Send Me An Angel

Mark Nestico’s new team put together one of the coolest Standard lists we’ve seen in a while for #SCGINVI! Would he recommend it for you? Did it hurt when he fell from heaven? Did he ever have hair? The answers are here!

Did you like absolutely terrible music when you were younger like I did?

I want you to imagine…if you can…a Mark with hair. It wasn’t just a little hair either, no. It was spiked like Wayne Static. Dark blue. Jnco jeans. Chain wallets. My God, I looked ridiculous. I was a child of the early 2000’s. I liked my tunes loud and my metal nu.

There was a song I was fond of, and it came on early today via Pandora’s shuffle mechanism. Deadstar Assembly’s cover of Real Life’s “Send Me an Angel.” It was just the right mix of baby’s first industrial synthesizer and awful vocals to pique my stupid, teenage brain.

Where some see coincidence, I see providence.

(How many ridiculous turn-of-the-millennium references can I fit in this article? Stay tuned to find out!)

You may be asking yourself “Mark…what the hell does this have to do with Magic?” We’re getting to that. That song, while atrocious, correlates pretty well with the deck I wanted to talk about today. Does it have Angels in it? Flap your arms and find out.

Don’t Know What to Do, Don’t Know What to Do

If you haven’t heard the announcement this weekend from the #SCGINVI, allow me to make you privy to the newest team that you’ll be seeing on the SCG Tour® circuit.

My team…well…the one I’m on anyway.

Last Thursday Nick Miller wrote a primer for the New Jersey Invitational and in it, included a portion dedicated to the emerging Next Ridge Nexus.

The Players

Brennan DeCandio: Sexy hair model.

Emma Handy: Also a sexy hair model.

Brad Carpenter: Everyone is a sexy hair model.

Aaron Sorrells: He’s a minor, so he can’t be a sexy hair model. He’s just a hair model.

Tannon Grace: Why can’t I be a sexy hair model?

Mark Nestico: Bald and completely not jealous of his teammate’s hair modeling.

The last few weeks we’ve all been working together in secret, as the team announcement and those nifty jerseys were set to debut in…New Jersey. Jersey, Jersey. See what we did there?

Anyhow, we’ve been bouncing ideas off of each other and discussing various archetype evolutions, technology, and decklists. Prior to SCG Regionals Emma Handy linked a very, very interesting G/W deck. Being that G/W falls directly into Brennan’s wheelhouse, he set out to refine that list. This immediately paid dividends as Brennan, or Bae as I affectionately call him, got ninth at SCG Regionals two weekends back.

At this point we knew exactly what to do. We began testing and working on G/W Angels as a unit.

What This Deck Does Right

First and foremost, let’s take a look at this evolution on the G/W archetype:

There’s also a very nifty deck tech here:

Isn’t he dreamy?

Back on track!

What G/W Angels gets right is that, at its core, this deck provides one of the most potent curves in Standard. The previous iterations of G/W that you may be used to had a sometimes-impossible curve to beat. This usually consisted of a turn 1 Oath of Nissa; a second-turn Sylvan Advocate; Nissa, Voice of Zendikar on three; and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar rounding things out on four. The fifth-turn Archangel Avacyn is essentially the nail in the coffin.

Where G/W floundered with the release of Eldritch Moon is that it, upon first review, received almost no immediately identifiable upgrades. The deck performed with mediocre results. By the Pro Tour, it was essentially an afterthought.

Enter Bae.

Brennan began streaming the deck on his Twitch channel to very promising results. Sure, the Magic Online metagame isn’t anything remotely indicative of what you should expect in live Magic, but he played a ton of matches against Bant Company, and G/W Angels was around 70% the winner.

Aside from a pressure-inducing curve, G/W Angels also has several angles that allow it to go long and wide. Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade work together to form some kind of megazord monstrosity Brisela, Voice of Nightmares.

There are a hilarious number of decks in the Standard format that cannot even hope to compete with an assembled Brisela, basically all of them. Sweepers aren’t prevalent, common removal like Ruinous Path or Dromoka’s Command can’t even be cast, and unless you’re casting a Collected Company and hitting your Reflector Mage, the options to kill whatever the hell Brisela is are pretty slim.

Probably the biggest player in G/W Angels is the sheer power of Thalia’s Lancers. My initial thought upon reading the spoilers was to think that this was another tremendous Commander card, but could it see play in Standard? I’m happy to report that “yes” is the answer. We saw in the infant stages of Eldritch Moon Standard that B/W Angels with Lancers could do a lot of work, but the shell never seemed correct. Oath of Nissa gives you the chance to dig for it, and another target, Geier Reach Sanitarium, can set up a way to filter your extra lands or dead draws away. Basically Thalia’s Lancers is one of the best midrange threats you can be casting due to its relevant body, first strike, and toolbox initiative that will help you by searching up whatever you may need at the time.

I’ve Never Been Lucky in Love

Multiple members of Team Nexus sleeved up G/W Angels for the #SCGINVI. Brennan and Bradley were able to post fairly solid Day 1 finishes, especially Brad, who was 7-1 going in to Day 2. Their Standard losses were preventable at certain points, and at others, like in Brad’s case at the ends of a Day 2 that saw him at 11-1, seemed to be a combination of bad luck and bad matchups. Of course, Brad won’t make any excuses at all, but the deck was able to bat an over .500 record.

We talked about what this deck gets right, but there are some things that it does wrong.

One of our biggest selling points was that G/W Angels felt like the unequivocal best Gideon, Ally of Zendikar deck in the format. On paper this is a completely correct observation, as no other deck is poised to take advantage of Gideon the way this deck does, whether through Hangarback Walker tokens getting pumped due to his ultimate or the constant stream of pressure Gideon is able to exude. That said, there were only five copies of Gideon in the Top 8 Standard decks. Even worse, there was only a single copy of Gideon in the 7-1 or better-performing Standard decks, and that was relegated to a sideboard.

No, that’s not a typo.




G/W Angels was hedging on being the best Gideon deck in a format that, it appears, doesn’t really fear Gideon. The format has shifted so far away from what made G/W good three or four months ago that while the Angels portion of this G/W build was awesome and able to win plenty of games, the other portions of the package weren’t able to keep up.

Does this make G/W Angels a rough choice going forward?

I wouldn’t say so, because if anything, we continue to live in a world where Bant Company is consistently able to put up dominating results. No matter what Emerge or Delirium decks do well- U/R Burn or Humans, Bant Company is the best deck in the format. This weekend cemented that fact. (Personally, I still believe it is Jund Delirium, but even I can’t argue with the numbers at this point).

Unless Bant Company has a stellar curve and the games are entirely non-interactive, G/W Angels is able to do very well in a format dominated by Bant. Their exclusion of Dromoka’s Command, as the trends are pointing to, give G/W a multitude of weapons to combat their creatures on the ground. The Brisela package is also, aside from Collected Company into Reflector Mage, functionally game over against them, and thankfully, it’s not terribly hard to assemble especially when one of their main forms of interaction in Command is gone.

Empty Dreams Can Only Disappoint

One of the biggest weaknesses that can easily be overcome with G/W Angels is the sideboarding we had for the #SCGINVI may need more work to shore things up. After battling more with the deck online this weekend, I can say a few things:

· Pulse of the Murasa is probably not needed. A tech card for U/R Burn, Pulse is meant to invalidate at least two of their direct damage spells, which can set them back multiple turns at a time.

· Declaration in Stone often over-performed in a bevy of matchups. One of Brad’s on-camera losses was to Tom Ross and his Mono-White Humans aggro deck, and Declaration in Stone is quite respectable in that matchup, since anything that stunts their early aggression and gives you time to start landing Thalia’s Lancers or surprise Archangel Avacyns is generally good form. I’d like to see this number increase.

· Dragonlord Dromoka is a card I usually sideboarded in but was disappointed in. A lot of times I found myself saying “this might be okay,” but it seldom was. Reflector Mage, Declaration in Stone, and other frequently seen cards make it look kind of silly. I’d cut it.

· Stasis Snare is one of the most impressive cards in the sideboard and may just be a four-of. Bant relegating their Dromoka’s Commands to the sideboard might make this card maindeck-able going forward, and even in that instance it’s not terrible because Oath of Nissa can insulate you from sacrificing it. I sideboarded it in a ton and usually was very pleased with the results.

· Quarantine Field may look clunky, but B/G Delirium decks have no clean answer to it outside of hand disruption. Playing it to net two or three of their permanents is very real, so don’t cut it unless that deck starts to fall completely out of favor. It also does a lot of heavy lifting against the new kid on the block, U/B Zombies.

With a few changes and adaptations, it’s hard to believe that G/W Angels couldn’t find a share of the metagame going forward. The deck is powerful, consistent, curvy, and a blast to play. It offers multiple lines that old, boring G/W did not and reinvigorates the archetype. SCG Game Nights are the perfect time to sleeve up this deck, and I don’t think you’d regret it.

Let’s face it, folks, after you’ve worn Jnco Jeans and you just wrote an entire article based off of a crappy cover of a not-even-well-known-song, what else in your life can you regret?

Oh yeah.

That time I sang “Rollin'” by Limp Bizkit and uploaded it to Facebook.

So many regrets, kiddies. So many regrets.

Thankfully G/W Angels isn’t one of them.