The Great Champs Experiment: Part 6 – The Beatdown Decks

Today’s article deals with the beatdown decks of the format. Traditionally, new formats are defined by the beatdown decks, and if you cannot deal with some of these (Zoo, Gruul, Sand Burn) then your deck may not be the best bet to play for the tournament. Other decks are a little more left-of-center (Mono Green, Dark Boros), and you could be well suited being prepared for them, at the very least.

I hope that everyone has been enjoying this series. I know that all the way up to part five it may have seemed like redundant information. I am very excited about this year’s Champs, and seeing how I have the new wife (and a baby on the way) I just got off to a very early testing start. Was it all for naught? I would like to think that it has been beneficial to some, and it has been very helpful to me.

We have the Time Spiral spoilers in hand now, and by the time this article is posted, I believe the release weekend will have passed. We have a lot of old favorites (Akroma, Nicol Bolas) coming back; we have format defining cards (Call of the Herd, Mystic Snake) returning; and we have some chaff in the Timeshifted set (Squire). On top of this, we have another three hundred and one cards to play with, analyze, and test, to make sure that they are indeed worth the slots in the final seventy-five cards that you’re taking to the tournament.

Today’s article deals with the beatdown decks of the format. Traditionally, new formats are defined by the beatdown decks, and if you cannot deal with some of these (Zoo, Gruul, Sand Burn) then your deck may not be the best bet to play for the tournament. Other decks are a little more left-of-center (Mono Green, Dark Boros), and you could be well suited being prepared for them, at the very least.

I am currently testing all of these decks (or I have handed off the responsibility to one of the great players here in Kentucky). These decks are mere suggestions. I realize I am no Mike Flores – hell, I’m no Mark Young for that matter – but I hope this helps.

What it does: Aims direct damage to the dumb, earns card advantage through Confidant, and uses those extra dead draws to gain a beneficial effect through Guildmage, Jaya Ballard, or Magus of the Scroll.

What Time Spiral adds to the Deck: We can see the Time Spiral additions here in Jaya Ballard (who is, sadly, no replacement for Genju of the Spires) and Magus of the Scroll, who seems to be a little bit off with the inclusion of Dark Confidant. Both of these cards give the deck long-game staying power, and help give the deck some game against control. It’s nice to be able to change your dead cards into Incinerates, or at least that is what I have been told. I’m not sure if the deck does not want some kind of minor snow mechanic in the board, be it Stalking Yeti or Skred. I am fine with Yeti, but Skred (in my opinion) is not really that impressive. Yes, it kills a lot of stuff… but if I remember correctly, this deck wants to go straight to the dome.

If the game goes long enough, I can see us having a huge problem with Akroma, Angel of Wrath (You know, since she has protection from everything in your deck bar Cruel Edict.) Skred might be needed if giant monsters like Mystic Enforcer see play. Finally, another card that I want to see worked into this deck is Giant Solifuge. That spider is the closest we are going to get to Genju for a long time. I like Shadow Guildmage a lot (a possible replacement for Magus of the Scroll). I wish I could afford to run Steam Vents in the deck, but I do not feel that the Blue ability would come up often anyway.

What it does: It looks to take advantage of early mana acceleration to power out the abusive three drops such as Hypnotic Specter, Ohran Viper, and Call of the Herd. It follows those cards up with the disruption of Persecute, and can end the game quickly with a lethal Demonfire.

What Time Spiral adds to the Deck: Call of the Herd is one of the few cards that I think can make an impact in this deck. The elephant generator is going to have a far-reaching impact on the game for the next two years, and for good reason. It’s solid against beatdown, and busty against Control. I had to replace Moldervine Cloak, but I think that is justified. Sometimes Cloak is a dead draw against Control, and Call will help the deck out in this regard.

What it does: Beats down. It takes the best creatures in Green, the best burn in Red, and marries them together in a union of fast beats and even quicker wins.

What Time Spiral adds to the Deck: Call of the Herd seems tailor-made for this deck, and four is a must. However, putting those four into the deck has been harder than it needs to be. Every card is good against something in the format, be it burn, or quick men, or untargetability. In the end I took out the Ledgewalker in favor of elephants, because I want my men in this deck to remain larger than my opponent-led counterparts.

What it does: We have a Gruul base, splashing White for Watchwolf and Lightning Helix. The White adds a nice touch of lifegain to a deck that beats itself up over its manabase. We have the best creatures across the colors in the deck, all backed up with burn. It’s a solid deck and is sure to see play in the new format.

What Time Spiral adds to the Deck: Call of the Herd is going to be in this deck, as it again it brings a nice element to the table for control matchups. It is still bigger than just about everything else in the aggressive decks, so the elephants should rule the red zone. Fiery Justice also has a place in the deck, but I think it would be safe to leave it in the sideboard for now. Mystic Enforcer is also a noteworthy card to have, because six powered flyers for four mana that have protection from Black is nothing to scoff at. I do not think we run the maximum allowed in the deck, as having too many four-drops seems like a bad idea. Tribal Flames has also replaced Volcanic Hammer.

What it does: Makes an unblockable man, pumps that man up with a spell, and attacks with said unblockable man. This is a very simple deck to grasp and play properly; plus, it does not have to run a two-hundred dollar manabase.

What Time Spiral adds to the Deck: We have what I feel is a better Might of Oaks in Stonewood Invocation. Let me tell you this: it is nice to be able to tap out for a pump spell and not have to worry about random removal spells ruining your day. I’ve tossed in Might of Old Krosa because I do like the flexibility that the spell offers. It still saves your men from Pyroclasm, but it can make them even bigger if you cast it during the main phase. Rounding out the changes and replacing Blanchwood Armor (and I replaced it because I was tired of drawing a three-drop spell that sometimes did nothing in the late game) is Call of the Herd. We get to play with the new bee on the block with Unyaro Bees, who can also double as removal. Squall Line is the much needed hurricane effect we need against some of the massive flyers in the format (Although it is much less impressive, because Meloku is no longer around.) and Krosan Grip is the new Naturalize.

What it does: It take the efficient weenie plan of Whites creatures and backs it up with the best burn spells in the format. This twenty/twenty/twenty formula has had success in the past Standard format, and I do believe that this style of beatdown could prove successful again.

What Time Spiral adds to the Deck: Knight of the Holy Nimbus and Soltari Priests are both efficient beaters, and thus they belong here. My only fear about Priest is shadow may not be as effective as I want it to be in the format. Having unblockable creatures is nice, but I think we are lacking the proper equipment to take full advantage of the shadow creatures. However, the most interesting card for the deck I have not been able to fit into it yet. I’d often start quickly, just to run out of gas as I drew land after land. I would like to be able to refill my hand. However, Howling Mine was not doing it well enough… I want to draw seven cards as soon as I can, so one would think that Wheel of Fate is a natural inclusion…

Sadly, I have not been able to find a spot for it in the main, and I am not willing to run this card in the board because I defiantly think it does not belong there. I would probably be willing to cut Volcanic Hammer for the draw seven, but I would need to test it a lot more.

Here is the final deck to chew on, and it is made possible by a lot of Time Spiral cards. I have had a special place for Mono Black, ever since I first cast Hatred on a Dauthi Slayer… and seeing that we have Slayer and Bad Moon back in the format, I figure this style of Aggro can be looked at.

Sadly, we do not have Dark Ritual, but we still have the global pump spell, some great discard, and fantastic creatures.

What it does: Makes a man, attacks, pumps men up with Bad Moon, and keeps going at the opponent. You have disruption, and one of the better tricks or fog effects in the format with Sudden Spoiling.

What else could this be? Well, it could be a zombie deck. We have access to some of the best zombies since Onslaught Block, so it is possible.

That is it for this issue, so join me for the next when I go over tempo-based decks such as Critical Mass, Sea Stompy, and Orzhov Aggro. After that we will touch on the control decks of the format, and go on to any combo decks that may pop up. Once these three to four articles are bagged and tagged, not only we will have a testing gauntlet, but we will also have a better idea of what a possible metagame will look like for the Champs environment.

Thanks for reading,