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Having a Main Squeeze

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Jason Moore
Jason Moore

About Jason Moore

Jason Moore is 25 years old, and a resident of Los Angeles California. He began playing Magic seriously in 2010, and has developed a strong interest in MTGO and the Pauper format. He is one of the hosts of the podcast Pauper's Cage, and has covered Pauper on other websites and his YouTube page. His other interests include acting, writing and playing guitar.

Having a Main Squeeze

Hello boys and girls!

I've been losing a lot in Classic Pauper lately.

Why? One of the biggest reasons is the fact that I've been neglecting a lot of the prior wisdom I'd picked up earlier on. It's probably the case that I need to write out my own “Pauper Player's Bible” in order to keep track of the key ingredients to success, and other related rules of thumb. This way I'll always have something to refer back to when my win percentage starts to take a dip.

As a nerdy MTG player living in the 21st century, it's very easy to be impulsive, short-sighted and downright scatterbrained. I have, at one point, been all of these, and it has cost me a fair share of Event Tickets on MTGO. It's time for me to change course and start moving in the right direction. It's time for me to once again have a main squeeze!

Having a main squeeze is something most of the great Pauper grinders are very familiar with. It's a concept that goes hand in hand with eternal formats, and general competitive Constructed play. While it's been written about a lot (even by me!), it's a concept that gets repeatedly overlooked and undervalued (Again. Even. By. Me.).

I once had a main squeeze, and boy was she lovely. If you've been following my content for a while, you'll likely remember her. In fact, there was a time when the two of us often got lumped together in the same sentence. Here's an old picture.

Jason Moore White Weenie (circa 2013)

Colors
Artifact4
Land18
White38
Converted Mana Cost
116
224
32
Type
Artifact4
Basic Land18
Creature32
Enchantment4
Instant2
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Now I think you're getting the idea. Your main squeeze is your primary deck. It's your weapon of choice. The one you'll play hundreds and hundreds of matches with, the one you'll master. It's the deck that will naturally give you the best chance of winning, for a number of reasons. You can pilot it better than any other deck, you understand virtually every interaction and possible line of play, and you're less likely to make mistakes or spend unnecessary amounts of mental energy. You know how prominent matchups play out, and you are able to make sideboarding and mulligan decisions optimally. You also have a greater level of confidence and general positivity. All of these things cannot be said for your opponents, at least those lacking a main squeeze. Think about that! By mastering one deck (One. Single. Deck.), you can often give yourself inherent advantages in a match before it even starts!

The best Magic players have echoed this sentiment over and over again. It can be argued that this is one of the most important lessons for anyone looking to be more competitive in Constructed formats. Don't believe me? Eat some quotes!

Joe has stuck with the same deck through multiple years worth of tournaments. If Joe and I have played an equal number of games of Legacy in this time span, that means he's gotten five to ten times as much experience with his deck as I've had with any of mine. It's no wonder I'm at a disadvantage! I'm a sad little frog hopping around to find the softest lily pad, while Joe's been lounging in his beaver dam with all the comforts of home...The best way to win in Legacy is to stick with one deck and master it.” - Reid Duke, “The Best Way to Win in Legacy”

"Remember, it is better to play the deck you know than some other deck that you are not familiar with...if you know your deck inside and out and its matchups, you're gonna swing matchups by 20 or 30 percent from knowledge, whereas deck selection at all is only a few percentage points." - Patrick Chapin,NLDB-Chapin Seminar-Part 3”

"It's the only way I can do well. I 0-5'ed the last Pro Tour, and I wasn't playing a deck I was comfortable with, and this time I decided, you know, even if it's not the best metagame choice I'm gonna go with what I know." - Craig Wescoe, “Pro Tour Dragon's Maze: Award Ceremony and Winner Interview”

It has been said before multiple times and people still refuse to listen: it is far more important to do something powerful and know your deck inside and out than it is to have some slight technological edge which isn't even there most of the time.” - A.J. Sacher,“Playing the Best Deck: Innovation is Overrated”

So why did I choose White Weenie as my main squeeze back in the day, and why did I unwittingly abandon the concept of even having a main squeeze? For starters, White Weenie decks were the first Constructed decks I ever built. Something about the creatures in white just seemed cool. I still don't really know why, but the flavor and functionality of the cards really resonates with me. For all I know it could be the art. Cards I got exposed to early on included Kazandu Blademaster and Kor Hookmaster, each of which has a dynamic, almost anime/comic book vibe (comics and anime are two mediums I've enjoyed over the years). Coming from an intense fandom of competitive Starcraft, I can also understand White Weenie on a conceptual level. This is because the archetype typically wants to have an aggressive start, and amass an army in order to defeat the opponent.

The reason I lost hold of my main squeeze has a lot to do with my Pauper content. If you think about it, it's arguably pretty important to incorporate novelty into most Magic-related content. This is because Magic as a game thrives on novelty to begin with. Think of the constant ushering in of new sets, anticipation of and speculation on new cards. It's a big part of why Standard is one of the game's most popular formats. Things change, and people always have something to look forward to.

If I were to only play and/or talk about one deck in every article and video ever, I don't think it would take very long for complaints to roll in and readership to drop off. It would honestly get pretty dull for me as well, but the point I'm making is that I'm encouraged to switch decks constantly, as well as brew up new ideas for upcoming articles.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely enjoy doing this, but I need to dial things back and internalize the difference between switching things up for the sake of content and thinking I can constantly jump from deck to deck and win a ton of packs. While there is a bit of duality in play here, I believe that having a main squeeze while tinkering around on the side is definitely doable.

Here is my new main squeeze:

Jason Moore Affinity (05/13/2015)

Colors
Artifact20
Blue5
Green4
Land17
Red10
White4
Converted Mana Cost
116
215
44
54
74
Type
Artifact12
Artifact Creature8
Creature12
Instant7
Land17
Sorcery4
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So why Affinity? There are several reasons, basically too many to cover in the remainder of this article. I will say that I don't believe Pauper has a 100% best deck, and most decks make up less than 10% of the winning metagame. This means that choosing a main squeeze is not so much about metagaming or trying to have the “best” matchups. The decision to pick my new primary deck was not easy, and ultimately I had to man up and just pick something!

To sum up the lion's share of my logic, Affinity is an “unfair” deck that has the potential to get multiple free wins. The deck is unfair because its artifact manabase allows it to cast spells that are more cost-effective than the spells in other decks. The free wins come about from explosive starts involving multiple Myr Enforcers, and from the end-the-game combination of Atog and Fling. The deck is also proactive, difficult to play against optimally and has a nice blend of early game explosiveness and late game staying power.

Because Affinity is typically a four color deck, it also has access to very high impact sideboard cards. Hydroblast and Pyroblast are clearly two of the best sideboard cards in the format, while Ancient Grudge sees play in multiple eternal formats and Standard Bearer simply has the potential to steal games.

While I'm currently playing a version of Affinity that runs white for Auriok Sunchaser, I am by no means locked in to playing either. Affinity, whether it's playing black, white, or none of the above, is still Affinity and in general runs similarly from version to version. I have no qualms with tweaking things here and there during my quest to find the best version of the deck.

What do you think about Affinity as a deck, and what would you change about my current list?

The Birds and the Squeeze

Hopefully this concept of having a main squeeze is fairly intuitive and relatable for all of you. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this article, as well as your own philosophies regarding having a primary deck for competitive play.

The match videos today are all going to feature Affinity, with the first two being from a while back and the third being very recent. I'm hoping this will illustrate the kind of experiences you might have playing the same deck for a long span of time against changing opponents.

As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy the videos! 


(Common Ground #59) R1 Affinity vs. Burn von jasonmoore228


(Common Ground #59) R2 Affinity vs. Izzet Fiend von jasonmoore228


(Common Ground #59) R3 Affinity vs... von jasonmoore228


(Common Ground #59) R3 Affinity vs... von jasonmoore228

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