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Silvestri Says – M12 for Standard

This week I’ll be reviewing the Standard Constructed additions we’ve received from M12. I’ve separated them by cards I like and think will make an immediate impact, cards I’m unsure of, the planeswalkers and finally a few cards I think are overrated. Let’s get to it.

Cards I Like:

[card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card] – Incremental value cards usually aren’t worth it in Standard, but Sad Robot does just enough that I feel it deserves a place in Valakut and perhaps BU or WU decks. Just like when I had [card]Mortarpod[/card] in Caw Blade. it’s difficult for me to describe exactly how good the card is or how much value you’ll typically get from the card. Think of it like this though: Aggro decks have proven to be quite viable going by MODO results and Solemn can get full value against them. Jens is effectively a [card]Viridian Emissary[/card] that gives you the two most important parts up-front (Land + 2/2 body) and then gives you that little bit of extra value when it dies which pushes it over the top.

For control I actually like it in BU control just to have something else to do on turn four while accelerating my six-drop a turn earlier, plus the ability replace to itself makes it far more appealing than many options. Even in a match like the mirror it basically does everything you want from a four-drop and blocks [card]Calcite Snapper[/card] or [card]Neurok Commando[/card] all day, two cards that are becomingly increasingly popular mirror tech. In other control decks I don’t see it being quite as useful in terms of what it can do outside of being sweet with Venser. Though if a tri-color deck such as Bant or Esper becomes viable again I would imagine it would be packing a couple of these to help with late-game double costs.

[card]Rampant Growth[/card] – I shouldn’t need to point out why this card is good, by giving Valakut 12 good two-drops instead of garbage like [card]Khalni Heart Expedition[/card] life is good for Valakut players. Honestly I think they needed the help anyway, it’s downright pathetic to not have [card]Flashfreeze[/card] or [card]Spreading Seas[/card] in your 75 and still beat them quite handily most games. For many people, Valakut finally hits the mythical tipping point of good accelerators and we can see if anything actually changes in the format. Of course some very good players like Patrick Chapin and Zvi Mowshowitz both suggested that [card]Rampant Growth[/card] may not be good enough for current day Valakut you should sit up and take notice. I personally like the 2-4-6 approach to acceleration and spell drops, but powering above and beyond sixes into Avenger and large GSZ’s is certainly not unreasonable.

As for other uses of [card]Rampant Growth[/card], outside of a potential Turboland comeback I just don’t see much happening here. Tri-color decks are barely worth it without JTMS and still hurt very badly by the amount of [card]Tectonic Edge[/card] and [card]Spreading Seas[/card] seeing play right now.

[card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] – Congraulations Red, you now have two of the top five Red one-drop creatures of all time*, arguably one of the best one-drops in any color. [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] isn’t exactly a tricky card to manage so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Don’t snap play [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] on turn one or two and then complain when he does less than [card]Raging Goblin[/card] would have. There seems to be this condition that many red players are afflicted with that when they see a one-drop they absolutely have to play it as quickly as possible. Remember that [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] is going to do much of his work after you’ve started grinding for a bit, letting the opponent kill him in a package deal early defeats the point of the card.

*[card]Goblin Lackey[/card], [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card], [card]Goblin Welder[/card], [card]Goblin Guide[/card] and [card]Mogg Fanatic[/card] pre-damage change

[card]Incinerate[/card] – Another good burn spell for red, moving on…

[card]Manabarbs[/card] – Yeah this is a real card, I remember hating life with a variety of slower decks when having to deal with [card]Manabarbs[/card] and this card alone makes a strong case for WU to make a come back as the control deck of choice. If you play UB you have to plan around this card because once it hits play your only options are racing it (GOOD LUCK) or bouncing it with [card]Into the Roil[/card] and then using disruption to deal with it ala [card]Duress[/card] or [card]Flashfreeze[/card]. While I think [card]Koth of the Hammer[/card] is a better anti-control threat in general, [card]Manabarbs[/card] is particularly brutal against UB and even WU only has O. Ring to deal with it unless they pack Purges. This is definitely right up there with [card]Shrine of Burning Rage[/card] in terms of cards I don’t want to see when I’m playing Blue and might be the biggest addition from M12 when all is said and done.

[card]Oblivion Ring[/card] – UW Control with Venser and UW Control with [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]s and [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] were already real decks, and with [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] they just fixed the biggest problem I had with the deck. For those who haven’t tried post-ban UW, in large part the other issues I had were the lack of good anti-PW options unless you hit early [card]Squadron Hawk[/card] and the lack of good ways to beat a six-drop. Sure you could jam a bunch of Days and [card]Journey to Nowhere[/card], but that always felt real loose and made me prefer the simple removal of UB. Now we get the ultimate catch-all and I see very little stopping UW from returning in force to the metagame.

[card]Goblin Grenade[/card] – Yet another red card worthy of addition, but this time to the overlooked and underrated Goblins deck. At first glance it may feel like Goblins is simply a weaker RDW, but while being softer to removal having a bunch of redundant and repeatable damage sources can make playing against it an entirely different challenge.

[card]Ponder[/card] – Only playable in Splinter Twin, Pyromancer Ascension or other combo decks, please stop posting 2/2 splits or other such nonsense in your control builds. Have you played with [card]Preordain[/card] and [card]Ponder[/card] before? I can’t say anyone I’ve ever met that has played both would recommend [card]Ponder[/card] over [card]Preordain[/card] in anything outside of a dedicated combo deck. [card]Ponder[/card] is at it’s best when you’re looking for a key combo piece in your deck and have a fetchland at the ready to shuffle away the remaining garbage. The reason [card]Preordain[/card] was widely adopted into other types of decks while [card]Ponder[/card] wasn’t comes down to how often you want to keep one or no cards and filter the garbage off the top. With [card]Ponder[/card] if you see one good card and some blanks, you’ll be stuck with those blanks and to top it off if you hit stone nothing you’ll be shuffling that back into a random position in the deck. While possible to hit blanks off the top with [card]Preordain[/card] as well, you’ll at least know that two of those are on the bottom of the deck even if the 3rd was a lame duck as well. In general though I feel like the best way to judge [card]Ponder[/card] and [card]Preordain[/card] is intuitively once you actually play with both cards in a variety of deck and get a feel for it. It’s a powerful reprint because it puts a high number of playable cantrip / filter effects into the metagame at one time and with blue combo in the format with minimal tutoring that’s a pretty big boon.

Cards that I’m unsure about:

[card]Skinshifter[/card] – I really want to like this card, but effectively having an upkeep cost of 1 to use makes it a bit unwieldy since the same types of decks that want this creature also want to stay on curve. Perhaps using it more as a defensive option makes it a viable choice, but as it stands I just can’t see leaving mana open to use my two-drop creature when I’d really like to bash or use my Survival Stick.

[card]Stormblood Berserker[/card] – Initially I was skeptical of the card and then came around to it looking awesome, once I started trying it out the initial skepticism crept back into my mind. My issue with the card is that Berserker is a three-drop about as often as it’s a two-drop in the deck. If your initial creature dies or you lack a one-drop, you can’t play this card on turn two which makes it feel very clunky in the deck. Certainly if you land it with Bloodthirst then it’s a very efficient card that can get around the usual gamut of blockers, including [card]Kor Firewalker[/card], thanks to its nifty evasion clause. What I’m afraid of though is that the card is more [card]Plated Geopede[/card], something that’s amazing when firing all cylinders, but terrible a fair portion of the time when you aren’t goldfishing your opponent. What also worries me is the additional play [card]Mental Misstep[/card] is sure to see as M12 introduces [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card], [card]Goblin Grenade[/card] and [card]Ponder[/card] back into the fold. Misstep was already fine against [card]Goblin Guide[/card], [card inquisition of kozilek]Inquisition[/card], [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and a strong weapon against Vampires and RDW in general. I’m cautious with this card since the condition attached for it to be a monster may not be the sure-fire bet people think it is.

[card]Chandra’s Phoenix[/card] – A possible sideboard card methinks, it reminds me, in a good way, of [card]Vishano Sandstalker[/card]. You have a reusable evasive damage dealer that has a very easy to meet recursion condition and helps solve the issue of running out of gas against control. It also gives red a decent way of fighting [card]Leyline of Sanctity[/card] with a creature that dodges [card]Wall of Omens[/card] and [card]Kor Firewalker[/card] and you can potentially kill in response* to [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] or [card]Celestial Purge[/card] and trigger again later.

*Yes I’m quite aware this is a rich man’s play, but if you aren’t dumping burn at their dome, what else are you doing with it exactly?

I don’t know if RDW necessarily wants to spend time or resources on this card when it has an embarrassment of riches in the current format. However it does do something that can’t be replicated by any other red card, so I think it’s at least worth trying out.

Planeswalkers:

[card]Jace, Memory Adept[/card] – I’m reasonably sure this Jace was developed as a skill-tester card in the vein of such classics as, ‘That cool five mana artifact that never did anything.” and ‘Every white lifegain spell that wasn’t [card]Martyr of Sands[/card] or [card]Gerrard’s Wisdom[/card].” I kid, but Jace is closer to the classic definition of a skill-tester in Standard then his [card jace, the mind sculptor]now-banned future self[/card]. Playing [card]Jace, Memory Adept[/card] means you are accepting the fact that you are playing a 5cc planeswalker that doesn’t affect the board, cannot defend itself in any fashion, and actually doesn’t do anything relevant for multiple turns.

First person who honestly wants to pay five to get his draw-three or draw-four drawn out over that many turns can feel free to do so while the rest of the class casts [card]Jace’s Ingenuity[/card] or [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card]. His milling ability is definitely the highlight of the card and at some point in time having the ability to mill 10 multiple times may be a relevant ability. Just not in this format. Jace would need two activations of his +0 ability just to beat an [card]Archive Trap[/card] or match a [card]Traumatize[/card] on a 40 card deck. In a strong milling deck, Jace 3 actually just feels weaker than Jace 1 and other strong milling effects one would consider.

His ultimate is an illusion, never to be used outside of Commander or kitchen table games due to lack of interest. So with that sort of ringing endorsement on his three abilities you can already guess what I recommend. Buy them all now for 35 dollars before they hit 100 like old Jace. Especially ChannelFireball’s and my own… EBAY auctions available upon request. In all seriousness, there’s no way this card is worth what it’s fetching right now and it’ll swiftly drop as people get over the Jace moniker. Some people have suggested people are being too harsh on it because they expected it to be another amazing planeswalker. OK, let’s see how this looks then:

Moving on…

[card]Chandra, the Firebrand[/card] – There’s two reasons why I’m not throwing Chandra off a bridge quite yet. The first is the fact that you can add her to basically anything thanks to the huge amount of mana fixing available to us and single red mana in her cost. This is of interest if only because decks that couldn’t realistically use PW in the past now have the capability to do so. Slamming a Chandra on turn three in what would otherwise be a straight UG deck gives it an angle it could have never had previously. Still the power level and speed of Standard is still very high at the moment and I don’t expect this to be a huge factor.

Being able to Twincast is the other fresh ability on her and just like the first I don’t think it’ll do enough per-rotation to warrant much notice. However the ability is so strong and unique that it warrants a good look before writing it off. Obviously with Proliferate cards the ability suddenly becomes free and makes [card]Tezzeret’s Gambit[/card] or [card]Volt Charge[/card] into some of the best things you could be doing in the format. Past that obvious usage comes her ability in things like UR Control, Twin or Valakut. The ability to copy draw spells shouldn’t be underestimated and for a deck like Valakut getting a double [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] or [card]Summoning Trap[/card] is living the dream.

Chandra’s real problem comes back to her plus ability, which despite being a strict upgrade to the her first version just isn’t all that relevant in many games. Killing [card]Lotus Cobra[/card] and [card]Squadron Hawk[/card] aside, there just isn’t a lot you can do with a [card]Hornet Sting[/card] outside of annoying a [card]Jace Beleren[/card] or pinging a UB opponent with no Tar Pit’s on the field. That’s what worries me the most with Chandra, because only one other planeswalker* I can think of has seen a good amount of play without leaning on two or more of its abilities.

*[card]Ajani Goldmane[/card]

So while I hold out hope to see a truly playable [card]Chandra Nalaar[/card], I don’t think this iteration will fulfill that request. Maybe post-rotation when the power level (presumably) drops dramatically.

[card]Garruk, Primal Hunter[/card] – Garruk is the planeswalker I think can stand on its own and feel it actually has the best design of all the planeswalkers in the set. It has two relevant abilities it can use as soon as it enters play, can clog up the board and defend itself and its utility power is actually relevant unlike milling. My problem with Garruk as a card is simply that he costs 2GGG which is one green mana too much for widespread playability in various formats. Costing five is a strike against it, but it can be overcome with a bit of effort, [card]Gideon Jura[/card] and currently Venser show this to be the case. On the other hand at 2GGG Garruk is pigeon-holed into effectively mono-color or base green archetypes and has to essentially carry whatever deck he’s in. I simply don’t think that Garruk is capable of bearing that kind of weight.

What does [card]Garruk, Primal Hunter[/card] do in the current metagame? He’s effectively a blank against Valakut, Splinter Twin and RDW; all decks that don’t care about the vast majority of five-drops, especially one that just pumps out a 3/3 durdle. Against non-red aggro is really varies on case by case basis since a deck like [card]Tempered Steel[/card] or [card]Puresteel Paladin[/card] Aggro doesn’t care in the least about Garruk, but a deck like Vampires could have a very difficult time beating a never-ending stream of 3/3’s. How about control though? Surely it’ll reign supreme against decks that had issues against the original Garruk, let alone one that gains loyalty for making 3/3’s and draws cards!

Well… It isn’t bad, but I think it just shows how far control finishers have come that I’m not exactly cowering at the prospect of this type of permanent. Untapping into a [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] or [card]Grave Titan[/card] take a big bite out of the threat level Garruk can bring to the table. Where as a card like [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card] could use its second ability to put tokens or other creatures on the offensive, Garruk has no such way to break through. Even the original Garruk could power up into Overrun status and force action from me or I would risk just dying even with my six-drop on the table. The Primal Hunter can just draw more mana dorks or cards that are good against UW or UB without Garruk in the first place.

I believe if six-drops weren’t as brutally powerful and efficient as they are today, not to mention the ease in which decks can hit six on turn five with [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card] and [card]Everflowing Chalice[/card], Garruk would be a game-changer. Instead I look at cards that already exist, my [card]Vengevine[/card]s, my [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card] and even the original [card]Garruk Wildspeaker[/card] and I wonder if this new option is really worth my time. If you take a look at what you get for just a scant mana more at six-mana, five mana planeswalkers become a very hard sell unless they can do things no other card can match. Unless Inistrad completely warps the format, I’ll be one of the first in line to sample [card]Garruk, Primal Hunter[/card]’s wares. Until then though I find little reason to recommend the new take on Garruk.

If you were hellbent on playing a couple of copies though, my recommendation would be to play it in a deck fundamentally similar to RUG, Mythic or UG Vines. Cards like [card]Lotus Cobra[/card], [card]Rampant Growth[/card], Explore and [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card] will do the best job of powering Garruk out early and by including other colors you can actually take advantage of drawing cards. The problem with most two color shells I’ve seen is they gain practically nothing by playing Garruk and using it as a draw-3/4 while a deck like RUG would gain plenty. Even better if you could drop Garruk, protect it for a turn and then slam a Titan and activate the draw ability. Then you’d actually be drawing relevant cards to throw around and you justify it as more than a slow army generator.

Overrated:

[card]Visions of Beyond[/card] – Do you realize how difficult it is to consistently fill a graveyard to 20 or more? Either you play a bunch of bad mill cards to it or a broken mechanic which doesn’t care about having this card in the first place.

[card]Crimson Mage[/card] – I’ve seen this mentioned by a few people and I have no idea why. I think the Berserker has a fair shot of clearing its hurdles and becoming a mainstay but what is anyone hoping for in this card?

[card]Azure Mage[/card] – Costs a ton to get going and is going to die a lot in control mirrors where people like to pretend people are sideboarding out removal, only they really aren’t. Ten mana to start getting ahead with this card is not where I want to be in the control mirror or with Splinter Twin.

That’s all for this week, come back next week when we return to our regularly scheduled program of decklists and top ten lists!

Josh Silvestri
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom

48 thoughts on “Silvestri Says – M12 for Standard”

  1. Chandra isn’t bad, first or second turn mana accel from green, third turn Chandra, 4th turn double land kill. How is that bad?

  2. Chandra all comes down to what powerful instants/sorceries come out in Innistrad block. I think her splashability will lead to her eventually finding a home, probably in some sort of Grixis control deck, maybe with a superfriends theme along with the proliferate cards.

  3. Bad analysis on Garruk and Jace. It is not their job to hold off RDW, Valakut and Twins. They act as the engine for their deck and assist it in riding to victory. Jace can’t protect himself. Go pack some DOJ or GFTT, get into attrition and refill yourself with Jace and laughing at the depleted opponent. Garruk cant break Twins combo. Go pack some Dismember or whatnot and sneak time to land the thingy and clock them with the stream of 3/3s. Maybe not the best examples but you get the idea.

  4. Pretty sure I can refill a lot easier and more efficiently just using Jace’s Ingenuity or other draw choices at my disposal. Oh right, small Jace exists too. Garruk 2 and Jace 3 aren’t very good engines. JTMS was a good engine and had a fairly good deck built around it.

    As for ‘these cards aren’t supposed to beat these decks’. Wait, I should run these cards even though they are awful against most of the metagame and not particularly good in matches where they should excel? That’s quite the odd bit of analysis right there. You can certainly argue that they’re support cards for a deck, but typically those have to be good in some competitive match-up for it to really apply.

  5. So you like reprints that have been successful in previous environments? Thanks for the insight. The planeswalker section is ok, but you have done better work.

  6. Did you seriously just complain about him talking about reprints in an article about a CORE SET?

  7. Great article josh! It is really too bad that skinshifter won’t ever work ): . I hope Chandra’s phoenix works out for me though. I’m also going to get rid of my garruk asap, don’t think its good enough.

  8. I am inclined to disagree with you on Azure Mage and Chandra. I’m not looking at them as engines for a deck, but rather as solid utility in the midgame. While it’s true that it takes “10 mana” to pull ahead with the Mage, dropping it with 6 isn’t unreasonable, much the same way topdecking a Beleren in the 6-mana range hasn’t been awful. In both cases, you’re getting nothing but 1 card a turn, but the Mage can actually do more, attack for 2, and “remove” cards from the opponent’s hand. Sure, it’s not ideal, but once Beleren leaves, where else can we turn? We won’t have Preordain, we won’t have a functional “draw a card” to use each turn, so what do we do then?
    Probably just gonna play the Mage.

    As for Chandra, with a host of cards like Treespeaker, Birds, and other retarded little X/1 creatures, she has some relevant play, can obviously combine well with her Phoenix when it matters, and has a second ability that shouldn’t be so easily overlooked. Sure, the card Twincast is largely unplayable, but getting one for free has been the focal point of a Standard combo deck for a while. I can’t imagine doing that for 4 mana with 1/4 the hassle being a bad deal, and Chandra lets you play a control deck. And there are pipe dream scenarios for her.

  9. Thanks for the comment on Visions. It helps legitimize my ranting to people at my LGS about how bad this card is.

  10. @Josh S.

    He thinks you mean Misstep counters Berserker as opposed to countering the lead-in spell to prevent it being a 1/1.

    I wonder if B/R Bloodthirst agro is interesting when the game does dip a bit in power. Pity everything useful in Bloodthirst costs less then Chandra, but right now it seems her +1 best use is those cards and the phoenix.

    Whats your take on the Satchel in control/permission decks as something to funnel mana into if you did not counter that turn? It seems like its going to be a monster in limited but is a but too slow for standard. But not sure yet.

  11. I dont know if anyone has paid ANY attention to the next block, but its based around the graveyard. I would be careful about already seeing Jace as a dud. I cant wait for him to drop in price so I can pick mine up and abuse him through the next blocks mechanics and themes. This also goes for Visions from the Beyond.

  12. Dude, I know the next set has a graveyard theme but without knowing any of the cards why would I jump to thinking Jace is good? Oh boy, mill 10 into my own grave and say go, powerful stuff happening here. Same with trying to get 20 cards into my graveyard just to make Visions good. That’s really hard to do. The last time a competitive deck was interested in doing that was older format combo decks that won that same turn or Dredge.

    Satchel needs buffs if it wants to see constructed play, it just doesn’t do enough to warrant inclusion.

    Chandra talk feels a lot like Magical Christmas Land going on which is fine, but anytime you have to point to very specific scenarios to point to a card’s worth and those scenarios are typically 3 or more cards and don’t win the game…. Well then perhaps you should reconsider.

  13. I think the Chandra talk is because her CC begs some use for her. Its hard just to let her go when she is easy to splash. Bloodthirst would have been a good fit if it had stronger cards overall, or if either mythic was playable. Killing mana dorks or phantasmal clone seems her best role not involving the -2. But I really think she is worth the thought still…just not red decks.

    As for the satchel if it was not for lands coming in untaped I would not be giving it a second glance, but that feature seems to have potential.

  14. up there I said I think Chandra I got this response:

    Steve: “Chandra all comes down to what powerful instants/sorceries come out in Innistrad block. I think her splashability will lead to her eventually finding a home, probably in some sort of Grixis control deck, maybe with a superfriends theme along with the proliferate cards.”

    Thanks for the insight, though I’m still a bit skeptical about her, as normally you dont need to copy a spell if the spell is already good in the first place, and setting up huge ‘blow you out’ scenarios is a bit cute imo.

  15. agree with you about Jace, Memory Adept. this is not doing anything special as a draw engine. Beleren or Ingenuity are better draw effects. Will definitely reconsider in the fall when we take a look at Innistrad. self-mill might be incredibly strong. or it might not. we’ll see.

    disagree with you about Garruk. the card dominates against many aggro, midrange, and control decks. i think you’re wrong that control can ignore this because they can play a 6 drop. Garruk can actually compete with many 6 drops. he costs less mana so he gets a head start. a squad of 2 or 3 beasts from Garruk is actually a stronger board position than just about any 6 drop, particularly when you also consider that Garruk doesn’t go away. he keeps making a beast every turn. There’s very little that trumps it. Inferno Titan maybe, just about nothing else. It also just beats creature based aggro all by itself provided you’re not already dead by turn 5. Only burn aggro decks can really ignore it.

    I think you’re making the same mistake that I see alot of players making, which is assuming that Valakut and Twin are more dominant than they actually are. i agree with you that Garruk is not a strong card against those matchups, but unless your metagame is very warped i think Garruk is sufficiently good against everything else that its a very viable card in the current metagame.

  16. Re: Chandra

    The other thing I am thinking about is how meaningful +1 dmg to a creature is main phase. If Chandra sticks 1 mana becomes a threat to an x/6; now that is a bit magic Santa man land I further admit casting dismember main phase is already a bit on the backfoot.

    But it does allow you to bump damage by 1 without getting 2 for 1-oned. And Chandra + Grim Lavamancer start moving that to an 8 card consistent answer situation where you can bump dmg very reliably. And the titans (and cousin Sphinxy) are not going anywhere anytime soon.

  17. I’m getting pretty sick about people saying Innistrad is going to be a graveyard block. We know that there is flashback, but that only confirms that flashback is back (last seen in Time Spiral, which had almost nothing to do with the graveyard). The other main points for it are crap. We have a few things that deal with milling or exiling cards in the bin, so does every set. The art suggests a Gothic horror theme, but just look at how graveyard centric Ravnica and Homelands were.

    Unless there is some piece of info I’ve missed, I think that trying to evaluate cards in the context of a maybe/maybe-not graveyard set is a poor decision.

  18. What is better than casting one Cruel Ultimatum for 7 mana?
    Casting 2 Cruel Ultimatums for 11 mana, but on turn seven!

    I doubt we will see 5CC back, but any sort of control decks with big sorcery finishers might love Chandra. Its a pity Extended sucks….

  19. Josh S. what is your opinion on tectonic rift or doubling chant? Those are the two cards I have really been hoping someone would review. Both seem to have promise. Either adding rift to goblin decks or possibly in a R/G deck so cast it sooner stumble control and swing past blockers. Also doubling chant being printed at the same time as one of my favorite cards of all time solemn simulacrum and can be mixed in with the new 1U clone.

    Those are the two cards besides *cough* smallpox and simulacrum in mbc *cough* that I would love to hear opinions about in a article.

  20. Pretty sure Sphinx, Inferno Titan and Frost Titan all trump Garruk straight up. Grave Titan can also trade off with Garruk even when played a turn behind (and beat it if played first) and ‘only’ leaves behind 4 Zombies. If you read the last few articles you would know my thoughts on the metagame, but being soft against three decks people will bring to the table is not a strong starting point. Even if you were to play Garruk and Valakut / Twin were a complete non-factor, being awful against RDW is less then impressive.

    Also there are no midrange decks in the format, so I mean that sums up why Garruk isn’t going to do anything really. He’s made for midrange fights and grinding and no other deck that goes GGG is going to want to fight that war.

    @cosik: Doubling Chant is awful, doesn’t do enough for six mana. Think of it like a Clarion Ultimatum that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself, but shares many of the same problems.

    Tectonic Rift is four mana falter and I’m not really interested in that. It seems fine if you play it on curve on turn four and if they spent a turn playing a wall or something, they’ll probably just lose on the spot when it happens. It’s really hard to justify 4 mana LD in anything though.

  21. Josh, what do you or others think of a U/W cw-blade deck that has been on MODO and that Kyle Boggemes wrote about?

  22. UW is strong, my main issue with it pre-M12 was that it couldn’t easily deal with Titans without running terrible and narrow cards. Oblivion Ring fixes that and gives it another easy anti-PW card to boot. Honestly with it’s better selection of anti-red cards it’s probably better than UB in most metagames. Additionally Squadron Hawk is really annoying for other control decks to deal with, let alone with SOFAF in play.

  23. Chandra’s Phoenix seems bad against Leyline of Sanctity, since there’s no way to rebuy it.

  24. I wasn’t very clear with that. It’s mostly just having another creature that doesn’t attack on the ground which is the big upgrade.

  25. @Josh S.

    I see what you mean with the doubling chant unless you have some sort of creature that once copied is going to win you the game outright it does seem a bit expensive for what is sort of just a card advantage if you actually have guys. I was really excited when I first saw tectonic rift as it actually seemed like a demolish that actually helped get damage in instead of a 4cc LD spell. Probably going to still test it out a bit in mono red as if anything might me a alright out of the sideboard card when unexpected.

    What is your take on the shape anew / blightsteel colossus deck actually tier 1 or 2 viable ya think? Does smallpox have a home anywhere?

    Once again good article and always look forward to the written word to go along with this sites video offerings.

  26. New chandra really is one the worst planeswalkers ever. She has two fundamental problems:
    1. she does absolutely nothing useful the turn it comes down and doesn’t really have a high loyalty. Too many times it will just ping and die, unless the metagame gets infested with x/1 creature’s which isn’t likely.
    2. her power only lies in combination with other card’s in hand, ie. a 2 card combo. It’s just a terrible topdeck and you really need to draw something powerful to copy with it while also protecting her, just not going to happen.

    I can’t name many planeswalkers worse then her really.

  27. I think U/W midrange could be the real deal, since they’re really just White Weenies with very acceptable removal and counters. White Weenies is already floating around modo and tournaments, occasionally top-8ing. Give a man a Hero of Bladehold with a sword trigger, and he win games.

  28. Josh, I know it’s clear that Preordain is better than Ponder for control decks, but what about having Ponder as a supplement to Preordain (like a 2-of)? Playing Ponder, then Preordain or Jace or Liliana on the same turn seems pretty good. Besides, so many UB decks are running Spreading Seas and doing just fine, so in cases where seas doesn’t do anything to disrupt their mana, Ponder seems strictly better as a cantrip.

  29. One of the things missing for new Chandra is a metagame where there’s a lot of relevant X/1’s. (or you’ve got burn and there’s a lot of relevant X/3’s or X/4’s that are ok to kill at sorcery speed).

    Post-rotation, the 1-drops for a red deck are likely as not 1/1’s (lavamancer, fireslinger, etc). The illusion deck gets absolutely crushed by her if that ever becomes a thing. (needs help) It forces skinshifter players to pay GG as upkeep for their dude. Spellskite without splinter-twin is exactly the kind of X/4 you’d want to help your incinerates or volt charges take down.

    I certainly don’t think she’s where you want to be right now, but it’s reasonable that a metagame shift occurs post-innistrad where there’s enough X/1’s to kill that her +1’ll have the value it needs to see play.

  30. I just put together a B/G deck with the new garruk in it, and it seems to be working. I think it’s good because i have access to inquisition, despise, go for the throat and dismember. That totally clears the way for him.

  31. I don’t know how many other people are doing it but I’m starting to take Splinter twin from my gaunglet and therefore I’m stopping to make “it doesn’t beat twin” as a objection against a deck or card. My main beef with Twin is that it has a tendence to fizzle, every deck actually packs an answer to it and due to the nature of the answers you are left you a bunch of countercards that stay dead if you don’t draw it on the correct order and lose. Oh, I drew my Spellskite! and then they play Go for the Throat or Celestial Purge and you sit there and watch. Ok, this time “I got Dispel” and then they dropped Torpor Orb (which isn’t dead against Valakut either) and you proceed to scoop because you didn’t bring Into the Roil. It has been happening multiple times and I’m giving up. Anyone else having long term success with it?

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  33. I said a month ago that Splinter Twin wouldn’t cut it. I said here in fact. It only worked, because Caw-Blade turned into a non-interactive deck when it started going straight aggro-tempo. That’s the only reason Splinter Twin got big. With it gone, and regular control taking over it’s place, Splinter Twin is getting worse.

    It’s the same thing Valakut. If you want to play Ramp and win, play Eldrazi Green. I think they are calling it Eldrazi Titan now. That is the biggest boogeyman until someone get’s a tuned Pod deck down. As of right now, it seems the best one is the Glissa list.

    As for individual card rating’s, I think these are ridiculous. No one has a clue on how the meta will shake out with the new card’s yet, so rating them based on the old or the current Meta is being a bit greedy. I have my playset’s and I do not plan on selling. I plan on brewing and testing.

  34. There was a time when the consensus was that jackal pup was the best creature ever printed, and he didn’t make your list of top 5 red one drops.

  35. crush_card_virus

    Jackal pup is very sad for not making the list of the top 5 best red one drops. Goblin Wielder, seriously? All the others deal more than 1 damage and then we have this outlier named Goblin Wielder that exchanges artifacts. That guy shouldn’t even be considered a red 1 drop other than costing just a red mana.

  36. @crush_card_virus:

    “That guy shouldn’t even be considered a red 1 drop other than costing just a red mana.”

    That’s some “groundbreaking” reasoning right there.

  37. i wouldnt argue about goblin welder as it is a completely different kind of card. However, jackal pup was handsdown better than fanatic at the time they were at the height of their popularity (sligh).

    Sligh was dominant because it could always go first turn pup and then have all the backup burn for his 6-8 damage against control or combo.

    Put it this way: if you were playing bloom or cuneo or any deck without bops basically, would you rather see a 1st turn jackal pup or a mogg fanatic? The truth is most decks playing against sligh when their opponent tapped one mana were praying “Please not pup. Please not pup. Please fanatic.” And god forbid the multiple pup draw.

    Without pup, sligh wouldn’t have existed. Without fanatic, sligh would have been just fine.

  38. I kind of like the idea of using Ponder in a Tezzeret build. That way, when you have to put a couple cards you don’t need on top to get the one you want, you can put them away with Tezz’s +1. That said, I’ll still be running 3-4 pre-ordains while we still have them (and man, will I miss them, probably my most-played-card in the last while, except maybe Life from the Loam, which I often play a billion times every commander game, but I digress)

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