Earlier this week, I realized I had a StarCityGames.com Open Weekend approaching very, very quickly in my neck of the woods. SCG Denver is ten
days away … probably shorter by the time you read this … and man, I just realized I hadn’t played Standard in three months.
Clearly there needs to be more than one solitary person poking me on Facebook to get back to writingâ€”if only so I can keep up-to-date on the decks du jour and not have to start scrambling to find a deck at the last minute. (Thanks, Ben, by the way.)
On top of that, due to my lack of regular updates to this here site here (totally my fault and not SCG’s), I have a measly $25 in store credit to
work with to pick up rares or singles that I might need, and that includes “pretty much anything” from New Phyrexia, of which I have seen
and touched very little. I did get to play in a Launch Party, but that’s a 55-card-deck story for another day.
So in a “current Standard” where the best decks all run an eighty-dollar planeswalker in spades, what options are available to the truly
Starting here because this is what I played in the last StarCityGames.om Open in Denver. I finished 77th! And despite there being no Time Warps to
“go infinite” with this year, I still play the deck now and again, and I feel like I have a good grasp of the plays the deck can make. Now,
we have the added bonus of “more proliferate cards,” where even one counter on an Ascension can quickly become two or more at the end of
your opponent’s turn.
Rare Cost Summary:
Pyromancer Ascension ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Scalding Tarn ($13.99 x 4 = $55.96)
I already own Pyromancer Ascensions (obviously), and I have access to Scalding Tarns; I had a playset at one point in time, but they’ve gone out
this revolving door of fetchland ownership that I seem to have, where I trade one set of fetchlands for another depending on what type of deck
I’m playing. (If anyone has a good deck that uses Arid Mesas and Verdant Catacombs, let me know! I got those!) So all I’d have to pick up
are the various New Phyrexia cards, which total about four bucks.
The only real question is how well the new New Phyrexia (did I mention they’re new) cards fit into the deck. Gitaxian Probe seems like a
no-brainer; it gives you information to shape your game plan and draws a card, and the ability for it to be played for no mana is not
irrelevantâ€”with Pyromancer Ascension, you can and will run into turns where you need an active Ascension, but you need to use your mana to the
fullest in order to give yourself the best chance to win, and the Phyrexian mana here lets you stretch your dollar, so to speak.
Volt Charge takes up the second burn spell normally held by Burst Lightning, but that might be incorrectâ€”the deck will ultimately need a way to
deal with a Stoneforge Mystic with a Sword in hand, but at five mana, honestly, you’re better off just trying to kill it mid-equip, and Volt
Charge happily does that and adds counters to the Ascension. Tezzeret’s Gambit provides some extra card-drawing and, again, plays into
the whole “getting an active Ascension” immediate game plan, and the “using your mana smartly in a turn with an active
Ascension” secondary plan.
Certainly well within my self-imposed budget and well within my comfort level. The only reason I am shying away from it is because I played it last
year, and I’m not really a “repeating-myself” kind of guy.
International Magic playboy Conley Woods was prepared to sport an updated version of Soul Sisters in Louisville, and StarCityGames.com very own
teen heartthrob Gavin Verhey suggested the deck as a deck that had a good shot at fighting a good fight against the Caw-Blade menace.
- 4 Stoneforge Mystic
- 4 Soul's Attendant
- 4 Serra Ascendant
- 4 Ajani's Pridemate
- 4 Leonin Relic-Warder
- 4 Suture Priest
- 4 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 3 Inquisitor Exarch
Rare Cost Summary:
Batterskull ($24.99 x 1 = $24.99)
Sword of Body and Mind ($12.99 x 1 = $12.99)
Sword of War and Peace ($24.99 x 1 = $24.99)
Phyrexian Metamorph ($3.99 x 4 = $15.96)
Serra Ascendant ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Stoneforge Mystic ($14.99 x 4 = $59.96)
And that’s just the maindeck. The Metamorphs and the Ascendants are close to the allotted budget, and I’d have to pick various commons and
uncommons I’d need, like Leonin Relic-Wardersâ€”clearly I haven’t drafted enough Mirrodin Besieged!). The problem then becomes the
Stoneforge package, which is well outside what I’m willing to spend for this tournament.
It’s possible that I could replace it wholesale. The deck is a white beatdown deck at its heart, so adding in Student of Warfare ($4.99) or maybe
Transcendent Master ($3.49, and another lifelinker) might be beneficial; some additional defense against Denver’s notoriously aggro metagame like
Wall of Omens might take those spots as well. @uselessend on Twitter is running extra Mortarpods and Squadron Hawks, and that seems like a great way to
fight the mirror as wellâ€”having Mortarpod supremacy seems like an ideal way to take out opposing Suture Priests.
I also kind of feel like I want to add at least a couple Emeria, the Sky Ruin into the deck. With the low casting cost of everything, I want those
mid-game land drops to have some potential impact.
The other aggro deck that has seen success recently is B/R Vampires, which has been around for a year and a half in one form or another, and I have
also played before. Thomas Cole’s list from his Top 8 showing at SCG Charlotte:
- 4 Bloodghast
- 4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
- 3 Vampire Hexmage
- 4 Vampire Lacerator
- 4 Kalastria Highborn
- 3 Pulse Tracker
- 3 Viscera Seer
- 3 Captivating Vampire
Bloodghast ($6.99 x 4 = $27.96)
Captivating Vampire ($2.99 x 3 = $8.97)
Kalastria Highborn ($3.99 x 4 = $15.96)
Blackcleave Cliffs ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Dragonskull Summit ($1.99 x 4 = $7.96)
Lavaclaw Reaches ($3.49 x 3 = $10.47)
SIDEBOARD: Dark Tutelage ($0.49 x 2 = $0.98)
This is my first chance to talk about this, but I’ve been thinking about it for a long time: How great is it that we can get solid
color-fixing lands for reasonable prices? Sure, the fetchlands are expensive, but their price is also driven by other formatsâ€”what I’m
talking about is the M10 / M11 lands like Dragonskull Summit and the Scars of Mirrodin fastlands. Wizards has shown over the last couple of years that
they can come up with really good sets of dual-color lands with reasonable drawbacks, and they’ve all managed to stay at a reasonable cost. Ice
Age and Apocalypse painlands, by contrast, were eight to ten bucks apiece. I’m not sure how much of it is based on the availability increase due
to set size and the “chase mythic” effect, but I dig it. Been meaning to mention it for some time.
Vampires is a good choice for me because I actually already have some of the rares. I have Bloodghasts because target-of-musical-education Rick Ashby
is a perennial Dredge player without all those clumsy Dredge cards, and so I have kept them around in case he feels like showing up to a Legacy
tournament. (Or Modern, in the near future, let’s hope?) And I have the B/R lands thanks to my flirtation with Jund for this year’s
Extended PTQs. So all I’d have to order are the Highborns and the lords, which is within the budget.
Shoot, the Inquisitions of Kozilek are more expensive than the rares in this deck.
Now all I need is for some young entrepreneurial grinder to write a tell-all how-to-play manual for the deck. I like it, but I get the feeling that
I’d be too … linear? That, at the very least, I’d leave a lot on the table. With Soul Sisters, I can readily identify what the combo
is after having had it pounded into my head in every article on the deck; with Vampires, I think I’d probably miss the subtleties of the deck
with only ten days to pick it up and get practiced.
So, three possible decks that are all within my budget and should help me attain my goal of bettering my results from last year. Which would you play?
Are there other options, like Elves or Mono-Black Control or Hawkward, that are inexpensive and still have workable matchups against the Star City Open
field, which looks to have a lot of Jaces and Stoneforge Mystics at the top tables?
Rocky Mountain High
Denver Pro Tip #1: Invesco Field, the location of the StarCityGames.com Open in Denver, is a mere five-minute drive from Masterpiece Delicatessen,
which may have the best sandwiches known to man, and most certainly is the best lunch spot in Denver. We discovered it almost completely by
accidentâ€”we were at a new PTQ venue that didn’t appear to have any food options within walking distance, so I checked out AroundMe
and put in “deli” (was feeling like a sammich), and this result turned up. We followed the directions (which went, admittedly, through a
questionable bit of neighborhood) but arrived at the place to see a line well out the doorâ€”a sign of good food if ever there was one.
What followed is what will be one of my great “food memories” of both Denver and Magic: my friends literally moaning into their sandwiches
in delight, sauce running down their arm but reluctant to take the sandwich too far away from their mouthsâ€”probably afraid someone else would
steal a bite. We make it a point to always grab lunch at Masterpiece during PTQs if possible, and I have been known to make a trip up to Denver from
the Springs solely to get lunch. My wife plans her business flights out of town to make sure she can grab a sandwich before her flight. Yeah,
it’s that good.
So make a pact now with your buddies that, if anyone goes 0-2-drop, they’re responsible for taking the Masterpiece Deli order and picking up
sandwiches for everyone. The menu’s online.
Looking forward to seeing everyone in Denver for SCGDEN!
dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr