November Standard Decks: Odyssey

Team Binary opens their mailing list to the world for a moment… And reveals some of the decks to beat! Looking for a starting point? It’s the Invitational and here.

At the end of my last article, full of mostly issues and opinions, I dropped off a deck listing for a Standard deck that included some Odyssey cards. I said nothing about the deck… But I would like to revisit that deck now, along with some other decks that have been brewing along the wires that keep my teammates and I connected.

You need to read this:

Flashback Creatures, by Zvi Mowshowitz


Soon after this my teammate, Scott commented that this article reminded him of one that Zvi wrote during Masques block that said that Rebels and Counterspells might go well together. We sorta know how that one turned out…

For my part, I had been saying many of the same things as Zvi said to my Star City colleagues since the appearance of Odyssey and the Flashback creatures. I pointed to a few things along these lines in my last article as well, saying that what Flashback creatures did to an opposing control strategy was basically branch the options that had to be controlled. That this made the graveyard a place with future options, much like your hand… And thus, something to be considered and thus controlled, or attempted to be controlled. With”Instant Guitars,” I just tried to put those options together on one the side of a control deck. I better show you the deck again:

Instant Guitars

4 Force Spike

4 Counterspell

4 Memory Lapse

4 Syncopate

4 Repulse

2 Rout

4 Mystic Snake

3 Beast Attack

1 Iridescent Angel

2 Temporal Adept

4 Peek

4 Opt

6 Island

4 Adarkar Wastes

4 Yavimaya Coast

4 Forest

2 Plains

This deck – or, more precisely, its predecessors – was originally based on the singular premise that instants are good and if instant spells are good then instant creatures must be very good. The concept worked itself in my head, until a deck popped out. Initially, I had been working on more of an aggro-control type of G/U deck that sought to back up some of green’s excellent early creatures (like Wild Mongrel) with counterspells – a concept that hearkened back to the ConTroll decks of the Urza’s Block era. The deck wasn’t faring quite as well as I had hoped, however – although certainly not poorly. I sought other”solutions” to the block.

When Ody appeared, the Binary team branched out in several directions. Some of us have noted tendencies. I favor Blue, Scott generally likes Red, and Jay, while able to cover all the colors well, usually has a soft spot for White and Green. Mike and Carl just dig into breaking whatever happens to be handy. With my blue bent and after seeing the set, I formed opinions that paralleled the ones Zvi put forth so well in the ‘Flashback Creatures’ article. Control is just going to be put to different challenges. As he noted, one can hope to get control of Green now with permanents… But let me say that that isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. One thing that he noted only slightly is that Green is quite capable of removing such stoppers as CoP Green and Teferi’s Moat with such spells as Tranquility, the ever-flexible Creeping Mold – and the real booger, Pernicious Deed.

And then we have the more noted problems. Flashback creatures vs. counterspells and other less permanent solutions like Wrath effects often leave the control player at card disadvantage. Once countered, the token creature flashback spell cast from the hand more or less returns there, while the counter goes to the grave. When this initially was revealed and I thought about it, it was quite profound – and my inclination was to believe that control was going to have to take a different tack to retain a position of power within the game.

Previously, Mike Mason and I did an article detailing the”Metagame Clock” for last season’s standard decks that sprung initially from Mike Flores seminal”Who’s the Beatdown?” and the follow-up ideas by the Metagame Clock creator, Leon Workman. It details the different types of decks -including beatdown, aggro control, combo, and pure control. Pure control is what we call open board control – namely, a deck that strives to win with as few permanents as possible. Generally, this sort of deck uses either counterspells or discard (or both) to achieve this idea. Other decks are what are called mid-game decks, which often use permanents and big sweeping global resets to slowly come to a dominant board position. Sometimes the best decks are a hybrid of such ideas, and use parts of several archetypes to succeed. Recent U/W decks have used counters, Wrath of God effects, and cards like Teferi’s Moat to achieve control before advancing their win conditions, while a card like Opposition is another permanent that seeks to form a midgame”prison” to lock up opponents and achieve victory.

This is all to just re-impress how flashback presents a certain problem for open board state approaches. The loss of card advantage for the counter player is quite a problem – and this is compounded by the loss of cheap, end-of-turn instant card drawing effects that previously were to be had with the likes of Accumulated Knowledge. Also, while there are some very fine card drawing engines available, like the old Thieving Magpie and the new Finkel-imagineered Shadowmage Infiltrator, the loss of alternate casting-cost countermagic leaves such creatures certainly much more vulnerable to removal spells. Add in the Urza’s Rage, which can’t be countered even with open mana, and you can see that a mono-colored, open-state blue control deck like last season’s”Chevy Blue” – run most notably by Adrian Sullivan – looks like a much more difficult bargain.

This leads to one of the deeper problems. In dealing with Binary, I was quite confident that I could shift a mono blue-deck to deal with a primarily Green deck (as Temporal Adept is effectively an assassin against tokens), or a primarily Red one, but that it was the marriage of the two colors that would cause the deepest grief and really hurt the deck… Or just going into a split in the metagame where neither color was dominant. Once again, there was a lot of talk about a mono-red”Sligh” deck, and that Adept would be tough to go active with and protect against removal, but one of Sligh’s oldest enemies is Green fat, and Green fat is going to be a big part of this environment. So one of the things that I did with Instant Guitars was to add Green fat that appears at instant speed. I thought about Elephant Ambush, and it may still have a place in this deck… But in the end, Beast tokens are out of Rage range and that appealed to me. I have MD Adepts for Green tokens. I played vs. white with a straight U/G version, and stalled out where a Rout or Iridescent Angel would have won the game.

So what are the basic things that this deck is trying to do?

Eliminate the early game. Nothing over a 1 cc gets dropped for several turns while building the mana to cast the”creature” spells.

In the early mid-game, the idea is to drop creatures into an empty board state. If your opponent goes for the 2/2, that’s generally allowable if you are going to end-of-turn him with a Beast token.

Mid-game card advantage isn’t gained through blue but green, as Beast tokens produce two-for-one with a fairly hardy creature.

Late options include the possibility of an active Adept that can help to keep board advantage, or a Rout from which one would hope to get good use from the flashback cards.

Fundamentally, I think these ideas are sound. As an actual deck, I’m pretty sure that the idea could stand some work. I think the card numbers are generally right, but the deck may need something like a third Rout, experiments with Elephant Ambush and so on, to be ultimately competitive.

Some Other Decks from Our Gauntlet

Warning! I am not the Red Mage you are looking for…


4 Raging Goblin

4 Goblin Raider

4 Rage Weaver

3 Orcish Artillery

4 Firebolt

3 Ghitu Fire

3 Urza’s Rage

4 Scorching Lava

4 Flame Burst

4 Ensnaring Bridge

3 Grafted Skullcap

17 Mountain

3 Barbarian Ring

Inspiration? Teammate Scott Forster.

Objectives? Get the early early early beats and then throw up Ensnaring Bridge versus just about anything and everything, especially Green fatties. Problems? Well, white – and anything with white in it. Green Fatties with no Bridge in play.

Don’t play Bridge when your opponent is running a lot of bounce effects, as those effects will be transformed into permanent removal.

This is kinda a fun little deck, probably ‘cuz I ain’t normally no mountain man. For a tweak, I think it could stand White for Goblin Legionnaire and enchantment removal. Worship played across the table really bites…

Navy Pilots Over Afghanistan

4 Ensnaring Bridge

2 Millstone

4 Pillage

4 Stone Rain

2 Tremble

2 Demolish

4 Rites of Refusal

4 Counterspell

3 Wildfire

3 Traumatize

4 Opt

4 Peek

4 Shivan Reef

6 Island

10 Mountain

Cpl Dan Rowland, or someone on the StarCity e-mail list, was the inspiration for this one – the original being a mono red concoction. However, any deck packing Millstone would be better served with trying to thump down a Traumatize with it, don’t ya think? I did.

At this point the two Trembles, two Demolishes, is still a bit in the testing stage. I believe that the deck needs a fourth Wildfire, possibly a third Millstone, and has too many counters. Six total should be enough, and I might go three each. Rites are pretty good for dumping stuff off to help your Ensnaring Bridge. The counters are just to try and stop a sweeping spell like Deed that will sweep your artifacts.

This one is somewhat competitive and fun to play. Often an opponent will think that they are climbing back in the game, only to see Wildfire really put the hurt on.

Notice I like Peek a bit. It’s much better than what a first Accumulated Knowledge was, and close to even the second one.


4 Counterspell

4 Force Spike

4 Memory Lapse

4 Syncopate

4 Temporal Adept

2 Unsummon

4 Repulse

3 Persuasion

3 Mahamoti Djinn

4 Sleight of Hand

4 Opt

20 Island

A foray with only fabulous Islands. Terribly stilted to a creature-heavy environment.

Notes? Peek is much better than Sleight of Hand when you are running Force Spike as well.

He Hate Tokens.

Turbotize by Carl Jarrell

4 Traumatize

4 Orim’s Chant

3 Millstone

4 Counterspell

4 Absorb

4 Syncopate

4 Fact or Fiction

4 Wrath of God

2 Rout

2 Teferi’s Moat

4 Adarkar Wastes

4 Coastal Tower

10 Island

7 Plains

Turbo Chant. Yes, it’s back, folks… Well, sorta. Carl sez to tell you all that you don’t have to Chant thirty times now to win the game. A few Traumatize, a little Mill action, and then a few Chants just to seal things up.

I have several versions, some with green stuff.

Mr. Wrobleski,

If you break this thing off, please send us a note.


Digit Doods

Check the archives. Carl and Jeff can tell you what’s up with this one.

Urg Wedge

4 Birds of Paradise

2 Llanowar Elves

4 Jungle Barrier

3 Mystic Snake

2 Mahamoti Djinn

1 Restock

3 Reclaim

4 Opt

4 Standstill

2 Opportunity

3 Prophetic Bolt

4 Memory Lapse

4 Counterspell

4 Yavimaya Coast

4 Shivan Reef

4 City of Brass

6 Island

2 Forest

Like too many kiddies, I was only too thrilled to think that I could Bolt peeps out. That gets a”Heh” for sure, ay? This was the deck I built – and I did that some time ago. The Standstills were a swap in for Accumulated Knowledge.

Standstill. It’s a great card when you have board position, and dead when you don’t. In most cases, I’m using Peek instead. I’d probably make that swap here. Standstill in quantities of four is a thing for very aggressive decks. Otherwise, it’s good after a Wrath or something. I dunno. All I do know is that I’ve already spent too much time looking at this card and wishing it were something else that wasn’t so dead.

TurboWrath, by Scott Forster and Will Rieffer

4 Wrath of God

4 Rout

2 Kirtar’s Wrath

2 Obliterate

4 Kirtar’s Desire

4 Hobble

3 Testament of Faith

2 Auramancer

2 Disenchant

4 Still Life

3 Sterling Grove

2 Elfhame Sanctuary

4 Elfhame Palace

4 Brushland

6 Forest

6 Plains

4 Mountain

If there’s a card crying for admission into the hand grenade deck of the format, that card is Obliterate. With Nether Spirit moving on from Standard, the replacement players were few and far between. I mentioned something to Scott about building an Obliterate deck, and he sent me something akin to this one and said it had a positive record versus randoms on the net. The Star City kids bantered about on the idea for some time and I built this version. With less Obliterates and more Wraths, the name change was evident.

The idea is rather simple: Get your Still Life out and be able to power it to creature status after you clear the board. Rinse and Repeat ’til opponent is in the negs. At some point, yeah, an Obliterate can be tre coo…

Rolling Stones? Yea or no? You can decide.

And the last one for fun…

Dueling Angel

4 Beloved Chaplain

4 Kirtar’s Desire

3 Eladamri’s Call

2 Voice of All

2 Charging Troll

1 Auramancer

2 Phyrexian Colossus

2 Iridescent Angel

2 Armadillo Cloak

2 Worship

2 Delaying Shield

2 Jandor’s Saddlebags

2 Sterling Grove

4 Dueling Grounds

4 Lay of the Land

9 Forest

7 Plains

4 Brushland

2 Sungrass Prairie

A couple a three-card combos make this”cool.” Two of the three cards are usually Jandor’s Saddlebags and Dueling Grounds. The others are either Iridescent Angel or Phyrexian Colossus. Armadillo Cloak on a Colossus and then running that through Dueling Ground is kinda cool, too, however.

If any of you kidz break this one off, let me know. However, I know this hates Pernicious Deed kinda a lot.

Ah Deed. So much for mid-game decks with permanents for control.

That’s it for now. Take a long look at the Invitational decks, throw a few of these in, and then knock yourselves out.

Thank you Easter bunny. Tweak! Tweak!