Every good Standard format throughout history has had a dominant deck. Many people remember such hits as ProsBloom, Jund, Faeries, and even recently, Caw Blade. Although Standard seems very diverse right now and allows for many different decks to be playable, the format is arguably topped by the resilient and explosive Junk Rites. Many of today’s great players have proven time and again that no matter how you decide to hate out the deck, it just keeps winning.
In order to effectively understand the secrets that this monstrous deck contains, I was able to enlist recent MTGO PTQ quarterfinalist (and streamer extraordinaire) AJ Sacher to help decipher the mystery. AJ has been playing the deck for quite some time himself and has been closely communicating with some of the deck’s strongest champions (such as PTQ winner Brian Braun-Duin and recent SCG Open winner Chris VanMeter) so I felt that he would be an awesome source for us. Here is the decklist that he shipped us for the show.
Junk Rites by AJ Sacher
AJ opens the stream for us, and graciously takes about 20 minutes discussing the strategy behind many of the card choices. Much of the strength of the deck lies in the ability to execute gameplans along multiple lines without changing many of the cards in the deck. Game 1 allows us to take full advantage of the sparse amount of maindeck graveyard hate across the format, utilizing our lightning-fast library filtering such as Grisly Salvage and Mulch to set up a quick reanimation of one of our many value- and advantage-generating creatures. Thragtusk is the poster child for value-town these days, as it often can turn around games for you that would otherwise be unwinnable.
In this deck, we get to join Thragtusk with such “187 All-Stars” as Centaur Healer, Restoration Angel, Acidic Slime, and the big finisher — Angel of Serenity. Few decks can come back from a Turn 3 or 4 Angel of Serenity backed up by more upcoming threats. Postboard, Junk can easily board into a midrange monster, utilizing a full book of Acidic Slime with Restoration Angels as backup to impede other midrange decks from developing resources to the point that they can compete with our quality creatures. Even then, we can still just go right over the top with Angel of Serenity, easily the best trump in the format.
Match 1 puts us against Jund, where we fall prey to maindeck Ground Seal (Thanks Reid!) at the hands of none other than previous U.S. national champion Charles Gindy. We get a light land draw, and get crushed by Liliana of the Veil in Game 1. We get to fight back in Game 2, basically drawing the nut hand while our unfortunate villain gets flooded with lands and little action. We give him Game 3 as we were going to start with only three minutes left on our clock.
The eight-man tournament begins during our games with Gindy, leaving me, the “MTGO Noob,” left to try to double-queue against Charles and the Junk Mirror. This is with a deck that I have almost never played with, all the while trying not to make bad clicks, miss any phases, or make bad plays without listening to AJ. No sweat, right? As much as I hate playing against people that double-queue, I seriously can appreciate the skill it takes to not flush games inordinately down the toilet while doing so.
Game 2 of the first round of the eight-man is an amazing clinic about the value of the Acidic Slime gameplan that is available postboard. We are able to basically dictate the flow of our opponent’s mana resources, therefore allowing us to land threat after threat while locking our opponent out from the game.
Match 2 ends up with us against RG Aggro, and we fall Game 1 to land shortage. For Game 2 we curve out perfectly with Centaur Healer, Restoration Angel, and Thragtusk, but sadly get curb-stomped in Game 3.
It is at this time that we decide to talk a little about the deck that you should be playing now that Dragon’s Maze has been released. As a point of reference, we talk about this:
Junk Rites by Chris VanMeter, First at SCG Somerset
We ended up adding the Fiend Hunters (as Dragon’s Maze was not yet legal on MTGO) and played a few more games. Let me tell you how impressed I was with them.
The card allows for many more tricky lines of play, such as being able to save and reuse your own ‘187’ abilities, while also acting as universal removal against your opponent’s creatures. The interactivity with Restoration Angel is amazing, and having extra removal spells available for you from the graveyard is really sweet. Watch us play it, and listen to AJ’s lines. It will definitely make an impression.
Huge thanks to AJ for joining me. Make sure you follow his stream at twitch.tv/ajsacher, and tune in here next week when we play with some sweet Dragon’s Maze cards. Thanks to Josh Persall for his comment this week; he is the proud winner of some store credit for LegitMTG! Josh, please make an account in the store (if you haven’t already) and ship the email address for it to email@example.com.
See you all next week!
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