Around this time in the set cycle of Return to Ravnica, I wrote that Sphinx’s Revelation was the best card in Standard. I’m not sure that it isn’t now, and despite all the hate for it in Dragon’s Maze, it was definitely the best card in Block Constructed. Voice of Resurgence is the best card in Dragon’s Maze.
I don’t often bother appointing "best cards." I don’t go in for the "Top Ten Best Cards in Standard" lists that I see Patrick Chapin and Mike Flores periodically discuss on Twitter. In the case of Voice of Resurgence, it’s just too obvious and too stark not to mention.
I think this card is ridiculous and a huge mistake, and I feel obligated to exploit it.
I say it is a mistake not just because of its absurd power level but because I’m confident (based on a few conversations with some of the appropriate people) that it was intended to punish blue decks and specifically Sphinx’s Revelation. In reality, that simply isn’t what this card does. Sphinx’s Revelation decks can largely ignore it. It’s still a good card, but it’s much less backbreaking than it would be for someone who is, let’s say, trying to burn out blockers while attacking with Jackal Pup or even Burning-Tree Emissary.
The problem with Voice of Resurgence is that it plays like a powerful dedicated hate card but is broad enough that it punishes almost everyone and can be maindecked.
I played Voice of Resurgence at Grand Prix Portland, and it was awesome. Modern is all about cheap answers to cheap threats. Cards in Modern function something like this: one mana gets you an answer or a threat, two mana gets you a threat that must be answered, three mana gets you card advantage (putting you up a card or maybe half a card), and four mana gets you a legitimate two for one or better. Within that spectrum, the format is all about just trading resources and mana. Voice of Resurgence gets you three or four mana’s worth of card advantage, and that’s a really big deal.
Standard operates on a very different axis because everything is much less fine-tuned and a single mana here or there is much less important. As a result, Voice of Resurgence might actually be worse in Standard than it is in Modern.
Voice of Resurgence trumps most answers and cheap threats (anything it can trade with in combat). Voice of Resurgence is generally unimpressive against bigger threats (I almost wrote bigger creatures, but what’s holding it back in Legacy—where it’s still incredible in many matchups—is that it gets trumped by bigger spell threats like combo decks as well). Voice of Resurgence has been relegated to the sideboard in a lot of early Standard decks, and I don’t think it’s because people don’t know how good the card is.
The problem is that the card is generally great against most red, black, and blue decks but decks full of big creatures can often ignore it. There’s a caveat here that the Elemental token it makes have the potential to be incredible against decks full of big creatures if it’s in a deck that is going to set up a board full of creatures where the Elemental is the biggest thing going on.
What all of this means is that Voice of Resurgence is at its absolute worst against G/B/W Reanimator. What could have been one of the defining cards in Standard is just incidentally hated out by the best deck. That’s actually a good thing because the card is so obnoxiously powerful that I wouldn’t want the format to revolve around it.
Yet, despite its horrible positioning, all I want to do in this Standard format is find ways to play with Voice of Resurgence.
There’s a chance that’s because it has the potential to be my kind of card, being Doomed Traveler’s bigger, angrier brother, but the effect is so good the first time around that I’m always hesitant to want it to die. I think it’s my Johnny side that loves Doomed Traveler, but I’m pretty sure my appreciation for Voice of Resurgence is all Spike.
There are a few divergent shells that I’m interested in building around Voice of Resurgence.
The first is the one I would naturally try to build. It starts like this:
The fourth Tragic Slip and fourth Varolz are still options, but I know I want at least three of each. That’s 26 cards, which means I get roughly ten more, and they’re probably going to have to be fairly high impact since I’m not doing much that matters against midrange creature decks so far.
Cards that I’m considering:
Unruly Mob (going a little deep here, but there’s a chance)
Strangleroot Geist (I don’t think I like what this does to the mana, and I think it’s actually pretty low impact)
Rancor / Unflinching Courage / Gift of Orzhova (and Ethereal Armor if I go deep on those, but that’s unlikely)
Collective Blessing (or less likely Cathars’ Crusade—these are ways to try to beat bigger creatures)
Sin Collector (this definitely at least earns a sideboard slot)
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Maw of the Obzedat (might end up being the best five-mana spell to break through more powerful cards)
Ready // Willing
Alive // Well (sideboard only)
Profit // Loss (unlikely and only in the sideboard)
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
This list is more important than the deck I’m actually going to suggest. I haven’t had a chance to test Standard because of the Block Pro Tour and Modern Grand Prix—this article is outlining my starting point. My first guess likely won’t work, and this will be the list I’ll turn to in order change things up and find the solution.
- 4 Skirsdag High Priest
- 4 Doomed Traveler
- 4 Young Wolf
- 4 Blood Artist
- 4 Cartel Aristocrat
- 3 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 1 Maw of the Obzedat
Ready // Willing is an option I’m interested in because it does a lot of important things in different place—it counters Supreme Verdict, gains life against aggressive decks, and wins combat against big creatures.
The curve in this deck is very low, but I’m interested in testing a theory that Brian Kibler explained about his deck for the Pro Tour that Varolz, the Scar-Striped lets you get away with skimping on the high end because it gives you a powerful way to spend mana in the late game. I may not be scavenging huge creatures, but I have plenty of them, it doesn’t cost much mana to scavenge them, and making Cartel Aristocrat bigger is a big deal.
I love the look of this deck and really hope I can make the shell work, but if it doesn’t, the next deck I’m interested in is Bant Flash. Matt Costa wrote an article about the archetype, and I like where he’s going with it.
I understand his reasons for putting Voice of Resurgence in his sideboard, but I’d definitely start with it main and side it out against G/B/W Reanimator. Forcing the opponent to act on their turn as much as possible is extremely powerful for a deck like this, and I think the upside against any deck with instants and every Burn-Tree Emissary deck is just too high not to include it.
He suggests this:
I like his maindeck choices, but I’m tempted to skimp on Advent of the Wurm and play a fourth Unsummon over the fourth Advent. There’s a good chance this is simply wrong, but the deck has so many fours.
As for the sideboard, I don’t exactly have a problem with anything he’s doing, but I think I want take it in a different direction.
I want Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice (a card he mentions) against aggressive decks and midrange decks that won’t easily be able to kill it—populating Wurms and Elementals is just too powerful to leave it out. I also want Aetherling. Aetherling dominated Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze, and I don’t expect it to be any less relevant in control matches in Standard, so I want access to it. While I’m at it, I’d ideally like a Plasm Capture to go with it.
I’d kind of like a Cavern of Souls to force through my Aetherling, but it plays so badly with Plasm Capture that I don’t think I can do both. I’ll just have to trust Dispel and Voice of Resurgence to find a way to get my Aetherling into play.
I think I’d start with a sideboard of:
The next deck I’m interested in is trying to port populate as a strategy into Standard. Populate is a radically different ability when we can get a good rate on */* Elemental tokens and 5/5 trampling Wurms rather than just mediocre rates on 3/3 creatures, so every card that can do it needs to be reevaluated.
I’d probably look to start with:
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 4 Loxodon Smiter
- 2 Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 1 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi
I’m not sure if the tiny black splash is worth it, but Sin Collector seems very important to me. This deck is much less aggressive than Craig Wescoe Pro Tour-winning Block deck. It replaces good one-mana threats with mana dorks, which allows it to use Gavony Township to excellent effect.
This deck seems very well positioned against small aggro and moderately well positioned against control because of Rootborn Defenses and Sin Collector, but it could definitely struggle with Flash if it can’t stick a Voice of Resurgence. I could see it having problems with decks like The Aristocrats and G/B/W Reanimator that don’t have to fight through its creatures. Silklash Spider is there because I think fliers might be among the biggest problems for this deck otherwise.
I don’t understand Magic finance well enough to know if now would be a good time to buy Voice of Resurgence, but I do know that the card’s good enough that it has the potential to dominate Standard and that it should always see play in Eternal formats. We’ve really only seen the beginning for this card. I honestly expect it to become a staple in Legacy, at least in sideboards, in the near future.
Thanks for reading,