Grand Prix Los Angeles: Smog to Fog

Well that was certainly a shift in the metagame. Raise your hand if you expected Turbo Fog to not only come back in vogue but be one of the best decks for the past few weeks! I guess Standard isn’t quite as solved as people thought it was after playing Goblin Chainwhirler for months. With the cat out of the bag, though, the tech is starting to pop up to make Turbo Fog a very awkward choice moving forward. Insult // Injury is basically unbeatable for the normal Fog deck if you aren’t prepared and R/B gives up almost nothing to run a couple.

Instead, you can swap in Settle the Wreckage as a sweeper fewer and fewer players are respecting and that demolishes the Insult plan. Trucking your team into a Settle is quite the beating and Teferi can still dominate if protected for even a handful of turns. Moving forward, I’d expect to see something like this:

Deck #1

The obvious drawback is that WW isn’t always available on command and it replaces one other business spell, but those aren’t deal breakers. The other way to do it is simply to take the core of the deck and then shift around how you plan on winning other matchups. For example:

Deck #2

This is just an offshoot of the original big mana decks that stand as the spiritual predecessor of the Turbo Fog decks. Hybridizing them makes them softer game 1 but also allows you to deal with oddities more easily and bumps your threat density against control. Sifter Wurm gaining a ton of life also remains an effective way to shut the door on red decks after you chain a Time Walk or two. Hour of Promise also allows you a little more flexibility with the sideboard plans since you can rely on having Field of Ruin and Arch of Orazca available in longer games. Torrential Gearhulk also becomes a scary card when you board in all of the countermagic along with so many copies of Commit.

In a similar vein, if you expect Fog decks to continue to show up in numbers (and they will since at least a third of every tournament seems locked into red decks), then decks that line up well against them get a bump. Gift decks that can sideboard into a good plan against them look attractive, as well as any black/x midrange piles since the deck has a crippling weakness to discard.

So originally I was not a huge fan of the U/B/x Gift decks since you risk running so many dead cards against U/W/x and The Scarab God was still around. After this weekend, however, The Scarab God doesn’t seem all that relevant and I am a fan of boarding into configurations Turbo Fog can’t beat. Kitesail Freebooter is quite possibly the best card you can have against them and a combined 10 discard/counterspells buy a lot of time. Walking Ballista also means that they have to take a million turns, not just cast Fogs.

Nils Gutiérrez Von Porat piloted Sultai Gift to a Top 8 finish and while I still favor the Esper builds, it’s interesting to see so many throwback choices such as Hostage Taker, Glint-Nest Crane, and fewer copies of Minister and Jadelight.

Sultai Gift

Remember what I said about not being able to take virtual turns with Fogs? It goes doubly so here because of Verdurous Gearhulk and actually makes God-Pharaoh’s Gift a very scary card instead of a yawner. Of course, the six counterspells in the board don’t hurt either. For those of you who prefer Angel of Invention, I still like the build from my last Standard article. Though notably, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager isn’t the slam dunk it was at the time and should likely be shaved. Between Aether Hub, Concealed Courtyard, and at least one other W/x dual, you can actually cast Angel of Invention more often than in Bant Gift without ruining the mana.

As always, I like to keep an eye on interesting decks I run into on Magic Online. I got mauled online while jamming Mono-Blue Storm against what looked like a green midrange deck with some countermagic, until it juked me hard and I died to turn-5 Hadana’s Climb. I ended up asking for the list afterwards and got something that could be reasonable in a world where a fair number of your opponents want to goldfish you.

Green Midrange

I know Caleb just had his U/G Climb deck dumped as well, all of them being offshoots of the basic concept of going over the heads of normal green decks and packing enough countermagic to not scoop to Fog.

U/G Climb

Based on the results we’ve seen and Magic Online play, you have four valid “big picture” choices for the GP this weekend.

  1. A red aggressive deck
  2. A green aggressive deck
  3. A midrange deck with either discard or countermagic for Turbo Fog or Esper
  4. A U/W/x Teferi deck (whether that be Esper Control, Turbo Fog or even U/W Approach)

Storm had a blip on the radar but it doesn’t seem better positioned than Fog if you want to go that route. Meanwhile, of the four, I think Stompy has the hardest time right now. It doesn’t have any slam-dunk matchups and almost needs to splash in the current meta. Once you go that route, you end up slower and softer to the midrange decks you usually stomp on. Regardless of whichever you pick though, one thing is for sure—Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is easily as strong in Standard as Gideon or Jace ever were.


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