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Revisiting Momir Basic

January 30, 2013

I have been running this blog since late 2008 using the WordPress-engine and I have been quite happy about it. The features are sweet, the dashboard is tight and the end product looks good. Another cool things about WordPress is the amount of statistics the engine provides regarding your blog, so you can access tons of data about things like the number of unique readers you have per day, where the readers come from, how they came across your blog (search terms, referrers, etc.) and which entries that are the most read.

I’m mentioning this because of the later. What topic and/or which specific entry do you think have made the most people stumble on The Exploration and is the most read topic/entry?

If you are totally clueless despite the title of this very post, it’s Momir Basic! To be more precise it’s this post I wrote about the format last summer. When I started to notice the trend I was quite surprised but at the same time delighted. Momir Basic isn’t a very covered format and certainly doesn’t get attention on a daily basis, so I got to assume there is a demand for content about the format that simply isn’t met. Therefore plentiful of people have found their way here and I’m happy that I have been able to fill some of that void with that piece. After all, Momir Basic is a key format to play if you intend on going infinite on Magic Online so it’s not weird that a lot of people want to learn more about the format.

Naturally, the overwhelming popularity for the piece I wrote about Momir Basic have left me wanting for quite sometime to revisit the topic and write more about the format. However, because of the simple structure of the format, not a whole lot have changed during the ~18 months since I wrote about Momir Basic previously. Although new creatures are added constantly to the format with each set release, it requires a creature with a high mana cost and a momentous effect to notably shake up the format. It’s arguable but I would claim that no such creature have been printed since July 2011.

Since the format evolves in a glacial pace, there just haven’t been enough for me to say about the format to warrant writing a blog entry or a full blown article. In addition I still stand by practically everything I wrote the last time, so I haven’t not even been able to write a correctional piece or whatever you want to call it. It’s just all quite on the western front…until now, I should say.

Yes, I have finally got to the point that I feel like I have enough new things to say to honor Momir Basic with another blog post. Before we jump into the things I want to talk about, I strongly recommend you to read the last post I wrote first. That post was really Momir Basic 101 while the stuff I will be addressing today is more Momir Basic 102. In other words, the content of this post builds upon a lot of things I talked about back then. Off course, if you have played the format a fair bit and already feel well versed about the intricacies of the format, feel free to go on reading.

Giving credit where credit is due: 9-drops

As mentioned, I think the last piece I wrote has stood the test of time really well overall. That said, one of the shortcomings with it was the close to no respect I gave to 9-drops. I basically said that they were inferior to 8-drops and that you should never be activating Momir Vig on 9 instead of 8.

That is not the whole truth.

The powerlevel between an arbitrary 8-drop and arbitrary 9-drop is comparable. There are some hit and misses in both groups but overall you get about the same deal in the end no matter the amount of mana you pumped into Momir Vig. Therefore I would still recommend you to keep aiming at 8 lands as the end of your curve. The logic is that in the same time you could make a 9-drop, you can make 2 8-drops AND started your curve earlier. Since the difference in powerlevel between 8s and 9s are close to negligible, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense of going up all the way to 9. So in this regard I standby with my previous sayings.

However, there is one thing the 9-drops can brag about as a group that the 8-drops can’t; there is no 9-drop that will completely screw you over. When you are significantly ahead on board, the last thing you want to flip is a Kedrek Leviathan, Denzied of the Deep or Akron Legionnaire  There are no 9-drops with such tremendous drawback (currently as I’m writing this, I should add). Therefore 9-drops do have a slight advantage over the 8s. It’s not enough in my opinion to validate gameplans where ending on 9 mana instead of 8 is the goal, partly because the chance of hitting a given 8-drop on any given activation is less than 0.5% (and dropping by each new set), but if you by a freak chance accidentally can get to 9 (after hitting some card draw or mana acceleration on the way) keep that in mind and don’t get completely fixated on the 8-drops. If you are firmly in a winning position there is no reason to give yourself the chance of giving the game away.

Dangerous drops

On a similar note as the last segment, there are dangers lower in the curve you should be mindful of. While there are creatures that usually mean more trouble for you than your opponent, like Sky Swallower or Worldgorger Dragon, there are a couple that you just flat out lose by hitting. Phage, the Untouchable is probably them most famous one, sitting at 7 mana, but hitting a Leveler on 5 will also do you in. My philosophy with these dangers are similar to the 8-drops vs. 9-drops discussion.

The change of hitting a Phage or a Leveler is so small that I won’t be bother by the possibility while I’m curving out and the game is still anyone’s for the taking. The average upside with the creatures on 5 and 7 greatly outweighs the minimalistic chance of losing on the spot. That said, if the game is looking really promising there’s no need to give your opponent an extra out. Just avoid making a 5 or a 7 for whatever reason you were thinking of doing it in the first place. If I’m fully curved out by normal standards (i.e. I have 8 lands in play) and I’m in a clear winning position but still feel the need to add something to the board, 6 is my default safe haven. Worst case scenario you might hit a Worldgorger Dragon, which could be rough depending on the actual boardstate but when everything comes around is still a 7/7 flier. That usually does the trick despite of the annoying “remove all other permanents”-trigger.

Platinum Emperion and other extraordinary creatures

While starting out making creatures on 3 lands when you are on the play and 2 when you are on the draw and then work your way up to 8 lands is a perfectly sound gameplan for any given game, there are creatures that have such a profound impact on games that they warrant alterations in your gameplan. I touched on the subject in my previous post when I mentioned Sundering Titan and how you can play around that guy fairly well by constructing your deck and playing out your lands in a certain fashion. Today the focus will rather be on more direct responses.

The standard bearer for this league of extraordinary creatures is Platinum Emperion, not only because of his game warping effect but also because he is frequent to show up (considering 8 is the most commonly used value of X used to activate Momir Vig with and there is “only” 101 (according to this little site) different 8s as I’m writing this). When this gentlemen makes an appearance the games almost always takes a new turn, as often the board is clogged up and neither player can attack in a profitable fashion. The interesting question is what do you do when you find yourself with this boardposition? There are in my opinion a couple of different lines you can take, from both the perspective of the player controlling Platinum Emperion and the other guy trying to beat it.

In either case, continuing to spew out 8s is suboptimal. If you are controlling Platinum Emperion, you don’t want to risk losing it by your own doing. As I have earlier mentioned today you should at least go up to making 9s. If you are in the opposite position, I’d like to move up to 9s as well as you are more likely to hit an answer to a Platinum Emperion among the 9s compared to the 8s, while also reducing the risk of actually screwing yourself over as a bonus. You can do a gatherer search yourself to verify but by my count there is 2 reasonable answers to a Emperion among the 9s (Bringer of the Red Dawn and Kuro, Pitlord) among a total of 30 9s, which means you are about ~6,5% of hitting an answer at every Momir Vig-activation. If we make the same analysis on the 8s, we have 4 direct answers (Hoverguard Sweepers, Avatar of Woe, Sanguine Praetor and Living Inferno) plus Kedrek Leviathan which probably isn’t ideal but will at least progress the game. There are currently 101 8s and that leaves us with about ~5% chance of hitting an answer with every activation, and that is with counting in Kedrek Leviathan and disregarding that you risk screwing yourself over with something like Denizen of the Deep.

So is making 9s the ultimate answer to the Platinum Emperion conundrum? No, not always, as in many aspects of Magic; it depends. If you are the person controlling Platinum Emperion and the board doesn’t look overly threatening even if you would lose the giant robot on the following turn, you should strongly consider going bigger than 9s. I have seen people trying to go really deep by making land drops up to 15 in order to go for the Emrakul-kill. I think that 15 is a bit overkill but the principle is sound. After all, even if you don’t add anything to the board while making those necessary land drops, there isn’t much the opponent can do to get rid of the Emperion. Heck, even if the opponent makes 5 9s, he/she doesn’t even have a 30% shot of finding either Bringer of the Red Dawn or Kuro, Pitlord! What I recommend is to aim for the 11s, as this group of creatures have the beautiful qualities of being small in numbers, most of them can punch through about any boardposition and they do not threaten to screw you over in anyway. Even though it might take a couple of turns before they get there, Darksteel Colossus, Pathrazer of Ulamog, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Worldspine Wurm will get you there eventually. Particularly the Eldrazis are nice as they also by every attack reduces your opponent’s chance of getting out of the ordeal by annihilation.

The same gameplan could be utilized by the player in the opposite position although I wouldn’t recommend it. The problem is that pretty much only Ulamog, Blightsteel Colossus and Emrakul are good enough to beat Platinum Emperion, i.e. you have a smaller selection of creatures to hit that will matter, and you also have to worry about getting attacked back as you don’t have the fluffy cushion that Platinum Emperion provides that the other guy has.

As I mentioned, Platinum Emperion is the most interesting creature you will have to deal with on a regular basis, but he is certainly not the only creature that will lead into interesting decision making and lead into playing games of Momir Basic differently. I’m not going to raffle off a complete list of the interesting creatures in Momir Basic as 1) that list would be insanely long, 2) because of the odds hitting a specific creature in the cmc <=6-region is very small and thus chances are that I haven’t had a ton experience with each of every one of them and 3) how to play with them often greatly depends on what else is going on in said game. That said, it’s interesting to ponder on how to play with or against a creature like Hokori, Dust Drinker or Oona, Queen of the Fae, because it’s such factors that can separate those who regularly goes 3-1 or better at Daily Events and those who don’t.

With that I think I have cleared my plate for today. I hope my revisitation to Momir Basic was learning and entertaining. As always, if you have any questions or think I’m talking mumbo jumbo about something, feel free to drop a comment down below!

Until next time;

All hail Momir Vig!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben permalink
    April 23, 2013 19:37

    You missed Bosh, Iron Golem and Sisters of Stone Death as direct answers to a Platinum Emperion. Borborygmos is a potential answer at 8 as well (though he is newer than your article.) Sisters is hard on the mana and Borborygmos is only an answer three turns later, but there you go. Scourge of Kher Ridge is also a reasonable answer as a board sweeper since having 4 red is not uncommon (for me) and topdecking a mountain is pretty easy too.

    In addition, at 8 you have your own Platinum Emperion, Vorinclex to ramp to 15 immediately, Griselbrand to continue developing mana while you make creatures and 3 land destruction creatures to buy time. So that’s 7% to give you some way to destroy Emperion, plus another 7% to stall the game, not to mention the fact that by staying at 8, I don’t have to spend a turn going to 9.

    Heck, depending on the situation, even a post-combat Avatar of Slaughter can deal with an Emperion.

    When you take into account the fact that most people go to 11 after making an Emperion, I generally only give myself 3-6 turns before the game is in an unwinnable state. Since I generally think I’m way behind at this point, making a board sweeper or even an Avatar of Slaughter is often preferable to not affecting the board at all. Because I’m already 60% to 80% to lose, the fact that there’s %2-4 that I extra-lose doesn’t really affect my decision.

    Your point stands, it’s not always correct to make 8s instead of 9s, but I wouldn’t recommend it in this case. I would recommend if your ground is stalled out and you just want to make flyers that can end the game, or if you have a dominating board presence and don’t want to risk Kederekt, Denizen, Slaughter or Akron. Basically if I’m ahead, but not so far ahead that I feel I can go to 11.


    • BernhardZ permalink*
      April 24, 2013 00:20

      I definitely missed taking in Bosh in consideration when I wrote this and if I consider Kuro, Pitlord as an answer I guess I have to consider Scourge of Kher Ridge as one to. Sisters of Stone Death doesn’t really work for me as I rarely end up with Forests in play in a regular game of Momir Basic (see my earlier post about the format). Borborygmos Enraged feels kind of sketchy to me in this context, as you usually need to do “nothing” for 3 straight turns to kill off the Emperion while at the meantime the opponent have added 3 creatures to the board.

      As for stalling with creatures goes, I’m wouldn’t include having a Platinum Emperion of your own to that list. As we both have mentioned, in the scenario where a player have a Platinum Emperion on his/hers side of the board it’s likely that player will go for a big creature with Annihilator like Ulamog, which an Emperion on your own side does squat against.

      The rest of your reasoning is interesting but I’m not sure I’m convinced that hitting creatures that “stalls” for more turns are reason to stick with 8s. Sure, I haven’t done the exact math as I’m saying this (and it will surely change back and forth as more and more sets are released) but I currently feel like you might as well pay the iron price of doing nothing for a turn to increase your chances of actually progressing the game in your favor. Remember, the basis of my reasoning in the blogpost was that the board is clogged up and that the addition of any given groundpounder to the board on either side would be largely irrelevant. In other words, the 6/6 body of a Woodfall Primus for example is worth close to nothing even if it “bought” me another turn. Also as stated, the extra bonus of moving up from 8-drops is that you also eliminate the possibility of hitting say Denizen of the Deep and just lose on the spot.

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