Vizier Company: The Last Two Percentage Points

Hello again!

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last (and, in fact, first) article saw the light of the day. I’ve received huge positive feedback and I’m truly thankful for that. I’ve heard that there is need for texts and videos of Counters Company and, in general, Company decks. Message received! Stay tuned for videos and streams in the future but, for now, lets focus on what I’ve prepared for today…

In my previous article (Deck Spotlight: Abzan Company) I described my choices and general deck build, sideboard, maybeboard, and strategies for a few chosen match-ups. Now I will focus on some of the nitty gritty. At the end of the day, that’s what magic is about – those last two points of win percentage 😉

Opening Hands: Keep or Mull?

The first question we face in the match is whether to keep the opening hand. Honestly I very rarely keep hands with no one-drop or Devoted Druid. There are a few reasons. Firstly, the strength of our deck is its speed. We often want to play a three-drop on turn two, Collected Company on turn three or just force our opponent to have answers from the very first turn. Secondly, our primary plan in game one is to combo off. To do so we sometimes have to Chord for Devoted Druid or try to Company into combo pieces. Both those plans seem to require playing spells earlier than their mana cost is meant to allow. Collected Company on turn four or Chord of Calling for two on turn five is not the route to victory. Playing Duskwatch Recruiter is often quite nice, but on empty board, a lonely two-drop is not something that can give us much of an advantage. We are not Jund or Abzan which packs cards like Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil, or Bloodbraid Elf. Our plan to chain a two-drop into a three-drop, if not combo creatures, can often put us behind. The final argument in favor of mulliganing slow hands is that in many games combo is the only option. Ad Nauseam, Boggles, Humans, Scapeshift, Tron are tough. The longer the game goes, the smaller are our chances to win.

Of course, the whole picture is much more complex. There are many things that we need to take into account; what deck we are up against, for instance. Sometimes we might know it before the game starts. If we play against Burn I will easily keep turn two Duskwatch Recruiter into double Kitchen Finks on turns three and four. We also have to consider whether we are on the play or draw. This might also influence the final decision. After sideboarding, these decisions change greatly depending on the match-up. We have many haymakers for specific situations and therefore, we can afford keeping slower hands. For example, Eidolon of Rhetoric against Storm or Kor Firewalker against Burn. My advice is to aggressively mulligan slower hands cannot be always applied but I highly encourage considering it.

The Most Important Skill

In linear decks, small decisions matter the most. In combo decks, the most important question is when to “go off”. In combo-ish decks, you have to pay attention to the sequencing of spells. In control decks, you have to be aware of all angles of attack.

What is the most important skill for a player of Company deck?

From my experience, the most important thing is to know your deck. You have to know your cards. All of them. By heart. But you also have to know what your deck is capable of. The first requirement is relatively easy to achieve, the second is definitely not.

Do you really need to know your decklist? For sure. At any moment of the match you have to be aware of what you have in maindeck, what has been put in the graveyard or exile, what is on the table, and what are interactions between creatures. Do I need to cast Collected Company before Chord of Calling or should the sequence be reversed? How many Duskwatch Recruiters are there left? The answer, and your ability to recognize it during a game, may determine whether you win or lose. It looks very easy; I play this 75-card deck list and I remember its contents. Sure. But Company decks are so charming that they allow us to rotate the team. And we do so quite often. Meta full of Burn? Lets play one Courser of Kruphix main. Including this will require changes to the deck to make space. You can’t imagine how many times I have “Chorded” for Scavenging Ooze only to realize that it was not in the main at that moment. Far too many.

What is our deck is capable of? This is a trickier question. Probably one the most experience-intensive decisions is when to go all in for combo and when to drop this idea and go midrange. Even after a board sweeper, we can still win with one Collected Company either by attacking or comboing off with Devoted Druid. There are situations, though, when there is only one good way. For example, lets imagine that we are playing against Mono G Tron. We untap with Viscera Seer, Devoted Druid, Vizier of Remedies, Temple Garden, Overgrown Tomb, and Horizon Canopy, and there are 53 cards left in our library…

We draw Noble Hierarch. Our opponent is tapped out with Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Tower in play, Urza’s Power Plant in hand with three unknowns and 20 life. Though we don’t know what else is in our opponent’s hand, we should expect the worst. What is your plan?

I cast Noble Hierarch, make 99 mana, sacrifice everything with Viscera Seer, scry for a win con, and draw into it with Canopy. If I hit even Chord of Calling it is enough to cast it for Duskwatch Recruiter, search through the whole library for Walking Ballista, and cast it for X=20. If I do not find it through scry, then I loose 100%. Is it worth it? Maybe my opponent has only Oblivion Stone and I might have one more draw step? Might be. I would rather not take that line. I would take the risk and go all in into combo. My experience tells me that the more I wait with Tron, the more likely I am to loose. My decks is not capable of going back into the game late against Tron. That’s why I’m ready to take that risk. You have to know your deck. Take the risk when its necessary, but ONLY then.

Toolbox: Are Silver Bullets Really Necessary?

Company decks are not fully toolbox. We play four copies of Chord of Calling and that’s it. Collected Company is not really a toolbox-style card. It helps get creatures on the battlefied, but we can’t really choose which creatures we will have to chose from. We are not Legacy Maverick, Kiki/Naya Evolution, or the Birthing Pod deck (RIP). This limited possibility to search for an exact creature in an exact moment makes me unwilling to play too many silverbullets, especially in the maindeck. Of course, this situation can change. When the meta-game is full of a certain type of archetype, we might tune our decks to increase our chances. During the rapid growth in popularity of BR Hollow One I started playing two copies of Scavenging Ooze and one Brimaz, King of Oreskos in the main. It worked well enough to keep Brimaz in even when Hollow One disappeared from the radar. Why did I settle on Brimaz and Ooze instead of strictly anti-Hollow One cards? I could have chosen Reclamation Sage, Qasali Pridemage, or Big Game Hunter. Their applicability was too narrow. We have to tune our deck for one match-up but also maximize usefulness of new cards for a very wide spectrum of match-ups. Big Game Hunter is, of course, very tempting against deck full of large creatures, but is very poor against control and combo decks. In contrary, both Ooze and Brimaz are good against Lightning Bolt decks, aggro, midrange, and sometimes combo decks. The clock that Brimaz can put on our opponent is something that everybody has to take into account. Short conclusion? Lets make this silver bullet-less silver 😉

So that’s it for now. Please share your thoughts! If there is something you have questions about related to Modern Company, please don’t hesitated to ask! Leave a comment below or shoot us a comment (below) or email Laplasjan at laplasjanmtgo@gmail.com.

-Laplasjan

Discussion