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.
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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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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