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Randomly Manipulating Cardboard – Suicide Selesnya

You’re at a team PTQ, one that you skipped your junior prom to go to. You even had a date and everything. She was 1,000% out of your league, both in looks and in general demeanor, and when you told her what you were skipping prom to go do, she looked like you’d just killed her parents.

But you’re X-0 now. David lost his match and Mike won his, and you’re up a game against local ringer Matt Kadilak in the U/R Tron/Selesnya matchup. Here’s the side of the matchup you’re on:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Nikko-Onna
4 Selesnya Guildmage
1 Viridian Shaman
4 Wood Elves
3 Kodama of the North Tree
3 Yosei, the Morning Star
3 Glare of Subdual
3 Chord of Calling
4 Shining Shoal
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Forest
2 Plains
4 Brushland
3 Selesnya Sanctuary
4 Temple Garden
3 Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Sideboard
4 Pthing Needle
4 Giant Solifuge
1 Silklash Spider
3 Congregation at Dawn
2 Seed Spark
1 Kodama of the North Tree[/deck]

You have four lands in play, and a pair of [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] and a [card]Loxodon Hierarch[/card] to go with them. Matt is at 8 life, and decides to pull the trigger and tap out for a [card]Wildfire[/card], knowing that while he won’t get all your creatures, he’ll still kill your [card]Loxodon Hierarch[/card] and put you on zero land.

You feign deep thought. Both teams are eyeing you intently.

You cast a [card]Shining Shoal[/card], pitching a [card]Yosei, the Morning Star[/card]. “Redirect [card]Wildfire[/card] damage from [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] to you.”

More “thought” on your part. The guy in their B seat, Eli Kassis, cracks a grin, exhales, and leans back in his chair. He thinks you’ve messed up.

You cast a second Shining Shoal, pitching a [card]Loxodon Hierarch[/card] from your hand. “Redirect [card]Wildfire[/card] damage from Hierarch to you.”

You’ve been all Selesnya ever since.

* * *

Standard’s been something of a lame duck lately; local players in Syracuse are so dissatisfied that they’ve gone so far as to convince themselves that Modern is playable (ha ha). The aggro decks in particular strike me as borderline degenerate, running at breakneck speeds at high volatility. I’ve been playing Magic for a long time and I cannot recall a deck quite like Naya Blitz:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
8 Forest
3 Plains
2 Gavony Township
2 Mutavault
4 Rancor
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
3 Elvish Mystic
2 Selesnya Charm
3 Imposing Sovereign
4 Scavenging Ooze
4 Voice of Resurgence
2 Fiendslayer Paladin
4 Loxodon Smiter
3 Witchstalker
2 Garruk Relentless
2 Wolfir Silverheart
Sideboard
1 Fiendslayer Paladin
2 Banisher Priest
2 Ray of Revelation
1 Wolfir Silverheart
1 Imposing Sovereign
4 Unflinching Courage
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Selesnya Charm[/deck]

selesnya charm

This list, of fellow GoodGamery denizen drslearch’s design, is what I’ve been jamming in local events for the past few weeks. Like my favorite Selesnya decks, it seals up board control quickly and efficiently with undercosted fatties, and features both devastating closers and enough tricks to keep an opponent off-balance and to stop a board sweeper from just ending the game outright. [card]Rancor[/card] is as strong against control decks as it was in 1999, every creature with CMC two or greater has added utility, with [card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card] in particular being good for a turn four win against an opponent that stumbles early. But for me, the card that really makes this deck tick is [card]Selesnya Charm[/card]. The card just does it all—it’s a combat trick, baits countermagic/removal, and even functions as removal.

Goldfishing this deck serves little to no purpose, as you’re always playing to your opponent. The wide range of utility creatures available to you, especially in game one, allow you to craft lots of different game plans on the fly, an avenue of play that usually doesn’t present itself to an aggressive deck.

I went 3-0-2 at a GPT Trial with the deck last Saturday, only to lose to the eventual winner of the tournament—piloting Jund—in the Top 8 quarterfinals. Overall, though, I was happy with how the deck performed. I didn’t drop a game in the swiss rounds.

Now that all of Theros is spoiled, I’ve been wanting to take a look at how this deck will look post-rotation. At first glance, the deck doesn’t seem to lose much. However, [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card], [card]Rancor[/card], and [card]Sunpetal Grove[/card] all represent losses without any heirs apparent. So the deck needs to switch gears a bit.

[deck]Main Deck
4 Dryad Militant
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Experiment One
3 Selesnya Charm
1 Call of the Conclave
4 Imposing Sovereign
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Fleecemane Lion
2 Ready // Willing
4 Temple Garden
10 Forest
9 Plains
Sideboard
3 Chained to the Rocks
1 Selesnya Charm
1 Scavenging Ooze
4 Unflinching Courage
2 Pithing Needle
2 Banisher Priest
2 Sundering Growth[/deck]

Without the mana fixers of Innistrad/M13, we find ourselves unable to support both [card]Witchstalker[/card] and [card]Fiendslayer Paladin[/card]—two powerful 3-drops that had lots of game against control—in our deck. There are two ways to adjust to this: you could slow the deck down to better accommodate fixing like [card]Selesnya Guildgate[/card], or you could go the opposite way and ratchet the curve down as far as you can. That’s what I opted to do here.

The new list sports a bunch of 1- and 2-drops that I’m really excited to play, with a grand total of two unique 3-drops: a set of [card]Loxodon Smiters[/card] and a pair of [card]Ready // Willing[/card] to hedge against wrath effects. I’ll be the first one to admit that choosing to run half of Ready // Willing is an odd choice, but I’m expecting plenty of aggro as well as control decks that weigh heavily on board sweepers in the opening weeks of post-rotation Standard, and Ready is fine against both. It’s my intuition that with some of the new devotion cards, people are more likely to play into sweepers just to trigger devotion. In turn, this makes playing wrath-effects that much more appealing, hence, my pull towards Ready//Willing.

Some omissions you may have been wondering about, as well as some cards that narrowly missed the cut:

[draft]Advent of the Wurm[/draft]

Advent of the Wurm: Too expensive. Ideally, the game is over by the time this card could even be cast. I have a feeling Standard will be predicated on gigantic 4- and 5-drop guys that are just gigantic; this deck wants to just be racing at that point, getting in the last points of damage. There’s probably an argument for cutting the pair of Ready // Willing for two Advents, but I’m erring on the side of the cheaper spell for now.

[draft]Elvish Mystic[/draft]

Elvish Mystic: Now that the mana curve of the deck’s been radically reduced, the upside of mana Elves has been almost completely diminished, which is fine with me. Getting hands full of 1/1s was my second least-favorite thing (actual least favorite thing: getting buried alive) anyway.

[draft]Precinct Captain[/draft]

Precinct Captain: Are you kidding me? I’m never resolving this on turn two with this deck. Never ever ever.

[draft]Spear of Heliod
Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/draft]

[card]Spear of Heliod[/card], [card]Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/card]: I really, really wanted Spear of Heliod to work here, but ultimately, it stressed out my mana far too much for what amounted to just a [card]Glorious Anthem[/card]. Spear of Heliod’s activated ability is absolutely irrelevant here. Ajani, Caller of the Pride is a much closer call, as it is just fine to cast on turn four or five and can win a game by itself if unchecked. At this point, Ajani is likely to end up replacing Ready // Willing, but again, it all depends on how the metagame shakes out.

[draft]Azorius Arrester[/draft]

Azorius Arrester: I really wanted to run this guy, and to a lesser extent, [card]Leonin Snarecaster[/card], but the thing about this deck is that it has approximately a bajillion 2-drops, and a one-trick pony like Azorius Arrester pales in comparison to stuff like [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card] and [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card].

[draft]Keening Apparition[/draft]

Keening Apparition: There are a lot of auras as well as enchantment creatures in Theros. Don’t let this guy slide too far off your radar—more likely than not, he’ll be worth a look by the time Christmas rolls around.

[draft]Renounce the Guilds[/draft]

Renounce the Guilds: More than half of the creatures in the deck are multicolored. I’m not really trying to 2-for-1 myself with this deck, but if there’s enough [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card]s kicking around, it might just be worth it.

[draft]Glare of Heresy[/draft]

Glare of Heresy: I don’t really know what this kills that I care that much about, other than maybe [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card]. Not worth an inclusion yet.

[draft]Emmara Tandris[/draft]

Emmara Tandris: Maybe if we were playing with Momir Vig avatars.

It’s tough to try and flesh out what a metagame’s going to look like before it’s even played, but I feel like I’ve done an adequate job here. If I missed anything dumb, please—let me know in the comments.

See you next week!

Jon Corpora
Pronounced Ca-pora
@feb31st

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