Well folks, we are finally here.
The Journey into Nyx Prerelease is over, and it will be officially released this Friday. I will be in Cincinnati, Ohio for the SCG Open Series as I try to maintain my lead in the Season Two SCG Players' Championship race.
My testing for this weekend has officially kicked into high gear, and sadly I don't think I'm going to be playing Jund Monsters. As awesome as I think Setessan Tactics is, I just don't think that it's enough to overcome the fact that there is another Oblivion Ring effect around in Banishing Light. We lean on Domri Rade and Xenagos, the Reveler to do the heavy lifting against control and midrange decks and Polukranos, World Eater to do a lot of work against aggressive decks. Now with Banishing Light to complement Detention Sphere and Chained to the Rocks, we're going to have to run a lot more copies of Abrupt Decay and Golgari Charm, which will leave us vulnerable to Desecration Demon again.
I honestly think that Jund Monsters is probably still good, but after playing Jund Midrange in last week's Versus video, I've wanted to see what a more B/G-centric build can do. I continue to be impressed with just how good Scavenging Ooze backed with a bunch of removal spells is against all of the non Sphinx's Revelation decks in the format, and there are a lot of analogues in Standard to the B/G Midrange deck in Modern.
We have awesome removal with Abrupt Decay and Hero's Downfall, and we still have Thoughtseize. Courser of Kruphix is even better in Standard than it is in Modern, and Desecration Demon is still very good.
My biggest concern with going this route is that with Temple of Malady now available we technically could just put Abrupt Decay back into Mono-Black Devotion, much like we did before Born of the Gods was released, and call it a day. That strategy has proven solid, so why try something else?
Because you won't know if you don't try.
- 4 Desecration Demon
- 2 Reaper of the Wilds
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 1 Brain Maggot
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
There are a couple cards are missing from this list that I would like to find a way to work in. I'm sure after playing the deck this week that I will find room and determine the configuration I like, but I'd love to hear what everyone has to say. Lifebane Zombie and Devour Flesh, we will try to find room for you, my friends!
I'm still a little wary playing Mana Confluence along with Thoughtseize and Underworld Connections after that video last week, but we can always connect up a Mana Confluence if our mana is good. The times where it lets us go Courser of Kruphix into Desecration Demon will make it worth it, plus without eight additional shock lands we won't be doing that much damage to ourselves. I don't really want to play Golgari Guildgate since we already have Temple of Malady that will be coming into play tapped, and I'd play some off-color Temples before Golgari Guildgate, which may end up being right.
This deck is very similar to Mono-Black Devotion with lots of spot removal, hand disruption, a card draw engine (Underworld Connections), and big double D (Desecration Demon), so why not just play Mono-Black (splash or no splash) Devotion?
Because the green cards are also very good, that's why!
Scavenging Ooze plays perfectly into the strategy lent to us by all the black cards in the deck (oh man, if Scavenging Ooze were a black card, jeez). We are a "kill them all" type of deck, much like the Jund Monsters post-board configuration, but here our removal spells of Abrupt Decay and Hero's Downfall also kill Domri Rade; Detention Sphere; Banishing Light; and Elspeth, Sun's Champion.
Sylvan Caryatid plays a pretty important role here. As a mana accelerant, it will accelerate us into early Desecration Demons and quickly get us into position to use our removal or hand disruption while still developing our board further. As a 0/3 defender with hexproof, it holds off Rakdos Cackler, Burning-Tree Emissary, and many other creatures from hyperaggressive strategies while we work our way toward our game-winning threats.
Along the same vein of being absurd against aggressive decks, Courser of Kruphix can keep us alive until the midgame where we stabilize, pull ahead, and start attacking. Getting in for two with a Courser while you're building your board and milking the top of your library is a pretty good feeling. Using Courser with Domri is obviously very good, but as I saw when AJ Sacher was working on his Jund Midrange deck in Charlotte at the Invitational, Courser of Kruphix with Underworld Connections is also very, how you say, goulet?
Vraska the Unseen seems to get better each time I cast her. I made the switch from Garruk, Caller of Beasts to Vraska in the sideboard of my Jund Monsters deck at the heed of Brian Kibler's words about how much he loved her, and I haven't turned back.
"What's that? Oblivion Ring is back and going to get played a bunch? Okay, I'm on the job," said Vraska (at least I think since you can't really see the Unseen).
Green also gives us access to Mistcutter Hydra in the sideboard, which up until Journey into Nyx I thought was the best sideboard card in Standard. I feel like Brain Maggot is probably better, but I'm not going to frown at the chance to play both of them. Golgari Charm is still very good, and with another aggressive x/1 being printed in Gnarled Scarhide, we may even get more value out of the card.
The card I am the most unsure of is Reaper of the Wilds. It's just another four-drop that can take over the game if it goes unanswered. Really, if we get to untap with it against a control deck or anything trying to utilize Mizzium Mortars or spot removal, we're in pretty good shape. The scry ability is pretty sweet in our deck chockfull of removal. However, if we were to splash for something like Rakdos's Return, then this would be the spot for it.
If I were to try Jund Midrange again, I would definitely stay away from Mana Confluence since we really can't afford to play it. We get more Temples, which is always nice, but we end up losing the ability to play Mutavault.
I had Polukranos, World Eater and Stormbreath Dragon as finishers in Jund Midrange last week, and I really liked Stormbreath but was pretty unhappy with Polukranos. I think that Desecration Demon is going to end up being much better. I also forgot to put Anger of the Gods in my sideboard, which was a pretty big mistake. Here is where I'd start if you're a Jund Midrange enthusiast.
Here we are employing the same strategy as before except our mana is a bit worse, but we gain Rakdos's Return, Stormbreath Dragon, some different removal, and a sweeper out of the sideboard. I'm honestly not sure if we gain much from trying to go deeper into Jund than just a light splash. If we keep the same G/B deck from before, swap Reaper of the Wilds for Rakdos's Return, and change some of the lands around, it could work. Let's take a look!
I think that with this land configuration (though I am admittedly pretty terrible at mana bases, so feel free to chime in) we can still get by with playing a couple Mutavault. I'm not sure what red spells we even want in the sideboard, but Rakdos's Return is such a huge bomb that if we can fit it in without too much pain I think it's worth it.
I'm excited to see what everyone comes up with and brings to Cincy to battle. I really love any format the week after a big change, be it a new set release or a banned announcement that changes things, and I've historically done very well in those events, winning the first Legacy Open after Mental Misstep was printed and winning the first Standard Open after Dragon's Maze was legal in addition to a handful of Top 8s in freshly changed formats.
Now that Modern season is almost upon us, a lot of people have contacted me about the U/R Delver deck I played in Grand Prix Richmond. I mainly wanted a chance to play with my token, but the deck really surprised me with how powerful it was even though I built it insanely wrong. I'm currently on Melira Pod still, but I have been giving a lot of thought to U/R Delver.
With the abundance of cantrips that you're going to be playing, much like the Turbo Xerox decks of old (if you haven't read Carsten Kotter's article this week, it was really good), I feel like we can shave on lands even more and go down to eighteen. I had nineteen in my deck in Richmond and didn't even have Gitaxian Probe and felt like I flooded out a lot. Another factor in my flooding was that I had Thundermaw Hellkite in my deck, which is quite the powerful Magic card but not really where I wanted to be. I knew I had the monster hiding somewhere in the wings, so I aggressively took lands here and there with Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand and ended up drawing way too many.
It was a pretty big mistake to not play Gitaxian Probe. The card plays so well with our strategy that it's actually quite silly to think about playing without it. Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer are both so good and capable of stealing games on their own pretty quickly that playing a card that can trigger Young Peezy for free and give us the information on which threat we should be leaning on is quite invaluable.
We're playing a myriad of situational counterspells too, so even just simply knowing how we need to sequence them based off what we can see in our opponent's hand lets us tailor our game plan around the most disruptive lines possible.
If I were to play U/R Delver in a tournament tomorrow, here is what I would sleeve up.
This is similar to the build I suggested in my article after GP Richmond with just a few minor changes. I really like Grim Lavamancer right now, and I want access to Flame Slash in the main. I still feel like Pod (Melira and Kiki), Twin (RUG and U/R), and Affinity (Robots and, um, Robots) are the "big three" in Modern, so making sure you are familiar with those decks, how to sideboard against them, and what the focus points are for the matchups are the most important preparation factors to focus on.
I really liked Anthony Lowry's article on Temples in Modern this week, and I feel like he is spot on for the U/R Twin deck. Unfortunately, we just can't afford to have any of our lands come into play tapped now that we are down to eighteen, even with the boon of scrying. I could be wrong since that does happen a lot. Like a lot a lot, but I digress.
Man, I am so jazzed for the SCG Open Series in Cincinnati this weekend, and I can't wait to see everyone there. I'm probably going to be Scavenging Oozeing people; what's in your wallet, er, Standard deck?