3/8/2013 10:00:00 AM
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
ensures that the Gravecrawler
s 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
While it's cool to see Zombies doing well in an environment that has functional Pillar of Flame
s (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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Angel
s 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.
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.
in Constructed! Today's Standard offerings are full of spicy draft cards, which I always love.
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.
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.
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,
@JackieL33 on Twitter