Getting Big: Two Underappreciated Standard Decks

It is difficult to properly introduce Thomas Rosholm except to say that he is a long-time Pro Tour veteran, was one of the founders of the legendary Team Punisher, and his thug-nasty writing tends to rock your socks off. If that’s not enough to entice you, maybe the fact that he’s writing about two underappreciated decks for the Standard environment will pique your interest.

Type One players are the cutest animals I know. The millionth time someone tries to tell me that it’s really much cheaper than Type Two, I’ve decided to celebrate with champagne and strippers. I’ll tell you all about the party next week, and before you decide to go crazy in the forums: There’s a reason no one is debating how many proxies should be allowed in Type Two tournaments. Can you figure out what it is? Don’t email me your answers.

Some editors (quite a few, actually) have tried to enroll me as a writer for their sites but none have been successful until Ted found my weak spot, and after telling me on several separate occasions how much he enjoyed my writing, I was sold. Whether it makes you want to shake his hand, shake your head or just shake your booty, be warned that this is more than a one-time thing. Ted will gladly answer any flame on the topic at Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2. I think. May I interest you in the back button? Buy premium and you won’t have to put up with this, you cheapskate.

Hi, Star City readers!

Me, Jens, Tomi and some guy I barely remember founded Team Punisher at some point in the spring of 2001. During 2001 and 2002, I had quite a string of money finishes in pretty much every event I entered, before falling off the gravy train due to some unfortunate problems on the Swedish OP-manager’s behalf and my own inability to take risks.

All of us were pretty tired of the Pro Tour, back then. Magic Online kids were killing us and we all decided to move in different directions. Jens is now a poker millionaire, Tomi is of course a stand up comedian, and I tried to take up rapping. There was some early hype, but like always I fell short on actual delivery. Puffy dumped me from Bad Boy and that was pretty much it. I had to move back into my old apartment and start moving crack on the streets again. If you’re ever in the neighborhood and need a fix, look me up.

For a couple of months every year, Standard is so cool. You know, when you can ask ten different people what the best deck is and they all have a different answer. It also means that you can play a deck you built yourself, which has always been kind of a thing I do.

For this article, I have chosen to look at two decks that I feel should have a place in the metagame, but for some reason aren’t receiving any play. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but if you’re not one of the “cool” pros who do little more than draft for money on Day Two of Pro Tours and frequently go “Constructed :(” on IRC (hi Anton!), there’s still a remote chance you’ll find this useful.

Ever since I saw Pithing Needle, I’ve been dying to fetch it with Trinket Mage. I had a brief love affair with an Auriok Salvager deck a couple of months ago, but Cecilia caught us making out behind the tool shed and I had to break up with it. Just as well, it was losing too much to Tooth and Nail. You could Cranial Extraction their Tooths, but their abuse of Sensei’s Divining Top would still wreck your long game. With Pithing Needle, this problem pretty much disappeared.

And now for some card choices:

Auriok Salvagers
This guy is like Sakura-Tribe Springcaller, except it does something useful since you have a lot of one-mana artifacts in the deck that you want to get back to your hand, and no real use for Green mana. Except maybe to cast more Springcallers. Derf.

Trinket Mage
This guy is like Thief of Hope, except Thief doesn’t fetch Skullclamp. While that’s certainly also true for Trinket Mage in this particular deck, not every card can be a winner.

Boy, “card choices” sure is a dumb concept. Lets do a “questions and answers” instead:

Q: Why isn’t [some card I like] in the deck?

A: Because I either haven’t thought of it or I decided that it wasn’t good enough.

Q: What are the deck’s good matchups?

A: Red, Green and Blue. Basically anything with creatures.

Q: What are the decks bad matchups?
A: Tooth is pretty even. The Memnarch deck seems bad for you, but I haven’t found anyone to test that matchup with.

Q: Why should I play this deck?

A: Because – like anything in life – winning with style is more important than just winning.

Q: Who is your favorite rapper?

A: It depends, but if you are looking for an answer that takes into account flow, rhymes and delivery all at once I’d have to go with Redman.

Q: How does the deck win?

A: You can get your opponent in a semi-lock with Auriok Salvager and Necrogenic Spellbomb. Sometimes you’ll just attack for two a lot while countering spells. Sometimes Pristine Angel mops up the competition all by herself.

Q: Necrogenic Spellbomb! LOL!

A: That’s not a question, stupid.

Q: Are you Tim Aten’s barn?

A: I respect Tim and I love his writing, but if anyone in our relationship is the other ones barn it’s probably Tim. Swedish copyright law would allow me to publish an e-mail he sent me two years ago begging to perform oral sex on me, but sadly this is not the case in the U.S. Much like Tim, though, I do love Sweden.

Q: Aren’t you taking this Q&A joke a bit too far?

A: Yeah, probably.

My old writing never really got any attention outside of friends and #wisedraft. That’s fine, though. Cult followings are the coolest followings. At one point, when #wisedraft was nothing more than Anton and Morgan complaining about mana screw, I was gonna do an article called “#wisedraft: What They’re Really Talking About” but Gary said it was strictly forbidden, and while most of my writing is fictional this part is sadly true.

The Invitational decks this year were something else, weren’t they? I mean, you’ve come to expect a certain amount of “I’m too cool to take this serious”-decks but frankly this year lowered the bar further. The only innovative deck was the one Tim played and boy did that deck fade fast. I’m not even sure why, since it’s like the only deck that abuses what is probably the most powerful card in the format (Aether Vial, dummy). I managed to play a qualifier for Swedish Nationals just before the rating was cut with a much improved but still suboptimal version. Never one to bore people with unnecessary details on the evolution of a deck, I’ll just list what I’d most likely play if Nationals were tomorrow:

This deck seems to have so many good matchups that I’m sure my testing must be flawed on some level. Red decks are pretty even before board and quite positive after. Green decks are almost impossible to lose to, and Tooth is heavily in your favor. Blue decks aren’t exactly on speaking terms with Aether Vial and it’s just in general a very powerful deck. I wish there was room for some more ninjas in the deck, but Ink-Eyes borders on too expensive and that other guy doesn’t do enough to be worth it. I toyed with the idea of having some Okiba-Gang Shinobi in the sideboard but quickly dismissed it once the hype kicked in. That guy is so mainstream now, you’d think he’s signed on Warner.

Q: Isn’t Rats an underpowered deck?

A: This is critique I hear about the deck a lot. The answer is that it depends on how you define “power”. I think any deck that can hold its own versus all the Tier 1 decks is a powerful deck on some level, but it doesn’t win with one big spell or whatever that question actually means.

Q: What are the strengths of this deck?

A: It crushes creature decks and Tooth.

Q: What are its bad matchups?

A: The only one where I’ve felt against the ropes most of the time is Death Cloud, which is actually another pet deck of mine that I might get to in a coming article, but I haven’t seen anyone try to resolve one of those in a long time. Hideous Laughter after board is pretty bad for you, and they aren’t that vulnerable to your card advantage creatures. Obviously the rats are good, but they rarely have targets for Nekrataal or Viridian Shaman.

Q: Bla bla bla Skull Collector bla bla bla?

A: The deck isn’t trying to set up cute combos. I want to take their hand away and then kill my opponents, for that reason I want every card to bring something to the table that doesn’t involve setting up something as far-fetched. If you just look at what cards do when they’re at their best, you’re doing your deckbuilding a big disservice.

I’m told that “get big” is the next big lingo. It may even be the current or last week’s big lingo, but since I don’t hang out in #pocher any more, I really don’t soak that stuff up like I used to. If you are interested in “getting big”, though, I’ll happily recommend a lot of sugar and little exercise. I’ve heard people use it as something positive, but I’m not sure the chest pains are worth it. I guess I’ll try it for a few more years and see what happens.

Caught a glimpse of a rat in the kitchen the other day. I guess I’d expect it if I lived in Brazil or wherever, but not in Sweden. I was scared to death but I don’t think it caught on to me, since it quickly scurried away. I think it’s hiding in my closet now, most likely enjoying a feast on all the skeletons.

Finally I would like to add this: A deck is never tested enough. It kind of sounds obvious and it has been said so many times I feel bad pointing it out. If you decide to test either of those decks and come up with some change that makes the deck perform better, run it. Strategy articles can only do so much, and the only things that really matter in the end are winning and dressing cool. If your version performs better for you, you’d be foolish to listen to me.

For future articles I was thinking about writing something on abandoning plans, since I have more experience in that field than most. I’m not sure I can incorporate a topic that serious into my pretentious style, but we’ll see. I may also decide to finish my Atlanta report (where I played with Anton Jonsson, Limited superstar on multiple levels, and Johan Sadeghpour, possibly Sweden’s best Magic player). The last idea for an article was to narrate Tomi Walamies first Star City article and explain all the ironies to the 99.9% of the readers that didn’t understand. Feedback on these or entirely different suggestions on topics are warmly welcomed in the forum, as is any feedback on this.

Thomas Rosholm

P.S. If the person who stole my pink Adidas jacket in Atlanta is reading this, I want it back. It was limited edition, you scumbag.

Magicplayah at hotmail dot com

In the yellow pages under “StarCity Writers”