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September 16, 2015

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Going Rogue: Collected Twin

One time in fourth grade, a friend of mine asked me in a typical wondrous-child kind of way, “What do you think the best feeling in the world is?” I paused for a second and answered, “Millstone wins, obviously.”

A couple of decades later, the cards have changed, but the sentiment remains. Winning games in obscure ways can be one of life’s greatest pleasures, and if you kept reading past “Millstone”, I’m assuming you agree. Johnnies, this article series is for you.

These days, taking down a tournament with a wacky deck (or at least a wacky spin on an existing deck) isn’t unheard of. With the right about of tuning and testing, your eyebrow-raiser can simply catch the “better” decks off-guard and capitalize on surprise factor to steal some impressive wins.

This week, I present to you: Collected Twin.

Collected Company is everyone’s favorite new modern card to bring card advantage, selection, and instant speed action to beatdown decks. This is not how we want to use it at all.

Instead, we want to exploit the fact that Origins brought us the newest 3-mana Twin enabler in Bounding Krasis, and that “CoCo” also hits the not-even-limited-playable Heliod’s Pilgrim to double our chances of drawing a Splinter Twin.

In fact, this deck is strictly about maximizing our mathematical odds of Twinning off for the win, as early as possible. In fact, 34 of the 39 nonland spells are geared towards doing just that, and the other five are there to protect it, even though it might not be necessary in game one. Besides this little bit of protection, this deck is simply born of probabilities.

Before we get to the math, though, here’s the list:

Collected Twin – Alex Wolf

CREATURES: (23)
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch
Meddling Mage
Spellskite
Deceiver Exarch
Bounding Krasis
Pestermite
Heliod’s Pilgrim

ENCHANTMENT: (5)
Splinter Twin
Canopy Cover

SORCERY: (7)
Serum Visions
Gitaxian Probe

INSTANT: (4)
Collected Company

LAND: (21)
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Wooded Foothills
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Halimar Depths
Sacred Foundry
Fire-Lit Thicket
Temple Garden
Hallowed Fountain
Breeding Pool
Mountain
Forest
Island

We’ll get to the sideboard after. First, let’s look at the math behind how consistently we are going to kill early with the Twin combo.

For turn 3, there is only one possible line: Birds (or Hierarch) into Exarch (or Bounding Krasis or Pestermite) into Twin, which can be helped along only by Gitaxian Probe. On the play, our odds of this happening with at least the 3 lands required for it is 21%. On the draw it’s 29%. Stealing a quarter of our game ones on turn 3 is not bad at all.

For turn 4, there are many more possible lines, all of which can be aided by one or both Gitaxian Probe and/or multiple Serum Visions. They are:

– Straight up T3 Exarch à T4 Twin (57% play, 62% draw)
– T1 or T2 Birds à T3 Collected Company (Exarch + Whatever) à Twin (11% play, 14% draw)
– T1 Birds à T2 Exarch à T3 Heliod’s Pilgrim à Twin (from Pilgrim) (13.5% play, 18% draw)
– T1 Birds à T2 Exarch à T3 CoCo (Pilgrim + Whatever) à Twin (from Pilgrim) (5% play, % draw)
– T1 or T2 Birds à Collected Company (Exarch + Pilgrim) à Twin (from Pilgrim) (4% play, 5% draw)

This lands us right around 68% on the play and 78% on the draw, and this is only if we’ve failed to already win on turn three. That brings us to just under 80% odds of a hand that wins any given game by T4, and that’s without considering mulligans. That’s just about the most reliable goldfishing deck money can buy.

The mana base is fairly straightforward four-colour nonsense mana. Fetches and shocks for days to offer your choice of colour on-demand, basic Island and Forest to survive Blood Moon, and a basic Mountain to thwart Ghost Quarter. Beyond this, we have a one-of Fire-Lit Thicket to hedge against red-source woes, and a one-of Halimar Depths to help fill in the deck’s shortage of productive turn-2 plays.

Now of course, there are a lot of spells out there that our opponents can use to stop us. Targeted discard like Thoughtseize slows us down, Abrupt Decay hits everything in the deck, and countermagic can pose a small hurdle. By maindecking two copies of each Meddling Mage and Spellskite, we hedge against interference slightly, and 1-of Canopy Cover lets us create do-or-die removal moments without wasting a Splinter Twin (even better when you have four more mana up and a second combo target). Otherwise, our main answer against combo interruption is to take advantage of our extreme redundancy and try again.

The deck fares extremely well against aggro opponents, so-so against BGx mid-range decks, and tends to run into trouble vs. control once they’ve sorted out what we’re doing. It’s a total blast to play, and the sideboard offers some exciting options.

SIDEBOARD:

4 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Meddling Mage
1 Scouring Sands
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Noble Hierarch
2 Pestermite
4 Qasali Pridemage

Leyline is everyone’s favourite protection against disruption and burn, and Meddling Mage is an option to take up to the full playset to help say no to countermagic and Abrupt Decay.

Scouring Sands and Izzet Staticaster are two versatile options that can help us take out troublesome lifegain combo pieces such as Viscera Seer (as we can’t win while the Finks combo is online) and Soul Warden (since Twin helps Soul Sisters gain life), while also taking down opposing mana dorks.

Meanwhile the extra Hierarch, Pestermites, and addition of Qasali Pridemages help by adding a pressure plan that I like to call “attacking with a 10/9 Pestermite”, while also helping to stave off opposing Spellskites.

Unlike classic Twin builds, rather than sideboarding the combo out, we just find the best complement to ensure its success. Plan Bs are boring anyways.

The deck has performed great in testing: After many test matches, it put up lulz in 100% of games played. And although winning is secondary in the world of Rogue magic, to no surprise it is a powerful deck too. (I read somewhere that Twin is good.) I encourage you to build it (your way if you like – several slots are flexible) and take it for a twin spin.

May the force be with brew.