Hey there and welcome to the first What’s the Play on the Green Sun’s Zenith.
We’re in game 1 against Sneak & Show and our opponent has cast a turn 2 Show and Tell. So far, we assume this is a pretty stock build and aren’t taking into consideration any out-of-the-box maindeck inclusions. Let’s run through our options in hand from left to right.
Before scrolling below the image and seeing my own conclusions, take a minute and have a think about the line you might take and more importantly why. Let me know in the comments after if you believe you have another line of thinking that’s worth considering in this situation.
— DougesOnTwitch🎥 (@DougesOnTwitch) September 15, 2019
Here’s my full GWB Maverick decklist from the league so you’re on the same page as me.
My first thought was to put in Knight of the Reliquary and hope to fade the rest of the turn, then fetch Karakas in my turn. However, there’s a lot more to this hand than meets the eye. As they’ve already played a land for turn, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben shuts off any further non-creature spells from being cast. But if I’m worried about non-creature spells, it’s really Cunning Wish that’s the main concern, so why not just play Sanctum Prelate on 3?
What are the lines my opponent could have?
Our opponent has 3 cards in hand – 2 after this Show & Tell resolves. The big contenders coming in off this spell are Sneak Attack, Omniscience, Griselbrand and Emrakul, Aeons Torn. That leaves 2 unknown cards in hand.
Here are the lines I took into consideration when finding what I believed was the most correct decision:
Worst Case Scenario:
1. Omniscience into Emrakul, Aeons Torn
2. Sneak Attack, Lotus Petal, Creature (Emrakul / Griselbrand) [Covered by Thalia]
3. Omniscience into Cunning Wish / Intuition [Covered by Prelate]
4. Show & Tell in Griselbrand / Emrakul [Covered by Knight]
5. Show & Tell in Omniscience then pass turn [Covered by all]
6. Show & Tell in Sneak Attack then pass turn [Covered by Knight]
Sanctum Prelate is a great piece of disruption against combo decks like Sneak & Show. Naming 1 shuts off Ponder, Brainstorm , Preordain, Spell Pierce and Flusterstorm, but naming 3 is arguably better in this situation, turning off the namesake Show & Tell, Cunning Wish (and with that, Kozilek’s Return) and also Intuition.
Prelate is a little slow here to be honest. The only reason I’d play Prelate is if I strongly believed my opponent’s only win condition in hand was a Cunning Wish / Intuition line. There have been instances where I’ve witnessed Sneak opponents Show & Tell in Omniscience and then tried to dig for a creature with cantrips but I’d rather cut off 3 CMC spells over 1 CMC. Prelate also doesn’t do much against a creature or Sneak Attack. If Sneak was put in by my opponent, I may change my thinking of trying to keep them from digging for a creature (name 1) or keep them casting further Lotus Petals (0), however, this line is much more linear.
Importantly, Prelate on 3 still allows us to draw into Gaea’s Cradle and Green Sun’s Zenith for Knight of Autumn to destroy an enchantment if need be. Unfortunately this does turn off our ability to get Qasali Pridemage AND leave mana open for activation.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben:
Thalia does stop any further non-creature spells from being cast this turn BUT she doesn’t do anything against a Sneak Attack or creature. Thalia is also going to slow our ability to use Green Sun’s Zenith to find a creature to deal with any enchantments IF we’re given a turn to find an answer. Sure, Thalia stops the perfect hand of Sneak Attack, Lotus Petal & Creature, but my opponent could have played the Petal before Show & Tell if they were worried about Thalia. In this situation, Thalia is just a speed bump which buys us a pretty hopeless turn. Our only out would be naturally drawing into either Knight of Autumn or Qasali Pridemage which – with 51 cards left in the deck – would be a 3.92% chance.
Even if we drew into our 1 of Gaea’s Cradle (1.96% chance), we wouldn’t be able to deal with an enchantment in play this turn.Scryb Ranger would allow us to use Noble Hierarch mana twice and also add more mana to Cradle – but even then, we fall short.
1.Tap Noble & Forest : Cast Scryb Ranger
2.Return Forest to Untap Noble
3.Play Cradle & Tap for 3 mana (4 with Noble) – Only enough for Green Sun’s Zenith (x=2).
We don’t have a Forest around either to untap the Noble in their upkeep to deal with Ominscience (this wouldn’t work for Sneak unless they didn’t have a creature in hand).
Putting in Wasteland is only relevant if our opponent doesn’t win this turn. The only upside of putting in the Wasteland is by drawing a land off the top of our deck (41.1% chance) we will open ourselves up to being able to Green Sun’s Zenith for x=3 or x=2 with 1 mana open for Qasali’s activation cost instead of having to naturally draw enchantment hate (3.92%). Even if we do, we would have to fade both Force of Will (44.4% chance of FoW in their remaining 2 cards) & blue card OR Force / Spell Pierce if Omniscience is in play.
Wasteland also plays a key role here in restricting our opponent’s follow-up plays. If a Sneak Attack is put into play, by taking out the Volcanic we’re not only taking our opponent off a vital red source, we’re also dropping the chances of our opponent being able to cantrip into a creature and sneak it in on the same turn. Playing Thalia on our following turn makes digging for a creature even more difficult with only 1 land in play.
Knight of the Reliquary:
Knight of the Reliquary is only good against a creature or Sneak Attack from my opponent, but for me that’s good enough. The Wasteland covers the Volcanic Island on the field next turn so if my opponent puts in a Sneak Attack, they would need to draw into or have another red source in hand. However, Karakas on demand is perfect here as it stops both a creature coming into play off the Show & Tell (33% chance if they are running 6 creatures) AND a Sneak Attack the following turn with the restriction on red mana. Here I could bounce the creature at the beginning of combat.
Knight is also the creature that gets hit the hardest by summoning sickness. Both Prelate and Thalia have an immediate effect on the boardstate where Knight has to wait around a turn to become a real asset.
Karakas becomes much worse against Sneak Attack when your opponent has two sources of red and an Emrakul, Aeons Torn. If you don’t bounce the Emrakul before it’s declared an attacker, the annihilator trigger goes on the stack. However, if you bounce it at the beginning of combat, your opponent can just put Emrakul back in play and declare attacks. It’s a horrible moment.
Scryb Ranger wasn’t really considered a viable option at first glance. It can return the Forest to our hand to save it from an incoming Emrakul but we’re not winning the game in that position. However, looking further at my hand, Ranger does allow some outs if my opponent puts in Sneak or Omniscience and just passes the turn that the other options don’t. Well, it opens the line for Qasali Pridemage.
If we put in Sanctum Prelate on 3 or Thalia, we only have access to 3 mana at most the following turn – unless we draw into Gaea’s Cradle. Prelate on 3 shuts off Green Sun’s Zenith (x=2) for Qasali Pridemage and Thalia’s tax also punishes our line of GSZing for enchantment hate for another crucial turn.
Scryb Ranger DOES allow us to Green Sun’s Zenith for enchantment hate on our turn. By floating mana with Noble Hierarch and the Forest, returning the Forest, un-tapping the Noble then replaying the Forest (or Wasteland), we get to play around with 4 mana (GSZ for Knight of Autumn OR for Qasali with a mana floating to activate Qasali’s ability).
What did we end up putting in?
Knight of the Reliquary. We know the importance of Karakas in the matchup and also the outs by having access to Gaea’s Cradle, so knowing we could guarantee access to those lands (if we live a turn) was the deciding factor. The thought of getting Knight into play and then untapping, casting Thalia, Wastelanding our opponent and having access to Karakas at instant speed seemed like the best way to put ourselves in a winning position. Taxing effects through Thalia and Prelate seem fine, but Knight comes out on top this time.
Would you have gone with the same line? Got a different take on our outs? Let me know in the comments below.