Magic Hodgepodge 3: Standard, Standard, and More Standard

Feature Article from Mark Nestico
Mark Nestico
3/11/2013 10:00:00 AM
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Hello, friends. Welcome. Take a seat. Relax.

This week, I thought we could steer clear of Magic and maybe talk about some other things that are enlightening.

I've been watching a lot of cooking shows lately and I've started to find myself really falling in love with the Mediterranean style of-



This week I'll be attending the TCGplayer Diamond $5,000 Open, and there is just too much that I want to say about not only the standard format, but also about a couple of neat-o mosquito decks that I've been trying to brew for local FNM.

I want to dive right into this. You guys excited? I know I am.


Roughly two months ago I wrote an article about brewing with some of the newer cards that had been spoiled from the Gatecrash set. Some of the decks were utterly awful, while others didn't turn out too bad. There was, however, one glaring fact that they all had in common.

I was clearly drunk on Prime Speaker Zegana. 100% frat boy-using-his-dad's-credit-card-who-owns-a-dealership-schwasted on her.

When I saw that for the easily obtainable cost of six mana you could get essentially a Sphinx's Revelation with a giant body attached to it I was beyond sold. I tried jamming her in just about every deck that I could, but sadly, the results didn't mesh very well with what I had hoped would be the next big card in standard. Everyone told me she was either too slow, or too awkward to cast, or that I was simply trying to force her in decks that didn't need her. Siiiiigh. I gave up hope on my new favorite Merfolk legend…

It wasn't until I got home from work on Saturday that I saw what the breakout deck of SCG: Indy was…Prime Speaker Bant? OH REALLY? And it won the SCG Classic in Cincinnati? YA' DON'T SAY!

After about 15 minutes of celebratory pelvic thrusting (much like what you'll see in this video) I was quick to start working on my own version of the deck. There was a lot that I think Chris O'Bryant got right in his 2nd place finishing deck in Indianapolis, but his one-ofs are just too cute for me. Also, I feel like this deck not packing a card like Supreme Verdict in the board for Naya decks and other creature-based strategies could just be plain wrong.

Here's a working list of Prime Speaker Bant that I really like:

Prime Speaker Bant by Mark Nestico
Main Deck
3 Angel of Serenity
3 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
4 Loxodon Smiter
3 Prime Speaker Zegana
4 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk
Creatures [25]
1 Garruk Relentless
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
Planeswalkers [3]
2 Detention Sphere
4 Farseek
2 Syncopate
Spells [8]
4 Breeding Pool
2 Cavern of Souls
4 Forest (270)
3 Gavony Township
1 Hallowed Fountain
3 Hinterland Harbor
3 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]

2 Centaur Healer
2 Garruk Relentless
2 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Negate
3 Rest in Peace
3 Supreme Verdict
2 Witchbane Orb
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

It feels like the core of creatures should remain the same, since they are so very effective. The Thragtusk / Restoration Angel engine is awesome, and Angel of Serenity breaks any kind of midrange deck like Jund's back by presenting a threat it cannot deal with usually in its 75. After board you gain tools to beat most decks, but I think Verdict is a must in a format this quick. Usually, a deck like Naya or Jund Aggro will have to commit a large sum of creatures to the board to overcome your Loxodon Smiters and Thragtusks. Now, you're able to make them suffer by just wiping the board and resetting with your larger, superior team. Cards like Witchbane Orb shut off troublesome cards like Undercity Informer or Rakdos's Return. Also, more Garruks are sweet against the aggressive decks, and an almost endless amount of blockers or situational removal can go a very long way in securing victory. Rest in Peace is our clear winner against decks like UWR and Human Reanimator and, since Prime Speaker Bant doesn't care about its own graveyard aside from Angel of Serenity, can be cast without Repercussion in the matches that really matter.

Can I do a standard article without talking about UWR?


The Legion by Max Schultze
Finished 5th - 8th Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
3 Augur of Bolas
4 Boros Reckoner
3 Restoration Angel
3 Snapcaster Mage
Creatures [13]
2 Assemble the Legion
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
Spells [22]
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]

1 Blasphemous Act
3 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Negate
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Pithing Needle
3 Rest in Peace
2 Rolling Temblor
1 Supreme Verdict
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

Say hello to Max Schultze's take on UWR Flash: The Legion. This deck looks so….

Clean. So fresh, as well as so clean.

The addition of Assemble the Legion is something my team has been toying with, but Max knocked it out of the park with this incarnation. The board looks like a work of art, with something for every single deck in the format. His loss came at the hands of Jund, but it feels like this match is manageable with the right draws and if they aren't able to pull off multiple Rakdos's Returns on you. His main deck is almost spotless as well, and contains the power of traditional Flash with the snowball-rolling-downhill that is Assemble the Legion. When it gets going, this card is nearly unbeatable, and his deck takes great advantage of it by paving the way for a ‘legion' of creatures with Searing Spear, Mizzium Mortars, Harvest Pyre, and Boros Reckoner to make sure the flow of beats keeps coming. Going into Orlando, this deck is my front-runner and most likely what I sleeve up for the event.

Next we have Mike Krasnitski's take on Reanimator, which he said he tore right from the pages of Brad Nelson's latest article:

Junk Rites by Mike Krasnitski
Finished 1st Place at 2013 Grand Prix Verona - 3/9
Main Deck
3 Angel of Serenity
3 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
4 Centaur Healer
2 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk
Creatures [24]
4 Grisly Salvage
2 Lingering Souls
3 Mulch
4 Unburial Rites
Spells [13]
2 Cavern of Souls
3 Forest (270)
1 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
1 Vault of the Archangel
4 Woodland Cemetery
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]

4 Abrupt Decay
4 Acidic Slime
2 Deathrite Shaman
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
2 Rhox Faithmender
1 Sever the Bloodline
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

I played a deck very, very similar to this list at the TCGplayer MaxPoint $50,000 Championship in Indianapolis a few months ago and not much has changed since then. Why did this deck do so well? Simple. It is a reanimation deck first, but a very efficient creature-beatdown deck second. Packing the already potent Restoration Angel/Thragtusk package along with four maindeck Centaur Healers, this deck is capable of putting the shields up against aggressive decks while setting up a lethal Craterhoof Behemoth attack. If the graveyard is disrupted by cards like Rest in Peace, does this deck fold? Hell no! Unlike Human Reanimator, which becomes a lukewarm aggro deck when the graveyard is emptied, this deck has the capabilities of casting tons of guys, Lingering Souls, and then the eventual haymaker in Angel of Serenity or Craterhoof Behemoth. It attacks the metagame in a very unique capacity, and is capable of very consistent draws thanks to enablers like Mulch and Grisly Salvage. If you're preparing for an event like the TCGplayer $5,000 Open this weekend, be ready to battle against this beast.

The State Of Standard

When one of my very good friends asked me what Magic used to be like before the advent of what is popularly known as “netdecking” now, I simply told them this: “You could play pretty much whatever you wanted and it would be a good choice.” I would often sigh after saying that, and then get back to playing against Delver opponent after Delver opponent, just remembering the good ole' days.

Ladies and Gentlemen? Those good days are back.

You live in an era of Magic reminiscent of days of old, and damn it feels good. When looking at a chart of represented decks at big tournaments provided by Pat Chapin, you can easily see that a whopping 16(!) decks are represented, and that's not even counting the amount of decks that aren't! You're looking at tons of options that you can put together and be successful with. GP: Verona boasted five different decks, but you can easily make the argument that it was seven considering there were two distinct flavors or Reanimator and UWR/UWR Legion. SCG: Indi saw six with two Jund and two Prime Speaker Bant decks ascending to the Top 8.

How wild is that?

I urge you to take new TCG author Anthony Lowry's advice and do not fear the word “brew.” Without brewers, this game becomes stale and stagnant. Remember the number of complaints when the format revolved around U/W Delver and Wolf Run primarily? Sure, there were other decks out there, but those two boasted results that you could not ignore. If you were going into a tournament hoping to just dodge them, you were going to achieve maximum enlightenment very, very quickly.

 Craterhoof Behemoth
Store QTY Price  
The Gamer's Haven 1 $17.95
Magicites 3 $17.99
JustAnotherCardStore 2 $18.00
StoneForged cards 1 $18.00
Gamers Grove 1 $18.28
enjin 1 $18.49
The Kingdom 1 $18.65
Tier Zero Gaming 1 $18.83
Mag Hawk 1 $18.98
StoneForged cards 1 $18.98
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Craterhoof Behemoth Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Now, there is tons of room to innovate! Trying new cards might seem like a risk, but as long as you can justify their inclusion with some battle-tested data, you might just end up creating the next incarnation of a deck that becomes a format staple. You're not hurting your chances to win if it doesn't pan out too much, but like Anthony said- you're only giving yourself a better chance to win if it does!

What Are You Listening To Nowadays?

Electroswing, and lots of it. It's one of the more fun genres of music. I highly recommend it. It's great for writing articles at 4am.

Also, I can't stop listening to the song “Dynamite” by Rogue. Give that sucker a listen.

“Taboo” Of Covering Certain Topics In Magic

This one is something that hit a little closer to home this week. A good friend of mine wrote an article about the perspective of a woman in Magic right now. After allowing me the privilege of reading her rough draft, she returned to me a tad dejected that some of her other friends had given her a bevy of negative feedback on what I thought to be a solid article that came straight from the hip. Among the reasons were that those kind of articles only stir the pot, or are something that only bring out the trolls.

Listen, I understand sometimes we write about things you don't want to read. It's a part of the gig. I try to keep it limited to standard because I know a vast majority of interest lay in the subject, but that doesn't mean that every now and then I don't want to throw my hat in another arena and weigh in on those topics, but am afraid of how some of you may react. I know tons of players that read this site, and they are not only good Magic players but truly awesome people. However, that doesn't come without the pitfalls of rejection and spurring.

Truth is, I feel bad for some readers, because that article that she wrote may never see the Light of Day. It's a pity, because it deserved to. She did a hellava job with it.

I hope that eventually the community embraces a wider range of subject matter down the line, and is less critical of a person wearing their heart on the paper you read before you.

FNM Craziness
“Shut Up, Mark.”

Talking about brewing got me to thinking about some decks that might be a lot of fun for FNM events. One of them got me pretty excited, and I think I'll be playing it at my upcoming Friday tournament…just for fun.

Thrull Ranson by Mark Nestico
Main Deck
3 Angel of Serenity
4 Treasury Thrull
Creatures [7]
2 Blind Obedience
3 Detention Sphere
4 Forbidden Alchemy
1 Murder
4 Soul Ransom
2 Sphinx's Revelation
4 Supreme Verdict
2 Terminus
3 Think Twice
2 Ultimate Price
Spells [27]
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island (255)
3 Isolated Chapel
2 Nephalia Drownyard
1 Plains (250)
1 Swamp (260)
3 Watery Grave
Lands [26]
Deck Total [60]

1 Detention Sphere
1 Dispel
2 Dissipate
2 Jace, Memory Adept
3 Negate
1 Nephalia Drownyard
2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Planar Cleansing
2 Witchbane Orb
Sideboard [15]

Click for full deck stats & notes!

Do you see? Do…you…see?

I mean- when you first look at it you're probably saying to yourself “hey, that's just an Esper dec- WAITAMINUTE!”

So with this deck, we could…you know…be an Esper deck…OR...we could do the following:

- Put enchantments in our graveyard with Forbidden Alchemy.
- Attack with Treasury Thrull after we wipe the board.
- What's that? We get our enchantment back? I guess I'll cast them.
- Soul Ransom your guy. You want him back? Discard two and I'll draw two. I will attack you with Treasury Thrull and get back Soul Ransom.
You killed my Treasury Thrull? I will cast Angel of Serenity to get him back…and then remove two of your guys.
- We can chain Treasury Thrulls.
- Never stop extorting you.

Those are just some of the sweet things that this deck is capable of. Is it good? I have no idea. The shell of it has sat in my notes for the last three days, and I just keep looking at it and smiling. It looks like too much fun not to be.

Well that was certainly over 2,000 words. I know that because the little counter at the bottom of my screen told me so.

That means you're probably tired of my rambling.

I hope I get a chance to see some of you this Saturday for what is sure to be an awesome day.

Wish me luck this weekend, folks!

Catch ya on the flip-

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