Breaking Mirrors in Standard

Feature Article from Riley Knight
Riley Knight
10/19/2017 11:02:00 AM
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What's up? This is Riley Knight here with TCGplayer.com, and today we're going to smash more mirrors than a magpie with a stone beak—this is how to succeed in the mirror matches of Standard. Look, you're probably a powerful sorcerer indeed, probably a person of great taste and refinement, I imagine, and for that reason you may already have your Tier 1 Standard deck sleeved up and shuffled and ready to go, but you know that you'll come across people playing the same strategy as you. Whether it's Ramunap Red, whether it's energy, an Azcanta control deck, or even the new kid on the block in Anointed Procession, sooner or later, if you're playing one of these decks, you'll come across an opponent doing the same. You need to know how to beat them! You need to know which cards are key in those matchups, and we are going to get into it right now. Let's talk breaking mirrors in Standard.

Azcanta Control

As the backbone of this season's blue control decks, Search for Azcanta is of course a key card in any control mirror. Landing and flipping a Search will increase your win percentage immeasurably.

So how do we combat this? Approach players are in luck, with access to cards like Fragmentize and Demystify—get that outta here, they say!

But black mages aren't without their own heat. Duress is a sideboard all-star against control, and Arguel's Blood Fast can keep the cards flowing.

No matter your colour preferences, however, there's no reason to run any less than four Negates in your 75 today. It's one of the best sideboard cards in the format, and shines brighter in the mirror than anywhere else.

A final highlight for white wizards: if you're looking to resolve that second Approach, why not strap yourself into the Hope of Ghirapur? Dillon Daniels did well with this spicy slice of pepperoni—Silence your opponent, cast that Approach, gg mate!

Anointed Procession

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Token decks are here to stay. This new kid on the block has had a bunch of hits already. Between Anointed Procession and Hidden Stockpile, however, it's quite vulnerable to enchantment removal—make sure you've got your copies of Demystify and Fragmentize!

And because Anointed Procession decks rely so heavily on a four-mana sorcery speed enchantment that doesn't immediately impact the board, a card like Lost Legacy is a great way to combat the combo-esque nature of the deck.

Some of the most obscene board states have emerged from the Procession mirrors already, with life totals often reaching those triple digits. As a result, a card like Arguel's Blood Fast is a great way to keep drawing your mighty 1/1s for one.

But what about when both players are at a million billion squillion life, and you're going to deck first? I'm pretty hot for a sideboard singleton Approach of the Second Sun, as a non-interactive way to beat an opponent with a googolplex of life. Alternatively, you could go very deep on Revel in Riches!

Ramunap Red

Ramunap Red decks have been around forever and a day—we all know this. But the fact that the deck hasn't changed all that much since rotation means that we've got excellent data to use from months and months of tournaments. For example, Pro Tour Hour of Devastation.

There in the Top 8, PV navigated the turgid waters of some pretty tricky Red mirrors on his way to claiming the title, and in doing so leant heavily on some hard-hitting sideboard cards.

Chandra's Defeat is the best answer to the way Ramunap Red decks look to go bigger post-board—it's a one mana Terminate that wrecks everything from Soul-Scar Mage to Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

But as PV showed us, the real MVP is, of course, Aethersphere Harvester. An unanswered Harvester will result in a 12-point life swing, which should be enough to put the game away assuming you don't accidentally target yourself with a Lightning Strike or something. Just be careful of opposing Abrades!

Energy

Energy strategies of different stripes have run roughshod over Standard for months, most recently helping Huey Jensen crush the World Championship in Boston.

The Peach Garden Oath came ready with an insanely well-tuned list, and with Essence Scatter and Confiscation Coup in the main, you could tell these boys were ready to face the mirror—and if you had hair like Reid, you'd be looking in mirrors all day long!

Breaking through board stalls is the biggest challenge faced in the Energy mirror. It used to be Rhonas the Indomitable, but he's proven to be pretty domitable after all, it seems.

A delightful piece of new technology is River's Rebuke—it clears the way for the big alpha strike on turn three hundred.

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Additionally, it's great to see Herald of Secret Streams synergize with Sultai Energy's Verdurous Gearhulks to punch through damage.

Beating opposing energy decks is all about dominating the board, but when it stalls out cards like these will help you push through for the W!

- Riley Knight




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