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.
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.
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.
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.