I didn’t do a lot of Standard testing for Regionals, instead hoping somebody would hand me the metagame-breaking deck the day before. This almost happened, actually, but I had a hard time believing Turbo-Fog could get it done. Something was just bound to go wrong, but we’ll see what happens when the Regionals Top 8 data comes in. (My own report should be up next week.)
There was a Grand Prix Trial the weekend before Regionals (as Zaiem has already written about [link to http://www.channelfireball.com/featured-articles/compulsive-research-tokens-tokens-tokens-a-gpt-winners-report/]), and I heard there was a cool Bant deck in the Top 8 that gave BW some problems. I did some searching around to see what people were playing, and a weird PTQ winning list from Richmond, Virginia caught my attention.
Tommy Ashton won with this list:
It’s a Bant aggro deck that succeeded in a format largely dominated by BW Tokens, though I’m not sure how the metagame for that particular tournament looked. There are cards that look weak on the surface, but make a lot of sense when taken in the context of the rest of the deck and the metagame, like Jhessian Infiltrator. Alara Reborn gave the deck a good boost with Dauntless Escort and Finest Hour. What caught my eye, however, was Shorecrasher Mimic.
One-toughness creatures really scare me when Zealous Persecution is running amuck, but Tommy and his deck are boosting my confidence. This deck has so many ways to create large bursts of damage that all work well together, like Rafiq and Finest Hour. Shorecrasher Mimic hits just as hard, comes down on turn two, and is a one-two combo punch with your big finishers. One of the problems with exalted in the past was that in a format dominated by Bitterblossom, attacking with one creature didn’t work very well. Now this deck has both Jhessian Infiltrator and Shorecrasher Mimic, not to mention the racing power of Rhox War Monk. Coupled with some good spells like Bant Charm, Kitchen Finks, and Dauntless Escorts, this is a mean strategy.
I played this deck against BW Tokens for a few games, and it was a blowout one way or the other. Either I would get the nuts start and double strike in for the win, or they would have the Terror or Zealous Persecution at just the right time to stop me. There is a lot of potential here.
Shorecrasher Mimic got me thinking; these mimics are serious business. Two-drops that pack as much of a punch as these do are worth paying attention to. I decided to explore the other mimics and see what spells turn them on.
The first time I saw a mimic doing serious damage was in Extended. At one of the PTQs, I heard a rumor of some guy doing fairly well with a UR aggro deck sporting Riverfall Mimic. Now, he said he was only there to have fun, but winning the flip on Stitch in Time (with his lucky coin) was taking that maybe one step too far.
Riverfall Mimic becomes a 3/3 unblockable, a relevant ability in a format of Bitterblossom, Spectral Procession, Kitchen Finks, and Plumeveil. If Jhessian Infiltrator can do it, why not? Let’s see what flips the UR switch in Standard.
The first place you have to start is Clout of the Dominus. I never liked it in Limited, but I’ll admit it wasn’t as bad as I may have made it out to be. In a deck full of UR creatures, giving +2/+2, shroud, and haste to a creature for one mana is nuts. Magefire Wings is another option, and while much worse, it could still be worth it. Either way, we’re going to want a lot of good creatures to put these on, so let’s check out the creatures.
Continuing the UR hybrid theme from Shadowmoor, we have Crackleburr, Crag Puca, Noggle Bandit, and Noggle Hedge-Mage that look good enough. Crackleburr is a little resource-intensive, but if people are activating Windbrisk Heights, why can’t we have three creatures in play, too? Crag Puca is super efficient, while Noggle Bandit and Noggle Hedge-Mage give the deck some more reach, though I think the basic land requirement for the hedge-mage is too steep. Alara Reborn gives us Spellbound Dragon and Skyclaw Thrash, but if we’re tapping five mana it should probably be for Dominus of Fealty.
Double Negative is a pretty awesome counterspell, and the best answer if your opponent starts casting Bloodbraid Elf. Three mana is a lot for a counterspell in an aggro deck, and you will rarely get it to work with Riverfall Mimic, so I doubt we’ll have room. Swerve is a possible sideboard option, though.
Where things start to get interesting, however, is when you look at a mimic’s shard. For Riverfall Mimic, that shard is Grixis. One of the best additions to the deck is Grixis Grimblade, giving us another good two-drop. Sewn-Eye Drake is pretty cool, but poorly-positioned in the current metagame, but I’m not sure how much we care about that right now. I’ve wanted to play Slave of Bolas anyway, and this could be the place for it. The best spell, however, is probably Grixis Charm, as we can even use the Fortify third of the card. I’m always looking for an excuse to play with Sedraxis Specter, and he is pretty sick with a Clout of the Dominus.
This is one version I made:
I decided 1 Swerve was cooler than a 24th land. Another version of the deck runs more lands and Cryptic Commands, but I like how aggressive this one can be. You probably don’t need that many UR spells, but I like to start from the top and work my way down.
Battlegate Mimic doesn’t turn into quite as much of a beast as Shorecrasher Mimic, but the spells you have access to are strong and work well together.
First of all, Figure of Destiny is the best place to start. What better creature could there possible be? Having a good, on-theme one-drop is so good for this deck. Cerodon Yearling is another good aggressive creature that fits our deck, along with Hearthfire Hobgoblin. I think I like where this deck is going.
As for as spells, Fire at Will is close to being good, but just misses the mark. It’s not very good once they drop a Glorious Anthem, and worst of all, they still get to activate their Windbrisk Heights. Sometimes you just need an answer to three flying 1/1s. Intimidation Bolt is certainly a RW spell, but I can’t image it is any better than Incinerate most of the time. You don’t always need to be on theme, and we don’t need that many red and white spells.
What I really like about the RW possibilities is Ajani Vengeant. What other mimic gets its own awesome planeswalker? There are other possibilities at four mana, like Brion Stoutarm, or even Glory of Warfare, and you’ve got Balefire Liege [ -Riki] and Nobilis of War at five mana. I doubt we would ever make it up to Bull Cerodon, but god knows I love that man.
Like Riverfall Mimic, we could go with a shard here, our shard being Naya, but I don’t think we need to. We are much more aggressive in the RW version, so our mana needs to be faster. While Cliffrunner Behemoth is perfect for this deck, the hurt it puts on our mana base isn’t worth it.
This version got very token happy with Dragon Fodder and Spectral Procession. Glory of Warfare really made me want a lot of creatures, so I thought I would try Dragon Fodder out. Unfortunately, now the deck is becoming a little unfocused, as Ajani Goldmane might be the better Ajani for this deck now. You could even go all the way tokens and run Goblin Assault as your own version of Bitterblossom.
What goes with Woodlurker Mimic?
Putrid Leech. Need I say more?
Looking through the list of GB cards, this combination is all midrange. Maelstrom Pulse is the best straight GB spell, followed by a bunch of expensive cards like Creakwood Liege, Deity of Scars, Lord of Extinction, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, and Sapling of Colfenor.
Adding in red to get access to the Jund cards doesn’t get us that much more. Sure, you get Jund Hackblade at the low end, but then you have Jund Charm, Lavalanche, Sprouting Thrinax, Madrush Cyclops, and Broodmate Dragon – more midrange spells. You know, now that I think about it, Madrush Cyclops is pretty exciting. It get’s your Creekwood Liege & friends in there faster, along with your Lord of Extinction and, dare I say it, Broodmate Dragon. Let’s give this thing a shot.
This deck aims big, generating large amounts of mana with Garruk and Fertile Ground and in order to pump out big angry creatures like Broodmate Dragon. Lavalanche seems good against BW Tokens, especially when you’ve got your own creatures on the board ready to swing in. Sometimes you get a threat-light do-nothing hand, so maybe the deck needs more staying power. Kitchen Finks is probably a decent addition over the Sprouting Thrinax, but I liked the way the tokens interfaced with Garruk. Heck, you could even add Bitterblossom to the mix, but who wants to mess around with that nonsense?
Finally, there’s Nightsky Mimic. Black and white is the combination to be these days. This deck has a good excuse to play Zealous Persecution, but if we’re going to want to turn on our Mimic we are going to need more .
Tidehollow Sculler is a must for this deck. He’s good anyway, plus we’re trying to cram as many BW spells in our deck as possible. Stillmoon Cavalier has fallen out of favor lately, especially with Zealous Persecution floating around, but he’s still got to be nuts against the BW token deck. I say he’s in the deck.
I don’t know if you know this, but both Tidehollow Sculler and Stillmoon Cavalier are zombies, and when I think of zombies, I think of Necromancer’s Covenant, conveniently a BW spell. It gives every zombie you control lifelink, not just the ones it creates, meaning you can start gaining life right away. Once we care about zombies, I’m putting Graveborn Muse into the deck, a card that naturally has awesome synergy with Necromancer’s Covenant. Now that we’re on the zombie train, we have to think about Lord of the Undead, and even Death Baron. After doing a zombie search, there aren’t a whole lot of other zombies out there that I like. Graveborn Muse is good even without a large amount of zombies, so I think we’re good on the zombie count. I’ve also always wanted to try Pyrrhic Revival, which is pretty sick after a Necromancer’s Covenant on our opponent, but I think that needs to be a different deck.
Unmake, along with Zealous Persecution, are our removal spells of choice. Identity Crisis is brutal if it resolves, so it’s worth a shot. I also like the look of Shriekmaw because it acts like a spell but gets eaten by Necromancer’s Covenant. I’ve also been looking for an excuse to play Divinity of Pride, and this could be the place.
Graveborn Muse is really good if left unanswered. Other than that, I’m not sure what this deck is doing that is powerful. Necromancer’s Covenant is nifty, but pretty random. It’s not very synergistic with zombies if you have to hit your own graveyard, making Lord of the Undead less attractive.
I don’t think I discovered anything metagame-breaking today, but I like the direction a few of these decks were headed. The Bant deck was playing probably the most powerful of the mimics, getting up to five power from his little two-drop. He also has the right balance of UG spells, not sacrificing too much power for the cause. As the metagame settles down for the upcoming Grand Prix in Seattle, I’ll have to see if the mimics can compete.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you had fun at Regionals!
Loucksj at gmail