The future of Standard is this little 2/2 that does oh so much. He just fits so well in many decks right now. Blue/Black Control Blue/White Control and even Blue/Black Zombies! We have many bullets that this little Mage can dig up for us. Some cards that I believe are relevant that he can grab us in Standard are Sylvok Lifestaff Chimeric Mass Elixir of Immortality Grafdigger's Cage Avacyn's Collar Hex Parasite Infiltration Lens Nihil Spellbomb and Origin Spellbomb. While he digs you up a little trinket he also comes with a decent body. A card many people want to run in their deck but usually don't is Nihil Spellbomb. Well with Trinket Mage you can now do this and only play a single bomb. Trinket Mage is a 2/2 that can gain five life exile your opponent's graveyard and draw a card make a 1/1 Myr and draw a card or just lock your opponent out of the game by preventing them from playing with their graveyard. He just gains more and more abilities the more trinkets you want to play.
Let's look at a couple of different takes with the Mage. First up U/B Brraaaiinnsss…
- 1 Hex Parasite
- 4 Diregraf Captain
- 4 Diregraf Ghoul
- 2 Fume Spitter
- 4 Geralf's Messenger
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 4 Phantasmal Image
- 1 Phyrexian Obliterator
- 2 Trinket Mage
Aggro decks aren't usually my kind of thing but I could get behind this. It's your typical Zombie deck but it incorporates Trinket Mage to Tutor up a Nihil Spellbomb which is all the rage in Standard. Nihil Spellbomb is actually nuts against your worst matchup Frites or anything else trying to cheat Ms. Norn onto the battlefield. You could also Trinket Mage for a Hex Parasite to kill any annoying planeswalker and make your Giraffe Messenger unkillable. What's more demoralizing then a giraffe that just won't go away and keeps draining you for two life? Nothing that's what. Just make sure you have enough mana to eat those +1/+1 counters in case a Go for the Throat tries to ruin your party. It also doesn't hurt that Hex Parasite can kill Phantasmal Images for just two life. I'm also playing a Sylvok Lifestaff in the board for other aggressive decks mostly the mirror and Mono Red.
Trinket Mage is by no means the savior for U/B Zombies but he'll carry his weight and help you against your worst matchup. I don't think he's a big improvement in this type of deck but in the next one he definitely will carry his weight.
The last time we saw Trinket Mage in U/B was when Nick Spagnolo played it to victory in States a while back. I think it's time to bring the little Mage back into Blue/Black. Again he Tutors for Nihil Spellbomb which works wonders against any graveyard-based strategy and helps with recurring creatures. Stop those Gravecrawlers from crawling their way back onto the battlefield and exile those Messengers before they can come back from the dead. Being able to tap out for a Zenith then pop a Spellbomb to stop the Zombie apocalypse is insane! That's Zombies's edge against you and you can strip it away with the help of Trinket Mage. What more do you want?
Well how about this? Trinket Mage also helps with the mirror by Tutoring up an Elixir of Immortality which will stop you from being milled to death. In the past it's been hard for U/B to recover lost life against aggressive decks but now it's much easier. Trinket Mage should never really be dead since he can always at least grab an Elixir of Immortality and after that he should be able to regrab your Spellbombs! Another small thing that may go unnoticed is that Elixir rebuys your win conditions that have been lost to a Wrath damage Ghost Quarter or counterspell. This little Mage will never stop working for you. You just need to hire him!
Let's look at another deck that can support Trinket Mage.
Here's a rough sketch of a U/W control deck that will lock any graveyard strategy out of the game with a Grafdigger's Cage. It'll also make sure your Day of Judgments actually Wrath the board. Who would've guessed that it would be so hard to wipe the board clean? The Cage will shut down all flashback shenanigans making Blue/Black's flashback cards weaker. I just love this thing right now!
Right now most decks try to kill you with damage so gaining a lot of life is a good way to counter their strategy or stall long enough for you to drop a win condition. You have Batterskulls Karn Liberated Gideon and my favorite Spirit: Drogskol Reaver. Over half your deck is mana sources so getting to seven shouldn't be too terribly hard. Reaver has a lot of things going for him in this deck. You have many ways to gain life so his ability is very relevant. Like Elesh Norn he can stop an Inkmoth Nexus in its tracks since he has double strike. Untapping with him with even one Talisman can be brutal and like I said before many decks right now try to kill you with damage and Reaver stems the bleeding.
The sideboard is mostly geared towards Blue/Black Control and Zombies. Against Blue/Black I would bring in the Chalice of Life Azure Mage White Sun's Zenith Witchbane Orb and Jace Memory Adept. You have many things to cut like Day of Judgment Timely Reinforcements Gideon Jura and even some or all Ratchet Bombs. Chalice of Life may seem laughable but it's no joke when it puts you on a four-turn clock. You can laugh and let it resolve but you'll respect it after it's doming you for five a turn. You have plenty of ways to gain life so turning it online shouldn't be too difficult especially since control mirrors usually are just draw-go.
I'll be testing this deck a bit and I'll let you know how it performs against the field.
Another way to go about U/W control is with Venser. I wish the guy saw more play. He's just so fun so I'm going to build a list with him in it!
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 2 Blade Splicer
- 2 Frost Titan
- 2 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Stonehorn Dignitary
- 1 Sun Titan
- 2 Trinket Mage
Here's another take on U/W control. We still attack creature decks but instead of life gain we come from a different angle: Stonehorn Dignitary and Venser the Sojourner. These two cards will lock out any aggro deck or will buy you enough time to get a Venser Emblem that should win you the game. Often enough once you start casting Stonehorns you should be able to chain them—either by simply casting more copying them with a Phantasmal Image/Metamorph or by simply getting a Venser online.
I have also incorporated the Trinket Mage package in here to Tutor up Elixir Cage or Nihil Spellbomb. The Cage can hurt you a little if you're trying to flash back cards but if you really need to you can Blink it with Venser to flash back some of your cards. You only want to cast Cage if it hinders your opponent more than you. For example against Zombies or any Unburial Rites deck I would play Cage as fast as I could since they'll suffer much more from it then me. I won't be able to flash back my spells but they won't be able to recur their creatures and the Unburial Rites decks will be forced to cast all their monsters which is not what they want to do.
I have eight slots dedicated to any slow control like U/B. Often I find that when I bring in three or four creatures to beat U/B it isn't enough. So I'm now going to bring in double that amount and just jam them as soon as I can. If I can get just one to stick it should put a lot of pressure on them. I can also recycle them and prevent them from milling me with the help of Trinket Mage.
Trinket Mage is one of those cards that just keeps on getting better and better as time goes on and more sets come out. Now is a good time for him to emerge and do some work. Have fun jamming him in your decks!
Ali Iron Golem