Through the Looking Glass: 8-Cast with Dmitriy Butakov

Special Guest

A few words on Dmitriy Butakov:

(Twitter: @butakov_mtg | MTGO:butakov)

Dmitriy Butakov is a pro Magic player and two-time MOCS champion based out of Siberia. A long-time MTGO grinder, Dmitriy has four Legacy Challenge T8s this year, all on 8-Cast.

What main deck tools does 8-Cast have to interact with The EPIC Storm? Are these tools countermagic, prison/lock pieces, or both?

While the deck runs [[Force of Will]], our best answer is the good old [[Chalice of the Void]], ideally on the play.

How does [[Urza’s Saga]] impact the matchup with The EPIC Storm? Which Saga targets (e.g., [[Haywire Mite]], [[Pithing Needle]], etc.) tend to be the most relevant in the matchup?

None of our usual main deck options are great in the matchup. [[Soul-Guide Lantern]] is great in the ANT matchup vs. [[Cabal Ritual]] and [[Past in Flames]]. Against TES, [[Haywire Mite]] is better than nothing, and [[Pithing Needle]] is useful against [[Wishclaw Talisman]].

Against an unknown opponent, does 8-Cast tend to lean more heavily into aggressive starting hands or those relying on a lock piece of some kind (e.g., turn-one [[Chalice of the Void]] on 1)?

My position is that turn-one [[Chalice of the Void]] is the way you want to start every game. I actually think this is an issue for current builds of 8-Cast, as the number of the decks suffering from [[Chalice of the Void]] has decreased lately, so this “MVP” play is not always so “MVP” anymore.

How do you identify that your opponent is playing combo? What key indicators would tip you off to The EPIC Storm, and how will this impact your game plan?

Well, if the blue player has no [[Delver of Secrets]] by turn 2-3, it’s probably time to prepare your counterspells.

While [[Chalice of the Void]] on zero can be quite effective against The EPIC Storm. Why, if ever, would the 8-Cast pilot deploy a [[Chalice of the Void]] on zero, and should the TES pilot ever be playing around this possibility (i.e., by deploying 0-drop artifacts earlier than necessary, at the cost of additional potential storm count on a future turn)?

There are certain scenarios with [[Sai, Master Thopterist]] when 8-Cast can deploy its whole starting hand on turn one, and top it with [[Chalice of the Void]] for zero, but that works only on the play, meaning no decision making for Storm. Apart from that situation, I’d rather stick to [[Chalice of the Void]] for one. I don’t think the Storm player should play around [[Chalice of the Void]] on zero unless it’s being obviously telegraphed.

What is 8-Cast’s sideboard plan against The EPIC Storm? What kind of additional disruption should we expect?

8-Cast preys on non-combo decks, so we don’t board in anything major for The EPIC Storm. We have access to some graveyard hate and a bit more countermagic. In game one, our plan is to deploy and protect a [[Chalice of the Void]].

Post-board, what kinds of opening hands are you looking for? Will you keep a hand on the draw without a [[Force of Will]] or [[Force of Negation]]? On the play, will you keep a hand without a force effect if you have access to a turn 1 [[Chalice of the Void]]?

Generally, there are two types of hands I’d like to keep against a matchup like this one, which I find to be unfavored: either a hand that relies on [[Chalice of the Void]] or a hand that can snowball quickly. 8-Cast is racing against time vs. combo, and a mediocre hand with a single copy of [[Force of Will]] just won’t cut it.

Post-board, should The EPIC Storm prioritize keeping slower hands with interaction (like [[Veil of Summer]], or the three copies of [[Thoughtseize]] we bring in), or hands that win as quickly as possible to try and go under a turn-one Chalice? How does this differ on the play vs. on the draw?

I’m no expert on The EPIC Storm, so I’d rather not speculate on exactly which hands you should keep. What I will say is that you always need to consider how your hand will play around [[Chalice of the Void]], if at all.

Historically, 8-Cast has typically run 3-4 copies of [[Force of Negation]] in the sideboard, potentially alongside copies of [[Flusterstorm]], [[Hydroblast]], and/or [[Metallic Rebuke]]. Some recent Challenge or Prelim-placing lists (including your most recent challenge-placing list, which cut [[Force of Negation]] entirely for three copies of [[Hydroblast]]) appear to have trimmed on this additional sideboard countermagic package. Is this an accurate read of the evolution of the deck, and if so, what has shifted in the meta to encourage this change? Do you expect this shift to less sideboard countermagic to be a permanent one?

[[Force of Will]] main deck is a necessary evil, but I don’t like countermagic in 8-Cast as it’s too resource consuming against non-combo decks. Additionally, combo decks will still have the upper hand no matter how many [[Force of Will]] effects you play. [[Flusterstorm]] is ok, but I was more focused on winning matchups the deck actually is supposed to win rather than trying to shore up fast combo matchups I view as unfavored.

As the [[Painter’s Servant]] archetype rises in popularity, some “Blue Painter” shells have emerged that incorporate many elements of traditional 8-Cast alongside the [[Painter’s Servant]] + [[Grindstone]] combo kill. In your experience, what are the primary similarities and differences between these two shells? Do they run the same interaction / lock pieces (i.e., [[Force of Will]] + [[Chalice of the Void]])?

I’ve never played Blue Painter myself, but it seems more disconnected than either Red Painter or 8-Cast. You lose [[Chalice of the Void]], one of 8-Cast’s best cards, you’re less explosive to combo off than Red Painter (no [[Simian Spirit Guide]] or [[City of Traitors]]), and you lose many of the best midrange tools of both decks (like [[Sai, Master Thopterist]] and [[Phyrexian Dragon Engine]]).

What card in The EPIC Storm is most impactful against 8-Cast? What card in 8-Cast tends to be most impactful against The EPIC Storm?

I think The EPIC Storm’s entire primary game plan is impactful against 8-Cast as you’re presenting a very fast clock that we have to answer. As I’ve mentioned, [[Chalice of the Void]] (supported by countermagic) is our most effective weapon in this matchup.

What is the biggest mistake you see The EPIC Storm pilots make against 8-Cast? What is the biggest mistake you see 8-Cast pilots make against The EPIC Storm?

The early game – particularly the first three turns – feel like they’re in The EPIC Storm’s favor. The most common mistake I’ve seen from Storm pilots is recklessly rushing into a [[Force of Will]]. On my end, keeping slow hands with no [[Chalice of the Void]] is the worst mistake I’ve repeatedly made.

I want to give a big thank you to Dmitriy Butakov for coming on Through the Looking Glass, and for his insight on the 8-Cast matchup.

Until next time – let’s count to ten.