Many years ago when I played MTG a favorite quote from one of my favorite players went something like this “There are no wrong threats, only wrong answers”. The quote comes from a guy named David Price who was given titles such as “The People’s Champion” and “The King of Beatdown”. But what does it mean?
No Wrong Threats
To boil it down to it’s most basic application, it means that when you make a move towards the win condition of a game (in our case rescuing a Lost Soul) the burden is on your opponent to have the correct counter move.
Let me put it another way, if I rescue with Legion of Angels, you must come up with an Evil Character and Enhancement that are able to successfully block him or you’re forced to surrender a Lost Soul. Foreign Wives and Stone of Thebez is a really powerful combo but it’s not the answer you need.
The Need For Speed
You see every Hero in the game can rescue a Lost Soul at any given time if your opponent doesn’t have what they need to successfully block. A deck full of powerful Heroes has a chance to waltz in for an easy victory when the opponent gets a less than optimal draw. That’s especially true of a deck that’s capable of reaching its powerful Dominants quickly.
The Redemption community has affectionately labeled this type of deck as “Speed”. A common opinion is that “it’s easy to play” but that’s not necessarily true. What people mean is that it can get some easy wins. The reason? “There are no wrong threats, only wrong answers.”
You Can’t Touch This
Many seasoned veterans enjoy playing defense heavy “Turtle” decks. In fact, this past year at Nationals we saw John Earley win T1-2P with such a deck. These decks attempt to have the perfect answer to an opponent’s game plan enabling them to stop the opponent and eventually win by some means of attrition.
Often times the success or failure of these decks begins at the deck building stage. You must choose the perfect selection of defensive cards to combat anything you might face. Sometimes it’s impossible to combat everything so you must choose to stop what you feel you’re most likely to face.
Once you’ve built the perfect deck you’re still burdened with the need to draw the correct answer(s) before your opponent is able to break through with their threats and to play those answers correctly. Mr. Earley described this well in a post Nationals interview when he had this to say about playing his defense heavy deck “Very stressful turns 1-6 while I’m stabilizing, then it is incredibly boring”.
Where’s the Balance?
It’s easy to see that “Speed” decks have plenty of threats and “Turtle” decks are full of answers. But most decks in today’s meta are “balanced.” In other words they contain about an even split between offense and defense. That makes it more challenging and more important to understand if you should be looking for a threat the opponent won’t be able to answer or the correct answer to the opponent’s threats.
If your opponent has a Hero powered up by some Fruit of the Spirit or Armor of God Enhancements, you need to be able to decide correctly if you should focus on answering threat or if your own threats will be able to win the race. Should you play King’s Pomp to discard the opponent’s placed Enhancements but negate your own access to Fortress of Antonia?
Know Your Role
Understanding the threats and answers available to both you and your opponent is one of the most fundamental parts of advanced play, yet also one of the most complicated.
Knowing your role will greatly help you make the correct decision when assessing both threats and answers. If you haven’t read that three part series and you’re hungry for more you should give it a try.
Until next time, may you always have the right answer and may all your threats be successful.
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