The Great Champs Experiment: Part 3

Josh continues his enlightening series on the Standard metagame both pre- and post-Time Spiral. Today, he tackles a number of the stronger archetypes in the current Standard, presenting updated non-Champions skeleton builds in preparation for the coming of the new set.

I am going to keep the introduction short and sweet. I’ve got another seven decks to go over, and I am going to stray from what I said I was going to cover from part two. What I do not cover here will be covered in part four. I have fourteen pages worth of decklists from the old Standard staring me back in the face, and I want to get this done is a swift matter, so we can look at Ravnica block decks in parts five and six, and start to work with Time Spiral in part seven. We have the possibility to shape the metagame here, and I am very excited about this project.

We have a couple of preview cards to look at, and I’ll start off with Mark Rosewater card from Monday.

Ith, High Arcanist

I’m excited about this guy, although I have this nagging feeling that the Suspend mechanic is going to be trash in Constructed play outside of a few cards. I love Maze of Ith; the card is awfully flavorful and it has a powerful effect. It appeals to my inner Timmy/Spike, and I think that U/W Control or U/W/G Counterpost could have a home for this guy.

Wheel of Fate

Four turns pass to get the cards, and if in the right deck you’ll be refilling, I think this is one of the best Suspend cards to be previewed, and I am going to take a look at it in the R/B Sand Burn deck, and maybe Boros.

With the lone exception of the puzzle these are the cards that have been spoiled for us officially and I am not very good at puzzles so I will leave that card and the rest of the week’s cards to part four.

Enough… to the decklists!

This deck, which happens to be based around my losing Battle Royale deck, has proven itself time and time again. You get quick unblockable beaters – give them a piece of armor and watch your opponent scramble for removal. This list loses nothing in the maindeck (but I will be changing cards regardless). However, the sideboard loses a lot of cards. That is going to be tough to deal with.

Like I said earlier, the sideboard is down to three cards, and I want to keep it at three Naturalize. We need something against flyers, so I think Crash Landing out of Guildpact can be a fine replacement. We’ll toss in two Giant Solifuges, and I think I have some fantastic tech in Greater Good. We need something against counter strategies, so some Leylines will round out the board. Remember how I said the maindeck would get some changes? Well here they are: cut the Druid, Centaur, Viridian Shaman, Scrying Sheets, and Allosaurus Riders. We are going to replace them with Llanowar Elves, Elvish Warrior, Blanchwood Armor, Might of Oaks, Giant Solifuge, and Mouth of Ronom.

Boros sure is a lot of fun to play, and I picked this deck because it appeals to me the most. We get to keep our hand full of threats with Howling Mine, and we get to pressure our opponents with small two-powered men. Boros plays pretty much like Gruul, in which you make men, attack, and point burn to the head. This will be a popular choice for States. This is a very unique Boros list, from the German National Championships.

We lose the legendary land Mikokoro to start. Isamaru joins the land, as do Flames of the Blood Hand and Lava Spike (a card that I felt did not get enough play). It‘s really too bad. Sometimes I think we as a Magic community neglect a lot of playable cards because of a lack of tournament success. (I am not against net decking, I just think sometimes we missed out… can you imagine how good the mono-Red beatdown deck would have been in Champions Block if not for Jitte?) The sideboard is going to free up a lot of space, losing Needle, Ghostly Prison, and Kami of the Ancient Law. Let’s replace the maindeck cards to begin with. Say it with me now: legendary lands get replaced by basics! Isamaru is going to become Paladin En-Vec, and we have eight slots devoted to burn that must be filled. We can fill up four of those slots filling the rest of the play sets of Shock and Seal of Fire. There is no comparable spell to Flames, so let’s take a page out of Extended and run some old-fashioned mana denial in Stone Rain. The sideboard is a little easier to deal with, as we can run Cryoclasms (I’m in love with that card), some number of Demonfire, and Ronom Unicorn.

Dark Boros (in my opinion) is a lot like the two-color deck, but it replaces the card advantage engine with Dark Confidant instead of Howling Mine. It implies the same principles as the previous deck featured.

Goodbye legendary lands… hello basics of the appropriate color. Bye Kami, hello Unicorn (thanks for functional reprints). Goodbye Isamaru, welcome in Scorched Rusalka. Call me sometime later Jitte, Cruel Edict just stopped by. The sideboard loses a key card in Cranial Extraction, but I feel that replacing it with Demonfire will be fine (I think the sorcery is going to be a key card in the new Standard). Replace Hand of Honor with White Shield Crusader, and Kami with Unicorn, and we have a solid test deck.

Glare was brought to the forefront of magic when Mori won the World Championships with it late last year. The deck fell out of favor for what I feel are better control decks that are out there, but it reemerged during United States Nationals, and our own editor took home the last English title with a Glare deck. [Yay! – Craig.]

We lose Umezawa’s Jitte; Kodama of the North Tree; Arashi, the Sky Asunder; and Yosei, the Morning Star, as well as the two Legendary lands. Out of the board we will miss out on additional copies of Yosei; Shining Shoal; and Hokori, Dust Drinker. We’re going to need to replace the legendary lands with basics, and as for the Jitte… I want to replace that with Supply / Demand. The monsters are going to be harder to replace. Adarkar Valkyrie should see some play here, so she will replace Kodama of the North Tree. I need to find four more monsters, and there is a need for some huge men, so I want to try out two Gleancrawlers. The last two maindeck slots are going to be Indrik Stomphowlers, as I love the utility that the beast provides. For the sideboard, we’ll use four Wrath of God, and add a third Shaman. In addition to this, I’ll add some Worships to the board, to keep us from getting burned out by any Aggro deck.

The Beach House deck was one that was supposed to answer the questions that Standard posed at the time of Pro Tour: Honolulu. It’s a three-color control deck that packs a quite a punch, but never saw any real success at that Pro Tour, or at any other event following the tour.

The maindeck does not miss out on much at all – the Shizo is a basic Swamp, Ink-Eyes becomes Adarkar Valkyrie, and Cranial Extraction can be Putrefy. The board loses out on Night of Souls’ Betrayal, Eradicate, Pithing Needle, Distress, and Putrefy. We have to replace eleven cards out of the board. Blackmail can take the spot of Distress. Eradicate, I feel, is obsolete with the amount of removal in the main, and can become Indrik Stomphowler. I like the idea of Circle of Protection: Red in this board, so two of those will come in. I want more creatures to come in after the board as well, so Skeletal Vampire and Angel of Despair will round us out.

The last deck that we will cover today is a play on Kamiel Cornelissen’s Pro Tour deck. The deck looks to abuse Zur’s Weirding, and set up a hard lock with multiple Firemane Angels either in the graveyard or in play. We have a lot of creature control elements here, and although it is not shown here in this list, that lock was hard to break unless you already had the cards in hand or the Firemane player was at a low life total.

Out of the main, we lose Meloku and Hinder. The Meloku should be the last two copies of Firemane Angel, and Hinders will be a fourth Remand, and three Rune Snare. Also in need of replacement is Pithing Needle, and I want to see two Condemn in the main. This deck should have a guarantee, in that the matchup with Aggro is so one-sided you should never lose. The board loses Terashi’s Grasp; Quash; Boseiju, Who Shelters All; and Pithing Needle. We’ll add in more creatures and more removal, plus I want to see the Weirding lock back in this deck to help it beat down on control.

This is it for issue number three! Next issue, I will finish up with the preview cards for the week of the tenth, the last seven Standard decks, and then we will start up with the Ravnica block decks from the Team Pro Tour. After this, we should have a clear picture of what Time Spiral will bring, and we can get down to that with a lot of information already in hand.

Until then,