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Valuable Lessons – The Unwritten Path

Welcome back to Valuable Lessons. This week, we’ll be taking a look at one of the most exciting and least written about strategies in the new Standard metagame. See the Unwritten is a card with a lot of potential that seems like it’s well-positioned in a world dominated by Abzan and Jeskai strategies. Let’s discuss the possibilities.

See the Unwritten is a top-end spell that has the ability to completely warp the landscape of a game. When ferocious, See the Unwritten drastically changes the battlefield with huge effects. What’s See the Unwritten capable of doing?

I’ve seen players utilize the big spell in enchantment-themed Abzan decks with Eidolon of Blossoms and Doomwake Giant. See the Unwritten for two copies of Doomwake Giant gives the opponent’s whole team -4/-4. See the Unwritten for two copies of Eidolon of Blossoms draws us four cards and potentially many more. Most importantly, See the Unwritten combos on both ends with Siege Rhino, which happens to be one of the best cards in the current Standard format. In the meantime, it fills our graveyard and potentially feeds a dangerous Whip of Erebos in the late-game.

That’s the potential top-end for See the Unwritten, but the midrange deck that’s more focused on playing good cards and less focused on resolving a big spell is likely the better route. We could focus on playing more powerful spells and let the sheer power of See the Unwritten be enough to make it earn its keep. Cards like Hornet Queen can take over the game by themselves in a way that’s less flashy than drawing a bunch of cards or creating an impromptu Plague Wind. By playing cards that are less flashy but have greater potential to win without the help of See the Unwritten we put less eggs in a single basket. Having access to the ridiculous top-end that is See the Unwritten means that we’ll be able to overcome the lower curved versions of Abzan, while curving into Wingmate Roc aggressively seems like our best plan against the Jeskai decks. Let’s take a look at one of my favorite decks from the Pro Tour:

Tzu-Ching Kuo’s Creature Feature
designed by Kelvin “Hyper” Chew, Singapore’s National Champion

I featured this deck in my mothership column earlier this week, and it’s still one of my favorite decks from the Pro Tour. The deck approaches the new Standard from a great game one angle. The deck plays tons of creatures and pretty much no interaction other than those creatures’ abilities. Opponents will have some removal main, but they may not have the particular removal spell that best matches up against the specific threat we have at any given moment. Post-board, we get to play whichever interactive spells are the best against a given opponent. Also, having access to End Hostilities post-board when our opponent thinks we’re mono creatures after game one can lead to some very nice bait-and-switch manuevers.

There are a few things I would change about this list to optimize it for the new post-Pro Tour format. First, I feel like Hordeling Outburst and aggressive decks are prevalent enough that we can play more copies of Doomwake Giant. Having access to multiple triggers is really good in this format and I want to keep the swarm at bay so we can win with more powerful threats.

Next, having no interaction in game one is a great plan because of the threat density we have, but I feel like the deck can afford a couple copies of Banishing Light in the main as ways to deal with strategies built around a single card.

Playing three Hornet Queen in the main seems a bit ambitious to me. I love what the card does for the deck, but I fear that many 7s will make the deck mulligan poorly and offer up a lot of unkeepable hands that include a ton of 6- and 7mana cards. I’m going to try playing a singleton copy of Hornet Queen and we can go up to two if we feel like we’re being stonewalled by Prognostic Sphinx too often.

Here’s the list I would play going forward:

Unwritten Junk
by Jacob Van Lunen

This version of the deck is well set up to take on the Jeskai and Abzan decks that currently dominate the Standard metagame. The deck also demolishes smaller token based strategies and should perform reasonably well against the most aggressive decks in the format.

Going forward, we can expect to make the following changes based on the oscillation of the metagame:

We’ll probably want a third or even fourth copy of Drown in Sorrow alongside at least two Nyx-Fleece Rams in the sideboard if the aggressive decks start to take over the metagame.

If other Abzan and Mardu midrange decks start to perform well we may want to move toward a strategy that plays four copies of Banishing Light, Doomwake Giant, and Eidolon of Blossoms. This ensures that our endgame will be more powerful than the opponent’s while allowing us to grind out games where we’re not under a ton of pressure.

We’ll want to go back to three Wingmate Roc and potentially play a fourth copy if Jeskai decks continue to grow in popularity in the wake of the Pro Tour and this weekend’s Grand Prix.

See the Unwritten is a powerful tool that we can expect to be a major player in Standard for the coming years. The card is the absolute best thing we can do in a midrange metagame and it makes sense that it will be one of the better cards in Standard, at least at some point. Playing the card encourages us to play with things like Siege Rhino and Reaper of the Wilds, which get better and better as the format’s removal starts to be more interested in efficiently dealing with Mantis Rider than something else.

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