This is the same deal as last time. Starting soon, we're going to be doing Versus videos with Gatecrash proxies to help y'all get a leg up on what to expect in new Standard. This week, I want to touch on the brews that I've got in my trusty notebook, as well as update existing archetypes with Gatecrash. If I'm missing something or there's something you'd like to see in the videos, get active in the comments section!
For Grand Prix Atlantic City, I eventually decided that the best deck was the one that abused Angel of Serenity the most. In that case, it was Junk Reanimator, similar to the one Kenji Tsumura piloted to a Grand Prix Top 8. In the days since, and partly due to Bant Hexproof's dominance of GP Atlantic City, I started playing Esper Control.
Perhaps Nick Spagnolo was right the whole time...
I liked a lot of things about Nick's deck, but I definitely disliked a bunch too. Lingering Souls didn't make very good blockers since the creatures were too big or resilient. I want a card like Lingering Souls to not just buy me time but at least trade for a card or two of theirs as well. That's mostly why I don't like Feeling of Dread. I tried it, and while it's fine at "buying you time," it doesn't actually help you not lose. Those Hellkites will probably get you eventually. Similarly, I'm not very excited about Blind Obedience.
Curse of Death's Hold ranges from awesome to unplayable depending on what decks you expect to face. Currently, it's closer to the unplayable side. My decision to not play with it mostly stems from the fact that Esper is very good against decks that Curse is good against.
I know Nick loves him some planeswalkers, but I'm not in the same camp, especially since I don't have anything like Augur of Bolas to protect them. Granted, Nick has Lingering Souls, but I'd much rather play Augur of Bolas to protect them than Souls. Without Augur, decks like Zombies and Mono-Red Aggro are free to goldfish you while you try to find a Supreme Verdict or Terminus. With Augur, you have just enough time to sweep the board and not die to their follow-up haste guy.
Jace, Architect of Thought was great when everyone had little creatures, but now that all the aggro decks are playing big monsters, it doesn't do much. Jace 4 is very good in control mirrors because it gives you some value and trades with their Memory Adept.
That said, the other differences in our lists are mostly semantics, but after going 4-0, 3-0, and 3-1 (where my brain exploded in the last round) in Daily Events on Magic Online, I'm very happy with where my deck is.
Esper was something I tried in the past when I wanted to move away from Flash. First, I tried it with the Flash creature base, and then I went creature-less. I thought I got it to a place I wanted, but the mana always gave me trouble. In my mind, I needed Evolving Wilds to make the core set duals enter the battlefield untapped, but that was incorrect.
I saw a list online that played four of each dual, four Plains, four Island, and three Drownyard, and I immediately knew it was much better than the mana base I had. Sure enough, my mana was now excellent (as long as I didn't overload on black cards), and the deck was much better!
I remember begging for an Evolving Wilds variant in Standard a while ago, but when I got it, I didn't know what to do with it. I guess I always assumed that decks relying on core set duals would need it. There are no such things as sacred cows, and my deck improved dramatically from cutting it.
All of that might seem like shady logic considering my Azorius Guildgate, but I wanted more than sixteen blue sources but didn't want to go below sixteen white sources to do it. Basically, I cut a Plains for the Guildgate and haven't regretted it yet, but it's probably not optimal.
I'm not playing the full four Drownyard (and one Ghost Quarter to kill their Drownyard) because I don't think the format is that inbred yet. Obviously, Nick was preparing for a different tournament where most of the players would be playing blue decks. A single Ghost Quarter in the sideboard would be nice to have though.
Right now, I'm not as anti-control as I'd like to be. Another Negate, planeswalker, Drownyard, Ghost Quarter, or Psychic Spiral would help a lot. I just don't think I need them right now. But if you want Esper to crush control decks nearly every game, you can make it happen.
I need those sideboard slots for other things, like Rhox Faithmender! Tragic Slip kills Predator Ooze and Falkenrath Aristocrat, and Rest in Peace is obviously for Reanimator. Maindeck I had four Augur and zero Snapcaster, but I needed to cast multiple Sphinx's Revelations per game and four just wasn't enough.
With Snapcaster maindeck, I have a split card that can do almost whatever I want it to. Post-board, it acts as more removal against aggressive decks and Duresses / Negates versus control. Basically, it's the perfect sideboard card.
However, this is an article about Gatecrash, so how would I update the deck? Well, first we have to look at who our enemies are. Simic Evolve, Boros Aggro, and Gruul Aggro (basically, three aggro decks) are all reasonable things you can expect to see play. At the time of writing this, we don't have enough information to understand what the Orzhov or Dimir archetypes will look like. Although, will we ever truly understand Dimir?
Ok, ok. Two and a half cards jump out at me. The first is Obzedat, Ghost Council, which is obviously a very powerful card. I'm skeptical of putting him in Esper Control because he's hard to cast and doesn't interact well with your sweepers. Aside from all that, he's exactly the dude you'd want to slam against Mono-Red, Zombies, and the mirror match (assuming tapping out for a durdly creature is what you want to be doing in control matchups).
The other two cards are Dimir Charm and Soul Ransom. Neither is over the top insane, but they are very playable cards in the right metagame. I'd prefer Esper Charm or Treachery, but these are our options.
Consider casting Soul Ransom on a freshly cast Thragtusk. They can either discard some cards, potentially keeping their best one, or go hellbent and let you peel some new ones. Cool, you just cast Probe with kicker. You also just tapped out or low to gain card advantage when they had a threat in play. Sometimes that's a fine play, and sometimes it's disastrous.
I'm mostly thinking about taking their mediocre guy, like Frontline Medic or Huntmaster of the Fells. If they don't discard, I probably get to trade with a dude on board, getting myself a nice two for one and some tempo. If they do discard, then I'm probably fine with that too since their board wasn't all that impressive anyway. That's the type of situation where they'll have no good choices.
Regardless of the situation, you're giving them the choice, which is what scares me about Soul Ransom. I'd rather have Ribbons of Night, but I'll take what I can get. I'm going to try Soul Ransom and see if the positives outweigh the negatives.
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind is probably pretty good as well. Again, it's a creature, so it doesn't mesh well with a deck filled with sweepers.
The updated list then becomes:
I'm still experimenting with how to build these mana bases, so bear with me. Obzedat demands a lot of black, which is asking a lot for a sideboard card.
What about U/W/R Flash—do I still like it? Naturally. Right now, I'm really enjoying Esper, but if the format is going to speed up with an influx of aggressive decks, Flash might be better. Flash is better at dealing with threats on a one-for-one basis, whereas Esper wants to deal with them en masse. If they decide to throw one threat at you at a time, say with a Naya deck packing Kessig Wolf Run, those are pretty easy to deal with too.
The problem comes from Mono-Red Aggro and Zombies' blazing fast starts where you are at ten or less life before you can sweep the board. From there, their hasty fatties will probably kill you. If their draw is a little slower and you get to cast Augur of Bolas into Azorius Charm into Supreme Verdict, then you should be all right.
If the format speeds up, and by that I basically mean the aggressive decks have more playable one-drops and don't stumble on mana as often, playing control is going to be difficult. You won't be able to make a single misstep in the early game because it will often result in a brutal death. So far, that's what Gatecrash looks to be providing, which is why Flash might become better than Esper.
I'll cross that bridge when I get there, I suppose, but it never hurts to work on updating every deck in the format if you've got the time.
The things that will change the most about Flash are the mana base and what you have to play around. For example, cards like Skullcrack and Frontline Medic are going to be a pain, so you're going to want Dispel and Searing Spear respectively. Another reason to play Spear is Flinthoof Boar, which I expect will be headlining the new wave of Gruul (potentially with a splash) aggressive decks. Boros Charm and Aurelia's Fury are no picnics either, but thankfully there are already answers for them.
Perhaps it's too little too late, but I like Rapid Hybridization as an answer to Thundermaw Hellkite. There's no Repeal to take advantage of it, but Peel from Reality does exist and could potentially be very powerful with Snapcaster Mage and Augur of Bolas in your deck. I don't think I should go as far as to maindeck Peel, but I won't be scared to try it should the need arise.
Without going too overboard on new cards, this is what my list looks like:
Patrick Chapin posted a post-Gatecrash U/W/R Flash list here if you haven't seen it already. There's a lot of subtle hints as to where he thinks the format is going in that decklist, many of which I agree with.
Aurelia's Fury though? I have to try it. In my mind, it's pretty expensive (mana-wise), and Flash doesn't care about its own board very often. If I wanted a sweeper, I would just play Supreme Verdict instead of messing around with Fury, Bonfire of the Damned, or Mizzium Mortars.
Flash loves playing against creature decks, and it looks like there's going to be an influx of them.
First, I'd like to talk about Urban Evolution, seeing as how I like drawing cards and playing extra lands. I tried variations of the Omniscience deck but didn't like most of them. The Sphinx's Revelation version with Increasing Ambition and Omniscience didn't combo kill often, if ever.
The reason most lists moved away from combo kills and started functioning more like normal control decks was because of Sphinx's Revelation. You could use Thoughtflare, which was a reasonable card drawer, but why splash that when you could play on-color Revelations that gave you much needed life as well? You also had more mana than most decks, so your Revelations were fantastic.
Remember last week when I talked about crushing midrange mirrors with Omniscience? This'll do the trick quite nicely. I'm unsure if my Angel of Serenity plus Temporal Mastery plus Kessig Wolf Run is enough to beat a control deck. It's probably not, but I wanted to see how far I could push the Bant Control plus value version. Perhaps there needs to be a Door to Nothingness in there somewhere.
Another option is using Fog and Feeling of Dread instead of sweepers, sort of like the Mirari's Wake decks of old. I get the feeling that isn't going to work, mainly because there isn't enough cheap card drawing or filtering, plus there are things like Hellrider.
The last option is to build a true combo version using one of many Increasing Ambition kills.
On to everyone's favorite deck: Turbo Fog!
I'm not sure what you would classify the next brew as, but it's probably closer to combo than anything else. Crypt Ghast happens to work pretty well with Heartless Summoning, both in making itself cheaper and making things like Griselbrand a lot cheaper. Previous Heartless Summoning decks always felt very clunky when they didn't draw their namesake, and Crypt Ghast might fill that void.
That said, I have no idea how to build it or what you would even be trying to do aside from cast Griselbrand. Then again, Reanimator can put Griselbrand in play on turn 3, but they opt to play Angel of Serenity instead.
I dunno, maybe something like this:
- 2 Borderland Ranger
- 4 Crypt Ghast
- 3 Deathrite Shaman
- 1 Desecration Demon
- 2 Disciple of Bolas
- 4 Thragtusk
- 3 Griselbrand
Obviously, that's incredibly rough and doesn't fall under the "combo" label, but my mind automatically builds these kinds of decks, even when I'm thinking about comboing them out.
Between the new duals, specifically Stomping Ground and Sacred Foundry, cheap cards like Flinthoof Boar, and higher end stuff like Hellrider and Falkenrath Aristocrat, there are going to be plenty of options for aggressive mages. You'll be able to play any guild, any wedge, possibly any Nephilim you'd like.
This is what I want to try:
Again, that list is rough, but it's got a lot of hasty, resilient creatures, similar to B/R Zombies. Perhaps Jund is the way to go with Dreg Mangler, Ultimate Price, and Falkenrath Aristocrat, but time will tell. I like Lotleth Troll, but the hasty two-drops look a lot better right now.
The great thing about green is that it gives you plenty of options to go over the top of people, like Wolfir Silverheart and Thragtusk, should you need it. Thundermaw Hellkite is another option. Rancor, Bonfire of the Damned, and Kessig Wolf Run give you plenty of reach too.
Skullcrack out of the sideboard will be awesome. Domri Rade also seems very good...
Whatever happened to the U/W/R Tempo deck? It just so happens that Geist of Saint Traft might be easier to get through now more than ever.
Of course, I'm still working on the mana base.
I initially liked Unsummon to clear blockers and save your dudes from sweepers, but now we have Boros Charm to fill most of the holes. Mizzium Mortars and Aurelia's Fury wipe out their team for at least a turn, and both the new Boros spells help you close games quickly. Overall, I like the look of this list a lot.
Would Slippery Bogle be the most feared reprint of all time?
Josh Utter-Leyton cut the underperforming Selesnya Charms for Fencing Aces and another underperformer, this time Curiosity. While Bant gains Simic Charm if it wants it, it gets basically nothing outside of Breeding Pool, but maybe that's enough. Will Glaring Spotlight actually see play? I doubt it, but I doubt Bant Hexproof is going anywhere.
Overall, the maindeck could certainly be updated, but I don't think much is going to change aside from the addition of Breeding Pool.
As far as Boros? Well, Boros and I go way back.
- 4 Hand of Honor
- 4 Lantern Kami
- 4 Leonin Skyhunter
- 4 Suntail Hawk
- 2 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails
- 3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Thankfully, we have cards like this:
For right now, I like this list:
- 4 Boros Elite
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 2 Frontline Medic
- 4 Hellrider
- 4 Precinct Captain
- 4 Silverblade Paladin
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Is there a better one-drop than Boros Elite? He works well with Precinct Captain and Gather the Townsfolk, but other than that this deck won't swarm all that well. Perhaps a reliance on Ajani, Caller of the Pride would be better. Then again, this deck can overextend freely barring any Terminus shenanigans.
Some might say Legion Loyalist is a better one-drop, but I doubt it.
The other aggro deck I'd like to try is some sort of Evolve deck, but I'm skeptical about that one.
For purely new archetypes, I want to try:
Updated archetypes I want to try:
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