Mixed kNuts: Welcome to the Golden Age — Part 2

Yesterday, the mighty Mr Card Game tackled some of the Standard metagame’s stronger contenders, discussing them in relation to the coming rotation. Today, he continues on his noble quest to dissect all things Standard in time for Champs, and peppers the reader with his usual brand of off-topic humor and anecdotal irreverence. All this, and cheesecake too!

Welcome back. I assume you have read yesterday’s article by now, but if not that’s okay too. Like the cotton gin, this little series is all about interchangeable parts, so reading the first is not remotely required in order to understand the second. Let’s get started where we left off yesterday, namely reviewing the important archetypes in Standard and investigating whether they will survive the rotation of Kamigawa Block from Type 2, or whether they will be as dead as the moles my cat leaves on our porch every morning. He too, apparently believes that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Erayo Ninja
If you haven’t read Osyp’s translation of Max Bracht’s German Nationals tournament report, I highly recommend you do so now. It’s an excellent piece of work.

Engine: Free spells; Ninjas; Erayo, Soratami Ascendant; Flip!
Disruption: Erayo, Countermagic, bounce (though it’s mostly used for flipping Erayo).
Losses: 14 cards, including all the important bits.

Prognosis: Dead. No Erayo, no ninjas, no deck.

You knew that already, didn’t you? Fine, fine, I’m sorry. I had to start things off easy — get back into the groove. I’m still shaking off the rust here.

Solar Flare

Just be thankful [card name=

Engine: It has some cute synergy with Compulsive Research and Zombify plus Angel of Despair, but there’s no real engine to this deck. It’s mostly just control cards and hard-to-deal with threats.
Disruption: Angel, Wrath, Mortify, Remand, Persecute
Losses: Yosei, the Morning Star; Meloku the Clouded Mirror; Kokusho, the Evening Star; Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni

Prognosis: Solar Flare needs a fattie reload. The six-drops from Kamigawa were retahded good, and you all know how I feel about Meloku. We’ve already seen at least one solid six-drop from Time Spiral (with shadow, even), so there’s a reasonable chance this deck will be able to play exactly as it did before. I’m not sure if it’s fast enough for the current/new format, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind when poring over the Time Spiral spoiler.

Hand in Hand/Ghost Husk
Without a replacement for Promise of Bunrei, Ghost Husk is dead. Oddly enough, both Hands rotate too, meaning we really need to find a new name for this archetype. Regardless, there are plenty of good Orzhov cards still left to build with, so let’s look at one version of this diverse archetype and see where the holes are.

Engine: Sittner’s deck uses a rat discard engine to fight a very efficient attrition war. I’ve got no love for Cry of Contrition, but it certainly works well here, while Dark Confidant pulls the opposite way, drawing cards for the Rat deck, just like he does for every other Black deck in the format. And you people doubted the power of Bob…
Disruption: 12 discard spells/creatures, 4 Mortify
Losses: 4 Umezawa’s Jitte, 4 Hand of Cruelty

Prognosis: Again, the outlook for this deck is strong. Replacing a two-drop in the current environment is difficult, not because you have too few good choices, but because you have too many. The Orzhov Guildmage is poo, especially considering how good his art is, but you could grab at least five other two-drops just from these colors and do fine for yourself, even without Time Spiral. I could easily see this deck meshing with some Rakdos cards for a discard heavy Satanic Sligh build (which we’ll get to right about… now).

Satanic Sligh

Engine: Pure, unadulterated efficiency in terms of threats. You also get a minor card drawing theme out of what is fundamentally a burn deck.
Disruption: Burn, Rakdos Guildmage.
Losses: 3 Genju of the Spires; 4 Flames of the Blood Hand; 1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

Prognosis: Outlook cloudy. Genju of the Spires is a workhorse in this deck and provides outstanding late game reach as well as early destructive beats. Not having it hurts. The loss of Flames is more metagame dependent. If there’s a shift back to power pachyderms, then the lifegain definitely matters, but if not, there are likely replacements for Flames lurking.

On the flip side, Jaya Ballard, Task Mage will have a ready home in this archetype, provided you don’t mind playing more creatures. Jaya is downright naughty, and I’m sure Red mages positively cannot wait to get their grubby little mitts on her spot in the mana curve. I also favor putting Hit / Run back in, which (when combined with Ms. Ballard) at least replaces the cards lost, if not their exact roles. This is one of my favorite decks in Standard right now – I hope it survives the transition without too many problems.


Engine: Engine? We don’t need no stinkin’ engine! Smash and burn, fellas. Smash and burn…
Disruption: Volcanic Hammer, Seal of Fire, Lightning Helix, Char.
Losses: Isamaru, Heroic Puppydog

Prognosis: Loss of the dog will hurt a little because we are unlikely to receive a replacement 2/2 for one mana, but 56 other maindeck cards survive the rotation. This deck isn’t going anywhere and should continue to provide the baseline aggro deck for you to test against.

Engine: There are two major engines here — one combines Proclamation of Rebirth recursion with Kami of False Hope foggyness and Martyr of Sands life gain, which basically makes it a Standard version (or substandard, depending on how you think of it) of Life. The other engine is the more obvious Scrying Sheets card advantage engine.
Disruption: Wrath of God, Faith’s Fetters, and Condemn plus the lifegain do well to cancel most aggro strategies. That’s about it as far as disruption is concerned, though there is a bit more out of the sideboard.
Losses: Sensei’s Divining Top, Kami of False Hope, Yosei

Prognosis: Losing the Top hurts Scrying Sheets engines more than you might expect. Kami of False Hope has no obvious replacement, and you need it to ensure survival. You can likely do without Yosei or find a suitable replacement, but why would you want to? I already wasn’t sure this deck was any good due to the lack of disruption for non-aggro strategies, but now it looks mostly dead.

That said, Martyr of Sands is tres annoying. I suspect it will always be Tier 2 or worse, but I would not be surprised if some industrious individual took a couple of goodies from Time Spiral and made it work. It would be nice if the deck could somehow incorporate Duress and/or Cabal Therapy


Engine: The UrzaTron (plus expensive spells, but mostly just the UrzaTron).
Disruption: Countermagic, Wildfire, Confiscate
Losses: Keiga, the Tide Star and uh… oh man, that’s it.

Prognosis: Uncertain. Keiga is not only really good (and important to the deck), but it doesn’t cost much in the way of colored mana and it lives through Wildfire, which is one of the few things Niv-Mizzet simply cannot figure out. The entire deck minus Keiga is back for bidness, so as long as it finds a strong replacement, there’s a decent possibility this deck will still be viable, though it hates a Ghost Quarter. Aren’t you glad R&D printed both the UrzaTron and Wildfire in Ninth Edition?

Observing the Trend
I was expecting Ravnica and Ninth Edition to have a lot of cards in play, but looking at these archetypes has proven to me that Kamigawa cards are seeing very (some might say shockingly) little play right now. After Mirrodin Block, I suppose this was unavoidable, but it’s still a jolt to see the data laid out in front of you. Out of ~14 archetypes covered, few lose more than six cards. Only Heartbeat Combo, Erayo Ninja, and Ssssnakes die, while almost every other archetype requires ready replacements to carry on with business as usual.

What you can expect to see post-rotation are major changes across the entire aggro spectrum of the current metagame due to Umezawa’s Jitte. So much time and energy has been focused on either manipulating or dealing with this card, that it will be interesting to see what the aggressive archetypes do in its absence. I’m not certain they will be better able to compete with the powerful control cards that will still be around, but I hope they will. A lack of good beatdown would be a lamentable thing. The other major losses from Kamigawa come from Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama’s Reach, ninjas, the two Hands, Meloku, the Star Dragons, Gifts Ungiven (which has fallen entirely out of use), plus Pithing Needle and Boseiju, Who Shelters All out of sideboards. Though I’m still of the opinion that it was a solid Block, Kamigawa will be remembered for these cards and little else.

All of this goes to prove the point that, unless the power level of Time Spiral is such that it blows all these current archetypes out of the water (and it might be), the upcoming Champs Standard format will be insanely diverse. We lose an entire block worth of cards, but one that only accounts for about 20% of cards seeing play, and what we gain with Time Spiral will be… well, I can’t spill all the beans on that one, but let’s just say it’s a lot. The last weekend in October might just be impossible to metagame for, but what that also means is that tuned rogue decks have an even better shot at doing well. Current Standard is excellent, and it’s only going to get awesomer.

Strap in, kiddies… the next year is going to be a wild ride for Constructed players, the like of which has never been seen in Standard before and might never be again.

I can’t wait.

The Kitchen Sink
Achtung: Long time fans know the deal, but new people might be confused about this section. “The Kitchen Sink” is where I dump all the random crap I’ve been thinking about since the last time I wrote one of these things. Some of it is funny, some stupid, almost all of it is pointless, and you should feel free not to read a single word. However, if you do read something and want to comment on it in the forums, go to. Just remember to comment on the actual Magic: The Gathering content while you are at it. If you don’t like this restriction, don’t blame me. Blame Joss Whedon.

Random MTG Observations

  • Kamiel Cornelissen is officially the most boring great Magic player of all time. He terrorizes his own countrymen when he pays attention to the game at all, regularly wrecks Pro Tour competition, has 5 Pro Tour Top 8s (including a win), 6 GP Top 8s, and a national championship to his name. And yet nobody knows a thing about him.
  • Chris Romeo is so budget, he won’t even read premium articles even though he has a free account.
  • I’d riff on Talen Lee here, but he made it no fun by admitting he’s an easy target. Instead, I give you this.
  • John Rizzo may or may not still be stalking wooing Kelly Digges.
  • Craig Stevenson is to national champions as George Costanza is to hand models.
  • What was the last great Mike Flores article you read? I’m not criticizing, I’m asking…
  • To make my point clearer: Has there ever been a great Ted Knutson article?
  • In addition to his job as English National Champion (which involves a lot of parades, baby kissing, and hand waving), and his job as editor of StarCityGames.com (which strangely, involves the exact same duties), Craig Stevenson is also the sole proprietor of the 1-900-Hot-Brit sex line.
  • I’m sure that I have done more stupid things than help train some local guy to cover Grand Prix in Australasia, thus costing myself one trip to Australia per year at the very least, but at the moment I can’t think of what they might be.
  • The purpose of Frank Karsten’s new column on MTG.com seems to be making every non-Limited writer in Magic obsolete. I can already see the fan mails pouring in…

    Hey Frank,

    Thanks for screwing up my f***ing local metagame, you arrogant knowitall prick. I hope you die in a grease fire.

    –Somebody Who Used To Win

    It’s a good thing Frank can’t do funny, or I’d be out of another job. Just make sure you don’t sign my name to any of it.

  • Surprising absolutely no one, I introduced myself Nick Eisel at U.S. Nats and he big timed me. I didn’t even ask how he was doing in the JSS!
  • Why is it that every single person voted into the Invitational for writing Magic articles stops writing Magic articles?
  • Am I the only one still surprised/disappointed when I see Evan Erwin picture on the front page and he doesn’t look like an oompah-loompah? Misterorange indeed…

When writing the Magic Academy Lingo article last week, I managed to avoid the temptation of slipping in any ringers, just for the fun of it. This is why I was so taken aback when the forums of said article accused me of doing just that. What a tankard of whale!

The Dutch might just be favorites against the field to win the World Team title.

I don’t know why Rose McGowan is dieting because she was incredibly hot before, but I’m still smitten.

We made the switch to HDTV this summer (for the World Cup, obviously), and minus the too-frequent close-ups of acne-scarred professional athletes (steroids much?), HD is nothing short of awesome. All I want to know is: how much do I have to pay to see every television program I watch in HD? An extra 100$ a month? 200? I at least want the option here — work with me, damnit!

The word of the day is Milf (not to be confused with Silf). Milf is spelled H-U-R-L-E-Y.

Pro Tour Winnings well spent...

Mark Herberholz and Paul Rietzl have actual cosmic powers. I have never in my life seen anyone catch more breaks with regard to Magic, including somehow getting the opening draft of Day 2 at a Grand Prix conveniently delayed by 20 minutes so they would have time to make it after an evening of drunken skinny-dipping with Sun Devil co-eds. My wife won’t even let me talk to these guys, that’s how strong their mojo is.

Saddle up, boys!

Random poll: How high did Randy Moss go in your Fantasy Football draft? Ignoring the fact that Aaron Brooks is now throwing to him, is he even one of the Top 15 receivers in the league?

Look, he’s going to get re-elected, but no matter how many times I hear the words “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,” I still can’t help but think someone is making a Demolition Man reference. And while we are on the subject, there is no possible explanation for “Rocky Balboa.” Stallone is sixty!

If I had come to you four years ago and said, “In four years, Britney Spears will be in her third year of downswing and unless you have a pregnant woman fetish, you will have no desire whatsoever to see her in a bikini or her birthday suit,” would you have believed me? Is it mean to make a Mama Cass reference here? At least Cass could sing.

Now, with Britney’s story in mind… where will Lindsay Lohan be four years from now? Enquiring minds want to know!


It’s early to say it, but this might just be the best television season since the invasion of Reality TV. Vanished is excellent, and there are a host of new programs with potential. Add that to new seasons from established favorites like Veronica Mars, Grey’s Anatomy (a fabulous guilty pleasure), and The Wire, and you have a couple programs almost every night that just might not suck. I approve. Future Magic Hall of Famer Zvi Mowshowitz is so excited that he took the set review format and applied it to the new Fall TV season in his journal, with surprisingly good results.

Oh, and if you’ve never seen Wonderfalls, and you like quirky, funny, well-written TV, I recommend adding the DVDs to your Netflix queue.

My wife shows remorse about strange things. When informed that Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra were on the outs, and that Navarro had found solace in the arms of the world’s most famous porn star (Jenna Jameson), she seemed genuinely disappointed. “Oh Dave…”

This week’s Top 5 music recommendations that you’ve probably already heard/seen because you are just that cool:

1) Camera Obscura — “Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken”
2) Of Montreal — “Disconnect the Dots”
3) OK Go — “A Million Ways” (Check out both of their superawesomest dance music videos on der YouTuben)
4) Beirut — “Postcards from Italy”
5) Wilco – “Handshake Drugs”

Quotable Quotes

Here’s one.

Knutson: wish I were actually going to this PC
Knutson: loooove san fran
GT: Probably has something to do with you being a rampant homosexual
GT: But that’s all guesswork
GT: Like, to your credit
GT: I’m pretty sure you’re a “top”
GT: But that’s as far as I’m willing to go

[Stii] wow the japanese love ledge walkers
[StrWrsKid] what don’t they love?
[Stii] playing normal decks

[RHat] no
[RHat] serious business is what your mother conducts every friday night

[WonkoSane] I don’t normally read forums
[author name="Yawgatog"]Yawgatog[/author] wise
[RHat] i usually troll them within an inch of their lives 🙁
[RHat] and then tim calls me forumy mctrollerson
[knutafk] rhat needs other hobbies
[WonkoSane] why bother?
[RHat] i have other hobbies
[RHat] playing magic
[RHat] playing magic online
[RHat] playing magic online beta
[RHat] writing about magic
[RHat] posting about magic
[RHat] chatting about magic
[RHat] flying to play magic
[RHat] …
[LoneGoat] drinking with magicians
[RHat] …you aren’t going to quote this in your next article, are you?

[pugg_fugg] How is one talented at child porn?
[pugg_fugg] And how is that a potential job skill?
[knutafk] pugg’s looking for work

From Gerry Thompson Aim profile:
7:25 Adept_Gnome: Please refrain from namecalling on Magic Online. Your recent opponent, m0x was offput by your declaration that he was “so unreal stupid.”

[edt1] i was talking to gabe walls yesterday about burning man and how it was a bunch of drugged out hippies and gabe goes “i really don’t like associating with people on drugs”
[edt1] and I go “But they’re NAKED. If I had my way i would make it legal to go everywhere naked.”
[{Stone}] I’m in my underwear and skullcap now
[edt1] and gabe walls said, “I think nakedness is fine. In fact, I would walk around naked if they let me”
[edt1] and I go “Me too!”
[edt1] so picture in your mind
[edt1] gabe walls and me running around naked
[edt1] it would be a new utopia

Finally, I give you today’s moment of zen.*

Teddy Card Game
Official editor of no site no where
[email protected]

* Courtesy of copernicus