Beat Gush/Mentor: A Deckbuilders Challenge

Sorry if this is one too many threads about Gush/Mentor... but... no I'm not. If it's going to make up 40% of the metagame, then it might as well make up 40% of the threads on this sight too...

In order to facilitate us thinking about how to actually go about fighting the monster in some strategic way... I pose this thought experiment to you.

The challenge - If you knew you were going to enter an 8 man tourney tomorrow, and you knew for a stone cold fact that 5 of the 8 were going to be Gush mentor decks... what would you play? There's you, a bunch of Mentor, and one other unknown, but good deck. Your goal is to win the whole thing. Go. (Winner of the tourney gets a hypothetical (Foil!) Time Walk signed by Albert Einstein)

last edited by Topical_Island

I'd play the following 75:

2 Reflector Mage
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Noble Hierarch
3 Dark Confidant
4 Mana Confluence
4 City of Brass
4 Cavern of Souls
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
3 Mantis Rider
4 Scab-Clan Berserker
3 Containment Priest
4 Gemstone Mine
3 Qasali Pridemage
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland
3 Abrupt Decay
1 Chalice of the Void
3 Mayor of Avabruck
2 Grand Abolisher
1 Time Walk
SB: 3 Izzet Staticaster
SB: 3 Stony Silence
SB: 2 Wasteland
SB: 1 Abrupt Decay
SB: 1 Grand Abolisher
SB: 1 Containment Priest
SB: 1 Reflector Mage
SB: 3 Surgical Extraction

. . . And smash Mentor to a bloody pulp!

@Stormanimagus I really do love it... have you played this anywhere yet? When do you plan on it?

Here's my take... I stole your humans angle.

2 Bloodstained Mire
4 Polluted Delta
2 Bayou
2 Badlands
1 Underground Sea
1 Swamp
3 Cavern of Souls
2 Wasteland
1 Stripmine
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Black Lotus

4 Abrupt Decay
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
2 Bloodmoon
3 Chains of Mephistopheles
4 Dark Confidant
3 Gitaxian Probe
1 Dack Fayden
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Duress
4 Cabal Therapy
2 Extirpate
3 Young Pyromancer
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Prophetic Flamespeaker

1 Null Rod
1 Sphere of Resistance
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Ingot Chewer
2 Nature's Claim
4 Grafdigger's Cage

I'm curious about BUG with Root Maze/Chains/TitI/Decay/Illness ... and I'm curious about Prison Shops with Ensnaring Bridges ... and I'm curious about Grixis with Notion Thief/Sulfur Elemental

But if I were playing a tournament against 5 Gush Mentor decks and my goal was to maximize my odds of winning ... I'm pretty sure I would just play Gush Mentor.

TPS is pretty good against Mentor. TPS' strategy bottlenecks Mentor, so that they have to decide whether or not they want to leave up Counterspell or cast Mentor. I usually spend turn 1 Probing or Duressing them, which allows me to see their hand and lay out what I need to do to beat them. A turn 2 Defense Grid then seals the deal.

They try to go Fish post-board with Ethersworn Cannononist, Aegis of the Gods, etc. I bring in Sudden Shocks to deal with this and quite a few times actually I've just beat down with some Goblin tokens and a Simian Spirit Guide. Throw a Sudden Shock at their face and then cast a lethal Tendrils for storm 2.

@Brass-Man Tried Grixis with 4 duress, 3 MB sulfer, 2 Notion thief and Tinker/Blightsteel at the Comic Book Depot qualifier last month, and walked into a room full of oath, delver and dredge...Only 1 Mentor player. The following Depot event (which I could not attend) was apparently like 16 ppl 12 on mentor and the other 4 on dredge or storm. Hate decks are always a crap shoot.

I actually had the above situation come up recently, not exactly the same obviously, but it was a small tourney that was going to be mentor heavy.

4x Polluted Delta
1x Bloodstained Mire
4x Underground Sea
1x Badlands
1x Swamp
1x Library of Alexandria
1x Tolarian Academy
1x Necropotence
1x Yawgmoths Bargain
1x Ancestral Recall
2x Cabal Ritual
4x Dark Ritual
1x Brainstorm
1x Vampiric Tutor
1x Chains of Vapor
1x Hurkyls Recall

4x Gitaxian Probe
1x Ponder
1x Time Walk
4x Dark Petition
4x Duress
3x Cabal Therapy
1x Demonic Tutor
1x Yawgmoth's Will
1x Timetwister
1x Mind's Desire
1x Tendrils of Agony

1x Black Lotus
1x Lion's Eye Diamond
1x Mox Sapphire
1x Mox Jet
1x Mox Emerald
1x Mox Ruby
1x Mox Pearl
1x Mana Vault
1x Sol Ring
1x Mana Crypt
1x Lotus Petal
1x Defense Grid

2x Ancient Tomb
2x Dread of Night
1x Empty the Warrens
1x Chain of Vapor
1x Hurkyll's Recall
2x Sadistic Sacrament
3x Ravenous Trap
3x Defense Grid

@rikter The tournament already happened? What did you get paired against and how did you do?

@Brass-Man said:

@rikter The tournament already happened? What did you get paired against and how did you do?

Yep, tourney already happened. My SB was slightly different at the tourney...the 2x Dread of Nights were extra Ancient Tombs for shops, the Sacraments were Mindbreak Traps. If I knew mentor would be an even bigger percentage of the field I would likely have brought dread of nights though, especially since the mentor lists I would have expected to see were running Aegis of the Gods as hate. I mightve also gone harder on Chain of Vapor instead of Hurkyls, just because of hate cards like Stony Silence and Rest in Peace that are very popular here, and obviously aren't hit by Hurkyls.

I only wound up playing one mentor deck, plus dredge and a welder list. I was able to beat the dredge player, the welder matchup was something of a bye (guy was fairly new, playing a brew against a proper deck), and I beat the mentor deck. I didn't actually drop a game and won a Scalding Tarn + store credit for my troubles. Turned the credit into an Alpha Terror and a EN LEG Solkanar for Oldschool, plus a Monster Energy. Because I was the only X-0 I was exempted from a cut or playoff, so I only got in the three rounds.

I wish I had a bigger sample size, but my decision to bring Storm was based on the mentor players talking about how they thought Storm was not a favorable MU. I'd been hearing that chatter for awhile now and decided to sleeve it up to put it to the test.

yeah. Duress their draw spells -> combo them out somehow (even Marit Lage is effective!) is a very good strategy against Mentor. Unless they have Lotus -> Mentor on turn 1 they're naturally disadvantaged against that kind of strategy imo.

In my experience Storm Combo has had a lot of trouble beating Mentor decks ... but I suspect there's a few ways to build Storm and a few ways to build Mentor, and they probably line up in different ways.

I guess I'll just have to put up some results with humans so people will take it seriously. I tested yesterday vs. a friend at my local store and he won one game in about 5 of testing. Seriously guys, I know it may not be some people's play style, but when you pilot the Thalia, Berserker, Mantis Rider monstrosity it just feels like you are always ahead vs. Mentor. It like isn't even that close a lot of the time. I urge folks getting frustrated with Mentor to give the deck a shot and see what their results are. My guess is they won't be disappointed.


@Stormanimagus Again, I'm rooting for it, and I encourage you to enter tourneys and bust em up. I'm all for it man. Go get em.

@Brass-Man said:

In my experience Storm Combo has had a lot of trouble beating Mentor decks ... but I suspect there's a few ways to build Storm and a few ways to build Mentor, and they probably line up in different ways.

I'm still new to Storm, Jesse Martin if he's made the jump to the new site would be the best reference I could think of to talk about this MU, but Ive been playing Mentor for a while myself and have some thoughts.

Mentor is a deck that does a fair amount of dicking around, just cantripping and running through their deck. When the mentor actually hits the board, it can get ugly quick, but even a turn one mentor off of lotus followed by some cantrips might not be enough against storm. If storm can get their Therapies and Duress off to pick apart the permission, then it doesn't really matter how many monks are on the board.

I look at it this way, as the Storm player: 4 Misstep, 4 Force, 1-2 Flusterstorm. Whether mentor is your wincon, or oath of druids, or Delver or whatever, that's what I have to punch through in order to resolve my spells against pretty much any blue deck. In game 1, unless I am worried about getting lightning bolted or something, blue is blue, the counter package is what matters, and the rest is largely irrelevant.

It gets more interesting post board, because white gives access to some strong hate cards like Stony Silence, Aegis of the Gods and Rest in Peace. Traditionally, Hurkyls was the SB card that got loaded up on for Shops, but with the restriction of Lodestone and the further rise of Mentor and their non-artifact SB hate, maybe chain becomes more of a priority.

Part of the reason I like Storm against Mentor is because storm doesn't care about the Mentor or the Monks. Oath can run into trouble because the mentor and his flunkies can punch through Griselbrand and the 7 life you gained when he blocked, your Mentor and Monks outclass every threat in a delver list, but Storm just doesn't care so much.

@rikter I agree that Mentor-the-Card is not terribly impressive against storm. The "solid Gush control deck" is the part that seems to do the work in my experience. But like I said, I expect there are measures and countermeasures for specific Storm lists to beat specific Mentor lists, and vice versa

@Brass-Man said:

@rikter I agree that Mentor-the-Card is not terribly impressive against storm. The "solid Gush control deck" is the part that seems to do the work in my experience. But like I said, I expect there are measures and countermeasures for specific Storm lists to beat specific Mentor lists, and vice versa

Ah, I see, I think. Does the following summarize sort of what you were thinking: having a Gush in hand with some counter magic makes it a little more difficult for storm to go off with impunity, because my first targets for discard are going to be Force/Misstep/Fluster, but if he has some combination of those plus Gush, he can use the Gush at instant speed at the 'critical moment' for storm to try and hail mary into an answer at a point in time where my sorcery speed discard protection can't touch him?

@rikter Mostly I've just found that the Gush player can draw counters and disruption faster and more consistently than the Storm player can draw discard. Of course this depends on what sort of counters and disruption the Gush player is running, and what kind of counter-disruption the Storm player is on.


I don't think that's true. I mean once they start chaining draw spells together then yeah it's pretty difficult but Gush needs two islands in play, and if they Gush on turn 2 then good luck paying for Defense Grid. I've found Storm to be a little faster than how long it takes Mentor to get "going".

Sometimes Mentor has a god hand and sometimes Storm has all mana sources and one threat. That's just the nature of the format though. In most regular games, Storm is pretty good vs. Mentor because Mentor is just bottlenecked. If they played Delvers/Pyromancers instead, I suspect there would be less of a bottleneck.

I played Storm for 10 years. Gush has always been a hard matchup. But the Mentor version is actually the easiest to beat out of all the Gush decks in history of Vintage.

last edited by Guest

@shawnthehero Quite a claim

Bant Hatebears might have a chance at fighting gush/mentor decks.

3 Gaddock Teeg
4 Meddling Mage
3 Thalia
3 Qasali Pridemage
4 noble hierarch
1 Trygon
1 Clique

1 ancestral recall
1 brainstorm
2 flusterstorm
2 spell pierce
4 mental misstep
3 swords to plowshares
1 time walk
2 stony silence
2 sylvan library
1 lotus
3 on-color moxen

4 misty
3 heath
1 savannah
2 tundra
3 trops
4 wasteland
1 strip mine

2 aegis of the gods
3 containment priest
1 trogon
3 nature’s claim
2 ravenous trap
1 engineered explosives
1 forest

Is what I'm thinking of testing. Gaddock Teeg shuts off gush/dig/cruise/JTMS/Force basically most of the payoff cards for playing gush strategies. With these decks basically centered around winning with mentor, meddling mage on mentor is a good way to slow/stop the mentors from even showing up. Even with thalia, I like some countermagic in the form of misstep, pierce and fluster to protect these creatures. I like that this deck also looks to be setup nicely against storm as well.

Of course if you want to play gush, but have an edge against mentor you could play something like this....

4 young pyro
3 sulfur elemental
2 snapcaster

1 ancestral recall
1 brainstorm
1 dig
1 cruise
4 gush
4 preordain
1 ponder
1 time walk
2 bolt
4 force of will
4 misstep
2 flusterstorm
1 pyroblast
1 wear/tear
1 lotus
1 mox ruby
1 mox sapphire
1 stony silence
2 dack fayden

1 library of alexandria
8 fetches
3 volcs
2 tundras
1 island

3 containment priest
4 chewer
1 sulfur elemental
1 pyroblast
1 ravenous trap
3 cage
1 karakas
1 mountain

sulfur elemental is probably the best answer to mentor, but is pretty narrow. But when the meta is 40% mentor, these narrow answers start to look a lot better.

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