For the past two weeks I took up the task of trying to brew the best White Weenie deck in Standard.
Last week I discussed my first work in progress entitled ‘Boros Champions.' The basis for the deck was to take advantage of the powerful synergy between Ajani, Caller of the Pride and Gideon, Champion of Justice. An uncharacteristically high number of players who played the deck after reading the article have reported positive results with it.
I have since continued tuning the Boros Champions list while simultaneously working on three other decks that have shown early promise. Today I would like to share these three decks with you, along with the changes I have made to Boros Champions since last week. Each deck is tournament ready in its current form, though the discussion following each deck points out potential ways for improving or at least customizing the deck as you see fit.
First let's discuss the changes to Boros Champions:
Initial testing showed that the deck had strong game against Midrange (American, Jund) and Control (Esper, Bant) decks but was weaker to the hyper aggressive (Jund Aggro, Naya Blitz) decks. So I trimmed down to two of each Planeswalker main since they were a bit too slow and clunky in the aggro matchups. Further testing has shown that the aggro matchup is not as bad as I had thought and that removing 33% of the Planeswalkers really hurt the slower matchups where games would often come down to who could stick the last big threat. So I moved those back to the main.
Truefire Paladin has proven to be decent-but-not-terribly-impressive. Originally I wanted him mainly for his synergy with Ajani, Caller of the Pride, allowing us to attack for 14 in the air as early as turn four. In testing though, this scenario would rarely come up. Usually he was just an awkwardly-costed Silvercoat Lion that would cause us to waste a turn pumping mana into him just to get blown out by a cheap instant speed removal spell or Giant Growth. Knight of Glory proved to be more impactful at allowing our other creatures to attack past Augur of Bolas and such. This also allowed us to cut a Mountain for a Plains, which helps Precinct Captain and our one-drops.
By adding the two Planeswalkers back into the main, this freed up a couple sideboard slots. I used those slots to increase the number of Boros Charms from one to three. Boros Charm is a great answer to Bonfire of the Damned, overloaded Mizzium Mortars, Supreme Verdict, Planar Cleansing, and generally most cards that midrange or control opponents will use to fight us. Since these have been by far the types of cards that have led to the most number of losses, Boros Charm is definitely worth the extra slots. It can also finish games or kill a Planeswalker when needed, and at times it can give Gideon double strike. Boros Charm is basically the red version of Duress, serving many of the same functions.
While Boros Champions had been testing well, I wanted to experiment with an Orzhov version to see if it was potentially better. Long story short, it wasn't, but throughout the experimentation process I discovered that an Orzhov Tokens shell is powerful and worth pursuing, mostly because of Lingering Souls, Duress, Orzhov Charm, Vault of the Archangel, and Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. It also has the power to sideboard into many of the same elements that comprise Boros Champions.
The one recent find that has been more or less a Breakthrough in my testing is Duress. Between all these White Weenie decks, board sweepers (especially the red one-sided versions) have been my primary bane. Sphinx's Revelation has also been rather problematic, allowing the opponent to Rebuild from an otherwise losing board position. Duress solves all of these problems with an added benefit of allowing us to see exactly what the opponent is up to and to then make plays based on this knowledge. I had almost forgotten just how great that card is. It has the problem that all discard spells have of not being able to do anything about the top of the opponent's library, but for once it actually has an advantage over countermagic in that it can handle Supreme Verdict. Duress is probably the most underplayed card in Standard right now. It might actually be one of the Top 10 cards in the format. Thanks to whoever reminded me in the chat that Duress is Standard legal.
While the Orzhov Tokens deck was putting up decent numbers in testing, I kept feeling like I wanted to try out Snapcaster Mage and Moorland Haunt. It was also suggested to me to try out Geist of Saint Traft, and that sounded pretty appealing too.
After some testing, this is where I'm at with Esper Tokens:
While I like where Esper Tokens is going, the reason I have not yet had time to pursue it further is because I had a bit of a revelation when reflecting on my earlier testing. In order to support all the black cards in Orzhov Tokens, the deck is forced to run twelve black-producing lands. And since Boros Reckoner (and to a lesser extent Precinct Captain) get significantly worse with each non-white land in the deck, this led me to include Orzhov Guildgates in multiples. While I am not thrilled about this concession, it was a necessary one. Unless…
The biggest question is why to play this deck over The Aristocrats deck? This deck takes a more token-based them as opposed to a sacrifice theme. Instead of primarily utilizing Doomed Traveler and Lingering Souls as Aristocrat fodder, our Spirit Tokens are enhanced by Intangible Virtue and Mikaeus, the Lunarch and become our primary win conditions. I haven't tested enough to know for certain which shell is better, but my intuition is that they are close in power level and just different. And being different often translates to better results because the opponent won't know exactly what's going on (and will likely think you are The Aristocrats deck). This could lead to situations such as an opponent not playing around Duress, Intangible Virtue, or the second Restoration Angel, or allowing themselves to fall to three life without realizing we have Searing Spear.
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While I'm not confident the shell is definitely better, I am confident that having Duress and Searing Spear is where I would rather be, as opposed to not having them. Duress is great for many of the same reasons already stated in the Orzhov Tokens discussion, and Searing Spear is great for the reasons just discussed two paragraphs ago. It's possible that Gather the Townsfolk and Intangible Virtue are better off as Cartel Aristocrats, that some of our four-drops are better as Falkenrath Aristocrats, and that Mikaeus, the Lunarch is better as Zealous Conscripts or whatever. These things I'm not sure of yet, but I'm inclined to believe this deck is the better place to be than The Aristocrats right now.
Lastly, some number of Blasphemous Acts should probably be in the 75. The ability to deal 13 or 26 damage with Boros Reckoners is pretty powerful, especially considering the fact that our token-producing ability allows us to accelerate into it rather quickly. I haven't tested with it yet, though I plan to do so later this week on the stream. Oh yeah, did I mention I started streaming? I stream using twitch.tv/nacatls4life. So far I've only been playing Standard and I've been using it to test these White Weenie brews for the article. You can watch archived videos of me playing the decks and explaining my decisions. This should help to show how to play (and sometimes how not to play) the decks.
@Nacatls4Life on both twitter and Twitch.tv
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