The Setting Sun of Standard
The current iteration of the Standard format is coming to a close. This StarCityGames.com Open Series Standard Open in Atlanta is the last major Standard tournament before the prereleases next weekend. Set rotation is bitter for some, sweet for others, but exciting for all.
Before we begin looking forward to Theros, we get to give Innistrad one last hurrah—well-deserved for one of the best Magic sets of all time. Rotating out with it are Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored, and M13, and needless to say, things won’t be the same. Thragtusk’s stranglehold over the format will finally be released. The graveyard will once again become a resting place for dead creatures and used spells, rather than an extension of the player’s boards and hands. Miracles will also be resigned to Modern and beyond, leaving a hole in our hearts for schadenfreude-inducing gifs.
But we get to see all of those things—and more—in action one last time. What would you play in the send-off tournament before rotation? Perhaps something you have always wanted to try, given that this is your last chance. Or maybe you wish to do something one last time before the death of the format? I asked a few of the notable names in our field today what they were playing, and why.
Brian Braun-Duin is playing B/W Tokens splashing Slayer’s Stronghold (for value).
“Intangible Virtue is one of my favorite cards from Innistrad, and I wanted to play it one last time.”
Ah yes, Intangible Virtue. The card powerful enough to be banned in Block Constructed, along with its partner in crime: Lingering Souls. Often relegated to sideboards or used in smaller numbers, Brian is giving the powerhouse enchantment the going away party it deserves, jamming a full four copies and playing token makers galore for them to support.
“It’s my favorite deck in the format, and I wanted to cast Think Twice one more time.”
Surely he meant two more times. I tried telling him that there’s always Modern, but Tannon backed down saying that he hasn’t had nearly the same success with the card in Modern. Think Twice has quietly been a backbone card of the Standard format, allowing control and Flash decks to both keep up in terms of velocity with the more aggressive strategies while being pure card advantage and helping make land drops in mirrors. Some may not even feel the absence of Think Twice, but for others (ahem, Gerry Thompson) it will be dearly missed.
“I wanted to play something different for the last tournament, and I haven’t played a Sphinx’s Revelation deck in a while and thought it might be good.”
The backbone of Flash decks is being ripped out by the rotation. The creatures that say “flash” on them are all rotating! Snapcaster Mage and Restoration Angel were defining cards in the Standard metagame for a long time, and without them and Think Twice, these decks will cease to exist in their current forms. While Sphinx’s Revelation will likely continue to be a major player, the shell that surrounds it was made up of entirely old cards. What will replace them? What is the new backbone of Sphinx’s Revelation?
Chris Andersen is most known for his Legacy skills with Elves, so it would follow that he played Elves in Standard today.
“I wanted to play this sweet life-gain deck, but I played a few games and it was really bad. So, I decided to play a different fun, janky deck.”
Elves is a deck that was built by the great Zvi Mowshowitz—and it shows—that was piloted by Hall of Fame inductee William “Huey” Jensen to a second place finish in the New Jersey Standard Open. This is another deck that will cease to exist after this weekend. Arbor Elf and Avacyn’s Pilgrim are both gone, as well as Elvish Archdruid.
That’s basically the entire engine of the deck and would be more than enough to kill it, but add that the two major win conditions of the deck in the form of Craterhoof Behemoth and Gavony Township are out as well, and we have reached complete obliteration. The deck never really got a true chance to be a major player, as it was always under the boot of the consummate Tier 1 archetype of Jund, but Chris is going to try to let it shine one last time before it disappears forever. Fear not, fans of this style of deck, as I doubt it will be Zvi’s last such masterpiece!
As we here at StarCityGames.com bid farewell to the format here in Atlanta, be sure to tune in to see who leaves their stamp as we set it off to sea.