So, here’s a rhetorical question for you: say you spend a year of your life spending fifty, sixty, even eighty hours a week at work trying to produce a kick-ass product, what do you think your reward would be?
A) A handsome bonus
B) A nice promotion
C) A pink slip
If you said C, welcome to my world.
On the bright side, I certainly have more time to practice for Regionals, and hey! I’ve got time to play Magic now!
See, there’s always a silver lining somewhere.
On to matters at hand: The release of 7th Edition has shaken up the Standard environment a little – not a lot, as no major archetypes were affected badly, but everything lost a little something, gained a little something, enough so that the balance of power has been shifted somewhat. Which, of course, means I gotta write about it.
In: Force Spike, Evacuation, Fleeting Image, Hibernation, Mahamoti Djinn
Out: Svyelunite Temple, Ankh of Mishra, Chill
Clearly, with the Ankh gone, Ankh-Tide is now a dead (re: Extended) format. Svyelunite Temple was often run in Ankh-Tide variants that did not run Thwart or Foil as defense against Boil. The loss of Chill hurts the most, especially since the bane of mono-blue, Boil, remains in 7th, but Chill was most effective against mono-red – in a R/G Fires deck, Chill was not as powerful a deterrent.
But what Blue Skies loses in Chill, it more than makes up for with Hibernation. Against Fires, it’s essentially a cheaper and instant version of Wash Out! Hibernation was the bane of Stompy when Rancor was Standard-legal, and it no doubt will be a major headache for Fires.
Blue Skies often runs Daze, so I doubt there would be much need for Force Spike in the deck. Evacuation’s all-bounce ability probably wouldn’t fit as well. Fleeting Image, however, with a power of two, flying, and ability to bounce itself, could have a place in a Blue Skies deck. What about "Fat Moti?" The big blue djinn probably would fit better in Nether-Go, discussed later.
In: Shivan Dragon, Compost, Elvish Lyrist
Out: River Boa, Uktabi Orangutan,
Fires escapes the rotation of the new base set relatively unscathed, only losing River Boa and the artifact-destroying love monkey, and the Boa had not seen much play in Fires ever since Zvi Mowshowitz "My Fires," the Magic answer to "War and Peace."
Shivan Dragon is worth considering in the deck in the place of other dragons. Compost is a very good anti-black card… And if there were any black decks of note in Standard it would be extremely good. Elvish Lyrist, giving green spot enchantment removal it otherwise lacks, is also a good sideboard addition.
Rebel and Counter-Rebel
In: Pariah, Worship, Glorious Anthem, Northern Paladin, Southern Paladin, Sanctimony, Intrepid Hero, Serra Angel
Out: Power Sink, Crusade, Armageddon, Exile, Light of Day, Warmth, Order of the Sacred Torch
With Glorious Anthem coming in and Crusade and Armageddon leaving the environment, straight white Rebel decks lose traditional weapons that have been available to white weenie since the inception of Magic. Glorious Anthem is more versatile than Crusade, which might make more creature-heavy W/G and W/U Rebel decks more prevalent.
Super black-hoser Light of Day is out, replaced with the bane of the red mage: Sanctimony.
What may have the most impact on all Rebel variants is Worship and Pariah. Worship, in combination with Chimeric Idol or a pro-color creature, makes a Rebel deck tough to beat against anything not packing artifact removal. Pariah is the same way. Massacre and Void, however, can nullify these strategies.
Eons ago, many weenie white decks packed Serra Angels for a little extra punch even though they weren’t "weenies." I could see Rebel decks doing the same.
Nether-Go and U/B Discard/Bounce
In: Hibernation, Bereavement, Steal Artifact, Engineered Plague, Befoul, Persecute, Duress, Mahamoti Djinn
Out: Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore, Perish, Stromgald Cabal, Stupor, Power Sink
Fires will rejoice that black has lost Perish, being replaced by the inferior Bereavement, although Engineered Plague is certainly not much fun to decks that are Elf and Bird-heavy. The Paladins might not be a bad sideboard choice against green and white decks, and Hibernation is an acceptable replacement for Perish in U/B.
The addition of Persecute and Duress gives these decks a lot of discard punch, enough to essentially shrug off the loss of Stupor. I personally like Steal Artifact as a very narrow defense against Chimeric Idols.
Some Nether-Go variants used Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore, so clearly those variants are now dead, but some decks might want to pack Mahamoti Djinn instead of Air Elemental for extra punch.
In: Archivist, Delusions of Mediocrity, Opportunity, Thieving Magpie, Tolarian Winds, Sanctimony, Confiscate
Out: Power Sink, Light of Day, Warmth, Mystical Tutor, Enlightened Tutor, Exile
U/W Control decks get a lot of card drawing effects from the blue side – Opportunity, the Magpie, and Tolarian Winds could easily fit, and it loses only the seldom-splashed Power Sink in blue. In white, however, losing Light of Day makes the deck more vulnerable to black, especially since Tutors can no longer be used to fish it out.
Exile also saw a fair amount of use in U/W as a powerful anti-creature card. There’s a few inferior versions in the current Standard, like Reprisal, Hobble and Pacifism, but for removal it looks like Wrath of God is still the way to go.
From my standpoint, it looks like Blue Skies and Fires are the real winners once 7th rotates in. Rebels will still be good, and Nether-Go and U/W Control are still decent but not great.
But with the new rotation, there are some new cards that could become the centerpieces of powerful Standard archetypes.
Wildfire decks, powered by the many powerful artifacts in Urza’s block, were a force to reckon with in UBC and Standard. Wildfire might finally make my precious R/B decks viable again, having access to creatures that can survive Wildfire, like Phyrexian Scuta and Chimeric Idol, powerful defensive cards in Duress and Terminate, and artifact mana in Fire Diamond and Star Compass.
But there’s no reason to think Wildfire might once again become a dominant Standard archetype again. Unfortunately, Blastoderms and Wurms survive a Wildfire, too.
The Adept might have a place in a bounce-heavy mono-blue deck. It was seen a lot in the "PatrickJ" UBC decks using Morphlings and Grim Monoliths – in combination with Seal of Removal, Withdraw, Rushing River and Waterfront Bouncer, a bounce deck could be very successful, perhaps also splashing a little black for Recoil.
Static Orb and Gerrard’s Wisdom
I once played a very funky U/W/G Orb deck when Tempest was Standard legal that ran Howling Mines and lots of artifact mana sources and hosers, like Wrath and Armageddon, and won by decking an opponent. Yeah, it was about as fun as watching paint dry, but I kind of liked it. With Gerrard’s Wisdom back in (and believe me, I could get twenty-point swings on life with this deck with a timely Wisdom), a Static Orb deck might be viable again.
It still wouldn’t be very exciting, but someone’s gotta do it.
It should be interesting to see what comes out of the new base set. I’m sure I’ll have some more grist for the Bad Deckbuilder’s Corner really soon.
P.S.: If anyone’s hiring witty and talented game designers out there, please feel free to drop me a line.