Flores Friday – Triple Crown

Friday, April 22 – Mike Flores has 3 potential decks for Standard, including U/G Wave, Mono-White Eldrazi, and U/B Tezzeret Infect. With videos to back ’em up, try one of these sweet brews yourself at SCG Open: Boston this weekend!

Triple Crown (and I use the term “crown” loosely)

So last week I got some great feedback on the first (actually the first-point-five) version of the Standard Mono-White Control deck.

I was all gung ho to play ye olde Mono-White Control decklist but was convinced (separately) by Brian David-Marshall and Joshua Ravitz to go U/G
Genesis Wave instead. You can actually hear me make an about-face in real time on this podcast, recorded sledgehammer-free in a lovely park in Hoboken, NJ.

It was in having this conversation out loud that I realized that I had never failed to make Top 8 of any tournament where I had played Jace, the Mind
Sculptor… And then after that, I felt kind of stupid for (and I didn’t say this on the podcast, but those of you who have been following me for some
time probably already figured it out) only ever playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor the one time (National Qualifiers last year).

So I cashed in all my wife points to play in the New York City US National Qualifier last Saturday. I sleeved this up:

We modified the deck from the Edison, NJ StarCityGames.com Open where BDM went 8-2. Main changes were switching maindeck Spreading Seas out for
maindeck Acidic Slimes; because Acidic Slime is a five and Spreading Seas is a cantrip two, I also added a land in place of BDM’s Wall of Tanglecord.

Spreading Seas is of minimal awesome impact in a format of mono-Caw-Blade, whereas Acidic Slime is gas against Sword of Feast and Famine.

Rather than devoting a ton of time to an unsuccessful tournament report, I’ll summarize thusly: I largely chose U/G because of BDM’s experiences and
its mighty combination of Wall of Tanglecord and Tumble Magnet against Sword of Feast and Famine. Lotus Cobra and Primeval Titan make for tremendous
companions for Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

What actually ended up happening was that I never drew Wall of Tanglecord, and it didn’t matter how well I baited my Caw-Blade opponents for Mana
Leaks; they always had this card Flashfreeze, which was the nuts against my Primeval Titans and Genesis Waves. I drew a sum total of zero copies of
Wall of Tanglecord and lost to all three of my Caw-Blade opponents (though I did dispatch all two of my non-Caw-Blade opponents).

Ultimately, I was reminded of an opinion once voiced by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa RE: ramp decks. I’d successfully draw my opponents into a parity /
topdeck situation… and then draw a ton of lands and/or play turn 14 Joraga Treespeaker off the top. Eventually, the opponent would draw an action
spell, and it would be Squadron Hawk (i.e. four cards) or a Stoneforge Mystic / Sword / whatever, and the game would no longer be at parity.

In sum—Jace, the Mind Sculptor or no—I ultimately regretted the switch (but congratulations to Lukasz Hall in Virginia who Qed with the Wave!).

Even before I considered going back to the U/G, I was already brewing at the intersection of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and what I liked about the
Mono-White Control deck. Many of you commented, having watched last week’s videos, that it was cool that the deck was winning such a high percentage of
games with poison counters despite playing just the four copies of Inkmoth Nexus for infect.

The things that I really liked were Tumble Magnet (Sword of Feast and Famine containment) and Contagion Clasp (powering up basically everything,
keeping Tumble Magnet alive, and helping to poison the opponent to death). So why not build towards an even greater focus on these elements?

Here is a deck I brewed up and quite like:

This deck is a kind of The Legends of Team CMU; it owes a bit to Brian Kibler and separately to Patrick Chapin. After playing a bit, I don’t really
understand how Kibler’s deck doesn’t want Tezzeret. The dude is such a monster with Necropede and Inkmoth Nexus and kind of keeps every cool card in
your deck flowing into your grip, which is the very definition of desirable.


Generally… this is an Infect deck. It has essentially the same creature suite as Kibler’s deck. Of these, Phyrexian Crusader is the clear outlier.
Man, that guy buries whole decks by his lonesome!

If you haven’t played with Necropede… You should try playing with Necropede. The little two-drop is quite a bit better than it looks on paper and is
an absolute murderer of small monsters.

Rather than relying on conventional removal options (Go for the Throat, Disfigure… even Into the Roil), this deck uses Contagion Clasp and Tumble
Magnet to manage the battlefield and/or get your poisoners through a wall of blockers. You have so much Impulse action—via Jace, the Mind Sculptor and
Preordain, Spreading Seas, but not really Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas—that you can go and find 1-2 copies of Black Sun’s Zenith to mop things up (and the
nature of Black Sun’s Zenith is that it will ideally set itself up for a re-buy while improving the quality of Jace’s work).

The combination of Tumble Magnet and mass removal works pretty nicely here, particularly with this particular brand of mass removal, as it doesn’t
chomp up too many deck slots.

Why I Didn’t Play It:

I think that when you look at the videos (below), you’ll see a lot of positives around this deck. Its card quality is, to put it mildly, infectious. You’re just playing out awesome thing after awesome thing. You get to take advantage of Everflowing Chalice for a third-turn
planeswalker, and you have both a powerful proactive plan and a powerful set of answers to the format’s leading proactive plans… So what went wrong?

Ultimately, I wasn’t happy with some of the minor details. I think the deck probably needs somewhere between one and three lands, but I wasn’t sure on
that number. Also, I felt obligated to play Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, not just because it seemed like a key threat in Kibler’s build, but because
of a new set of emails from my old Team Discovery Channel teammate Patrick Johnson (aka PatrickJ), innovator of Accelerated Blue. PatrickJ is ancient
like YT but has been toying around with some new decks at his local store, all based on his interest in the Blight Dragon.

That said, Skithiryx seemed like the worst card… But I still wasn’t happy with the mana.

Possible Areas of Improvement:

We were chatting about this deck at National Qualifiers, and Osyp Lebedowicz suggested that we not only cut Skithiryx but that Kibler might have gotten
it right… Is it possible Jace Beleren is just the better Jace in this context?

I mean, there aren’t many decks that can curve out Inquisition of Kozilek into Necropede, into Jace Beleren, into Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas… Pretty
good! Jace, the Mind Sculptor really earns his spot when we can increase our chances of playing a four-drop on turn 3. Separately, BDM suggested Plague
Myr, which acts as a terrible Necropede but also a terrible Everflowing Chalice. Before you laugh too much, Plague Myr could help play Jace or
Tezzeret on the third turn and is a heck of a teammate with the Agent of Bolas.

Some videos of the B/U Tezzeret Infect in action:

Tezzeret Infect vs. Darkblade

Tezzeret Infect vs. Goblins

As much as I like the B/U as a realization of some of the themes that made last week’s MWC attractive… The fact is: MWC is attractive!

At National Qualifiers, I watched Chris Lachmann play a version similar to what Sergio Garcia wrote about last week.

Among other things, I underrated how good the card Mortarpod can be. I talked to the invincible Josh Ravitz (Josh’s performances with Caw-Blade are SCG
Open Top 8, consecutive SCG Open Top 8s, PTQ win, forgettable GP, and most recently 6-0-2 and Q last weekend) about how Mortarpod works. Around the
time of Josh’s second consecutive Open Top 8, he got murdered by AJ Sacher playing the Angry Birds version but stated that Mortarpod changes
everything. You can stop the opponent from equipping his Squadron Hawks or sometimes just play a surprise blocker with Stoneforge Mystic.

My deck from last week ran a pair of mismatched Swords, but I figured that I might want to jump on this Mortarpod train to see what happens.

The other main change I made was to cut all the copies of Wall of Omens and Survival Caches for Pilgrim’s Eye. Really what the deck wants out of those
cards is to draw into more and more lands, and that’s ultimately what Pilgrim’s Eye is good at. You get some additional non-zero bonuses just from
playing the card… For example, you’ll see in one of this week’s videos that I can surprise-equip a creature and choose Pilgrim’s Eye against my black
opponent. Pilgrim’s Eye has “Protection from Go for the Throat,” and this choice proves to be short-term successful.

Most of the rest of the deck remains pretty similar. I did add the fourth Stoneforge Mystic and expanded the Equipment packages in both the maindeck
and sideboard. I have to say that Squadron Hawk + Sylvok Lifestaff is quite the defense against the beatdown!


This deck can play one of the Caw-Blade eight on the second turn. From a proactive standpoint, it has the Equipment aggression of Caw-Blade and the
Hawks for support… but plays a more controlling midgame and a more over-the-top endgame. Just hitting someone with Sword of Feast and Famine once
isn’t the most exciting thing that this deck can do.

Why I Didn’t Play It:

Well, I didn’t have the newer version when I was making my decision last Saturday, and I wanted to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Possible Areas for Improvement:

For what this deck wants to do, I think that it does it pretty well. Short of adding Jace, the Mind Sculptor? I don’t know.

Some readers brought up the Valakut matchup, but as I said in last week’s videos, I’ve had some decent luck against Valakut with Tumble Magnet and mass
removal. That said, the extra Contagion Clasp action and Mortarpods make for good Lotus Cobra defense.

I’m not actually sure what the right build of MWC is; I do know I like this version more than the Wall of Omens / Survival Cache one I posted last
time. Pilgrim’s Eye is exactly what the deck wanted… Maybe we’ll have a similar layer of evolution next week (who knows?)!

Some more videos:

MWC vs. JVL Commando

MWC vs. Boros

MWC vs. B/U Control