I know what you’re all here for, so let’s jump right into it.
— Channel Fireball (@ChannelFireball) October 19, 2017
The Complete Guide to Vizier of Many Faces and The Scarab God Interactions
- If you play a Vizier of Many Faces copying The Scarab God and the copy dies, you get the God trigger and return the Vizier to your hand at the end of the next turn. The generic copy really is just as good as the original, but cheaper.
- If you embalm Vizier copying The Scarab God, the copy is a Zombie and will count itself for its upkeep trigger. Much like MTG Arena, Vizier is trying to iterate, not only imitate.
- If you use The Scarab God’s activated ability to zombify Vizier and copy The Scarab God, the Vizier token will be a 5/5 non-Zombie. Will the real Scarab God please get sacrificed and returned to hand?
- According to the Worlds judging staff, “nobody knows why” the Vizier is a 5/5. Nobody knows why The Scarab God has so many abilities either, but you can blame Paul Cheon for that.
- If your opponent plays a Vizier while you have The Scarab God in play, countering the Vizier might prove ineffective, as your opponent retains priority after it is countered and can embalm the Vizier before you can exile it with God. If you can put something on the stack, however, you can respond to that by countering and exiling the Vizier without giving your opponent an opportunity to embalm. Good things to put on the stack include cycling a card, sacrificing an Evolving Wilds, or activating The Scarab God. Matt Nass has dreamed for years that one day the words “trigger on the stack” might prove this useful, and yet he failed to make this play at Worlds.
- If you use The Scarab God to zombify Vizier and copy your Torrential Gearhulk to replay Glimmer, you should thank your opponent for not conceding yet.
If you’re interested in experiencing all of these interactions and more, this is the list for you:
The main deck is fairly inflexible. You can play the 4th Search if people start playing more Field of Ruin, and you can reconfigure the mix of kill conditions, but that’s about it. The Glimmer of Genius, Essence Extraction, and creature slots are the only ones I don’t consider locks. The deck would be better if you could play fewer expensive win conditions, but doing that really hurts your ability to actually be able to kill in any sort of mirror in game 1 or win games that are going poorly for you. This sideboard might be excessively anti-control, but you want to change your deck very little against green decks and only have 4 cards you are really looking to cut against Red (and don’t have much in the way of effective options), so there’s space for the 9 control slots and you certainly have that many suboptimal cards in the main.
U/B control isn’t exactly new to Standard, and the majority of this shell should look familiar. What is new is Search for Azcanta, which is a broken card that perfectly fixes what was control’s biggest problem: that Glimmer of Genius is not very good. Spending 4 mana not impacting the board has largely been unacceptable in Standard—the cards simply do too much to afford taking a pivotal turn off to acquire card advantage. Compare drawing two cards to having a Chandra in play.
On top of that, the best interactive cards being counterspells rather than removal and sweepers has made control in Standard particularly bad at playing from behind. Glimmer has been a key component to control decks as their best source of card advantage and ensuring Gearhulks are a legitimate end game, but as other decks have been refined, they have become too adept at punishing your “Glimmer turn.”
Search for Azcanta changes all of that. You generally don’t want to play Search for Azcanta on turn 2. Ideally, you have a piece of interaction for turns 2 through 5 and are able to play Search alongside another spell on turn 4 or 5. From there, it should be easy to find Azcanta in a couple of turns. Instead of taking a turn off, you can slip Search into your normal curve, and it is better than Glimmer ever was at both getting you to six lands for Gearhulk and providing a source of inevitability. Like I said, Search is a broken card.
I don’t know that this list in particular will be where you want to be in Standard going forward, but I can say with confidence that Search for Azcanta will be.
Basic Forest is the pairing you are hoping for with this deck. Your counterspells match up well with their expensive value creatures, and their sources of card advantage all depend on permanents making it to the battlefield.
Longtusk Cub is their best card by a lot, as it can slip in through a wall of counters and is an absurdly fast clock. If they can get meaningfully ahead on board, they can effectively press that advantage, but barring that a long game is very much in UB’s favor.
Don’t be afraid to take 2 a turn from a Servant or a couple of Thopters. 2 damage a turn with no reach is not a sufficiently threatening clock and can more or less be completely ignored, especially with your removal that incidentally gains life. You’ll win the game with a Gearhulk or Scarab God before that kills you.
On the play
On the draw
I don’t consider sideboard plans of reactive blue cards and expensive planeswalkers problematic. They make things better for Temur, since those cards replace near blanks, but they are not particularly effective and not worth Duressing. Slow and reactive plays right into the long games UB wants; as long as you aren’t dying on the board, things are going well for you. That said, if your opponent is especially planeswalker-heavy you may not even want Vizier, and Duress or Negate will do fine work against that plan.
1- and 2-mana threats are effective against UB, and the red deck is full of them, so you would expect it to be pretty strong against UB. But red decks are also full of dead removal in their main deck, and you are good enough at going 1-for-1 with them to really punish those dead draws. Between incidental life gain, Field for Ramunap Ruins, and The Scarab God’s closing speed, all the burn spells really are close to dead. It’s just so hard for them to burn you out. Focus on keeping the board clear rather than preserving your life total—take hits from creatures to hold up countermagic.
Game 1 might be favorable for UB, but post-board games certainly are not, when the dead cards get to upgrade into legit threats. And unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about that. Contraband Kingpin is good against all their cards that cost 2 or less, but gets embarrassed by anything that costs 3 or more. That is not what you are looking for in a sideboard card, but what you are looking for doesn’t exist. And that’s the fundamental problem with this matchup post-board: you have to line up cheap answers with cheap threats and expensive answers with expensive threats. Without cards that overlap as answers to both, that’s a losing proposition. You can draw a good curve of spells, and still find yourself losing to a draw skewed heavily cheap or expensive. Instead of wanting to play attrition, I’ve found the best post-board approach to be curving removal into a finisher and getting them dead. When you can’t line up answers for what they’re presenting, you should be praying to The Scarab God to save you.
Control mirror game 1s are about exactly two things: Search for Azcanta, and decking. If one player has Search going and the other does not, they will be able find enough threats and Disallows to eventually exhaust the opponent’s defenses and stick a threat. Without Search advantage though, the much higher density of answers than win conditions in both decks more or less ensures that someone will get decked. Most games will involve a player having Search advantage, so that should be your main priority. Early on you want to be churning through your deck looking for Searches and Fieldss even if it means decking first, but if it looks like there’s going to be Search parity later in the game be very mindful of library sizes.
Post-board decking is not even close to a concern. Duress and Negate ensure that whomever is ahead will be able to wrap things up real fast. Search is still where it’s at, with Blood Fast and Treasure Map serving as additional copies.
Game 1 is extremely difficult. You are very light on interaction for Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession, and you are probably going to lose if they are able to get any two of those in play. At that point, Gearhulk and The Scarab God might not even be capable of winning the game. You really need your opponent to help you out by providing some fodder for The Scarab God or failing to draw Stockpile.
After board, you are better equipped to keep enchantments off the table, but still not as well as you’d like given they also gain Duress. Trading off cards is very beneficial for you, as you can punish some of their individually weak cards and have much more card advantage. Having no way to remove a Stockpile from the battlefield is an issue though. Kingpin is serviceable at nullifying pressure from tokens, making sure you have time to fully develop and draw lots of cards.
Oof, I call Search broken and it might not even be the best 2-mana enchantment in the format?! The deck built around Search boasts one good matchup and two bad ones among the three other most popular decks?! Well, at least I have my 4-5 record in Standard at Worlds to back up my claim.
This may not have been a tournament report, but it was a tournament that inspired me to write it. That’s all the excuse I need to close it out in true old school report fashion:
Ben Lundquist – For building the first U/B list I started playing with.
Patrick Chapin – For building basically the exact main deck we played on his first crack at it.
Gerry Thompson, Sam Black, Martin Juza – These guys are the best. I don’t mean that only in, like, these dudes are awesome and they make Magic fun for me and are the people I most want to be testing with. I mean it in that they are literally the best at preparing for tournaments (well, other than MODO Guy). Gerry, Sam, and I complement each other perfectly: I tend to focus on what’s efficient, Sam on what’s possible, and Gerry on what’s reality. When we all end up in the same spot, we know we’ve really done it. Martin is the Draft master in more than just title. This Worlds was probably the most prepared I’ve ever felt for limited, despite having done fewer total Drafts than typical for an event, thanks to drafting alongside these three, constantly discussing picks and the format.
#WOTCstaff – Thank you for making Worlds such a special and amazing event. Whether I’m playing in it or not, Worlds is what I most look forward to every year.
Hazoret – You know what you did.