It has been a while since I wrote an article… But Magic has been good to me lately. I rediscovered Standard in late August, with a Green-Red madness build featuring Wild Mongrels and Madness burn which did very well (T4 twice, T2 once) at local events, ultimately losing to opposition.
With the arrival of a new block onto the scene, my interest has once again been piqued – not only in Standard but in Extended as well. Others will have made better analyses than I ever could of the Onslaught cards, so this will focus on some of my favourite Standard decks as of November 1st.
With the loss of Fact or Fiction, Repulse, and many pain lands, it seems that a multi-colour deck may be unviable. Dual colour decks, however, are still viable, from Psychatog to some U/W Mobilization attempts to more rogue builds. I wish to speak of two rogue builds.
This deck was first created and tweaked by my friend and testing partner Brendan Cox (otherwise known as Leaf Boy). The point was to relentlessly assault an opponent’s head until they fell over, with a bevy of discard spells and spot removal thrown in for good measure.
Beastie Boyz R Back:
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Krosan Tusker (Hmmm… Green Ancestral… So good…)
4 Wirewood Savage
4 Ravenous Baloth
4 Chainer’s Edict
4 Patriarch’s Bidding
2 Snarling Undorak
1 Krosan Groundshaker
1 Coffin Purge
4 Engineered Plague
2 Spellbane Centaur
2 Coffin Purge
At first glance the deck may seem nothing more than a collected bunch of fatties with virtually no other avenue of victory. That is only partially correct, as the deck has a variety of tricks it can play with. The most critical aspect is with what to follow up a turn 1 Forest, Llanowar Elf and turn 2 Forest. Do you play the Wirewood Savage and then steadily draw into more threats as you play a Baloth, Undorak or other Beast – or do you say”Go”, then at end of turn cycle a Tusker, get a Swamp, draw a card, then draw another card during your draw step…Not an easy question to answer, and it hinges on whether or not you can get a Patriarch’s Bidding out in a hurry. If you can ever get two Tuskers into your graveyard and then Bidding, well it’s looking grim for your opponent – especially if you have drawn two or more cards off Wirewood Savages.
The Wirewood Savages are quite good in and of themselves, they are a Grey Ogre at worst, at best an engine. I’ve often drawn over twenty cards off them in a single game thanks to Patriarch’s Bidding, multiple Beasts a turn, and so on.
The Krosan Groundshaker was iffy – and still is. Simply put, the deck had difficulty against U/W with Glory in graveyard, and I needed an ability to grant trample to push through those extra points… It was Groundshaker or Overrun, since I’m iffy on Kamahl, Fist of Krosa as well…The Undoraks have proven quite good; they let you pump Beasts which will die to burn, win combats, and generally add up damage. That they can be Morphed can serve as a nice trick against someone who assumes you are only playing with Hystrodons…
I’m aware the nay-sayers will point to cards such as Aether Burst and Hibernation in the environment and thus toss the deck aside. To those I answer: Well, if you bounce the Tuskers, I can fetch more and threats; if you bounce a Baloth I can sacrifice it if the situation warrants it – and if you bounce a Hystrodon, it comes back Morphed.
The Hystrodon adds more math to the critical second turn. Is it worth playing a 2/2 that can garner card advantage on your next turn or get said card advantage through Tuskers…
The rest of the deck consists of four Duresses, which are pretty self-explanatory. They can get Wishes, Chainer’s Edicts, Smothers, Upheavals and a host of other removal spells. The Patriarch’s Biddings are also pretty straightforward, but can be quite risky. Bringing back Goblins can be counterproductive… On the other hand, casting Bidding successfully after sacrificing four or five beasts (for a gain of twenty life) can be quite amusing.
Chainer’s Edicts are obviously for the early game, and for extra spot removal late game. Though they are weak against token-heavy decks (such as Battle Screech or Roar of the Wurm) they’ve often proved invaluable in breaking stalls. Smothers are just fantastic. Kill your Wurm, kill your Psychatog, kill your Morphed Exalted Angel… One of the best Black spot removal spells, ever.
Engineered Plague against Elves, Clerics, Goblins, Soldiers and anything else that could impede the flow of massive beats from the Beasts.
Megrims are a potential solution to AstroGlide – a deck that abuses Astral Slide and Lightning Rift to remove attacking creatures, shock said creatures or opponents, and generally be quite effective and annoying. The high number of enchantments in Astral Glide makes it hard to deal with outside of mass removal such as Akroma’s Vengeance or Tranquility.
Spellbane Centaurs are self-explanatory, they stop Aether Burst, Boomerang, and other annoying blue bounce spells… They also hinder Persuasion if it ever gets to that…
Coffin Purge is critical for this deck, because Glory and Wonder spell game against it. One Coffin Purge is found in the main deck, and can also be used to change a potentially-dangerous Patriarch’s Bidding to your advantage.
Naturalize, one of my favourite cards from the new set, can eliminate Engineered Plague, Circle of Protection: Green, or Circle of Solace (Beasts).
Other versions of the deck substituted Wretched Anurid in place of the Biddings but in further testing it seemed too painful, especially against Battle Screech, Roar and other creature-heavy decks… Which brings me to:
Beastie, Beastie White Boyz!
The second and most recent build of the Beast deck abuses Anurid Brushhopper, Glory, and other such cards to create a virtually unstoppable beatings machine. Deck list:
4 Wirewood Savage
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Snarling Undorak
4 Ravenous Baloth
4 Anurid Brushhopper
4 Windswept Heath
2 Krosan Reclamation
3 Spellbane Centaur
2 Circle of Protection: Red
This deck saw light when Brendan sought a sturdier, more resilient version of the GB deck. The deck has several tricks in its build, which make it much more solid, even if it is lighter in creature removal. The Wild Mongrels need no explanation as they are one of the best Green creatures ever printed (hint to Wizards: More good Green creatures, less efficient Blue bounce) and serves as an enabler to place Glory into your graveyard for later use…
The four plains may seem a very small amount, but as Brendan said,”I never need too many of them, I tend to have birds, or Brushlands, or dig for them with Windswept Heath…”
Glory needs no explanation, but Oblation does. Simply put, it’s one of the most versatile cards in the deck. It can remove a pesky blocker, it can reshuffle an Anurid Brushhopper if you have only one card in hand, it can save something from Wrath or a pesky bounce spell, and it draws you two cards as well. The Wirewood Savages have a fun side-effect in this deck, since they draw you a card when the Brushhoppers return to play, lessening the card disadvantage to some degree.
The Undoraks, as with the previous deck, can pump the hoppers or Baloths or themselves, and can come into play Morphed. The Ravenous Baloths, lastly, are one of the most cost-efficient Green creatures of late, and serve to add pressure on the opponent.
Now to the Sideboard choices:
I asked the deck’s creator to justify his sideboard choices for me, and here’s what he had to say:
“Compost: This is the strongest anti-black card in type 2, it should let you keep up with black’s removal and discard. This is especially amusing if you get it out early against reanimator-style decks.
“Naturalize: Green now has Disenchant. Enough said.
“Seedtime: Someone out there will try Wizards or u/w control; this will make them pay.
“Krosan Reclamation: Green’s needed anti-graveyard card, you may want to up this to three or four if you expect a lot of g/u decks.
“Spellbane Centaur: Now blue needs to resort to Hibernation or Evacuation -but who plays that? – to get to your creatures.
“Circle of Protection: Red: Sligh is fast, and often Ravenous Baloth isn’t enough to take you out of burn range…”
Of course no such article on new decks would be complete without testing, so that’s what I did, mostly with the Black-Green build. Here are the results
Against UW Mobilization with Battle Screech, Merfolk Looter, Opposition and Madness draw/discard: 2-2. The two games I lost were the worst for my deck, he got a quick Battle Screech followed up by Opposition, it went downhill from there…Otherwise, the games were quite close and I was able to sneak Hystrodons in without too much trouble, and even Patriarch’s Bidding for Beasts, causing absurd card advantage.
Against UW White Weenie with Patrol Hounds, Glory, Aether Burst and so on:
2-4. This was the match that made me change certain strategies in the deck. Glory had a hand in winning nearly every game; it got so bad I decided to put at least one Coffin Purge maindeck to deal with it. I also decided I wanted to have some form of trampling to get past the various Birds, Clerics, and Nomads that were present.
Against Mono Red Sligh: 4-2, mostly because of the Ravenous Baloths and other huge things that serve to offset the burn spells. Engineered Plague Goblin also helps after game 1.
Against AstroGlide: 0-2, but at that point I had Wretched Anurids in place of Patriarch’s Bidding… The Bidding actually would have made a big difference.
As for the Green/White deck, I have only played against it with Tog and lost virtually every game; the Brushhopper evaded the Chainer’s Edicts and the version of Tog I had used was without Aether Bursts and other blue bounce. Circular Logics and Hibernations don’t do much against hoppers…
Are these decks Tier 1? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is certain: They hail to the great tradition of Wakefieldian fatty decks that smashed face and won with fun and fatties. They’re at least worth looking at.
So that’s it for me this time.
If I can just take a bit of time in this column to plug the upcoming Iron Man Tournament, at Kool Kards Heaven in Orleans, Nov. 23, I’d be eternally grateful.
Remember: Play for fun or don’t play at all.