Going Rogue at the Invitational
Whenever you have a large, split-format tournament, cool decks in both formats wind up on the outside looking in. It’s difficult for players to be prepared for both formats, and many strong starts find themselves dying when the formats change. Brad Nelson began the weekend by 4-0’ing Standard, but found himself eliminated by an 0-4 in Legacy, to name one example. I’ve combed through the Standard decklists for some potential hidden gems—Standard decklists that didn’t get their chance to shine in the tournament.
Let’s start with a look at what Chi Hoi Yim brought to the table:
A deck to make Andrew Cuneo—or any other hardcore control player—sit back and smile. Chi Hoi clearly expected a surge in green aggro decks to help combat the Delver infestation, and his deck is packed to the brim with sweepers—eight! Just one or two of these can give people fits, but with the full amount, including the miraculous Terminus for value, Chi Hoi is very favored against creature-based strategies.
Obviously, the hole comes against control, but that’s why Chi Hoi has Amass the Components. His deck features no creatures, so his opponents will have nearly as many dead draws in the first game as he does, but Chi Hoi has the ability to not only reap more pure card advantage. Not only that, he can shuffle back cards he knows he won’t need against a given opponent. That lets him do some wonky stuff, like maindeck Grafdigger’s Cage and Torpor Orb against Pod decks, without having to worry so much about hitting them in the wrong matchups.
Christian Calcano took U/R Delver to the top at Grand Prix Minneapolis not so long ago, but it’s vanished from the scene since with the surge in Restoration Angel’s stock. Michael sought to change that with an update to Calcano’s deck, moving it much more aggressive. The biggest switch is the inclusion of Vexing Devil, which is a dangerous card to give such a tempo-based deck, increasing his reach a lot in the midgame.
Beyond that, his opponents certainly had to play scared of Thunderous Wrath, which he could setup via Ponder and Noxious Revival to create huge swings of damage. Otherwise, we’re looking at some relatively standard Delver cards—but those changes turn the archetype from a versatile aggro-control deck to a burn deck with blue men!
Going farther down the aggro trail, we’ve got Goblins. That’s right, straight-up tribal beatdown! Featuring very close to the 20/20/20 split on men, burn spells, and land, this deck can create pressure through combat with creatures like Goblin Wardriver and Goblin Chieftain... but it can also get there outside of the red zone through Spikeshot Elder and Goblin Fireslinger, not to mention the burn spells.
If you like combat steps, then you don’t want to play against Justin. Splicing the successful Solar Flare shell onto a Venser deck, Justin can lock his opponents out of dealing damage by looping Stonehorn Dignitary over and over until they cry uncle. Venser’s ultimate is incredibly powerful once you get there too, ending the game after just a few spells. Justin had to sacrifice Lingering Souls for this concoction, but there may even be a way to squeeze them back in.
Speaking of splicing... Mark had the same general idea—mash strong control cards in Esper colors with a fringe strategy—but he went with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. With his time in Standard coming to a close, many players are still eager to give the Agent of Bolas some time to shine. He’s powerful, no doubt about it, but his deckbuilding restrictions have been a constant drag. With artifacts enjoying quite the renaissance these days, it might be time for Tezzeret to come back out and play!
Enjoy these brews? Start tweaking them for your own tournaments—hopefully including a StarCityGames.com Open Series!