This is the first ever Mind Linking that I, with the help of Team Rankstar, will be putting up in tandem with SifuDanny’s Interview series videos on Youtube. This week we dive into the ETS Season 2 Week 3 runner-up SooNo. The first thing to note is it is not that difficult to pronounce his name when you are casting events or talking to your friends about the guy you hate. It is SO-NO, pretty simple. Not “Soo nu”, not “Snow”, and some of you play way to many MOBAs because I have heard “Sona” way more than I think he would care for. Think about it this way: You want your big creature to resolve so you can win the game? Soooo No… You want to interrupt my spell to gain the upper hand? Sooooo No. You want to finish in first place in the ETS? Soooo…. Well yeah, if your name is Trumpets.
This Interview, as all of them will, is focused on the deck that SooNo piloted in the ETS. Lovingly called Hall of Lost Hope, this deck is an old spin on a tried and true Moment of Creation deck but instead of being just Praxis or three color with Primal, SooNo went the route of a different 3rd color: Shadow. And look where it got him. Instead of my own dissertation on why this was a good or bad idea, I can share with you the interview. You can go and watch it HERE, or you can do it the old fashioned way and read about it with some of my own color commentary mixed in below:
As a note the interviewer, SifuDanny, is denoted by a D and SooNo is the S. See if you can figure out where my commentary fits in, won’t you?
D: SooNo, you want to say “Hi” ?
S: What’s going on?
We are off to a real in-depth, riveting, interview. Hold on to your butts people, I swear it gets better…
D: So you played this deck on April 14th in the ETS. It is a very interesting list. I believe you came in what, 2nd place?
D: I was hoping for a reverse sweep, that’s what happened with you in the Quarter Finals, right?
Whew, okay, I get it. “Why should I keep reading Matt? You aren’t giving me anything more than what I saw online.” Stick with me folks, when we start asking about his deck he gets a lot more vocal.
D: This is a different take on a deck that sees a lot of play in the Master’s ladder. It is a Moment of Creation build, but instead of playing primal you run shadow. What made you play this style of deck over the Primal Versions?
S: Well, it started off by gaining a little faith in the 3 color combination of Time, Fire and Shadow with my other team mate, SecondBlue, his Dark Heart deck that ChildRoland had played. And then, with everyone else jamming the Moment and people having faith in that, it kind of made me want to revisit the old moment deck that had the shadow in it for hand control and the better removal spells and all that stuff. It ended up paying off.
See, I told you. Now we get into his head and learn some stuff. Sort of like… a Mind Link…
D: Before the New Set came out, a lot of people were on this Moment of Creation style deck and the new cards like Worldbearer Behemoth and also the campaign bringing cards like In Cold Blood but no one went back, so I am glad you did. After playing in the event and getting to Top 8 and everything, if you played this deck again this week what would be the changes you would make?
It should be noted: I spoke to SooNo myself a little bit while putting this article together. Even with 13 years of Magic: The Gathering experience and multiple Top 8 finishes at major events, the guy did not have any faith in this deck. He told his team mates that this was another “0-1 Drop List” and ultimately he just got lucky. As you continue to read through you will see the nuances of experienced evaluation and deck building and that ‘luck’ was actually thinly veiled skill.
S: Honestly, it would be rough to change something right off the bat. Playing it like it was, the main board felt pretty tight to what I would want it to be. The only thing that was up in the air to keeping in the main deck was Stray into Shadow and then everything else in the deck I would leave as is. The side board is something of a different specimen. That was built at 6 AM the day of the tournament. Well I mean, its just a whole bunch of random cards that should be included some how.
D: We will hit on the side board, but for now let’s focus on the main. Talking about the Strays, did you mean to put in another board wipe or something of that nature, like Devastating Setback? Or did you maybe look at Extract in that spot instead?
S: Well I was in testing, I had played this deck. I built this deck and I played some games on ladder and I felt like it was pretty solid as is, but the card I was bouncing back and forth on was that 2 [of] slot with the Strays was between that and Devastating Setback. That being another board sweep, and it was able to answer the decks that were around at the time: the Grenadins and the Yetis and stuff like that. With Stray, the -4 / -4 keeping creatures at negative toughness against Scream decks, is actually slightly relevant and when you do get to catch something like a Scream deck that late with a Stray it is much more back breaking than a Devastating Setback.
Look at THAT! Actual thought behind card selection. Hope all of you are paying attention: this is how you make Top 8 finishes and climb ladders.
D: Fair enough, I didn’t even think about that. The thing I was thinking of more or less was your mid-range Justice decks that have 3 on the back end where Devastating Setback doesn’t get them.
S: Oh yeah, that’s really good there too, with the strays and everything. Having In Cold Blood and Banish you don’t have to rely to much on the sweep, but there again Stray Into Shadow you don’t have to rely on it and its able to pick up the 3 / 4 flier that stops weapons (Hooru Pacifier) and all the other X / 3 ‘s its just a double bonus type thing.
D: Now let’s talk about the side board. Right off the bat, this is the reason we wanted this interview. Honestly it is a little disappointing. I was crushed by you not having Hall of Lost Kings premiums.
S: I am also upset that they are not premium. But I cannot make that one before I make my In Cold Blood premiums.
D: You always have a chance to play in cold blood in a tournament, not so much with Hall of Lost Kings.
S: I am unable to say I am the first person to play Hall of Lost Kings premium and do well with it. I am the first person to take Hall to the Top 8 at least.
Modesty… Rare, especially from an SPG member.
D: I was going to ask how you came up with these numbers in the sideboard, but 6 AM, I have been there and I understand it a lot more now.
S: I mean there is some reason and rhyme to the numbers you see, but when I try to explain them they sound a bit goofy. I remember the reasons why, but man, thinking of them, they are a bit odd.
D: well lets go over them. Right off the bat we have got 1 Bore, how has that card performed for you?
S: I never got to cast it once. I brought it in against the 1 or 2 weapons decks that I played against, I brought it in against the Chalice deck to have 1 more removal against the Chalice or something else and I just never got a chance to cast it. I’m assuming that its going to be fine in any position because its a 1 drop card and the weapon variants that kill Daisho and can kill other things Banish can’t. Your removal spells just do nothing in those match ups, it make me think that Bore is going to be just fine.
D: Do you think it would be relevant to play Ruin as a fast spell in its place, I know Bore in the Primal version you can just Strategize to the bottom, but is it just being able to create another spell in the graveyard for the Moments? Is that more relevant than having it as a fast spell?
S: See the fast speed… Look I’m a big fan of In Cold Blood over Deathstrike because it has the Justice thing, even though it has fast speed. See the same thing is here, the value that Bore could end up creating is better than “Oh I kill your Daisho instead of me taking 4 or 8. Or I’ll kill your Runehammer instead of me taking 4”. It’s just… your life total is somewhat relevant, but it’s a resource like any other. You have to use it when you are able, like if your able to take that 8 damage and deal with it later. But if you do come up in a situation where there are a bunch of weapons or it is an armory deck and you have a 1 of Ruin in your sideboard instead of the Bore your probably going to get embarrassed and you’re not going to be able to do all to much the turns after you cast. When have things with Aegis on them, or they have multiple weapons on creatures and you’re like “I can kill this thing with the Ruin and I’m just taking 4 from this other one and hope to draw another removal spell”. Granted, your deck is chalked full of removal, but you cant always just bank on always having everything.
I really like his explanation here, and the thought process behind it. Something else that showed up here that I did not realize until after reading the transcript is SooNo’s motivation in a lot of these scenarios is: “What do I do to not be embarrassed?” While it is not a conventional motivator it obviously worked for him.
D: I see your 4th Sabotage, in a control match up you can’t really go wrong, right?
S: The original version had 4 main deck, but I trimmed 1 into the side board to make room for Mystic Ascendant, just had to switch a 1 drop for a 6 drop. Laughs
D: I see that you have no Annihilates main board, 2 in the side board. Is that just to have more removal or is there something else you wanted or is just always good to have some Annihilate?
S: Yeah, it is always good to have Annihilate, it’s an insane card. It’s a 2 drop, instant speed. Granted, I was just saying instant speed is not all that impressive, but when you do get to 2 of instant speed, kill a big Time-deck creature its amazing. You just want it. You get the added bonus of: if you play against mid-range aggro deck and they have a bunch of mono colored units I can still bring it in and its fine. You are able to do so and you don’t ever feel bad about it. Its just an overall average-to-good card that should always be represented if you are in Shadow, I feel.
D: The 4th Banish: Banish being able to kill a lot of the weapons and especially Chalice and Runehammer, things of that nature and just a lot of units. It’s really good. I’m assuming that’s just for the 4th copy to round that out?
S: Yeah. Really Banish and In Cold Blood are the all stars against the Justice aggro decks. The value they are able to accrue, then banish is able to get 2-for-1 fairly easily, so it’s just a really powerful card against those decks.
D: Two Devastating Setbacks, more board wipes while being able to have the option in a control match up. Do you bring this card in ?
S: Yeah, see this was the tricky thing that I was realizing with this sideboard. With needing to sideboard for control: is that control aggro mid-range it’s the sideboard for everything we’ll say. The deck kind of needs to shift gears when it goes to sideboard for control and mid-range decks and the control match ups are way way more tricky than the mid-range decks. In control, you realize that almost 40% of the main deck is just useless or just dead or embarrassing against a control deck. And then when you go to your sideboard you can’t just have 14 cards for control and hopefully my opponents do nothing when they are playing aggro or mid-range. So, Setback is a card where you bring it in against control, you can bring it in as just 1 to have a 5th Sabotage. But, there is just so many cards in my main deck that you want to bring out that you end up bringing in just mediocre cards instead of Devastating Setback. Against control it’s just a 3 drop Sabotage, where as Stray into Shadows is nothing and In Cold Blood is just literally nothing. Torch is just literally nothing, so cards like that you have to find a middle ground to some of these cards that are great in certain match ups, mediocre in others, and you aren’t embarrassed to bring them in, really. Like I’m embarrassed to have a Torch against Feln and stuff like that.
D: Yeah, just not having dead cards and being able to feel like you can actually play the game, it has a huge payoff.
S: I didn’t go to the 4th Stray, instead, for the fact being that if I do want to bring in these sweepers against the very, very aggressive decks if there were any that I was playing against I would want my sweepers to cost 3. Because, they just going to be on X / 1s and X / 2s so Stray is just way too slow, so I still wanted Setback in some sort of number at least.
D: Statuary Maiden, what match ups did you like this card in? What match ups did you bring this in? I’m a fan of the card, its one reason why I played SecondBlue’s Dark Heart list, because they had 3 main. What would you bring this in for?
S: Maiden, I was really bringing in for the aggressive mid-range decks or really any mid-range because the deadly and ability of making Cudgels and removing their creatures from the graveyard is relevant in some situations. You can bring it in against the Scream deck and you’re not too too sad about it. You don’t have too many creatures to be putting these Cudgels on to, but I mean, your guys are pretty resilient in some way. So, once you do get two guys down, your cudgels have some place to go and your guys don’t really die all too easily. It’s kind of bad sometimes, when you are looking at a bunch of Cudgels in your hand and you have this Maiden that you don’t want to invest everything on to, because I know this thing is going to die eventually and you just end up looking at these things for a little bit, it’s all right.
D: I know why this card is in here, its for the Hall of Lost Kings. Lumen Defender. This was a trip to see in your side board, can you tell us how you chose to pick this card?
S: Well, honestly, I needed and wanted another life gain effect for Hall, there was only 6 and there should be 8 so I just jammed it and said ‘whatever’. Lumen Defender is gaining 5 life against the aggressive decks is just insane, and having the 1 / 5 deadly is even more insane, but it is strictly for when you bring in the Hall of Lost Kings, you have to have something beforehand. Sure, when you play the mid-range and control decks you can just say that “the opponent is just going to do nothing, I just have to gain some amount of life”, but they are probably going to do something, and if they attack you or they try to Torch you, just to bring you down after seeing the Hall of Lost Kings the Defender at least puts you back up + 2 before the Hall actually triggers.
Fun fact: through the interview, both SifuDanny and SooNo called it “Hall of the Lost Kings” and so did I until researching and writing this article (don’t worry boys I fixed it in all the transcripts and no one would know if I did not point it out here). Turns out, there is no The. Let’s all stop being dumb and say or type it correctly.
D: This next 1 of, I was a little thrown off by. I’m always a fan of seeing 2 or 3 Flamestokers, what was your reasoning for 1, or would you change that going onward?
S: My reasoning for 1 Flamestoker was because I wanted to play 2 Hall of Lost Kings. Laugh The reason I went to 1 Flamestoker is I knew I wanted one more big threat in my side board and I was looking at a whole bunch of big stuff like: Talir or really anything and Hall of Lost Kings is a pseudo Moment of Creation, but only against certain decks and when you do jam it and it resolves and they don’t answer it you usually just win the game. You can go wide and they play two creatures a turn and you still hit for 15 and its just out of control. And Flamestoker is a really great card against Harsh Rule so I still had to represent Flamestoker for Harsh Rule decks because you know, Hall of Lost Kings only goes so far.
D: I really like some of the cards that you don’t really get to see a lot of: Lumen Defender in this kind of deck usually feels out of place. But I am telling you it is worth it when you see a Hall of Lost Kings fully resolve.
S: When I was playing against LightsOutAce he even messaged me “The combo, two times?” I was like “I know, I can’t even believe it, I got so lucky!”
D: How many major iterations did you have? I think you said you just jammed the deck together, right?
S: Um well, I had… we were asked what we were going to be playing for the weekend on Wednesday in team chat on discord. And I was saying I was thinking about playing a Moment deck with Shadow in it and what not. I posted a rough draft that Wednesday for, I think it was TonyGeeeee, and then I played a couple of games with the rough draft on ladder and it actually felt pretty good, so I wasn’t going to mark it up there. I came back to it again Friday night to throw together a little bit closer of a version that is playable and I settled on what you see and what I played, minus the Strays were jumping back and forth with Devastating Setback and then I had no Mystic Ascendants and I had Sabotage and there was a 4th Banish main deck. So it went through 1 and a half iterations before I landed on what I played.
D: So, I was playing this on stream and a lot of people were talking about all the legendaries this has and how expensive this deck is. We’re not playing a cheap deck here and I didn’t realize how bad it was, I usually don’t when I’m just ramming cards in a deck and playing it, then I started looking and I was just… wow, this is a lot of legendaries. Do you have a list or do you think any of these cards could be substituted for a more casual player or is it just not happening?
Rich people problems, am I right? See our article on building your collection HERE.
S: I don’t think that you are able to replace the power level of some of these cards with any budget type cards. And granted, I would love to be able to build a budget type friendly deck for the casual players and everything like that, but the power level of these cards are just not able to be matched by other cards in the game. If they were, you would just play multiples of those cards with these cards. I think the best advice I would have for that is do what I did: just play over and over, I played Stonescar, I played Rakano, until I was just able to build up my collection and slowly build towards decks. And if you did want to play a Moment deck and you have your Moments ready to go and your Sandstorm Titans ready to go but you don’t have the other legendaries, I would say try a Praxis version of it or try the Justice version that I think Buckwheat played a long time ago, because I feel like that one could do some work too, having Harsh Rule and everything like that so you might be able to fiddle around with different colors if you want to try it. But as far as what I had, The Worldbearer Behemoths were there because they dug for lands (Power/Inlfuence) which enabled the Moments, enabled the Mystic Ascendants and helped out with your fixing for Heart of the Vault. Heart was there because of the power level of a 6 / 6 draws a card, reduces it. Mystic Ascendant, that thing’s insane so… just some things are just really hard to replace.
D: Yeah I actually really like Ayan a lot in this. Because unlike Xenan mid-range or aggro where you throw it down on the end step of your opponents turn 3, or as a blocker, it’s not necessarily used like that in these deck. It’s more like they have killed a 6 / 7 or a 6 /6, well now it is time to bring them back as a 9 / 10 or a 9 / 9
S: Yeah, Ayan usually ends up winning the games a lot of the time, because if they are able to catch up and at least keep par, play parry and everything like that and able to deal with everything you play this Ayan and you’re able to bring it back and its just like: “Well now, I’m out of gas and the thing is bigger than it was before, this is just a wonderful place for me to be”
D: So, it’s a lot different that the Primal version where we are trying to rely on Moment a lot to win these games. You’re already playing units that have to be answered. These are not 1 / 1 Temple Scribes that you can take a million hits from before you have to worry about it. Each one of these units are ones that can close the game pretty fast.
S: Yeah, I think that was another advantage of the deck because the units in and of themselves. You can just play units and removal spells and you’ll win the game. You don’t need Moment, you can miss a color, you can just end up playing Xenan and still just win the game.
I don’t know how many of you got through the interview, it was a long one. Regardless of if you are reading this little stinger, I hope you learned something. There is a lot of little mechanical pieces here on how to build a strong deck. SooNo did a great job of really thinking about almost every choice he had, not only in the construction, but also the execution. It is things like this, the learning you can get from these types of interactions that will take you from a good player, to a great one. Team Rankstar will continue to put out these interviews with SifuDanny and I will continue to transcribe them and sling in some fun commentary. Thanks again to SooNo for taking the time to sit down with us, and thank you for getting to the end if you are reading this.