Secret Tech is a standard deck which features, what could be described, as a one card combo, though not always as lethal as Scapeshift in extended could be. To those of you who don’t believe any deck is good unless it has made Top 8s or been credited to a professional player, this article is probably not for you.
I’ve always had an affinity for building around certain cards or trying to create a deck that held a certain importance for specific cards. Upon my return to competitive Magic last summer, having taken some time off for my University studies, I was disappointed to return to a Magic environment, which did not feature any form of combo or I win the game pretty much right now strategy. Admittedly, getting an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or a Primeval Titan was close.
So initially I focused on one of my stronger suits, White Weenie. If you would like to see that deck list for that it, which Top 8ed Champs, it can be found here. The card indicated by a ? is Knight Exemplar.
The biggest problem with the deck was U/W control was a predominant deck at the time, this was prior to Caw-Go, and the White Weenie strategy dies to board sweepers fairly regularly, of which Day of Judgment & Gideon Jura were present. So it was time to refocus and change strategies, especially after Worlds.
Having played Magic for what seems like an eternity, there has always been one card which I liked without ever having played. This card is Polymorph. Now it may be the drawing or the actual effect of allowing blue to cheat creatures into play but whatever it is, I’ve always like it.
So upon my search for this new strategy, I came across a card which containing the word Polymorph in it. Of course looking over Mass Polymorph it seemed very clunky at six mana and I would need a consistent way of making token creatures, which would be used to get my big creatures out.
I searched for ways to make tokens consistently which first lead me to gravitate towards a U/G shell featuring Growth Spasm and Awakening Zone but no combination of those cards provided the desired results I was looking for. Further, all my opponent had to do was keep counter magic open for when I cast the spell and I had no backup plan to win.
So I decided to momentarily shelf that idea. Which lead to a moment when I had free time and decided to unsleeve my decks and pilfer the good cards to add as trade fodder for my binder. By unsleeving both the White Weenie and Mass Polymorph deck at the same time I came across and interesting discovery. White had a way of making tokens in the form of Elspeth Tirel.
The added benefit of playing the U/W shell over the U/G shell is I would have access to all of the same cards the popular control strategy had at the time. The first draft of the deck looked something like this, I don’t have an exact decklist so I may be slightly off.
William Blondon – U/W Mass Polymorph
This was the deck I worked until the release of Mirrodin Besieged. The initial deck was rather hit and miss as it took the U/W shell and swapped out the Squadron Hawk and Wall of Omens for the Mass Polymorph package. Later the sideboard would also shift from being a support package to featuring Sun Titan and Baneslayer Angel and allowing for morphing into a typical U/W shell for Games Two and Three.
The problem that existed with this version of the deck was since it was not Caw-Go it had trouble emulating the same archetype that necessitated Caw-Go. Further, there were times when, casting Mass Polymorph successfully, they were still able to win on the next turn or makes plays to avoid losing. Common plays were dying to Kalastria Highborn or Jace bounce, Day of Judgment.
At that point, I believe the deck had gone as far as it would go. After the Mirrodin Besieged release there were a few new cards which could be inserted into the deck as improvements. White Sun’s Zenith and Sphere of the Suns were the main considerations with the possibility of a card like Blightsteel Colossus making an appearance. But instead of focusing on the deck I left it to attempt Tezzeret before eventually settling on CawBlade. The reason is remember how I mentioned the deck had a bad matchup with U/W, well it had a terrible matchup with CawBlade.
And then came the release of New Phyrexia and did it have cards that made Mass Polymorph interesting again. Of course CawBlade was still the deck to beat and I wasn’t truly invested in trying to make a new deck work at that point, a combination of school and work were the reasons. So I stuck with Caw Blade until the Jace and Mystic part of CawBlade were no more, which meant it was time to go to work on Secret Tech.
So what is Secret Tech? Well you might have guessed it but in case you didn’t, it is U/W Mass Polymorph and this is the list that I first brought out. Special thanks to DMac for his feedback and advice on the deck.
William Blondon – Secret Tech
For the moment we can ignore the sideboard in favor of first reviewing the main deck. The major addition to the deck is Urabrask from New Phyrexia. He allows the deck to immediately attack with Emrakul, with Iona serving as a “Shield”, if you will, to stop any answer your opponent may have. An important thing to note is Iona’s effect is a As and not a When so your opponent does not have a chance to answer your creatures coming into play, if you lock them out of the chosen color with Iona.
The reason for Elspeth over other white token makers is that Elspeth creates three tokens which is the magic number for Mass Polymorphing as it gets all three creatures into play. And for additional creature support, thanks to DMac’s suggestion, I added in the singleton copy of Inkmoth Nexus to allow for other creature outs.
As for the spells Day of Judgment is used as a board sweeper against any aggro decks and See Beyond is there to ensure that should you draw one of your creatures you can shuffle it back into your deck. Otherwise the spell package features many of the common mainstays from CawBlade.
I’ve tested many different strategies that revolved around creatures and honestly outside of the three main creature package there are very few which were of real efficiency. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre was mostly just win more and other large creatures didn’t provide any real protection or added bonus with the exception of two creatures: Terastodon and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Of the two I pretty much only bring in Elesh Norn and the elephant mostly sits on the sidelines.
I’ve been playing a combination of 3 Flashfreeze, 2 Mental Misstep, 2 Celestial Purge and 2 Timely Reinforcements. Following the bannings I thought there would be an increase in the number of Valakut and Mono Red decks in the meta game which is what these sideboard cards were meant to combat. However since I’ve been playing the deck, Mono Red seems to have died off and diminished in effectiveness, although Valakut is not as prevalent as I thought it might be, though it is still a consideration one must take into consideration. With that in mind I believe the correct move would be cutting the Missteps.
I think the combination of Flashfreeze and Celestial Purge is correct and though the Reinforcements may be an untested commodity, the key word on that card is three soldier tokens which can be used in combination with Mass Polymorph which allows us to get the big three out, while helping stall them a bit longer with the gain of six life.
As for the slots vacated by Mental Misstep, the format seems to be slowing down and there seems to be an emergence of decks that bide their time waiting for their opponent to slip up. Due to this fact, I’m thinking of bringing back Luminarch Ascension and giving it a try. It provides for a win condition against some decks and it also doubles as a token generator for Mass Polymorph, should Angel beats not be enough, or if you happen to face down a TurboFog deck and need Emrakul’s Annihilator ability.
The last four slots are a pair of Divine Offering and Dismember, which are holdovers for both CawBlade and Exarch Twin. The Offering happens to work overtime against Tempered Steel and Puresteel Decks, while the Dismember is generally good as single creature removal. So the sideboard would look something like this:
As for the sideboarding strategies and the way the deck should be played, would go as follows.
Game one wish for luck. The best possible option is to have some combination of Condemn and counterspells to hold off the initial wave till you’re able to stabilize with some form of Elspeth Tirel and Day of Judgment and ensure they do not land a Shrine of Burning Rage, otherwise you are done.
Post sideboard, you bring in a package of cards that allows you to hold off the enemy tide. It’s possible that you could substitute Leyline of Sanctity for Celestial Purge to hold the tide off even more but the problem is unless it is in your opening hand, its not of much use. The reason for removing Urabrask is while you can tap out, without having to fear counters, your opponent will be able to burn off some of your tokens potentially leaving you with only one token and Urabrask against mono red is not as effective as Elesh Norn.
Odd as this may sound, the deck is actually a turn faster than Valakut decks have lethal on average, with Valakut having an edge due to the amount of mana ramp and cantrips in the form of Explore they have access to. That being said, I’ve found game one to usually side in your favor unless they are playing the aggro version with Urabrask, where the percentage is closer to 50/50 and sometimes worse unless you can remove their resolved Urabrask.
Game two and three is very similar to Game One, with the player going first having the upper hand. The addition of Flashfreeze provides access to hard counters which is useful as Mana Leak will usually be outclassed quickly enough. Remember to hold back counter spells for only when actually needed as other than spells that may represent lethal damage, allow them to develop their board state and bide your time before “comboing off”.
My analysis for the deck is based off of bad versions that I’ve played against. Since you’re playing Blue/White your opponent should respect any representation of counters and will potentially hold off on countering your spells until absolute necessary so play it safe until you can get there. Unfortunately, this matchup is a crap chute with them having more cantrips and the ability to find more answers for your spells.
Game two is very much dependant on whether you can draw your hate versus whether they can get there on cantrips. The Flashfreeze may seem a little sketchy but the only part of the deck you care about is the combo, so stopping Splinter Twin is a huge priority. Also though many decks might rely on Spellskite against the combo, Mass Polymorphing into a Kite it awkward.
You lose. I would prefer being more optimistic but the deck has counterspells and a whole lot of them and has access to cantrips to get counterspells. Holding back your counters is crucial in this match to either force through your spells or prevent them from landing Ascension.
Post board you want as much help as possible in dealing with the Ascension, while the Flashfreeze provides some additional support for protecting your board and yourself from their burn spells. Luckily this is only a small part of the metagame so if you can avoid it, then you do not need to worry.
It returns! Unlike last time though the matchup is not as daunting. In Game One you want to take on the control role and be on the defensive and bide your time before landing some tokens into play. Their suite of removal is usually very limited and will be lacking in board sweepers or spot removal outside of Condemn. At the same time, most builds I’ve played against are lacking in actual counters compared to other iterations so while it is always good to be cautious be on the lookout for moments went your opponent may be bluffing, otherwise you might lose without having done anything.
In: 2 Divine Offering, 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite & 2 Luminarch Ascension (if it revolves around Emeria Angel) or 2 Dismember (if it plays Hero of Bladehold and Splicer).
Out: 1 Elspeth Tirel, 1 Mass Polymorph & 3 Spell Pierce
Game Two sideboard outs part of the combo as I’ve found myself more likely to hard cast creatures than resolve a Mass Polymorph as they have no answer to a resolved one so they will hold back on their counters in expectation of Elspeth and Mass. If the deck is the slow version then landing an Ascension should be game where as the Dismembers are a concession to the aggro decks which can spit out a large variety and amount of creatures. Again in this match you are looking to be control deck, sitting back and biding your time.
Mono Black & Blue/Black
I realize these decks have no been posting results and I’m also well aware of the reason for this. If you are not, chances are you’re playing one of these decks. Mono Black is fairly simple as your creature removal suite should be more than enough to prevent them from getting there. Watch out for discard, especially Despise as it hits Elspeth, and trading a Day for one creature is usually worth it. Game Two you want Purges for Days and Ascension for probably Urabrask and one Elspeth although the two cards can easily be something else.
Blue/Black is different as their game plan is to generally stifle you at every turn so the simplest thing to do is draw the game out as long as possible making sure to have an answer to Grave Titan and Creeping Tar Pit. Once you have enough lands you can easily cast Iona, Elspeth or even Emrakul, which seals the game. Game Two you want Purges for Condemn if they play Titan, Day if they don’t and Ascension, possibly siding out either Elspeth or Mass as they will be sitting on their counters more than usual.
Tempered Steel & Puresteel
I’ve never faced the deck before so although I imagine the matchup will play out similar to Caw Blade although they will be lacking in counterspells so you can adapt your strategy accordingly. Game Two you want to be bringing in Elesh and Terastodon. Divine Offering is usually better than Mana Leak in this match as well and Timely Reinforcements can potential be used to replace either Zenith or Elspeth. I would avoid Dismember in this matchup as they will be able to knock down your life total quickly enough.
Game One cast Day of Judgment before dying followed up by Elspeth Tirel and you should be good. Game Two, same scenario but cast Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite instead of Elspeth and you’re guaranteed a win.
Remember that the strategy for each deck is a small primer based on my experience. Each deck is built differently and each pilot will play it differently which means you have to adapt your play style and even sideboarding strategy accordingly. At the same time the deck will have many critics, criticizing the decks for a variety of reasons, my favorite being, “If you face Eldrazi Green and they have Emrakul in play there is no way for your deck to win.”
Now I wouldn’t recommend you break this out at the next PTQ without getting a couple rounds in first but the deck is an unexpected commodity and its power level and quickness can be deceiving.
Thanks for reading and I hope some of you may try out the deck. Let me know what you think in the comments and as always, Have Fun Playing Magic!