Tag: champions-deck

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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - November 25, 2014

Jeskai Stoneblade by Brian Braun-Dunn (1st at Grand Prix New Jersey Le...

Champion’s Deck 

Treasure Cruise - Jeskai Stoneblade

Jeskai Stoneblade by Brian Braun-Dunn

1st at Grand Prix New Jersey Legacy on Nov. 16th 2014

It was a daily double last weekend with Treasure Cruise decks winning both this and the Modern GP in Madrid. Despite that though there was not an abundance of Treasure Cruise swarming the top 8 with a total of 10 copies between 4 decks, and they were each a distinct archetype. It wasn’t even the bogeyman UR Delver which won which was the other deck running the full 4 copies and there was an amazing diversity between all 8 decks.

The core of this deck comes from the supreme artificer Stoneforge Mystic and the two singleton targets she has with Batterskull and Umezawa’s Jitte. The main line of attack, if your coast is clear, would be to search for the Batterskull and then beat your opponent to death with it and because the Mystic will cheat it in the actual cost is irrelevant. Now there is a caveat to the end of the last statement where you may be concerned with Mystic eating a removal spell which is where you can easily search instead for Jitte which can be easily cast if necessary. A natural contender to carry said Jitte is found in the pair of True-Name Nemesis that can easily connect to start the counters accumulating on the Jitte. There is also a full set of Young Pyromancer who’s natural synergy with the 30 instants and sorceries will have little trouble finding a suitable suitor to suit up these pieces of equipment. Speaking of the spells this deck is rife with card draw sporting full sets of Brainstorm, Ponder, Gitaxian Probe and especially newcomer Treasure Cruise all there to help you burn through your deck to find all the gas. Then there is a modest counter suite with a full set of Force of Will, a pair of Spell Pierce and even a couple of maindecked Pyroblast as a concession to the abundance of Treasure Cruise expected in the meta. Then we round it off with removal finding trios of both Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares as the most efficient while providing a little extra reach.
Now while this deck is certainly no new concept the appearance of Treasure Cruise has done a lot to ripple the otherwise fairly stagnant waters of Legacy. Don’t expect a huge upheaval of the format but it’s always interesting when thing change for better or for worse. If you like tempo style decks this is definitely a well rounded deck which has a ton of game and is fun to play. But don’t be surprised if the meta continues to warp hate in your direction as it continues to suppress Treasure Cruise weilding selections.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - October 7, 2014

Mono-Red Burn Modern by Michael Glanzer (1st at SCG Edison Modern Prem...

Champion’s Deck

Keldon Marauders

Mono-Red Burn Modern by Michael Glanzer

1st at SCG Edison Modern Premier IQ on Sep 28th 2014
Very elegant and simple in design Burn has a storied history in magic since the first Fireball and Lightning Bolt were sent to the opponents dome. Recently it has been growing in popularity in the Modern format. The game plan is very straightforward, just keep casting damage inflicting spells and attacking with your few creatures to reduce your opponent to zero life as quickly as possible.
As far as creatures in Red one of the best aggressive one drops ever is found in relatively innocuous Goblin Guide, but the wise Red mage learns to use his triggered reveal ability to provide himself with invaluable information which is not normally provided to him. It is complimented with Keldon Marauders which will get two points of damage direct then either get a smash in for another three or briefly wall off other aggressive attackers. Then we get to the ample assortment of Burn spells designed to char your opponent to crispy cinders. The all time classic is represented four times with three damage for one mana in perennial Lightning Bolt, with essentially clones from sorcery speed Lava Spike, suspended Rift Bolt and also Shard Volley at the cost of a land. Next we find a wealth more of direct damage costing two with three damage from Incinerate, two from Magma Jet but an invaluable Scry 2 tacked on it, and landfaller Searing Blaze which needs a creature to target but will blast both it and its controller for three points. We then find possibly the two key spells to the deck with Skullcrack and Flames of the Blood Hand which both help kill the opponent with decent bolts to the face but most importantly stop them from gaining life that turn which is the worst enemy of a Burn deck. For a bit of value added Keldon Megaliths is there to provide extra points of damage when you’ve run dry and find your hand has gone Hellbent.
Quite possibly the best way to crack into Modern with the cheapest possible initial investment, it’s certainly the best bang for your buck. As far as straight-up Aggro you’ll be better served with Affinity right now and Lightning Bolt has no better friend then Snapcaster Mage, but those are decks that you need to have the dollars to push into them in comparison. Definitely I would recommend starting with this deck if you’re looking to take the step into Modern until you’ve had a chance to see the other decks and decide where to bet your chips. It’s hard to argue with a proven winner so you aren’t selling yourself short on this one.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com

 

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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - October 5, 2014

Abzan Midrange by Samuel Valentine (1st at SCG Indianapolis Standard O...

Champion’s Deck 

siege rhino - Abzan Midrange

Abzan Midrange by Samuel Valentine

1st at SCG Indianapolis Standard Open on Sep 27th 2014

And so we have the winner from that other SCG Open happening in Indianapolis. As it wasn’t broadcasting live it would seem that some of the hype was lost in the shuffle, especially with the Jeskai Tempo deck causing financial ripples in the secondary market. But this is not a deck to dismiss as it placed 11 similar decks between both top 32, including the second place at this tournament, and Midrange strategies added another 7 to pull just over 28% of the field. This could be the dawning of the Age of Midrange, or just anomalous opening weekend numbers. Regardless you can be sure that this is a deck you’ll need to beat if you want to be victorious of the next few months at least.

Starting with a base of mana dorks there is both Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid to quickly advance the game quickly into the mid-game. We also find Satyr Wayfinder which interestingly will help us dig for lands but also fills the graveyard for interactions with Delve and other reanimation effects. Nyx Weaver is another interesting cog in the engine which provides little mills every turn that it can take advantage of by exiling itself to return any one card in your grave, as well it has reach so it can chump a huge attacker then use its ability to keep you churning. Another key piece of the puzzle is Siege Rhino with its 3 point drain when it enters the battlefield that is just as amazing when he is whipped back, not to mention his 4/5 Trample body to boot. To ensure that you can control the air along with having blockers that are just great Hornet Queen brings a squad with her representing 5 Deathtouch blockers and an additional 4 more when she rises back from the grave. We shore up the creatures with Necropolis Fiend which can possibly drop for just two black using Delve for a 4/5 Flying not even taking into account his ability and a misers Ashen Rider to absolutely rid yourself of any troubles you may encounter in your way. One of the key enablers for the deck is Commune with the Gods which allows you to dig into your library for a creature which could be either another mana dork to continue ramping, a necessary offensive weapon, or even a Whip of Erebos. There is additional upside with the remaining four cards being dropped into the graveyard to be either reanimated or delved away. Speaking of Delve our main source of removal lies with Murderous Cut which can be as cheap as just a single Black mana to destroy any creature. There are two copies of the Whip of Erebos that is used to reanimate any creatures that either died already or were communed away, and there’s also Lifelink tacked on to all of you creatures to ensure you last deep into the game. The final card is Empty the Pits which looks to be an amazing top deck going into the late game where you can tap out and empty your graveyard to possibly add a horde of 5-8 Zombies which without a sweeper should definitely spell certain doom for any opponent.

 

This deck is definitely not to be dismissed. It will certainly be tried with a toolbox of creatures in every combination to see which best design rises to the top. I you are a fan of either Midrange or reanimator strategies then I would recommend this as a great launching pad into the new Standard. We will most certainly be seeing it continue to show these numbers so get your Siege Rhinos now before they’re unreasonable. With its sheer power I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Eric J Seltzer
 
@ejseltzer on Twitter
 
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com

 

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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - September 29, 2014

Jeskai Tempo by Kevin Jones (1st at SCG Edison Standard Open on Sep 27...

Champion’s Deck

Mantis Rider - Jeskai Tempo

Jeskai Tempo by Kevin Jones

1st at SCG Edison Standard Open on Sep 27th 2014

As we bid a fond farewell to RTR/THS Standard and all its mono-colored shenanigans we see how quickly everything becomes new again with both decks sitting at the final table in the wedge colors. There was also in the final a Mardu Midrange deck which in and of itself is a beautiful work of art which simply did not draw well against an amazing draw of the Jeskai tempo deck. But for us today we are interested in this Red, White and Blue beast of a list which was able to battle through 13 rounds and stake its flag first at the summit of this opening weekend.

 

This deck is built around taking advantage of burn to take incremental advantage and close out games quickly and efficiently. To work towards that goal we find a trio of creatures that while not monsters are able to go long and chip away quickly at the opponents life total to make it easy to top deck a burn spell for the win. The first creature drops down turn two with a trio of Seeker of the Way which combo well with the burn through its Prowess to not only get pumped up but also gain lifelink to ensure survival against other Aggro decks. Next we find one of the defining cards of Aggro for the current meta with Goblin Rabblemaster which on an unchecked board will be able to quickly overwhelm the opponent with a horde of goblins beating face. Then we get to a new tool for these colors with Mantis Rider which as a tri-colored creature sports a very strong package as a three drop with Haste to beat face immediately upon arrival, Flying to leap over the walls of Courser of Kruphix, and even Vigilance which allows you to bring the assault with impunity. Supporting the troops there is a duo of Red planeswalkers starting with the all new powerhouse Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker which is basically taking the role of Stormbreath Dragon as another aggressive flyer for the deck but also doubles as decent removal taking out a slew of four toughness creatures. There is also a misers Chandra, Pyromaster which is able to grind precious life points while either blasting potential chumps or immobilizing big blockers, and could also add to the decks drawing power. Speaking of draw there are two cards with which to gain additional resources with Dig Through Time able to go deep to find you two spells which will hopefully finish your opponent  and Steam Augury that does rely upon the choice of your opponent but can easily be a bomb spell depending on what else you flip up with it. Magma Jet is also a pseudo-draw with its Scry 2 not only are you flinging fire but also setting up potential or even pushing useless cards to the bottom in advance of a Dig Through Time. Then we get to the package of straight-up burn spells with sets of Lightning Strike and Stoke the Flames to either flambe some pesky creature or just fling straight to the dome of your opponent to close out a quick victory. You also have the option to barbeque opponents with your Jeskai Charm, but also bounce giant creatures away or pump your team while gaining some incidental life points. Finally we wrap up with catchall answer Banishing Light which is the decks main answer to planeswalkers, enchantments, or artifacts but will also deal with problematic creatures as well.
Man oh man am I ever in love with Jeskai Tempo. It just looks so aggro just like my cup of tea, but still able to overcome traditional issues like draw and removal for bombs. Now I will admit that watching the deck win there was a definite element of variance which handed Jeskai an easier road to walk towards victory, but he took it all the way from beginning to end so there must be value in it. I would be very happy to sleeve up a deck like this and run with it, but with so many new styles and the Pro Tour coming up I’m going to happily observe for now. If you do decide to pick this up though I imagine you’ll have a blast burning up the competition.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - September 14, 2014

Rabble Red by Thomas Graves (1st at SCG St. Louis Standard Open on Sep...

Champion’s Deck

Goblin Rabblemaster - Rabble Red

Rabble Red by Thomas Graves

1st at SCG St. Louis Standard Open on Sep 6th 2014
Here we have the future of Standard Aggro as we prepare for the upcoming rotation. Now obviously there is going to be changes necessary as a huge portion of the deck will no longer be legal in a few weeks but Goblin Rabblemaster is likely where everything begins anew. It is just so aggressive and provides advantage to Red which has always craved cards like this to eke out small edges with which to hammer in the nails.
As with any Aggro deck we start with an tight and efficient curve. A quarter of the deck comes in one drop creatures boasting full sets of Legion Loyalist, Firedrinker Satyr and Rakdos Cackler, along with a trio of Foundry Street Denizen all capable of producing damage at a rate that exceeds their cost. Next at the two drop spot we find Burning-Tree Emissary which is capable of chaining out spells when he joins the fight with pairs of both Ash Zealot and Firefist Striker all of which are more beaters to help mash the opponent. Next we have newcomer and future superstar Goblin Rabblemaster who just continues to provide value to your board every turn, and this deck has incorporated some Convoke spells to thwart would be suicidal assaults. The final creature is Rubblebelt Maaka but it is most useful for its Bloodrush ability which turns it into a Giant Growth for your attackers. Speaking of Giant Growth there is a one of Titan’s Strength for pump and it has a useful Scry for added value since otherwise this deck is slave to the top of its library. For reach there are two burn spells with Lightning Strike to either clear blockers or finish him, and Stoke the Flames which is capable of tapping down your forced attackers once you get your Rabble token. Finally, we have a misers anthem with Hall of Triumph which is another Convoke if necessary but especially pumps the team to push the beats harder and faster.

 

While it is hard to say exactly how this deck will look in a few weeks it is a certainty that a Red Aggro deck is going to be around in the meta early. I would certainly be pulling together pieces getting ready if you like to beat face Aggro style. Especially important to note is with people going to brew hard with the wedge colors and mana going to slow down a lot of those decks we will undoubtedly be an overwhelming force while they work out the kinks. So definitely mise the meta early until you find that wedge you love.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - September 9, 2014

UR Storm Modern by Mark Donaldson (1st at SCG Washington DC Modern Pre...

Champion’s Deck

Pyromancer's Ascenscion - UR Storm Modern

UR Storm Modern by Mark Donaldson

1st at SCG Washington DC Modern Premier IQ on Aug 24th 2014

I fell for Modern Storm Combo way back when it was a build up with Seething Song into an Epic Experiment to just blow out your opponent from literal nowhere. Since then there have been some changes as Seething Song was banned and in order to remain competitive the deck morphed back into a Pyromancer Ascension deck reminiscent of the days of yore. I continued to follow my passion of the deck and still believe it to be a very solid choice, not to mention a deadly weapon in the hands of a competent pilot.

 

The game plan of the deck is solid and straightforward. Cast enough spells to build a high enough Storm count to burn out your opponent. In order to accomplish that the deck is composed of draw spells, mana makers, enablers and a win condition.  The most important aspect of the deck is the plethora of draw spells with fully twenty-three ways to cycle through cards, necessary when the only way to win is find one of two copies of your win con. The package starts with Gitaxian Probe which with a Phyrexian mana cost basically cycles free while providing information as it peeks into the opponents mitt. Then since one Blue cost Ponder and Preordain were banned for being just too good the next best floated to the surface with Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions to dig deep and find the cogs to the machine. There is also Thought Scour and Desperate Ravings which both synergize well with the Flashback providing ability from Past in Flames as they proactively stock the graveyard with targets to abuse. In order to keep the wheels turning once you start the combo going we use Reds rituals with Desperate Ritual and Pyretic Ritual both providing three Red mana on resolution, as well as Manamorphose which is able to filter excess Red into Blue mana to cast additional draw spells and is itself also a draw spell as well. There are very few non-land permanents in this deck but one which does a major amount of heavy lifting is Goblin Electromancer which reduces colorless costs of your instants and sorceries to make those mana producing push even further, but as it is a beacon of any creature removal your opponent plays it is often best to wait until you’re ready to go off before committing him to the board. The other non-land permanent we have is a very powerful enchantment Pyromancer Ascension that once active provides extra copies of your instant and sorcery spells to bring a devastating death to your opponent with vicious alacrity. Our last enabler piece is Past in Flames which is a boon for this deck in that it provides a means to build up a lethal storm count with access to fewer spells in hand by abusing the graveyard and flashing back previously used spells effectively doubling the amount of spells you can cast. This all builds towards our win condition Grapeshot which looks at the total amount of spells cast that turn or the Storm Count and makes additional copies of itself with each doing a point of damage to a target creature or player to blast out your opponent in one fell swoop.
This is a deck that has been around in Modern since the inception as it was a port from the old Extended. Despite several bans to reduce its effectiveness, namely from Ponder/Preordain and Seething Song which made the deck just a bit too efficient, it still finds a way to produce results. It may never be the top deck of the format but is a solid Combo option and will always be around as long as spells are printed to keep the Combo going off. If you like to kill your opponent out of nowhere then I definitely urge you to give this deck a twirl.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - September 8, 2014

Jund Monsters by Chris Van Meter (1st at SCG Somerset Standard Open on...

Champion’s Deck

Polukranos, World eater - Jund Monsters

Jund Monsters by Chris Van Meter

1st at SCG Somerset Standard Open on Aug 30th 2014
 
The Beard is Dead, Long Live the Beard.
So finally CVM has conquered that demon which has eluded him for so long. And not for lack of effort as it was so close to his clutches many times before but now is firmly in his grasp. He can finally fulfill his commitment to not shave off the beard until he wins an Open and that face not seen all year will be bald and bare again. This was also a testament that sticking to a archetype that you’ve not only developed into your comfort zone but also mastered and tweaked to perfection is a key to finding success.
The deck starts very simply by building it ramp through Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid to gain access to extra mana and deploy your big threats as early as possible. This leads us to the central focus of the deck which is built around the monsters with Polukranos, World Eater who also doubles as removal and the hasty flier Stormbreath Dragon who are a straight up beatdown plan to smash your opponents to pieces. For support we find the only Magic 2015 update with the uber popular Goblin Rabblemaster which has been making waves in Standard as an amazing source of card advantage by adding pressure to the board each and every turn, and when your opponent is unable to defend against the rabbling hordes then it gets ugly fast. Scavenging Ooze is there as a hedge against any type of reanimation or graveyard abuse and is able to grow rather monstrous while gaining incidental life points here and there. The last creature Ghor-Clan Rampager isn’t often used as such but more for the Bloodrush ability to not only pump up an attacker but also Trample damage through a chump blocker often clearing the path of an annoying roadblock in your way. And finally we have a couple of Mutavault in the manabase to skirt decks loaded on sorcery speed removal. We compliment this robust creature package with two planeswalkers Domri Rade and Xenagos, the Reveler who both have great synergy with the high creature count. Finally, the deck has a splash of removal for those especially annoying obstacles with Dreadbore for pinpoint and Mizzium Mortars as the sweeper.

 

I’m happy to see CVM finally reach that pinnacle he had shackled to himself, not that he looked too much like a crazed ZZ Top hobo much. He has proven time and time again hoe power the Monsters deck is destroying competition in his wake. It is very likely that this deck will morph through the rotation to continue its dominance, quite likely as a RUG or Temur list. I’m excited to see what will emerge in just a few more weeks.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - August 28, 2014

Boros Burn Modern by Teruya Kakumae (1st at Grand Prix Kobe on Aug 24t...

Champion’s Deck

Vexing Devil - Boros Burn Modern

Boros Burn Modern by Teruya Kakumae

1st at Grand Prix Kobe on Aug 24th 2014

Now here’s a deck that calls straight to my heart. As I’m an Aggro player in the blood Red has always been a color I most associated with. I’ve followed burn through Standard from year to year, Extended back in the day, Legacy while Mental Misstep was legal, and of course now in Modern. The two main draws of this deck is that there are few lifegain issues in the meta as Soul Sisters is not the most popular deck choice while you’re deck has a wealth of removal to deal with many of the life gaining creatures in Pod decks, and with a largely fetch/shock manabase common to the format most decks do between two and six damage themselves in the first two turns.

 

The creature package is very tight and comprised of some very cheap drops. Eleven one drops showcase just how low the curve of the deck is with perennial Goblin Guide with its hasty beats and uncommon ability to provide information to this color combination, Vexing Devil leaving your opponent with the decision to take a smack to the dome if he isn’t able to deal with it otherwise, and a trio of Grim Lavamancer who will often find a graveyard well stocked in fetchlands and burn spells. There is also a two drop in relative newcomer Eidolon of the Great Revel which once you’re ahead on life can come down to lock out any opposition. The rest of the spells in the deck consist of a plethora of burn spells designed to ruin your opponent in just a few turns. The deck boasts basically fifteen bolts providing three damage for one mana with full sets of Lava Spike, Lightning Bolt, and Rift Bolt supplemented by a trio of Shard Volley. Then it is filled out with two cost burn starting with a full set of Skullcrack which is the decks insurance against lifegain from Sphinx’s Revelation, delaying the infinite life combos in the various Birthing Pod builds, or even a cripling life boost from a Martyr of Sands. Next a trio of Boros Charm are easily four damage to the dome but can in a pinch save your army from untimely death with indestructibility or even grant one of your soldiers Double Strike to one shot for a kill. The last inclusion is the decks only straight removal with Searing Blood which is great against all the low toughness creatures that litter the format and tacks on a bolts worth of damage if that creature does find its way to the graveyard.
I am intrigued by his build and feel the move away from Black which these decks had been regularly splashing into White for the Charm and better sideboard options is a great move. The only thing I am questioning is the twenty lands where this low curve would seem to thrive on eightteen, although with three Shard Volley you do need few more land but I’m reluctant to go to three in the first place. It’s great to see a good ol’fashioned Aggro deck rise up to the top where the format does appear rife with Combo and Control. Still, I am hoping that a viable Dark Boros deck splashing both White and Black for all-star Dark Confidant to enable the deck with a draw engine will emerge one day. Until then this deck will have to satisfy my cravings to burn my opponents into toasty piles of ash, definitely something near and dear to the flames in my heart.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com

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