Legacy Lessons: How To Kill Miracles (3)

by Philipp Schönegger on 30 August 2016, Tuesday

Philipp Schönegger

Legacy Lessons: How To Kill Miracles (3)

 

Welcome back everyone. This article's focus will be a little different. We will not be looking at individual cards, sideboarding strategies, or plays by themselves. Our objective will be to take a look at the standard Miracles player in order to find exploitable weaknesses.

 

As a preliminary remark, let me add that I am not talking of high profile Miracles players or players who have just picked up the deck. When I speak of "the Miracles player" today, what I mean is an individual who feels reasonably comfortable piloting Miracles and who has an average knowledge of the metagame. Of course, the "Miracles player" will also be taken as having an acceptable practical understanding of the rules.

 

 

 

Players and Time

 

The first, and probably most important, thing we will talk about today is time. In one of my earlier articles I wrote that the Miracles player has to fight two opponents at once: the player and the clock. It strikes me as quite baffling that the reverse isn't a more widely explored topic in the competitive community. Much of my point here will not translate into a casual context. I wouldn't want to be held responsible for anyone being kicked out of a casual group! The techniques discussed in this article are to be applied in competitive settings only, where the social norms at a little bit different.

 

Sensei's Divining Top

 

It's no mystery that Miracles takes its time at almost every stage of the game. While I object to the notion that this is exclusively pertinent to Miracles, let's examine which points pressure could be applied? The most obvious point is the time that many players use for simple decisions like Sensei's Divining Top activations. We often observe preposterous amounts of time squandered here. Prima facie, there isn't much that can be done about this, right? While not directly in the context of the game, there are indeed actions that can be taken.

 

  1. Ask your opponent to play faster. Many players do not play slowly intentionally and may be not even be aware of the huge chunks of time that they are using. Just asking them to play a little faster is well within your rights as a player and shouldn't cause any problems. This simple request is well within the bounds of propriety.
     
  2. If this does yield the result that you hoped for, there's still the infamous judge call. Although one should not call a judge whenever one plays against Miracles, situations that justify a judge call do frequently arise. If you feel that a judge call is warranted, then call a judge. Do not be afraid of angry looks from your opponent. There is no reason that the judge call cannot be made politely.

 

These are the official steps that you can take in a competitive environment to ensure that your opponent remains conscious of time pressure, possibly causing them to rush and make a mistake. There are some more things that you can do during the game as well. It's not forbidden to keep the clock in mind when playing Magic. On the contrary; it is wise to do so. (Pro Tip: Always take the seat that enables an unrestricted view of the clock!)

 

If you're playing against Miracles, and they have managed to survive the early game relatively unscathed and are advancing to the later stages with a decent set-up while you are struggling to peel something that might matter: concede if it saves enough time for you to possibly win the next game (or two). There's no glory to be had in sitting it out and having your opponent kill you. Here are a couple of guidelines as to when it may be profitable to fold instead of having your opponent slowly widdle you down over the course of another 10 or 15 minutes.

 

  1. Did you achieve any significant impact in the early game? Think of things like connecting for 10 or more damage, wasting two or more dual lands of the same type or discarding at least one important win condition. If you have, it may be profitable to sit it out for a few more minutes.
      
  2. Do you have really tricky, resilient late game cards like Keranos, God of Storms in your deck that may be able to get you out of a losing position? If this is the case, do not throw away your game prematurely.

 

However, if you haven't achieved much of an impact early one and are lacking any really powerful, back-breaking bombs for the late game, whereas your opponent is advancing into the later stages with a workable configuration, conceding is a good option. Assuming that there's another game to be played in the match, it is likely strictly better to concede the present game to move on to the next with enough time left on the clock for you to win.

 

 

 

What If You've Already "Won"?

 

On the other hand, nobody forces you to concede just because the Miracles player has "basically won."

 

Many times the Miracles player will maneuver to a point where he or she has virtually won. However, "virtually" is the key part of that sentence. The Miracles player may ask you (sometimes quite kindly, other times rather rudely) to concede if time runs short. You are very well within your rights to deny such a request, playing out the last remaining minutes at the usual pace to ensure a draw. However, be aware of the consequences that such a step brings with it. If this is your first draw, you will fall into what is called the "draw bracket." In such a draw bracket, you will probably encounter other slow decks at a considerably higher rate than out there "in the wild." However, legend has it that there was once a Belcher mirror match in the draw bracket that I had the pleasure to spectate. But nonetheless, it's a line of thought that is worth keeping in mind.

 

As much as your opponent is responsible for his pace of play, so are you for yours. I'd strongly encourage you to practice playing fast. It isn't a talent, but rather a skill that you can hone with repeated training. If you haven't practiced playing fast, you may make slips in the execution of your battle plans. Training to play fast is really easy, just force yourself to play at twice the speed you typically do. Over and over again. At some point you will reach your "natural" limit of playing fast with a reasonably small number of misplays. Once you can do that, you can apply it to your full advantage.

 

Ponder Brainstorm

 

Although increasing your playing speed is a good thing without qualification, there are also two specific uses that the skill can be put to. First, nobody will take your request to play more quickly very seriously if you yourself are ponder every Brainstorm for two solid minutes each. Second, it will allow you to navigate those crucial turns at the end of a round more efficiently. Having to squeeze out a win in a couple of minutes is hard, certainly. But if you are used to playing fast, you may end up winning more games against stalling Miracles opponents. I still quite vividly remember having such a G3 myself in my first year of Legacy.

 

For the third game against Rock (I was playing a UWR type deck), I simply boarded in all creatures and FoW to play the "tempo" game and won in a matter of minutes. Nobody plays like this all the time, but being able to utilize this gear is important, especially when beating (sometimes rather slow) Miracles players.

 

 

 

Signing Off

 

Last of all, and I know many will disagree with me, I have a Jedi mind trick for you that might strike you as kind of dirty. It's closely connected to one of my favorite things to do at a tournament: trash talking. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but for my part, I love doing it. In this case the topics of discussion need not be rude, offensive, or demeaning (as true trash talking always is), it's really just talking about whatever comes to your mind, regardless of how talkative your opponent may be.

 

The effect this has is different for every player. Some enjoy it, some don't. (If they clearly state that they don't enjoy this sort of conversation, then you obviously stop.) But many of those who do enjoy it (and will gladly join you in talking about the fur of your dog) will be diverted from certain aspects of the game. This works especially well against Miracles, where one has to plan several turns in advance. It may not be for everyone, but I have found that simply talking to your Miracles opponent will throw many out of them off their game. If your inane conversation causes them to forget as small a detail as what card they put down second from the top, it's done its work. Moreover, it's also great fun!

 

Thanks for reading! See you in a week.




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