Welcome to this week's edition of Thank God It's FNM! Gatecrash is likely flooding your minds, just like mine. With the whole set spoiled, I put on my brewing cap and went to work. Seeing as I'll be attending SCG Open Series: Edison, I wanted to start coming up with lists for the second week of the format. While I'll have some results to look at after the first week, I would like to get an early start. It is typically believed that aggro decks are the best in the early weeks of a format, and I believe this is true in Gatecrash Standard like no other.
With the release of the first five dual lands in Return to Ravnica, people were trying to push the boundaries of their mana and play as many powerful cards as possible. Aggro did well, but in my opinion, it underperformed compared to its numbers. I credit that mostly to the aggro decks trying to be greedy along with control and midrange. Mono-Red Aggro has a pretty simple mana base, but everyone was trying to play Zombie decks, some even delving into three colors. Have you ever tried to curve Lotleth Troll into Geralf's Messenger into Falkenrath Aristocrat? Trust me, it's not very easy. This meant that powerful cards like Sphinx's Revelation and Jace, Architect of Thought were able to prevail better than expected.
As it stands right now, the metagame isn't entirely settled, but the decks within it are. We have pretty standard Bant Control, U/W/R Flash, B/R Zombies, and Mono-Red Aggro lists, among others. With the release of another five dual lands and Prophetic Prism (one of my favorite cards in the set), control decks and midrange decks are going to try to be as greedy as possible. Esper and Bant are going to push heavier into fourth and fifth colors, and midrange decks are going to try to solidify their four-color mana bases. The two- and three-color aggro decks in the format already had decent mana and were able to compete with the powerful cards of the format.
Imagine when a deck like Mono-Red or G/W Aggro gets a bunch of new powerful cards without making their mana any worse (in fact, for G/W Aggro, it will be much better). For the first two to three weeks, the control decks will be stumbling early trying to play powerful cards that you already expect. This means that the typical three-color control decks (Bant and Esper) and the aggro decks (B/R, R/B, and Mono-Red) will be the best choices. The reason I would go with the aggro decks over the regular control decks is that the control decks can't effectively punish greedy players for stumbling on mana like the aggro decks. No deck makes you feel worse for paying two for your dual lands than Mono-Red Aggro does.
Typically in this series, I take a fun, cool, or innovative list and run it through a tournament. I then talk about the matches and what I thought of the deck. This week I want to try something a little different. A small part of the reason I've been on a hiatus for the past two weeks is because I don't like brewing for current Standard. Most of the decks I come up with are either boring aggro decks or just get crushed by Sphinx's Revelation. While losing typically doesn't bother me in this column, losing to the same card for no real reason other than the fact that it's a good card is mildly discouraging. I worked on to try to find a cool deck I liked, but none impressed me.
I had a cool R/B Vampires list, a Naya Conjurer's Closet deck, and considered the Burn at the Stake deck. The problem with the first two was that they usually just played like decks that exist already. R/B Vampires played like R/B Aggro with some cool Bloodline Keeper turns, and Naya Conjurer's Closet played like Naya with some cool Conjurer's Closet games. The reason I steered from Burn at the Stake was how linear it was. The old Burn at the Stake deck I played in this column fizzled more often but actually had cool combo turns involving Past in Flames and such. The new list occasionally does something sweet, but it almost always just makes some tokens and casts Burn at the Stake on turn 4 or 5. That's not the kind of fun I'm looking for.
For this week, I want to share with you some cool decks I've been brewing for the new format: some competitive and some just plain silly. I'll also throw out some ideas for lists that I couldn't come up with myself but that I like the idea of. I'm gonna sort it by competitive, funny, and theoretical.
As I said in the beginning of the article, I think aggro may be the best choice for the first week of the new format, but that doesn't mean you have to play exclusively aggro decks. That's just what I've been brewing the past few days with my friend Anthony. He has a slightly different perspective on multicolor aggro decks, but that's good because it gives us a few different ideas. As you'll likely notice, most of these aggro decks are Naya. That's mostly because I love Boros Charm and green cards, and unlike Four-Color Control, I think the mana on Naya Aggro is still pretty good.
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 4 Dryad Militant
- 2 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Loxodon Smiter
- 2 Silverblade Paladin
- 4 Strangleroot Geist
- 2 Ulvenwald Tracker
This deck is less about resiliency and more about efficiency. You are playing creatures that either make mana or are efficient for their mana costs. You are super weak to Supreme Verdict, but the control decks will be relying on that turn 4 Verdict to survive and stabilize. You are counting very heavily on drawing Boros Charm for them, hence the four, but you will often really only need the first one. Other than that, the deck is mostly just one-mana 2/2s and two-mana 3/3s.
Skullcrack may be incorrect in this list. While I predict you will usually continue swinging through monsters until they are in range of your seven burn spells, you may occasionally need to burn a creature out of the way. Either way, I'm assuming this list is probably mediocre in the aggro mirrors because your only answer to Loxodon Smiter is a well-placed trick (which you'll usually have to waste a turn on) or your own Smiter, which is barely an answer. Searing Spear doesn't effectively kill Smiter, and I don't really want Mizzium Mortars. It might be reasonable because starting around turn 3 or 4 you can swing for reasonable chunks and all you have to worry about is dealing with the walls your opponents present.
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 4 Huntmaster of the Fells
- 4 Loxodon Smiter
- 3 Restoration Angel
- 4 Silverblade Paladin
- 4 Strangleroot Geist
- 4 Thundermaw Hellkite
- 1 Wolfir Silverheart
This deck is less about cheap cost-effective threats and more about powerhouse creatures. You can go a little lower on Boros Charms because Supreme Verdict is less of a problem. You don't need to overextend nearly as much as the first list because most of your creatures can easily steal a game on their own. You can play out about two creatures at a time and have a very relevant clock.
Boros Charm is still very strong, though, as four to the dome and giving double strike are very strong abilities in this deck. I personally think that all its modes are good against Supreme Verdict in their own way, though indestructible is obviously the best. Four to the dome allows you to kill them even without a team, and something with five or more power and a pair of Boros Charms is a two-turn clock. Silverblade Paladin seems very strong since most of your deck allows a Silverblade Paladin and whatever it's paired with to swing for at least ten.
Is this too greedy? I don't really think so. You are basically playing the typical Mono-Red Aggro list but with one more land, an extra five-drop (compared to Ari Lax's list), and Boros Charm. Again, Supreme Verdict is a card that sets you back a lot. The problem with Boros Charm in this deck is that you often can't hold up two mana or you aren't putting on much pressure. It is more for creating large swings, making stalemate attacks favorable, and doming for four. It might not be worth it, but I'm willing to at least consider it.
Some people may also not like the lack of Skullcracks, but personally I don't like it. Usually, if you can hold up mana when your opponent is going to play a Thragtusk, they won't need that five life to beat you. Again, you are constantly curving out in the early game, so there is no time for random tricks. It also doesn't do a lot against a person properly using Sphinx's Revelation against you, seeing as if gaining the life isn't relevant, they are likely drawing enough cards to kill you anyway. This assessment may be poor, but it is what I've noticed from my foray into Mono-Red Aggro over the past week.
Whichever of these aggro decks you want to play (or something different entirely), I feel that Boros Charm is very powerful. It stops the Wrath on the key turn from control, can win races against aggro, and can just straight up finish your opponent.
I should really just say wacky deck since I only came up with one fun decklist. This is the section I'd like to see submissions from all of you. Once I get access to Gatecrash, I'm going to get right to work. I need submissions from you guys so I have something sweet to play.
Let's get two things out of the way first. Yes, this deck is cold to Slaughter Games (I'll play Witchbane Orb in the board), and yes, this deck is a random amalgamation of cards. I likely built it terribly, but it was what popped into my head, so I rolled with it.
I'd like to see your take on a Biovisionary combo deck.
This section is pretty short because I was making lists as I wrote this article. Originally, I had some random ideas for this section, but I realized that I've narrowed it to one main set of decks:
Anything with Prime Speaker Zegana.
She is one of my favorite cards from the new set, and I can't wait to see what lists come out with her in them. She may not even be good, but I hope she is. My favorite combo is her and Wolfir Silverheart. You can go from a board of six lands, Wolfir Silverheart, and one card in hand (Prime Speaker Zegana) to a board of an 8/8 Silverheart, a 9/9 Prime Speaker, and nine cards in hand. At least, I think that's how the rules work. Call me out on that if it's wrong though.
Anyway, I hope you liked this style of this article. The ending was a little short because, like I said, I was doodling lists while I was writing and scrapped some ideas that I originally had. As usual, I would love to see what you guys have come up with, whether it's pre-Gatecrash or post-Gatecrash. I won't typically do this kind of article (maybe once before each set release), but it's something to fall back on if I can't find much I want to brew with in the current format.
Thanks for reading, and if you have an opinion on anything I said, I'd love to read it in the comments. I'll do my best to respond to every comment. As always, thank god it's FNM!
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