Can We Get Some Love For Gutterbones?

The lame ducks of the past–cough, Bloodsoaked Champion–have given poor little Gutterbones a tough time this preview season! But as Abraham Stein warns, if you spend too much time worrying about the big splashy mythics, these cards might get you…

If you have been reading SCG Premium this week, you’ve been blessed by Ari
Lax and Patrick Chapin giving out their takes on some signature cards
coming out of the Rakdos Guild.

You can read Ari’s article on Judith, the Scourge Devil
and Chapin’s article on Rakdos, the Showstopper
, but I’m here to talk about one of the little guys who can be seen tying
things together in both.

You can take my word as someone who did stage crew for the theatre program
at their high school that nobody has ever put on a spectacle without a
supporting cast, and Gutterbones is the perfect example of that.

We’ve all seen it before. A really cool card comes out that looks like it
has a lot of potential if the support is there, but the support
never comes. In the last few years, we’ve seen less of this happening with
cards like Diregraf Colossus and Cryptbreaker getting love down the line
from things like Liliana’s Mastery and Dread Wanderer, and I think
Gutterbones could be the next piece of a larger puzzle.

I may be a little biased, as some of my favorite Standard decks in history
are from black aggro decks, but Gutterbones is the kind of bread and butter
card that really brings the archetype together. Black aggro is only about
as good as its one-drops. It’s been true since the days of Suicide Black
strategies casting Dark Ritual into Carnophage and Sarcomancy, or Pulse
Tracker and Vampire Lacerator in Zendikar Standard.

This is the foundation these decks are built upon!

Two power for one mana is a fantastic rate, and having so many cheap ways
to add power to the battlefield in the early game gives us an early
aggression that rivals that of Mono-White or Mono-Red Aggro.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself “Is this really all it takes? Print
another Bloodsoaked Champion and suddenly Mono-Black is alive again? You
can’t be real.”

Rude. The important thing is that Gutterbones is just another
straw on the camel’s back.

If you look at the other aggressive options that have been explored in
Standard, each color really has its comparative advantages when you break
it down.

So, what makes the black aggressive decks different? What’s the draw to
playing them?

What if I told you that you could have a bit of all of it and then some?

The biggest draw for me is being allowed to play creatures that generate
card advantage and capitalize on a low-to-the-ground curve. A consistent
stream of pressure from your one-mana creatures keeps the opponent on
defense and if Dark Confidant has taught us anything, drawing extra removal
spells for a life or two is an easy way to win.

Spawn of Mayhem is another card I’m really excited to play with more. Owen
Turtenwald talked
late last week
about some things that this card could do in Standard, and while this deck
isn’t full of spectacle cards to fully utilize the guaranteed life loss,
Gutterbones certainly doesn’t mind.

Really this deck will be happy so long as it’s able to spend all its mana
every turn preferably by playing two small spells or one big one every turn
to bury the opponent in a pile of two-power attackers. Graveyard Marshal is
a card I’ve been looking to find an excuse to sleeve up from the second I
saw it previewed and when it comes to amassing a horde of the undead, it’s
a natural.

This deck got me thinking, with mana as good as what we have in Standard
with all the shocklands released, why stop at 22 Swamps? How far can we get
with a splash? Staying true to Rakdos, I went a little deeper to get to

When it comes to a splash in a deck like this, I took a “less is more”
approach and only added in the hits. In a deck so obsessed with running its
creatures headlong into the opponent, Judith seemed like a perfect fit, and
Bedevil is a good answer to cards like Lyra Dawnbringer that might stand in
your way.

Experimental Frenzy is no stranger to decks full of one-mana spells. Many
of my friends who have been on the Magic Arena grind have sung the praises
of a version of Boros Aggro with maindeck Experimental Frenzies to have
additional resilience in a best-of-one setting. Here, I believe it will be
similarly effective.

One of the things that will be very important as Ravnica Allegiance Standard begins to take a more defined shape
will be finding the right balance and adapting to the format at large and
finding the solid starting shells is a big part of that. The Boros Aggro
decks we saw become the dominant aggressive option were a product of the
Mono-White Aggro decks before them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see
more options derivative of that starting shell moving forward.

As a general practice for new Standard formats, it’s a good idea to have a
mental image what the first 40 or so cards you want to play in an archetype
are and why. This makes it easier to shift around emerging ideas and find
the balances in deckbuilding you’re looking for to attack the format in the
right ways.

So far this preview season, I’ve been very impressed by the depth being
fleshed out for a lot of the archetypes in Standard–especially Rakdos.
Gutterbones, Rix Maadi Reveler, and Bedevil all come to mind as
out-of-the-box ready to play cards, and I can’t wait to see more coming as
we draw near to the release of the set.

I’ll be at SCG Worcester this weekend, but my mind is also set on the
Standard Open in Indianapolis at the end of the month. There’s still a lot
of cards to see, but for right now I’m hoping I get to keep my mind in the
gutter and have my Swamps ready to go.