Hello internet people, it’s been a while! I haven’t been writing the past few weeks for a few reasons. A bunch of family stuff went on, including my daughter’s first birthday, work has been really busy, and mostly, I have had a bit of writer’s block. However, I haven’t stopped playing Magic!
Since my last article, a lot has happened in my Magic life. I played in three PPTQs since I last wrote, culminating in two top 8 berths, and an eleventh place finish on breakers. I went from being a (Sylvan) Advocate (ha!) for playing the best deck in any format to playing something that you enjoy playing that is still a very good deck. For instance, I went from playing the four color rally deck to playing the Bant CoCo deck. Let me tell you, that deck is a got dang blast to play.
I feel like I’m playing the fair side of the old Modern Splinter Twin deck when I play the Bant CoCo deck. Below is the list that I played to a top 8 finish this past Saturday actually:
Not only am I a fan of tempo decks in general, creatures with flash are some of my favorite things in this game, especially when you’re playing with blue. The idea of leaving up your instant speed spells to interact with your opponent, while also having the option to play a creature at the end of your opponent’s turn is just an amazing thing that I love about this game.
When people say they play blue, typically they mean they play control versions of blue. I thought along the same lines forever. I thought that I liked blue control decks because I like blue cards. In actuality, I like blue cards, but I also like attacking. This is why I loved Splinter Twin in Modern when I played it. Not because I had the ability to just win on turn 4, but I had the ability to play this tempo-aggressive strategy and out-tempo my opponent.
I remember when I started playing again, the deck I chose to play was mono-blue devotion. The deck was fine, I didn’t love it, but just knowing I was subconsciously pulled to that deck is justification for my enjoyment with Splinter Twin, and now Bant Company in Standard.
When I was younger, I thought I was the better player because I played blue control decks. In my older age, I live by the mantra that life is too short to play just solid, end-game, Reid Duke style control decks. Just play creatures that are good with a bunch of tricks, and it gives you time to eat during tournaments!
When I make my decks, I like to have broad strokes answers in the sideboard. This is why I have zero Hallowed Moonlights in my sideboard. I find the card a bit too cute for a blue deck to play. It’s a bit too narrow, and does essentially the same thing as Dispel, Negate, and Disdainful Stroke. The good thing about those cards, is they’re really good against other decks. Dispel is good against other blue decks, like Jeskai black, Negate is really good against Ramp, and is also decently ok against other blue decks, and Disdainful Stroke is good against the Ramp deck. If I’m able to put cards in my sideboard that can help in more than one trouble matchup at little to no downgrade, why shouldn’t I?
As for the maindeck, I prefer having the Ojutai’s Commands over the more popular Wingmate Rocs. Sure, the flying creatures provided by Wingmate Roc, along with the power/toughness in a world full of x/3s are very good if you’re playing against the mirror or other grindy midrange decks that are weak to flyers, but Ojutai’s Command is one mana cheaper, beats Wingmate Roc, and is just a better card in general I believe to have in your opening hand. It plays along with the instant speed tempo game that I like to play, and is better against Ramp in my opinion. Being able to either counter one of their payoff creatures, while also being able to put creatures into play from the graveyard after an Ugin, Ulamog, or Chandra resolves and kills some of your creatures is something I’m very interested in doing.
Also, if you’re looking to play Wingmate Roc in the mirror, they are probably going to bring in Disdainful Stroke, and while Disdainful Stroke can also hit Ojutai’s Command, Ojutai’s Command has that upside of being instant and being able to be cast whenever.
The only thing that I don’t like about this deck that I wish it did have is just my favorite card of all time, my favorite card to accompany my instant creatures: Lightning Bolt. Let’s just say I’m very excited for the Fiery Temper reprint, especially with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.
So another thing that has happened in my Magic life is that I have been focusing on taking my opponent out of the games I play at these events. By that, I don’t mean I’m hiring hitmen to fire upon my opponents during our match, it means that I’ve been trying to focus more on playing against my opponent’s cards than my opponent. This happened at the second of those three PPTQs I played at. I had to play round three against a local area grinder. The round before, I tilted myself. I went to time against my opponent, missed my Rally trigger in my upkeep while the entire PPTQ crowd was watching, and then resolved a Collected Company without tapping mana for it, receiving two warnings in front of everyone. Since we were the last match of the round, I didn’t have any time to cool off after making myself look like a fool in front of everyone
So I sit down across from this area grinder. In my head, I’m playing against this guy. I’m just psyching myself out for no reason. Within 20 minutes, I lose that match. I didn’t even feel like I played Magic that round. After that though, I muscled back to make top 8.
So one thing I did for the most recent PPTQ in which I played, I started wearing a cap with my favorite sports team embroidered on it (Let’s go, [NJ] Devils!). The purpose of this, is I can move the brim such that it blocks my opponent’s face when I’m looking at the board. It helped me to another top 8 this past week. That same area grinder was there, and while I didn’t play against him, I felt like even if I had to play him, I would have put up a much better fight.
Knowing that I was hiding my opponent’s face with my hat also kept away that unnerving feeling that my opponent is just staring at me, gazing right into my soul. This allowed me to play a little more slowly, to view more lines of play, instead of just hastily running down one line and overlooking things.
I have one more PPTQ before the release of Shadows Over Innistrad, unless of course that has been moved, because that has been the issue I’ve had all season so far. I had a schedule of posted PPTQs at the beginning of the season, and all but two have been cancelled or rescheduled. Luckily, I was able to catch a few of the rescheduled ones. Unless my attitude changes in the next couple of weeks, I will be playing a similar Bant Company list at the last PPTQ. Collected Company and Reflector Mage are just straight up busted cards, and Bounding Krassis is one of my favorite cards in Standard at the moment. It plays a game that I’m very comfortable playing. I just need that Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki reprint (I’m on fire today).
Also, I’m very excited for rotation. Usually, I’m scared, and afraid of change when it comes to rotation, but right now I think Standard needs a shot in the arm. While Collected Company is very powerful, I think the set of creatures that come with it are simply too powerful, and are warping the format to a less than healthy state. This Standard format is at least much less healthy than the format was before Oath of the Gatewatch.
Along with the potential unseating of Collected Company as the current king of Standard, I am ready for Abzan to just lose a lot of power with Anafenza, the Foremost and Siege Rhino leaving us. While I’ll miss the little Siege Rhino, as I’ve played him quite a bit back in his heyday, I just am sick of being afraid of turn four. If you’ve played against Siege Rhino at all, you know that feeling you get when your opponent plays it on four. It’s this depressing reaction in your gut, and you visibly sink in your seat. You think you don’t, but you do.
Anyway, I’m back to writing, and will be back next week!
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