(This week is brought to you by the trepidation that comes just before taking a 26-hour flight all the way around the world.)
As usual at this time, I have a million things left to do and I don’t have a million moments to do them in. At least I have my priorities straight, and I’m getting all of the Magic Related ones sorted out, because fronting up in Paris without a deck isn’t going to be much good, I suspect. Whether or not I’ve had a haircut before I go is neither here nor there.
But what to play? I have been studying the Standard Metagame for quite some time, and I know that the best time to choose a deck, as far as being familiar with it is concerned, is as soon as possible. However, I also know that the metagame is a changeable and fickle thing, and therefore I knew I wasn’t going to decide on what deck I am going to play until roughly *checks watch* nnnnnow.
Deep down I know I should be playing an Aggro deck, because no matter how much I sometimes think I am a good player (only ever happens if I have been huffing paint or drinking mentholated spirits and so on), I know I am actually just a trash nub who should rely on a deck to carry him through anything vaguely important. Despite that, I have spent the last week gearing up with Solar Flare. I have found that Solar Flare has enough threats when managed properly, to overcome most control decks, and has four Wrath of God maindeck, and therefore slaughters Aggro decks. This doesn’t however, explain why my Zoo deck (from Nationals, then State Champs) tears it new orifices at the alarming rate of once every forty seconds.
Everyone tells me that Zoo dies a horrible death to its own manabase, and even though I’ve never really found that to be totally true, I still harbored suspicions that having only eight maindeck Forests is a recipe for disaster. Especially when you’re trying to ride a Kird Ape up someone’s driveway for any more than one a turn. With that in mind, I switched to Boros Aggro, which has been more popular on Magic Online recently anyway, despite having smaller creatures. Boros Aggro, despite having smaller creatures, also seems to manage to tear Solar Flare addition ventilation holes at the alarming rate of once every forty-three seconds.
So yeah, I guess I should be playing Boros Aggro in Standard, or at least anything other than Solar Flare. My sources tell me you can make a passable attempt at the Selesnya Aggro Control match up with Boros by having Griffins Guides and Ronom Unicorns at your disposal, so I feel like I should be okay in there at least, instead of considerably inconvenienced as is usually the case. As far as what I can expect to face at Worlds, the best indication is going to come from what has been played on Magic Online up until now, so lets check out the Standard Premier Events Top 8 recap.
13 (13) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron Control)
11 (9) Dragonstorm Combo (Blue/Red/Black Combo)
9 (6) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro)
5 (9) Solar Flare (Blue/Black/White Control)
5 (8) Magnivore (Blue/Red Land Destruction Control)
5 (7) Simic Aggro Control (Blue/Green)
4 (5) Zoo (Green/White/Red Aggro)
4 (5) Azorius Control (Blue/White Control)
4 (4) Izzet Snow Control (Blue/Red Control with Stuffy Doll)
4 (2) Selesnya Aggro Control (Green/White Aggro Control. Yes, sometimes with Glare)
4 (1) Hierarch Aggro Control (Green/White/Black Aggro Control)
4 (1) MGA (Mono Green Aggro)
4 (0) Mono Black Snow Aggro (Nether Traitor, Hypnotic Specters, Rimebound Dead and Bad Moon!)
3 (1) Gruul Aggro Control (Red/Green Aggro Control)
2 (0) Unknown (Waaaah, waaaaah, please stop colluding, waaah!)
2 (1) Satanic Sligh (Rakdos Burn)
1 (5) Blue Boros Control (Blue/Red/White Control)
1 (1) Mono Red Snow Goblins (With Seething Song and Rite of Flame giggle, giggle)
1 (0) Blue/Red/White Urzatron (Teferi’s Moat wew!)
1 (0) Simic Pickles (Blue/Green Brine Elemental and Vesuvan Shapeshifter lock down)
1 (0) Orzhov Control (Black/White Control)
1 (0) Four Color Blink (Green/White/Blue/Red Momentary Blink and Come into Play shenanigans)
1 (0) Izzetron with White (Kind of like the Extended deck, but the mana isn’t as good)
0 (1) Azorius Green Control (Blue/White/Green Control)
0 (1) Mystical Teachings Control (Blue/White/Black Control)
0 (1) Mono Blue Snow Control (cold)
0 (3) Flores Angel Aggro Control (Blue/White/Red Aggro Control)
0 (2) Mono White Snow Control (Martyr of Sands, Proclamation of Rebirth Combo)
0 (2) Blue/Black/Red Reanimator (The White for Akroma and Angel of Despair don’t count obviously)
So there’s Izzetron, which isn’t too bad a matchup for Boros. Mostly because many of its creatures don’t die or at least don’t die easily to their damage-based removal. Dragonstorm could be a little more troublesome, but could be partially overcome with Honorable Passage and Cryoclasm from the sideboard. Solar Flare and Magnivore take the Cryoclasms on the chin too, so it could be okay. I guess the best reason for playing Boros is that I get to use my Portal First Edition Volcanic Hammers.
(Not really. I mean, I’ll be playing the deck because it’s good, not because I have pretty Hammers.)
(Although they are very pretty Hammers.)
Mono-Green Aggro seems to be on the rise, mostly on the back of Scryb Ranger and Spectral Force to the face. This could be a problem for the Boros deck, so I’ll have to remember to back Pacifism-like cards in the sideboard as well. Oooh, or maybe Threaten!
Right, done. I can play the Boros deck and the world won’t end or anything because it has Red spells in it and Red spells go boom and um… Yeah, I can play Boros anyway.
Heh, if only it were that easy. Sadly, I have Extended to worry about as well. While there aren’t nearly as many Extended events on Magic Online (or in real life, for that matter) as there are Standard events, there is still enough information to go on. That doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near deciding what I want to play in Extended yet though. I know I don’t want to play Psychatog, because Sudden Shock has all but killed it off. I know I don’t want to play Affinity, the amount of maindeck hate I saw playing it last year was huge, and this year Shattering Spree has been added to the mix has made my irrational fear even more irrational. Scepter Chant is a Control deck (spit, spit) and seems like it would have a spot of trouble playing around Krosan Grip if it came down to that.
On the other hand I’m quite partial to decks that use Advanced Graveyard Strategies, such as Madness Tog and Friggorid. However, Affinity being able to maindeck 4x Tormod’s Crypt and everyone being able to sideboard them and Leyline of the Void makes those decks seem like a Bad Idea as well. I wanted to play the Seething Song and Empty the Warrens Goblin combo deck, but it turns out that it’s terribly inconsistent, so that’s probably also a Pretty Bad Idea. I’m betting someone Empties the Warrens for 10 on the first turn against me though, grumble, grumble.
I do like Boros Deck Wins in though, even if it does seem like it doesn’t do anything nearly as unfair as the other decks and is basically just a better version of the deck I’m planning on playing in Standard. Guys in my clan have toyed with adding Black to the Boros mix (would that make it Rakros? Bordos? Rakorzhos?) but apparently that’s akin to taking a shotgun to your toes, no matter how attractive Dark Confidant looks (must be all that eyeliner).
Looking at the replays of the Extended Premier Events shows that Boros is also pretty good in Extended, with the Gruul Aggro keeping pace as well. The first time I saw the Gruul Aggro I was less than impressed, but it seems like it takes the same approach as the Boros (lolol guys and melt face wooo!) but also has the edge over the Red/White decks because their creatures happen to be bigger.
Urzatron decks are also holding strong, which would probably make Aaron Forsythe roll in his grave were he actually dead, but instead probably has him gnashing his teeth. This may explain why the Boros decks are doing well, because they happen to be partial to playing Molten Rains maindeck, I dunno. Anyway, enough of me hogging them, here are the results for the Extended Premier Events this week.
5 (3) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro)
5 (1) Gruul Aggro (Green/Red Aggro)
4 (0) Azorius Urzatron (Blue/White Urzatron. Mindslaver, Eternal Dragon and Sundering Titan. I’m betting Decree of Justice is in there as well)
3 (3) Affinity (The dreaded Artifact deck)
3 (0) Heartbeat Combo (Much better than the Old School Standard version, with or without Mind’s Desire)
2 (2) Four Color Gifts Rock (Green/Black/White Control with Blue for Gifts Ungiven)
2 (0) Dragonstorm Combo (Red/Black Combo. Bigger card pool = way more Rituals!)
1 (2) Azorius Control (Blue/White Control)
1 (1) Friggorid (Blue/Black Aggro Dredge)
1 (1) Goblin Combo (Mono Red Goblin Aggro)
1 (0) Azorius Aggro (White/Blue splashing for Meddling Mage, Snapback and Trinket Mage for Pithing Needle, Tormod’s Crypt and Sensei’s Diving Top)
1 (0) Tooth and Nail (Mono Green, classic Urzatron!)
1 (0) Hierarch Aggro Control (Green/Black/White Aggro Control)
1 (0) Selesnya Aggro Control (Green/White Armadillo Cloak beatings)
1 (0) Unknown
0 (1) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron)
0 (1) Loam Control (Green/Red/White Life from the Loam Control)
0 (1) Balancing Tings (Balancing Act, Terravore and Sac-Lands)
So I guess I’m left packing up as many Extended Aggro cards as possible and seeing what I end up playing on the day. I won’t make any EDT-esque promises to eat my hat if I do end up playing Affinity or anything, because I remember seeing pictures of him trying to eat it and it looked particularly uncomfortable, despite the ton of ketchup he had on it. Or maybe because of the ton of ketchup he had on it, I’m not sure.
What I will do is try to get some pictures on my Kodak Digital Camera of Questionable Quality, and no doubt milk them for all they’re worth in this column for weeks, if not months to come. I know that regardless of how well I’ll do, I’ll have fun. Last year I ended up 9-9 (after starting out 5-1 waaah) so it’s not like I have any expectations of a money finish or anything. I’m also hoping to get in on some of the coverage action as well, whether that be behind the keyboard on days four and five, or just plain following Craig Gibson (pro photographer chap) around until he takes pictures of me, or something.
Also, next week’s entry may be a little… sparse on the content front (yes, even more than usual omg) with this Glorious Event most likely taking up a great deal of my time over the next week. But who knows? Maybe Craig Stevenson (you know, the StarCityGames.com editor guy and current English National Champion) might find me, belt me about the ear a little and then chain me to a desk until I have hammered out an arbitrary number of words on the topic of Magic; the Gathering. Or maybe he’ll pretend he doesn’t know me and go back to hob-nobbing with his English Pro chums who also pretend they don’t know me. (I’m looking at you, Stuart Wright…)
Look for my name in lights, or at least my face partially obscured in the corner of photographs!