The World Championships have come and gone, now we are left with several new metagames to decipher. My experience in Japan was amazing, even though my tournament did not go well. Due to my final exams occurring the week prior to Worlds, I didn’t have much time to test. A majority of the games I played were on the thirteen hour plane ride with Adam Yurchick. I had Blue/White Control, Valakut, and Boros with me, so most games featured me getting smashed with by ramp spells with Blue/White. Boros was going favorably for me, but it was getting worse the more I respected Titan Ramp. I knew that Boros would not be the most popular aggro deck in the format, but any aggro deck would be tough for Blue/White if there was a slew of anti ramp cards in the maindeck.
I did not have a Blue/White list that I was comfortable playing in the event. This is a very disheartening feeling when the deck you champion doesn’t play out as expected. Red/Green Titan Ramp was doing well in testing so I decided to give that a closer look for the Standard portion. It had a 50/50 mirror and a favorable control matchup so I would be good as long as I maindecked some Pyroclasms for aggro. I was testing the GerryT list that was used to win the Starcitygames Invitational the previous week and it was performing well. It is a terrible idea to audible at the last minute to an unknown deck, but I have played Titan Ramp many times so it seemed like a reasonable decision.
I tried to maindeck [card]Tumble Magnet[/card] because it taps [card]Primeval Titan[/card] and [card]Frost Titan[/card] as well as [card]Demon of Death’s Gate[/card]. It is a removal spell that has uses in all of the three main matchups. Tumble Magnet has not really broken through as a tier one removal spell, but it will be a staple in the coming weeks.
I eventually just broke down and played the version that has been tested more since I trust Gerry more than myself when it comes to this deck. Here is what I ended up playing:
The only way I strayed from Gerry’s list is by adding the third Avenger of Zendikar. Matt Sperling and I got the idea to play the third copy because it does not matter if the opponent takes it with Mark of Mutiny. Every time I cast Inferno Titan against Vampires, it got taken and I was promptly smashed.
Here are the dirty details of me getting crushed…
Round 1 U/W Control 1-2: I won game one and then got smashed by the seemingly impossible amount of counterspells in his deck. He began the games with Leyline of Sanctity in play and beat me with Luminarch Ascension. I knew that Blue/White was still a good deck, even though it’s not what I played. My opponent had room for Spreading Seas and Wall of Omens which helped against the three major archetypes.
Round 2 Mirror piloted by Shuuhei Nakamura 0-2: This guy is level 8 for a reason! I was winning the first game by ramping out a Primeval Titan on the fourth turn. He Summoning Trapped for a Titan and killed me the following turn. We both mulliganed in the second game, and he missed his second land drop for a couple turns. Normally when my opponents do that, I am in a pretty good position to win. I managed to only draw ramp spells, Tumble Magnet, and Act of Treason. Shuuhei eventually got enough mana to cast Titan and activate two Khalni Heart Expeditions on the same turn and kill me.
I was feeling pretty bad about my chances at this point because I am only incentivized by extra pro points if I top 8. Starting out an 18 round tournament at 0-2 is not the greatest way to feel like I am going to make it to the final 8. I had 38 pro points coming into the event, so all that was necessary is to show up and play at a reasonable pace. Coming in last place would still give me the two for playing a Pro Tour and lock up level 7.
Regardless of how I began the tournament, I must battle the third round.
Round 3 Blue Black Control 2-0: There is not much to say here other than I just did my Valakut thing against a good matchup.
Round 4 Black Red Vampires 0-2: I can’t see this being a great matchup because both games looked like I was ahead and lost. Maindeck Mark of Mutiny got me in the first game and Demon of Death’s Gate got me the second one.
Round 5 Corey Baumeister Blue/White Control 0-2: I lost the first game due to keeping a sketchy hand and blue decks doing what they do best. After sideboarding, the judge collected our decks for a mid-round deck check. Unfortunately, I was called over to the judge table and was informed that I didn’t take out enough cards. The penalty was a game loss, but I also lost the match as a result of being down a game. This could have come at a better time than the World Championships to get losses for stupid mistakes. I have not gotten a game loss in about three years. Remember — nobody is above it.
Round 6 Blue/White Control 2-1: I don’t remember what happened that well, but I got the match with a Primeval Titan against a hand of counterspells that did nothing.
Here is how I sideboarded in each of the matchups I played in case you were wondering.
I bring in Obstinate Baloth because they have so many counters. It’s important to land one creature that can go the distance. If they counter it, you can play Summoning Trap and get a free win. It’s also one of the few ways to deal damage with a Leyline of Sanctity in play.
Tumble Magnet comes in because it stops an EOT Primeval Titan as well as foiling opposing Act of Treasons. The other Summoning Traps come in because the most important thing in the mirror is to resolve a Primeval Titan before the opponent does.
The Tumble Magnets are for Demon at Death’s Gate. It does not die to any of the other removal so there needs to be a way to not take nine a turn.
As you can see, my matchups were pretty diverse. I played against four blue control decks, the mirror, and Vampires. Those were the three types of decks I was expecting so my prediction of the format was fairly accurate. Titan Ramp was the only one of these decks that didn’t manage to go undefeated in the Standard portion of Worlds.
I would say that Blue/Black, Vampires, and Titan Ramp are going to be the most played decks in upcoming standard tournaments. Players often lean towards decks that win Pro Tours so be familiar with the Blue/Black lists played by the Guillaumes.
I was not aware of the Caw-Go deck that was championed by Brad Nelson and Brian Kibler before the tournament, otherwise I would have played it. The deck addressed the problems I had when building my versions of Blue/White control. There were a few card choices I would make differently, but here is the list:
I understand the logic behind cutting two Mana Leaks for two Spell Pierces, but I prefer the three and three mix. Mana Leak is still an insane card and maindeck Spell Pierce is almost commonplace, so the surprise factor is pretty much gone. There is still the killer combo of casting a Squadron Hawk and leaving up Spell Pierce on the third turn with three copies in the deck.
I still like to play 6 Jaces in the maindeck and also came to the conclusion that four copies of the Mind Sculptor is too much. The Squadron Hawks still block for Jace Beleren and come down a turn faster.
The most important thing to remember when building a Standard deck right now is to be prepared for Titan Ramp, Jace Control, and Vampires. This deck does a good job at combating all three of the major archetypes so it’s a good call in the current metagame.
Now that we broke standard, let’s move on to the hot new Extended format. I am a big fan of the way this format is turning out because of the abundance of viable archetypes. My favorite card in this format is obviously Cryptic Command and there are so many different decks that can play it. If I am in a controlling mood, then 4 Color Control is the deck for me. There are also aggro-control decks like Merfolk and Faeries that can easily pull out wins. The final deck that strikes my fancy is the new Polymorph deck created by Akira Asahara.
I was out of the tournament by the time Extended rolled around, but Adam Yurchick and I put together a copy for him to play. There were a few sketchy cards like the third Jace and a Murmuring Bosk so a few changes were made. After playing 6 rounds, Adam managed to go 4-1 and concede a match to help someone who was in need of pro points. Here is the list I would suggest for the upcoming PTQ season:
This deck did not do well at Worlds, but I think it has what it takes to be tier 1. Not many people were aware of the deck until it went 4-0 in the Extended portion of the MOCS and it is rather complicated. When players have more time to practice with the deck, it will start to win a lot more.
I decided to cut the Spell Pierces for other discard spells because that card will rarely counter a card like Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt. It seems better to just take the problematic cards from their hand so you can cast Polymorph earlier.
Time will tell if the transformational sideboard plan actually is still the best option because it’s not a surprise anymore. This seems like the Dark Depths deck of the format because there are so many options. You can play cards for the mirror then they adapt by playing the new sideboard tech to combat it. It will be exciting to see how this deck evolves over time.
The other deck that I would seriously consider for Extended is 4 Color Control. It has answers to every deck in the format and savvy deckbuilding will make it so you can win every tournament. There is not really a good list I can give you because it will change each week. A good place to start is the 6-0 list piloted by LSV at worlds. Keep in mind that he tested many versions of the deck against many different archetypes so it’s crucial to practice before the event.
I am going to test more Extended and find out which deck I like better. Cryptic Command is the best card in Extended so you might as well play it. There is a reason that almost every level 7 or higher mage played it in the tournament.
The Magic Online Extended tournaments are finally firing, so there will be an abundance of information in the coming weeks. Make sure you stay on top of all the information because knowledge is power! Hopefully next season is as good to me as this one was. See you next year in Atlanta!
Thanks for reading.