FFfreaky Friday – Espers and Omens

Last week did not go that great for my first week testing Extended. Doran and UW Control did not seem to be on the same power level as the decks I was facing. I was not even posting a 50% win percentage while battling with these decks. What is the solution? Pick up the decks that are beating me. This week I bring you not only the two best decks in the format but why they are going to stay there.

The first deck that I tested was Wargate/Omen. I was going to just pick up the same 75 Gerry was working on but I saw Michael Hetrick battling in the Magic Online PTQ with a teched out list. It looked like he was playing the basic version until he slapped down a Primeval Titan. It looked very interesting and I needed to know what he was doing. After battling a couple dozen matches, I ended up with this.

The biggest difference with this list and Gerry’s is the absence of Leyline of Sanctity. I do see the importance of playing with that card and what it is trying to do in the deck, but I just have a big problem with playing cards like that. The first issue with Leylines is that they are almost worthless after you keep your opening hand and they are still in the deck. They become dead cards in almost every situation.

This might have been a great tool when the deck was fresh, but people are learning how to attack the deck on other fronts. More decks are starting to run enough Land destruction to disrupt the first Valakut. If their clock is fast enough that usually will be enough to take the game. They also are running a high number of enchantment destruction cards in their sideboards. Leyline becomes a wasted card when these situations arise.

Primeval Titan is actually a great Plan B when things like this happen. He is able to come down and grab any combination of lands the deck can offer; man-lands, Valakut, and even a Halimar Depths to help the deck find more fuel. He is the real deal and can still be a six mana Scapeshift when the game is in that stage.

The extra [card]Ponder[/card]s help out a ton when dealing with multiple pieces of hate. Just being able to find addition Prismatic Omens and Valakuts can be crucial when the clock is ticking down.

Matchups

Wargate/Omen

Game one of the mirror match is very strange. Both decks have a very limited supply of cards that interact with their opponent. Leyline of Sanctity can be very good in game one of this matchup. The only card that deals with it is Cryptic Command, besides just attacking with Primeval Titan and Man lands. Whoever gets the play has a huge advantage since the combo is fairly easy to get online and it usually takes a couple turns to kill someone.

I have still not figured out how to play my Mana Leaks in this matchup. It seems very hard to know when to hold it up and to keep progressing your board presence. It seems that every time you counter a spell you are just setting both players back a turn. Now there are obvious situations where Mana Leak can be very good, but finding them and knowing when they will happen takes a good background in the matchup and a keen sense on what your opponent is holding. The best time to have a Mana Leak is when a counter war is about to go down or when they do not have Omen and you think they will have to Wargate for it.

Sideboarding

-4 Mana Leak
-2 Rampant Growth (-1 on the Draw)
1 Primeval Titan
-1 Ponder
(-1 Wargate on the Draw)

The only reason I cut a Wargate on the draw is that most people keep Mana Leak in and it can be very important to have that extra Rampant Growth.

+2 War Priest of Thune
+1 Qasali Pridemage
+2 Vendilion Clique
+2 Nature’s Claim
+1 Sun Titan

I have enjoyed taking out the Mana Leaks because of how unreliable they have been. It is even a benefit most of the time when my opponent keeps theirs in because they have that much more of a chance of screwing up and not progressing their board.

Once sideboarded, both decks become more efficient at interacting with each other. This means that it becomes more important to not keep a hand that is just all in on the first Prismatic Omens. This comes up frequently where someone just keeps a hand of Omens and Ramp spells and the other player simply destroys the Omen and has total board control.

Sun Titan is a powerful spell when both decks become attrition-based and can easily win the game all by itself. It is very important to at least have one Qasali Pridemage and War Priest of Thune to be able to be fetched with Wargate. War Priest will be able to kill your opponents Omen when you only have 5 mana, where the Pridemage takes another turn because of fear of being killed.

Vendilion Clique is the real deal in this matchup. We all know why it is important and why it is played so I wont get into it for the hundredth time.

Faeries

This is one of the decks hardest matchups for Omen. They have a ton of disruption that can lead to some very difficult starts. You always want to play Prismatic Omens any time they are tapped out but don’t just run it out there if they have mana open. It is important to use it the turn you can play another spell and try to resolve something.

One thing that most people might not think about is that Wargate reads less then or equal to. This means that you can play around Spellstutter Sprite by making the converted mana cost of a Wargate greater than how many Faeries they might be able to posses. I have played a Wargate where x equaled seven just to resolve an Omen.

Sideboarding

-3 Rampant Growth
-1 Ponder
-1 Vendilion Clique

+1 Qasali Pridemage
+2 War Priest of Thune
+2 Nature’s Claim

Nature’s Claim is not the most amazing card in this matchup, but it is very good since most Faeries lists are starting to pack Ratchet Bombs to deal with a resolved Omen. They are also very good at dealing with Blossoms and stopping them from being able to be aggressive.

Faeries is a very tough matchup to learn and it truly is the type of matchup you just need to test. There is no real strategy I can lay out there that will work. Their draws are always different and can attack you on many different fronts. Just learning how the matchup works is very important and how to deal with each situation. I would advise you to test around 100 games against Faeries if you were serious about playing Wargate/Omen in any event.

Jund

This matchup comes down to how fast you can go off. It is very hard for Jund to beat you once the combo is in play. Just kill off all of their threats and they will have to draw a long line of burn. Obviously doing the math is important because if you have a faster clock then they do, you simply just go for the dome. There are just many situations that the Omen deck can risk for a top deck, or simply kill the board and start a draw go scenario. Most of the time the Omen deck will win during a top deck war.

Sideboarding

-1 Primeval Titan
-1 Vendilion Clique
-3 Rampant Growth (I know these come out a great deal)

+4 Kitchen Finks
+1 Sun Titan

There are multiple ways that the Jund player can take their sideboarding. Some will have a ton of Enchantment hate, while others will just try to disrupt the mana and attack as quick as possible. Finding out early can help you win a game you had no business winning.

Kitchen Finks helps with this process by giving you a great deal of time to get more lands and more combo pieces. Wargate for Titan is also a great way to just end the game. Jund will have a tough time dealing with the 6/6 that gets back Finks or Omen.

Do not keep a hand that does not do anything fast because Jund will overrun you.

Mono Red

Red decks are getting very popular these days because of their ability to beat Omen and Faeries. This is not the worst matchup while on the play, but is almost unwinnable when on the draw. Just try to get off the ground as fast as possible and you will have to hope they don’t have that extra piece of burn

Sideboarding

-4 Cryptic Command
-1 Vendilion Clique

+4 Kitchen Finks
+1 Nature’s Claim

This is not the most normal sideboaridng strategy out there but I have been happy with it. Cryptic Command is very slow in this matchup and usually is just a Fog that cantrips. Nature’s Claim is mostly there to sometimes gain four life off of an extra Omen, but some red decks have been sideboaridng in Leyline of Punishment against me. It can be a very frustrating card and even though sideboarding for this is not the best, it is better then the Commands.

5cc

This is a fairly easy matchup. They do not have a ton of ways to interact with you and you can bide your time before you want to expose an Omen. Just set up a decent turn and go for it.

Sideboarding

-3 Rampant Growth

+2 Vendilion Clique
+1 Sun Titan

The extra Titans are great when they are trying to disrupt you. Vendilion Clique right before a Titan is a play I like to make quite often and to great success.

I think that this deck is in a great spot to do well in this metagame and will take some serious hating to make it go anywhere.

The other deck that I got to test this week was a true beauty. Josh Utter-Leyton was the mind behind this deck and it has been doing very well in the testing that I have gotten in with it.

Esper Faeries was something that was being toyed with before it rotated out of Standard. The idea what that it would have a significant edge in the mirror as well as against 5 Color Control. The deck rotated out and people forgot about it. Josh decided to give it another go and found even more fun tools that the deck would get because of this.

The reason I really like this deck is that it has Wall of Omens. It is a very good card to help stop some of the early damage from creature decks and allow you to set up. Wall of Omens has always been one of my favorite cards to play with last year and that is just because it does so many great things for a slower deck. Who needs the Wall of Tanglecord? This deck doesn’t!

The best thing is that this deck is great against Wargate/Omen and other Faerie decks. It has so many ways to deal with its opponents namesake Enchantments while still being the same powerful Faerie deck. I don’t know how many matches I have played against Faeries with this deck but I do know I am still undefeated. I think it has a significant edge.

The only downside to this deck is the Mana. The mana might look a bit rough but I promise it is much better then it looks on paper. I still don’t think it is good enough yet to pilot my way through a Grand Prix with. I think that this deck just needs a bit more tender loving care to be a powerhouse in the format. I suggest you give it a shot.

Brad Nelson

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