Hello, and welcome back!
Not sure if anyone out there caught the Pro Tour coverage, but Master of Waves certainly made a splash eh? Who knew that card was insane...I feel as if I have earned a couple of good ole' Tiger Woods' trademarked fist pumps. And they will be well timed, in good taste, and enjoyable for all those around. Maybe people will listen to me next time I shout a card's praises from the roof tops. Thassa finally saw the love she so deserved too. It was a good weekend for blue mages everywhere.
This is a doubled edged sword however, now that blue is going to see more play, as will blue hate cards. Voice of Resurgence, Mistcutter Hydra, and Gainsay will certainly be showing up in larger numbers in the weeks to come, we may even see some hot Skylasher action. Something to keep in mind for future blue lists. Black may be the splash of choice for Doom Blade and Far // Away. The devotion to blue decks is exploding on MTGO, when I finally get into these video series for standard, it will be at the center of my crosshairs.
Unfortunately, SCG Milwaukee fell upon the same day as my cousin's bachelor party. Meaning after I lost twice, there wasn't a whole lot of reasons to stick around instead of heading back to the Twin Cities for the party. I am very confident I could have Top 16'd had I not had to leave in such a rush. In the same boat, he's getting married next week, so I will not be at the Midwest Grand Prix either. Such is life though, still plenty of magic to be played in the future.
At SCG Milwaukee, I played this pile of cards:
The SCG Deck Tech can be found here.
I was all set on playing a sweet aggressive UB Master of Waves Shell, when all of a sudden, the Pro Tour happened. Master of Waves was the talk of the town. As the past has dictated, when Sam Black and friends pick up a deck, people take notice. With that in mind, I was thinking how to hedge against the deck because I would obviously see it the following day. The card that immediately came to mind was Mistcutter Hydra. Ian Anderson had shown me a straight Simic list abusing Prophet of Kruphix that had some incredibly powerful draws. While I would have loved to play Master of Waves and Thassa, other respectable players would come prepared for the monoblue lists and that isn't where I wanted to be. So main decking four Mistcutter Hydra seemed reasonable enough.
Deck BreakdownThe Engine 4 Prophet of Kruphix 2 Prime Speaker Zegana 2 Garruk, Caller of Beasts 2 Steam Augury
As far as the deck's future is concerned, the engine is flexible. There are many sources of card draw in this format, these are ones that fit the curve or were too powerful to pass up. Steam Augury is the real deal. The other considerations were Thoughtflare, Urban Evolution and Opportunity. None of which were that over the top better than another Garruk or Zegana. Steam Augury however comes down far earlier than any of these, especially the games we don't have a mystic and only a two-drop accelerant. It may only be a draw one, but digging five cards deep to setup the turn four Prophet into EOT Hydra was seriously dangerous, especially when the opponent didn't know what the game plan was.
There was a good amount of dabbling with a third Garruk for a while, which was fine, and in many match ups was all I wanted to be drawing. I would certainly be open to playing a third going forward, depending on how slow we can afford to be.The Acceleration 4 Manaweft Sliver 4 Sylvan Caryatid 4 Elvish Mystic 3 Plasm Capture
Plasm Capture is a good card. When cast on turn three or four for value, it is hard to argue against it. Late game it acts as protection and stops some random win condition like an Elspeth, AEtherling, Jace, Memory Adept and so on. It's not great against aggressive decks, but the most consistently winning aggressive deck is playing Fanatic of Mogis, Boros Reckoner and Chandra, Pyromaster. All things that can very reasonably be countered by accelerating to Plasm Capture. Sure it still gets side boarded out but it's not as dead as people may think.
No Zhur-Taa Druid. Yes, he is cute with Prophet of Kruphix. Yes he costs two. Yes he can end a game that drags out (rarely). But he is so impossible to cast consistently on turn two and perhaps more relevantly, doesn't fix our mana on early turns. The damage he deals isn't often as relevant, we are very often swinging for 8+ and then 16+ when we are winning a game, meaning two or three points of damage is unnecessary as long as we can cast the rest of our threats. If the deck goes in a different direction, I could see wanting the effect, but for now Manaweft Sliver is strong enough to merit sticking around.The Win Conditions 4 Mistcutter Hydra 4 Kalonian Hydra 2 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed 2 Prime Speaker Zegana
Garruk kind of also fits into this category, but he alone doesn't exactly kill them, although he can be the reason we win a game. The red splash for Ruric Thar was a metagame call. I knew that if I played against GR or a removal heavy BWR deck I would want something like him to stabilize against Stormbreath Dragon and Desecration Demon while pressuring their life total. The splash of red also gave us Izzet Staticaster from the sideboard, a complete house against the white weenie decks and smaller red decks in the format. I wanted Staticaster over Flames of the Firebrand because they play infinite Boros Charms and Brave the Elements which can blow out one time use cards. Plus he blocks forever and is insane in multiples.The Utility 2 Simic Charm 3 Plasm Capture
These spells won me more games than one would have guessed. Simic Charm was a house, all day, one-for-one'ing removal spells so we can keep bashing with enormous fatties was insane. It even fizzled its fair share of planeswalker removal for Garruk. Prophet of Kruphix is one hell of a card, letting us untap every turn to play another fatty or one of these spells fits the game plan perfectly for aggressive five drop decks like this.
The deck together does a few things very well. It can play from behind against other creature decks unlike many other decks can. It can ignore Obzedat, Ghost Council and Blood Baron of Vizkopa much of the time and go straight over the top. If they have an excessive amount of removal, things can go a little sour. This is what happened in a match against Junk Midrange, another good matchup generally speaking. Four removal spells were enough to keep me out of game one, not only that but two of his Sin Collectors had targets. Game two Lifebane Zombies got me pretty good and Vraska kept me from getting anything going with Garruk, Caller of Beasts.
The one Camera feature match I had was against a UG version of the Monoblue Devotion deck. Splashing green for Simic Charm and Master Biomancer from what I could tell. Game one I kept this hand: Stomping Ground, Stomping Ground, Forest, Elvish Mystic, Elvish Mystic, Plasm Capture, Garruk, Caller of Beasts. Which seemed fine in the dark, Any two-drop mana dork or blue source and Garruk would come down early enough to be relevant. I didn't see a blue source or a relevant threat and was promptly run over. Game two Mistcutter Hydra got him and the game went as planned. Game three I misplayed. His board state was two Judge's Familiars and Frostburn Weird. My hand was a glut of six drops and a Mistcutter Hydra. I play the Mistcutter for four and leave it back, thinking he could pump his weird and deal me six damage. The thing about leaving it back was that, he didn't have to attack, he wanted to progress his board state in order to get max value out of a Master of Waves. So I missed out on four points of damage that turn for actually nothing. Later on, those two familiars were still around, I cast Prime Speaker Zegana and two mana dorks on my turn leaving three mana available to Swan Song a Cyclonic Rift if he had it. Then he cast another Judge's Familiar into Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, into Cyclonic Rift and I lost quite handily. What's worse is that if I didn't cast that second mana dork, I may have actually won that game. Not to complain about drawing poorly, but I boarded into Izzet Staticaster, which would have been very nice to see that game three, the matchup was easily winnable. Oh well, live and learn I suppose, every mistake made is one that we are less likely to repeat right?
The other matches I won were fairly vanilla. Kalonian Hydra doing what Kalonian Hydra does. Against two separate GW aggro decks, I went end of turn Kalonian Hydra, untap, Mistcutter Hydra, Swing. After the Hydra Trigger Resolved, they could Selesnya Charm it, but Mistcutter Hydra was already bigger than most of their creatures combined. Most of the ways I lost were due to an excessive amount of removal spells for the threats I happened to draw. Warleader's Helix kills Kalonian Hydra but not Zegana, Garruk, Caller of Beasts, Mistcutter Hydra, or Ruric Thar, the Unbowed. It just so happened I drew the third hydra before anything else one game.
Overall, the deck was very strong. I highly recommend giving it a spin going forward. Some immediate changes going forward are including some number of Fog or Aetherize in the sideboard, regardless of the shell. Many times, having just one more turn would have made a world of difference. Plasm Capture was certainly sweet in certain situations over the weekend, but I found that I was boarding it out far too often and trimming it down to two copies seems fine. Steam Augury is another card that was fantastic every time I resolved it on turn three, but lacking in other situations. Also it was something I felt I didn't have time for in the aggressive matchups. All of these things are fixable issues, and with more testing, the deck will likely get more potent.
One thing to consider is splashing a different color. Red offered things like Thoughtflare, Steam Augury and Izzet Staticaster, which were all solid cards over the weekend. In black, we have access to some alternative removal spells, Golgari Charm, Corpsejack Menace, Pharika's Mender and perhaps even Shadowborn Demon. In White however, we get Sphinx's Revelation. More card draw is always welcome, and unlike Zegana, Sphinx's Revelation can dig us out of a hole with only mana dorks in play. White also gives us access to Advent of the Wurm (If we want to take that route) or Medomai the Ageless. This could hurt some of our damage consistency with Kalonian Hydra, Mistcutter Hydra but would make games less all-in, which is what we want against the Supreme Verdict decks anyway.
An Alternate build, for your consideration:
I was happy with most of the sideboard. Given what decks I played against, there are only a few cards I would change. We want threat density against control decks, and anti-aggressive cards and some removal spells for Boros Reckoner and a few other select creatures. Protection for our threats is also on the list of things to include, being able to stop Detention Sphere, Anger of the Gods, Doom Blade, Hero's Downfall and the like is getting increasingly relevant. Prophet comes out against the verdict decks and Jace is another threat they have to counter or answer immediately.
Another card that may fit in this shell (the mana base would need to change) is Fleecemane Lion. Ramping to make that guy indestructible certainly is not the worst plan against many decks, and playing him EOT and leveling him on the follow turn seems pretty strong against enough strategies, especially with the pseudo Vigilance with prophet in play. The 24th land in some matchups doesn't go unnoticed either; especially in the Sphinx's Revelation version, where we want to be hitting five to six lands more consistently.
If Monoblue, monogreen, GW, GR, monored, monowhite or other creature decks stay on top over the next couple of weeks, I would expect a Prophet of Kruphix list to be a real contender. With good matchups across the board, and plans that can beat the less-than-stellar matchups, this archetype is just getting started.