With the #SCGINVI right around the corner, now is the time to kick preparations into high gear. Thankfully, we have results from #SCGKC, #GPKobe, and
#GPPitt to look over.
Let’s start with #SCGKC, where we saw just as many Four-Color Rally decks in the Top 8 as we saw the weekend before at #GPBrussels, though not quite the
dominance; we only saw one copy get into the Top 4. Both Sam Berkenbile and Nick Carlson played exact copies of the deck, while Matthew Tickal decided to
play his own take on Four-Color Rally, a take that isn’t unfamiliar being as he was one of the pioneers of the deck on the Open Series before Battle for Zendikar was printed.
- 3 Nantuko Husk
- 3 Grim Haruspex
- 4 Sidisi's Faithful
- 3 Liliana, Heretical Healer
- 4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
- 2 Catacomb Sifter
- 3 Kalastria Healer
- 4 Zulaport Cutthroat
The big difference that we see between Tickal’s list and the others is the inclusion of Liliana, Heretical Healer and Kalastria Healer alongside a few
removal spells. I can see the merit behind wanting more maindeck answers to Anafenza, the Foremost the week after Abzan demolished a Grand Prix, but I’m
not sure how much I love reducing the redundancy of the other pieces for copies of Liliana, Heretical Healer.
I do, however, like the synergy between Liliana, Heretical Healer and some of the one and two mana spells in the deck, mainly Sidisi’s Faithful and two of
the new BFZ inclusions: Zulaport Cutthroat and Kalastria Healer. There aren’t many Allies in the deck, but with just a couple Kalastria Healers and a
Zulaport Cutthroat (which happens to be the other Ally in the deck), we can do some pretty intense draining action.
Does this mean that the Four-Color Rally deck is the real deal? I’d like to think so. It was around for a little bit, but with so many different things
that we can do with the mana provided by Battle for Zendikar, I think that it’s going to take some time to actually figure it all out. Not to
mention that we still have to get over this hurdle of something new needing to be better than what we can already do by just jamming Siege Rhino and
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
Strangely enough, especially considering some of the data we’re going to see from Kobe, there was only one Abzan deck in the #SCGKC Top 8, but it did
happen to win the whole thing.
- 4 Heir of the Wilds
- 4 Anafenza, the Foremost
- 2 Wingmate Roc
- 4 Siege Rhino
- 1 Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
- 4 Warden of the First Tree
- 2 Den Protector
Abzan Red is something that’s a bit different from the normal Abzan Blue decks that we’ve been seeing. With the fetchland + Battle land combinations giving
us basically a free fourth splash color in most Khans color combinations, I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to be seeing light splashes like this
most of the time.
For Matt Carlson, he felt that Crackling Doom, Kolaghan’s Command, and Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury were worth splashing for – in addition to Dragonmaster
Outcast and Radiant Flames in the sideboard. It is pretty interesting to see Heir of the Wilds getting picked up here, which is something that was even
more ubiquitous in the Kobe data. I was recently shown that Snapping Gnarlid was very good, and these two cards seem like they are going to be similar;
however, Heir of the Wilds is much better on defense.
had all but fallen off the face of the planet, save for those loyal Todd Anderson supporters like Patrick Klima who took the deck to a finals finish here.
This build is very close to what Todd made Top 32 with that same weekend, and with very few G/R Eldrazi Ramp decks in the Top 8, I’m not surprised to see
Patrick do so well.
A friend of mine from the Wichita area also made it to the Top 4 with Esper Dragons, so congrats Heath Dunbar! As proclaimed by Martin
Juza, who went 12-3 in Kobe with Esper Dragons, and Shuhei Nakamura making it into the Top 8 with the same deck, that it’s just the best deck right now and
it’s not even close. Dig Through Time is banned and restricted in other formats that it would be legal in, so not playing it would be crazy.
I’ve never been a big fan of Esper Dragons, but I felt like the previous versions were way too passive and just gave up too many games with not being able
to position itself aggressively enough with Dragonlord Ojutai. Now we are seeing more Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, more discard, and pinpoint removal that we can
re-cast with Jace, Telepath Unbound, which lets us take an aggressive stance and just kill our opponent. This is further exacerbated by the switch to
Dragonlord Silumgar over Silumgar, the Drifting Death as Dragons five and six.
A big pick up for this deck is moving to playing multiple copies of Shambling Vent. I really like how this card stacks up against a lot of the decks, and
having something to do on turns where you are waiting to recoup some resources is pretty good, and when in topdeck wars, having a card that shortens your
clock and lengthens theirs is great for this type of deck.
Lastly, I want to point out that powerful magician Josh McClain took Temur Black into the Top 8 of the Open too.
- 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
- 4 Savage Knuckleblade
- 2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
- 2 Thunderbreak Regent
- 4 Woodland Wanderer
- 4 Snapping Gnarlid
Being very similar to the deck I talked about in my article last
week, Josh’s list is just a couple cards off what Brian Kibler had initially came up with, and while I do like having access to a full set of Thunderbreak
Regent, I like how Tasigur, the Golden Fang lines up against most of the format. With how aggressively we are using our fetchlands and cheap (one and
two-mana) interaction spells, we’re definitely going to have some games where we power out a Tasigur, the Golden Fang way before our opponents are ready
for it and have Stubborn Denial for when they do find an answer.
I like how Josh was able to fit in a second copy of Lumbering Falls, as that was something that I mentioned that I wanted, and I also like going down on a
Draconic Roar and playing a Fiery Impulse. Having one-mana ways to interact can really be backbreaking with how fast this deck can put on pressure.
Looking at the results from #SCGKC, we can see a pretty diverse and healthy Standard format. We still had an outlier with three copies of Four-Color Rally
in the Top 8, but outside of that it was pretty expected.
With that in mind, check out the Grand Prix Trial winning decklists from #GPKobe here.
Nine out of fourteen winning lists from the trials were Abzan, and a lot of them were rocking Heir of the Wilds. The good news is, that despite
all of this, there was really only one Abzan deck in the Top 8 of #GPKobe and the event was won by Atarka Red, so there is some justice left in this world.
Takuma Morofuji took what was close to a stock Atarka Red list from #PTBFZ to the top in Kobe. We see a few less creatures to fit in some copies of
Hordeling Outburst and even a split on Wild Slash and Fiery Impulse. I still like this deck, and with the ebb and flow that we often see in Standard, I
think that we will be back on the precipice of “be prepared for Atarka Red or die to it” when we get to the #SCGINVI in Las Vegas.
In addition to my Bae Atarka Red winning the whole thing, we also got two super sweet decks that made it to the Top 8 in Kobe: B/W Warriors and G/U Eldrazi
- 4 Chief of the Edge
- 4 Bloodsoaked Champion
- 4 Mardu Strike Leader
- 4 Mardu Woe-Reaper
- 4 Blood-Chin Rager
- 2 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 2 Wasteland Strangler
I think that if WotC decided that they wanted to put Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in some kind of supplementary product, that they could take this deck and
tweak the numbers on the rares and just ship it ready to go right out of the box.
Having quite a bit of resiliency with cards like Bloodsoaked Champion, Mardu Strike Leader, Kytheon, Hero of Akros, along with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar,
this deck seems like it would do very well against something packing a whole lot of removal. The secret MVP in my opinion must be Blood-Chin Rager though.
So many decks are relying on something like Hangarback Walker or Jaddi Offshoot to be able to play defense when they need it, and this card just makes
combat pretty awkward for our opponents.
With what I believe is an Ali Aintrazi-inspired deck, Pavel Matousek took G/U Eldrazi ramp to the Top 8 in Kobe too.
I haven’t had a chance to play any games with this, but it looks like a blast! I’ve been waiting for a sweet Kiora, Master of the Depths deck to pop up,
and this one might be it. With all of the mana accelerants, it’s not going to be difficult to get some value out of her untapping ability. It’s also pretty
nice that we can use it to get even more mana from our Shrine of the Forsaken Gods once we have the required seven lands to turn it on.
Seeming like a deck that’s similar to G/R Eldrazi Ramp, I think the most deceptively powerful aspect of this deck are the Part the Waterveils. Taking extra
turns is definitely a powerful effect, but when we are using it as a way to ramp into something like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or Ulamog, the Ceaseless
Hunger, we are getting much more than just another draw step and land drop. Once we get to the point that we already have a giant permanent already on the
battlefield, that’s when things get real interesting. Using the ultimate on Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is close to unbeatable, and just getting a 6/6 out of
the deal is huge. If we are able to attack with the 6/6 the turn that we cast Part the Waterveil, that’s twelve damage when we attack on our extra turn
Adding blue to our ramp deck also gives us access to something like Dig Through Time, which is obviously powerful, but it also gives us Dispel out of the
sideboard, which is a very powerful card at combating the removal spells for Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
Sensei Shuhei Nakamura added to his already absurd number of GP Top 8s with Esper Dragons, and as much as Heath and I are buds, I’m going to have to refer
to Sensei’s list for this archetype.
Sideboarding into Monastery Mentor is something that Patrick Chapin was reveling about, and it might just be the thing that gets me on board with this
deck. I’ve been a huge proponent of being the one asking the questions and making my opponent have answers, and with this list you can really posture
yourself in an aggressive stance when you need to. I also really like Ob Nixilis Reignited, and there are a lot of hands where you are easily able to craft
a battlefield where you land an Ob Nixilis and it completely takes over the game.
There are a lot of options for Standard, and from the last handful of competitive events, the format is as diverse as ever. I have a hunch that a good spot
to be as we move forward is going to be the R/G Landfall deck that Brad’s team came up with at #PTBFZ. Dodging Surge of Righteousness and still presenting
a game-ending combo is something that seems like is going to be a great spot for the #SCGINVI.
#GPPitt was also this weekend, and it was Modern. I really have had a love/hate relationship with the format, and I still think that until they actually
ban something that Amulet Bloom is the best deck. It didn’t happen to crack into the Top 8 there, but there were a lot of very good players that took the
deck to a 12-3 or 11-4 finish.
I remember seeing decks like this a while back, but I think they kind of just dropped off the face of the planet with the whole Treasure Cruise debacle. As
we have seen from Amulet Bloom, just getting a Primeval Titan onto the battlefield early enough can win games all on its own, which is something that this
deck is trying to capitalize on, and if all else fails, we can just Scapeshift kill them.
I like how we have access to Nature’s Claim, Rending Volley, and Crumble to Dust in the sideboard, but with the prevalence of Affinity, I think that I
would probably want some number of Ancient Grudge there.
Sadly, I will not be making my way to the #SCGINVI, but I will be putting in some work helping people get prepared. I’m going to focus on Amulet Bloom, and
will be looking to share all of my knowledge of the deck as we get closer to the event.
As some of you know, I have been starting to build a Commander deck, and after having everyone vote between Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Riku of Two
Reflections last week, Sidisi barely won out. What I need now is suggestions on cool cards or interactions that I can use with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant! I
already have some ideas, but I would love to hear of neat combos or just powerful overlooked cards!