I’ve done a whole lot of experiments since I started playing Magic, and there’s a ton more I’d like to work on. We’ve come to a point where the margin between the "best" deck and any other cohesive deck is getting so small in each format that most of those decks can win on any given day at a higher rate than before. This compels me to be more adventurous than I already am in every format. With SCG Open Series: Charlotte featuring the Invitational coming up at the end of the month, I’m looking to get a whole lot of things out of the way.
Standard is very interesting right now, not only because of the wide range of things you can do but because of what you can do within those established strategies. There are variants on almost everything, and even within those variants there’s unexplored space. We have G/R Monsters, and within that there’s Jund Monsters. But what about Naya Monsters? Same question with Mono-Black Devotion and B/W. For months I’ve wanted to splash red for the same reasons that G/R Monsters splashes red: better removal, Rakdos’s Return, and countless utility options. R/W Devotion is still very much a thing, and with cards like Drown in Sorrow not being very well positioned at all, it may be a safe time to sleeve up Burning-Tree Emissary and Ash Zealot to fuel Purphoros, God of the Forge.
All right, enough babbling—on to the bucket list. I’m definitely going to try to accomplish as many of these as possible this year. Will some of them be less powerful than what I could be doing? Probably, but who cares?
Use Kiora, the Crashing Wave’s ultimate
I’m a huge fan of planeswalker ultimates, and I’m always looking to build decks around my favorite ones. Domri Rade has made a career around getting to his ultimate, and that one never gets old. When I first saw Kiora, the Crashing Wave’s ultimate, I knew that I had to resolve it at some point. Bant Control was the first place I looked to utilize it, but now I want to take more of a midrange approach to the strategy, similar to the U/W/R Midrange deck I played last Standard.
With this deck I’m trying to set my opponent back as long as I can until Kiora, the Crashing Wave can do her thing. Obviously I want the powerful Jace, Architect of Thought; Supreme Verdict; and Sphinx’s Revelation shell alongside Kiora, as I don’t think there’s one that’s more powerful. Yes, having creatures that don’t give you more creatures when they die is kind of a nombo with Supreme Verdict, but the intricacies of each creature is what makes Supreme Verdict even better.
Sylvan Caryatid allows you to block the plethora of two-power creatures being played while ramping you into Jace and Kiora, further pushing an overextension by your opponent. Lyev Skyknight detaining almost any creature will do the same to a lesser extent, but it also doubles as a blocker, which is huge when you’re trying to set up your four-drop plays. When a Skyknight detains a planeswalker, it’s one of the best in the format at pressuring them. All in all, you really aren’t losing much when you wind up having to Supreme Verdict away the creatures you played because they have such a good lasting effect on the game even when their time on the battlefield expires.
Use mana off of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to cast Rakdos’s Return
I’m still working on this one. I haven’t been able to build a R/x Devotion deck in Standard yet in fear of things like Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow. Neither is particularly backbreaking in the current format in my view, though Bile Blight is still a huge pain for Burning-Tree Emissary. With this in mind, I really need to pick my spot if I’m going to play a deck like this, but if I do, I feel that the upside can be huge.
- 4 Ash Zealot
- 4 Frostburn Weird
- 4 Burning-Tree Emissary
- 4 Boros Reckoner
- 2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Fanatic of Mogis
"Go big or go home" is the theme of this deck. We don’t have the best removal spell in the format in Chained to the Rocks or the added durability of Boros Charm, but what we lose in efficient removal and protection we gain in the potential for a huge Fireball effect that can completely rip Sphinx’s Revelations to shreds. While this deck was already great against planeswalkers with the power of Purphoros, God of the Fore and his Hammer, we gain even more reinforcement in that department with Mogis, God of Slaughter and Dreadbore.
Thoughtseize is, well, Thoughtseize, and while seemingly out of place, the added Godless Shrine in the sideboard is very important for the deck. Not only is it an additional black source for when you bring in more black cards, but it’s a black source that casts Boros Reckoner, something that you want to do reliably when you want both Thoughtseize and the Minotaur. You also gain the advantage of having a 26th land to further power your Rakdos’s Return against control, or you can sideboard out a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx since it’s hard to build up a ton of devotion anyway.
Cast and resolve a Eureka
Eureka is one of my favorite green cards in Magic. I love putting ridiculously large permanents on the battlefield, and Eureka allows you to do just that for only four mana. Is casting Eureka better than playing something like Ardent Plea? Probably, but so what? The card is sweet!
Drew Levin is probably going to give me a perplexed look for this.
I talked about a similar variant of this build of Omni-Tell in the Select Newsletter last week (you’re signed up for that, right?), and I really think that this deck can create some absolutely hilarious board states. Although the list looks like a pretty interesting amalgamation, every card does have a purpose. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker allows you to take any opposing Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or blow up any problem cards if something keeps you from going off with Omniscience or Eureka while also being a blue card for Force of Will. We can afford to play a single Enter the Infinite if we’re able to go off Mono-Blue Omni-Tell style.
Our Cunning Wish sideboard can also provide the same utility that Omni-Tell gives us. We can’t play anything with a converted mana cost less than three due to Shardless Agent cascading into only Hypergenesis, so we can’t play Defense Grid. Trinisphere makes for a fine replacement, completely dismantling the flow of Delver decks, having the same functionality as the Grid against free counterspells, and being much more effective when coming down on turn 2 (sometimes turn 1) with a nice Sol land count.
I don’t think that we can go much bigger than what we already have. Karn Liberated isn’t a blue card, so its value goes way down when we have to defend our combo. Through the Breach is yet another option to have when we really need to push an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn though in a pinch, but Eladamri’s Call may just be better. I could see myself simply boarding the Through the Breach in a lot of matchups in place of a Force of Will, adding another win condition to the maindeck while translating Cunning Wish into a non-Pact counterspell.
I don’t know how good this deck is, but it definitely looks like it can absolutely crush a tournament on any given day. I’m going to do my best to make sure it gets played in a Legacy Open, and I highly recommend you give it a shot if you’re looking for something unnecessarily over the top.
Play Chandra in Vintage
Yeah, you read right.
I have no idea which Chandra(s) I’m going to wind up playing, but I know that she will definitely be in my deck when Eternal Weekend comes around later this year. Chandra, the Firebrand looks like the best one mostly due to her "Fork at will" second ability. Copying a Time Walk or Ancestral Recall is the most insane thing I’ve ever heard of, and she also kills a surprising amount of creatures in the format.
Push the Modern format
As said last week, Modern is the fastest growing format in Magic, and it’s very near and dear to my heart. I love the format so much that I’m working to become a level 1 judge just so we can have more Modern Grand Prix Trials and Invitational Qualifiers in the New York City area and beyond. In my mind, Modern’s biggest issue is the lack of events keeping the format moving, which can result in some stagnation that’s not the fault of the actual cards being played.
I think it’s time to change that.
I know that a lot of you want to see more Modern in your area, so let’s make it happen. Tell your local game store, the judges in your area, and the players in your local community to get together and have some more Modern Invitational Qualifiers. I know that some of the communities out there are already invested in formats like Legacy, but if Grand Prix Richmond showed us anything, it’s that Modern is a format worth investing in big time. I want to know what your community, particularly those in the Northeast, has to do to get more Modern events.
We’ve already started a very healthy Modern community here in New York, and I want to see it grow even further. Are regular prizes for events a concern for your group investing in Modern? What if potential Invitational Qualifiers also become 1Ks or possibly 2Ks? Worried about getting enough people to want to buy into Modern? How about running Legacy events that offer Modern cards as prizes or Modern events that give more Modern cards as prizes? There are plenty of dual land and other Legacy staple tournaments, but there are not as many Modern staple tournaments. If there’s interest, then I don’t see a big reason why we can’t make these things happen.
Like it or not, Modern is here, and it isn’t going anywhere. Let’s give the format the chance to thrive and shine. Let’s give Wizards a heads up that we want more Modern and be willing to show them how much more we want.