Imposing On M14

Brad is in brewing mode and has four new decks for Standard and the SCG Open at Richmond, building around new M14 all-stars.

The definition of Magic: The Gathering has a different meaning to everyone who plays. For some, it is a game that is easily comparable to Monopoly. Players put their decks back on the shelves to rest for months until it is once again time to planeswalk to Dominaria.

For others, it is an escape from life’s constant pressures. Stress instantly melts away when round one pairings for Friday Night Magic are taped to the back wall.

Magic is simply a social experience to some. Players shuffle up their hundred card decks and wait patiently in excitement while their friends show them elaborate combos that will eventually be their demise.

For me, Magic is everything. It got me out of my shell when I was a shy teenager. It challenged me when I was just skating through life. It taught me how to lose before it showed me what it truly felt like to be a champion. When I was on top, it forced my hand in learning how to be humble. When I was on the bottom, it revealed silver linings. It gave me passion.

Magic may be a game, but for many of us it is much more than that. It is a lifestyle. Week after week we pack a bag and pile into a car to drive countless hours to tournaments all over the globe. Sometimes it’s for a chance to play on the Pro Tour. Other times it’s for an IQ, Grand Prix, or StarCityGames.com Open, it doesn’t really matter. We go if it is within driving distance. We go for the chance to qualify for bigger events. We go for precious points, whether they are Planeswalker, Open, or Pro. We go for the glory. We go for the story.

However, this is not every player’s story. Magic is a highly customizable game. We personalize it to make it our own. That is what makes Magic so great.

This weekend is the M14 Prerelease. A time in which every type of Magic player gathers to share in the enjoyment of a brand-new set. Though everyone in the room may play the game for a different reason, we all share that one amazing feeling we only get at a Prerelease: opening packs as if they were presents under the Christmas tree. We are united.

Prereleases are an extremely important time for Magic. These tournaments are the initial steps to introducing new players to the wonderful world of Local Game Store Magic. It might be old hat for you, but it is an extremely intimidating experience for a new player. To them, this might be the first time the game has ever had structure. They might not know all the rules. They might not even have a firm grasp on the phases.

It is our responsibility on this weekend to be ambassadors of the game. Make the experience of playing in LGS’s a good one for each and every player you come across. Put yourself into their shoes. Think back to when you were new to the game and what your first experiences were like. Do everything you can to make this an amazing weekend. Everyone is out to have a good time. Make it a great one!

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk M14 Standard! I have a handful of sweet decks that I will be working on for the upcoming Open in Richmond as well as the Open in Somerset featuring the Invitational.

If there was a Standard tournament tomorrow, I would be playing this deck. Fiendslayer Paladin is one of the most powerful cards to come out of M14, and the old GW Humans shell is a perfect place to showcase it. Having hexproof against black and red spells makes this creature extremely difficult to kill. It doesn’t get much easier inside of combat since Rancor, Sublime Archangel, Mayor of Avabruck, and Silverblade Paladin are all making this creature too big to profitably block. The best way to beat this card is to race it, but that could prove to be difficult since it also has lifelink.

Fiendslayer PaladinImposing Sovereign

Another card I am excited to play with is Imposing Sovereign. Its body may not be the biggest, but its ability is unbelievable. Don’t compare this card to Blind Obedience. They have the same text, but do extremely different things. Blind Obedience was mostly played as a defensive spell to help combat creatures with haste. Control decks would use this card to not fear haste creatures the turns they played board sweepers.

Imposing Sovereign takes this ability one step further by being an aggressive critter. Instead of only dealing with hasty creatures attacking, it also hinders creatures that planned to block as well. You no longer have to fear Thragtusk the turn it enters the battlefield. You can now laugh at players who want to get tricky with instant-speed Restoration Angels. Decks like Junk Aristocrats rely on being able to block with creatures the turn they come into play, making Imposing Sovereign a must-kill. It slices, it dices, IT’S INSANE!

Brave the Elements

Why hasn’t anyone been clamoring about Brave the Elements? This was a very powerful card the first time around, and it only gets better in this creature-dense format. This card does almost everything a white-based aggressive deck wants. It counters targeted removal, protects an entire team from Bonfire of the Damned, helps push damage through, and plays around pretty much everything. Brave the Elements is the type of card that just wins games all the time.

The one thing that I might be wrong about is playing it in a deck with nonwhite creatures. My justification is that Mayor of Avabruck and Avacyn’s Pilgrim are only utility creatures that make the “real” creatures in the deck more powerful. They are not essential parts of the engine but only help make the rest of the deck better. Brave the Elements won’t protect them, but I don’t see why they need protecting in the first place. I would rather have a removal spell take out my Mayor than my Sublime Archangel or Silverblade Paladin. I also don’t think that one point of damage will make much of a difference when I am using Brave the Elements to alpha strike an opponent.

Imposing Sovereign will never find a home more inviting than Naya Blitz. One of Blitz’s biggest weaknesses is that opponents can get a steady stream of blockers to eventually whittle away at the army until the deck is attritioned out. The whole formula changes when those trusty blockers have to sit on the sidelines for an entire turn.

Though this card does not make Naya Blitz any more consistent, it will help the deck become a serious force in the metagame once again.

One deck that doesn’t have to change much in order to still be competitive is Junk Aristocrats. This deck was one of the most powerful decks before M14, and should continue to perform well after.

One of the more powerful additions to the deck is Archangel of Thune. This is a card that I spent many hours trying to build around, but eventually settled on it simply being a tutor target for Garruk, the Veil-Cursed. In addition to Archangel of Thune being a big, flying, lifelinking creature, the synergies it has with Blood Artist put it over the top.

I’m not sure how many times I am going to tutor for Scavenging Ooze in game ones, but having access to this card seems better than not. It also combos extremely well with Archangel of Thune if you are ever visiting Magical Christmas Land.

Junk Aristocrats’ power comes from having a gameplan against every deck in the format. This makes it somewhat risky of a choice the very first week out of the gates. This list is what I would play if I was going to battle with it, but I feel much safer waiting a week to see what SCG Richmond has to offer.

Xathrid Necromancer is what everyone is talking about. I just don’t really see it. I understand how powerful Rotlung Reanimator was, but that was ten years ago and this card is even worse! Sure it triggers on Humans so there is more in the format, but not being able to block with the tokens immediately makes me a bit wary about the card’s power level. Regardless, it is a creature with two lives so I must experiment.

The deck reminds me of The Aristocrats. It has two different draws that do completely different things. One powerful draw is Doomed Traveler, Skirsdag High Priest, and Cartel Aristocrat. The other is Champion of the Parish, Gather the Townsfolk, and Xathrid Necromancer. All of these cards have some synergy with each other, but the draws tend to be too schizophrenic to win games. I might be wrong about this since I haven’t gotten any games in, but that is my initial reaction.

Knight of Infamy seems really powerful right now. There are way too many white creatures running around for it not to be. If I am correct, Fiendslayer Paladin is going to be one of the most influential cards in Standard this summer, making Knight of Infamy a perfect creature to be casting.

One thing worth mentioning is how Sorin, Lord of Innistrad improves with the new M14 Legend Rule changes. Now that a legendary permanent can be “replaced’ by another copy, you can now make an emblem, play an additional Sorin, and make another emblem without having the first Sorin start the turn at two loyalty. This is something that came up far too often with Junk Aristocrats and Act 2. This makes it much more acceptable to have four copies of Sorin after sideboard against control decks. Double emblem turns will lead to many wins out of nowhere.

“Nobody puts Blood Artist in the sideboard.”

All I hear is Patrick Swayze screaming this at me every time I look at this deck. Blood Artist has been responsible for every big finish I have had in the last six months and doesn’t deserve to be shoved to the sidelines like this. I just don’t know if it has a home in the maindeck of a deck like this. Maybe it does, who knows. I guess I just need to get some games in with it.

That’s all the brewing I did for this week. I hope you guys enjoy the weekend festivities. I will be in Roanoke battling it out in some hearted Two-Headed Giant with my better half. Stop by if you are in the area. See you guys next week!