I was thinking about writing about how Wizards has, to coin a phrase,”set up Extended the bomb” and forever changed my favorite format and turned it upside down. But everyone else is already jumping on the bandwagon and Zvi’s doing a good enough job as it is over on The Sideboard, so I’ll leave that dog alone.
And for those hoping for my Judgment prerelease report, I’m afraid I don’t have one. I had the choice between going to the prerelease or spending the weekend at the Oregon coast, so I must apologize but I went for Dungeness crabs over Wormfang Crabs.
Instead, I think I’ll take a look at what is shaping up to be”the” deck in post-Judgment Standard:
It’s degenerate. It’s broken. It will require immediate bannings to keep Standard from being imbalanced… Or so the pundits have said regarding Quiet Speculation, which has the potential to make a degenerate triumvirate with Deep Analysis and Roar of the Wurm, already dubbed”Quiet Roar.” Judgment isn’t even in stores yet and people are calling the deck broken.
The combo is simple: Cast Quiet Speculation on turn 2 to dump some combination of Roar of the Wurm and Deep Analysis in your graveyard, then start casting 6/6 fatties for four out of the graveyard – or drawing cards like a fiend for only 1U. What makes the combo tick is the fact that the flashback cards in question all have cheaper casting costs from the graveyard than they do from your hand. After all, a 6/6 for seven mana is reasonable, a 6/6 for four is much better.
Quiet Speculation also”reverse thins” your deck – that is, it ups the land-to-spells ratio, instead of the other way around. This, surprisingly, is a good thing. You actually want to draw lots of lands, since the spells you want to cast are in your graveyard for the most part, and it also means you can run a slightly lower mana base. In this case, twenty-two lands seems to fit the bill nicely, doled out evenly as eight Forests, eight Islands, two City of Brass and four Yavimaya Coasts. You might be able to bump the City of Brass count up to four, as I don’t think that eight painlands are going to hurt you that badly – although in combination with Deep Analysis it could get painful. However, by the time you pay the flashback cost three times on Deep Analysis, you should have won the game by then.
That makes twelve plus twenty-two. What are the other twenty-six cards that are going into this degenerate mess?
We’ll definitely add four copies of Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise to accelerate the deck. This increases the odds of the”perfect” draw of turn 1 Elf or Bird, turn two Quiet Speculation to dump three Roars in the graveyard and cast bomb-tastic 6/6 Wurms from the graveyard on turns 3, 4, and 5. It’s this acceleration that makes the deck enter the degenerate zone.
To fill out the creature base, at least three, probably four copies of”The Littlest Viking,” Sylvan Safekeeper, belong in the deck. Token creatures do have one big weakness; it’s that a bounce spell is as good as a removal spell. And big surprise – most decks with blue in them usually run some sort of bounce spells. Now all those extra lands can keep your angry Wurms safe from Repulses and Aether Bursts. With the Safekeeper in the deck, I’m dropping the Spellbane Centaurs, since they basically do the same thing – although one is more versatile at the cost of resources. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
I’m also going with four Wild Mongrels. They’re beefy, cheap, and give you another mechanism for getting flashback cards into the graveyard as well as an outlet for useless cards. You could make a very valid case for Call of the Herd in this slot, however, the Mongrel is more valuable for its abilities – and since the flashback cost on Calls and Roars is the same, you have to ask yourself, what would you rather have in the graveyard?
That’s sixteen more creatures (or creature-producing spells), leaving us room for ten more cards.
Now it gets interesting.
Card drawing is very important to any blue deck. And there’s a lot of good, cheap card drawing. The deck will abuse Deep Analysis but needs more. Opt, Sleight of Hand and Brainstorm could go here. But Judgment also gives us Mental Note, which fills up your graveyard and draws you cards. While I have never been a tremendous fan of cards that make you”mill” yourself for short-term benefit (such as Millikin), this is yet another way to get to the cards you need and put flashback cards in the graveyard, which none of the other cards give you. So four of these go in.
I like Aether Burst. Does it still have a place, though, in a Trenches-heavy environment? Then again, how effective will Trenches be with all the Judgment heavy decks? I’m not sure; therefore, I’m going to put in four Bursts and see what happens. If not, then we know exactly what needs to be boarded out.
How about counters? Do you really need counters in this deck? We’re down to only two slots remaining, so what should we put in? Counterspell? Memory Lapse?
I’m going to eschew the counters for now and go with two copies of Fact or Fiction, bringing us to sixty cards exactly.
It’s another way to dump cards in the graveyard and thin the deck out. I didn’t include four copies, because the deck may be tapping out for Roars rather than Fact or Fictions. Seedtime may be problematic, but you can always sideboard the Fact or Fictions out.
The sideboard is straightforward. Four Gainsays? Certainly. I also like having two Diverts in the board as well. And, Seedtime – what more do I have to say? You want to counter that? Sure, go right ahead. Oh, and I’ll be attacking for twelve next turn, and the turn after that. Now, getting four copies of Seedtime, that might take some doing. If Seedtime proves to be as powerful as I thought, I may replace Gainsay with Compost, depending upon the prevalence of black decks. Moment’s Peace might also be worthwhile if R/G with Seedtime becomes more prevalent.
For the surprise factor, I like one or two copies of Alter Reality, to foil cards like Slay and (especially) Hibernation – and with the flashback cost, it can be dumped into a graveyard with Quiet Speculation for ready use when needed. I’ve always been a big fan of”sleight” cards, and this is no exception.
Now, the question is, what’s going to beat this deck? Counter and bounce-heavy decks have a good chance of slowing down the combo. Zevatog will have problems if you force a Sylvan Safekeeper into play – but CounterTrenches, with the burn quotient and even more countermagic, can pose a problem. Against these decks, however, your sideboard is very potent against them; especially Seedtime. If you can force Counter-Trenches to have to drop a Trenches early to create chump blockers, then you’ve got the game won.
The most problematic card may be Pernicious Deed. It can wreck your entire board early, and the deck has no ready defenses against it. The only decks running it are B/G Braids and non-Braids decks, and those are not very popular at present. That could change, however.
There is a fair amount of flexibility available for putting the deck together. You may want to drop the Safekeepers in favor of Memory Lapse or Counterspell, or remove the bounce for counters. This is the deck as I’ve put it together; feel free to draw your own conclusions.
4 Quiet Speculation
4 Roar of the Wurm
4 Deep Analysis
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Sylvan Safekeeper
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Aether Burst
4 Mental Note
2 Fact or Fiction
4 Yavimaya Coast
2 City of Brass
1 Alter Reality
I’m not sure how broken this deck is. It certainly shows promise, but I’m not sold on the premise that it is going to require immediate bannings.
I guess we’ll all find out in about a month or so.