Everything we know has changed.
I am finding myself saying the following words: “I think Xenagos, the Reveler is a trap,” and I just cry inside a little. I’ve been testing and trying to
find the right deck to play this weekend in New Jersey for the Open, and I’m finding myself unhappy with most things I’m trying.
Mana without the shocklands has been difficult, and trying to find a replacement for the plethora of two-mana removal spells that left is proving to be a
challenge. Everything is entering the battlefield tapped and just not lining up well enough for my tastes.
Sphinx’s Revelation and Lifebane Zombie are both gone, but so are Mizzium Mortars, Dreadbore, and my beloved Jund manabase.
My initial reaction to all of this was to jump on the Temur Monsters train since we still had the bulk of the old Monsters deck available to us, and Savage
Knuckleblade seemed awesome. Sadly, I was unimpressed with the deck and found that the lack of early interaction was causing me to lose a lot of tempo.
Savage Knuckleblade is obviously a powerful card, but without a Temur-flavored Noble Hierarch variant, we aren’t quite in the Noble Hierarch + Woolly
Thoctar era, and while Knuckleblade is good on turns 3 and on, I still kept finding it difficult to cast. In addition, the three-color decks were feeling
much slower than any of the two-color decks that we were on.
At the WMCQ I had chatted with Ross Merriam quite a bit about trying to find the right Elvish Mystic + Polukranos, World Eater deck. We both felt like just
a straight up G/R deck might be best. I’ve had this list rolling around in my head for a little while now and plan on trying it out this week.
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Boon Satyr
- 4 Fanatic of Xenagos
- 1 Xenagos, God of Revels
- 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
- 4 Heir of the Wilds
It may seem like we are overloading on three-drops, but Boon Satyr also gives us something we can do with our mana if/when we are flooding out. The goal
here is to just cast all of our spells either on curve, or a turn ahead. We aren’t really ramping into much, but Elvish Mytic and Rattleclaw Mystic will
help us get to a point where we are casting multiple spells in a turn.
I want to try out a Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker and a Xenagos, God of Revels to see which one, if either, do enough to warrant their inclusion. I like how
Sarkhan can be offensive and defensive, but getting Xenagos, God of Revels into play on turn 3 or 4 really turns all of our creatures into threats that can
end the game quickly.
I’m starting to really appreciate Heir of the Wilds as a way to fight through Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid. Playing Heir on turn 2 and following
it up with a Fanatic of Xenagos or Boon Satyr, we can attack through just about any early drop and still keep our creature.
Mainly the goal here is to maximize our chances for pressure with all of our untapped lands while our opponents are stuck playing theirs tapped. It may
seem strange to not be playing Goblin Rabblemaster, but I just feel like this isn’t the deck for it. I may very well be wrong, but my gut tells me that
Fanatic of Xenagos and Boon Satyr can put in some real work here.
Without Mizzium Mortars or the black splash for removal, we are at the mercy of trading in combat and hoping to snipe vulnerable creatures with Lightning
Strike. Stoke the Flames is also very helpful at handling creatures like Butcher of the Horde and opposing Stormbreath Dragons, but the huge benefit that
these spells have over the previous incarnation of removal used alongside the monstrosity creatures is their ability to go to the face.
Without Sphinx’s Revelation in the format, it’s perfectly reasonable to just try and get in as much damage as possible and eek out wins with two or three
burn spells while our opponents tries to piece together some way to end the game once they have handled all of our threats. Thoughtseize, fetchlands,
painlands, and cards like Sign in Blood and Read the Bones are all popular cards that do damage to their casters and it all adds up.
As for sideboard cards for a deck like this, here are some options that I would consider:
There are a lot of powerful planeswalkers available in this color combination, but as I have been playing with cards like Xenagos, the Reveler, I’ve been
unhappy with how he is matching up against a lot of the decks and cards that I’m expecting to see play. It honestly might just be wrong to not be playing
Nissa, Worldwaker if your deck has Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid or Rattleclaw Mystic.
Fall of the Hammer definitely seems like it could be good against other Polukranos, World Eater decks, but so does Hunt the Hunter.
Mistcutter Hydra loses a lot of its appeal now that the control decks are less permission and more Thoughtseize/Hero’s Downfall, but people still like to
counter spells, even when it might not be the best thing to be doing.
Speaking of Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall, this duo of cards has continually been proving that they are just about the absolute best thing that you can
be doing in the new Standard.
Week after week I keep getting destroyed in testing and in the VS Video series with BBD due to the power of Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall. As much as I
love Polukranos, World Eater and the Gruul Guild, I may have to shelve them and sleeve up something that can take the most advantage of Thoughtseize and
Downfall, or I could just find some way to play them alongside my beloved hydra.
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 2 Reaper of the Wilds
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Rakshasa Deathdealer
This list is a bit similar to what Patrick Chapin had in his article earlier this week, but
I’ve been thinking about some way to play Polukranos, World Eater alongside Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall. In this type of deck, I think I prefer a bit
more of a midrange style and would rather play something like Nissa, Worldwaker over Elvish Mystic. Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix are both still
very good at accelerating, stabilizing, and/or generating advantage.
Rakshasa Deathdealer is a card that hasn’t really been getting a lot of press and I think that’s because we are all still trying to compare it to Lotleth
Troll and how lackluster it was in the last Standard format. Things have changed, and I feel like the Deathdealer could have a pretty sweet place right
now. It can just keep getting into the red zone, making blocking almost impossible for our opponents, and when we get into the lategame it can act as sort
of an Abyss where it needs to be blocked each turn or they are just dead.
The removal here is pretty standard with a full set of Hero’s Downfall. I’ve split Bile Blight, Murderous Cut, and Silence the Believers since each of them
can be game breaking at the right time. One of the common ways to pull ahead in this new format is to use Murderous Cut on a creature and deploy your own
threat. These type of “double-spell” turns where we are disrupting our opponent and continuing to apply pressure is what the new format is going to be all
about. A crash course in tempo is something that everyone should be familiar with, and I definitely recommend Reid Duke’s piece about it on The Mothership.
I have been very happy with Liliana Vess in all of my testing with her so far. She can quickly take over a game by stripping our opponents’ resources.
Going up to six loyalty right off the bat is a huge boon that makes it so she will usually survive until your next turn, getting rid of a card in the
process. Her ultimate can be game winning, and in the instances that trying to use her ultimate isn’t something that’s beneficial we can always just
Vampiric Tutor and get whatever we need to kill our opponent. Her tutor aspect can also be pretty good when we are behind, although it is a bit slow.
The last card that I want to touch base on is Dig Through Time. This card has constantly been impressing me, even in decks that aren’t actually dedicated
to filling their graveyard. Thankfully Blue doesn’t have the support that it did in the last format, otherwise we would all get really sick of being
crushed by this card.
Finding the best two cards out of the top seven is absolutely amazing, especially when you can cast both of them the same turn that you are digging. Worst
case scenario, you can just find a Thoughtseize and some threat and go from there. I honestly couldn’t fault anyone for playing a deck that just splashes
Dig Through Time as their only blue card, especially if your mana can handle it.
Dig Through Time along with Treasure Cruise have been getting the most press as being Legacy playable. With the abundance of fetchlands, Brainstorm,
Ponder, Gitaxian Probe, and cheap removal spells like Lightning Bolt, Abrupt Decay, and Swords to Plowshares, there definitely isn’t a lack of delve fodder
I’ve been trying to figure out which one is better, and in the end I feel like it’s Dig Through Time. Finding two cards out of the top seven, to me, seems
like it’s going to be better than three random off the top, and the main reason is Force of Will. Being able to find Force + blue card, or Force +
something else if you already have a blue card seems like a huge benefit that just pushes it over the edge. Dig Through Time also feels like it has a place
in a combo deck, possibly something like OmniTell where we are just wanting to combo with a couple cards. It does conveniently find Sneak Attack/Show and
Tell and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn/Griselbrand, but sadly those decks play too many non-blue producing lands to make casting Dig Through Time a reality.
Sultai Delver seems like a deck that could greatly benefit from a card like Dig Through Time and is conveniently the only Delver variation that I haven’t
played in an Open yet, so don’t be surprised if you see me Digging through some Time this weekend with my Delver of Secrets.
I hope everyone had a blast at the Khans of Tarkir Prerelease this past weekend, because I know I did. I really love getting to play with cards a little
early and getting a jump start on figuring out the nuances of the different card interactions; also, we all got sweet Limited edition Penguins of Tarkir
These playmats sold out absurdly quickly once we opened up the remainder to the public, and as I have two of them in my possession that are extra, I am
planning on giving them away on my stream this week, so keep an ear out for the announcements
on when that’s going to happen.
See everyone in New Jersey this weekend, and good luck to those of you who decide to make the trek out to Indianapolis instead for our very first dual Open