One of these days, I’m going to have to write up a review – or some token piece of fluff – regarding Magic Online. But, hard as it is to believe, I’ve hardly played it.
Heck, I’m a computer game designer; I ought to be taking copious notes, right?
Unfortunately, I’ve known for some time that I have a highly addictive personality (which is what drew me into this game originally – finally, something I can feed my need for competition without getting my butt kicked on a regular basis, as with most sports) and once I get sucked into Magic Online, I know it’s going to be a long, long time before I see the light of day once more.
And my credit card bills… Oh, I don’t want to think about it.
So I’ll wait until I either have a steadier source of income or no girlfriend, whichever comes first.
In lieu of such an article, I thought a look at how OBC is shaping up might be in order. Here I was thinking "Where are the OBC qualifiers in my area?" when, lo and behold, I discover there’s a qualifier in three weeks. And here I am, half my cards still in storage, and woefully unprepared.
Fortunately, I’m not hurting for deck ideas if not new tech. If I was to play in the qualifier tomorrow, I’d play the latest insane creation of Gambit’s own "Mad" Max Zelaya, which we’ve christened "WonderWurm."
3 Sylvan Safekeeper
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Arrogant Wurm
4 Elephant Guide
4 Aether Burst
4 Roar of the Wurm
4 Circular Logic
3 Krosan Reclamation
3 Spellbane Centaur
The deck pretty much crushes everything we’ve thrown at it. It’s a beatstick and a half, and can kill by turn 5 pretty regularly. No, there are no Rootwallas – they’re too slow. No Werebears, either – far too slow. You want to drop an early Mongrel or Aquamoeba on turn 2 and either enchant it with Elephant Guide or pitch an Arrogant Wurm on turn 3. Throw a Wonder in the graveyard and you have a big, nigh-unstoppable flying army.
Mono-black is mildly problematic; however, the Envelops and Bearscapes from the sideboard help tremendously. But we’re only now really ramping up our testing, so how it fares against the various weenie white variants has yet to be determined with a fair amount of certainly.
It’s possible the Aether Bursts might get moved to the sideboard in favor of Krosan Reclamations, depending upon how the metagame shapes up. Which is in and of itself a very good question. What does the metagame look like? The Magic 8-Ball still decrees "outlook uncertain," but that’s never stopped my from making a wild guess.
With or without Catalyst Stones, this the one deck that is defining the format. However, every deck seems to have some kind of defenses against it. White’s Morningtide is the ultimate answer (and Dogged Hunters aren’t bad, either); however, Krosan Reclamation’s instant speed gives it an answer against U/G decks depending upon Quiet Speculation and Wonder to fuel fast starts. Blue has the decent if unspectacular Grip of Amnesia, while black runs the gamut with Haunting Echoes, Coffin Purge, and Decompose, to name but a few.
And red, with the power of Mudslide…Well, at least red has something.
Alas, poor red, odd color out in this block. At least I don’t have to worry about finding room for red color hosers in the sideboard. Oh, that’s right, there are no red color hosers in OBC. Silly me.
White weenie splashing blue for Quiet Speculation and/or Keep Watch, christened "Quiet Screech" by yours truly. Can I take credit for that? Well, unless someone tells me otherwise, I’ll take all the blame (or credit) I can get. White weenie may be dead in Standard – but thanks to the power of Battle Screech, it can easily overwhelm an opponent with flyers augmented by the power of Divine Sacrament. I prefer using Keep Watch in the deck for the incredibly massive card advantage it can generate. There are some versions going straight white or even splashing red for spells like Violent Eruption and Rites of Initiation, but I feel the blue splash is the way to go. This archetype is rising fast, and might make Howling Gale a half-decent sideboard card in my next choice…
Madness-based beatdown deck built around Anurid Brushhopper, Wild Mongrel and Glory. Both [author name="Bennie Smith"]Bennie Smith[/author] and Jarrod Bright have posted very excellent variants – and all in all, I think I like Jarrod’s more beatdown-oriented version, although Bennie’s version, with a bit more control elements and versatility with Living Wish, has merit as well.
Not so long ago, I was more than willing to declare G/W quite dead. In the tradition of eating my hat (and I’m starting to run out of those now), I’m now willing to recant that statement. Short-sightedly, I had ignored the evolution of G/W and the power of Glory. G/W decks are no longer limited to the FattieGeddon role, but rather, a very viable weenie beatdown deck.
If you think of Glory as a reusable Overrun – in a fashion – and look at the overpowered and undercosted creatures available to the two colors, then G/W is certainly OBC viable and probably good in Standard as well.
W/G can also utilize Ray of Revelation twice, which is quite useful against the few problematic enchantments in OBC, such as Compulsion and Solitary Confinement. Not like those are really all that problematic, but one never knows.
…Got absolutely nothing from Judgment, but is still to be feared. Judgment gave other decks more defenses against it, such as the nigh-unkillable Anurid Brushhopper, Elephant Guide and Envelop, which has helped the field catch up to it.
From what I can determine, I’d call these your "Big Four" for now. The metagame is bound to shift but I imagine that these are the primary decks you should be testing and testing against.
Also worth noting:
As noted above. Not including it as a top archetype without further testing.
Battle of Wits
Don’t laugh, lest the Rev. Toby Watchter hunt you down and nail you with a Van Damninator. This will win a qualifier, somewhere, somehow. Too often it can simply go "Cast Battle of Wits, I win."
I need to check the DCI floor rules and find out if you are allowed a shuffling lackey, however. That would speed things up a bit if you can hire out a lackey to help you shuffle a 250-card deck.
Maybe not quite as powerful as its Standard, cousin but still something to be wary of. Usually part of the Battle of Wits engine as well.
Balthor-based mono black
Decks utilizing the recursive power of Balthor the Defiled are starting to get more than snickers as it starts moving up from "rogue" status. These decks do have some problems – namely, needing a lot of mana and being very, very vulnerable to graveyard disruption. That being said, when Balthor goes off, it’s usually to the same effect as the turn 5 Battle of Wits.
I posted a preliminary build of "Hellblazer," a B/R deck built around several punisher mechanic cards and the power of a 20/20 Magnivore, often recursed from the graveyard with Stitch Together. While my testing has shown it to be very spotty, someone might find a way to make it work.
Mad Max came up with a decent U/W version that would pitch Riftstone Portals into the graveyard for the green requirement, but it’s still got big Swiss-cheese-wheel holes in it. Someone’s going find a way to make it work eventually.
Other Flavors of U/G
Upheaval-based U/G, using Rootwallas, Werebears and Nimble Mongoose, is all right… But there’s really too much graveyard hate for this deck to take off. Decks that depend more on threshold alone might fare better. And let’s not forget about Squirrel’s Nest. However, I think the dominant form of the U/G deck is going to remain Quiet Roar in OBC.
Hopefully I haven’t missed too much. I’m quite curious to see if Balthor-based decks or Quiet Screech start displacing mono-black and Quiet Roar in a lot of Top Eights. The next couple of weeks leading into the qualifiers are going to be very, very interesting.