One Step Ahead – Thompson Tackles Reveillark

The StarCityGames.com $5,000 Standard Open Returns to Richmond!
Tuesday, October 21st – Last week, Billy Moreno brought us an exciting anti-control Reveillark deck. Yesterday, Benjamin Peebles-Mundy shared the latest installment of his popular “My Lark” series. Today we complete the Reveillark Trifecta, as Gerry Thompson puts down the Vivid lands and picks up the 4/3 flying elementals…

Last week, I went through all the major players in Standard, in addition to focusing on Five-Color Control. It became quite clear that Reveillark was going to be a player once someone had figured out a solid list. Since then, Billy Moreno and Peebles have both presented interesting Lark lists for your consideration.

I feel as if a sort of cross breed between the two would be best. Here are their lists for consideration:

Billy’s list is more my style. He realizes that the full amount of Scullers and Fulminators are both necessary to defeat Five-Color Control, while also being solid against Faeries. He even takes it a step or two further by including Boomerang, Resounding Wave, and Ajani Vengeant! His list is more likely to play like a Magnivore deck against Five-Color Control, rather than a typical Reveillark list.

However, Billy openly admitted that his list might not be able to cut against Kithkin, at least game 1. You can definitely afford to cut down on some of the Five-Color Control hate in order to solidify your matchups against aggressive decks. You certainly don’t need Thoughtseize in addition to all your other hate, and there are probably better cards to be playing than Boomerang.

Peebles-Mundy’s deck is more of a traditional throwback Lark build. No longer armed with a combo kill, the list closely resembles Owen Turtenwald Minnesota $5000 winning deck. It is just a solid UW control deck, with two-power creatures posing as spells.

The problem with Peebles-Mundy’s list is that it is certainly worse off against Five-Color Control. According to Cruise Qualifier finalist Chris Woltereck, out of roughly 50 participants, nearly 15 of them were packing some sort of Five-Color Control. While this might seem extraordinarily high, you have to take into account that most of them were simply going off Chris’s word that it was the deck to play.

My point is that if Five-Color Control is going to remain anywhere near that large a portion of the field, even if only for a little bit, then I would rather have something closer to Billy’s list than Peebles-Mundy’s build.

While I was writing my last article, I was definitely envisioning a list with four Sculler and four Fulminator, but where do we go from there? We have to be able to defeat Kithkin, that’s for sure, but that’s the easy part. Add some Wrath of Gods, some Sower of Temptations, and some card drawing, and you will probably have a solid matchup.

Faeries is almost always going to difficult to beat, especially when your strategy involves casting big spells at sorcery speed. If they branch out into more colors, then they start looking more like Five-Color Control, which makes your matchup a little easier.

As I’ve said before, they depend on Bitterblossom even more than before. You should always be packing Esper Charms.

The next deck I’m worried about is RDW, with an eye at Doran and various midrange strategies, like Elves and Bant. The great thing about these decks is that most of the same cards you could play are great against all of them. Story Circle and Runed Halo are backbreaking against midrange decks, and we happen to need White mana to cast Reveillark already.

A slight problem does need to be addressed, and that is how you actually go about killing a Red deck. Even if you stabilize with Runed Halos and Story Circles, they will have a ton of blockers. The plan will probably involve sandbagging a bunch of guys while hiding behind your enchantments, and then casting Wrath of God. Then you probably have to have another Wrath for the Demigod they were holding, which will bring back all of its friends. At that point, they should be defenseless.

You just need to get to that portion of the game in enough time, and before they can draw their answers to your enchantments, if they have any. Cryptic Command could be another strategy, but Cryptic in Reveillark has always been sketchy. It doesn’t fit with your game plan, as you are tapping out almost every turn. Cheaper countermagic would be much better.

With all that in mind, I present you with this:

The creature package should be self explanatory, except for Sower and the absence of Kitchen Finks. Sower is a great creature in this environment. Sure, they can kill it, but you just grind out aggro decks, and then play a Reveillark which puts you over the top. The only downside is that some of the current removal removes the creatures from the game. Kithkin should have Oblivion Ring, and RDW should have Magma Spray, but that is not enough of a deterrent to play Sower, or Lark in general.

Kitchen Finks just doesn’t do enough in this deck. While it is certainly good, current Red decks are barely even bothered by it. Their creatures are huge, which means that Finks are basically just going to chump block twice. It also means that their burn is less relevant, as their giant animals take huge chunks out of your life total at a time. Gaining four life just isn’t as effective as it used to be. Magma Spray is out there, but it isn’t the reason I’m not playing Finks in Reveillark.

My choice of spells is certainly going to be controversial. Four Wraths and four Esper Charms seem like a must. The two Mannequins are mostly to fight Faeries and provide more card drawing. The miser’s Tidings could potentially be a third Mannequin, but you only have so many good targets. If you draw one Tidings, it will almost always be good, but you don’t want multiples clogging your draws.

I chose a Remove Soul/Negate split for the countermagic, again with a slight preference for Remove Soul. I maintain that Remove Soul is better against Faeries, and basically everything that isn’t Five-Color Control. Reveillark is made to hammer on Five-Color Control decks, so you can afford to run more Remove Souls to help your other matchups. As I said earlier, Cryptic Command just doesn’t mesh well, and costs too much.

I tried Mind Stones to get some slight acceleration, but had the same problem when testing Five-Color Control. The colorless mana doesn’t help you cast your spells a lot of the time. While having some ramps would be nice sometimes, you have a solid curve and don’t need it.

Ajani Vengeant from Billy’s list certainly looked awesome, but I decided to keep the manabase three colors for consistency.

Five-Color Control: Baring any Jund Charm shenanigans, you are heavily favored here, especially if they don’t take my advice and run Remove Soul. Remove Soul makes the matchup a lot tougher, but you should be able to fight through it, mainly thanks to Sculler.

I would side in two Negates and two Mind Shatters for four Wrath of Gods. Sower doesn’t have a lot of good targets, but you still want something to make sure a couple early Kitchen Finks don’t go all the way.

Faeries: Obviously a tough matchup for any control deck. Draw a lot of Scullers and you should be okay. Barring that, just try to keep Bitterblossom off the table, and eventually force through a Reveillark. Be wary of Sower of Temptation. Evoking a Lark might just be better at some points, especially if you can’t beat a Sower.

Try to bait them with an end of turn Mannequin or an Esper Charm posing as a Mind Rot. Hopefully they have to counter those, and then you can untap and force through a Lark with a Remove Soul or Negate.

I would side in two Negates, the fourth Sower, and a miser’s Mind Shatter for four Wrath of Gods. Sower is actually very good here, as it present a flying blocker or two for them to deal with, which should buy you some time to start casting your bigger spells.

Overall, not a good matchup, but you can’t beat them all.

Kithkin: This matchup isn’t quite as big of a blowout as Five-Color Control versus Kithkin, but you have most of the same cards. Being short a couple sweepers is going to hurt you here, but the Knight-Captain serves a similar purpose.

I would bring in the fourth Sower, three Knight-Captains, and three Story Circles for four Tidehollow Sculler, two Negate, and the Tidings.

Oblivion Ring is annoying, as is stops your recursion, but you still have Esper Charms. You have to keep them in, even though they are slow, and the cards you are siding out are much worse.

This is definitely a positive matchup, and one you would like to see often.

RDW: This matchup is pretty hard game 1, as you don’t have a good answer to a second Demigod. Sower is your best bet, if it lives.

If they have some non-basics, like Chadwick’s list from last week, I would side in four Runed Halo, three Story Circles, and the Sower of Temptation for four Tidehollow Scullers, two Negates, two Makeshift Mannequins, the Tidings, and a Fulminator. Otherwise, take out all the Fulminators and keep in some Scullers or Mannequins, assuming you didn’t see any Magma Sprays.

This is a slightly positive matchup, but you have a lot of things to worry about, including the clock. Try to play fast to ensure you able to play three games, as the second two will probably go long.

Bant/Doran/Elves: These matchups are great. Wrath of God and Reveillark are at their best here, and most of your cards are just insane against them.

I would side in four Runed Halo, three Story Circle, and Sower for four Scullers, two Negates, and two Esper Charms. While slow, Tidings can be devastating, as most of these games are going to be strictly about attrition.

These are your best matchups. Don’t just assume you are going to win, though. You still have to play tight and mulligan correctly.

Reveillark: With many of the game’s great minds considering Lark as a foil to the popular Five-Color Control decks, you can probably expect to see a few of these at your latest tournament.

I would bring in two Mind Shatter, a Negate, and the Sower for four Wrath of Gods. Obviously how you choose to sideboard should be based on what you see from your first game, but that is how I would do it in the dark. They might have a ton of targets for Negate or they might not, that’s for you to decide during your match. I would rather err on the side of caution, and not die holding a fistful of Negates while I fail to stop their Larks.

Sculler and Fulminator are just as good here as against Five-Color Control. Sadly, that means the matchup is heavily dependent on the die roll. That person gets first peek with a Sculler, or just gets to be able to Remove Soul whatever he feels necessary.

You should definitely take any opportunity you can to resolve a Reveillark, but watch out for Sower.

From my experience, I would say that Reveillark is going to be a player in the many upcoming Standard events, including the Star City Games $5000 Standard Open this weekend. While I wish I could attend, I look forward to seeing the results. If any of your decide to play my Lark or Five-Color Control lists, let me know how you did!