Pro Tour weekend!
I really love these times of the year. Not only do we get to watch some extremely powerful Magicians battle it out for lots of money but we also have SCG
States and SCG Regionals alternating throughout the year.
Last weekend was Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, and along with it was SCG Standard and Modern States. Sadly, I wasn’t able to battle in the Standard event
because I had a previous engagement (also I am really bad at planning things), so rather than getting to battle with fast little red creatures, I got to
hang out with approximately a billion pugs in Halloween costumes at Pug-o-Ween.
Now, as much fun as I was having running around with a bunch of pugs dressed up as our favorite Star Wars characters (yes, Chewbacca and R2D2 were there),
I was still keeping an eye on the Pro Tour coverage.
You see, I had been playing a lot of Standard leading up to the Pro Tour, and I felt that Atarka Red and Jeskai Black were both pretty well-positioned and
stood to have a good weekend. I’m pretty excited to start seeing the SCG Standard States results come in, but I have to admit that seeing Atarka Red in the
hands of PVDDR really made me smile.
Paulo’s list is a few cards off of the list that I had been running with, and I am happy with just about all of the changes that they made. I had been
thinking about wanting Hordeling Outburst in the deck for some time now, but just never pulled the trigger on it. It’s definitely seems better to me than
the four-drops in the sideboard, and from Paulo’s deck tech it seems that he was also
disenchanted with the four-drops that were commonly found in the sideboard: Thunderbreak Regent and Outpost Siege.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually think that Thunderbreak Regent is great in the mirror, but at four mana, it just sat in my hand a lot, and Hordeling
Outburst would be almost as good–and much better, in fact, with Atarka’s Command.
His deck tech really just builds on why I have been touting this deck so much. The raw speed of the deck can put games away very quickly. Monastery
Swiftspear in conjunction with another burn spell and another creature and a Titan’s Strength or Atarka’s Command can deal the seventeen or eighteen needed
to finish the game on turn 3 or 4. It really is nice that the manabases available lend to people playing three and four colors with upwards of twelve
fetchlands making it so we usually only have to do seventeen or eighteen points of damage.
Not only do we have this raw speed but Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense can just kill out of nowhere. At FNM this last week, I mulliganed to five and
got hit with a Kolaghan’s Command. A couple turns later when he tapped down to a Battlefield Forge on turn 5 for an Outpost Siege, I topdecked a Monastery
Swiftspear. I led with Temur Battle Rage and then countered his Wild Slash with a Become Immense (the three cards in my hand) and did eighteen points of
damage in one attack. A Wild Slash came a few turns later and that’s all she wrote.
This sequence really leaves players in an interesting situation where they are put into scenarios where they can’t attack because they are scared of a
haste creature with Become Immense, but when they don’t attack, then they are giving me more draw steps to assemble something. It really puts players in a
bind, and I love that type of gameplay.
Sadly, Paulo’s deck didn’t really want to cooperate with him against Jon Finkel and he was taken out quickly on the back of some harsh mulligans. This is
definitely the type of deck that people enjoy playing, and while it may be a bit more expensive than we are used to seeing for the red decks (fetches are
going up), I expect to continue seeing people sleeve this type of deck up and battle with it.
An interesting thing to note is that there were three copies of Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh in Paulo’s sideboard. I was pretty unimpressed with the
card in the original list and ended up cutting her for a second Makindi Sliderunner, which is a card that Paulo cut from his list completely. I can’t wait
to hear more about the Chandras and why they decided to go with three in the sideboard.
As for the rest of the Top 8, Jeskai Black really isn’t anything new, but we did see the G/W Megamorph decks kind of megamorph themselves into Abzan decks.
Much like Stormbreath Dragon, Siege Rhino is rarely ever going to be a bad card, but the big reason to be Abzan is Anafenza, the Foremost. With the bulk of
the “value” in the format revolving around creatures in the graveyard, I really can’t say I’m surprised.
These cards are all over the place and are some of the main ways that decks are able to eek value out of their cards, and all of them are neutered by
Anafenza, the Foremost. This isn’t even taking into account that she’s also a 4/4 creature for only three mana, which is pretty big game against the
aggressive decks in addition to putting a counter on a tapped creature. This is pretty much just an extra bonus, except for when you are putting a counter
on your Shambling Vent, which becomes quite formidable as a 3/4 lifelink creature!
I think that Standard is actually in a pretty awesome place, and I definitely intend to play it on Sunday over the next couple weekends if I happen to not
day two, but I’m going to be focusing more on Eternal formats.
I will be making the trip out to #SCGSTL this weekend for the 20k Legacy Open. I’m going to spend a week in Wichita hanging out with all my old friends in
the area and then heading down to #SCGDFW for the 20k Modern Open the following weekend.
I was really excited with this trip when I planned and booked everything, but then they went and banned Dig Through Time, and I’ve been stuck trying to
figure out a Legacy deck ever since then. It would be a pretty easy switch from Omni-Tell to Sneak and Show, but I feel like there is going to be a lot of
Containment Priests running around in St. Louis, and I really don’t like Sneak and Show’s position against that card.
I’ve contemplated different Delver decks, and I think that Temur Delver is probably the best-positioned of the bunch with Sultai Delver right behind it. I
think that Stifle and Wasteland are only getting better and better, but in the same vein, so are Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach.
I actually think that Reanimator could be in a good spot since it’s just about as powerful as Sneak and Show and can still take advantage of Show and Tell
against the decks that are extremely weak to it, but with access to Thoughtseize and Abrupt Decay I think that it’s a bit better positioned against the
decks that may have Containment Priest. In addition to this, I think that Infect could possibly be on the rise, and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is fantastic
against that deck.
Here’s where I’m starting.
- 1 Tidespout Tyrant
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 4 Griselbrand
- 2 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
Trying to build Legacy decks now without Dig Through Time after getting the pleasure of playing a 4x Dig deck like Omni-Tell is quite painful. Every deck
that I write out a list for I have to remind myself that while Dig Through Time would be perfect in this deck, I can’t play it anymore.
That being said, I’m really excited to try out Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy in the Legacy Reanimator shell. I believe this idea was first sent to me even before
the Dig Through Time ban by a good friend, Joe Naseef, but there was no way I was getting off Omni-Tell.
The idea here is that Jace is already a discard outlet for our fatties that are in our hand that can also become extra copies of Entomb or a reanimate
spell once we flip him. It’s also very interesting to note that since Jace doesn’t give the spell actual Flashback, but rather lets us cast it from the
graveyard, we can still use alternate casting costs. This means that we can -3 on a Force of Will in our graveyard and cast it by exiling a blue card from
our hand and paying one life. This is pretty sweet since it gives us multiple uses on our Force of Wills while trying to get a Reanimate off.
Jace also helps us keep our blue count up, which is pretty important too.
The monsters that we are putting onto the battlefield are still difficult to handle, with Griselbrand leading the charge. Iona, Shield of Emeria and Elesh
Norn, Grand Cenobite are both lights out against a lot of different decks.
Tidespout Tyrant has also been a bit of a weird one, but if we are able to get it onto the battlefield and untap with it, our opponents usually end up with
zero permanents left.
The other deck that I’m considering is really just the fairest of them all.
With Dig Through Time gone, I think that Hymn to Tourach is in a great spot, and with Abrupt Decay and Liliana of the Veil to give us game against
Miracles, I really think that Shardless Sultai is a great way to go.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy makes an appearance here too, which is pretty sweet since getting to rebuy our Hymns can always be nice, but just getting to
Brainstorm more times than our opponent is always a winning strategy in Legacy.
It’s interesting to see these decks splashing for Meddling Mage out of the sideboard. Shardless Sultai has always been a little weak to the combo decks,
especially when Dig Through Time was available, but now with it gone, the combination of Thoughtseize, Force of Will, Liliana of the Veil, and Hymn to
Tourach with a little Meddling Mage sprinkled on top really puts the squeeze on the combo decks.
I hope to get these bad mofos together on Magic Online this week and get some games in to figure out which direction I should go. Thankfully, I have
another week to get ready for the Modern Open in Dallas, because while I did play in Modern States this weekend, I decided to go with U/R Twin and got my
tail handed to me by Jund and then had a marathon match against the mirror that I don’t really ever want to experience again.
Indiana Heartthrob and 2x State Champion Chris Andersen has been telling me to just play his Affinity deck for some time now, and I think it might be time
to listen to him. I will have Amulet Bloom with me because, well, yeah, because, but I’m likely going to be Shrapnel Blasting some Hangarback Walkers to my
opponents’ faces in Dallas.
Lastly, I want to give myself a little plug and say that you should check out my stream. Last week I had a
very successful 24 hour stream in which I gave away a lot of stuff; plenty of foil CVM Elemental tokens from GP London, a Sunken Hollow expedition, two sealed Revised Packs, and an entire sealed box of Battle for Zendikar.
I plan on doing a twelve-hour stream next week while I am in Wichita and will likely give away even more expeditions and goodies, so make sure you’re
checking it out!
I’ll see everyone in the Midwest. Hopefully y’all are ready for the beard to come back and battle!