Innovations – Standard Article with Title that Alludes to More

Read Patrick Chapin every Monday... at StarCityGames.com!
Monday, March 24th – After many months of intense Magical preparation, today’s Innovations sees Patrick Chapin letting his hair down and waxing poetic. He brings us his thoughts on Standard, shares an amusing story or two, and makes a few predictions about the upcoming Pro Tour: Hollywood…

As you know, Grand Prix: Philly was a week ago. Leading up to it, I had been doing much battling of the Extended variety with such zany characters as National Champion Luis Scott-Vargas and the Telepathetic Ladies Man Paul Cheon. There is still one more week of PTQs, but let’s face it. You and I both know I am just gonna recommend Sensei’s Divining Top, Tarmogoyf, and Counterspell.

Or you could always give in and run Narcomoeba

Regardless, the time has come to move on. I have not played Magic this week, as I have been attending to other matters (let’s just say she is amazing…). However, I still have useful information to help get one started on the new standard format. Also, I will have to rely heavily on my charm and boyish good looks to con you all into thinking that this article is worth the $0.06 of your hard earned money that I have managed to pick from your pocket this week.

Give in to your hate...

See, at first this article will seem like I am just putting to paper my train of thought. As you get a couple of paragraphs in, you will be suspicious, but will come to believe it to be some kind of convoluted joke on my part. Eventually, I will Innovate (┢) such original Standard decklists as U/b Faeries, R/G/x Big Mana, and some corny Mono-R deck.

It is at this point you will temporarily forget my clever ploy. You will be so enamored with the raw, uncut technology, that you will thanking my mother, my childhood teachers, Michael J Flores, and everyone else that has put me here in front of you. I mean seriously! Think about how much trouble the universe had to go to in order to make this all possible!

After I brilliantly repackage 3 decks that probably just came from Wafo-Tapa’s evil Magic Technology Factory in the South of France (as all good Magic Technology does), I will share an irrelevant story about a beautiful girl (that has nothing to do with the Magic Cards…).

Finally, I will end with some random Magic-related thoughts mixed with a healthy dose of the humor that us Magic Writers get paid the big bucks for. Maybe some sort of Nostradamus-like predictions that will seem to be intriguing and mystifying, but in reality just be a pseudo-horoscope that will be able to be applied no matter how things turn out.

Jay Slash Kay!

Blue-Black Faeries! Don’t mind if I do!

Up first, the enemy:

Alright, so this is not a particularly original deck, but it doesn’t aim to be. We need an example of what it is that the kids are doing these days. See, U/b Faeries was a decent strategy before Morningtide. With the addition of Bitterblossom, it has become downright ridiculous.

This is an example of the branch of U/b Faeries that is moving away from the terrible one-drops, like Cloud Sprite and Nightshade Stinger, replacing them with Ancestral Visions on the curve and Mutavault for purposes of powering an early Spellstutter Sprite.

The Oona’s Blackguards may seem a little out of place, as many of the creatures in this deck are not Rogues. However, there is a small opening in the two-spot on the curve and we need another Faerie to lead with. Got any better ideas? I mean, I guess you could use Oona’s Prowler. I dunno.

Anyway, this list is not really the point. What is the point is that whatever you play in Standard these days needs to be able to beat this. A sizable percentage of the field in any given Standard tournament will consist of Faerie decks of some sort or another.

Look at the two decks that met in the final of Grand Prix: Shizouka. Or perhaps the finalists of the StarCityGames $5K tournament. Basically, if you want to succeed in the new Standard, you need to be able to beat Faeries.

It can be done, but it is not easy. Build a deck from scratch. Play a few games against this list. It is tough.

So what do we do?

Let’s start by examining an existing archetype that has an inherently good strategy against Faeries and see if we can’t work on tuning it.

Well, what beats Faeries?

Since Worlds in December, it has been common knowledge that the go-to trump for beating Faeries is Cloudthresher. At 2GG it serves as an instant speed Wrath of God that is difficult to Stutter. At 2GGGG it is a game-winning threat that is typically back-breaking.

Let’s start with four.

What is a strategy that can begin with 4 Cloudthreshers? R/G/x Big Mana is the first strategy that comes to mind.

This is a good starting point for R/G/x Big Mana decks, as it is very similar to lists that have done well in tournaments, such as Chris Woltereck 5k build. The maindeck uses a large amount of mana acceleration to move the deck towards a point of being able to play game swinging bombs like Siege Gang and Cloudthresher every turn.

Even Harmonize, Garruk, and Void are capable of generating large advantages quickly. Skred, Incinerate, and Tarmogoyf help ensure that you have the proper time to develop your board. The man-lands and Mouths help ensure that you have plenty to do with your mana should you run out of action.

This maindeck is a tuned version, but not particularly innovative. The most interesting addition is Void, which serves as every bit the sweeper Molten Disaster is, but is far more disruptive should you face an opponent without a board to sweep. Let me give you a hint. If your opponent plays a Wandervine Hub and reveals Mirror Entity, Void for five…

The sideboard begins with 3 Extirpates and 2 Voids to combat Reveillark combo decks. The idea is to force them to fight a fair fight by stopping their loop, usually hitting the Reveillark itself. Once they are forced to stay finite, you must try to leverage Siege-Gangs, Voids, and Harmonizes to try to get ahead of the board. Cloudthresher can be surprisingly useful, as he keeps Cloudskates and Mulldrifters under control. Extirpate can also be used as a tactical weapon, removing Rune Snag or Cryptic Command, so as to help force through a Void for 5.

Pyroclasm has many applications ranging from Faeries to Rogues to Kithkin to Goblins, and so on. The interesting addition is Pyrohemia, courtesy of Vintage Superstar Brian DeMars. The primary application of Pyrohemia is to use cards like Cloudthresher to draw out the permission of a U/b Faerie deck. Then you untap and drop Pyrohemia.

Now it is certainly very strong to just wrath the Faerie player, but we can do better. With Wall of Roots, Tarmogoyf, and Cloudthresher, there is a very good chance that we will get to keep our Pyrohemia, thereby locking the Faeries player out completely. Whenever they play a creature, a single Red mana should do the trick.

An interesting position to look for is when they have a Bitterblossom, as they often do. Now, you want to wait to their upkeep. When they put the Bitterblossom trigger on the stack, Pyrohemia for 1 in response. They will lose their team, but then gain a summoning sick 1/1.

They will be unable to attack you, and their Bitterblossom will doom them to a permanent state of Pyrohemia. In addition, they will be losing 2 life a turn to your 1. It would take a lot of work for a U/b Faerie deck to beat a resolved Pyrohemia. Certainly with all the burn and powerful Green effects like Harmonize and Thresher, you should be able to quickly build an insurmountable advantage. In the words of LSV, “No Faerie has ever beaten a resolved Pyrohemia and never will.”

Quick! Order your Pyrohemias today before they reach the price range of Force of Will or Mana Drain! Just because they are uncommon doesn’t mean they will always be easy to get!

Chameleon Colossus is obviously primarily for Rogue decks and similar. He is not the most powerful card in his own right, so you usually want to save him for people who are basically just kold to him. Sometimes Cloudthresher will be an undesirable victory condition. In cases like this, it is perfectly acceptable to board the Colossus in his place.

Red Akroma is primarily a way to give added percentage against Blue decks. In addition, it is nice to be able to mix up your victory conditions if your opponent’s strategy is well suited to combat your primary plans.

Ok, so we have a deck that beats Faeries. Want another one? I will spare you the commentary and just list you:

Have people really become so complacent in their neglect of Storm Combo decks that they will let us do this to them again? Will people really show up with Extirpates and Tormod’s Crypts and think that they are well positioned against combo?

Where are the Thorns of Amethyst? Where are the Thoughtseizes? Where are the Acid-Mosses? Where are the Troll Ascetics? Where are the Avalanche Riders? Where are the Rule of Laws? Where are the Story Circles?

Look, all I am saying is that no one can claim they didn’t know this time.

So I get a call that wakes me up ridiculously early on a random Friday. I notice the same caller has tried calling me seven times already today. It must be important.

I answer to find that my friend needs my help. She was in jail the night before. She was in a car with the idiot she was dating. In the back seat sat another mutual female friend. The “great guy” my friend was dating had them stop at a gas station.

In the ghetto.

It turns out he had a foolproof plan to make a quick twenty bucks. As it turns out, his plan was a felony and he is an idiot. As there is some justice in the world, he was caught in the act.

The two girls were waiting in the car (without a clue as to what exactly BlockHead was up to). The police arrested them all and they went to jail.

Did I mention they are beautiful? We are talking really beautiful. It is not particularly relevant, but I just thought it important to bring this up to encourage you to upgrade whatever pictures you currently imagine. If you are imagining the girl next door, they are far hotter than that. We are talking as hot as your friend’s sister. You know, the really hot sister.

So BlockHead gets out on bail, as he apparently had anticipated this sort of eventuality. However, in his infinite wisdom, he did not see it necessary to bail out my two female friends.

Did I mention he is a great guy? I bet he would play Tron in Extended.

So my friend calls her Mom and gets her to send the money to bail her out from some alleged grandfather. Now, in a mission to get her friend out, she meditates on who might be able to post bail… someone who would actually be a big enough sap to go for it.

It turns out that she does not know Gabe Walls.

She does, however, know me.

So here I am. Why did they have to be so charming? I mean, what am I gonna do? Nosir her?

I have heard that jail sucks, and I couldn’t bear to see her suffer.

I told LSV (who was asleep on my couch) that I would be back in a couple of hours and did what needed to be done. That afternoon, I received my first marriage proposal of the year. I was flattered, but obviously I am too much of a gentleman to take advantage of this situation. LSV met her and can attest to the woman’s allure.

Heezy tells me I am a fool. I am not so sure. There is obviously much temptation, but there is also a strong temptation to play Dredge in Extended. That doesn’t mean we actually give in and do it. We simply acknowledge the temptation and go about our way, better for it.

Still, what do you do in this situation? She is calling me every day and won’t leave me alone. I get that she is grateful, but man, she is making it clear that there is no chance of getting to know her better without some sort of implied obligation on her part. Besides, she wasn’t feeling like this last month. How would you play this position?

I bet Wafo-Tapa doesn’t have to deal with this kind of stuff…

I have been listening to two Ani DeFranco songs – Superhero and Both Hands – on repeat for the past 3 hours while I typed this article. I am actually pretty caught up in another girl that I think of whenever I hear these two songs, as she sang them when she was over yesterday. Man, I know how Kyle Sanchez (my brother from another mother) must feel.

Ten Thoughts for Hollywood:

10. Reveillark is the best card in the format, not Bitterblossom.
9. America > France > Japan and that pretty much is! (Nassif counts for us)
8. When is MTGSalvation going to have a spoiler for me? How am I supposed to break the format if I don’t know what the cards do yet?
7. DJ Kastner will make Top 8 in Hollywood. I made this claim in the dark before he had ever qualified for a Pro Tour. Now he has back-to-back Grand Prix Top 16s, and is batting 4 for 4 on moneying. Hollywood is his first Pro Tour, but he is working with Us. Draft him highly in your fantasy league Magic Team.
6. I predict announcements to be made at PT: Hollywood regarding the Magic Movie that I am not talking about in this sentence.
5. I am being hypnotized on Day 2 of Hollywood into thinking that it is Day 1 again…
4. Team Mt Dew Amp will put multiple people in the Top 8…
3. I will get a warning for showing up to a match wearing only a bathing suit and towel.
2. Evan Erwin will be the victim of a practical joke. Despite knowing about it ahead of time, he will be powerless to stop the Pros who are in on it from doing what they have planned. He will be a good sport and replay it on the Magic Show, but he will still try to get to the bottom of this nefarious plot beforehand. His attempts will be in vain. And he will know it is about to happen when everything happens…
1. I will meet dozens of readers and gladly assist anyone asking me for help. Most likely drinks will be bought for those pledging their undying allegiance to me (or at least their vote for the Hall of Fame).

That about does it for this week. Thanks to Luis Scott-Vargas for allowing me to reburgle the R/G/b deck for this article. I guess he is planning on filling the gap in his article later this week with puns involving Paul Cheon name (as he is wont to do).

Thanks for tolerating my ramblings even when they stray from Dominaria. I have been pretty intensely involved in the game for the past month(s) and I appreciate the chance to unwind and deliver something a little less hardcore than usual. I will be slinging many spells this week, so I am planning on bringing a brand new deck to the table next time out.

If you take nothing else away from this article, have it be that whatever deck you are testing should be able to hang with the lists in this article as well as U/W Reveillark. You must be able to fight Faeries and Reveillark if you want any chance to succeed.

Join me next week when I present a brand new deck, as well as results from testing it against the Standard gauntlet while listening to Earth Wind and Fire. (September!) Thanks for being cool. You guys are awesome.

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”