That’s right. Look back over the “who’s who of professional MTG” Top 8, and then see that they were all on different decks.
Okay, let’s rewind a little bit to a few weeks ago.
Week one, #SCGBALT, Shadows over Innistrad Standard. Jim Davis crushes the entire tournament with his Bant Company deck. We start to realize the power of Duskwatch Recruiter and are reminded that Collected Company is an extremely unfair Magic card, even if it’s only getting 3/3s that tap something.
We also got to see the fabulous debut of Tireless Tracker. It is quite a card advantage engine and seems like it has potential in a lot of different green decks. “Decent body with card advantage at a decent rate” seems to be the hallmark of a quality green creature these days.
Humans also had an exciting debut weekend with different versions doing well, placing all through the Top 16 and putting multiple copies into the Top 8. Always Watching is a powerhouse and Declaration in Stone really showcases just how great it is as a removal spell by putting you ahead in tempo if you are already on an aggressive slant.
W/B Eldrazi did well from the Roanoke crew, putting Eric Hymel into the Top 4, and Todd Anderson showed the world just how powerful Pyromancer’s Goggles are when combined with Magmatic Insight and Tormenting Voice with his U/R Control deck.
The first-week decks were pretty powerful, but there is always room to innovate.
Fast forward to the next weekend, #SCGINVI in Columbus. Max McVety takes down the whole thing with Mono-White Humans. He scores the top prize along with all the bonuses (custom token, a bunch of cash and points, a trophy, PT invite, and the #SCGPC invite), but what stands out in my mind is just how dominant Bant Company is.
It’s everywhere, the mirrors are abysmal, and the rest of the format looks just about the same. A sprinkling of U/R Control, a few Humans decks, but for me the saving grace was the winning deck from the Standard Open.
Joshua Dickerson had gone against the grain and beat a field full of Bant Company to take the crown. He even responded to my
He went 11-1 against Bant Company over the weekend, which was exactly what I was looking for with the SCG State and Provincial Championships coming up. I was already a big fan of the Eldrazi Ramp strategy, but I had been too focused on trying to make Ruin in Their Wake work.
Fast forward to the Friday of the Pro Tour.
I’m sitting at my desk at work, listening to coverage and catching glimpses while I can, and all I hear is coverage talking about this Dark Petition / Seasons Past deck that Finkel is playing, the G/B Aristocrats deck that LSV is playing, and the G/R Goggles Ramp deck that Brad is playing.
We went from Bant Company putting an insane stranglehold on the format to the best minds in the world all coming up with different decks and being successful with them. This is great. This is perfect.
Then I realized: what am I going to do for #SCGStates?
I tried and tried to see if I could find any of the lists for these sweet decks, and while there were a few estimations, I couldn’t get anything concrete. I had resolved myself to “just” playing the sweet Eldrazi Ramp deck, but ultimately I slept through my alarm, and since the event was all the way down in Tacoma, I ended up just not going.
Pretty anti-climactic, I know, but it did afford me the luxury of watching coverage and catching all the awesome action, like watching Jonny Freaking Magic pilot this insane value-machine through some sweet sequences.
I watched Seasons Past resolve targeting the following:
Yeah, that was a “draw six,” and then it just gets shuffled back into the deck so that you can find it again with Dark Petition.
Stormbreath Dragons and value. Those are my two loves in Magic: The Gathering, and this deck is just so chock-full of value, it’s mind-blowing. That’s the deep-down evaluation of the deck after actually seeing it in action, but on paper? I mean, let’s be honest, it’s just a big pile of removal and singletons.
It’s been a long time since a tutor like this was legal and playable in Standard.
I am definitely dating myself, but when this deck gets humming it really reminds me of a deck of many seasons past.
Many moons ago, there was a Mono-Black Control deck that used Cabal Coffers and Diabolic Tutor along with Mirari to great use. Copying the tutors allowed you to find another tutor and whatever else you needed for the situation, while Cabal Coffers fueled all of the spells.
Dark Petition is kind of like all of them put together. We just go and get whatever it is that we need right now, and we can likely cast it since we are usually going to get the Dark Ritual attached with the BBB spell mastery. Or we can just get a Seasons Past, which is basically a Mirari-ed Diabolic Tutor on steroids.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Nissa, Vastwood Seer are also the perfect win conditions for this deck. They have varied converted mana costs, so they can both be re-bought with Seasons Past. They provide excellent card advantage in the matchups where they are relevant, and in games where they aren’t particularly important, they are serviceable bodies. I like in particular that Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet has lifelink and Nissa, Vastwood Seer is able to help get you to that second green source that you will need to cast Seasons Past or activate Hissing Quagmire.
Speaking of the deathtouch creature-land, I can only imagine how many times he used Hissing Quagmire either as a blocker to kill a creature, or as an attacker that doesn’t care if it gets blocked or not, and then just re-bought it with Seasons Past.
The singletons in the deck are all pretty sweet, too. Dead Weight is a one-cost removal spell, which is important to have at least one of for Seasons Past, but is also quite efficient at taking care of the smaller creatures that are in the Humans deck. It’s also particularly efficient at killing Duskwatch Recruiter and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, which may give opposing decks chances to grind through all the value in the G/B deck.
With four Dark Petition, having cards that are situational but potentially extremely powerful that we can cast off the BBB that we get from Spell Mastery is pretty important. Cards like Read the Bones, Ruinous Path, and the other removal spells are pretty standard, but having a maindeck copy of Infinite Obliteration is just genius. It’s quite possible that some games are won just by casting Infinite Obliteration over and over getting rid of every threat that our opponent might have. Once we get into the realm of casting Seasons Past, this very quickly becomes a reality.
The one copy of Nissa’s Renewal is super-sweet too. We aren’t likely chaining it off the spell mastery from a Dark Petition, but just having a six-cost card that we can get back with Seasons Past once things get going is nice, and this is a super ramp spell that will let us continue to press our advantage.
When we are effectively casting a “draw seven” over and over, ramping for three lands each time really helps. Also, the lifegain is pretty relevant when our game plan revolves around making the games go as long as possible, since we have inevitability.
My only real concern with playing this deck is that games are going to be a grind and not end very quickly. Make sure that you are extremely proficient with the deck and can figure out all of the lines and loops that you want to take quickly and efficiently. Keeping bluffing and hollywooding to a minimum is also going to play a big part in the being successful with the deck. Shortcutting and being decisive will greatly increase your chance of avoiding unintentional draws.
The other deck that I am extremely excited about from the Pro Tour was SCG’s own Brad Nelson’s G/R Goggles Ramp deck.
I was tweeting at him and sending him messages of good luck throughout the event, and couldn’t have been happier for one of my friends getting back to the Sunday stage.
As for the deck, though, this ramp build is a thing of beauty and really screams “CVM.” World Breaker; Dragonlord Atarka; Chandra, Flamecaller…these are all some of my favorite cards. I really can’t wait to read Brad’s next article and hopefully find out what the genesis was behind going this route with the deck, because it’s pure genius.
The Goggles card advantage engine complements the ramp aspect very well, especially when we get into the realm of playing a bunch of Fall of the Titans. Drownyard Temple has insane synergy with both sides of the deck, giving us a sort of inevitability with our World Breakers.
I also really love how deep into the card advantage/late-game this deck goes with the sideboard. Den Protector, Goblin Dark-Dwellers, and Tireless Tracker? Sign me up! Our opponents also have to try to figure out how we’re going to sideboard. Do they leave in a bunch of spot removal that doesn’t really do anything against the World Breakers and Dragonlord Atarka? Do they keep it in, or bring in more trying to anticipate our plan and risk being stuck with a bunch of Grasp of Darkness in their hand? I really like decks that give us flexibility with sideboarding and give our opponents chances to mess up.
The more I think about how this deck is built, it really strikes me as a quintessential Brad Nelson deck, and I’m happy that he was able to shake off the Limited boogeyman at the PT and put up another great result in what is already an impressive MTG career.
The toughest question for me now, though, is which deck do I play? The G/B value-town Jon Finkel deck, or the Brad Nelson Metagame Monster with my baes Chandra and Atarka?
I mean, we all know what the real answer is, but I still like playing coy every now and then.