Since Worlds, I’ve been playing on Magic Online purely for fun. When I was on a big losing streak, playing decks I thought could work but that ended up losing all their games, I decided it was time to play all the best spells in the format… again. Before the release of Zendikar, this would not have been possible without the help of Vivid lands, but since then, all the good spells in the format are creatures, so Ancient Ziggurat does a great job at fixing your mana. Playing with the deck listed below, I had an unreal winning streak; I won nine out of ten of my primary matches, and the results were not getting much worse in the matches following. A friend of mine wanted to play the deck this coming weekend, albeit as a slightly modified version, but as he now won’t be able to attend the StarCityGames.com Dallas / Fort Worth Open, I am free to write about the deck.
- 1 Rafiq of the Many
- 4 Rhox War Monk
- 2 Sedraxis Specter
- 4 Sprouting Thrinax
- 4 Tidehollow Sculler
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Putrid Leech
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 4 Baneslayer Angel
- 4 Lotus Cobra
Yes, I know the deck doesn’t seem real at first, but Quick n’ Toast or Cruel Control didn’t seem real either when I first saw their initial lists, and those decks ended up defining the metagame. Bloodbraid Elf, Baneslayer Angel, Noble Hierarch, Sprouting Thrinax, Putrid Leech, and Rhox War Monk are among the best spells in the format, and they build the core of the deck. Tidehollow Sculler did a fantastic job whenever I played it, but it is one of the more debatable slots in the deck, and it can easily be removed for something like Woolly Thoctar. If you do so, you should adjust the manabase accordingly. Living Tsunami is an excellent sideboard idea from Alvin Lau, used to fight Spread ‘Em, against which the matchup is otherwise very difficult. And even though the matchup is not that important, and you wont be facing it a great deal, I just love the idea so much that I needed to share it with everybody. But with the deck being only such a small part of the metagame, you shouldn’t hesitate to remove the card from your sideboard. But please, run something like one copy of it, at least!
The deck does very well in any Jund/Boros based metagame. Its plays are pretty straightforward, and it might be the easiest deck to play in the format, with the only thing you have to carefully consider being its manabase. But as soon as you are casting a lot of spells, you should be good… unless your opponent has a good enough anti-strategy.
Jund’s only real threats are Broodmate Dragon and Siege-Gang Commander… and the second is not even played by every list. Our deck picks up a lot of equity because it is running 35 creatures, and all of them need to be removed by the Jund player in the early game. Most of them need to be removed in the late game too. Bloodbraid Elf can be played on an empty board, and should almost always reveal a threat, which generates a huge tempo swing. Meanwhile, your opponent is revealing irrelevant cards like Blightning, which you can easily even out by discarding Sedraxis Specter. Baneslayer Angel is a perfect answer to Broodmate Dragon, simply because they are very likely to be out of removal when it comes down. That is where the most difficult part in the matchup lies: knowing when you are able to play the game-breaking Angel without taking to much risk against a Blightning in the mid-to-late game.
Path to Exile doesn’t have any real targets in this matchup, while Sedraxis Specter is one of the cards they have a lot of trouble handling. The only real answer they have to the card is Broodmate Dragon, or Siege-Gang Commander.
Path to Exile should be used in the first two turns, as those are easily the turns the Boros player gets his advantage. If the game goes longer and you are able to cast multiple copies of your three-or-more-mana guys, you are very likely to win the game, as the Red/White mage has a lot of trouble dealing with them. Don’t be too greedy with Putrid Leech; simply trading one-for one with a Goblin Guide is a much better trade for you than pumping it and then trading with a Burst Lightning or a Lightning Bolt.
Rafiq is decent when you get it online with either Baneslayer Angel or Rhox War Monk, but you are usually in good shape if you can attack with one of the lifelink guys. Malakir Bloodwitch would be decent in the matchup, but it is too hard to cast, with Exotic Orchard not producing Black, and the games are not going long enough for to wait until you are able to cast the game-breaking Vampire. Post-board games favor you even more, because they are only slightly upgrading their deck, while you are removing cards that are almost blanks for game-breaking spells in form of Wall of Reverence.
Versus Ball Lightning Red
The matchup plays very similarly to Boros, but they have a lot more reach. This is probably the hardest matchup you will face, with one of the main reasons being Exotic Orchard only producing one color. Again, you should use your Path to Exile as soon as possible, and use your non-lifelink guys very passively. Putrid Leech usually prevents only two damage from a random trample guy, or it trades with Goblin Guide — once again, you should pump the Zombie very rarely.
In this matchup, Tidehollow Sculler is actually better than Putrid Leech, as the ability of Putrid Leech is more or less irrelevant. If you are able to Time Walk them with Sculler taking one of their curve spells, you are in better shape in this usually tough matchup. Wall of Reverence gives you much-needed equity, but it is much harder to cast in this matchup than it is against Boros.
Versus UWR Control
The Shroud ability of your opponent’s guys is pretty much irrelevant, as you are ignoring them more often than not. Spreading Seas is super annoying, but it allows you to play Sedraxis Specter surprisingly often. Probably the most annoying thing in the matchup is not knowing if your opponent is running Day of Judgment. If you know they are not running the 2WW sweeper, the games are a lot easier as you can cast all the flying guys you have available, or the non-flying guys that Earthquake doesn’t hurt too much.
Living Tsunami does a fantastic job against Spreading Seas, and if your opponent is running Convincing Mirage as well, you should board in the third. Don’t forget to search for the Island when your opponent casts Path to Exile, if you don’t have a real reason not to. Boarding out Path to Exile is a gamble, as your opponent’s Baneslayer Angels are deadly if you don’t have any of the removal. But with you not knowing if your opponent is boarding in the Angel, and them not knowing if you are keeping the Path, you should mix it up; sometimes keep the Path for game 2, and sometimes take them out. I probably keep them in slightly more often.
Versus GWx Angels
This is the second tough matchup you’ll face in this format. Emeria Angel is a lot of trouble, and if you are not able to remove it, it’ll probably cause more problems than Baneslayer Angel. Your goal should be to win the game as fast as possible, as the long game favors your opponent a lot. While they are topdecking Angels or huge Knights of the Reliquary, you are stuck with the best three-drops of the format.
Sprouting Thrinax would be decent in the matchup, but with Exotic Orchard not producing Red you are slightly low on Red sources. The good thing is that your Lotus Cobra is usually surviving, and therefore you should have enough colored sources to cast Sedraxis Specters, Bloodbraid Elves, and Bloodwitches.
Versus Eldrazi Green
Most games I’ve played against the decks had me rocking Qasali Pridemage and Acidic Slime in the sideboard, but I didn’t have any Tidehollow Scullers in the main, which are absolutely amazing in the matchup. As soon as they get the signature artifact online, you are in rough shape, but otherwise they have a lot of trouble dealing with all the different attackers you are presenting.
It might not make a ton of sense to board out four Green cards when the Exotic Orchards in your deck are almost basic Forests, but you should bear in mind that your Noble Hierarchs and Lotus Cobras always survive in this matchup, and with the five Forests you’re running, you shouldn’t have any trouble casting them. Sedraxis Specter does a fantastic job against the Planeswalkers they are playing, but if you want to reduce their hand size you might want to choose to attack them instead. If you expect to face a fair amount of this deck, you should add something like Qasali Pridemage or Acidic Slime to your sideboard. Without access to these, you are almost dead against a resolved Eldrazi Monument. Path to Exile is obviously the answer to their key cards: Master of the Wild Hunt and Ant Queen.
That’s it for this week! I hope some of you choose the deck for the StarCityGames.com Dallas/Fort Worth Standard Open on Saturday, and I wish you great success if you do. I think the deck does really well in the current metagame, and I’ve even been asked if I regret not running the deck at Worlds. Such a question is very difficult to answer.
Thanks for reading, and good luck in Dallas / Fort Worth!