SCG Daily – Splitting Headache in Standard, Part 1

I’ve wanted to write about this deck for so long. Part of it’s the devious fun of slinging cards that barely make the cut in draft. Part of it’s the fact that when you lose to this deck you actually want to chug bleach by the gallon. Part of it is playing four copies of cards that are restricted in Vintage (well, sorta).

I’ve wanted to write about this deck for so long.

Part of it’s the devious fun of slinging cards that barely make the cut in draft. Part of it’s the fact that when you lose to this deck you actually want to chug bleach by the gallon. Part of it is playing four copies of cards that are restricted in Vintage (well, sorta).

But most of all? It plays my favorite underrated Limited bomb, Ignite Memories.

Here is the list. Steer clear of any loved ones and electronic devices, because you just might lose your lunch.

I showed this list to Tim’s little National Team colony and was greeted with a chorus of groans and guffaws, so perhaps it’s not as tight as I think it is. But as of now I stand by it as the most powerful deck in Standard, hands down.

Just to summarize: basically you create a giant storm turn via suspend and a bunch of Rituals, and proceed either to set your opponent’s hair on fire or overwhelm them with the Dan Paskins Fan Club.

The deck’s really self-explanatory, but it’s very hard to play. The reason for this, appropriately enough, is largely because of what Mike was talking about in his Friday article: the necessity of setting up the endgame. With this deck, at least in game 1, essentially the same sequence of events will happen every time you win. This means that you have to start planning on turn 1 how you want the game state to appear on about turn 5 or so.

You have to take every single game individually. There’s no hard and fast rule on when you should hold Stars and Baubles against when you should keep them up to boost your storm count. There’s no manual you can consult when trying to figure out whether you actually care about what’s in your opponent’s hand or whether you should just name Island of Wak-Wak with that Brain Pry. There’s no real science to figuring out how much you need to keep in reserve should you end up fizzling, or (barring a Suspended Lotus coming into play) exactly which turn you ought to try and finally go off.

First off, though, I want to address some of the initial concerns or glaring questions people have when they first take a look at this deck. Incidentally, I encourage you to actually proxy the deck up and battle a few times with it before making any changes or commenting in the forums. Richard Feldman honestly said all there is to say about making comments on decks without testing them, so I’ll just let him have my back on that, but I’m 100% sure the maindeck is the correct combination of 60 cards. I’m pretty confident in the sideboard to about nine cards – but it could use a little bit more work, even though it’s tricky because you don’t want to add cards that detract from your overall strategy. When said strategy is extremely narrow, like it is in this deck, that limits your pool severely.

That paragraph meandered like lost Asian tourists in DFW. So, um. Initial concerns, glaring questions, right. The first couple today, and more tomorrow.

BRAIN PRY WTF???!?!?!!!

That is the most articulate explication of what comes out of 90% of people’s mouths when they see the deck, only with more punctuation and a few 11111111s trailing off at the end. Maybe even a “gaaaaaahwwd, you’re sooooooo awful, next thing I know you’ll be playing Sangrophage at the Pro Tour” thrown in there. Yes, Brain Pry is a “bad card.” Shockingly enough, though, cards don’t exist in a vacuum. There’s this concept called an “environment.” Breathe in. Breathe out.

Let’s take it step by step. You don’t have a lot of spare slots in your deck. Yet about sixty percent of the time, you plan on winning by attacking with a whole lot of 1/1 creatures. This would indicate slightly that Wrath of God puts a damper on your plans. At the same time, excluding Cancel, you don’t really care about that many cards that people have in their decks game 1. So normally you wouldn’t have room for a discard spell. In this case, though, you play a bunch of cantrips anyway just to fuel your storm count. Therefore, BP is basically a perfect fit.

Isn’t this just a bad version of Dragonstorm?

Well, no, not really. Sure, it looks a little bit like Dragonstorm, but just because it’s different and uses slightly less reliable kill mechanisms doesn’t make it “bad.” I would argue, in fact, that it’s a good version of Dragonstorm.

For one, it’s faster on average. I mean, right, they can both kill on turn 4 or turn 3 or whatever, but the thing about Dragonstorm is that you have to take cautions that you don’t really have to worry about with this deck. Like against anybody that’s got blue up you can’t just run the Goldfishies because you’ll pack it to a well-timed Remand or whatever, so you have to wait on the Drowse or bait them etc. With this deck, though, you don’t win with a nine-mana sorcery, so there’s no giant blowout “Ritual, Ritual, Ritual gets countered, I guess I’ll take some mana burn.” People think you’re Dragonstorm too, so you just keep Ritualing and they counter the late one (as would be correct) while you pump the fist and Empty the Warrens for two more goblins thanks to them.

Also, people aren’t really packing disruption for this deck beyond Wrath. With Dragonstorm, a lot of things can go wrong. Drawing extra Dragons sucks, because then you have to run a Hunted Dragon kill that is real vulnerable to basically every card in the format that hits a critter in the face. Giving them three 2/2s is not that tight, either. You’ve got your own countermagic, and all of that, and you get to play Compulsives, but I’d rather just run Demonic Tutor and forego all the fanciful card-drawing.

Finally, and I said this earlier, but your kill card doesn’t cost nine. This deck can do other things. I’ve won plenty of games with a couple of Rift bolts, an Ignite for seven or eight, then four or six Goblin tokens, and just winning through attrition. I mean, it’s not pretty, but it’s possible. By contrast, if Dragonstorm’s kill gets busted, they are actually just kold. There go your dragons, brah. Game 2?

Join me tomorrow, when I answer more of your pressing questions.

Until then,

Zac Hill