Down And Dirty – Post-Worlds Standard Shenanigans

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Tuesday, November 24th – With Worlds in the books, Kyle Sanchez looks at some of the more exciting decks to pour forth from the Roman battlefield. From Top 8 decks to more rogue creations, Mr. Sanchez has a handle on the States (and StarCityGames.com $5000 St. Louis Standard Open) metagame!

All the people claiming that Standard would level out once Worlds passed are dead wrong. There aren’t any new decks that can surpass the enormous Jund field that we’re going to face for both the State Championships and the StarCityGames.com $5000 St. Louis Standard Open. However, there are definitely some potential brews that I saw this past weekend, decks that could be a strong metagame choice a couple of weeks from now. Mike Flores Naya Lightsaber deck that won the whole shebang is one of those, but that same virtual list has been around since Jacob Van Lunen won the Standard portion of Nationals. Playing Path to Exile + Lightning Bolt + Wild Nacatl + Woolly Thoctar isn’t anything fresh, but clearly the deck is poised to take the biggest leap after the Roman results.

The biggest problem I have with Naya Lightsaber is its one-of Scute Mob, which I declared wouldn’t become a Standard staple anytime soon. Does its singleton inclusion really make it a Standard staple? I’m going to lean toward “no.” That way I don’t have to eat one. I’ll wait until the States results pour in before I make any edible decisions.

This list is crisp, clean, decisive, and can clearly execute against the Jund menace, as seen in the finals of the biggest tournament of the year, which really saddens me. Not so much that he 3-0’d Jund and this is going to be a big part of the States metagame, but because Worlds is the biggest tournament of the year. I used to think the Magic Invitational was the biggest event of the year. Sure, winning $50000, a badass trophy, being a World Champion, benefits for next year, etc etc is exciting and all, but the opportunity to witness a tournament where the winner actually MADE a Magic card was always more appealing to me. I fear that I’ll never be able to see that again, and I’m pretty disappointed it was thrown out the window. We still haven’t even seen Tiago Chan “land that cycles to counter a spell” yet, and that Invitational took place over two years ago! Can you believe it’s been that long?!

Anyway, back to the Lightsaber that cut Darth Jund in half…

The real advantage this deck has over Jund is that its removal is cheaper, its creatures come out much quicker, it has more creatures than Jund has removal, and after they are done battling it has the ability to drop the best creature in the format (Baneslayer Angel, durr!) to finish the game. Jund has Blightning, but that play isn’t very profitable when they play turn 1 Noble Hierarch into Woolly Thoctar, or drop a pair of Wild Nacatls early that you can’t block with Leech in fear of a Lightning Bolt.

The curve in this deck really isn’t as strong as you might think, and this is really just a fatty deck that keeps dropping big creatures until the opponent can’t answer them. With full sets of Baneslayer Angel, Bloodbraid Elf, Ranger of Eos, and a few Ajani Vengeants, I can imagine this deck can end up with some clunky draws in the absence of an early Nacatl, Hierarch, or Thoctar. The lack of early drops also makes your Bloodbraid Elf that much more consistent. You’ll get a removal spell half the time, a conditional removal in Path to Exile a fifth of the time, a Nacatl/Thoctar half the time, and a lame-o Noble Hierarch another fifth of the time.

Turn 1 Nacatl or Hierarch doesn’t look like it happens too often in this deck either. That’s not much of a problem, since neither are really one-drops in this deck except in extreme scenarios. Nacatl often will only be a 1/1 or 2/2 on turn 2 or 3, and Hierarch’s best purpose is to accelerate into a Ranger, Bloodbraid, or Ajani Vengeant on turn 3, which basically makes them two-drops that can both be played on the same turn.

The most impressive part of this deck is honestly its sideboard. Sure, they’re all really predictable cards, but they really give the deck a ton of flexibility. Against the rare control decks, you bring in a case AjaniV and some Goblin Ruinblasters and force a light mana disruption package that is sure to cause headaches for them, as well as being a great way to stop Jund’s Broodmate Dragons when facing them. Coimbra used Ruinblaster to destroy Reitbauer’s Oran in the finals in game 2 when he was on the draw; however, I wouldn’t have guessed the Ruinblasters are for the Jund matchup by checking out the list at a glance. In game 3, Andre used the Ruinblaster again to take out a Savage Lands which stalled David on two land and basically won the match.

Andre also boarded in the Celestial Purges and some numbers of Great Sable Stag against Jund, making me wonder what exactly he took out. He probably cut AjaniV, and upgraded Path or Bolt to Purge, but the absence of Ranger or Nacatl in the sideboard games could also mean he took the Ranger package out in favor of the mana disruption suite. He also discarded an AjaniV against Marijn in the quarters, so it’s pretty likely that Andre moves to a mana disruption package with bunches of removal to take care of Jund post-board.

The whole finals was pretty tough for the Jund player, since he wasn’t really battling in any of the games while Andre continued to draw spell after spell to seal the deal. I’d expect the Jund versus Naya matchup to be much closer than a 3-0 sweep with the Lightsaber.

Naya was clearly the big winner this weekend, but there were a host of potential rogue decks that really struck my fancy that I’d like to cover too. None of which are more impressive than GerryT’s Spread ‘Em list…

I’m not sure why, but I feel like this is a deck that I made, which is something I don’t say very often about other people’s brews. The narrow-sighted game 1 plan that attacks the metagame in a certain way, and the busty creature sideboard option that will send your opponent reeling game 2 while having them scratch their head game 3. I wrote about how I thought Spreading Seas might be the answer to Jund a couple of weeks ago, and ever since then I was coming up with my own brews, mostly UWR, but adding Green to the mix for Captured Sunlight and Bloodbraid Elf is just brilliant. I was trying to find a way to make Ardent Plea have some sort of value outside of being an extra copy of Mirage/Seas, and Ruinblaster is much too small to matter even with some Exalted enhancements, but Bloodbraid… he could be a 4/3 or 5/4, which is big enough to take down some opposing mages in a hurry while their mana problems eat them up.

The minute I saw the deck tech on Spread ‘Em, I sent BDM some tweets about how great the deck was, and inquired a little more. He shot me a tweet back saying GerryT actually lost two rounds in a row to Vampires, joking that he should have had Lush Growth in the sideboard to beat up on the Mono-Black deck!

I took this deck straight to MWS and tested it against some Jund and Vampires decks, and had the realization that Sphinx of Lost Truths just doesn’t cut it for me. I swapped them out for three Baneslayer Angel and a third Sphinx of Jwar Isle in the main deck. Often, especially against Vampires, you’ll lock down a few of their lands and there’s this awkward stall in which Sphinx of Lost Truths doesn’t help as much as a Baneslayer or Jwar Isle. The ideal game plan for this deck is to stall them out turns 2-4, then follow it up with a good-sized threat to end the game shortly. Sphinx was great at digging to that threat, but takes far too long to finish an opponent when you don’t have a Bloodbraid Elf beside it. One advantage of Sphinx is that it makes those bad enchantments much better against opponents where they aren’t very good.

The Rhox War Monks in the sideboard aren’t to be underestimated, since you often end up keeping the Cascade cards in while boarding into the creatures. This means you’re either Cascading into a Rhox or Spreading Seas (I usually leave them in for most matchups because it’s a free card), making the cascades equally as focused during post-board games. Another positive is that against Boros Bushwhacker you look to board out all the Island-makers in exchange for Deft Duelist to make a wall of First Striking Shroud dudes that stop their weenie assault.

As a rule of thumb, I’d say this deck still needs something, although I’m not sure what. The draws when you’re on the play with a two-drop, Ardent Plea, and four-mana Cascader aren’t even close and the opponent will easily fall to a Sphinx of Lost Truths, but the in between games you really need something more than card filtering to pull you through.

This deck is still really attractive to me, since you pounce on stumbling opponents far better than any other deck right now. Another potential inclusion in here could be Goblin Ruinblaster, but that would take a much heavier Red commitment since you’d want to be able to kick it when you drop a Bloodbraid Elf and Captured Sunlight. This is effectively making them five-drops and slowing the curve down, which isn’t too profitable.

It also has the best deck name in Standard for quite some time…

This is a list that really surprised me, and I’m sure ManuB will have some more on it this week for his column. This deck fights Jund similarly to the way Naya fights them, which is maxing out on creatures so their one-for-one removal tactic is less efficient. This deck is chock-full of creatures, ranging in power from the six one-drop accelerants to the “five-drop” Emeria Angel which makes a horde of 1/1 creatures that get a bonus from Honor of the Pure and AjaniG.

This is a touch different from the Mono-White Token deck buzzing around, because it’s much faster due to the Green accelerators, which give you the ability to jump on Jund early and empty your hand before a turn 3 Blightning becomes a profitable play for them. Imagine you have turn 1 Bird, turn 2 Steward, turn 3 Emeria plus Fetchland. Jund can’t play Blightning from that position because they’ll lose next turn to another fetchland plus whatever mass pump mechanism the G/W deck draws. On top of that, all of these creatures are better, with Rhox War Monk being a splash for more power to combo with the Blue-producing one-drops.

Grizzled Leotau out of the board is also pretty neat, but my big question is why the Gargoyle Castle isn’t main deck to squeeze another Captain of the Watch for the sideboard? Surely the deck isn’t so mana-hungry that Gargoyle Castle messes up the curve?

I honestly don’t see this deck becoming a format-definer like Jund, Naya, or Vampires, but it’s definitely a solid metagame brew that attacks those decks from a favorable position.

This deck is actually very similar to the ManuB build. It doesn’t have the busty War Monk or Emeria, and uses entirely different pump effects, but it’s got a few things Manu’s deck doesn’t while attacking Jund from the same “overload them with quality threats” standpoint.

First off, there’s a whopping 12 fetchlands in this strictly G/W manabase. This combines with Lotus Cobra and helps enable an enormous Sigil of Distinction, or the ability to drop Behemoth Sledge and equip in one turn. This deck is actually much quicker than Manu’s build, and can literally drop its entire hand before Blightning can even hope to force them to discard a card, with the help from Cobra and the eight one-drops (who retain a lot of value later in the game thanks to Sigil). This is the new G/W little kid deck in Standard, and I really like this deck’s proactive draws and sideboarding options.

Post-board you can take a Big Green mana denial plan, with Acidic Slime and Mold Shambler being prime benefactors of Cobra’s extra mana, while Celestial Purge & Behemoth Sledge round out the anti-aggro options. I’m not sure about how good Thornling is, but it’s a card I wouldn’t want in my deck because it’s so cumbersome and doesn’t seem to add any new dynamics to this deck.

Random Thought: While browsing the top Worlds decks, there’s a Mono-Red list that contains Quenchable Fire. Seems like that card could really benefit from having Bloodchief Ascension beside it, huh?

There is one looming trend that I didn’t exactly foresee coming. With such a massively deep removal arsenal at Jund’s fingertips, I expected there to be decks featuring very low creature counts to battle RGB decks, but instead the exact opposite has happened. We are in a Standard environment where decks are eschewing removal from their decks entirely and maxing out on as many huge creatures as possible, to overwhelm Jund rather than play around them. This is very interesting to me, and given the low amount of Day of Judgments being played, this could very well be the time that the Blue mages show up and spite the stupid Green-based creature decks with a reactive approach.

If I had to pick one deck aside from Naya as the breakout deck of the tournament, it wouldn’t be the wave of G/X creature-packed decks that littered the Top 8 lists. Instead, I’d pick this deck that Phillip Summereder and Benjamin Rozmon piloted to great records…

Finally, a control deck I can proudly position in my palms. A slow methodical shrouded game 1 plan, along with the typical Baneslayer beating post-board. I’ve played tons of games with similar decks in Blue/White/Red, but the numbers in this deck seem to be better ordered than what I’ve come up with. One thing I don’t think Rozmon and Summereder expected was the wave of Green creature-filled decks to combat Jund, and, as such, would probably want more Day of Judgments main deck. Still, this list is primed to deal with Jund.

We’ve got Flashfreeze and Double Negative in a seven-slot counter suite. Path to Exile, Oblivion Ring, and Lightning Bolt in a nine-slot one-for-one removal package. Two Day of Judgment and a few Earthquakes to combat critters, with Earthquake there clearly as a means to get rid of multiple one-toughness dudes for a bargain when battling Boros, White token decks, and Green decks reliant on their one-drops. Jace Beleren and Mind Spring refill your hand while Wall of Denial protects your dome. AjaniV is the glue in here, giving you a proactive LD plan against more controlling decks while being a great lifesaver against more aggressive decks when backed up by Wall of Denial. Last but not least, Sphinx of Jwar Isle finishes things off in true untouchable form, giving this deck the resilient threat it’s been setting up for the entire game.

This is the deck you should play at States! It has a very wide range of options to deal with tons of decks. Earthquake doubles as Planeswalker removal; Flashfreeze is surprisingly relevant against control decks as an answer as AjaniV, Cruel Ultimatum, or even a troublesome Bloodbraid Elf; and Oblivion Ring gives you a safety net to deal with crap cards like Luminarch Ascension (for which UWR doesn’t have Esper Charm). In fact, the only way this deck gets any better is if it can find a way to include Esper Charm, but I doubt such a manabase exists right now.

Now to the sideboard…

4 Baneslayer Angel is obviously the best thing you can do with four sideboard slots in a White deck. Whether or not you board them in is completely up to your read on the opponent. If he’s sporting pink sleeves and a popped collar, bring them in because he thinks he’s got an edge on you because he’s bringing in Goblin Ruinblaster from his Jund sideboard. If you’re sitting opposite a person with a humble posture and a slow decisive undertone, leave them in the board because he sees those Angels coming a mile away!

Essence Scatter is the perfect card to tackle the wave of Green creature decks at a very profitable cost. I’ve already mentioned how awesome Spreading Seas is against those Jund babies, but it also has reasonable value against those fringe decks with their Oran-Riefs and Emerias. Felidar Sovereign is pretty neat; I’ve wanted to experiment with him a few times, but never got around to it. The fact that he can win the game isn’t very important, and there’s got to be a better option than a six-mana 4/6 lifelink dude… right? Are you supposed to board him in with Baneslayer? If so, that seems like overkill, and you’d be better off finding another high-impact option.

Still, this deck was very successful. It’s one of the few I’m looking to play when States comes around, if I can’t solve Spread ‘Em’s problems. The StarCityGAmes.com $5000 St. Louis Standard Open should also be a pretty epic event, since we don’t have any GPs until mid-February, in Oakland of all places. I’d say Standard is finally on track. We’ve got lots of great ways to combat Jund now, which means the sea of midrange and fringe decks should slowly start to take up more and more Top 8 slots at the upcoming tournaments. I just want to play some Islands! Is that too much to ask for in a Constructed format?

Thanks for reading…