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FFfreaky Friday – States Aftermath

So States is over with and it was both a good and bad weekend. The good part was that my brother won the tournament, but the bad part is that he won the tournament. I spent all week working on finally being the State champion and getting the monkey off my back. How do I get rewarded? My brother beats me in the last round and goes on to win the Top 8. Even though my dignity is gone, I guess I can still talk about the tournament.

During the week of testing, I was thinking that Naya would be a good choice. It has strong matchups against most of the field and can still compete against the harder ones. The problem was that the hard matchups were going to be most of the field. Eldrazi Green and UW variants were going to show up in big numbers to the North Dakota Champs. This would mean I had to think of something else to play.

The day before the event, I decided I was going to find a version of UGR to play. They are my favorite colors and I knew I would easily be able to build it since I had all of the cards for any configuration. This made my life easier since all I need is a list for sure.

The Gauntlet

I first tried out Michael Jacob’s Destructive Force version, but it would have the same problems that Naya had. It was very good against the aggro decks but could have a tough time beating Primeval Titans that would show up all day long. This is when Josh Utter-Leyton showed me the ways of the past.

This was a version from out old Block deck from Pro Tour San Juan. I even wrote about this deck about a month ago but was a few cards off from this deck. The new additions greatly improved the deck as well. I knew this was the deck for the tournament and even found two copies so both my brother and I could play it.

Even though I did not win the event it could not have gone better. Paradox Comics and Cards did a great job at running the event and even had video and text feature matches that ran all day. You can find some feature matches of my brother and me here.

The deck was very good. The best thing about RUG decks is that it can be build specifically for a metagame. We thought UW Control and Ramp decks would be big so we played this version of the deck. If the format is more aggressive, I think Michael Jacob’s version would be better. Find out the metagame before playing a deck like this.

So anyways, lets talk about something a bit more upbeat and that is what new Standard is now looking like. The first thing is that Eldrazi Green is still a good deck. Even though we all knew this last week, it is something we have to get used to. This deck will be around for a very long time.

Someone asked me this week what was the most powerful card in the format: Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Primeval Titan. It surprised me to hear a question like this, but more shockingly was my answer. It has to be Primeval Titan. The power level of this card is unmatched by anything in the format. More games are finished by simply casting this creature.

So what does this mean for Standard? Before the rotation, Standard was ruled by very aggressive strategies. It was important to be doing thing on the first few turns that would quickly put an opponent in the grave. Even the control decks were trying to mana disrupt opponents with [card]Spreading Seas[/card]. This type of early action does not seem to be what post rotation Standard is about.

It seems that the games were more about what happens between turns 3-6 now. This shift definitely will impact what types of decks are able to be played. The first deck that I don’t think anyone is looking at right now is Boros.

Boros was on everyone’s radar last year around Worlds. Ever since then, the format was just getting faster and faster and many people were preparing to deal and deal with early damage. This speed progression pushed the deck out of competitions since those decks were simply more powerful.

This is no longer the case. UW control decks are not even running Wall of Omens anymore, since there are not many decks attacking with small guys. Fauna Shaman decks are at an all-time low and every other deck runs Primeval Titan. This is just the perfect conditions for Boros to find a home.

I do not have a full decklist for the deck at this time but this is the core of the deck I would start with.

Since Eldrazi Green is so popular, the deck will have to have cards that are great against it. Kor Skyfisher fits this bill. Everyone seems to be Titan-happy in the last few weeks and because of this the airs have been left empty. Not many creatures fly anymore. This is a great time to have Skyfishers. This is also the reason that Kitesail is probably a good equipment to have in the sideboard.

Now for a fun addition: Mark of Mutiny is a game-finisher against Primeval Titan. Think about it! Steal the now 7/7 Titan, swing with team, grab two Teetering Peaks. That is a lot of damage. The first time I did this on Magic Online I had to send Josh Utter-Leyton a message telling him about this. He called me a child…A child that just dealt 30+ damage!

So even though I think Boros is a good deck, I want to talk about what people proved was good throughout the other States tournaments. The first deck is being called Blue Black Elixir by Nick Spagnolo.

Nick Spagnolo, 1st Place New York

Even though I do not know what these numbers are supposed to mean, the archetype looks strong. Since there is no need to mass remove a board, dealing with things one on one is a good place to be. Blue/black has the best tools to beat decks trying to do one or two big things. It has very cheap efficient spells. I think we will be seeing a big turn around for decks like this in the near future.

It seems that many people have been trying to put blue with other colors lately. Not only does the color have the best planeswalker, but it has a great Titan as well. It took us a while to realize this but in a format where everyone is trying to kill you with one big creature, [card]Frost Titan[/card] is king.

What’s interesting about this deck is its inclusion of Elixir of Immortality. Now it would take a lot of convincing for me to play this card but I can understand the appeal. These are the things I think make the card good.

-Shuffle the library for Jace.
-Gains 5 life.
-Shuffles good cards back into the deck when playing a long game and helps the percentages of drawing spells.

The problem I have is that when one of these three situations are not needed, the card is dead. It does not help when there is a problem at hand. I have trouble playing cards like this in a deck. I will not say it is wrong, however.

The next deck I am interested in was run by Chris Cannon to a first place finish in Georgia.

What I find interesting about this deck is how many mini combos are inside this deck. I don’t understand how Adventuring Gear does not fit into this deck. It combos well with Memnite in that it’s the only creature that can get equipped to the gear before the second land drop. It also works well with Spikeshot Elder. I think I would make this deck have so many two card combos that it is almost impossible to not draw some combination of them since the overlap so much. This deck will need some work but could be a powerhouse in the weeks to come.

This is the deck I would hate to lose to in an event. I think most people would. Probably the reason Brian Siu had so much fun taking it all the way to 1st in New Hampshire.

One of the things that interested me when I saw this decklist is that it is trying to do what the old Red Deck Wins did. The old Mono-Red decks were just too fast and powerful to stop sometimes. Its guys got in faster then the removal could take care of them. This was why it won. Mono-Red doesn’t really do that anymore. People are running 12-16 creatures and Koth making it easier to just deal with the guys, just like with every agro deck, and be out of reach of the burn. Brian has another thing coming.

The ability to just deal a ton of damage in the early turns allows the pilot to not have to worry about getting into the late game. Panic Spellbomb and Assault Strobe help do what Mono-Red does best! I think this is a very good idea for what Red wants to become and I see myself losing to a doublestriking 7/1 in the months to come. Thank you for designing the most annoying deck to lose to in Standard Brian.

Looking over the Top 8 lists from this past weekend made me realize something. Standard is a very wide-open format. At every tournament there were about 5-7 different decks in each Top 8. This means that this format is very healthy and players can just about play whatever they want to.

It’s also interesting to see players do well with control decks. Personally I would be scared to play something on the control side right now, since I always thought its good to go proactive when the format is this wide open. It just shows how powerful these finishers really are.

The funny thing is that I was planning on going through some of my favorite decklists from this last weekend and finally come up with the deck everyone should be playing. After I spent a few days looking, something clicked inside me. I realized its just the best time to play with what you love to play with. The PTQ season is Limited so it’s good to practice playing that. Even if your dead set on grinding your way to the Pro Tour, I think it would be a waste to not play some of this Standard format. Wizards did an amazing job with Standard and don’t let that get away.

If you want to play something very fun and powerful, I would give the RUG deck we played a chance. I know that’s what I will be playing in the weeks to come!

Magic Online just released Scars of Mirrodin for limited play and that is exactly what I want to be doing right now. Next week I will be bringing you guys not only a Scars of Mirrodin draft but If you want, a few Sealed pools in my article. Limited seems like a blast and I can’t wait to learn it and get you guys any info I have on it!

Brad Nelson

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