Welcome to another edition of
Fact or Fiction!
Today, Ross Merriam, Ryan Overturf, and Todd Stevens are here to
render their verdicts on five statements about
SCG Columbus. Don’t
forget to vote for the winner at the end!
1. A deck with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will be in the winning
Standard seat of SCG Columbus this weekend.
For this to be true, either Azorius Control will have to be powerful enough
to overcome its weak mana, or someone will have to come up with a quality
Izzet or Dimir-based control deck that can effectively splash Teferi off of
checklands. I’m skeptical that either is possible because the Azorius deck
will want to play Sinister Sabotage and Settle the Wreckage in order to
have the requisite power to compete, which makes the mana shaky. Maybe you
can overcome the problem with cheap cantrips, but that would put the deck
at a higher risk of flooding.
As for a three-color control deck, I wouldn’t be surprised if one finds its
way into Standard, but in week one when you’re on short time to find the
right manabase and don’t necessarily know which answers are best, that’s
going to be tough. Both black and red have some solid removal to pair with
blue’s counterspells, but knowing the right mix of cheap removal to play is
critical not only in preparing for the threats in the metagame but in
determining the right manabase.
Teferi is still a powerful card and will see play, but working out where
and how it fits into control decks will take time.
. Starting with a softball, eh? At least give us a hard one and ask about
Goblin Chainwhirler! Teferi, Hero of Dominaria was far and away the best
card in an otherwise pretty medium deck before rotation, and with rotation
that deck gets downgrades across the board. Sinister Sabotage has less
utility than Disallow, Fumigate becomes Cleansing Nova–a card that you
only ever want to use one mode on–and Irrigated Farmland becomes
Meandering River. I also consider Chemister’s Insight to be a downgrade to
both Glimmer of Genius and Hieroglyphic Illumination in Azorius Control in
any matchup other than a control mirror, given that it only ever has the
option to dig you two cards down for four mana while the other cards
offered either a more efficient mode or a more robust ability to dig for a
sweeper or counter that you need right away. Bear in mind that Azorius
Control also wasn’t the best deck before rotation – merely one of the good
Pause for Reflection adds another Fog effect to Standard, and I would
expect some players to turn to a Bant Nexus strategy, though I also have
little faith in these decks. Duress and Negate are still legal, and Thought
Erasure only compounds the issues that these decks have. No Dimir deck
worth its salt is going to lose to a Fog deck, and with Doom Whisperer
being such an attractive draw I would definitely expect some Dimir decks in
We haven’t seen the last of Teferi, though until Hallowed Fountain makes
its return to Standard I expect him to be a relatively fringe player in
Todd Stevens: Fiction
. Leading into rotation, before we saw any of the Guilds of Ravnica previews, I was very worried a Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria control deck would dominate the new Standard format with cards
like Search for Azcanta and Settle the Wreckage also surviving rotation.
Thankfully, Guilds of Ravnica is a very strong set that will
change the format completely by being centered on the five guilds. I’m very
glad Azorius isn’t one of the five guilds from Guilds of Ravnica,
and that Teferi, Hero of Dominaria gained almost nothing from the set
overall. I don’t believe the Teferi Control decks are favored against the
red aggro or green creature decks of the format, which are my picks to do
the best at #SCGCOL in
the Standard seat.
2. A deck with Assassin’s Trophy will be in the winning Modern
seat at SCG Columbus this weekend.
. Yes, Assassin’s Trophy destroys Urza’s Tower. No, Jund still doesn’t beat
Tron. We just went through this with the unban of Bloodbraid Elf, a much
more powerful card for midrange decks in Modern because it fundamentally
reshapes the play patterns of the deck to be more aggressive and close out
games before the opponent can topdeck their way out of their early resource
disadvantage. That wasn’t enough to make Jund good. Upgrading a couple of
its removal slots won’t be enough either.
As for Assassin’s Trophy in other decks, maybe there’s something new that
pops up, but it doesn’t go cleanly into any of Modern’s current top
performers, and that makes it easy for me to bet against it here.
. I’m a believer in Assassin’s Trophy. I’m honestly considering buying back
into Tarmogoyfs just so I can play the card. The reason that I would bet
against a week one win is that I expect the Assassin’s Trophy decks to be a
little rough around the edges for their first at bat. The introduction of
the card asks a lot of questions of Modern midrange players. What removal
spells do you cut for Trophies? How much of the rest of your deck should be
paying mind to the Tron matchup? Should you lean in on the basic-land
searching element of the card and aggressively attack opposing manabases?
Do you stick to Golgari or splash a third color? There’s a lot going on and
the rest of the Modern format is extremely refined. Ask me again before SCG
Todd Stevens: Fiction
. Modern is simply so diverse that I find it hard to believe an
attrition-based deck built around Assassin’s Trophy will win week one. It
takes more time to tune midrange and control decks, where you’ll want to
play Assassin’s Trophy, to have the correct number of answers for the most
diverse format in Magic. That said, I’m going to give it a try and Golgari
Midrange featuring four Assassin’s Trophy is one of the few decks I’m
seriously considering for this weekend, as I’ll be the Modern player on my
team. Out of the first three questions, if one of them will happen this
weekend, this would be the one I believe to be most likely.
3. A deck with Assassin’s Trophy will be in the winning Legacy
seat at SCG Columbus this weekend.
. Honestly, this is the closest of the three for me
because having a clean answer to both planeswalkers out of Grixis Control
and the creatures out of Dimir Death’s Shadow sounds great, and it slots
nicely into a deck that’s emerging as a contender, Four-Color Loam.
But we’re talking about winning a Legacy tournament here, and that means
I’m betting on Brainstorm. Can you pair Brainstorm with Assassin’s Trophy?
Yes. Should you? No. Tarmogoyf isn’t what it used to be. In fact it’s
terrible in Legacy right now. The format is as slow and grindy as it’s ever
been so an efficient creature that provides no value and is on rate worse
than Gurmag Angler isn’t attractive at all. Sylvan Library is great, but
I’m not giving up Kolaghan’s Command or ruining my mana for those cards in
a control deck, and splashing a color in Dimir Shadow is awkward because
you need to also balance between fetchlands and shocklands.
Stop trying to make Sultai happen. It’s not going to happen.
. This is the most confident fiction call of the bunch for my money. What
deck does this go in? Reid Duke style Sultai Midrange I suppose. A deck
that was severely hit by the Deathrite Shaman ban and was already not
really in the conversation in the months leading up to that ban anyway.
What does it accomplish for that deck? It destroys Jace, the Mind Sculptor
and Gurmag Angler. This does matter and was previously somewhat difficult
for these decks, and being able to target Thespian’s Stage against Lands is
not for nothing. That said, being counterable is going to matter when it
comes to the Insectile Aberration matchup. It has give and take rather than
being the strict upgrade some are touting it as.
Sultai has more or less always been rough around the edges in Legacy. The
format is generally light on basic lands, though it is worth noting that
one of the best decks in the format in Miracles just maindecks Back to
Basics these days. I do like the effect that Assassin’s Trophy offers in
Legacy, I just don’t think it lends itself to a shell that was already
good, and much like in Modern I believe it will take some time to figure
Todd Stevens: Fiction
. None of the topdecks of the format are ones that can fit in a card with
black and green color requirements, and I don’t expect Assassin’s Trophy to
be powerful enough to change the landscape of the Legacy metagame. At the
end of the day, it’s still just another removal spell in a format with the
best answers in the game. Assassin’s Trophy will want to be played in a
midrange deck, for fairly obvious reasons, and Brainstorm is the absolute
best midrange card in the format. Putting them together would lead us to
Sultai, but even with the addition of Assassin’s Trophy I don’t believe
Sultai is a better deck than Grixis, the default three-color deck in Legacy
as of now. I’ll still take Pyroblast, Lightning Bolt, and Kolaghan’s
Command over the cards green as to offer.
4. Ixalan block’s power level was overshadowed byKaladesh and Amonkhet, and will shine brighter than Guilds of Ravnica in Standard at SCG Columbus.
. The first part here is true. Ixalan block was
signficantly overshadowed by Kaladesh and Amonkhet. But it will
continue to live in the shadows post-Guilds of Ravnica in large
part due to the mana available in the format. Right now it’s significantly
weighted to favor the five guilds in Guilds of Ravnica, which will
naturally put the powerful cards from those guilds, which largely fall in
that set, in the forefront of the format. No one is excited to put Sacred
Foundry into their Boros Dinosaurs deck.
Combine this with the fact that the best reasons for deviating from those
guilds is to play the powerful triple-color threats from Dominaria
and you have another format where Ixalan block is second tier.
It’s possible that once we have all ten shocklands that will open things up
for Ixalan block to shine, but honestly, the block is just very
weak and would be overshadowed by most average sets. The tribal payoffs
available aren’t enough to limit yourself to those cards and forego the
powerful threats from the other sets.
Half and Half
. Ixalan’s tribal elements definitely didn’t hold a candle to Kaladesh or Amonkhet, so it’s fair to say the block was
overshadowed by its predecessors. That said, I believe that the Ixalan cards that will see play in Guilds of Ravnica
Standard are going to be the same cards that we’ve already seen in some
amount. Transform cards like Legion’s Landing are likely to show up again,
though this has a lot to do with the new Selesnya cards entering the
I could specifically see Dinosaurs showing up in a bigger way than ever
with rotation, though the basic mechanics and build-arounds fromGuilds of Ravnica just strike me as stronger than those of Ixalan. I’m way more into March of the Multitudes and Doom
Whisperer than Legion Lieutenant and Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca.
Todd Stevens: Fiction
. Guilds of Ravnica is a very deep set with many different
playable cards in Standard, and most of them synergize together inside of
the different guilds. This means that we’re going to see most of the decks
in Guilds of Ravnica Standard be built around the five guilds, and
the most important set by far will be Guilds of Ravnica. This is
certainly a positive thing, as Standard was stale for a couple years in a
row, but that looks to be over now with this rotation.
5. Rampaging Ferocidon should have been unbanned in Modern’s
Banned & Restricted announcement.
Sure, there isn’t the density of powerful red cards
available as there was pre-rotation. Unbanning Rampaging Ferocidon shines a
light to the fact that it was Hazoret the Fervent and Chandra, Torch of
Defiance that made red decks so good for the last year, not a three-drop
with good stats. Unbanning is poor optics for WotC, but if they are
interested in giving us the largest reasonable card pool and not leave the
misguided child who buys an Ixalan booster pack with a feel bad,
it makes sense to unban it.
Does it make a significant difference in Standard? Not really. It would
probably see play, especially with how it plays against the token-centric
strategies of Selesnya, but it would be a role player so I’m not losing any
sleep over it staying on the banned list.
There’s plenty of more important things to be upset about with regards to
Magic, and even the saltiest of curmudgeons needs to pick their battles so
I’m sitting this one out.
The red decks lost a lot of great cards with the rotation of Kaladesh and Amonkhet, though Standard formats exist for
such a short time span that I think it’s really bad form for cards to
bounce on and off the banlist.
I have to imagine that the banning of
Rampaging Ferocidon was made with consideration for the rest of Ixalan’s Standard legality. The Selesnya guild is flush with cards
and design elements that are just embarrassing across the table from
Rampaging Ferocidon (the Selesnya deck makes tokens with lifelink
!). How bad is all of that if your opponent can just Ferocidon you? The
presence of the card in Standard would diminish excitement for the new set,
which is a good argument for taking no action.
If it comes to pass that Ross Merriam was correct in calling
Selesnya the best guild
and it ends up being a dominant Standard force, then unbanning Ferocidon
would be a good option to combat token strategies.
Todd Stevens: Fiction
. I’m going hard with Mono-Fiction Control this week! The red aggro decks
got three incredibly good new cards in Guilds of Ravnica with
Runaway Steam-Kin, Experimental Frenzy, and Risk Factor, among other strong
cards, making it still the deck to beat for #SCGCOL. Adding
Rampaging Ferocidon to the deck as well would only invalidate the Selesnya
Conclave, and starting off a new format with one of the five guilds being
invalidated is a terrible decision. All five guilds bring unique gameplay
to the format, and having each of them be strong and viable is crucial for
the success of Guilds of Ravnica Standard.