While discussions over the Eldrazi dominance from the Pro Tour are still ongoing I’ve been banned from competitive magic for the next 6 months, barring my appeal for “Bribery”. You read that right. While I will not comment on the process until my appeal has been either granted or denied I thought I should still prepare for the RPTQ as if my appeal is granted in time. I am confident it should be granted and hopefully the committee agrees.
In preparation for the RPTQ I won’t lie and say this banning hasn’t affected me, because it has. It’s affected me as person and hurt my integrity. The winds in my sail have been torn and I went from going 100% commitment to about 10% in a mere second for this RPTQ. I had proxied over 12 decks and had started testing with some friends. I’ve spent hundreds of tickets online building decks to test. It’s taken me about a week and a half to finally convince myself I need to get back on the horse. In vein or not, I need to be prepared that the committee grants my appeal in time for the RPTQ even if they don’t.
The question is what should I be doing in Standard? I think it’s pretty clear public enemy #1 is Rally the Ancestors. The deck is winning practically every Standard event of relevance and even this past weekend it won the Quarterly MOCS championship.
Everything about this list is stock and nothing new or innovating has happened. The thing is nothing new needs to happen when it’s clear that it’s far and above the best deck out there. So how do we combat that? There were a lot of Bant Company decks floating around this event and I think the results show that Bant Company wasn’t quite good enough to get the job done. What I want to focus on is the Ramp strategy. It’s been the deck I’ve been toying with the most the last week or so when I realized I need to get myself in gear. I’ve tried about every different configuration you can imagine and have so far come to the conclusion that mono green is indeed the way to go. Tombsimon agrees with me as he narrowly won the MOCS, losing to Rally in the finals. Here’s his list.
I love most of what he’s doing and it’s no surprise he got to the finals. I think ramp best operates when it hits ramp spell on turn 2, ramp spell on turn 3, and payoff card on turn 4. This build is doing that close to optimally as possible. I think we can do better at aiming the payoff cards to be stronger against the Rally deck however and I think I have just the build.
The core strategy of the deck remains the same. I’m still trying to utilize the ramp spells on turns 2 and 3 while on turn 4 deploying the haymaker. I made some subtle changes that I’ve incorporated into my own list to help improve not only the ramp I’m trying to pull off but being able to ramp while doing other things. Let’s break down each card and the roles that they play.
4 Hedron Archive – This is the most important ramp effect in the deck. At first my initial thought process was not to play artifacts in my deck for fear of Kolaghan’s Command. I decided that Standard is simply too diverse to play around all the available cards in the format. It’s not defined enough to get cutesy. Hedron Archive gives the deck some really explosive draws and allows you to play multiple cards in a turn unlike any other ramp spell. This also allows you to not only play Hedron Archive and interactive spell like Spatial Contortion in the same turn, but allows you to play an additional Hedron Crawler as well. This gives you the option of casting Ugin, the Spirit Dragon on turn four. There also is the added benefit of being able to sacrifice it to draw cards once mana is no longer a priority.
4 Explosive Vegetation – The other four mana ramp spell available to us. Not as diverse as Hedron Archive but still allows us to jump from four mana to seven with a land drop for the turn.
4 Hedron Crawler – Not as good as Whisperer of the Wilds heads up, but the nod went to Hedron Crawler because being able to play one the same turn you play a Hedron Archive is too tempting to pass up. I believe it will be more influential than the games where I’m able to generate an addition mana and be relevant because of Ferocious. Playing multiple spells in a turn is a great way to jump ahead of your opponent and either gain back initiative or get even further ahead.
4 Rattleclaw Mystic – The best ramp creature available to us is Rattleclaw Mystic. Don’t forget if your opponent casts Reflector Mage on Rattleclaw Mystic you can still morph it face down the following turn.
1 Whisperer of the Wilds – I wanted to fit 9 two drops because of how important they are to the deck and Whisperer of the Wilds is the best of what remains for options.
4 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon – I wanted to max out on Ugin because it shines brightest against Rally decks. Without a sacrifice outlet Ugin makes quick work of their board without a chance for an encore performance thanks to the exile clause.
4 World Breaker – A great strategy for breaking up Rally is simply attacking the white mana sources. The deck only plays 4 of them and destroying one or two might buy you enough time to secure a victory. With so many decks in the format playing three or four colors a World Breaker can be quite backbreaking in a lot of matchups.
2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger – Piggybacking off the World Breaker philosophy Ulamog not only can lock an opponent out of a color(s) but can deal with potentially troublesome permanents as well.
2 Oblivion Sower – The deck needs a payoff card in the 6 slot and Oblivion Sower does a good job of both ramping you and brick walling an aggressive onslaught.
4 Oath of Nissa – This card really helps smooth out the draws and is great pretty much every turn of the game. It obviously shines most turn 1 at securing either hitting your lands drops or finding that 2 drop mana dork. Later in the game it still helps dig towards a payoff card. Oath of Nissa is simply a brilliant card.
3 Spatial Contortion – I wanted one interactive spell that I could work off of Hedron Archive and went with Spatial Contortion over Warping Wail. The choice is surprisingly close but Spatial Contortion will buy you time more often than a Warping Wail will against the broadness that is the Standard format. I certainly don’t want to be facing down a turn 3 Mantis Rider holding a Warping Wail instead of Spatial Contortion.
The Sanctum and Shrine package goes undisturbed as ramping big things and chaining big things turns out is still good. The one of Wastes is in case you need to find it with Explosive Vegetation and Blighted Woodland gives us another colorless source for our spells while being a ramp effect if times are desperate. Then we have a bunch of forests to round off the mana. We only require 24 lands since we have so many ramp effects and a lot of which only need two mana to operate.
4 Jaddi Offshoot – Our savior against aggressive archetypes it can create a road block and provide some critical life gain on a turn where you don’t have much else going on.
4 Thought-Knot Seer – This is most useful against Rally decks and decks with counterspells out of the board like Disdainful Stroke. I left him in the board instead of the main deck because although I do want an edge against decks like Rally I don’t like taking turns off of my strategy to interact with my opponents. That’s something ramp is not designed to do well and generally ends up poorly. Therefore I want to minimize the matchups in which I need Thought-Knot Seer to just Rally and Blue decks.
2 Cranial Archive – Because I really want to make sure I beat Rally. It’s also another play I can make off a Hedron Archive. The archives all seem to align well. I wonder why…..
2 Reclaiming Vines – This is the most interesting choice but it allows you to do a couple of interesting things. Initially you would think this is just a glorified Naturalize, but in reality I’m just looking to take out the white Sources from Rally.
2 Gaea’s Revenge – Blue mages can have fun dealing with this.
1 Plummet – I wanted to fit one more in here but for now one will do. This is a solid answer to Dragons and more specifically Kolaghan. This deck is definitely weak to the Dash mechanic. It doesn’t hurt this also takes out other popular creatures in the format like Mantis Rider.
I’ve had the feeling like Ramp is where I want to be in the Standard format for quite some time. With interactive decks struggling to deal with the payoff cards and the aggressive decks not quite being fast enough or prevalent enough it’s a good a time as any to get big. As for my appeal I’m just waiting. I’m refreshing my email every half hour hoping for news, hoping I get it in time.
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