Dealing with MBC Dominance + High Roller VIP Services

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Mono-Black is definitely the best deck in Standard Pauper right now.  When I know this to be true, rather than continue to dominate with the deck like the previous week, I have a strong desire to create the antidote.  From what I have found, Mono-Black is an incurable disease for which no vaccine or potion can absolve.

I knew I wanted to beat Mono-Black this week in MPDC, so I brought Izzet Razor-Burn to the table.  They can’t touch Razortip Whip and all I need to do is stay on par with them card advantage-wise and kill all of their creatures like a true control deck.

Here’s the problem.  Servant of Tymaret is really tough for red removal to torch.  You have a window the turn they cast it and maybe a few more if they tap out on curve, but after that, good players like my man Mundsiv like to play with shields up all day!  So the whip can’t race him ever.  But that’s not what killed me.  Enter Perilous Shadow.  The only way I managed to kill one in the mid/late game was to force him to tap out to regen his Servant and then finish the Shadow off with Chandra’s Outrage.

Overall, my plan of Blue with Red removal is bad at dealing with Mono-Black.  If I had to pick a deck that already exists to compete with it I would choose Dimir Control – that’s what I’ll be practicing with to deal with it next week.

Then again, here are 2 decks that I have made after the Standard Pauper Gauntlet started.  While I feel that these cannot quite compete with the consistency and power of Mono-Black – you can’t blame me for trying to go all ‘I am Legend’ on it and brew up the antidote.

Jund Sacrifice

Jund Sacrifice

I had some sweet games against Anomulus0 (@TruthandNot) with this the night I brewed it. I must have dealt him nearly 100 damage in one of the games, accounting for multiple Garys, extorts, and double Crypt Incursion.  This deck is ultra mid-range and should be the reason why they finally include that category in the MPDC deck Gatherling thing.  Seriously, how does that option not exist?  The deck hopes to play against Mono-White all day since anything they Voltron will eventually betray them with Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers and then be Sacrificed to Blood Bairn or Altar’s Reap.  For value of course.

Boros Auras

Boros Auras

This has been my favorite aggro deck lately for 2 reasons.  First, it can blank Devour Flesh with so many one-drops, especially Akroan Crusader.  Second, it is explosive and resilient thanks to the Etheral Armor, Bestow Creatures, and Auramancer package.  Here’s an example of a brutal turn 4 kill.

Boros Auras Turn 4 win

That’s a big duder.

On MPDC Controversy

I overstated the case – there was no ‘real’ controversy.  I just wanted people to read about the situation and discuss it.  I’m pleased with the responses and would like to add that I have no beef with Mr. Brazil.  I admit that he made a valid point regarding time commitments during tournaments, but hopefully if we meet again in late rounds we can figure out a way to actually play it out like adults.  He is a skilled player and his “back-to-back 1st place” finishes with the same deck shows that he is a formidable opponent.

One point of time in particular stands out while watching his finals match against Torreth.  The early game brought a lot of creatures and removal spells to the table and subsequently to the bin.  As both of their cards in hand dwindled, a lone Basilica Screecher was all that remained in play for each player.  Both bats were content to sonar dodge past each other to connect to each opponent’s dome rather than sit back and block.  With one card in hand Torreth passed the turn.  Brazil drew and played Disciple of Phenax.  Did he draw it that turn or did he wait for Torreth to hold one card in hand?  I don’t know.  The revealed card from Torreth?  Quag Sickness.  Maybe Torreth feared a Perilous Shadow topdeck more than a Disciple of Phenax, but from my perspective I would have snap-killed that evil Basilica Screecher.  Brazil went on to get the edge with multiple extort activations from the bat that could have been given the plague.  Seemingly small decisions have a huge impact in Standard Pauper games.

BONUS SECTION – #PTBNG Shout-Outs and VIP High Roller Services

Start the video from the below link at 10:07:20

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LSV straightening up. Notice how much taller he is than BDM and Rich when he chooses to activate his back muscles!

Rich and BDM ask Luis about me in regards to the physical stress of a magic tournament. They remember meeting me at Pro Tour Dark Ascension in Hawaii in February of 2012 when we all went out to dinner.  They were going to interview me to learn about what I was doing for the CFB team but they didn’t have enough time.  I still haven’t gotten my interview.  Hopefully we can link up at the next event we cross paths.

Getting some street cred with 15K live viewers was sweet.  I got a lot of messages from people that were excited for me.  I didn’t even get to watch that part of the broadcast live.  I tried to watch the Top 8 start to finish but I passed out and woke up to my phone buzzing.

I have ideas to create more educational content on physical preparation and recovery from travel and tournaments in article/video formats.  I currently have plans to provide what I have coined “VIP High Roller” services at Grand Prix tournaments.  VIP upgrades are pretty sweet, but my services are what separates the player that wants to have the convenience of water, extra seating room, and a guaranteed playmat from the player who is looking for the best chance to be physically prepared to take down the tournament.

ChannelFireball pros have been utilizing my services since Worlds 2011 – it’s about time that I open up my services to the community at large.  The goal is provide manual, hands-on therapies to fix movement dysfunctions in joints and soft tissues and to then teach corrective exercises so people can move uninhibited and break the chains of physical stress that world travel, excessive sitting, flick/shuffling cards, and mental exertion produce.  Once you get better movement habits engrained you can use RockTape to act as a 24/7 postural feedback reminder.  IntelliSkin even makes a compression shirt that assists back muscles in order to obtain upright posture more easily.  I could go on about this stuff ad nauseum… but I’ll save it for later.

I will definitely be at GP Philadelphia in 2 weeks, but have not been given the green light yet on GP Phoenix.  I hope it ends up working out so I can spread the love.

Liliana Chiro Table

Treating Liliana on my Chiro Table @ GP Sacramento 😀

Follow me on Twitter @DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog



MPDC 24.04 Controversy

So MPDC 24.04 hasn’t resolved yet.  Gwyned, our fearless host, cast that tournament on Monday, March 17th (5 days ago).   What’s the deal?

Oh, I’ll tell ya what happened.

I made a metagame call and chose to fall back to my roots, Mono-Black Devotion.  I’m pretty sure it has a good Mono-White match-up and I expected to play against Red, White, Boros, Selesnya, and maybe even some BUG – all of which I think my Mono-Black can handle.  I also picked it as my horse for the Standard Pauper Gauntlet.  I figured a good showing this week would be a good omen for the Gauntlet.

The list:  (exactly the same as what I submitted for the Gauntlet)

Mono-Black Devotion

Round 1:  Win in 5 minutes against Boros (2-0) [1-0]

Round 2:  Win a very close mirror match (2-1) [2-0]

Round 3:  Win another close one against the mirror (2-0) [3-0]

I roll into the top 8 with the #3 seed.

Top 8: Win but can’t remember opponent’s deck.  (Maybe when the event gets posted we will see what I played against)

Top 4:  Win in 10 mins against another deck that I am brain-farting on.

Finals:  Brazil a.k.a Sergio Bahia (btw have you seen these sweet World Magic Cup ChannelFireball Shirts?  $7.99 says the price is right)

The Top 4 begins without delay, a few minutes after I complete my top 8 match.  After cruising through that round, I notice that I’m in a bit of a time crunch.  I have patients scheduled to come soon and I have to treat them at their scheduled times.  I don’t always plan on making the Top 8 of these MPDC tournaments, but when I do I usually try to finish them out if I can.  I have had to drop after starting 2-0 in the swiss from many events simply because my afternoon was loaded with people to treat.  I’m in a bit of a pickle.

Alas, it was time to treat not one, but two patients.  After that I had a 30-60 minutes window of time before I needed to treat my next patient.  That gap would be a perfect time to play out the finals.

So I messaged Gywned, the Tournament Organizer/Host, and my opponent, Brazil, informing them that I could resume play shortly.  Brazil messages me immediately after my Top 4 is completed (again, which only took 10 minutes to complete) that he wants to get the ball rolling.  I inform him that I can’t start right away and that I will be available in ~30 minutes.  From my point of view, I could have dragged on my match for another 50 minutes if I wanted to buy myself more time.  I could have asked my opponent to let the time run out of his clock and then I could let the time run out of my clock until I felt it was safe for me to proceed with winning.  But that seems like an annoying way to game the system.

Anyway, Brazil cannot wait and demands that I play right now.  I explain the situation, which he does not accept to be a valid reason to delay our match.  I can see his point but I don’t think I am making an unreasonable request.  He wishes that I concede and that he gets all them prizes.  He argues that I am a doctor and that he is poor so I should concede because he ‘needs’ the $10 in prize more than I do.  Whoa.

Um, yikes.  There were many ways I could have responded – I just had no idea what was going on.  How can anyone claim in all seriousness that they need these free tournament prizes?  I told him I don’t even care about the prize, that’s not what I play for.  I play to compete and for the sanctity of the tournament and for the glorious trophy.  There was no way I was ever going to concede.  If he beats me then he has earned the prize, but until then, I’m one hell of a road block.

I go in the dark communication-wise while I treat my patients.  I come back faster than anticipated and see I that Brazil is still online.  I tell him I am ready to play.  He tells me he reported the result as a win in his favor since I was 10 minutes late.  He requests that I be so kind as to report the result in his favor.

Well, that’s never happening.

He signs off before we can converse more.  At this moment Gwyned comes back from being AFK and gets a recap of our conversation.

He thinks about it and emails the two of us the following options later that night.

“DrChrisBakerDC and Brazil,

I understand we had an incident before the Finals of MPDC 24.04 could take place.

I. Here’s what I understood happened:

1. Within 10 minutes of the end of Top 4, DrChrisBakerDC requested a 20 minute break so he could take care of a patient.

2. Brazil did not want to wait and said so.

3. DrChrisBakerDC had to leave before the situation was resolved. He returned within 15 minutes.

4. DrChrisBakerDC requested to play the match, but Brazil said 10 minutes were up and so he automatically got the win. Brazil then left.

For reference, I have attached the log of the chat between the two of you.If I misunderstood something, please bring it to my attention.

II. Here’s my opinion about what happened:
DrChrisBakerDC made a reasonable request within time to ask for a 20 minute break to take care of a patient. This was well within the 10 minute time after Top 4 had ended.
The rule that a player automatically wins within a 10 minute window only applies when the opponent no-shows, not when he or she has communicated a delay to the opponent.

Since Brazil was still online when DrChrisBakerDC returned, there was opportunity to go ahead and play the match.That said, DrChrisBakerDC did delay Finals by an extra 15 minutes. This should be avoided if at all possible.

III. Here is my solution:You have two options to resolve the tournament:

Option #1: Schedule a time this week to play out the match. Reply all back to this message and figure out a time to do so. Results will be E-mailed back to me to verify, after which I will distribute prizes and the trophy.
Option #2: Declare Finals a tie. No trophy will be awarded, and the two players will split the prize pool. That means each of you receive a gift certificate equal to $5.50 to MTGOTraders.

IV. What I need from you:Respond within 48 hours to this E-mail with your decision. Be sure and use “Reply all” so that all three of us get your response.

I am sorry I was unable to resolve this when it happened.”

My email response (to all):

I am fine with either option, with a preference to play it out with option #1.  I have plenty of time available, just message me to set it up I say.  I am on Pacific time – what time zone are you in Brazil?  Might help coordinate to know.  Thanks.

Sergio’s response:  (email sent directly to me instead of to both of us like Gwyned requested)

Look Chris, my position is i need to be a winner, for a simple reason:

The excuse he give to me are: “i working”.
If someone have no time to do something, please don’t do, because have a alot of people who take your free time to do.
If you play a regular tournament in MOL, they have rules for that reason, if no show yourself in time you will lose, in my conception, here need to apply the same rule. 
I dont want to be a bad person, i just want to explain my version of the situation.
And again for those arguments i show to you i think i need to be declared a winner.
thx for your time, and sorry for my bad english.

To which I respond:

Hi Sergio

So from what I understand I am not worth arguing with anymore since the Tournament Organizer is the one with the power and he is trying to resolve the tournament.

Did you read his email?  He gave us two options and said to reply to all.  I already voiced my opinion, and can play it out right now or sometime later…

To which we never hear from Sergio again.  Looks like option 2 (unintentional draw + prize split + no trophy awarded) wins.

If you were anxiously waiting for the tournament results this past week, now you know why they haven’t been posted yet.

Both Gywned and Sergio made a point that I agree with but I don’t know how to deal with it.

“Delaying the tournament” and giving the excuse of ‘working’ should be avoided. 

If I can’t prioritize the tournament then I shouldn’t be playing in it.  Do you concur?

MPDC is the only Standard Pauper tournament going on right now, and I love it.  I will sacrifice a good part of my work day to have a chance to play in that event.  It happens to start at 11:30am on a Monday for me.  I do my best to schedule patients early in the morning and later in the afternoon, hell even sometimes at noon, 1pm or 2pm because I know that I can finish most matches in less than 30 minutes.  I can schedule at those times because round 1 begins at ~11:30am, round 2 at ~12:30pm, and round 3 at ~1:30pm.  The swiss rounds almost always go to time.  I have this figured out.

I do all of that because I am confident that I can make a positive impact on the tournament scene if given the chance to play.  The problem is that at the end of the day, there’s no way I can justify playing in this low-stakes tournament over doing my job.  My circumstances are favorable in that I can balance the two roles since all it requires is that I bring my computer to work so I can play in my office.  That’s it.  One second I’m firing off an adjustment, restoring a patient’s movement and eliminating his or her muskuloskeletal pain, and the next I’m 2 for 1’ing some poor soul out of his mind (or at least attempting to :P).

I am truly interested in knowing how the community of MPDC participants, the Standard Pauper Players Clan, and regulars who play Standard Pauper feel about what happened.  Is this even a big deal?  How should each party involved have handled the situation?  Should I even be playing in these tournaments if I can’t give it my full, undivided attention?

This whole situation has actually happened to me before.  In my first MPDC tournament the same situation arose regarding a delay once I reached the finals.  My finals opponent said “It’s cool, go treat your patients – lets play at 7pm in 3.5 hours.” We did, and he beat me in 3 close games.  I literally thought it was going to be that easy again.  Rules need to be in place to maintain the sanctity of the tournament, but at some point do we just drop the BS and try to be solution-oriented when dealing with a situation like this?

Feel free to put me in my place or join the side of reason in the comments below.  Thanks.

Follow me on Twitter @DrChrisBakerDC

Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog


Standard Deviations: Deck Submissions Galore (6 More)


While BUG Defenders is my current pet deck – I know there are some other gems that need to be included in the Gauntlet.  In this article I will list 6 more decks to include in the gauntlet with very brief nuggets of strategy wisdom.

In the last week of just practicing I have seen 4 other players rocking my list, which is nice to see but also frustrating because it means I have to start playing a deck that can actually beat it consistently.  This cycle has happened before.  After I won an SPDC tournament with Cyclops Combo I needed to find something to beat it since I kept running into it the following week.  Thus, BUG Defenders was created, not only to beat the Cyclops, but also other aggro and mid-range strategies like Mono-White, Boros, and Mono-Black that have been popular lately.

So how do I plan to beat BUG Defenders?  How bout an old favorite.

Dimir Mill


What better way to beat a mill deck than with a deck with more consistent mana, more removal, more counters, and more dedication to milling.

Some deviations from traditional Dimir Mill builds include the lone Tome Scour, which helps get ahead of other mill decks while Balustrade Spy creates an alternative win-con through evasive damage, and has the rogue creature-type to block Death Cult-Rogue.

Dimir-Mill Strategy

Leave counter mana open when you have counters in hand even if you have removal.  You want to cast Pilfered Plans early to hit land drops but you don’t want to risk them having God’s Willing or Ranger’s Guile when you attempt to snipe things down with Pharika’s Cure or Grisly Spectacle.  You will eventually have to play into those cards but you would rather guarantee their creatures get put in their graveyard early in the game so you have the most time as your draw will allow to develop your board.

My latest deck, inspired by @Greg Hatch’s brew (seen below) from the NorCal PTQ last weekend at Channel Fireball.  This deck was a joy to watch in action.


I give you the Standard Pauper version:

Crouching Cipher, Hidden Strings

Crouching Cipher, Hidden Strings

I have tried this list and even a UWR version that included Akroan Crusader.  That card was bonkers – it blanked cards like Devour Flesh and Celestial Flare and gave our deck a wide line or attack to mix in with our tall attack.  The only problem was the mana-base.  Playing 3 colors means a lot of guildgates*, and the tempo loss is too much to bare in an aggro deck.  Shocklands would make this deck playable, but I couldn’t handle all those time-walks in tempo from a simple comes in to play tapped land.

*Std Pauper would greatly benefit as a format if there were lands designed for it.  The fixing needs helps for multi-color aggro decks to exist.  A quick brainstorm:  Every guild pair gets a dual land that says “[card] comes into play tapped unless your opponent played a spell last turn” or “[card] comes into play tapped unless you received combat damage last turn or [card] comes into play tapped unless you reveal your hand.  Wizards can come up with some better ideas I’m sure – we just need something sweet in print to give us more mana-fixing options that aren’t overpowred at common.  (I realize duals like these could be appropriately rated as uncommon or rare).

If you are dying to enter more decks, then I guess you could enter the UWR version as well:



Crouching Cipher, Hidden Strings Strategy:

Cloudfin Raptor is the workhorse.  It is easy to evolve him up to a 3/4, just save Daring Skyjek for last in the chain.  Hidden Strings lets us go off by ciphering onto an evasive threat, tap down any blockers, and enabling our heroic creatures to explode out of control!  Untapping lands is also fantastic so you can hold open God’s Willing or Mizzium Skin to protect our team.  Extorting is a great way to close the gap in a race.  And Swift Justice – the blowouts!  They never see it coming.

Cyclops Combo


I won SPDC 20.02 with a list similar to this before Born of the Gods was released.  Bolt of Keranos gets the nod over Annihilating Fire since scry is value and we often want to cast spells on our own turn anyway to get our Nivix Cyclops to attack.  The addition of Nullify gives us Essence Scatters 5-6 and allows us minimal interaction with Ethereal Armor and hexproof aura decks.

Cyclops Combo Strategy:

Play some 4 toughness creatures, kill their creatures, get value from Divination + Archaeomancer, and crash in with the Cyclops.

Mono-Black Devotion


I got 2nd place in the first MPDC event I ever played in with this deck.  Not much has changed except I like Grisly Spectacle more than Quag Sickness for the instant speed and ability to fill the graveyard for Crypt Incursion.  I like Rakdos Shred-Freak more than Corpse Hauler because it gets through more damage early in the game and has more devotion.   A 5-mana Disentomb is not that good even though it sometimes gets back a Gray Merchant in the late, late game.

Mono-Black Devotion Strategy:

Try not to trade creatures off.  Every point of devotion counts.  This deck can race better than any deck.  Disciple of Phenax is quietly the best card in the deck since Devotion enabling and Thoughtseize lets you know if your removal will stick or if you should deploy creautres instead.  Try to get every point you can from Basilica Screecher’s extort but don’t hesitate to curve out in the first 4-5 turns on the game to establish your board.  Save Gray Merchant for last to maxmize his value, but sometimes it’s correct to run him out first and follow up with a Phenax if you can gain access to the entire hand.  There’s a huge difference between getting the best card in the hand and any other card.

Loyal Pegasus was featured in CCHS as a cheap, evasive evolve enabler but this deck pushes his offensiveness to the next level.

Loyal Boros


Loyal Pegasus beats real well with all the haste creatures.  This deck packs a ton of damage quickly but struggles against decks with a lot of removal.  If that removal is enchantment-based or sorcery speed then we have a chance to get ahead and finish them off with burn spells.

Loyal Boros Strategy:

Curve out, kill any blockers that would get in the way.

Check out Standard Deviations over at to submit your own list.  I cannot wait to watch the March madness ensue.

Good luck to everyone in the event!


Standard Pauper Players Clan Blog