Friday, May 6, 2016

Mentor - new negative player experience?

In the last Power Nine Challenge almost 48% of the metagame was Gush decks out of which about 45% were Mentor decks. Shops deck was around 5% of the metagame.

In the previous Dailies I played I noticed that what seemed to be half of the players were on Mentor and I started to wonder how to attack this deck archetype. I wasn't the only one doing that. I knew that the best approach would be to change a deck, but changing a deck for me is more problematic than for other players since I don't have much experience with other decks.

I was capable to usually win against Mentor players though so I only added Sudden Shocks, Pyroblasts and Flusterstorm in my deck. But this does not seem to be enough since my matchup with Mentor is not that good (from Delver perspective).

So far players are trying to beat Mentor with the decks they originally played but don't know how to fight efficiently against this deck or they simply switch to Mentor because if you can't fight it, it's better to join it. While some players adapted to Mentor meta it also hit my deck since there was quite some hate against white creatures/blue creatures and cards to hamper the blue draw engine that I also use. This meant another reason to switch decks.

Some people started playing cards like Illness in the Ranks, Dread of Night and Virulent Plague and I was witness to some not very nice situations in which some Vintage players were telling other players that they are stupid for playing such cards because they don't do anything against Mentor. They are right about these cards not being able to stop the deck itself but I was very surprised about the lack of respect. I thought that the Vintage community is supposedly the most welcoming one but after this experience I don't want to be part of it. Anyway some of these sideboard cards can possible stop Mentor tokens but the cards will still keep Mentor in play. That alone is a problem. Have you ever been beaten by a single Monk? No? I was. Many times and that is the sole reason I wouldn't want to run such cards. I won't be telling anyone not to play those cards though. If they work for you and you have a plan how to beat the deck just do it. On the other hand if someone is on some Dragonlord Mentor you need to deal with that as well. And Mentor decks can go through their whole deck in a single game.

Against such decks I usually side in Containment Priests and with the help of a red 2/1 and Insectile Abberation I try to deal those 20 damage. In such environment Containment Priest even though being a white creature shone. It was the MVP of the deck for some reason.

Containment Priest though does not really help much against Mentor. The proper way how to fight Mentor is to attack its draw engine or just go past it. Being better at drawing cards is rather difficult so there has to be another way how to do so. So you either are faster (thus being the aggressor) or do something BIG (Oath). You could also go with MUD deck with all the Sphere effects in the world (Uba Mask comes to mind, that's a card I seriously hated) or hatebears. Hell, any deck running Erayo can possibly work (and Meddling Mage does not seem bad either)! Till the last P9C I was full of hope that the field would change for the tournament since I enjoyed all those players' brews I encountered. But then going through the tournament was a pain. Few people wrote to me that they did not participate due to expecting many Mentor decks. I playing against 5 Gush decks could understand. When I saw the results and saw that almost half of the meta was on Mentor I became scared. What happened? Some players stopped playing Vintage just to wait this period out and some decided to switch to Mentor to have a chance. But where were all those cool decks I saw prior to P9C? Even playing against a whole field of Vintage Collected Company seemed better than this...

I do not like Mentor meta but since the deck in general does not really fare that well I expect this to subside soon. What I fear though is that there will be more creature based strategies in Vintage since many players are trying them. That is something I really don't want to see. I started playing Vintage so I could avoid never ending stream of creatures. I expected Affinity and Hatebears at the tournament but no, it was a Gushfest (and clickfest since we all had to target several Flusterstorm copies per game).

Playing Mentor mirror is really horrible. Any mirror is, but this one twice as much. After playing against Mentor after Mentor the card I actually came to hate was Gush and Time Walk. I understand that Time Walk is a restricted card but still this (apart from Gush) was the card that was winning the games. It was infuriating.

I'm not fond of Mentor mirrors or Delver vs Mentor matchup so for a while now I'm trying to figure out how to play a certain build of Blue Moon instead. Because I need to play a deck that I enjoy (matchups). And so far I have to say that I like the deck. And playing against Mentor with Blue Moon is not such a nightmare! Since many people are brewing or trying different kind of decks this deck has better chances against such decks - it has more possibilities.

Blood Moon is a card that actually hits Mentor hard as well. But it is not an auto-win either. It certainly is nice to see your opponents play Gush for 5 mana and not be able to chain spells. It also makes it very difficult to cast Mentor. There is still Mox Pearl, Black Lotus and sometimes Lotus Petal in their deck. It happened to me that after my Blood Moon resolved I saw my opponent top deck Black Lotus, play Mentor and win the game in the following few turns because I was unable to find Chandra, Rolling Earthquake, Engineered Explosives or Sudden Shock. Rolling Earthquake is a nice addition. Not only it can kill all creatures in play but can also hit an annoying planeswalker.