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Breaking Through – Besieged Cards to Break

Mirrodin Besieged has had some time to set and cultivate in the hostile Standard environment that welcomed it in and it turns out, Besieged is a bit of a peacemaker. The new cards have already taken the format of Valakut plus the others and turned it into a wide open format with a ton of new options. Obviously we saw the rise of Caw-Blade in Paris and Tezzeret made his name known to the masses as expected. Even unsung heroes like Bonehoard and Hero of Oxid Ridge have added a ton of consistency and power to other existing archetypes, bringing everything closer to the middle.

Valakut definitely got some new toys as well, but they have actually hurt the archetype in my eyes. In a vacuum, a card like Green Sun’s Zenith is clearly more powerful than something like Summoning Trap, but the move in this particular metagame made the deck a little weaker to countermagic, which was all the Blue mages were hoping for. Still, in some form or another, Valakut will exist for as long as there is a Green Titan to power it up, but that is not why we are here today. Instead of singing the praises for those cards that have already begun to make their mark, I would like to talk about those cards that are currently being left behind.

After every new set comes out, people tend to jump on about 10% of the cards in the set for Constructed purposes. In reality, some 20 to 25% of the cards at least have potential in the world of 60 cards, even if that potential is never actually realized. But, because we are creatures of habit, we tend to adapt the initial batch of 10% as the “best” cards in the set and look to continually recycle and reuse them in a bunch of different ways, all the while forgetting about that other 10 to 15% that maybe sparked our interest on the spoiler never to be heard from again. Occasionally a combo card comes out that looks so powerful that one or two of these cards is remembered later, like Dark Depths or Sword of the Meek, but for the most part, we lose an entire section of playable cards. I would like to call attention to some of these cards today. They may not be ready for the big show just yet, but even mentioning their names may keep them from getting swept under the rug just as quickly as they were birthed.

 

Lead the Stampede 

This is a card that has entered a very awkward place right now. Obviously the initial application that most people thought of was in some type of Elf deck as a draw 3 or 4, but Green decks in general have taken a hit with the best card in the set being Sword of Feast and Famine. That said, this is a card that tends to shore up one of the inherent weaknesses in a mono Green aggro strategies: sweepers. Now you have a way to generate card advantage when your initial onslaught of guys is just not enough to get the job done.

This card actually pairs pretty nicely with a card like Genesis Wave despite not having direct synergy with it. Now you have 2 Green sorceries that reward you for a lot of permanents even if 6 or 7 of them directly clash. I don’t think that this card is going to continue to go unplayed, but it is probably even more versatile than original ideas make it out to be. Consider the following idea for example.

Now obviously this list is completely untested, as it was just a note on my computer as a potential list for Paris, but the general idea is the bigger take away. In this list you get what amounts to a draw 3 for 3 mana a significant portion of the time. Technically the math works out to something like 2.7 creatures per casting, but that is still relevant. You could even take out the White as it is only adding utility creatures and go some other direction with the list. This big picture here is that Lead the Stampede is powerful enough that it deserves consideration in nontraditional lists.

 

Hero of Bladehold 

While Boros has been getting a significant amount of press due to Paul Rietzl’s performance in Paris (and another copy of the deck in the top 8 to boot) this guy has not gotten much attention, and for good reason. While he is clearly a powerful aggressive card, he just doesn’t quite fit into the game plan of a Boros player. They want to hit hard and fast with landfall creatures and back that up with burn. Hero hits hard, but it does not do so fast. The card is clearly powerful, but trying to work it into the dominant aggro strategy right now is not the way to go. Instead, some work needs to be done to maximize this dude’s power level.

As pathetic as White Weenie sounds to the common Magic player, it is probably the best direction to abuse this guy in. With even just a single Honor the Pure in play, Hero of Bladehold goes from a solid aggressive creature to lethal very quickly. One of the issues I had with the new version of Soul Sisters that I tested for Worlds was the lack of a standalone powerhouse and the lack of a solid 4-drop. The original idea lost both Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Ranger of Eos, which combined for 7 slots in the deck and all of the 4 drops. Hero can go a long way toward replacing those guys and has insane amounts of synergy with a lot of the other staple White cards.

For a quick sketch of the idea in action, consider this:

Again, this list is obviously not tournament ready, but it does offer a different take on an aggro strategy that is not currently seeing play. Some of the best elements of Soul Sisters were the Brave the Elements and the sheer size of its creatures. While this does not really approach the size of a Serra Ascendant or Ajani’s Pridemate, it can come close with things like Bonehoard or Hero holding down the fort.

White Suns Zenith

This Zenith has gone a little under the radar for a few different reasons. For starters, it isn’t the best of the cycle by any means. Both the Green and the Black Zenith kind of took center stage in that regard. The other thing holding this back is the rise of Caw-Blade. When control decks turn more into tempo fish-style decks, big instant speed finishers become obsolete for the time being, but this will obviously not always be the case.

The easiest comparison to this card is Decree of Justice, and the comparison is not very far off. Sure, Decree was uncounterable and drew a card, but this produces an army twice the size and shuffles itself back in, so they both have areas of advantage if you will. The biggest thing to take away from the comparison is to remember that Decree of Justice was the finisher of choice in big mana control decks like Tron or traditional UW control despite there being other fatties on the market like Akroma or Exalted Angel (Eternal Dragon tended to see play with the Decree in most decks). Decree allowed for a deck to constantly keep open counterspell mana or draw spell mana while threatening a near lethal casting at any moment or completely turning around combat math for the aggro or midrange player..

Right now, despite Caw-Blade being the current U/W deck of choice, eventually more traditional control decks will rise to the top again in this ever-evolving Standard metagame. When that does happen, the finishing power of White Sun’s Zenith should be considered. With Zenith as your primary win condition, you can more readily fill your deck with countermagic and instant speed draw spells like Blue Sun’s Zenith or Jace’s Ingenuity and end up with a much more traditional draw-go style deck. The invention of planeswalkers has hurt this plan a little bit, as you now have both Day of Judgment and Jace, the Mind Sculptor that you want to be tapping out for at 4 mana at sorcery speed, but it just takes a little bit of play style tweaking to successfully do that.

 

Ichor Wellspring 

While Thopter Assembly has gotten most of the attention as far as Extended Time Sieve is concerned, I think Ichor Wellspring is the real card to watch out for here. While Thopter Assembly does win once you untap with it, it also does a lot of things that are not good for the deck. For one, you lose your immunity to cards like Path to Exile or Terminate as you now include a creature in a deck that otherwise had none. Second, it either slows your deck down a ton or makes you run bad cards like Semblance Anvil to accommodate it. I could see possibly boarding in a Thopter Assembly after the coast is clear and they have seen that you don’t have creatures, but out of the maindeck I don’t feel it adds enough.

Instead, you have access to cards like Thopter Foundry and Tezzeret as your back up plans which is just fine. In this list, you have a much more consistent and efficient game plan that does not revolve around an additional clunky 6 drop. Ichor Wellspring is a fine engine here as you have no shortage of ways to bin it and then get the rebuy value from an Open the Vaults. Origin Spellbomb serves a very similar role as a chump blocker or a good sacrifice effect for your Foundry or Time Sieve. You really are only looking to buy some time as your mana acceleration and business spells pull you farther and farther ahead which is why cards like Thopter Foundry, Origin Spellbomb, and Cryptic Command are so good.

The exact 60 for this type of deck list is something that would need to be hammered out over and over again over time, but as a starting point, that seems like a pretty sweet list at least. The new Tezzeret is definitely an enabler here as, although old Tezzeret is better at finding the pieces you need, it also costs a mana more, is worse at actually winning the game, and is worse when you are not actually trying to combo them out.

Wrap Up

Mirrodin Besieged has already had a big impact on multiple constructed formats and once people begin to broaden their horizons a little bit, it will even expand beyond that. Now is definitely a time for deck builders to begin taking advantage of the bottleneck on cards that is occurring. Some of us may even be working with Knowledge Pool, just saying. Thanks for reading!

Conley Woods

P.S.- Deck Doctor returns next week. We have been busy with various pro tours etc and making the switch to Extended has been difficult, but things should start again next week. Thank for the patience!

38 thoughts on “Breaking Through – Besieged Cards to Break”

  1. Why in the hell does hero of bladehold not get paired with eldrazi monument? It even curves out correctly; turn 4 hero, turn 5, attack with big flying guys; turn 6 sac a dude and repeat. Just a thought.

    -FritzJaeger

  2. Cool decklist ideas. I think all four of those cards have real potential to see Standard play. I’m especially surprised that no one’s playing Lead the Stampede and Hero of Bladehold, since those cards are insanely powerful. The Zenith and the Wellspring are fine, but they’re not as insane as the other two.

  3. Hi! How can I drop a deck for DeckDoctor review? Didn’t find any emails or other ways to get in touch with Conley, I do have some ideas which are weird and not quite competetive, which I guess is the idea))

  4. Great article.

    I agree with maxhanuman about Knowledge Pool, though. CONLEY….IT IS YOUR DESTINY TO BREAK KNOWLEDGE POOL.

    Also, Hero is clearly a girl. Please don’t be that Spike who only cares about stats on a card. Your homework for your next article is to quote your favorite MBS flavor text.

  5. That’s too easy though. It may be a shitty card, but Turn the Tide has some pretty awesome flavour text.

    “Let their mindless armies come and face the might of genius.”—Varil, Neurok partisan

  6. Idk, I think that arc trail has some pretty rad flavour text too:
    “Don’t try to hit your enemies. Concentrate on the space between them, and fill the air with doom.”
    —Spear-Tribe teaching

  7. I like white sun zenith in the stoneforge deck. Tap your lands in response to the swords trigger and if you have 6 lands say, you can make 6 cats and leave stoic rebuttal mana up. Or against decks that can’t board sweep, make 9! even if you can’t make this happen, its still an excellent instant speed win con. I replaced a gideon with it, not often where a gideon would keep you alive and a cat army wouldnt, sometimes its better. what you think?

  8. I actually played Lead the Stampede in the last PTQ, and got to 11th place with my combo Elves deck (only loosing, twice, to Faeries, which I actually thought was a pretty good matchup for me). I only played two of them (since both Green Sun’s Zenith and Primal Command are just too good to not have at least 3 of each), but every time I played them I was satisfied, even if I only hit one creature (because I was able to put 4 lands into the bottom, it was almost a like scrying for 5). Lead the Stampede was awesome against 5cc and U/W, and I only boarded it out against RDW.

  9. Breaking Knowledge Pool is easy. Just have it and a Teferi in play. Opponent can’t play cards anymore.

  10. Hi Conley,

    You should only write these brew articles. I love to read about your ideas. Why write about other things when this is your main field of interest?

    Limited brews are also a nice topic I guess. I enjoyed the read and look forward to next week.

    Jens

  11. Knowledge pool and Teferi? Well if he is reprinted okay, but in Legacy? Most likely a kitchen table combo, a very oppressive one so not even there it is good since if the game is about fun this is just stupid.

    A 5 mana and a 6 mana spell combo to end the game if there is no answer on board sure sounds extremely powerful but I’m not sure it’s feasible in Legacy.

  12. @Natron – He/she thing irks me too. I’ll tell you my least favorite MBS flavor text – Serum Raker “The serum from the blinkmoths they gather greases the joints of witch engines.”
    It’s clumsy, it’s unclear who “they” are, and WTF are witch engines?

  13. They way to play hero of bh is in gw.
    play lotus cobra and birds to accel into them. T3 hero, t4 monument.
    this coupled with vengine and squadroun hawks, stoneforge and sword of ff seems pretty sweet.
    But honestly it could be time for wbg junk to make a conmeback. And possibly malakir bloodwitch…
    adding black gives you access to inquiztion of kozilek. which hits almost everything relevant.

  14. Last FNM I brewed a w/u warcry deck for a friend of mine that performed really well. The coolest way I saw him kill someone was t1 pest t2 Renegade Doppelganger t3 Cryptoplasm t4 have Cryptoplasm copy Doppelganger, cast Hero, Swing with 2 Hero copies and pest for 28.

  15. @Egal: the format for this combo to shine is Commander as Teferi is then your general, making it a 1 card kill. Pretty easy for blue to generate 5 mana Eot of opponent then 6 main phase. Of course this will get you hated out of a commander table faster than any other deck, so save that one for the very worst griefers out there.

  16. @Jash
    I was just going to mention that deck. it’s super synergistic and quite surprising to find a U/W aggro deck in standard.

  17. Anti-Caw tech for other Mystic decks – Hammer of Ruin.

    Go long game with Infinite hawks – 4 Squadron Hawk, 4 Trinket Mage, 1 Elixir of Immortality. Get 3 hawks killed, hold the fourth. Trinket, resuffle, refill with Hawks when you play the 4th.
    Turning infinite hawks into infinite cards – add Vivisection.

    Go airborne with WW landfall flyers – Steppe Lynx at 1, Hawks at 2, Pilgrim’s Eye at 3, Emeria Angel at 4. Easily gets to 5-6, for Momument overruns, or Venser’s second ability (which also bounces Eyes for more land)

    Go tribal with White Knights – dodge first Day with Knight Exemplar, end with Monument overrun. Use Student of Warfare, Paladins, Crusaders along with Bladeholds. Also use Brave the Elements to protect the Exemplar from spot removal.

    Go weapons – Bladehold is a knight, he needs a squire. Add Brass Squire, and increase the equipment load-out for the Mystics to a good sword, a Sword of Vengeance, a Hammer of Ruin, a Basilisk Collar, an Argentum Armor. When you need to kill Caw Blade’s sword you get the hammer; when you want to just give Bladehold haste you get the Vengeance, and use the squire to equip it the turn Bladehold hits. Now he’s 5/4 first strike vigilant the turn he hits the board.

    All ways to break Bladehold or expand on the WW list shell provided…

  18. @kevone- I don’t know why this has degenerated into a discussion about flavor text, but look up witch engine in gatherer.

  19. @ Knowledge Pool People: Except that Knowledge Pool gives them first usage and can be interrupted by them playing instants. Chapin already tried to break the card, and discovered that the frenchies had no trouble stealing it’s thunder by slipping in a spell above the stack. KP is just too awkward.

    @ Conley: I like the white weenie sketch, but what about Hero of Bladehold in BW Tokens in extended? It makes a nice parallel with Cloudgoat Ranger/Spectral Procession, and provides a pump effect without relying on Honor of the Pure. Completely untested sketch:

    3 Tidehollow Sculler
    3 Accorder Paladin
    4 Kitchen Finks

    3 Hero of Bladehold
    2 Cloudgoat Ranger
    4 Bitterblossom
    4 Spectral Procession

    3 Ajani Goldmane
    3 Zealous Persecution
    2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
    3 Path to Exile

    4 Windbrisk Heights
    4 Marsh Flats
    4 Fetid Heath
    4 Reflecting Pool
    6 Plains
    4 Swamp

  20. Random related “tokens” background in standard – Elspeth Tirel + Hero of Bladehold + Ajani Goldmane… I don’t think there is enough support yet, but I could be wrong. It feels like something should be there, but it may just be poorly positioned right now.

  21. I like your Time Sieve list a lot and completely agree about the Thopter Assembly theory.
    But could you explain why you cut Time Warp and Temple Bell??? (-1 Tezz// -1 Mox Opal //-4 Cryptics) +2 Temple Bell // +4 Time Warp ?

  22. @chaos_noise
    I was actually surprised in the original playtesting how synergistic the deck really was, and how versatile the doppelgangers and cryptoplasms can be. Even copying your accorder paladin worst case scenario is decent in the list. Also, Cryptoplasm copying opposing bombs can be pretty hard to deal with when battlecry triggers hit or a monument lands

  23. The comments involving knowledge pool made me laugh or smile for some reason although I too would like to see it broken.

    @Jash
    Your u/w warcry deck seems like a lot of fun, I’ll try my own brew next fnm

  24. The only card that comes to mind with knowledge pool in standard is spine of ish sah, and that costs seven. Extended even seems like a stretch, it’d have to be legacy. Potentially it’s tech against combo decks lol!

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  26. I really like Lead the Stampede; I ran a couple in my Jund deck at the end of its play, and though I didn’t get much play with the deck, the Stampede was definitely a good card. I’m contemplating it to change Tempered Steel to a GW deck, because of all those sweepers.

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