Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Modern: Humans Sideboard Guide

I have included a list of cards to think about when playing Meddling Mage for each of these matchups. Maximizing your mileage out of your Meddling Mages is key to playing Humans well. Obviously, your choice should depend entirely on the situation, but there are often circumstances where you have nothing to do but cast a Meddling Mage blind.

When casting Kitesail Freebooter and Meddling Mage, try to think how the next 2 turns will play out. Very often, Freebooter and Mage will not stick around, as your opponent will have another removal spell to get back the one you took with Freebooter or Mage. You want to induce your opponent into inefficiently using their mana (e.g., take their Lightning Bolt so that they have to Lightning Helix the next turn, preventing them from casting the Lava Spike in their hand) or suboptimally using their removal spells (e.g., take their Lightning Bolt, forcing them to Path your Freebooter, so that your Anafenza will stick; or take their Path to Exile and force them to use their Supreme Verdict while you sandbag creatures). Kitesail Freebooter and Meddling Mage are effectively speed bumps, forcing your opponents to deal with them while you kill them with a Champion of the Parish or some other threat.

If you are reading this guide to get a sense of how to beat Humans, then I would just caution that my sideboard is not entirely conventional. While every Humans board plays some number of Dark Confidants, Izzet Staticasters, and Vithian Renegades, not all sideboards play Kambal, Dismember, Grafdigger's Cage, or Anafenza. Xathrid Necromancer and Fiend Hunter are also very popular, which I don't play. I recommend reading my previous post to see what they might be bringing in. Frankly, Humans is an underdeveloped deck. People might be trying new things, so expect the unexpected.

Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostKambal, Consul of AllocationKambal, Consul of Allocation

Dark ConfidantMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckThalia, Heretic Cathar
You can leave in the Thalia if you're on the play, since you can really bottleneck their resources (and blockers) if you're able to deploy her on turn 2. If you're playing Ethersworn Canonist over Kambal, I don't think it is better than Mayor of Avabruck. You want Mayor to keep your Mantis Riders, Champions, and Lieutenants out of range of Searing Blaze and Searing Blood.

Burn's sideboard plan is to bring in 2-3 Path to Exile and 2-3 Grim Lavamancers (most Burn lists have access to at least 3 Lavamancers). While Burn can just kill you quickly with a double Goblin Guide hand on the play, more often than not, Burn's path to victory is to become a control deck against you, using Searing Blaze, Searing Blood, Lightning Bolt, and Lightning Helix to keep your creatures off the board, while sticking an early Grim Lavamancer to pick off your smaller creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Burn should try to save the Paths for Champions or Lieutenants that get too big, so you want to try to get your relevant creatures above 3 toughness. You might also run up against an Anger of the Gods or a Deflecting Palm, so watch out for those as well. Burn should probably cut their Eidolons against you, especially if they are on the draw.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Path to Exile, Searing Blaze, Searing Blood, Lightning Bolt, Lighting Helix.

DismemberDismemberAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostDark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantVithian RenegadesMirran Crusader

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenMeddling MageKitesail FreebooterKitesail FreebooterKitesail FreebooterKitesail Freebooter
Merfolk is a pretty easy matchup if you draw a lot of your Champions and Lieutenants. Your creatures just get much larger than your opponents, they can't deploy their creatures fast enough to profitably block, and they have little in the way of interaction other than some Dismembers, Vapor Snags, or Echoing Truths.

I cut Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, since she is not able to effectively choke our opponent's resources when they have a Vial out. Freebooter is not a very high impact card, given that Merfolk does not run too many spells. The spells you do want to hit (Dismember, Vapor Snag, Spreading Seas) can be named with Meddling Mage.

Be mindful of how you play out your lands to avoid having one of your rainbow lands be hit with a Spreading Sea.

Merfolk doesn't really currently have much of a sideboard plan against Humans. A lot of lists are running Gutshot, but that isn't terribly high impact versus Humans, and it's just a dead draw later in the game.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Dismember, Vapor Snag, Spreading Seas. If they don't have a Vial in play, then maybe Lord of Atlantis or Master of the Pearl Trident.

Vithian RenegadesDismemberDismemberIzzet StaticasterIzzet Staticaster

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenMeddling Mage
My first impression was that this was going to be a bad matchup: Steel Overseer is very hard to deal with when it gets online, and Affinity has access to quick combo kills with Arcbound Ravager and Inkmoth Nexus. That said, I have managed to put together a pretty solid win rate (+70%) versus this deck over a fairly large sample. Unsurprisingly, this matchup is very play/draw dependent, and there are many Affinity hands (e.g., turn 1 Steel Overseer or Cranial Plating) that Humans (or really most decks) won't be able to beat. Reflector Mage goes a long way in game 1 of this matchup, and you should save it for their Steel Overseer or Master of Etherium.

I have found that Affinity players tend to use their Arcbound Ravager too aggressively in this matchup. You should try to induce your opponent into sacrificing their Arcbound Ravager to make a very large creature (often a Vault Skirge) to get maximum value out of your Reflector Mage.

I tend to leave in Kitesail Freebooter because it can block Signal Pest, Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus, even though it seldom gets a card from them (maybe a Cranial Plating if you're really lucky!) Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is more or less a brick. If I'm on the play, I'm OK to leave in some of my Meddling Mages, but on the draw, Mage usually comes down a turn too late, as they usually are able to get their threats under it (namely, Cranial Plating). If I'm on the draw, I might cut some Mages and add Dark Confidant.

Izzet Staticaster is the best card in this matchup, but Steel Overseer can get their creatures out of range. Dismember goes a long way for stopping that: I'll usually save Dismember for a high priority target.

I have seen a variety of Affinity sideboard cards tried against Humans, including Whipflare, Dispatch, and Ghirapur Aether Grid. It's easy to play around Whipflare and Aether Grid, just try to play out your Champions and Lieutenants first so they get large enough to be out of range. While Affinity might be able to pick off the rest of your board with Aether Grid, you might be able to pressure them enough with one or two large Champions to the point where they have to start chump blocking.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Cranial Plating, Whipflare, Steel Overseer, Master of Etherium, Dispatch, Galvanic Blast, Ghirapur Aether Grid, Arcbound Ravager.

Humans Mirror
DismemberDismemberDark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantIzzet StaticasterIzzet StaticasterVithian RenegadesAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostMirran Crusader

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenMeddling MageMeddling MageMeddling MageKitesail FreebooterKitesail FreebooterKitesail FreebooterKitesail Freebooter
So a lot of these sideboard cards are pretty marginal in the mirror, like Vithian Renegades (they don't always have Vial), Anafenza, the Foremost (often is too small versus an early Champion), Izzet Staticaster (their creatures might be out of range by the time you resolve Staticaster; also be careful about killing your own creatures!), but the combo-disruption package is even worse. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Kitesail Freebooter are a stone blanks in the mirror, and Meddling Mage naming a Human is self-destructive.

These games often just come down to whoever plays more Champions, Lieutenants, and Reflector Mages. These matches are very play/draw dependent.

So, yeah, Riders of Gavony is a nice card in the mirror, but it is a 1-of that is 4 mana in a 19 land deck. It will win you some games, but you're also going to lose some games where you don't have enough lands to cast it.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: I don't really want Meddling Mage post-board but I guess I get to name Fiend Hunter and Riders of Gavony, since I'm not playing either in my sideboard.

Eldrazi Tron
Vithian RenegadesDismemberDismemberAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostMirran Crusader

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenKitesail FreebooterDark Confidant
Eldrazi Tron is not very consistent in getting all three Tron pieces on the board, but you do have to battle early Thought-Knot Seers and Reality Smashers. Fortunately, those cards, and even Karn, are pretty easy to beat for Humans (Reflector Mage goes a long way versus TKS and Reality Smasher!). The cards you want to think about when you are choosing a card with Meddling Mage are Walking Ballista, Wurmcoil Engine, All is Dust, and Basilisk Collar on an Endbringer. Post-board, you will have to battle through Spatial Contortions, Hangarback Walkers, and Ratchet Bombs.

Wurmcoil Engine is a difficult card to beat if you don't have a Reflector Mage. You need to get their life total low enough to the point where they can't attack with the Wurmcoil Engine and live through your attack on the following turn.

This is a matchup where Dark Confidant could be OK if not for the 1 toughness being a significant liability against their 4 Walking Ballistas.

If I have a Cavern of Souls in my hand, I'll try to sandbag it in order to induce my opponent to spend a turn casting a Chalice of the Void.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: All is Dust, Wurmcoil Engine, Ratchet Bomb, Walking Ballista, Endbringer.

BW Hatebear
Vithian RenegadesDismemberDismemberAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostDark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark Confidant

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMeddling Mage
This is an attrition match-up. Your opponent will try to out-value you by Pathing your guy when Leonin Arbiter is in play or by taking a card with Tidehollow Sculler, and then processing the exiled card with Wasteland Strangler to kill one of your creatures. Eldrazi Displacer and Flickerwisp will also blink your large Champions and Lieutenants, shrinking them back to 1/1s.

I'd consider bringing in Izzet Staticaster if I see that my opponent is playing Dark Confidant. Staticaster can also take down Flickerwisps and Thalias.

It is not unreasonable to leave in Meddling Mage even though your opponent is running Aether Vial. Path to Exile and Fatal Push should be your primary targets.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Path to Exile, Fatal Push. If your opponent doesn't have an Aether Vial out, then Wasteland Strangler.

Grixis Shadow
Mirran CrusaderDark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantDismember

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckAether VialAether Vial
Grixis Shadow is a pretty good matchup if they don't have a removal-heavy hand. Stubborn Denial is a dead card in game 1, and Reflector Mage is very effective at dealing with early Gurmag Anglers and Tasigurs. Grixis Shadow is also in the awkward position of trying to lose enough life to play an early Death's Shadow but not lose so much life such that they would die to a Lieutenant/Mayor or a Mantis Rider.

I am OK with leaving in some number of Vials, since this matchup is sometimes more of a race than it is an attrition battle. You can often overrun Grixis if you're able to deploy multiple threats over the course of two turns.

If I think that my opponent is playing Anger of the Gods, Kozilek's Return, Liliana, the Last Hope, or Izzet Staticaster, I would bring in Anafenza, the Foremost. She doesn't do a great job versus Gurmag Anglers, but at least she isn't a liability to those types of sweepers, unlike Dark Confidant.

My sideboard plan for the 4c Death Shadow's deck is pretty much the same as my plan against Grixis Shadow.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Fatal Push, Terminate, Kolaghan's Command, Liliana, the Last Hope, Death's Shadow, Kozilek's Return, Anger of the Gods.

Living End
Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostDark ConfidantDark Confidant

Reflector MageReflector MageReflector MageReflector Mage
Plan A is to Vial in a Meddling Mage in response to the cascade trigger, naming Living End. The cascade trigger will resolve, and your opponent will hit Living End but not be able to cast it. If you have a Meddling Mage naming Living End, your opponent's only real hope is to find a Beast Within to kill the Mage.

Post-board, Living End will probably have other removal spells such as Dead // Gone or Shriekmaw. Try to get those out of their hand with Freebooters, or name them with the second Meddling Mage (or just name Living End again!)

Obviously don't bring in Cage, it doesn't do what you want it to do.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Living End, Beast Within, Shriekmaw.

UW Control
Dark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the Foremost

Reflector MageReflector MageReflector MageReflector MageThalia, Heretic Cathar
I don't like Grafdigger's Cage in this matchup since UW doesn't lean on Snapcaster Mages as much as UWR. Instead, UW plays more Supreme Verdicts and Gideon planeswalkers to out-value you.

I like leaving Vial in, even though this is an attrition match-up. Often, you don't want to expose yourself too much to a Supreme Verdict, so sometimes you want to vial in creatures during their end step. You can also play around their sorcery speed removal spells such as Detention Sphere.

Just be careful about being blown out by Vendilion Clique! Many UW lists will have at least two Cliques post-board.

Similar to the Eldrazi Tron matchup, I like to sandbag Cavern of Souls to make my opponent think that their counterspells will cash, which might induce them to hold up mana rather than, say, play out a Wall of Omens.

This matchup centers on Supreme Verdict, so you want to do your best to get a read on whether your opponent has a Verdict in hand. You can get clues as to how they use their removal in their early turns (are they aggressively Pathing your creatures? Or does it seem like they are holding back?)

I'm not sure if Kambal, Consul of Allocation would be better than Mayor of Avabruck.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Supreme Verdict, Path to Exile, Snapcaster Mage, Detention Sphere.

Anafenza, the ForemostKambal, Consul of AllocationKambal, Consul of AllocationDismemberDismemberIzzet StaticasterIzzet StaticasterGrafdigger's CageGrafdigger's Cage

Reflector MageReflector MageReflector MageMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckThalia, Heretic CatharDark ConfidantÆther Vial
One of the things that first attracted me to Humans was naming Grapeshot in game 1 versus Storm They're just dead, right?! Not anymore, as Storm pilots are now running either an Empty the Warrens or some interactive spell like Lightning Bolt or Repeal in the main deck.

This matchup pretty much plays itself. You need to find a hand with Freebooters and Meddling Mages. If you don't, you're probably dead. I might bring in a Cage or two on the draw for some turn 1 interaction, hopefully to slow them down. It's not too hard to beat a Cage, though, and if they see it in game 2, I might side it out in game 3 since they might be moving to the Pieces of the Puzzle package. It also might be correct to leave in more than 1 Reflector Mage to bounce their Barals and Electromancers. While Dismember is better at dealing with them, you might just want more ways to interact with those creatures.

Storm is going to side in 3-4 Lightning Bolts and a Dismember against Humans, and they may even have Anger of the Gods, which used to be pretty a common sideboard card for Storm.

It isn't necessarily correct to just name Grapeshot in sideboarded games. You need to have a good sense of what they have in their hand, how they plan to win, and whether you can disrupt them or not given that game plan. (Do you have a Staticaster in hand? Then try to name Grapeshot and removal spells to induce them to go off with Empty. Have a Kambal in play? Then name Lightning Bolt, so they don't have a great way to kill it.)

Grafdigger's Cage is also a reasonable card to side in versus Storm, but if I'm bringing in both of them, I'm likely to cut one of my Vials. I don't want too many do-nothing top-deck cards that don't apply pressure, and if I'm keeping a hand with Cage in it, it would probably slow down my opponent's game plan enough to the point where I don't have to have a super aggressive opening hand.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Grapeshot, Lightning Bolt, Gifts Ungiven, Empty the Warrens.

Ad Nauseam
Dark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantVithian Renegades

Reflector MageReflector MageReflector MageReflector Mage
A word of caution, I have not really played this matchup that much. It seems like they would have a hard time beating you if you name Ad Nauseam with Meddling Mage. Post-board, they will probably have some way to interact, like Echoing Truth, Fatal Push, Slaughter Pact. It's still probably just correct to name Ad Nauseam in those spots, since they'd need to have the removal spell in the hand before they can go off, and they usually only have those as 1-ofs in their sideboard.

This is a deck where Ethersworn Canonist would be much better than Kambal, Consul of Allocation, but very few people play Ad Nauseam right now.

Post-board, Ad Nauseam pilots play a lot of random nonsense, here is just a sample: Drown in Sorrow, Godhead of Awe, Dragonlord Dromoka, Supreme Verdict, Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Celestial Purge, Bontu's Last Reckoning. These decks haven't evolved yet to adapt to Humans, so there are going to be a lot of unknowns about the contents of your opponents' sideboards.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Ad Nauseam.

Dark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostGrafdigger's CageGrafdigger's Cage

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckReflector MageReflector MageReflector MageReflector MageÆther Vial
This is one of the more skill intensive matchups for Humans. There are a variety of UWR builds: some play Geist of Saint Traft and Spell Queller, while others play Lightning Helix, Ajani Vengeant, and Sphinx's Revelation.

I have found that Humans is favored versus any builds with Geist and Spell Queller. Geist is very easy to block, it is easy to play around Spell Queller, and now Reflector Mage has a great target in game 1! Just be mindful that Cavern of Souls does not prevent Spell Queller's triggered ability: Spell Queller does not actually counter a spell, it just puts that spell in exile.

It's important to make sure that the counterspells in your opponent's hand are dead in game 1. They often have Spell Snare, Logic Knot, Cryptic Command, and Mana Leak. Try not to let them trade any of these spells with one of your creatures. Cavern of Souls or Aether Vial should do the trick.

UWR builds with 3 or 4 Lightning Helix are considerably more difficult. To make matters worse, these lists often have a Supreme Verdict or two in the main deck, with 2 to 3 in the full 75. It is difficult to stick a Kitesail Freebooter or Meddling Mage versus this deck, since they have a diversity of removal spells (Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Electrolyze, Celestial Purge, Supreme Verdict, Anger of the Gods, Ajani Vengeant, or even Nahiri, the Harbinger).

Knowing when to pump the breaks or step on the gas is the key to figuring out this matchup. You can't be too cautious about playing around sweepers because your opponent can 1-for-1 remove your creatures, but you also can't just play out your entire hand, as you'll just lose to a Verdict.

I know there is some debate about bringing in Grafdigger's Cage versus Snapcaster decks. Games against UWR can go fairly long, and Snapcaster Mage is a major part of their game plan. UWR pilots often take lines where they Bolt something, then Snapcaster Mage-Bolt another thing, then Cryptic Command tap your guys down and bounce their Snapcaster Mage, then Path something else, then Snap-Path something else, ad nauseam. So a Cage, which they likely did not expect from Humans, would turn their Snapcaster Mage into bad Ambush Vipers (in fact, they are almost always chump-blocking if you're careful), totally disrupting their entire game plan against you.

You could leave Reflector Mage in if you think they have reasonable creatures to bounce, like Spell Queller, but you almost never want to bounce a Snapcaster Mage unless you're hitting them for lethal.

You could also bring in Kambal, Consul of Allocations, cutting the third Mayor and possibly another Aether Vial (or Thalia, Heretic Cathar if you're on the draw).

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Lightning Helix, Electrolyze, Anger of the Gods, Supreme Verdict, Snapcaster Mage, Celestial Purge, Cryptic Command.

Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostGrafdigger's CageGrafdigger's CageIzzet Staticaster

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckDark ConfidantThalia, Guardian of Thraben
While I lost to Dredge in the quarters of the MODO PTQ top 8 (my opponent going on to win the event), I think the matchup is actually pretty good for Humans. Sure, Dredge can have a busted draw that you can't beat, but they are often slow enough to the point where you can take an early lead in being the aggressor.

In game 1, it is imperative that you name Conflagrate with Meddling Mage. It is fairly easy to get your creature to be large enough to block Bloodghasts and Prized Amalgams, so if you name Conflagrate, they really don't have many ways to win unless they are main decking some other tech, like Lightning Axe.

In games 2 and 3, they bring in 1 to 2 Abrupt Decay, 2 to 3 Lightning Axe, a Vengeful Pharaoh, and 1 to 2 Gnaw to the Bone. It can be hard to beat them with damage if they are able to cast Gnaw to the Bone and have a Vengeful Pharaoh in the graveyard, so you might need to deck them, so play quickly (since Dredge players start drawing cards instead of dredging when they get to roughly 15 cards remaining in their library), and try to build up an impregnable fortress using Izzet Staticaster to kill Narcomoebas and Bloodghasts and large Champions and Lieutenants to block Prized Amalgams.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Conflagrate, Lightning Axe, Abrupt Decay, Gnaw to the Bone, Faithless Looting, Cathartic Reunion, Stinkweed Imp, Darkblast, Maelstrom Pulse, Collective Brutality.

GB Tron
Mirran Crusader

Dark Confidant
When I started playing Humans, I was really hoping that GB Tron would be a good matchup. We have disruption and a fast clock; what else could we ask for versus GB Tron? Unfortunately, I have found that Tron is a bit too consistent in quickly getting all three lands into play, and it has such a diverse set of threats against you that are all more or less haymakers. Instead of jamming a turn 2 Kitesail Freebooter, it might just be better to aggressively play out your Champions, Lieutenants, and Mantis Riders and hope that they stumble.

In game 1, GB Tron has access to 3 Fatal Push and 2-3 Collective Brutality to slow you down. Try to play out your threats so that none of your good creatures are vulnerable with 2 or less toughness. Once they construct Tron, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Oblivion Stone, Wurmcoil Engine, and Walking Ballista are the most significant threats, with World Breaker and Karn, Liberated also causing issues.

Post-board, they bring in 2-3 Thragtusk, probably cutting some number of Karns or Ulamog. Remember, if you bounce Thragtusk, they still get the 3/3 Beast token!

My plan against Mono-U Tron is probably the same as my plan for GB Tron. I'd be thinking about Thirst for Knowledge, Walking Ballista, Wurmcoil Engine, Engineered Explosives, Repeal, Cyclonic Rift, Dismember, Spatial Contortion as cards to name with Meddling Mage. Mage isn't very effective versus U-Tron either, since they have so many 1-ofs in their deck.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Fatal Push, Oblivion Stone, Ugin the Spirit Dragon, Wurmcoil Engine, Walking Ballista, Thragtusk.

Dark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantMirran Crusader

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckThalia, Heretic Cathar
Similar to UWR Helix, this matchup is also very skill intensive. You want to make your opponents use their removal spells on bad creatures while killing them with good creatures. In game 1, you want to be casting two creatures per turn over a few turns, and you want to disrupt your opponent's mana so that they are not able to cast two spells per turn. Most Junk lists do not run sweepers like Damnation or Engineered Explosives in the main deck, only 1-for-1 removal spells.

Liliana of the Veil is actually not especially powerful versus Humans. Often, she just kills your worst creature, and after that, Junk opponents often don't tick her up, since they will have more cards in their hand than you (often, by that point, you have no cards left in your hand!) Sometimes it might just be correct to ignore the Liliana on the board and kill your opponent instead.

Lingering Souls also isn't very effective versus Humans. It is very unlikely that the Junk player will be able to kill you with Spirit tokens, since you have plenty of fliers. They might give your Junk opponent a few turns by chump-blocking, but generally, they seem weak enough such that I am not interested in bringing in Izzet Staticaster versus them.

Mantis Rider really shines in this matchup, since Junk is often trying to clog up the ground with Tarmogoyfs. Fortunately, you can often pump your Champions and Lieutenants to be larger than Tarmogoyfs, and Reflector Mage can get them out of the way anyways (you're usually winning the game if your opponent took a turn off to cast a Tarmogoyf and you are able to bounce it with a Reflector Mage).

You might have noticed that in all of the attrition-based matchups, I am cutting all 3 Mayor of Avabruck. Mayor needs you to have other Humans on the battlefield to be most effective: otherwise it is a 1/1 for 2 mana. In attrition matchups, your opponents will be killing off all of your creatures. Yes, there are corner cases where you stick a late Mayor and your opponent doesn't have an answer (or maybe they don't even have a spell to cast), so that you are able to flip him and generate more advantage, but those are edge cases that don't come up that often. Expect your opponents to be able to efficiently kill off your creatures in post-board games.

My plan for Jund is probably going to be the same as my plan for Junk, except I'm looking to name Lightning Bolt, Terminate, Anger of the Gods, Kozilek's Return.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Fatal Push, Path to Exile, Abrupt Decay, Damnation, Maelstrom Pulse, Collective Brutality, Engineered Explosives, Flaying Tendrils, Liliana, the Last Hope.

Abzan Company / Bant Company
Grafdigger's CageGrafdigger's CageDismemberDismemberAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the Foremost

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenMayor of AvabruckMayor of Avabruck
This is one of the more difficult matchups for Humans, as it is difficult to disrupt their combo (usually Devoted Druid-Vizier of Remedies-Duskwatch Recruiter into Walking Ballista), at least in game 1. If you see a Devoted Druid on turn 2, you probably need to name Vizier of Remedies with your Meddling Mage and hope that they don't have a Chord of Calling or a Collected Company.

This deck is the primary reason I am playing Grafdigger's Cage, as it turns off their Collected Company and Chord of Calling. This is usually enough to slow them down to the point where you are able to grind through their creatures.

It is not unreasonable to bring in Dark Confidant in this matchup, especially if you are seeing more grindy cards out like Pharika, God of Affliction. If you are able to take them off the  combo, you will need to generate more card advantage to win on the ground or you will need to draw your Mantis Riders. I think I would cut a Kitesail Freebooter and an Aether Vial if I want to bring in Dark Confidants.

I like bringing in Anafenza, the Foremost versus decks that are running the Viscera Seer-Kitchen Finks-Vizier of Remedies combo, since it exiles the Kitchen Finks, disrupting the combo.

My plans for Bant Company and Knightfall are probably going to be about the same as my plan for Abzan Company.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Devoted Druid, Vizier of Remedies, Path to Exile or Fatal Push (but usually Path to Exile), Collected Company, Chord of Calling, Abrupt Decay.

UR Breach/Kiki-Jiki
Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostGrafdigger's Cage

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of Avabruck
The next 4 decks all heavily lean on Anger of the Gods. I find all of these matchups to be pretty challenging, since you want to commit your creatures to the board to kill them before they combo off (with either Kiki-Jiki, Scapeshift, Through the Breach, or whatever), but you also don't want to over-commit and die to a sweeper.

I like Anafenza, the Foremost a lot for this reason. You don't have to worry about her dying to Anger of the Gods (though they might bolt Anafenza after the Anger), and she is a one-woman army, hitting pretty hard by herself.

Aether Vial is pretty important in these matchups, as I want to be able to Vial in a Reflector Mage to disrupt the Kiki-Jiki combo or to bounce Emrakul, the Aeons Torn after they sneak it into play with Through the Breach. Keep in mind that you can also vial in Thalia, Heretic Cathar in response to Through the Breach to tap down Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, or to tap their Deceiver Exarchs. She isn't really that good in these matchups otherwise.

Again, these decks lean on Lightning Bolts and Snapcasters to stop your aggressive draws, so I think Grafdigger's Cage should at least be considered. That said, their plan is to kill you with a combo and not with attrition, so Cage might not have a high enough impact to justify its inclusion.

In game 1, Breach usually doesn't have main deck Anger of the Gods, so I would try to aggressively play out my entire hand. There are situations where you can let them resolve Through the Breach and hit you with Emrakul, but because you already have so many permanents in play (lands, creatures, vials) and because you didn't take much damage from your lands, you might survive the hit and have enough resources left over to win the game.

Remember that the Breach deck has Blood Moon in game 1. You might get into a situation where they have resolved a Blood Moon but you have an active vial; they might use their Cryptic Command to bounce your Vial, which could significantly set you back.

Against the Kiki deck, I would bring in both Dismembers to disrupt the combo.

If I suspect my opponent has Vedalken Shackles (which can be very powerful versus Humans), I would bring in the Vithian Renegades.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets for Breach decks: Anger of the Gods, Lightning Bolt, Snapcaster Mage, Vedalken Shackles, Roast, Cryptic Command, Flame Slash, Electrolyze, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Keranos, God of Storms (Kiki decks).

Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostDark Confidant

Reflector MageReflector MageReflector Mage
This matchup can be tricky, as you have to play around both their big ramp spells (Primeval Titan, Hour of Promise, Scapeshift) and their Lightning Bolts and Anger of the Gods. Because you need to have a hand that gets under their ramp spells, but doesn't get 1-for-1'ed with their removal, you want to mulligan to a hand where you can cast two spells in the second or third turn. You won't be able to come back if Titanshift becomes the aggressor (every land drop will be a removal spell with the Valakut triggers), so you need to get ahead early and stay ahead.

I generally like to cut my Reflector Mages, since it's not that great to bounce a Primeval Titan, but if I notice that they have brought in creatures from the sideboard, such as Obstinate Baloth, I might be more inclined to side the Reflector Mages back in.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Anger of the Gods, Sweltering Suns, Lightning Bolt, Primeval Titan, Hour of Promise, Scapeshift.

RW Chalice
Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostVithian Renegades

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of Avabruck
This deck is looking to cast an early Blood Moon (as early as turn 1, with 4 main deck Simian Spirit Guides), so try to find a hand with an Aether Vial. This deck plays 4 Ensnaring Bridge, 3 Anger of the Gods, some number of Wrath of Gods, and some number of Lightning Helix and Journey to Nowhere, as well as Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Ajani Vengeant, and Nahiri, the Harbinger.

They have so many removal spells, sweepers, and Planeswalkers that can kill your creatures that it's probably too hard to disrupt them. You would be better off trying to kill them as quickly as possible.

Also, don't get too comfortable if you have a Vial out when they have a Blood Moon in play. If you're not careful, Nahiri can snipe your Vial.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Anger of the Gods, Ensnaring Bridge, Lightning Helix, Wrath of God.

GR Ponza
Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostDismemberDismember

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of Thraben
This deck wants to cast an early Blood Moon to lock you out of the game, so be sure you have a Vial in hand. When resolving a Meddling Mage, keep in mind that GR Ponza pilots tend to play Chameleon Colossus, Stormbreath Dragon, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Inferno Titan as their primary threats. It also has 4 Lightning Bolt in the main and some number of Abrade and Anger of the Gods in the sideboard.

Dismember might be a reasonable card to bring in to try to snipe an early Arbor Elf or Birds of Paradise, though it is only really effective versus Stormbreath Dragon when it comes to Ponza's threats.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Anger of the Gods, Lightning Bolt, Inferno Titan.

UB Mill
Vithian RenegadesMirran Crusader

Dark ConfidantThalia, Heretic Cathar
This matchup seems pretty bad, but, fortunately, not many people play this deck. I only included it here just so that I could mention that I lost to it after it cast Profane Memento, Fatal Push, Damnation, Ensnaring Bridge, and Crypt Incursion against me.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: See above.

DismemberDismemberGrafdigger's CageGrafdigger's CageIzzet StaticasterIzzet Staticaster

Dark ConfidantThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of ThrabenMayor of Avabruck
Elves doesn't always run Chord of Calling or Collected Company -- don't bring in Grafdigger's Cage unless you know they are.

If you see white mana, they are probably running the Devoted Druid-Vizier of Remedies combo, so save your interactive spells.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets:  Collected Company, Elvish Archdruid, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Chord of Calling, Lead the Stampede, Path to Exile, Abrupt Decay, Fairgrounds Warden.

BR Hollow One:
Vithian RenegadesAnafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the Foremost

Dark ConfidantMayor of AvabruckMayor of Avabruck
This deck uses red looting spells to cast Gurmag Anglers and Hollowed Ones. Reflector Mage is your best friend here. Don't be too picky about your opening hand because there is a good chance your opponent is just going to mess it all up with a Burning Inquiry.

This deck plays 4 Lightning Bolt and 4 Fiery Temper, so you want to be able to get your creatures toughness up to 4 where ever possible. Post-board, they are going to have 2 to 4 Lightning Axes.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Lightning Bolt, Fiery Temper, Lightning Axe, Faithless Looting, Cathartic Reunion.

DismemberDismemberIzzet StaticasterIzzet Staticaster

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckDark Confidant
This is one of the worst matchups for Humans, as it is hard to stop an Infect player from killing you with a Blighted Agent. I try to save my Reflector Mages and Dismembers for Blighted Agent, while happily throwing creatures in front of Glistener Elves. I try to get one or two large threats going while trading off my other creatures for their pump spells.

Figuring out what to name with Meddling Mage is pretty difficult given the abundance of pump spells that Infect gets to play: Might of Old Krosa, Groundswell, Vines of Vastwood, Blossoming Defense, and Become Immense. Infect also often runs Distortion Strike and Apostle's Blessing to give their Glistener Elves unblockable. Keep in mind how they are sequencing spells and try to get a read on what is in their hand!

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Become Immense, Blighted Agent, Vines of Vastwood, Blossoming Defense, Might of Old Krosa, Groundswell, Dismember.

Dark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantMirran Crusader

Reflector MageReflector MageReflector MageReflector Mage
There's not much to say about this matchup. You want to play early Champions and Lieutenants so you can make them as big as possible and kill them quickly. You want to name Daybreak Coronet with Meddling Mage and try to vial in Freebooter during their draw step so that you can snipe a Coronet if they draw it. If they resolve a Daybreak Coronet, there is basically no way that you can win.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Path to Exile, Daybreak Coronet, Spirit Mantle, Ethereal Armor.

Vithian RenegadesDark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark Confidant

Reflector MageReflector MageReflector MageReflector Mage
This matchup is pretty difficult. Try to pick off both their Ensnaring Bridge and Whir of Invention with your Freebooters and Mages, and hope they don't draw interaction like Collective Brutality, Pyrite Spellbomb, or Abrupt Decay. It might just be better to be as aggressive as possible and hope they don't have an early Ensnaring Bridge.

Kambal, Consul of Allocations is also another card to consider siding in. Probably much better on the play.

I assume they would bring in Welding Jar from the board, so Vithian Renegades probably isn't even that good.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Ensnaring Bridge, Whir of Invention, Abrupt Decay.

Mardu Midrange
Anafenza, the ForemostAnafenza, the ForemostDark ConfidantDark ConfidantDark ConfidantIzzet StaticasterIzzet Staticaster

Mayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckMayor of AvabruckAether VialAether VialAether VialAether Vial
Well, I saved the worst for last. This might actually be the worst matchup for Humans, since their deck is just a bunch of removal spells and Bedlam Revelers.

I bring in the Izzet Staticasters to deal with their Lingering Souls and Young Pyromancers, but it is possible that they trim some of these to bring in more removal spells.

I'm not sure if it is correct to cut the Aether Vials. It is possible that you want to aggressively play out your hand, since their deck is only 1-for-1 removal spells with no sweepers. In that case, I might cut Thalia, Heretic Cathar. It also might be reasonable to just cut some number of the Kitesail Freebooters and Meddling Mages, since they just have too many different removal spells, and they are trading off their removal spells with your creatures either way. I would bring in the 2 Kambal and 1 Mirran Crusader if I'm looking to cut Mages and Freebooters.

Post-board Meddling Mage targets: Lightning Bolt, Faithless Looting, Bedlam Reveler, Lightning Helix, Terminate, Forked Bolt, Dreadbore, Kolaghan's Command, Fatal Push.

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