This article was initially slated to go up before States as some possible food for thought for that tournament. Unfortunately the article couldn’t make it up, so I revised it a little and am presenting it now as something to think about in the new Standard metagame.
The final two cards in the sideboard are undecided.
I did a lot of work on this list on the plane home from Kobe, and tested a good bit against U/G with Chris Ripple who gave me the initial idea for the deck. I don’t usually like it when people do a card-by-card breakdown on a decklist, but since this deck is relatively new I think such a discussion is warranted. I also want to talk about some of the cards that could be in the deck but currently aren’t.
This deck is still somewhat rough since I’ve been drafting far more than I’ve been playing Constructed. My main goal with writing an article about the deck is that I believe there is a ton of untapped potential here, and maybe someone else who spends more time on Standard could fill the holes the deck currently has.
When Chris was telling me the initial list, I didn’t like it much at all because it seemed like it was just a mid-range G/R/W deck with Loam and Conflagrate thrown in there just for kicks. I decided I wanted to abuse these two cards more, and also that Lightning Axe is good in basically any matchup that doesn’t involve Akroma (it’s not great against Dragonstorm, but it’s not entirely terrible). Axe is awesome in this deck because you have lands coming into play tapped early in the game from Expanse, Flagstones, and even Farseek, and you need a cheap way to handle the Elf/Bird plus three-drop start. The fact that Axe doubles as a way to discard Loam early and start dredging as well as a way to dump Conflagrate into the yard is what really makes it shine in this deck.
These are obviously what the deck is built around and you can do some crazy things once you get the engine going. Because Conflagrate can also go to the dome it ends up being the kill card in a lot of games, with the help of a Call token or Hierarch. One thing to be very wary of is casting it for a lot into countermagic, since you have to discard the cards as a cost and Remand will completely blow you out. It’s also possible that there should be a fourth copy of Stormbind in the deck just to ensure a late-game engine, but I haven’t needed it in the games I’ve played so far.
This card partners up with Lightning Axe to get the engine started and is also just huge when you enter dredge mode with Loam. I don’t have too much else to say about this card except that the deck would often run out of gas without it and it is well worth splashing for.
The rest of the cards should be pretty explanatory though it’s worth mentioning that Vinelasher Kudzu is just ridiculous in this deck with Expanses, Flagstones, and Farseeks. I’ve played around with the numbers a bit but I’m still unsure whether or not the fourth Call should be in there or perhaps the fourth Helix. From the lists I’ve seen, it seems like U/W control is the frontrunner in the metagame and if that stays true, I may even just move the Lightning Axes to the board and do somewhat of an overhaul on the deck. It’s also very possible that there should be two or three Mystic Enforcers in the maindeck, but as of now my best guess to fit them would be to cut a Farseek and something else depending on the meta.
As far as the sideboard goes, the Isolations seem really good against Akroma unless people start bringing in Disenchant (which they may very well do against Stormbind anyway), and the Condemns also help in that department. The Trickbinds are for the problematic Dragonstorm matchup, though I’m hoping that the presence of good answers in counters and Shadow of Doubt should help to bury the existence of that deck anyway. The rest of the sideboard can go a ton of ways since the mana is very flexible. Some of the frontrunners being considered are Wrath of God, Krosan Grip, Ghost Quarter (could also possibly put one of these maindeck but the mana is rough), Firemane Angel, Wildfire, Trade Routes, and a few others. I also considered Chronosavant against U/W control, but I haven’t had a chance to test it yet and see if the turn you give up is just too crucial to be good, but my initial thought is that the card wouldn’t be good enough.
Some cards that were in the initial list but have been cut are as follows.
Chris had four of these in his list and I just don’t feel like they do anything for the deck. Yeah, it’s cute to dump them in the yard and laugh at the Zoo player, but most of the time they are just awful as it’s hard to cast them with all the tapped lands and the fact that they are six mana. They did seem significantly better once I put Lightning Axe and Compulsive Research into the deck, but even now I’m not really a fan.
Yes, Wildfire with Loam and Flagstones is strong. But it’s also out of place in a deck that wants to build up to Loam plus Stormbind and just gun someone out. The problem here is that this card is too slow against and aggro deck and everything else will just counter it. Even when it resolves, it’s not that great.
Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree
I’d love to be able to fit one of these guys in the list somewhere. As it is now the mana is too rough and you often have better things to do late game anyway, like killing your opponent.
I think this card is pretty good overall right now with all of the decks that are playing Akroma. It’s also just better than some of the cards you have maindeck in certain matchups, but I don’t feel safe just running these, so I had to include the Condemns too.
The aggro matchups are all pretty good for this deck with Helixes, Hierarchs, Lightning Axe, and then the Loam plus Peace of Mind engine for games 2 and 3. Even a deck packed with burn will have trouble winning once this engine gets online since they can’t even fall back on Flames of the Blood Hand anymore.
Could the deck support it? Yes. But I really don’t think it’s fits the style the deck is going for and it also strains the mana quite a bit. Usually you are fine just using Axe, Helix, and Conflagrate to kill the things that Wrath would handle. If it’s Akroma you’re worried about, I believe Isolation or Condemn to both be a million times better against the flying harlequin.
As far as the testing I’ve done so far, I’ve done in about twenty games against U/G and gone a strong 15-5, while I’ve also gone 4-1 against Zoo. Not much, I know, but the deck is also still young.
The best part about this deck is that it has plenty of room to grow and is both skill intensive and enjoyable to play. I’m sure there are some tweaks that can be made to make this list better now or possibly it will just be put on the back burner until a future card puts it over the edge. With some work, I think this deck is strong enough to be a real contender in the new format as long as you don’t run into Tormod’s Crypt too often.
I had also planned on posting the following list as a good option for States, and as it happened, versions of the deck did extremely well! So I’m happy at least that I was right about something, and that something was Scryb Ranger.
I believe this article would’ve had a much stronger impact had it gone up the Friday before States, but even though it didn’t, I still think the deck is interesting enough to explore.