Tag: standard-decklist

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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - August 7, 2015

Abzan Elf Company in Standard for Origins Game Day

Standard Abzan Elf Company

It’s been a long time since I was even remotely interested in sleeving up a deck for Standard, but with the spoiling of Shaman of the Pack that all started to change. Seeing that card made me instantly pull on my brewers hat because honestly, Collected Company right? It seemed like this pair was too powerful to dismiss at first glance but the real test seemed like it would be finding enough of the pointy eared guys to build around them to make the deck run right. This is how the idea for Abzan Elf Company started for me.

Shaman of the PackCollected Company

Searching up all the Elves in Standard brought up a suite of eighteen soldiers to recruit, but how many of them would truly be worthy? I knew that one main factor is the added value of Collected Company so another key was converted mana cost of those at three or less. Also, another strength of the Elf tribe is one mana accelerants or mana dorks which would be a key to powering out our gas as quickly as possible.

So let’s take a moment to look at the two main cards we are using to gel this idea together with Shaman of the Pack and Collected Company. The true power behind the Shaman lies in its ability to end games quickly and without even requiring much charge to entering the Red Zone. As for Collected Company it is a card advantage machine for green decks which is something they are often lacking, but it requires a build around commitment to execute properly. What these two ideas revolve around is a high density of creatures to pull it off and because of that synchronicity they can be meshed into each other.

We can safely say then that we are looking at that density to fall somewhere between twenty-eight and thirty-two to be consistently reliable on both fronts. Let’s take a look then at all the creature possibilities that are afforded to us in those eighteen dismissing whatever is sub par to the plan and see if we can shake out a cohesive decklist from that.

ONE DROPS
Elvish Mystic – this is our quintessential turn one play which enables us to accelerate to early action.
Gnarlroot Trapper – the other one drop mana dork, but that he can’t pay for Collected Company is a real downside.
Sunblade Elf – with an Abzan splash this little dude can be a beast in fudging up combat math with his ability.
Thornbow Archer – while I don’t expect many mirror matches there is a non-zero amount of Nissa floating about.

Elvish MysticGnarlroot TrapperSunblade ElfThornbow Archer

TWO DROPS
Dwynen’s Elite – three power and two bodies for the Shaman for just two mana is pure value in this deck.
Elvish Visionary – replaces itself very efficiently and is just total gas for the deck, so amazing to Company him in then draw another to keep the pedal to the metal.
Leaf Gilder‎ – the other mana dork available to us but droping it turn two is way less valuable then having it active turn two.

dwynen's eliteElvish VisionaryLeaf Gilder

THREE DROPS
Nissa, Vastwood Seer – while she isn’t a bad card the low land count in the deck works against her transforming reliably but if you can then ticking her up will just keeps the gas flowing.
Reclamation Sage – Another handy three drop it seems with the amount of thopter decks and incidental enchantments or other artifacts floating about he is not just another Elf body but also key utility.
Shaman of the Pack – this is the whole reason to pull this deck together. With it’s ability to just kill out of nowhere, if you are able to apply any pressure to the opponent this is without a doubt going to be an incredible finishing move. And the feel goods when you are able to drop two from a Collected Company is just indescribable.

Nissa, Vastwood SeerNissa, Sage AnimistReclamation SageShaman of the Pack

FOUR DROPS
Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen – giving that boost to the team is crucial when you need to adjust the combat math in your favour and gaining some life in the process ensures you can survive to your critical turn.
Sylvan Messenger – with such a high concentration of Elves in the deck the chance to whiff is so slight and when you get to refuel your hand with another three or four creatures that is nothing to shake a stick at.

Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf DaenSylvan Messenger

FIVE DROPS
Gilt-Leaf Winnower – that he is tutorable with Chord of Calling is his prime selling point but the condition that his target can’t have equal power and toughness does leave quite a few good targets off his list. But he is big and menace helps to push through extra damage.

Gilt-Leaf Winnower

So there we have our options to put together our cohesive mixture. If we start at the top with the one drops it is obvious that our first eight slots are taken with both Elvish Mystic and Gnarlroot Trapper to boost our games with a turn one accelerant. But just eight turn one plays doesn’t seem enough, since often turn two we have three mana at our disposal, which left the choice between Sunblade Elf and Thornbow Archer. Looking at the Archer I wasn’t fully convinced that it was any good and thinking about the white splash for Sunblade seemed very doable with little downside due to Windswept Heath, while providing additional sideboard options as well.

Next the two drops were fairly straightforward for me as both Elvish Visionary and Dwynen’s Elite are just pure value for the cost and definitely auto-includes. Now while I did find some deck lists running Leaf Gilder I wasn’t convinced this deck wanted a turn two dork and I was happy with eight creatures for this spot on the curve.

That brings us to lucky number three. Obviously we are running with the full compliment of Shamans, but it’s the other options where numbers are the key. I really like Nissa very much and she helps not only to ensure we have mana coming to us but also keeps the gas going when she flips, IF she flips. It’s not going to be easy to get to seven lands with this deck so for that I don’t want too many in there, as well as reducing the whiffs on Collected Company. Our other option is Reclamation Sage which I like very much with some of the decks already floating around. With a 1/3 split between Nissa and Sage that gives us another eight elves added in total.

Now we start to get beyond where Collected Company is useful and we already have twenty-eight Elves in the deck so anything now beyond has to be just value for the deck. Both four drops Dwynen and Messenger are really good but we don’t want too load up, so I opted for a 2/2 split. As far as continuing to climb up the mana ladder as much as I liked the idea of a tutorable removal spell the amount of creatures that Gilt-Leaf Winnower could not destroy made me want to shy away from it.

With the creature suite pretty well locked up that left only the decision on what were the complimenting spells to the deck would shake out to. The card advantage engine consists of Collected Company and Chord of Calling which I settled on a 4/2 split. I wish there was a way to squeeze in another Chord of Calling, but I really wanted a one-of Obelisk of Urd with so many Elves in the deck. Convoke really helps keep the actual costs down so we don’t have to worry about stumbling on the more expensive spells.

Collected CompanyChord of CallingObelisk of Urd

As for the manabase I feel like I’ve come to a good balance considering the splash for some white cards and abilities. For the green and black side of the deck I’ve got five Forest, two Swamp, and one Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, along with four Llanowar Wastes and two Temple of Malady. Then for the white side I added one Plains to be fetched up by four Windswept Heath, and some tri-coloured choices with Mana Confluence and Sandsteppe Citadel. I really wanted to minimize the amount of lands which come into play tapped to ensure a first turn play which is why I didn’t go for a third Temple or additional Citadels.

Putting everything together the decklist looks like this:

Abzan Elf Company

by EJ Seltzer

One flex spot I’m considering is moving a Dwynen to the sideboard to add an additional Chord of Calling and possibly one of the Reclamation Sage as well perhaps to get a Hero’s Downfall into the maindeck, but I’m still debating those choices. There might also be some value to a second Obelisk of Urd instead of the Downfall to ensure tons of pressure from my creature rush.

For now the sideboard is still in flux but the main cards I have been considering include Bow of Nylea, Obelisk of Urd, Nylea’s Disciple, Dragonlord Dromoka, Hornet Queen, Duress, Eyeblight Massacre, Dromoka’s Command and Hero’s Downfall. Other options could be Nylea, God of the Hunt, Mistcutter Hydra, Whip of Erebos, Palace Siege or Abzan Charm. Of course it’s always dependent on what you’re expecting to face in your meta.

If I had to decide right now on my sideboard it would look like this:

Some of the decks I would expect to see would be:
Mono-Red Aggro – the key to this match is gaining life back to keep from dying to topdecked burn so Dwynen and Nylea’s Disciple are going to play a huge roll.
U/R Thopters – with artifact hate already in the deck it isn’t too hard to hold them off by destroying key pieces, but an Ensoul Artifact on a Darksteel Citadel is very scary to be staring down.
G/R Devotion – this matchup is the most troublesome when they are able to drop their big bombs and we aren’t able to deal with them before we get run over, but since we don’t necessarily need to attack to kill them and we have incidental deathtouch to eat through their blockers or vanquish their attackers it isn’t so bad.
Abzan Control / Megamorph – the real scary card here is Languish which can put the kibosh on our whole plan in one fell swoop so making certain to not overextend and build towards a focal turn to try and sneak in the kill under their nose.
U/W / Bant Heroic – on a similar line to the thopter deck we already have maindeck hate for their auras so this looks like something of a favourable matchup for the deck.
Jeskai Tokens – with the possibility to just gum up the board with so many creatures until they can go nuts with Jeskai Ascendancy out to pump their army and cheat out Stoke the Flames at the same time Reclamation Sage never looked so good, especially with Chord of Calling as an instant.

So there you have Abzan Elf Company, the deck I plan to give a good shake out this weekend with the Game Day tournaments going on. I  plan to continue to push this deck going forward so expect to hear more about it in the near future. If you plan on going to you own Game Day then I wish you luck. Let me know anything you see in my list that could be tweaked, I appreciate any feedback. Thanks for reading.

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

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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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Bruce Gray - July 30, 2014

UWR American Bulk [Budget standard decks]

Daxos of Meletis - UWR American Bulk rares [Budget standard decks]

UWR American Bulk rares [Budget standard decks]

 by Bruce Gray – Casual Encouters

Here’s a situation we all face in this game.  Magic is a collectible card game.  As such, you are always collecting the cards and looking for the next card you want and need to add to your collection. Some of those cards you want for a new deck, others you want because of the cool art, or because they are foils, and other cards are just cool to collect.  Along the way you accumulate all sorts of other cards.  Many of these cards are commons and uncommons that seem to multiply in short order. Others are chase rare cards that you REALLY want to add to your collection.  Others are still rare, but aren’t very good…in fact, many of them are terrible.  These are called Bulk rares.  They are called “Bulk” because you can find them in the “bulk” bin at your LGS (Local Game Shop) and just sitting there doing nothing.

 

What to do with these bulk rares?  For many they sit in a binder and just…be.  They don’t get played.  They hardly get LOOKED at.  They just sit in their sleeve.  No one will actually trade for them.  Few stores will take them off your hands with their buylist.  No…these are truly cast away cards.  Even commons get more of a lease on life with Pauper formats.  However, Bulk rares just sit and do NOTHING.

 

Well, this is where I come along.  I’m always looking for some way to brew up a new deck without costing myself much in the way of money.  Let’s be real here…I have BOXES of stuff that I’m not playing.  That’s thousands of cards that are just sitting there and not getting played.  Surely, somewhere in amongst all those cards there are 60 cards that I can eke out into a deck.  Well, today I think I’ve managed to make it work…and surprise…I think I even found a way to slide in a couple of M15 beauties.  I call this Casual Masterpiece…American Bulk (rares)…BEHOLD!

 

American Bulk [Budget Standard decks]

 

 

This deck is actually very simple in terms of game plan.  Play a dude…suit him up with Bestow creatures.  Smash.  There are some of the best Bestow creatures in Hopeful Eidolon, Everflame Eidolon, Ghostbalde Eidolon and Thassa’s and Purphoros’s Emissaries that can all make combat just miserable.  Fencing Ace is another unheralded critter with Double-strike that can just make an opponent cry if he gets suited up.  The Ordeals have long been good, and Purphoros’s ordeal is a perfect fit. No, generally the game plan is very straight forward and not unlike the plan from many a Draft deck, however, mix in some bulk rares for variety’s sake and we can make for a spicy game with some interesting twists and turns.

 

The first piece of wonky deck-tech is Daxos.  This guy is so close to being good…he can let you play your opponents cards, has a form of quasi evasion and a 2/2 for 3 mana is just a shade under the curve meaning he’s playable…sort of…but just not quite. However, suit him up with a Bestow creature and suddenly he becomes far more interesting and more of a nuisance.  He can outclass 2 drops meaning your opponent will need to block with multiple creatures (which always feels bad) or have you start nabbing stuff off the top of their deck.  Perhaps it says something about the sort of player I am, but I really, really, REALLY enjoy beating up my opponent with their own creatures and spells.

 

The second piece of truly bizarre deck choice is Fated Retribution.  7 mana board wipes are completely unplayable in 60 card decks right?  Well, I for one am willing to give this one another lease of life.  It’s actually a very powerful spell, and at Instant speed could really be back breaking. I’m willing to give this a try and see whether or not it can cut it.

 

Perplexing Chimera is another odd choice, but there’s no mistaking that the ability to switch owners of a spell is intriguing and the fact that it sits there as a threat, waiting to de-rail a spell is enough for me.  I think this is a very funny card and really can shake things up as your opponent attempts to play around it.

 

Silent Sentinel is yet another odd choice but when you consider the context of the deck it quickly becomes apparent why he’s in this little build.  Whenever he attacks you get to return an enchantment from your graveyard to your hand.  This is quite a powerful ability when the bulk of the creatures in the deck are enchantment creatures.   A 4/6 flier is also pretty handy even though he’s a greedy mana sync, but as a one of is quite reasonable.

 

Boonweaver Giant and Spectra Ward are my latest discoveries.  This pair from M15 just scream “PUT ME IN AN ENCHANTMENT DECK!”.  So I did.  The absolute best part about this combo is that if you cast Boonweaver Giant you can tutor up Spectra Ward from almost ANYWHERE! Graveyard? Sure thing. How about in my hand? No Sweat! What about in my library?  Go nuts! Then, once you get Boonweaver all paired up with Spectra Ward you have a 6/6 creature with protection from basically everything.  It’s actually gross. Now people say “but it costs 7 mana!”…and I simply respond “it sure does…but when I’m digging up a 5 mana aura to attach to it, it’s like I’m casting 12 mana worth of spells and really only spending 7.  That’s a bargain if I’ve ever heard one”.  Besides, there are very few things that actually outclass a 6/6 creature with protection from EVERYTHING, 7 mana or not.

 

The last piece of truly bizarre deck-tech is the choice to run Pyxis of Pandemonium.  This is usually a terrible card and something that you don’t really want to play…unless you’re simply using it as disruption to throw your opponent off their game plan.  Many decks are developed to play a certain way and with a large number of Scry abilities want to set up their draw steps very carefully to maximize each and every time they draw.  However, slide this card into your deck and just start screwing with their scrying and exile the top card of their library.  You have no idea what you just exiled from their deck, but I bet they probably wanted it.  As for this deck, with 28 permanents and 24 lands you don’t really care what gets exiled because when you sacrifice the Pyxis you’re reasonably assured to get most of it back.  Besides, you’re playing a souped up draft deck with some bulk rares…who CARES what you exile…it can likely be replaced by something.  I just think this card makes for a hilarious random game and just puts such a monkey wrench in the game plan of so many decks that I just need to find it a slot.

 

How does this deck fair?  Well, as it is fairly experimental I haven’t had a chance to play it against too many people.  I had one of my friends stop by to play one evening and the deck fared very well.  The life gain that can be achieved by Bestowing a Hopeful Eidolon on something can really push a game and make it very difficult to dispatch this deck.  Attach the Eidolon to something with Double Strike and things get even better.  Also, the flexibility of having Bestow creatures actually lowers the curve where you can get out and play a number of smaller threats early and then later in the game, as you draw others, allows you to suit up one as you ready for the kill. Sea God’s Revenge is just a blow out waiting to happen and Voyage’s End is just a very versatile way of holding off an aggressive opponent.  Is it a finely polished deck ready to take down a PTQ?  No way…but as a cheap and fun casual brew I think it fits the bill and can do some funny things to keep things interesting.

 

Well, there we have yet another funny Casual Brew for you to test out at home.  Give it a whirl…I’d love to know if you have the same success I’ve had.  Also, go ahead and flip through that binder and see if there are any bulk rares you can use to spice up a deck.  No one said that every deck you make HAS to be tier 1 competitive ready…sometimes brewing fun Casual decks like this can be just as fun.

 

Well thanks for reading and until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encouters
@bgray8791

 

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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - July 29, 2014

GW Aggro by Scott Lipp (1st at SCG Kansas City Standard Open on July 2...

Champion’s Deck

Experiment One - GW Aggro

 

GW Aggro by Scott Lipp

1st at SCG Kansas City Standard Open on July 26th 2014

As a fan of Aggro decks but also someone who likes to see diversity in the format I was happy to see that it wasn’t Mono-Black Devotion that took the cake this past weekend. While not exactly a new concept this is quite a powerful and spicy little number. With its very aggressive curve it is poised to burst out of the gates and lay the smack down immediately to dispatch any opponent swiftly.

 

We begin the curve with a trio of one drops which are all set to attack for two power on turn two. Soldier of the Pantheon is a natural two power creature and also has the added benefit of working against multi-colored spells or creatures very well. The other two are Experiment One which should very easily begin evolving right off the bat and Sunblade Elf who is pumped by any of the 12 Plains in the deck and also acts as an anthem later in the game. Next in the two drop slot we have multi-colored creatures with a bane of Control decks Voice of Resurgence who leaves behind a token whenever he dies or if your opponent cast any spell on your turn, and Fleecemane Lion which if allowed to go monstrous becomes quite a tank and a force to be reckoned with. At the three spot there is Loxodon Smiter with four power to bring a swift demise to your opponent and is another bane against control as they will not be able to counter it. There is also the versatile Boon Satyr which is able to either come down as a creature and start delivering four damage cleaves or even Bestow another creature to pump it in for massive beats. The last creature is actually the instant Advent of the Wurm that is basically a flash 4/4 that you’ll be able to pop into play as a surprise defender if necessary or you’ll be able to keep mana up for a Charm and then call the Wurm at the end of turn if able. As an Aggro deck the three drop planeswalker Ajani, Caller of the Pride fits into the deck perfectly and is able to speed the beatdown plan up so you’re ending rounds quickly in proper Aggro fashion. The deck is removal light but does play a pseudo-Oblivion Ring catchall answer with Banishing Light to easily brush aside whatever is most threatening. And the final cog in the wheel is found with the versatile Selesnya Charm with three useful modes to either pump and grant Trample to either swing for the kill or save a blocked attacker in a trade situation, rid the board of a large creature threat, or even sneak in an extra creature either for more offense or a surprise blocker.

 

So as always with the dog days of summer upon us it’s hard to justify building this deck from scratch unless you plan to FNM every week or need something for your WMCQ. If you are an Aggro styled player then this is an awesome deck to play though and if you have the bigger pieces then take it for a spin. I am sure that you’ll not only beatdown like a baws but also have some good fun doing it. As for its longevity, with quite a few of the moving parts rotating out in a couple months there’s no certainty enough will remain to keep it a viable metagame call.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
 
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Bruce Gray - July 27, 2014

Deep Thoughts on…Inspiration

Aqueous Form - Bant Auras

Deep Thoughts on…Inspiration

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

 

What motivates you to Brew?  Is it a card?  Is it a mechanic?  Is it a colour?  Brewing up a deck takes as much creativity as any other creative output, whether it is writing the next piece of great literature, or composing the next symphony, or even painting a masterpiece to be displayed.  No, regardless of what you do in your life, if you brew up decks at Magic, you need some sort of inspiration.  Let’s explore some of those sources of inspiration and where you go looking for creative ideas to make a deck.

 

There are lots of different types of decks out there and lots of different people out there brewing things up.  Not every one brews up first rate competitive decks…and that’s fine. Let’s be honest, the very creative and best are rare and hard to find.  If it was easy to be creative there would have been more Mozart’s, Rembrandt’s, or Shakespeare’s.  The same theory applies to creating a deck…the top deck builders are the top deck builders for a reason.  They “see” things that the average player misses, and that’s what makes them special.  However, we can learn a process, we can all improve, and the fact that we aren’t that special talent does not invalidate our own efforts to build decks.  In fact, there is a great deal of satisfaction in building your own deck even if it is never going to be used at more than a game at your kitchen table. Building decks is a creative activity that brings with it its own level of enjoyment and joy regardless of how talented you are.

 

So, when you sit down to brew, where do you start?  For me there are a couple of ways that often kick start the process. The first and most obvious jumping off point is you open up an automatic “build around me” card that it is just too tempting to turn up.  These are usually super powerful mythics or rares and come in a variety of colours and shapes, but these present an opportunity to exploit something very explosive and powerful.  However, sometimes these are commons or uncommons that can yield a more consistent result because you likely have a playset to fill out in your deck.  One such example would be the card Aqueous Form from Theros.  “Huh?” you ask, but let me run down how this could be such a card.  We have seen that unblockable creatures are super hard to contain and interact with…and the only thing harder is an unblockable creature that is also hexproof.  Basically, I took one look at Aqueous Form and said “ well…let’s make my own Hexproof/Unblockable creature and make the game totally degenerate”.  So, I next needed to find hexproof creatures…and I was off and running to build a deck all on the back of 4 common Aqueous Form cards.

 

 

Another approach for inspiration is looking at the decklists of others for ideas.  This does NOT mean straight out copying the deck list.  As much as that is a very popular form of building decks, it is not really inspiration because there is very little of your own creative thought that goes into the deck.  No, the idea spawned by the decklist is a decent place to start but you need to take that idea and then build around it by substituting and replacing pieces of your own.  This may be done on account of you not having the same pieces as the decklist that was posted, but sometimes it is to reflect your own interests.  Perhaps you want to push the linear mechanic in the deck further. Perhaps it is to reflect your playgroup and you make changes to deal with particular decks. Whatever your reason, you move away from the standard decklist that you found somewhere on the internet and take it in a different direction.  On occasion I have done this as well mostly to get a sense of some core pieces that can fit nicely together that interest me, but I then go around and fill out the shell with the cards that I want.

 

A third way to find some inspiration is looking at decks from previous formats and then modifying them with the use of cards that are currently in the Standard format.  The nice thing with Magic is that often similar cards get printed that have the same or similar effects.  This isn’t always the case, but you can find most effects you want printed in one form or another.  As a result, the same style of decks and archetypes can exists, but with slightly different cards and with some slight differences.  One such archetype that I have been enjoying is the Hexproof/Auras decks…particularly the Bant Auras deck that was played while Geist of Saint Traft and Invisible Stalker were in Standard.  Both of these cards are effectively broken and to arm them up with Auras makes for a potent deck.  My immediate thought when they rotated out was that Theros could NOT support such a strategy again because the deck was pretty degenerate.  Honestly, who wants to play a deck that allows for almost 0 interaction and races you with devastating effectiveness?  Not me…unless I’m the one running the deck! Then I saw a deck tech on the coverage for the Theros Pro-Tour that was a W/G Hexproof auras deck and my hopes were renewed as I took inspiration from source #2 (someone else’s deck).  This is where my interest in Aqueous Form, an idea for a current deck in the Meta, and a previous archetype coalesced to form one common deck idea.

 

Now, once you have a deck idea the actual brewing process can be very quick or it can take a long time to assemble the cards you want/need.  I’ve sat down and in 25 minutes put together a perfectly reasonable deck with a variety of synergistic pieces. That’s fine so long as you are prepared to play with a bunch of common and lower price tag cards.  However, I have also been building a deck for the better part of the last 8 months in an attempt to assemble all the cards I want.  Now, the prime reason it has taken me so long to build the deck is that I have been looking to pick up the premium rare cards and lands to make the deck go.  When you play Magic on a relatively tight budget it takes time to trade, acquire, scrimp and save enough to acquire the pieces you want for you deck.  That is exactly the situation in which I find myself and have had to piece together the cards for my latest deck.

 

Bant Auras “Aqueous Form” decklist

2015 Core set Standard

 

 

So, that’s the deck I’ve been building since September. It is a combination of all three forms of Inspiration that I usually use.  The common playset of Aqueous Form, the W/G Hexproof shell from Pro-our Theros, and some of the main tenets of Bant Auras as it existed while Geist and Stalker roamed the battlefield. I’m actually proud of this deck because I have yet to actually see a deck that looks like this in Standard anywhere.  Now, that likely means it is likely no good, but it is nice to think that is entirely my own brew and not copying or emulating any other deck running around Standard currently.  It is also a long way from being a budget deck.  That’s part of the reason it has taken me so long to build this deck and to take it out for a test drive.  Inspiration is great to give you direction…but sometimes the old bank account can hold you back from some of those goals. It has taken me 8 months to put together the pieces for this deck and will likely continue to evolve.

 

Further Deep Thoughts on Inspiration

 

Tribal

I haven’t included much in the way of discussion around tribal decks because they are almost self evident.  You open up a bunch of Goblins…you make a Goblin deck.  Horsemen (Centaurs), make a Horsemen deck.  That’s easy enough, but just because it is easy doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Sometimes the simplest source of inspiration is the best sort.

 

Kor Skyfisher

I built a rather wonky casual deck around this one common and the interaction with Spark Trooper.  What could be more fun than a recurring Ball Lightning with Lifelink! Sometimes finding cards that extend across sets separated by a number of years can yield some fun and unexpected interactions and fun inspiration for a deck.

 

Griefer

Sometimes I wake up and want to build a deck that will totally cause nothing but grief for my opponents.  It is not normally my style, but there is a sort of sick satisfaction from just hosing your opponent and locking him out and then crushing him.  Mill. Counter decks. Land Destruction. This can be immensely enjoyable…but only in small doses.

 

I have to say that a Monte Cristo sandwich is really quite delicious.  If you’ve never tried one, if you see it on the menu of a restaurant near you, give it a whirl.  Think Grilled cheese sandwich meets French Toast…and 100% delicious.  That’s some solid food to Brew on!!

Monte Cristo sandwich - Bant Auras

 

 

Thanks for reading…if you have any other ideas on what motivates you brew I’d love to hear about it.  Everyone is different and maybe you have a trick that you could share with the other readers. Shoot me a tweet and let me know.

 

Until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

Bruce Gray
@bgray8791

 

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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - July 9, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Esper Control by Gerard Fabiano (1st at ...

Esper Control -Detention Sphere

Esper Control by Gerard Fabiano

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 7/5/2014
As we get ready for a little metagame shake-up from the upcoming release of Magic 2015 we finish up the lame duck Standard with a final tournament. This one continues to show that Mono-Black Devotion is not the end all and be all of this metagame. We also see the Aggro dominance tamed by pro player and crowd favorite Gerard with a return of Esper Control to the spotlight.

Esper Control decklist

 

As with any Blue and White based control strategy we find a stock shell with this deck sporting a trio of Jace, Architect of Thought for draw and protection from creature swarms, a set of Sphinx’s Revelation to restock your hand with options and incidental lifegain to boot, a set of Supreme Verdict to deal with Aggro creature swarms, and a set of Detention Sphere which is able to answer most every other problem the deck may face. The meat of the deck comes from its planeswalkers, where we find the duo of the light and darkness alongside a pair of Jace options. First looking at the light we have Elspeth, Sun’s Champion as a primary win condition spitting out soldiers three at a time, while also able to sweep the board of all creatures with power greater then four and should she go ultimate will pump those soldiers of hers into veritable jet planes. Next plunging into darkness we find Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver who is especially powerful against creature decks to steal away their threats by milling away the top of the library and given enough support then dropping them into play. Then we have the two Jace, Architect of Thought integral to the deck surviving creature rush Aggro and grinding out card advantage, but also a singleton Memory Adept to work against Control strategies and mill them down to no library while you sit back playing a defensive role. The potatos of the deck come from a variety of Control staples of permission, removal and draw. The permission package is two-fold using the potent Thoughtseize to strip away their threats before they can play them while also providing you with very valuable information about what their plan is, and also a pair of Dissolve as the deck only real denial with a bonus Scry tacked on to help dig through your deck for more answers. As for removal this deck is chock full of including Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere already mentioned, but also some spot removal with a trio of Devour Flesh to abolish that huge threat when the enemy doesn’t have a swarm present and a Doom Blade able to destroy anything in RG Monsters in a pinch. As for draw power the main tool lies in Revelation and Architect, but the deck also leans heavily on the eleven Temples for Scry to help filter draws into what is absolutely needed. We wrap up with the utility player Azorius Charm which can gain a few points of life with Soldiers if desperate, filters itself into a new draw when needed, and even bounces an attacking or blocking creature to the top of its owners library to set them back and save some life.

 

While it’s true we are on the verge of a new Standard format in a few weeks it is certain that UW Control will be a strategy to continue going forward. Normally I would also say that with the summer here and Magic in its dog days that it isn’t important what to play, but remember that the World Magic Cup Qualifers are coming up. If you like oppressive Control strategies then I would definitely recommend this deck for you but be sure to clue into the current meta as this is always a deck that needs to be tweeked and tuned for what’s current. And good luck chasing down that glory.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - June 26, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Mono-Red Aggro by Kevin Rand (1st at SCG...

Mono-Red Aggro- Rubblebelt maaka

Mono-Red Aggro by Kevin Rand

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 6/21/2014

 
Again we continue with what is slowly looking to be a dominance of Red as we continue creeping into The Bloody Summer. The strange thing being that usually Mono-Red aggro is best positioned at the beginning of a new Standard season when control is not yet prepared to take on an unknown meta, but the abundance of Midrange strategies have allowed Aggro to slip into the metagame and start to dominate. This deck has taken elements of both Festus Resendez winning list and Tom ‘The Boss’ Ross to come up with an amalgamation which delivers a forceful punch with precision and alacrity.

The deck is at its core a solid creature beats concoction with more then half of its slots devoted to them with an extremely low curve reminiscent of a brew we would expect from Legacy. The deck is chock full’o one drops loading up on value with them all. With two power for a single Red we find both Firedrinker Satyr and Rakdos Cackler coming strong out of the gate. We also have Legion Loyalist which with Battalion grands First Strike but more importantly Trample to your assault, and Foundry Street Denizen who when dropped on turn one can offer you so many turns of added value from each and every other creature you pop into play. On two mana you basically have the rest of the team starting on Burning-Tree Emissary to try and chain multiple creatures into play right away, Ash Zealot as a value drop with Haste to lay down the beats as fast as possible, and Firefist Striker with its Battalion trigger to neutralize any big blocker and ram additional damage down your opponents throat. There is also Rubblebelt Makka but he is really there as a cheap pump to ram through as much extra damage as possible working along side Titan’s Strength to take huge chunks out of the opponents life. The deck also has a trio of Shock and a pair of Searing Blood which help to ensure that the path to victory goes unhindered by opposing creatures.

 

It’s hard to say if the meta will continue to be soft to Red based decks but judging by all its success I guess you’d be a fool not to join in. I’m hesitant to say that this is the best strategy but it is always a strong strategy in the hands of a compitant mage. The only caution I would provide is that people are certainly aware of the deck and should plan accordingly. Also, don’t be one of the fools who says that it’s just a simple Red deck and I can pilot it like an expert without practice. This deck requires a precise use of its resources and knowing when to go all out as opposed to ensuring you don’t over commit is crucial. Just make sure you drive it around the block at least a few times, but most of all feel the burn.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
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Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - June 19, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Mono-Red Aggro by Festus Resendez (1st a...

Mono-Red Aggro - Firedrinker Satyr
 

Mono-Red Aggro by Festus Resendez

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 6/14/2014
 
 
It looks like it’s a good time to be a Red mage in Standard, Patrick Sullivan must have been jumping for joy. Not only did the winner of the Grand Prix in Moscow play a Red deck but also Tom ‘The Boss’ Ross piloted one for his Standard portion at the SCG Invitational. The most interesting about that is they all ran on similar but completely different lines and stretched the bounds of Red to the limit. This deck is one of the more creature heavy builds.

 

With an aggro deck like this the most important factor of your strategy is to be dropping at least one creature every single turn until you mash your opponent into a bloody pulp which is why we find no Scry lands. We start the curve with two one drops that come out swinging with two power each from Rakdos Cackler which if is not unleashed usually means you’re about to die and Firedrinker Satyr who’s drawback will be largely nullified by the amount of beats he will inflict on the opponent. Then we hit a mass of two drops starting with the hasty first striker Ash Zealot, also Firefist Striker that when attacking with two others will nullify the opponents best blocker and then Burning-Tree Emissary that enables your lightning starts by chaining into more spells to advance your board faster then the opponent can mount a defense. We also find two quality three drops to continue the curve with perennial wall of death in Boros Reckoner which turns combat math from simple addition into complex algebra, and Chandra’s Phoenix that has a limited amount of direct damage spells to bring it back but is still a hasty flier to bring forth death from above. Our last creature is the curve topper Fanatic of Mogis that comes in as a late game play once you have your army mobilized to take full advantage of a surprise blast of Devotion to Red to the opponents face, hopefully to put him down for good. There is a support package of burn coming primarily from a full set of Lightning Strike, but also a pair of Shock, a pair of Magma Jet and a singleton Searing Blood all help to either clear the way for your creatures to get through or blast straight up to the dome.

This deck exemplifies what it means to be The Beatdown. It looks like Aggro has positioned itself between Control and Midrange in the metagame right now to exploit it’s speed and destructive nature. Now has been a great time to blast your opponent to bits either using creature or burn based strategies. It’s not likely that this Red mage dominance will continue but shows that any given weekend you can not count out any deck that has power behind it. And counting from twenty to zero has been a fundamental aspect of this game of Magic.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter

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