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The Spicy Draft Cards of...Standard?
Feature Article from Jackie Lee
Jackie Lee
3/8/2013 10:00:00 AM
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Now that the GP schedule has more or less lifted until Pittsburgh, I get to enjoy a few weeks off. So I thought I would spend them learning about the changing Standard format, which I've found much more interesting since the Pro Tour.

The Gold TCGplayer MaxPoint tournament that took place in Jacksonville, Florida this weekend might give you some idea of what to expect from the regional metagame of the upcoming Diamond 5k in Orlando. Smaller tournaments like these are also nice to look at because the decklists tend to be a little scrappier, which can be more interesting than revisiting the same, more proven builds over and over. Depending on your goals, this could yield yet-untried tech, or simply a deck you'll have more fun taking to FNM.

Naya Humans won the tournament, with a Top 8 that includes Jund Midrange, Wolf Run Bant, and Boros Aggro. No real surprises so far.

I initially passed over Jeff Arnot's second-placing deck thinking it might just be “The Aristocrats.” However, virtually the only cards it has in common with Sam Black's Pro Tour-winning decklist are the aforementioned aristocrats, Cartel and Falkenrath. This version is essentially a Rakdos “Zombies” list, whose value from sacrifices is generated by Blood Artist.

BWR Midrange by Jeff Arnot
Finished 2nd Place at Standard Gold TCQ - Jacksonville, FL - 3/2/13
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Blood Artist
4 Cartel Aristocrat
3 Diregraf Ghoul
3 Falkenrath Aristocrat
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Gravecrawler
4 Hellrider
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Thundermaw Hellkite
Creatures [29]
1 Dreadbore
3 Lingering Souls
1 Orzhov Charm
3 Tragic Slip
Spells [8]
4 Blood Crypt
3 Clifftop Retreat
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Godless Shrine
3 Isolated Chapel
3 Sacred Foundry
2 Swamp (260)
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


2 Appetite for Brains
1 Burning Oil
3 Knight of Infamy
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Purify the Grave
1 Rakdos's Return
2 Volcanic Strength
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Hellrider ensures that the Gravecrawlers and Lingering Souls tokens do work after turn four, and the five-drop slot is filled out by a pair of Thundermaw Hellkites, in the traditional fashion.

Oh, and an Obzedat. Because we are in Ravnica, y'all.

While it's cool to see Zombies doing well in an environment that has functional Pillar of Flames (unlike the Magic Online Championship Series this weekend), this deck seeks to replicate the no-exile bug in real life by simply playing a bunch of sacrifice outlets.

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For those of who may have been harmed by the MOCS bug this weekend, here's something my mother used to tell me to help me fall asleep at night: Magic Online is our last line of defense against the Borg.

When they inevitably find and invade our world, one of the first things they're going to do is download all of our stuff, looking for technology that can improve their systems. When they get to Magic Online, they'll get the computer version of food poisoning, which should give us time to escape, or destroy them, or whatever.

The next interesting deck to note is Jeff Miller's Esper Tokens list.

Esper Tokens by Jeff Miller
Finished 3rd - 4th Place at Standard Gold TCQ - Jacksonville, FL - 3/2/13
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Drogskol Captain
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Gloom Surgeon
2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
Creatures [18]
3 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Planeswalkers [3]
3 Azorius Charm
3 Intangible Virtue
4 Lingering Souls
3 Midnight Haunting
2 Orzhov Charm
Spells [15]
2 Drowned Catacomb
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Isolated Chapel
1 Moorland Haunt
2 Vault of the Archangel
3 Watery Grave
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


1 Curse of Death's Hold
2 Dispel
2 Human Frailty
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Negate
1 Paraselene
2 Psychic Spiral
2 Rest in Peace
2 Tragic Slip
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


For a long time, Drogskol Captain wasn't good enough because Restoration Angel had so completely warped the format. Following Gatecrash, the format has gotten a lot faster. Now, just one Intangible Virtue or Drogskol Captain means your Spirits are big enough to trade with a Flinthoof Boar in a double-block. Gloom Surgeon can even block to kill a Boros Reckoner with the help of the good captain, no first striking about it. And what are they going to shoot with the damage? You? A quarter of a Lingering Souls? If it were me, I'd want to fit in the fourth Intangible Virtue.

Two BUG Aggro lists in the same Top 8 is certainly noteworthy. Both of them play Duskmantle Seer, and it's good to see this guy getting a day in the sun.

Well, since he's a vampire, he probably shouldn't be in the sun. But I'm not really an expert.

BUG Aggro by Blake Howe
Finished 5th - 8th Place at Standard Gold TCQ - Jacksonville, FL - 3/2/13
Main Deck
Sideboard
2 Deathrite Shaman
4 Dreg Mangler
2 Duskmantle Seer
1 Evil Twin
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Lotleth Troll
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Vampire Nighthawk
Creatures [21]
1 Garruk Relentless
Planeswalkers [1]
1 ?
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Essence Scatter
2 Psychic Strike
3 Rancor
1 Simic Charm
2 Tragic Slip
1 Unsummon
2 Victim of Night
Spells [15]
4 Breeding Pool
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Hinterland Harbor
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Swamp (260)
4 Watery Grave
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


1 Abrupt Decay
1 Aetherize
2 Beckon Apparition
2 Dimir Charm
2 Duress
1 Evil Twin
2 Glaring Spotlight
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Mystic Genesis
2 Negate
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


When I look at Blake Howe's list, I'm not even really sure what I'm looking at. It's full of tons of one- and two-ofs, which I suppose make more sense given that Snapcaster Mage wants a diverse selection of spells in the graveyard. And then it's got this maindeck Evil Twin, which is particularly good with undying creatures like Geralf's Messenger.

Basically, this deck looks like it has a lot of possible interactions, which likely makes it fun to play. I'm not sure about some elements, like the single Garruk Relentless, but every game would probably be different and interesting.

BUG Aggro by Chad Rosenberg
Finished 5th - 8th Place at Standard Gold TCQ - Jacksonville, FL - 3/2/13
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Dreg Mangler
3 Duskmantle Seer
3 Experiment One
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Strangleroot Geist
4 Young Wolf
4 Zameck Guildmage
Creatures [24]
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Rancor
2 Simic Charm
3 Spell Rupture
2 Tragic Slip
Spells [13]
4 Breeding Pool
2 Drowned Catacomb
3 Forest (270)
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Watery Grave
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


2 Abrupt Decay
1 Aetherize
3 Deathrite Shaman
2 Dispel
2 Downpour
3 Duress
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Ultimate Price
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Chad Roseberg's take on BUG Aggro is much more straightforward: Zameck Guildmage and friends! Hooray!

Undying and the new Simic Guildmage is a cool idea that doesn't really seem Constructed-viable, but I suspect that I'd have to see it in action to be able to make a judgment. The rest of the deck is simply a series of cheap, aggressive bodies and the Aggro-Control elements of Snapcaster plus support spells. Spell Rupture is a cute inclusion, which approximates Mana Leak most of the time.

The average casting cost is also much lower in this version, making the Duskmantle Seer much more likely to kill your opponent than you. Even in the late game, when your Young Wolf doesn't look too hot without a guildmage, it's still costing you less life to draw than your opponent's Restoration Angel.

Overall, this seems like another fun list that's more finely tuned to aggression. (Grizzly bears aside.) I'm a little surprised to find Lotleth Troll absent though, since there's so much capability for drawing creatures that are irrelevant in the late game.


Meanwhile, in Vegas...

Another, larger tournament was also taking place this week, at the SCG Open in Las Vegas.

Devyn March's winning maindeck is a card different from Gerry T's list from the Top 8 of Pro Tour Gatecrash. However, the sideboard bears much more resemblance to Joel Larsson's, from the same PT Top 8.

American Midrange by Devyn March
Finished 1st Place at 2013 StarCity Open Standard - Las Vegas - 3/2
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Augur of Bolas
4 Boros Reckoner
3 Restoration Angel
3 Snapcaster Mage
Creatures [14]
4 Azorius Charm
1 Counterflux
1 Harvest Pyre
2 Izzet Charm
2 Mizzium Mortars
3 Searing Spear
3 Sphinx's Revelation
1 Think Twice
3 Thought Scour
1 Unsummon
Spells [21]
4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island (255)
2 Mountain (265)
1 Plains (250)
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
Lands [25]
Deck Total [60]


2 Dispel
3 Electrickery
3 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Negate
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Tormod's Crypt
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Overall, this deck is just extremely solid. It has a significant amount of play as well as power, so I'm not surprised to see it winning events.

Devyn's choice to play three Electrickery is a fascinating sideboard choice. People have toyed with this card in a variety of formats, but it's always been a little one-dimensional. However, it seems quite good against a deck that plays both Thalia and Mayor of Avabruck. Additionally, against other American Midrange decks, it allows your Restoration Angels to win the mirror. I'm not sure how valuable this ends up being, overall, but it's certainly nice to see many formerly-marginal cards getting played.

The Top 8 of this Open was significantly less interesting than the Gold event in Jacksonville, including two more copies of American Midrange, plus the other usual contenders. Marcus Torrez' Gruul Midrange deck is one possible exception, combining Gruul Charm from Naya Humans, Domri Rade from Saito's Naya Midrange, and Wolfir Silverheart from Block Constructed.

Gruul Midrange by Marcus Torrez
Finished 5th - 8th Place at 2013 StarCity Open Standard - Las Vegas - 3/2
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arbor Elf
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Gyre Sage
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
4 Strangleroot Geist
4 Wolfir Silverheart
Creatures [32]
3 Domri Rade
Planeswalkers [3]
4 Searing Spear
Spells [4]
8 Forest (270)
5 Mountain (265)
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
Lands [21]
Deck Total [60]


2 Garruk Relentless
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Gruul Charm
2 Kessig Wolf Run
3 Thundermaw Hellkite
4 Volcanic Strength
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


However, we still have a couple more decks of interest if we scour the rest of the Top 16. The first is Philip Manabat III's Boros Aggro, which is pretty fascinating if you can get past the Avacyn Restored PTSD response.

Boros Aggro by Philip G Manabat III
Finished 9th - 16th Place at 2013 StarCity Open Standard - Las Vegas - 3/2
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Boros Elite
4 Champion of the Parish
3 Kessig Malcontents
4 Kruin Striker
4 Lightning Mauler
4 Silverblade Paladin
4 Wojek Halberdiers
Creatures [27]
4 Bonds of Faith
4 Gather the Townsfolk
4 Thatcher Revolt
Spells [12]
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Clifftop Retreat
3 Mountain (265)
6 Plains (250)
4 Sacred Foundry
Lands [21]
Deck Total [60]


3 Legion Loyalist
2 Pithing Needle
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Volcanic Strength
4 War Priest of Thune
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Kruin Striker in Constructed! Today's Standard offerings are full of spicy draft cards, which I always love.

Lightning Mauler ensures that you have battalion online on turn three at the latest for your Boros Elite and Wojek Halberdiers. Yes, Wojek Halberdiers. In the light of Naya Humans and Boros Reckoner's impact on Standard, a 3/2 first striker for two seems pretty reasonable after all.

Thatcher Revolt and Bonds of Faith round out the last of the draft all-stars for this deck. While Champion of the Parish is already insane in this deck, Thatcher Revolt gives him a permanent +3/+3. Plus, you get to play with a card that's either tilting your opponent or you at any given time.

BW Zombies by Joey Felipe
Finished 9th - 16th Place at 2013 StarCity Open Standard - Las Vegas - 3/2
Main Deck
Sideboard
3 Blood Artist
3 Cartel Aristocrat
4 Diregraf Ghoul
1 Frontline Medic
4 Geralf's Messenger
4 Gravecrawler
2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
4 Restoration Angel
Creatures [25]
1 Liliana of the Veil
2 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Planeswalkers [3]
3 Lingering Souls
3 Orzhov Charm
2 Tragic Slip
1 Ultimate Price
Spells [9]
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
3 Orzhov Guildgate
1 Plains (250)
7 Swamp (260)
1 Vault of the Archangel
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


2 Blind Obedience
1 Duress
2 Knight of Glory
2 Knight of Infamy
1 Lingering Souls
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Ultimate Price
3 Vampire Nighthawk
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Last, we have a straight Orzhov Zombies deck, which is most recommended for players who don't think too much about how Frontline Medic's magic is healing that Diregraf Ghoul, because I'm pretty sure that's not how it works in RPGs.

For everyone who has always wanted to play with Restoration Angel and Geralf's Messenger together: now you can. The result looks like a combination between a BW Token decks and Zombies, both from pre-Return to Ravnica.

————————————

Overall, Gatecrash has had a great effect on Standard, which is much more diverse than it was previously. I'm actually looking forward to playing the format, and I hope that you, too, can find a deck you like for the upcoming Orlando 5k.

Love and battle,
Jackie Lee——

@JackieL33 on Twitter
www.twitch.tv/jackiel33



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