Innovations – Standard Article with Five Spicy Decklists!

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Monday, March 31st – With Pro Tour: Hollywood looming on the horizon, the Pro community has turned its sights on Standard. Today’s Innovations sees Worlds Finalist Patrick Chapin bring us not one, not two, but five decklists that could form the basis of the strategies to beat come the PT…

Do you remember,
The 21st night of September?
Love was changing the minds of Pretenders.
While chasing the clouds away…

Here we are, just about as far away from the 21st of September as we can get. Still, when the music gets a grip on you, there is really not much you can do. It’s like be paired up against Guillaume Wafo-tapa and his first turn is Island, go. You might as well give it up.

I may be inspired with regards to music. I may be inspired by fried chicken. I may even be inspired with matters of the heart. But Standard? I want to be inspired. It feels like there is a huge gap to aim for. It feels like there should be good ways to exploit the dominance of fragile creature aggro decks, like Faeries, Elves, Merfolk, etc. The Reveillark decks are badly built, and the burn decks suck.

Let’s look at some decklists!

First up, a concept to which I have returned from time to time during the past 12 years.

This is a true Sligh deck, built on a foundation of efficiency, mana curve, and board control. For the better part of the past decade, Red Deck Wins aggro decks, filled with Jackal Pups and Ball Lightnings, have dominated the Mono-Red agro archetype.

It was not always this way.

As Mono-Red agro was originally envisioned, it was meant to be a mid-range deck that used burn to help gain tempo while dealing with creatures. Creatures capable of generating an advantage if left unmolested, such as Orcish Artillery and Orcish Librarian, were a center-point. The idea is to curve out, but rather than hit as hard as possible, the Sligh player seeks to establish little advantages that he or she will leverage into larger ones.

I am taking another crack at a deck in this line of theory due to my suspicion that Orcish Artillery is actually an incredibly powerful card right now, and this is a natural way to showcase it.

Our hearts were ringing,
In the key that our souls were singing,
As we danced in the night,
Remember how the stars stole the night away…

I can make no promises about the strength of this Sligh deck. This build is untested, so who knows, maybe it sucks, but at least I am not writing an article about InnovatorFish.

GerryT Fish, on the other hand…

If you want to read about Merfolk decks, look here, here, and here. Seems like the subject has been pretty well covered in the past seven days.

Of note:

This is a really good version. You better axe somebody.

This is for the MTGO Metagame. Mono-Red much…?

How sick is Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender out of the board of the Mono-Blue deck?

Gerry describes the Guile in the board as “loose.”

Ponder is certainly not as good as Ancestral Visions, but they don’t let us use 8 Visions and Gerry doesn’t like the one-drops.

Ba de ya – say do you remember
Ba de ya – dancing in September
Ba de ya – never was a cloudy day…

Now we move to this week’s random-grass control deck, Teachings. This build is not tested or tuned. The idea is that you utilize efficient counters, powerful bullets, Teachings, and Wrath (in lieu of Damnation) to take control of the game. This build is an experiment attempting to help the Faeries match-up by switching our primary kill card to Crovax, Ascendant Hero.

This deck is going to take some work, as it isn’t ready yet. The card Bitterblossom is still such a problem. Maybe Crovax needs to be emphasized even more. I am unsure. What I am sure of is that Mystical Teachings is a powerful card that is not being utilized right now.

Some interesting features of this build include:

Four Vivid Creeks help enable the Pyroclasm sideboard plan, as well as serving as comes into play duals. I mean honestly, you mostly need Blue, and will rarely need other colors from it more than twice.

Five Storage lands to help secure an advantage against anyone trying to go long on you.

A Grim Harvest package. There aren’t a lot of targets, but it only takes one.

Tons of mana, including a lot of lands that do things, such as four Deserts. This deck is very, very mana hungry. It is incredibly useful to be able to consistently ramp up to six mana, and the non-basics help ensure that you have a large amount of action even when you don’t have any spells.

The sideboard doesn’t really have too many surprises, although Intervention Pact is a spicy little number, if I do say so myself.

My thoughts are with you
Holding hands with your heart to see you
Only blue talk and love,
Remember how we knew love was here to stay…

This next deck is actually just a straight up copy/paste from Japan, but it is a very well thought out list that features a lot of powerful cards and synergies, but is also very well tuned.

The key here is that the card quality is second to none, plus the numbers of each card are meticulously planned out. It was not until I played an extensive session with this list that I realized that I might not change a single card in it, save maybe a Liliana Ves or a Cloudthresher in place of the second Primal Command.

This is the list that Shintarou piloted to a top 8 finish at the latest Japanese Grand Prix. His sideboard allowed him to effectively tune his deck mid-match to become more disruptive, more reactive, or more proactive, depending on what was called for in his match.

The main deck is fairly straightforward. Shintarou’s Tarmogoyfs are among the best in the format, regularly hitting 7/8, sometimes the full 8/9. A full complement of Dorans ensures that he will consistently be able to present a gigantic monster for the opponent to deal with.

Bitterblossoms and Garruks provide card advantage as well as serving as extremely difficult threats for control decks that are just fine even when matched with agro opponents.

The six Commands give Shintarou powerful options that help with his reach as well as offering tactical maneuvers that help put away games that are still in question.

The Nameless Inversions and Thoughtseizes are just efficient utility cards that help round out his 60.

Half a dozen Mana accelerators maximize the Doran player’s chances of hitting a quick Planeswalker or Doran, while minimizing the chances of getting flooded with weak creatures. It should be noted that Garruk powering up the mana creatures (and Bitterblossom Faeries!) is a very strong end game plan, that when coupled with Profane Command helps ensure that the opponent is never totally safe.

Now December found the love that we shared in September.
Only blue talk and love,
Remember the true love we share today…

The next deck I would like to present is a little bit of a fresh take on the Kithkin archetype. This list takes advantage of some cards that have not been heavily played as of late, but probably should be.

Some items of note:

Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender maindeck is a little bit of a metagame call, obviously, but he is still a reasonable man, and I think he might be better than the Cenn’s Tactician these days.

Militia’s Pride is a powerful tool that to me is one of the primary incentives to run this sort of deck. It is such an efficient source of card advantage and makes every creature into a threat.

Gaddock Teeg. Even if he is just stopping opposing Cryptic Commands, this is a powerful weapon, situationally. He is also obviously very frustrating for a player packing Wraths or Damnations.

Giant Growth. This card is sick! It is just so much tempo and almost always finds a way to trade with efficiency. Also, it helps speed up the clock and helps breakthrough a creature stalemate.

The lands in this deck allow you to hit all your early land drops, but have plenty of gas later. With a full 14 lands that serve as spells, you will rarely be truly flooded.

Is this deck good? Is it even better than the bog-standard Kithkins? I will leave that as an exercise for the reader. (Talk about a cop out!)

Ba de ya – say do you remember
Ba de ya – dancing in September
Ba de ya – golden dreams were shiny days…

Okay, five decklists, and not a one of them was Faeries, RG Big Mana, Elves, Rogues, or Reveillark. Surely my quota has been met. I will now turn to the forums of StarCityGames.com for questions to answer. It’s like Ask the Pro, except I am going to answer questions that were not actually addressed to me.

[C Phil to Kyle Sanchez] You do know that Ancestral Visions is still legal, right?

[thepchapin] Ahh, but the state of mind Kyle was in when he made this list is not…

[R-Gi-GgS84] Is Dragonstorm dead?

[thepchapin] Yes, it died when 9th Edition rotated out.

[hapi] I’m going to play Lundquist’s list at the local PTQ next weekend, but I have problems figuring out how to sideboard for each matchup, can someone help me?

[thepchapin] Yes.

[matthewCURBSTOMP] I’m familiar with the new Flash kill but what would a current list look like?

[thepchapin] I’m glad you asked:

Big Ups to Michael Jacob and Gerry Thompson! Congrats, and see you guys in Hollywood! Every time someone wins a PTQ with Next Level Blue, an angel gets its wings…

See you guys next week. Stay cool.

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”