Tag: mutavault

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Avatar 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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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - August 27, 2014

UB Devotion Standard by Steve Rubin (1st Place at StarCityGames Washin...

Champion’s Deck

 

Notion Thief - UB Devotion Standard

UB Devotion Standard by Steve Rubin

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 8/23/2014
It almost feels like a broken record at this point but once again a Black-based Devotion deck has won again. Thankfully we are closing in on rotation for Standard which is going to finally shake this bogeyman that has been haunting the format for almost a year. By now it should be clear to anyone who has given even a modicum of interest into Standard how this deck works, but let’s give it the rundown.
One of the most fearsome opening plays is turn one Thoughtseize into turn two Pack Rat which quickly swarms to take over the game. Now while this is the ideal opening strategy it is not the only line of play. You alternately build up the curve from Nightveil Specter into Desecration Demon into Gray Merchant of Asphodel to create a powerful attack in the air with a potentially huge life swing from the Merchant devotion. There is also a duo of Lifebane Zombie in this build as extra damage to sneak through non-Black decks and incidentally grabs a creature but more importantly information. The trio of Underworld Connections serves not only as the card ‘draw’ advantage for the deck, you could say making useful Rats out of useless cards is also advantage, but also increases the devotion count for the Merchant as well. As is standard in these Black decks the removal suite is robust with this one comprised of a trio of Hero’s Downfall, a set of Devour Flesh and a pair of Bile Blight capable of answering a wide variety of threats. To round up the spells we have a singleton Duress to compliment the Thoughtseize arsenal and ensure access to perfect information. To increase the amount of attacking creatures we have a full compliment of Mutavault primarily for their favorable interaction with Pack Rat as it is also a Rat but also dodges sorcery speed removal from Control decks. The sole addition from M15 is a one-of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth which negates the colorless downside of Mutavault allowing it to produce Black mana. As for the Blue in the title it is merely a splash added to enable sideboard choices to come in and shore up some weaknesses.
As this Standard season is rapidly coming to a close it is apparent that this is not a deck to invest yourself into post-rotation. The majority of its moving parts will be cycling out and it is unlikely that we will find comparable replacement to maintain its viability. If you need a deck to battle at your WMCQ then obviously jump on this proven winner, but if not then wait for previews to start rolling out and get ready to brew anew.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - August 4, 2014

Mono-Blue Devotion by Collin Roundtree (1st at SCG Dallas Standard Ope...

Champion’s Deck

Master of Waves - mono-blue devotion

Mono-Blue Devotion by Collin Rountree

1st Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 8/2/2014
With what became an inevitable conclusion with a mirror match final Mono-Blue Devotion reared its ugly head again to take down the Open in Dallas this weekend. The deck was obviously well positioned against the field as four copies managed to eke into the top 8. The more telling story is that with nothing added from Magic 2015 it was clearly already at its pinnacle with this standard configuration having ravaged the meta since it appeared after the release of Theros.

 

Although this is a blue deck there is no real Control element and it is firmly entrenched in the Aggro camp. It uses a very efficient curve to clutter the board with threats building to a inevitable conclusion. We start up the curve with two one drop flyers in Cloudfin Raptor that is able to grow over the first few turns into a sizable machine and Judge’s Familiar who sits around unimposingly waiting for that moment your opponent forgets that he is there to ruin his casting of a non-creature spell. Next at two there is Frostburn Weird which pulls double duty as a great wall or efficient ground pounder and Tidebinder Mage which is integral to lockdown the large creatures from GR/Jund Monsters, both adding two Devotion to the count. The next creature we have is Nightveil Specter which can be very useful as a threat in the air and will very often be able to strip away useful cards that your opponent would like to draw after a Scry, while adding on its own a full three to your Devotion. All of this Devotion then comes into play first with the other three drop Thassa, God of the Sea to turn her on for attacking or blocking but having her Scry every turn goes miles in helping you close out the victory in a timely fashion. The last creature at four is also looking at the Devotion when Master of Waves enters the battlefield to see just how many friends it’s inviting to the party. As a mono-colored deck it is able to include a full set of Mutavault into the manabase to ensure even after sorcery speed sweepers there is still pressure against the enemies life total and as a bonus also receive the Masters pump. As additional devotion and as a pseudo-removal spell there is a pair of Domestication. As far as the other spells there is a trio of Rapid Hybridization to flip huge problems into manageable Frog Lizards and also a pair of Cyclonic Rift which can often just seal the game once you hit that seventh land you needed to end a stall by sweeping the other side of the board but can also just bounce back one pesky blocker preventing you from victory.

 

Mono-blue devotion has time and time again proven that it is a highly efficient weapon to ruin your opponents day. If you are looking for a deck to rock your WMCQ then this is definitely one that you should highly consider. And on the flip side, if you aren’t going to be playing this deck then be certain to get some reps against it as you’ll almost certainly be facing off against it in a non-zero amount of rounds.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - July 23, 2014

Mono-Black Devotion by Dan Jessup (1st at SCG Baltimore Standard Open ...

Mono-Black Devotion - Urborb, Tomb of Yagmoth

Mono-Black Devotion by Dan Jessup

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 7/19/2014
Once again a new set emerges and we find the usual suspect at the top of the heap. It’s been quite a while now that Pack Rat has been able to grind its way to victory. As the new meta tries to find itself again it looks like it was a good choice once more. Hopefully we will see something new emerge but we do have only a couple months until Pack Rat is gone from Standard, quite likely for good.
Mono-Black devotion is no stranger to the Champion’s Deck and as such hardly needs an explanation. It attacks on two axies  both of which are capable of decisive kills. The ideal opening for the deck comes from turn one Thoughtseize to strip away their answer into turn two Pack Rat which then proceeds to lay down the beats so fast that most opponents need to rely on top decks to stay alive. Alongside the Rat we find a full set of Mutavault which basically act as an anthem for the Pack to gnaw away at the enemies life points, and as a bonus often attack through as well. The other side of the coin has a trio of creatures sliding up the mana curve with Nightveil Specter first as a three drop which contributes all three as devotion and is able to build added value by stealing the opponents options away especially when the Scry and leave the card on top forgetting exactly what Specter will do. Next is huge beater Desecration Demon at four and while it is possible for the opponent to hold him off for a while it is an inevitable conclusion that unless they remove him from the board he will smash in for significant damage. The third creature in at the five drop slot is Gray Merchant of Asphodel that while on the surface not much more then a glorified wall has a very useful draining ability that can be a finishing blow, and as a bonus from Pack Rat its tokens as they are exact copies they add devotion as well. Talking about adding devotion we have Underworld Connections to help draw into more threats and answers along with M15 reprint Sign in Blood, which consequently acts as a Shock to the face to kill your opponent should they be at two life or less. The flipside has a full set of Thoughtseize to strip the opponent of his threats and answers while providing you with information to be sure to have a good defense ready. The remaining spells in the deck form the removal package with a set of  Hero’s Downfall, trio of  Bile Blight, pair of Devour Flesh and a singleton Ultimate Price sure to find answers to many of the problems you’ll find along the way. The other M15 addition to the deck is Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth which pair with Mutavault is able to turn the inherent disadvantage from them in this Black mana hungry deck into a non-factor, but as it is legendary the solo copy is fine basically replacing a Swamp.
Now while I won’t argue that this deck is a strong choice as it has been consistently performing above the curve it is certainly not a deck to plan towards the future with. Unless you are planning to compete in FNMs during the summer or are heading to a WMCQ then I would keep away. Once we reach rotation in a couple of months with Khans of Tarkir a huge chunk of the meat from Mono-Black devotion is going to rotate out. But if you do plan on beating face all summer long then this deck is certainly one that will be consistent, but often time boring and repetitive. If you do take the plunge just understand what you’re getting into.
 
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - June 18, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Boros Burn by Igor Gorbunov (1st at Gran...

Boros Burn - Skullcrack

Boros Burn by Igor Gorbunov

Grand Prix Moscow Champion – Standard on June 15th 2014

Once again the power of fire to the face was able to propel this Tomahawk missile of a deck right to the top of the victory podium. Showing how powerful a linear strategy of simply throwing everything into reducing your opponents life total to zero really can be, this design is a well oiled machine dedicated to death and destruction. This really appeals to the little fire imp which resides in my heart and is a variation on the classic burn theme which has existed in magic since the days of Fireball and Lightning Bolt.

The deck is a little light on the creature side but has found two spicy dudes that synergize with the deck extremely well given the 26 spells that are played at instant speed. The first is Young Pyromancer which on its own isn’t a very intimidating creature but once you start slinging some spells the party gets started and guests will arrive, and don’t think that lowly 1/1’s aren’t any good because every single point matters with this deck. The other creature comes with Chandra’s Phoenix that can do some real damage as a hasty flier but also will find its way back to your hand rising from the grave whenever one of your spells blasts into the opponent. The manabase also affords you space to squeeze in three copies of Mutavault that are able to maneuver their way around any sorcery speed removal. Then we get into the burn suite of the deck which is massive. There is at one cost Shock capable of delivering a two point blast either to the player or if necessary any of his smaller creatures. The mass of the burn is found at two cost starting simply with Lightning Strike which is simply three points going to the opponents dome or one of his creatures. Next we have Magma Jet which is another flexible two points but the most important part is the Scry 2 which helps the weakness of this deck a bit as there is no real draw available to you. Against decks that play with lifegain, the true nemesis of burn, you have Skullcrack which as a surprise against Sphinx’s Revelation decks could very easily snatch victory from what would be an almost certain defeat. The flexibility of Boros Charm is almost universally wasted with the four point blast to the face as the Double Strike will rarely do more damage but if you have a sizable force you might need the Indestructible against a sweeper. The last two cost burn is a removal spell with Searing Blood which will do two points of damage to a creature but has the added bonus where if that creature dies will do an additional three to its controller. And the last burn spell is the Warleader’s Helix with a four point shot while also providing a four point lifegain as an added benefit. The last spot in the deck is taken by the removal of Chained to the Rocks which is capable of exiling almost any creature threat that is able to skirt the other options from direct damage.

If you like a deck that goes all out in pounding your opponent to a pulp with a relentless assault of burn baby burn then this is definitely the deck to tickle your fancy. Don’t think though that it just pilot’s itself as you are always faced with the decisions of how to best utilize your mana and spells each and every turn. As you are limited by your draws be sure to practice and know your match-ups in advance so you can realize which way you need to fight. This is the ultimate race where your resource is your life vying against his, don’t be afraid to take a couple hits from his creatures if it means you get to blast his dome for a few extra points and kill him a turn faster. But on the flip side make sure you kill his creature before it gets you. In the end you’ll find that the rush of this deck makes it so worth playing.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - May 26, 2014

Orzhov Midrange by Charlie Rinehart (1st at SCG Somerset Standard Open...

Banishing Light - Orzhov Midrange

Orzhov Midrange by Charlie Rinehart

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 5/24/2014

Charlie Rinehart was able to stymie SCG circuit superstar Chris VanMeter on his mission to shave off his beard, which he has sworn to wear until he is victorious in a major tournament. This came down to a battle of the Midrange decks after both successfully dispatched Esper Control decks in their semifinal matches. While CVM chose to attack the format with an ever popular style with Jund, Charlie took a different route and combined the strengths of Black and White known as Orzhov midrange, which has been a powerful choice of late.

The deck follows some similar lines that this formats bogeyman Mono-Black Devotion has in using a trio of creatures that form the foundation of the Black deck. We see the pest know as Pack Rat as the two drop of choice in the deck, quick to grow into a swarm of vermin if unchecked and synergistic with the manland Mutavault to big fast and effective beats to the enemy. There is also Lifebane Zombie which against the Green based monster decks is truly effective but also is able to sneak past most defenders to either chip away at life totals or finish off annoying planeswalkers. Then continuing up the curve we the other borrowed creature with Flying powerhouse Desecration Demon which is a bargin at four converted cost and will most often force your opponent to sacrifice his worst creature in an effort to stave off the onslaught for another turn, but eventually he will be out of fodder and you’ll have a gigantic flying demon. Then we get to the creatures which helped to inspire the dabble into white. There are two five drops which both help the deck to recover lost life points first with a singleton of the legendary Obzedat, Ghost Council which also has a great synergy with another singleton Whip of Erebos that allows it to be returned from the grave and then use its own trigger to stick around for more turns after. The other five drop is the powerful and elusive Blood Baron of Vizkopa with not only Lifelink to assure that you remain alive against aggressive strategies but also protection against both White and Black which ensures it dodges a lot of the formats removal to ensure it keeps you alive and kicking. The last creature is a one of Sin Collector which work with the other key disruption in your deck Thoughtseize to provide important information about the opponents plans and strip away a valuable card. For planeswalker power we find Theros Block superstar Elspeth, Sun’s Champion which this deck is often able to drop down behind some protection then use it to ramp up the board state into a one sided slaughterhouse on your road to victory, and is also a very key as additional removal to rid the board of huge monsters that have accumulated on the other side of the table. As far as removal is concerned this deck is rife with a plethora of choices starting with a full set of the creature and planeswalker killer Hero’s Downfall, then also adding pairs of Ultimate Price to rid the board of any of the many mono-colored creatures in the format, Bile Blight that functions as the decks sweeper although it is limited to shrinking all copies of one particular card, and as a catchall answer Banishing Light which is able to remove a good variety of threats. The final card is the decks only real source of card advantage, although the scrylands do help filter bad draws, with another choice borrowed from Mono-Black with Underworld Connections that is so key for this deck to grind out small bits of advantage to try and pull ahead to seal the deal.

While certainly not a newcomer to the format it is a very powerful deck and shows that a lot of the raw power comes from that old faithful Mono-Black. Don’t hesitate to jump on this deck as it has the ability to power through the format. It is definitely one of the juggernauts that will help to close out this Standard format over the next few months.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com

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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - May 5, 2014

Golgari Devotion by Andrew Tenjum (1st at SCG Cincinnati Standard Open...

Vraska the Unseen - Golgari Devotion

Golgari Devotion by Andrew Tenjum

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 5/3/2014
Here comes the first of the post Journey Into Nyx Standard metagame and while there’s a little tweak to the Mono-Black Devotion it is basically the same old deck that took the first prize. The only Journey Into Nyx addition to the deck is Temple of Malady which is perhaps why the decision was made to dip into Green. And while we do get a couple new weapons in the arsenal it is basically just the same old Pack Rat rush or Gray Merchant Control plans.

Nothing has really changed in the creature department with the requisite Pack Rat followed by Lifebane Zombie, Desecration Demon and Gray Merchant of Asphodel. The manabase also allows for the full set of Mutavault which have the added benefit of being rats as well to pump up the pack. This new version runs a one of planeswalker that hasn’t been seen for a while, Vraska the Unseen as a part of the dabble into Green. She is super versatile as she is able to remove almost any non-land permanent, and will often take down creatures trying to destroy her. Vraska compliments an already very strong removal package, which is extremely common for this style of deck. We start with Hero’s Downfall to rid the board of both creature and planeswalker threats, a trio of Devour Flesh which can skirt protection or hexproof, and with the foray into Green we find the other card added to the list Abrupt Decay which is just a good all around answer to a plethora of problem permanents. In order for the deck to keep ahead we have Underworld Connections for draw which also doubles as additional devotion count when you are draining with a Gray Merchant. The final piece of the puzzle comes with the discard powerhouse Thoughtseize that will not only strip your opponent of the most relevant card but also provide you invaluable information about his game plan.

I’m not entirely surprised by this deck as the printing of a crucial dual land, in this case the Scry land, is often enough to push a good strategy to be great. And while there is really just a bare minimum splash into Green from this deck that little bit could be what keeps this ahead of the simple Mono-Black Devotion deck this evolved from. There is very little risked here as there was usually a suite of Scry lands added to the deck that weren’t really being used for the off color. It remains to be seen though if this deck continues to show dominance, maybe the Control or Midrange decks will find a way to usurp its fetid crown.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer
ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Avatar Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - April 7, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Mono-Black Devotion by Robert Berni (1st...

Mono-Black Devotion
Robert Berni
1st Place at Grand Prix Pheonix on 4/6/2014

Bile blight

And so the song remains, the same as it ever was, playing that same old tune.  Black Devotion has proven itself to be a solid front runner consistently as one of the true tier 1 decks.  It has an array of weapons that make it difficult to beat when it draws it’s threats in sequence.  The deck also has two main lines either through Pack Rat or devoting itself up to Gray Merchant with ample removal and card draw to boot.  It’s no surprise to see it post results week in and week out.

The opening that this deck wants to see everytime it starts a new game is turn one Thoughtseize into turn two Pack Rat.   So often this will rob the opponent of a key defensive piece which will allow the Pack Rat to get to work multiplying itself until it has gotten out of control, which tends to happen very quickly.  The synergy with Mutavault which also happens to be a rat is another factor in boosting the lowly rats to monumental proportions.  The secondary line of attack comes with a curve of threats starting at the three drop with Nightveil Specter a formidable Flying attacker which has the added value of not only stealing life from your opponent but also can steal cards from the top of their deck, which can even be played as long as the specter remains in play.  Then at the four drop we have Desecration Demon which is quite simply a beat stick which you’ll use to grind the opponent to dust.  Finally we get to Gray Merchant of Asphodel which has a very useful Devotion ability that will drain the life from your opponent and add that amount which is based on your total Devotion to Black mana.  To help boost your Devotion count the deck also has Underworld Connections which provides a steady stream of cards at the price of some life and also a misers copy of Whip of Erebos that helps regain lost life point with Lifelink and will raise your dead creatures from the grave for a turn to fight for you again.  As is typical with a Black deck removal is a key element and this deck is no different.  There is a varied spread of spells but the key one is Hero’s Downfall which can deal with problem creatures and planeswalkers alike.  This is complimented by Devour Flesh and Doom Blade to vanquish other creature problems. Then we round out the package with pseudo-sweeper Bile Blight which is capable of removing some very significant threads but you must be mindful of its use in the mirror.  As mentioned before there is also Thoughtseize which not only takes care of any otherwise hard to handle problem but also provides very valuable information about the opponents plans.

I have serious doubts that this strategy will be oppressed come the new offerings of Journey Into Nyx. In fact I shudder to think of what new weapons might even enhance this deck.  One thing is certain, whether you decide to play this deck or not if you aren’t prepared to face it then you should consider yourself not prepared at all.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter

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