Welcome to What We’d Play! With SCG Columbus right around the corner
Guilds of Ravnica
making its debut, many are unsure what they’d play in such a
high-profile tournament. That’s where we come in and let you know what
we’d play this weekend and why we’d play it. Hopefully this last-minute
advice aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for who you agree
with in the poll at the end!
Shaheen Soorani – Esper Control
Azorius Control is being touted as the weapon of choice for like-minded
protagonists in Guilds of Ravnica Standard. I understand the
allure of choosing the color combination that contains the only true
battlefield sweepers, but we must resist temptation. Azorius Control is a
solid choice for SCG Columbus, but I think Esper Control is the most
powerful option we have at our disposal.
I wrote about Esper Control
a few weeks ago, going into much more detail on a few card choices than I
am here. Since that article, I’ve made some significant changes and moved
into a direction that may not align with most competitive players out
there. I’m doubling down on Notion Rain while moving slightly away from
Chemister’s Insight. I think both card draw spells are phenomenal, but this
version of Esper Control plays much more like a tap-out deck than your
traditional Azorius-based control decks.
Though Erasure turned out to be the truth in control decks, just as
Transgress the Mind was a few years ago. Hitting any card, furthering land
drops, and accelerating Search for Azcanta are perks that this deck feeds
off with great success. It’s a card I want against most decks and is
especially good at nabbing hexproof creatures in game 1. Thought Erasure is
an obvious ace against control and slower midrange decks, making it an easy
card to maindeck.
Chromium, the Mutable was a card I tossed into the maindeck to close out
games, as well as hedge against control, game 1. That ended up not being
necessary with the game 1 discard and a surprise The Eldest Reborn out of
left field. The Eldest Reborn gives a lifeline against hexproof while
making the control mirror much easier. The rest of the deck is similar,
with a few play-tested modifications to the sideboard and is ready to help
you conquer SCG Columbus this weekend.
Bennie Smith – Golgari Midrange
- 4 Wildgrowth Walker
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 1 Deathgorge Scavenger
- 1 Thrashing Brontodon
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 2 Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar
- 2 Molderhulk
- 1 Golgari Findbroker
- 4 Doom Whisperer
- 4 Glowspore Shaman
Standard after a big rotation is one of the best times to be alive for any
deck brewer, and this time is particularly nice since so many oppressive
cards are rotating and we’re getting a flavorful, fun new set to play with.
I’m particularly blessed because green and black is my favorite color
combination, and Golgari is one of the five returning guilds featured in Guilds of Ravnica. So, there’s no surprise what I’d play this
weekend uses many of the best cards available in these colors, a great mix
of high-quality threats, answers, and synergies.
Explore is a great mechanic for smoothing out your draws and with graveyard
shenanigans, it gets even better. I’m playing four copies of both Merfolk
Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger, but for Week 1 in Columbus, I’m also
running Wildgrowth Walker. The lifegain and +1/+1 counters from even just a
few explore triggers is fantastic against the aggressive decks I expect to
see in the early Standard metagame, and if you don’t need the life buffer
you can use it to fuel Arguel’s Blood Fast. Explore also dovetails nicely
with surveil and thankfully, we can utilize the best surveil card printed
in Doom Whisperer.
This Demon is so incredible I find it hard to justify not playing a full
playset even though there are other good options at five mana (I’m sorry,
Underrealm Lich and The Mending of Dominaria). And if your opponent has an
immediate answer, you can surveil a time or two to help ensure your next
draw is gas. I’m particularly excited to fuel its surveil ability when
Arguel’s Blood Fast transforms into Temple of Aclazotz.
If a five-mana 6/6 flying, trampling creature can’t close out the game, I
like the inevitability offered by Molderhulk + Memorial to Folly and
Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar. Multani, in particular, seems like a great way
to make an opponent’s Assassin’s Trophy look bad, and I’m looking forward
to sacrificing it to Temple of Aclazotz in response to an exile effect.
Abraham Stein – Grixis Control
In the early stages of any format, odds are if you put good mana and good
cards together, you’ll win a few games. This deck is more than just your
normal good stuff deck though, I believe it’s the right one for this
weekend. Grixis isn’t necessarily something new, but it doesn’t have to be.
Reinventing the wheel is a lot of work.
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager and Doom Whisperer are huge forces to be reckoned
with and are no strangers to taking over games on their own. In this deck
we’re going to let them do just that as they’re backed up by a heaping
helping of card draw and removal. This list is a product of what I’ve seen
in the format so far in its fledgling stages, and you can read about some
of the card choices in my work.
In a field as potentially open as the one we’ll see at SCG Columbus, I’m
going to want to be prepared for anything while still checking all my
boxes. Even though everyone knows Grixis is a deck to worry about, I
believe there’s a lot of room for a deck like this to catch people off
guard this week. Playing the answers in week one isn’t exactly the most
textbook strategy after all. As for when you’re caught off guard, that’s
the reason to play a deck like this, isn’t it? When the dust settles, your
cards are just stronger than theirs, pound for pound.
Jadine Klomparens – Mono-Blue Aggro
- 21 Island
Yeah, that’s the list I meant to submit. Mono-Blue Aggro is a tad out of my
recent wheelhouse, but the deck is poised for success right now, and I
can’t ignore that. It’s been published already in the Magic Online 5-0
lists, and there’s a popular reddit
filled with people claiming great records with the deck. That’s about as
good of a pedigree as you can get this early in the format.
The common wisdom states that aggro dominates Week One of new Standards.
Lists aren’t optimized, so the aggressive deck punishes everyone who
stumbles. This time around, the obvious aggro list is red, and we just left
a Standard dominated by red. Red is so obviously going to be good Week One
that I think people will be ready and swerving to a different aggressive
deck is very appealing.
Mono-Blue Aggro is continuing from last Standard more or less intact, so
the lists are already fairly stock. The main change I’ve made is to play
the full playset of Dive Down over any copies of Spell Pierce, and that’s
more of a knock against Spell Pierce than praise of Dive Down. Decks in a
new Standard format have yet to optimize their mana curves, which ends up
meaning they’ll often be wasting mana. I don’t want to reward my opponent’s
mistakes by letting them use that wasted mana to pay for Spell Pierce, so
I’m not interested in playing that card Week One.
Bryan Gottlieb – Jeskai Dragons
I had already submitted my list for What We Would Play when I finally got
around to building this idea that’s been bouncing around my head for a
couple weeks now. After playing one league, I knew I had to recant my
previous submission and get this out to my readers. First things first, you
have my permission to tweak the removal spells contained here. Sizing of
opposing creatures combined with awkward mana costs have combined to make
our removal suite a difficult puzzle to figure out.
What isn’t hard to figure out is that the core of Niv-Mizzet, Parun;
Sarkhan, Fireblood; Chemister’s Insight; and Radical Idea is just
astounding. If you read my article on Block Constructed a few weeks ago,
you know that no card impressed me more than Niv-Mizzet. This has remained
true in Standard. You haven’t lived until you’ve given your Niv-Mizzet
lifelink and cast a few Radical Ideas.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that we’re short on payoffs for Sarkhan.
The jump-start spells and faster Search to Azcanta flips are plenty,
especially when you realize that a persistent looter strapped to a
three-mana threat that must be dealt with is an incredibly powerful tool on
its own. Also, I’ve been told turn 4 Niv-Mizzet is pretty good. Who knew?
We also get to back up Sarkhan with the undisputed king of planeswalkers,
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. The power level in this deck is off the charts,
and while I would have to been happy to play a Find deck Week 1,
planeswalkers and permission are way more my style.
Todd Anderson – Dimir Control
It seems like every Standard deck needs some sort of engine. Token-based
decks are relying heavily on History of Benalia to do the heavy lifting in
the early turns, while nearly every mono-red deck I’ve played against has
The Flame of Keld when I run them out of resources. As I play more with
Azorius and Esper Control decks, I’m slowly starting to realize that all my
draws are worthless without Search for Azcanta or Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria. Eventually I just run out of stuff!
Dimir Control is no different. And their engine is something we haven’t
seen too much before now: recurring discard. Disinformation Campaign is
slow, but it is one of the most disgusting engines I’ve seen in a long
time. Yes, recurring it and casting it over and over is expensive, but I’ve
already learned how comically easy it is to surveil. And while
Disinformation Campaign looks pretty mediocre against the likes of Nullhide
Ferox or the hyper-aggressive strategies, it isn’t nearly as bad as you
might think. After all, most decks are trying to play some sort of engine,
and the worst-case scenario is that you’re paying three mana to draw a
Plus, Doom Whisperer is bae.
I’m going to be playing this deck a lot over the next few days in order to
get it exactly right, so make sure to follow me on Twitter ( @strong_sad) for updates as we
get closer to SCG Columbus.
Emma Handy – Mono-Red Aggro
- 4 Fanatical Firebrand
- 4 Ghitu Lavarunner
- 4 Goblin Chainwhirler
- 4 Viashino Pyromancer
- 4 Runaway Steam-Kin
- 22 Mountain
Aggro wins every single rotation weekend in Standard. Play it.
Runaway Steam-Kin is the new Standard Tarmogoyf. If you haven’t bought in
yet, it’s probably too late. It’s a two-mana four-power creature that’s
worth its weight in gold, and this is the archetype that pushes it over the
limit. Experimental Frenzy is the real deal, but Vance’s Blasting Cannon is
a nice card to have the single copy of in a deck that has such a lean
When you have teammates relying on your record, it probably isn’t a good
time to be getting fancy. This deck kills people and it’s damn good at
Todd Stevens- Selesnya Tokens
- 2 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 3 Thorn Lieutenant
- 3 Emmara, Soul of the Accord
- 4 Venerated Loxodon
- 3 Trostani Discordant
If you’ve been watching my stream this week then it shouldn’t be a surprise
that I’d recommend Selesnya Tokens for #SCGCOL. Well I guess it probably
isn’t much of a surprise anyway since I’m fond of green and white cards…
Anyway, Selesnya Tokens is a midrange deck that’s trying to stall the game
long enough to be able to pull way ahead with March of the Multitudes. Many
games play out with a medium-sized March of the Multitudes for four or five
tokens that sets up an enormous March of the Multitudes for ten plus tokens
the following turn on the end step. After that, a single attack will
usually end the game, especially if a Flourish or a Trostani Discordant
helps grow the creatures.
While these are the splashy cards in the deck, the glue that holds it all
together is Flower. We’ve seen the power of Attune with Aether and Traverse
the Ulvenwald in recent Standard formats, and Flower looks to be just as
good as its predecessors. Flower allows the deck to play less lands, 22 in
my case, while still being able to hit land drops. Then, when you have six
mana on the battlefield, you’re able to use Flourish to turn your
battlefield of small creatures into a game-ending army.
The new addition to the deck that I just started playing is Thorn
Lieutenant over District Guide. Thorn Lieutenant is a cheaper creature for
convoke purposes and is a solid road block against the red aggro decks,
which the deck was lacking previously. In the sideboard, I’m trying out a
single copy of Cleansing Nova as a sweeper for when you’re behind instead
of relying solely on opponent’s attacking into Settle the Wreckage, as well
as The Immortal Sun to do a little of everything.