Your Deck Sucks: A Tribute

Tuesdays aren’t the same without Mark Nestico riffing on a Magic deck! Fortunately, his long-time teammate Emma Handy is happy to be unhappy in his stead! Mark Nestico? You leaving sucks!

“Many people are fans of playing Four-Color Rally G/B Aggro. But many, many people are not fans of Four-Color Rally G/B Aggro. This article is for the latter group. Special thanks to Drew Magary. I’m including this at the top of the article because the denizens of the comment section refuse to acknowledge that I’ve already acknowledged him and this writing format. Your comment section sucks.”

– Mark Nestico

God, I miss Mark. He’s been gone for two weeks and his presence is already missed in the Magic community. It’s been too long since I had someone barking at me that my favorite Standard deck of all time was actually awful. Someone has to fill that void.

It’s not me.

I’m the “Be Happy and Modern is Wonderful” nice-girl of Magic. I spend all week writing lovey-dovey “Make Magic Fit Into Your Schedule” stuff that makes you feel gooey and a tad infectious.

Not today.


This deck is miserable. I’m literally on the same team as Brennan DeCandio (now back-to-back SCG Tour Open Champion, for those living under a rock) and chose not to play the deck he won the tournament with.

Your Record

Three of the Top 4 slots in the Open. Half the Top 4 of the Classic.

Please. We’ve seen better.

Last week I specifically talked about how exciting Week One Standard was from a viewer’s perspective.

Too bad. Instead of new pair of decks after new pair of decks, almost every round featured some combination of Saheeli Rai and/or Winding Constrictor.

Maybe that’s why you’re so good. You can beat up Felidar Guardian by sporting two of the most efficient removal spells for both the Cat and the Cat lady, all while being proactive and gettin’ em dead as quickly as possible. You’re hardly more than a meta call.

Crushing a Heart of Kiran / Nissa, Voice of Zendikar / Gideon, Ally of Zendikar draw in Top 4 on a mulligan was a total fluke.

Your Deck

Let’s get one thing straight: G/B Aggro pilots can’t even figure out what kind of deck they’re playing.

Are you just trying to relive the glory days of the first Open you won with Delirium?

Maybe stuck on some weird energy sub-theme that you won’t let go? Why is Attune with Aether in an aggro deck?

Or you are having trouble winning without just jamming a bunch of planeswalkers and mythics together instead of having a cohesive deck?

What if it’s a fourth option and the best strategy is plugging your ears and screaming, “No, I promise, this new Dark Confidant ripoff is going to be playable. It’s different this time!”

Can one of you just make up your mind? We’ll set something up Royal Rumble-style [“Ten…Nine…” – Ed.] and let all of you duke it out. We’ll take the money from the pay-per-view and use it to fund our Premium section to go out and build a better deck.

I only wrote this article to make an “Oh, it’s a snake!” reference to the oldest meme on the internet and couldn’t even think of one.

I guess you don’t have to decide on which version of the deck is the best one when your “nut curve” of two-drop creature into three-drop creature results in a 4/4 and a 4/5 that both have other abilities on the third turn of the game. I wouldn’t worry about deciding either if I were busy filling out match slips in my favor.

What’s that? Sometimes your opponent decides to “play Magic cards” or “cast spells?” It’s a good thing prepared to apply pressure on one hand while disrupting them with some of the best pieces of interaction in the format.

Your Best Cards

Your curve-topper is barely playable without half the format getting banned. If my old friend Reflector Mage were here, he’d beat you up. Nice +1/+1 counters, idiot.

It’s a good thing everybody at least agreed on playing another two-mana creature that plays well with Rishkar, Peema Renegade. The deck wouldn’t even function otherwise. Seriously, instead of figuring out the best version of the deck to play, a chunk of you decided that you should jam the best thing to happen to Vintage Stax since Triskelion into a Standard deck, pour some Champagne, and call it a night. Trophy or not, that’s just lazy Magic is what that is.

The last rare artifact to see evergreen Standard play came down with the sickness, if you catch my drift, so I recommend not letting this cat too far out of the bag. Wizards of the Coast’s arms (affectionately named Banned and Restricted) will happily see any card that sees a bit too much play to the door.

“Stop trying to make fetch Fatal Push without fetches happen. It’s not going to happen.”

We get it. People talked about how good this card would be in Modern and it made you excited. That doesn’t mean you can just shove it into Standard decks and get your Champagne.

Destroying approximately half of the relevant creatures in Standard before enabling Revolt is just a crutch. Destroying all but about a half-dozen relevant creatures in Standard with Revolt enabled is probably just some sort of hyperbole. I didn’t look it up to craft those couple of sentences.

Despite having a stencil to write this and me drilling the joke into the ground, there are so many different cards between all of the decks, it’s hard to choose which cards to mock you for winning with. I just have to rapid-fire to feel like I’m hitting everything!

Congratulations! Bristling Hydra is great in your aggressive deck that makes Energy!

Mindwrack Demon can’t be bounced by Reflector Mage anymore and helps turn on delirium. You’re all doing some groundbreaking stuff putting it in the Traverse the Ulvenwald deck.

Golly, I guess drawing cards is good.

Look, I love Catacomb Sifter. I played the G/B Aristocrats deck because I wanted to relive playing Rally the Ancestors. We’ve all been there, but whenever my opponent casts a Catacomb Sifter, it’s hard not to chuckle and think to myself, “Of all the Fatal Push enablers, ways to ramp out Verdurous Gearhulk, produce multiple bodies, and provide card selection in a single card, that’s the best you can do?”

Imagine, in this the year of our Lord 2017, there are some G/B Aggro players that need convincing to include Nissa, Voice of Zendikar in their deck that synergizes with +1/+1 counters. A planeswalker that protects itself and plays to the strengths of the deck isn’t good enough for all of you?

Part of writing is understanding your audience, and this makes me feel like that I don’t even know some of you.

Oh, goodie! This wouldn’t be a cookie-cutter Standard deck without one of WotC’s newest straight-to-DVD cookie-cutter planeswalkers. A plus that nets cards, a minus that disrupts the opponent, and an ultimate that only hopefully wins the game via your opponent continuing to squirm? Perfect! Let’s make sure to get it in Blu-Ray this time as well!

What’s New That Sucks

This entire not-combo barely-synergy deck is miserable. The cards in it are already pretty okay on their own: Rishkar is effectively a 4/4 for 2G, Verdurous Gearhulk is an 8/8 for 3GG, and so on. Winding Constrictor is a barely playable card that makes the cards hilariously huge in a timeframe that Standard isn’t quite equipped to deal with.

Back in my day, our combo pieces were bordering unplayable without the other pieces!

Walking Ballista isn’t fair. With Reflector Mage gone, we’re finally allowed to play creatures again. Walking Ballista is just Aether Revolt‘s way of banning all of the creatures with a single point of toughness. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner may have looked good at #SCGCOL, but how embarrassing is the Bob Maher wannabe gonna look when it has to play against an endless sea of Sparkmage Apprentices and Mogg Fanatics? I sure don’t wanna be the person on the wrong side of the exchange.

What Has Always Sucked

Synergy-deck mirrors. Conquering combat math is incredibly rewarding, but if the opponent has more Walking Constrictors than you do, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at combat; they’re just going to have bigger creatures, bigger Walking Ballistas, and more impactful cards.

The power level of these decks on their own is absolutely horrifying. Did any of you notice anything similar about these lists?

They’re the same deck.

Stephen Dykman is a friend of Jadine Klomparens, and Brent Clift is a friend of mine. Jadine had access to Stephen’s list on Saturday night and handed it off to Brent (who had a rough run in the Open with Jeskai Control). Brent had zero reps with the deck, had to buy cards from the SCG booth before the tournament, and still made it to the semifinals of the Classic. That’s not to rag on Brent or say the deck is easy to pilot, but these tournaments aren’t easy. Making it this far in the tournament (after going undefeated in the Swiss) is no coincidence. The power level of this deck is very high, and it isn’t even the copy that won the tournament.

Did I mention how much I hate losing arguments with Brennan DeCandio? This makes two Opens in a row where I had access to the winning decklist before the tournament started and elected to just play whatever dribble I had instead. If he weren’t so nice about it I could at least take solace in resenting the guy. His being a gracious winner just makes me the baddie for jabbing him over the whole thing!

What Might Not Suck

There’s a Pro Tour coming up! This is only the first Open. Team Cardhoarder dominated the first Open after Kaladesh was released with a deck that was rarely in the “big three” after the Pro Tour a few weeks later. This tournament was primarily the USA’s East Coast and Midwest, so the sample size is hardly enough to determine if the deck will be dominant or lasting.

If G/B Aggro with Winding Constrictor stays on the map, people will hopefully settle on a single version of the deck. I’ve joked about this throughout the entire article, but once the deck becomes more streamlined, it’ll become easier for control decks to zero in on which version of the deck to beat (read: which specific threats to prepare for) and the deck will hopefully become a bit worse, contextually speaking.

This deck has been great for discourse within Next Ridge Nexus and the people who test with us (shout-out to Rudy Briksza and Jadine Klomparens). Not only do I get to see a friend succeed, I get to talk with Mark Nestico about some of my favorite articles he ever wrote (via paying homage to him).

Not having to pick a deck for #SCGRICH helps free up some time in my schedule. Now I can figure out if I wanna jam a bunch of fliers with Aethersphere Harvester and Mindwrack Demon, or pretend I’m an energy deck, or even just load up on Tireless Tracker and draw as many cards as possible. I know what lands I’m playing; I just gotta fill in the cracks!

What else is competitive Magic for besides playing a deck that you might actually hate in order to win a few extra games within a single weekend? Who cares if you actually end up losing a few mirrors that you could’ve won by figuring out how to beat the best deck. It’s better just to pretend Magic isn’t meant to be fun. To treat it bad, just to throw it away.