This weekend, I am traveling to beautiful Collinsville, IL for the Starcitygames.com Opens in “St. Louis.” With how dominant midrange has been lately, I really think that control is a good place to be. The problem that control decks keep running in to, is that they have been relying on creatures to win the game against decks that run extremely efficient creatures backed up by cards like Rakdos’s Return or Unburial Rites. I had an Esper control deck built on Magic Online that I was doing quite well with, but I kept being disappointed by certain cards (Lingering Souls, Azorius Charm). The problem with these cards is that, even though they are awesome in a vacuum, they aren’t particularly awesome right now. It took until the other night for me to give up on Esper, and the tipping point was a match against ARMorris playing a 4-color control deck (no green). His deck has clearly gone off the deep end of control by playing literally zero creatures and mono-removal/planeswalkers.
His deck was sweet and did everything I wanted a deck to do. He clearly had chat turned off or was ignoring me, because he did not reply to my request to see his decklist. That wasn’t really a huge problem though, I had seen enough of his deck to get an idea of how it functioned and brewed from there. Here is my current main 60 for this weekend in St. Louis:
|3x Jace, Architect of Thought||3x Burning Oil|
|3x Sorin, Lord of Innistrad||2x Izzet Charm|
|2x Tamiyo, the Moon Sage||3x Sphinx’s Revelation|
|2x Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker||2x Ultimate Price|
|2x Gilded Lotus||4x Hallowed Fountain|
|4x Steam Vents|
|Sorceries:||4x Blood Crypt|
|1x Devil’s Play||4x Glacial Fortress|
|3x Dreadbore||4x Drowned Catacomb|
|2x Rolling Temblor||4x Isolated Chapel|
|1x Sever the Bloodline||2x Sulfur Falls|
|3x Supreme Verdict||1x Clifftop Retreat|
My early testing has shown that I stomp Jund decks hard, do quite well against Junk Midrange decks, win control mirrors like a champ, and tend to coin flip against reanimator depending on if they find a Griselbrand early. My matchup against the recently popular GW Humans deck is quite favorable. My matchups with Zombies and Red variants are somewhat sketchy, but still definitely winnable.
Let’s take a closer look at the cards in this list:
This mix of Planeswalkers is awesome. They each do very different things and work very well together. The best feeling is using a Nicol Bolas to destroy a Detention Sphere that is obviously on another ‘Walker. Situations with two or more of these in play are very difficult for an opponent to combat and they usually have to choose which one to try to kill and do not even succeed all of the time. What becomes even better is that each of these Planeswalkers has an ultimate ability that truly ends the game. That means that if any one of these cards slips through the cracks, it is fully capable of winning the game in short order.
In this deck, removal pretty much represents the rest of the game plan.
– Dreadbore is the perfect card for this deck in that it just kills anything.
– Ultimate Price is a concession to Reanimator and UWR Midrange because interacting at Instant speed is very important.
– Rolling Temblor is a turn or two faster than Supreme Verdict in this deck and helps to keep from dieing against GW Humans or Geist of Saint Traft. Not to mention some turns where I have cast and flashed this back to kill an onslaught of beast tokens.
– Supreme Verdict and Terminus are fairly self-explanatory and are very efficient at what they do. The 3-1 split is based on the fact that I really don’t want Terminus in my opening hand, but I am rarely upset to draw it.
– Burning Oil is awesome. This card one-for-ones a Thragtusk and two-for-ones everything else. For our purposes, it is just as good at stabilizing against the aggro decks as just about any other card (short of Pillar of Flame). This card has overperformed more than I ever would have guessed.
– Sever the Bloodline just gets something dead for good and has the late game flashback bonus.
– Izzet Charm. This charm does just about everything I want the slot to do. I tend to experience a good deal of flooding with 27 lands, it can solve that. The main cards that I actually want counterspells for are mid-game planeswalkers, and late-game Rakdos’s Return and Sphinx’s Revelation. Most people just max those out or play around Syncopate for one, allowing Izzet Charm to interact favorably. The 2 damage is hugely relevant against zombies, huntmasters, and GW Humans. All around all-star for this deck.
– Devil’s Play. The 1-of Devil’s Play serves as a sweet finisher. A lot of these games will go very long and I like having the option to Devil’s Play them for actual 35 points of damage. It is especially potent with the Tamiyo Emblem. It also can just serve as an early game one-for-one as needed.
As you can see, that pretty much sums up the entire deck. Not a single creature to worry about. Gilded Lotus is just an awesome enabler to allow my deck to make full use of Sphinx’s Revelation and Nicol Bolas. You’ll notice that I am playing three Sphinx’s Revelation while most control players have been on one or two. The huge benefit to playing this deck, is that I am not trying to actually kill my opponent for a long time, so I have a lot of extra slots in my deck that would normally be reserved for cards like Thragtusk and Angel of Serenity. To make up a lot of the card advantage I may lose by playing a consistent one-for-one game, I really like having this many blowout card draw effects.
I am still working on the sideboard, but I know that I want some number of additional counterspells, a Nephalia Drownyard, some number of cards to keep reanimator honest early on, and something good against aggro (right now its looking like Pillar of Flame). I also need an answer to Sigarda as that card is catching on as being as good as everyone wants it to be. I am definitely including Ultimate Price #3 and Dreadbore #4 for the matchups where those are especially good.
For legacy, I don’t think I am going to change a single card from my 75 in Indianapolis. Everything worked very well and I just got unlucky against Ad Nauseum-Tendrils and punted game 3 of a mirror match.
Here is a sweet bonus standard deck to go right along with the “Off the Deep End” theme. My good friend, Jeff Hoogland, decided to take a different approach on how to tackle standard this weekend. Rather than going with my threat-light, removal-heavy approach, he is going with an extremely threat-dense approach. Check it out!
Each of his threats represents a huge amount of game and his opponent’s will need to be answering them quickly and permanently. I feel like he has found the perfect home for Vraska in this deck because a lot of the control opponents will be trying to answer his bombs with cards like Detention Sphere and Tamiyo, both of which are rather weak to Vraska. His Bloodline Keepers in the sideboard serve as the perfect alternative to Desecration Demon in the key matchups where the Demon is particularly underwhelming. Jeff has always been a home brew, go big or go home kind of player on the SCG circuit (see his top 8 finish in standard with Glissa, the Traitor, and his top 8 in Legacy with Dead Guy Ale) and we both feel like this latest brew has a real shot to do some serious damage.
Hopefully this weekend of standard goes a bit better than Indianapolis went. I caught a bit of bad variance in the early rounds with my Esper Tokens deck and lost to what I considered to be favorable matchups. Next week, I will be talking about my choice for the Modern Grand Prix in Chicago and hopefully sharing some sweet stories of victory from a weekend of casting many Planeswalkers.
Thanks for reading!
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