I’m on early again this week, helping the embattled editorial staff here at StarCityGames.com keep up the quantity (as well as the quality) of awesome
sauce here on Premium. It’ll seem obvious after I say this, but… most of the Premium keyboard-slingers are presently in Paris (in some cases battling in the Top 8) as I write this… as are Evan, Lauren, and Steve!
So I go to the Indomitable Twitter Army and ask the big question…
“Seeing as how we are almost certain to see a flood of Pro Tour: Paris reports and/or ‘look over my shoulder’-style deck development articles
(especially since we are blessed enough to have both Patrick and Brian and the Player of the Year)… What else â€” what different â€” would you guys like to see?”
The resounding answer, like blast of lightning followed by the crescendo of a dozen identical thunderclaps, was “Top 10 cards in Standard updated with Mirrodin Besieged!”
Now the last time I did this, I conferred with Mr. Chapin
and we had about an 80% overlap â€” or could at least come to a consensus.
This time I made my list by myself, started writing this article, got a response from Chapin before I finished, and re-wrote part of it. Shockingly
(well, probably not that shocking â€” let’s face it â€” as I know what I am talking about here), we had a 9/10 overlap on picks! I’ll note the change
around bullet #9 or #10.
Many of you probably recall that I didn’t think Jace was as great as some other players did around his debut last year… Which is not to say that I
didn’t think Jace was (slash-remains) an A+ card. The very first thing I ever wrote about Jace said that he
would be Staple-to-Flagship; I just always thought Bloodbraid Elf (best card) and Spreading Seas (best blue card) were better.
Jace has gotten a lot better with the rotation of Alara Block, as the disappearances of Bloodbraid Elf, Ranger of Eos, and Ajani Vengeant both loosened
up the four-slot and saw the departure of one of the best cards ever against Jace, which put him in an undisputed #1 a few months
ago. Considering the fact that two-thirds of the breakout Mirrodin Besieged decks (including both of the good ones) are Jace decks, it should
be no surprise that the world’s most expensive Planeswalker hasn’t been dislodged from his lofty perch.
I’m not sure which is more shocking â€” the fact that a creature other than Primeval Titan is actually the best creature in the format â€” or that Osyp
Lebedowicz was right.
When Worldwake came out, Osyp asked me if he was crazy for wanting to play Stoneforge Mystic in Extended… to which I just rolled my eyes. A year later,
the little 1/2 for two might not be dominating Extended, exactly, but you would be hard-pressed to prove that any other creature is more effective at
winning games of Magic: The Gathering in the Standard format.
Stoneforge Mystic is what put Caw-Go (now CawBlade) over the top â€” it moved it from “good” to “great” to “one of the all-time greats.” Obviously, that
came with the introduction of Sword of Feast and Famine (Spoilers! Number Six! Spoilers!), but hey â€” the changes brought by Mirrodin Besieged
seems to have farther-reaching impacts than just the new cards themselves.
In addition to CawBlade, Stoneforge Mystic is one of the few sources of card advantage to the highly competitive Boros beatdown deck. The Mystic is not
just a Sword- (or Swords-) factory. Adventuring Gear seems to be stock, making everyone a Steppe Lynx or Plated Geopede; in addition, Vincent Lemoine’s
version can go huge with Bonehoard, and the mighty Paul Rietzl still packs a Basilisk Collar in the sideboard for his Cunning Sparkmage combo.
When the top two contenders in the Pro Tour â€” decks as diametrically opposed as U/W Control and Boros beatdown â€” are starting off with the same
two-drops, you know that there is some unconditional card quality going on.
Out-there prediction: Primeval Titan will be back at the top tables again, someday.
Daring, I know!
But seriously, nobody is as high-impact as a Primeval Titan. People joke that the world didn’t end in Paris, and there weren’t eight Blightteel
Colossus decks in the Top 8 (there were in fact zero Blightsteel Colossus decks in the Top 8), but I honestly don’t know how many games I have ever won
after being attacked by a Primeval Titan once. You aren’t dead yet, but it’s pretty miserable. I’m sure I’ve lost games after attacking with a
Primeval Titan, but not many. That guy is like a delayed blast Gabriel Nassif. Primeval Titan might not technically win in one shot like
Blightsteel Colossus can, but it feels pretty much over, you grok?
I’d make a Fedor Emelianenko comment now, but I won’t, seeing as how the Last Emperor has already threatened to hang up the gloves.
Me? I’d still love to see Randy-Fedor; even now. Maybe at Light Heavyweight?
I wish I could have put Koth of the Hammer in this Top 10 list, especially with two different decks playing Koth (including the mighty Paul Rietzl in
the finals), as I thought from my first preview article that Koth would be the Planeswalker who would unseat big Jace’s stranglehold.
But it looks like Tezzeret Two is going to have that honor.
You know how you know there is a chink in Jace’s armor?
Patrick motherlovin’ Chapin played only three copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor in his deck â€” but four copies of Tezzeret. Literally the
universe’s number one Jace booster â€” literally mono-Tezzerets at four (splashing three Jaces, but whatever).
Tezzeret actually gains loyalty with a contextually more powerful card drawing ability than Jace’s.
Tezzeret can just kill you to death with two swings from an Inkmoth Nexus.
Whoever said that Tezzeret does a “pretty good Koth impression” (as well as a pretty good Jace impression) hit the nail on the head. He will probably
be the #1 card in Standard when Jace and Stoneforge Mystic rotate, or at least compete with Primeval Titan. Just a thoroughly amazing card whose
potential has been scratched by only one Pro Tour so far.
Sorry, Kyle. You are officially alone.
Not much to say about Preordain other than it is awesome. It’s just the best search card in the format. It fixes your mana, gets you to your good cards
â€” and especially, in the late game, it is one of your good cards.
In case you never read his article on how to play Preordain, Nick Spagnolo not only
innovated the concept of not playing first turn Preordain, and not keeping hands based on the presence of Preordain, but pointed out that if you draw
one late, you should usually win. Certainly worth the berth in the top half of the Top 10.
On the other hand, it seemed weird running Preordain and not Mana Leak, as the two cards have previously been so closely linked in these kinds of
discussions. But unlike Preordain â€” which is played basically everywhere by the good decks that can play it â€” Mana Leak has gone pretty spotty. The
snowballing artifacts of the Tezzeret decks are making Stoic Rebuttal look better; and Spell Pierce is competing on the numbers, and looking even
bigger than the Tempest classic. Mana Leak is just much less indispensable than it once seemed; certainly less so than the epic Preordain.
Two words: Pau Gasol.
Put another way, this is the biggest reason that another card catapulted to #2 in this Top 10 list.
If you haven’t seen the literal machine with Gideon Jura; Jace, the Mind Sculptor; and this card all functioning simultaneously, you might not know
what I mean. In the Top 8, Ben Stark repeatedly pulled the opponent’s creatures to their dooms, opened up space to strike with the Sword, and tapped
most (or all) of his mana pre-combat for Celestial Colonnade attack.
…and then untapped to pass the turn with Counterspell mana up.
As long as this full regalia is legal in Standard, U/W Aggro-Control in some form is going to be a serious contender on card quality.
The last time I ran this project, I think I overvalued Primeval Titan’s impact (possibly due to the diversity represented by Mono-Green Eldrazi Ramp
decks, and bias the legitimate EV of my U/G Genesis Wave strategy), but it was actually playing Extended that opened my eyes about the role of
the “volcano” in terms of predicting victories in Standard.
Despite Valakut’s one-tournament absence from Top 8, the card’s presence is legitimately warping. Most decks have to either have a natural advantage
(viz. Boros) or devote a considerable amount of real estate (in some cases literally, as with the next card on this Top 10 list) to interacting with a
“mere” land. I mean there are cards on this list whose main job is to get Valakut (Number Two), or kill Valakut (Number Eight / Number Ten-and-a-Half).
Considering there is a legitimate debate about whether Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or Tectonic Edge is the best land in the format, if you’re going to
include one, you kind of have to tip your hat to the other.
In any case, Tectonic Edge is played as a three-of (if not four-of) in a ton of different decks; useful not just for Valakut defense, but Creeping Tar
Pit and other man-lands. Or you can just tempo bejeezus out of another control deck. Shouldn’t be controversial.
I don’t usually like to pander (for example, I steadfastly refused to add Goblin Guide to the last incarnation of this list), but I figured that I
should tip my hat to the Boros decks. Lightning Bolt is one of the most efficient cards in the format, so mise?
Like I said way back in the opening paragraphs, I got a little input from the Innovator before turning this one in, and he actually called my inclusion
of Lightning Bolt “loose.”
So zoink! Sorry, Lightning Bolt!
So what I said about pandering?
One of the things I found most impressive about this card in the Paris Top 8 was how it could so effectively un-mulligan a player ostensibly on the
ropes before the game started.
10. Spreading Seas
I know it seems weird to have this card appear on the Top 10 list, given its disappearance from most of the performing U/W decks and its
relegation to the sideboard of Patrick’s deck.
However I had it as the top blue card for most of last year, and the Innovator said I could put it in the Top 10 over Lightning Bolt… so mise!
In all seriousness, I think we are quickly going to get to a point where Spreading Seas comes back. After Worlds, Gerry Thompson pointed out how great
it was that everyone was doing their homework… Four Spreading Seas and four Tectonic Edges in the appropriate decks, even when specifically Spreading
Seas had not been popular in, say U/B Control at the beginning of the season.
Even Kibler’s undefeated Caw-Go played four Spreading Seas between main and side (1+3), as did my U/G Genesis Wave (1+3 or 2+2, depending if you were a
Magic World Champion or WPT Champion; Conley would later move all four to the main).
Point is, a card that made the cut in Pyromancer Ascension just to beat Jund decks, then disappeared, then was reborn to fight Valakut and Creeping Tar
Pit, and has seemingly disappeared again will be back.
Spreading Seas is just too good.
It fixes your mana like a Preordain.
It defends you against some pretty hefty threats.
And there are games â€” more games than most of us probably write down or admit â€” where it just wallops an opponent even when it isn’t supposed to. Check
out some of the videos on this here site… Draw three or four Spreading Seas, and you just lock down whoever.
Holy Sinkhole, Batman!
So here are your Top 10 cards (for now, at least!):
1. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2. Stoneforge Mystic
3. Primeval Titan
4. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
6. Sword of Feast and Famine
7. Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
8. Tectonic Edge
9. Squadron Hawk
10. Spreading Seas
Back Friday, per usual.