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The basics of Momir Basic

July 25, 2011

While grinding PTQ/GP/PT formats is what I usually do when it comes to playing Magic, I do enjoy more formats than those. Not only is it fun to be able to sling with some cards that you normally can’t but it’s also very insightful to experience different scenarios when it comes to Magic. LSV talks about this a lot, as he is a fan of “other formats” and have repeatedly said that all Magic is good for you. I certainly agree. While some scenarios might not occur too often in a format like Standard/Limited/format X, they might occur more frequently in other formats thus the experience of playing more formats will rise your overall knowledge of playing this game.

One example of this I frequently see is dedicated Legacy/Vintage players who pretty much exclusive only play either or both those formats… They are in general really bad at figuring out combat math! Having extensive board states with several creatures in play doesn’t happen too often in Vintage or Legacy and thus players who play nothing but those formats don’t get a lot of practice figuring out attacks and block profitably. For a player with a background like myself it’s amusing to see how people throw away games against Goblins and Merfolk  because they made some bad attacks or blocks, thought they were winning the race and so on. They are lacking the experience of someone who plays a lot of Limited or Standard, where creatures are more important and messy board states are a common thing.

My point is that playing a lot of different formats, either be casual or competative, is both fun and very rewarding. Recently I’m have been very hooked on a Magic Online format, Momir Basic. I have played the format quite a bit and thought I shared some thoughts I have as well give a proper introduction about the format.

What is Momir Basic?

Momir Basic is a Magic Online format, which is about the only place it’s played. Technically you could play it with paper Magic but I get to it in a second why this isn’t such a great idea. Each player has a 60 card deck (no sideboard) which is only made up of basic lands (of players choosing). In additions both players has the Momir Vig avatar. For those who are not familiar with Vanguard Magic, an avatar is a card that is not a part of your deck but does grant you at all times some advantages and disadvantages. In this case, Momir Vig let’s you start the game on 24 life and has the following activated ability you may use:

X, Discard a card: Put a token into play as a copy of a random creature card with converted mana cost X. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery and only once each turn.

Other from this, it’s like any game of Magic. You both start with 7 cards, draw 1 card per turn, may play a land per turn etc.  That is all there is to it.

Now there has been over the years been a lot of creatures that have been printed. Search for creatures for each individual converted mana cost on gatherer and you will quickly understand how deep the card pool for creatures are. If you want a extensive pool of creatures where creatures can be randomized from it quickly becomes a pain in the ass to administer for paper magic.

In addition to being a ridiculously fun format to play, the format is really cheap to get into. The only investment you have to make (except eventual tournament fees off course) is to buy the Momir Vig avatar. Last time I checked, you could get one from a bot for around 12 ticks. After you have acquired a copy of Momir Vig, you are all set! You don’t need to get anything else since basic lands are free. Once Momir Vig is acquired you can play as much Momir Basic as you like without needing to make any further investment.

This format sounds so random…right?

On the surface one can’t deny that the format sounds very random and very swingy depending on what creatures that players get from the using Momir Vig’s ability. But once you have played a couple of matches you start to realize that you were wrong and there is a lot more skill and decisions that need to be taken in each and very game than you previously thought.

While you obviously can’t directly control the outcome of each resolution of Momir Vig’s ability, you do have to plan how you want to curve out. Which cmc do you want to end your curve on? 7, 8, 9, 10? Or maybe something else? And where do you start your curve?

Further on you do have to pay attention to combat math. Attack and/or blocking isn’t always trivial. There are good attacks and there are bad attacks like there are good blocks and bad blocks and trades.

Even the lands you choose to play and the lands you choose to discard to your avatar matters. There are several landwalking creatures which will penalize deeply for having some sort of basic land in play. There are activation cost of creatures that  you want to use that might require some combination of mana. There are cards like Sundering Titan that will punish you for being fancy with your manabase. Having these things in mind is also important when you constructed your Momir Basic deck.

I could ramble on but I think have grounded my message. My point is that Momir Basic is much more than rolling a die every turn. Granted, it happens that your opponent got some creature that you possibly couldn’t beat or you get a Leveler or Phage (which translates in you lose the game right at the spot). But how are the situations like this really that much different from other formats that we praise? Particularly in Limited you can draw the parallel of your opponent “got lucky” and opened a near unbeatable bomb in a pack. Or you are playing Owling Mine at an (old) Standard event and gets paired against Zoo two rounds in a row. Sure it sucks that it happens every now and then but we suck it up and try again next time.

Momir Basic strategy 101

I’m not by any means crown myself as the king of Momir Basic but I do have some valuable insight of the format that at least will lead a lost soul on the right track.

Deckbuilding: When you construct your deck for Momir Basic you shouldn’t just put 12 of each basic land in your deck and call it a day. There are several factors that are important to consider while putting your deck together. The main factors to consider are Landwalk, upkeep cost of creatures, activated abilities and Sundering Titan.

Games of Momir Basic are in general decided by the 8+ drops and therefore you should look into what Landwalking options there are there. What strikes out if we do a search on Gatherer it that Islands are lands you don’t what to be stuck with if you don’t really have a reason to. Benthic Behemoth and Inkwell Leviathan are near unstoppable if you do have an Island in play.

Most of the time, creatures who have an upkeep cost you have to pay to make it stick around is not worth it. Paying the extra 2B to make your Bone Shredder stick around is just a waste. But there are definitely exceptions that you want to consider, like Demonic Hordes or Kuro, Pitlord. These guys are certainly worth paying the upkeep cost for. It don’t have any exact numbers, both black and red mana is the most important verity for this topic.

Then we have the case of Sundering Titan. It might sound a bit paranoid to warp your manabase and the way you play your lands during games around just a single 8 drop but it’s absolutely not a factor you can dismiss. 8 is the most common amount of mana you activate Momir Vig with and the number of 8 drops there are in the game are absolutley not infinite. I roughly estimate that a Sundering Titan is flipped about every 3rd or 4th game of Momir Basic I play. And if you do have domain or near-domain at that point it’s just game over. It doesn’t happen very often that your opponent flipped Sundering Titan and you live to tell about it. It’s bad already even if he just got 2 of your lands. 3 or more usually means you are drop dead. To me it’s not that big of a loss to stay away from the luxury of having domain every game to avoid getting rolled by a single Sundering Titan.

Until this point it sounds like you should run a manabase of 30 Mountain and 30 Swamp but there are activated abilites of creatures (like Jushi Apprentice and Azure Mage to name a few) you do want to use and ergo you need to have some amount of Plains, Island and Forest in the deck. The following decklist is the one I’m currently using and that I can recommend to use at least as a starting point:

18 Swamp

18 Mountain

8 Plains

8 Island

8 Forest

Granted this approach is not perfect. By leaning heavily on Mountain and Swamp you do miss out on a couple of upkeep costs of creatures (like Chromium and his brothers) and what nod. But no matter how you twist and turn it, you are going to miss somethings or be susceptible to others. I like this approach because it’s what I believe to be the way you hurt yourself the least.


Before each game you have to think on how you want to curve out. When do you start making guys with Momir Vig and where do you end your curve? They go hand in hand so you need to think carefully about how you want to execute your gameplan. The general consensus within the Momir Basic playerbase it to plan to end your curve on 8. That means that if your are on the play, you can make your first guy at 3 mana and then make a guy every turn until you hit 8, where you will run out of cards. On the draw that means you can start making guys on 2 mana and still hit 8. I agree with the consensus and urge you to follow it as well. Granted, your gameplan may very well change during the course of the game or have to be adjusted. For example, if your opponent hits a Ravenous Rats you probably want to skip making a creature on your next turn to make sure you still hit 8 mana.

There is some who will argue that when you are on the play it’s better to do a 2 drop, skip a 3 drop and then start the curve again on 4. The reasoning for this is you want hit a mana accelerator in the early game and it’s more likely to get one on 2 mana compared to 3, but I’m not sure I buy that. I did a brief attempt to do the math if 2 drops or 3 drops are more prone to be mana accelerators, but I quickly realized how complex it would be so I chickened out. You can’t just count the creatures that tap for mana, you have add creatures that searches for land, creatures who allow you to play extra lands, creatures to sacrifice for mana etc. And even if you stick to just creatures that just straight up tap for mana you have to weight in that the ones for 3 mana are in general more powerfully (tap for more mana etc.). So, I can’t really say either options are strictly better than the other. I leave that up to you to decide.

A newcomer to Momir Basic might ask why do you want to stop at exactly 8 mana? Why not 7, 9 or more than that? Without going too deep in the subject, the 8s are fewer (more likely to hit creature X) than the 7s and they are in general more powerful. However 8s are in general more powerful than 9s. So, even if I’d get to 9 mana somehow, I still will make 8 drops with Momir Vig. If I get the opportunity (from mana acceleration or card drawing) to go bigger than 9 I will take it. And lastly, there is always an out to any given situation within the 8 drops, namely Kederekt Leviathan. Don’t forget that.

Play or draw? This is kinda touchy subject because I’m not really sure. I choose to play for the most part in Momir Basic because I feel like I win more games on the play compared to when I’m on the draw but I don’t have any figures to support that. It’s really not that much a difference and I don’t think either option is strictly better than the other. At least from the experience I have of the format today. I just feel like have the extra tempo and initiative for being on the play compared to the extra low drop you get if you are on the draw.

I have a rule of thumb on playing creatures before combat as opposed to “regular Magic”. I want to make sure I don’t miss any haste creatures and I want to know what creature I get for the turn before deciding if I can accept any trades or suicides during combat. The last argument is a little double-edged though, since by revealing what creature you hit before combat it gives your opponent information as well on how to block.

Value the creatures you get that have evasion of some sort. This applies to any Magic game really but it’s easy to forget when you play in a format like Momir Vig where a fair share of the creature you witness are considered bombs in other formats. So really savor your evasion guys. I have seen 2/2 fliers for 4 mana go a long way when they could have been so easily been traded with some grey ogre on turn 4.

Another rule of thumb is be scares about using abilities that cost mana from your creatures. Most of the time, just pumping as much mana into Momir Vig as you can is the right play. But do remember that this is a rule of thumb, not a divine law. There are definitely times where you do want to use abilities, so think twice about it.

I mentioned this during deck construction but it’s worth pointing out again. Think twice about what lands you are committing to the board. Stay on the Mountain/Swamp diet unless you have a reason to commit an Island, Forest or Plains.

Pictures from the trenches

I did record some matches of me playing Momir Basic and was quite stoked that I actually got myself to do some gameplay videos. But I lost a vital battle against my computer and the recording device I’m using (Camtasia). I noticed when I was reviewing and editing the footage that due to a earlier crash my computer experienced my settings for my microphone had been rebooted, which lead to that my commentary to the matches wasn’t actually recorded! Oh, the horror…

I considered adding “post mortem” commentary to the footage but that seemed like a sketchy plan to me so I discarded the idea. Instead I will give you some interesting screenshots showing what excitements the formats holds. Gameplay videos will have to wait for another time.

Additional content about Momir Basic

If you want to sink your teeth into more content about Momir Basic, I’d recommend you to read/watch the following articles/videos:

The Momir Basic Primer, by Jeff Till

Momir Basic for Fun and Profit, by Mark Young

Channel LSV: Momir Basic #1

4 Comments leave one →
  1. elof permalink
    July 26, 2011 12:25

    So does this mean that we actually get to replay those games and I perhaps can be better? 🙂

    For my, Sundering Titan is very rare, in my latest 10 games I can’t recall it even once got summoned. Gather says there are 95 8 cmc creatures and I guess most of these are on modo (and even some doubles since I think that the planeswalker set or whatever count’s them double).

    I also like Islands because sometimes I want to keep a elder dragon around for another turn (there are no other upkeep payments on 8 drops except for elder dragons), especially since they fly.

    Another note is that 7 has actually gotten alot more bombs (however they are more dilluted since there are around 230 7 drops) so “staying” at 7 isn’t all bad but obviously not as good as 8.

    I recommend all to try it, it’s very funny! Like the other day, I lost a game where my opponent was at 1 life, locked under the old Akron Legionnaire/Stormtide Levithan lock and me having a Platinum Angel and Hollowborn Barghest in play with no cards in hand. His next two 8 drops wins him the game and none of them are Kederekt Leviathan. And also, Stormtide and Akron is in play the rest of the game. Funny as I said. 🙂

  2. cocademon permalink
    October 11, 2012 08:08

    Great article! even if some time passed, now there’s a website that let’s you find random cards by cmc, so we can play Momir Basics in software like cockatrice!


  1. Revisiting Momir Basic « The Exploration

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