The Magic Show #117 – Aftermath

Watch Evan Erwin every week... on StarCityGames.com!
Friday, October 10th – Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to clear up some questions about last week’s episode, take a look at the new Standard environment beginning with this weekend’s Cruise Qualifier, feature a very special Shards of Alara sealed segment with Patrick Chapin, and more. Let’s go!

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to clear up some questions about last week’s episode, take a look at the new Standard environment beginning with this weekend’s Cruise Qualifier, feature a very special Shards of Alara sealed segment with Patrick Chapin, and more. Let’s go!

Mike Linnemann


Okay, so last week I went off on the new Prerelease system. Myself and many other writers for StarCityGames expressed our great displeasure with the prerelease changes for Shards of Alara. And now, a few words on its reaction and my intent.

Before we begin, a correction: I heard directly from Wizards that all provided prerelease prize support should include and account for judge product as well. This means that if you judged the Shards of Alara prerelease and didn’t get Shards of Alara product from your Tournament Organizer, then something went awry. Essentially your Tournament Organizer was not providing you the compensation Wizards promised. Just a quick FYI for those who went without.

Regarding last week, I thank everyone who took the time to respond. My hope is that the amount of responses I got in the forums, on the YouTube feedback and in email is only matched by what was directly told to Wizards. I expected a heavy mix of positive and negative, and I got that. This is fantastic. I’m glad to see those who did well and enjoyed it, including many store owners I heard from, as well as hearing from those who were just as upset as I was. This discourse is necessary to improve things.

I hope everyone recognizes that I write and produce shows like last week because I care about this game. I have invested a great deal of my life into it. I have given my all into producing entertainment for the community week in and week out. I am hard on Wizards of the Coast because I have a vested interest in seeing the game do well. And when I watch them make mistakes, such as a new website that is arguably much worse than the old one, and implement a new prerelease system based on the European system that doesn’t transfer well for a whole host of reasons, I’m going to say something.

One of the benefits of not working at Wizards is that I don’t have a filter. I tell you how I see it, truthfully, and I recognize this is one of the reasons that people watch the show. Wizards employees may not be happy with these changes, but you won’t hear about it. They have to keep that internal. I also like to think I say the things that many others are feeling. I got far fewer “you are wrong” emails than the “thank you for telling it like it is” emails. If the emperor is lacking clothes, you can rest assured I’ll tell you as much.

Moving forward, I’m really enjoying Shards of Alara. Just because I didn’t like the prerelease tournament structure doesn’t mean the set itself isn’t stellar. The deckbuilding possibilities are just out of this world and, Reflecting Pool metagame or no, I’m enjoying the set and its potential. I think Wizards did a fantastic job in its design and flavor, and I can’t wait to PTQ with it this weekend. So with that in mind, let’s see what I plan on bringing to the Standard Cruise Qualifier on Sunday.

Cruise Qualifyin’

Oh yeah baby, this weekend is the first big Standard event of the season leading up to next weekend’s monstrous $5,000 Standard Open in Richmond. I tell you what, I’m hella excited. Finally we get to see what Shards of Alara can do in Standard, and as expected I’m playing something with four Reflecting Pools in it. And while I may give the impression this format is already “solved,” rest assured it is anything but.

There are wide open spaces right in Standard, and I’ll tell you why: Esper Charm just killed Faeries in Standard. The fact that every single Five-Color Control deck, of which there will be plenty, will be packing this spell means that the Big Bad Bitterblossom isn’t nearly as big or bad as it used to be. That’s definitely a bonus.

Second, the ‘accepted’ best deck in the format, Mono Red, is also kaput. This is thanks to the loss of such heavy hitters as Magus of the Moon, Magus of the Scroll, and most importantly Skred. You remember Skred, right? What could be known as Flores Was Totally Right, Skred turned out to be one of the best cards, if not the best at 2008 Nationals, killing virtually every creature from Chameleon Colossus to Cloudthresher with one single mana.

Now we’re left with a format that is, according to our one and only Innovator, Patrick Chapin, driven by Cruel Ultimatum. And in a Korlash-ian esque move, I will now list the 75 cards I plan on running on Sunday. These are apt to change a card here or a card there, but this is what I plan on slinging:

I’ve had a ton of fun playing this deck. Sure it’s all Control-y, and those who dislike playing that type of deck will hate this with a passion. But for those who do, oh man, what a beating.

The whole point of this deck is this: Make Cruel Ultimatum Resolve. That’s it. That’s your entire game plan. You want to make this spell resolve because no matter how far behind you appear, resolving a Cruel Ultimatum means you won’t be anywhere near that far behind afterwards. This spell is the Real Deal. Having gone through dozens of playtesting sessions now, I can tell you there is no spell in Standard as big, demanding, or scary as Cruel Ultimatum. It has lived up to the hype. And just hope against hope it doesn’t resolve against you, because you’ll probably be signing a match slip soon after.

The Fulminator Mages are here for the mirror I expect to play a bazillion times over the weekend. In a deck like this, the last thing you’re worried about is aggro. You may be afraid of burn, but the little dudes are no worry. You have Pyroclasm, Bant Charm, Firespout, Wrath of God and Cryptic Command at your disposal. Trust me, duders are not the issue here. Also note that the Pyroclasms are in here so you can play more two casting cost spells, along with the ability to kill Figure of Destiny before he gets out of hand.

The singleton Nucklavee is a real powerhouse with plenty of available targets, and I tell you there is simply nothing as sweet as getting back both Cryptic Command and Cruel Ultimatum with a Nucklavee. Oh yeah, that’s right. Did you notice it was Red sorcery? Dayum.

Before we move on to our special segment from Patrick Chapin & Friends this week, one word on the Sideboard. See those Memory Plunders? You know, that crappy rare you have a dozen of? Say hello to the best Five-Color Control mirror spell ever. I don’t know if you’ve resolved an opponent’s Cruel Ultimatum at Instant speed at the end of their turn, but rest assured it’s the nuts. The absolute, stone cold, nuts.

And hell, even if they don’t have Cruel Ultimatums in their graveyard, this simply makes Memory Plunder Cryptic Commands #5 – 8, certainly nothing to scoff at. I’ve used Memory Plunder as a Flash Counter via an opponent’s Bant Charm in their graveyard, as a Wrath of God with their Pyroclasms or the namesake card itself, as a Demystify or Mind Rot via their Esper Charm, and more. Don’t underestimate this awesome sideboard option.

If I were a braver man who was certain of a control-heavy metagame, I would put at least one Memory Plunder main. But that’s metagaming I’m not comfortable with at this point.

So for all your deckbuilders out there: This is the time to shine. This Standard format is ridiculously new, fresh, and unexplored. You may now chart the path by which others will follow for months and perhaps years to come. You alone now have the power to turn a crap rare into a Constructed powerhouse. All it takes is a magical 75 and a solid showing from your creation. I expect to feature many of the most interesting ones here next week.

With no further ado, here is Patrick Chapin & Friends on how to build a Shards of Alara sealed deck. Pay attention and take notes, as I’ll be heading to Missouri next week to watch the best in the world build, battle, and conquer in their quest for Grand Prix greatness.

Patrick Chapin & Co: Shards of Alara Sealed

(( Live Shards of Alara Sealed Deckbuilding Segment ))

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
dubs dubs dubs dot misterorangeproductions dot com
Written while recovering from my root canal. Ow.