Mono-White Approach in Standard

Feature Article from Raphael Levy
Raphael Levy
3/15/2018 11:01:00 AM
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Hello everyone! I just got back from Grand Prix Madrid, where I had a blast covering the Team GP, and next up for me is GP Amsterdam and Team Limited in a couple of weeks. The spoiler list for Dominaria is out there already, but I've tried not to pay too much attention to it yet. Like a lot of you, I like to slowly discover the set and associate the cards with their pictures.

In the meantime, you will be reading stuff about the future formats (Standard, Modern…), but you won't have a new deck to put your hands on.

Worry not, gentle folks, I'm here to provide a new technology for you to play until Dominaria comes out. Recently brought up by French deckbuilder extraordinaire Eliott Boussaud and without further introduction, here the list.

We've seen Approach of the Second Sun decks since the card came out, but mostly paired with blue. Cards like Supreme Will, Censor and Search for Azcanta help find answers to your opponents' threats, while giving a chance to dig for your Approach and cast it again faster. But we also saw Esper and Jeskai versions to make the deck more versatile and have the best answers. Cards like Fatal Push in black or Abrade in red were fine additions to the deck. The deck saw play in multiple high-level tournaments including recently in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Ixalan in the hands of Guillaume Matignon, who chose to play the Jeskai version.

Today we'll be talking about a mono-white version that Boussaud and current French National Champion Alain Bardini have been playing a lot these last couple of days, amassing trophies after trophies in standard leagues on Magic Online. The concept of the deck couldn't be any simpler, at least for game one: deal with the threats on the board, play Approach of the Second Sun and play it again soon after to win.

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Magic MTG Card Approach of the Second Sun Magic MTG Card
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The Lands

14 Plains
4 Scavenger Grounds
3 Shefet Dunes
2 Arch of Orazca
3 Field of Ruin

The upside of being mono-white is that the deck can afford playing a lot of utility lands – and 17 sources of white is enough to support the spells of the deck. Scavenger Grounds is a good way to deal with Scrapheap Scounger, Rekindling Phoenix a late-game The Scarab God (after a Fumigate), spells in graveyards for Torrential Gearhulk, and all the eternalize and embalm creatures from Gift and Mono-Red decks. You have no use of cards in your graveyard, so the Desert's activation has no downside for you.

Field of Ruins will deal with Adanto, the first Fort and Azcanta, Sunken Ruin, and Arch of Orazca is a great addition to this deck. You will get the City's Blessing at some point, thanks to most removal in your deck being permanents (Cast Out, Baffling End, Ixalan's Binding) and Treasure Map. Once you stabilize the board, you can get to your Approach of the Second Sun faster. Shefet Dunes is a bit tricky – it has little-to-no use in the main deck, except being a Desert to sacrifice to Scavenger Grounds. After board, it helps you win races when you board in creatures.

The Removal

4 Cast Out
4 Baffling End
4 Ixalan's Binding
2 Thopter Arrest
4 Fumigate

For this deck to work, it definitely needed a good removal for two mana to deal with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Bomat Courier. Baffling End provides just that, in addition to giving you an extra permanent to get the City's Blessing.

The other enchantments are quite self-explanatory, they deal with creatures or planeswalkers as one-for-ones and Ixalan's Binding keeps the most important threats from being cast again. Fumigate resets the board and gives you time to find more answers and your win condition.

The Utility

1 Authority of the Consuls
4 Treasure Map
4 Orazca Relic
1 Azor's Gateway
3 The Immortal Sun

In this deck, you want your spells to be permanents to get the City's Blessing. Orazca Relic is one of the cards that you can benefit from by having the Blessing. Since the deck is just one color, it doesn't matter so much that the Relic only gives you colorless mana. The one-mana ramp fuels a turn-four Fumigate, which is something that most control decks can't do. In the later game, when you have enough mana to do everything you want, it's a cantrip that gives you three life. Overall, a lot of versatility for a card that I think will see a lot more play in Standard going forward.

Treasure Map fits perfectly in this strategy. In a deck without draw spells (that blue usually provides), you need to at least filter your draws to either not be flooded or drawing only spells. Once you've used your three scry effects, you'll start drawing extra cards and have access to more mana, in addition to instantly getting the City's Blessing. Keep in mind that, unlike more of the other double-faced cards in Ixalan, Treasure Cove is not legendary, meaning you can have two on the board.

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Magic MTG Card Azor's Gateway Magic MTG Card
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Azor's Gateway appears in Alain's Version of the deck. While I have never been able to flip it, it plays the role of the fifth Treasure Map to filter your draws. Authority of the Consuls is a great card for aggro matchups (especially Mono-Red) and it doesn't cost much to have as a one-of in the main. It's also great against Rekindling Phoenix.

Note that Eliott Boussaud is playing two Gideon's Intervention in his version over a Plains and an Azor's Gateway. Gideon's Intervention is great at dealing with Bristling Hydra or cards like Aethersphere Harvester that you would have a tough time catching with a Fumigate. Along with Ixalan's Binding, it provides this kind of “lock strategy,” where your opponent will be drawing a bunch of cards they won't be able to play. However, it's yet another four-mana spell, so it's up to you to decide which version you like better.

And finally… The Immortal Sun! The legendary artifact finally appears in a main deck of a competitive strategy. While it's an expensive draw engine, you have the tools it takes to survive that long. Once it's active, you'll be drawing two cards a turn, shutting down Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Vraska, Relic Seeker and casting your spells for one less mana. It plays an even more important role after board when you're bringing in creatures.

The Win Condition

Approach of the Second Sun is your sole win condition in game one. While the strategy could sound blunt against control decks with countermagic, you don't need more cards to win the game. Once you've played the first one, you have many ways to cast the second one just two turns later thanks to Orazca Relic that you'll have kept for that purpose, Treasure Cove, Arch of Orazca, or cycling Cast Out.

Sideboarding

2 Authority of the Consuls
1 Fragmentize
4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Regal Caracal
4 Walking Ballista

This deck has very little room to replace one removal for another as it's mostly playing the ones it wants. There's an argument to play Settle the Wreckage somewhere in the 75, possibly in the main deck. It goes against the “permanent-only removal policy,” but could be useful to deal with Bristling Hydra or a bunch of creatures at once. You could be bluffing a Cast Out while you're in fact holding a Settle the Wreckage. Further testing will show if the white instant is needed or not.

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If we're not planning to use our sideboard for small tweaks, we might as well use a transformational plan. That should make it tough for your opponent to know what to sideboard as well.

VS Blue-Black Control

As we mentioned, game one is going to be complicated. There's little-to-no chance you'll win with Approach of the Second Sun as there's nothing else they really have to counter, but there's also a chance you win by decking your opponent. That would mean taking care of every single threat they offer. The Scarab God itself shouldn't be too much of a problem since it's unlikely it will find targets to reanimate (the other creatures will either be exiled with enchantments or Scavenger Grounds), and except for Fumigate your removal will keep it from coming back.

Just make sure to NOT cast your The Immortal Sun if you plan on decking your opponent.

+4 Regal Caracal
+4 Adanto Vanguard
+4 Walking Ballista

-4 Fumigate
-4 Baffling End
-1 Authority of the Consuls
-3 Approach of the Second Sun

While they have a lot of dead cards in their deck, you also had a few of your own. You replace all of your useless main deck cards with win conditions, without taking out what helps you deck your opponent. That should give you better odds of winning this match!

VS Mono-Red

The few games I lost to Mono-Red were because I couldn't find the Fumigate in time, or was just short on lands. Ixalan's Binding, all the removal and the life gain should be a good combination to be a favorite in this match.

+4 Regal Caracal
+2 Authority of the Consuls
+4 Walking Ballista

-3 Approach of the Second Sun
-4 Treasure Map
-1 Azor's Gateway
-1 Fumigate
-1 Field of Ruins

Another way of losing to Mono-Red is to get stuck with too many expensive drops in hand. Regal Caracal is a great win condition against Mono-Red given that Rampaging Ferocidon is gone. The Immortal Sun will give you a huge advantage in the race if you have Cats in play already. Walking Ballista will do a good job at killing Bomat Courier.

VS Grixis Energy

+4 Regal Caracal
+4 Walking Ballista

-1 Authority of the Consuls
-2 Baffling End
-2 Fumigate
-2 Approach of the Second Sun
-1 Azor's Gateway

In this match, you basically replace Baffling End for Walking Ballista to deal with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. As you understood, you'll be bringing in the creatures in most matchups. The main reason why they aren't in the main deck is that your strategy in game one benefits from them having a bunch of useless cards. Fatal Push, Lightning Strike, Vraska's Contempt… It will be that much more time for you to draw into your answers and win condition.

But there is one exception.

VS Red-Green Monsters

+1 Authority of the Consuls
-1 Azor's Gateway

Since they have Glorybringer, they could interact with your creatures. With green, they will be interacting with your enchantments (Naturalize, Thrashing Brontodon). It's just a fair match where you'll have to play carefully.

Basically, if your opponents has counters, Duress or Lost Legacy, board in the creature package. Otherwise, consider keeping the main deck plan intact.

I'd like to thank Eliott Boussaud and Alain Bardini for their work on this deck, and if you are, like I am, a fan of their deckbuilding skills, follow Eliott and Alain on Facebook. They often post crazy new decks that deserve all of your attention!

If you need more sideboard tips, let me know which matchups you're interested in and I'll help you out in the comments!

Cheers!

Raph
@hahamoud




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