When last we talked, I spent a good portion of my column ranting about the stale state of Standard. Some readers found the pessimism off-putting, but I hope you’ll forgive me. I am usually a flaming optimist, but even my sunny disposition can get worn down sometimes. I’m not sure if you made it to the bottom of the column, but I did offer a glimmer of hope — the 7th place Reveillark deck from the StarCityGames.com $5K Standard Open offered up a list that told me I could possibly salvage some key elements of my Clarity build: Gaddock Teeg; Doran, the Siege Tower; Reveillark; no Cryptic Commands. As a starting point, here’s the list:
Like many of you, I’ve been devouring every tidbit of Standard discussions and decklists I’ve been able to scrounge among the four corners of the Magic internets. While many of the Premium writers and other pro players have been telling us that any deck that can run Cryptic Commands would be foolish not to (such as Reveillark), the fact that this deck placed 7th out of 200+ players serves to puncture that theory just a little bit, and give some hope to those of us who either don’t have a playset of those $25 cards or just don’t want to play them. I was reading “Chris Woltereck House Downpayment Tournament Series” winner Chris Woltereck talking about Cruel Control this week, and during his quarterfinal match report against Scheffenacker’s Lark deck, it was a long, hard-fought three-game match that was going into “sudden-death.” If the Lark deck could fight things so close against a top-notch player like Woltereck playing a ridiculously powerful deck, I felt like there was certainly something there to pay attention to. Maybe you don’t need Cryptic Command?
Anyway, once the post-tournament analysis columns started rolling in, I started hearing a recurring theme: that Reveillark was well positioned to beat Kithkin decks and Five-Color Control, but struggled against Faeries. Two out of three ain’t bad, right?
Then I click over to the latest Feldman column, and read about his Merfolk exploits. Charging into the fray alongside the little scaly bastards are some Kithkin recruits that Feldman seems to suggest are very, very good against the Fae: Knights of Meadowgrain.
Something clicks. Many of the Reveillark decks also pack some lifegaining creatures already, from the steadfast Kitchen Finks to the more recent Bantastic Rhox War-Monks as found in Scheffenacker’s deck. Obviously, both of these folks don’t have any synergy with Reveillark, though the War-Monks don’t mind battling alongside Doran.
Knights of Meadowgrain, however… have that all-important two power that is the key to angels, light, and heavenly Reveillark synergy.
So I started thinking about the idea, and how it would change the flow of the deck. For one thing, it really helps establish some much needed early board presence. On the play, a turn 2 Knight nicely answers a first-turn Figure of Destiny, a play that I’ve experienced to be a serious beating. It basically forces an expenditure of five mana by the Figure’s player in order to finally be big enough to attack for profit – and if you just go ahead and block to force the pump, you come out ahead by 2 life before they’ve hit you once. Untap, drop your fourth land and Sower that big boy.
A turn 2 Knight gives you board presence, some early life boost, and basically breathing room to let you play the card-drawing spell you want to cast on turn 3. With a War Monk in hand and your opponent with an early threat, if you’ve not yet drawn a fourth land do you drop the Monk and hope you draw next turn or do you play that Esper Charm? The Knight makes it a no-brainer: your third turn is there to fill your hand.
I dropped the idea in an email to Feldman to see what the Meadowgrain Godfather had to say at the idea, but as of this writing I haven’t heard back from him. I hope that means I’ve blown his mind and he’s been busy this past week working out the ideal mana configuration in his own Reveillark deck (though somehow I doubt that’s what happened, haha!).
Looking over Scheffenacker’s deck some more, I was looking at the mana costs of the spells. While he has a good number of one-drops, even assuming a swap down from War Monks to Meadowgrains, there is still a metric truckload of three mana plays this deck wants to do… Doran, Esper Charm, Bant Charm, Mulldrifter… 13 of â€˜em, not counting the War Monks. Doran, Esper, and Mulldrifter are pretty much non-negotiable, and while I love Bant Charm, something has to give. Bant’s best ability is as a removal spell, but between Condemn, Wraths, Sowers (and Reveillarks to get back Sowers) I think the deck has a good amount of creature control already. The second best ability is countering an instant, so I think we can safely go with cutting the Bants for some number of Negates, a card that I absolutely fell in love with two weekends back.
After some tinkering I think I’ve come up with what I think is a sleeker maindeck, with a sideboard still in flux:
- 3 Doran, the Siege Tower
- 3 Gaddock Teeg
- 4 Knight of Meadowgrain
- 3 Mulldrifter
- 3 Sower of Temptation
- 3 Reveillark
- 1 Rhox War Monk
A quick note on Mulldrifter: in the Clarity deck I ended up only running 2 Mulldrifters, and found that I drew them a decent amount of time but not as much as I’d like. Most Reveillark builds run 4 Mulldrifters no questions asked, and it’s hard to argue with that since Mulldrifter is one of the power cards of Reveillark. Yet I also really hate having to evoke Mulldrifter on the draw on turn 3 when I don’t have any other play and my opponent is beating me down. Esper Charm typically draws cards anyway, and I don’t see cutting any of those, so… I’m currently thinking of adding one Rhox War Monk back to the maindeck as another board development card. Another option I’m considering is the awesome Mistmeadow Witch.
Okay, on to my initial sideboarding plans. These plans are not set in stone, and in fact it’s my hope that some of you can offer up some suggestions on how to better improve this plan in the next two days before States:
My thought here is that I don’t need the Condemns to stave off early beatdown, and Wrath and Sowers, while still not bad to have, aren’t as critical either. Woltereck mentioned getting stomped by Thoughtseize and hindered by Gaddock Teeg, so I figure go up to four of each, and a fourth Negate for good measure. Glen Elendra Archmage just seems like a great four-drop to swap in for the Wrath and Sower.
Targeted removal is sketchy against Scions, so I wanted to instead bring in Cloudthreshers, Thoughtseize to snag one before it wrecks me, and then a fourth Teeg to combat Cryptic Wreck-me, and Negate for nasty things like Bitterblossom and Agony Warp.
Okay, I know Teeg is good against Mirrorweave, it’s good against Spectral Procession, it’s good against Planeswalkers… but I also know I’d hate to desperately need to cast Wrath of God and for some reason be unable to get my Teeg killed (say, my opponent is flying overhead with a bunch of Spirits and a Giant). So I think it’s better to remove old Teeg and replace with more creature control. Snakeform is a card I’ve come to really respect since playing it a bunch in the mono-Green aggro elves in the Block Constructed PTQ; I also played it a lot while testing NayaGeddon. Basically, if you’ve got a deck with a fair number of creatures and are likely to crash with your opponent’s creatures in the red zone, Snakeform shines. In particular, I like what it does to Figure of Destiny after they’ve spent five mana to finally get it past your Knight of Meadowgrain and all of a sudden — whoopsie! Snakeform is also good against…
Snakeform is one of the few cards out there that can eliminate a Reveillark without his controller getting any mileage from it. A clever â€˜Lark player will often evoke the Reveillark rather than risk it getting Sowered by his opponent, so how nice will it be for them to spend six mana, and with the sacrifice trigger on the stack, you Snakeform it, draw a card and Time Walk â€˜em?
Anyway, like I said, while I’m locked in on my deckchoice, the maindeck and sideboard are still a bit in flux, so I’m up for suggestions. I’ve found a couple of other non-Cryptic Command decklists from some recent tournaments that are very interesting; here’s two from Gamingetc’s recent $3K:
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Mirror Entity
4 Sower of Temptation
3 Glen Elendra Archmage
3 Knight-Captain of Eos
2 Runed Halo
4 Mind Stone
4 Adarkar Wastes
4 Mystic Gate
2 Wanderwine Hub
8th place, Gamingetc $3K Standard Tournament
4 Makeshift Mannequin
2 Mirror Entity
3 Sower of Temptation
4 Kitchen Finks
2 Knight-Captain of Eos
4 Tidehollow Sculler
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
4 Mind Stone
4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Mystic Gate
4 Fetid Heath
2 Vivid Meadow
2 Underground River
2 Adarkar Wastes
2 Caves of Koilos
Both of these have the very interesting Knight-Captain of Eos/Mirror Entity plan advocated by our Reveillark mad-genius BPM, which is particularly nasty when you’re snagging creatures from your opponent with Sower, turning it into a Changeling (soldier) and then sacrificing it to fog. I’ve got a couple Knight-Captains, and he’s very tempting… my biggest problem is that he pretty much demands Mind Stones, and Mind Stones clash with what I’m looking to do on turn 2 and 3. I also find it very interesting both builds are running Glen Elendra Archmage in the maindeck and Wraths in the sideboard. Does the Knight-Captain plan remove the need for Wrath? I’m torn.
Many of you have likely also run across the funky Canali Reveillark deck from this weekend:
Pro Tour: Berlin 2008 – LCQ
2 Ghitu Encampment
3 Reflecting Pool
4 Rugged Prairie
4 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
4 Mind Stone
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Figure of Destiny
2 Kitchen Finks
1 Loyal Sentry
3 Ranger of Eos
3 Galepowder Mage
2 Murderous Redcap
2 Oblivion Ring
3 Knight-Captain of Eos
2 Voice of All
2 Stillmoon Cavalier
1 Loyal Sentry
1 Wild Ricochet
1 Chandra Nalaar
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Stillmoon Cavalier
1 Voice of All
1 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
3 Vithian Stinger
I don’t know what TunTun Nas means, but my guess is Look Ma, No Blue! Now, longtime readers may recall that I’ve long been a big fan of Galepowder Mage, and it was a key card in my TurboBlink deck from a year ago, so this deck certainly piqued my interest. GPM plus Knight-Captain of Eos is a throw-back to the days of infinite-fog ala Spike Weaver + Stampeding Wildebeests. But what’s up with Voice of All? Voice of All? Really?
Alright people – tell me what you think in the forums, I need some last minute tweaking help!
Good luck everyone at States/Champs this year, and make sure you muster out… the fate of this wonderful tournament may rest on turnout this year.
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
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