The Lost Boys

Todd Anderson analyzes the Standard metagame ahead of #SCGSTATES, the impact of Journey into Nyx on #SCGKNOX in particular, and meditates on the drive that keeps Magic grinders going.

Spring 2014 State Championships

This past weekend in Knoxville really gave shape to the new metagame featuring Journey into Nyx for Standard. We had Mana Confluence running rampant, Black
Devotion still snagging a significant number of slots in the Top 8, and ultimately a burn deck prevailing. What does that say about the new Standard?

It says that Pack Rat really doesn’t like this little card:

Light ‘Em Up, Up, Up!

As far as I’m concerned, Pack Rat can giiiiiit f***ed, and Searing Blood seems like the right spell for the job. Of course, Pack Rat can always get bigger
than Searing Blood, but how long must they wait to do so? Will the rest of your burn spells drive them into the ground before that happens?

In case you haven’t seen the results yet, Tyler Winn was victorious in Knoxville with his take on R/W Burn.

At the moment, basically every deck in Standard is trying to lower their curve to fight off creatures. Black Devotion puts an emphasis on two-mana removal
spells, while U/W/X Control decks are leaning more towards cheap removal to buy enough time to cast Sphinx’s Revelation. If your curve is too high, you
won’t be able to interact with any aggressive deck before they just run you over. What this means is that a Journey into Nyx favorite got some playtime,
and seamlessly took the place of Ash Zealot in burn decks.

Pyrostatic Pillar has always been one of my favorite sideboard cards in older formats to punish combo decks trying to amass a large number of cheap spells
in order to fuel Storm. Did they really need to go and attach a body to the card, and a reasonable one at that?

Yes. Yes they did.

And the card is spectacular. After playing with the card a reasonable amount, I will tell you that this guy is hot. Like, setting the building on
fire and exchanging the fire extinguishers with sriracha sauce hot. So hot that you should probably blow on it a few times before you actually try to eat
it hot, or else it might burn the roof of your mouth.

Yeah, that hot.

What Pyrostatic Pillar always lacked was a body to attack your opponent with. It was a spell that punished them for interacting with you, but it didn’t
actually force the opponent to do much of anything. They could usually just twiddle their thumbs until they found an answer, though those answers were not
as easy to find thanks to it not being a creature. But Eidolon of the Great Revel is a creature and therefore easier to contain, but at what cost?

Let’s pretend for just a moment that your opponent doesn’t draw a cheap removal spell. They still have to cast some spells to find an answer, or
at least try to play a creature or two to block it. Meanwhile, you could just ignore your life total and be completely fine just dealing yourself nineteen
points of damage, so long as your opponent is dead before you are. Each spell adds up quickly, and especially so when the rest of your deck is just
designed to deal as much damage as possible in a small amount of time. When every spell your opponent plays acts as a virtual Shock, Eidolon of the Great
Revel feels very much like a Dark Confidant.

After all, who cares if your opponent ends the game with seven cards in hand? As long as they’re dead, nothing else matters.

There are a lot of things I love about Tyler Winn’s burn deck from Knoxville. For one, Chained to the Rocks feels like a necessary evil, even though it
doesn’t go to the dome. Some of you tried and true red mages might argue that it is blasphemous to play such interactive spells, but Master of
Waves and Desecration Demon are common threats that require an efficient answer. The rest of the deck feels pretty normal, except for one outlier. Care to
take a….

Look, I get it. Flooding out is not something anyone wants to do in a burn deck, but at what point in a game are you looking to gain some card advantage? I
don’t think that Chandra’s Phoenix really needs all that much help. The card is certainly fine, but I’d much rather be casting it than discarding it to
draw two cards.

I will give Tyler an ‘A’ for effort, but you would never catch me casting Wild Guess outside of Gerry Thompson telling me to play it in Goyro’s Vengeance
in Modern, though it is still pretty bad even there. Wild Guess is not something this deck wants to be doing outside of getting absolutely flooded, but
those times are not relevant enough to justify card filtering. If they made a card that was just “RR: Draw two cards,” I’m not even sure that
should make the cut in a burn deck. You don’t have the time to screw around, as you will need to spend all of your time containing your opponent’s threats,
or killing the opponent before their creatures kill you.

Also, Act of Treason? Seriously? Harness by Force seems superior given you have an outlandish number of red mana sources in your deck. The times where you
draw double Mutavault will be awkward, but the times where you draw six lands and steal two creatures will be absolute blowouts.

C’mon man!

I haven’t played a game with this deck outside of an occasional VS video, so I am in no position to give you a complete sideboarding guide this week, but I
will tell you that this deck is very good. Two similar copies made it to the Top 4 of the Standard Open in Knoxville, but I think that is mostly because
this deck preys on Black Devotion. If these Black Devotion decks continue to dominate, red decks will keep rising up to knock them back down.

I would also like to point out that Blue Devotion decks have been mostly absent in the Top 16, except for Eric Webb’s 14th-place finish in
Cincinnati the week before, meaning this could be a perfect weekend for Blue Devotion to make a comeback. The Black Devotion decks are pretty weak to them
at the moment, as most of them are leaning on Devour Flesh and Abrupt Decay as their two-mana removal spells. This means Master of Waves could run rampant
this weekend.

If you’re planning on playing B/G Devotion this week, I highly recommend you read my article from last week on how to prepare for the current
metagame. Bile Blight and Nightveil Specter both feel like upgrades against a field full of Burn, Black Devotion, and U/W Control, and especially so if
Blue Devotion decides to rear its ugly head once more.

This is not a great time to be playing Lifebane Zombie, and Devour Flesh does not seem like a removal spell aimed at beating decks that like to flood the
board. Pinpoint removal is necessary to contain more important threats, and though the upside on Devour Flesh being able to eat your own Desecration Demon
is appetizing, I don’t think it is worth the time lost killing your opponent’s worst creature.

Getting Down to (City of) Brass Tacks

What I’m most excited about is seeing so many copies of one certain card in the Top 4 of Knoxville.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, Brad Nelson played a very solid Brave Naya deck against me in our Versus video last week, featuring an old favorite
in Giant Growth out of the sideboard. There were two copies in the Top 16, both the straight 75 from our video, meaning that Brad really hit the nail on
the head.

Brave the Elements is a powerful card when people are trying to kill all of your creatures, but it just gets better and better when people are leaning
really hard on one color for all of their creatures. Again, if Blue Devotion makes a comeback, having access to Brave the Elements will be the way to break
through Master of Waves. Otherwise, they’re just going to run all over you with a million elementals.

The fact that Brave the Elements acts as a split card, either a Counterspell for removal or just making all of your creatures unblockable, is what makes it
so powerful. An instant for a single mana rarely does as much as Brave the Elements, but it obviously has its flaws. You’re forced to play all white
creatures, which is obviously a bummer because white is clearly the worst ever, but Return to Ravnica block just so happened to produce a high number of
strong creatures that just so happen to be white, while also conveniently being another color.

I’ll give them a pass (for now).

This deck was not a strong force before the release of Journey into Nyx because you were forced to play more Temples just to make sure you hit the right
colors of mana. The heart of the matter is that aggressive decks just can’t have that many lands coming into play tapped every single game. You just
stumble on the wrong turn(s) and either get run over by other aggro decks, or just don’t hit the right threats on time against midrange or control decks.

While the deck still plays a few Temples in order to smooth out their draws, the addition of Mana Confluence to the mana base gives you exactly what you
need to curve out virtually every game, while also having the ability to virtually ignore the damage you’re dealing to yourself.

At times, the life loss will become relevant, and especially so when you draw multiple Mana Confluence, but you have so much reach thanks to Ghor-Clan
Rampager and Boros Charm that the games rarely come down to those few points of life that you lose. I will say that this Brave Naya deck does have a lot of
trouble against burn, and could very well be a poor choice if the burn decks rise in popularity. Seeing multiple versions make the Top 4 of Knoxville is
certainly a frightening prospect for a deck where sixteen (!) of your lands deal you damage, but I think I agree with Brad on this one.

Brave Naya is a very strong deck, and certainly punishes people for having the wrong answers.

Plus, who doesn’t like having a two-card combo that can deal a billion points of damage to the opponent? I mean, it’s not like Boros Charm and Ghor-Clan
Rampager are bad on their own. Much like peanut butter and jelly, they’re pretty solid by themselves, but by their powers combined…

The Power
    Is Yours!

The Lost Boys

We are a collection without direction. The desaparecidos.

We are The Lost Boys.

For Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, we needed a home. A place to test, a place to grind, a place to brew, and that place is my house in Roanoke. These
guys…these f***ing guys have been staying at my house for over a week now, siphoning all of my Coke Zero and snacks, but we’ve been putting in work. As
the tournament grows ever closer, tensions are running high, but it feels like something special because we are all in the same position. Chasing Gold.
Chasing Platinum.

Chasing a dream.

And maybe that dream is a fool’s errand, and maybe we should grow up and get real jobs, but we’re The Lost Boys for a reason. This is what we’re
all fighting for, because we’re reckless and we’re passionate and none of us know exactly what we’ve gotten ourselves into.

And that’s the beauty of it.

I put this team together because we aren’t a bunch of Hall of Famers or Platinum Pros. We’re going to succeed because we want it more than
everyone else. And if you needed any further proof…

In case you hadn’t heard by now, Brian Braun-Duin flew to Grand Prix Minneapolis on a quest to hit Silver, qualifying himself for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx
in Atlanta this coming weekend. He needed to make Top 8 in order to get enough Pro Points to qualify, and this was his last chance to do so. And even if he
did make the Top 8 and qualify for the Pro Tour, he hasn’t had the time or energy to test for the event. But you know what?

He did Top 8 Grand Prix Minneapolis
. And he did qualify for the Pro Tour.

And nothing else matters, because Brian is one of The Lost Boys, and we take care of our own. And we’re coming to your house and we’re gonna wreck up the

The Lost
    Boys of SCG

Spring 2014 State Championships