Force of Will: Decks for States 2001

Black is kinda hosed, and I’m afraid the fix for that as such will be some time coming. So let’s talk about everything else.

Let’s just get to the point this time shall we? Here are decks that I either will be (or would consider) running for States 2001, and some things I know from keeping my ear to the wire.

Team 00010101 took everyone but Jay MS’s new baby and the WV whiz to a little tune-up tourney in Park Hills MO. We wanted to take a look see at our States decks away from St. Louis – and Jester’s Cards, in that berg, provided a timely opportunity. The store hosts some of the better players from southern Missouri, and the field was bolstered by a couple of the better players from St. Louis, including Bill Brandt. Bill made the finals with a deck that tried to set up Werebears and Mongooses with Upheaval. He choose a split with our own Scott Foster running a version of Mike Mason“Country Grammer” R/G, which he detailed in his last article here on Star City. You might wanna read that. You may laugh at Krosan Avenger – ’til he comes at you like a Ball Lightning or worse…

I ran a version of the following deck…

Ody Bloo: Pretty Hate Machine

4 Force Spike

4 Counterspell

4 Remove Soul

4 Exclude

3 Unsummon

3 Boomerang

4 Temporal Adept

3 Mahamoti Djinn

2 Confiscate

4 Peek

4 Opt

20 Island


3 Deflection

4 Disrupt

4 Gainsay

4 Millstone

This is simply a metagame call deck. Most decks, even control ones, are looking to win through creatures; this deck looks to take its shot by hating them out. Based primarily on Turbo Blue ideas, it is not a bad deck – but I think it is lacking some cards that may be in future sets. The main deck is quite awful against most control-type decks, but I beat a Millstone/Haunting Echoes U/B/W deck this past weekend when I locked the opponent at around four lands with an active Adept and Confiscated a Millstone. That Confiscate was supposed to be Persuasion… Which might wind up being the right call here, as Confiscate and Moti both have the six casting cost, but sometimes wily red players will go to stuff like Planeswalker’s Fury or go with green to drop a Meteor Storm on you… Which are both troublesome to Persuade but can be Confiscated.

The sideboard is transformational vs. opposing control, which at least makes the choices easy. Creature hate comes out, and cheap counters and Millstones come in. I was running some stuff like Hibernation and Wash Out, but had to think”why?” when I’m so biased against critters anyway. Yeah, Spellbane Centaur could hose me, but he just shouldn’t get down.

As I said, the deck is lacking a counter – one that won’t come in mono blue, but you can get one by splashing White, Black, or Green. Green leads one into a deck like my”Instant Guitars” idea, Black adds Undermine and Recoil, and White offers Absorb and some nice sideboard cards. With white, I’ve become enamored of Wall of Swords. Chevy Blue ran Glacial Wall, as it could stave off the fading Blastoderm for some possible card advantage. Jay MS has been fooling with a Blue deck with Wall of Air, but that rarely knocks off any dudes and the one-to-one idea it offers is generally worse than Exclude in my opinion. Wall of Swords, however, eats 3/3 tokens and critters – and can take a straight-up shot from a Flametongue Kavu when the Kavu enters play, then kills the FTK in the Red Zone.

Of course, it’s still a wall.

No Repulse? Well, no. There are several ideas at work. You can Boomerang lands, so that with the Adept you can drive a person’s land base down. That idea – and that Unsummon helps allow a faster Adept drop vs. Red, bleeding off removal – is good. These both come in under Exclude as well, which Repulse doesn’t. There has been a bit of talk about cost for action in cards, and Repulse might be a tad too mana-intensive in Standard. We’ll see.

There are several B/G ideas, including several Braids lock decks. I have my own B/G version that is beatdown-oriented:

4 Birds of Paradise

2 Llanowar Elves

4 Wild Mongrel

2 Ebony Treefolk

4 Call of the Herd

3 Beast Attack

3 Fallen Angel

4 Spiritmonger

2 Life/Death

4 Pernicious Deed

4 Sylvan Might

4 Llanowar Wastes

3 Cabal Pit

6 Swamp

11 Forest

Decks like this one have a tendency to stall out, as many many many of the B/G (and even R/G) types of beatdown decks I have seen don’t have any evasion whatsoever. What happens is that they have to hope for Monger superiority. I tried to break that with Fallen Angel. With an Angel out, I can Deed for four, sac my critters to her in response, and swing big. You can protect her somewhat from Urza’s Rage and the like as well. Of course, turning five or six lands into creatures and feeding them to her might just end a game real quick. If you are careful… And somewhat lucky…

Ahhh, Red/Green. It works, but I just don’t like to play it. I always have one built, however. My son is pretty good with it!

4 Birds of Paradise

2 Llanowar Elves

4 Raging Kavu

4 Call of the Herd

3 Skizzik

4 Flametongue Kavu

2 Kavu Titan

2 Shivan Wurm

1 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero

2 Ghitu Fire

4 Fire/Ice

4 Urza’s Rage

10 Forest

5 Mountain

2 City of Brass

4 Karplusan Forest

3 Barbarian Ring

This follows a few ideas: Last year, the Fires road led to decks packing more cheap frontside burn to burn off opposing Birds and Elves and then more land – I’m just making that jump here. (Okay, I’m splitting that difference here.) Raging Kavu is too fun against blue. Tahngarth kills 3/3 tokens just fine. I have trample and burn enough to make some things happen, I believe.

And folks. The only deck that needs to even think about a fourth Barbarian ring is extended Sligh. Three is enough for most Standard decks, I would think.

Ear to the Ground

What do I know? Hmmm, lemme see. No one that I know is championing a Shadowmage Infiltrator deck. No one. What the means, I’m not sure. I know that they are out there from perusing the net, and that it’s a great card. I should probably be the guy building and playing with it – but then again, I don’t have any yet. I do have an idea that it was so powerful that the entire set had to be weakened in black and blue to accommodate it. Just my thoughts…

Lightning Angel is popular. One can look at Extended, which recently had a major tournament where you can get good ideas for Standard – at least on what cards are powerful. Lightning Angel, Infiltrator, Meddling Mage, and Call of the Herd were all played. One Star City writer I know has a deck that he simply packed full of the best of the critters in four colors, which is working well for him.

G/R/b is also very popular and has hotspots. There are many builds, but it starts with something that might look more like R/G and then puts Spirit Mongers and Pernicious Deeds in them.

No one I know is championing Opposition although everyone seems to dread it the most as a deck to face. There is continuous talk about answers for the Opposition problem, yet all of the answers seem to be answered fairly well by the U/G deck itself. Did that make your head spin?

No one I know is playing any combo deck. There is an interest in them, especially the Domain Stretch deck, but I think the thinking is that there are enough decks with black disruption and blue countering ability to make it a tough road for the deck right now.

While White Weenie perhaps isn’t dead, everyone that was looking at it that I know has moved on.

There is some interest in a”Machine Head” sort of deck, but in this transition period for black – with the move away from Dark Ritual and the inclusion of a set, Invasion, that still had to have cards that considered it – black is kinda hosed, and I’m afraid the fix for that as such will be some time coming.

That’s what I know.