Many people around the world cried out in anguish that the card Goblin
Chainwhirler didn’t get banned. While there are many reasons people believe
that it would have been the right thing to do given the format, I’m here to
tell you those people are wrong and should feel bad.
The plain and simple of it is that Goblin Chainwhirler isn’t the problem
and never was. Sure it’s a new card that gave the red decks the ability to
play the midrange game better than any other card in the format at that
cost, but the real issue is that red has been given the most absurd bevy of
threats a red deck has ever been given to fight with in the history of
Magic–outside of Lightning Bolt, anyway.
Let’s be real here, this isn’t the mono-red that your parents told you
about: This is Jund. Mono- red decks have played like Jund did in days of
Standards past for more than a year now. Their one-drop, Bomat Courier, is
the real Dark Confidant of Standard, not Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. It gets in
under countermagic even on the draw and dishes it out in a way that Hazoret
the Fervent loves to see by not clogging up your hand when you’re trying to
Abrade is likely the most warping removal spell in the format, limiting
what permanent types can be played for the most part. If God-Pharaoh’s Gift
ever becomes too popular, the mono-red aggro deck can simply load up on
those in the main deck and still be super happy they’re able to kill a
random creature in the mirror match without any consequence. Not to mention
one of the traditional ways to beat red decks is to play big green decks
and the premire “go big” green strategy involves Winding Constrictor and
Verdurous Gearhulk, which is an artifact…You see where this is going.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Glorybringer tag team to put the Jace, the
Mind Sculptor test on every creature that has dreams of seeing competitive
play. If it costs 3-5 mana it better have at least five toughness or have a
sweet enters-the-battlefield effect. Of all the cards in the mono- red
arsenal, these are the two I’m most looking forward to seeing rotate so I
can play my midrange creatures again. As of now, it’s just embarrassing
though. These cards allow the red decks to play a controlling game against
anyone trying to fight them by going one-for-one with removal and keeping
their life total high.
So those, along with the rest of the resilient threats that mono-red or R/B
can play are the cards I’m certainly sick of and I’m most happy are leaving
us in just a few months. This is all said in the vein of the fact that
Goblin Chainwhirler isn’t the problem and the notion of banning it might
sound appealing now, but won’t even be a consideration by the time we
venture back to Ravnica.
All of this doesn’t alleviate the fact that we’re still going to live in a
world where red is going to be the best deck and the deck to beat at all
the Team Opens at the start of this season and the upcoming Pro
Tour! What are we to do in the meantime then? There are some tools in Core Set 2019 that might just be the answers we’ve been waiting
for to fight the good fight.
- 4 Ajani's Pridemate
- 4 Crested Sunmare
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 2 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 4 Resplendent Angel
- 4 Leonin Vanguard
- 23 Plains
The idea here is simple: make Ajani’s Pridemate huge and just bash through
whatever your opponent is doing with a massive creature. While this deck
might not be spectacular, It’s doing exactly what you’d want to be doing in
a deck like this: consistently gaining life and getting paid off for it.
I know plenty of people who’ve wanted Crested Sunmare to be good, and this
is about as close as you can get to it. Fountain of Renewal is a good Magic
card since it can replace itself in the lategame, has text early, and can
do what the deck wants it to do for cheap.
While Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants might not be the best read at fighting a
lot of what red decks in the format are doing, he does a lot of work here.
The hidden mode on this card is getting some of your best three- and
four-drops out of range of the burn spells you’ll commonly face. Benalish
Marshal looks a lot better at the 4/4 stat line, as does Resplendent Angel.
Those two cards (and Shalai, Voice of Plenty) go from “B” to “A+” when
they’re given plus one plus one, and that’s exactly what Ajani, Adversary
of Tyrants offers for a deck like this.
I’m sure this deck could use some removal since there will be threats that
you can’t power through, but the general idea is to be a lean mean
lifegaining machine, and I’m on board for that.
Another deck that found a flagship card in it that I didn’t quite get all
the pieces for before is the Improvise deck! Tezzeret, Artifice Master and
Sai, Master Thopterist are insane additions to the deck that most other
decks are going to have a very hard time dealing with.
This deck highlights the minus ability on Karn, Scion of Urza unlike any
other deck in the format. Sai, Master Thopterist and Tezzeret, Artifice
Master both generate tokens to pump up your Construct to a massive size
Previously I’ve had absolutely zero tolerance of anyone playing this card
in their deck because the only playable artifact in the format was Renegade
Map, and the odds of having that card and then using Metallic Rebuke in a
meaningful way were pretty slim. With the addition of Fountain of Renewal
everything has changed. Now with eight ways to make this a Mana Leak,
you’re way more likely to be able to use this card to full effect and even
have a one-mana counterspell when trying to resolve one of your big spells,
like Karn, Scion of Urza or Herald of Anguish.
Almost all the improvise cards from sets prior got an upgrade with Sai,
Master Thopterist and Fountain of Renewal coming down the pipeline from Core Set 2019, and I’m excited to give something like this a try
in the early days of the set to see if it’s actually viable and let Herald
of Anguish finally have his day in the sun!
Let’s take a moment to look at Tezzeret, Artifice Master.
There’s a lot going on here and a lot to love. While the token generation
is nice, the ability for this deck to just draw two cards each turn against
a deck that’s not putting pressure on you is absolutely insatiable. While
the emblem from Tezzeret, Artifice Master might not come up in this deck as
we’re way more interested in his other two abilities, that’s more than
enough for this planeswalker to be a powerhouse in Standard that can
compete in a world with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.
While the obvious solution in this format to all of the 1/1 Thopters this
deck can produce is the aforementioned Goblin Chainwhirler, any turn where
you’re able to generate a few tokens and then use Metallic Rebuke to
counter said Chainwhirler, the game is likely to end the turn after. While
it sounds like a dream, I’d imagine this play pattern comes up quite
frequently, and I do think there’s a fighting chance for Sai, Master
Thopterist and friends to make the cut.
Enough harping on decks that make use of Fountain of Renewal because we all
know that card is going to be great wherever it ends up.
One other card we’ve gained access to in the format that we haven’t had in
a long while that I think deserves some hype is Banefire.
For those of you youngsters who haven’t been playing since Conflu x, this card used to be a gamechanger. What’s the best way to
settle a Cruel Ultimatum mirror match? Banefire!
Now I could get into how the tech at the time was to sideboard in Swerve
against those decks and just watch their face in shock as the lethal
Banefire they thought was going to win the game for them was redirected to
their face, we don’t have such silly cards these days! Now how are we going
to make this kind of card functional in this format you might ask? Tons and
tons of mana is the answer and one card out there does just that.
“Don’t you have to play all basic Swamps to use this card?”
Well yeah, but there are ways around that that play pretty well with what a
Mono-black deck wants to be doing in some capacity.
We’re going a bit extreme here, and I certainly did lie when I said I was
done with Fountain of Renewal decks!
The plan here is to blank the removal spells a lot of decks are playing to
combat the agressive starts out of red decks and win the game with either
Torrent of Hailfire or Banefire fueled by Cabal Stronghold and casted by
filtering the mana through Prophetic Prism, a cantrip we don’t mind having
here and making our Karn, Scion or Urza tokens a little bit bigger.
When you add Mastermind’s Acquisition to the mix, the possibilities are
limitless. Ending the game with an X spell is a good place to land with
this kind of thing.
As a backup plan to Cabal Stronghold we’ve got Azor’s Gateway in the mix
functioning as another card manipulation engine along with Karn, Scion of
Urza and Arguel’s Blood Fast, giving you plenty of game against control
despite being exceedingly threat light. Not to mention Sanctum of the Sun
can make more mana than you can even fathom to really finish the opponent
if need be.
There’s a lot to love with mono-black, and I can’t wait to get my hands on
all these cards and start brewing with new decks until it’s okay to play
with Llanowar Elves again–which, by the way, is not right now
unfortunately. Even if you’re not casting Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, there
are plenty of other awesome things to do in the format and many many
options that don’t involve the best red cards of the past two years all
jammed into one absurd package.
We’re nearing SCG Worcester and you’d best believe I’m going to bring
something interesting. Hopefully I’ll see you there embracing all that Core Set 2019 has to offer Standard!