 2 Thirst for Knowledge


Let’s play the Blood Moon or no game again, except this time, their deck is slower (although certainly better vs. the field, but not like that says much).

+ 2 Duress, 1 Dimir Signet, 1 Echoing Truth
– 2 Thopter Foundry, 1 Sword of the Meek, 1 Slaughter Pact

None of their creatures are very threatening, so you don’t need the Slaughter Pact.



This one is probably a relic of the past, but hey, I’m trying to be thorough here.

+ 2 Duress, 1 Chalice of the Void, 2 Extirpate
– 1 Slaughter Pact, 1 Into the Roil, 2 Thopter Foundry, 1 Sword of the Meek

Extirpates are for the off chance you manage to Duress or Muddle their Hypergenesis.


Cheap to build, probably better than Hypergenesis regardless, and nearly immune to graveyard hate if you side out the Living Ends for Hypergenesis. Overall, a solid deck, although I’m pretty happy I didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of losing to it in the finals.

+ 1 Tormod’s Crypt, 1 Chalice of the Void, 2 Duress, 1 Dimir Signet, 1 Echoing Truth – 2 Thopter Foundry, 1 Sword of the Meek, 3 Dark Confidant

My goal is to set up some sort of defense to getting comboed right away, whether it be via Duressing them or finding my Tormod’s Crypt or Chalice. Dark Confidant is a little slow and midgame you would rather have Thirst for Knowledge as a card drawer. Thirst also works better with Muddle, should that be your only means of defense.

The Thopter combo is quite good against them, but they still have things like Ingot Chewer. You can assemble it once the game is mostly locked up, and then even a few Living Ends won’t help them. The best strategy is to race at that point, and try not to trade with their guys, as it makes their further Living Ends actually useful.



Another easy matchup, for multiple reasons. They probably have few ways to deal with Dark Confidant, Thopter Foundry, and 20/20s. Night of Soul’s Betrayal is annoying, but it’s like a much worse Blood Moon.

+ 2 Duress, 1 Echoing Truth
– 1 Slaughter Pact, 1 Engineered Explosives, 1 Thopter Foundry


Oh look, another easy one, although this one could actually be somewhat difficult if they have the right tools. Boarding into a beatdown strategy is an effective way to throw the Depths player off guard, and the plethora of discard makes the game more about luck rather than who has the best matchup.

Assuming they don’t have an aggro sideboard plan, I would board like this:

+ 2 Extirpate, 2 Duress
– 1 Engineered Explosives, 1 Sword of the Meek, 2 Thopter Foundry

The Foundry combo is excellent against them, but you often have plenty of time to tutor for it. You reap much higher rewards by drawing the Depths combo pieces earlier than the Foundry ones. However, if you feel like your Foundry combo might get trapped by an Oblivion Ring or broken up by an Extirpate or Hide/Seek, maybe you should side out some of the Depths pieces.


Typically an easy matchup, and one that you are naturally set up to do well against. Hexmage can remove their Bridges and your combo is much faster than theirs, plus you have disruption. Sure, they can Iona you, but you have Into the Roil and Slaughter Pact for outs, so you should be fine. The only danger is from them getting a quick combo kill, or setting up a board position that you can’t win from, like one with a bunch of Narcomoebas and zombies.

+ 2 Extirpate, 1 Tormod’s Crypt, 1 Echoing Truth, 2 Darkblast
– 1 Into the Roil, 2 Thopter Foundry, 1 Sword of the Meek, 1 Duress, 1 Dark Confidant

Well, there you have it. Right now, this is absolutely the deck to beat. If you are seriously trying to win a PTQ, you need to know the ins and outs of this deck, whether you are trying to play it or know how it’s going to fight you.

I think I covered everything (except maybe Burn, but come on, that’s a waste of both our time), but if you need to know anything else, hit me up in our wonderful forums!



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