Reaping the Graves: Blue-White Kiora in Standard!

Written by Administrator on . Posted in Competitive Magic, FNM, Standard

A couple weeks ago I was looking for decks I might want to play at the Open in St. Louis. One of the decks that caught my attention was Brian Braun-Duin’s “Bant” Planeswalker deck. The deck is essentially the blue-white control deck, but with some extra temples and the card that my attention, Kiora, the Crashing Wave.

I’ve been looking for decks that could support Kiora. I think the card is very good but doesn’t easily fit into every deck playing blue and green. I do think it is a good fit for a deck like the blue-white deck though. Kiora does a good job of forcing your opponent to over-commit, which makes cards like Supreme Verdict even more punishing. She also does a good job of being a win condition. After a few turns of turning off a threat you can start making krakens, and in most cases that is going to end the game.

Here is the list I played in St. Louis:

I made some changes to the sideboard of the Brian’s list. I am not a fan of Archangel of Thune anymore. I think that it was a better plan when people were not expecting that to be your plan. At this point most people are sideboarding with the intent to beat your Archangel. I elected not to play the Mistcutter Hydras either. I don’t know if he intended to bring it in against decks other than blue-white and blue devotion but I felt like I could get by with just some Brimaz.

Blind Obedience was a card I wanted to play for the monster decks. Kiora is something that can help a lot against that deck, which is normally a pretty tough match-up. Kiora is vulnerable to Stormbreath Dragon and Mistcutter Hydra though. Blind Obedience gives you a chance to answer those cards before they can murder you or your planeswalkers.

Here is a rundown of my event.

Round 1 – Rw Burn 2-1
Round 2 – GR Monsters 1-2
Round 3 – UW Control 2-0
Round 4 – BUG Planeswalkers 2-1
Round 5 – GR Monsters 2-0
Round 6 – GR Monsters 0-2
Round 7 – Blue Devotion 2-0
Round 8 – Blue Devotion 1-2
Round 9 – GR Monsters 2-1
Round 10 – GR Monsters2-1
Round 11 – We rode up together and I conceded to his better tiebreakers.

After playing ten rounds with the deck I was pretty happy with what I had. There was a PTQ in Bloomington coming up the weekend after the Open so I decided to do some tinkering to adjust for things I thought I wanted.

This is the list I played in Bloomington:

After playing against so many monsters decks I decided that it was a big enough part of the metagame that I would be happy playing Blind Obedience in my maindeck. Kiora was already good, but the games when I had Blind Obedience to set her up were so much easier. Even the times when you don’t have her preventing damage from Stormbreath Dragon and Mistcutter Hydra is nice.

Azorius Charm has been less impressive the more I played with it. Celestial Flare seemed like it would be a solid replacement. The biggest appeal of Celestial Flare was that it would give you more answers to Stormbreath Dragon, which is basically the most annoying card to play against. There is a slight anti-synergy with Kiora though. Sometimes your opponent will remember to attack with their non-damaging creature to have something to sacrifice.

I changed one of the Dissolves into a Syncopate. I just like having Syncopate more on the draw. Having something to counter a three drop with is often relevant between Domri Rade, Brimaz, Underworld Connections, Thassa and Nightveil Specter.

I decided to remove the creatures from the deck entirely. Brimaz just didn’t do enough against the decks that I wanted him to beat. All the decks have cards that will kill him in the sideboarded games. I could have kept him to make my opponent need more answers to my cards but I think that just being able to protect the cards that do more was better.

I decided to try playing some Aetherizes to further support my Blind Obedience/Kiora plan against the monsters decks. It’s a solid way to buy yourself time to get an emblem. There are also times where you will be able to “counter” a Ghor-Clan Rampager’s bloodrush.

This is how my event in Bloomington went.

Round 1 – GR Monsters 2-0
Round 2 – Bant Midrange 2-0
Round 3 – UW Control 2-1
Round 4 – GR Monsters 2-0
Round 5 – Blue Devotion 0-2
Round 6 – UW Control 2-0
Round 7 – Jund Monsters 1-2
Round 8 – GR Monsters 1-2

After a strong start I lost my round five to the mono blue deck. We played a pretty long game one, but I didn’t draw any copies of Supreme Verdict and lost to Master of Waves. I lost game two to not drawing a second blue land.

I’m fairly confident my loss to Jund Monsters was a mistake on my part as well. I lost game one to Domri’s emblem. I won game two through Domri’s emblem after resetting the board with Supreme Verdict, countering a couple threats and playing Elspeth. In our game three my opponent had an Elvish Mystic into Domri, which showed me a Sylvan Caryatid. I had a Last Breath I could cast on turn two but after seeing the Caryatid decided not to cast. At the time I was thinking that fighting his mana was a bad idea and that I would rather save it for Courser of Kruphix or Mutavault. What ended up happening is that he cast two Sylvan Caryatid on the next turn. I played Detention Sphere on Domri and he played Sire of Insanity on turn four. After discarding my hand I only had three lands and ended up losing from there. I think using Last Breath to keep him on three mana for his turn three might be better. It would have been an annoying situation even if he had just played something like Xenagos, Chandra or Polukranos on his turn.

In round eight I was actually playing for top eight against an opponent who was paired down. I won game one fairly easily behind Blind Obedience and Kiora/Elspeth. Game two was another situation where I think if I had played better I would have won my match. On my opponents turn six he was attacking me with a Ghor-Clan Rampager and a Stormbreath Dragon. At the time I was still at 20. Instead of taking the hit and playing Supreme Verdict I played an Aetherize. I expected him to replay his Stormbreath Dragon, which I would kill with an Elspeth. He ended up casting Polukranos, which made all of my plays not good. I ended up losing the game because my options never lined up well with his after that.

I’m going to continue working with this deck some going forward. I know that I want to find something to replace Azorius Charm. I don’t know if playing the full set of Celestial Flare is reasonable or not. There are games where it ends up being unable to kill the creature you want gone.

I’m probably going to play a third Elspeth again. I find myself thinking it is the card I want to draw fairly often. Having another win condition will be good. The deck can take a long time to win the game sometimes.

I’ve been trying Fated Retribution in the sideboard. It’s a little annoying that you’ll remove your own planeswalkers but there are times that it is the only card that will get you back in the game.

Plummet was not good. I don’t think there is a deck where I actually want to bring it in.

Here is what I will probably be playing in my next event.

This just removes the cards I was not happy with for more of the cards that were impressive. I think this deck is pretty good in the current metagame. The only popular deck I don’t want to get paired against in an event is the jund variant of monsters because they have access to Dreadbore and Rakdos’s Return which are pretty devastating to our play of winning with Kiora. If you have standard events coming up I recommend you give this deck a shot.

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