Initial Technology – Breaking Standard (and Vintage!)


Seeing as I have just started prepping for Worlds, I actually have some knowledge about Standard. It was nice not having to slog through endless matches of

Blightning you, go.”

“Ok, Bloodbraid, Blightning YOU.”

and so forth. Sadly, that time has passed, and I now find myself required to play six to nine (hopefully nine) rounds of Standard at Worlds. If we had something awesome, I certainly wouldn’t be writing about it, but I figure talking about the beginnings of our testing is fine. Right now, we are mostly laying the groundwork, and so far haven’t broken it, even though wrapter has a pretty sick brew I’ll talk about later. For now, I’ll settle for discussing common pitfalls you might encounter when approaching this format.

1) The only “real” decks right now are Jund and Boros Bushwhacker.

This statement is somewhat true, but evaluating what effect it has on testing is difficult. One way to use this information is to figure that any deck you are considering needs to take these decks into consideration. That is very true, since they are definitely the most established decks at this point, and have both proven their worth. Going into a tournament without testing against either of these decks is a really bad idea, so any gauntlet has to have them both. Jund in particular is the biggest dog in the yard, so playing a deck with a bad Jund matchup (which is basically every non-Jund deck at this point) is not a great idea. I would be very surprised if Jund doesn’t end up being the deck we playtest against the most, and by a large margin at that.

Still, you don’t want to go overboard. There is a definite danger in assuming that these are the only decks you have to test against, just because they are the front-runners. Even if Jund + RW are a combined 40% of the field (and it’s rare for two decks to be so dominant), that still means that the majority if your matches will be against other decks. If all you can do is beat up on those decks, you will quickly find yourself losing to Cruel Ultimatum or Pyromancer Ascension (or both in the same deck!). While having a winnable matchup against Jund and RW is important, that can’t be your only focus. It is obvious that you can’t play some deck full of Celestial Purges, Devout Lightcasters, Ethersworn Canonists and other cards aimed to beat Jund, so only testing your pet deck against Jund until you beat it doesn’t make much sense either. The funny thing is that even a deck full of cards that “hate” Jund probably wouldn’t actually beat it anyway, but I’m using it for example’s sake.

2) There is no control deck.

Not entirely true, but close enough. Right now, there is no control deck that is remotely good enough. I haven’t been impressed with anything I’ve seen, although much of that is due to the newness of the format. As has been said before, Jund came into this format pre-tuned, and therefore was the best out of the starting blocks. It is obvious that Jund is actually good enough also, but the fact that it had so much tuning before the format even began is just another reason why it’s the best. Control doesn’t have that luxury, since most of its standbys got rotated out. Cryptic Command, Broken Ambitions, Plumeveil, Mulldrifter, Reflecting Pool, Vivid Creek; basically the whole 5-Color deck minus Cruel Ultimatum!

The result is that there isn’t an obvious replacement for 5-Color Control, and likely won’t be until people start unveiling tech at Worlds. There hasn’t been a pro-level event in this format yet, and while I don’t mean to imply that only pros can come up with good new decks, it is hard to argue that they don’t have both the biggest incentive to create them and the most experience doing so. Much like everyone else going to Worlds, I will be scouring results from the Nashville 5k next weekend, hoping that someone out there will break it and save us the trouble.

Blue-based control, with some combination of Sphinx of Jwar Isle, Cruel Ultimatum, Double Negative, Wall of Denial, random removal spells, Planeswalkers, Essence Scatter, Negate, Celestial Purge, Day of Judgment, is going to be a part of the metagame, but so far the exact look is up in the air. I don’t mean to parrot the esteemed Innovator, but Chapin is dead right when he says that Jar Jar Sphinx is the future, the nuts, and the stoneblade all rolled into one. I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a viable build centered around him and all the other sweet cards I just mentioned; the trick is finding it. Even if you don’t intend on playing such a deck, ignore it at your peril. There will be people playing decks like this, and if your “Jundcrusher Mono-Green” or whatever can’t deal with the traditional mix of counterspells, removal, untargetable finishers and Cruel Ultimatum, I warned you.

Hopefully that provides you with a decent place to start, since it is certainly where we began. We put together Jund and RW, then started brewing. I don’t even have a sick control list to keep hidden; we haven’t put together a good one yet! Vampires isn’t really a deck, but it goes in the gauntlet anyway. I have too much respect for Vampire Nighthawk to completely write him off, and Mind Sludge for five is still a solid play. Plus, it’s a Magic tournament; someone is going to be playing Vampires. Speaking of brewing, I did promise to talk about wrapter’s (Josh Utter-Leyton) sick brew. Bear in mind that this was just Day 1 of our testing”¦

As named by Steve Sadin:

The Deadliest Catch

Josh got the idea when he was looking at all the Ranger-able creatures in Standard. Ranger is such an awesome card that it is worth seeing every option, and I really mean every single option. How else do you come up with Ranger for Hedron Crab, anyway? After assembling the deck (from real cards, no less), sleeving it, and sitting down for some games, wrapter was forced to admit that this catch was on the rotten side. He even had triple Crab out against my Jund deck for like four turns unmolested, but still couldn’t quite kill me before I bashed him with Broodmate tokens and Putrid Leeches. Obviously the deck is terrible, but I thought it was funny enough to share, and it even outlines a useful lesson. Wrapter had a good approach; he looked at a powerful card, Ranger of Eos, and tried to figure out what could be done with it. Even if this deck sucks, the next one might not, and trying to build around powerful cards is a good method of breaking formats. Sure, Ranger of Eos might be at his best fetching Goblin Bushwhacker and Steppe Lynx, but you don’t come up with new decks by only testing old ones. Perhaps Scute Mob and Noble Hierarch are where its at; if you don’t brew you won’t know.

That’s all I have on Standard today, but I’m not quite done. I have gotten to play a fair bit of Vintage lately, mainly because I keep not making Day 2 at these tournaments. Vintage side events may not be why I went to Austin or Tampa, but I do love me some Vintage, and once I got knocked out of the PT/GP I went to battle. I won a Mox Ruby in Austin and a box of Zendikar in Tampa, and actually just split a Mox Ruby at a local event today. I used roughly the same list in each event, and I have been pretty happy with it:

Vintage Control

A few brief notes:

I keep switching between Fact or Fiction and Gifts Ungiven. I would like to find room for both, but don’t really want to cut anything for another four-mana spell. FoF is better earlier in the game, and Gifts is better once you have more resources. I really am not sure which is best; I played FoF today and Gifts at the last two events.

Repeal is actually quite good. Web and I may have mocked the countless European lists with 4 Repeals (seriously, it was like every Blue deck overseas started with them), but the 2 Repeals have been sweet. I may side them out fairly often, but having additional outs to Null Rod, Chalice, Oath of Druids, or really anything is pretty nice. They also cycle on demand, and overall have earned their spot.

Three Dark Confidant may look odd, but you only want to see one per game. Drawing multiple Bobs is pretty loose, and so far three has been a solid number.

Darksteel Colossus over Inkwell Leviathan is something I have been happy with. Everyone is prepared for Inky at this point, whether it be with Rebuild or Diabolic Edict, so you might as well kill them in one fewer hit. Particularly if Vroman’s Oath deck becomes popular, I would much rather have the Iron Giant. I know there is only one Thirst, but Thirsting away DSC and still having the option to Tinker is nice too, although being able to pitch Inkwell to Force probably has more utility.

The sideboard has a few open slots, but I wouldn’t touch the Ingot Chewers, Red Blasts, or the first 6 Dredge cards. I like having 7 slots for Dredge, mostly because I have a lot of respect for the deck. This deck doesn’t want to sideboard much vs most non-Dredge decks anyway, so I figure it is better to have a very high-impact sideboard for that matchup, since that matchup is all about the board. Diabolic Edict is to help kill Iona, since they will name Blue against you. Edict also kills Inkwell, DSC, and even Dark Confidant in the mirror. I may even cut the Smother for a second Edict.

A tournament-winning Vintage list, a sick Standard list, and some format-breaking strategy? I don’t see what else I can do here, so that’s it for today!


36 thoughts on “Initial Technology – Breaking Standard (and Vintage!)”

  1. I liked the library depletion deck wrapter came up with even though it didn’t pan out as expected against Jund. What I liked even more was your insights into breaking a format. Lastly, Chapin maybe right again about the Sphinx.

  2. Why has nobody taken note of GWB Lotus Slayer? It definitely has the chops to beat jund, however nobody seems to be paying much attention to it. I’m currently running the 2nd place LCQ list with the following changes:
    -1 Behemoth -2 Elspeth -1 Pulse -1 Thornling
    +3 Dauntless +1 Path +1 Gargoyle Castle (Tech w/ Knight of Relinquary in response to a wrath, and I found 23 to be too little).

    So far I’m undefeated in my current meta, which is Jund and Boros. However I admit the pilots probably aren’t up to par. Anyway wish you would take a look.

    Maybe its the price tag… hmmm lol

  3. zac – Fire is Fire/Ice, although Fire would be more appropriate. I Fire’ed three times in the tournament, and never Iced. Split cards are hard for our templating program to recognize, unsurprisingly, hence the “Fire”.

  4. I guess I was doing some comparisons to your Eudemonia decklist from the Emerald tournament last month . LSV how did the new fetchies work out for you, misty rainforest and scalding tarn? Were they better than polluted delta?

  5. No, in this deck the fetchlands that get Blue are all 100% the same, since the only land type I have in the deck are Islands. You can mix em up for Pithing Needle/Extirpate purposes, but that really doesn’t matter.

  6. LSV, I played against you twice on MODO a few hours ago (if that was, in fact, you). I won’t reveal your deck to anyone, but I really like what you came up with. Good luck in Worlds, I’ll be rooting for you.

    Also, yes, if you remember I did basically give up in the second match. That’s a poor excuse, but thanks for playing me anyway. I learned a lot.

  7. i’ve seen a varient of wrapters deck, that milled me to 0 byt turn 6 (mind funeral’s archive traps, crabs, and 2 haunting echos were among the cards.)

    mill might be real, as archive trap in this format is a free quarter of a deck over and over against the fetches.

  8. thanatos: Yeah, I think I was going to win those last games, but you maybe scooped a little bit early. The first match was pretty close though.

  9. hey, an offshoot of the mill deck i have been testing. its GU.. it uses crabs harrows, fetches, the oracle, fog and the new trample fog, jace, howling mine and archive trap. it has actually worked very well against jund and boros. i use sphinx as an additional board presence and counters to protect my crab.. but you actually draw so many cards that the other player cannot empty his hand fast enough and has to discard. 8 fog effects helps a lot and of course the finisher of the trap is awsome.. i dont even mind playing it for 6 at EOT when im getting 2 lands per turn.. this seems like a draft deck that lsv was talking about for zendikar but when actually put together and tuned it works very well.. i forsee the sideboard having to be filled with a lot of other creatures to have an alternate win condition to the mill because if your opponent sides in an extreme amount of kill spells they are going to get them. To those people saying that jund has 15 plus ways to kill the crab you are right.. but when they are having to throw cards into the gy from the top of there library they lose these.. and when they draw multiple cards per turn and are forced to discard.. they are going to get rid of removal because they need their creatures to kill you.. and very often you dont have anything in play but a sphinx and 2+ howling mines. anyway its just my two cents and it very well could be terrible.. but my friends and I have tested extensivly and it wins very often.. and almost always g1. just thought maybe you would like to give it a try. thanks for your time

  10. LSV,

    What do you think about the nissa elf deck that seems to be doing well in modo premier events. I really like playing overrun and wanted to give it a shot.

  11. Colin:
    Nobosy is paying attention to that deck because Lotus Cobra is too much of a variable. If you stack your deck with Cobra and 4+ costing spells, and Cobra dies, you are pretty far behind. If you build a more stable curve, you have less of a chance that you can use Cobra to it’s full extent.

    Lotus Cobra, IMO, won’t be in any highly competitive decks. Higher level decks want a lower amount of variance and high consistancy, and being unable to rely on him very much means he doesn’t make the cut.


    Me and my group have been testing an Esper Control build with maindeck Canonist and Mark of Asylum. Has a pretty solid match-up against Jund and Boros, performs decent against Vamps, Nissa Control, Ramp, and most of the rest of the field. Look to the artifacts for your Worlds win.

  12. One techy thing for the Jund Mirror is splash White and use the fetches instead of the Tri lands. I built a pretty solid Jund/white (Junaya) deck that added Path woolly thoctar and Captured sunlight to up the cascade count Had added Wild Nacatl’s but will probably remove them to put back some base cards removed as they were only marginally successfull.

    I was not satisfied with Jund and the Shardlands So I focused on Green Basic lands and used Arid Mesa and Marsh Flats RootboundCrag And Dragon Skull Summit with only 2 Verdant catacombs this sped things up by a turn in most cases

    It basicly turned the aggro dial up a bit and gave you a way to answer Thrinax’s saporlings and gave you access in the board to celestial purge harms way or even baneslayer angel should you wish it.

  13. Hey LSV,
    My group and I have been working on an Esper Control/Tempo kind of thing. I think my pet name for it deserves to see the light of day if you come up with a solid build worthy of competition you should certainly name it “Cannon in E(sper)” lol. Anyway, have you guys been playing Lapse of Certainty? It’s surprisingly helpful vs Jund

  14. Chapin is fosho right about jarjar. the card is like a reminder of Keiga, in the mono U list. the guy rocks jund if its in play, so if you can build a deck that can live to having 6 lands in play against jund and still have him in your hand then you’ve got a deck.

  15. Tokwana,

    The GBW deck is serious. Behemoth Sledge is a beating as is Thornling and Hierarch. Its mana is pretty fragile but for some reason people tend to let Noble Hierarch live.

    If the Pro’s put some time into the deck and correct the mana, if it can be corrected, then it will be a major force. Any deck that can run Behemoth Sledge, Thornling, Putrid Leech, Garruk, Baneslayer, Maelstrom Pulse, PtE and Elspeth should be considered.

  16. LSV,
    Thanks for the Vintage part of the article.
    My teammates and I used a list almost exactly like that to put the 3 of us playing it in the top 4 at the ELD Lotus event. I haven’t played it in the new meta, but it looks to be as strong as ever.

    I am surprised that you don’t play one of the blue robots. I have won a large number of games pitching the robot and 1 extra turn is rarely relevant as that is plan B against control and combo anyway.

    Again, thanks for the Vintage! Getting content up on sites like this is huge for growth in that format.

  17. How surprised i was to see the original version of my mill list! You are right, that list is crap and doesnt work. I have been testing it a lot and would suggest:

    -4 Kraken Hatchling, -3 Ponder, -1 Ranger
    +4 Ardent Plea (WHAT?!?!), +3 Mind Funeral, +1 Necromancer’s Covenant

    The ardent plea is 4 more copies of trapmaker’s snare usually and when it is hedron crab/path that’s ok too. Adding black is important if you want to experiement with Mind Funeral, Doom Blade, and Nemesis of Reason. I also play more fetches for thinning/crabbing hard. I feel like i would cut 1 jace for an extra covenant at this point too.

  18. Jund is on top in my local meta game… so any advice on how to take it down who get great… but what i wanted to bring up is that vampire aggro and Kor soldiers are in the number three and two slots… Ajani + Brave the Elements + Day of Judgement is one of the main Kor combos… all guys get +1/1 then protection from white just before the board clears of blockers… with armerment master and a cheap equipment like adventuring gear or bone saw make all those 1/1 kor tokens into 3/3s so on turn six/seven its over run… Plus ajani keeping the troops untapped makes them want to keep the blockers instead of attacking… so LSV if you can just tell me what you think in testing against or with the Kor what you think… I know its not your style to just play an agressive deck… but as you’ve said it rethinking the draft Zendikar makes things aggressive… Kor has the edge needed to beat Jund… I only lost the split because i was mana clumped because i had typed up my deck list the night before and I had not mana shuffled before coming to the store… so my record was a split lose followed by three sweeps… also white offers alot of side board aswers to the popular decks that kor can make work… Ioana’s casting cost can be paid if you are equiping explorer’s scopes to the armament master and using cartographers…. once she’s in play jund and boro’s are stopped cold as well as vimpires or and other mono deck…. this angel is close to 20-30 plus card advantage once she hits the table… vimpire aggro can’t the armament master if he’s got the torch which is just a cheap to play and equip as a spidersilk web… i’m almost thinking about using coat of arms as my other finisher… not only does conqueror’s pledge give you six kor soldiers but it also gives everyone already in play +6/6 as well as all the other +1/1’s that have come from Ajani… so if you guys end up play testing this deck please let me now how it works out

  19. @Fenthing:
    1. Like Chris said, protection doesn’t apply to global effects like Day of Judgment. Protection only prevents the creatures from being damaged, equipped/enchanted, blocked and targeted. Whoever’s doing this is either ignorant of this or is downright cheating.
    2. The rest of your deck ideas aren’t very competitive. If you want to beat Jund, play Bant or play Jund with lots of land destruction effects to combat the mirror.

  20. @ LSV: Is there a Budget Deck that you can recomend for a player beginning to get interested in Vintage and not having the initial money for power.

    Great Article as always

  21. @Fenthing did you read my list the kor equip idea is not good. Ive played my list against Jund Gobo’s and Vampires and it works very very well. Gobos is possibly the scariest of the matches but early path and harms way settle that very quickly. Even mull to 4 to be sure I could beat the opening start.

    Toying with lots of Sideboard Ideas at the moment. But the main deck is pretty solid anti-aggro

  22. @ Fenthing: Ajani + Brave the Elements + Day of Judgement is one of the main Kor combos"¦ all guys get +1/1 then protection from white just before the board clears of blockers
    I’m not sure if you mean this as it is written, but it appears you believe brave the elements protects their creatures from day of judgement. This is not the case.

    I think I just helped out your kor match up a great deal.

  23. glad you guys pointed that out to me… my mistake… you guys just saved me some cash and a big disappointment at the tables… really wish i could pull off the same kind of trick in standard… Oblivion Rings + Planar Cleansing can do it on the small scale but i was kind of looking for a larger more epic combo… thought i had it but guess i’ll have to keep looking… don’t want to go Elspeth because I want to stay away from non-kor creatures so that armament master has more punch… might go for the monument instead…

  24. Dont think armament master is the way to go really. Ajani and the monument and if you (as in my deck add Garruk) you can swing for serious damage.

    Elspeth is there as a distraction alterante win and on occasion mini monument effect.

    The threats the PW represent also keep you in the game till you can coup or Kick Pledge.

    Garruk is amazing in the deck often letting a win come from apparently nowhere
    The Hierarchs and Birds also serve as distractions and an occasional beater

    Im pretty happy at how solidly anti-aggro and resiliant it really is Im looking for the best board cards to handle the more controllish decks and I think they are pretty fluid based on meta at the moment and the lack of any real standard results cant wait to see what the next month or so brings.

  25. Wow I recall posting a similar list to Wrapter’s about 3 weeks ago…found here

    The great thing about brewing things like this is you find out what wors and what doesn’t. What worked in the deck were:

    Ranger for Crab
    Safe Passage
    Time Warp

    The Oracle doesn’t work at all. You can just never keep it around long enough to matter. What I changed to ended up being much better.

    I swapped Birds of Paradise for Noble Hierarch and Wall Denial for Oracle of Mul Daya. I also added hindering light to stop spot removal.

    4 birds
    4 Crab
    3 Ranger
    3 Wall of denial

    3 Path to exile
    3 safe passage
    3 time warp
    4 archive trap
    2 Trapmaker’s snare
    3 Hindering Light

    3 Jace Beleren

    5 Plains
    5 Island
    6 Forest
    4 Misty Rainforest
    3 Marsh Flats
    1 Verdant Cataacombs

    Also Esper Control with Jar Jar Sphinx is the nuts.

  26. Pingback: MTGBattlefield

  27. 4x Wall of Denial
    3x Sphinx of Lost Truths
    3x Baneslayer Angel
    2x Sphinx of Jwar Isle

    4x Double Negative
    1x Swerve
    3x Courier’s Capsule
    3x Lightning Bolt
    4x Path to Exile
    3x Day of Judgment
    3x Ajani Vengeant
    1x Celestial Purge

    4x Arid Mesa
    4x Scalding Tarns
    4x Glacial Fortress
    4x Plains
    3x Mountains
    6x Islands
    1x Gargoyle Castle

    This is what I’ve been playing, and having success with. Board is pretty straight forward. 3x Celestial Purge is a no brainer currently, maybe a couple Swerve for Pulse and Blightnings. Oblivion Ring for planeswalkers, maybe Luminarch Assension in the rare case you’re playing against another control deck.

  28. I tried the mill deck and it seems to be incapable to win jund or bushwacker. It needs DoJ and maybe some “prevent” spells, to give it more consistency against the fast loss of life. I develop a version of GW Fog very effective against aggro decks. If you want to see it LSV, just e-mail me ([email protected]).

  29. This deck has beat my friends Jund deck and Vamp. deck.

    Bant Turbo Mill Fog
    Obj: deck out opponent

    Main Board:
    4 Hedron Crab

    4 Angelsong
    4 Safe Passage
    4 Fog
    4 Howling Mine
    4 Font of Mythos
    4 Tome Scour
    4 Archive Trap
    2 Traumatize
    2 Negate

    4 Plains
    5 Island
    2 Forest
    4 Seaside Citadel
    2 Reliquary Tower
    4 Misty Rainforest
    2 Terramorphic Expanse
    1 Magosi, the Waterveil

    Side Board:
    2 Traumatize
    2 Negate
    3 Jace Beleren
    2 Forest
    2 Tanglesap
    2 Twincast
    2 Trapmaker’s Snare

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top