Guilds Of Ravnica Standard And The World Championship

Catch up with Owen Turtenwald as he prepares for one of the biggest tournaments of his career! He’s talking that and Guilds of Ravnica Standard this week!

Guilds of Ravnica
is less than halfway previewed, but what we have so far is truly amazing.
Here’s my first attempt at a post-rotation Standard list.

Assassin’s Trophy was previewed earlier this week and it screams out to
play Golgari Midrange. As a friend of Reid Duke, I’ve spent quite a lot of
time around Golgari decks, and I have an inkling as to what makes them
tick. It’s a delicate recipe to balance, but if you’ve got the right mix of
mana fixing, card draw, creature kill, and repeatable advantage–often
through Planeswalkers–you’ll be a favorite in almost every game you play.
Additionally, decks like this are my preferred style because they’re
conducive to grindy, interactive games that favor the more experienced

Having four copies of both Assassin’s Trophy and Vraska’s Contempt is a
dream start for a slow deck like this one, as you always hope to have an
answer for their most important card to generate nonfunctional hands for
the opponent. Honestly, I can’t wait to have one of my opponents discard
their entire hand to a The Flame of Keld just so I can destroy it at
instant speed with Assassin’s Trophy.

I realize we’re still living in a Goblin Chainwhirler metagame, but I
decided Llanowar Elves was far too strong to exclude. It also may not be
the case that Goblin Chainwhirler is in the best deck as it is right now
since the rotation takes Bomat Courier, Heart of Kiran, Scrapheap
Scrounger, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Glorybringer away from red

Rest in peace sweet prince, Rakdos Midrange – I’ve still got one more
week with you, but after that you will be sorely missed. You served me

I’ve been singing the praises of Jadelight Ranger for a long time, and it’s
merely a product of the Standard environment that it isn’t more widely
played. It’s very reminiscent of Rogue Refiner, and the value it provides
is great. It’s a pseudo-scry and with Field of Ruin, Arch of Orazca, and
Memorial to Folley, sometimes the lands it hands you actually turn out to
be highly effective spells. It’s always on my mind that cards like Arguel’s
Blood Fast and Search for Azcanta are already tier one cards, and they’ll
only get better with the format shrinking down and the most oppressive
cards leaving.

Mastermind’s Acquisition has always been a pet card of mine, and I’ve built
many Golgari Midrange decks attempting to take advantage of its power and
versatility. Time will tell if it’s too slow or if it hits the format on
the exact sweet spot where there’s enough cards that are lights-out in the
top matchups. I tried to give myself adequate answers to Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria because that card will likely be the best card in the format
post-rotation and you can use Mastermind’s Acquisition to grab Sorcerous
Spyglass in game 1 and lock out all four Teferis for the entire game, or
you could try to go for maximum value and steal it with The Eldest Reborn.

When it came time to examine every black and green card in future Standard,
I was surprised to see how strong the options were. Vine Mare and Carnage
Tyrant can completely invalid entire strategies that rely too heavily on
creature removal and they can even be paired with Duress to dodge Settle
the Wreckage. I’ve jokingly referred to Arguel’s Blood Fast to my team as
the “Anti-Control Stony Silence,” in the past, and I feel strongly that a
turn 2 Arguel’s Blood Fast against a Teferi deck is similar to turn 2 Stony
Silence against any one of the artifact-based Modern decks (Affinity,
Hardened Scales Affinity, and Krark-Clan Ironworks).

I’m not certain how the red decks will be built moving forward, but in the
past, I’ve loved having access to Golden Demise and Moment of Craving. I
tried to spice things up with Plague Mare, but feel free to defer to the
higher impact options should the metagame call for it. If red remains a
midrange color, small removal will be weaker, but if they play either Ghitu
Lavarunner or Siege-Gang Commander, small removal is just what the doctor
ordered. There are many good Goblins in Guilds of Ravnica, and it
wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a Goblin theme deck being the Goblin
Chainwhirler deck of choice, as we all know it’s going to be played
somewhere as long as it’s not banned.

I feel good about the above list as a starting point, but any of the
numbers could be changed, and with the tutoring value provided by
Mastermind’s Acquisition, even fitting in one new unique card can
completely warp certain matchups. I included Karn, Scion of Urza simply on
power level and not for its artifact synergies. For as long as I can
remember, fast mana and Planeswalkers have been a great pair, and I see no
reason to diverge from that yet. I’ve played a ton of games with and
against Karn and I’m a believer in its power. The first week of preparation
for Pro Tour Dominaria, I was walking around the testing house,
asking anyone who would listen: “Karn or Teferi? Which are we playing at
the PT?”

Well, it turns out the answer was The Chainwhirler, but we get to
start new and fresh with this Standard format, and these three cards are
all amazing so there’s no shame in putting any of them in your
deck. Karn specifically demands either artifacts or a deck that can make
good use of the additional lands in hand, and this deck absolutely does.
With a curve going all the way up to six and cards like Demonlord
Belzenlok, which can fill your hand with expensive cards on top of Arguel’s
Blood Fast, it looks like black is going to be very powerful color in Guilds of Ravnica Standard.

Preparing For Worlds

Today is the last you’ll hear from me for a few weeks as I’ve requested
next week off from writing. However, the reason for my absence is a strong
one as I’ll be competing in the 2018 World Championship. It’s a huge honor
to be invited to the biggest tournament this game has to offer, and I’ve
spent my every waking hour strategizing and playing games to prepare for
it. I’ve played in Worlds five times and my record, in order, has been:

  • 6-6, 10th $1,000
  • 7-7, 13th $3,000
  • 10-6, 2nd $20,000
  • 6-8 17th $2,500
  • 8-6 8th $10,000

I got second place in 2015, but other than that I’ve been relatively quiet
at Worlds over the years. I’m proud to say that I’ve never completely
fallen on my face and failed at the tournament. Even on my worst weekend,
I’ve still won half my matches at the highest level of competition against
the best in the world.

This is a very stressful time for me since I’m a man made of flesh, blood,
and pride; I care about doing my best not only to prove I can still hack
it, but to give the fans a good show. Throw in that first place is $100,000
and that I’m also competing in the Team Series final, which is Guilds of Ravnica Team Sealed, the first time in the history of
Magic a major title will be decided by what is effectively a Prerelease,
and it’s not hard to see why I’ve requested next week off!

I told my team I wouldn’t be able to spend any time preparing for the Team
Series final since the return on investment for time spent on Standard and Dominaria Limited is much higher. $100,000 for first place in
Worlds versus $17,000 for first place in Team Worlds is night and day, but
fortunately for me, my team is so sick they’ve accepted my terms that hurt
their chances of winning and they’re doing what they can to prepare for
such an unorthodox event.

I’ve mentioned this plenty of times in previous articles by now, but you
all must deal with it because I’m excited beyond words and it’s honestly
all I can ever think about. I’ve been accused of being a braggart in the
past, but my philosophy is what’s the point in working hard to achieve
something great if you don’t enjoy it once you reap the benefits of your
hard work and dedication? I’ve spent my whole life playing this game and
when it comes to my favorite time of the year, Worlds week, I’m going to
talk about it and share my experience with everyone I love, including you
if you’re reading this.

Wish me luck!