Oops All Spells cheatsheet and sideboard guide

Dmitry Medvedev
06/09/2022 · 11 min read

Quick intro to the deck

Vintage  is all about degenerate turn one kills, they say.

You spend years proving it isn't.

It is.

As we've seen with Amulet in Modern , it can take a while to figure out what's truly broken in a format. These decks don't look like the ones we're used to, so we often write them off as yet another glass cannon. However, some of them turn out to be more resilient than others and eventually make their way to the top of the metagame. That's how Oops barely existed for two years, but once Cuikui  won a Challenge with it in July, it quickly got enough other top finishes to never be forgotten again.

How to play it and card choices

https://mtgdecks.net/Vintage/spy-combo-decklist-by-medvedev-1442663

Spy Combo. Builder: medvedev.MTGO - Magic Online
Top8 in MTGO Vintage Challenge #12464062 [32 Players] 27-Aug-2022
Maindeck (60)
Creature [17]
1  Thassa's Oracle   $12.99
1  Sphinx of the Steel Wind   $0.79
3  Grief   $22.99
4  Balustrade Spy   $0.25
4  Undercity Informer   $0.25
4  Narcomoeba   $0.49
Artifact [16]
1  Mox Pearl   $899.99
1  Mox Jet   $1,099.99
1  Mox Emerald   $899.99
1  Mana Vault   $47.99
1  Mana Crypt   $99.99
1  Lotus Petal   $9.49
1  Mox Ruby   $949.99
1  Black Lotus   $5,199.99
1  Mox Sapphire   $1,199.99
1  Sol Ring   $1.79
2  Goblin Charbelcher   $0.69
4  Chrome Mox   $79.99
Instant [14]
1  Ancestral Recall   $949.99
1  Mental Misstep   /P $6.99
4  Pact of Negation   $12.99
4  Force of Will   $129.99
4  Dark Ritual   $0.99
Sorcery [13]
1  Tinker   $1.49
1  Gitaxian Probe   /P $2.99
1  Dread Return   $0.69
1  Demonic Tutor   $44.99
1  Cabal Therapy   $1.29
4  Sea Gate Restoration   // $21.99
4  Agadeem's Awakening   // $21.99

Sideboard [15]
1  Lion's Eye Diamond   $619.99
2  Goblin Charbelcher   $0.69
4  Mindbreak Trap   $34.99
4  Chain of Vapor   $8.99
4  Force of Negation   $42.99
Buy this deck:

$343.86 Tix @cardhoarder   $8.60 / Week @cardhoarder   $13,078.62 @tcgplayer   $12,944.93 @cardkingdom  


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The basis of the deck is to use creatures like Spy or Informer to mill your deck and get a clump of Moebas. Then, you sacrifice the Moebas to Return an Oracle. To make the deck more consistent, you can also use Belcher along with Tinker to find it. Just be aware that Force of Will is popular in Vintage, so you'll need to be able to protect the combo with a free interaction of your own.

0.02 Tix
$0.25
$0.24

0.02 Tix
$0.25
$0.44

0.09 Tix
$0.49
$0.5

Flexible slots

There are five mainboard slots that are flex slots, namely the Sphinx, three Griefs, and the second Charbelcher.

Sphinx

0.13 Tix
$0.79
$0.99

Sphinx only shines against Hogaak decks, thus can be moved to the sideboard when those are on decline. Note that while Sphinx is both pitchable to FoW and Grief, it is also an artifact so doesn’t work well with Chrome Mox.

Extra Charbelcher

0.05 Tix
$2.29
$2.19

The second Charbelcher's purpose is a bit tricky, as it increases the number of keepable hands by making them worse. However, being the only card in the deck unable to produce any mana or pitch into anything, it's often completely useless with another wincon in your hand. It requires some math to decide if it's worth it, but so far, I would say it's acceptable to keep one copy for Tinker and move another to the sideboard.

Grief

12.2 Tix
$22.99
$17.56

As for Grief, the demand for black pitchable cards exceeds the supply, thus making it both not so bad and not so reliable. You normally want it imprinted on Chrome Mox but it’s better than nothing when you got no Force of Will or Pact. Note that while Unmask isn’t a strictly worse card than Grief, it’s extremely unlikely for self-discard to be more relevant than a body with Force of Negation/Fluster protection, so I don’t recommend such a replacement.

Candidate replacement

What you can try instead is one mana protection, just a copy or two so you don’t draw multiples. It makes sense to start with another Cabal Therapy. The second copy is a bit of a win-more as you rarely end up with five creatures in play but things change when you actually plan to hardcast it, it even turns that unlucky Narcomoeba into Pilfer! After that it’s a tough call between Thoughtseize and the stronger, but blue, Flusterstorm.

0.67 Tix
$1.79
$0.99

An alternative approach is to go up on mana so you avoid any non-free hate by winning on turn one more frequently. A high-variance option is to maindeck Lion’s Eye Diamond, a card that you normally board with more Belchers. It’s useless with Spy, passable with Informer activation and truly great when paired with Belcher, Demonic or Tinker. Just don’t forget to hold Ctrl to retain priority with the latter two.

2.68 Tix

You could also maindeck one copy of Chain of Vapor to get extra mana. Chain not only bounces opposing Leylines, but also has a secret mode of being a blue Dark Ritual when copied to multiple moxes.

0.09 Tix
$8.99
$7.9

Other popular cards to fill the flex slots are Vampiric Tutor, Bolas's Citadel and Bridge from Below. Vampiric is no doubt a great way to assemble a win on turn two, you just really want to turn one. Citadel only sounds exciting until you reveal Pact of Negation and Sea Gate Restoration. As for the Bridge, I have no idea, it doesn’t even help against Ballista.

0.23 Tix

0.02 Tix
$5.99
$6.03

0.16 Tix
$1.79
$1.5

Another option I’d like to explore is playing a full set of Oracles along with Demonic Consultation. 3BUU is hard to achieve but a post-Spy Oracle beats what you normally don’t, namely any amount of Needle, Leyline and Flusterstorm.

1.52 Tix
$12.99
$11.79

Opening hand tips: keep or mulligan?

It’s fine to be one mana or a pitch short when you're on the draw, but overall you should only keep hands able to win with no extra pieces drawn. Forget all you know about Ancestral Recall; here you pitch it to FoW unless you are down to four.

Be careful about the Narcomoebas you keep, remember you need two in your deck to combo with Spy and three with Informer but you want extras for Therapy and each removal your opponent might resolve.

Always scout your opponents’ recent tournament finishes, your mulligan and sideboarding decisions depend a lot on what they are likely to have. For example while you are happy to see an unprotected turn one kill against Hogaak that’s something you would never keep against blue.

Sideboard Guide

Chains, Negations and Belchers along with a Lion’s Eye Diamond  are somewhat mandatory but Mindbreak Trap likely isn’t. What might be a better idea is to replace one of them with a land for the mirror, probably City of Traitors  or Urza’s Saga , and cut the other three completely in order to fit something else.

Some reasonable options to consider are Flusterstorm, Hurkyl’s Recall, Slaughter Pact, Leyline of the Void and Chancellor of the Annex to bring on the play against anything blue with no LotV.

You could also replace your Negations with Leyline of Anticipation to win on turn zero. Both cards serve a similar role, just remember you cannot flash lands with Leyline.

Mirror

In the mirror you mill your opponent rather than yourself. That’s how I would side before this goes public:

  • out: 4 Narcomoeba, 1 Oracle, 1 Dread Return, 1 Sphinx, 1 Belcher or Therapy
  • in: 4 Mindbreak, 4 Force of Negation

However now when both players are likely to bring a land it makes sense to focus on winning with Belcher.

Hoogak

It’s a good matchup but you need to be careful. Consider keeping a land to play around Wasteland. Tinker into Sphinx unless you have mana to Belcher before they Vigor. Normally you want to start with a Chrome to get some value in case they Vigor with an imprint trigger on the stack, however it’s also possible to turn this weakness into a bluff opportunity.

E.g. you scout them to be on Hogaak and mulligan to six. You quickly play a land, mox, mox and then a Chrome with two cards left in hand. No matter how good they think you are they are still very likely to Vigor responding to imprint. Then you play another mox and a Belcher to win on turn two.

You normally expect them to bring 4 Leylines:

  • out: 4 Pact, 3 Grief
  • in: 4 Chain, 2 Belcher, 1 Lion’s Eye Diamond

Don’t board at all if they only have Surgicals and Mindbreaks. Play around Mindbreak if you can. Replace Griefs with Chains but keep the Pacts in if they are on some mix of instants and Leylines. Try your best to win before they get an Ouphe or active DRS.

Shops

On the play mulligan aggressively into a turn one kill with a FoW/Grief-protected turn two being passable but unexciting. Pact is a blank unless you counter Revoker for a Belcher upkeep activation.

  • out: 4 Pact, 1 Sphinx, 1 Misstep, 1 Probe
  • in: 2 Belcher, 1 Lion’s Eye Diamond, 4 Chain

It’s not so easy on the draw as you shouldn’t keep hands losing to a single sphere turn1. It means you need a FoW/FoN or at least a land to cast your moxes, but also both combo and an answer to their gravehate permanents.

  • out: 4 Pact, 1 Sphinx, 1 Probe, 2 Informer, 3 Grief
  • in: 2 Belcher, 1 Lion’s Eye Diamond, 4 Chain, 4 FoN

Sometimes they bring Mindbreak but it’s usually just a copy or two so I suggest you just hope they don’t draw it and you FoW it if they do.

Blue based decks

There’s not much difference between ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ blue decks as they all play control against Oops, that’s why you shouldn’t overload on FoN and Mindbreak against decks like Doomsday. It’s ok to bring a couple on the draw but you are still more likely to pitch them into FoW protecting your own combo rather than interrupting theirs.

You always start with this:

  • out: 1 Sphinx, 2 Informers (or 2 Spies versus Doomsday as it’s sometimes relevant to mill them on their turn)
  • in: 1 Lion’s Eye Diamond, 2 Belchers

Then you normally want to add 3-4 Chains for whatever Leyline, Lantern or Lavinia they might have. The only question is what to side out.

Cut an extra Informer or two if they are so heavy on gravehate that you feel unlikely to win via anything but Belcher. Cut a Moeba if they are also non-red so can’t use Pyroblast as removal.

Cut a Chrome or two against Vigor.

Cut a Probe if they have enough counters that you don’t need to check if they do.

On the draw cut a Tinker against anything with 4 Flusters. You might also cut a Demonic.

Cut the Griefs if you have no idea what else you could cut.

And as a final hint, the longer the game goes, the more likely you are to recover with Agadeem's Awakening. Please remember it’s not just a land.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading and see you in the Challenges!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Monored Anax primer & sideboard guide, Pioneer Monowhite Humans deck guide, Modern Mono White Hammer Primer & Sideboard guide, Pioneer Bant Humans In-depth & sideboard guide

Dmitry Medvedev
MODO grinder
Dmitry is a relentless MTGO grinder and weekly Challenges player with many top 8 under his belt. He is always looking for the next deck tech to have an edge over the metagame.

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Published: 2022-09-06 00:00:00

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