The Nose Knows – Standard for Nationals

Tuesday, August 17th – U.S. Nationals and the StarCityGames.com Denver Open are approaching! Kyle Boggemes pulls Standard into focus with some metagame and decklist advice.

U.S. Nationals takes place at the end of the week. There are quite a few decks that I think are good enough to play. I am going to talk about them, and why you should have them in your list of playables.

I am sure you all know that Blue/White Control has been sitting pretty at the top of my list of choices for quite some time. I’ve had constant success with the deck over the last few weeks, as well as a third place finish at GP: Washington DC. The deck continues to evolve, but as long as you have been practicing, it should not matter.

The most important thing to remember is to be familiar with a deck like this before playing it in a big tournament. There are many decisions to be made, and you only have 50 minutes in which to make them. I have recently been playing a list that leans more towards the Tap Out style. I played another FNM at RIW Hobbies, and decided to play a more controlling version.

This is a pretty standard list with the exception of Preordain. I decided to replace Everflowing Chalice for it because they both fix your mana. I needed a lot of early Blue mana since it can sometimes be a challenge to get Jace Beleren out on turn 3. Preordain helps you find the second Blue mana source early, as well as any other lands I may need. It is also a spell that can help you find a threat at the end of the game. It can also be used as a pseudo-shuffle effect, since you can Brainstorm with Jace, then play it and scry both cards to the bottom.

I learned that Sun Titan and Sphinx of Jwar Isle are the keys to beating Jund. There was a situation where a Blightning was going to take me down to one card. My hand was Sun Titan, Wall of Omens, and Preordain. I had four mana out and my opponent had no threats, but I kept the Sun Titan because the other cards were not going to put up a good enough defense against Jund. I drew a land in two out of three draws and was able to cast it. It got back the Wall of Omens and proceeded to win the game.

The addition of the third Elspeth was also something I do not regret. I cut a third Day of Judgment for it because it is good against creatures as well as being great in a Control mirror. We now have a total of nine maindeck Planeswalkers, so our control matchups should be pretty good.

Enough talk about Blue/White; that’s all I talk about these days. Here is another deck that can be the right choice for you.

This is just your plain old Jund deck, but there are many copies of Slave of Bolas. I may be crazy for cutting Bituminous Blast for them, but I think they are too good not to play in this current format. The Red/Green mana ramp decks kill you if they attack with Primeval Titan. This allows you to kill it and get some Raging Ravines along the way.

My friend Alex John played this particular list at the same FNM I played. He had a situation come up where his Jund opponent played a Sarkhan the Mad and made a dragon. Alex played Slave of Bolas on the dragon and attacked Sarkhan for lethal. This is a very important interaction in the Jund mirror, because Sarkhan is the best card and usually takes more than one spell to stop.

I have also decided to play Garruk, even though it has not seen much play recently. The Overrun effect is better when you play Slave of Bolas and Siege-Gang Commander. This card should have been in Jund the entire time because of how powerful it is. Jund is so powerful because it attacks from so many different angles. Adding some extra help to the Planeswalker attack makes the deck more versatile.

Manabarbs in the sideboard is for all of the Mana Ramp decks. They can often not cast a Primeval Titan and stay alive from the swing back. It is also good against the Time Warp ramp decks, since that card cannot be cast in most games. Manabarbs is a card that also is great against unknown decks that don’t have too much of a board presence.

I went 3-1 in a Daily Event with a list my cousin designed that featured Beastbreaker of Bala Ged. That card was very bad for me, but I won many games with Slave of Bolas. The 2/2 body was sometimes pretty good, but is obviously no Putrid Leech. You can play Plated Geopede or Lotus Cobra in order to add some additional pressure to the deck.

The Crystal Ball is mainly for control matchups, but has also been pretty good at setting up cascades with Bloodbraid Elf. It also helps you rarely draw unwanted mana sources in the late game. It feels like a good singleton card since you obviously do not want to get flooded with Crystal Balls.

Jund can always beat any deck depending on what cards you play. Therefore, it is always a good choice for any given tournament. It is even better now because Obstinate Baloth is a good card against Mono Red. Back in my day, we had to play narrow cards like Dragon’s Claw to beat them.

Another deck I think is a very good choice at the moment is Red/Green Titan Ramp. Here is the list I have been testing.

This deck was performing very well in my testing against Jund. It was only losing to the fastest of draws, as well as an abundance of Slave of Bolas. It is capable of racing the moderately fast draws, and can come back from nowhere with a Summoning Trap for Primeval Titan.

This deck has been doing very well on Magic Online, so be prepared to face it even if you don’t decide to play it. There are many people who advocate decks such as this, so I expect it to be a big part of metagame in upcoming National Championships.

The Blue/White Control matchup is favorable because of the maindeck Summoning Traps. The Valakuts are also a great way to win an attrition war against a slow deck. The sideboard includes four additional Traps, which make countering spells very difficult.

I am not a fan of Khalni Heart Expedition, so I opt for Bloodbraid Elf. That is one of the cards that you will never see me play. It is a terrible topdeck and does just as much damage as Harrow. Harrow is a card that is not in many of the lists, but I think it should be. It fetches two Mountains when there is a Valakut active. It can get rid of the third Forest you have in play and turns it into a Mountain, which is much more useful. It is also a good ramp spell for cascades, since the two lands enter the battlefield untapped.

This is the best type of Titan Ramp deck because if you attack with a Titan, you have won the game. The others take a few more turns to win because they try to gain value from man lands entering the battlefield instead of an instant kill. There are plenty of ways to prevent this deck from folding to any deck with Flashfreeze, so you may as well play the most aggressive and consistent version.

If those three decks are not for you, consider playing an aggressive deck such as this.

This deck was from a Magic Online Daily Event and was played by Mini_Gnarls. All this deck wants to do is beat down, so it will punish a slow draw from any opponent. Most of the Fauna Shaman decks play cards like Stoneforge Mystic, which makes your cascades inconsistent. I played against the staple Naya deck and was able to sneak away with wins in games I had no business winning. They would discard a Vengevine to get a Bloodbraid Elf. They cast the elf and cascade into a random Basilisk Collar. This is simply poor deckbuilding, and they should play something like this list.

I don’t like to consider Combo archetypes that are established as possible deck choices. A deck like Pyromancer’s Ascension is a good deck, but it is being written about so much and also sees a lot of play on Magic Online. If you want to play a Combo deck at Nationals or the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Denver, you should find one that is less popular.

I am sure you are all wondering what 75 I would take to Nationals if it started tomorrow. I would play the same Blue/White Control deck I posted above, but cut a White fetchland for a Plains. I ran out of basics with 5 fetches, so I want to add another.

Make sure that those of you that qualified for an upcoming Nationals practice M11 draft. The payout for Nationals is pretty top heavy, so you need to be proficient in both formats to make any money. Good luck in upcoming tournaments, and feel free to say hi at U.S. Nationals.

As always, thanks for reading, and be sure to give feedback in the forums.