For the longest time in Magic, it was a clear-cut fact that blue was the best color in Magic. No matter what format you were playing (except for maybe
limited, but even that’s up for debate), you wanted to play Islands. The lineage of spells with “U” in them extends all the way down to Ancestral Recall.
It was in the same class as Healing Salve. Oh hindsight! You really are 20/20.
I remember when I started playing Magic years and years ago. U/G Madness, Psychatog, U/W Astral Slide, and Cunning Wake. What did they all have in common?
Those freaking Islands. As time passed, it didn’t get any better. Affinity? That stupid deck started out playing blue for Broodstar.
Thoughtcast? Real fair.
Recently, we’ve been at the mercy of various Sphinx’s Revelation decks, and if it wasn’t for Thoughtseize, it would be hot control-on
control-action all day every day. Bant Control and Thragtusk made rounds go to time regularly, and during its height, Grand Prix rounds took sooooo
looooooong to finish.
For me, it was heaven. For others? Hell.
That has changed recently if you’re a fan of Standard.
They started printing solid green creatures. The days of Thragtusk moved on and everyone was happy to see what the future had planned for them. Turns out
the answer can be found in the trees.
If you examine the Top 8 of the latest Standard Open in Indianapolis, you’ll see that five of the Top 8 decks featured Forests in them, and their dominance
is only beginning.
Pro Tour Journey into Nyx gave us a glimpse of what’s to come. Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid dominated every table and almost entirely invalidated
aggressive creature strategies. Their backbone provides the means to play any combination: Junk, BUG, Naya, R/G…all of them come from those two cards.
You think we’d be safe in a format like Standard with a much wider card pool, but as luck would have it powerful cards are going to be powerful wherever
you play them.
Let’s start from the top to the bottom.
- 3 Keening Apparition
- 3 Polukranos, World Eater
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 3 Voyaging Satyr
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
Justin is a freaking genius.
There. I said it.
The three maindeck Keening Apparitions are incredible in this deck, and have a target in almost every match?
Eidolon of the Great Revels? BOOM! Headshot!
Underworld Connections? Get the hell out of here!
Detention Sphere or Banishing Light? Get out of jail free card!
Courser of Kruphix? I don’t even know you, and I hate your guts.
And that’s just the start of it. This guy steps on Brain Maggots. He takes the Doom out of Doomwake Giant. He puts weed eater all over Eidolon of Blossoms.
It generates a ton of these awful sayings that I’m churning out.
The planeswalker package is very potent in this deck, and finally Ajani, Mentor of Heroes has had his day in the sun along with Elspeth, Chandra, and
Xenagos. Can we start calling this deck Naya Superfriends?
His sideboard seems clunky at first, but then once you realize how a Fiendslayer Paladin pumped by Ajani can close out a game against Mono-Red or R/W Burn
almost instantly, it all begins to make a lot more sense, especially when Unflinching Courage gets thrown in the mix. Anger of the Gods also seems
outrageous here against the influx of G/W decks that we’re seeing a lot of, too.
I was very surprised that this deck was able to overcome Jonathon Habel’s Jund Monster deck, given that he was packing Chris VanMeter’s build that has been
so dominant lately.
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 3 Courser of Kruphix
This deck. Thiiiiiiiis deck.
While relaxing on Magic Online a few nights ago, I wanted to battle but was without Journey into Nyx cards. I wracked my brain over what deck to play, but
everything had JOU in it…except one!
I put this deck together and began blasting through 8-man events like they were butter. Chris really knocked it out of the park with this one. Combining
the power of G/R Monsters with excellent removal, CVM has tuned this deck to the point where I don’t think he can really lose with it.
That’s when I figured it out.
Brad Nelson was winning with it online.
I was winning with it online.
Chris has always been winning with it.
Jonathon Habel almost won the entire Open…
Do you see the connection?
Only people with beards can pilot this deck and not lose!
But seriously, this deck takes a lot of cues from classic Jund. It generates card advantage through Courser of Kruphix combined with Domri Rade, ramping up
to Stormbreath Dragon and pushing through damage with Ghor-Clan Rampager.
Out of the sideboard, you get Rakdos’s Return, which is as good now as it has been since it was printed. Golgari Charm gives you massive utility, and
Nylea’s Disciple is awesome right now. Seriously. Have you ever cast this card against R/W Burn? It’s like telling them Santa doesn’t exist.
Devon Paynter brought G/W Aggro back to the mainstream with his take on the archetype.
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Loxodon Smiter
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 2 Polukranos, World Eater
- 3 Fleecemane Lion
- 4 Boon Satyr
Banishing Light was the card that this deck desperately needed, and it allows it the extra dimension to compete against the bigger decks out there. Voice
of Resurgence is so good in this deck, and again we get to see our new pal Ajani, Mentor of Heroes.
Do you know what card is super neat in his sideboard? Scion of the Vitu-Ghazi! Against other midrange decks you can go crazy with the Scion, especially if
you generate elementals with Voice of Resurgence.
Lastly, we have Jacob Baugh who Top 8-ed with G/B Devotion, which was basically just Mono-Green Devotion splashing for Pharika, God of Affliction in the
main and Thoughtseize and Goglari Charm in the sideboard.
This deck put out some pretty strong results after Pro Tour Theros, but hasn’t really done much since then. Jacob brought it out of obscurity and added the
most powerful charm in Standard at the moment. This deck always had a lot of trouble dealing with sweepers, and Golgari Charm plugs that hole quite nicely;
it lets do what this deck does best: keep attacking.
One deck that I’ve been advocating, especially if you subscribe to the SCG Select Newsletter,
is Junk Constellation.
, I wrote about the deck, and when I was finally able to play it online, I was extremely impressed with the results.
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 2 Herald of Torment
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Eidolon of Blossoms
- 3 Doomwake Giant
- 2 Pharika, God of Affliction
- 4 Brain Maggot
This build does its best to generate insurmountable card advantage with a bevy of enchantments that let you go wild with Pharika, Eidolon of Blossoms, and
Doomwake Giant. A card that has been testing really well has been Kruphix’s Insight. At first glance, it seemed like one of the weaker cards in the deck,
but eventually you just start drawing three cards with it and finding the perfect spell for the perfect time started winning a lot of games.
Sphere of Safety was also doing a lot of work against the midrange aggro decks and was a card that I was always happy to draw in the right matchup. The
deck could use a lot of work, though. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion should be in this deck in some capacity, which was something a fellow writer identified.
Similarly enough, Brain Braun-Duin battled to a Top 64 with his take on Junk Constellation.
Underworld Connections was definitely a card that I missed the boat on.
One problem this deck has, is when it doesn’t have Eidolon, it feels like you’re playing a pretty crappy midrange deck that doesn’t do much, but
Connections draws you into a ton of fuel and triggers all the Constellation spells in our deck. Given that context I’ll be cutting Kruphix’s Insight for
it, because as good as it’s been, I’m guessing Connections is just going to be better most of the time.
Going forward in the next few months, this kind of deck is only going to get better and will almost certainly be a frontrunner for standard when rotation
As a lifelong Jund player, you have no idea how much it makes me happy to say that if you’re not playing Forests, you’re doing it wrong.
Start sleeving them up.
Might I suggest
It’s my favorite.
Bonus Section: What A Local Game Store Can Mean
This past week the Magic community of Southwest FL lost one of the most important pillars we had: a gentleman by the name of Robert Kobzina.
Bob, as we called him, was one of the kindest and most charitable men I have ever known. He ran our local card and comic store called the Comic Warehouse.
When I wandered into his shop 15 years ago, I was a little boy who just wanted to learn more about Magic. Bob took me over to a giant box filled with
commons and uncommons labeled “3 for 10 cents” and started pulling out things for me. I only had enough money for the tournament entry, but Bob happily
handed me a ton of cards and told me not to worry about it. To increase the power level of my R/B Land Destruction deck, he pulled some rares out from
behind a huge glass case and handed them to me as well. I didn’t have sleeves, so he went behind the counter and gave me some of those see through ones to
protect my new cards. The deck was a labor of love from the start, and I even won a round against one of the local players. I lost the rest of the games I
played, but it didn’t matter. I was hooked.
Bob didn’t know it, but he was helping to hook me into a life-long hobby.
What he did for me, he would do for every new player that came in, and he’d spend countless hours teaching people how to play Magic.
For over a decade, my friends and I would join him and his family- his beautiful wife Chris that ran the store with him and his little girl Lisa, who we
saw grow into a woman- and we’d play Magic every Saturday. They even had Tuesday tournaments every week for the more casual crowd, which always was a
fantastic way to break up the week.
The Saturday tournaments, though, they were something special. We would play tons of Magic and Bob would keep the store open for us late so we could get
our fill of spell-slinging. Sometimes, we’d order pizza or feast on Burger King next door. For midnight releases, his wife would go out in the morning and
bring back tons of breakfast for us to eat while we battled until the sun came up.
Bob was taken from us far too soon, and taught all of us in my community about how to be better, more loving people. The loss of him will stick with me for
years to come. If it wasn’t for him and his store, I wouldn’t have met my best friends that I still call on to this day.
I am a better man for knowing him.
I sincerely hope that in your community, you have a Bob.
Everyone should have a Bob.
Take care of each other, folks. You never know how long any of us have together.