Mining Eldritch Moon Standard

Just because we have one result doesn’t mean the format is anywhere near solved! Join brew addict Chris Lansdell as he puts together #SCGBALT builds for everyone!

Release weekend and has come and gone, and with it a whole bunch of exciting new Standard decks were unveiled. Sure, the brews may have been a little lackluster on camera, but as usual I dug deeper and found some really fun ideas that I definitely want to work on in the coming weeks. As I write this we are in the early rounds of #SCGCOL, so it remains to be seen what is winning and what isn’t quite there yet. But you’re not here to read about that; you are here for decklists. And I have them, my friends. Welcome to the Eldritch Moon edition of Decks By Friends!

Deploy the Binder

Let me start with the deck that won FNM on Release Day. Nick Gosse is known to all by a different name: Planeswalker Kid. He owns three non-foil and one foil copy of every single planeswalker ever printed. In the case of planeswalkers only printed in foil, he has a playset. Not just every individual planeswalker, but every edition of every planeswalker. It is a very impressive feat, and flicking through his prized planeswalker binder is drool-inducing. It also means that there was approximately zero chance that he was not going to build around Deploy the Gatewatch as soon as he was able.

Nick chose to go with a creature package to help defend his eighteen planeswalkers. In the maindeck he has but two removal spells and two sweepers, plus the removal abilities on Arlinn Kord; Sorin, Grim Nemesis; and Nahiri, the Harbinger. Chandra, Flamecaller also has the ability to wipe away a bunch of creatures at once, of course. With Sylvan Advocate and Hangarback Walker he wants to gum up the ground long enough to find his planeswalkers and start grinding out advantage. The single Emrakul, the Promised End is here for Nahiri’s ultimate.

Although I love the concept, I would go an entirely different route. The most glaring omission in my mind is Narset Transcendent, who in this deck is almost always drawing you an extra card each turn. I would also like to have a Sarkhan Unbroken in here, both for the card draw and mana-making of his first ability and because he makes creatures. To make room I would look to cut some of the multiples we’re running.

I am no mathemagician, but I did read a table showing that eighteen is the number of planeswalkers you want to run in order to have about an 80% chance to hit two of them when casting Deploy the Gatewatch. Although Nick is running that card, he’s only got the two of them, which makes this less of a Deploy deck and more a Superfriends deck that plays Deploy the Gatewatch. The problem with running four Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and four Nahiri, the Harbinger and three Chandra, Flamecaller is that when we do cast a Deploy the Gatewatch, we have a high chance of hitting two of the same planeswalker. This is obviously suboptimal. As Nick is not hyper-focused on that aspect of the deck, I am okay with running more than one of these important planeswalkers.

Personally I would be looking to run Oath of Gideon, likely Oath of Chandra, and possibly Oath of Liliana in this sort of deck. They all provide defense for our planeswalkers while also enhancing the planeswalkers we cast. I’d also like a little more removal in the main deck, possibly a Planar Outburst if the manabase can support it.

The only other thing I want to talk about is the sideboard. Obviously in an unknown metagame we can’t be sure what decks we want to protect against, but this sideboard has some cards in it that I just cannot see wanting to bring in. For example, Ob Nixilis Reignited and the third Deploy the Gatewatch seem like cards that have no real matchup where I want them as part of my 60 cards. I’m also not sure when we want the three Hallowed Moonlight, but they do at least cycle in a pinch.

That’s the Spirit!

For a while now I have been working with my friend Peter Yang on a W/U Flash Flyers deck. When we saw the Eldritch Moon spoilers it was clear that everyone else would be working on a list too. The key seemed to be going bigger, and we came up with some solid ways to do just that.

Seeing my old buddy Thunderclap Wyvern in here warms the cockles of my heart, it does. With the lack of a traditional Spirit lord in the format, the Wyvern lets you get bigger against the (apparently popular) mirror match. As you’d expect, almost all our threats are buffed by the Wyvern, so the somewhat unimpressive stats do at least get mitigated.

One card I cannot get behind is Felidar Sovereign. I think in Peter’s case it was a question of card availability, but it should probably be a third Avacyn or a second Ojutai’s Command. I know from talking to Peter that he was very impressed with Spectral Shepherd, especially in tandem with Spell Queller, but I think I would look to replace some number of Void Shatter with perhaps Nebelgast Herald. That card did a lot of work against me in the matches I played against the archetype.

I love the addition of Always Watching in the sideboard. Liliana, the Last Hope is a workhorse against all the one-toughness creatures in this deck, and the enchantment puts those creatures out of pick-off range for our newest planeswalker.

Flash Bants!

It’s time to check in with our old friend Mike Pynn, who came up with a list to remind us that green has some potent flash threats as well. Mike ended up being wooed by the call of U/R Goggles instead of this deck, but we both agree there’s something here.

Although we want to do as much as possible at instant speed with this deck, cards like Duskwatch Recruiter and Reflector Mage are too good to not play. I love almost everything this deck is doing, but there are a couple of cards that seem to be missing. The first of those would be Secure the Wastes, a card that can put a whole bunch of power on the battlefield in a hurry. Although we are lacking Anthem effects like Always Watching to really pump up the power level of the card, it is still a fine addition.

If we’re going to play Elder Deep-Fiend, I want to play the full four. Pack Guardian is a perfectly fine card to sacrifice to it, as is Reflector Mage. If we’re making cuts, I think the first place I would look is Sylvan Advocate, which, while undoubtedly powerful, isn’t really what this deck is looking to do. Void Grafter on the other hand is precisely what I want to be doing, and I want at least one more here.

If we do cut Sylvan Advocate, or even trim them, Ojutai’s Command loses some versatility. I really like the potential blowouts the card provides, so we might want to look at Dimensional Infiltrator or Rattlechains to fill in some holes.

My only other concern is the manabase. With so many double-colored cost requirements, it is likely that we will have trouble at some point in casting our cards. It’s unfortunate, but Pack Guardian is the easiest one to cut if my fears end up being founded.

A Hot Little Number

This is the list I came very close to playing for Week 1. Red is so underplayed that I figured there had to be a deck there somewhere to surprise people with. If we think green can draw a lot of cards right now, check out what we can do in red!

Ultimately I did not think the lower end of this deck was consistent enough to try it. I like every card in the deck and want to try this out, but maybe not just yet. We have a lot of evasive threats, a good range of removal, the ability to burn people out, and creatures that can just win the game on their own. If we had a reliable way to deal with the Spirits deck, I would play this at #SCGBALT if only to get the deck tech.

Things are Looking Grim

So here’s the deck I actually played, because I just cannot resist a grindy Rock-style deck in any format.

This deck was a blast to play. It has a lot of play against a variety of decks, but the primary gameplan is to destroy the opponent’s hand on the way to delirium and then land a solid threat. Vessel of Malignity was an absolute star in this regard, as it often took their last two cards and sent them to exile while powering up Ishkanah, Grafwidow. In the event that I drew a Vessel late, it just got discarded to Call the Bloodline.

Speaking of my pet enchantment…it was incredible. Those little 1/1s are a pain to deal with, and the combo with From Under the Floorboards was as good as I hoped. Liliana, the Last Hope lets you retrieve creatures that you have discarded, and the damage and lifegain both add up.

Going forward I definitely want to cut some two-drops for maindeck Den Protectors. If our plan is to grind, that is the way to do it. It also allows us to potentially trim some discard spells to vary our curve better and to get some more answers to cards like Spell Queller.

Grim Flayer was really, really good. There’s so much good removal in the format that it’s trivial to get attacks through, and his ability will quickly get you to delirium. I wish he didn’t die to Languish, but we can’t have everything. I do want to find room for a Dead Weight or two, both to make it easier to get in with the Flayer and to help delirium in the early turns.

Comments from Last Week

Let’s start with a mea culpa.

“However, Eldritch Moon has brought me a card that is crying out for inclusion: Nahiri’s Wrath. No, we can’t double it with Pyromancer’s Goggles”.

It’s a red sorcery, so why wouldn’t you be able to copy it?

– Steffen J. S. Christiansen

I messed up here. Copies of X spells also copy the value of X. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking here. Sorry.

My buddy plays Skred and his list runs 4 Demigod of Revenge. Use Nahiri’s Wrath to discard like 1-2 then later you can cast one and get multiples back.

– Kyle Carney

I love Demigod of Revenge, more than is healthy even. It might be a good sideboard plan for control decks, but I don’t think I really want it in here in general especially if we’re adding some Plains.

Would Blasphemous Act be a consideration for the Skred deck? Board wipe + 13 to the face seems relevant.

– Matthew Phillips

Now this…this I like. I always manage to forget that Blasphemous Act is a card somehow, and it fits ideally in this sort of deck. In a pinch we can even discard it to Nahiri’s Wrath to deal nine to something. There will be matchups where it’s terrible, but I do like it against any creature deck.

That’s all I have from the LAB this week folks. As always, thanks for stopping by. Next week I hope to have a few more brews for you based on the successful decks from #SCGCOL and one particularly spicy Modern list from a friend.

Until next time…Brew On!