Any capable deck designer can choose say two highly representative decks in the format metagame and beat both of them at a rate exceeding 70% for the purposes of a small number of tournaments (essentially until they can adjust or are optimized out and if well done only needs to hold for one tournament). If you only want to beat only one deck such a capable designer should probably be able to do so at a rate exceeding 80% even 90%...but you have to be very lucky to pull off winning with this kind of aim.
There has never been a deck so good it could not be successfully gamed. Never. Mike Long George Baxter and others were able to take down a Necropotence deck with Demonic Consultation Strip Mine and Hymn to Tourach. I personally have chopped down Affinity and Goblins simultaneously at 75+%*; StOmPy at 90%**; and even Jund at its height! Most recently Patrick Chapin was able to beat Delver at an elite clip (deftly choosing the "one deck" model) though could not simultaneously hold percentage against ramp strategies and had to settle for a Grand Prix second.
I now think of all the different Magic strategy philosophies and design principles as tools. None of them is "right" 100% of the time. Rather we should decide when any particular tool is useful and apply the correct tool at the right time. Put another way you don't bring a chainsaw to the signing of the Declaration of Independence nor wonder why your feather quill didn't do a good job of cutting down dat thar tree.
It is foolish to use narrowing rogue design principles if you plan to fight through a metagame of ten distinct and evenly distributed strategies. In such a case I would recommend figuring out what the ten or so best cards in the format are figuring out how to make the mana work and going with those a la Naya Lightsaber or Jushi Blue; essentially to compete at a great clip through Stage Two going completely non-interactive in Stage Three a la This Girl.
However if you can cut down the shape of the metagame to if not a small number of distinct decks a small enough number of bucket-able similar styles... There are some rogue models that can give you tremendous EV in the short term.
Standard seems to be distilling to such a particular specific chunk of decks. While there are technically any number of viable strategies from Frites to Solar Flare from Junk Planeswalkers to straight U/W Control (perhaps of a miraculous bent)... The functional reality of the format especially as dictated by last weekend's Magic World Cup is one of unambiguously attacking.
Even the control-ish decks attack. They might Ponder first but still they attack.
Of all the decks with winning records at the Magic World Cup last week there were maybe three Solar Flare decks (and those aren't even "real" control decks); there was one Trading Post that broke even (Mono-Black).
The vast majority of the remaining decks all played a dangerous one-drop; whether that is an Insectile Aberration-to-be or a Glistener Elf a less offensive (but clearly still dangerous) one-drop might be an Arbor Elf or Avacyn's Pilgrim. Both of these are troublemakers in their own rights.
Yes you are going to have some variety up top and maybe a challenge or two at the threes and by sixes... But the sameness in so many other places can reveal to you a clarity of strategy that has not been seen in some months.
Most competitive players will recognize that both of these are small creatures while some focus on how different decks with Delver are from decks with Thalia (Thalia in fact represents a recurring tax on Delver players and their free Phyrexian and cheap cantrips). In reality coming the other way the same cards can potentially be effective against both as well as against Arbor Elf Gravecrawler and so on (some of you have already mentally come up with cards like Tragic Slip or Gut Shot).
These will not necessarily be the most effective against Frost Titan but we will get to that in a moment.
It just so happens that formats where many decks collapse into just two or three decks—similar or no—happen to be smack in the center of my wheelhouse. Critical Mass beat both the weenie decks (White Weenie and Black Hand) on one hand and Mono-Blue and Gifts Ungiven on the other; Jushi Blue in Standard beat both Boros and Gifts Ungiven as a metagame deck and quite a bit of everything else on the merits (Patrick Sullivan is quick to point out it did not beat his Boros Guildmage deck).
... Can we take down Delver Naya Zombies other aggressors (and maybe even Infect) all with one list?
I certainly hope so!
This is what I have been working on the past couple of weeks and what we will be discussing today:
Sam Black and others have tried their hands at "red Trading Post" decks. The thinking there being you might want to make a Trading Post deck and there are different colors you can use for removal with your Trading Post deck. The early Trading Post decks were all black; the problem with a straight black control deck in Standard is that you have problems against planeswalkers. Red has far fewer problems with planeswalkers; kick wham stunner.
I wasn't going that direction.
I actually wanted to fall back on my Destroy All Monsters template.
The Destroy All Monsters template asks a rogue deck designer to choose a critical mass of format-relevant removal spells generally supplemented by life gain under the assumption that because you are playing with more mana and more immediate do-nothings than a beatdown deck you can expect to fall behind at some point. You generally have space to play a focused table-snapping something else which must be powerful enough to utterly demolish a subset of the decks that are not vulnerable to your pure creature kill component (though depending on the breadth of the metagame likely not all).
The imbalanced nature of your card selection tends to make you a massive favorite in a handful of matches you choose ahead of time—which can range surprisingly maybe to true control or even known combo decks—but leaves you a dog to some lesser cadre. You are often vulnerable to progressive card advantage strategies (i.e. The Rock) viable strategies that are somewhat without focus or big spell or other combo decks you did not specifically prepare for as they can go over the top of your over-the-top.
And that's okay more than ominous...especially if you can avoid ever playing against them.
Aside: Previous Implementations of "Destroy All Monsters"
I wrote about a version of Destroy All Monsters last December here.
You use the Destroy All Monsters model when the format collapses into a manageable number of similar attack decks.
You use this model when you want to you know kill a lot of creatures or other isolatable permanents such as artifacts. If you get it right you can defend yourself in Stage One and make the opponent's Stage Two miserable such that they keep feeling like they're running into a wall. Arguably my most successful example of the Destroy All Monsters strategy:
Kibler chose this deck because he said that unlike other rogue decks the G/W deck was still quite powerful. It is important when you go with this style that you leave a powerful—potentially even over-the-top—end game power as you are most vulnerable to big spell decks like Tooth and Nail (as you can see this deck itself transformed into Tooth and Nail). As the deck could therefore stay at pace with Tooth and Nail its most dangerous opponent was actually Patriarch's Bidding.
A more recent (but still not actually recent) Destroy All Monsters deck:
(i.e. the first ever Windbrisk Heights deck)
The deck already had an over-the-top end game potential with Proclamation of Rebirth but again could be ousted by a big spell deck like Tooth and Nail. Rith's Charm + Windbrisk Heights cheating out Biorhythm in fact drew a standing ovation when I was playing for Top 8 (full disclosure: I ended up losing the next two games).
/ end aside
So what I wanted to do with my "red Trading Post deck" was not so much to "make a Trading Post deck" as to just pick efficient cards that kill creatures or otherwise stifle offense (e.g. Pristine Talisman). Trading Post here is my Tooth and Nail sideboard my relentless Proclamation of Rebirth or Biorhythm combo. It is powerful—more powerful than what most decks can do—but not powerful in a generic or universal sense.
Some readers will be self-satisfied insofar that yes it apparently really is the case that I will make Wellspring engine decks across every color. It is important that even when you are playing a primarily removal-based strategy you still need to keep your deck moving (this is why the G/W and Rith's Charm decks relied on cards like Eternal Dragon Sensei's Divining Top or other cycling cards). You can't cast your more expensive removal (or proactive) cards after all if you don't have the land to do so.
I still wanted to play the best cards and to me—when you are playing a deck on this model—that means Bonfire of the Damned. There is pretty much no card more demoralizing than Bonfire of the Damned for the decks we are gunning for. In addition Bonfire of the Damned is a perfect anti-planeswalker card for a creature-poor deck. I am actually surprised that more players haven't keyed on to this card in this kind of a deck.
So rather than being a Trading Post deck at its core it is essentially just a stack of elite creature removal cards that live near the Trading Post. On one mana you have Pillar of Flame; this is a very good card that is even played in Modern at times. It is a murderer of Strangleroot Geist and Geralf's Messenger.
Galvanic Blast—still at one mana—is conditionally even better at this mana point. I have been very hot and cold on Galvanic Blast over the course of its existence. I had long arguments with Patrick about playing it in his Tezzeret deck in Paris; at the end of the day his argument that "It always does four in this deck" won out. Galvanic Blast was near its height in Patrick's deck yet I didn't love it. Nevertheless later I loved Galvanic Blast in G/R Jackie Lee or especially Jun'ya Iyanaga's version of Brian Sondag's deck (and Brian Kibler was certainly a beneficiary of that inclusion come Pro Tour Dark Ascension slaying Jon Finkel with the surprising metalcraft) where its stated purpose really was just to kill an Insectile Aberration. I found Galvanic Blast there much more contextually relevant.
Like Brad Nelson I am wondering about Whipflare and Slagstorm. Is four enough? Is "enough" the right word (i.e. is it the right number)? Is a two + two mix the right mix? I think that if you are going to go this direction you need to have some sweep. You need to kill tokens and Geist of Saint Traft you need to stay alive without triggering Wild Defiance and you probably can't live with five-mana Bonfire of the Damned under pressure. The more I think about it—especially as Slagstorm is an effective anti-planeswalker card—maybe the split should be three Slagstorm / one Whipflare if not just four Slagstorms.
The other two kinds of cards before we get to Trading Post fall into the classic Flores tap out wheelhouse. Basically my favorite way to deal with creatures is to tap out for better creatures than whatever the opponent is doing and either scare the opponent out of being able to attack or trading with value.
The creature end game is actually why I played the mana base I did. I really wanted to play a small Nihil Spellbomb subtheme as I agree with Sam Black that Nihil Spellbomb improves your position in the mirror (plus can give you some extra value against Frites and Zombies) but if you are touching Blackcleave Cliffs you no longer have enough fuel to play Mycosynth Wellspring and Solemn Simulacrum. But uncounterable creatures go a long way in this format in particular when you have to catch up against Delver or if you end up playing against a planeswalker deck.
Solemn Simulacrum - If you can Cavern of Souls out this Golem generally all your support cards will resolve because you now have enough mana to pay for Mana Leak. It is also very good at absorbing a Geist of Saint Traft—even if they have Vapor Snag—especially when you have Pristine Talisman.
Wurmcoil Engine - I actually took a cue from an old Reid Duke piece on this one. Wurmcoil Engine is Nolan's Batman. It isn't the hero we want but it's the best hero for the job at hand. I have been pleasantly surprised at Wurmcoil Engine's ability to stare down most Titans—especially given that I have potentially infinite card advantage to their merely "a lot of" card advantage—but not Frost Titan. Luckily no one plays Frost Titan.***
Thragtusk - Relatively late addition; with Cavern of Souls obviously a pure upgrade to Wurmcoil Engine against Delver decks (albeit weaker in conjunction with Trading Post so you leave one Wurmcoil still)… Awesome to go defend / defend / Pristine Talisman / Thragtusk / Wurmcoil Engine against any aggro.
The mana then is essentially keyed on the combination of four Mycosynth Wellspring and four Solemn Simulacrum fueling the one Forest for Ancient Grudge (and potentially Thragtusk which gets on fine with Cavern of Souls anyway). Cavern of Sous is essential to this strategy despite its being creature-poor in game 1. Speaking of Ancient Grudge it is our hedge against other Trading Post decks (sideboarded).
Full disclosure: given a lucky distribution of opponents I am sure you can run the tables with this deck. It is a murderer of 1/1s 2/1s and 2/2s. That said I don't think this deck is 100% "there" yet. While I think that it is overflowing from the perspective of Strengths and Opportunities it is not the strongest against other midrange or board control decks (e.g. other Trading Post decks) in game 1 and I have no idea how to beat a Frost Titan consistently.
In addition the card Wild Defiance in Infect is problematic. Luckily most of my Infect opponents to date have not sandbagged their 1/1s until after they have played Wild Defiance. If the opponent just gives you spots to one-for-one you should. However Wild Defiance puts quite a bit of pressure on your Whipflares Slagstorms and blocking. This is a tricky—though probably solvable—problem. Options include Ratchet Bomb (which can actually kill Wild Defiance as well as creatures) Necropede (Sam's suggestion last week) and even Melira Sylvok Outcast given our mana base. I am now kind of in love with the idea of putting Melira in front of a Geist of Saint Traft...which is how I know it is probably awful.
* Tsuyoshi Fujita did the same thing at the same time with a different aggro deck instead of a control deck!
*** Sadly untrue. The most commonly played deck that isn't one of our "prey" decks plays two to three Frost Titans.