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Driving to SCG Philly by Billy Mitchell

Written by Billy Mitchell on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Driving to SCG Philly by Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell is an L1 judge and competitive player from the Philadelphia area. Outside of Magic, Billy is a high school math and science teacher. He can be found on Twitter @badluckbandit.

This last weekend, I found myself at an SCG remarkably close to home. About 20 minutes in fact. Star City Games finally came back to my area and settled in scenic Valley Forge, PA, home of a national park where George Washington stayed with his troops during the winter of 1777. And the second largest shopping mall in the country. And a new casino. People mostly focus on the last two but I’m always impressed by the first.

History is something that often repeats itself. While I can’t imagine ever having to sleep in a wooden cabin in the dead of winter, I have been wondering what I would be playing in Standard for the foreseeable future. I have been playing Temur Energy variants since about this time last year. Ever since my top 64 in GP New Jersey last year, I have been hooked on Attune with Aether. Now that it’s gone, the deck has become rather flat.

Cards like Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner are always interesting. While not obviously oppressive in a vacuum, the cards are often responsible for the most busted openings and midgames. While I tried to play without them, the games always ended up an energy, a power, a blocker, or a turn short. Without my life raft, where should I go?

I played Temur for over a year through all of the ups and downs. Whatever deck I switch to next, for both financial and familiarity reasons, I would like it to be for a while. There is not enough said about playing the same deck for months at a time in Standard. The format is only so big. Whenever a new deck emerges onto the scene, it very likely is an old deck with new clothes. Understanding how your deck functions against general strategies often leads to more wins over the long haul. Knowing that your deck is not a dog to a deck you’ve never actually played against before pays dividends when following lines of play for the first time in high pressure situations.

My last article focused on what I considered the premier threats in the format. From among the list, I was most interested in playing with either The Scarab God or Hazoret the Fervent.

If I were to play The Scarab God, I would likely play it in a God-Pharaoh’s Gift shell. While Sultai and Grixis Energy have been popular among the masses, I can’t get over how weak the energy package is now or how incoherent the deck’s gameplan is compared to Temur Energy of yesterday. While Temur Energy was essentially a good stuff deck, all of the good stuff lined up for a fantastic curve and created an indomitable energy sub-theme.

My assumption also was that people would be prepared for The Scarab God with copies of Vraska’s Contempt. While that card does deal with both The Scarab God and Hazoret the Fervent, the shell of Mardu Vehicles or Mono Red Aggro makes Vraska’s Contempt a very awkward spell. Between the two of them, I thought Mardu Vehicles would be the better deck for a newer format. It has both the ability to pressure the opponent as well as transform post-board into a control deck. After testing on Magic Online and harassing a number of my friends, I settled on my list.

The main deck is Julian John’s updated list from last week’s SCG Team Open. The Abrades the main deck were clutch in the mirror and against God-Pharoah’s Gift decks. In his previous version, these were Lightning Strikes. I found Abrade to be overall more applicable and would advocate for its continued usage. The sideboard is fairly stock. I added the Release the Gremlins as a sideboard hedge as well as the Sweltering Suns for a nod towards the aggressive red decks. I definitely believe I could cut a Fumigate for something else; overall the card was clunky and Sweltering Suns or Cast Out is generally preferable.

While my team didn’t make Day 2 of the main event, I did go 7-2 in my individual matches.The deck is powerful and flexible after sideboarding. This is a deck that I wouldn’t mind playing until rotation. It has the tools to adapt to whatever the metagame throws at it and, on the play, Unlicensed Disintegration is possibly the most unfair thing in the format. A high number of my games ended after that removal spell allowed me to attack for 6 damage while also dealing 3 more damage.

If you’re still on the search for a new deck, I can’t recommend anything higher right now.

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