Guess what everybody?? Mono Black Devotion won yet another StarCity Open! While still one of the best decks in the format, I’m sure it wasn’t the easiest task to accomplish this weekend.
We are on the verge of Standard shifting yet again. Sure, it will be a few weeks and so far from the Journey into Nyx spoilers we’ve only seen a few heavy hitters that could impact competitive Standard play. After a while, people will start to get less scared of branching out and someone will add or brew something that has just enough to push the same old same old we are used to. But at the same time, we will see the decks we are used to in this current standard continue doing as they were before.
Let’s look at what Nicholas Schoolcraft was able to pilot through the 10+ rounds he played to take the prize!
Mono Black Devotion by Nicholas Schoolcraft
I went back and watched the coverage from the finals versus Jason Blackmor, and honestly a few of Nicholas’s choices were a bit sketchy. I’m the type of player who believes that sometimes you have to go all in or nothing, but at the same time that type of thinking gets you in trouble every once in a while. I watched a few choices go both in Nicholas’s favor, and I watched as those choices lost him a game.
The basic idea of Mono Black Devotion has stayed the same since its debut. Play threatening guys, destroy your opponents threats, then come back from nowhere with a little help from a zombie named Gary. Of course, with one small set being released after Theros, there isn’t much that could be changed. Bile Blight was a powerful addition, but other than that we haven’t seen much that could be added. Yet. Maybe something from Journey into Nyx will inspire a few changes made to this titan of Standard.
One of the changes to some Mono Black decks that I am excited about is using Lifebane Zombie instead of Nightveil Specter. Sure, Specter can steal cards, but Zombie is tons more threatening. Not only is it pseudo-unblockable, but it gives you information. Plus, it has the upside to steal creatures every once in a while. In the finals match, it would have helped against the G/W Aggro deck he was up against, but it really didn’t make much of an appearance until the last game. One card that did make an impact in this match was Pack Rat. Both games won by Schoolcraft were with a little help of huge rats.
GW Aggro by Jason Blackmor
This seems like a great deck. The final round came down to the wire between Blackmor and Schoolcraft In the end, Pack Rat was just too powerful for this aggro deck to manage. Like the commentators said, he really needed to hit the ground running to be able to win that match. Game two he was able to do so, and it looked like he was able to do the same game 3 but Schoolcraft had just the right hand to handle it the second time.
I actually do like this deck. It has some great potential of coming out of the games with a lot of gas, and ending it before the opponent has anything to say about it. What I like most I think is mainboard Gods Willing, because of all the possibilities that it opens for you. Not only does it shut off any form of removal that your opponent might have the mana for, but it allows for tricky combat situations as well. Sometimes you need a creature to survive after blocking. Gods Willing allows that to happen, and much more.
The sideboard is interesting too. Cards like Skylasher and Mistcutter Hydra are obviously meant for blue centered decks. Plummet can take down monsters like Stormbreath or even Desecration Demon. Glare of Heresy can be used against Detention Sphere or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, and Unflinching Courage can be used to roll over other aggro decks.
Naya Aggro Aaron Barich
Much like the second place finisher, this Naya Aggro deck is meant to come out of the gates with some speed. The cool thing about this one is it’s potential to go way further than just hitting fast, it hits hard too. With a lot of the same spells as the normal G/W list, the biggest difference obviously comes in it’s third color. Red gives this deck access to cards like Madcap Skills, Boros Charm and the all-powerful Ghor-Clan Rampager.
Sure it can surprise someone with a Ghor-Clan then a Boros Charm, but what sets this deck apart from all the other Naya decks out there? People would call it a trans-formative sideboard. Aaron decided that instead of having answers to other peoples threats, that he would let them side cards that people thought would help against his barrage of monsters, and he’d just change up his game plan completely. This meant that he could go from a Naya Aggro deck before boarding, then after boarding surprise his opponents with a newly formed Naya Hexproof. Trans-formative sideboards are very interesting because they can both blindside your opponents completely, or leave you extremely vulnerable to something your opponent sided in.
I’ve been saying for weeks that Rest in Piece is going to be used a lot once Journey into Nyx is released. Not only is the new god, Athreos gonna make an impact, recently we’ve seen a huge spike of decks that use the graveyard to pump up or pump out their game plan. Let’s look at one of those decks.
With cards like Grisly Salvage, Satyr Wayfinder and Commune with the Gods, the game plan is to dump tons of creatures into the graveyard, and power up cards like Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and Nighthowler. Doing this also makes your Nemesis of Mortals that much cheaper to cast. After a while your abnormally huge creatures can be sacrificed to the Golgari guild leader, in a ritual to make your opponent lose a ton of life!
Coming from someone who plays a UW control deck at the moment, I can say it is a bit tricky winning against this deck. Life loss is something you can’t do too much about, so cards like Deathrite Shaman and Jarad are really hard to handle at instant speed. Not only that, but Lotleth Troll can get increasingly threatening, because it can survive a Supreme Verdict.
That being said, I have recently added Rest in Piece to my sideboard as a meta call, because not only does it stop this deck almost dead in it’s tracks, but it will help in the future with Athreos decks.
Card of the Week:
This weeks top card of the week comes from the winners decklist. It is no surprise that this card is the one I chose, because of how fast it can just take over a game once you’ve committed to its plan. That card is Pack Rat. Sure, a small Pack Rat is nothing, but get a few more tokens out and it is something that not too many decks can handle. Pack Rat coupled with cards like Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall is really what makes it shine. This combination allows you to take out any potential answers they might have to a small Rat, or take out much needed blockers in the scenario that you are beating them to death with a small army of rats.
Thanks for joining me this week on Topping the Charts! Join me next week as we crown the next Open champion in Detroit!
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