The StarCityGames.com Atlanta Open has come and gone but the main format is still Standard. That can be good a thing or bad thing depending on if you are a fan of wide-open formats. Standard has so many options to chose from and the best deck is no longer so powerful that you have to be crazy not to play it. Grand Prix: Washington DC is next on my agenda but Nationals Qualifiers will be the next big event for many of you. Both of these tournaments are Standard so this article will have something for everyone.
When I prepare for large Constructed events I try to find many decks that are capable of winning the tournament. In Standard there are a selection of decks that enter my mind. Some of these decks are established but I always enjoy a good brew as you surely know by now.
I am going to go over the decks that I think are worth taking a look at for these upcoming events. This is not a Standard gauntlet so make sure you test against decks other than these. The front-runners at the moment are Jund Bant and Planeswalkers. I would like to discuss these decks and explain why I am considering each of them.
This is the hot new deck on the block. Lewis Laskin recently won the StarCityGames.com Atlanta Standard Open and Ben Stark also made Top 4 losing to the eventual winner. That is a pretty impressive set of records for a new archetype. The reason this deck performed so well was due to the increased popularity of U/W Tap Out and it can also hold its own against Jund.
Let’s take another look at the list that dominated the Atlanta Open piloted by Lewis Laskin.
This is a very solid list. I originally thought that this deck was screaming for an Everflowing Chalice or four but the early control elements make up for it. I would add a Mind Spring in place of a Divination since it will be much better in the late game.
Time Warp is a card that I want to put in the deck simply because I love it. It seems like one of the best control decks for Time Warp. There are four different planeswalkers from which to gain massive advantages. I have recently been enjoying decks that play Time Warps for value. I think many of the Blue decks in Standard get better if they play it. It cycles for free and it can gain an additional attack phase or planeswalker activations.
Luminarch Ascension is a good sideboard card against the mirror. Meddling Mage seems unnecessary and there is too much Red hate that I would cut the Kor Firewalker for three copies of the Angel-spewing enchantment.
In my last article I mentioned the importance of having a good plan against U/W due to the increase of articles about the deck. This week U/W represented almost a quarter of the Top 8 spots in the Amsterdam Pro Tour Qualifiers. I am considering this deck because U/W/R has a strong matchup against UW Tap Out. We also saw Alex Bertoncini playing Jund fall in the finals to this powerhouse of a deck. Any deck that can beat U/W Tap Out and Jund is a great call in the current metagame. This deck has a great control matchup and the mirror is obviously 50%. It may be difficult to find another control deck with a better matchup against U/W/R.
I don’t want to go into detail about the specific matchups for this deck because it has already been discussed in numerous articles this week.
When deciding what deck to play I narrow it down to the best Control deck the best Aggro deck and so on. I want to avoid playing U/W Tap Out in the coming weeks since it has a weak matchup against planeswalkers as well as the Open the Vaults combo decks that are going to gain popularity.
The best aggressive deck I have found is the Mythic deck. I recently criticized the Mythic Conscription version of Bant. I am aware it won a few PTQs last weekend and should be a force to be reckoned with. I am not a fan of the high curve the deck has due to playing two Eldrazi Conscriptions and four Sovereigns of Lost Alara. There are so many options in Bant that can allow you to win out of nowhere.
Most of the other options are solid cards by themselves so I would opt for some of these replacements. Finest Hour is a passable card that can make even a Birds of Paradise a threat so it should at least be considered. It is also expensive so I would not want too many copies in my deck. Rafiq of the Many is the least expensive option when it comes to spells that provide a powerful punch. It is a legend that dies to pretty much every removal spell that is currently played so I would not want to play more than three.
This is also another deck that can also take advantage of Time Warp which is why I like it so much. The deck I wrote about last week was built to take advantage of Time Warp because it included Garruk Wildspeaker; Jace the Mind Sculptor; Awakening Zone; and Elspeth Knight-Errant. The Bant decks I have been playing recently gain a larger benefit from the inclusion of Time Warp. This is because I am playing a deck that uses the attack phase on a more regular basis. I have spent a lot of time talking about this new direction of the deck… I guess I can let you in on the secret.
- 4 Baneslayer Angel
- 3 Birds of Paradise
- 3 Dauntless Escort
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 2 Rhox War Monk
- 3 Rafiq of the Many
I tried out many different legends before I came to this particular list. This deck began with a Garruk Wildspeaker over an Elspeth Knight-Errant because I did not want scenarios where a second copy would be stuck in my hand. After playing in a few random tournaments with the deck I found that Elspeth and Rafiq were insane and added one more of each.
I adopted the idea of Dauntless Escort in the maindeck from Matt Sperling and his Mythic Conscription list with which he won a PTQ a couple of weeks ago. The concept of playing out an Escort then following it up with a Baneslayer Angel or Rafiq of the Many is too good to pass up. There are some matchups where Rhox War Monk does not do anything special so I chose to run a mix of the two. There is still a third copy in the sideboard in case you go up against a Red aggro deck.
Most of the Bant decks I have seen play eight three-drops but I wanted the extra one because I want to gain a board presence before I cast Time Warp.
I began with three Flashfreeze but I did not want them against Naya and being aggressive is important against Jund. Naya’s most problematic cards are Oblivion Ring and Path to Exile. Naya is the only deck I have been having difficulties against so far. It is the only deck that can bash face quickly and have that removal spell for your early Baneslayer Angel.
I want to go over a sideboard plan for this deck since this particular version is my own creation. It plays differently than Mythic Conscription so this will be helpful.
+1 Dauntless Escort
-2 Rhox War Monk
-1 Time Warp
-1 Rafiq of the Many
-1 Baneslayer Angel
I like how this deck plays out much more than Mythic Conscription and you should definitely consider it for Nationals Qualifiers and Grand Prix: Washington DC.
The final deck in my short list of playable decks is obviously Jund. It is not an exciting option but it is still a very powerful deck. The best deck in the format is always on my short list of decks to play because if I am not confident in my other choices the best deck always has my back. My current build is only a few cards off of what I played at Pro Tour: San Diego.
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 2 Broodmate Dragon
- 2 Nest Invader
- 4 Putrid Leech
- 2 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Sprouting Thrinax
The biggest change I have made so far is the addition of Nest Invader. I began with Explore and this was the replacement because it is better for cascades. It provides additional creatures to bolster the Overrun ability of Garruk Wildspeaker. The mana accelerant was usually worse than a Putrid Leech on the second turn so the one that is best on turn 5 and onwards is the best option. This is also the reason I preferred Explore over Rampant Growth.
There is one Bituminous Blast and two Siege-Gang Commanders because there are so many things you can already do with your mana. Siege-Gang is very expensive to use well so drawing too many can be obnoxious. The Bituminous Blast is a fine choice again for the maindeck because the control decks play Wall of Omens as a good target. My older Jund lists avoided maindecking it because the control decks played Sphinx of Jwar-Isle as their win conditions and Celestial Colonnade did not exist.
Oran-Rief the Vastwood is another card I just started to recently include. It allows your Garruk tokens and Sprouting Thrinax to be big enough to fight a Wall of Omens. This comes up in many more situations than a Lavaclaw Reaches attacking.
I am not sure if there are actually people who still question the validity of Putrid Leech but I can assure you it is correct to play four. I see people board them out a lot which is also incorrect. It is one of the few actual good early plays the deck has. Many decks’ matchups against Jund depend heavily on a Putrid Leech resolving on the second turn.
There have not been too many articles on Jund recently which is one of the reasons I am considering it for Washington and why you should be considering it for your Nationals Qualifiers. I am going to go over some sideboarding strategies for the decks you can expect to face this weekend.
The Nest Invaders come out because you turn into a control deck so the mana ramp is less important.
Nationals Qualifiers are approaching quickly and you need to become familiar with the popular archetypes. Personally I find the best way to test for tournaments is to play in tournaments. You get a more realistic perspective on the actual metagame and you get to practice sideboarding. I attribute my successes in Standard tournaments to me playing FNM about three times a month.
These three decks are very powerful and you should consider each of them for the tournament this Saturday. I hope this article helped you in choosing a deck as well as helping you learn some tips about them. I want to hear some success stories next week.
Thanks for reading!
Lilbogg675 AT aol dot com