Here the first change that I want to note is the only main deck change in the 4th Opt over the 4th Sleight of Hand. This is still something I am testing but has been promising so far but if you are still wanting to run 4 Sleight of Hand all of the following SBing and roles still hold the same.
The rest of the changes can be found in the sideboard the most notable of which is the inclusion of the 2nd Empty and a Peer Through Depths over the Pyromancer Ascensions. This is mainly due to the sharp uptick in graveyard hate as well as diversification to include permanent based hate in many of the grindy matchups. Normally we would go back to out selection of “grindy cards” such as Chandra or Search for Azcanta but I have also noticed that the fail rate on Pieces to hit a pay off (due to card type) was somewhat of a problem. Another consequence of them going this direction with their hate is that Empty also becomes better, and as a side bonus is helpful in other fast match ups such as Burn and Hollow One. Thus I added another Empty to help give enough pay off/win cons for pieces as well as adding a Peer through Depths to help smooth out the Pieces package. This is even more important now as we no longer have a separate axis to win on and are forced to find bounce/removal for hate more often. Another side benefit of Peer is that it like Empty can come in for some fast match ups where we are on the pieces plan. Finally the last change is the inclusion of the second Abrade over the Shattering Spree. This is mainly due to the drop off in Chalice of the Void (which we still have a bounce based gifts pile for if needed) and an uptick in decks with damping sphere plus creatures we want to kill, such as Jund or Mardu.
Following are 21 of the most common matchups in modern and for each listed will be their common hate, SB in/out, and brief game plan overview pre and post board.
Hate: all the hatebears
In: 3 Lightning Bolt, 2 Abrade 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 3 Opt, 2 Remand, 1 Noxious Revival
Preboard basic strats: Here a huge part of the game centers abound finding a bear to play on turn 2 or finding a grapeshot to mow down the early disruption/aggression. The important things to also note are that spending lots of resources to mow the lawn with a GS is usually fine as they have no graveyard hate, and that jamming bears on turn 2 is basically always correct as they can only punish with reflector mage which is slow and gives us a whole turn to then either build up or mow things down.
Postboard basic strats: Not much changes post board except they now have disruptive bears that exile our stuff in Sin Collector and Dire Fleet Daredevil. While we gain a lot more removal and due to the complete lack of graveyard hate we can then then determine whether the turn 2 bear go off or mow the lawn role easier. Note though that when we don’t have grapeshot we usually only want to kill the disruptive humans not their clock (unless its a massive time gain or we die next turn)
Hate: Relic of Progenitus, Rest in Peace, Eidolon of the great Revel
In: 3 Lightning Bolt, 1 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth, 2 Empty the Warrens
Out: 3 Sleight of Hand, 2 Remand, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Repeal
Preboard basic strats: Here we basically have to hope they dont have Eidolon and if they do then we have to have grapeshot to kill it or bounce spell. Otherwise the matchup is very much about either finding an opening early where they tap out or being able to utilize bears to absorb some damage then kill with a bearless line on turn 4-6 after they have used up all their burn and can then likely be a bit short.
Postboard basic strats: Since they only board in at most 2 graveyard hate cards and we are already so unfavored, we can just ignore them when planning for postboard games. Now we gain many more answers to Eidolon but our plan remans the same keep eidolon off the board and try the same as above. If we do have multiple removal spells though don’t be hesitant to use them on other creatures as every point of life matters.
Hate: Leyline of the Void, Discard
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Empty the Warrens, 2 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 4 Gifts Ungiven, 2 Remand, 3 Sleight of Hand, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Repeal, 1 Past in Flames
Preboard basic strats: Here we basically conceded to 8+ power on turn 1 (or turn 2 if they’re on the play), but otherwise we mainly just need to look out for an early Flameblade Adept as those can shorten our clock considerably. So here again since they have no graveyard hate don’t worry about spewing value to kill adepts early. They also have few removal spells so we can jam bears a bit more liberally here but they do have a lot of draw power to find them.
Postboard basic strats: Here we switch to the pieces plan as they typically have Leyline of the Void. They do have discard but only 2-4 so we aren’t too afraid of it. They are somewhat aggressive with their life total so extra burn spells have more value and Empty the Warrens for 8 is totally fine. Otherwise, we are still approaching it similarly to as above
Hate: counterspells, Grafdigger’s Cage
In: 3 Lightning Bolt, 2 Abrade, 1 Wipe Away
Out: 3 Sleight of Hand, 2 Remand, 1 Repeal
Preboard basic strats: Its a pure race where they are faster and we usually need to kill anything we can with a grapeshot, even turn 1 Noble Hierarch when were on the play.
Postboard basic strats: How they have Grafdigger’s Cage and more counters but we have lots of removal to try and stall them. Here we don’t want to really consider Cage much when planning as the matchup is fast enough already, very similar to how we handle burn except we have more answers to the cage should the window arise.
Hate: Leyline of the Void, Discard
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 3 Lighting Bolt, 1 Empty the Warrens, 1 Peer Through Depths, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 3 gifts Ungiven, 2 Remand, 3 Opt, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Repeal
Preboard basic strats: Here this is very similar to Hollow one in that we die to 8+ power on turn 1 only that here they do that a lot more often. Here though we can always jam bears on turn 2 though as they have no removal.
Postboard basic strats: Here nothing changes only we switch over to the Pieces engine again due to leyline and they do have discard. They do not board in removal though so gain it is just like Hollow One only faster.
Hate: Damping Sphere, Relic of Progenitus
In: 1 Wipe Away, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 1 Grapeshot, 1 Sleight of Hand
Preboard basic strats: Here we are faster and we only need to care about bolt and instant speed valakut triggers on a bear to go fast or a remand effect plus a turn 4-5 bearless kill (usually via Gifts Ungiven)
Postboard basic strats: Not much changes expect for a few hate piece artifacts so we now have a few extra bounce spells and the ability to for a gifts package with them to answer one and git Past in Flames.
Hate: Damping Sphere, Rest in Piece, Grafdigger’s Cage, discard, counter spells
In: 2 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Wipe Away, 1 Empty the Warrens 1 Peer Through Depths
Out: 3 Opt, 2 Remand, 1 Noxious Revival
Preboard basic strats: A pure race where they only have 3-4 removal spells for a bear so we just jam and hope. A common way to lose are to Inkmoth nexus with ravager so be on the look out for points that tap them out so we can grapeshot it if need be. Also mowing the lawn comes up fairly often in a failed go off which is still fine.
Postboard basic strats: Not much changes here expect that we need to be aware of “random” hate and a bit more interaction. We can still jam bears early and then treat it as a faster titanshift matchup
Hate: Guttural Response
In: 2 Abrade, 1 Gigadrowse
Out: 1 Grapeshot, 1 Repeal, 1 Sleight of Hand
Preboard basic strats: Pure race, except we are faster and have remand. We can jam Baral anytime on turn 2 but want to be a little careful with electromancer as they do have pyrite spellbomb.
Postboard basic strats: Here not much changes except that now they have ~4 pieces of removal for our bears and a couple counter spells in Guttural Response
Hate: Leyline of the Void, Damping Sphere, discard
In:4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Peer Through Dpeths
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 2 Sleight of Hand, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Unsubstantiate
Preboard basic strats: Here they are basically a slower Hollow one deck that has reach in the form of Conflagrate. They don’t usually have any instant speed removal so we try to pick a spot where we an jam bear and go off at the same time (~turn 4) or if they start slow just jam one on turn 2 and go from there.
Postboard basic strats: Here we again switch to a Pieces engine as they have leylines often and we need to keep an eye out for an early damping sphere. A nice part of this matchup though is that if they do not have a hate piece early they never will due to dredging. Also if there need to be a game 3 and you don’t see leyline (and you will see most of their deck due to dredging) you can switch the Gifts back in for Pieces.
Hate: counter spells
In: 3 Lighting Bolt
Out: 1 Repeal, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Sleight of Hand
Preboard basic strats: This machup is basically a coin flip until turns 5+ on average. Basically you either jam a bear on turn 2 or answer your opponents and then just try and combo while equating for potential remands. Also note that noxious revival can really mess up quick Gifts wins.
Postboard basic strats: Nothing really changes only now its easier to take initiative by bolting an opposing bear.
Hate: Leyline of the Void, Faerie Macabre, Slaughter Games
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Peer Through Depths
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Repeal
Preboard basic strats: Its a race and jamming a bear on turn 2 isn’t bad as even if they Living end they will only have 4-6 power on avg so we would have time to try again. they arent the fastest deck so we can prep a bit so playing around faerie macabre is important
Postboard basic strats: Now things are much harder as Leyline makes is so we are again on Pieces. Again they aren’t too fast so we try to set up bear + remand/unsub lines to have a big turn and also this plan does concede to their single Slaughter games so be aware of that risk too.
Hate: Leyline of Sanctity, Gaddock Teeg, Damping Sphere, Rest in Peace
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Wipe Away, 1 Peer Through Depths
Out: 4 Gifts Ungiven, 2 Remand, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Repeal, 1 Noxious Revival
Preboard basic strats: Its a race so we will commonly just jam a bear on turn 2 or 3 and if they start with a leyline we go all in on finding Past in Flames and rituals to then dig through the whole deck to find repeal and kill hem (this comes up quite a bit). But if they don’t have one it just plays out similar to affinity only they are slower and their removal ramps us to a bearless kill possibly
Postboard basic strats: Now they will also have Gaddock Teeg and Damping Sphere or Rest in Peace. So it is still a very similar match to affinity only they are slower but have a higher number of hate permanents.
Hate: Relic of Progenitus, Surgical Extraction, Thought Knot Seer, Grafdigger’s Cage
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Wipe Away, 1 Peer Through Depths, 1 Echoing truth, 1 Empty the Warrens
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Repeal, 2 Sleight of Hand
Preboard basic strats: Here they have little removal so we can just jam bears a lot on turn 2 and other than a couple relics the game is just a race. One thing to look out for though is that they do have Walking Ballistas so mid game they have more removal for bears.
Postboard basic strats: Post board they bring in Surgical extraction so our graveyard is now very unsafe thus we switch over to the pieces plan. We board in Empty as a back up due to this as well. We can still jam bears early but they will have a bit more removal and we are a bit slower, so remand while already good goes up even higher in value.
Hate: Trinisphere, Relic of Progenitus
In: 3 Lightning Bolt, 2 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 3 Opt, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Repeal, 1 Remand
Preboard basic strats: Game one we want to prioritize as many land as we can and also drop a bear asap. Also be aware that they have Blood Moon so to prioritize playing Islands later and to conserve Manamorphose
Postboard basic strats: Here its basically the same only they have a bout 4 pieces of artifact hate and a few more removal spells for bears. Otherwise its just as above.
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Peer Through Depths, 1 Gigadrowse
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 2 Remand, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Repeal, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Sleight of Hand
Preboard basic strats: Here since they basically con operate completely on our turn we need to either always be prepared to utilize any window they give us. A lot of the time we will be jamming into much of their counter magic on our turn to try and stop their development on board since if they don’t have a turn 1 delver or nimble obstructionist (also be very aware when comboing off to never give a chock point that this gets if possible) out we aren’t on too much of a clock. Their scarier draws are actually the ones with little counter magic and lots of burn so be ready to jam if they start sending bolts upstairs.
Postboard basic strats: Now they have a few more counters but we get to shave down on the cmc of our spells so we can just go for it easier when we get windows and can just jam Pieces into counters as to slow their development too without using up a ritual. Also Empty is extremely live vs them so even turn 2 for 6 Goblins is usually enough. We can also go longer with removal heavy draws that kill their threats (turn 1 delver being the worst for us) to possibly out grind them.
Hate: Damping Sphere, Rest in Peace, counter spells
In: 3 Lightning Bolt, 1 Wipe Away, 1 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 3 Sleight of Hand, 2 Remand, 1 Noxious Revival
Preboard basic strats: Here we are all about jamming a bear early and then trying to set up a turn where we can then go off through a a wanderer or Spell Queller. But mostly we just try and goldfish.
Postboard basic strats: Now it is a bit tougher as they will have hate permanents but mostly non creatures so CoCO isn’t too scary. Otherwise its the same as preboard since our bears are just as safe.
Hate: Discard, Damping Sphere, Scavenging Ooze, Grafdigger’s Cage, Surgical Extraction
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Empty the Warrens, 2 Abrade
Out: 2 Gifts Ungiven, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 2 Remand, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Repeal, 1 Baral, 1 Sleight of Hand, 1 Past in Flames
Preboard basic strats: We are either looking for an early tap out window, them drawing very little discard, or playing a grindy game where we keep Ooze off the table at all costs and set up a turn 5+ bearless kill. A thing to note is that Liliana of the veil is a virtual clock against us as her ultimate basically makes a late game bearless Past in Flames impossible.
Postboard basic strats: Now we again sub in the Pieces engine as they will have more hate and discard so we need to go long, They do have very few answers for empty so either a big Empty or sub game of 8+ can get there. Also they are a big=t agressive with their life total so extra grapshots and bolts are still usually useful.
Hate: Discard, Kambal, Damping Sphere, Nihil Spellbomb, Leyline of the Void
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Empty the Warrens, 2 Abrade, 1 Peer Through Depths
Out: 3 Gifts ungiven, 2 Baral, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Repeal, 2 Remand
Preboard basic strats: Her the plan is similar to Jund only that they have no fast clock and no way to interact with our graveyard. Note though that here we also want to kill an early Pyromancer on sight as that is the only way they assemble a fast clock.
Postboard basic strats: Now things get hard and we will need to face Damping Sphere, Kambal, and graveyard hate. Here we just try and keep assembling subgames with our Empties, go off big with a window, or grind them out by killing their hate, and creatures. They are also like jund in that they are more aggressive with their life total so double grapeshot or some combination with bolts steal wins commonly.
Grixis Death’s Shadow
Hate: Discard, Counter spells
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Peer Through Depths
Out: 3 Gifts ungiven, 1 Baral, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Repeal, 2 Remand
Preboard basic strats: Here we are just trying to find an opening to storm off at all as they are usually going to be super low on life so the full combo isn’t always needed. We are very much at the mercy of when they get their big threats into play as without they have no clock and their counters are only force spike which we can easily fight through bearless as we only need to deal 10 damage or so. But if they do land a big early creature we have to shift gears right away to go time.
Postboard basic strats: They are skimping on graveyard hate currently so we just kind of dig in against their usually low life total by boarding in bolts and Empty. Note that empty for even 4 goblins is strong here. Now a lot of the time we wont ever actually combo but instead will act as a crappy midrange burn deck that “goes off” to deal 7-10 damage.
Hate: Counter spells, Rest in Peace, Damping Sphere, Surgical Extraction
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Peer Through Depths, 1 Wipe Away, 1 Gigadrowse
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Goblin Elctromancer, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Unsubstantiate, 1 Pyretic Ritual, 1 Sleight of Hand, 1 Grapeshot
Preboard basic strats: Here we usually just jam a bear on turn 2 as their only removal is path and rampant growth is fine. The main game plans are either to capitalize on an early tap out, force a tap out/low with an end of Turn gifts, leverage a tap low in the mid game when they might deploy a threat (as they are the aggressor here), or just double grapeshot them late in the game.
Postboard basic strats: Now they have ways to fight back but they are still just hate permanents and they have no clock, so we either follow a similar play as above or now that we have gigadrowse can tap them out ourselves and then just have free reign to go off. Note though that here land drops are very important. Another thing that we can do is use small empties as a sub game to tap them out for a sweeper and then we untap kill them.
Hate: Counterspells, Damping Sphere, Runed Halo, Surgical Extraction
In: 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Peer Through Depths, 1 Wipe Away, 1 Gigadrowse
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Baral, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Pyretic Ritual, 1 Unsubstantiate
Preboard basic strats: Here unlike UW we don’t want to just jam bears since most of their removal is damage based but they do have way fewer counter spells so it is much easier to stick a bear about turn 4-5 and then just go off in response to the burn spells or single counter spell they have up. Here we don’t have nearly as much time as against UW though since they can pivot with just a Bolt Snap Bolt end of turn and then we have to just go for it. Due to their clunkier counter magic though End of turn Gifts commonly taps them out to produce the about bear sequence. If the game does go long the common way for us to with though is via either just brute forcing through all their counters or a double grapeshot turn.
Postboard basic strats: Now they have some hate permanents (again the same as UW) but also more Surgical extractions. This plays similar to UW only just like preboard they can pivot to kill us much easier. Jeskai is much weaker to large early Empties since they have fewer sweepers, and even to small sub game empties they commonly have to tap out/low to answer. We do win here more often with double Grapeshot than against UW thus we also want to be very careful about Vendillion Clique