Welcome back to Thank God It's FNM! It's been awhile, hasn't it? I took a bit of a hiatus from writing in order to get focused on school. I started taking a few more college classes this year, and I wanted a bit of time to make sure I could get myself situated. After a couple of months away, I am finally back, and I must say it feels great.
I've recently heard a lot of people talking about how stale the current Standard format has become. I couldn't disagree more, but nonetheless I'm here to shake it up a bit for you guys. A few months ago, my friend Zac pointed me to a 4-color (no green) Seance deck that he had been toying with. I was immediately intrigued and gave it a try online. I went 3-1 in the first Daily Event I tried it in and was definitely impressed. I unfortunately set the deck aside a bit to continue my testing with Bant Control. Recently, a deck that plays Chronic Flooding and Angel of Glory's Rise has been making waves in Standard, and it was just the spark I needed to start the column back up.
I gave my Seance deck a second look and decided it was time to get back to the column. I originally had something else planned for my first week back, but I really wanted to put this deck out into the world. First of all, here is the decklist:
- 2 Angel of Glory's Rise
- 1 Angel of Serenity
- 3 Cathedral Sanctifier
- 4 Deranged Assistant
- 1 Disciple of Bolas
- 4 Geist-Honored Monk
- 4 Sphinx of Uthuun
I definitely have a lot to say about this list, but I'd rather talk about the matches I played first. I played through a total of four rounds, and the list stayed the same through all of them.
Round 1 - 4-Color Midrange
I started this game off with a mulligan to six and kept a hand of
This was a tough hand to decide on. All the looting I would be doing would essentially make it a mulligan to four, and I needed an Island to accomplish anything, but being able to see five more cards before turn three gave me hope. I led off with a Faithless Looting. I hit a Plains and a Sphinx of Uthuun. I pitched the Sphinx and Charm. My opponent led with a Hinterland Harbor, and I continued looting on my turn. I was able to hit the blue source I needed, and my hand sat at Sulfur Falls, Deranged Assistant, and a Forbidden Alchemy with an Isolated Chapel in play. We both continued sculpting our hands and mana bases, while adding small creatures to the board. I had some Cathedral Sanctifiers and Deranged Assistants while he had Huntmaster of the Fells.
Eventually I used a Seance to get back an Angel of Glory's Rise, some Humans, and a Sphinx of Uthuun. A Curse of Death's Hold from him made it difficult for me to accomplish much though. We couldn't find a way to break through each other's defenses, and I eventually milled out. One more card in library, and I think I may have been able to manage an attack for the win, but unfortunately it turns out Disciple of Bolas is mandatory.
Game two I kept a very weird hand of
To be honest, I'm not really sure why I kept. This time he mulliganed to six, and I was lucky enough to start hitting land drops from turn two. He was not so fortunate, as he missed his third land drop. While he continued to miss it, eventually I was able to return several Sphinx of Uthuun to play and beat him down. He started to make a comeback after hitting his fourth land drop, but he was too far behind at that point.
Game three was a long one but very little happened. Unfortunately I didn't write down my starting hand, and the replay was missing. Basically, I sat on a Seance for a long time but couldn't find lands to cast big things or ways to get them in the yard. I just kept drawing big things. On the opposite side of the spectrum, he just kept making land drops and casting ramp spells. Eventually, I started making my land drops and hardcasting things. First was a Geist-Honored Monk, then another. He wrathed those, and I started slamming as many Angel of Glory's Rises as I could find. He continued drawing lands and eventually died.
Round 2 - Chronic Flooding Combo
Game one I went to six cards, while he went to four. Something I've learned from playing this deck in a few events…it cannot even remotely punish opponent's mulligans. I've lost to more mull to fours with this deck than I care to admit. Anyway, my opening hand was
We both hit our land drops and began sculpting our graveyards; him with a pair of Chronic Floodings and me with some Faithless Lootings and Deranged Assistants. We both filled up our graveyards very quickly, but neither of us could find an Angel of Glory's Rise. I thought about returning some Geist-Honored Monks and the like, but I knew it wouldn't be enough. I just had to hope to hit Angel first. Unfortunately, we hit it at the same time. This wouldn't seem like much of a problem, but he usually wins the turn he returns Angel. This was one of those times.
Game two was exactly the same as the first, except that we both had seven-card hands and hate to fight through. We were both using Purify the Graves to keep each other off of key cards, but he was able to hit more copies before me. Maybe I should play Chronic Flooding. It does mill pretty quickly, especially when you have two. I died in much of the same fashion as the first, putting me at a 1-1 record.
Round 3 - Chronic Flooding Combo
Uggh, again?! I determined after round two that my deck was just not well suited for the pseudo-mirror and did not look forward to playing it again. Game one of this round was much the same as game two of the round before without the graveyard hate. We both tried to make it difficult for the other to combo through, but he fought through better. I died rather quickly in this one.
For game two, I started to realize that maybe my plan wasn't working; maybe it was time to try something new. I decided to try getting as aggressive as possible. I kept an opening seven of
He spent the first few turns setting up his mill engines, while I used Izzet Charm to put Angel of Serenity and Sphinx of Uthuun into the yard. I hit a Slayer's Stronghold and immediately started returning things with Seance from turn four and swinging for chunks of 6 and 7. Lo and behold, he died on turn 6 just before he was ready to combo. I figured I'd try my hand at being aggressive again.
My opening hand for the decider was a pair of
Once again he spent the first few turns setting up, while an Izzet Charm dumped two Sphinx of Uthuun into my yard, and Forbidden Alchemy found an Unburial Rites. He tried to set up Nightshade Peddler plus Izzet Staticaster, but Izzet Charm took care of one half. I used another Forbidden Alchemy to hit a black source and started making some Sphinx of Uthuun. A two-turn clock backed up by a pair of Purify the Grave and a Negate that the Sphinxes had found me was enough to put him away.
I definitely liked my new approach to the matchup. They are just better at winning with Angel of Glory's Rise, are better at disrupting our combo, and are better at setting up. I just have to hope that I can go under their combo. I even started boarding out one Angel of Glory's Rise, seeing as it usually wasn't aggressive enough.
For round 4, my opponent was on Naya Midrange, a matchup I definitely thought would be interesting. I forgot to take notes on the games, but I definitely got a good feel for the matchup. Basically, I am favored by a decent amount. He can set up a decent clock, but it is not too much of an issue, especially post-board when I have Supreme Verdict. He can't really interact with what I am doing, and I easily go over the top of him. Sometimes he can set up good situations with Angel of Serenity, but even those aren't too hard to overcome.
Anyway, I wanted to talk a little bit about the deck before I go. Typically, you have two main plans. You can try to set up a big Angel of Glory's Rise turn, which is the typical plan. You use Seance + Sphinx of Uthuun to set up defenses and eventually just go super big and win the game. The other main plan is to just use Seance as a toolbox card and take large chunks out of the opponent's life total. Cards like Geist-Honored Monk excel when you are doing this because they play defense perfectly and attack really well. Sphinx of Uthuun also makes a great attacker. This is similar to the plan I took in the pseudo-mirror.
As for specific cards, they all played important roles, but only Angel of Glory's Rise, Seance, and Geist-Honored Monk felt key. They all make up the combo, plus serve multi-purpose roles when you need them too. Geist-Honored Monk especially has been an all-star. He works really well with most of the cards in the deck and again serves multiple roles. Other than that, the deck feels pretty customizable.
The mainboard was mostly what I got from my friend Zac, but the sideboard was a lot of my own creation. Cavern is for control matchups where Seance isn't completely reliable. It allows you to go late versus Flash and Bant Control and start hard-casting hard to deal with threats. Intrepid Hero is a card I wanted to try but never really got a chance to. He seemed like a decent line of defense versus G/W aggro, and hey, he's a Human.
The Negates are also for control matchups. Usually when setting up a big turn, there are a few cards you worry about like a large Sphinx's Revelation or a Terminus. Supreme Verdict isn't really a problem, but Terminus doesn't put them back in the graveyard. It also plays a similar role to Cavern in that it helps fight counterspells.
Purify the Grave is for other graveyard decks like Value Rites and Chronic Flooding Combo. I have also considered bringing it in against Flash, though Snapcaster Mage doesn't seem to be that much of a problem in the matchup.
Sundering Growth is a good catchall for problem permanents. You are rarely using it against artifacts but rather against enchantments like Rest in Peace and Curse of Death's Hold. The populate is a sweet bonus too. With Seance the creature doesn't stay around, but if you make a copy, the copy stays around.
Supreme Verdict is for aggro and midrange matchups that like to flood the board. You can easily go over the top of them, but sometimes they can be really aggressive. A nice wrath puts you really far ahead and makes it nearly impossible for them to catch up. Supreme Verdict can be a little rough on the mana, and casting it on turn four every time is difficult, but it is still a good inclusion.
Zealous Conscripts is another Human that helps fight certain permanents and is very good versus big creatures and planeswalkers. He is very helpful when you are trying to focus less on the combo and more on being aggressive.
Overall, this deck is very fun and awesome. Chronic Flooding is definitely a card to consider, and this deck is probably just worse than the more streamlined version. Either way, it is definitely much more fun, and I can't wait to run this deck more often. Now that I am back up and running, you can start emailing me deck ideas again. Now that I play mostly on Magic Online, there may be some amount of delay between set releases and when I can start using the cards. I will do my best to be as quick as possible. Let me know what you thought of both the deck and the article. I am always looking for constructive criticism for both my writing skills and playing skills. As always, thank god it's FNM! Adios!
@AJKerrigan55 on Twitter