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Drowning Standard

Written by Joshua Claytor on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

Drowning Standard

Joshua Claytor

Joshua is the current content manager of Legitmtg.com and Puremtgo.com.

A short while ago, when Field of the Dead was still legal in Standard, my friend and former Kentucky State Champion, Brandon Burks messaged me with a sweet looking Mono Blue Mill list for Standard on Arena.  There were some cards that I thought were rather odd in the list, but as someone who loves mill decks and the idea of dealing 60 points of damage instead of 20, I was hooked on it from the instant I saw it.  I played around with the list a bit, acknowledged that Brandon is a free to play player on Arena, and decided that there is something there in the deck. 

Sometimes when I think that the deck has potential, I hang on to it for far to long, like I have with my Izzet Land Destruction deck.  That deck I am still hoping can be good, despite all signs of it being good not existing.  The Mill deck though, there is some real life to this.  Brandon’ s turbo mill showed me that, but I thought I could make the deck better.  Because that’s what I do, think I can make things better, despite not actually doing so since 2010?  I actually don’t remember the last time I top eighted a PTQ, so we’ll say 2010, but it might have been earlier. 

Mind you when this deck idea got rolling, Field of the Dead was very much still a legal card in Standard.  It seemed natural that Ashiok, Dream Render start off as a four of in the main deck.  It kept the Golos, Tireless Pilgrim playing from searching their deck for the land and turned off Circuitous Route which helped keep them from exploding out of the gates so to say.  

Ashiok, while great against Golos decks, didn’t really do much against the other decks in the format.  Sure it might turn off a Fabled Passage, but is having it around as a mill effect worth blanking one of the best cards in your deck, Drown in the Loch?  Ashiok doesn’t just mill four, it completely blanks Drown in the Loch when you exile their library, and it keeps Vantress Gargoyle, a card that I thought was good, but actually isn’t, from attacking.

An aside on Vantress Gargoyle.  Wow, those stats, a 5/4 body for only 1U?  It flies over the top of the ground when it can attack, and it has a beefy butt that can trade with a lot of things.  It seems like it should be great, especially when you consider that this dork also slowly mills! 

It is not great though.  In theory it seems like it would be, but it rarely attacks, was turned into an elk to often by Oko, Thief of Crowns, so it couldn’t activate, and unless you cast this card on turn two, you were rarely blocking with it.  I played probably 50 matches with the next list and it had it’s flaws, but I sideboarded Gargoyle out in a majority of the matches.  It was all sizzle and no steak. 

You needed Ashiok in play against the Field of the Dead decks to stand a chance. So what if it didn’t play well with Drown in the Loch or Vantress Gargoyle?  You could side Ashiok out against non Field decks and go from there. 

I’m glad Field of the Dead is banned in Standard, even if it was holding stuff like Oko, Thief of Crowns, Teferi, Time Raveler and Narset, Parter of Veils in check.  Maybe the next banned announcement will get everything done and out of the way then. 

After the Field ban, I was able to drop Ashiok from the main, which was great, because it no longer gave me that weird tension between it and Drown in the Loch.  I also finally gave up on Gargoyle as it wasn’t holding it’s own weight.  The deck really does its best when Drowned Secrets is in play, so I figured that Shimmer of Possibilities would be a great way to find it.  Of course, a better way to find it would be Scheming Symmetry but for right now I am far to much of a coward to play it. 

This is the build that I have settled on for now, and so far, according to the Untapped.gg app, I have done rather well with it in my limited testing, losing to Bant Ramp once and Mono Red as well.  I am 5-2 with it right now, which is such a small sample size, but it’s been doing well against the food decks of the format. 

I wish Standard weren’t so boring, and Pioneer weren’t so exciting, because I would be putting much more time in to this deck. 

I expect things to be different this time next week.  Cards are going to have to be banned in Standard, and much more than just one this time.  I’ll be writing about something else next week, but the week after I plan on revisiting this deck idea and see how it works post ban. 

Who knows, by then I might not be a coward and have found a place for Scheming Symmetry by then! 

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