The Magic Show #95 – The $13,000 Weekend And You

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Friday, May 9th – Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to be delving into the wide-open world of Standard. What archetypes are expected to take the cash this weekend? What tech is the hottest, what creatures are making the most impact, and how will this all affect Hollywood?

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to be delving into the wide-open world of Standard. What archetypes are expected to take the cash this weekend? What tech is the hottest, what creatures are making the most impact, and how will this all affect Hollywood? And what, exactly, do you need to know for this weekend’s huge Magic fest? Let’s go!

The New Standard

So Shadowmoor has, for lack of a better word, thrown a complete monkey wrench into the proceedings of Standard. Worse, almost none of the powerful and impacting cards lend themselves to one or more decks.

However, as you and I know, this weekend is the StarCityGames’ $13,000 Weekend and I’ll be damned if I let you guys get blindsided by some monster deck. So let’s go through some biggies.

Elves is a matchup you must be prepared for. Green dudes in the red zone who are marvelously resilient and painfully persistent. Chameleon Colossus still gets around new favorites Murderous Redcap and Demigod of Revenge, while the newest hotness, Oversoul of Dusk, is super-charged by Wilt-Leaf Liege. Liege of course makes Elves’ best three-drop this side of Imperious Perfect, Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, all the more awesome.

This past Tuesday Josh Silvestri wrote about what the new face of Elves might look like, complete with the aforementioned Wilt-Leaf duo, Oversoul of Dusk, and my new favorite card: Firespout.

Firespout is especially impressive in a deck like this. With your wildly varying manabase, you can easily pump through just the Red or just the Green mana as necessary. This spell gives you four maindeck answers to Bitterblossom, and that’s something you’re going to need to succeed on Saturday.

Merfolk is one of the best decks in the format, period. They are fast, scary, have eight Lords, and will quickly and easily run you over with a few Ponders and Cryptic Commands.

The scariness of Merfolk come from their ability to complete control a combat step. Merfolk Reejerey, alone, is an incredibly force to be reckoned with. Silvergill Adept and Merfolk Reejerey are able to give you a 2/1 cantrip for a single Blue mana. Two Merfolk Reejerey on the board give you free Lords of Atlantis. Shadowmoor gave this deck the one drop it has desperately wanted in Cursecatcher. Yes, they finally made an even better version of Spiketail Hatchling and just gave us Force Spike on a stick. Thanks to this guy also being a Wizard he provides you cards off Sage’s Dousing and generally screws up your opponent’s math something awful. Two of these guys on the board, while you potentially have a Cryptic Command, is such an incredible board position that few decks can manage their way around it… and live before the Lords, Islandwalkers, and potentially 4/4 Mutavaults run them over.

The next deck is Faeries. You and I know how it works. Bitterblossom is probably the best card printed since Tarmogoyf, and its value has only risen since. Its slow, methodical way of creating creature advantage allows the rest of its deck to hum along nicely. Scion of Oona is the Flash Crusade you’re scared to death of, while double Scion is usually game without a Pyroclasm handy. Luckily, the Faerie ridiculousness got a kick in the junk thanks to Firespout, which hoses them quite nicely.

One of the last all-stars of the previous Standard environment is G/R Big Mana and Reveillark. Both have their strengths and there is nothing that obviously fits in either other than perhaps Oversoul of Dusk and the new, shiny Lands from Shadowmoor. Of course, I’m probably missing all sorts of things, but that’s what these articles are for: To invoke discussion and detail how these decks may be improved as you go through last minute tweaks.

Moving on to Shadowmoor-based decks, Swans of Bryn Argoll combo is just getting nasty. They’ve now morphed into the fastest, scariest version around, complete with cards like Lotus Bloom and Telling Time to craft the perfect with which to go off. If they’re not Beseeching the Queen they’re Pondering, and they’ve even gone so far as to use Mind’s Desire’s best buddy ever, Manamorphose, to make the Beseech that much easier to play. Sick, I tell you.

However, the deck has a few issues. The reason being it doesn’t seem to be able to defeat a decently protected Pithing Needle, Wheel of Sun and Moon, or Runed Halo. There’s also that whole Sudden Death issue. Much like Project X, when it works it works, but when you can interrupt it for any reason, the whole thing seems to collapse.

However, for Game 1, it doesn’t take much beyond five turns to completely decimate you with the Swans and if you don’t draw your hate in Game 2 there could be side drafts in your future awful quick.

Red Deck Wins is an oddity of late. No one really knows what to do with it. Should you play Nom Nom, Tarmogoyf, Boggart Ram-Gang as your curve to three mana? Or would you rather have Mogg Fanatic, Keldon Marauders, and Ashenmoor Gouger? How much burn? Sure, Flame Javelin is a must, but does that mean no Tarfire? Are twelve burn spells enough? The questions are endless. The solutions are few. Generally it takes a large tournament to shake out the Red Deck Wins monstrosity. Sometimes it’s a well-oiled Gruul machine taking it to the top, other times it’s a Mono Red Burn deck with Spark Elemental racing into the red zone on Turn 1.

The only tournament data I know of is located at magic-league, where players such as Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa play from time to time. These include three post-Shadowmoor events. The winners were known archetypes: Makeshift Mannequin now featuring Murderous Redcap, Reveillark that gains nothing more than mana fixing from Mystic Gate, and Merfolk, who, as I mentioned earlier, are little Blue fishies that live in the sea and will destroy your very soul. So.

Among the other decks that did well was the other combo deck mentioned in Patrick Chapin article this week, the awesome interaction between Coldsnap uncommon Juniper Order Ranger, Greater Gargadon, and Murderous Redcap for an instant win. On Magic-League they’re calling this Project 420.5n, which, if you weren’t aware, is the rule that denotes when a creature has a +1/+1 and a -1/-1 counter on it, you remove both of them. This allows you to sacrifice Murderous Redcap to Greater Gargadon, then return it, remove the counter, shock something, stack another sacrifice to Greater Gargadon, and so on. Again, Sudden Death seems prudent here. You’ll need it to not instantly lose.

What I am guessing will happen tomorrow is that an established archetype will prevail. Sure, it’ll have a new land in it maybe, and perhaps a new finisher or board sweeper, but players generally shy from jumping too deep in new sets at first. However, there are an incredible number of decks that are always on the fringe of doing well. At the last $5K, my buddy’s Elementals deck with Mulldrifters, Nova Chasers, and Incandescent Soulstokes was 6-0 at one point before a few bad draws and matchups took it down. Do not doubt the power of rogue deckbuilding.

The $13,000 Weekend And You

So you’re headed to Richmond, are you? Well, I certainly hope so, because it’s going to get crazy, I tell you. There are not one but two huge Standard events, not one but two huge Vintage events, a Grand Prix: Trial in the middle of it, and side drafts and box flights and even Vintage flights available on a per-need basis. Woohoo!

If you’re ready to get your Magic on, you’ll probably want some help. Here’s what we got:

First, Bennie Smith wrote an awesome article on the city, telling you where to stay, where to eat, and how to get around. This is invaluable to someone who isn’t familiar with the city. I suggest you print this and carry it in your backpack just in case. Of course, you won’t need it, I mean, c’mon, we’re all grown ass men here, but in the slight case you just might need it, you know, just in case you forgot where your hotel was or how to get to the venue… you’ll know what’s going on.

Second, you need to have your fiddly bits and doo-dads, to coin a phrase from Anthony S. Waters, in order. This means make sure you have your pens, paper, die and counters ready. Don’t be “That Guy” who is always looking to use other people’s die and pens and paper. You didn’t like him in grade school, you won’t like him at the tournament tables. Invest in a few dollars worth of dead trees and plastic and don’t embarrass yourself.

Third, while Steven Menendian did a great job of explaining potential Vintage Budget decks, the closest thing to a Magic oxymoron I’ve found, he left out my personal favorite Vintage deck: The beats. A simple Red/Green beatdown deck that garnered some popularity a year or two ago. Maybe it’s crap, I don’t know. I don’t play the format. But because I don’t play the format, that’s why I like the deck that plays dudes and puts them in the red zone.

I mean, it plays eight Kird Apes thanks to Skyshroud Elite, and every decent burn spell under the sun. While you’ll still need to bum Tarmogoyfs from your friends, with the 10-proxy limit you should have no trouble filling all of those troublesome and expensive rares that keep you from the Vintage tournament tables. And while many will simply dismiss this deck, it remains a fun and viable option that can truly punish a bad draw from one of the “best decks in the format.”

Remember: The Invitational was won last year not by ‘going off’ with a mondo combo, but rather hardcasting a 6/6 green creature and smashing into the opponent’s face until they were dead.

Lastly, the Magic Show will be out in full force with some all-new coverage ideas. The primary new focus this go around is the idea of mini-games. While I’m planning on getting man-on-the-street footage and Deck Techs like you would expect, I also plan on showing the world the hilarity of Magic Charades and Win, Lose, or Draw Magic Cards. There will be an announcement at the beginning of the event as to how you can sign up to participate and when these mini-events will begin.

I thank you for watching and hope to see everybody at Richmond. Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin, tapping the cards… so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
Written in anticipation of buying a new camera. I can’t wait!