My friend Ryan loves Gifts Ungiven, I mean really loves it.

Ryan “Hipsters Ungiven” Salter

The sort of love that should only be reserved between two consenting adults.

We used to work together and he’d always talk about his latest Gifts Brew.

Ryan – How about Gifts with x or y, how about with this or that. Would you? Could you in deck? Would you could in a set?

He was like a MTG Dr Seuss.

Anyway, I’d always shoot the lists down for one (good) reason or another.

Me – Oh the mana base is awful…
It won’t be good enough against a Tier 1 deck….
Don’t you want to win….

and so on….

Why don’t you try playing something else? You always play Gifts, try Affinity or Grixis Twin, you might like it.

Ryan – nah, so this Gifts list I’ve been brewing….

and so on.

Let’s leave Ryan for a minute to mumble about Gifts.

I really shouldn’t drink on a school night.

We had a work treasure hunt around parts round town and we ended up sinking a load of drinks at The Bavarian Beer House – which is exactly what it says on the tin.

Numerous delicious German beers on tap, if your local watering hole has any brews from the Paulaner Brewery, I’d highly recommend them. Erdinger is also a very easy beer to drink.

Things were going swimmingly, conversation and drinks were flowing then the staff suggested we have a pornobrause. If you decide to look it up on Google some less than savory images may pop up. Piqued your interest? What is it you say? Well it is obviously a Vodka shot with a packet of flavoured Sherbert on the side.

Step 1) Pick a Sherbert Flavour (Lemon Sherbert obvs).
Step 2) Pour it carefully into your mouth. Don’t swallow (insert witty remark).
Step 3) Feel the fizz for a couple of seconds.
Step 4) Knock back that Vodka, swirl it around then swallow.
Step 5) Repeat Steps 1-4.

Nothing like good ol' responsible drinking.
Nothing like good ol’ responsible drinking.

After reading that you may be feeling either disgust or arousal. It could be both. You may be disgusted at how aroused you are. Remember it is called a pornobrause. Anyhow, I felt both after hearing the description.

Sensible Me was first to react: Shots on a school night? Probably not the best idea. You know what happens when you try crazy stuff like this. You must be the consummate professional for your clients tomorrow…

Non-Sensible Me soon took over though and ended up 2:0.

Ok, I’ll do one…

Imagine your playing Twin, you’ve got the combo and your opponent taps out. That’s how good it tasted.

One soon became Three.

The Hawk Nest
The Hawk Nest

After that bout of madness we went to another pub before I went to the pub to meet the rest of the Hawks.

Playing Magic whilst drunk is a real experience. A bad one. Focusing is hard. Calculating your outs, assessing board states, trying to bluff… Bloody hard when you’ve had one too many pornobrauses.

As I was sat at my desk the next day trying as best as I could to nurse a hangover, I got the idea for this article.

I used to love Blue Control Decks, I mean really love Blue Control Decks. The sort of love that should be reserved between two consenting adults.

I used to only play Blue Control decks. I was damn stubborn about it. Eveything had to have Snapcaster Mages and Cryptic Commands. Other decks we’re beneath me. Burn? For nubs only. Affinity? A silly deck, always gets beaten post sideboard.

I’d always get crushed by Jund though. I tried all sorts of secret tech against it and read up nearly all I could about it. Nothing seemed to work. So I decided to build it.  Shots Non blue decks on a school night? Probably not the best idea. You know what happens when you try crazy stuff like this….

What was it like on the other side? I’ve heard those Dark Confidants are pretty good. I traded with Craig for a set (what a sucker). He cleaned out my folder though it was worth it. I remember walking back home thinking what it would be like to finally play Jund. I was thinking it was going to be good. I just needed those Tarmogoyfs.

Greatness at any cost
Greatness at any cost.

I started on Jund Loam then went full Jund when I traded everything in again. Playing Jund was so different. It taught me the importance of being proactive and how to board correctly. This was something I never really got from sticking to Blue Control decks.

The more I learned the more I loved Modern. Recently I’ve been flitting between Tron and Affinity, here’s what I’ve learned from them:


  • How to assess a board state and opponent to determine the best line – When to go all in with Ravager? When to start on the poison plan (Dan has a done a great article on lines – check it out!).
  • Resource Management – When you play with Affinity both turns and resources can be very limited – What is the most efficient way to dump this hand. How can I maximize damage this turn?
  • Free Wins


  • Sequencing and Odds – People say I run good with this deck. I put this down to correctly using your Chromatics and Ancient Stirrings. When you cast what Stirrings what do you get? The piece you need? Usually yes 🙂 but also so much more. The Tron pieces can be few and far between. Pay attention to what you bottom and you’ll have a better idea of the odds you’ll draw what you need. Couple this with extra digging with your Chromatics and shuffles from a Sylvan Scrying and the incremental gains will make you look like a Tron God.
Natural Tron Bitches.
               Tron assembled bitches.

Great! Thanks for the insight!

Hold up!

Bruce Lee once said, knowing is not enough, you must also apply. Reading up on certain decks or playing against these decks is one thing though until you have Affinity cards in your hand, you can’t quite appreciate the feeling of going all in with a Ravager.

I was in the Semi Finals at PPTQ Bristol playing Affinity against Bloom Aficionado, Stuart Johnson. There was a game where I was pretty deep in the tank. It could have gone either way so I was pretty worried about which line to take. Perhaps if he had fully appreciated this he could have pulled off a mind trick which could have swung the game.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to try new decks. You can still stick to your weapon of choice at the end of the day though trying out different play styles may mean your game improves. It has with mine. Having a real understanding of how other decks operate and also how you need think, feel and play that deck gives you a valuable insight and a fresh perspective. If that gives you that slight edge then it’s all worth it.

Borrow a friend’s Twin deck and take it for a spin. Be analytical. What’s it like from the other side of the table? How do you assess your decision trees? When do you know when to go off?
Then next time you play against Twin you can bear these points in mind and use them to your advantage.

Let’s get back to Ryan, I’m sure he’s still talking about Gifts..

Ryan – Blah blah blah Gifts Ungiven blah blah blah.

Me – Ok Ryan what about Gifts in Grixis Control. End of Turn Gifts get Kolaghan’s Command, Snapcaster Mage, Clique and Cryptic Command.

That shut him up.

Ryan – Sounds pretty sexy…

Me – All aboard the gravy train. Next stop value town. Choo Choo!

Ryan – Grixis Gifts?

Me – GG.

We went straight back to my desk and onto a popular MTG vending site.

It’s like the pornobrause, try something new and you may discover something wonderful, like how to avoid hangovers at work. If you don’t really experience it, you’ll never really learn from it.

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