You Lika The Juice? – Standard Once More

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Wednesday, June 25th – I was all ready to shift gears and totally dive into preparing for the Block Constructed PTQs, but then Pete pulls together a memorial tournament for Richie Proffitt that’s turning into an event you simply cannot afford to miss. The cause is fantastic, the prize pool is insane, and those two facts are sure to draw a great crowd of Magic players to Roanoke, Virginia this Sunday, June 29th.

I was all ready to shift gears and totally dive into preparing for the Block Constructed PTQs, but then Pete pulls together a memorial tournament for Richie Proffitt that’s turning into an event you simply cannot afford to miss. The cause is fantastic, the prize pool is insane, and those two facts are sure to draw a great crowd of Magic players to Roanoke, Virginia this Sunday, June 29th.

I gotta be there and be a part of this wonderful event.

Now I’m jumping back on the Standard bandwagon with a big ol’ question mark – what to play? I could go with Sullivan’s Elf deck; I don’t think I gave it a fair shake at Regionals, I certainly could have easily gone undefeated with it after picking up my second loss and went home with some decent prizes and a good time under my belt. But all the same misgivings I had before are still there; people are very well prepared for Elves, and after the first turn or two most decent opponents are going to know what my deck is capable of. There will be no surprises, no confusion, no… well, coolness factor of playing a spell that your opponent didn’t expect. I suppose there are a bunch of intangibles part of me needs as a Magic player outside of just winning games and matches, and a big one is that look on the faces of my opponents when they realizes they’re sailing in uncharted waters when squaring off against me.

This weekend I mentally recharged, taking Friday off and going down to Norfolk, Virginia for the weekend to attend the awesome Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Festival with my family. As a kid, my parents (who were of the hippie generation) very much loved taking us all out to various music festivals (and I came very close to being dragged to Woodstock as a toddler), and I’m pleased to give the same experience to my kids (minus the clouds of wacky tobacky that I recall smelling in the breeze on occasion). Anna Marie and Aaron seem to really enjoy it, and for weeks they’ve been building up excitement that stayed with them until about 7pm Sunday night when they finally fell asleep in an exhausted heap.

Over the weekend I got to throw down on crabcake Étouffée (with shrimp and crawfish), chicken and Andouille sausage Jambalaya, seafood gumbo served over rice and fried eggplant, red beans and rice, fried catfish… iiiieeeee, cher, it was some kinda good! And the music… man, was it good times, not just some great little Zydeco bands from Louisiana, but also The New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Dixie Power Trio, Rusted Root and Galactic (with special guest Boots Riley on a few songs, who unfortunately added a little too much California gangsta-style language for small children’s ears). The always-entertaining Cowboy Mouth closed out the weekend late Sunday, but sadly we had to hit the road before then. If you’re within driving distance, I would heartily recommend at least spending a day trip to this annual good time.

Anyway, on the way home, sated on Zydeco and Cajun food, my mind finally turned back to Magic, and I decided that, especially for this special tournament, I needed to play something different. Part of me wanted to go back and run an updated version of my Turbo Blink deck with all that Saffi goodness, but I don’t really have the time to work on that deck to bring it up to date. Besides, it’s hard to hold a candle to the Reveillark decks that are similar yet obviously superior. In the interest of time, I think I have to look for someone else’s deck, and luckily for me there’s a treasure trove of them available on the Regionals pages, though first I got distracted by a cool list that BDM quietly tossed out at the end of his column last Friday – yes, someone qualified for Japan’s Nationals with a Warp World deck (and yes, it’s got 63 cards in the maindeck):

Takafumi Einou
1st Place – Japan — Osaka

4 Fire-Lit Thicket
5 Forest
1 Fungal Reaches
3 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Karplusan Forest
1 Kher Keep
3 Mountain
2 Reflecting Pool
2 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urza’s Factory
3 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Deadwood Treefolk
3 Farhaven Elf
4 Kitchen Finks
2 Magus of the Moon
3 Masked Admirers
4 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Wall of Roots
1 Wort, the Raidmother
2 Coalition Relic
2 Harmonize
2 Loxodon Warhammer
4 Mind Stone
4 Warp World

3 Cloudthresher
3 Faerie Macabre
3 Firespout
3 Seal of Primordium
3 Vexing Shusher

I was recently intrigued by Adrian Sullivan Warp World deck (premium)… he said he’d not put enough time in testing to feel completely confident in his decklist, but felt that it had real potential. I mean, if rogue deck extraordinaire Sullivan and an undefeated Japanese Regionals champion converge on a card that’s completely off the radar, I’m definitely intrigued! Several years back at Grand Prix: Richmond I ran a gunslinging table where people could play me across three different formats, and if they beat me they’d win a booster pack (yeah, I gave away a fair number of packs). One guy ran a Warp World deck against me that was a fascinating machine to watch in action; as he beat me I just watched transfixed. At the time, I was writing the Into The Aether column for Wizards and had access to a “god account” for Magic Online, so I quickly assembled the deck and gave it a whirl online; let’s just say that executing the combo is an incredibly tedious process on MTGO (though maybe that’s changed with Version 3).

Of course, without Anarchist or Izzet Chronarch available, the modern Warp World decks aren’t as much a continuous combo engine where you get more and more permanents while your opponent gets less and less, so much as a neo-Upheaval, where your opponent’s permanent count gets shrunk by roughly half or so whereas your board position increases. If you’re lucky, you’ll draw into a second Warp World from a Masked Admirer coming into play.

When I was kicking around Sullivan’s build, I had a few issues with cards like Llanowar Elves that did a nice job of accelerating into the initial Warp World, but were pretty much dead permanents when Warped into play. I kicked around the idea of using Heritage Druid to let summoning-sick elves provide mana, and also use Wolf-Skull Shaman to increase your permanent count – in a lot of ways, build a reasonable elf-deck with a combo Warp-World finish.

Of course, then you have to pull back and question yourself why you’re not using cards like Siege-Gang Commander, Bogardan Hellkite and, in Sullivan’s version, Avalanche Riders.

Anyway, I know it’s not cool to tinker with someone else’s decklist without playing it first, but Einou’s 63 card list certainly begs the question whether this deck is optimized, or whether the concept is just strong enough to win despite being over 60 cards. If I were to “tighten” this deck up (and of course, I wouldn’t be Bennie if I didn’t have the urge to tinker), I may go with something like this:

I basically took Einou’s maindeck and stripped out the non-permanent, non-Warp World elements, went up to 4 Farhavens and 4 Admirers because they seem like no-brainers. 2 Avalanche Riders add some disruption and also Warp in to make a bad situation even worse. I figure Furystoke Giant is a gimme. I added Sullivan’s manabase since it feels cleaner, and I’ve kept Einou’s sideboard for now, though I may tinker with it a little bit (for instance, I’d like to move a few Cloudthreshers to the main deck but I don’t want to cut any of the already rather expensive spells). What do you think? It looks like a heckuva fun deck, and Einou’s performance (and Sullivan’s hunch) tells me a Warp World strategy could win.

Another source of inspiration for Standard is also the current PTQ season, where innovative deck designers are exploring Block Constructed ideas. Can some of these ideas make the jump into the larger waters of Standard? BDM’s column showcased one Block deck that I think has some potential, where Gaddock Teeg becomes immortal with a Shield of the Oversoul slapped on him. There are a lot of popular spells in Standard right now that Gaddock Teeg shuts down.

Tom Nugent’s Barkshell Blowout

2 Elvish Hexhunter
4 Gaddock Teeg
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Safehold Elite
4 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers
4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
4 Cloudthresher
3 Barkshell Blessing
3 Oblivion Ring
4 Shield of the Oversoul
9 Forest
4 Mosswort Bridge
9 Plains
2 Wooded Bastion

3 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
2 Elvish Hexhunter
3 Medicine Runner
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Prison Term
4 Seedcradle Witch

So what does the larger card pool add to the mix? If it’s Standard and Green, we should have Tarmogoyf, of course! As much as Mosswort Bridge intrigues me, Treetop Village is likely still a much better choice. Also, while Safehold’s Elite are the right colors and Persistence is fun, we do have Saffi around to watch Gaddock Teeg’s back if the Shield doesn’t make an appearance – and look ma, she helps Cloudthresher come into play a few turns early!

I’m a little concerned about the Reveillark matchup here, thus the Faerie Macabres and Squall Lines in the sideboard. Still, the deck looks like a lot of fun, and seems like it would be capable of some brutal openers: turn 1 Hexhunter, turn 2 Teeg, turn 3 Shield of the Oversoul on Teeg, turn 4 play Wilt-Leaf Liege, attack, and goldfish is at 5.

Obviously, Oversouled Teeg nabbed with Sower of Temptation would be a royal pain in the ass.

What do you all think – does Gad of the Overteeg have potential in Standard? Am I missing some obvious additions to the deck?

On a related note, Ronald Hilmes got 6th place in Lincoln Nebraska with a G/W Oversoul deck (but no Gaddock Teeg). It looks like a pretty strong decklist, but with no Tarmogoyfs – I’m wondering about card availability perhaps? I am digging the Vanquishers, Perfects, and Colossus elements. Maybe something closer to his build, like this?

Lastly, I’m kinda grooving on Tuan Phan’s winning deck from Forth Worth, Texas’ Regionals:

You got six Planeswalkers, you got Wall of Roots and Devoted Druid for mana acceleration, you got Tarmogoyf, you got Harmonize, you got Primal and Profane Command, you got Shriekmaws, Cloudthreshers and Oona, Queen of the Fae. What’s not to love here for a black/green-lovin’ mage? You certainly can’t say this deck is lacking in power cards.

Wait… did you see Martin McGowan’s winning deck from Glasgow, or the second place deck by Kevin McMail – how awesome they look! Scroll down, and they even have a Treefolk deck in the Top 8. Man, I need to move to Glasgow!

Gah, so many choices, so little time!

‘Til next week!


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