Standard Routes For SCG Baltimore

Brennan had a great weekend to start the new Standard era of Dominaria! How can he continue the momentum for SCG Baltimore? These decks, that’s how!

We got a fantastically fresh format in Atlanta this past weekend and what a
wild one it was! Many people thought there would be little to check the
stranglehold that The Scarab God had on the format, but if you look at the
Standard Classic from the weekend, you will only find one deck even capable
of casting The Scarab God and zero copies of it in any deck. We went from
most of the field doing crazy things like main decking Struggle//Survive to
help fight The Scarab God to zero copies in the first premier
level Constructed event.

Good riddance old friend!

So, what in the heck happened? People were complaining for a long while
asking why such a seemingly oppressive card hadn’t been banned along with
all the other nonsense we’ve dealt with over the past year. A card like The
Scarab God isn’t one to be displaced very easily, and it seems to have all
but vanished. I can assure you it wasn’t that everyone was too distracted
by the new and shiny things from Dominaria; it was because Dominaria gave many decks the tools to fight back, and a control
deck that has game against the field that doesn’t care in the slightest
about creatures.

This past week I moved to Denver, Colorado where I started working at
Direwolf Digital designing cards for the Eternal Card Game. It’s a
full-time job and has been the reason I’ve been slacking on my usual Magic
social interactions via Twitter and Twitch. I’m still technically homeless,
as I haven’t quite gotten the lay of the land yet and am currently taking
residence in the lovely home of one Mr. Josh Utter-Leyton while looking for
an apartment. That all being said, getting to Magic events and getting back
to Denver for work Monday morning for those of you with real 9-5 jobs, can
be a little tricky.

Long story short, I was 7-1 in the swiss of the Standard Classic and was in
first seed after the swiss and then immediately had to drop from the event
to catch my flight home.

So, who knows what that would have meant for me if I had the time to play
out the top 8 of the event. My deck felt amazing and was a little different
from the version I played at the Team Constructed Open itself, but we’ll
get to that in a second. Let’s get the elephant out of the room really

Welcome to the new best card in Standard! I would like to point out that I
made this tweet about our hero nearly three weeks prior to it exploding on
the scene.

Okay okay enough about me, let’s get to it.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria might just have been the hero we both needed and
deserved for this Standard format. From humble beginnings of merely drawing
a card to insane combinations such as untapping Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin
after a main phase activation, Teferi does it all. Heck, I even discovered
a secret mode in a mirror match against eventual winner Rudy Brikzsa in
minusing him on himself to win the decking war. I think I targeted my own
Torrential Gearhulk with Teferi more often than any of his permanents as it
both fills your deck and gives you more cards that do things, as the game
1s are usually decided by who has the more controlling of the two builds.

Teferi is the reason that The Scarab God is gone. Imagine tapping out for a
copy of The Scarab God just to have an opponent put a planeswalker onto the
battlefield and get rid of your card that’s supposed to end the game when
it resolves. That matchup has got to be a joke…if anyone is still casting
The Scarab God that is.

Some of the interesting differences between my list and the version that
Rudy used to take down the Open–with a very good record from what I’ve
been told–are subtle but meaningful.

We have drastic opinions on which of these two four-mana card draw effects
are better. I went with Hieroglyphic Illumination because of the threat of
early aggressive decks potentially running me over that being able to cycle
just to hit my land drops to make sure I got to cast my spells on time was
huge. For that reason, I think Hieroglyphic Illumination is superior since
it doesn’t matter which cards you’ve drawn or scry’d to the bottom if you
ensure you’re casting Teferi on time. It really is the most powerful thing
you can be doing, and I’d imagine a lot of people are going to either adapt
to the U/W Control deck or get utterly destroyed by it.

One card that I did not register for the Team Constructed Open that I
thought I’d give a try to fight the mirror was History of Benalia. While I
played against countless copies of this card on day one from various
aggressive decks, I would venture to say that this is perhaps the best
control card in sideboarded games. There are plenty of matchups where just
sticking a threat on turn 3 and protecting it while people are preparing
for a long game against you can just be lights out. I caught countless
people off guard by beginning my game with History of Benalia on curve,
interacting on turn 4 and then ending the game on turn 5 with Teferi plus
interaction. It’s a lot to handle, and I imagine that many people will
adopt this sideboard plan if the mirror is prevalent.

While many of you aren’t ready to sleeve up and fight a control versus
control mirrors all day long this weekend in Baltimore, fear not! There are
plenty of tools to fight U/W Control.

Now hear me out. I know we just saw that the deck to beat is one with three
Settle the Wreckage and three Fumigate as well as one of the most powerful
planeswalkers we’ve seen in a while, but let’s look a little closer shall

One thing I overlooked and wasn’t pointed out to me until I walked straight
into it on day one was that little line of text that grants the owner
hexproof. Sure, you can’t get hit with Lightning Strike and something along
the lines of Doomfall is completely blank against you now, but what I
didn’t realize was that a card that hinders players in this format from
attacking into open mana a lot is also one that targets! When Shalai, Voice
of Plenty is on the battlefield, you can’t get targeted by Settle the
Wreckage by an opponent. You can imagine the look on my face when that
happened to me in a critical game 3 in round seven and it wasn’t pretty.
All is fair and well with that and a card like Fumigate is still going to
get you with Shalai on the battlefield, but as long as you don’t attack
with it, there’s little a U/W Control deck can do to remove it since Seal
Away requires it to be tapped, and it’s unlikely that Teferi is going to
want to come down and throw himself away just to have Shalai back in a turn
or two to wreak havoc all over again.

The main deck inclusion of Nissa, Vital Force might seem a bit odd for a
deck like this since there will very certainly be decks trying to go under
U/W Control and Nissa struggles there, but I can’t imagine a worse card to
be facing down from the control perspective than an immediate answer to
Teferi on five loyalty. It’s possible that Lyra Dawnbringer deserves this
slot, but I’m trying to take full advantage of Llanowar Elves and play as
many untapped green sources as I can. And let’s not ignore the addition of
Adventurous Impulse giving the deck some much needed filtration and fixing
for the light white splash.

Out of the sideboard we get access to even more cards that give U/W Control
fits in Prowling Serpopard, making all the blue cards usually designed to
make the midrange decks have nightmares into totally blank cards. Calling
in aid in midrange mirrors from the king of the jungle himself, Ajani
Unyeilding, this little G/W deck that could has a lot of resiliency to it.

There are boundless amounts of things to explore in Dominaria, and
one last deck I have for you gave me some pause in the early rounds of the
classic and could have some legs to it if given the time of day.

While I’ve been trying to make Herald of Anguish decks function for nearly
a year now, the addition of historic and some killer new tools to fight
with make me a believer. One card that brought it all together for me was
Rona, Disciple of Gix. It seems like a do nothing long game card with some
sweet implications against control decks, and it is, but it’s so much more.
Often, you’d want to hold your Walking Ballista to cast for more but need
to kill their Llanowar Elves on turn 2. With Rona, Disciple of Gix you get
the best of both worlds being able to recast your Walking Ballista on turn
4. Better yet, imagine recasting one of your planeswalkers super late in
the game! Let’s not forget its 2/3 body is enough to brawl with the History
of Benalia tokens if they’re not getting the buff.

Back to Herald of Anguish. This card might be the best it’s ever been
positioned right now. Having an opponent discard is no joke when they’re
struggling to keep up with all that’s going on in this deck and if you
never attack with it, it’s hard for a Seal Away or Settle the Wreckage to
do much until they must discard them. Strangely enough, Herald of Anguish
can fight the good fight against everyone’s new favorite finisher in Lyra
Dawnbringer even if you don’t have any removal after sideboarding.

Now to something new for the deck. I’m going to make a statement that’s
true and people need to listen up. It’s about this guy.

Karn, Scion of Urza is the beat down. People trying to build their control
decks and use this as a card advantage engine in Standard are doing the
card a disservice. Here we have a deck that has a ton of artifacts and
makes use of them by having Karn be “Make two */*” and have their opponent
dead quickly. Yes, I understand that you can draw cards with it and that’s
great and all, but if I see a deck and my first inclination with Karn isn’t
to use his -2 ability, I’m not interested in the slightest.

Beat. Down.

That’s all. Here’s to an even more exciting weekend in Baltimore where
operation “Get Tannon a Trophy” will be in full effect! Calling my shot
now, trophy number four is coming my way!