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Thirst for Knowledge: Retreat from Zendikar

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

Thirst for Knowledge:  Retreat from Zendikar

Joshua Claytor

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

The Pro Tour finished up this past weekend, and it was a great top eight with the likes of Owen, Jon, Paulo and Martin making up half of the top eight. While none of those players won the event, it was highlighted with a finals between Abzan and Jeskai. These traditional decks did not splash for other colors, which is easy now thanks to the Battle lands from Battle for Zendikar, just the run of the mill three color decks that we saw in past Standard formats.

Siege Rhino and Mantis Rider are both very good Magic cards!

While it’s cool that Kazuyuki Takimura won the Pro Tour, what I care about most are the decklists from the event. This year we had a ton! All the decks that finished with 21 or more points and the top eight (which to be fair were also included in the 21 or more points. While draft takes up six rounds, the other ten are Standard, so you have to be good in both to go far!). Not only did we get the lists from the Pro Tour but TCGPlayer and Starcitygames hosted their own “State” Championships this weekend. Modern was Sunday, and decks have been slow to come in, but Standard events were on Saturday and we have already seen some spicy numbers!

Jeskai Mill won a championship event last weekend I believe (Adam Schorr won New Jersey with it), Jund Control finished in the top eight of Montana, Hardened Scales was in the top eight of Florida, and Ohio was won by a sweet looking Grixis deck! A lot of decks means a lot of things to go over, and a lot of surprises, but nothing surprised me as much as Michigan states.

Eric Thomasma brought this spicy number centered around Oblivion Sower and…twelve retreats? It has 32 lands in the main deck, and as soon as I saw it I knew I was going to battle with it! It’s an exciting looking deck with plenty of Landfall triggers and Siege Rhinos and Abzan Charms, and it seemed to be just off the beaten path enough to be a blast to play.

Let’s take a look at the list!

Of course after seeing such beauty in list form I knew that I would have to play it. I picked up what I was missing from MtgoTraders.com, signed up for a league, turned on the XSplit, and with a fever and aches and everything decided that this had to be streamed!

Here is the replay of the stream for everyone that missed it:

Watch live video from LegitMTG on Twitch

I went 2-3 in the league with this build, which I consider to be a minor miracle considering how I felt while playing. From leagues to PPTQS all the way up to the Pro Tour, take care of yourself. If you feel awful or are sick your brain is not going to be in to the games being played and you’re going to make mistakes. Some mistakes are minor and will not hurt the game, but for others, like playing lands in the right sequence, which is super important now with the Battle lands, to tapping the right mana, are major game ending mistakes, even if you get to play for a few more turns.

I made a couple of those mistakes in the stream. Part of that can be attributed to having a cold. The other part of that can be given to not knowing the format as well as I could, and not playing the deck enough before jumping in to an event. The deck though is fairly outstanding, and after playing the games there are some things that I would love to see changed about it.

Herald of the Pantheon is a neat card, a solid 2/2 for two mana that can do real work against Atarka Red. It can reduce the cost of your Retreats, which is fairly neat for getting the full value of them, like when you need to play a land to cast it. Your Herald will reduce the cost, you can cast it, play your land and get the landfall trigger off of it. However the card is just not super worth it.

The one of Ob Nixilis Reignited was never cast. I sided it out a ton, and with no way to find it, it is not really worth having around I think. Yeah it’s more removal, but I think we can add more copies of something like Abzan Charm or Utter End.

Nissa was outstanding, and according to Eric there would have been more, but he just owned the one. Card availability is a real issue sometimes, so I can understand this.

After playing it and figuring out what I did not want, I had to figure out what I would want in the place of the cards that I want to take out.

I want to try Secure the Wastes. It’s super powerful with Retreat to Emeria, and Sam Black showed us that with his Bant Tokens deck (which is only Bant for like three blue cards!) from the Pro Tour. I think two would be a fine number. That leaves us with two cards to fill out the sixty. I would want the second copies of Nissa and Utter End in the deck. Nissa is super in most decks, she’s almost broken in a deck with 32 lands. Utter End is a solid catch all removal spell, and deals with a ton of the threats in the format, from Hangarback Walker to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. If I had the space, I would really like to try Gideon out as well. Maybe this could evolve into an Abzan Tokens kind of deck? I would think if we went in that direction though we would want to cut Retreat to Hagra and a couple of lands, maybe going to as few as twenty eight (which would make sense given there are eight Retreats now.) and having as many as 8 extra slots to deal with. Gosh then we could add Wingmate Roc, and maybe just take out the Swamps and Black cards for Blue cards and just play Bant!

If I were sleeving it up to play (though I guess there is no sleeving option on MTGO), this is the list that I would try out:

I just wanted to show off the deck with the suggested changes.

I really like this deck though, it was a lot of fun to play, and even with the excuse of being sick, it felt powerful enough to be a player in Standard. Give it a chance, I think you’ll have a blast!

Thanks for coming by the site and checking out the stream.


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