A few days ago I was playing in an Online PTQ watching replays between rounds when a weird deck caught my eye. I was intrigued from the start from a few interesting card choices as well as his undefeated record going into the last round of swiss play. Overrun? Siege-Gang Commander? Beastmaster Ascension? It seemed like a real beating and I was definitely looking for a fresh start in Standard. I approached the pilot "The_Me" and asked him if he could give me his decklist because I couldn't quite figure out a few of the numbers. He agreed to share and talk after the tournament but by that time I was long asleep so we chatted some the next day about his list. We talked about a few of the card choices but eventually I came up with this list which I battled with in the Online PTQ last Thursday. While the deck is really good you've probably never heard of it:
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 2 Borderland Ranger
- 3 Kozilek's Predator
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 4 Nest Invader
- 4 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Vengevine
Now The_Me and I talked about this deck for quite some time the day following his run into the Top 4 of that particular Magic Online PTQ. He had been playing a few awkward cards that I really wanted to cut and some of his reasoning was pretty loose (specifically Beastmaster Ascension) and he was complaining that occasionally he drew too many "Overrun" effects and not enough creatures. The solution was to trim the deck down to its bare bones and figure out what was needed to fill in the holes. After examining his list this is what we came up with slimming down to only five Overrun effects and adding in the fourth Siege-Gang Commander because it is just such a huge beating. I've been playing against various UG Eldrazi Monument decks over the last few weeks but none of them have impressed me like this one. The deck contains tons of cards that can just win the game by themselves but when any of them are combined with an Eldrazi Monument or Overrun the game is just over. I wanted a few more threats than what he had and I added in a few Borderland Rangers for consistency as well as giving you additional cards in hand to pitch to Blightning. In testing Blightning was the problem from Jund (as it had always been). Borderland Ranger wasn't necessarily the solution to the problem but it did allow you to consistently hit your later land drops while giving you an additional card to protect your Eldrazi Monuments in hand.
From the beginning I fell in love with this deck. I've been trying to find a good list with Eldrazi Monument but none of them really had that much reach. Siege-Gang Commander is the answer and Bloodbraid Elf is an awesome reason to play Red. Giving your deck ways to recoup card advantage against decks that cast Day of Judgment or decks that just try to one-for-one you to death. Bloodbraid Elf always hitting a creature helped to ensure that Vengevine came back making him a more consistent threat. Without Bloodbraid Elf it could occasionally be difficult to return a Vengevine from your graveyard to play but Bloodbraid Elf solves that problem. Without white for a card like Ranger of Eos or Blue for a card like Sphinx of Lost Truths (like the newer versions of Next Level Bant) Red gives you access to awesome sideboard cards and a few awesome threats.
Today we'll be going over the big matchups in Standard and how you should prepare yourself for them as well as a few interesting strategies you can implement in order to help defeat them. A few Game 1's could be difficult but your sideboard is pretty strong against a variety of decks.
First and foremost Turboland is the new kid on the block and not necessarily the best matchup. However after sideboarding you get a card that they can literally not beat: Manabarbs.
Vengevine is not the greatest card in the world against them or any deck that doesn't actively kill creatures. He is costed pretty high in comparison with most of your threats and does not really help get around their horde of plant tokens generated by Khalni Garden. Basically your game plan in all games is to play a lot of dorks and cast Eldrazi Monument or Overrun. They have no counterspells maindeck (usually) so that should leave them cold as long as they don't combo out before you. In Game 1 only cast Eldrazi Monument or Overrun if it is lethal. Otherwise focus on playing more creatures so you can potentially survive an overwhelming attack from an Avenger of Zendikar. Their Lotus Cobras are their most important card against you in the early game and you should use your sideboarded Cunning Sparkmages to take them out as well as their Plant Tokens. If you ever get more than one Cunning Sparkmage in play it will be very difficult for them to win since you will also be able to mow down their Oracle of Mul Daya. In post-sideboarded games your goal should be to create a decent board advantage following that up with a Manabarbs. If you stick that card with any real advantage it should be very difficult for your opponent to win.
Mythic is a strange matchup and one that can be won a variety of ways. Often your aggressive starts with a Turn 3 Siege-Gang Commander overwhelm them since they have no removal but sometimes they will just kill you with a Turn 3 Sovereigns on the play accompanied by a Knight of the Reliquary. These draws are very hard for anyone to beat and are one of the reasons why Mythic keeps putting up stellar results. Mythic is probably the biggest "deck to beat" at the moment taking most of the Online PTQ slots in the last few weeks. If you can't beat Mythic you shouldn't play.
Your draws will not always contain Siege-Gang Commander but they will be able to easily overwhelm them if they don't draw Sovereigns. That is their most important card against you in the first game since you have no real way to kill any of their creatures in the early game. The first game will revolve completely around the fact of whether or not they draw Sovereigns which is a bit disheartening but if they don't draw it you will almost undoubtedly kill them before they can really do anything. After boarding you get access to Sparkmage and Forked Bolt both of which give them headaches. Try to saved Forked Bolt on a 2-for-1 unless they have played a naked Lotus Cobra on Turn 2. In these scenarios it is almost always worth it to just kill Cobra since that is what usually allows their busted draws. In this matchup Vengevine is similarly weak and Cunning Sparkmage takes his place nicely. Garruk is pretty mediocre because they will often ignore a 3/3 on the ground much like a Vengevine and you will rarely be able to use Garruk's ultimate due to the presence of Celestial Colonnade and Baneslayer Angel.
After playing a decent bit against Jund it is safe to say that you will win the majority of games where they do not draw an early Putrid Leech. If they play a Leech backed with removal it is very difficult for you to race and especially so when they are playing Blightnings and Bloodbraid Elves in the background. They don't have a great answer to Siege-Gang Commander and you will almost always win the games where you cast him on Turn 3. Unfortunately they will probably be bringing in their suite of removal in order to kill your early acceleration even if that isn't the optimal strategy against Monument decks. Lotus Cobra is pretty much the only creature you care about when it dies since every other creature creates a small advantage (except Birds of Paradise).
After boarding you get rid of a few of the weaker cards against Jund and side in the ridiculous Goblin Ruinblaster. This guy puts Jund in a bad way in a hurry keeping them off Bituminous Blast and Siege-Gang Commander. Those two cards are your biggest problems and if you can stall their mana or keep them off the right colors you'll usually pull ahead too quickly for them to fight back. If this deck becomes really popular expect more Jund players to adopt Pyroclasm and Jund Charm in the sideboard which could end up changing the percentages dramatically.
This matchup revolves completely around whether or not you draw Eldrazi Monument but you can often steal wins out of nowhere with a Siege-Gang Commander after a Wrath effect or by drawing multiple Vengevines and them drawing few or no Path to Exiles. Garruk Wildspeaker and Bloodbraid Elf coupled with Ruinblaster out of the sideboard can all virtually win the game on their own too so the matchup is pretty solid if you know what you are doing and don't just overextend into a Day of Judgment. Luckily most versions of UW are skimping on Day of Judgment opting for more versatile cards which is great news for you. Manabarbs is tricky and I really only sideboard it in if I'm on the play against UW but I always side it in against UWR Planeswalkers. This is strictly due to the presence of Baneslayer Angel since they will often be able to play Baneslayer under Manabarbs and then you just lose the game if you don't have an Eldrazi Monument.
Against Planeswalkers: +4 Ruinblaster +3 Manabarbs -3 Kozilek's Predator -1 Overrun -3 Nest Invader
The Spawn Generators are fairly useless after sideboarding as they will often just run you into a Wrath effect with no gain. Every other card specifically Borderland Ranger and Lotus Cobra (which are fighting for the early drops) provide you with a way to either accelerate efficiently or gain a card both of which are important when battling in an attrition war. The Overrun becomes less good as well in this situation since you are limiting your ability to generate creatures in the early game by siding out Nest Invader and Kozilek's Predator. Generally speaking Overrun is a fairly weak card against cards like Day of Judgment which makes having it in your deck after the first game a pretty big mistake. Eldrazi Monument breaks this line of thinking since it protects your creatures preemptively from Wrath effects. Most decks in the current metagame can't realistically handle Eldrazi Monument and UW Control as well as Planeswalkers are not an exception. While they both have Oblivion Ring they will rarely have enough mana to cast both Oblivion Ring and Day of Judgment in the same turn.
Next Level Bant
This deck is incredibly different from Mythic although most people don't really differentiate between the two due to their sharing color combinations. Next Level Bant has a few weaknesses that are very easy to exploit. For one they are very very dead to Overrun or Eldrazi Monument which gives you five cards that just win the game immediately. They have no mass removal and very little spot removal so you should be able to just assemble a large quantity of dorks and press the "I-Win" button to end the game. They'll play a few walls and eventually a Planeswalker but then they'll just fold to your trump card.
+4 Cunning Sparkmage -2 Borderland Ranger -2 Garruk Wildspeaker
While Cunning Sparkmage is good Forked Bolt isn't. Forked Bolt is really only there for Lotus Cobra decks and this deck (for whatever reason) doesn't play Lotus Cobra. While you will often be able to kill their mana producer early on it isn't nearly as devastating to this deck that it is to the Mythic deck. Killing their mana producers early is the dagger in their heart but Next Level Bant will assemble walls all the while you have Forked Bolt stuck in hand doing very little. Cunning Sparkmage does what Forked Bolt wants to do but also pings the opponent over and over in the process. Additionally if you ever get multiples in play your opponent will have a very difficult time winning. Sparkmage is also really good against their draws of Ranger of Eos into Scute Mob or just killing Elspeth tokens. Your games don't usually go long and you aren't siding in a ton of Red cards so Borderland Ranger is much less likely to have an impact. Garruk is again mediocre due to the presence of Celestial Colonnade as well as Elspeth coupled with any creature. I wouldn't recommend siding out any Overrun effects since they are your trumps and they will likely side in Negate against you. If you force them to tap out by playing a Siege-Gang Commander or a few Vengevines then you should be able to just kill them when they're vulnerable. Otherwise they will almost always leave open mana for Negate (or Deprive).
There aren't too many other important matchups. These are the Top 5 you will likely face in a given tournament and definitely the majority of the decks battling in the trenches on Magic Online. While Brilliant Ultimatum or a variety of rogue decks might be the flavor of your local tournament this deck shines against those types of strategies due to their general lack of focus. While you are killing them regularly on Turn 5 or 6 they will be floundering with whatever strategy they are attempting to facilitate. This deck is very strong but I'm pretty sure it isn't perfect. It could be streamlined into a real monster very soon and I've already got a few things in the works to playtest. I will say that I finally started off better than 3-0 for the first time in a while in any tournament and I might finally be starting to come out of the failure funk I've been stuck in lately. If you want something fresh to play and enjoy casting Green monsters then this is the deck for you. I know it’s the deck for me and I finally get to cast Eldrazi Monument again! Hooray!
Thanks for reading.
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