New Phyrexia’s coming out party is in the books, and the Open Series rumbles onward, with Louisville square in its sights. A number of new cards
and decks were discovered this weekend in Orlando, and I’m confident that we’ll see even more innovation in upcoming events. U/W Caw-Blade
did retain the Standard crown for another week, but the metagame is clearly ripe for change. Before I go over the upcoming Open Weekend, here’s a
review of the Orlando Open as an appetizer for my upcoming Too Much Information column.
Edgar Flores took down the Standard championship, proving himself once again to be a master of all things Squadron Hawk and assuming the role of Open
Series villain. Even so, the Top 8 featured only a single bona fide Caw-Blade deck, with several Darkblade variants and Splinter Twin decks making the
Top 8 alongside old guard Vampires and Valakut.
Splinter Twin’s debut was not without controversy, as players favored Grixis and RUG lists in a variety of combinations. Michael Strunk’s
deck managed the highest finish, so take a look at Standard’s newest contender:
Be prepared for this deck, as well as many other new takes on the archetype. Harrison Greenberg and David Sharfman have both been talking up Shrine of
Piercing Vision as a huge asset in defeating black disruption, and that may be key to breaking the deck wide open.
That story continued into the Top 16, where a single U/B Control list and Lewis Laskin U/B/w Stoneforge concoction also finished
very well. Laskin in fact missed Top 8 by a couple of percentage points on the first tiebreaker, a real bummer considering how unique his deck was.
His maindeck included unique choices like Vampire Nighthawk and Spellskite while his sideboard showcased the potency of Malakir Bloodwitch when you can
keep your Caw-Blade opponent off Jace, the Mind Sculptor successfully. His Despises and multiple Jaces enabled him to win the planeswalker war quite
often, and watching that 4/4 pick up a Batterskull against Caw-Blade ranks among the scariest board states I’ve ever seen in my life.
Spellskite became the talk of the tournament early, quickly shooting up in price and finding its way into sideboards and maindecks alike. The 0/4 is a
very versatile defensive card, guarding players from equipped Stoneforge Mystics and protecting creatures from just about anything. Its effectiveness
against opponents attempting to assemble the Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin combination cannot be ignored, and you should expect to see a lot of this
little guy for some time to come.
Another New Phyrexia standout, Batterskull lived up to the hype. Note especially the list Gerry Thompson and friends filled the Top 16 with, packing
additional copies in the sideboard to increase the frequency of their nut draws. On turn 2, you can cast Stoneforge Mystic for a Sword, activate Mystic
to land a naturally drawn Batterskull, then activate Mystic again to play and equip the Sword to the Germ on the fourth turn. This creates an
unbelievably aggressive clock, threatening to end the game on turn 5 with Sword of War and Peace.
The Orlando Standard Open represented players’ first reaction to the introduction of New Phyrexia, and I think it’s safe to say that
there’s more to this set than meets the eye at first glance. New archetypes could easily exist, but testing for the Invitational begins here.
Moving on, Legacy was no less affected by the new release. Mental Misstep dominated the event and put 27 copies into the Top 8, with Jason
Raflowitz’s Metalworker deck running none and John
Cuvelier’s Painted Stone list boasting only three copies
of the New Phyrexia common. A carbon copy of John’s deck placed 11th in the hands of Bronson Magnan. John himself actually eliminated Bronson
during a win-and-in, and their result indicates that Painted Stone is definitely worth a look in this metagame.
The other deck of the tournament was Gerry Thompson U/W Landstill list, played to mutual Top 4 finishes by Gerry and Drew Levin. If
you’re interested in that archetype, I’d encourage you to read the Deck Tech, but here’s the list:
Team America had a great weekend, including a victory in the hands of Chris VanMeter, and also of note is the fact that Merfolk filled the Top 16
â€”no surprise considering the strength of Mental Misstep in those archetypes. Expect these builds to continue showing their stuff over the next
The Louisville Open Weekend this year is shaping up to be quite the spectacle. This will be our last Open Series event before the Indianapolis Open,
featuring the Invitational, caps off the first half of our 2011 season, making it also among the last remaining opportunities to snag a qualification.
A Top 8 finish or the points necessary to make Level 2 in the Player’s Club are all one needs to make the cut!
The StarCityGames.com dealer booth is always in attendance, and we’ll be bringing as many Standard and Legacy staples as we can fit in our
vansâ€”literally. If you want to guarantee that your cards make it to Louisville, don’t hesitate to place an order on our site by noon EST on
Thursday, May 19th. We’ll pack your order and ship it to Kentucky for free, where you can pick it up at the Open.
We’ve welcomed other vendors into our events in the past, and we’ll continue doing so in Louisville. Troll and Toad as well as Cool Stuff
Games have had tables at most of our Opens over the past month, and they’ll be on-site this weekend as well. Joining them, we have Dan Meadors,
an independent trader, and Nate Lawrence of The Lotus Guardian, a store based in Kentucky you may know from his eBay action.
Lindsay Burley will be returning to her booth at the Open Series, producing three-dimensional works of art out of your favorite Magic cards. She
accepts on-site requests but also does preorders and would love to hear from you. Contact her at [email protected]
to discuss pricing and materials, and view her creative process at her YouTube page
Joining her with a booth of his own is Eric Klug, one of the most unique card alterists in the business. Known for his comic book illustrations with
quality surpassed by few, Eric has quickly gained widespread acclaim for his amazing additions to a number of Magic cards. If you’d like to check
out Eric work, you can find his website here. If you like what you see, email him about pricing
for custom orders at [email protected]. Eric is also active on Twitter, and you can follow @klug_alters to hear
more about his work.
Of course, I’ll be on-site in Louisville myself, delivering written content all day long and working with the SCGLive commentators on our
broadcast of the tournament weekend. Gavin Verhey and Jacob Van Lunen will be airing the tournament beginning at noon EST with the ongoing Standard
Open, and every round thereafter until the Legacy finals. Again, this is our last major event before the Invitational, so study up. We’ll arm you
as best we can with killer cards and copious coverage, but in the end, it’s up to you to conquer the field and hoist a trophy come June!
I’m looking forward to taking that picture.