It’s 5:49 am, and I’m sitting on my friend’s couch watching The Social Network after a long night of running MODO drafts. I’m watching this brilliant movie, and I start thinking about what to play this weekend at StarCityGames.com Open Series: Cincinnati. Seeing that you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are thinking the same thing.
I’m always scared going into a huge tournament with a brew, especially at the beginning of a new format. With M12 being legal, I’m even more lost, and I’m no GerryT when it comes to deck savvy. I’ve spent about three weeks brewing and analyzing the format, and here are a few decks I’ve come up with that I believe are good enough to sleeve up and battle with this weekend.
The first deck I’ve been testing should be no surprise as a competitor.
The list is pretty average and ordinary, but I thought I’d elaborate a little, seeing that there is a lot of discussion about this archetype and about the correct build. Even with the reprinting of Goblin Grenade, I don’t think you can make a fast enough â€˜Goblin deck’ and have the consistency to go long with control decks if you need to.
Grim Lavamancer has been the most questionable card in my maindeck. It can often lead to questionable plays and usually just attacks for one. However, it sometimes puts the mentality of â€˜must deal with’ in your opponent’s head. I have traded my Grim Lavamancer for four points of â€˜damage’ off a Dismember. Manabarbs is the key sideboard card and is also potentially game ending if it enters the battlefield against any control deck. This is probably the safest deck I have the option of playing.
As you’re going to see, I like Divination a lot. I value it more than the two life attached to Tezzeret’s Gambit, and I like it more than the cheaper, subpar See Beyond. You can build your deck to have favorable matchups against almost any archetype in particular; however, you have to pinpoint a particular archetype. My sideboard reflects that with a full set of Pyroclasm and Mental Misstep for Mono Red. I have found, however, that midrange, aggro/control decks can pose a bit troublesome mainly with Oblivion Ring. It’s hard to keep up with a midrange control deck, especially when they keep killing your combo piece.
You might notice a full set of Mind Rot between the maindeck and the sideboard. I absolutely love both Mind Rot and Divination in this format. Getting ahead on board state and casting Mind Rot is one of the best feelings in the world and is a good route to victory. This deck crushes your opponent in card advantage by taking their hand and then dropping a threat they can’t deal with. The amount of discard and removal allows you to have a game plan and compete against any deck in the format. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what your opponent is playing if all of their cards are taken away. Casting an Inquisition of Kozilek, a removal spell, and a Phyrexian Obliterator and topping off with a lethal Mind Sludge should have your opponent reaching for the sideboard pretty quickly against almost any deck in the format.
The extra discard spells are for the slower decks or decks like Valakut, where they empty their hand quite fast. Disfigure is in the board as a cheap and efficient answer to almost anything in the format that you’re worried about within the first few turns without costing you too much tempo. Phyrexian Crusader serves as both a quick clock against control and a game winner against Mono Red.
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Elvish Archdruid
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 2 Joraga Warcaller
- 4 Joraga Treespeaker
- 4 Vengevine
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 3 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Elves has been ranging between an average to a subpar deck the last few months, but I think Overrun being reprinted might be able to accelerate the tribe into Tier 1 for the first time in a while. Control, Red Deck Wins, and other aggro decks are decent matchups; your guys are just better. Testing showed that Adaptive Automaton isn’t better than Joraga Warcaller. Even though they cost the same amount of mana for the same effect, you can cheat a Warcaller with Oren-Rief or multi-kick it as a mana sink. Sometimes just paying a single green mana to recur a Vengevine or prepare for an Overrun is the right play as well.
Torpor Orb out of the board gives you game against Splinter Twin combo, alongside Dismembers. Torpor Orb might also give you that extra turn you need against a Titan. Nature’s Claim helps against Tezzeret and Pyromancer Ascension, where Spellskite is more of a catchall and can be boarded against almost anything in the format. The beauty of this deck is similar to that of the Mono Black deckâ€”sometimes it just doesn’t matter what your opponent is playing. There are plenty of times where your opponents tap out turn three, and you just kill them with a few creatures and an Overrun. Pyromancer Ascension is a great matchup, as is any deck that tries to play a long game.
As you can probably tell by now, I really like Divination. This version of U/B Control aims to draw a lot of cards and then get control of the board. You spend the early turns tapping out and drawing cards when possible and just making sure you hit your land drops. Any veteran control player can tell you how easily games come together when you don’t miss land drops; drawing removal spells in between doesn’t hurt. The split of removal spells allows you to catch up easily and is good at recovering tempo and stabilizing compared to the four life tied to Dismember.
This list has a better matchup against aggro decks than traditional U/B with Disfigures and a full set of Go for the Throat, along with Black Sun’s Zenith and Peace Striders. Mind Rot and Flashfreeze help you edge out the Valakut decks, where the rest of your sideboard is tuned to just shoot down aggressive decks. Life’s Finale makes the cut over Black Sun’s Zenith in the maindeck, being that you have so many cheap spot removal spells in the maindeck that a slower â€˜hard’ wrath is better than a more mana intensive board sweeper. It also allows for cool interactions with Liliana Vess. This deck is also a safe bet for this weekend.
And the last deck I have to share with you is a sweet brew, which a friend and I created. It’s also surprising that we have been having the most success with this list.
Again, Mind Rot is accompanied by discard spells in order to crush your opponents in cards. A lot of the games are won by casting Chandra, the Firebrand and copying Sorin’s Vengeance, or just casting the black sorcery for the last bit of life. Destructive Force in this deck is just that, a powerhouse. It lets you create board states where you sweep away an opponent’s board, leaving you with two active planeswalkers. Chandra is the real team player in the deck as she works well with most of the 23 instants and sorceries, while also sniping random creatures on occasion. Removing two counters off Chandra and casting Mind Rot will be hard for a lot of control decks to recover from. The extra Duress and Mind Rot in the sideboard are for decks with key cards that need to be answered, such as Pyromancer Ascension or Splinter variants, and are fine against Valakut. I admit, the sideboard is a tad loose, but until the last few days before the tournament, most of the sideboard slots will be unknown.
The Manic Vandal slot along with the Pyroclasm slots are still up for debate, and at this time are based on theory alone. If anyone would like to add some input in the forums, feel free. I would also consider making room for a maindeck Karn Liberated.
Again, I really want to be either casting Divination or Mind Rot, as I believe they are both extremely good right now. Whether you’re getting ahead in cards or discarding theirs, both spells are strong effects. And if you’re going to be playing black, don’t overlook Disfigure as a key sideboard card. I hope this article helped narrow down your decision for this weekend, and I’ll hopefully see you there!
God speed and good luck,