Act of Reason – Counter Burn Revisited and some Brews
Last time I left you I had my UR Delver of Secrets deck out there for all of you to take a peek at. Well, as it turns out, I didn’t play Friday Night Magic for two weeks and had a lot of time to think about the deck and read other builds due to its booming popularity after my article dropped (pure coincidence I’m sure). Anyway, I did not settle on the build where I left it, I in fact changed it up quite a bit.
This is what I settled on for 12/9/11 FNM:
I ended up piloting this deck to a 3-1 finish and made the top 4, only losing to a Haunted Humans deck, which regretfully was my own cards and my own personal spin on the build. In my defense, he had the nut draw and my deck decided that it was terrible all at the same time. The changes I made were also a metagame call and I soon realized how good they were starting out with match 1.
While I won’t go into detail about all four of my games this week, I want to talk about my changes. First, and foremost, you may see a certain Planeswalker in there that you didn’t see before. I ran 3 copies of Chandra, the Firebrand in the deck so I could ping off little creatures with her, or for an added boost, I could copy a Brimstone Volley with its Morbid ability. In case you’re wondering, I got to do it on back to back turns in match 1 for a whopping 20 damage—talk about a blowout! The funny thing about Chandra is that she is a Gut Shot on a stick. When she resolves, unless the board is already flooded with big dudes, she essentially locks down the game for you from any */1 critter. I was also able to win a game on the night by pinging my opponent 5 times in a row, forcing him to throw an Incinerate at her instead of at my face. The next turn I ripped my own and it was good game.
The other change you might notice is that I dropped Vapor Snag from my deck all together. I decided that since I run 4 Mana Leaks, that Vapor Snag may buy me a turn, but it won’t win me the game the same way countering a big creature can. As a result, I ran Psychic Barrier, and that too was a star for me all night. I also decided on dropping 1 Brimstone Volley. After doing some reading, it made sense to me that Brimstone Volley is a terrible removal spell and that typically holding multiple copies of it in your opening hand is just bad. Finally my last change to the maindeck was dropping 4 Mountains and adding 4 Copperline Gorges. This was due to my assumption that Tempered Steel would be on the rise. My assumption was correct as I faced a Tempered Steel deck in Match 2. Let’s just say that I steam rolled that match.
The sideboard also saw some changes in the form of Slagstorm over Arc Trail. I found that if I’m on the draw facing an Honor of the Pure, Arc Trail typically doesn’t do much for me and that 3 damage was really the way to go even though it could potentially hurt me as well. Finally, the last change I made was the move over to Flashfreeze in the sideboard. This worked decently for me, but in the match-up against Haunted Humans, I really, really wanted Flashfreeze to be a Negate. Going forward that is what I will be using in place of Flashfreeze. Everything I Flashfroze on the night could also have been Negated.
Overall, this deck still throws people off and is quite competitive in most FNM metagames. Give it a shot if you’re looking for something that can play the beat down and/or control when necessary.
With that being said, I’d like to share 3 decks that I want to try and make work for the current metagame. I will warn you now, they are untested and I have just been spit balling while at work with these. I am open to any suggestions that you may have for them via Twitter @iplayislands or via the comments section at the bottom of the page.
I have really wanted to make Day of Judgment work again and I think I may be onto something starting with this deck list:
Bear in mind that I personally NEVER build decks as 75 cards until they are deemed playable. I don’t try to speculate on what I need in the sideboard until I encounter it in testing. Likely, with this being a Blue and White deck, it might really just want Timely Reinforcements main decked; especially for our metagame which is filled with 90% aggro builds. I really want this deck to work being that it is one of my favorite archetypes from last season. Obviously it is missing the drawing power of Jace, the Mindsculptor, but I think it can be made up for with Forbidden Alchemy, Ponder and Visions of Beyond, but it may still need more. The basic idea of this deck is to set up to play one of your big spells such as a Sphinx or a Karn. An uncontested Karn will singlehandedly win games. Batterskulls are in the deck to set up for some “early” lifegain. Now I realize that this deck, upon first glance, may struggle against Haunted Humans and Tempered Steel. They just have SO many creatures it is hard to play the control game. I think that this is remedied by Gideon Jura who can essentially Time Walk your opponent. If you can drop him following a sweeper or a sweeper following him, you can take over the game.
Another archetype that I really want to work again is RUG. I think right now that even though I want Day of Judgment to work, that Slagstorm is the better sweeper. The only cards that really laugh at Slagstorm are Phyrexian Crusader and Hero of Bladehold being a close second. I think we’re starting to see a decline in the Mono-Black Infect decks that we saw last month and the month before at our shop and that Slagstorm is ready to make a triumphant return. With that being said, here is the RUG deck that I cooked up:
This deck may want to drop Consecrated Sphinx for one more of each Titan, as I feel like they are a bigger threat to deal with. Viridian Emissary is a phenomenal ramp card in this deck. I know you’re asking: “Bob, why are you playing such a crappy card?” The answer is simple, because in this build, this guy works. You don’t have any fear of blocking with it because that gets you to a Titan or a Sphinx one turn faster. It also tends to clog up the ground stopping Memnites and their lot early. I asked earlier today if every Standard deck that includes Blue needs to run 4 Snapcaster Mage. I’m not sure if 4 is the right number in every blue deck, but I’ll say this: You really want to be able to play your counter magic and Slagstorms more than once. Once again, with this deck, I think 3 is the magic damage number; hence Incinerate over Arc Trail. I think after testing I will be able to better judge the manabase, but I feel it is close. You really want to be able to hit double red and double blue in this deck. It is more of a UR deck with green splashed for some ramp and Beast Within.
I want to talk a little about Beast Within. I think it is a completely underutilized card at the moment, and when used correctly, it can be a well…a beast. Always Beast Within on your opponent’s Upkeep unless a situation requires you to do it otherwise. If you’ve got a Slagstorm to follow on your turn, you lose absolutely no tempo by blowing up something important on their side leaving them with a summoning sick Beast Token. Beast Within is a major catch-all right now as it can remove Oblivion Rings and other annoying Enchantments that may plague you. It is also really good at taking care of an opponent’s mana screw and putting them even more behind the eight ball. It’s not just good at taking care of that, but it helps take care of the best land in standard; Moorland Haunt. Oh you thought I was going to say Inkmoth Nexus or Kessig Wolf Run? Sure they’re dangerous, but neither is dangerous when you’re packing removal. Inkmoth is particularly vulnerable due to the fact that it is both a creature and an artifact and Kessig Wolf Run is worthless if you keep your opponent’s board clear of creatures. It is the simple fact that Moorland Haunt is live in almost every game it gets played is why it is the best land in standard right now.
This deck feels like it is the best of the decks that I am sharing and I will likely be working on this one as the weeks go on. I feel that this deck can only get better as time goes on.
The other deck that I was toying with is just based off of a concept already known to the world. Phantasmal Image + Lord of the Unreal = 3/3 Hexproof beat stick. I asked, what does Phantasmal Image + Dungrove Elder make? Well it makes a Hexproof */* beat stick that is tough to remove and gets bigger than a copied Lord of the Unreal. With that in mind I constructed this deck:
This simple, yet effective, deck is based off of the Mono-Blue Illusions template, but I splashed green for Dungrove Elder. With the resurgence of spot removal, this guy can get out of control. Pair him with Primeval Titan and you have a growing Hexproof threat that can take over any game. This deck also remedies the issue that the Mono-Green Dungrove Elder deks had: Mirran Crusader. I’d love to see the look on a player’s face when they can’t do anything about a 5/5 Phantasmal Image copying a Dungrove elder…Nice…Crusader. The concept is simple, play Delver of Secrets to put pressure on early, ramp, play a Dungrove Elder or Primeval Titan and profit. Gitaxian Probe helps you scout out when to resolve a Primeval Titan or Green Sun’s Zenith and Think Twice gives you the drawing power you need to hit your important cards. Add Phantasmal Image for a dash of Hexproof fun! This deck may suffer against counter magic and may also want to run more of its own in the form of Snapcaster Mage. Like I said earlier, blue deck and Snapcaster Mage almost have to go together.
There you have it, 4 decks to take in, digest, tweak and have fun with. Just remember that these decks are built purely based upon my observations of our store’s metagame. While they may (or may not) work for me, they may not be good for you. That is why you must go out and observe! Have fun with them and message me @iplayislands on Twitter if you have any questions or comments.
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