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Why Chris Pikula™ Wants You To Go Rogue
By Russell Sherman
Why Chris Pikula™ Wants You To Go Rogue

Meddling Mage
WU
Rare
As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card
The named card can’t be played.
2/2

I love Meddling mage, don’t you? It’s a wonderful card. Simply wonderful.
Why is it so great? Well, besides being the second invitational card to make a splash in t2 (Long’s never did), and a decent bear, it also reads “Does not affect target rogue decklist” If I play green and red and do NOT play Kavu Titans, Ghitu Fires, Fire/Ice, etc…. my opponent will STILL name those cards. If I play u/w/b, my opponent still has the tendency to name “dromar” instead of the less-used (here) but altogether better Desolation Angel. When my brother plays u/w/r control and does not run Urza’s Rage, meddling mage becomes a bad bear, because EVERYONE will name “Urza’s rage”

Welcome to the Era of Post-Netdecks. Of 5 or 6 decks dominating the format. Of Kiblerism and Pikulaism.

Kiblerism: Technically, it should be Rithinity, but this sounds better. It’s the property that allows you to take a rogue deck, with good, unplayed cards, and play it and win with it. If Meddling Mage had been out at PT Chicago, Kibler’s deck would have been AMAZING. I mean, really, they lose 4 maindeck slots and who would EVER name Armageddon? Or Ancient Hydra? Or Rith, for that matter?

Pikulaism: This is the ability to predict the gamestate or the decklist or even the hand of your opponent by knowing exactly what decks like theirs play. I read about Adrian Sullivan giving a running narrative deducing his opponent’s hand by the deck he was playing, and the reactions that he had. That has a high pikulistic factor. If you are playing a well-known deck with very few personal changes, then they know what to expect, and can use that knowledge against you. They’ll save their counterspells or destruction spells for the important spells they know are coming. But if the important spells never come… they’ve just wasted their important spells.

Remember, not all good spells are played. There are spells that are almost as good that aren’t played, that can be better because they’re A) not vulnerable to the same spells and B) not the same type of spell, necessarily. Fire/Ice is GREAT against weenies, but if they cast a meddling mage naming it, and you’re playing Scorching Lava instead, you’ve lost nothing, and they’ve turned their Mage into a bear. Maindeck Gainsays are USELESS if you’re playing against a r/b deck with the lyrically inspired title “Break Stuff.” You see?

The Wasteland Cycle is a cycle whereby nonbasic lands are played more and more in extended, and as they’re played more and more, wasteland becomes more and more popular until they stop being played, in order to make wasteland useless, and wasteland becomes less popular, so people can play nonbasic lands again. Welcome to the metagame. Nonbasics are the most basic metagame indicator. Rishadan port would be making a comeback in t2 right now, were it not cycling out. Look at the top 8 worlds decks. Look for Tsabo’s Web…..

So? You try to beat the metagame, and there are really 2 metagames.

1: The Rock-Paper-Scissors metagame. Where there are 3-8 “good” decks, and you win by staying one jump ahead of everyone else, as they cycle through them. The deck that wins this PT won’t be the winner of the last PT, it’ll be the deck that beats the winner of the last PT. This is the most consistent way to win, for those who can read the metagame well. Randy Buehler, I believe, has expressed distaste for this concept, claiming that in every format, one deck will be dominant. If that deck hits at the wrong time in the metagame (like a stasis deck, against a deck built with anti-blue and enchantment cards to beat Trix), it’s still bad. This is tiring and troublesome, because there’s always the chance that you’ll be beaten by someone who decided to go…..

2: ROGUE. The deck you have is good. Not a pet deck, one that you’re less than objective about, but it’s good. And nobody is playing anything like it. Nobody knows how to deal with it, because they’ve never seen it before. If it’s really good, it will beat the Rock-Paper-Scissors decks, many which are designed to win against each other. This is the reason why people try to keep their tech secret. Rogue decks win. Fires was almost unheard of until several people busted it out for the states tournaments, and won. Rogue decks are the ideal of professional players, now. A deck that nobody has heard of that wins. Brian Kibler’s PT Chicago deck.

Maindeck Gainsays are a perfect example. People saw that all the top IBC decks ran blue, so put in Gainsays, to help them win against other blue decks. If they succeed, then non-blue will make a comeback…. And can’t play Gainsay, so blue decks will again beat them. You can try to stay one step ahead, or have a nonblue deck that beats everything. Or a blue deck that doesn’t mind Gainsay…

A succesful rogue player wins. Trinity, when it was revealed, won. It was top tier, and nobody was looking for it. We’ve passed the age where netdecks always win. A tuned and tested Rogue deck is now the aspiration of pros everywhere. You players out there who always want to play rogue? This is your chance. But don’t rush into it. MAKE them listen, because the world is watching, waiting for something new. Netdecks may win more, but on their first showing, given equal power, it’s rogue all the way.

Read More Articles by Russell Sherman!

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