Due to a bout of illness, I was unable to play any games of Standard this last weekend. I’m not normally one for playing a bunch of games, as
I’d rather discuss theory and put that into practice, but I couldn’t even do that!
The end result was a bunch of lists, though thoroughly tuned in my head, that are probably off by a few cards. Of these, I’m probably most likely
to play B/G Birthing Pod this weekend in Indianapolis:
- 2 Solemn Simulacrum
- 3 Birds of Paradise
- 2 Phyrexian Rager
- 2 Acidic Slime
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Skinrender
- 4 Perilous Myr
- 3 Glissa, the Traitor
- 1 Massacre Wurm
- 4 Viridian Emissary
- 1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Entomber Exarch
The interaction between Heartless Summoning, Glissa, the Traitor, and Perilous Myr is pretty awesome. Even on their own, those cards are more than
fine, but in combination, you get to Shock all their little dudes. I expect a solid amount of RDW, W/G Tokens, and other assorted creature decks at SCG
Indy and States, and this deck should do well against those.
Most control decks don’t perform very well against an active Birthing Pod, and if they board in a ton of hate, you have planeswalkers to fall
back on. Liliana is obviously great, but for some reason, Garruk Relentless isn’t getting the respect it deserves. Against control, it provides a
steady stream of threats, and against beatdown, you often kill something before you take over with your Wolf army.
I like my maindeck, but the numbers likely aren’t correct. For example, I’d like a fourth Glissa, a third Phyrexian Rager, and maybe a
third Solemn, but I wanted to fit sweet cards like Altar’s Reap that I could try. In the end, I didn’t get to try it, and it won’t
likely stay in the maindeck, but the card is certainly interesting.
The Birds of Paradise may look sketchy in a Heartless Summoning deck, and that might be true. However, curving into Birthing Pod, Phyrexian Rager, or
Glissa is something that I wanted. It wouldn’t surprise me if becoming a dedicated Summoning deck wasn’t the better decision though. If I
do cut the Birds, maybe I’d cut the red sideboard entirely.
I started with a U/B/G version with Tezzeret. With Birthing Pod, Solemn, and the artifact subtheme with Glissa, Tezzeret seemed like a fine engine. The
mana wasn’t great, but was doable, and provided a secondary “big” effect for control matchups. Maybe the Tezzerets are the better way
to go, but I didn’t have Birds in that version, so it felt a little slow. If I kept the Birds in order to speed up the Tezzerets, I’m not
sure what I’d cut, but it’s another option.
The next deck is something I’ll certainly be trying at some point, but it doesn’t quite scream “Play me!” like the Birthing Pod
- 3 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Acidic Slime
- 1 Primeval Titan
- 2 Thrun, the Last Troll
- 4 Dungrove Elder
- 3 Skinshifter
Adrian Sullivan compared Legion Land Loss to the modern Dungrove Elder decks, and his article heavily influenced my build
here. After thinking about it, I decided that I’d much rather play a land destruction strategy than mess around with garbage like Solemn
Simulacrum. Even Sylvan Ranger seemed better than Solemn, which led me to question why I was playing the card in the first place.
Beast Within and Bramblecrush aren’t simple LD spells either. Both of them fight problematic permanents like Oblivion Ring and Gideon Jura, which
gives them much needed utility. Still, if faced with the option of playing a turn-two Beast Within followed by turn-three Bramblecrush, I’ll lean
towards targeting their lands more than not. If I can follow that up with Garruk, they are probably dead.
The Dungrove deck has a number of different ways to build it, but right now, I like this version. Other than the LD package, you have Skinshifters for
early beatdown (or defense), Green Sun’s Zenith to pull it all together, and Garruks which you can typically chain together. If you draw six
thanks to a large Dungrove Elder, Garruk is probably the card you most want to draw into. Because of that, I should probably have a fourth Garruk; I
just don’t know where to fit it.
I’m most excited about Zenith into Primeval Titan for Mountain and Kessig Wolf Run. That’s an effect that the old Dungrove decks wanted,
typically in the form of Overwhelming Stampede, but “splashing” Wolf Run is more compact and clean.
Sword of War and Peace might be superfluous with the Wolf Run, but it seemed like my opponents would either be on a white or red aggressive deck or a
control deck with few creatures and lots of cards in hand. Either way, Sword sounded like a good idea, but it could easily be cut.
While Dismember typically gets the nod in most decks, I wouldn’t be surprised if Prey Upon ends up being better in the Dungrove deck. There are
few reasons to need an instant speed removal spell, what with the manlands and Goblin Guide rotating, but I’m still hesitant to include it.
My sideboards are very similar, but that’s because I want answers to the same things with both decks. Creature decks need to die, hence the Arc
Trails and Tree of Redemptions. Birthing Pod is going to huge, so I’m packing Ancient Grudge. I’m not too scared of Tempered Steel, but
both Arc Trail and Ancient Grudge are great against it.
Moving on, Solar Flare is a deck that should be on everyone’s radar by now, but I think we can make improvements. For starters, I think the deck
needs Sphere of the Suns. The mana is a little rough, to say the least, and any help would be appreciated. It’ll run out in a few turns, but
hopefully by then, your mana is fixed.
Aside from that little piece of technology, I’ve seen some lists that I think are much better than others. Take this list for example:
It doesn’t utilize Liliana of the Veil, which may be a mistake, but the mana base is much better. Rather than focus on the reanimation theme of
Solar Flare, this version is more of a draw-go deck that “splashes” the Flare aspect as an afterthought.
Forbidden Alchemy is probably necessary for a blue deck these days, which ends up filling your graveyard. It seems foolish not to take advantage of
that in some form or another, but going all out on the reanimation theme seems clunky and slow. This version seems more controlling, consistent, and
stable, and those are all things I can get behind.
If I wanted to stick to the same ole, same ole, I’d play the above list. Perhaps I need some Timely Reinforcements; maybe a Sever the Bloodline
would be good (albeit easier to cast in the true Flare decks), or maybe I’m overloading on creature removal.
Up next, I have the deck that you should all be scared of, but are likely underratingâ€”Red Deck Wins.
I’ve seen similar versions crushing the Magic-League tournaments. Even though a lot of great red cards rotated, there’s still plenty to
play with. Playing green for Kessig Wolf Run, Garruk Relentless, and probably sideboard Ancient Grudge might be unnecessary, but I’d rather
experiment with new cards rather than not. All of them seem very powerful, and the splash is nearly free, so why not?
Are you playing removal that deals with cheap one-drops? Do you have some sort of life gain like Timely Reinforcements? Can you beat a four-drop
planeswalker? If you answered no to any of these questions, you could be in trouble.
There are plenty of ways to build the red deck. Chandra’s Phoenix could be involved, as could other four-drops like Hero of Oxid Ridge.
Incinerate is certainly playable, and maybe Grim Lavamancer should be toned down to a three-of. With all the one-drops, Stormblood Berserker starts
looking good. When you have Berserker, Shrine, and planeswalkers, Volt Charge suddenly gains a ton of value.
If you’re not prepared for red, you will regret it.
For my final list, I have a “fun” U/R deck. I’ve seen versions all over the place, but something like this looks best to me:
Granted, it’s about as basic as a list could be, but there’s definitely something there. Perhaps the key is splashing Timely Reinforcements
and Auramancer, or maybe it’s all about becoming a Past in Flames deck. Regardless, Burning Vengeance is a very powerful card, and one that will
only get better as more of the block is released.
As is, the above list will likely be flooded with card drawers (and enablers like Dream Twist), which surprisingly can be a bad thing. Maybe I need
more business like Slagstorm or Shock in order to give me time to get my engine up and running. My Snapcaster Mages would be very happy to see a few
Shocks on that decklist.
I like the idea of playing Auramancer, but Forbidden Alchemy seems tailor-made for this type of strategy. Playing black might just be a bad idea,
despite being able to consistently flashback the Alchemy. Timely Reinforcements is very powerful and could lead to Infernal Plunge fueled Past in
Flames, but that feels like there aren’t enough tools available to make work.
I can’t wait to see what sorts of brews come out of SCG Indianapolis. There will be plenty of people in attendance, and I’m hoping for some
variety in the top sixteen. There’s no clear deck to beat, so play something powerful! That’s my plan at least.