In Full Bloom

CVM recounts his recent IQ top 8 with Amulet Bloom, and then he tells you about the different decks he’s working on for Standard in time for the upcoming Invitational in Columbus, Ohio!

This weekend was a pretty big weekend for Magic, especially Standard. Between GP Toronto, GP Sao Paulo, and the Open Series in Portland, there was an
incredible amount of professional Magic being played.

Unfortunately for me, I did not plan ahead so that I could go to GP Toronto, but after my cross country excursion, I was quite happy spending some time at

We will jump into Standard later, but first I want to talk about Modern.

With the Season Two Invitational in Columbus at the Origins Game Fair coming up being Standard and Modern rather than the traditional Standard and Legacy,
I have been taking every opportunity I can to play Modern.

My current deck of choice is the Amulet Bloom, and to say that it’s a difficult deck that takes a lot of practice would be quite the understatement. The
ease with which you can get a Primeval Titan into play and attack with it really creates a seemingly infinite number of lines, and it’s very easy to
evaluate something incorrectly or even flat out miss a line and lose because of it.

I have now played the deck in a handful of Modern tournaments and my only losses have been to U/R Twin (which I think is by far the deck’s worst matchup)
and my own mistakes, every one of which was winnable with the correct play.

Needing as much practice as I could get, I was quite happy that there was a Modern IQ here in town at the SCG Game Center on Saturday that I would get to
play in. Here is the list that I battled with:

I actually only changed one card from my list that I played at Modern Spring States, and that was swapping the Explore for a Simian Spirit Guide. People
that I trust with the deck have given a negative opinion about Simian Spirit Guide, but I wanted to give it a shot and see for myself. I can’t say I was
impressed with it, and it should definitely be something else. I wasn’t too excited with the Explore that I played before, but I’ve recently seen a list
from Jarvis Yu that had an Oracle of Mul Daya, and I’m pretty excited about trying that one out. Adding another facet that will allow us to grind out our
opponents, especially after sideboard when we are just planning on jamming threats and overloading their removal, seems perfect.

In the IQ, I played against multiple different decks, beating Grixis Twin, Sultai Control, and Jeskai Control, while losing to U/R Twin in what felt like a
helpless match. I didn’t draw any sideboard cards, didn’t have any explosive draws even after mulligans, and just got Twinned on turn 4 and turn 5,

After drawing into the Top 8, I then played against Five-Color Cruel Control, complete with Vivid lands. I felt like I was extremely favored, but after
punting what I thought was going off on turn 2, I miscounted and realized that I had to use my Mana Confluence to start the whole thing with an Amulet of
Vigor, which left me short a blue mana to transmute a Tolaria West after going through two Summer Blooms. I ultimately end up having to pass, wasting eight
mana. A million turns later, I end up losing after he’s killed all but one of my Titans, and I had gone through three of my Summoner’s Pact and all three
Tolaria West.

In the second game, I was able to navigate things to a spot where I could actually win, but I didn’t see the proper line until after I took a different
direction and tried to play it safe. On the drive home after going over the different options in my head, I found a line that actually won on the spot.

I still love the deck and plan on continuing to practice and get even better with it so that I can pilot it better come the Season Two Invitational. I
would love to hear people’s feedback who have experience with Amulet Bloom. What variations do you play? Do you like Simian Spirit Guide or Ancient
Stirrings and why? Plans against U/R Twin?

A lot of people might discount the deck because Stephen Speck was caught palming seven cards, which certainly diminishes his accomplishments with it, but
the deck is still absurdly powerful and capable of doing some extremely unfair things within the confines of the game.

As for Standard, I don’t really know where I want to go next.

Last week,
I wrote about how Mike Flores’ Five-Color Blue Dragons deck was probably the only thing that could get me off Stormbreath Dragon, and that’s exactly what
happened. I traveled to Richmond for a Premier IQ and ended up running the blue deck with a few changes.

After playing with the deck a bit, reading over Chapin’sarticle and Flores’ article, and chatting with some of my trusted sources here in Roanoke
along with Anthony Lowry online, I ended up with the following list.

After playing with the deck, I felt like I really wanted another land, going up to 28. We really just want to play a land every turn for most of the game,
and with our Haven of the Spirit Dragons acting more like spells, I don’t think that we can go wrong in playing 28.

To make room for the extra land, I ended up cutting an Anticipate. I actually wanted to cut all of them, but I felt like trying out one, and it actually
was great. The first Anticipate you cast in a game is usually very good, but having your hand get bogged down by them is problematic, especially with this
type of deck that’s usually looking to start tapping out and dropping Dragons as soon as it can. I really liked the 28 land / one Anticipate split, and I
will likely try it out in any other control decks that I play. I did make the extra land a Flooded Strand, so it still helps fuel the delve for Dig Through

I also cut the Icefall Regents and went up to a full four Dragonlord Ojutai, which I also liked. Granted, we are conceding some percentage to Abzan Aggro,
but with Encase in Ice, Perilous Vault, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, along with two Dragonlord Silumgar in the maindeck, I don’t think we’re that bad against
them. I was never really impressed by Icefall Regent and always would just rather cast a Dragonlord Ojutai, which facilitated the move to playing a full
four. I think it’s even right for the Esper Dragon decks to play the full set of Dragonlord Ojutai. He’s just the best card in Standard, and getting it
into play is paramount against almost every deck.

I really liked the deck, but I missed the Top 8 of the Premier IQ, finishing at 5-2. I took my first loss in round four to a Jeskai Control deck that I
wasn’t sure was control and sideboarded incorrectly and lost. In game 1, he got stuck on four mana and just got overran by Dragonlords. In game 2, he was
able to stick a Goblin Rabblemaster on turn 3 on the play and killed me before I could cast anything relevant. With this information, I ended up not
bringing in my whole control plan and got crushed in a long game by Narset Transcendent, Elspeth, the Sun’s Champion, and multiple End Hostilities.

My second loss came in round 6 against a Five-Color Chromanti-Flayer deck. Crackling Doom combined with Den Protector is quite an engine against a control
deck, and in the sideboard game, he crushed me with Mistcutter Hydra, which he then showed me a full four that he sideboarded in.

I had a chance in game 2, but I missed it by forgetting to charge a Crucible of the Spirit Dragon on one of his end steps. It wasn’t like I was playing
around anything; I just plumb forgot. This mattered, as later it would have let me keep UU open after playing a Dragonlord for the Silumgar’s Scorn that
was in my hand. Ultimately, I ended up losing to the extra spell that he got to resolve.

Moving forward, I actually think that this deck is in a pretty good spot. It’s not bad against the midrange green decks or the Esper Dragon decks. We’re a
bit soft to Atarka Red, but those seem to be getting preyed on, and as the results from the GPs and SCG Portland shows, it looks like Abzan or more
accurately, Den Protector, is the current flavor of Standard.

This leads me to another proposed change. I want to try out Dissipate over Dissolve in the deck. We have ten Temples that we are scrying with, and a lot of
the time since we are wanting to curve out and hit our Dragons on time, I find that I’m wasting the scry off Dissolve with the scry from a Temple. Hitting
important spells with Dissipate so that they can’t be re-bought with Den Protector seems pretty sweet, but it’s also nice to counter a Deathmist Raptor
with it. We also get some additional value against the decks with Haven of the Spirit Dragon. Countering the singleton Ugin, the Spirit Dragon with a
Dissipate is pretty nice, but also just hitting a Dragonlord Ojutai can be great when they are just trying to bait a counterspell so they can rebuy it with
Haven of the Spirit Dragon. I think it’s definitely worth trying, and if I end up playing a deck with any Dissolve this weekend at the IQ here in town, I
will likely swap them to Dissipate and try it out.

Lastly, there are a couple decks that I want to highlight from this weekend. I really like the U/G Devotion deck that Nick Peternell played in Portland at
the SCG Open.

These type of decks have fallen to the wayside with the loss of all the premier Devotion enablers from Return to Ravnica block leaving, but as we saw this
weekend, Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves are still as powerful as they ever were, especially with Atarka Red winning the Pro Tour and being
relatively inexpensive to build.

The biggest hit against this deck for me is how vulnerable it is to Dromoka’s Command and Crackling Doom, which are two cards that are already seeing some
play and growing in popularity every week.

If there is a lot of Atarka Red in your metagame though, I definitely recommend this deck.

For a while now, I have been saying that I feel that Crackling Doom is the best card in Standard that’s not seeing play and was trying to figure out the
correct build for a Mardu Dragons deck. I really liked the base of Thunderbreak Regent and Stormbreath Dragon combined with some disruption and the Dragons
matter cards like Draconic Roar and Foul-Tongue Invocation, but I just couldn’t make it all work.

Thankfully, Edgar Magalhae figured it out and took his Mardu Dragons deck to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Toronto.

If I’m back on Stormbreath Dragon for the IQ I’m battling in this weekend, it will likely be something very close to this.

With the Open Series on pause this weekend, there will be plenty of IQs happening all over. Make sure you hit one up to try and gather some Open Series
points, practice for the Open Series in Dallas next weekend, or even qualify for the Season Two Invitational and come see us in Columbus at the beginning
of June!