This past weekend I got to showcase that RU Devotion list at the SCG IQ in Wisconsin. It was a total success. I didn't drop a match the whole tournament and I remain firm that if that mana base was better the deck would be a total powerhouse. I won't go into heavy details about matches but the finals included a Pithing Needle on Ral Zarek. Really awesome games all through the Top 8.
That Standard is over and it's time to find another project to latch onto. Much of my work with Born of the Gods so far has lead me to believe Burning-Tree Emissary decks have taken a huge hit. Not just because of Drown in Sorrow and Bile Blight but because everything people are doing now just got more powerful. GW aggressive decks got a scry land and a must-answer three drop. Stormbreath Dragon is still quite good but Ash Zealot and Frostburn Weird were often too small to be relevant. UW decks also got an instant speed sweeper that wrecked much of our late game plan involving haste creatures and planeswalkers.
For the moment, I'm on the Brimaz, King of Oreskos plan. As far as the shell goes, there seems to be a few possibilities. I've liked Ephara, God of the Polis since she was spoiled and these two belong in a deck together. These lists are just jumping off points, but none of them look embarrassing.
There is a chance this may be better as straight UW, but outside of the lists already posted by many others, there isn't much I would add. UW Devotion will certainly be a force to reckon with, and is the fall back plan if this Bant list doesn't pan out. Selesnya Charm and a couple two drop creatures give us a game plan by themselves. Plus the removal spells that are bound to see play from the new set are minimally effective against them. There isn't a whole lot we need to give up to splash green either, the main things being one-drops, as many lands come in tapped and it messes the curve up. It's also quite possible we need to have a couple more green sources but more Breeding Pool and/or Temple of Mystery could find their way into this list eventually which will come with testing.
The sideboard is more of a spitball at this point, but the basics of moving into a new set in standard are all there: have a plan versus a generic aggro deck, and a plan versus the go to control deck. Midrange is a little trickier based on what removal, threats, and win conditions they are using, and what needs to be dealt with or addressed. For example, if three or four different decks are jamming Stormbreath Dragon, and Monoblack is still playing Nightveil Specter and Desecration Demon, some number of Plummets will make it into the sideboard.
Voice of Resurgence is another creature that lets us trigger Ephara when blocking or getting swept. Voice tokens can get out of control pretty easily with Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Precinct Captain. Throw in a Spear of Heliod and things get real silly. Brave the Elements protects everyone and Azorius Charm makes combat miserable for creature based opponents. Every card fills a role and nothing is acting as filler; traditionally the start to something great.
Another possibility is cutting the green for black, taking notes from an Esper Humans-esque build.
It could be right to do a more aggressive build, with Solider of the Pantheon, Xathrid Necromancer and Cartel Aristocrat. It's pretty cute that Cartel Aristocrat and necromancer let us trigger Ephara at any point. Thoughtseize proactively protects Brimaz like it did Pack Rat. Compared to Brave the Elements, it sounds appealing.
Brimaz lists are certainly not the only ones I have my eye on however. I want desperately to make a Whelming Wave deck functional. Blind Obedience, Archaeomancer and Whelming Wave make for a semi-lock once a critical mass of mana is obtained. Kiora could make her way into the deck too, as she has the win condition that doesn't interact with casting Whelming Wave every turn. Which would only leave planeswalkers and non-active Gods as the major issues, but if they end up being too much to deal with, or see too much play to ignore, Detention Sphere could easily be included in this list.
Looks sweet, right? It's pretty heavily hedged towards aggro, but that seems fine going into a new format for a deck like this. Detaining all-the-things sounds like fun. Again, splashing a color doesn't take a lot away from the deck. Black gives access to Sin Collector, Lifebane Zombie and Slum Reaper, all things that seem reasonable to recur but possibly more importantly, black gives access to Whispering Madness. Notion Thief makes it even cuter, but the problem with those two before was that individually they did almost nothing. Here, Whelming Wave into Whispering Madness is pretty reasonable. Still, the Sphinx's Revelation match up would need some help with this current build, maybe Spirit of the Labyrinth deserves a slot if we aren't on the black splash.
Centaur Healer and Chronicler of Heroes are in green but the latter would need a little more setup work. Kiora would be the bigger pick up and that would get us to our endgame faster all while giving us another win condition. I messed around with a Burning-Tree Emissary / Purphoros, God of the Forge recursion build but too often the pieces didn't come together.
The main game plan is to extort them out or prevent blockers long enough to nickel and dime them. Ephara, God of the Polis could be maindeck to keep the pressure up and draw more cards off the same creatures, and something like Deputy of Acquittals can give us more extort triggers while recurring detain effects and buying us time. At some point we dilute what the deck is trying to do far enough as to where simply playing better cards like Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Spear of Heliod will start to make the deck win more.
Testing this deck will be a lot of fun, but I want to see what everyone else comes up with the first few weeks. Historically speaking it has been strictly correct to do something powerful rather than something niche in the early parts of a format. Playing Stuffy Doll and a handful of maindeck red sweepers is a metagame call, if the format was more Primeval Titans, that deck would have been unplayable. Well. More unplayable for those haters out there. A Rough Sketch for Modern
With Brimaz, do we have enough creatures to make a modern three-drop deck playable? Here is something I scribbled down that I found myself looking at more than once.
Hasted Hero of Bladehold, Geist of Saint Traft, Brimaz and Mirran Crusader? Yes Please. Order of Whiteclay is probably too cute, but attacking and returning a Geist of Saint Traft sounds real hot. Honor of the Pure with these army-in-a-can three-drops is also quite strong. One version of this list included a more BW Tokens build with more Anthem effects. Another version still was green as well and used Noble Hierarch and some Birds of Paradise to power out earlier plays and be better against Liliana of the Veil, but Lightning Greaves allows us to attack on the same turn as a mana dork does while granting shroud to prevent top decks or if they tap out, making a Brimaz, King of Oreskos or Hero of Bladehold much harder to deal with. Also, if a mana dork dies, we are a full turn behind; not that Lightning Greaves will never die, but cards that destroy artifacts are certainly less played than ones that deal with creatures.
Anyway, that's all for this week. Hopefully everything pans out over the next couple weeks for Brimaz. It certainly feels like a fair Geist of Saint Traft with more synergy with the current sets in standard. Is it bad that I miss Geist? Probably, but I have high expectations for Brimaz filling that gap.
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