Down And Dirty – Highlighting New Brews From Pro Tour: San Diego

SCG Open Richmond!

Wednesday, February 24th – Pro Tour: San Diego offered up a fresh new Standard format. With players across the world brainstorming innovative new designs, Kyle Sanchez looks at the standout offerings that break away from the usual tried and tested strategies. Standard is evolving, and if you’re looking for something different for this weekend’s StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Richmond, look no further!

Luis Scott-Vargas made history this week in sunny San Diego. Blah, blah, blah, 17-0, blah, blah, most impressive performance in Pro Tour history, blah, blah, some dude named Simon who looks strikingly similar to Zack Hall won the whole shebang. A very exciting weekend… however, I can’t help but agree with Tim Aten Facebook post when he said “This is quietly the weakest PT Top 8 since PT #1.”

We don’t really care about that entire hullabaloo anyway, right? We want to see the coolest deck lists from the event, so we can have a quality brew to battle with come FNM, or for the StarCityGames.com Standard Open this weekend in Richmond! But first, we need to take a brief overview of what was actually being played in SD. Thankfully; Bill Stark & Rashad already put in the sweat for me.

So we’ve still got Jund on top… no surprises. However, it was more played than the second, third, and fourth most played decks COMBINED! Insane! Has that ever happened before in the history of Magic?! We can finally say that Jund is in the ball park of Affinity/Faeries/Teachings in terms of overall dominance of a metagame. White Weenie was the breakout deck of the weekend, with Stoneforge Mystic providing a bump in power for them. Vampires and Blue-White Control were the other eye-popping standouts on the list. Despite being a Jund metagame, I still think it’s very healthy to see such a wide variety of decks and interactions going on. Worldwake definitely lifted the stale taste we had in our mouth from Worlds, and we’ve only begun to understand what our Standard potential is.

Here are some cool lists from the side events Top 8s…

This Bant deck is like that supervised house party from 7th grade, where it’s just a room full of dudes hanging out without much else going on besides video games and bad music. The only girl at the party is a knockout Angel, and she’s out of reach of all those stupid Elephant-sized guys, snakey hoodlums, and those vulgar beasty lads…

There are so many damn creatures in this deck that there’s no way Jace is going to die from a Hellspark Elemental or Sprouting Thrinax attack, and Jace goes a long way towards setting them back with his bounce while you have a horde of creatures ready to pounce. I learned how potent it is to accelerate into Jace by playing my Crabs at the $1K tournament last weekend, and this deck can really capitalize on that. Too bad all Jace will ever draw is more creatures, but hey, at least this deck is consistent. And with Dauntless Escort there to protect the clan, this deck could really be a great option against Jund. Max’s sideboard is geared to fill in the holes that playing an all-creature deck creates. You need some Negates for backup, Ascension to take care of the slower decks, and World Queller to handle whatever permanents you didn’t expect while staying loyal to the creature-packed plan.

This U/W Control build is a bit different from Chapin’s popular version. This deck looks to ramp up its mana until it can start abusing the X-spells of Coup and Spring, and has a pretty solid early game plan opposite creatures. I probably wouldn’t play two Iona given so much card draw and how heavy some of the other spells are in here. I’d possibly run a fourth Jace or an O-Ring instead. This deck is really just trying to play above the rim and overload you with all its card drawing and busty expensive spells, similarly to the way Tron overwhelmed people in the past. Chalice being around is what really makes these decks competitive, and it could start a new “big end game” trend by the time Rise of the Eldrazi comes out in a few months.

This deck is pretty Green! However, I’m not sure how profitable it is. A lot of these cards spawn their own army, from Garruk to Wolfbriar Elemental and Bestial Menace, and we can’t forget Khalni Garden. You would never catch me playing this deck, but it hammers the same point that the creature-filled Bant deck tries to do: max out on creatures and turn them sideways. It’s a typical Overrun deck, but they’ll sneak up on you and run you over if you don’t see them coming.

This deck is something very new and extremely creative. Everyone always tries to build a Blue deck when constructing Howling Font decks, but this application is so obvious it’s hard to believe this hasn’t been attempted already (beyond the illusion that it doesn’t work, of course). A Mono-Red burn deck using Mines and Fonts to draw enough burn to seal the deal is pretty attractive. The one thing keeping this deck from actually being playable right now is Kor Firewalker. Your opponent is drawing more of them with the dual drawing engine, and unfortunately there’s no good way to deal with them in a solid Red deck. Valakut can take care of them, but it obviously isn’t timely enough.

The card drawing also helps you hit your mana drops to finish them off with a huge Earthquake or Comet Storm, and Searing Blaze gives this deck yet another quality burn spell to set next to Burst n’ Bolt.

This deck is gas. A very solid tribute to the U/W Control decks of old. Everything about this deck screams “old school Magic.” It’s very simply constructed, with all the things you’d expect to see. It’s got clean decisive numbers, LOTS of land, great card draw, and Baneslayers coming in post-board once you take out all your removal. If I were wearing a hat and Chapin was sitting next to me, I’d certainly tip it his way. I really dig this brew, and it’s likely to become a very popular and widely-played deck in the coming months. I’ll even go as far to say that one will Top 8 this weekend in Richmond, but the wise mages won’t wait until then to throw it in their gauntlet. You better be prepared for this deck at your next tournament.

The singleton Iona is just beautiful too. I wish there was something like Trade Routes or Patrol Hound legal, so we could discard all the lands we draw off Treasure Hunt that we don’t use. Tectonic Edge is the card I like the most in this list, and I’m eagerly awaiting Chapin’s tournament report to see how he feels about the list and any changes he’d make.

Justin is a well-known battlemage here in Texas, and he’s had more success with Valakut than any other monkey in this jungle. He’s also got that giant Plant thing in his sideboard that I was talking about last week! Valakut is really under the radar, in my opinion. If people actually played with the deck, they’d realize just how strong it is. Another benefit is this is one of the few Red decks that doesn’t keel over when a Kor Firewalker steps into play, since he’s got eight virtual copies of Valakut, which provides a colorless source of damage. Grazing Gladehart is another card that doesn’t get a lot of respect, but I was watching him play this deck at the Dallas Open, and he must’ve gained twenty life off it to buy him more than enough time to execute the Valakut plan.

If I were going to pick a deck to play tomorrow at the StarCityGames.com Richmond Standard Open this weekend, I would probably choose Justin’s Valakut. It’s extremely well positioned to withstand the current metagame, and it could be the deck to beat pretty soon.

This is another cool combo deck that Jace dramatically helped out! Despite having four freaking Ionas in here, this deck is really just like a Bant deck that takes advantage of having cheap awesome creatures to accelerate into via the Cobra. His main deck numbers are cut and clean, but his sideboard doesn’t seem very good. With Jace in the deck you can put those stranded Ionas back on top to Summoning Trap into, which was one of the more annoying repercussions of playing this deck pre-Worldwake.

If you’re playing against this deck, make sure you don’t wait to cast a spell until after they resolve the Trap because once they find an Iona you can’t respond since it puts it directly onto the battlefield. I’d also try and squeeze Wall of Reverence or Wall of Denial in here to protect Jace since all the other creatures are bound to be getting rowdy.

I haven’t done any testing, but this White Weenie lists looks miles ahead of what Ceddie-poo cooked up. Could Kor be the new Kithkin? Armament Master and Stoneforge Mystic could be proud flag-bearers of a mighty Kor army! I never thought I’d say this, but Armament Master is like Wizened Cenn on steroids. We’ve got a decent selection of equipment to work with, yet this deck is clearly missing the Basilisk Collar that carried LSV to a 17-1 record. I’d also probably cut the Ghost for another Kor Firewalker/Skyfisher. Kor Duelist into Stoneforge Mystic is actually pretty decent… If he picks up an Adventuring Gear and you drop a fetch, you’re representing 11 damage on turn 3!

This deck also has a surprising amount of disruption, with Kor Firewalker and Devout Lightcaster hurting those colors. Tectonic Edge gives you an… edge… on all the slower decks, but with so many White mana symbols I probably wouldn’t risk the color screw even if the deck does play 26 lands. There’s also Brave the Elements, which is a very underrated card right now, and always throws the math off in a damage race. Sejiri Steppe is another card that is great at breaking through damage.

I never thought I’d see Lenny B playing a pink-sleeved burn deck, but hey, maybe we live in a two-dimensional universe after all. The real standout in this list is Stone Idol Trap. That card is pretty good, huh? Kill your dude, bash you for six trample. It’s really uncommon to have a Red creature with such a large butt, and at 6/12 this stone has the chance to keep on rolling into Red decks lineups now that Ben paved the way.

Now that we’ve got a fun Standard format to work, with this set of summer StarCityGames.com Standard Opens are looking pretty tempting…

Thanks for reading…