This deck is pretty good at changing gears. You usually go for the bazaar/survival hands, but depending on who you are facing, black lotus + vengevine turn 1 is enough having disruption in hand to stop what your opponent is doing.

If you got no cards in hand, bazaar on upkeep to mill yourself for 2 is usually worth doing. Also, if you have bazaar and have only 1 bad card for the turn, wait for the other turn to be able to activate bazaar and chose the best out of the 4 cards you will have at your disposal.

You have force of will and mental misstep, but you should use your forces will a lot of caution. By that I mean, try to analyze if the play you are trying to stop will make you lose the game, and what can happen if you let that one resolve. I say that because there are some counter-heavy decks that (almost) always want to counter good spells. But your forces are usually there for great spells.

Leovold is ridiculous. I've had some cases where it literally won the game by itself. Like, you're behind getting hit and then all of a sudden your opponents can't profitably cast spells. It's awesome against blue decks in general.

Think a lot about clock and disruption. All the time you have to calculate what is your clock against your opponent, and how your actions will change it. This is kinda basic with magic in general, but there are really relevant decisions on that matter with this deck than with any other I've played, so watch out for that. Things like, against PO or other blue combo deck you can deploy leovold and win in 2 turns after this or combo off and win in 1.

This deck is aggro-control-combo. Know your opponents and read the gamestate, so that you know how it's best to act against it.

You usually can't race combo decks. It's usually better to search for more disruptive hands than go with no disruption (leovold/lavinia are disruption). BUT you sometimes win on turn 2. If you have a hand like bazaar, hollow, rootwalue and 2 vengevine, you should obviously go for it. Even though vintage is busted, I think most of the times winning on turn 2 with no disruption is enough.

Also, this deck takes some time and effort until it brings you some results. It took me a lot of time to figure it out and start getting positive EV out of MTGO leagues, as I imagine that took other people here too. But the journey is pretty cool as well.

And most of all: don't get discouraged when you get "vintaged". Variance has a pretty big roll in vintage, and even though your skills will determine in the long run if you are successful, and decisions matter A LOT, sometimes your opponent will have turn 1 mentor with tons of stuff, or big outcomes, trinisphere, recall+snap+lotus+fow+waste+.... But it happens. And vintage has the best public I've seen on MTGO in regards of not getting salty against lucky opponents, because we can't blame people for how lucky they or we are.

And there are lots and lots of small hints of gameplay in general that you will get with time. Rich Shay streamed some amount of times with it and there's probably some good hints there too.

And there's this article about the deck that can help you a little bit. I had streamed myself but the videos go off after some time and now I have only this one small video of gameplay. There's probably other people streaming with it too (don't watch hoogland's stream, that's not good material to learn).

kaluma47
GutoCmtt
RichShay

Rich streams often but rarely with survival, and kaluma hasn't in a while and I think I won't be streaming in the next couple of weeks. But I'd say take a look at those accounts from time to time.

Thanks a lot! I did watch a video of Hoogland playing RGBw but he literally never played survival and then called the card bad...I was disappointed.
There are some youtube videos of rich playing BUG though and watching one of those was much more helpful.

@gutocmtt i always seem to lose in the xerox matchup any sideboard strats or tips?

@inkfathombiomage oh god yeah that hoogland video was so bad. You can totally see that he never played that deck before and didn't even bother to read up on it or look at some gameplay before recording. Stuff like that by highly visible players is always giving their (often non vintage audience) a very warped and terrible look at the format.

@swiftwarkite2 Sure, I saw your post and needed more time to respond and ended up forgetting, sorry about that.

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I probably undersideboard against it, only bring nature's claim (now with skullclamp it's viable, as they got usually only few hate pieces) and assassin's trophy. I side out always phantasmal image and hollow one as I don't always enjoy playing it against the possibility of dack.

I think it's mostly about how you play the matchup. FoW is usually protection to try to deploy your gameplan, and sometimes I FoW pyromancer in the beginning of the game if I don't have anything going on.

Here the 'playing normal magic' hands are better. If you have some misstep, shaman, leovold and stuff like that you can keep those hands. Leovold is extremely powerful here. I've sometimes kept hands with black lotus into vengevine turn 1 and protection, and won the game. You usually have some amount of stuff to do. I don't know how to explain the way to play this deck, but here you have to let go some stuff a lot of times. Wonder is awesome as they usually don't have grave removing hate, and sometimes you can just ignore dack stealing your hollow ones and go upstairs FTW.

I've had games where I ignored the combo hate from my opponent and tried to stop THEIR gameplan. Shaman exiling stuff, blockers against peezy and tokens, leovold stopping everything, while the 9 counters-package did it's work. I like a lot this matchup because every match feels different, and it should be played differently. But one thing is for sure: Leovold is a star against them. If you have it, most of the times you can deploy and protect it, and you probably will be just fine.

PS.: I saw ChubbyRain made a stream with Lavinia Survival and did 5-0 with it. Didn't have time to catch up to that yet, but sounds promissing. I shouldn't be playing until next week, and the one I posted is an old list (with just Lavinia as an addition, but I don't think it will hold). The next attempts will probably be with the 3rd Leovold somewhere in the SB and no Lavinia (probably back to deep analysis), and then maybe try a little bit Matt's take on Lavinia Survival.

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I'm not finding very many situations to use elvish spirit guide in. Are there important cases where you tutor for her with survival besides exactly GG available and 2 creatures in hand?

@inkfathombiomage

I cut ESG from the Mox Diamond list and have missed it a couple of times against the mirror or a combo deck where it's essentially a race and the extra activation is the difference between a lethal and nonlethal chain. I don't think it's a good enough draw by itself though, especially without other non-Survival uses for the green mana.

Thanks.
An example situation I came across where I wasn't sure what to do:

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Do I get rootwallas + hollow one here or just leovold? Would it be different if my opponent didn't have the voltaic key?

@inkfathombiomage Yeah, I would probably get Leo on this board. It forces the opponent to basically top deck key or an answer and shuts off Land into PO. There isn't a sequence that wins next turn through the crypt as far as I can tell.

Where has everyone landed following the new set? I haven’t been able to play in several weeks (months?). Is BUG still considered the best iteration? Has the UW bear shown up to make an impact?

I haven't played a lot too, I think it was about 5 leagues since I came back this year. I still feel BUG being awesome. I looked at the lavinia survival with mox diamond and didn't like it that much compared to the bug version, but more in the playstile sense. It's way more all-in, doesn't have DRS to control better the game, etc. It's more of explosive and combo-oriented, while the bug version is better as a midrange deck, and I feel like I win a lot of games with that role of midrange deck. The Lavinia list sounds more explosive, and have a relevant chance of deploying Lavinia turn 1, which can by itself just win some games. I'm still doing well so far with bug, this week got 2 4-1's losing both times to guttershark on storm. I think both versions are good at slightly different things, I would definitely keep an eye at how the lavinia version goes.

But Lavinia in the BUG version (which... is also white) didn't work out. With that setup having DRS instead of mox diamond, we can have lavinia or leovold turn 2. And in that scenario, leovold is way better.

I wonder if the Lavinia/Mox Diamond version actually wants Thalia too? Instead of trying to be FoW based.

I'm not sure about that. With already 4 lavinia in the deck, plus recall and time walk, you already have 6 blue cards. If you put 4 fow and 4 misstep (which is kinda the basic fow package) you have already 14, then you can put somethings like phantasmal, fluster, deep analysis, treasure cruise. I mean, you don't get to that point where you have to stick awkward blue cards (as the bug version also don't).

One weird and which makes thalia bad IMO is that with thalia, free spells cast 1. I'd rather pay 1 for a spell that would be free, than not be able to play it at all. There's that other clause that's still pretty good (non-creature with cmc>land can't be cast), but you lose half of the Lavinia's power. And I dare to say, you lose the best part of her. They are both hatebears, but instead of stacking they are bad together.

Now I think we have kinda 2 main ways to go, which are counter or thalia. Unless we get to a third way, Lavinia will probably be played with fow.

BTW, Just played against PO with Lavinia+karakas. That's definitely something to watch out for, Lavinia is awesome against PO but for combo decks it also protects them against fow/misstep, and in our case, rootwalue and hollow one too. It's not lights out, but its a pretty good card against survival.

Considering they have both karakas and lavinia (which are both strong against the leovold survival), I'll stop bringing in nature's claim and instead board in assassin's trophy against PO.

@GutoCmtt
That being said, do you think the Dark Confidant/DRS version might be better? Still has Leo but leans on Ancient Grudge and Pyroblast to fight PO? I liked that version better against Shops and the mirror anyways.

@wfain I'm not sure. Honestly I've having very few problems in terms of deck we're facing with this list, mostly dredge and storm. Xerox decks have been pretty favorable to me, PO is at something like 55-45, the mirror it's also very favored. I think it may be something worth trying, but as I recall it was better against shops and xerox. Maybe it's variance, but shops also is feeling pretty favorable lately, and it wasn't worse than 50-50 before as I recall correctly.

I don't think I'll play that version soon as the matches it's better against, are already favorable to me.

PS.: when I say mirror, I say versions people are playing lately, which aren't the bug one for some reason. This version is favored mostly due to DRS and misstep, what I mean is that against versions without it, it's favored.

last edited by GutoCmtt

I think my record with the Mox Diamond version is 9-1 right now. Rich put up a 4-1 on stream and Andy put up a 5-0. The deck is more aggressive, but is capable of grinding in games 2-3 with the Life from the Loam package. It is certainly a different style of play and the BUG variant continues to be good (probably better in the mirror though Lavinia has been quite good against Wallas and Hollow Ones and not having mana dorks means missteps really don't do much against you).

I wouldn't run Thalia with your Lavinias...they are a bit of a nonbo. I also dislike the Hatebear versions of Survival but that's never been my style of play. I found them easy to beat when I was running PO or crazy decks like Experimental Frenzy, beating board states with 3 Rods, a Thalia, and a Thorn or something stupid like that. I think the whole turn 1 Bazaar into 4+ power line plays well in a Delver-like Tempo deck, which is why I've been keeping the counterpackage and trying to add things like wastelands.

Banged out a quick 4-1 this morning, losing to Dredge and beating Survival, Colorless Eldrazi, UW Eldrazi, and BUG. Games that were interesting:

  • The game two loss against Dredge was weird as I was mana screwed but stalling effectively with containment priest and tormod's crypt. I used Life from the Loam to keep the opponent off of Cabal Pit mana but probably should have been more aggressive at using Loam at trying to find Bazaar or additional mana sources (I only had Strip Mine and Portal in yard).
  • I won game three against the UW Eldrazi pilot in spite of suboptimal on my part. The game plan of sticking an early Hollow One and then Life from the Loam + Wasteland locking the opponent out of the game is just really strong against Eldrazi. My opponent had a ton of hate in turn 1 Containment Priest, Grafdigger's Cage, Revoker on Survival, and both Thalias, but those don't stop Loam.
  • Game 1 against BUG involved a turn 1 Lavinia on the play and a turn 2 Basking Rootwalla with Wasteland. That was pretty much it. I had Force of Will back up but these hands are surprisingly effective at getting there. It just gets down to the Tempo game plan and Lavinia forcing the opponent to play at a crawl. Wasteland being synergistic with Lavinia was also worth noting.

I continue to build competency with Life from the Loam and Bazaar, but I keep noticing and picking up on new interactions. It's been fun, honestly.

List for reference:

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@chubbyrain How is the xerox match being for your list? It's pretty bad for me when they have leyline on G2/G3 (even with trygon, claim, trophy), yesterday I played the challenge and won 2 matches and lost 1 in the swiss of the challenge against xerox, and when I lost it went poorly because my opponent managed to get leyline on both G2/G3 without mulligan, and answered everything I had.

On another game I was in a pretty bad spot, with like 15 life and a rootwalla that was holding the pyro back since the beginning of the game, my opponent with pyro, 5 tokens, cards in hand when all of a sudden: leovold showed up and completely bricked my opponent off: both in spells and combat. I feel like I can win either going off (a lot or just something like vengevine+rootwalue+hollow one in the early game) or having leovold. There were some games when I had almost no hope, and leovold managed to stop my opponent from doing anything relevant until I could take over the game back again.

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