One Step Ahead – Play Whatever You Want

Gerry has been scouring Magic Online for decklists, and here are all the unique archetypes he’s found so far. The format is incredibly diverse and healthy, so play what you want at SCG Open: Cincinnati, one of the 1st major tournaments post-ban.

I spent last weekend having some fun in the sun, and I hope you guys did too. One of the most exciting parts of the weekend was knowing that I could
come home and check out how Standard has been doing in the world of Magic Online. I wasn’t disappointed.

Already, MTGO’s greatest minds are churning out excellent looking decklists for nearly every deck in the format. Nothing seems to be overpowered.
Valakut and Splinter Twin, for all their hype, haven’t exactly been dominating. So far, the format looks incredibly healthy and diverse.

For the most part, Vampires, RDW, Valakut, and U/B Control are mostly what you’d expect.

Archetypes I Missed from Last Week

Overall, nothing too impressive here—just another take on an old archetype that wasn’t ever quite tier one. I remember Shaheen Soorani built a
version with Squadron Hawks, which has a pretty funny interaction with Mass Polymorph. Maybe that’s a better way to go, seeing as how the white cards
are probably better than the green ones.

For U/G, I’d probably add Misty Rainforests and a fourth Explore. Summoning Trap isn’t likely to get you anywhere in this build, but hoping to draw
into your four-of Mass Polymorph could certainly cause some problems.

A screen name that only my dyed blonde hair could appreciate, a Shape Anew strategy with a 61-card maindeck, all to fit in that key Vault Skyward. I
think I’m in love.

I’d probably feel safe with only a single Colossus along with some more See Beyonds, but if you’re playing more See Beyonds, does that mean you can
afford to play more Colossi? Oh, the philosophical questions of our times.

Surprisingly, Backstreet went with the Everflowing Chalice maindeck, instead choosing to spend a sideboard slot on the Darksteel Relic, in anticipation
of his opponents’ artifact removal. I think I’d rather have that sideboard slot for something else, and instead play the Relic maindeck. However, I’d
imagine that naturally drawing Everflowing Chalice is quite nice in this list, what with all the Diabolic Tutors and whatnot, so maybe I’m just wrong.

One thing to note is how Spellskite really messes with the Shape Anew plan. Backstreet was ready for that with a full boat of Twisted Images after

As crazy as it is, I could easily see a deck like this becoming one of the best decks in the format. All of the tokens are great against aggressive
decks, allowing you to quickly stabilize the board. The control matchups seem easy now that they aren’t threatening you with Jace or Stoneforge Mystic.
Beastmaster Ascension is a way to kill Valakut quickly.

That just leaves the Splinter Twin matchup, which is admittedly difficult. You have eight Disenchants, but they should be something that a Splinter
Twin player is ready for with Spellskite and/or Dispel. Plus, having to keep mana open and play around the Deceiver tapping your lands is pretty


No matter what, there’s always going to be a WW variant. Right now, that trend seems to be Tempered Steel or Puresteel Paladin, although Quest for the
Holy Relic is still possible.

It’s no surprise to see players trying out the best decks from the recent Block Pro Tour, especially as those decks (Puresteel and Tempered Steel)
benefit from the move to Standard. The problem is that so did every other deck. Menaces like Valakut and Splinter Twin can largely ignore a slow-ish WW
strategy. Matchups like U/B and U/W Control are likely solid matchups.

The above Tempered Steel list looks to have one too many lands. For control decks, I’ll typically play one extra land, as those decks want to hit all
of their land drops for a long time and usually have some sort of card drawing to get past land clumps. If you’ve got a handful of card drawers, you’d
much rather have too many lands than too few.

However, with aggro decks, I like to shave a land if possible, especially if they don’t have an engine to take advantage of having a bunch of land.
Aggro decks can’t afford to be flooded. How many of those games have you drawn exactly one too many lands, or peeled a land when you needed a creature?
Sure, sometimes you are stuck on two land and can’t curve out efficiently, but that’s better than being flooded.

This list is kind of crazy, featuring eight (!) Swords. Not much to add here, other than to say the blue splash in these WW decks seems pretty popular.
Mana Leak and Flashfreeze are necessary to defend against Valakut, which would otherwise be a poor matchup.

I want Eldrazi Monument to be good right now, as it’s one of those cards that have been good enough to play, but it was never the card for any
given tournament. With the format weakened, it seemed poised for a comeback, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Sometimes you need that last push to get through a stalled board, but most matchups don’t come down to that. You’d rather have planeswalkers like
Garruk or Ajani that provide consistent, powerful, reusable effects, all for a mana less than Monument.

Of all the decks to be playing Eldrazi Monument, I would have expected it to be this one. Apparently, consistent Ezuris are all you need to overrun
your opponent. I’m still not a fan of Copperhorn Scout, but this list is basically no-nonsense, create-a-bunch-of-mana-and-kill-you, so it probably
fits. Maybe four is one too many though.

This list is pretty exciting. Megafone finished in the top eight of a couple Premier Events, along with finishing in the money in several Daily Events,
all with mostly the same list. He plays the full four Viscera Seers along with a “miser’s” Bloodthrone Vampire, all of which combo with his Act of
Aggressions and Blade of the Bloodchief (found via Trinket Mage).

For the most part, Trinket Mage plays a solid Stoneforge Mystic impersonation in this list. Sylvok Lifestaff allows him to stabilize the game against
aggro decks, and Blade of the Bloodchief is your giant Sword. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fourth Trinket Mage wasn’t good, especially if you add
something like Brittle Effigy to increase its versatility.

I like the counterspells and additional removal in the sideboard. The Obliterators are probably solid against red decks and Valakut, but I’m not sure
if you couldn’t find something better to replace them. I would think that the Scroll Thieves are just a little too cute and might not actually do
anything. Wouldn’t Dark Tutelage be better in that role?


I’m posting this, not just because it’s how a normal Valakut deck might look, but also because Baconator is winning in upwards of 700 packs per week on
MTGO. I’m not sure if all he’s doing is playing Standard Gold Queues or what, but it seems to be working. I do know that he recently started playing
something else—I think Tempered Steel—so maybe he didn’t win all those packs with just Valakut, but it’s certainly interesting.

This is probably the more interesting Valakut list. With all the Dismembers and burn spells running around, it’s no surprise to see that Lei cut all
the Lotus Cobras and Overgrown Battlements from his deck.

Urabrask is a nice addition, and one that is surely powerful in the mirror.

Jaberwocki is already an accomplished player, and it’s easy to see why. His lists always look so refined. Looking at it, there’s almost nothing I would
change, although I do question the inclusion of the Probes. I would imagine that they help him make decisions, such as which order to play his lands
(so he doesn’t lose his best one to Spreading Seas), whether he needs to keep mana open for Beast Within on Spreading Seas, or whether he should spend
his turn getting from six to nine mana in order to play around Mana Leak.

I would probably have to play the deck to find out how much the Probes actually help, but I trust Jaberwocki.

One thing to note is how clean his deck is. It’s very clear that post-board, he wants four Emissaries and four Baloths against red decks, and he
recognizes that it’s a tough matchup. He’s got some Baloths maindeck, and an Emissary to Zenith for. Post-board, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a
game plan that involves around not getting hit with Act of Aggression.

Imuru and Jaberwocki both seem to agree that RDW is a bad matchup. It seems like Imuru is splashing just to beat it! In fact, nearly his entire
sideboard is dedicated to the matchup. That’s dedication right there.

Wall of Omens is adorable with Overgrown Battlement, and the sideboard really helps against decks like RDW and B/R Vampires, but I’m not sure it’s
worth splashing. Jaberwocki is doing consistently well with his version, and maybe the Emissaries and Baloths are enough.

One thing to note is that Imuru has virtually nothing that is affected by Leonin Arbiter. I’ve seen that guy in a few U/W sideboards, and it’s
important to avoid losing to something that is easily avoidable.

This list reminds me of the G/W Genesis Wave (and subsequent U/G) Genesis Wave decks that were popping up before Sword of Feast and Famine. Could that
archetype make a resurgence as well?

I saw Akiaya finish in the money in a few DEs, and even a couple people picked up his deck afterward. What’s not to love? Maindeck Firewalkers punish
those jerks like PSulli, and your endgame involves Elesh Norn plus Avenger of Zendikar.


I was holding my breath for Time Warp to be released in M12, but unfortunately, no such luck. Still, there’s Ponder, Preordain, Gitaxian Probe, and
Visions from Beyond to charge Pyromancer Ascension. Surely, some build has to be viable.

DrVendigo is a well-known MTGO player. He’s one of those dangerous opponents that knows the format, knows your deck better than you do, and will make
very few mistakes. On top of that, he’s usually one step ahead of everyone else.

He’s got Spreading Seas, but no Tectonic Edges, which is interesting, but I’m sure he has his reasons. Most other Splinter Twin players have the full
four Spellskites maindeck, while Vendigo has them in his board.

I was very surprised to see that very few people have the alternate finishers like Inferno Titan or Consecrated Sphinx in their maindecks anymore. For
the most part, everyone is focusing on finding the combo. As I suspected, Jace Beleren is actually not that great in the deck.

One trend that I’ve seen is lists that contain a Mindslaver or two. Fire one of those off, and it should be easy to protect your combo. This is
especially useful if they have a hand full of removal spells and you’ve managed to stabilize the board.

We’re treading into semi-combo territory here, but that’s fine with me. This isn’t exactly a control deck, and it’s certainly not combo, so combo it

Overall, very similar to the list I posted last week, albeit with a better sideboard, and Torpor Orbs maindeck.

Again, not entirely combo, but not quite control either. This list is all about turbo-ing out some fat artifacts, just like the last build.
Thrummingbird seems underpowered, just like I thought when I saw Ali Aintrazi playing it.

I’d look into splashing Birthing Pod into this deck, similar to what Kenny Oberg played at Pro Tour Nagoya.


Pretty standard for a creatureless U/W Control deck. He managed to find room for the Preordains, at the expense of the Venser package that I wanted to
play. I can’t say I disagree with him on that one.

For about the millionth time, someone presents us with a sideboard absolutely full of anti-RDW cards.

Standard Tezzeret list, although somewhat closer to the Kuldotha Forgemaster lists. Most U/B decks focus on counterspells, but this one barely plays
any at all. It makes me wonder then, with all the similarities, why not just play Forgemasters instead? This list doesn’t create inevitability the way
Forgemaster into Mindslaver does, or gaining incremental card advantage like a normal U/B deck would, so I don’t see the advantage.

For the most part, this is just a U/G Ramp deck splashing Sun Titan. It isn’t much different from the U/W decks that are trying to overwhelm their
opponents with Planeswalkers, except this one does it a little quicker barring any disruption.

I kind of like this idea, although I’m not sure why Birds of Paradise was chosen. I know that Birds into Preordain plus Mana Leak, or turn two Jace
Beleren are both fine plays. Fixing your mana is also important, and Explore isn’t the best at doing that, but it still seems better.

Sideboard Purges and Leylines? Nobody likes losing to red decks.

I would say that, on average, this mono-black deck performs like a control deck, so I’ll put it in this category.

When I started playing Magic, the first deck I built was an Elf deck that aimed at powering out Thorn Elementals on turn three. My second deck had 4
Tinker and 4 Sol Ring. I really liked fast mana and casting powerful spells before my opponents could.

Back then, we didn’t have sweet cards like Mindslaver or Upheaval, and I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of Phyrexian Processor, so all I had was
Phyrexian Colossus with Voltaic Key.

My point is that I can certainly appreciate someone who wants nothing more than to register 24 Swamps under the “land” category on his decklist. It’s
very cool for Wizards to print cards like Phyrexian Obliterator and Lashwrithe in order to make those people’s dreams come true.

Coming off a top eight at Chinese Nationals, mono-black looks like something that could be a competitor, despite the convincing loss to U/B Control in
the top eight. I built a similar list for my buddy Phillip Green to PTQ with, although I had zero Vault Skirges, fewer Lashwrithes, and more of a
controlling list in general. However, I definitely appreciate the Vault Skirge approach.

While the Vault Skirge list is acceptable, this might be a better strategy. Phyrexian Crusader seems like a house, and the Contagion Clasp package
gives the deck a lot of reach. I’m not sure how Tezzeret didn’t find its way into this list, but I’d imagine it’s because Shiels was trying to make
Lashwrithe happen.

Chihoi has been playing U/W Control for as long as I can remember, so it’s only fitting that this is what he’s playing post-banning. His counter suite
is very interesting, but the Planeswalker selection is fairly normal. Being able to play four Day of Judgment and not have them be dead in a bunch of
different matchups is pretty nice.

In the sideboard? Oh look, a bunch of anti-RDW cards…


Wait, what? Didn’t that deck get banned? Check out this list!

From what I’ve seen, Dazai has been cashing DEs with his list for quite some time, and it’s easy to see why. Sword of Feast and Famine is still quite
good, even at five mana. I’d imagine that some matchups are suspect game one, like Valakut, Splinter Twin, and RDW, but he’s still got plenty of
fighting chance.

Pascal Maynard took down the Canadian Magic Open the last weekend with a similar list too. He had Emeria Angels and Gravitational Shift though.

Looking at these lists, a few conclusions can be drawn.

1) Manic Vandal is still good. Just because Stoneforge Mystic left the format doesn’t mean that there won’t be artifacts out there.

2) You probably want to play broad sideboard cards. There are several decks out there, and you want to be able to sideboard against all of them. For
example, rather than narrow hate like Kor Firewalker, I’d probably want to play more removal instead.

3) Play whatever you want!

See you in Cinci!