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The Evolution of Trap: An Extended Story

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[Today's Guest Author is Matt Becker, who many of you may know from Twitter as @KeysMyaths. I hope you enjoy, and please let us know in the comments about what you think of both this article and Matt writing regularly for Quiet Speculation! -Dylan]

It all started in a hotel room in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Fellow grinder Alan Canode and I were headed to a PTQ in Minneapolis, but we got caught in the snow and had to stop. Lucky for us, it gave us time to test.

I had my Faeries deck built and ready to go. I had tested quite a bit online and was fairly comfortable with it, but in playing against Alan (Jund), I started to realize some severe issues. First of all, the preboard matchup was fairly tough. That was fine, but after sideboarding, it was brutally awful. Talking through the different matchups further, it was obvious that Faeries was the deck to play, so other decks would be packing the hate. Plus, I wasn’t confident in the mirror at all.

Alan had also brought along the shell for Summoning Trap, which is a deck I had seen and liked initially. After looking at the deck laid out – I figured an audible was in order. Why? I simply wasn’t going to win the tournament with Faeries, so my best chance was to change decks. Obviously, it’s a risky play, but I didn’t make this long drive to go 2-2 and feel good about it. The deck he lent me:

Summoning Trap – Initial List

The next day, we arrived about an hour early so we playtested one match – the only match I played with the deck before the PTQ. I crushed Alan.

Good.

I did a quick lap around the store to figure out what the metagame would be. Small sample size, but it looked like a few RDW, a lot of Faeries, and a little Naya – with other decks sprinkled in. So, I fit the rest of the deck to that:

Summoning Trap - Minneapolis PTQ

During the tournament, the deck performed admirably. However, I noticed a few things. First of all, I only activated Stirring Wildwood once all day. With it, I couldn’t cast my mana dorks on turn one – and when I didn’t, I struggled.

At 6-1-1, I made top 8. I beat Jund in the quarterfinals, then lost the mirror to a faster version of the deck.

Now that I had a bit of experience with the deck, I worked through some flaws. I wasn’t getting the turn 1 Green mana often enough to cast my eight one-drops. I also wanted an additional Admonition Angel for the mirror and for Elves – since I suspected I’d be seeing them more as the meta shifted.

So, it transitioned to this:

Summoning Trap – Post-Minneapolis

Next up: preparing for the MTGO PTQs.

In testing here, I realized the online field was quite a bit different. Fewer Faeries decks, more Aggro, RDW and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

Now, playing in the 2- and 8-man queues isn’t the only way to see how the metagame is changing. It’s too small of a sample size. You should be looking at each Daily/Premier event that fires and the top decklists at www.mtgonline.com. There’s so much information on what’s popular, the deck tweaks people are making, and for finding anything rogue that comes along. Doing that alone will make your decks a lot stronger.

Simplified: If you don’t know who jway is – you’re already three steps behind.

After this, I had a discussion with a few folks on Twitter. How do I beat Valakut? Leyline of Sanctity wasn’t cutting it. They were easily bouncing it and killing me that same turn, and I have no counter defense. The solution? More Qasali Pridemage, more Gaddock Teeg, less Leyline of Sanctity. Also, I added Iona, Shield of Emeria. Since she can be hardcast in this deck – it’s better than the fourth Emrakul.

So, with all that information in mind, I made my PTQ deck:

Summoning Trap - MTGO PTQ

(located at http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Digital/MagicOnlineTourn.aspx?x=mtg/digital/magiconline/tourn/2007152)

To make a long story short – I punted a game against mono-Red that cost me the match, and ended up a very disappointing 6-2 for 25th Place.

So what’s next?

Well, we have to figure out two metagames right now – one for the online world in the next few weeks, and one for the paper release of Mirrodin Besieged.

I wouldn’t change the deck much for the online metagame right now. In fact, I’m shying away from the deck online right now because of the amount of cheap (1cc) removal that’s starting to appear in decks. If that continues – this deck becomes Tier 2, or even Tier 3. You can’t explode fast enough if they kill your mana dorks.

After Mirrodin Beseiged? Well, there are two things to look at here:

1. How will the metagame shift with the new cards?
2. What cards are better in our deck than current ones?

The first question is much more important than the second. As certain decks improve, those decks might rise in prominence. If those matchups are bad for us, we can’t be sticking with this deck, or we will have to significantly change it to keep up, regardless of the cards we add in Besieged.

Green Sun's Zenith might be interesting. That improves Elves quite a bit. Go for the Throat improves Faeries and 5CC. Inkmoth Nexus improves Mythic, and possibly makes Infect playable.

In all, it seems OK for us. Elves is an OK matchup, but the Zenith makes them more consistent. It will probably require faster starts from us.

Go for the Throat actually will slow Faeries down against us, since this will replace Disfigure in a lot of cases. That’s really good for Summoning Trap.

Inkmoth Nexus lets Mythic kill us with one swing if we’re not prepared. That’s bad.

What cards are good for us in Besieged?

Zenith is definitely interesting. However, is it really better than Summoning Trap? Is it worth casting on turn 3 or 4 to get Lotus Cobra or Knight of the Reliquary, but slow us down and cost us a creature slot for Summoning Trap?

I don’t think so.

Thrun, the Last Troll looks like an immediate fit in our sideboard.

Victory's Herald is interesting. Can that just win races? Is it better than Baneslayer Angel? The problem seems to be its casting cost – 6 is a crowded slot, and I’m not thrilled with competing with Primeval Titan. I’m voting no.

So with all that in mind, here’s my proposed build for paper:

Summoning Trap – Post-Besieged

Wait, doesn’t Day of Judgment seem strange in an Aggro deck? Absolutely.

However, against other hyper-aggressive decks (Elves, WW, Mythic), Trap is the control deck – you just stall until you can go bigger. If that happens early – great. If not, DoJ really helps.

The deck is still fairly well-positioned on paper, at least in my meta. Online, I’d lean toward something else right now. No matter what deck you play, though – make sure you’re constantly testing and constantly changing the card mix. This game changes weekly (if not daily) now.

Keep up!

Matt Becker

@KeysMyaths on Twitter

Unlocking Competitive Magic

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