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Silvestri Says – Caw me? NO CAW YOU

This weekend I played Caw Blade at my local PTQ and ended up going 6-2. Philip Yam-bush took it down with Goblins so congratulations to him for breaking his string of finals misses; with a respectable red deck even. As for my own take on Caw, here’s the list I brought:

[deck]2 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Sword of War and Peace
4 Hero of Bladehold
4 Blade Splicer
4 Squadron Hawk
2 Oblivion Ring
3 Dismember
3 Mana Leak
2 Spell Pierce
2 Elspeth Tirel
2 Gideon Jura
4 Preordain
3 Island
4 Plains
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Inkmoth Nexus
3 Tectonic Edge
Sideboard:
2 Azure Mage
2 Celestial Purge
2 Master Thief
2 Day of Judgment
3 Flashfreeze
4 Timely Reinforcements[/deck]

The maindeck was solid throughout the day and my co-MVP’s were [card]Squadron Hawk[/card] and [card]Elspeth Tirel[/card]. Elspeth is an underrated card that’s solid gold now that half the field suddenly cares all about board control again. [card]Gideon Jura[/card] may be absurd in a few matches, but I have no qualms about boarding him out against half the decks in the format. Elspeth on the other hand stays in for every match with the sole exception of straight UR Twin. Her ability to make an instant army often forces action from the opponent and is not to be underestimated. Elspeth’s ultimate is also quite unique in what it brings to the table. You won’t use it all that often but it single-handedly won me a pair of games that no other card (save [card]Sorin’s Vengeance[/card]) could have gotten me.

One other note about the maindeck, I’m not actually advocating running [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] over [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card]. After looking around the room however I felt that some extra cards in the mirror would do me some good as a good chunk of the players I worry about were all running UW. [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] served me fairly well in other matches but I would definitely recommend the third [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] before the first War and Peace unless you feel the top-end of your metagame is going to be filled with Caw players.

Moving onto the sideboard, I went way over the top in terms of trying to tech out and having an unexpected card edge on the opponent. [card]Master Thief[/card] sums this little stunt up as just being too cute for its own good. I should have just gone with a classic [card]Revoke Existence[/card] or additional [card]Day of Judgment[/card] to help against Steel. [card]Azure Mage[/card] did work out well in the UW mirror and supplemented the countermagic nicely where as Jace forced me to choose whether to tap down early or hold off on playing him until late in the game. [card]Azure Mage[/card] was an additional body for Sword, attack early if the opponent didn’t have a Hawk and anytime I didn’t play countermagic I would simply draw a card. It might still be too pie-in-the-sky to be worthwhile but I liked it a lot more than Jace in the Fish style of Caw.

Speaking of Fish and Caw at this point I feel as if there’s a philosophical difference between them that needs to be examined. There are significant differences between Edgar Flores list and the list Armel Primot used to win French Nationals and to treat them as the same in discussion is folly.

Differences Between Caw Philosophy

Edgar Flores – 2nd at SCG Seattle

[deck]3 Sword of Feast and Famine
3 Spellskite
4 Squadron Hawk
3 Dismember
3 Into the Roil
4 Mana Leak
3 Spell Pierce
2 Gideon Jura
3 Jace Beleren
4 Preordain
2 Timely Reinforcements
4 Island
3 Plains
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Tectonic Edge
Sideboard:
2 Ratchet Bomb
1 Deprive
1 Dismember
2 Flashfreeze
3 Mental Misstep
1 Negate
2 Day of Judgment
2 Revoke Existence
1 Timely Reinforcements[/deck]

Armel Primot – 1st place at French Nationals

[deck]2 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Spellskite
4 Hero of Bladehold
4 Mirran Crusader
4 Squadron Hawk
1 Sun Titan
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Deprive
2 Dismember
1 Into the Roil
4 Mana Leak
3 Spell Pierce
1 Gideon Jura
4 Preordain
2 Island
6 Plains
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Tectonic Edge
Sideboard:
3 Leonin Arbiter
2 Condemn
1 White Sun’s Zenith
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
3 Day of Judgment
2 Revoke Existence
3 Timely Reinforcements[/deck]

Flores list reflects a different way of attacking the format using mostly the same cards. He still wants to apply pressure early, but supplements it more with his choices of removal and protection. Multiple maindeck [card]Into the Roil[/card]s and [card]Spellskite[/card]s both really stand out from most lists.

We need to stop lumping them all together because not only does it bog down discussion and make talking about results unclear, as there are major differences between the decks when you play against them. If I’m playing a deck that just wants to brawl then I’m far more concerned with maindeck [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card] and [card]Spellskite[/card] while if playing against combo or mid-range, the ability to apply pressure quickly becomes a bigger factor. Unlike many other decks which shoot for optimized builds, this one is choose your own adventure, leaning toward what matches you want to hedge your bets against.

One card I criticized recently was [card]Jace Beleren[/card], but that was for its role in the Fish version with [card]Blade Splicer[/card]. Jace is a card that makes a lot more sense in Flores / Spagnolo’s list when they have better ways to protect it with [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card] and [card]Spellskite[/card] maindeck. They also need to draw those extra cards because they can’t ‘go aggro’ by just curving out and crushing the opponent that the Fish builds can pull off. The numbers of games I won by curving out with Hawk – Splicer – Hero or Splicer into Splicer with [card]Spell Pierce[/card] open were numerous in testing and tournament games. For versions like mine Jace doesn’t do anywhere near enough work to justify itself and actually doesn’t care about playing that kind of game to begin with. Between [card]Squadron Hawk[/card], [card]Blade Splicer[/card] and a full set of [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] it isn’t difficult to tee off on opposing Jaces early.

The same goes for six-drops in the slower and more controlling versions of UW. The straight UW Control packing [card]Squadron Hawk[/card] certainly gets a lot more value from [card]Sun Titan[/card] then most of the other versions do. The Fish version would almost certainly be better off with strong five-drops to supplement the other cards and get more power on the table than [card]Sun Titan[/card] or [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] would do.

This constant adaptation of the UW Caw list into three distinct versions, the traditional Kibler-esque UW control list without Swords, the Fish version with [card]Blade Splicer[/card] and [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] and now the Flores build takes a middle ground. Meanwhile the failure of UB Control mostly comes down to people not making their decks relevant in the matches they want to win and the difficulty of winning a long attrition game. You have no [card]Squadron Hawk[/card] or [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card] to get a lot of value early or even just cheap bodies to protect Jace with. Instead you actually have to spend precious spells almost every turn to defend your investment or yourself until you reach six mana and can begin stabilizing. All but the best UB draws have you starting from behind and then just trying to stick around until your six-drops swing the game in your favor.

I know in the list I gave people before this weekend I swapped back to [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], in large part because I wasn’t trying to one-up anyone in matches, I just wanted to get a creature down that could block fliers, Sworded creatures and draw me cards. Sure, [card]Dismember[/card] was still a beating when Sphinx needed to block, but at least I had the option and got some cards and life out of the exchange. With [card]Grave Titan[/card] and [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] I was often dying before I ever had the chance to make it back into the game. Key is altering UB just enough to be able to grind out when it doesn’t just rob people of Hawks early.

For all the people who fear or hate Caw you aren’t without options! Unlike the Caw of old this version actually has unfavorable matches and potential weaknesses. I know from experience the match I fear most is Tempered Steel, which is very difficult to win if [card]Tempered Steel[/card] or [card]Steel Overseer[/card] are on the table for any extended period of time. Even in fairer games where I can stop their key cards, if I don’t see a [card]Squadron Hawk[/card] I still have the possibility of being overwhelmed by fliers and [card]Signal Pest[/card]. All too often in this match-up your ability to win is more dependent on the opponent and their draws than anything you can do.

Here are four match-ups that feel difficult for both the Fish and Control type of Caw decks.

1. Tempered Steel – Take the above reasons and throw in the danger of Caw coming out of the gate slowly with enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands. This is a real danger with the deck that comes from the few number of basics which can shut down [card]Glacial Fortress[/card] early and the number of colorless lands in general. Some draws just take a little more time to even out than others and in this match the time simply isn’t there. The more space you dedicate to [card]Day of Judgment[/card], [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] and [card]Revoke Existence[/card] to help deal with [card]Tempered Steel[/card] and [card]Steel Overseer[/card], the better your match will be in general.

Even with that in mind you need to be careful because of [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card], which is one of the most important weapons they have against you. Often you can’t even lean on [card]Tectonic Edge[/card], because they can function so well at the three mana mark or they’ll have a [card]Mox Opal[/card] which means they don’t need the fourth land. This leaves only blocking, Gideon [card]Fog[/card] and [card]Dismember[/card] and if the Inkmoths grow at all, your options are reduced to equipped Hawks or [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card]. Always keep the Inkmoths in mind when you play against Steel or they will severely curb your play in the end game.

2. Goblins / RDW – Last week I wrote about Red not really living up to expectations and people telling me that the deck just wasn’t that good. I defended it in the comments and was hoping for a rebound this week at Seattle or one of the National Championships. What I got to see were multiple different red decks, some Goblins and some traditional RDW. I’ll break them down in more detail below, but I want to focus on the Caw vs. Red match here.

The way RDW was designed before had no real chance of beating a [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card] and had major problems with just getting by a [card]Spellskite[/card] and any back-up. When you look at Charles Wong’s list you can actually see the new approach taken and the plan to deal with common sideboard cards.

[deck]4 Shrine of Burning Rage
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Furnace Scamp
4 Goblin Guide
4 Grim Lavamancer
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
4 Staggershock
4 Arc Trail
4 Flame Slash
8 Mountain
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Teetering Peaks
Sideboard:
4 Manic Vandal
2 Vulshok Refugee
2 Manabarbs
3 Act of Aggression
4 Dismember[/deck]

This deck takes on TR and Hawks head on with the full set of maindeck [card]Arc Trail[/card] and just a lot of burn in general. [card]Chandra’s Phoenix[/card] is a card which was interesting coming out of M12 but didn’t have a lot of support. I wasn’t sure it was strong enough in a red deck with so many choices available to it, but evasion is in a great spot right now and if people adapt the no [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] strategy then it’s unkillable to boot. [card]Bloodghast[/card] was bad enough to deal with and flying just makes it that much more of a threat. This RDW isn’t committed to killing on turn four and instead has the resources to keep the board clean and stagger the damage out.

On the other hand we have Goblins, which won the Northern California PTQ this weekend, I hear another won in Hattiesburg and placed at Aussie Nationals. Here’s Philip Yam and Matthew Anderson lists to look over.

[deck]4 Goblin Guide
4 Spikeshot Elder
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Goblin Wardriver
4 Ember Hauler
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Dismember
15 Mountain
3 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Teetering Peaks
Sideboard:
2 Dismember
2 Act of Aggression
1 Mark of Mutiny
2 Forked Bolt
2 Koth of the Hammer
1 Hero of Oxid Ridge
4 Shrine of Burning Rage
1 Grim Lavamancer[/deck]

A special message from Philip Yam: Please cut [card]Blackcleave Cliffs[/card], it was the worst card in the deck and pure downside all day. You really want to draw untapped lands later in the game and he only saved 2 life from Cliffs the entire day while significantly hindering him in multiple games.

[deck]4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Goblin Guide
4 Goblin Wardriver
2 Hero of Oxid Ridge
3 Shrine of Burning Rage
2 Burst Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Pyretic Ritual
2 Forked Bolt
4 Goblin Grenade
17 Mountain
3 Teetering Peaks
Sideboard:
3 Leyline of Punishment
3 Act of Aggression
3 Combust
3 Dismember
3 Tuktuk the Explorer[/deck]

Against normal or more Fish-like Caw decks then the deck will likely get run over and any creatures it plays will either be ineffectual or quickly burned away. Against [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card] it can also sit back and pick off tokens with [card]Spikeshot Elder[/card] or [card]Goblin Arsonist[/card]. Given some time it can also play a [card]Goblin Chieftain[/card] and start battling with larger Goblins so Timely can’t get a 2 for 1 or better. Post-board a card like [card]Hero of Oxid Ridge[/card] can turn the card into a sick joke. Can you see playing Timely Reinforcements on turn three and then being met with a turn four Hero? Both decks can battle through the best sideboard cards UW can bring to the table and destroy any of the mainboard configurations people have showcased over the last two weeks. I know I would be very worried as a Caw player if the Goblins opponent was competent.

Now all the red decks have real plans to deal with [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card] and the usual threats Caw can bring to the table.

3. Vampires – While I’ve given this deck some dressing down in the past, I’m quite impressed at how well both the BU and BR versions perform. Vampires lacks the true breakout performance and some of that can be blamed on the lack of pilots. The deck had a population of 5% of the metagame in Cincinnati and I think that’s pretty low since it has reasonable matches across the field. The only deck Vampires really seems to hate that’s mainstream is Valakut while everything else is reasonable. It can simply grind out many decks in the format and the blue version specifically can abuse Blade of the Bloodchief to great effect. I’m actually surprised the card doesn’t see more play considering how many matches become long grinds where pumping up a creature or two can make a huge difference.

Micheal Wilder – Top 16 at SCG Seattle

[deck]4 Bloodghast
4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
4 Kalastria Highborn
4 Pulse Tracker
4 Vampire Lacerator
3 Viscera Seer
4 Dismember
3 Go for the Throat
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Staggershock
7 Swamp
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Lavaclaw Reaches
2 Marsh Flats
2 Verdant Catacombs
Sideboard:
2 Demon of Death’s Gate
3 Manic Vandal
2 Dark Tutelage
3 Act of Aggression
2 Combust
1 Go for the Throat
2 Arc Trail[/deck]

This or Farney’s deck from last week are both good starting points if you wish to stick with the classic B/R build. If I were to play Vampires I would highly consider a move back to [card]Arc Trail[/card] in the maindeck to help combat Tempered Steel and other hyper aggression strategies. [card]Dark Tutelage[/card] also may warrant a move back into the maindeck to assist with the attrition war you want to pull against every non-combo deck.

4. Valakut – While I understand that everyone is aiming for this deck now and keeping it beat down, the fact remains that this is one of the only decks that can go over the top of Caw and other decks. There isn’t a whole lot else for me to say about Valakut that hasn’t been said ad nasueaem at this point. I’m a fan of Chester Sword’s list from the Aussie Nationals PTQ:

[deck]3 Evolving Wilds
5 Forest
10 Mountain
1 Raging Ravine
3 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
2 Verdant Catacombs
1 Avenger of Zendikar
2 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Overgrown Battlement
4 Primeval Titan
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Cultivate
4 Explore
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Pyroclasm
4 Rampant Growth
Sideboard:
2 Creeping Corrosion
2 Gaea’s Revenge
3 Memoricide
3 Nature’s Claim
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Pyroclasm
1 Swamp
1 Thrun, the Last Troll[/deck]

Maindeck [card]Pyroclasm[/card] is definitely a top end spell again with the rise of Tempered Steel and possible rise of Goblins as a valid deck. Outside of that little tweak, the sideboard has a nice varied selection of weapons in various matches and other than wanting a 4th [card]Nature’s Claim[/card] I’m a fan of the selection.

If I had a PTQ next week, I would personally be interested in one of the following: Aussie Nationals winning RUG Twin, WU Tempered Steel, Goblins or UW Caw adapted to the expected metagame. People may be screaming about Caw being this amazing deck again, but whenever I play the deck I just get the feeling it’s a good deck out of a batch. What’s keeping Caw ahead of the metagame right now are people constantly switching it up and making nice educated guesses about what the future metagame are on a week to week basis. Combine this with the main Caw players being mostly long-time control players and it doesn’t surprise me to see solid percentages for the deck while everyone else is stuck with two week old stock lists.

Best of luck to anyone with a Standard tournament this weekend and congratulations to Philip Yam and Matt Nass for their performances this weekend.

Josh Silvestri
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom

34 thoughts on “Silvestri Says – Caw me? NO CAW YOU”

  1. Which matchups did you board Azure Mage in for? I’m fairly certain that it’s a reasonable card and I’m curious where it was useful.

  2. sweet article, actually. I know I’ll be reading through it 2 or 3 more times, trying to grasp more of the tech. thanks for the time you put into it

  3. the azure mage tech might actually have broken it, and you glossed over it in 1 or 2 sentences!

    How do you lose with an azure mage in play in the mirror? It’s impossible i think (they have 5 outs obv). It’s also a sweet card against all the control decks, twin, and is fine against valakut as just another attacker.

  4. Yeah, Azure Mage seems weird in the mirror because they typically have limited amounts of removal and they actually need it to hit hawks, swords, colonnades etc and they can’t really afford to use it on a 2 drop. I’m just not quite sure what the correct response is to seeing your opponent play it.

  5. Yup I like the idea of paying 6+ mana over 2 turns on a more vulnerable body much more than I like the idea of paying 3 and getting the same immediate effect and cheaper long term benefits, seems like a real solid idea. If my opp plays azure mage I know what my response is, a quick fist pump followed by a prolonged victory scream.

  6. Our friend matt clearly has never played with Dark Confidant, Jushi and other creatures that draw you cards, which is why he sounds like an idiot. Forgive him, guys.
    Azure Mage sounds awesome vs most control decks, and fine against everything else.

  7. I agree about some of the odd sideboard cards. I played you this weekend and you dropped a Master Thief on me, just doesn’t do enough, stopped a Vault Skirge attack for one turn really. (You won anyway, so what do I know >.>)

  8. Although that is just against me (Tempered Steel). In the 8 rounds the only decks I faced more then once was Caw Blade and Architect Control. Master Thief could be great against Architect and I could see coming in for mirror match, taking a sword…and a body for the sword.

  9. Hey Josh, if you don’t mind I’d like to hear your opinion on the current caw blade situation. In the nationals and on mtgo caw blade doesn’t seem to be that huge of a force, and it hasn’t been seeing nearly close to the level of results that it had in the two scg opens. Do you think there’s some sort of American bias towards caw blade or do you believe the mtgo and worldwide metagames just haven’t caught up yet? Was the deck as powerful for you as it’s being hyped up to be or do you think there’s something else going on?

  10. My main problem with Jace is that I could simply never keep it alive in most matches and if it doesn’t net at least 3 or more draws, you’ve just played a worse Divination. In the mirror you can’t afford to tap out until late unless you are absolutely sure you can stop your opponents next pair of threats. Even then Inkmoth Nexus can threaten him.

    Azure Mage comes in against decks where you don’t want to tap out til their end-step so UB, Caw and UR Twin. I hadn’t considered the Valakut match, but that could be a viable option as well, though card drawing there isn’t exactly a priority. It’s funny because originally I didn’t consider Azure Mage useful in anything, but that was coming from a UR Twin mindset. In Caw it’s just one more threat in a bunch and you don’t necessarily have to tap out / have Sword so you can actually take advantage of drawing on end step. The mirror has moved away from heavy removal and most versions only have 2-3 Dismember and Gideon Jura as sure answers with potentially O. Ring or DOJ to back them up.

    @Argonautica: Yeah Master Thief is just too weak to be worthwhile. I definitely would have preferred Revoke or even the 4th Dismember in our match.

    @Jack: My assumption is it was just to power out Chieftain and Hero that much quicker, though it does look a bit loose.

    @Title: Monty Brogan and Towelie say hello.

    @Bob: I feel Caw is powerful and one of the best choices right now. However the deck has weaknesses and the metagame is open enough that it can’t cover all of them if people were putting in the effort with other decks. The version I have I think is soft to Steel and well-built red decks and also could have some issues with Vampires.

    I think part of the difference in results from metagame to metagame has a lot to do with the amount of work a select group of players have put into UW / Caw in general compared to other archetypes. I feel like UB could be a strong choice as well, but nobody has sat down and really re-tweaked it for a Caw / Twin / Hyper Aggro metagame. Flores and company were a lot more familiar with Caw and UW in general than other control strategies so it doesn’t surprise me that they had a cleaner list and one with a better plan than other control players.

    That’s why I think a lot of other decks like RDW, Twin and decks with Birthing Pod took time before we saw the first real results. Many people didn’t expect Caw to still be anywhere near as strong as it was post-ban and were taken by surprise. A week to adjust isn’t a long time for most people to tweak a deck, especially if they were working from a 2 week old stock list to begin with. That’s where I felt a lot of the metagame still was and you can see that in some of the Nationals breakdowns so far. I think the top eight’s are relevant and feature some solid thinking at work, but others thought they’d just slide by with unoptimized power lists. Compare the Goblins list or Wong’s RDW. Hell just Hero of Oxid Ridge and heavier creature bases coming back compared to our RDW lists looked like going into the M12 opening weekend.

  11. Hmm, I don’t spose anyone could kindly point me in the direction of this B/U vamps list..

    Would be much appreciated

  12. Call me old-fashioned, but how come UB Tezzeret isn’t performing right now? I mean, I know some Japanese players have made him look good, but otherwise, he’s kinda been on the outside looking in. Is the format just too fast for Tezz to have an impact?

  13. “Is the format just too fast for Tezz to have an impact?”

    Yes.

    I also feel there is an american bias towards Caw-Blade, but this might have to do with the time americans have put down on playing and tweaking the deck. But in the end I just feel like Americans like a “safe choice” when it comes down to it. Meanwhile in Europe and Asia people tend to brew and try more crazy choices.

  14. UB Tezz is a deck that can do some really cool things on turns 4-5 when there are popular decks threatening turn 3-4 wins.

  15. sweberry “But in the end I just feel like Americans like a “safe choice” when it comes down to it. Meanwhile in Europe and Asia people tend to brew and try more crazy choices.”

    Hmm, they didn’t have trouble making the ‘safe choice’ pre-bannings. What’s happened is that the American players have noticed the deck is still viable.

  16. So Silvestri, jace this, sfm, that… all that whining about jace and sfm, and now what do you see? CAW STILL OWNS T2!!!!!!!!!!! in ur face !

  17. That said ( and sry i had to say that) as we can all see, jace was never the problem.

  18. Wait what? That makes no sense unless your counter-argument is ‘We needed more bans for Caw to suck’ but that poorly-constructed point you brought up seems invalidated by “Jace was never the problem”.

    Nothing would actually be viable except blue decks if Big Jace was still legal. We would have a format of Caw and RUG and nothing else would touch them.

  19. That is wrong Josh S.

    What are the top 4 decks right now?

    Valakut. Would still be good with only stoneforge mystic banned. I would say that Valakut is favored against all control decks right now even post board.

    Splinter Twin. Only gets bettter with Jace. Doesn’t mind a Jace meta.

    Tempered Steel. Fast enough to beat valakut. Fast enough to beat Jace.

    U/W Caw-Blade. Well Jace would search out your swords to get it more consistently on turn 5. But you have to tap out turn 4 to get it which is really bad against all the other top decks out there.

    Caw-Blade was already neutered with Stoneforge banned (bringing Valakut back to life).

    Jace is very powerful but also very slow. RUG loses to splinter twin really badly (a big reason why RUG died was ST not caw blade getting batterskull) and is not that favored against Tempered Steel easily.

    All the other top decks out there would still exist with Jace.

    The litmus test of standard pre-ban was could you beat a turn 3 batterskull. Now the litmus test is if you can beat a turn 4 primeval titan (overgrown battlement -> sad robot -> titan).

    They banned Jace because he was expensive and newer players weren’t bothering with jumping into Standard with him being a barrier to entry. So they banned him to boost sales of M12 and recent sets and draw him back in. It was their fault for sticking the best card in standard in a set that barely got drafted and was out of print so quickly.

    A Jace-format would look pretty much the same right now. There was no reason to ban jace for balance reasons. It was done for purely monetary reasons.

  20. Ub Tezz needs the deck to be shaped around the namesake card too much for this quicker meta, and in doing So it’s stripping itself out of a lot more of the one for ones and power creatures that a traditional ub control deck will run to take over the game.

  21. “They banned Jace because he was expensive and newer players weren’t bothering with jumping into Standard with him being a barrier to entry. So they banned him to boost sales of M12 and recent sets and draw him back in. It was their fault for sticking the best card in standard in a set that barely got drafted and was out of print so quickly.”

    Yeah this is so not the case.

    Jace and SF were banned because the ubiquity of Caw-Blade (re: 70%+ of top 8 decks) with Jace/SFM was driving people out of the game not a barrier to entry. And I say that as a U/W player through the good times and bad.

    Josh S:

    Do you think anything has a chance of replacing the Caw in Caw-Blade. The decks is being driven by cards that are going nowhere and one key card this is set to rotate. If any viable substitute (short of one in Inn) exists is a really well positioned deck for the long term.

    If a substitute exists.

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  23. @Josh T. – More the fault of the awful meta they created by creating valakut. Caw Blade lost a lot to aggro and mid-range pre-NPH. The problem is, Valakut was way more powerful pre-NPH as well and basically beat everything except Caw Blade. So Caw Blade became the default top deck and dominated top 8’s. Game theory at work.

    NPH added hate for valakut in orbs and surgical extraction and splinter twin. Finally aggro and mid-range could put caw-blade in its place. Unfortunately, NPH also put Caw-Blade over the top with the poorly designed Batterskull (Aaron Forsythe is by far the worst R&D guy they have).

    Jace was never the warper of the format because there were simply more powerful decks around. Again, the Jace test was a minor one. The only truly competitive decks had to be able to answer the 4-th turn primeval titan test. Pre-ban they had to answer the 3-rd turn batterskull test.

    Now? You still have to answer the 4th turn primeval titan test.

  24. What do you think of the G/W variant of Blade that has been crushing on MODO for the past 2 weeks?

  25. Jace was not banned due to his cost. If that was the case there would be no extended, no legasy, no anything beyond standard. FYI primevil was up to 40 at one point, and baneslayer was up to 50. And nobody at all talked about banning those cards.

    Nice article Josh, look foward to seeing what you bring to the 1k this weekend.

  26. Pingback: Silvestri Says – US Nationals and Azure Mage : Magic: The Gathering – Strategy, Singles, Cards, Decks

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