This weekend, the Open Series heads to Washington DC for the first Fate Reforged Standard event and the first post-banning Legacy and Modern events. I'm pretty excited to see what comes from all three of the events, but I'm secretly hoping that I don't have to bother with playing Legacy or Modern.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about just exactly where I want to be for this weekend. There are so many new powerful cards that we can use to either create something new or augment an existing archetype. We might even be able to resurrect an archetype that fell to the wayside due to how the Standard format ended up at the end of Khans of Tarkir.
My first inclination was to try something like Green Devotion and try to take advantage of the fact that Ugin's -X ability doesn't hit your own lands that are animated by Nissa, Worldwaker or any manifested card from Whisperwood Elemental. Using these types of cards, we can make it so that we aren't worried that Ugin's -X ability is going to get rid of a lot of our permanents too, since we're using them to generate enough devotion to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx out our Ugin. Ugin is just so powerful once it's in play that it's going to be tough to lose even if we are losing more permanents when we wipe the board.
Here is a first draft list that I sent BBD over the weekend:
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Genesis Hydra
- 2 Hornet Queen
- 3 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Voyaging Satyr
- 4 Whisperwood Elemental
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
The initial idea is just an all-in Green Devotion list using all the mana accelerants with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to ramp into Nissa and/or Ugin as quickly as possible. We also have Polukranos, World Eater to take advantage of all the mana, but ideally we're taking over with our planeswalkers. Genesis Hydra being able to hit any non-land permanent is pretty sweet, since we can actually get our Ugin there too if we have enough mana (which we will).
Whisperwood Elemental adds another element to the deck by giving us sweeper protection with its sacrifice ability and making our opponents have to interact with it, all the while we are doing our other sweet ramp things before it takes over by making an army of 2/2s. Unfortunately, we don't really have any awesome creatures that we can manifest into, outside of more Whisperwood Elementals and Polukranos, but even still, making an army of 2/2s starting as early as turn 3 is quite a threat.
I put black mana in the deck so that we can have sideboard options, but I don't really know if that's what we want to be doing since it weakens Nissa's ramping ability. Gaining access to things like Thoughtseize, Pharika, God of Affliction, and possibly something even more grandiose like Worst Fears might make it worthwhile though.
We can also splash a different color in red if we want access to something like Xenagos, the Reveler or even Xenagos, God of Revels. Finding a Xenagos with a Genesis Hydra is something I've always wanted to do but just never had a deck for it! Red also gives us access to Destructive Revelry and Barrage of Boulders, which might end up being useful as a way to clear out Hordeling Outburst tokens, or even let us alpha strike and kill our opponents since we have Polukranos , 4/4 Elemental lands from Nissa, Genesis Hydra, and Whisperwood Elemental that let us trigger ferocious. We can even splash something like Yasova Dragonclaw if we want access to red or blue.
Another deck that I really like Ugin in is U/B Control. Now that we have a Wrath variant in Crux of Fate that we can rely on, we don't have to lean on Perilous Vault to clean up for us. I really like that Ugin can be used as a form of board control and a way for us to actually win the game. After playing some games with U/B Control, here is a version that I really want to try out.
Four Ugin might be a bit much, but it's definitely something that I want to try. When I was playing games with the deck earlier, I only had one Ugin and just wanted to draw it all the time. There will definitely be games where we have two in our opener, or we draw one when we need a land, but with 27 lands and the ability to scry with Temple of Deceit and Dissolve, we should be able to get there.
Decks like this should match up pretty well against the midrange decks like Abzan, since our removal and counterspells will let us trade one-for-one while spending less mana than our opponents, and we get to clean up anything that slid through using Crux of Fate and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
For sideboard options, I think we definitely want Drown in Sorrow, Thoughtseize, and some number of Negates, along with possibly Jorubai Murk Lurker. I also would want a Pearl Lake Ancient in the sideboard for the other control decks. I don't really like having it in the maindeck right now, since I don't think that control is going to be terribly popular to kick this new format off, but it's something that I do want to have access to.
The other card that I'm pretty excited to see where it ends up is Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Many have written about Tasigur already, but it can't be said enough that his 4/5 body is a great rate at only 5B with delve. The trick is going to be figuring out where best to fit him. He definitely lends himself to a strategy that wants to aggressively get cards into your graveyard like a Sidisi, Brood Tyrant deck, but I also think that he may fit into a U/B Control shell since his ability is pretty sweet with counterspells, and he may even fit into an Abzan Midrange-type strategy.
As much as I really want to do well in the Standard Open this coming weekend, there is a possibility that I won't even make day two. In that case, I need to be ready to battle with Legacy or Modern in one of the Premier IQ 5ks. This week we had a huge shake up to these formats with Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Birthing Pod being banned in Modern along with Golgari Grave-Troll being unbanned. We also saw Treasure Cruise also get the axe in Legacy with Worldgorger Dragon coming off the banned list.
Treasure Cruise is no more, and I for one, am happy to see it go. Nothing was more frustrating than navigating a game and just getting demolished by a topdeck Treasure Cruise. There are other cards that are great top decks and can swing the game in both formats, but Treasure Cruise was in a league of its own.
That all being said, where do we go now in Modern? I'm not a Modern specialist by any means, but I have started to garner some interest in the format now that I can choose between Legacy or Modern at the same prize pool in addition to there being Modern Opens and portions of the Invitationals being Modern this year.
At the end of the last Modern season, I was pretty high on the Temur Twin deck that Brad Nelson and Todd Anderson were championing following Patrick Dickman's performance at Pro Tour Born of the Gods. I really latched onto the aggro/tempo playstyle and can see myself playing it again. I'm sure that the list will change, but here's the list that I lost in the Top 4 of a PTQ with right before the end of the season.
The biggest issue as we move into this new Modern format is going to be the ease of all the Pod players transitioning into an Abzan Midrange deck. Abrupt Decay combined with hand disruption and other efficient removal has always been a thorn in the side of the Temur Twin decks, and now they even get a new beater with Siege Rhino.
Remand's stock goes up when our opponents are casting Siege Rhino, but we don't really have a great way at answering one once it's in play. We could always just use Dismember to handle opposing 4/5 Tarmogoyfs, and while we can still use the same tactic to kill a Siege Rhino, the four life that we pay for the Dismember starts to add up with the three life drain from the Rhino's enters the battlefield trigger. I'm not really sure how we want to go about combating the G/B/x decks, but Huntmaster of the Fells seems like it could be alright, although it doesn't really address the Siege Rhino problem.
I also think that just going to Abzan Midrange might just be the safest answer. The deck can be tailored to be strong against just about anything, and the addition of Siege Rhino has done wonders for the deck by giving it a decent clock against the control/combo decks, a huge body in the midrange mirrors, and lifegain alongside a nice roadblock against the aggressive decks.
Lastly, for all you robo-lovers out there, I actually think that right now could be a great time for Affinity. Depending on how much sideboard hate people decide to pack for the Modern Premier IQ this weekend, I wouldn't be very surprised to see a great showing by Affinity. It wasn't really oppressed by anything, but decks having to get leaner and leaner to combat the Delver/Treasure Cruise-style decks that were taking over the format actually hurt Affinity, since a lot of the cards that were great against that deck (Forked Bolt, Izzet Staticcaster, Electrickery) were all good against Affinity, and with the Noble Hierarch and the Young Pyromancer deck neutered, I could see those type of cards being slacked on.
What's going to happen in Legacy? To be honest I don't really know. I do know that Wasteland will be good again, so building your deck appropriately will be key. Basic lands will be good again and so will True-Name Nemesis. My gut tells me that Miracles is going to have a resurgence and that people will try to play U/R Delver with Dig Through Time and realize that it's just not as good; however, Thought Scour along with Snapcaster Mage and Dig Through Time might be.
In the end, the saddest thing is that we will likely be saying goodbye to Kird Ape. We hardly knew ye.
Make sure you stop by and say hi this weekend in DC. I should have the BBD/CVM playmats in hand and will have them on display, so be sure to come check them out!