Twas the night before the Pro Tour, when all through the room,
Not a creature was cast, not even a Tusk,
The cards were sleeved by the deckbox with care,
In hopes that victory soon would be theirs.
The competitors were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of trophy pics danced in their heads.
And Gerry in his Asking Alexandria, and I in my Buddha,
Had just started our brains for a long weekends battle.
My back is against the wall. Pro Tour Seattle is today and I have to make top 25 to continue to stay on the Pro Tour without the help of qualifiers. I have never let myself down in situations like this and have been slowly getting my game back to the way it was years ago with the help of Gerry and the rest of SCG Blue. This is my make or break situation. I am ready to put it all on the line and see what happens after the dust settles. I am ready for battle!
I am also ready for another Magic Candy: Standard Style!
#1 Jund Midrange
Jund Midrange might not be the best deck today, but I know it has the most tools to get there in the coming weeks. This is the deck I am most excited to work on once I get back from the Pro Tour.
I came across this deck when I was battling for Top 8 in Cincinnati. I was in my first win and in at a SCG Open and up a game. Then all of a sudden I was reminded by how much card advantage Jund decks have and my opponent easily destroyed me in the next two games.
The biggest thing this deck has going for it is that these three colors can answer anything in the format very efficiently. Every card in this decklist has a specific role to fill, but can be used in multiple different situations.
Let's go over a couple of cards that I over-value compared to other players:
This card is not only playable but important because Thundermaw Hellkite is a real Magic card. I realized this in Cincinnati when all the decks had a difficult time dealing with creatures with haste. This dragon is going to be seeing more and more play and having an instant speed answer is going to be important.
I am pretty sure having access to four copies is too many, but this is the card that makes me most excited to play this deck. Initially I thought of Underworld Connections as the most over-hyped card in the set, but I didn't think of its potential in this specific deck. Jund not only has the acceleration to not be affected by the tempo loss of losing a land, but it also has a creature base designed around gaining life. The entire deck is filled with cards that answer other cards so the ability to get ahead on card advantage is important. This enchantment is perfect in this deck!
Why no Bonfire?
Bonfire of the Damned is a great card and dependable if you want to play it. I personally don't like the fact that the card is horrible until it is awesome. Standard seems to be built around the fact that your opening hand has to be either very aggressive or the perfect storm of cards to stabilize against those who are being aggressive. Bonfire of the Damned is the type of card I would want in Naya decks that are aggressive but not one I want in my Midrange Jund decks. I am looking for efficiency over power since most of my cards are already very high on the power scale. There really isn't any reason to inject more variance into a deck that doesn't need access to more power.
#2 Black/Green Zombies
- 4 Diregraf Ghoul
- 4 Dreg Mangler
- 4 Geralf's Messenger
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 2 Knight of Infamy
- 4 Lotleth Troll
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
I was having trouble getting this deck to where I wanted it to be because I couldn't give up power for consistency. I could just never get myself to play Golgari Guildgate to fit in the Rancors I desperately wanted to play. Well, that was a punt!
This deck might be slightly slower than the versions without Golgari Guildgate, but it is much better overall. Rancor is the only reason to play this deck since it is one of the best spells in Standard. Almost every deck in the format knows that Zombies is one of the best and they are working hard at making sure their deck can beat it. The problem with that is the deck still gets to attack for four on turn two. One fifth of a life total is nothing to joke about. It is very difficult to beat this deck's nut draw and the real reason why the deck is going nowhere.
This was the missing link. I found Dead Weight but forgot this was a card. Crippling Blight is absolutely a four of in every Zombie deck from here out. This card lets you just ignore your opponents Thragtusks or anything else they might have. There are so many "when it leaves" triggers that are problematic for a Zombie deck and this card just lets you keep on swinging. Make sure you try this one out before dismissing it!
#3 Four Color Reanimator
This deck popped up in Cincinnati and was a smashing success. It was really impressive that a version of this deck could keep up with how fast the format is without a single one-drop mana acceleration spell. Mihara took pretty much the exact shell to a Top 8 finish in a tournament held in Chiba this last weekend.
This deck might not be the third best deck in the format, but it's here because of how much potential it has. There are many moving pieces in a deck like this and the metagame has to come prepared to beat it.
The most exciting thing to come out of this list is the sideboard. Not every deck in the format has graveyard hate out of the sideboard, but there are enough out there that it needs to be prepared for. Mihara did this by having a few cards to help keep the power level up when being forced to just cast the cards instead of cheating them from the graveyard. Rakdos's Return and Vraska the Unseen are also very good sideboard cards to help deal with any control deck trying to monopolize on the more grinding games.
#4 Bant Control
I loved the UWR control deck we ended up playing In Cincinnati but knew it wasn't going to last the test of time. The deck just didn't have the level of power it would need to fight hate. Entreat the Angels was a good card for week one, but we can't lean on it as hard as we did anymore.
Chapin recently wrote about a version of the deck running green that has a much better chance at beating hate cards. Sphinx's Revelation is exactly what a control deck needs these days to beat a field of aggressive decks as well as Rakdos's Returns.
The goal of this deck is to simply survive long enough to start gaining advantage with all of the powerful spells and Planeswalkers in the deck. The creature base does this very well by being the best four creatures in the format at dealing with brain-eating menaces.
Supreme Verdict over Terminus in the main is a great way to deal with the other green decks in the format. This deck already has every good answer to Zombies outside of Pacifism, which I do think is a great card against the deck. I just don't think a card like Pacifism is needed in a deck like this.
#5 Green/White Aggro
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 4 Loxodon Smiter
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 3 Silverblade Paladin
- 3 Strangleroot Geist
- 3 Sublime Archangel
- 4 Wolfir Silverheart
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
While Green/White Aggro is not a deck I would normally play, it is still a very good choice if the format is hating on Control strategies. The main reason I liked UWR Control for Cincinnati was the fact that GW decks were all the craze. Control seems like it is easily hated on by Jund Midrange, making GW a perfect deck to slide in a finish off the Rock-Paper-Scissors metagame that we all love to play in.
This deck is all about getting them dead. Many cards in this deck deal a decent amount of damage, but when paired with another card almost finish off opponent on the spot. Rancor, Sublime Archangel, Silverblade Paladin, and Wolfir Silverheart all have the potential to deal damage the turn they get cast even though they cannot attack. These spells make this deck super scary to play against and force an opponent to either race or deal with every card their opponent plays before it can deal any damage. This deck doesn't even fold to control decks, since all of these cards can kill Planeswalkers when they get cast, making it very difficult for a control deck to get any footing.
This is definitely the deck to play if your goal is to get them dead!
#6 UWR Midrange
This is the deck that ended up winning last week's tournament in Chiba and proving to the world that Geist of Saint Traft is not actually gone and that his Angel has made a Dragon friend.
Many of the numbers in this deck confuse me, but none more than four Dissipate. I find that decks like this tend to be a bit slow that playing so many expensive counterspells often screws up my draws. It is very hard to get on the board as well as counter their spells, making it difficult to play both Geist and Dissipate in the same deck.
The great thing about this deck is how much reach it has. There are so many burn spells that suiciding a Geist of Saint Traft for four damage can often times be enough. Thundermaw Hellkite is going to almost always deal five damage and the deck has Pillar of Flame as well as Searing Spear. This deck is trying to do the same thing as old Delver decks, which was "win the game as fast as possible." I don't know if this is still possible since I haven't played with this deck, but it seems legit enough to make the list. It even has Dungeon Geists, one of my favorite cards in Standard.
#7 Black/Red Zombies
- 4 Blood Artist
- 4 Diregraf Ghoul
- 4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
- 4 Geralf's Messenger
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
I do not think this is the best version of Zombies, but I do think playing it can be defended. This version is all about dealing as much damage and finishing the game with reach. This makes it a much higher-variance version since many draws could be filled with too many burn spells or too many creatures and no way to push them through for more damage. You will be living and dying by the top of your deck, but it will be an exciting ride nonetheless.
I would only play this version over Black/Green Zombies if your metagame is littered with Control and Zombies, and very few green decks. Thragtusk and Centaur Healer laugh at this strategy and will easily have the upper hand. Good thing Rakdos himself is in the sideboard to give this deck a fighting chance at beating the green monsters.
#8 UWR Control
UWR control was a great choice for the first weekend of the format, but I am wary of playing it anymore. That said, it is still going to be in the metagame since it is a decent shell to cast Tamiyo and Jace.
I like this version more than the one I played in Cincinnati because the format is evolving and fewer players will have Zombies in their holster. These early weeks of the format are spent on exploring instead of perfecting and I could very well see this version of the deck take advantage of that with some of its flexible card choices.
All right guys, I have to go and sign up for a Pro Tour now. Like I said in the beginning, I need a good finish this weekend and have all the tools to get it. As my favorite coach used to say: Clear mind, full heart, can't lose! Wish me luck! Seriously, wish me luck in the comments! Did you wish me luck yet?!?