Down And Dirty – A Standard Facelift in Nashville

Visit the StarCityGames.com booth at Grand Prix Minneapolis
Wednesday, November 11th – With Jund looking to dominate the format, the StarCityGames.com $5000 Nashville Standard Open produced a selection of decks that looked to topple the current metagame heavyweight. Kyle examines the funkiest decks to come out of the Top 8 of last weekend’s $5K, including the winning deck from Kali Anderson!

This has been a pretty chaotic week for me. My poor puppy dog Spoof was stolen from the backyard of my house, which eventually led to a stakeout of a house in my neighborhood that housed those I thought committed the deviant crime. Thanks to everyone who was following the action on Twitter, and for your kind words of encouragement. On the following day after she was stolen, my next door neighbor’s house was broken into. Spoof was the barking neighborhood defender.

I’ve been going crazy looking for her, and had to repost all of the initial signs I made because heavy rain ruined most of them. I’ve had a couple of people call in, but I doubt I’m going to see her again unless someone is hiding her in their backyard. Oddly enough, this is the third dog theft in the last six months on my street, so I’ll probably move back into an apartment pretty soon. I’m not too worried about my stuff being stolen, because my brother lives with me and he’s always home.

If anyone has any creative ideas on how to get her back, I’m all ears. I’ve already walked down all the alleys in my hood, talked with all my neighbors, posted signs, ran by the pound, etc. I’m not sure there is much else I can do…? The poor girl is just a byproduct of this sh**ty economy, bringing out the thieves and scammers to earn an indecent buck.

I was actually planning on attending Nashville, but my heart just wasn’t in it after the loss of my doggie, and I scrubbed out of a PTQ after the typical manascrew scenarios. I probably should have been playing 18 lands, but my curve was pretty awesome, topping out at three Bladetusk Boars, with very little Landfall action. I ran 10 Plains and 7 Mountain, to drop all my double White Kor dudes with no double Red spells in my deck, but I kept having triple Mountain draws, or all Plains. It seems like this could be the type of format where the aggro decks could end up playing 41 cards with 18 lands to achieve the “17.5” land theory. However, I’m still fresh to the format, so I’m not sure if other people are doing that yet.

When I first saw the decks from the StarCityGames.com $5000 Nashville Standard Open, my immediate interest went to the Eldrazi Green deck that a pair of Andersons took to the Top 8. I recognized Todd, but his wife can obviously sling some spells and bash with beaters too.

This deck is pretty awesome. I’ve been toying around with very similar G/r and Mono-Green Elf-based lists including Oran-Rief to pair with Nissa, Garruk, and Bloodbraid Elf, so I’ve got a pretty good idea at how this deck works, what it wants to do, etc., without actually playing with the actual build.

Ant Queen is a card I fell in love with. However, I never thought about including Eldrazi Monument in such a deck, which really puts the deck well ahead of the curve. I tried Master of the Hunt for a long time, but was always disappointed and just wanted to cast Garruk or Nissa with my four mana. He does a good job at filling the curve though, and unanswered with a Oran can clearly decimate a creature standstill, which is something that happens often enough in this deck when facing down cards like Sphinx of Jwar Isle, Wall of Denial, Putrid Leech, Sprouting Thrinax, and of course those dirty Vamps.

The real power of this deck is when you get double Oran going mid- to late-game, and all your creatures become burn proof and much larger than the opponent’s offering. In my versions, I tried running a singleton Soul’s Majesty. It was working out pretty well in combination with Ant Queen, Oran-enhanced Stags, Archdruid-enhanced Nissa’s Chosen, or even just Beast tokens. I even went to the extent of trying U/G versions splashing for a few Mind Spring to make better use of the numerous mana dudes and to give the deck some staying power against decks with Wraths, but Eldrazi Monument does the exact same thing and plays into the deck’s natural mana and game plan. I’m really diggin’ this brew.

The sideboard looks pretty neat on paper. I’m not sure how good a plan of maxing out on Acidic Slime post board against the control decks actually is, and I really feel this deck needs a better answer to Baneslayer Angel if it’s going to realistically compete. Windstorm is neat, but it clearly isn’t the kind of answer you want for Standard’s best creature. This deck sprung up at the right time, as with so many people hating Baneslayer it’s a decent gambit to just beat the decks that beat Baneslayer and cross your fingers you’re not facing down some Angels. Pithing Needle takes care of a variety of problem cards to which Mono Green decks have few answers, such as Planeswalkers, equipment, and those stupid fringe decks that are trying to use lots of Unearth (Mono Red and those crazy Crypt decks).

Big Mike (Mycoloth) out of the sideboard is pretty awesome, and something I was playing a few of main deck in the Master of the Wild Hunt slot, as it completely obliterates the Red players. Of course, you’ve got to be wary of those Threaten effects when you make him an 8/8 or 10/10. I don’t like boarding in to a bunch of five-drops. You aren’t going to take out Ant Queen, are you? And boarding into Molder, Mike, and Slime really clunks up the curve for pretty bland cards that don’t add any new horizons or different angles of attack. If this deck gets caught up being reactive, it will lose every time against decks with a wider range of better cards. I’d be much more interested in boarding in something like Overrun. They will definitely have more removal post-board, so that makes it only attractive in heavy creature mirrors.

I was boarding into Vines of Vastwood a lot of the time against removal-heavy decks, which was working out pretty well, since it also gave you a realistic means to race Baneslayer Angel. If Angel really shoots up in popularity, this deck can easily splash White for some extra utility and answers.

This is sure to be a deck that a lot of people are going to pick up. It’s pretty deep for a mono colored deck, and is definitely powerful enough to take down some tournaments with Baneslayer on the bench. Perhaps a White version of this deck will pop up with Baneslayer for the mirror?

I honestly didn’t expect to find several decks that I was very interested in the Top 8 at Nashville, especially with our stale Jund filled Standard… but go figure, this brew looks real interesting too!

This one also put two near-exact lists into the Top 8 (just some mana swaps and a Jund Charm/Pyroclasm switch in the board), and it’s the second-biggest breakout deck from the weekend. They look very close to the early Cascade list I was pitching a month or so ago. Basically, you take the two best three-mana spells with Esper Charm and Blightning. I’ve got a lot of experience with this deck too, and even though it loses a lot of ground in the early game, it has the best card advantage engine for the late game, and will empty the opponents hand fairly quickly. I’m really surprised there aren’t any Day of Judgments main deck here, because its covers the biggest hole this deck has: dealing with mass amounts of early creatures.

The best feature of this deck is how damn consistent it is… Twenty-one freaking Cascade spells. I’d be scared of getting game loses for revealing cards, given how much flipping is involved with this deck. The real problem with this deck is when you don’t draw one of the three-drops within your first two or three draws, and are forced to start the curve late at four. Over half the lands in this deck enter the battlefield tapped too, so on occasion there will be draws where you can’t cast a three- or four-drop on time.

This sideboard looks really good too. You can do some three-drop swapping by bringing in some Rhox War Monks, to make up ground against Red decks after their hand is emptied by the premium discard spells. Jund Charm gives you a lot of versatility, being able to sweep Boros’s board while also an efficient graveyard removal spell to take care of graveyard decks. As above, I’m really shocked there aren’t more Day of Judgments in this deck. I made Top 8 at a PTQ a million years ago with a list that looks identical to this featuring Wrath of God, and it was by far the most helpful card to have to make up for the slow Cascade tactics. When Wrath rotated out, the deck just didn’t work the same, and these Cascade lists were some of the first I attempted when new Standard rolled around with DOJ… but I still had a ton of problems dealing with Putrid Leech into Blightning (go figure).

There still isn’t a much better plan than to consistently empty their hand then follow it up with a Baneslayer Angel, so this deck seems poised to do some great things in the hands of greedy attrition mages at Worlds. I’d definitely look to lighten the Cascade count to include some Day of Judgment action main deck. I could never get the mana to work as consistently as the Cascades, but I didn’t have 4 Rupture Spire, so maybe that’s what I was doing wrong. I also don’t think Enigma Sphinx is necessary, and this deck will clearly have some problems if Swerve continues to see a moderate amount of play.

This is the third Green Eldrazi deck that made the Top 8, this time splashing White for removal to handle the best creature in Standard. I really don’t like the mana in this deck at all. Graypelt Refuge? Come on now, eight enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands (ETBT lands) is far too many for a lean deck like this that has drops to make every turn. It’s nice to play a turn 1 mana dude into a turn 2 ETBT land plus a two-drop, but when you get two-land openers with Sunpetal Grove and another ETBT land, it’s pretty tough to gain the early footing this deck needs to take off. I also don’t like any fewer than 3 Ant Queen, but that is pretty minor.

The real question you have to ask yourself is whether you’d like to have the solid reliable threat of Great Sable Stag, or more Hierarchs and Path to Exile. This deck doesn’t have the late game kick that the Anderson family has. White is pretty troublesome, but it might be worth it to make the main deck more resilient and the sideboard a lot better and more encompassing.

I do like his sideboard better than Anderson version, featuring the aforementioned Vines along with Oblivion Ring as a better Pithing Needle. What’s the deal with Windstorm anyway? Faeries isn’t in Standard anymore, and White has plenty better answers to a Vampire Nighthawk or Baneslayer Angel. I don’t think this deck really cares about Sphinx of Jwar Isle, given they can easily trump it with Eldrazi or race around it with ease. I don’t like the 2/2/2 split of Oblivion Ring / Celestial Purge / Harm’s Way either. I want to be consistent in my answers, and not get too techy with my splash for a marginal amount of versatility.

There was also an Emeria Aggro deck that turned some heads…

This is pretty new to me, as all the Mono-White decks involving Emeria that have appeared thus far have been strictly control decks featuring the late game bomb Iona. This deck, however, has sixteen two-drops! This brew also only has 22 lands, with a whopping four Emeria… not exactly the ratio I’d look to sleeve up.

The real strength of this deck is White Knight, who is a metagame beast right now when battling against anything but Lightning Bolt. I’m also surprised there aren’t any Brave the Elements main deck, given how horrible this squad is against a 3/3 on defense.

“I’ve got a Sprouting Thrinax, what’s up with it?”

“Oh, just a bunch of 2/2’s over here for me…”

Sure, there are nice removal spells for Thrinax, but I’m just saying that with so many mediocre donks you’ve gotta have a means to race them that isn’t the predictable Ajani Goldmane or Honor of the Pure.

And what the heck is up with Devout Lightcaster main deck? It’s just another 2/2 donk. However, it’s less dead than 2 Celestial Purge in some matchups, so maybe that’s a nice removal split.

This deck is a definite improvement from that crappy White Soldiers list Cedric was pitching. Despite the curve having a sharp peak at the two-drop slot, this deck’s creatures are great on defense, and they become stone cold killers with the help from Honor & AjaniG. I wouldn’t play four Emeria, but the 22 mana issue should be okay since it doesn’t hurt to sit on two lands for awhile, as you can cast half your deck off them.

I haven’t played the deck enough to know whether or not this is a good sideboard, but on the surface it looks a bit scatterbrained and unfocused.

Nevertheless, this Nashville tournament was a refreshing wakeup call from the Jund and Boros filled Standard we’ve had to struggle through. The fringe decks are finally breaking through, and Standard is shaping up into a fun format. Beating Jund is still the most important thing you need to do, but now we have a few more ways to do it. Once the format is less chaotic and slows down for a minute, I’d expect a surge of slower control decks to make their way to the top again.

Thanks for reading…