TheManaDrain.com
June 07, 2023, 07:46:41 am *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Calendar Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
  Print  
Author Topic: [Deck Primer]: Christmas Beatings  (Read 75504 times)
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« on: February 23, 2009, 09:33:43 pm »

Christmas Beatings

Deck Primer



Heya,

This is a primer for the deck ďChristmas Beatings.Ē  It was originally discussed in Stephen Menendianís article on Star City Games: (http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/vintage/16867_So_Many_Insane_Plays_Vintage_On_A_Budget_Christmas_GR_Beatings.html). 

I call this deck ďChristmas BeatingsĒ to differentiate it from the more traditional R/G Beatz decks that were played from 2007 to mid 2008.  This deck and its philosophy are so different from those decks, that calling this one ďR/G BeatzĒ as well can cause confusion.  Rather than risk that, I can simply obviate the problem by giving the deck a catchy new name that Steve basically developed in his own article.

I am not going to go into the history and evolution of this deck.  Stephenís article does that exceedingly well, and I would direct any person interested in this deck to his article.  In fact, I would say reading his article is key to really understanding how this deck was built and how it should be played.  This primer will only give you a skin-deep understanding of the deck and what it can do.

I arranged this primer as a series of questions and answers.  Thatís merely to help me organize my own thoughts.  Thereís nothing Socratic or pejorative about it.  Itís just my style Smile

-What is this Deck about?

This deck is about beating the artifact heavy environment we are currently in with budget aggro-disruption.  This deck was purposely build to A) not need the Power 9 to succeed and B) punish any deck that does.  While the object of this deck is trying to keep monetary costs for these cards down, it does not sacrifice any competitiveness.  The current meta is absolutely dominated by Blue-based control decks that rely on artifacts with activation costs to win.  Time Vault, Voltaic Key, Grindstone, Mindslaver and of course the ever-present Mox/Lotus are all targeted and hosed by this deck.  Even Oath of Druids receives splash hate from the anti-artifact nature of this deck.  For the current meta, there is no other deck IMHO that targets the best decks out with more laser accuracy than Christmas Beatings.

-How is it about that?

First, let me throw out the deck lists then I will talk about individual card selections.

Decklist A:

4 Null Rod
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Stingscourger
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Seal of Primoridum
4 Pyroblast
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
1 Lotus Petal
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Taiga
3 Snow-covered Forest
3 Snow-covered Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine

Decklist B:

4 Null Rod
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Stingscourger
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Seal of Primoridum
4 Pyroblast
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
1 Lotus Petal
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Taiga
3 Snow-covered Forest
3 Snow-covered Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine

Decklist C:

4 Null Rod
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Stingscourger
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Seal of Primoridum
4 Pyroblast
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
1 Lotus Petal
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Taiga
3 Snow-covered Forest
3 Snow-covered Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine

Letís talk about card choices for a little bit.  Iíll begin with the artifacts.  There is only one artifact accelerant in the whole deck: Lotus Petal.  Having it on turn one means being able to cast a creature like Gorilla Shaman or Mogg Fanatic and still keep Red mana up for a Pyroblast.  It can also mean a turn 1 Seal of Primordium which would dissuade any Oath or Tez player from dropping their combo pieces too early.  If you are in a 10+ proxy environment, you can switch out the Lotus Petal for a Black Lotus.  I have gone to Black Lotus in my current list just because I have plenty of proxy slots left open.  However, the difference is marginal.  Itís 1 out of 60 cards and almost useless if there is a Null Rod or Chalice of the Void on the table. 

Speaking of those two, Chalice of the Void and Null Rod make playing Moxen nearly unthinkable.  Those questioning whereís the Mox Ruby and Mox Emerald in this deck are pointed to the so-called ďUnpower 8Ē.  There are so few decks right now that do not rely on at least a partial set of Moxen/Lotuses (Ichorid being the only notable deck).  Having 8 hosers against those cards in the main deck that can be cast with colorless mana means that a Christmas Beatings pilot rarely has to fear falling behind in the mana race.  Chalice of the Void can come down quickly on turn 1 to help secure the board.  Rod comes on-line later to make sure that nothing that manages to get through the Chalice causes any trouble.  Hurkylís Recall and Rebuild are being played at a low ebb right now compared the to Gush/Shop era in 2007-2008.  So playing multiple artifact control pieces is not nearly as risky as it used to be.  Echoing Truth is seeing wide play, but this only reinforces the strength of playing both Chalice and Rod.

The heart of this deck, fittingly, is Red.  Beginning with Cold Snap, WotC has seen fit to begin printing some highly disruptive and synergistic Red creatures.  From then until now, weíve gotten such all-stars Martyr of Ashes, Greater Gargadon, Stingscourger, Simian Spirit Guide, Sulfur Elemental, Magus of the Moon, Ingot Chewer, Vexing Shusher, and Fulminator Mage.  These have been added to old Red creature stand-byís like Gorilla Shaman, Mogg Fantatic, and Viashino Heretic. 

Chistmas Beatings takes advantage of the best Red disruptive creatures printed since block-design began in Magic.  The four main Red creatures making an appearance in this deck include Mogg Fanatic, Gorilla Shaman, Stingscourger, and Magus of the Moon.  Each has its own unique and important purpose.

Mogg Fanatic might seem like the weakest of the bunch, but he accomplishes a lot of different things.  Behind Mana Drain decks in popularity are the Fish decks.  While Fish builds vary greatly, they do have one thing in common- lots of creatures with 1 Toughness.  Mogg Fanatic can pick off key creatures like Dark Confidant, Cursecatcher, Voidmage Prodigy, and Vendilion Clique.  He can also ping after blocking or being blocked by all the 2 toughness creatures Fish decks play as well.  However, his real value comes against Ichorid.  With Fanatic you have a ready-made Bridge from Below remover that also pings for a point of damage as he goes.  Having a main deck solution to the Bridges is critically important for having a viable strategy against Dredge in game 1.  In an environment where 10% of the decks might be Ichorid, Fanatic is an invaluable resource.

Gorilla Shaman was left off the original list in favor of Chalice of the Void.  Iíll discuss this a little bit later on.  Never-the-less, he is an important, disruptive creature and has been ever since he was printed in the venerable Alliances expansion.  He can eat up Moxen, Keys, Sol Rings, and Mana Vaults with ease.  Even cards like Pithing Needle (unless itís set to the Shaman), Aether Vial, Chalice of the Void, and Grindstone are vulnerable.  If you can ramp up to 5 mana somehow, he can nab artifacts like Sphere of Resistance and Time Vault.  He is an all-around house against cheap, non-creature artifacts. 

One of the signatures of the Eternal formats is the reliance on the tantalizing dual lands from Alpha and Revised.  They empower decks but also make them vulnerable.  Enter what is perhaps my most favorite creature in Magic:  Magus of the Moon.  He is a walking three mana bomb.  In fact, heís the only 3 mana spell Iíd bother to include in this deck.  If he hits the table, many decks are just mana screwed right then and there.  Oath will have trouble getting green.  TPS might have trouble accessing one of its colors.  Tez could be cut off completely from one of its four colors.  If he hits before a player has fetched out one of each of his basics, then the Christmas Beatings player has got a clear and major advantage for the rest of the game.  Since a huge bulk of the business spells in this deck are Red, changing the Taigas and Wastelands to Mountains his hardly a drawback.  Magus is about as a-symmetrical a bomb as Red can muster. 

Finally, as far as creatures go, thereís Stingscourger.  There are many Blue-based decks out there, but there is one thing that a great number of them have in common: Tinker->Colossus.  Tinker/DSC wins far more games for Blue decks than I think people want to admit.  All decks must have some kind of answer for it.  For Red decks, the best answer for a DSC thatís made it into play is Stingscourger.  For 2 mana you can bounce that menacing robot back to its ownerís hand and have an expendable blocker to use against whatever else might be coming your way that turn.  He can also bounce other scary fatties like Helkite Overlord, Razormane Masticore, and Platinum Angel.  One side benefit to the Scourger is that, like the Fanatic, he can remove Bridge from Below from an opponentís graveyard if his Echo cost isnít paid. 

The correct number of Stingscourgers to play in a Christmas Beatings deck is 4.  Iíve been asked if 2 or 3 would be okay, and my reply is ďNo.Ē  At worst, heís a Grizzly Bear and a chump blocker; at best, heís your salvation against a gigantic creature you had no hope of dealing with otherwise.  He has saved my butt in tournament games a dozen times or more.  Stock as many of him as you can.

Beyond creatures, Red gives Christmas Beatings 4 main-deck Pyroblasts.  Usually such main-deck hate is reserved for Painterís Servant decks which can transform them into one mana Vindicates.  However, in a meta absolutely dominated by Blue-based strategies, specifically Mana Drain and Fish decks, 4 Pyroblasts in the main look very enticing.  First, not many control pilots anticipate Red Blasts in game 1.  Having an open Red source usually does not concern them.  This is a major tactical advantage that can allow you to bait them into playing a key spell only to have it countered.  Second, Pyroblasts can be played off a SSG, adding to the surprise factor.  Third, even if you are playing against a deck that has no Blue spells or permanents, you can still cast Pyroblast to help pump up Tarmogoyf.  There is very little in the way of drawbacks to playing this spell, and the upside is quite strong.

Red isnít alone in this deck.  Itís old friend Green, a love affair dating back to the old Channel-Fireball days, lends a hand with a terrific disruptive enchantment and the most efficient beater of all time.  Letís talk about Seal of Primordium first.  A sincerely fair question about this card would be, ďWhy play a sorcery speed enchantment when there are instant speed alternatives like Naturalize and Krosan Grip?Ē  There are two reasons I will give and both are a little nuanced. If I donít explain it well enough here, make a post and Iíll try to do my best in a reply.

Okay, just to deal with this first, Krosan Grip costs 3 mana, and since this deck can have trouble occasionally ramping up to three stable mana on the board I donít feel that this deck can consistently cast Krosan Grip as much as I would like.  3 mana is asking a lot, and a casting cost that high should be reserved for something that is truly a bomb like Magus of the Moon. 

Alright, with that aside, real reason #1 to play Seal of Primordium over say Naturalize: Itís free when you actually use it.  I think the best comparisons can be made to the Pact line of spells (like Pact of Negation or Summonerís Pact).  Those cards cost you nothing to play immediately but you do have to pay for them eventually.  You get a no-cost effect now in return for a higher cost later.  Thereís no denying that these cards are good and have seen play in tier 1 Vintage decks.  Seal of Primordium is like a Pact card in reverse.  You pay a slightly higher cost up front (Mana + opportunity costs of playing a sorcery speed spell instead of an instant) for a free effect later.  Thereís going to be times with this deck that you donít have anything to do with your mana.  You donít have a creature to put in play and youíre not holding a Red Blast.  In those times, Seal is great to play.  Youíre still actively engaging the board state, but arenít risking your mana because you donít have anything else to do with it at the moment.  Later, when you need mana to counter spells or play a creature but at the same time need to kill an artifact or enchantment, your mana is still open to use for those purposes.  The ďDisenchantĒ effect of the Seal is not cost to you- even with a Sphere effect in play.  If that Seal was a Naturalize instead, youíd have to weigh the costs of playing a disruption element over an aggro element.  Thereís plenty of times you need both on the same turn. 

The second reason to play Seal over Naturalize (or similar card) is that once Seal of Primordium in play, only Stifle and Trickbind can counter it.  Stifle is played in very small amounts in Vintage and you almost never see a Trickbind.  There are decks that are extremely vulnerable to Seal- Tez and Oath specifically.  Against these decks, an early Seal makes winning for them much more difficult.  If you can play a Seal right off the bat, they can only hope to bounce it.  Once itís there, thatís their only strategy.  And then they have to get past all your Red Blasts to do that while making sure you canít replay it.  By paying for the Seal up front, you give yourself the chance to protect it later.  With an instant that does the same thing, you take a risk that casting it will tap you out and leave you with nothing to show for it.  Seal can be played a much less critical time and therefore if you lose it, you have a chance to recover and execute a backup strategy.  Seal of Primordium is just a much more difficult spell to deal with, and it helps to keep your options open as a player.  Naturalize and other similar cards (Grip, Grudge, etc.)  force you into prioritizing cards when you really shouldnít have to IMO.

Next I come to Tarmogoyf- the beater in this deck.  I really donít have too much to say about him.  His efficiency and power are well documented.  Heís the best non-gigantic monster in Magic.  If you donít have any Tarmogoyfs, get some.  Theyíre worth it.  If you just canít, you might try Call of the Herd instead since it can be replayed if countered, but itís just not as good.  Iím not sure weíll ever see anything this good or efficient again (of course, people said the same thing about Morphling and Psychatog so who knows?). 

Two cards I have failed to talk about yet are Elvish Spirit Guide and Simian Spirit Guide.  I saved them towards the end because they arenít really spells in this deck.  Theyíre part of the mana base.  Just because Christmas Beatings doesnít play artifact acceleration, doesnít mean it forsakes acceleration altogether.  The Spirit Guides act as Lotus Petals 2-9 only better- they canít be countered.  There are few things Iíve found more satisfying than countering a Force of Will by pitching a SSG for {R} and playing Pyroblast, or paying {1} for Daze by pitching an ESG.  And when youíre not doing things like that, they help to fix your mana, operate under a Moon Effect, an accelerate into cards like Null Rod, Seal of Primordium, or Magus of the Moon.  You can bait contermagic all day if youíre holding a SSG and a Red Blast.  But also, these things help against Duress.  They are mana accelerants and aggro elements that canít be Duressed from your hand.  That is so important against decks like Tez or TPS.  And, as I just hinted at, in the late game they turn into Grey Ogres that help add in that little extra damage you need to take down your opponent.  The printing of SSG was a major boost for Red, and I can see its place in Vintage rising as the years roll on.

Finally, Iím going to touch on the land base for just a moment.  Christmas Beatings sports 4 Wasteland and a Strip Mine.  Really, this isnít too different from any Fish deck that has Mana Denial as one of its themes.  Not much to say except this package is really solid right now.  There are 4 duals (Taigas) and 4 fetches (Wooded Foothills), but itís been my experience the two rarely meet.  Almost any opening hand with a fetch is also going to have a basic land of some sort in it.  What I usually do is fetch for the basic land I donít have.  Wasteland is SO common right now, itís best to go with as stable a mana base as you can.   Thereís not much 2 Taigas will do for you in play that a Mountain and a Forest canít.  Note the utter lack of any card with double colored mana in its casting cost in this deck.  This is why you can get away with this play strategy.  But really, all I can say about this land base is that itís stable, precisely tuned (more or less land would really hurt the performance of this deck), and very flexible.  You canít ask for much more.

-Whatís the deal with Gorilla Shaman and Chalice in those deck lists?

Originally, Gorilla Shaman was left off the list.  Importance was placed on first turn plays like Chalice for Zero and open red sources for Pyroblast.  As low cost artifacts continued to become a larger part of the metagame, it became clear that Chalice wasnít enough to stop everything.  Stephen and I both came up with different ideas on how to address this. 

I dropped Mogg Fanatic in favor of adding Shaman.  This gave me 16 main deck anti-artifact cards.  The chances of me getting at least 1 in my opening hand was pretty high.  In my home meta, Tez, Oath, and Slaver are played in huge numbers.  So this was a good choice.  However, it weakens my game against Ichorid, and that can be significant depending upon what decks people bring to a tournament.  Stephen dropped Chalice in favor of adding Shaman.  This kept Fanatic in the deck to help against aggro decks and Ichorid.  It also maintained the same number of anti-artifact spells, but increased the deckís flexibility.  And it saves you 40 bucks to boot.  This is a budget deck after all.  Which list is better?  Pfft, I donít know.  Iíve made a commitment to play Stephenís list the next chance I get, so Iíll update this portion of the primer once I do.

What I can say about the two lists is this: Stephenís is much more adaptable to whatever deck sits across from it, my deck is much more focused on beating the top archetype in the format.  Pick your poison. 

-Why is it a better choice over older versions of R/G Beatz? 

Speed doesnít kill anymore for aggro decks.  Taiga-> Mox-> Kird Ape-> Aether Vial used to be a great first turn play for an R/G deck.  Not anymore.  Fast combo like TPS, powerful control decks like Tez, and a resurgence of 2 turn kill Oath decks make a piddley 2/3 creature look quite weak in comparison.  Against a Prison-Shop heavy environment like we had in late 2007 and early 2008, a fast aggro weenie army is ideal.  However, Shop decks have almost entirely disappeared from the current metagame.  It has now become more important to disrupt your opponentís strategy than to quickly enact your own.  Right now, it is really hard to kill your opponent with a bunch of 2 power creatures before he combos off on you.  At some point, there may be a place in the meta for both traditional R/G Beatz and Christmas Beatings, but right now, I feel Chistmas Beatings is the clear choice.

-So what does the deck beat?

Christmas Beatings preys on what are the top archetypes in the meta right now: Tez, Oath, Slaver, Ichorid, and TPS.  TPS is probably the weakest matchup in this group for this deck.  However, Christmas Beatings relentlessly attacks a mana base, so it can be extremely difficult for a TPS player to combo out in a timely fashion.

Ichorid probably faces its worst game 1 matchup with this deck.  Christmas Beatings packs around 17 main deck answers to Ichoridís key cards.  Those answers being Mogg Fanatic, Stingscourger, Wasteland, Strip Mine, and Magus of the Moon.  In addition, it has 4 main deck Seals of Primordium to take out Ichoridís Leyline of the Void.  Thatís important since this deck relies on using Fanatics and Scourgers to remove Bridges in game 1.  For games 2 and 3 (if necessary), this deck can side another 4 to 10 cards making it a massive annoyance for any Dredge player than canít get off to a quick start. 

-What does this deck lose to?

Christmas Beatings can have trouble with Fish, Shop Agro, and Elves, and often will lose to Goblins, traditional R/G Beatz.  The Fish matchup is hard because the strategies are so similar.  That means lots of dead cards.  The good news is they have dead cards too, but unless youíre packing 4 Pyrokinesis and 2+ Dead//Gone in your sideboard, youíll have a tough time keeping up with Fishís card advantage engines.

Shop Agro poses a problem because they can jump out ahead in a hurry.  Razormane Masticore and Sundering Titan are huge problems for this deck.  The deck does have answers.  4 Seals of Primordium, 4 Wastelands, and 4 Magus of the Moons help a lot, but a first turn Juggernaught is really scary.  Other things like Sphere of Resistance, Trinisphere, and Tangle Wire also hamper this deckís strategy.  All this can be taken care of with a sideboard sporting Ancient Grudge and/or Ingot Chewers, but the sideboards Iíve seen donít pack that much artifact hate since Shop decks are a small part of the meta right now.  If Shop decks do become more popular, ironically the matchup will become better as sideboards adapt to the change in the environment. 

Elves are really annoying.  Thankfully, the archetype seems to be declining in popularity as far as Vintage goes.  I donít know why, though, honestly.  Itís cheap to build, fun to play, and decently consistent as far as combo goes in Vintage.  Game 1, you have to rely on well timed Fanatics or a Chalice set at 1 early.  Game 2 and 3 you can bring in some creature hate, but it might not help.  If you can stop the initial rush, then you have a good shot at winning.  Once they get going, however, Elves is nearly impossible to stop.

Christmas Beatingís worst matchup, somewhat surprisingly, is against the decks that can be viewed as its forefathers: Goblins and R/G Beatz.  Fast weenie hordes pose major problems for this deck.  Red has some great mass removal spells like Pyroclasm, Earthquake, Firespout, and Volcanic Fallout for instance.  However, the problem is those cards will wipe out your own creatures at the same time.  So, Christmas Beatings must rely on cards like Pyrokinesis and Dead//Gone.  Right now, Goblins and R/G Beatz are played at near zero levels, but should they suddenly rise in power, Christmas Beatings will suffer.

-What goes in the Sideboard?

A typical Christmas Beatings sideboard might look like this:

3 Red Elemental Blast
4 Pyrokinesis
2 Krosan Grip
4 Tormodís Crypt
2 Pithing Needle

The Red Blasts are there to add fuel to the Anti-Drain fire.  They also can work as anti-creature spells against a Fish deck.  Pyrokinesis is a free board sweeper so long as there arenít too many other creatures opposing you at the same time.  Krosan Grip comes in against Tez and Oath to take out combo pieces before things get out of hand.  The Crypts and Needles are sideboard hate for Ichorid, though the Needles can be brought in against Tez and Painter decks as well.  These are by no means the only cards that can go into a Christmas Beatings deck.  In fact, I review the other options next.

-What are the alternate options?

Ancient Grudge- Of all the effecient artifact kill there is in Magic, I like Ancient Grudge the best for this deck.  Ideally it can kill 2 artifacts, but unlike Rack and Ruin, the three mana cost can be spread out over more than one turn.  It also utilizes Green mana in its Flashback which helps to leave Red mana open for Red Blasts.  If Ancient Grudge gets countered on the first cast, it's not a total loss.  Flashback will let you play it again to kill whatever key artifact is on the board.  If Shop decks make a return, this is the number one card Chrstmas Beatings decks can turn to for help.

Deglamer- I personally have started using this card in my sideboard for a number of reasons.  Itís additional enchantment hate which is much needed against Oath.  It also bounces DSC.

Dead//Gone- I like this card for a lot of reasons.  First, it can pick off key creatures like Bob, Welder, Canonist, and Spirit Tokens from Orchard.  Second, Iíve used it in a pinch to put one of my creatures in the graveyard to remove Bridges against Ichorid decks.  And third, it bounces DSC.  Iíve lost more games to Darksteel Colossus than any other single card I think.  Anything that is capable of helping me out against that beast is an automatic consideration IMO.

Guttural Response- I honestly donít like this card in this deck.  Its advantage is that it can be cast off any Spirit Guide.  However, it canít kill blue permanents like Tez, Fish Creatures, and Propaganda or counter sorceries like Tinker.  If the meta ever becomes 75% Mana Drain, then this card might be thought-worthy.  Until then, it remains marginal.

Momentís Peace- I tested this card a few weeks ago against a Progenitus Oath deck.  My inexperience with the card showed in my poor play, but the effect it had on the game was palpable.  If I had just one more attack phase, I would have won.  And that was with Progenitus and Magister Sphynx in play.  If Progenitus starts to see more play, Momentís Peace may become a viable way of dealing with him.

Pyrostatic Pillar- Against TPS, this card rocks.  Itís two edged; you have to be careful when you play it or you just make the Storm playerís job easier.  But once you start whittling his life down, this card can seal a game. 

Root Maze- When Stephen and I were first working on this deck, Root Maze was on the list for a long time.  It had some great synergy with Pithing Needle and the over-all mana denial strategy of the deck.  It hosed Storm players because lands and artifacts played from the GY would come into play tapped.  Oath would be stalled because Orchard would come into play tapped, giving the Christmas Beatings player a chance to find an answer.  However, Oath and Storm just arenít played enough to justify this card right now, and Magus of the Moon is just a much bigger bomb. Steve did a much better job in his article explaining why this card didnít make the final cut.

Thorn of Amethyst- This is another anti-Storm card.  Its drawback doesnít really affect Christmas Beatings all that much.  It does make it more expensive to cast Red Blasts and Seals, but the real business of the deck is unaffected.  Iím not sure Thorn will ever become part of Christmas Beatingís list of playables, but itís something to keep in mind.

Xantid Swarm- I look at Xantid Swarm as more of a combo protector than an aggro enabler.  Christmas Beatings already has plenty of anto-countermagic cards.  But if Mana Drain increases its share of the meta, the Swarm might become necessary to protect Seals and Rods.  Weíll have to wait and see how much more countermagic gets crammed into decklists.

Greater Gargadon-  This card is pretty conditional.  Itís awesome against Oath and Ichorid, but not that great against anything else.  If Progenitus Oath becomes a major player, then I can see GGís entering the sideboard.  Otherwise, the Gargadons need to stick to decks that sport Vexing Shusher.

Leyline of the Void-  In Stephenís original list for Christmas Beatings he included Leyline of the Void as an anti-Ichorid card.  Iíve felt that with Seals of Primordium in the main and Ichorid often having bounce or Emerald Charm in its sideboard, Tormodís Crypt is a better choice.  However, Stephen makes a good case for Leyline in his article, and I would point you there if you want to read up on this card.

Noetic Scales- At a cost of 4, this card is almost out of this deckís mana range.  However, itís effect is surprisingly good if a bit esoteric.  Oath wonít be able to keep anything on the board and Tez decks will have win using Tezís ultimate or find a way to get rid of the scales before playing DSC.  I donít think this card belongs in the sideboard yet, but it is one of those uncanny cards from Urzaís Block that might be worth keeping in the back of your mind.

-How does this deck play?

Slowly, patiently, tightly.  Let me say that again.  Slowly, patiently, and tightly.  This deck exists on a razorís edge.  ďStray but a little and it will failÖĒ as the saying goes.  Iím sure this primer has made this deck out to be the Best Deck in the Format!!! But letís be honest, decks sporting the Power 9, 4 Mana Drains or 4 Workshops have years of development behind them and lines of play that have been analyzed and improved by the best players in the format.  Christmas Beatings is good.  It can beat all those top tier decks, but it takes play that is highly focused and methodical. 

Playing a Tarmogoyf as soon as possible or a Magus of the Moon with being reasonably sure you can get him into play is chancy.  Turn 2 is the worst time to put an aggro component on the board.  To win, you must first secure your position.  That means playing cards like Chalice, Rod, Shaman, Seal, and Wasteland first.  Putting a basic Snow-covered Mountain into play and passing the turn when you have a Pyroblast in hand is a good play.  Putting a basic Snow-covered Mountain into play then casting Mogg Fanatic when you have a Pyroblast in hand is a terrible play and could cost you then entire game! 

The best advice I can give is to know what your opponents play and what their most likely lines of play will be.  Knowing Tez or BUG Fish inside and out is the key to beating them.  Playing Christmas Beatings is playing two games at once: your hand and your opponentís hand.  Itís almost like Texas Hold Ďem poker.  You use the information on the board to make educated guesses about what your opponent have and will do next, then you act accordingly.  Count the number of Force of Wills played.  Count the number of fetch lands used and the type of lands on the board.  Think about where your opponent is weak and drive toward that.  The deck is extremely flexible, so take advantage of that fact.

-How has this deck performed?

When played in smaller tournaments, this deck has faired decently well.  Hereís some top 8 reports from here on the Mana Drain:

http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=37125.0
http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=37167.0
http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=37219.0
http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=37260.0
http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=37345.0

So far, I havenít seen this deck played at larger tournaments (33+).  Iím hoping to soon, and Iíll update this thread when it happens. 

-Why isnít this deck played more?

I understand the reluctance to try Christmas Beatings.  When I talk about this deck to other people, I get the ďyouíre kidding, right?Ē looks.  No power, no Aether Vial, no Lightning Bolt?  This deck does take a step of faith to try, but by examining its strengths and the metaís weaknesses, itís clear to see why this deck would have a big advantage.  I honestly feel it is just as legitimate a choice as Tez, Oath, or Ichorid right now.  A person who plays seriously and tightly with it in a tournament will see just how strong a choice it is.  Itís my hope that this primer will encourage more experimentation with this deck and that soon weíll have some large tournament data to examine. 

-What about other colors?

This deck is a Red-Green deck.  Green is the absolute best compliment to the artifacts and Red cards that make up the base.  However, as a thought experiment, I considered the other two colors often paired with Red: White and Black.

White:

With White, you can get Grunt, Seal of Cleansing, Children of Korlis, StP, Duergar Hedge-Mage, and Ethersworn Canonist.  If Storm decks come racing back to the top of the metagame, then White might be a choice worth considering, but with White you lose some really key things.  First, you lose a fetch land that can get both kinds of basics youíre playing with.  That means you have to play with some weird combination of Bloodstained Mire and Windswept Heath.  Second, you lose ESG, which is a major factor in this deckís acceleration.  That means adding lands of some sort, which really hurts this deck.  To me, it looks clunky and forced. 

Black:

With Black you get Fulminator Mage, Duress, Thoughtseize, Extirpate, Faerie Macabre, Dark Ritual, Dark Confidant, Cruel Edict, and Cabal Therapy.  Fulminator fits with the anti-land strategy of the deck and even works with a Magus of the Moon in play.  Duress, Cabal Therapy, and Thoughseize can take care of problems Red Blasts miss.  Extirpate is maybe the best targeted GY hoser ever IMHO, and Farie Macabre fits in with the dual purpose creatures Christmas Beatings likes to play.  Dark Ritual can sorta make up for the loss of ESG, but you gotta wonder what youíll ritual into.  Perhaps you can cobble together a Duress followed by a Magus of the Moon or Null Rod.  Black does give you a fetch land that can grab both Snow-covered Mountains and Snow-covered Swamps.  But Black brings no enchantment or artifact kill to the table.  You must be much more aggressive in your play, and that creates chinks in the deckís armor.  Another problem is that this deck would lack any kind of large beatstick and so the clock would be very slow.  Itís slow enough as it is.  My fear would be that it would take so long to deal 20 points of damage, that a good player would be able to squirm out from whatever control pieces have been played and find a way to win. 

-So is that it?

Yeah, thatís about it.  This has been a pretty long primer, so I hope you havenít gotten too board.  Again Iíd refer you to Stephenís article on Star City for more information about this deck and its evolution.  If you play Christmas Beatings in a tournament, please share your experiences in the tournament report forum.  If you have any questions about what Iíve written, post here.   If youíre not a full member, send me a PM and Iíll paste your message into this forum and try to answer your questions or respond to your comment.

Thanks for reading, and may all your beatings be bright!  (thatís a Christmas song reference if you didnít get it  Wink).

Peace,

-Troy_Costisick

PS:  Iíll probably have to edit this post a few times to correct errors and fix spelling/grammar mistakes.  If I got something wrong about a card or strategy, I apologize in advance and will try to correct it as soon as possible.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 05:30:14 am by Troy_Costisick » Logged

Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2009, 10:42:00 am »

Heya,

This is a GenCon 2009 Primer Update for Christmas Beatings:

If youíre going to GenCon this year, Christmas Beatings is still an excellent choice for the metagame.  There will be plenty of Drain-centric decks for you to compete against and Tez-Time Vault is still probably the number one deck in the format.  If you are a budget player, thereís not too many choices that will suit you better than Christmas Beatings.

Currently, this is the list I am playing in my local metagame that allows 10 proxies:

Main Deck-

4 Null Rod
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Thornweald Archer
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Seal of Primoridum
4 Pyroblast
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
1 Black Lotus
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Tiaga
3 Snow-covered Forest
3 Snow-covered Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine

Sideboard-

4 Red Elemental Blast
4 Pyrokinesis
4 Momentís Peace
3 Hull Breach

In a very heavy Drain/Tez metagame, this decklist is lasered in on beating the top deck in the format.  With a small pool of players, itís very likely that Iíll make the top 8 and therefore very likely Iíll play Drain decks.  At GenCon, there is no such certainty.  The no-proxy rule is almost a near guarantee that the meta will be flooded with Fish, Ichorid, Suicide Black, and Tribal decks.  The list above, while nearly ideal for beating Tez, would get bounced from GenCon in two rounds. 

When it comes to large-scale, non-proxy tournaments like the World Champs, I am firm believer in building your main deck for the Swiss rounds and your sideboard for the top 8.  To win at GenCon you have to be able to slog through all the aggro decks before you get to play more ďtop tierĒ builds like Stax, Tendrils, or Tez.  So, if I were going to recommend a main deck, here is what it would be:

4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Thornweald Archer
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Null Rod
4 Seal of Primoridum
4 Pyroblast
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
1 Lotus Petal
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Tiaga
3 Snow-covered Forest
3 Snow-covered Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine

Itís actually not all that different from what I was playing.  The major thing is switching the Gorilla Shamans out for Mogg Fanatic.  Shaman is awesome vs. Moxen and other cheap artifact mana.  However, many many players at GenCon wonít have a full set of Power.  Therefore his usefulness decreases greatly.  With the decrease in Power cards will come an increase in creatures.  Expect to see Dark Confidant everywhere.  I mean EVERYWHERE!  You need to be able to knock him off the table before your opponent builds up a card advantage you canít overcome.  Fanatic can do that.  Youíll also need to be able to pick off other annoying creatures like Goblin Welder and Aven Mincensor.  Finally, Fanatic can be sacrificed to remove bridges against Ichorid decks.  The Fanatic has lost some of his usefulness since the M10 rules, but he is still one of the most versatile creatures in Magic.  Youíll be glad to see him almost every game.  Thornweald Archer is a fairly new addition to the deck.  Heís great to block creatures like Inkwell Leviathan and opposing Tarmogoyfs.  In the early rounds of the tournament, he will be a very valuable resource in creature battles.

With the loss of Shaman, you are somewhat weakened against a fully powered deck.  But remember, you still have Null Rod, Chalice, and Seal of Primordium to launch against an artifact-heavy opponent.  Theyíll get the job done in the Swiss rounds.  This deck gets back to the roots of Christmas Beatings when Stephen wrote about it last December.  Stingscourger is replaced by Archer, but other than that, this build is back to where it was nine months ago.

Letís move on to the sideboard.  Hereís what I recommend:

Side Board-

4 Pyrokinesis
4 Tormodís Crypt
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Krosan Grip

I kept the 4 Pyrokinesis because youíll need help against Agro decks beyond just whatís in your main deck.  Next, I have 4 Tormodís Crypt.  I chose it over Pithing Needle and Relic of Progenitus.  I prefer Crypt because it A) costs 0 mana and B) only removes my opponentís graveyard.  Crypt can come down turn 1 vs. Ichorid in addition to another threat like Mogg Fanatic.  You donít have to spend mana on it like Needle and Relic.  Most Dredge players are going to remove their Chalices against you since youíre not playing any Moxen.  So I believe in game 2 at least, it will resolve.  Also, in a deck featuring Tarmogoyf as its main beat stick, removing oneís own graveyard with Relic is painful.  Needle may have added versatility, but itís not going to stop Dredge like Crypt will.  Tormodís Crypt is my best advice for those four slots in your graveyard.  If you feel differently, itís your sideboard; play what you think will work best.

I took the number of Red Blasts down from 4 to 3.  8 is overkill IMO, and youíll need the extra flexibility in the top 8.  Ancient Grudge is excellent artifact kill and is resistant to counter magic.  It can get you out of a bind against Painter decks and Tez decks.  Itís also decent against Stax and MUD.  Krosan Grip is in there to supplement the Seals against Oath decks.  The number of Oath decks showing up could vary a great deal.  You want to guard your flank against it, but not over commit your resources to defeating it.  6 enchantment kill cards along with 5 land kill cards (9 if you count Magus) should be enough for you to establish control and win the game if your opponent canít drop Orchard/Oath in the first two turns.

Anyway, if you choose to play this deck I think youíll do well for a budget build.  It has a legit shot of beating any deck in the format.  Itís also a blast to play.  I highly recommend using the Snow-covered lands.  First, they look great.  Second, they will keep your opponent wondering what card you have that would possibly interact with them.  It might cause him to hold a counterspell and that might just be enough to steal a game. 

Good luck!

-Troy
Logged

Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2010, 09:33:32 am »

Heya,

Been a while since I've been able to update this deck.  However, here is a list that won a tournament in New York just last month:

Maindeck (60 cards):

Spells (41):

1 Black Lotus
4 Null Rod
2 Pyroblast
2 Red Elemental Blast
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Seal of Primordium
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Tin Street Hooligan

Lands (19):
4 Forest
4 Mountain
1 Strip Mine
2 Taiga
4 Wasteland
4 Wooded Foothills
 
Sideboard: (15 cards)

4 Ancient Grudge
2 Greater Gargadon
3 Pithing Needle
2 Ravenous Trap
4 Tormod's Crypt

Here's the link to the tournament:  http://morphling.de/top8decks.php?id=1226

As you can see, it is remarkably similar to the list Stephen first proposed in his article back in 2008.  I've been tinkering around with cards like Crucible of Worlds and Vexing Shusher in this build.  But it's remarkable to see this version win against a very imposing top 8.  Big grats to the pilot, Ryan Rappa!  This big deal I see in this deck is that he dropped 2 Taigas in favor of an additional Mountain and Forest- which are more stable.  When I play this deck, I find myself usually fetching for whatever basic I don't have in my hand, so I can see why this might be viable (obviously it was at this tournament).  Budget players, here's a deck w/ only two dual lands and one of the Power 9.  If you're in a 5 Proxy environment and don't own a set of Goyfs, here's a deck that stack up against most of the top tier.  It's something you should consider.


Peace,

-Troy
Logged

o uncola o
Basic User
**
Posts: 49


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2010, 07:15:38 am »

From M11:

Manic Vandal

Autumn's Vale

May both be worth considering for a space.
Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2010, 09:54:29 am »

Heya,

From M11:

Manic Vandal

Autumn's Vale

May both be worth considering for a space.

Manic Vandal is probably worse in this deck than Tin Street Hooligan.  The Hooligan costs one less, can be cast so it doesn't have to destroy an artifact if you're the only one with something in play at the time, and has the same amount of power (toughness almost never matters).  I wouldn't play him.

Autumn's Vale is interesting.  Red Blasts can blow up blue permanents like Jace and Tez which is important, so I'd give them the nod at first glance.  The thing that Autumn's Veil can do is protect your spells for an entire turn for just one green mana.  It's a decent surprise card that can let you trap your opponent if he over extends with bounce and/or counterspells.  I've played with Vexing Shusher in the deck and liked his ability a lot.  If I had to choose between Veil and Shusher, I'd probably stick with Shusher.  This deck can have trouble dealing 20 damage during the course of the game.  Shusher can help out in that regard while Veil cannot.  Veil is a one time use.  Shusher can be used every turn and changes the dynamic of the game.

All in all, I don't think M11 had much for this deck.  Until they print red or green cards that make players sacrifice artifacts and enchantments, Christmas Beatings is still in limbo.  Thanks for the input, though.  I'm always on the lookout for new cards for this deck.

Peace,

-Troy
Logged

H
Basic User
**
Posts: 310



View Profile
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2010, 10:20:12 am »

From M11:

Manic Vandal

Autumn's Vale

May both be worth considering for a space.

Why would you play Manic Vandal when Vithian Renegades exists?  I doubt if the ability to cast off only red is really worth the loss of one power.  Even so, i doubt if either is good enough for the deck.

Autumn's Vale on the other hand could be very good, in the sideboard.  It needs some serious testing to be sure though.
Logged

"The Ancients teach us that if we can but last, we shall prevail."
óKaysa, Elder Druid of the Juniper Order
xouman
Basic User
**
Posts: 1082


View Profile Email
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2010, 05:25:14 am »

IMHO overmaster > Autum's Veil, as this deck has problems because of its null capacity to draw. RG beatings relies on a explosive start in the 1-2 turns, and then hope the opponent can't play, but if the start is weak, the match is hard to win. I would even consider wheel of fortune as it sounds weird; usually opponent would have lots of cards in hand and we would have few, so wheel would be better for us. Loam would be nice, but as long as we can't tutor it and having more than 1 is unneeded, I discard the idea.

Now this list is weak against tinker and TPS (it's still not widely played, but it's reappearing slowly). Relies heavily in Tarmogoyf against Fish (and magus of the moon), and I don't know how it works against AggroMud, but it seams capable of win due to 8 anti-artifacts maindeck. Oath could be a problem even with the seals maindeck.
Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2010, 07:42:23 am »

The hardest Tinkerbot for Christmas Beatings to deal with is Sphinx.  Thankfully, people are starting to diversify.  Leviathan can be dealt with by Thornweald Archer or Sculpting Steel.  DSC is a chump to Stingscourger or Dead//Gone.  Platz, eh, no one plays Platz anymore.  The only hope for Sphinx is Sculpting Steel which is iffy. 

I really ought to do a write-up for sideboard options for this deck since they've changed a lot since my last update.  There's a lot of options out there now that didn't exist a year ago.

Against MUD, the main deck Wastelands, Seals, and Hooligans are very good.  Gorilla Shaman's effectiveness in this matchup is neglegible since the Moxen aren't as key to the MUD pilot's win after the first few turns.  With 8 Spirit Guides, a single Sphere or Golem is not a real challenge to overcome.  Magus of the Moon really slows MUD down, so if he comes out early, you can buy yourself enough turns to deal with the fatties your opponent plays in order to get your Goyfs through.  And of course, Ancient Grudge coming out of the sideboard is really nice.
Logged

o uncola o
Basic User
**
Posts: 49


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2010, 09:41:33 pm »

Heya,

From M11:

Manic Vandal

Autumn's Vale

May both be worth considering for a space.

Manic Vandal is probably worse in this deck than Tin Street Hooligan.  The Hooligan costs one less, can be cast so it doesn't have to destroy an artifact if you're the only one with something in play at the time, and has the same amount of power (toughness almost never matters).  I wouldn't play him.

Autumn's Vale is interesting.  Red Blasts can blow up blue permanents like Jace and Tez which is important, so I'd give them the nod at first glance.  The thing that Autumn's Veil can do is protect your spells for an entire turn for just one green mana.  It's a decent surprise card that can let you trap your opponent if he over extends with bounce and/or counterspells.  I've played with Vexing Shusher in the deck and liked his ability a lot.  If I had to choose between Veil and Shusher, I'd probably stick with Shusher.  This deck can have trouble dealing 20 damage during the course of the game.  Shusher can help out in that regard while Veil cannot.  Veil is a one time use.  Shusher can be used every turn and changes the dynamic of the game.

All in all, I don't think M11 had much for this deck.  Until they print red or green cards that make players sacrifice artifacts and enchantments, Christmas Beatings is still in limbo.  Thanks for the input, though.  I'm always on the lookout for new cards for this deck.

Peace,

-Troy

I read your posts completely and I agree with everything you said.  I am still looking into testing Autumn's Vale a little.  Will have to see the results.  I love to be able to pitch an Elvish Spirit Guide for that effect.  Pseudo "Force of Will".
Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2010, 08:28:50 am »

Heya,

From M11:

Manic Vandal

Autumn's Vale

May both be worth considering for a space.

Manic Vandal is probably worse in this deck than Tin Street Hooligan.  The Hooligan costs one less, can be cast so it doesn't have to destroy an artifact if you're the only one with something in play at the time, and has the same amount of power (toughness almost never matters).  I wouldn't play him.

Autumn's Vale is interesting.  Red Blasts can blow up blue permanents like Jace and Tez which is important, so I'd give them the nod at first glance.  The thing that Autumn's Veil can do is protect your spells for an entire turn for just one green mana.  It's a decent surprise card that can let you trap your opponent if he over extends with bounce and/or counterspells.  I've played with Vexing Shusher in the deck and liked his ability a lot.  If I had to choose between Veil and Shusher, I'd probably stick with Shusher.  This deck can have trouble dealing 20 damage during the course of the game.  Shusher can help out in that regard while Veil cannot.  Veil is a one time use.  Shusher can be used every turn and changes the dynamic of the game.

All in all, I don't think M11 had much for this deck.  Until they print red or green cards that make players sacrifice artifacts and enchantments, Christmas Beatings is still in limbo.  Thanks for the input, though.  I'm always on the lookout for new cards for this deck.

Peace,

-Troy

I read your posts completely and I agree with everything you said.  I am still looking into testing Autumn's Vale a little.  Will have to see the results.  I love to be able to pitch an Elvish Spirit Guide for that effect.  Pseudo "Force of Will".

Oh, there are few things more fun than seeing my opponent pitch for his FoW and in response, pitching my SSG for Red Blast when I'm tapped out.  So I know where you're coming from Smile
Logged

rappa5050
Basic User
**
Posts: 14



View Profile
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2010, 02:12:59 pm »

For anyone who is interested, here is a list I'm running right now:

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Null Rod
4 Pyroblast
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Seal of Primordium
4 Nature's Claim
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Burning-Tree Shaman
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Taiga
4 Forest
4 Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus

Sideboard:
1 Blood Moon
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Ancient Grudge
4 Pithing Needle
2 Tormod's Crypt
2 Ravenous Trap

I'm open to suggestions, questions, and feedback. I don't think Autumn's Veil has a place in the deck right now, unless your local metagame has a big blue/black bias. And for the sake of this deck I hope they print some broken red or green spell(s) in Scars of Mirrodin, or at least in the Scars block.

-Ryan
Logged
DubDub
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1392



View Profile Email
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2010, 03:44:35 pm »

For anyone who is interested, here is a list I'm running right now:

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Null Rod
4 Pyroblast
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Seal of Primordium
4 Nature's Claim
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Burning-Tree Shaman
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Taiga
4 Forest
4 Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus

Sideboard:
1 Blood Moon
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Ancient Grudge
4 Pithing Needle
2 Tormod's Crypt
2 Ravenous Trap

I'm open to suggestions, questions, and feedback. I don't think Autumn's Veil has a place in the deck right now, unless your local metagame has a big blue/black bias. And for the sake of this deck I hope they print some broken red or green spell(s) in Scars of Mirrodin, or at least in the Scars block.

-Ryan
Is Mogg Fanatic very good right now?  Those sound pretty cuttable to me, maybe for sources of card advantage like Ancient Grudge (from the board) or Life from the Loam?  Lightning Bolt might also be good as a way to kill Lodestone Golem that's never dead, since it can go to the dome.
Logged

Vintage is a lovely format, it's too bad so few people can play because the supply of power is so small.

Chess really changed when they decided to stop making Queens and Bishops.  I'm just glad I got my copies before the prices went crazy.
rappa5050
Basic User
**
Posts: 14



View Profile
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2010, 04:22:00 pm »

You could be right, depending on your local metagame, but in my experience Mogg Fanatic has been very handy for killing Dark Confidant, Goblin Welder, Noble Hierarch, Forbidden Orchard tokens and anything else with one toughness, as well as exiling Bridge from Below. Ancient Grudge isn't versatile enough to be maindeck, and Life from the Loam just doesn't work in this deck (based on my testing of it). I've considered Lightning Bolt, but in my opinion Mogg Fanatic is more useful.
Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2010, 04:43:50 pm »

I like Fanatic to kill Hierarchs and Bridges, which are more common now than they ever used to be.  I'm interested that you are including Burning-tree Shaman.  I've been looking at that card for a while now as an answer to Time Vault.  Playing him with Magus seems like it would be tough, though.  That's a lot of three drops, and I've always found it hard to get to three mana and still be able to cast Red Blasts to make sure my spells land.  What has your experience with it been like?
Logged

BruiZar
Basic User
**
Posts: 990



View Profile
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2010, 05:35:00 pm »

I wonder how the burning treeīs fared. As for Sphinx of the Steel wind, I would go for Sculpting Steel. The reason for this is because it is also good against Inkwell Leviathan because it doesnīt target. Inkwell is gaining traction due to Jace, TMSīs popularity. Your Sculpting Steel canīt be repealed or truthed because it has shroud, and your copy can Islandwalk your opponent resulting in either of these scenarios

Your opponent attacks you, you block his Inkwell, on your turn you hit back with everything you have.
Your opponent doesnīt attack you, you attack with Inkwell and island walk him for 7. He cannot attack back because you will hit him for lethal or near lethal with the rest of your board, so he passes hoping to bounce your vault key you under null rod before you island walk him to death, since bounce canīt remove Inkwell and Tez nor Jace can survive a turn with Inkwell copy island walking over them. The only out is Rebuild, rebuild is unpopular with spheres in the meta, but it may become more popular if  Leyline of Sanctity becomes a workshop staple.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 05:42:44 pm by BruiZar » Logged
rappa5050
Basic User
**
Posts: 14



View Profile
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2010, 09:49:57 pm »

Troy: It is challenging to work with 8 three-drops, but I think it's plenty feasible. It's just a matter of playing the right one at the right time and playing your lands correctly. In situations where I have both Burning-Tree and Magus in hand but can only cast one, if I manage to choose correctly it's usually not a problem that I may have to wait awhile to cast the other or even never cast the other. It's great to protect them with Pyroblast/REB when I can, but I agree that is hard to do. On the other hand, I don't really mind getting them countered when I can't reach 4 mana with a Blast in hand because 1) many of the other spells in the deck get the job done, and 2) holding that Blast often results in me either protecting another clutch spell or countering a Tinker, Recall, Jace, Tezzeret, FoF, Gifts, Mystical Tutor or some such since they've expended a FoW on my three-drop. And then there are plenty of times when just one three-drop is in hand, and I'll go ahead and play it even if it means using Spirit Guide(s) (unless I have reason to hedge for the other three-drop) because by the time I draw another three-drop I'll likely have three+ mana or I'll have locked the game up.

BruiZar: I like the idea of Sculpting Steel, I'll have to test it...
Logged
o uncola o
Basic User
**
Posts: 49


View Profile
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2010, 08:45:48 am »

For anyone who is interested, here is a list I'm running right now:

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Null Rod
4 Pyroblast
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Seal of Primordium
4 Nature's Claim
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Burning-Tree Shaman
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Taiga
4 Forest
4 Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus

Sideboard:
1 Blood Moon
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Ancient Grudge
4 Pithing Needle
2 Tormod's Crypt
2 Ravenous Trap

I'm open to suggestions, questions, and feedback. I don't think Autumn's Veil has a place in the deck right now, unless your local metagame has a big blue/black bias. And for the sake of this deck I hope they print some broken red or green spell(s) in Scars of Mirrodin, or at least in the Scars block.

-Ryan


Move 2 "Red Elemental Blasts" from sideboard to main and move 2 "Pyroblast" from main to sideboard.

Burning-Tree Shaman is nice tech.  I would consider him as a 2 of main deck and also run 2 Stingscourger main.  They are both good for very different situations.  You can put the other 2 Burning-Tree Shaman in sideboard and swap them if you face Vault-Key.

Just my $.02

Also, I personally prefer "Tin Street Hooligan" to  "Nature's Claim".

Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2010, 09:14:58 am »

For anyone who is interested, here is a list I'm running right now:

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Null Rod
4 Pyroblast
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Seal of Primordium
4 Nature's Claim
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Burning-Tree Shaman
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Taiga
4 Forest
4 Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus

Sideboard:
1 Blood Moon
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Ancient Grudge
4 Pithing Needle
2 Tormod's Crypt
2 Ravenous Trap

I'm open to suggestions, questions, and feedback. I don't think Autumn's Veil has a place in the deck right now, unless your local metagame has a big blue/black bias. And for the sake of this deck I hope they print some broken red or green spell(s) in Scars of Mirrodin, or at least in the Scars block.

-Ryan


Move 2 "Red Elemental Blasts" from sideboard to main and move 2 "Pyroblast" from main to sideboard.

I think that would be a wrong more.  Goyf is the only real beater in Christmas Beatings.  He needs to be as big as possible.  You can cast Pyroblast on a land to grow Goyf.  This is important, especially in attacking a blocking scenarios and against Dredge where Pyroblast has no real use Game 1.  I'm not that worried about Meddling Mage, which is the only reason to play a mix of Red Blasts.  Having Pyroblasts in the main gives you a lot more flexibility.  Red Blasts are more likely to be dead cards.
Logged

rappa5050
Basic User
**
Posts: 14



View Profile
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2010, 10:08:54 am »

o uncola o: I prefer Nature's Claim because Tin Street Hooligan is almost completely useless against Oath, Nature's Claim is instant speed, and I can cast Nature's Claim off an ESG while tapped out if necessary. Also, If Sphere of Resistance or Lodestone Golem is out, Nature's Claim will cost 2 whereas Tin Street will cost 3, which is sometimes a difference that makes or breaks a game with this deck.
Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2010, 11:41:50 am »

o uncola o: I prefer Nature's Claim because Tin Street Hooligan is almost completely useless against Oath, Nature's Claim is instant speed, and I can cast Nature's Claim off an ESG while tapped out if necessary. Also, If Sphere of Resistance or Lodestone Golem is out, Nature's Claim will cost 2 whereas Tin Street will cost 3, which is sometimes a difference that makes or breaks a game with this deck.

And I have to say, that 4 Deals and 4 Claims are probably right in this meta.  Christmas Beatings' first 10 to 11 cards are critical.  You have to be able to land hate and thwart your opponent's first line of attack to buy time.  Goyf and Shaman are proably late plays unless you need blockers vs. Fish.  But against Tez, MUD, and Oath you have to hit your Artifact/Enchantment hate early AND get it to stick.  I commend your focussed design in that matter, Ryan.
Logged

rappa5050
Basic User
**
Posts: 14



View Profile
« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2010, 11:55:53 am »

Thanks Troy. By the way, "Autumn's Veil: Autumn's Fail" really made me lol.
Logged
o uncola o
Basic User
**
Posts: 49


View Profile
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2010, 10:03:34 am »

For anyone who is interested, here is a list I'm running right now:

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Null Rod
4 Pyroblast
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Seal of Primordium
4 Nature's Claim
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Burning-Tree Shaman
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Taiga
4 Forest
4 Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus

Sideboard:
1 Blood Moon
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Ancient Grudge
4 Pithing Needle
2 Tormod's Crypt
2 Ravenous Trap

I'm open to suggestions, questions, and feedback. I don't think Autumn's Veil has a place in the deck right now, unless your local metagame has a big blue/black bias. And for the sake of this deck I hope they print some broken red or green spell(s) in Scars of Mirrodin, or at least in the Scars block.

-Ryan


Move 2 "Red Elemental Blasts" from sideboard to main and move 2 "Pyroblast" from main to sideboard.

I think that would be a wrong more.  Goyf is the only real beater in Christmas Beatings.  He needs to be as big as possible.  You can cast Pyroblast on a land to grow Goyf.  This is important, especially in attacking a blocking scenarios and against Dredge where Pyroblast has no real use Game 1.  I'm not that worried about Meddling Mage, which is the only reason to play a mix of Red Blasts.  Having Pyroblasts in the main gives you a lot more flexibility.  Red Blasts are more likely to be dead cards.

Meddling is a big reason, but not the only.  Extirpate and Cabal Therapy also have limited splash in some (not first tier) blue control decks. 

I have found that, by the time I am dropping a 'goyf, there are usually instants already in the graveyard.

I think that it is a balancing test.  To me the balance weighed in favor of the mix.  If you are running into situations where there are no instants in the graveyards, I agree that pyroblast is the better card and would outweigh the benefits of diversity.
Logged
o uncola o
Basic User
**
Posts: 49


View Profile
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2010, 10:11:05 am »

4 Seals is for sure correct.  "Nature's Claim" still bothers me.  Both of you probably have more experience than I do with the deck, so I will test it.  I appreciate that you are all sharing the knowledge and keeping the deck evolving.

Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2010, 10:16:33 am »

4 Seals is for sure correct.  "Nature's Claim" still bothers me.  Both of you probably have more experience than I do with the deck, so I will test it.  I appreciate that you are all sharing the knowledge and keeping the deck evolving.

I'll always say it depends on your meta.  4 Seals and 4 Claims is terrible if you're going to play Ichorid, TPS, and Fish all day.  But you're going up against a field of Tez, MUD, and Oath, it's great.  In a medium to large 10+ Proxy even, 4 Seals/4Claims is probably best.  In a non-proxy event in the US, it most certainly would not be.  A non-proxy event in Europe, maybe 4/2.  There isn't one combination that will always be right.  You have to know what type of tournament you're going to play in and what the local deck preferences are.

Peace,

-Troy
Logged

rappa5050
Basic User
**
Posts: 14



View Profile
« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2010, 10:23:43 am »

I appreciate that you are all sharing the knowledge and keeping the deck evolving.


No problem, I hope your testing goes well. And I agree with what Troy just wrote. I also agree with your "balancing test" statement, it's just that in my experience the pros of having 4 Pyroblast have always outweighed the cons.
Logged
xouman
Basic User
**
Posts: 1082


View Profile Email
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2010, 05:19:59 am »

Choke is not good enough for the side? Among with magus/blood moon, it seals most manabases. 3 cc again, but with 19 lands, lotus and 8 oneshot mana creatures, it shouldn't be a problem.

I'm not sure that sculpting steel is a secure tool against robot, I would follow the discusion in case there is another idea Smile
Logged
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2010, 06:56:04 am »

Heya,

Iíve done a breakdown of the most common cards played in Christmas Beatings and in what matchup those cards are best suited.  I give a brief summary of each opposing deck, but I donít go into a ton of detail.  Iíd like to set this up more as a question and answer type thing.  So if you have a question about a particular card in a particular matchup, just ask and Iíll reply.  Going into detail on each card in each scenario would just take pages and pages.  Itís summer and Iím too lazy for that (this post is already 5 pages on MS Word).  Anyway, here ya go Smile





Vs. Tez

Null Rod
Chalice of the Void
Gorilla Shaman
Magus of the Moon
Seal of Primordium
Natureís Claim
Thornweald Archer
Sculpting Steel
Burning-Tree Shaman
Vexing Shusher
Ancient Grudge
Hull Breach
Strip Mine
Choke
Red Elemental Blast
Pyroblast
Autumnís Veil
Pithing Needle

The card options for Tez are well documented in the posts above.  Obviously, you want your artifact disruption there to kill Time Vault and Moxen and to stop Tinker.  In fact, against Tez, thereís really only three cards you have to stop:  Tezzeret, Tinker, and Time Vault.  Anything else can resolve.  Iíve made the mistake in the past of trying to stop cards like Ancestral Recall or Gifts Ungiven.  You just donít need to.  Make the fight about Tinker, and you stand a much better chance of winning.





Vs. Oath

Seal of Primordium
Natureís Claim
Wasteland
Strip Mine
Dead//Gone
Stingscourger
Thornweald Archer
Crucible of Worlds
Vexing Susher
Greater Gargadon
Plummet
Null Rod
Hull Breech
Red Elemental Blast
Pyroblast
Mogg Fanatic
Sculpting Steel

Oath can be a really tough matchup since most of your best cards are creatures.  This is the matchup where having 4 Seals + 4 Natureís Claims really shines.  There are three potential phases of the game you will have to deal with against Oath: Preventing Oath from coming into play, Dealing with Oath once itís in play, and finally, Dealing with whatever creature they Oathed up.

Preventing Oath from coming into play used to be a lot easier.  Prior to Zendikar, Oath didnít play a basic forest.  So a combination of Null Rod/Chalice and Magus of the Moon was usually enough to take you all the way.  If you cut off their green mana from Lotus, Emerald, and Trop, you win.  That strategy is still okay, but it only buys you a little time before they get their forest in play.

Once Oath of Druids is in play, having 8 ways to kill it is really important.  But itís not just having them, itís also being able to get them to stick.  It really helps to have a Red Blast or Vexing Shusher to help you land your spells.  Save your red mana and your Blasts if at all possible.  Greater Gargadon is somewhat helpful against Oath, but to really make him worth playing, you almost have to play Vexing Shusher as well.  Iíve beaten Oath off bringing 2 Gargadons into play on the same turn and using Shusher to get past the countermagic.

In the worst case scenario, Oath gets a creature or two in play.  The four creatures youíll see most are Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Iona, Terastadon, and Emrakul. Sculpting Steel is your only real answer for Sphinx, and itís not a great one.  The Sphinx is perfectly suited to beat this deck.  Terastadon is probably the second worst.  It really depends a lot on what your opponent does to your side of the board.  Your best bet is to hold a Thornweald Archer and/or a Dead//Gone to deal with him and hope what youíve got left on the board is enough to win.  Iona can be dealt with.  Archer, Plummet, Dead//Gone, Stingscourger, and a Greater Gargadon in play all work. Emrakul is really scary.  He can be killed by the Archer and bounced by Stingscourger, so heís not impossible to deal with.  But just one attack will almost certainly put you out of the game, even if you are able to block with an Archer. 

But really, once a creature is in play, it gets really tough to win against Oath, so stopping that from ever happening should be the mission of this deck.





Vs. MUD

Ancient Grudge
Shattering Spree
Sculpting Steel
Tinstreet Hooligan
Magus of the Moon
Null Rod (yes, Null Rod)
Gorilla Shaman
Thornweald Archer
Seal of Primordium
Natureís Claim
Wasteland
Strip Mine
Pyrokinesis

MUD is a fairly favorable matchup, especially games 2 and 3.  Most of the cards in Christmas Beatings are cheap, and depending on your sideboard, you should have plenty of cards to bring in that kill their permanents.  I point to Null Rod as being good in the matchup because most MUD decks play a lot of artifact mana, even those with Null Rod.  MUD decks sporting Rod usually play it when itís to their best advantage, which is never against this deck.  It may be surprising that I suggest a card commonly featured in a deck as good against that deck, but when you consider the matchup, it clearly is.  This is another deck where having 4 Seals and 4 Claims is really nice.





Vs. Stax

Ancient Grudge
Shattering Spree
Sculpting Steel
Tinstreet Hooligan
Crucible of Worlds
Regrowth
Null Rod
Gorilla Shaman
Thornweald Archer
Seal of Primordium
Natureís Claim
Mogg Fanatic
Wasteland
Strip Mine
Dead//Gone
Chalice of the Void
Burning-Tree Shaman
Pithing Needle
Pyrokinesis

Stax can be a harder matchup depending on the build.  Is it 5 color?  Is it Mono-Red?  Obviously, one of the cards you really have to watch for is Goblin Welder.  Thatís why I included Mogg Fantatic and Dead//Gone as good in this matchup.  Unlike some other opponents, against Stax, you want to get as many cards on the table as fast as possible.  Smokestack, Tanglewire, and Crucible of Worlds will come out quickly against you, so you must be prepared to weather the storm until you can deal with them.  When you sideboard, side in permanents if you can.  Obviously Ancient Grudge is going to have to come in, but if you have cards like Archer or Burning-Tree Shaman in your SB, try to fit them in so you can get as much in play as possible.





Vs. TPS

Null Rod
Chalice of the Void
Gorilla Shaman
Red Elemental Blast
Pyroblast
Autumnís Veil
Vexing Shusher
Wasteland
Strip Mine
Magus of the Moon

My overall record vs. Storm decks is fairly good.  Early Chalice and Null Rod followed by Magus and/or Wasteland effects usually keeps them off balance long enough for me to win.  Like Tez decks, you must be mindful of Tinker at all times.  Itís a must stop spell.  Of course, so is Yawgmothís Will, but itís hard to get the six mana to cast Chalice at 3 ;-D  The object here is to deny them a sufficient amount of mana to combo out and then run them over with Tarmogoyf.





Vs. Fish

Red Elemental Blast
Pyroblast
Burning-Tree Shaman
Thornweald Archer
Pyrokinesis
Dead//Gone
Vexing Susher
Mogg Fanatic

Honestly, Iíve found Fish to be the most difficult matchup for this deck.  They generally have at least as many creatures as us, and sometimes they are bigger.  They also have a decent amount of countermagic and better creature removal.  Game 1 is a nightmare.  Think about how many potentially dead cards you have in your deck vs. them.  Chalice, Rod, Seal, and Claim have almost no effect against a Fish deck.  I guess you can always Natureís Claim your own Null Rod to gain 4 life and buy yourself a turn, but that sucks.  I happen to like Burning-Tree Shaman in this matchup not because of his ability, but because of his 4 toughness.  In games 2 and 3, burn is your best friend.  Dead//Gone and Pyrokinesis must come in from your SB.  Normally, I leave in my Red Blasts theyíre very versatile here unless the build is really heavy in black and green.  Against Fish, itís a race to see who can get the most Goyfs out first.





Vs. Dredge

Mogg Fanatic
Magus of the Moon
Wasteland
Strip Mine
Ghost Quarter
Dead//Gone
Pyrokinesis
Tormodís Crypt
Ravenous Trap
Pithing Needle

Surprisingly, Christmas Beatings has a fairly good Game 1 matchup against Dredge.  Fanatic takes out their bridges on-demand.  Wasteland, Strip Mine, and Magus stop Bazaar.  And you can attack with your little creatures all day because they generally donít want to block.  Games 2 and 3 I bring in my GY hate and sometimes Dead//Gone.  Dead//Gone bounces Narcos, Bloodghasts, and Ichorids to their hand- something they HATE by the way.

You may have noticed three glaring omissions: Simian Spirit Guide, Elvish Spirit Guide, and Tarmogoyf.  I didnít list them because I shouldnít have too.  They are auto-includes in all circumstances.  If youíre playing Christmas Beatings, you need to be playing those cards.  Rmemeber, though, Christmas Beatings is really a budget deck.  It doesnít have the raw power of MUD, Tez, and TPS.  It takes tight, focused play to win.  But you can win! 

Iíve listed way more cards than you could ever fit into the 75 it takes to build Christmas Beatings.  The trick is to know your meta.  Study, study, study, and if youíre not sure, go for versatile cards first, then tune as needed.  Feel free to pelt me with questions.  Iím happy to answer them.  This is the best I can do right now in lieu of a full blown revised primer.  Happy hunting!

Peace,

-Troy   
Logged

rappa5050
Basic User
**
Posts: 14



View Profile
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2010, 07:59:57 am »

Choke is not good enough for the side? Among with magus/blood moon, it seals most manabases. 3 cc again, but with 19 lands, lotus and 8 oneshot mana creatures, it shouldn't be a problem.

Choke is good per se, but it's not so good when their nonbasics become mountains. Choke is practically anti-synergistic with Magus/Blood Moon. If I had open slots for something like Choke, I'd consider just adding more Blood Moons.
Logged
grungyboy
Basic User
**
Posts: 32


View Profile
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2010, 10:51:18 am »

nice work there Troy;  although i don't use X-mas beatings myself, your card choices for various match ups menu pretty nailed it hard  Very Happy as a RG player myself i would like to share some insights/suggestions:

i think Vexing Shusher is a good addition to this deck; i plan to use this in my RG Beats deck. Shusher + Pyroblast is a very good answer to Tinker. They play Tinker you Blast in response and if they counter back just activate Shusher's ability and see your opponents' counter fizzle. It also laughs off Chalice set to 2 and therefore can help you resolve 2 cc spells in any case you are locked with Chalice set at 2.

Burning Tree Shaman is good especially with Vault-Key but thing is which will you cut? aside from Troy pointing out that it takes up another 3cc slot (which is kinda hard if you're gonna ask me), i think it would be too much since you already have 4 Seals and 4 Null Rod for that. But on the other hand, Shaman also deserves a second look since it also a body to be reckoned with which i guess could help in the Fish match ups  and it can also punish you opponents when they Top, Fetch, Jace etc.

@troy:what i would like to ask is that from your experience, on average, from what turns does usually a Tez player cast Tinker? also, since i don't use Null Rods, is Seal of Primordium enough to keep Vault-Key in check? i ask these questions as i believe it will help me finalizing my RG Beats list. Of course i can't post it here but if there are anyone interested i'll be glad to discuss it with you. thank you in advance     


   
Logged

Gruul Anti-Mage
{R}{G} 
Creature -- Human Berserker
2/2
{1}{R}, Sacrifice Gruul Anti-Mage: Gruul Anti-Mage deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
{G}, Sacrifice Gruul Anti-Mage: Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
He breaks your face with ruin and rage.
Troy_Costisick
Full Members
Basic User
***
Posts: 1804


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2010, 12:13:18 pm »

Burning Tree Shaman is good especially with Vault-Key but thing is which will you cut?

If you want to use Burning-Tree Shaman and Magus of the Moon, you are pretty much obliged to build your deck like rappa's.  You need to have 4 Seals, 4 Claims, and 4 Rods.  BT Shaman will be one of the last spells you play, and only when you have established board control.  I can't tell you exactly what to cut without knowing what decklist you're working with.  But I can tell you, that you have to use cheap disruption to save yourself from a loss in the first three turns before you can play BT Shaman.

@troy:what i would like to ask is that from your experience, on average, from what turns does usually a Tez player cast Tinker?   

Turns 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8.  From my experience.

also, since i don't use Null Rods, is Seal of Primordium enough to keep Vault-Key in check? i ask these questions as i believe it will help me finalizing my RG Beats list. Of course i can't post it here but if there are anyone interested i'll be glad to discuss it with you. thank you in advance     

No, Seal on it's own is not enough.  It needs support from Chalice, Gorilla Shaman, Red Blasts, and/or Null Rod.  And really, Vault-Key isn't the problem.  You have to get something to beat Tinker within your first 8 or 9 cards, preferably two things.  4 Seals in a 60 card deck won't cut it, and if they know you're playing an aggro deck, Tinker becomes Plan A and they will drive hard towards resolving it.  If you really don't want to play Null Rod, you can try Pithing Needle as a replacement.  It works on Fetchlands, Bazaar, Welder, and Top if you need it to.  If you're not playing Rod because you're playing Aether Vial, you have some interesting anti-Vault/Key options like Viridian Zealot, Viridian Shaman, and Manic Vandal to surprise kill artifacts.

Peace,

-Troy
Logged

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.24 seconds with 20 queries.