One Step Ahead – Definitely Good Decks, Potentially Good Decks

Gerry has been doing his research, and he’s found four decks to be definitely good, with a ton of lists with massive amounts of potential. Let’s take a looksee and find a good choice for SCG Open: Cincinnati in a few weeks!

After doing a week’s research, I can safely say that I’m excited to play two decks in this format. Other than those specific two, I’m sure
I can get excited about plenty of others once I play more with them.

I made this list of potential decks for the new format:

Definitely Good

Splinter Twin
U/W or U/B Control

Aggro Decks with Potential

Kuldotha Red/Goblins
Eldrazi Tokens
U/G or G/x Fauna Shaman
Birthing Pod
AIR/Death’s Shadow
Mono-Green Infect or other Infect decks
R/G Bushwhacker Tokens
G/x Swords

Control/Combo Decks with Potential

Kuldotha Forgemaster
Grand Architect
Mind Hammer
Kibler Infect
Mono-Green Eldrazi
Pyromancer Ascension

It’s highly probable that I missed a few archetypes, and some of them happen to overlap, but this is a good place for my process to start.

Red Deck Wins

Surprisingly to some, the deck that I’ll probably play first is RDW. I made sort of a promise to Patrick Sullivan that I’d sleeve up Goblin
Guides relatively soon. PSulli is not a man I want to let down. Before the bannings, I planned on playing red and Dredge in Baltimore and just be
“that” guy all weekend. Instead, I went with Stoneforge Mystic again and slept in on Sunday.

Why play red when Mystic is around and when I can wait a couple weeks and play with old favorites like Grim Lavamancer and Incinerate anyway?
It’s kind of tough to give a decklist for a format that doesn’t exist yet, but I feel like the best way to do that is give my rationale for
the list I had for Baltimore and go from there.

What’s up with all the two- and three-ofs right? Well, my logic was that some of the cards are ones that you want to draw exactly one of per game, and
some less than that. Staggershock, Shrine of Burning Rage, and Spikeshot Elder are all typically great cards, but each of them is mana intensive. If
you drew a hand full of those cards, your draw would be slow, clunky, and you’d need a lot of lands to operate.

Forked Bolt and Arc Trail are situationally great, but occasionally terrible. Sure, if you get the right matchups, you’ll win easily, but I wanted to
hedge against an open field, especially since I had to play rounds one and two.

One thing that I didn’t anticipate was that nearly everyone good was on Twinblade rather than traditional Caw-Blade. Granted, part of that was because
I was sleeving up Twinblade and gave the list to a bunch of friends, but man would my Arc Trails have been miserable against those decks!

Kiln Fiend is great against decks with no blockers or against decks where you get to use Arc Trail and Forked Bolt for maximum value, but I felt like I
didn’t need a card with that much variance. I knew how good Ember Hauler was going to be every single time, and that was slightly above mediocre. At
the very least, it was a creature that functioned as reach if my opponent stabilized. I liked feeling as though I was always drawing very live.

Blackcleave Cliffs could potentially screw me if I needed that crucial mana on turn four, but with a low curve and only 21 land, it seemed like that
wouldn’t come up often. Having mana for my Dismembers or Surgical Extractions if I wanted it seemed like a free roll. Tectonic Edge is still a card,
and maybe four wasn’t the correct number, but it felt worth trying.

Most people overload on Shatters for Batterskull, but realistically, all you need to do is kill Stoneforge Mystic.

Vampires was PSulli’s tough matchup, since it’s a big attrition war where they have Bloodghast. Surgical Extraction, while not the best answer, was
something that I wanted to try. Koth was the other option.

Ideally, I would probably have the full four Vulshok Refugees, but red wasn’t getting much respect, and I needed the slots for other matchups. After
M12, I’ll probably play the full four.

But what about the future?

We have Grim Lavamancer and Incinerate, which are clear upgrades. Chandra’s Phoenix gives us some staying power, which will probably be necessary in
the post-board games. I know Patrick is building lists with no two-drops, and he’s probably right, but I need to try things out first. I’m not well
acquainted with red decks as of yet, so I need to learn.

I think PSulli likes Goblin Fireslinger here, but I’m not sure.

Splinter Twin

Now this is more my style. Rather than be an all-in combo deck like Grixis, or a semi all-in combo deck like Michael J’s list, I want to just splice
the combo into something similar to my U/R deck from States.

This is what I’m thinking:

Drew Levin Augury Owls were awesome in the old metagame, where protecting your Jace for a turn against a Sword-wielding Squadron Hawk was the
difference between winning and losing. Now, fliers are non-existent, and Bloodghast is a true problem.

Jace Beleren seems to be where everyone is, but I’m not convinced that’s correct. If I’m all instants and reactive cards, Jace’s Ingenuity seems
incredibly appealing. The first turn when they don’t do anything too threatening, and you fire off a draw three, you are probably going to win.

Jace Beleren takes a lot of work to protect and eats up valuable mana early when you should probably be trying to stabilize. It’s clearly one of the
best cards in the blue mirrors though, so I put it in my sideboard.

Perhaps I don’t need the fourth Probe or fourth Splinter Twin. Drawing two Probes is superfluous, and you don’t want your mana or life being used for
little gain. I view Splinter Twin as a late-game card, kind of like a Titan, except this one you won’t use until you have some countermagic backup.
Let’s be honest; everyone is going to be ready for this combo, and we’re going to need protection.

I like Inferno Titan over Consecrated Sphinx as my fatty of choice. While I would like to just craft a game state involving winning via the combo,
sometimes you need a different type of business spell. They could be sitting on a hand full of Nature’s Claims or Dismembers, and your Titan could
provide you with an effortless win. Packing cheap anti-hate like Dispel or Mutagenic Growth or additional win conditions is probably Splinter Twin’s
best bet in the new metagame.

Valakut seems like an easy matchup, as you can hold them off with counterspells or just kill them quickly, and there isn’t much they can do to stop
you. Still, Spreading Seas might not be the worst card, just to lock up that matchup, which will surely be popular in the early stages of the format,
but it’s also a solid card against other decks like Vampires.

For reference, this is another Splinter Twin list for the new format.

As I said with Jace Beleren, I’d rather have a card drawer that plays well with my reactive ways like Jace’s Ingenuity. Foresee, although clearly
powerful, has the same problems as Jace Beleren. I think Ingenuity is the call.

Kuldotha Forgemaster

I was pretty excited when I saw that Martin Juza was piloting this archetype at Pro Tour Paris. Sadly for him, as the tournament went deeper, he ran
into some Caw-Blade decks, which was probably his worst matchup.

While that threat is gone, there are new problems. Dismember is a card that several decks will be playing to fight Deceiver Exarch, and is one of the
few cards that can actually kill a resolved Forgemaster. Juza didn’t have that problem at Paris, but thankfully now there’s Spellskite.

In addition, there are plenty of discard spells to choose from, and the format is probably too fast for a deck like this to play Mana Leak, so he has
plenty of room.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

I think this type of deck has the potential to take certain metagames by storm. Splinter Twin might be a tough matchup, but that could be changed with
more aggressive sideboarding for that matchup. Instead, I’m focusing more on RDW and Valakut, but that could easily be a mistake.

Creeping Tar Pit might be unnecessary, as you really need your fourth or fifth land to come into play untapped, but for now, I’m tempted to try and
make the mana slightly better.

Maybe there should be a Myr Battlesphere so you could Tinker and still get value if they had a removal spell for the Colossus somehow. The other main
thing I was kicking around was focusing on Torpor Orb, but I wasn’t sure the format required it.

U/W Control

I wrote about this last week, and while that list is something I still stand behind, I found an interesting nugget courtesy of Magic-League and Pro
Tour Top 8er Denis Sinner.

Blade Splicer is a card that I don’t feel gets enough recognition. Mirran Crusader is a fairly popular card, and while Splicer is less flashy, it seems
like it’s a touch better. If nothing else, it’s easier on the mana and works well with Venser, which Sinner said is like the new Jace.

Mono-Green Infect

This is another brew courtesy of Magic-League, although I remember seeing these lists popping up in the MTGO Daily Event lists every so often.

This looks like a pile of pump spells, but it’s so much more. Explore helps create a pivotal turn where you can swing in for the kill with a lone
Inkmoth Nexus or Glistener Elf, all the while being protected by Vines and Apostle’s Blessing. Gitaxian Probe provides you with the information you
need to sequence your turns correctly, and the lone Contagion Clasp gives you a bit of reach.

After the format gets fleshed out, I imagine that a better sideboard could be constructed. At that point, I would honestly watch out for this one. In
its own way, it’s another Valakut-type deck, where your opponent can sense their impending doom, but can’t really do anything to stop you.

Splinter Twin/Valakut

Aha! Already a new deck emerges… This one probably isn’t going to end up being the best deck or anything, but it gives Valakut new depth that it
probably needs. Rampant Growth will smooth things along nicely.

There are always other options as well. Foresee is a card that could find a home here, although I’m not sure if it takes away from the explosiveness of
the Valakut plan in such a way that is detrimental. Maybe if this list adds a card drawer and becomes a turn-six deck instead of a turn-five deck,
that’s okay. The only problem would be against other decks that are trying to race you, but you still have the turn-four “I win” combo.

Can you imagine them tapping out for Spreading Seas on turn three, only for them to die to your combo? Thanks for the mana fixer!

Mind Hammer

Certainly a poorly named deck (I blame @Smi77y), but it’s packing a punch. For those of you who like slamming your opponent with bomb after bomb, but
don’t like the cheesiness of Valakut, this deck is probably for you. It’s blue enough that you get to play with Tezzeret, but it’s not blue enough that
you have to sit behind cowardly counterspells.

This one seems a little weak to Splinter Twin with all its Lightning Bolts and Slagstorms, and the pilot definitely wanted to make up for that with the
sideboard. I’m sure you could hedge a little bit and play some Dismembers instead of Bolts or Slagstorms.

The only other thing that seems strange is the mana base. Eight Terramorphic Expanses sure is a lot, especially with all the good duals running around.

Mono-Green Eldrazi

Dv8r is a player I respect, despite never seeing him play a game. He’s just a dude I see typically piloting solid versions of good decks, so it’s very
telling to see him with Eldrazi Green.

I’m not sure how he got to the numbers he did, but I’m not about to try and describe the intricacies of this one, but I’ll say that I always liked
boarding a second Eye of Ugin for decks with Tectonic Edge.

Puresteel Paladin

This is brewing at its finest. I don’t even know where to begin. I guess my first thought is that Puresteel Paladin needs more than just its namesake
engine to be playable. Quest for the Holy Relic kind of keeps to the WW theme, but sadly living weapons don’t interact well with it. The infinite life
shell of Soul’s Attendant, Leonin Relic-Warder, and Phyrexian Metamorph is another angle. Gavin Verhey Hard-Kor is another Puresteel list to look into, but pairing it
up with Tezzeret is something that I didn’t even really consider.

Phy Sligh

Nationals finalist Anthony Eason showed up with this little number at the SCG Open in Louisville.

He didn’t win, but Assault Strobe has had a soft spot in my heart ever since I convinced Calosso Fuentes to play with it at States. I never got a
chance to play the deck in a tournament myself, so I was pretty sad, as it looked like so much fun. I can’t say for sure if Goblin Guide isn’t good
enough, but I’d imagine that Grim Lavamancer is.

Much like the Infect deck, this one plays a different game of Magic than most decks. There is very little in the way of tempo or card advantage. All
you want to do is set up a turn where you can knock them from 20 to 0, all with protection.

Since then, a few updated lists have popped up.

Unless a format is incredibly hostile toward creatures, I suspect that a deck like Phy Sligh or Infect will be a solid choice once you figure out all
the nuances.

But what if the format is hostile and you still want to Kiln Fiend people?

Twin / Sligh

One might think that splicing Kiln Fiend and Deceiver Exarch doesn’t make any sense, and it kind of doesn’t. On the other hand, it’s kind of beautiful.

Both benefit from cheap spells, specifically cantrips, and you want to play removal anyway. Since both of your “combos” are based on creatures,
Apostle’s Blessing fits well.

That’s enough about specific decks. There are still plenty of cards that I want to build with.

Solemn Simulacrum

I wrote the majority of this article before Solemn was spoiled, but I’m pretty excited. There’s a lot of potential here, with Valakut and likely the
Forgemaster deck wanting to take advantage of him. I can imagine certain U/W or U/B decks that would give him a home, as long as opening them up to
potential splash options.

Overall, a very exciting reprint, even if it isn’t bearing Jens Thoren’s likeness.

Rites of Flourishing

I’m excited about this one, but it’s probably not as good as I want it to be. If only Howling Mine were legal. Instead, we have a pair of three-drop
Howling Mines with Temple Bell still in the mix. I’d imagine that there’s some sort of Turbo-something deck out there.

If nothing else, I’ll try this as a sideboard card in Valakut for blue matchups, or in some sort of Pyromancer Ascension list.

Visions of Beyond

I’m sure 20 cards is too big of a price to pay for this one, but at worst it cantrips! Charging Ascension isn’t ever a bad thing, and if the game goes
long, I don’t imagine you’re going to lose after casting this.

Perhaps there’s some sort of mill deck that can take advantage of it.

Angelic Destiny

Does this create its own WW archetype? Cedric Phillips, tell meeeeee!

As Adam Cai would say, “We so excited.”