This is a very exciting week.
The Eldritch Moon Prerelease is over and now we all start the scramble to pick up the cards we need for the big decks that everyone is testing and tuning as we head into #SCGCOL this weekend. Even those who are busily preparing for the upcoming Pro Tour in Australia are eagerly awaiting The SCGLive® broadcast this weekend. What happens in Columbus could have a huge impact on the upcoming format and all the big events that come with it. These times are always super exciting in Magic.
I remember a ways back, right before #PTDTK, I was able to win the Open in Syracuse with G/R Dragons. This particular build of Dragons largely invalidated the popular Jeskai decks that were being played at the time and even put a huge damper on the more aggressive Goblin Rabblemaster-laden G/R decks.
Shifts in the metagame happened, and lots of Dragon-based control decks cropped up as they were the natural predators for the G/R Dragons style of deck.
I was able to get second place in States that weekend with a similar build of G/R Dragons, but control decks were everywhere and it was not easy going.
Maybe this weekend we will see something crop up on The SCG Tour® that shapes the landscape for the Pro Tour. In the meantime, though, I have just been working my behind off testing.
I won't be there, but the rest of my team will!
During #SCGWOR we finally unveiled the new team that we have been working on for some time, and I also wanted to give a proper announcement of my involvement.
Team Cardhoarder is a team that will be focused on the SCG Tour® and is split into two divisions: Cardhoarder Prime, which consists of seven professional Magic players, and the Cardhoarder Academy, which is a labor of love spearheaded by Chris Andersen and brought over from his previous project, Team Lotus.
The team is owned and backed by Cardhoarder, one of the largest MTGO bot chains, and is being managed by Pat McLean, who in addition to playing Magic has a background in owning and managing eSports teams.
Worcester was the debut for the team, and even though Andy and I were in the booth having loads of fun, Kent and Andrew were able to put together a pretty deep Day 2 run.
Starting this weekend in Columbus you will see everyone battling, jerseys, playmats and all…well, everyone except for me. My situation is a little different, but fret not, the beard is back in business!
My schedule will kick in starting at the Season Two Invitational in New Jersey. I still plan on doing SCG Tour® coverage because it is a blast and I absolutely love it, so I won't be battling in every Tour event during Season Three, but I have a very healthy schedule and plan on making a run at one of the three qualifications at the end of the season for the Players' Championship…if I don't just spike an Invitational, that is!
Here is my SCG Tour® schedule for Season Three:
Aug 19-21: New Jersey Invitational Weekend
Sep 17-18: Orlando Open Weekend
Oct 1-2: Indianapolis Open Weekend
Oct 22-23: Milwaukee Open Weekend
Nov 5-6: Baltimore Open Weekend
Dec 2-4: Atlanta Invitational Weekend
Like I mentioned above; due to commentary and family obligations (PAX West, duh) I won't be hitting every SCG Tour® stop, but that's still a lot of SCG Tour® stops and a heap of opportunities to get SCG Points.
I would be positively thrilled to get to visit Roanoke for the first time since I left during the weekend of Dec 17-18. Someone have a spare room ready for me!
Enough about me, though. We're all really here to talk Eldritch Moon Standard. What's changed? What's hot?
Well, I have been playing a lot on the MTGO Beta and testing decks and ideas to help prepare everyone for Columbus, and here is what I have found so far.
Collected Company Is Still a Really Messed-Up Magic Card
This goes hand in hand with how insane Reflector Mage is.
Remember how Stoneforge Mystic got busted with the inclusion of the new swords from Scars of Mirrodin block, in particular Sword of Feast and Famine and then the addition of Batterskull? There was a lot of talk about how cards like Stoneforge Mystic are unhealthy not only because of their power level but because they put some constraints on future card design.
The mere fact that Stoneforge Mystic exists really puts a damper on just what you can do with Equipment in future sets. Granted, it's not legal in Modern and will likely never be reprinted in a Standard-legal set, but the conundrum still remains.
To me, Collected Company has that same feel. With the existence of the card, especially since it's still legal in Modern, what creatures can do at converted mana cost three or less has to be kept in mind.
Enters-the-battlefield abilities are already great, but they are really pushed when you can get six raw mana worth of creatures and their enters-the-battlefield abilities off of only four mana at instant speed.
Spell Queller is the next addition to this. I mean, even Bounding Krasis saw play in the first incarnation of Bant Company decks that Jim Davis and the rest of the Team Meta Game Gurus came up with for the first Standard Open post-rotation.
Three-mana creatures with great enters-the-battlefield abilities are at a premium in Standard right now because of Collected Company and that is absolutely something that has to be kept in mind while preparing for Columbus.
The other creature that has a natural slot in Bant Company that just so happens to be a card that I think is going to give me headaches for quite some time to come in Standard is Thalia, Heretic Cathar.
Here is where I started earlier this week with Bant Company.
- 4 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 2 Lambholt Pacifist
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Spell Queller
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 2 Tireless Tracker
- 2 Archangel Avacyn
- 3 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
This was just a starting point that I wanted to try out and see just how good Spell Queller is.
Spoiler alert: it's good.
I initially thought that it only hit spells with converted mana cost three or less, you know, since it's a three-mana spell. As my opponent was casting a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet that had the potential to shore up the ground and pose quite a threat if they were to untap with it, I happened to read my Spell Queller a second time while it was in my hand.
"Counter target spell with converted mana cost four or less."
Any-who, I Banishing Countered my opponent's Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and killed them before they could get it back.
The card is very, very good. I was often casting it just as a flash, flying 2/3 creature, which was generally good enough for pressuring planeswalkers.
Also, you can Collected Company into it, so now we can get Tireless Tracker to provide card advantage in the long game, we can get Reflector Mage to disrupt our opponent's development while building our own, and now we can actually counter a freaking spell.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar also stood out as a great creature. It does well for setting up some great attacks and makes the tempo gain from Collected Company even more brutal. She is also great on defense, and will oftentimes put our opponents a full turn behind with stopping any nonbasic lands from entering untapped.
More great three-cost creatures for Collected Company! The trick for Columbus and the subsequent Pro Tour is likely going to come down to finding the right creatures for the Company deck.
Tamiyo, Field Researcher was pretty medium and should likely have been another creature or an Ojutai's Command. She does have a lot of potential and can be a great tempo-builder, but our deck is already built on tempo and I never really thought that you could have too much, but Tamiyo just felt awkward most of the time.
The Hanweir Garrison Tokens Are Humans
This wasn't something that I caught the first time that I saw the card, but I did play against an opponent online who was playing a Naya Collected Company Humans deck, and the first time that he attacked with a Hanweir Garrison and a Thalia's Lieutenant and got two counters on his Lieutenant from the two 1/1 Human tokens that the Garrison made, I was in trouble very quickly.
I was able to take the match in three games, but I absolutely lost the one game described above.
I wasn't able to get an exact list from him, but here is what I would assume his main looked like, along with some number of Naya lands that let you cast spells:
There might have been some other red cards, but I only saw the Garrison. I think he might have had the manabase off a little bit, since he seemed to be white-starved a lot of the time, but the deck definitely looked like it had some potential.
Again, Collected Company alongside awesome creatures is nothing new, but is the red worth losing Reflector Mage, even if you are a Humans strategy? It does give you access to some more removal in the sideboard, but decreasing the potency of your Collected Company is a risk that has to be taken into consideration.
I also ran into a couple interesting G/R Tokens style of deck that had all of the usual suspects. Here is what I would guess the main to look like:
I also saw some copies of Outnumber, but those were post-sideboard games, so I would imagine that they were in the sideboard.
I was able to overcome this deck with a bunch of fliers, but it did threaten some pretty crazy turns. The frontside +1 of Arlinn Kord on an Ormendahl, Profane Prince would have been pretty tough to beat, that's for sure!
One card that I would have listed as underrated, but can't really anymore, is Ishkanah, Grafwidow. When I first started working with the card it was only three dollars and completely off everyone's radar. By the end of the weekend you couldn't find any copies for less than $12.
I'm pretty glad I was able to pick mine up.
We didn't really have any payoffs for trying to achieve delirium previously, but now with Ishkanah we have a huge battlefield presence that we can develop into that not only stalls the ground game but gives us a win condition with her extra ability. You would be surprised just how awkward a 3/5 and three 1/2s can make combat for the opponent.
I think that if a delirium deck ends up being successful, it's on the back of this card. I have been working on a couple different builds of the delirium deck, but I'm not quite sure the best route to go. Emrakul, the Promised End is very castable; Grim Flayer is much better than I anticipated; and the same can be said for the new Liliana, the Last Hope.
Once I have a refined build I will share it on my social media, so make sure you check that out later this week!
Comments from Last Week
Last week I talked about Dragons and how I thought that G/R Dragons had potential in the new Standard. Some of you shared your feedback (thank you!) so let's take a look.
– Adam Barnett
Adam, I agree that there are a lot of people writing about Spirits, and I can't really blame them. The tribe seems pushed, and I expect there to be a decent number of them in Columbus. If someone can find a tuned list, they have the potential to do very well.
I don't think that Reflector Mage and Spell Queller are worth not wanting to play G/R Dragons, though. There are a lot of red removal spells that take care of Spell Queller, and as long as we diversify our threats and play in ways that we aren't completely hosed by Reflector Mage we can compete.
I feel like Hanwier Garrison wants Atarka's Command
– Matthew Moskowitz
I agree! There was talk in this exact article about a G/R Tokens deck that I faced on MTGO that had Atarka's Command. The problem was that I don't really think that it did enough. If there was another three token producer then I could see it being great, but as is that strategy feels like it's missing something.
Maybe someone can find it.
I will be watching coverage this weekend, not only so that I can see how my Cardhoarder teammates are doing and what Standard decks are doing well, but also to learn even more about how to call play-by-play from the master himself; Cedric Phillips!
Good luck, everyone!