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It’s A-Maze-ing – A Maze’s End GP Report and Primer

It’s A-Maze-ing – A Maze’s End GP Report and Primer
John Torrez
  • On February 3, 2014
  • http://www.limitedmagic.com/

A little bit about me: I have been playing since I was 12 and what I consider competitively since I was 16. I never have had much of an opportunity to travel and play as much as I would like, but I just recently came off of Active Duty in the Army so hopefully I can have more time to play Magic in bigger venues. I like to think that I am a good player and play all the formats well, but I am nowhere on the level as the best. My first combo deck was vintage belcher at 16 back in 2005 love the deck and that’s what really got me into playing magic more than Kitchen table. Enough about me onto the point.

MTG-GP-Vancouver-2014

The day of GP Vancouver started off at 0800 with my buddy knocking on my hotel door waking me and my wife up. She answered it and he stormed telling me to wake up to go with him to the Convention center. I groaned and told him to let me sleep, that since I had two byes I wasn’t going till 1000. Well peer-pressure sucks and he dragged me out and we made it there at 0830. First thing we did is check the board to make sure I had my byes. I didn’t. I freaked out. I panicked. I ran to the front and mush mouthed what I could to the Tournament Organizer about my situation. Turns out my LGS where I won my GPT had failed to report it to DCI. They are a fantastic LGS, have great prize support and support all the formats, I think they possibly just didn’t go through all the way with it or something but I was still upset that it happened. Distraught I asked about possible solutions to either; get a hold of the store owner (they were assuredly asleep) or find the Judge who judged the GPT. Thankfully the judge was judging this event and I was able to find him with the help of the other judges and got my byes in order. Made it through that Maze thankfully, hopefully I can get out of the rest.

Here is the list I registered:

 

So why would I play a deck like this? It looks terrible and just loses to everything right? Well it doesn’t. While it is pretty impossible to beat mono-red burn, Maze’s end just does a great job of not interacting with so much of the field that it is hard to actually deal with. The decks game one win percentage is just amazing vs the current meta since no one is prepared to deal with it (minus burn decks, I’m not even considering them as part of this discussion since it’s such a low chance to beat). Of the 15 rounds I played of the GP, I lost only 3 game ones. That’s fantastic to me and takes a lot of stress off. Of course once people realize what you are trying to do it becomes vital that the SB does all it can to get you there and win the match.

Card Choices

Mazes-End

Maze’s End – This is the main win condition and as such is a 4 of. For those that don’t know what the card does. It’s a land that comes into play tapped, it taps for 1 colorless, and has the ability: {3}, {T}, Return Maze’s End to its owner’s hand: Search your library for a Gate card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. If you control ten or more Gates with different names, you win the game.  THAT’S RIGHT it’s an UNCOUNTERABLE WINCON in standard. That wins you the game on the spot.

Gates – I run 2 of all the gates except Selesnya since primary colors are G and W. Some choose to run 1 of in the Rakdos and Dimir to shore up your other gate colors. While this is a good idea it leaves you too vulnerable to Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, Nightveil Specter and other ways to either destroy or steal your gates. True, it doesn’t happen often but I don’t feel like it should even happen. I’ll touch of this more when I talk about my round 4 match.

Shocklands – I run these over the basics of primary colors since they are two colors, obviously. I don’t feel that the two life is ever a big deal and I’ve never lost a game if I’ve had to shock myself to play something. It’s important to have all your colors accessible and I only shock myself when it’s absolutely need.

I run 28 lands it may seem like much, but especially for game 1 I want to always play a land if I can. Missing land drops in this deck is usually a death sentence; this deck can’t deal with that if it wants to win. It gets important mid game to be able to activate your maze’s end while having 2-3 mana up, that requires 7 lands in play. It’s important to know that if you have a gate in your hand that you don’t have in play, to not play that gate unless you have to. You always want to be activating your Maze and playing the Maze for the turn. This assures that when you have 8 gates in play you can just play the other gate and then activate your Maze winning a turn sooner than your opponents may be ready for.

Fogs – Well these are the 16 cards that make the deck function: without them the deck is useless. Important to know is that Riot Control prevents ALL damage that would be dealt this turn to you and gains you life for each creature your opponent controls. This is important for burn.

Supreme Verdict – It’s an Uncounterable Day of Judgment that helps keep you in the game and save your fogs for when they are needed.

Detention Sphere – A great catch all removal for only 3. It is difficult for decks to deal with once you take their stuff away from them and helps keep your life high while you can save your fogs for when they are needed.

Merciless Eviction – It’s a 3 of in the deck and acts as Verdict 5,6, and 7. But the fun part about this card is that it Exiles whatever you choose to get rid of. Takes out gods when they are active, problem planeswalkers, pesky Pithing Needles and anything giving you a headache keeping you from winning.

Urban Evolution – Only a 2 of, but this card is stellar. I have won EVERY game in which I have resolved this card. It digs so deep and gets you extra lands in play. Getting more fogs is important but if you can get two maze’s ends in play you can win the game two turns sooner than before and that is HUGE in this deck.

The Free Slots:

This deck has a very tight list and doesn’t have a whole lot of room for extra slots. Giving you the best chance to win game one is vital and the sideboard is where the innovation in a 5 color deck can shine but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Negate – I currently run 3, and while these are important they may get shaved in the future to two. Being able to keep opponents off plansewalkers or hitting any non-creature spells that can threaten you in game 1 helps so much.

Bow of Nylea – This little enchantment is card #61. Gains 3 life when you need and puts cards into your library. It beats Jace, Memory Adept all on his own and if an Ashiok does take 2 gates in game 1. You can still force a win by decking your opponent just keep putting fogs back into your deck and pulling out gates to shuffle them in.

Sideboard

Crackling-Perimeter

Crackling Perimeter – Everytime I play this my opponent stops and picks up the card, their eyes get huge, and the cringe. Kills PW’s if needed and how can your opponent win when you fog them and shoot them for 5 or more a turn? They can’t. Comes in vs monoblack control, U/W, Esper, Burn Based decks, and RG Monsters.

Wear // Tear – Does exactly what you want it to for so cheap. Preferred to abrupt decay since you can hit multiple problems with 1 card.

Turn // Burn – Took me a while to stumble on this bro. The deck hates and I mean hates mutavault with a passion. But you can’t play last breath because now you lose to Obzedat, Ghost Council. I needed a card that could deal with both and this guy does. It’s so versatile I love it. Turn a Master of waves, kills the tokens, turn and burn gods, turn and burn Obzedat, or even more fun, turn and obzedat during Main Phase 2 and watch your opponent cry when you destroy it or exile it with Verdict or Eviction.

Gainsay – Great vs monoblue devotion and makes your match-up vs U/W and esper even stronger.

Merciless Eviction – More wrath effects.

Bow of Nylea – Helps vs Red based burn and mill based effects.

Some people scoff at the fact that this deck is 61 cards maindeck, (my round 8 opponent was visibly upset to lose to me and to hear that I had 61 in the main.) In a deck like this 61 cards doesn’t affect you much if any. Remember you are in essence tutoring each turn for what you need (lands) so you’ll see the spells you need in timely fashion.

Matchups & Sideboarding

Elspeth-Okay-Face

This deck I feel has a good match-up vs most of the field thanks to its high game one winning percentage. Here’s a breakdown of where I think the deck sits in the meta:

Extremely Favorable:

U/W and Esper Control – This is Maze’s Ends best match-up. it’s so good that I have mulled to 5 on the play, not played a 3rd land till turn seven, and STILL won. I would say it’s close to unlosable. They don’t have a whole lot of counters for your fogs and they normally won’t be ready for your negates so when they tap out for a jace or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion it’s an easy counter. In this match-up though, I’m okay with letting Jace, Architect of Thought resolve. It’s not as scary as it is in the Blue Devotion decks.

Sideboarding:

Watch out for needles and Jace, Memory Adept. After Sideboard go for landing a Perimeter early on turn 2 if you can, so always red gate turn 1 and shock if you can to get it down quickly. The rest speaks for itself keep playing lands and pinging them. Counter Sphinx’s Revelations and AEtherling and you’re golden. D sphere Planeswalkers or anything keeping you from winning. Keep Verdicts in for Elspeth Tokens.

Favorable

Domri

G/R Monsters – This is a pretty good match-up for the deck, although most players seem to think otherwise. Sure they have tons of creatures but that’s it. They don’t run a whole lot reach but when they are maxed out on Flesh // Blood it can get tough. The best thing to do is start fogging when you get at around 10 or so life. Do the best you can to get more than one for one in removal and you should be good to go. Another important thing to do is say they are attacking for 5 and you have the life and fog in hand, just announce you’ll take the 5 more often than not they will spend mana to bloodrush, and that’s when you’ll want to fog. Domri and Garruk are problems and so is Xenagos. So it’s important to remove those if you can.

Sideboard

(If they have more than 2 mutavaults bring in turn//burn and if you suspect burning earth wear//tear as well.)

(If you’re bringing in other spells take out druid’s deliverance or defend the hearth equal to what you bring in.)

In the SB games if you get a perimeter down early just focus on that, you don’t need to worry about the PW as much as you may think. The SB games can get tough but keep riot control for if they overload the board before a wrath and to combat flesh // Blood. Be wary of Ruric Thar and if you suspect Burning Earth once they get to 4 mana make sure to keep a white mana up to float if need be. Start fogging at around 12 life in case they play Ruric Thar. If they do I hope you made sure to leave a spot removal spell out to deal with him or it’s gg.

 

Even

Mono Black Control – This match-up is good game one since so much of their deck is dead vs you. Keep them off devotion and it’s actually an easy game. This match-up is annoying because of the discard but it is still in your favor game 1. Start fogging around 10-8 life you don’t want to get in range of a Gray Merchant draining you. Nightveil Specter can be worrisome but if he does steal a gate just search up that gate with maze to make sure they can’t just beat you from that. Keeping 5+ land hands has been successful for me in the past maybe I got lucky but it seems to be pretty good vs them.

 

Sideboard

 

In the SB games it’s very important to keep them off devotion just like game one. Always play a red source turn 1 and if you can shock to play a crackling perimeter on turn 2 if you can. If you land this early it’s pretty much good game. Game two is difficult since they bring in more discard and creatures but as long as you keep them off a high devotion it’s not terribly difficult.

 

Mono-Blue Devotion

This is such a good game 1 people may not realize. They don’t run many if any counterspells so your fogs should always get you there. Start fogging when their attacks will kill you. Nightveil Spectre can be worrisome but if he does steal a gate just search up that gate with maze to make sure they can’t just beat you from that.

Sideboard

 

The SB games are much harder than in the mono-black control match-up. They have counterspells and of course Mutavault is annoying. Turn//Burn can be used to make master nothing to wipe the tokens in response to an attack which acts as a mini fog, so does turning and burning a Thassa, God of the Sea or turning a Thassa and burning another creature. If you see Jace, Memory Adept in game 2 then you need to bring in the Bows for game 3. Fight to resolve it since they don’t have a way to remove it, yes they can bounce it but keep fighting to keep it in play. Still go with the Maze’s End win condition. I don’t know if it’s better to bring in crackling perimeter since you need a lot of fogs vs this deck. But feel free to experiment.

 

Difficult

R/W Variants – If it is the devotion builds without Assemble the Legion main-deck it isn’t too tough really since they don’t have much reach. If they do this match-up can be quite difficult. Counting life and turns ahead is very important, starting the fogs is determined by how the game is playing out and there’s not really a set time to start doing so. Some games turn out that not fogging early makes you lose, conversely some games fogging early makes you lose. It all comes down to game state and how the opponent is playing.

Sideboard

 

The SB games play out much the same: take out Assemble the Legion before it gets out of hand. Don’t play into a Boros Charm since you pretty much lose if you do.

 

Unwinnable

Mono-Red / R/W Burn – This is the one match-up you never want to see. Your fogs here are useless for the most part except riot control but even still they run Skullcrack. Hope to draw a bow and good luck.

Sideboard:

 

After SB this match-up is still really difficult. D-sphere away problem creatures like Chandra’s Phoenix and burn creatures down. Wrath for value and slam down a Perimeter early if you can. Maze’s end is too slow a vast majority of the time and racing with Perimeter is the only way you can really do it. If you can get a Bow going and active you should be able to pull out the win. I have beaten this deck exactly once in about 15 matches. They just non interact vs us better than we non interact.

 

Playing the Deck

Simic-Guildgate

The deck can be somewhat difficult to play when first learning. You generally want to keep a hand with some fogs and gates to play them. Maze’s end need to come down turn 4 if possible or as soon as you can afterwards. Once you get the Maze out you never want to play another gate from you hand again unless absolutely necessary, and if you do don’t play a gate that’s not already in play, it’s better to play a dual land instead since saving a gate you don’t have in play wins you the game 1 turn sooner than normal or 2 turns sooner if you have 2 Maze’s Ends in play. Don’t forget to play the Maze as your land for the turn after you activate it. It takes some math to calculate life totals for later turns, and you get into situations where you want to activate the maze on turn 4 but will be completely tapped out and not able to fog. Before these turns start you need to count ahead how much damage you can afford to take and if you need to fog on turn 3. Very important is to ALWAYS play your more expensive fogs first. Once you get maze’s end out and active you’ll go from all lands tapped, to one land untapped (mana for fog), then two lands untapped, etc. Be sure to always leave up green mana and both green and blue once you can. Save your Verdicts if they have a lot of creatures in play ONLY if you have a riot control. That way you can gain some decent life then wrath. If your opponents get into a top deck mode vs you it’s pretty difficult for you to lose. Once you learn the deck it’s not terribly tough, you just  have to be thinking ahead more so than most decks I’ve played before.

 

The GP

So how did I do at the GP? Let’s break down my matches and go from there. Now I didn’t originally plan on doing this article so I took zero notes and sadly won’t have tons to go into detail with for my matches. If I can remember interesting bits I’ll include them.

Round 1 – Bye

After not sweating about my byes anymore I calmed down sold some stuff and got a Tabernacle, English for 288. I think it was Under priced personally for its condition, the wear wasn’t that bad, and I’m honestly the type of person who is planning to get cards for decks that I will play for a LONG time (not standard) I’m okay with buying w/e condition is cheapest since I don’t play on trading out my decks or getting out of magic again.

Round 2 – Bye

Drank water and went to bathroom.

Round 3 – R/W Aggro 2-0

Game 1

I sit down for my first match nervous and excited then see him play a turn 1 mountain and cry inside. Thankfully I’m able to get him to over extend since my deck looks like a pile of random crap and eviction him with no cards in his hand and 8 gates in play while at 12 life. He scoops

Game 2

Almost exact same as game 1. I win :D Fun fact I only played two merciless evictions in this round and zero verdicts and still got there.

Round 4 – W/U/G/R Control 2-0

Game 1

My opponents deck seem pretty slow and it takes him a while to understand what I’m playing. Once he does he Sylvan Primodial and hits my Rakdos Guildgate assuming I only play one since his last match opponent only played one. Ya he played maze’s end last round too. Well that’s EXACTLY why I don’t play one of gates. I go on to win pretty quickly

Game 2

I’m able to land a Crackling Perimeter early and when I do he informs me he sided out his Detention Spheres since the last Maze player had it game one and he didn’t see it in out game one. Good for me since I’m able to ride it to victory.

Round 5 – Mono-Black 2-0

Game 1

My opponent has no Idea what I’m playing while I just kill all of his stuff and keep him off devotion and race through the Maze quickly for the win.

Game 2

I don’t remember if it was the Maze or perimeter that I won with but I got there and that’s what matters.

Round 6 – Mono-Black 2-1

Game 1

My opponent sees what I’m playing and I can visibly tell he thinks it’s a joke. Well I win game 1 and he is quite upset, though he doesn’t say anything his body language does.

Game 2

He gets an incredibly fast Pack Rat start and I die on turn 4 or 5. I scooped before he killed me when he thought seized so I could conceal my Perimeter for game 3.

Game 3

Crackling Perimeter gets there.

Round 7 – Mono-Blue 1-2

Game 1

This was played at table one and was against Eugene Hwang. He was a very nice competitor and even kept shutting people down when people around were commenting about how stupid my deck was and what a joke it was by saying he’s 6-0 right? What about you? Good guy Eugene. I don’t let people get to me and inside I was laughing so much, Army gives you quite a tough skin and playing a lot of poker makes it so that you never tilt at magic.

Anyway I start fogging around 2 life and get there with the maze.

Game 2-3

His SB is full of counters and is therefore really good vs me. I get beat pretty handily in game 2 and game 3 goes down to the wire but I’m 2 gates short of getting there. Sadly first loss but such a nice guy.

Round 8 – Mono-Blue 2-0

Game 1

I win pretty easily and my opponent looks absolutely disgusted with me. He was pretty tilted to be playing against me. Brian David Marshall watched this match and seemed really interested and he stayed for game 2.

Game 2

Just like the first it was a bit tougher but still got there. BDM seemed stunned and then I decided to announce to my opponent and BDM that I run 61 in the Main Deck and my opponent lost it he just laughed so much in frustration I think. BDM thought he was kinda fun that I needled my opponent a bit, and I wouldn’t have but only do if they are kind of rude to me.

Round 9 – Mono-Black 1-2 FEATURE MATCH!!!!!

You can watch this one youtube if you want but I’ll break down the part everyone is probably curious about.

So game 2 I cast eviction and spout out enchantments, I have no idea why and I really did mean creatures but my brain said “NOPE MR. TORREZ TAKE THIS!!!!” Well I lost and I look back on it I would have lost even if I had said creatures. Joe drew the Gray Merchant that next turn and had 2 connections in play and I was at 9 life. True I wasn’t dead that turn but I only had 3 gates in play 2 duals and 1 maze, the life he would have gained I don’t think I would have been able to get back down fast enough.

I had fogs in hand so what if I just activate maze for another gate play the gate and hold fog mana up. Ya that seems like the correct play I agree but he still gains back 6 life and I fog so I don’t die and therefore don’t ping him. He goes back up to 15 life and perimeter still doesn’t get there quick enough I don’t think. Yes I at least give myself a shot with the end instead, but being at 3 life after the drain he assuredly draws another Merchant before I win to drain me.

Game 3

If I see a Maze early on I win that game for sure, but variance is part of magic and I didn’t so I finish day one at 7-2

Thoughts after Day 1:

I accomplished my day 1 goal of making day two, getting a live feature and a deck tech. I don’t know if they will publish the video deck tech but I can’t find it anyway maybe someone else can. Day 2 goal is top 8 but it’s going to be tough. I know if I play a U/W deck early I’ll make top 8 though. Another huge note is that I lose ZERO….. ZERO!!! Game 1’s which is HUGE, and furthers my belief that this decks game 1 win percentage against the field is fantastic (minus burn decks.)

 

Day 2

Round 10 – G/R Monsters 2-0

Game 1

I’m able to fog long enough and activate the Maze. I don’t remember my opponents name but he was from Canada and really cool about it all such a cool dude.

Game 2

Perimeter gets there.

Round 11 – Mono-Blue 0-2

Game 1

I almost get there due to a big misplay on my opponent, he could have attacked for lethal but didn’t and I was at 1 instead of dead. I needed to draw a fog, I have 12 left, didn’t bink it. FIRST GAME 1 LOSS.

Game 2

He used to play this deck at one point and sideboard perfectly vs me. I didn’t see a maze and lost.

Round 12 – Mono-Blue 2-0 Cory Huber

Game 1

This was vs Cory he was very cool about everything and seemed interested in the deck. I won game one fairly easily as all Mono-Blue matches are game 1

Game 2

I’m able to get there either the turn before I die or the next turn, all I remember was that it was close. After the match one of the Judges said he thought my deck was very interesting and if I had written any articles on it. I replied that I hadn’t and wasn’t sure if I was any good. It was at this point that Cory gave me his email and asked me to. Ecstatic I accepted and thanks to Cory I’m writing the article now.

[*** Editor's Note: I'm pretty sure I took you to 3 games John ;) ***]

Round 13 – Mono-Black 1-2

Game 1

The Maze opens up and I exit out for the win.

Game 2-3

He pack rats super quick and that’s all it takes.

In game 3 though I mulligan and kept a 3 land hand with 3 fogs but no green. I just felt that I can’t afford to mull to 5 vs this deck and needed to go to draw the green. Perhaps I was wrong but I’m good with my decision. Sadly I’m out of top 8 contention and now playing for points and money.

Round 14 – G/R Monsters 0-2

Game 1

I mull to 5 and do nothing but die really quick. My opponent has no idea what I’m playing though.

Game 2

My hand is really good with multiple verdicts and fogs. 3 lands and I never see a fourth. Well variance happens but man does it suck when it does.

Round 15 – Naya Aggro 0-2

Game 1

I get a bow going and fog a bunch but see a maze too late to fetch for a blue to verdict. I die with 2 Stormbreath Dragons in play and a ton of other creatures while he had no cards in hand.

Game 2

I mull to 6 and keep a hand similar to last rounds game two but again can’t seem to find a blue or maze and don’t get there.

Final Record 9-6

 

Afterthoughts

Thought Seize

Well the deck was an absolute blast to play and garnishing the attention was fun as well. I am still really bummed at not top 8ing or seeing any U/W matchups. I really feel that if I could have gotten paired up vs U/W in the first rounds of day 2 that I would have gotten there since it’s such an auto win and there was a TON of U/W at the top tables.

The GP was a lot of fun and anytime I get to travel with my wife to magic or poker is always fun. We are making plans and may go down to the GP in April and give the deck another shot.

Born of Gods Considerations and Deck Ideas

I’m currently testing out Quicken in the main deck and have moved the main deck bow to the SB and took out the 4th eviction from it. I also shaved a negate so I have two quickens in the main. The deck does need some more card draw and I don’t think any more than 2 urban evolutions is good since it costs so much. I like the quickens so far since they replace themselves and I can sneak a verdict or eviction on an opponents turn. Divination is also getting tested as well and I think I like them more instead of the quickens.

Kiora, the Crashing Wave – seems like it would naturally fit in the deck but I’m not sure. I don’t know what I would replace it with and only Fog actually saves her from attacks. I do think she is fantastic if I slam her after a verdict or eviction. I will be testing her to see how she works. I am not looking forward to obtaining foils of her though, ugh stupid card prices.

Hold at Bay – This card prevents any 7 for 1W. It may have a slot as fogs 17-20. But I’m not sure yet. It will get tested and could be fine as an early fog but we will see, so far I doubt it will make the cut.

Whelming Wave – THIS CARD I do think can make the cut. It doesn’t kill the creatures but putting 4+ cards back in your opponents hand seems pretty good to me, and the 2UU cost is reasonable.

Cards that I don’t feel should be played

I have been asked a lot about Saruli Gatekeepers and Gatecreepr Vine. I used to run them but I don’t anymore and for good reason.

The Gatekeepers makes your opponents removal valid, true some say well what about SB to help vs mono red. Even still that match up is so tough when you play it on turn 5 they will likely have the skullcrack and that just blows you out. I don’t like relegating SB slots to this card for a match up that we have a 5% chance of beating anyway. The play for mono red is to avoid it.

The vines though are a decent argument in that they block early and make sure you don’t get mana screwed. But to play them you have to shave off spot removal in the form of D-sphere or Evictions or removing Negates. And I feel like all those cards are better than the Vines. I don’t often get mana screwed since I run 28 lands. I feel like doing everything you can to make your game 1 as strong as possible is the key for this deck since games 2 and 3 are tough. I feel like Vine detracts from that.

Some decks like to play abrupt decay but I don’t, yes it doesn’t get countered and can hit creatures, but I think D-sphere does a better job vs creatures, and wear // tear can hit multiple cards for only 1 more mana. And using this decks mana as efficiently as possible is a must to make this deck work.

Feel free to ask me anymore about card options, I love talking about this deck with people because it is a blast to play. The most fun part of this deck is that you can evolve it to whatever your FNM meta is like since you play all the colors. If you want to play this at a bigger event I think building the deck to make it focus on winning game 1 as much as you can is very important. Also I probably wouldn’t play the deck at a GP unless I have byes to hopefully dodge more of the red decks.

 

Thanks to Cory Huber for talking me into this article. Brian David Marshall for the interest in the deck. Judge Nathan Wang for helping to confirm my byes, everyone who was supportive of myself and the deck. And most importantly thanks to my beautiful wife for being so supportive of letting me play magic and being willing to go and play. I’m sorry we couldn’t experience more of Vancouver together and I couldn’t do it without your support of all my card game habits.

 

I hope everyone finds their way out of their Maze.

 

John Torrez.

Gameplay footage of John Torrez – The End is now available here.

Comments

  1. Chris Daigle

    I just want to say, first of all, congratulations! This was an impressive run, and you have inspired me to pick up Maze’s End again!! Your list is the most solid I have seen. Thank you for the article, it was an really good read and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to tell us about your experience with Maze’s End at such a high level.

    That being said, I took your list and made some minor tweaks to it. I like your mentality of just making sure to win every single game 1.

    Here’s my 75 I’m currently testing. I’m planning on playing it at the SCG Open in St Louis in a few weeks, would love any feedback and advice.

    MD – 60
    Land – 27
    4 Maze’s End
    2 Each Guildgate
    1 Temple Garden
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    1 Breeding Pool

    Instant – 16
    4 Fog
    4 Druid’s Deliverance
    4 Defend the Hearth
    4 Riot Control

    Sorcery – 10
    4 Supreme Verdict
    2 Merciless Eviction
    3 Urban Evolution
    1 Divination

    Enchantment – 6
    4 Detention Sphere
    2 Blind Obedience

    Artifact – 1
    1 Bow of Nylea

    Sideboard – 15
    1 Assemble the Legion
    1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
    3 Negate
    2 Turn/Burn
    3 Revoke Existence
    1 Pithing Needle
    1 Elixir of Immortality
    2 Crackling Perimeter
    1 Merciless Eviction

    • John Torrez

      Hey Chris,

      Thank you for all the Kind words and support.
      I like that your sticking with the game 1 plan since I really feel like it helps the deck succeed the most, a lot of people want to do what poker calls the “fancy play syndrome” in game 1 and I think it makes the deck weaker.

      The Inclusion of Blind Obediance seems pretty cool although I don’t know how strong it can actually be I’ve considered it but I havn’t tested it. I think it’s good vs the haste creatures but i’m not sure investing the extra mana per spell for a life can help. Since it turns you needed 7-8 mana in play to be able to activate maze and have fog mana w/extort up. But it could be good i’m just not sure if it’s good enough.

      You already hit on the one thing that I would have changed for the GP in your list in adding more draw. For my current build i’ve changed the following.

      -1 Temple Garden
      -1 Bow
      -3 Negate

      +2 Quicken
      +3 Divination

      SB
      -1 Mercilless
      +1 Bow

      I’m still fine with running 61 cards main and the only decks that have ever done so and been efficient are the decks that are tutor based combo decks and I feel like this deck is so. So I think it’s fine.
      The one thing I dont like is your SB though. I think this deck needs to have a streamlined SB to shore up when people bring in the hate for you. I really think 4 Crackling Perimeter is a must in the SB as well as 3 or 4 Gainsay (for the mono blue mu) I like revoke existence that card i’m excited to test but I still like wear//tear better overall since it can hit mutliple things and has instant speed. True I can’t kill gods with it but thats what the Dsphere and Eviction are for.

      My biggest suggestion would be to identify your toughest MU and shore up help for them in the SB. Minus the Burn decks cause I just don’t think it’s worth trying to, that MU is just so soooo difficult its crazy. Maybe the new “fog” in BNG can help, I may even consider that Courser of Kruphix may be used to combat that deck but i’m still not sure if it’s worth trying.

      Good luck in the future man and keep the deck going brother :D !!!!

      • Chris Daigle

        Thank YOU John for rekindling my desire to play this amazing deck! It’s seriously the most fun I’ve had since playing during the Zendikar block. I played Maze’s End quite a bit before Theros came out, but with skullcrack and burning earth playing big roles in a lot of people’s sideboards, it really wasn’t worth running anymore.

        My friends and I are currently testing a very streamlined list:

        4x Maze
        2x Each guildgate
        1x Temple Garden
        1x Hallowed Fountain
        1x Breeding Pool
        16x Fog
        4x Verdict
        4x Dsphere
        2x Blind Obedience
        2x Quicken
        3x Dvination
        2x Urban
        2x Eviction

        The thought behind blind obedience was a little to do with the extort, but more more for slowing down Assemble tokens by a turn, almost shutting off obzedat blinking, as well as turning off the new Xenagos ability (a turn 3-4 hastey 10/10 polukranos didn’t sound very appealing to me). We’re currently testing it right now to see if it’s worth a spot in the 75-76.

        The Sideboard was just a hodge podge of stuff I had lying around that seemed to help make some matchups better. Without doing any previous testing with this format I wasn’t sure what was going to be good or not. Revoke Existence is definitely not the right call being sorcery speed, it either needs to be wear/tear or unravel the aether. Blood Baron is definitely getting the axe, and the assemble was to make the mbd matchup even better.

        I think this deck definitely has the ability to dominate the meta, and I’m super pumped to play this at the SCG Open in 2 weeks in St Louis (which, I wouldn’t have had the stones to do if you hadn’t done so good at the GP!!). What sideboard would you recommend running for a big event like that in this post BnG world?

        • Chris Daigle

          We moved the blind obedience to the board for now. I forgot to mentiong that in my comment/remove them from the list.

          • John Torrez

            62 IN the main dawg? Balsy I know I advocate 61 in the main but idk about 62 but hey man if it’s working they good on ya. Our list looks the same except i’m running 3 eviction main. I like the Blind O as to way to hurt obzedat seems cool. Ill have to test it myself.

          • Chris Daigle

            Nah, I’m not THAT ballsy haha. I couldn’t edit it once I posted it, but we took out the blind obedience from the main deck, so it’s at 60 cards currently.

  2. Yup, saw this on youtube and definitely the GP that I was playing in Kuala Lumpur was a sealed deck instead of standard. So I was wondering what is happening in Vancouver and saw your match on Youtube. I’ve been playing Maze’s End too and yes, Heroes Reunion helps in mono red. Makes them irritate when u cast it one of the first few times

  3. JaceBeligerent

    Another important thing to do is say they are attacking for 5 and you have the life and fog in hand, just announce you’ll take the 5 more often than not they will spend mana to bloodrush, and that’s when you’ll want to fog.

    Isn’t this illegal in paper magic? You said you’re taking the damage so he can’t bloodrush since you’re passing the turn and going to the next phase of resolution of damage. This sounds kind of like a cheap move even if its legal.

    • Here’s how it works:

      >>>In the blocking step (after declare blockers), you are at 9 life and he is attacking for 4<<<

      Before damage is done you must pass priority to the attacking player (the non-active player). This is the point at which he may bloodrush for lethal.

      Before you go to the damage step, because he acted, you (the active player), have an opportunity to take actions before the next phase. This is the time when you may fog. The priority goes back to the non-active player, then if they have nothing, you go to damage.

      It isn’t illegal and is the correct thing to do.

      ——-
      Corollary

      If both players say “take the damage” the attacking player can no longer act as if it was the blocking step, because he has expressed his intent to go to damage. If he chooses to bloodrush his creature after saying this, you should call the judge.

    • Matt

      You always have the ability to respond to your opponent’s plays. However, if you pass priority and your opponent doesn’t bloodrush, then you’re not allowed to fog before damage.

      • Correct, you take 5.

        • Cody Haines

          Just as an aside, that’s why you should always say “no blocks” instead of ‘taking x damage’, even if you have no creatures in play. When you say no blocks, you’re simply moving to the part of the declare blockers step where you can cast spells, and you (the defending player) are the last one to recieve priority before moving to damage.

  4. longdong

    What do you think of Into the Wilds with 28 Lands in the Deck ithink it would be a good engine to get earlier to the Mazes End.

    Greetz

    • Chris Daigle

      In all of my testing into the wilds is just too slow and inconsistent to really have an impact on the game. I used to run 2 of them main deck, and the times that they worked, it was pretty good…but the times that it didn’t really made it not worthwhile

    • John Torrez

      I tested into the wilds for a while and the only MU I wanted it in was the esper and UW control MU, and our game vs them is insanely good enough already that I felt it was a wasted SB slot.

  5. Stew

    I assume Courser of Kruphix has the same drawbacks as the Gatekeeper and Vine but it does seem extremely good for fixing (50% of the time) and at least a little life gain. Have you tested with it at all?

    • John Torrez

      Courser is something I am considering. But only in the SB since I think it makes the game 1 deck a bit weaker, but I think it could be really good vs RDW and MRB decks. Kiora only feels good to me after a verdict, but after a verdict i’d honeslty rather be activating maze and going that route.

  6. Congrats on the high finish John. I think playing Maze’s End is such a fun deck and it’s nice to see it do well. I’m pretty sure I’m going to borrow this list as best as I can for FNM. Thanks for the write up and the explanation of how you play the deck. it’s given me some good pointers.

  7. adam

    Great job john i’m really impressed!
    What i’m really curious is what you will change post BNG?
    PLease let me know!

    • John Torrez

      I’m working with having some more card draw. The courser I’m looking at as a SB option. I like Revoke Existence (the exile enchant or artifact) But I don’t like that it’s a sorcery. It could be better than Wear//Tear but only testing will tell. I also think that pseudo fog the 1W prevent next 7 may be okay as a two of but IDK where to find room for them yet, or if I even will.

      What are your thoughts?

      • Stephen

        John, I think the pseudo fog is just worse than Heroes’ Reunion. I think you’d just rather gain 7 than prevent up to 7. I’m not too concerned with the GW casting cost as you normally will have the GW by the time you need to cast this.

        • John Torrez

          The only reason I have to disagree is that It can protect plansewalkers which does matter if Kiora becomes a factor. Most times you are correct in that the life will be better.

  8. MikeyMemoryAdept

    It may seems slow, but would prophetic prism be a card to consider here?

  9. Chris

    Just a note – you can’t sideboard out 11 cards and only bring in 10 when you have a 15 card sideboard. The sideboard can never be more than 15 cards. You mentioned in your mono black matchup strategy details that you pull out 11 and bring in 10.

    • John Torrez

      There is supposed to be bringing in another merciless eviction I may not have included that. My bad.

  10. Kevin

    Just curious what you thought about fated retribution in either the main or side board

  11. AJ

    John, I’m currently testing maze’s end and wondering 2 things about your list.
    Why so many fogs and no sphinxes revelation? I feel like playing less fog and rev gets you to your less fogs but verdict and eviction are also like fogs. I also am playing 1 elixir main. I also want to point out that all the decks right now won by attacking, even UW (elspeth and aetherling) so I feel like the planeswalkers can be somewhat ignored. Your thoughts?

    • John Torrez

      I played Revalation at one point but you have to be so aggresive with it that if your doing it for 4 or more than you probably didn’t activate your maze for the turn which means your winning a turn later than you would have.

      For the fogs this deck needs them, there are times when I feel like I need more honestly, games where if I have 1 more fog then I live.

      Elixir is a fine choice but I feel like the bow is better. You can never be milled when you have a bow in play since you always activate the bow at the end of an opponets turn before you would draw a card.

      PW can be ignored (for the most part) except for Xenagos and Domri. Domri allows them to keep refuling their hand and xenagos keeps making creatures after wraths as well. Also with Domri if they get their ultimate off they only need to be attacking with one creature and can threaten you with you just one creature and not be forced to overcommit.

      • AJ

        John, I actually ran across that sphinx’s rev issue in recent games of testing. I have a couple more questions for you. Say I plan to ignore obzedat like your plan is to dodge red aggro matchup, what do you think of blue blight or drown in sorrow over turn/burn o deal with mutavaults. Lastly, would you be willing to post and updated list that you would play if you had a tournament tomorrow? It would be very helpful since you have spent much more time on the deck and I plan to play it this weekend. Thanks

        • John Torrez

          First off, I apologize for the late response. I don’t think you can ignore Obzedat like you can the red decks since you do have game vs Esper. Bile blight seems like a nice idea but double black is just too much for this deck whose main colors need to be U/G/W. That’s why I love turn//burn, it can kill mutavaults, obzedats, turn master of waves to kill the tokens, it has a lot of versatility, its so much fun to turn an obzedat during your Opp main phase 2 and verdict :D

          Current list though is

          MB
          -1 Bow
          -3 Negate
          -1 T garden

          +2Quicken
          +3 Divination

          SB
          -3 Gainsay
          +1 Bow
          +1 Wear//Tear
          +1 Turn// Burn

          IDK if cutting the gainsays are right but i’m testing ya know.

          I 5-0 my fnm last night

          played agsint 2 precons so easy wins
          then esper, they tapped out for aetherling and i quicken verdict cause i could and they scooped

          beat a R/W burn!!!!!! 2-0 at that. I drew well hit all my riots, what saved me the game was fogging turn 4 when they swung at me with a 4/4 reckoner while still at 20.

          Then beat the Bant Walkers deck, that deck can be problamatic if you don’t see a verdict and they get down multiple mistcutters, but its not too bad for the most part.

  12. I really dig this deck. My version of Maze’s End was primarily green blue using quicken, evolution and Kiora as card draw/explore effects while I pumped up the maze. My board sweepers were Whelming Wave and Cyclonic Rift. Rift seemed nice in theory but the 7 to wipe the board is hideous. I wished I had read your thoughts on the gatekeepers sooner. I’m going to try it again with Crackling Perimeters.

    Thoughts on a couple of cards: I do agree with your courser assessment. He is really solid against decks like RDW and R/W burn, but does make decks like mono black have more stellar draws. Kiora is a mixed bag – she does some neat things and is decent maybe as an answer to Desecration Demon but doesn’t do a whole lot more than digging for the maze does – May side her in with Courser as it’s a decent interaction.

    What do you think about Vraska? She seems like solid catch all removal to play after the verdict, and is a decent alt win con on her own. The other card I’m considering from Born of the Gods is Revoke Existence. Would you consider that over wear/tear considering that it does kill Gods?

    Finally what do you think about sphinx’s revelation?

    I’ll be wrestling with this deck for a while myself. Thanks for rediscovering a real fun strategy.

    • John Torrez

      I like revoke a lot but I prefer instant speed and like being able to hit enchantments as well as opposing artifacts. Hitting a R/W devotion assemble and hammer is HUGE.

      Vraska is an interesting possibility, but I think i’d rather be activating a maze on turn 6 and keeping fog mana up instead. I like it but it feels to fancy to me. Who knows I havn’t tested it so it could be could. Give it a shot and get back to me. I’ll look into it as well :D

      I personally don’t like sphinx rev…..in this deck. You really want to be activating your maze on your turn and that takes 4 mana to do which means if you want to rev for even 1 you need 4 more lands in play. It just needs to be played really aggresivly in this deck and to me I would be in the spot of..do i fog and take nothing, or take 8 and then gain 4 and draw 4 but if i do gain that 4 then I can’t activate the maze.

  13. Hunter

    Wanted to say thank you for breaking the mold and not playing UW, monoU, or monoB like so many do. Was rooting for you to make top 8. I think Kiora will be great addition but as you said hard to remove something.

    • John Torrez

      Thanks man I appreciate the kind words a lot. I was really hoping to top 16 but didn’t work out, I still feel like if I could have been paired against a UW player in the first two rounds I would have gotten there.

  14. Ryan Nolan

    John, I REALLY love your deck. I have taken it and made a couple modifications since Kiora, the crashing wave has been released with Born of the Gods. My main changes are taking out the 3rd Selesnya gate, adding 3 Kiora’s, removing 2 defend the hearth and 1 negate. For sideboard changes, I added 4 prophet of kruphix in the hopes that most people will side out a lot of removal after game 1 and getting a prophet in there game 2 speeds up this deck considerably by allowing you to activate maze’s end on their turn and also making sure you have plenty of mana to cast any fogs or instants at all times. Since Kiora can also lock down a big creature each turn with her +1 and adds yet another win con (her ultimate), I didn’t think 4 crackling perimeter would be necessary in sideboard, especially since they don’t stack. Didn’t want to remove them completely because they work so well with Prophet of Kruphix. What do you think?

    Enchantments:
    4 Detention Sphere

    Instants and Sorceries:
    4 Fog
    4 Druid’s Deliverance
    4 Riot Control
    2 Defend the Hearth
    2 Negate
    4 Supreme Verdict
    3 Merciless Eviction
    2 Urban Evolution

    Land:
    2 Azorius Guildgate
    2 Boros Guildgate
    2 Dimir Guildgate
    2 Gruul Guildgate
    2 Golgari Guildgate
    2 Izzet Guildgate
    2 Orzhov Guildgate
    2 Rakdos Guildgate
    2 Simic Guildgate
    2 Selesnya Guildgate
    1 Breeding Pool
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    1 Temple Garden
    4 Maze’s End

    Planeswalkers:
    3 Kiora, the Crashing Wave

    Artifacts:
    1 Bow of Nylea

    Sideboard:
    2 Crackling Perimeter
    3 Wear // Tear
    3 Turn // Burn
    3 Gainsay
    4 Prophet of Kruphix

    • John Torrez

      Seems interesting with what you did and it looks solid to me. The only thing I don’t like is not having perimeter in the SB. The card is just so good as a surprise factor in the SB games it’s crazy. True people may be “ready” for the deck now but I still think the perimeter are really good.

      Prophet seems interesting to me but I don’t like the idea of activating a maze at the end of an opponets turn since you can’t activate during your next turn. True you essentially get two gates after the first turn, but after that you only get the one per turn as normal. It seems like it could work but i’m not sure. I try to keep the deck simple and focused on one goal instead of trying to do too much. But if you can get it to work man go for it :D

  15. Frank

    Ive been playing Mazes End through RTR block and have won many game days, a GPT, and plenty of FNM’s with it. I’m wondering what you think of the following cards:

    Thassa, God of the Sea – I have considered using her and run her as a 3 of in the deck. While it doesn’t net you any cards like divination does, its long term affect of getting you what you need when you need it, coupled with the low cost to put her in play makes for a huge game advantage.

    Scry Lands – I don’t currently run any, but then I don’t currently run shocklands, as I have found that more often than not I was putting the shocklands into play tapped. While I feel the scry lands would be okay early (before a maze’s end hitting play) and ineffectual after.

    Elixir of Immortality – Comes out cheap, gains 5 life, and recycles graveyard.

    I have played with all three and all three have merit, I was curious to hear your thoughts on them.

    Sincerely,

    Frank

    • John Torrez

      Thasa could definelty be looked at in place of div. But I like drawing cards more than scrying personally. I’ll give it a test out tho I like the idea of it.

      Scry lands tho, never once considered that but I def will. While yes I rarley pay the 2 life with the shock lands, there have been times when getting that land into play untapped has been crucial. But I will def look into the scry lands for sure.

      As far as elixr over bow here’s how i feel. (yes i just copied what I replied to in Tylers questions and stuff but its really how i feel)

      3 Life a turn vs burn and red based aggro decks is just huge and once you get them in topdeck mode or close to it 3 life a turn is just too much for them to come back from.
      vs milling you just activate the bow once you have nothing in your deck at the end of your opp turn. choose 3 cards, something like, d sphere, a gate, another gate if needed and urban evolution. and stack them with the urban on top. Now you’ll draw urban and the other 3 cards when you cast urban, and you pretty muchjust win. When jace gets you w/ no cards in your library they actually help you win the game faster since you can set up your draws to exactly what you want with the bow.

  16. Tyler Bennett

    Hey man, fantastic job and article! I think you give a lot of great insight as to the card choices and plays to make. Sideboarding I think is the hardest part of playing this deck. I’ve been running a Maze’s End deck for the past several months, usually scrubbing out a round or 2 before the cut. Here’s my list and thoughts:

    27 Lands
    4 Maze
    20 gates
    1 Breeding Pool
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    1 Temple Garden

    14 Fogs
    4 Fog
    3 Druid’s Deliverance
    3 Defend the Hearth
    4 Riot Control

    2 Gatecreeper Vine
    3 Detention Sphere
    4 Supreme Verdict
    1 Merciless Eviction

    4 Divination
    4 Urban Evolution
    1 Sphinx’s Revelation

    Sideboard:
    3 Crackling Perimeter
    3 Warleader’s Helix
    1 Detention Sphere
    3 Slaughter Games
    1 Pithing Needle
    2 Wear//Tear
    1 Elixir of Immortality
    1 Merciless Eviction

    Now our big differences are in counter spells and draw. I absolutely love the gatecreepers because they fix for you and can essentially count as a maze activation during the mid game when you want to use your mana. You cannot pretend you haven’t lost a game because you couldn’t hit WWU with 4 lands running this mana base. I also use some black and red in the side, so the fixing is more important. I could see at most cutting down to a single creeper, but I wouldn’t run zero in this deck.

    I also found myself siding out a number of fogs in EVERY matchup. And going over my losses, it was far more often due to not finding a maze, missing a land drop, not drawing the removal piece than it ever was running out of fogs. I have never been sad to draw a divination, and they have saved me many games to keep the gas flowing. I very much disagree about urban evolution as well. Most games felt like if I could resolve it, I was very close to sealing the game. So why 4? Well, monoblack is the reason. Their discard suite can rip out that verdict, that evolution, that sphere you needed. And post board, there is a ton of discard headed your way. The best way to combat this is load your deck with draw so that any top deck can get you back into the game. It also lets me play fearless against counterspell decks, just slam them down til they resolve.

    Now maybe the sphinx is overkill, but it has done work for me. I could see changing it back to a 15th fog or 4th sphere in the main.

    The big differences to talk about are in the sideboard.

    SLAUGHTER GAMES. I swear by this card, and cannot recommend it more highly. Slaughter out that gray merchant and breathe a giant sigh of relief. Why play counter spell wars with blue when you can just void them? At least test with it. In most matchups, there is 1 card, sometimes 2, that you fear. I really believe this lets you make intelligent choices instead of having to hope they don’t slam it.

    I think Elixir is a better, more mana efficient version of bow. And we both know this deck needs to use every scrap of mana it can. If you are staring down mill, bow doesn’t outrace a Jace. If burn is headed your way, can you spare that mana each turn? Since you generally still need to fog.

    The helixes were my nod to red decks, and have done well, but I think are suboptimal choices. The fade into antiquity is really a couch against gods since I’ve seen a lot of black splashing green for abrupt decay recently.

    New cards: revoke replaces fade, and now that it is down to 2 mana, I’d probably run it over wear//tear.

    KIORA. Why do I believe she has a place? Stormbreath dragon, purphoros, mutavalt, thassa. She can stop the purphoros triggers and stormbreath monstrous trigger. She can come down the turn before a board wipe and save you having to fog for those leftover gods or mutas that live. I honestly will be testing a split of 3 divination, 3 kiora, 3 evolution as my draw spells.

    • John Torrez

      Ya I need more card draw and am currently playing with 3 Div and 2 Quicken main in place of a Temple garden, bow and the negates.

      I agree about the urban evolution in that anytime i’ve resolved one I’ve won, but I don’t want more than 2. It’s just essentially 6 mana in the deck and I don’t like tapping out for it unless i’ve just wrathed. They come out vs the red decks and devotion decks since they are just too slow but yes vs the MBD and others they stay in.

      I think kiora has a spot in this deck, i’m just not sure where yet though. IDK quite yet about the main deck but SB i think for sure. I’m not knocking the card at all I really do like it a lot, I just don’t know what i’d rather cut for her.

      I personally don’t like slaughter games I really really like my SB the way it is right now, and the games I just don’t want it in place of something else. Yes its good vs UW and esper but our game is huge vs those already, I only think its good vs MBD to hit gary, but the thing is most of the time its going to get stripped from the hand, while this does leave other cards in the hand, I feel like just 1 for 1ing MBD and keeping them off devotion helps a lot. I mean if you are really into it go for it bro, but me personally I found it underwhelming. I talked about it some more today with some people and I just don’t like taking SB space for it.

      The bow is actually better than jace imo.
      3 Life a turn vs burn and red based aggro decks is just huge and once you get them in topdeck mode or close to it 3 life a turn is just too much for them to come back from.
      vs milling you just activate the bow once you have nothing in your deck at the end of your opp turn. choose 3 cards, something like, d sphere, a gate, another gate if needed and urban evolution. and stack them with the urban on top. Now you’ll draw urban and the other 3 cards when you cast urban, and you pretty muchjust win. When jace gets you w/ no cards in your library they actually help you win the game faster since you can set up your draws to exactly what you want with the bow.

      • Tyler Bennett

        I understand your arguments for all those choices, and I will test with bow. The reason I feared using it against mill is not because I didn’t understand the interaction, but because the moment they draw a detention sphere you lose the game, unless you have wear in your hand right then.

        However, I cannot understand the slaughter games choice. You are running 7 counterspells, and this mana base cannot get into a counter war, nor would it want to against decks with 10-12 counters.

  17. Faythae

    Great job at making mazes end viable man. I playtested with kiora and…to be honest…it sucks. Thing is turn 4 you want to activate maze orverdict. She was a dead card most of the time and the draw just wasnt worth it. Same with courser.

    I run the exact same revised decklist as you but i removed one shock land to add a 3rd quicken. This is so good against aggro it’s crazy. If they over extend you can quicken verdict them for value. If they play it safe you can quicken divination and stabilise ams dig deeper.

    On a side note…crackling perimeter + prophet of kruphix + the new prevent 7 damage instant from born raised my win% against burn by about 40%.

    • Prophet seems like a pretty decent wall against mono-red. I’ll have to give that a shot. Is that a sideboard only card?

      • Faythae

        Yes a sideboard only card. As of right now I’m playtesting two different approach to beating burn. One is to have 4 hold at bay in the side to replace useless fogs there.

        The other is to simply outburn them with 4 perimeter and 3 prophets. Problem with prophet is that it holds 3 valuable sideboard slots.

        Prophet has a very good surprise factor to it.

        Im thinking of going down to 26 lands and removing a quicken to make space.

        As for kiora, she’s only good in two situation.

        1) your opponent is going full voltron or only has one big threat on board.

        2) you have a lot of gates in your hand…which is also bad because it means you have no fogs.

        I do not like her in a mazes end becaus you change your win con.

        Also i would like to clarify that bow of nylea puts 4 cards at the BOTTOM of your library. ..not on top.

    • Sushi-X

      I’ve been thinking about Kiora in this deck as well and I don’t think you play her on the curve in this deck unless you don’t have a sweeper or a fog to deal with a threat that could get out of hand and need her +1. The way I’m seeing it is that you’d want to hold off and use her later in the game since this deck “races” to win. You’d play her when you have 7 or more mana up, or when most of your gates are out, and instantly -2 to her to play and extra gate and then activate Maze to get another letting you win a turn sooner. Since there is so much aggro decks in standard these days I don’t think you can put her out early and count on her +1 to keep her alive. Mutavaults are just going to eat her up too.

      I think she works best as a SB card. There is a lot of black being run and if you main deck her then you’re giving your opponent a target for Hero’s Downfall instead of those cards just being a dead card for them game 1. Once they see what you are playing and SB out some of their removal you could sneak her in for game 2 and catch them off guard. Of course she is just another Thoughtseize target, but so are all the fogs.

  18. Tyler Day

    I had a poor man’s Maze’s End deck and you have inspired me to up my game. What are your thoughts on running Courser of Kruphix in Maze’s End?

  19. Jeff gentry

    I love your deck tech. I’ve been working Maze’s End since it’s debut. I noticed that you mentioned Divination as an option. I replaced Divination with Azorious charm. It gives you more options. You can draw a card, but you can also set your opponent back a turn by putting an attacking creature on top of their library. I’ll be testing some of your ideas. Thank you for the write up.

  20. Firemage

    Dear Josh.
    I would like to play Maze End deck at my local PTQ this week-end.
    I tested it a lot during these days; I think that it could be a good choice for this meta. Here you can find my decklist:

    2 Azorius Guildgate
    2 Boros Guildgate
    2 Dimir Guildgate
    2 Gruul Guildgate
    2 Golgari Guildgate
    2 Izzet Guildgate
    2 Orzhov Guildgate
    2 Rakdos Guildgate
    2 Simic Guildgate
    2 Selesnya Guildgate
    1 Breeding Pool
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    1 Temple Garden
    4 Maze’s End

    4 Fog
    4 Druid’s Deliverance
    4 Defend the Hearth
    4 Riot Control

    3 Quicken
    3 Divination
    4 Supreme Verdict
    4 Detention Sphere
    2 Urban Evolution
    1 Merciless Eviction

    I tested also 4 Kiora Maindeck that on paper seems very good for this deck; at the end she can protect herself only versus 1 threat…and the ability to explore is basically similar to quicken (cycle card) play land…Could you help me with sideboard? Could you explain me how Perimeter his good? I saw that you sideboard in vs a lot of decks.

    Vs UW Control is that Good? You can ping your opponent but Sphynx Revelation balance the game again.

    Vs MB is that Good? You can ping your opponent but Grey Merchant balace the game again.

    I think that this is could be a resonable sideboard:

    4 Negate
    4 Heroes’ Reunion
    1 Pithing Needle
    1 Saruli Gatekeepers
    3 Turn // Burn
    2 Revoke Existence

    Let me know what you think i’m very curious.
    Thank you!!!

  21. Matt Lane

    Hi john, I just had a quick question relating to the changes you have now made to the deck, specifically the exclusion of negate. My question is do you think with the exclusion of that card in the MD or SB it will make your G /R monsters matchup more difficult or relatively the same? I have not been involved in standard for some time( though I am an avid limited player), and am considering giving this deck a try to play with some friends of mine at fnm. After reading your thoughts on the matchup, it would seem you have taken out your best out to the most problematic cards in the matchup ( the planes walkers). So I guess my question boils down to: Do you feel card advantage from div and trickery of quicken ( to wrath after a domri splurge etc.) give you enough of advantage to warrant its exclusion from even the SB?

  22. David K

    Wow John, great article. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it, and I love that you’re interacting with commenters for further insight. Really, really awesome job, all around.

    I was watching GP Vancouver on Twitch, and when I saw Maze’s End in the top 32, I was instantly a fan. Watched your deck tech and your premier match (I have to admit, I cringed when you misspoke, but I think your description of it here is fair and accurate, even though I was really hoping that you were going to finish it with Crackling Perimeter).

    I’m building a variant of your deck list now. I haven’t been able to do any play testing yet, so anything could change. I’m definitely adding Divinations like you mentioned. However, I was thinking to outright replace the Urban Evolutions with Kiora. Like you said earlier, you usually only play Urban Evolution after a board wipe, so that would be a perfect time for Kiora. I’d probably bring her out doing her -1, so she’ll give the same land drop bonus for one less mana and with potential for much more. Even if she does get attacked or burned, that’s a bit like a fog effect in itself.

    Good luck in your future matches, and thanks for shaking up the meta!

  23. Adam Nicholas

    Hi John,

    I had an idea to make similar switches of Divination/Quicken to the mainboard. The divination makes a ton of sence, especially against card discard decks. Quicken; however to me has not been that exciting. More often then not I found myself using it just as a simple 1 card draw only. One card I’ve tried and really liked mainboard is Ratchet bomb. It gives us another small board wipe if need and just seems to fit getting to our late game better. Not sure if we can just run 1 to hit the 60 card deck size or just tag on the second to run the 61 cards. What’s your thoughts on this card and running it in the deck?

  24. Jacob Duffy

    What about a pyxis of pandemonium?
    It can get a lot of gates for free into play.

    • Jacob Duffy

      As a sideboard card vs certain decks (mono black?)

      • Brian

        Pyxis activates on turn 7, allowing you to activate Maze’s End on turn 8 for the win. At best. That’s if it has hit an actually relevant gate. And if it hasn’t been D-Sphere’d, Abrupt Decay’d, or removed with something more exotic like Vraska or Wear//Tear. Plus the risk of stranding needed gates under it and having it bounced at an inopportune moment by Cyclonic Rift. Maze’s End can win the game on turn ten without any explore effects. So you’re speeding up your clock by only two turns at best, and to do so, using a highly vulnerable card that might just be a blank.

        Checking what’s left in your deck when you activate ME to find out what’s under the Pyxis is possible, but also seems like a big waste of time. Time management is crucial to this deck in two ways: not just in ensuring your match finishes, but also out of respect for the other player in not monopolizing the time.

  25. Brian

    I’m interested in the Gainsays in the sideboard. I played Maze’s End heavily last summer, including a top 8 in a 200 person tournament, and my conclusion was that the counterspells I wanted in the board needed to be unconditional. I settled on Counterflux, and was very happy with it. If there’s a deck that doesn’t mind its oddly stringent cost, it’s ME. I haven’t played ME in the current format, but some of the cards I feel I’d need to counter are: Rakdos’s Return, Ruric Thar, Boros Charm/Rootborn Defenses, Gray Merchant/Whip of Erebos, Jace MA, Garruk. Is the blue-based match-up really the one you need to hit with this?

    Excellent job!

    • I’ve never considered counterflux in the side of ME. Seems good to me.

  26. Scott

    Are shocklands that much better than scry lands in this deck???

  27. Josh S

    Hi, John. First of all, thank you for writing this article. I had already decided on playing Maze’s End in standard for a while, but didn’t have any idea what I wanted my sideboard to look like. After I read your article, I understood the deck much better than I had previously. I based my build off yours for a 152-man tournament I played in yesterday. Here is my list:

    4 Maze’s End
    1 Temple Garden
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    20 2 of each gate
    1 Simic Guildgate (a third one)
    27 Lands

    4 Fog
    4 Druid’s Deliverance
    4 Defend the Hearth
    4 Riot Control
    4 Supreme Verdict
    4 Detention Sphere
    3 Merciless Eviction
    1 Planar Cleansing
    3 Urban Evolution
    2 Quicken
    1 Sphinx’s Revelation
    34 Spells

    SIDEBOARD
    4 Wear//Tear
    4 Turn//Burn
    4 Crackling Perimeter
    2 Bow of Nylea
    1 Assemble the Legion

    I chose Temple Garden over Breeding Pool because I feel like I’m more likely to need a second white mana untapped turn four for Verdict than I am a first blue. In hindsight, I think that was incorrect, and that I should have cut the Temple for a second Fountain. I’m going to try that going forward.

    I got incredibly unlucky yesterday. I went 2-3 drop. I played 5 control decks, and I feel like I should have beaten all five. My buddy was playing Bw, expecting a field of control, and got five aggro decks. He dropped at 3-2. It was bizarre. Anyway, here’s a round by round recap. The sideboarding is from memory and may not be 100% accurate.

    Round 1 vs. BR control
    I drop game one. He plays a Mogis that I don’t draw an answer to and wrecks my hand with Rakdos’ Return. Both cards suck for us big time. I bring in my whole board, leaving a Riot Control in, but debating between it and a Fog. Game two goes pretty quickly in my favor, but I get the sense he’s not running Pithing Needle, so I board out 2 Wear//Tear and something else to bring back a full set of Riot Control. Game three looks bad for me. He got a couple cards out of my hand and had a Mogis on board. Luckily I was able to barely outrace it and more Returns, thanks in part to a Bow of Nylea. 2-1, 1-0/

    Round 2 vs. BUW Control
    Game one I encounter no resistance whatsoever. I didn’t see Mutavault, so I brought in everything but it, leaving Fogs. Game two goes really long, and with about 19 minutes left, the fire alarm in the venue goes off. It’s a hotel conference hall and it seems a guest attempted to microwave some metal. My opponent offers me a draw as we’re evacuating, as he is about to Sphinx for 9. I know this is a fantastic matchup, so I just can’t accept. He could have had the game wrapped up, but there’s just no way to know for sure. I don’t blame him for trying, though. After about an hour delay, we restarted game 2 with 30 minutes on the round clock. He doesn’t draw a Pithing Needle and I win easily. I’m feeling really good about my chances. 2-0, 2-0.

    Round 3 vs. UW Control
    This guy used to play at my local shop, and I regard him as one of the better local Magic players. I kept a two land hand game one– the colors were right– and don’t draw a third for six turns. He ultimates Jace, AoT and casts Urban Evolution. Have you ever noticed that a player who resolves that spell almost always wins? I sure did, because I didn’t cast one. I brought in everything and left a Fog. Game two I stick a Perimeter, and then don’t draw enough support cards for it to matter. I made a couple minor play mistakes this round, like tapping incorrectly to reduce Perimeter’s usefulness, but playing it correctly wouldn’t have mattered. The deck totally whiffed this round. It happens, and I shrug it off, eager to re-prove myself next round. 0-2, 2-1.

    Round 4 vs. BUR Control
    So I’m chugging along game one. He drops Ashiok, something I know I don’t want to see, but I have an answer in hand. He activates and the top two cards of my library are both Rakdos Guildgate. Bet you didn’t see that coming, eh? I board everything in because I saw a Mutavault, leaving a Riot Control. Game two he drops Nightveil Specter and boy does he do some work before I can Sphere him. Remember last round when I mentioned that I’ve never seen anyone cast more Urban Evolutions and lose? I thought I was going to stabilize at four until he Rakdos’ Returned me for 4. 0-2, 2-2.

    Round 5 vs. UG Ramp/Tempo/???
    This deck was definitely not something I thought to expect, and as such with my two really crappy losses in a row, I’m paired against it at 2-2. He gets going with a Kiora turn 3, and I don’t have a blue mana to Detention Shpere, and I don’t get one. She goes off, but this is pre-board, so my fogs are still in. He ramps up to a Sylvan Primordial hitting one of my gates. Fortunately I didn’t have Simic on board yet, so I tutored it up next, bluffing it as a two-of so he can’t do that again to lock me out. I think that was a really good play, but it didn’t matter. I’m at seven gates with two Mazes on board and the tenth gate in hand, then he Primordials again. I don’t draw another fog spell, so I’m toast. Guess which 5 drop UG sorcery he runs? Game two I can’t get white mana, and I finally lose my cool after he whips my ass. “WTF do I have to do to win a GD game!?” I didn’t yell at him or anything, and I immediately apologized for my outburst. Truth be told, if I wasn’t sitting across from that deck, losing to it, I’d be very interested in it because I like that style. 0-2, 2-3, drop.

    I just can’t believe I dropped six straight games. Those game ones that I’m supposed to win… it’s not that I don’t believe you about it because I’ve seen it for myself. But damn. I went 1-4 in game ones. That’s not going to get it done at any event.

    In the end, I noticed that Wear//Tear basically sucked for me because while it could kill Needle, it does squat against indestructible gods. It is also susceptible to counter magic. Turn//Burn also just didn’t do enough, but Abrupt Decay can’t kill Mutavault. Basically, I kept them off devotion like I needed to, and then couldn’t kill gods because of it. I faced zero aggro decks, though. I think I want to change Wear//Tear to Revoke Existence. The two-for-one was never relevant, and I can’t imagine I will actually care about two things I can’t win through at the same time.

    I think I want to change Quicken as well. I don’t know what to, but something that is impactful by itself, for sure. I don’t think Kiora is good enough. Perhaps a second main-deck wincon, but I don’t know. Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you. Good luck!

    Josh S

  28. Shushi-X

    Michael Martin over wrote a column at Star City Games that included Maze’s end and referenced John’s deck. I’ll copy/past some of the article here as well as providing a link to the article (Maze’s end is towards the bottom of his article).

    http://www.starcitygames.com/article/27924_Welcome-Our-New-Overlords-Of-Standard.html

    Quoted from Michael Martin’s article:

    “However, I promised that I would look into a Fog deck running Kiora, and I don’t want to let anyone down. The great thing is that I don’t have to start from scratch. If you all didn’t notice, John Torrez got 90th at Grand Prix Vancouver just a few short weeks ago with this beauty:

    Lands (28)
    2 Azorius Guildgate
    2 Boros Guildgate
    1 Breeding Pool
    2 Dimir Guildgate
    2 Golgari Guildgate
    2 Gruul Guildgate
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    2 Izzet Guildgate
    4 Maze’s End
    2 Orzhov Guildgate
    2 Rakdos Guildgate
    3 Selesnya Guildgate
    2 Simic Guildgate
    1 Temple Garden

    Spells (33)
    4 Detention Sphere
    4 Defend the Hearth
    4 Druid’s Deliverance
    4 Fog
    3 Negate
    4 Riot Control
    1 Bow of Nylea
    3 Merciless Eviction
    4 Supreme Verdict
    2 Urban Evolution

    I actually love some of the ideas that John had in this deck. Bow of Nylea is a great card for staving off multiple attacks simply by virtue of being in play for multiple turns; if you’re Fogging for three or four turns in a row and gaining three life for each of those turns, when your opponent finally gets a chance to break through your wall of Fogs, you’re up to 30+ life already.

    Not to mention the fact that Bow of Nylea allows us to recycle our Fog effects. With Maze’s End providing a turn by turn shuffle effect on demand, we’re essentially increasing the density of Fog effects in our deck for the low cost of two mana per turn.

    As a one-of card, I think Bow of Nylea definitely earns its slot in this deck. I’d be surprised if I couldn’t be talked into more.

    Everyone keeps clamoring about how Kiora belongs in a Fog deck (because of both her Explore ability and the mini built-in Fog effect), and I agree. However, when we scratch below the surface a bit, things aren’t so great.

    First, the only Fog effect that actually protects Kiora as well is Fog itself; none of the other cards allow for prevention of damage to planeswalkers. So while Kiora is a nice value planeswalker to add to a Fog / Maze’s End deck, we can’t rely on it to live (especially if our opponents actually read the fifteenth pick Draft commons we’re using to prevent them from dealing damage to us).

    Well, I think that a Kiora Fog deck is a reasonable choice, though I doubt it’ll be tier 1 or 2. I think that we might have had an unreasonable expectation for how good Kiora is (in a Fog deck; I think I was spot on in thinking she was great elsewhere) due to the interaction with non Fog spells that have the Fog effect.

    However, there are a lot of people that think that any card that’s like Fog will stop any and all damage, so with that in mind let’s jump into a list!

    Planeswalkers (3)
    3 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
    Lands (27)
    2 Azorius Guildgate
    2 Boros Guildgate
    2 Breeding Pool
    2 Dimir Guildgate
    2 Golgari Guildgate
    2 Gruul Guildgate
    1 Hallowed Fountain
    2 Izzet Guildgate
    4 Maze’s End
    2 Orzhov Guildgate
    2 Rakdos Guildgate
    2 Selesnya Guildgate
    2 Simic Guildgate

    Spells (30)
    3 Detention Sphere
    3 Defend the Hearth
    3 Dissolve
    4 Druid’s Deliverance
    2 Fated Retribution
    4 Fog
    4 Riot Control
    2 Sphinx’s Revelation
    1 Bow of Nylea
    4 Supreme Verdict
    Sideboard
    4 Crackling Perimeter
    1 Detention Sphere
    2 Into the Wilds
    4 Courser of Kruphix
    2 Abrupt Decay
    1 Defend the Hearth
    1 Fated Retribution

    With Fated Retribution and Kiora, we can move past the Merciless Eviction and Urban Evolution days of yore; now we also get to upgrade to Sphinx’s Revelation. This allows us to play a much more instant-oriented game plan at the end of our opponent’s turn. Instead of tapping out during our turn for an Urban Evolution or Merciless Eviction (and allowing our opponent the freedom to cast whatever spell they want), we can always be holding up mana for . . .

    Well, you can let your opponent’s imagination fill in the rest. Use “suspicious eyebrow raises” to help their suspicions along.

    Fated Retribution may not always be great, but in a deck like this where you want to force your opponent to get a bigger board presence (so that when they finally break through your wall of Fogs they will have enough on-board damage to actually kill you), having the ability to instantly take out all of their creatures, including Mutavaults, is going to be extremely clutch.

    The rest of the deck plays out like a Bant Control deck that happens to have lands that produce red and black as well. The sideboard can attest to this.

    Oh, and if you’re considering playing only one of some of the Guildgates, let me know how long it takes you to reconsider after your opponent’s Nightveil Specter steals your only Rakdos Guildgate.”

  29. Slowbad

    Two weeks ago I played in two IQs. In the first one I played a variant of your deck with 3 Kiora in place of urban evolution. Every time I played her I was underwhelmed. Every time I played her I never got more than one activation out of her because they would just sphere, burn, or downfall her and I’d be left with a turn where I paid 4 mana to fog instead of advancing my game plan of mazing to victory. I did make top 4 of that IQ and was a game away from the finals before throwing it away against UW control.

    In the second IQ I changed Kiora back into Urban Evolution and tried out the quicken and divination draw package. Divination is everything you want in a draw card for this deck. It’s cheap so you can get great economy out of it on turn 3 when you normally have no plays at all. Maybe I haven’t played this deck enough but urban evolution isn’t terribly good. I rarely have extra lands to play by the time I can evolution safely. Against control it’s one of the few spells I do play so they end up countering it. If I have maze then there is no reason to cast the card at all. Quicken always felt dead to me. I frequently cast it early to cycle the card and getting the mana to Quicken into Supreme Verdict can be tough.

    I want to discuss deck ideas with you over the upcoming weeks. I plan on taking some form of this deck to the weekend of the Invitational at Charlotte. I’m hoping I can grind in on Friday or play in the Open that Saturday. In the mean time I’m going to try to get cards on MTGO to play test different ideas. Email me at smartin132 (at) gmail (dot) com

  30. Jacob Wheeler

    Hey, I am not sure if you are still checking this or not, but I thought I’d ask:

    Now that you have had some time with BNG, I was wondering if you could evaluate how the BNG cards are doing in your Maze’s End deck. Specifically, I have been playing with Kiora and found her, for this deck anyways, rather underwhelming. The majority of the time I am only getting one -1 activation out of her and 4 mana is a lot to pay for an explore.

    What do you think?

    Thanks,

    Jacob

  31. mazefan

    Congrats on the gp :D watching the stream on youtube is what got me interested in maze’s end. I got rid of my mbd deck to work on a variation. i ran mine last night in a 42 man tourney. ended up finishing top 8 losing to the 1st and 3rd ranked players. All i played against was agro decks all day. first match was a loss to white devotion. never saw maze’s end at turn 17 and turn 14. the second round went 2-0 vs black agro, 3rd round went 1-2 to black agro because of a thoughtsieze taking my verdict the turn before i could cast it. next was red agro which was 2-0, after that another black agro this went 2-1, lastly was red agro/burn sideboard ended up taking it 2-1. My decklist is a little weird but it seemed to work for the tourney. I was wondering what your thoughts were. I’m hoping to bring it to the starcity tourney.
    27 lands
    same basis as yours but i have scry lands instead.

    4 defend the hearth
    4 druids deliverance
    4 riot control
    4 fog
    4 detention sphere
    4 supreme verdict
    4 merciless eviction
    2 urban evolution
    3 vraska

    sideboard:

    3 crackling perimeter
    2 elixirs
    3 slaughter games
    3 blind obedience
    4 fiendslayer paladin

    for future changes i’m thinking on trading a fiendslayer for a 3rd urban evolution. the fiendslayers worked amazingly in the match-ups, and in the red agro i was able to win from using verdict then restabalizing with them. i’m also looking for a spot for quicken. I decided to run vraska as a 3rd win-con i pref her over kiora, i just dont feel like kiora does enough for the deck. vraska was also effective. it put the agro decks on a fast clock if they didnt have an answer or they attacked her and lost creatures. either way the reacted with it it worked. i sideboard out in the burn match-ups. but for the others i ended up wither winning with her or maze’s end. I would love to hear your thoughts on the version i’m running. Thanks for getting me to play maze’s end it’s been a blast.

    • mazefan

      i was also wondering about your thoughts on reap intelligence over slaughter games. that is something that i am planning on testing, i was just curious what your thoughts were

  32. Izzen

    How about trading Urban Evolution for Sphinx Revelation…. you know, with sphhinx you cant drop an extra land, but the life gain and the instant speed makes up for it, doesnt it?

    []s

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