Getting to the ELM with Punishing Maverick by Mucki
A huge thank you to Mucki for taking the time to put together this report on their successful time at an ELM qualifier!
Emjatis Eternal Weekend
Emjatis Eternal Weekend is a tournament series located in Belgium. The most recent tournament was an European Legacy Masters (ELM) Qualifier, where I went 5-1 in Swiss, then two scoops and one win in the Top 8 ”earned” me the invite. It was a great tournament with great people and good Belgian beer from a local brewery…what’s more to love?
2-1 8-Cast Painter
2-0 Cephalid Breakfast
2-1 Elves with Midrangesideboard
2-0 Temur Lands (Opp couldn’t draw)
2-1 8-Cast Painter
Scoop by a good player who already had an invite
M&B: Minsc and Boo
CA: Card Advantage
EI: Expressive Iteration
FoN: Force of Negation
FoV: Force of Vigor
S&T: Show and Tell (Card but also the Deck in general)
StP: Swords to Plowshares
Punishing Fire always felt anaemic for my more tempo-oriented playing style of the deck. I also highly value having a solid mana base.
”But why did u play it then?”
With Abzan and more Mawloc-oriented Naya, I struggled hard against the new Staff-control shells and Cephalid Breakfast, which are both very prominent in my area. Punishing Fire trumps Mawloc in being an instant-speed way to stop the combo and hitting planeswalkers, so it just seemed natural to try.
I was also expecting a lot of artifact decks in the form of Painter and 8-Cast, which is reflected in my choice of hatebears and sideboard.
This deck plays out more like a control deck, as seen in the matchups later. I like its versatility over blue-soup-control decks, but you concede many points against T1 combo decks with this current iteration of the deck.
I will briefly review my hatebears choices, as Maverick players are familiar with them all.
Thalia is dead, long live the Spirit! Due to the high number of non-creature spells in my deck and the reduced effectiveness against most combo decks, I decided to turn my back on Thalia and leave her at home.
In her place, I ran 4 Spirit of the Labyrinth, which is more effective against fair blue decks and stops the ability of combo decks to sculpt their hand. 3 power also provides a formidable clock, especially with exalted triggers.
A drawback of Spirit is that we can’t play Sylvan Library, but we have enough grind with our planeswalkers and Punishing Fire.
Normally I just run either Liberator or Knight of Autumn, but I went with both due to the high numbers of painters and 8-Cast. The iteration before ran 1 Urza’s Saga and 1 Shadowspear, but I did miss Ouphe a lot in Game 1, and he locked me out of equipping Spear, so I decided to go with him over the package.
Collector Ouphe: the best Hatebear against Combo and Artifact decks by a lot. It shuts down a lot of mana in these matchups at once and has the highest impact upon hitting the board.
Outland Liberator: The flipside is a win option. If both players are low on resources and you expect your opponent not to play two spells, it is worth it to skip a turn. It can be used to kill Kappa if you have the time.
Knight Of Autumn: The weakest of the three vs artifact decks, but more hate is better (DISCLAIMER: Not applicable to the rest of your life). It also provides versatility against Burn, S&T to put in vs Omni, and having a bigger body in MUs where it is just a beater.
Endurance is standard, so I will talk about Scooze, as it is not included in all lists.
I have liked them very much since the hay days of Hogaak, where I used to play 3 main. It gets you out of many tricky situations by simultaneously gaining life and growing large, which is the perfect combination for racing.
“Punishing Fire is king!” I never thought I would say that. Then I went with a 5-card planeswalker package consisting of 3 Minsc and 2 Wrenn. Minsc is known, so I will go over the new addition:
Wrenn’s static fixes your mana, which is especially helpful for Punishing fire in the late.
Still, thinking about how you tap your mana due to his +1 would be best. The land gets vigilance, allowing you to attack and use it for mana in the second main.
You can pseudo Wasteland-proof a land by either choosing another land in a situation where they need to destroy the attacker or keep your land around until your next turn if their Wasteland is tapped.
The -2 is a straight-up value and can also come in handy by growing Knight or
milling Punishing Fire.
The Ultimate is game over if they have no GY-hate in play. You can also instantly
recast your Wrenn if it was at seven before and going to the GY because of it.
General Advice: This deck is pretty mana hungry with a lot of 3- and 4-drops and the P-Fire engine, so think twice about Wastelanding some random stuff and keep them for key targets.
Against Urza’s Saga decks: Keep your Wasteland for Saga. Otherwise, you will regret it.
The paragraphs for Reanimator and Show and Tell are slim cause the gameplay is much more dependent on if they brick or not.
In: 2 Carpet, 2 Endurance, 4 Blast effects
Out: 4 StP, Ouphe, 2 Dorks including BoP, Cut on how you feel
Their win plan includes a combination of Uro and M&B. Karakas is checking both. Hence they run Wasteland. Their mana base is relatively stable with Abundant Growth and/or a Loam package, so wasting them out of the game is tough. Your grind can go toe-to-toe with them, so keeping Wasteland for mana or their Karakas can be helpful. P-Fire their planeswalkers and Scooze/Endurance/StP(G1) their Uro’s to run them out of wincons.
Keycards: P-Fire, Karakas
In: 4 Blast, 2 Seeds, 2 FoV
Out: 3 M&B, 2 Wrenn, Wayfinder, Ramunap
Don’t rely on all 1-drop hands with dorks on the draw due to chalice If they resolve Kappa, you fight for your life to find an answer; Outland Liberator can come in handy.
After SB, try to protect your Keycards with Pyro backup against force or bounce
G1, they have close to no answers for our creatures so that Ouphe can be lights
out. After SB, they have 2-3 Dismember and maybe borrower.
Keycards: Seeds, Spirit, Ouphe
In: Gaddock Teeg, 2 Hushbringer, 4 Blast
Out: 3 M&B, 2 Wreen, Deeproot Wayfinder, last misc.
Gameplan: Don’t Lose
This is the Mu that I misplay the most. Always keep up removal for their combo; they always have it. Their grind is weak, so if you survive until the game’s later stages, you are more likely to win. P-Fire pulls its weight here, basically killing everything. If you have a better plan, hmu! I’m really struggling with this one
Death and Taxes
In: 2 Hushbringer, 2 Force of Vigor
Out: 4 Spirit
They run a lot of removals, and without Mom in this Deck, you likely won’t win against them with a Knight. SFM into Kaldra is their best play against us that can be hard to beat, so be wary about keeping at least one removal in your opening hand.
In: 4 Blast, 2 Carpet, 2 Endurance
Out: 3 M&B, 2 Wrenn, Ouphe, KoA, Liberator
Remove their little creatures and try to keep them off Murktide with Endurance or Scooze on four or fewer cards in gy. Endurance checks Delver and Drc, GSZ for x=3 is mostly Endurance. Blast is only for Murktide or resolving Endurance after SB. If both players get to resolve all their spells, you are most of the time winning. Their late game is worse than ours due to their loss of EI. Try keeping your StP for Murktide. When they start with 3 Delver, you are in a nasty spot and are close to losing already. Just try to slam in situations where you feel behind.
Keycards: Endurance, Removal for Murktide
In: 2 Endurance, Gaddock, 2 Hushbringer, 4 Blast
Out: 4 StP, 1 M&B, KoA, Liberator, Wayfinder, Mawloc
Stack a lot of hatebears and keep attacking to assert a lot of pressure. Not a good MU though.
Keycards: Spirit, Hushbringer
In: Gaddock, 2 Hushbringer
Out: KoA, Liberator, Ouphe
Spirit and the high amount of removal make this Mu better than it used to be. Keep them of Mana(also their creatures, as they are all mana). Atraxa doesn’t cut it for them against us, so Craterhoof is their most likely wincon, which doesn’t hit hard with few creatures on board.
In: 2 Carpet, 2 FoV, 4 Blast
Out: 4StP, BoP, 3 Hierarch
Don’t Overcommit; they need a lot of time to finish the game. If you find P-Fire
and Grove, this is stronger than their CA-Engine unless they find FoN or Surgical.
Force of Vigor is mandatory against Humility and Back to Basics.
Keycards: P-Fire, Planeswalkers
In: 2 Endurance, 2 FoV, 2 Seeds
Out: 1P-Fire, 1 Spirit, 4 StP
They can have explosive starts, where you are the whole game on the backfoot just trying to catch up. Tabernacle can be a real pain, so keep Wasteland for this. Karakas and some removal can check their Wincons, so you mostly lose by them out-controlling you. If you have Endurance, try to get their Loams unless you lose fast to the targeted lands.
Knight is hard to deal for them, and T2 Knight is almost lights out for them. I board out all StP as I think that games where you can’t handle Marit Lage, you are way too behind, so this doesn’t matter. I board out all StP as I think that games where you can’t handle Marit Lage, you are way too behind, so this doesn’t matter.
Keycards: Endurance, Knight of the Reliquary
In: 2 FoV, 2 Hushbringer, 2 Seeds
Out: 2M&B, 2 Spirit, 2 Wrenn,
You can’t rely on Ouphe to shut them down due to Bolt and Fury. Fury is their best card by far, so try to make its impact less by playing out creatures with combined health greater than 4. The Dragon Engine can get them out of attrition wars, so removing Welders and Engineers is almost always mandatory. Fable also pulls its ways, so you can’t give them all the time, as their late-game is better than ours.
Keycards: Liberator, StP, 5/5 Knight
In: 2 Endurance, 2 FoV, 2 Hushbringer, 4 Blast
Out: 3 M&B, 2 Wrenn, Wayfinder, 3P-Fire, Mawloc
Gameplan: Pray and get something to eat
Show and Tell
In: 2 FoV, Gaddock, 4 Blast
Out: 4 StP, 2 Ending, 2 Wrenn, Scooze
Get a fast clock running and keep up blast
5 Nice-to-know Interactions
These are just some unordered situations; feel free to share yours
• Overpay on Zenith, so they don’t see Ouphe coming for x=3
• Use exalted triggers on Boo, then sac him after combat to draw more cards,
as exalted stays until the end of the turn
• Life gain from stp or opposing Batterskulls/Wandering Emperor/Uro etc.
can be used to get back P-Fire
• Wasteland can target itself
• Using Scooze or Endurance to get rid of a Surgical target
• Needle only works on one side of Outland Liberator
• Bounce/destroy the creature blocking a Jitte, so it doesn’t get counters
• 3 Mana including a grove is one free dmg with P-Fire
• Endurance/eat something in response to a fetch that would get the needed
cards in the GY for Uro or Murktide
• Don’t attack with Knight into open Endurance-mana
A huge thank you again to for the tournament report and really going into depth with how they feel about certain matchups.
I love hearing about players taking down events in 2023 with Maverick as it really keeps that drive and fire going to keep the fair dream alive.
As always take care & play fair,