M15 Is Looking Awesome

Chris is really excited for a lot of Magic 2015 cards, and he looks at some of his favorites so far and brews up decks around them.

We are currently in the midst of M15 spoiler season, and I don’t know about everyone else but I’m super excited for this one. Magic 2015 is shaping up to be one of the best core sets since M11, which is saying quite a bit.

Between the Titan-esque cycle of Souls and the new exciting Planeswalkers, this set is jam-packed with power, especially since both of these cycles are a whopping six cards each. Pain lands are back in the form of the enemy-colored ones from Apocalypse, and I really like the flavor-packed guest designer cards that we get this time as well.

All in all, I’m really excited for M15, but the question remains if it will cause as big of an impact to Standard as M14 did.

When Magic 2014 came out, Standard experienced a huge change in the metagame, and that was mainly facilitated by the reprinting of Mutavault and Scavenging Ooze. Adding a new dimension to the control decks and linear aggressive decks and putting a nail in the coffin of the Junk Reanimator decks that had been warping the format, M14 definitely shook things up.

I think that there are some cards in M15 that might be able to shake things up a bit from the current monotony of Devotion, Monsters, and Revelations.

Battlefield Forge Caves of Koilos Llanowar Wastes Shivan Reef Yavimaya Coast

A lot of people have honed in on the fact that the enemy-color painlands will facilitate a more streamlined and reliable manabase for two- enemy -color aggressive strategies. With only half the guilds being supported here, we have to look into which ones can utilize the speed that having untapped dual lands 9-12 available. Izzet, Golgari, Boros, Orzhov, and Simic are the painland colors we have access to, and I’m actually the most excited for Battlefield Forge.

Those of you who have been following me for some time know that there was a point in time where I was gaga for Boros Aggro. Curving powerful one- and two-drops into Spear of Heliod or Ajani, Caller of the Pride and blowing people out with Brave the Elements and Boros Charm was something that I took great pleasure in. One of the main issues with the deck, besides having an extremely hard time dealing with Desecration Demon, was having access to red when you needed it and being off-curve with Temple of Triumph. Mutavault is just too damn good in the deck to not play, and with a maximum of 22 lands you wanted at least eight red sources but couldn’t afford to play many lands that came into play tapped or any that didn’t provide white mana. Now we have Mana Confluence and Battlefield Forge to give us Boros Charm mana and have Brave the Elements available.

I tried to build a Boros Aggro deck after Born of the Gods came out and then again after Journey into Nyx, but never really put that much time into it because I just felt like Jund Monsters was positioned better. But now that everyone is aware just how powerful Monsters is, I think it’s time to explore other options. The issues I ran into while building the Boros deck was a clump at the three-drop slot. With Banisher Priest, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Ajani, Caller of the Pride, and Spear of Heliod, we have a plethora of awesome options.

Boros Aggro:

4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Dryad Militant
3 Boros Elite
4 Precinct Captain
3 Imposing Sovereign
4 Daring Skyjek
3 Banisher Priest
2 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

4 Brave the Elements
3 Boros Charm
2 Spear of Heliod
2 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

4 Battlefield Forge
3 Mana Confluence
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Mutavault
7 Plains

3 Reprisal
1 Boros Charm
3 Mizzium Mortars
1 Banisher Priest
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
2 Return to the Ranks
2 Electrickery
1 Wear
1 Iroas, God of Victory

There are a couple ways you can go if you want to build this type of deck. With Raise the Alarm, Hall of Triumph, and the new white Paragon that pumps other White creatures, you can go more of a token route. In that case, Ajani Steadfast would be awesome for his minus ability that puts counters on all of your creatures. It could be that the new Ajani is better than the three-mana version that I’ve gone with here, but that will be for testing to find out.

Without Temples slowing us down, now we can curve out better each game. This makes me want the fourth Boros Charm in the main, but when I played the deck in the past I was always happy with just having the 3/1 split.

Reprisal now gives us an answer to Desecration Demon and Polukranos, World Eater that’s much more reliable – we used to just have to hope they couldn’t get rid of our Banisher Priest. We are still a little soft to Master of Waves, which is why I had been playing Last Breath in the sideboard previously, but I’m not sure how much we really care about that.

Return to the Ranks is a pretty exciting new card from M15 that will allow us to re-buy our team when we get wiped out by a Supreme Verdict or Drown in Sorrow. It could potentially be maindeck material since it will also allow us to make sacrificial attacks to get in damage and just get back the creatures that died in combat.

Other random thoughts about this strategy:

I’m really excited for Stoke the Flames; like really, really excited.

For three months we get to play with a Convoke burn spell and Young Pyromancer.

I don’t know if this will revolutionize the Burn decks, or even be playable, but I really like the idea of using these two cards in conjunction with the already-existing Burn deck.

Young Pyromancer usually has a target on his head whenever he actually gets to see the battlefield, but the times that they don’t happen to have a removal spell handy and we get to untap with him, we usually get to bury them fairly quickly.

Chandra’s Phoenix is still too good to not play, and we are still getting an awesome rate on our four damage spells with Boros Charm. The lifegain from Warleader’s Helix is pretty important for racing, so we can’t really just jam a bunch more four-mana burn spells into our deck.

R/W Burn

4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Young Pyromancer

4 Lightning Strike
4 Magma Jet
4 Skullcrack
4 Boros Charm
4 Warleader’s Helix
3 Shock
4 Chained to the Rocks
2 Stoke the Flames

3 Mutavault
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Battlefield Forge
8 Mountain

This deck looks like a blast to play, but whether or not Stoke the Flames is good with Young Pyromancer is still to be seen. I’m definitely going to be giving this one a spin while I’m preparing for the Open in Baltimore on the first weekend that M15 is legal.

The last card that I want to look at is Chord of Calling.

I’m sure that this is the card on everybody’s mind. It’s extremely powerful, and has a history strongly rooted in combo decks that just need to find a particular creature to either kill your opponent or just take over the game.

There really isn’t anything like that in Standard, but there sure are a lot of awesome creatures. We can be set up to play a pretty sweet toolbox kind of game, but where do we start?

I can imagine that every Chord of Calling deck for the next year is going to start out with the following:

4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix

We can’t really act surprised, something like seven of the Top 8 decks at the Block Pro Tour had four Sylvan Caryatid and four Courser of Kruphix. It’s a green mage’s world and we’re just living in it.

I’ve been wracking my brain ever since Chord of Calling was spoiled to try and figure out all the best targets for it and I have a pretty sweet list so far of cards that I am considering:

Pack Rat Lifebane Zombie Sin Collector Obzedat, Ghost Council Athreos, God of Passage Pharika, God of Affliction Nylea, God of the Hunt Purphoros, God of the Forge Eidolon of Blossoms Scavenging Ooze Sylvan Primordial Soul of New Phyrexia Sliver Hivelord Gruul Ragebeast Banisher Priest Archangel of Thune Aegis of the Gods Spirit of the Labyrinth Brain Maggot Prophet of Kruphix Progenitor Mimic Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

As you can see, there isn’t a shortage of awesome creatures that you can get with Chord of Calling, but a lot of them are extremely situational and most of them cost a bunch of mana. Chord is extremely powerful in the Birthing Pod deck, because when we aren’t way far ahead to a point where we can abuse Chord of Calling, we can use Birthing Pod to push us to that point.

I kind of want to try something like that in Standard, but with Garruk, Caller of Beasts as our makeshift Birthing Pod. We are already wanting to ramp, and Garruk plays well in those strategies. This way, as long as we are ramping we can use Chord of Calling to find our targets, we can find them and/or put them into play with Garruk, Caller of Beasts or even just cast our monsters.

G/r Devotion

4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Voyaging Satyr
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Courser of Kruphix
2 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
4 Chord of Calling
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Gruul Ragebeast
1 Soul of New Phyrexia
1 Arbor Colossus
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Hornet Queen

4 Temple of Abandon
4 Stomping Ground
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
12 Forest

This deck definitely seems like it would be a blast to play. I played G/R Devotion in Louisville for the Grand Prix earlier this year (when I should have just played Mono-Black Devotion along with BBD, Todd, and Brad, who all made Top 8 of that GP) and it felt very powerful.

I’m not sure if Chord of Calling is going to allow this strategy to make a comeback, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot. It is important to note that this deck is colossally bad against Lifebane Zombie. Man, I’ll be so happy when that guy is out of Standard.

A lot of people commented when Chord of Calling was spoiled that it could fit right into Jund Monsters, but unfortunately I don’t think that it will. We usually aren’t flooding the board unless we have a Xenagos, the Reveler pumping out tokens, and if that’s the case we want to just keep pumping out tokens and attacking.

Paying eight “mana” for a Stormbreath Dragon isn’t really something I’m interested in. Using Elspeth, Sun’s Champions +1 ability for some tokens and then using the tokens to Convoke a Chord of Calling definitely seems like a winning strategy though. I could see some kind of Junk Midrange implementing Chord of Calling. Being able to find Pack Rat, Obzedat, Ghost Council, Lifebane Zombie, Sin Collector, or Archangel of Thune all seems pretty sweet.

As for M15 additions to Jund Monsters, the only one I’m really happy with is Llanowar Wastes so far. Being able to still have mana fixing and take less damage from our lands is always something I’m looking for, and it can still cast Elvish Mystic on turn one.

There is still quite a few cards left to be spoiled, and I can’t wait to see them all so I can fully get into testing with the new set. I may not be qualified for PT Portland, but BBD, Todd, and Brad are, and I’ve got some Opens to win.

I’ll leave you with some tidbits about M15 that are still floating around on my mind.

  • Shrapnel Blast. This card has always been amazing, but we need some more artifacts to fling. Maybe Meteorite might actually be playable?
  • Sliver Hivelord actually seems very good. We have two five-color lands for it plus Manaweft Sliver.
  • All of the Souls are extremely powerful, and it might be right to just start jamming them into decks and see what happens.
  • Garruk, Apex Predator may seem like he costs a lot at seven, but I think he is still very good and I can’t wait to cast him for the first time. Everyone thought Elspeth, Sun’s Champion cost too much at six when she was first spoiled…
  • Nissa, Worldwaker is much better than I initially thought, and Nissa +1 into Polukranos or Eidolon of Blossoms is going to be a thing for a while.
  • Inferno Fist is the most “Tom Ross” card I think I’ve ever seen and I expect him to do great things with it.
  • What can we do with Waste Not? I have no idea, but I imagine it has huge potential in Modern and Legacy.
  • Sign in Blood is still good and Mono-Black Devotion isn’t going anywhere but to the Top 8 of most tournaments.
  • The new Ob Nixilis has people speculating heavy on Fetchlands in Khans of Tarkir, but remember, it was a guest-designed card so there is a good chance that it’s just air.

That’s all for now folks. This weekend the Open Series is heading to Worcester. As it’s the Fourth of July weekend, I’m going to be taking a small break to hang out here in town, but I wish everyone jamming Stormbreath Dragon good luck while we get ready for the M15 prerelease the following weekend!