As promised, Part 2 is here! If you haven’t read Part 1 you should totally go and do that as this piece will assume you have an idea on how a Miracle deck is built. It’s cool I’ll wait right here.
Have you read it? Good let’s start then!
Today we’re going to discuss how to not lose to ourselves and how to beat our opponents. This will be a more general “How to play” guide than a match-up by match-up analysis since there are so many decks in Legacy, and the format is constantly evolving. Let’s look at how our deck works:
Did we..? Did we have a plan?
I hope so! Miracles is at heart a control deck and per default you’re likely to be favored the longer the games go. So most of the time you want to identify how prolong the game (Turn-wise! In the name of all that is holy I meant turn-wise!). The more time you have to durdle around with Sensei’s Divining Top the more your superior card selection will pull you ahead. This goes doubly so if you have access to Predicts and/or Jace, the Mind Sculptor as you will then have a real source of card advantage to pull you even further ahead.
No matter what build you’re on your number one goal should be to not die! Honestly, don’t care about winning the game in the first 3-4 turns (in the literal sense where winning means bringing your opponents life total to zero or ulti’ing Jace). Just prolong the game and use Top to pull ever so gently ahead.
Not dying means you get to see more cards which in turn will help you accomplish a stranglehold on the game where you’ll inevitably win.
So how can we not die? It depends on our opponent. But in a general sense you want to find your white cards against creature decks and your blue cards against non-creature decks….. a very rough guide I know.
Just fly casual
The most important skill to learn as a Miracles player is identifying what is currently killing you. Not necessarily the card with the biggest damage output, but the card or combination of cards that put your opponent ahead. Do they have a Chalice of the Void making you unable to play your spells? How can you remove it and how much can you affect your current predicament? Do your opponent have a Deathrite Shaman, making your Snapcaster Mages useless? Personally I tend to kill a Deathrite before I kill anything else so that Snapcaster can later kill surviving creatures by flashing back whatever killed the Deathrite.
Sometimes, what’s killing you isn’t necessarily visible. This is mostly true for combo decks (and sometimes the mirror) where you have to rely on experience with the match-up to identify what’s putting the game in your opponents hands. Usually it has something to do with the amount of selection they have played compared to the amount of countermagic you have in hand.
Once you have identified what your opponent is doing to put you behind, next identify a way to stop that and start putting yourself ahead.
There are 3 basic resources in Magic: Life – Tempo – Cards
Life: This is the resource you care the least about as long as it is at more than 1 (so you can still Force/fetch) you really don’t care in most match-ups. Remember: Don’t die!
Tempo: This one is a bit fluffier and you are likely to be behind on it in turns 1-2-3 while you identify threats and solutions. Tempo has often been described as Mana and while that is somewhat true, it doesn’t hold completely true. Not in our context at least. It is a mixture of available mana per turn and how much pressure can be applied with that mana. Board presence or momentum if you will. For example while Daze technically puts its caster behind on lands they are up on tempo since they just neutered X worth of mana while using zero mana of their own. You will start behind here since our main game plan involves spending our first few turns sculpting a hand of answers. Don’t be scared though since your powerful answers and superior late-game should eliminate any tempo-advantage from the early game.
Cards: There are two facets of this. Card Quantity Advantage: the pure number of cards you have available. Some builds care about this resource, while others don’t. Predict, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Terminus and Snapcaster Mageare ways we can pull ahead here. Our main engine is Counterbalance though.
The other facet is Card Quality Advantage, and this is where we shine, between all our cantrips and our Top we should be able to always find what we need, when we need it to tighten our grip on the game, every time we find a spell where our opponent finds a land we get even further ahead.
You will often find yourself trading Tempo for Card Advantage and then use your Card Advantage to eliminate Tempo’s relevance to the game. Sometimes your opponents agree that this plan is a good plan and start playing their own Card Advantage spells, don’t fall behind here! Don’t Force of Will a draw-3 though! Then you still fall behind. Try to either outclass their cards or bank on them drawing medium to medium- cards.
So to summarize:
- Life: Don’t care.
- Tempo: You start behind but you will pull ahead with powerful answers.
- Cards: This is our turf! This is where we win!
But mooom, they are being mean to me!
Sometimes, you do not have the long game locked up, against certain decks you have to be the aggressor. Mostly this will be against Burn (Exquisite Firecraft is a dumb card) and 12-post or similar decks that can go over the top of what you are doing to ignore your otherwise powerful answers and late game. You’ll want to identify these situations quickly and act accordingly!
Sometimes it is not specific decks that puts you as the aggressor, but specific situations, usually opposing Planeswalkers or similar hard-to-deal with threats can offer you race as the only choice of action.
The angels send their regards
We now know what’s important in the game and what our plan is, which resources to prioritize. Now to the best part! Winning! Exactly how will depend on your match-up and your build. But don’t start winning until you have to, due to a race. Most games you lose will be because you tried to win too early. Ideally you don’t start winning until your opponent has zero board presence and zero cards. Spoiler: Games are rarely ideal and if they are, they usually end with your opponent scooping to your overwhelming advantage.
So when you start winning you’ll like have to play around something, identify what and either play around it (leave mana up for Daze/Spell Pierce and friends) or have answers for their answers (Force for their Force) or you could just not care and win later if you have that luxury.
Thank you for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it.
You’re welcome to follow me on twitter @Thiesenmagic to shoot me a question there or on twitch.tv/alakazimdk and come troll in chat.
May you always outplay your opponent