Like many of you I'm pretty psyched to play with our shiny new Magic 2013 cards in Standard. The Top 8 from this past weekend's StarCityGames.com Standard Open certainly provided what appeared to be some hope that perhaps U/W Delver won't be as oppressive this summer as we feared—though I tend to side with Sam Black in his column this week when he characterized the new metagame as "delusional." Some form of Delver is going to be head and shoulders the best deck in the format; I just think everyone went nuts and wanted to play their Rancors and Thragtusks and if they weren't interested in green they wanted to give Talrand Sky Summoner a try.
Powering up the Pod G/x Aggro and Delver decks with shiny new toys was relatively easy to do without totally derailing its power structure but I think M13 offers us some other avenues to explore. Right now we've got a maximized card pool to sift through and find some new interactions that might only exist for a few short months.
Believe me I immediately sorted through the spoiler looking for creatures with activated abilities in the hopes that I could finally build a Necrotic Ooze deck that could crack the top tables. Avacyn Restored's Griselbrand gave me a lot of hope but nothing in M13 jumps out as anything that could push it up a notch.
On the other hand though I'm super-stoked to give Glissa the Traitor another run in Standard! The main excitement is Rancor—a 5/3 first strike deathtouch trampler is absolutely nuts against just about everything outside of Blade Splicer and Mirran Crusader. I already want to run Wurmcoil Engine with Glissa and Rancor is also bonkers on a Wurmcoil Engine. Can I squeeze Vampire Nighthawk in there giving trample and a power boost to a flying lifelinking deathtouch creature?
I mean seriously—giving trample to a deathtouch creature is about as close to unblockable as non-blue creatures can come since one point of deathtouch damage is considered lethal and all the rest of that sweet sweet stuff tramples on through.
Here's one version I'm currently tweaking that's got all that going on:
While Wurmcoil Engine is a stone-cold beating against a lot of decks it is rather anemic in the face of Vapor Snag and the tempo shenanigans of Delver decks which is why I've got a full playset of Thragtusks in here to help on that front.
Of course G/B is a dog to Sword of Feast and Famine and especially Mirran Crusader which is why I've put Perilous Myr in here. Perilous Myr looks a lot less embarrassing with a Rancor on it (you can say that about a lot of creatures). Solemn Simulacrum can be a value chump blocker to help you live long enough to get Wurmcoil down which can (hopefully) turn things around for you.
Patrick Chapin and Brad Nelson aren't the only ones who're pretty stoked about Trading Post. I'd sketched up a mono-black version that looked a lot like the one Patrick put up in his recent column and since his is likely much better than mine I won't retread that ground here. I also have a green/black version featuring—you guessed it!—Glissa the Traitor that looks like a lot of fun and quite possibly a potent surprise:
- 1 Blightsteel Colossus
- 2 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 3 Wurmcoil Engine
- 4 Glissa, the Traitor
I'm really excited about what's going on here with Trading Post. I've loved the idea of using Kuldotha Forgemaster to Tinker into Blightsteel Colossus since we first had it available but once Fauna Shaman left Standard the idea was much less appealing due to the awkwardness of drawing the Colossus and having it be stranded in your hand. Trading Post lets you discard it for four life and then you can shuffle it right back into your deck for future Tinkering.
Of course BSG isn't always going to be the right answer (that pesky Vapor Snag) so in those instances Myr Battlesphere is a fantastic plan B. It's not unreasonable that you'll be able to hard cast the spell and with a Trading Post out you'll be able to cash in extra Myr to keep getting back Battlesphere until it finally kills your opponent.
The Wellsprings Spellbombs and Glissa should keep you flush with cards while the Talisman and Satchel accelerate and provide a stream of life. Sideboard options like Mindslaver or Spine of Ish Sah—over and over with Glissa and/or Trading Post—feel quite potent. As much as I want to rock Rancor with Glissa I can't help but think this might be the better place for her.
M13 gives me a few new tools for my FNM special Feed the Pack deck.
Sublime Archangel may look a little out of place in a Feed the Pack deck—after all you want a huge toughness to cash in for Wolves—but this is the sort of deck that will often have a lot of creatures sitting back and playing defense. That's the perfect home for Sublime Archangel…especially since you can attack with a lone creature boost it up by a bunch of exalted triggers and then sacrifice it to Feed the Pack at the end of the turn to make a bunch of Wolf tokens.
Rhox Faithmender seems to make a strong argument to replace Stonehorn Dignitary at four mana—not only offering up an extra point of toughness (which gives you an extra Wolf if you sacrifice it to Feed the Pack) but it's got a sweet interaction with Tree of Redemption. When you switch life with the Tree and you end up with a higher life it's considered life gain to the Faithmender's ability so it will double. Say you're at seven life and you activate the Tree to switch life totals; Faithmender sees you've "gained" six life so it puts you at nineteen life. At just two slots each you won't have the Tree and Faithmender around together too much but Sublime Archangel demanded some space.
My initial decklist included four copies of our returning hero Silklash Spider but I'm wondering if that might be a bit too cute even for an FNM. Seven toughness equals A LOT of wolves to Feed the Pack! Still Thragtusk isn't called the Value Buffalo for no reason so a 2/2 split seems reasonable.
Speaking of Feed the Pack I'm stoked we have Elvish Visionary available for a little bit of card draw letting us cut back to three copies of the enchantment and still have a reasonable chance of drawing it by the time you want to cast it.
Next up is a deck I'm putting together for Chuck to play. He said he was interested in attacking with little red men with a dash of Rancor.
One "sleeper" card from M13 I've got my eye on is Ring of Valkas. Sure it's not as splashy as other pieces of equipment in Standard but in my sealed deck I had a Mogg Flunkies equipped with the Ring that had six +1/+1 counters on it by the time I won. I'm intrigued by the idea of equipping it to an early Spikeshot Elder and watching it grow letting you gun down two points of damage then three points then four points… That's some sweet board control. Not to mention equipping Spikeshot Elder with Rancor!
I'm digging the funky stuff you can do with Zealous Conscripts—not only can you steal something scary from your opponent to clear the way for a killer alpha strike but you could tap Krenko for a couple Goblins cast Conscripts to untap Krenko then tap him for some more Goblins and if you've got a Chieftain and maybe a Wardriver out there—BAM!
Last up is my take on a thought experiment proposed by local Magic spike Eric Brown.
He pointed out that Deadeye Navigator + Deceiver Exarch + Gilded Lotus produces infinite mana and surely there's something fun you can do with infinite mana in Standard! Me I quickly cooked up a nearly mono-creature blue deck that didn't exactly impress Eric and others on our email list but I think it's got promise. My thought is since Exarch and Navigator are both blue creatures and Gilded Lotus is an artifact then Grand Architect might be a sweet shell to put the combo within.
Birthing Pod can be splashed in pretty easy—and with Lotus you can even pay the green mana sometimes—and can help find Exarch or Navigator. The one Lone Revenant might look strange but it's here as a hexproof five-drop you can Pod into and count on surviving long enough to untap and Pod into Navigator. If you can tap a blocker with Dungeon Geists or Deceiver Exarch you can even swing in and Impulse with him to dig up a missing combo piece.
I didn't mention it in my thoughts on Feed the Tree above but I'm kinda digging Spellskite right now. He had his moment in the sun neutering Kessig Wolf Run some while back and while he can still do that in the current metagame he does a nice job making Rancor—and even Revenge of the Hunted—look silly. Oh and he can protect Exarch and Deadeye until you get set up!
So let's say you get the combo in play—what do you do with all that mana? While I spent a little bit of time looking for ways to sink that mana that could instantly kill my opponent (Mindshrieker made a brief appearance) I then realized that you could just use that infinite mana to untap all your own permanents and then go off during your opponent's upkeep to tap down all of his permanents. At that point you can just beat him down with whatever creatures you've got lying around. Sure it's not an instant kill but it shouldn't take very long if your opponent doesn't just scoop it up.
I'd love to hear any ideas you might have for any of these decks or new ideas involving M13 that they aren't exactly talking about on the Premium side in the comments below!
Oh before I go I wanted to share the news—I've stepped into the modern age and have gotten a smart phone! My old decrepit cell finally bit the dust and Verizon had a nice deal on an iPhone 4 that I went ahead and decided to get. Anyway all this week I've been having a ball discovering all the cool things it can do (as I'm sure many of you did when you made the jump) and I'm looking forward to utilizing the new technology to do some sweet coverage of my Commander games. I've downloaded the SCGMobile app and purchased the upgrade so I can keep track of everyone's life totals Commander damage poison and such and I can use the sweet camera to take pictures of cool plays and game states. Are there any other Magic apps that you'd recommend?
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback ideas and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic life or anything else you want to talk about!
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format building your first deck or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements Randomness Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy Griefing Staples Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Yeva Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Niv-Mizzet the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Ghave Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)