At The Gathering – California Dreaming

Grand Prix: Oakland!

Wednesday, February 10th – I’m getting ready for Grand Prix: Oakland, which largely involves packing cards and clothes, and reading as much freaking Extended tech as possible. Of course, if you have any idea of the format, you should know that you will need to have an answer to the following deck…

I’m getting ready for Grand Prix: Oakland, which largely involves packing cards and clothes, and reading as much freaking Extended tech as possible. Of course, if you have any idea of the format, you should know that you will need to have an answer to this deck:

Definitely the top dog in Extended right now, it combines what is probably the two most powerful combos in Extended right now. Dark Depths is the fast, early game combo, and Thopter Foundry is the late game answer. The true power in the mixture of these two combos is Muddle the Mixture, of all things. Muddle allows you to find combo pieces for either one, and thus gives you such incredible versatility. It can search for Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek, and Vampire Hexmage.

The test of power will be in the sideboard. The good doctor Penick has added Meloku for the mirror match, allowing you to come out ahead on 1/1 tokens in a race and/ or stalemate. Rite of Consumption is also a nice combo piece with Marit Lage, although a risky one, allowing you to deal 20 without having to worry about chump blockers from an opponent’s Foundry.

One thing I wanted to talk about this week is the new Limited formats with Worldwake. In a little over a week, we’ll see the best in the world tackling the draft format for 6 rounds, and I’m very interested to see what archetypes arise from that.

I had a chance to play in another sealed and another Draft, albeit a triple Worldwake draft, as the store ran out of Zendikar after the massive Sealed event. I won the event, going 5-0, 10-0 with this build.

Ridiculous Sealed

1 Surrakar Marauder
2 Disfigure
2 Hideous End
2 Giant Scorpion
1 Cliff Threader
1 Windborne Charge
1 Shepherd of the Lost
1 Marsh Casualties
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
1 Emeria Angel
1 Ruthless Cullblade
1 Smother
3 Fledgling Griffin
2 Bloodhusk Ritualist
1 Quicksand
7 Plains
10 Swamp

Unfortunately, I’ve lost the full sealed pool, but needless to say, the power in this deck is simply ridiculous. I am 100% confident I chose the spells correctly, and the land never seemed to crap out on me, although I wonder if one less plains might have been a good idea.

This sealed deck is one that you only open a few times, and I was glad it was at a prize- heavy event, instead of some practice Sealed. However, I don’t think there’s much to learn from it, as there aren’t too many difficult decisions to make. I do have a few, though.

Assume my third Zendikar Rare was an Arid Mesa: Do you play it, and if so, why? If not, why not?

Moving on, the next day was a triple Worldwake draft, which is only exciting in that you get to open a lot of the new set. After a first pick Goliath Sphinx with not much else exciting in the pack, I ended up with two Leatherback Baloths in the first 5 picks. Looks like Green for me, which I was okay with, as WW Green seems to be very powerful. In the end, I had a Black splash, as the guy to my left was also in Green (How, I have no clue, unless he got overly attached to his first pick. That said, I got a lot of good green cards on the wheel.)

I took this little brew to 3-1, 7-3 losing my only match 2-1 to a U/W deck with triple Vapor Snare. His deck would have been worse, but I ended up with 2 Goliath Sphinx (a pack two foil came about 4th pick, with almost nothing worth taking over removing it from Brandon, the best competition of the draft, who I had determined by this point was likely in Blue)

The deck list:

Teflon WWW Draft

2 Snapping Creeper
1 Hammer of Ruin
1 Quest for Renewal
2 Explore
3 Tomb Hex
1 Graypelt Hunter
1 Jagwasp Swarm
1 Groundswell
1 Grappler Spider
1 Ruthless Cullblade
3 Gnarlid Pack
1 Wolfbriar Elemental
1 Bestial Menace
3 Leatherback Baloth
1 Khalni Garden
1 Quicksand
5 Swamp
11 Forest

I learned a few lessons in this draft, the most important of which is that kicker and Landfall are nice bonuses, but not 100% necessary. Often, Tomb Hex was just fine as a Disfigure, especially when they were assuming their guy was safe, since I hadn’t landfalled (landfallen?) when they attacked. Same deal with Kicker, only reversed. Sometimes, the Gnarlid Pack was just a Grizzly Runeclaw Bears, and sometimes it was a 4/4 (or larger) in the late game.

I heard some people saying they wanted to wait, to get more value out of it with a kicker. They didn’t stop to think what price they were paying in tempo by not having a two-drop on turn two. Is the power you gain from kicking a spell greater than the cost you’ve given up by not playing it earlier, whether that’s tempo or just wasting a turn? I never wanted to hold them unless I had something better to do on turn 2. They are just fine on their own without kicker, and putting pressure on your opponent can often make them reactive, functioning as pseudo-disruption.

Next, I’d like to look at a couple of ideas for Standard that we’ve been kicking around locally.

Note: We haven’t been testing Standard too much, so these are not tuned lists, just ideas with a few games behind them. However, I think that there is some merit to them.

First off, here’s a B/W deck that has been fun in the few games I’ve played with it.

The deck is really in need of a three-drop to improve the curve, but the power is pretty good. There are 8 ways to remove the Persecutor, once he’s done his job. The idea for the deck is based on the power of Zealous Persecution in a creature heavy format, and wanting to play Identity Crisis as a finisher one turn before Cruel Ultimatum in Grixis decks. The mana is not great at all, and definitely needs some better ideas, but I couldn’t come up with anything other than Rupture Spire, with seems worse than Terramorphic Expanse in this build.

However, when the deck fires, it is extremely powerful, requiring an answer to so many threats and using Disruption to throw the opponent off just enough to finish them.

On note I have is to always take their best spell with Tidehollow Sculler. If they use removal, that’s okay, because it’s removal they won’t have for later threats like Baneslayer or Persecutor (who probably should be dealt with immediately after he comes into play.) Speaking of the persecutor, I think his drawback will come to be recognized as similar to the drawbacks of Path to Exile or Dark Confidant, largely that it is real and potentially dangerous, but not dangerous enough to counter the sheer power of the card. However, outside of Standard, it may not see play, as four mana is a whole different ballgame in Extended or Eternal formats.

The next deck is one I threw together largely on the power of Leatherback Baloth. His triple colored requirements are less restrictive than his mirror image, Woolly Thoctar, and being able to play him on turn 2 with a mana producer made the prospect very tempting.

The deck largely revolves around the ability to power out a 3-drop on turn 2, and perhaps having 6 Enters the Battlefield tapped lands is too much, but their power in the late game is very real. The Ravines haven’t been tested quite yet, so I can imagine cutting them down to 2 or 3 instead of the 4 currently planned. However, their ability to turn on Bloodbraid Elf is also very real.

I think these new Tranny-lands will go down as some of the more powerful lands in existence, as they are both color fixers and potentially animatable. Let’s look at a few options where they would be upgrades.

In this deck, Celestial Colonnade is far superior to Sejiri Refuge. They both make two colors (U and W) they both enter the battlefield tapped. One gives you a life, the other can be repeatedly turned into a dude, especially good after you or your opponent Wrath the board away. Is the potential to make a Serra Angel with Haste better than 1 life? I certainly think so.

How useful will they be in Jund? I honestly don’t know, but I think that their drawback of entering the battlefield tapped isn’t as huge as it seems when you largely give away the first few turns to tapped lands anyway.

I think they play well in mid-range and control decks, and expect a lot of UWx and potential Grixis deck to use some amount of them. I personally think the U/B (Creeping Tar Pit) is the most powerful, as it has the best evasion, and is rather cheap to activate. I could see it being a finisher for Grixis decks.

Finally, I wanted to give you an Extended deck list that has not been tested at all, and likely is stupid, but a local player, who is likely madly in love with Seismic Assault, made this, and it looks, well, interesting.

The deck likely suffers splash damage from Dredge hate, and seems to be largely hate and bad win conditions. However, it is certainly attempting to attack the format from a new angle, and I think it is a good place for Treasure hunt as a card advantage spell, and not just an attempt to make it a win condition.

That being said, I think that removing Seismic Assault and tuning around a different win Condition could help (Perhaps Gargoyle Castle and Ghost Quarter could make appearances, truly powering up the Life from the Loams while severely disrupting a large amount of decks)

Until next time, this is Jeff Phillips, reminding you: Don’t make the Loser choice

P.S. Look for an interesting Esper Standard deck in the forums that another local used to X-0 an FNM a few weeks back. Unfortunately, he didn’t get it to me in time to put it in the article, but hopefully, I’ll be able to put it in the forums. Cheers!