Nothing excites me more than the two months before rotation. I love fringe archetypes, and the best opportunity for these decks to potentially shine is the brief window before rotation where two Core Sets are legal and the card pool is at its largest. Last Summer, I was just starting to get back into Constructed Magic, and I caught a stream of Alex Bertoncini playing a UR deck that abused Young Pyromancer and cards like Krenko’s Command to eventually kill the opponent with a lethal Burn at the Stake (in hindsight it appears this deck came from a Travis Woo article on Channel Fireball *WARNING* this article is strangely lacking links and is littered with code) At a time where I was skeptical about getting back into Standard, this deck was a breath of fresh air in a format that I found to be stale.
Hopefully this article series will be like having 15 cans of Perri-air stuffed in your desk.
Over the next 3 articles, I will break down these decks into “The Good,” which will be decks I feel could have a shot in Standard, “The Bad,” where I will try and make popular fringe archetypes happen, and “The Ugly,” which will be for those of us who just want rotation to happen and will try anything to not sell our collections.
Before we go any further, understand that, even with the awesomesauce that is M15 being introduced to Standard, not much is going to change. Mono Black and Mono Blue Devotion are still going to be great, Ux Control will be at many of the top tables, the Aggro decks will still be all Aggro-y, and Burn always gets better the more cards are in the format. The only decks I can see suffering from M15’s introduction are the Constellation decks that have been popping up, thanks almost exclusively to the awkwardly-timed reprinting of Back to Nature. Why, Wizards? Why?
My point is that nothing is more disappointing to the rogue deckbuilder than to see a set as loaded as M15 and think, “FINALLY! This set is going to turn it upside down like that 2nd Spin Doctors album that had ‘Cleopatra’s Cat’ on it!” (I’m probably the only person in human history who gets that reference) only to be disappointed by the same decks, with little to no changes, Top 8ing the first weekend of the set’s legality. The reality is that Standard will ALWAYS be, at most, 5-7 top decks, and the sooner we learn to enjoy playing against those decks (as opposed to complaining about them always winning) the better. That doesn’t mean we can’t jam our stupid brews against them and, much to their dismay, occasionally eek out the upset win!
Since I began the article talking about Young Pyromancer, I’ll discuss the deck I’ve been wanting to build around that card first. M15 has given us access to 2 pretty sweet token generators, and a 3rd that I thought was pretty dumb until someone from SCG showed me the interaction between First Response and Pain Lands/Mana Confluence. (Can’t find the article in question unfortunately. In case you’re wondering, when your lands deal damage to you First Response triggers the following turn. START HITTING YOURSELF! START HITTING YOURSELF!) I’ve always felt like Purphoros was one of the strongest of the Gods, and this deck abuses him to the fullest.
The cool thing about a deck like this is that, despite centering on one win condition (Purphoros), there are many avenues to victory. Precinct Captain and Brimaz provide a brick wall against many of the aggro strategies, while also generating tokens to fuel Purphoros. Most of the cards in the deck will produce more than one creature if left unchecked, which makes the deck more resilient against board sweeps. Did Purphoros get hit with a Deicide? These tokens can turn sideways too, and Ajani alongside Spear of Heliod can ensure the deck doesn’t need too many of them to run away with a win. Of all the decks I’m presenting today, this is the one I think has the most potential. I’m tempted to not run Young Pyromancer at all honestly considering there are only 13 spells that trigger him, but he’s just another must-kill permanent. Having one’s opponent spend removal on him only to have to face down a Brimaz next turn is a good feeling. First Response is expensive but way better in multiples, which is why I included 2 copies of a card I’m ultimately not sold on yet. The best way to determine the playability of a card is to sleeve it up!
Ramp Straight to My Heart
Last article I wrote about a Mono Green Ramp deck using some of the new cards from M15. Well, we proxied up a few decks last week and went to town with the new cards. I have to say, I ridiculously undervalued Genesis Hydra. I feel like every time I read that card it gets better. Just to clarify, the trigger occurs when the hydra is CAST, not when it enters the battlefield. So not only does Genesis Hydra cheat an uncounterable permanent into play regardless if the Hydra resolves, it’s not an ETB trigger so it gets around Hushwing Gryff, a fact I only just realized NOW, again proving that this card keeps getting better.
While testing, Stephen and I agreed that the most broken thing we could possibly do in Standard is cast an uncounterable Garruk, Apex Predator, so that’s the main thing I’m trying to do here. The article I posted last time wanted to cast Worldspine Wurm. In practice, this is just too cute, since the deck’s ability to cast the card is utterly destroyed by a board wipe, or even a well-timed removal spell. It’s time to stop being cute and start kicking some ass:
Garruk OUTTA NOWHERE
The ramp deck I ran at FNM last week reminded me of an important lesson I learned playing this style of deck 15 years ago: if my opponent Wraths away all of my mana dorks, I’m pretty much screwed. When the deck is so reliant on 4 CMC or higher spells to win the game, 22 land just isn’t enough, so we’re going with 24 here. This deck gives me a lot more opportunities to recover from Supreme Verdict than my previous versions, and even gives me a way to ignore it altogether in Golgari Charm. Abrupt Decay returns the fruits of my labor from Detention or Banishment. Also, Genesis Hydra hits more than 50% of the cards in the deck. Even if I cast it for X=4 there’s a very good chance of ending up with a 4/4 and a 5/5 on the board. I feel like Genesis Hydra is the sleeper card of M15. I’m tempted to put Nissa, Worldwaker in here, and almost did, but I don’t feel like the deck runs enough Forests to guarantee maximum value from her 2nd ability, and I’ve never liked the fragility of turning my lands into creatures.
It Came From BEYOND THE GRAVE!!!!
Junk Reanimator decks have been teetering on the brink of playability for some time now. Most of them have relied on Whip of Erebos or Obzedat’s Aid to bring creatures back from the dead. M15 has given us a few new toys that allow us to ditch White altogether in favor of a more streamlined manabase. Endless Obedience having Convoke gives this deck the potential to power out a huge creature VERY fast. I wonder if the Scavenging Ooze should be Pharika, God of Affliction, since her ability to create tokens could power Convoke later in the game. I think the problem with an archetype like this right now is that there are just too many cards that can fit, and the archetype isn’t quite good enough yet for the pros to figure out the best configuration. Hopefully the addition of Endless Obedience will get them brewing. Until then, it’s up to us. I especially like the idea of using Whip to grab Giant Adephage and then having it leave a copy behind.
Grandpa Joe’s Special
I gotta admit, it feels wrong to include this here instead of my next article, which will deal with popular archetypes that might just not be good enough. I just think there’s enough here to make the deck happen. The main think the deck is sorely lacking is a way to draw cards. It just seems like there should be LESS Slivers here in favor of a few spells to protect the hive, but screw it. If I’m going to go there, I might as well go all-in! 40 creatures if I count the 2 Mutavaults, and enough Scry lands to dig to the Slivers I need. Maybe something like Commune with the Gods? Maybe Chord of Calling? I feel like this is the right place to start though for testing the archetype. Slam a bunch of Slivers in a deck, see which ones work the best, and adjust from there. Actually, Obelisk of Urd is the first card that’s getting thrown in this deck if a Sliver gets cut, no question.
Walker, Texas Ranger
First of all, props to Anthony Rofino, whose Top 8 list from SCG Boston I templated heavily from. Sometimes, the deck I want to build has already been built, and the person who built is has done most of the heavy lifting for me, so there’s no need to find out if Urban Evolution is going to work or not. This list packs a whopping TEN Planeswalkers! My only mission here is to stabilize with early counters and removal, stick a planeswalker, follow it up with The Chain Veil or Ajani Steadfast, hit a Planeswalker ultimate, and win. All of the Planeswalkers in this deck have devastating ultimates. Any of them will do, really, and maybe in a few weeks once we have the format sorted out we can cut one or 2 of them in favor of the most effective ones’ Just like the Sliver deck, the best way to hammer out an idea like this is to throw them all in and see which ones prove to be the most effective. Regardless, I really do think that Ajani or Chain Veil alongside any of these walkers is going to be absolutely nuts in Standard for quite some time. I regret that these Planeswalkers aren’t all White so I can call the deck The White Walkers.
So, that was a fun exercise! While I have 0 testing to back up my ideas here, I think that all of these decks, unlike most of the decks I post, would be decent options to test for Standard. They are rough lists that could surely use some refinement after testing, but I like where M15 could potentially lead us over the next few months, in concert with M14.
Join me in 2 weeks when I return for part 2 of this series, “The Bad,” where I dissect some of our favorite pet cards and strategies and try to make them work in post-M15 Standard. Standard Mill? Waste Not? Why Not? We’ll find out EXACTLY why not in 2 weeks.
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