Silvestri Says – San Diego Standard and Oakland Opportunities


Rather than writing out a full report about my Grand Prix: Oakland experience I’ll give an abbreviated mention of what happened there. I played UBW Faeries with 0 byes and went 5-3 (5-2-1 really, but I scooped rather than knocking Restore Balance guy out of contention). I made a crucial mistake in my match against Junk which might of cost me the match depending on his Dark Confidant flip and I lost to a Hive Mind player who was running incredibly hot (turn one Blood Moon is a beating).

Not a lot notable about my deck choice, Path to Exile was nuts all day and won me three matches that Smother would’ve lost me and I never drew the Perimeter Captain in my Zoo match. I ran a miser’s Dark Confidant, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Chrome Mox and was so impressed with them that I made plans to swap a bunch of my lousy cards like River of Tears, Meloku, Mistbind Clique and Ancestral Vision for far more of them.

Then I saw Thopter Faeries by Matej Zatlkaj, you can see the deck tech on his deck here. The only other changes I would make are the addition of another Muddle the Mixture, two Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Yixlid Jailer to tutor up (Likely just from the board). I’d also consider the white splash, but his deck needs it a lot less than the normal Faeries builds. I fully endorse Thopter Faeries though and am glad to see people innovating normal archetypes into different versions so much this season.

To end this little section, I’d just like to point out that I did give fair warning to people about Elves and Living End. It does get a lot easier to justify your position though with the benefit of being able to go, ‘Scoreboard’. Sure it’s a weak argument in a number of cases, but when most of the complaints about decks come from people who have never played the decks then it’s a pretty easy way to weed people out. Congratulations to my buddy Matt Nass for winning the Grand Prix, I figured you’d start making an impact at a higher level soon, but not quite this quickly!

So I guess it would be a good call* to go over the weekend in Standard, much like everyone else will. I attended San Diego since it was only a 7 hour car ride to play side-events and birdle the Pro Tour. I’d like to congratulate Luis Scott-Vargas on another amazing performance and was one of the many disappointed to see the run end at 17-1. Probably the most daggered I’ve felt about a tournament which I didn’t actually play in. As for my personal performance this weekend, I only did two side-events and one 8-man queue.

*Or as Richard Kho likes to say, ‘A VE-HAR-Y GOOD DEAL!’

For the first I played Naya and was destroyed by Hedron Crab / Ranger.dec and my uncanny ability to draw Tectonic Edge every single game making my mulligans into adventures of miserable. I did like my opponent mulling and hitting T1 Crab, T2 Crab, T4 Ranger into Crabs; that was the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. I lost to a bad WU deck after once again having a ton of mana issues even after multiple mulligans.

The second side event I played in I used Chapin’s WU deck from the Deck Tech posted that night. I did better in this event, but lost to two Vampires players in back-to-back matches. In one match there was nothing I could do and I had something like 4 turns to draw a White source to end the game with Iona and couldn’t do it. Against my second Vampires player, who was significantly better, I made at least five mistakes, including three major ones and took a well-deserved loss. These games gave me a good idea of just how weak I was with traditional control decks that didn’t involve Spellstutter Sprite or Mana Drain. Since the matches I won were all control mirrors I could basically concede a game in each one to settle in and figure out exactly what to do for the next few. Against Vampires I didn’t have that type of luxury and it cost me.

I played the 8-man queue with WU and won it, but I didn’t learn too much except that the deck wins control mirrors without many issues. Having a way to deal with an opposing Luminarch Ascension would be nice, but that’s my only real complaint with the deck in any control mirror. My favorite moments are when opponents attempt to mana screw me with Goblin Ruinblaster, Tectonic Edge and Spreading Seas since the deck runs Chalice and so many lands to begin with. One well-timed Treasure Hunt or Chalice at 2 completely ruins any strategy they had to begin with.

For what it’s worth I like both decks; even though I prefer the one with Jace, the Mind Sculptor for obvious reasons. The WU Chapin deck honestly feels like it’s just miles better than any other control deck I’ve tried to date. It has a clear strategy and has by far the best ways of executing it with the high number of counters and full sets of everything critical. WU Control takes everything which I emphasized I liked about the Worldwake additions to Blue and just pushes it as far as the cards will allow for. Treasure Hunt isn’t just an impressive draw spell, but you get so much value from your mana base that it’s rather absurd. The only way it could get any more value from it would be running a Gargoyle Castle as a 27th land or something similar. My only real complaint was how often the single Iona felt completely dead, but that could simply be due to the kinds of matches I was constantly playing.

One interesting debate will be if the sideboard Baneslayer Angel plan just falls out of favor and people go back to maindecking them. If the majority of people aren’t going to play Jace for whatever reason, then you’ll be bringing them in against nearly every deck you play against. Almost nobody falls for the ruse of being creatureless and boarding out all their removal anymore unless you pull a game two no-board and then board them in game three. Baneslayer herself is also quite effective against the new breed of Naya deck with a small number of answers to her and the same goes with a number of other decks that popped up at the Pro Tour. In addition with Chalice you can play her with protection far earlier than you could pre-Worldwake, which can make a huge impact on her effectiveness against decks you can afford to tap out early against.

Boss Naya wasn’t exactly the clean break the American contingent was looking for, but it was a very powerful deck and far better than the iteration which Andre Coimbra used to win Worlds with. Stoneforge Mystic is such a versatile card that it finally made Behemoth Sledge a real player and took advantage of Basilisk Collar without being forced to run dead extra copies. If you play with the deck a bit you’ll quickly see that Naya is likely the most powerful deck in the format. That comes with a caveat though; this all assumes your mana actually functions properly. One constant issue I heard from the players who took the deck and ran it to 2-3 or 3-2 records was that the mana just wasn’t consistent enough for them. Either they would end up color screwed or they would hit the wrong sets of lands and be forced to not play anything over multiple early turns.

After trying the deck for a short while I can’t make a definitive conclusion one way or the other, but it definitely felt awkward at times. By far the most painful hands were the openers including either Sejiri Steppe or Tectonic Edge, both were awful early drops and really hurt any hand that was built around early drops unless you went Forest – Noble Hierarch / Birds of Paradise to start with. Speaking of the six one-mana drops, you’ll find they frequently hit play on turn two as a number of hands are simply incapable of producing Green mana on turn one. This isn’t necessarily an issue with a number of hands as the deck can easily win off a turn three Ranger of Eos or Bloodbraid Elf, but it negates the amount of aggressiveness the deck has in certain matches. You need to play it more like a control deck that can take the beatdown route rather than Naya decks of the past where being ultra-aggressive a valid strategy.

Before messing with the odd numbers featured in the deck, at least make an effort to try them out. The deck has only been available to the general public for a few days and I already see people making posts about how they want to cut Birds or the singleton Path to Exile or the Naya Charm some of the builds were running. Goblin Guide in the sideboard is also another card people don’t understand past the obvious fact that it can be fetched with Ranger of Eos. Goblin Guide makes any matches against planeswalkers a lot easier by allowing you to attack them immediately from a clear board which can be huge with WU Control packing [card]Day of Judgment[/card] and Jace to keep the battlefield from getting crowded.

Here’s the breakdown of archetypes with 21 points or more along with the breakdown of the upper echelon of decks at 8-2 or better.

24 Points or more
Jund: 5
WW: 3
WU Control: 2
Naya: 2
Vampires: 1
RDW: 1
Bant: 1

21 Points or more
Jund: 15
WW: 7
Naya: 5
Bant: 4
WU Control: 3
Vampires: 3
Junk: 3
RDW: 1
Open the Vaults: 1
Boros: 1

And the highest winning percentages of the Standard decks played this weekend?

UW Control: 76%
Naya: 63%
White Weenie: 54%
Junk: 54%
Jund: 53%

Not going to lie, seeing WW do that well was a bit of a kick to the teeth after smashing it on Magic Online about 50 different times unless they drew their prerequisite two Brave the Elements per game. I guess now the deck is a bit legit with the Stoneforge Mystic plan, though I’m very interested to hear exactly how the games against Jund and Boss Naya played out.

Over the weekend the topic of what the Power Nine of Standard would be came up on multiple occasions, most involving a lot of alcohol, but even after a couple of hours the topic seemed legitimate. Not completely in the context of how the originals were named, but just nine of the most important and powerful cards available in Standard. Think of it as a list to build strategies around if you haven’t already decided to Just Play Jund.

Here was the closest we came to a consensus list, with the top three being the most universal inclusions out of a dozen people who played at the Pro Tour (And some even made day two!).


These first three shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who’s actually tested post Worldwake Standard for more than a day or two. In essence you have your Black Lotus, Time Walk and Ancestral Recall of the group, cards that are special in their unparalleled efficiency and impact on the game when played early. I suspect nearly every single top deck to run one of these cards over the upcoming months, with the exception coming from mono-colored decks running


Tectonic Edge 

This card deserves its own little section; the first three were cards each person thought of and named pretty much as soon as I finished asking the question. The only other card on every single person’s list though was Tectonic Edge. It may not be the most powerful card on the list, or the one with the most impact or the most played. What it is though, is a mana source people can assume will have an impact on a number of matches throughout a given tournament.

This card basically says that decks like Grixis Control will have a hard time ever existing and the same goes for any deck relying on a big splashy effect, even if it can ramp into it. Edge may not be Wasteland but only in the sense that it isn’t as distorting as its Eternal counterpart. It still forces players to be very careful in midrange matches, adds strategic depth to a number of Control mirrors and poses an interesting deckbuilding challenge in both playing it and minimizing it.


Stoneforge Mystic comes with a toolbox, and Halimar Depths/Treasure Hunt is a package deal.

Not everyone agreed with each of these choices as being the most important, but each garnered enough respect from players to make the list. Knight of the Reliquary in particular got a heaping of compliments from players, with hall of famer Zvi Mowshowitz proclaiming it to be the best card in Standard. While I may disagree and I’m sure others do as well, the point remains that all these cards are played in the best decks in the format and have proven to be very capable Flagship or Staples in their respective decks.

Looking at the list and the top decks, it isn’t too hard to come away with why these cards are tops.

Jund: Bloodbraid Elf, Blightning
Naya: Bloodbraid Elf, Ranger of Eos, Knight of the Reliquary, Stoneforge Mystic, Baneslayer Angel and Tectonic Edge
WU Control: Jace the Mind Sculptor, Edge, Baneslayer Angel, Halimar Depths and Treasure Hunt
Junk: Knight of the Reliquary, Stoneforge Mystic, Baneslayer Angel and Tectonic Edge (In some)

Big thanks go out to the people I drove down with, Ryan Hart in particular for being awesome and my buddies from Tucson; Karl and Chris who I had a great time drinking and ****-cubing with. That in particular needs an article written about it so perhaps in the future during a slow week you might see more about it. I’ll just leave you with the mention that I sure did get to kill someone with Phantatog powered by Prosperity, while losing another to Unyaro Bees backed by Rocket Launcher.

For those interested in more Standard coverage, come back to Channelfireball this weekend for Live Updates from the CF 5k this weekend!

Josh Silvestri
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom

40 thoughts on “Silvestri Says – San Diego Standard and Oakland Opportunities”

  1. Jaunskerzzzzzzzzzzzzzum! With fucking umlauts!
    Silvestri has a mullet. Fuck yeah bitches!
    He’s pretty good at Magic and an okay guy.
    Lick my lovepump. Yeow!

  2. I think path to exile, lightning bolt, and Ajani Vengeant deserve to be in the discussion for top 9 cards in standard.

  3. Josh, just curious if anyone really mentioned the manlands as important additions to the metagame?

    I really feel like the PT showcased how important manlands are in the post-Worldwake Standard, and I was wondering about consensus at the PT as well. Is it just so widely accepted that they are strong that no discussion is required?

    No mention of Kor Firewalker in the overall discussion. Hmm…

    I am very impressed by the reach of WW at the moment due to Ranger of Eos and Stoneforge Mystic/Equipment package. There is a lot of card advantage present there that WW could not really run before. I wonder if WW will move more towards a slightly more aggressive build (without Day of Judgment main deck) than Wescoe’s list with Tectonic Edge for disruption.

  4. path, cruel ult. ,sproutin thrinax , vamp noc wins more games than baneslayer , and the very best card in standard………… LIGHTNING BOLT !!!!!! look at all good decks

  5. Falkor: It’s partially a given, partially that they only win games when the deck has done it’s job in the first place. I love the WU and RG ones, but they hardly make as big an impact or the game-changing angle of any of the other mentioned cards with the possible exception of Depths/Hunt since those are leaning on whatever the top of your deck holds.

    wayne: The best aggro and control deck of the tournament ran 1 Path mainboard, the best midrange deck ran 0. Cruel Ultimatum isn’t even playable right now. The Vampies Nocturnus comment sounds like a joke, etc.

    As you said, I certainly am looking at the ‘good decks’, you may want to do the same now that Worldwake is legal.

  6. lightning bolt belongs on the top10 list of standard, Halimar depths is meh, its power is from Treasure Hunt and Jace cards that would be played without it, and without them its doubtful it would see much play

    Noble Hierarch is pretty important right now

    I’d put Hierarch and Bolt on the list for Depths and Stoneforge

  7. Most of what wayne said is obv stupidity but Lightning Bolt is easily in the top 9 cards of standard…

  8. All of this information is on the Wizards site. I have been and will be reading your articles, Josh. However, you should try including something new that entices the readers to read your articles.

  9. Agree on LB. It’s far and away better than Blightning … hell, find a deck that doesn’t want to play ‘R deal 3 anytime’ … a few can’t, but they all try and make it work first.

  10. So what Josh is saying is that if the format didn’t exist, halimar depths would be bad in it.

    Agreed on bolt, sir, but you haven’t played enough halimar depths. Even with just fetches, it’s very solid, throwing in hunt is just absurd. I’m not sure what bolt pushes out, but as WU just posted a 76% win pct at the PRO TOUR!!!! I can’t argue with putting the engine that runs it in the top 10.

  11. John, the reason to sideboard Baneslayers in is primarily because against decks you want it, like Jund, you can expect they will side out at least SOME of their hard removal, to make room for their sideboard cards. It also make some of their removal, like maelstrom pulse, have to work even harder. You aren’t really looking to surprise anyone, only to up your threat density against specifc decks. You also want them to have to think about baneslayer when boarding, as they may have to leave in a few terminates/tendrils/doom blades, bring in paths, etc.

  12. I really have to question Jace the Mind Sculptor being one of the top 3 cards in Standard. Looking at the top 8 deck lists on deckcheck.net, I count a grand total of 3 of him, both in the same deck (2 in the main, 1 in the board) – and the 6th place one at that. I would expect the top 3 cards in Standard to have a much stronger showing than that. Compare Jace’s numbers to the other top 3 cards, Blightning and Bloodbraid Elf. Blightning had 12 copies and the Elf had 16 in the top 8 decks, all in the main – that’s a huge difference!

    I’m not saying Jace is bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I see him ranked at the top of everyone’s list as best card in Standard and yet he had such a poor showing in the top 8. It makes me think that everyone is looking at him through rose-colored glasses; blue has been bad for a while and now that it has a good card, it’s getting blown out of proportion and getting called the best card. I certainly could be mistaken, as all you writers know more about Magic than I do, but again, the numbers just don’t support that theory.

    I suppose what it comes down to is this: He is perhaps the most powerful card in a vacuum. Therefore, the problem must be that there aren’t enough quality support cards to fill out a tournament-winning deck archetype with him in it. But that raises the question, if a card requires support that doesn’t exist to live up to it’s potential of being the best card, is it really the best card?

    What do you guys think?

  13. Hey, no worries Jon, you’ll be back at the PT in no time. Just need more opportunities to get better, right?

    I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing you running hot in a top 8 before your time is up.

  14. Your writing reminds me a lot of todd anderson’s early writing of all losses being bad luck and there was nothing I could do rather than recognizing mistakes whether or not they’d be relevant. The only reason I can imagine for no massive call out by pros is that no one wants to read your articles.

  15. Your writing reminds me a lot of Todd Anderson’s early writing where all losses were attributed to luck or there was nothing I could do rather than recognizing your mistakes whether or not they were relevant (beyond your “only mistake” over the weekend vs Junk). The only reason I can imagine that a large thread of pros calling you out hasn’t happened is because no one wants to read your articles.

  16. One could assume I said that or one could also note that I constantly say that I play pretty badly, like vs. Vamps guy where I freely admit I was a giant donk or usually have to throw a game away against Control decks to figure out what I’m doing. I made other mistakes at the GP obv, but since I’m not writing a report on here, why the would I make a list of them?

    Glad to see once again you read maybe 100 words in before making a comment.

    As for the list, while I figured the majority of the comments would be from there, it’s one of those ‘take it as you will.’ kind of things from people who are better than I am.

  17. @jaunskers yeah depths is for real it can easily go in a deck with fetches with out jace or heck some time it seems like treasure hunt is still a little slow to me ponder seems more solid for certain decks

  18. Oh, and one question, why Scutemob over Dragonmaster Outcast? Are 6 lands that much harder to get than 5? I’ve heard comments but I’d like to hear something from a pro, thanks.

  19. I would
    A. You didn’t open with how your losses were only to luck.
    B. If your articles weren’t the literary equivelant of a lobotomy.

  20. @Brett – The top eight in a mixed-format event is not a good indicator of the best decks, or best card selections in those decks. I don’t really have a position on the “absolute” value of Jace, since I don’t think that makes much sense, but here are the decks featuring Jace, the Mindsculptor that made 6-4 or better (18+ points) in the 10 rounds of Standard:


    Gaudenis Vidugiris playing Mythic — 2 Jace in the sideboard


    Patrick Chapin playing U/W control — 4 Jace in the main


    Gabriel Nassif playing U/W control — 4 Jace in the main


    Niels Viaene playing Esper Vaults — 2 Jace in the main, 1 in the side


    Sam Black playing Mythic — 2 Jace in the sideboard

    Daniel Gardener playing Bant — 4 Jace in the main

    Mark Herberholz playing U/W control — 3 Jace in the main

    Dennis Stone playing Bant — 3 Jace in the main, 1 in the side


    Danny Ecker playing Summoning Trap — 4 Jace in the main

    Hamish Gordon playing U/R/W control — 4 Jace in the main

    Charles Gendron Dupont playing U/W/G control — 3 Jace in the main

    Davide Grimaldi playing Grixis control — 2 Jace in the main

  21. ..JOSH S. ” i lost back to back matches to vampires” was just throwing some ideas out there …… path may be a little quiet now cuz of shroudy guys but …… everyone knows lightning bolt is one of top 9 if not TOPS!!!!!!!….ITS AMAZING HOW EMOTIONAL PEOPLE GET WHEN SOMEONE MENTIONS SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT VAMPIRES. LOL

  22. ..JOSH S. u must of mistaken me with one of your many”critics” with your aggressive response…. actually enjoy some your articles… but a REAL man would just admit his mistake .. fake wasteland is no ” SHARON STONE “/ LIGHTNING BOLT, not yet…….. whatever of these geeky lists i looked at had LSV’s deck with 30pts.(1st)vamps27pts.(2nd) though i was sleepy when lookin..

  23. see my previous comment on comments…..

    seems that “free content” = turd sandwiches freely sharting on websites…

    I just love web 2.0, it substantiates that age old saying “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has them.”

  24. C: “dude all you ever do is blame your losses on luck”
    J: “well actually, I said I played badly here, and here, and now I’m saying it again.Did you even read my article?”
    C: “Naw bro, I don’t read because all you ever do is blame bad draws and stuff and never talk about it, even though you just did four seconds ago”

    He just said, like literally four posts above you that he makes bad plays all the time. He then asks you if you actually read what he writes instead of chirping you and your best response is “naw, i’ma go chirp you some more”. Is there ever a time when reading comprehension enters this picture, or are the majority of posters here incapable of interacting with the written medium above a fourth grade level?

  25. Are you capable of reading the article? He clearly said that he only lost one match to misplays at the GP which is incredibly unlikely and when that’s how he opens an article how does he think he will come off throughout the article?

  26. And why should I have to read the forums before responding to his article? Maybe he should specify what he said in the part everyone reads rather than the responses.

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  28. Well, given that he only actually lost two matches at the GP (Restore Balance guy doesn’t count ’cause he scooped), the odds of him only losing one of those due to misplays is actually decent. Plus, he never said that was the case. I’m surprised you missed that, as it was actually in the first hundred words of the article. Sigh.

  29. You clearly did not read the article… seriously… he says that he got one of his two real match losses from his opponent getting a nut draw (Yes, turn one Blood Moon is a nut draw)… The other he made a mistake. The third was a draw that he scooped to let someone else stay in contention. So that’s one of two match losses from bad luck… How is that unlikely at all? He lost two matches and scooped a third. Later on in the article he admits to mistakes openly and honestly with regards to his standard discussion. Either you never actually read past the first paragraph or you have absolutely no concept of statistics.

  30. wayne: How could I of made a mistake with what amount to a -subjective- list which I didn’t even contribute too?

    As I said, I asked some of my friends (and got some random feedback from their opponents) on what their opinion of the top nine cards were.

    ” He clearly said that he only lost one match to misplays at the GP which is incredibly unlikely ”

    Well let’s see… I went 5-3 at the GP in matches. One of those was a scoop in which I most definitely would’ve drawn the game (literally no way I couldn’t of had I finished it normally). I lost one match where I plainly admitted I screwed up. I lost to a Hive Mind guy who colded me on turn one with a Blood Moon on the play and a turn 3 kill g1 through a v. clique. Could I have also screwed this game up? Perhaps, although I can’t figure out exactly where I had the chance to based on the information I had at the time.

    So yes, that’s pretty much losing 1 match to mistakes. I certainly wouldn’t argue with any assertion that I lost -games- to mistakes that I didn’t mention. But I mean you’d have to be pretty dense to assume I’d played perfectly through all those.

    If you want, you could go ahead and assume the draw could’ve been a win and the same with my next match and then I could’ve totally lost infinite matches on virtual day two without me admitting any fault! 😀

  31. If you missed the part where you could’ve misplayed in matches you won I did say that so you don’t need to lose a match to misplay, just so we are clear. And it becomes a lot worse because when you describe your losses, not just at the GP but in the side events its like I am listening to my opponent whine about luck on MODO. Something to think about. No one cares about your bad beats, whine to people in person.

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