Frites Restored with Larry Swasey
After picking up a lot of followers after Pro Tour Dark Ascension in February, Frites seemed to have fallen on hard times for one reason or another. The archetype has been completely out of the Standard spotlight for weeks, but Larry Swasey is looking to bring it back now that Avacyn Restored is in the picture.
Swasey has given the deck a subtle makeover by trimming things down to a more streamlined and synergistic core. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is still the centerpiece of the deck, but multiple copies of her are pretty useless. That knowledge, along with trimming off a couple of mana accelerators let Larry refocus his mana and open it up to a little extra. Birds of Paradise and Avacyn Pilgrim’s ability to fix and ramp at the same time mean they aren’t going anywhere, but in previous versions they were mostly just acceleration until Elesh Norn hit.
Gavony Township is a nice addition that can be found by Mulch to actually turn those little dudes on before the boss lady shows up to work (and Larry had just finished an opponent off with a horde of township-powered accelerators before sitting down to talk about his deck). The rest of the land base also got an overhaul, leaving just 6 Forests for basic lands while losing the arbitrary blue mana. Yes, Tracker’s Instincts becomes harder to flash back, but that’s not typically what you want to be doing anyway, so Shimmering Grotto and Birds of Paradise are just fine to support it.
Those changes enable a more focused sideboard involving Huntmaster of the Fells to up the threat count against control and provide a dangerous roadblock for Delver decks to fight against. Mimic Vat and Surgical Extraction also help shore up the Esper Control matchup that Larry says is a tough matchup, allowing him to shut off Phantasmal Image recursion via Sun Titan and lets him rebuy his own guys after a sweeper wipes the board. That kind of safety net lets the deck operate the way it’s supposed to with game-winning bombs being dropped all over the board.
It’s easy to see that Larry’s changes are positives for the deck, but we haven’t gotten to the sweetest one yet…
Say hello to Griselbrand, one of the biggest baddies in Avacyn Restored!
Larry continued explaining the swap away from Wurmcoil Engine by comparing the differences between an early copy of each. Unanswered, both Wurmcoil Engine and Griselbrand can easily win the game alone, but the back sides of Wurmcoil Engine are a little easier to deal with than drawing seven extra cards. That windfall can shut the door against many opponents who might have had an easier time dealing with a pair of 3/3s. Having protection from Doom Blade also helps Griselbrand’s cause as the lack of black threats has shifted the removal balance away from Go for the Throat.
With this new version’s good matchups outside of Esper Control, will the Standard reanimator deck be able to stand up against the format’s big boys again? Is Griselbrand really better than Wurmcoil Engine? Would Midnight Haunting and Intangible Virtue be a good sideboard fit as Larry proposed? Try the deck out and let us know in the comments!