Flores Friday – The Impact of Planar Chaos: Standard (32 Flavors)

Order Magic: the Gathering Planar Chaos!We’ve had Eisel on Limited. We’ve had Feldman on Extended. We’ve had Remie answering questions, and Chan sharing a pro perspective. Today we have Mike Flores looking at the impact that Planar Chaos will have on the coming Standard environment. The cards to watch, and the cards to avoid. The strategies that’ll work, and the strategies that’ll die. The best writers, and the best players, only at StarCityGames.com!

I was originally going to do some kind of massive review complete with Role Players and Constructed Unplayables focused entirely on Standard in this article, but after doing just Aven Riftwatcher (and a first pass that I didn’t even keep for the final version, mind you) it turned out that would have taken twenty hours (not counting editing). Which was bad because I started this with only about 23 hours before I promised I’d get it to Craig. As it is I spent more than five hours, and sent this to him one hour late.

So what I did instead was go over the whole Planar Chaos set list and pick out all the cards that I thought were interesting to talk about for Standard, regardless of how good they are or are supposed to be. That means I picked cards I want to talk about and probably skipped some card you think is very good; very likely I highlight some card you think is awful and say it’s the third best card in the set or something. It came to about 30-35 cards depending on how you wanted to group and count them, and I changed that to 32 solely for purposes of catchy Ani Difranco-esque ice cream title. For an insight as to how I think about Magic, and what I think is interesting, I picked nine White cards (nearly 1/3), seven Green cards (over 20%), and only three Blue cards to review in this article! Please refer to my previous effort, Barriers and Opportunities – Ten (or so) Standard Challenges and Rediscoveries, Care of Planar Chaos, for additional information.

You know I don’t really buy into the *-****/***** systems, and this time around I didn’t even run the Flores ratings (though when I was going to do the twenty-hour version, I even had a two three-way split for “Role Player – Benchwarmer” and “Role Player – Jigsaw” until I realized I also needed “Role Player – Matchup Specific”… I’m actually glad I didn’t do all the extra development because I probably would have ended up with Role Player VP of Paperclips or some such, one hundred different ratings explaining all the different ways fringe cards could be legitimately playable). The reason is that for each and every card that I discuss – that I think is good enough, anyway – I also say where it should be played, so if there is applicability to be explored the ratings are probably non-issues.

I’d conclude with one of those Richard Feldman clauses about if we, you and I, got into a fight about what is good and not, but you’d know that I didn’t mean it, so why bother?

Remember: This is all for Standard, per editorial guidelines.

Aven Riftwatcher
Personally I love a 2/3 flyer for three. I would play Thoughtbound Primoc in Extended (Did you know that the Primoc is a Bird Beast? Did you know that birds are modern dinosaurs?), but I am somewhat frightened of losing to a random Meddling Mage or Dark Confidant despite being a Red Deck. Oh, yeah, Aven Riftwatcher.

The first thing I think of when I evaluate this card is its potential role as a sideboard card in say Boros versus Boros. This card saves roughly three bazillion life. First of all, it’s always Always ALWAYS worth four up. Now here’s where being a 2/3 comes into play… Boros 2/2s don’t want to fight it. Do they sit around? That’s like another four or six. Say you want to get in and you spend a burn spell instead… that’s three life (minimum) and a card. This is far from a straightforward scrap of crumpled tissue paper. Aven Riftwatcher is a complex possible threat and answer that helps to control the tempo of the game. It can slow down or even kill outright a Silhana Ledgewalker (pair with some kind of Disenchant if need be). The synergies with Team Whitemane Lion are pretty obvious.

Crovax, Ascendant Hero
I have Crovax in my top five for the new set. He’d probably be number one if not for Damnation. This card has a lot going for it, but one and a half really big weaknesses that can’t be glossed over.

The whole +1/+1 versus -1/-1 issue is obviously first in line. I love this in-theme and hate the fact that U/W with Crovax basically gets to spit on Mire Boa a.k.a. Crazy Hat for free. Crovax is really strong in U/R/W Control, especially against U/G/W Control (came up at States more than once) because your Sacred Mesa tokens get really good (not to mention any and all Angels) and their Vitu-Ghazi tokens… well… what Vitu-Ghazi tokens? Crovax essentially blanks Triskelavus as a finisher.

My very first thought was to leverage Crovax as the endgame monolith in some kind of U/W Wafo-Tapa, but the problem is that not only does Char get him, the other Char gets him. No, I didn’t forget the other ability; I know those Chars don’t get him get him (necessarily), but they do invalidate his [potential] “tap out and scare off three men” aspect.

The thing that is really scary / dangerous is how Crovax can be a liability against Boros (one of the main decks where you will need a tap-out monolith in Standard).

Like I said, I have this card on the short short-list, but you have to come into the analysis with eyes open to the relevant realities. Unlike the overhyped Extirpate, people will have to stand up and listen and build their decks a little differently in the long run because of this card, and while I always consider that a good thing, I don’t know if I love how single-handedly sweeping a single card should be especially in the control [element]-on-control [element] side. I actually think Crovax may see play in aggressive decks, perhaps in long game (sideboarded?) attrition, or in crafted long-long games (like Eternal Dragon in Haterator), but I don’t think that is as likely as in tap-out control.

Dawn Charm
I’ve probably said this before, but I already play cards that do the exact same thing as Dawn Charm, so obviously I think this card is good enough. While the third ability on Dawn Charm is for practical purposes worse than Gilded Light, and if it were the only ability on the card, strictly worse for lack of cycling, having that ability on the card makes it something that I, personally, gravitate towards in terms of analysis. I’ve certainly lost to a Moment’s Peace. The regeneration clause is not one that comes up in Constructed very often but that is because cards that have one-of combat tricks don’t generally get played unless they involve +3/+3 or +7/+7 offensively.

I see this card contributing in each of the major branches of deck construction, though never as a Tier One. A White combo deck might want to Time Walk against beatdown; check (not just alpha strike check, but finishing burn check); it doubles as disrupting disruption. A White control deck might want to have this in the arsenal along with Mana Tithe to express some new stripe of Girl Power, or at least to supplement Blue. A beatdown deck can use this for a racer in me versus you or to stop the lethal Blaze (or what have you) from a combo deck (maybe even a control Demonfire); the bluntest application might be your 3/3 against my 3/2… Regenerate (straight combat trick)?

Magus of the Tabernacle
I have this as the number two Magus, but if Magus of the Library doesn’t pan out, Magus of the Tabernacle should finish first. The way it works is that if Magus of the Library is as good as we are all hoping with our crossed fingers, then he is going to be really good, but with Magus of the Tabernacle, what you see is what you get and what you get is pretty good anyway.

First of all… Four? Four, really? That’s insane for a 2/6. No one is getting through him at his mana cost, and no one is getting through him at five (unaided of course). More than that, he’s annoying. The jungle decks with their infinite little guys are not going to want to meet up with Mr. The Tabernacle. Against those decks he is a mix between Kataki and The Abyss, probably harder to kill than either.

Despite his small offensive side, Magus of the Tabernacle may be an ideal tap-out monolith in some kind of U/W deck. Though not a phenomenal racer, Magus of the Tabernacle creates a massive speed disincentive and can attack, even if not ideally. One thing to remember, that is not actually intuitive in post-Kamigawa Block Standard is that Magus of the Tabernacle is not a Legendary Creature. You can double up!

I am currently exploring some different routes of mana denial to lock down the board, from just slowing down the opponent’s development to drag his creatures to some kind of Natural Affinity combo (but I don’t think that will ever work)… Maybe Exhaustion?

Mana Tithe
There are obviously one hundred and one different places this card can be relevant and win games; the most exciting opportunity, to me, seems to be a sideboard card in Boros or Zoo versus control decks to counter Wrath of God Damnation.

Mesa Enchantress
I am not really a big fan of this sort of Enchantress (the successful versions have always been focused on Argothian Enchantress), but BDM thinks that with a critical mass of Enchantresses, and Green library manipulation (specifically Chord of Calling), a new Standard archetype may arise. Basically you get to spring your Enchantress at the end of turn and in a crowd; the White Enchantress isn’t critical to this strategy in the sense that you could have been playing it already, but the redundancy of having eight copies (some number north of four) will help your draw consistency.

I’m not really sure what you’d do with her… Mana acceleration with giant threats? Shape of the Wiitigo? Wurmweaver Coil? You wouldn’t mind dropping Utopia Vow here, either. Retether deck maybe?

Does no one else remember that small window when Desert Twister was the defining Gnarled Mass of late 1990s Standard? All of a sudden Mono-Green Control was not just viable, but put two players into the Top 8 of U.S. Nationals through a wall of Bloom and the looming shadow of Oath, and the third guy finished 9th on breakers, only to end up the World Champion. Saltblast is inches from just being the better Desert Twister.

Is this card Vindicate? Of course not. Vindicate is a clear tournament Staple that convinces players to run particular color combinations (usually Dromar colors). Saltblast on the other hand is an option that can be played in White, or even Mono-White, that enables a deck that is bound by some semblance of the color wheel to do something like crack an Urza’s Tower or kill a creature (the fact that this costs more than Wrath of God is not lost on me).

Sinew Sliver
I would be very likely to run this card in dedicated Slivers (see below) should that deck prove itself viable; my only reservation is its color, specifically lack of colors (I told you to see below, damn it). However the card can be played in non-dedicated Slivers, like Boros-splash-Slivers.

In Barriers and Opportunities – Ten (or so) Standard Challenges and Rediscoveries, Care of Planar Chaos, I talked about Cautery Sliver in Boros, but I think that there will be versions with eight Slivers – Sinew and Cautery – grabbing two drop real estate. Billy Moreno disagrees with me because he thinks that Knight of the Holy Nimbus is that damn good, but I barely even respect Soltari Priest. Against control, do you know what the different between a single Sinew Sliver and a Knight of the Holy Nimbus is? There is basically no difference! Everyone is predicting Planar Chaos Standard to be all control due to Damnation… Seems like a good time to try Sliver Boros to me! Once you start dropping the 3/3 or even 4/4 Cautery Slivers that all sting for one when the opponent Wraths Damns, Sinew Sliver gets a lot more persuasive.

I know this is supposed to be about Standard, and it’s obviously good for Ghazi-Glare that it can now kill Fortune Thief, but I already said that. The number one most important impact this card will have is in Extended where is might actually be the #1 card in the set (sorry Richard).


U/W “big mana” is inches from the stranglehold that Shaheen Soorani has been dreaming of and personally crafting in some hovel in Virginia for the past three years. The most important barrier is obviously the answerable – but so rarely answeredDestructive Flow, but Public Enemy Number Two has got to be Dwarven Blastminer. Unlike Porphyry Nodes, Sunlance kills Dwarven Blastminer bang bang dead, no chance for Naturalize or other tricks, invalidating that whole line of aggressive reaction. To me the ability to so radically tip the balance of a presently diverse format makes Sunlance a profound addition on day one, hitting the ground running, makes for a far greater level of potential than any (other) speculative flagships and enablers.

Magus of the Bazaar
BDM has a theory that this card was completely insane in Future Future League at every other size, that even the 1/1 Magus was utterly broken, and so the only way that R&D could print it was at the humblest possible size, in the hopes that no one would so much as try the 0/1 for two, and that it would therefore not sunder Magic: The Gathering as we know it.

There are obviously a host of interesting things you can discard to a Magus of the Bazaar: a Fiery Temper, a Reckless Wurm, mayhap a Bogardan Hellkite… I don’t have a deck list yet, but it could enable Madness or take Reanimator to the next level (this is nice Dread Return fodder), certainly offer pure selection at a rate that has not been seen in Standard in forever. I don’t know where, or if, the Magus will appear, just that I am never going to let anyone untap with one if I can help it.

Piracy Charm
I’ve won at least one Blue Envelope off the top of my head with Funeral Charm in my deck (Extended; credit to Brian Schneider), probably more than one, made Day 2 of an Extended Pro Tour with it, and am pretty sure I published the first ever Constructed deck featuring Funeral Charm, back in the Usenet days. It is therefore a mite disquieting to me that certain unwashed pundits don’t, um, know that it is a playable card in Constructed. I have always liked Funeral Charm, and today I like that it is underplayed in Standard, with only true geniuses like Andrew Cuneo running it. That card is like a line in the sand to me, separating the morons from the Mentats as it were.

Piracy Charm is just better in every way than its predecessor, and is extremely exciting, clearly one of the top five cards in Planar Chaos for Constructed, probably one of the top three for Constructed.

Think about it like this: I did actually draw actual applause from a floor-reporting Scott Johns when I double-pumped my unblocked Hunted Wumpus with two Funeral Charms to lock in Day 2… but no one does that, really. The +2/-1 is generally accepted as Ball Lightning defense… But Black has many ways to kill a creature; it just so happens that Funeral Charm kills strategic small creatures at a great cost and speed, and does so in the presence of two other relevant abilities.

True, Funeral Charm was the first instant speed discard spell, and was a key trick I used in testing to even temporarily turn off Jon Finkel Cursed Scroll while cracking with 3/3 Black Knights because of that (in testing, obviously), but similarly, Black has many ways to force discard, and to force discard at one mana. Funeral Charm was just a mana efficient option to be played on top of Duress for redundancy purposes that also had functionality in opposite matchups… It was and remains a perfect Flores card, down to its dismal power level balanced with profound applicability across many matchups.

Forget about the landwalk line for a second (though it, too, is relevant); Funeral Charm was played because it did two different, already accessible, things well enough to come off the bench and contribute. Piracy Charm is the opposite: though it does the very same two things, those things are not accessible to Blue at all! I think that cheap and instant speed creature kill might just be relevant for Blue. We just got finished talking about how Sunlance might be the #1 Planar Chaos card for Extended… Don’t you think Piracy Charm might be begging to be aimed at a Blastminer? Forcing instant speed discard is no joke, either.

People have been talking about B/U Control becoming dominant in Standard due to Damnation… What about Piracy Charm? I actually see the quick, Lion-slaying Piracy Charm as a more tangible threat to Boros Deck Wins than Damnation. The Char beatdown decks have been fighting Wrath of God since the beginning. Positioning Damnation in B/U is just putting Wrath of God in a deck without Firemane Angel, Faith’s Fetters, or competing Lightning Helixes. I don’t actually think Damnation alone is going to beat the tuned Boros: lasting percentage will actually come from the speed and time control offered by this Charm.

Riptide Pilferer
I always wanted to get Headhunter online against control. It never worked. Sometimes I would get it and they would just draw out of it with Concentrate and Deep Analysis, and all of a sudden I had a damn Headhunter and they had twenty Zombie tokens or a flying Psychatog. Headhunter was not good enough.

So like many things that seem good but have not proved to be good enough, R&D did the only logical thing: They made Headhunter Blue.

Consider the U/W mirror match (still in Standard, obviously). You run this out on the second turn on the play, and your opponent has precious few relevant responses. He better hope he didn’t play Hallowed Fountain tapped! It’s Spell Snare, Mana Tithe, or Piracy Charm or that’s probably game, boys! Unlike Black, which can only seek to further disrupt or force discard at sorcery speed, Blue can actually protect its Headhunter. Every positive thing Aaron Forsythe ever said about being on the Suspend side in Blue versus Blue applies to this card with the initiative, if not on the draw (regardless of Signet tap-out). I think this card will be a solid Tier 2 out of the board for control.

I am pulling this card out not just because it is the clear best Standard Constructed card in the set (which it is), but to actually take the opposite position from most. Zvi’s original contention was that this card invalidates White as a non-swarm strategy, and I understand the concern, but it seems to me that Damnation doesn’t do that at all. A lot of the incentive to the White side of control is not just for their Wrath (though that is clearly central), but the life gain. Black’s life gain ranges from unweildy to distasteful. I have won more matches with the Drains and Corrupts than most, but you don’t need me to tell you that these only work in dedicated decks, or that they tend towards inconsistency facing Blue. Point being, a Boros isn’t that scared of Damnation, and any deck with twenty burn spells can play through the card advantage. It’s really the concert of life gain, strategic permission as time control, Wrath of God, and monoliths that incrementally got the better of Boros and Zoo (most of the time). Billy Moreno, Craig Jones, and many others will all stress that this wasn’t all of the time. My guess is the key Zoo players are rubbing their hands together like flies on watermelon waiting for the crowds to gravitate towards initially untuned or control-biased B/U so they can win some tournaments.

Seth Burn used to say dates out loud. For example, say I said something ludicrous like (I wouldn’t actually say this of course) “I am the world’s greatest deck designer.” Seth would say “Mark it! February 8, 2007, Mike Flores finally declares himself world’s greatest deck designer.”

Mark it, then. February 8, 2007: Enslave makes me want to play Ghost Dad.

Too bad there is no Ghost Dad to be played in Standard.

It’s probably not fast enough to play a Three Dreams engine in Orzhov mid-range with Faith’s Fetters and, say, Griffin Guide, but Enslave makes me want to try. I’d say “Batman,” but I don’t know how batty you can get with all the great Blue cards and even small number of viable mana control and combo decks in the format.

Functionally, this card may be too slow… but it is essentially Confiscate speed. Conversely, Confiscate is played almost exclusively in decks with degenerate mana engines.

I’d still try it in Ghost Dad, if there were still a Ghost Dad.

I actually think that you can tell how good someone is at Magic strategy based on the inverse of how good that person thinks Extirpate is. The negative extreme isn’t “Unplayable” but “relevant, but highly overrated” whereas the positive extreme remains “best answer ever” or thereabouts. Consider a very similar Split Second card in another format. Sudden Shock initially completely terrified a number of archetypes out of Extended; Extended remains diverse despite those archetypes not (yet) recovering their numbers. However the chief Sudden Shock deck isn’t really itself doing well enough, despite massive preseason hype and projected numbers. Maybe Extirpate will scare off all the Martyr and Firemane decks, and itself be the martyr for the cause (of frightening away or cleanly beating a couple of very specifically focused White control decks), a boogeyman that does not actually itself dominate competition.

I think that as the Extended PTQ season progresses, you will see a progressive metagame shift that has already begun. Arcbound Ravager is once again asserting itself as a clear leader in the format despite having to dodge double time, fighting the mighty Ancient Grudge on Splash Damage while still sweating Sudden Shock. Players might be too chicken to run core Psychatog in Extended PTQs, but have you got any idea how many lightning speed combo kills young Julian Levin and I were getting last night with Ichorid? About one game in three ended before a single Ichorid attacks! Ichorid is a deck that can be hated on the bin, hated on Dr. Teeth, hated by Needle, hated by Chalice, beaten outright by any other beatdown deck… and still kills you on the third turn if you let it untap with a Tog on the board. It’s a circle game: In the short term the Split Second hate card will slay all of its own prey even before they hit the tournaments, will itself fail to have sufficient paper to its scissors as it were to succeed, fall to the legion of rock. Then at some point some brave souls will notice the haters are doing nothing productive while all these other proactive decks are rocking the hizzouse, and will themselves dominate (again). Never in the equation are the defenders adequately offending so as to maximize their own best chances. Don’t be surprised if Wild friggin’ Mongrel starts making Top 8 again!

I don’t like giving my opponents free wins, so I don’t know if I would personally play a Martyr or Firemane Angel deck at, say, Regionals, even if Extirpate has fallen out of favor at that point, but I wouldn’t be surprised or wish anyone poorly when they won with those kinds of decks.

The real problem with Extirpate is that, given its color, the only way it gets any value out of hating very specific decks is that either it is part of a two- (or greater) card combination, or you’ve already gotten wrecked. The best example Billy and I could come up with was Rakdos beatdown against Boros beatdown. Boros has already successfully launched the first Lightning Helix. Black chuckles and Extirpates Lightning Helix. I mean unless Boros has another Helix in hand, isn’t Rakdos – who is already behind at this point – just digging a bigger hole? “Well, at least you aren’t drawing any more Lightning Helixes,” Billy says. “I mean you just discarded a card and spent a mana and had no legitimate effect on the game state.” “But I’m going to lose if you draw more Lightning Helixes!” “Yeah, well now you’re going to lose to regular old card advantage.”

What about Wrath? Isn’t it good to remove all of a control deck’s Wraths? I mean… probably? If he’s already felt frightened enough to Wrath you the first time, what kind of shape do you think you are in if your next play is not a relevant threat but instead an Extirpate? You’re just further behind on the fundamentals, and might just lose to one-for-ones. Even when you set him up with some kind of Duress (you can’t do this in Standard with the most likely setup spell, Castigate), you are in this position where you have enough tempo that the White control deck would Wrath, but you took his Wrath. When you win, is it really Extirpate’s fault? I mean all you did was prevent the other guy from topdecking. The whole point of Black-based disrupting in tempo and beatdown decks is to win after stealing one Wrath, right (see also the next three paragraphs)?

Note that this card should still be relevant, and I did mention that it could be good in two-card combinations, especially supporting or supported by selective discard. I like to draw an analogy with Cranial Extraction. Once I was at Dave Price’s apartment, about two years after his retirement, and I showed him Cranial Extraction and asked the one-time King of Beatdown what he thought of the card. He gave a pretty general analysis on card economy, about whether or not the opponent were holding the spell in question, two copies, what have you. I asked if he thought it would be good against Goblins, to which the Fire God and King of Red just chuckled.

I chuckled too, “See, Dave… I side this in against Goblins.”

When your plan is to lock the game out with two Engineered Plagues in B/g or one Sphere of Law in B/W, Cranial Extraction gets really good. You just want to take the Goblin deck’s Naturalize (or whatever) so that your carefully selected hate craft doesn’t cease being trump. I think Extirpate could be perfectly awesome if you play it strategically, as part of an overall advantage routine… I just don’t buy it as a single card tidal wave.

I think this card is about one mana too expensive to be absolutely insane… I guess that’s the point of costing it at seven.

The whole theory on pseudo-symmetrical cards like this one, or Winter Orb, say, is that you are built to break the symmetry and the other guy has to deal with the symmetry on fair terms. Just as an example say you are playing this against some deck with either no card drawing or fair card drawing of some sort. It might really suck to discard three cards, and dealing with a 6/6 usually takes more than one card. However if you want to rebuy, you can use something along the lines of Life from the Loam… I’m pretty sure that long game, this card could be outstanding in B/G Dredge in Standard, either as a singleton or a legitimate four-of (though like I said, sevens are a bit out there in terms of consistent / consistently costed threats).

Blood Knight
Recently we had this really odd argument at the Top8Magic offices. I said that Blood Knight was the clear best two-drop in the history of Red Decks. So then we got into whether Boros Guildmage et al were Red two-drops. I think I said that you could count them, but only use the Red abilities. No one liked Rakdos Guildmage very much with only the Red ability, and no one was particularly interested in even playing Izzet Guildmage. Initially Moreno and Don Lim could not get past the idea that Silver Knight was better… Perhaps I was not articulate enough given that I was speaking in the abstract whereas they were focused on Extended Boros? The argument was odd in that at some point Eric Smith wanted Survival of the Fittest to be the best Green two-drop over Wild Mongrel, which wasn’t even the topic, so obviously the whole discussion degenerated. Is Mana Drain the best Blue two-drop? Who cares? 1) How is that any kind of drop, and for that matter 2) No one plays Mana Drain!

Basically, this is the best ever two-drop in a Red Deck. I really want to try it in Chapin Sligh.

Magus of the Arena
I really think this card could be good for Red Decks fighting against Green. I know that Green today rarely comes without the ability to fight a utility creature, but still, I think that the Magus should have a chance. Like many cards that catch my eye, this one is predicted to be a sideboard card that helps an otherwise viable deck win one or two narrow and difficult matchups.

Molten Firebird
I always thought this card should be Red because of the whole Phoenix theme… And now it is!

Ivory Gargoyle was one of my favorite cards in Ice Age Block because my opponents would play it and then I could win. They would run out their 2/2 for five, and then I would Stone Rain a land and play Dystopia.

I still don’t know how anyone ever won a game (let alone a PTQ) with R/W in Ice Age, let alone how it was the Deck to Beat. This has nothing to do with Standard, and very little to do with Molten Firebird. I don’t actually think anyone will really play this.

Shivan Wumpus
This card is too awesome. It has an awesome picture, full of spite and energy, and it is utterly confusing. I always think that it is a Hunted Wumpus instead of an Argothian Wurm… Don’t hate. They’re both 6/6 for four.

I think this card is probably better than a Red Hunted Wumpus anyway. It seems like a fine top end card for some kind of G/R mana control deck, and worse case, you get a 6/6. That’s sick, right?

The fact that it is a Beast rather than a Wurm is relevant, just not in Standard.

This card is just obviously a Constructed playable, right? Blue will run two mana for a bounce spell with no guy. This is a bounce and a chump for two, with potential additional value. Red has never really had this ability before… It seems like a really strong bullet in particular context. For example Red Decks in the past have had to resort to Ensnaring Bridge to fight Reanimator. A card that doubles as even a poor threat seems like it should be a big improvement.

Sulfur Elemental
I see this strictly as a murderer of Soltari Priests. At instant speed. Probably getting a sick block in there against a Ronom Unicorn or something.

Ana Battlemage
I just love a Battlemage.

Everyone played Thornscape Battlemage in their G/R decks. I played –Thunderscape Battlemage in my Black deck (Shivan Oasis and Darigaaz’s Caldera). I made Eric Ziegler play Sunscape Battlemage in G/W. He won the tournament (original Standard PT Junk) (only Treva’s Ruins, and only two, this time). I love a Battlemage!

Thunderscape Battlemage was basically a Red Probe, and anyway, you had to kill Saproling Burst (bad for Black). Sunscape Battlemage was costed perfectly to kill Dromar and Blinding Angel… if you got to draw cards that was just gravy. I never played the Black and Blue Battlemages. The abilities on those were a bit pricey when relevant, and you had to touch into the colors that did those things anyway… It never seemed like it was worth it, though some shred of memory tells me that some Neutral Grounder – maybe Jonny himself – played Stormscape Battlemage, maybe in Block.

Six mana is really not an exorbitant cost to make the opponent discard three. In Block, Wit’s End was a breaker at seven mana. Anyway, Blue and Green have never had access to these abilities (by the way I would gladly play Stunted Growth in Standard, which is only one fewer mana and doesn’t give you a 2/2 creature). The Black ability on this card is just strange. I have to hit up someone to find out how that meeting went. “You know what would be insane at 3BG? Delirium Dude!” “Huh?” “Delirium Dude… You know, like Boomerang Bears, but for 1G more! Too bad we can’t really shift Boomerang Bears.” “Wow… That is sick. Can we tack some kind of a Blue Fugue to that?”

This card seems perfectly reasonable to me. It’s the kind of card that wrecks you all different ways, never the same way twice; you consistently curse your opponent for wrecking you with it. He still wrecks you.

Citanul Woodreaders
This card seems too awesome to me. River Kaijin has won a 60 card Grand Prix, and I’m pretty sure Horned Turtle won something somewhen. I mean Gnarled Mass was in large part an attempt on my part to find a better solution to White Weenie than River Kaijin, but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that River Kaijin was there and performed… There is no reason why it shouldn’t again.

Really, this card is not bad. It is a legitimate Stop Sign that demands a Char, and that completely neuters creatures on the level of a Savannah Lions.

Once you get to the right mana point, Citanul Woodreaders actually just performs at superhuman levels. Don’t believe the card. These is not a mere human Druid. It is crazy, crazy good… Lunatic even.

The most likely spot for Citanul Woodreaders to show up is in three- or four-color Blue, one of those decks splashing for Gaea’s Blessing or Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree. The Woodreaders comes out of the board to play bad – and better – Wall of Blossoms against beatdown.

Deadwood Treefolk
I like how this has Vanishing, just to make sure it really wrecks the opponent… Very strong monolith candidate in three-color Blue. The first thing I thought about was recouping Twisted Abominations and cycling them again for more, um, Breeding Pools… well not Breeding Pools exactly, but you get the idea; you can probably think of something better.

Evolution Charm
I originally thought this was G and not 1G. At G it would have been strictly better in multiple dimensions than tournament Staple Lay of the Land… Long story short, this card is 1G, not G. That said, it is still instant speed library manipulation, and can help you to keep two land hands more consistently. I like it for recovering Mystic Snakes or other Flash creatures at instant speed so that you can wreck the opponent during his turn, perhaps during combat.

I don’t see this card as Tier 1 in Standard, but there is probably some home for it in a mid-range U/G deck based on incremental advantages (think “The Rock”).

Hedge Troll
I make more straight G/W decks than basically anyone. I respected Sedge Troll. I got my butt handed to me by Sedge Sliver in pre-Champs testing. Shouldn’t I be the world’s biggest Hedge Troll fan?

I just keep looking at this thing and thinking “I think I’d rather just play Call of the Herd.” It doesn’t help matters that Troll Ascetic is on its way back into Standard. Is this a better drop than Ohran Viper? Not against control, right? I don’t know… It seems like I should like this card more. Check back.

Magus of the Library
I have Magus of the Library as the best Magus for Standard in the preseason. He’s basically Jushi Apprentice, and we’ve seen how well Jushi Apprentice can perform across the formats. Right now I have him in the Oros and Teneb sideboard for game 2 against control, preferably going second. He’s basically the contra-positive of a Pilferer in that spot, really assisting in any kind of attrition fight. Don’t forget that you can just go 7-6 land drop, 7-6-5 land drop and Magus, 6-5-4-7 Harmonize on the third turn with the Magus when he’s playing Boreal Druid. You’re ostensibly a million miles ahead, and back to seven for Magus purposes already. Perfect, basically.

Wild Pair
Wild Pair is obviously the most exciting potential Flagship in all of Planar Chaos. This is all BDM, by the way. You get Wild Pair or you get Teferi and then Wild Pair. If you have Teferi, they’re basically done. Llanowar Elves into Draining Whelk. Wood Elves into Triskelavus. Carven Caryatid into Teferi. It’s actually unbelievable what happens when you untap with this card. Any 1/1 is essentially a broken card drawing and strategy-invalidating engine.

From my perspective, this deck will be all about incremental card advantage. You run every Coiling Oracle, and Wood Elves over Yavimaya Dryad (for the above). You want to ramp into Wild Pair and then “go off,” sustaining card advantage and frustrating the opponent’s initiative until you establish complete domination of game tempo, which should not actually take more than 1-2 turns. Is there some way to cheat Wild Pair into play?

Darkheart Sliver (Frenetic Sliver, and of course Necrotic Sliver)
I am not sure about Slivers in Standard just because you don’t have the Onslaught duals. The Ravnica duals are awesome of course, but with costs like BG, 1UR, and 1WB, you’ve got to be a bit careful. For that reason, I think I would err towards all gold so that I could “fix” with Pillar of the Paruns… Might be hurting for Sinew Sliver, though. If you’ve never played against Frenetic Efreet, count yourself lucky. Basically the only way to consistently trump it was Suq’Ata Firewalker. This one is 2/2, and hands its value off to all its friends, at least in the short term. One of the vulnerabilities of a swarm deck, even one that magically transforms all its 2/2s into 3/3 Vindicates, is – or at least should be – Wrath of God Damnation. With Frenetic Sliver, you’re getting half value long term, which is probably not enough if the Sliver deck is built to perform.

Vorosh, the Hunter
I actually think Vorosh is the most interesting of the Dragons. Most people probably see Intet and Numot as the most powerful, maybe Teneb. They see value in what Oros brings to certain matchups. No one talks about Vorosh. Voros is the Kokusho of the bunch. Do you realize he is in the colors that protect threats or force them down, and he wins in two hits (assuming as little as a Ravnica dual)? Yeah. Think again. Vorosh could be something special. Vorosh could get there. Rav dual, Farseek, Annex, Vorosh, Acid-Moss, Ana Battlemage yer blocker, gotcha? You might not even need the Ana Battlemage (but I love a Battlemage). It could happen. “Think big and live large.” -Donald Trump

So there is my modified take on Planar Chaos for Standard. I will probably address these and different cards to vary degrees of specificity as I build and test (against) more / new decks. You can scratch the “probably,” I’d assume. I hope you liked it. Probably you disagreed with every point, and will vocalize in the forums.