The World According to Ruin Crab

So What’s So Great About Ruin Crab?

Ruin Crab is one of Standard’s key pieces of offense

Now that many of Standard’s most powerful cards have fallen by the wayside — or been banned as it were — the format has a brand new top deck. Or at least pair of top decks.

The newer kid on the block seems to be Dimir Rogues… Which while it plays like eight Rogues… Isn’t 100% Rogues. The last four creature slots belong to (you guessed it) Ruin Crab.

This card has, maybe deceptively, a lot going for it. For one thing, the price is right. At only one mana, you can play it super early, and against the increasingly infrequent Mono-Red beatdown decks, it is an outstanding defender. For its cost, anyway.

Ruin Crab is relatively irresistible. It doesn’t have to rumble in The Red Zone, but it gets along really well with, say, a Fabled Passage.

Subtly, the casting cost has more value even than normal. Dimir Rogues can play a variety of higher impact instants and sorceries while containing all their creatures at one or two mana. The Crab at one makes it a perfect re-buy with Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Some Dimir players are also packing Call of the Death-Dweller.

That Means EVERYONE is Playing Crab Beatdown, Right?

… Well, not quite.

The Crab is good… But it’s not “only”.

Remember this Companion?

Yorion, Sky Nomad

While playing the Crab yourself makes Lurrus of the Dream-Den a great Companion, the so-called limitation on Yorion, Sky Nomad might be an advantage.

Gotta play eighty cards? When your mode opponent is trying to Mill you out with Crab / Landfall triggers, starting with twenty extra cards in your library is much like adding a Renewed Faith to your opening hand against Mono-Red Burn. What is supposed to be a disadvantage becomes an edge against Dimir!

Even in the Dimir sub-metagame, some folks opt for a one-drop Merfolk rather than the Crab:

Merfolk Windrobber:
“faster than a 0/3”

Merfolk Windrobber — with its ability to attack with actual power (sometimes buffed by another Rogue ) is faster on offense if the opponent has 80 starting cards. Some decks play both Ruin Crab and Merfolk Windrobber!

Finally, the Naya decks have bent their mana bases around the Crab’s Milling attack. Logically these decks probably want to max out on Evolving Wilds and play only one Plains and only one Mountain… But the risk of losing one of those basics to a random Mill is so great, Naya decks cut a couple of Evolving Wilds for an extra one of each basic.

Oh, Make Sure You Stay Tuned for the Pioneer Section

Wow.

We’ll let you get to it:

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What Do We Do Now that Escape to the Wilds is Banned?

Why Was Escape to the Wilds Banned in Standard?

Escape to the Wilds…
Banned in Standard!

We all know what just happened.

Patrick and Michael both thought that Omnath, Locus of Creation should have been banned alongside Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath a few weeks ago.

With Omnath not banned, the so-called Omnath-Adventures deck took off mightily in Standard. Patrick argued that the ban to Uro might have actually been a “buff” to Omnath rather than a detriment to its popularity… This seems to have borne out in the most recent ladders and big MTG Arena events.

Omnath ended up joining the skeleton of a deck already chock full of two-for-ones… Three-for-ones (or better!) with Lucky Clover.

Escape to the Wilds was a powerful bridge in Ramp-style Omnath decks, and the previous (Temur) Adventures deck already played the card. It bears mentioning that Escape to the Wilds is a natural three-to-five play following a Cultivate or Beanstalk Giant (or previously Uro), making it a more convenient [if less blatantly powerful] Ramp play than Genesis Ultimatum.

The Two Mana Artifact That Joined Escape to the Wilds on the Banned List This Week…

Lucky Clover

Lucky Clover was a Staple in one of the most celebrated decks from last Spring. It offers tremendous card advantage to a deck that is basically all Adventures.

Why ban it now?

For one thing, the Clover was already part of the too-dominant Omnath-Adventures deck… So that put the strategy over the top of where it once was, as one of multiple viable ones.

But perhaps more importantly, it is difficult to deal with, especially main deck. Compare the card to Edgewall Innkeeper. The Innkeeper is a little 1/1 for G. Powerful? Sure! But also pretty easy to kill. The artifact, on the other hand, requires specialized interaction to get off the battlefield.

Notably, Edgewall Innkeeper was left in Standard. That means that Gruul Adventures decks (and whatever Adventures you might dream up) will remain viable for the foreseeable.

Speaking of Adventures… Bonecrusher Giant is the Best Card in the Format

Bonecrusher Giant

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant was played in almost every deck… Not just every archetype, every deck at last weekend’s de facto World Championships. Only a single Dimir deck didn’t play it.

The card is great with Lucky Clover and Edgewall Innkeeper… Heck, is great in general. It’s about the most punishing card you can run against “fair” … And we predict fair will be on the rise with the broken mana engines largely removed from Standard.

Maybe Bonecrusher Giant should be the next card on the chopping block?

So Where Should You Be Playing Your Stomps-slash-Giants Now?

At least for now, we believe there is a clear best choice in Standard.

  1. With Dimir untouched by the bans, Dimir has risen in Standard popularity… This strategy preys on Dimir’s “Milling” offense and small creatures
  2. With Modal Double-Faced lands, the mana in this deck is solid… Competitive, even, with a one-color Embercleave deck like Mono-Red
  3. Speaking of which, it has dorks to carry an Embercleave (if that is your jam)
  4. Finally, it features the next 6/6 Titan up… Kroxa!

Rakdos seems perfectly poised to be Standard’s next “best” deck. Kroxa itself will be a free card thanks to the opposing Vantress Gargoyle or Soaring Thought-Thief!

… Not to mention your own self-mill and card advantage tools.

It’s big enough to flat-out beat beatdown threats, often even if they’re carrying Embercleaves! And of course, Kroxa can come back from the dead if need be.

Finally, Rakdos even anticipates the mirror with Elspeth’s Nightmare… A card that singlehandedly takes out a two mana creature, gains a little card advantage, and puts a huge hole in the opposing Escape plan.

For more of these Magical thoughts, tune in for “What Do We Do Now That Escape the Wilds is Banned?” now!

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What Does It Mean to be the Best in the Format?

With Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath Banned in Standard… What’s the Best in the Format?

Hmmm…

Easy pick

“I’d play it in every format.”

-Patrick

Even with Uro banned, the card is already invading other archetypes!

Check out this PTQ winning “Temur” Adventures deck by Michael Bonde:

“Temur” … But with White.

“Adventures” … But with 4x Omnath (and only 2x Lovestruck Beast).

Welcome to the future, I guess.

The Mount Rushmore of Magic: The Gathering…

It’s Kai versus Jon, buuuuuut…

Once upon a time it was unbelievable for someone to go up against Jon Finkel in the category of G.O.A.T.

But Kai Budde did “enough unbelievable” to not only enter the conversation, but exceed Jon in at least some categories.

But the same token… PV has some kind of longevity and consistency! What does PV have to do more at this point than just keep playing [at the level he has been playing for the last several years]?

Give it a Listen Right Now!

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Is Omnath, Locus of Creation Next on the Chopping Block?

Omnath, Locus of Creation

Let’s Look Closely at Omnath, Locus of Creation

This is a card that is outstanding on rate.

The card is efficient on its face… It’s a 4/4 cantrip for four mana before you start considering landfall abilities.

If you think about just the first landfall ability (gaining four life), it’s already better than a Siege Rhino.

It’s really, really good… But is it going to meet the Standard executioner so soon?

Uro, or Omnath, or Uro AND Omnath?

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is likely to be banned soon.

Reason: It has just been so warping in Standard (and other formats) essentially from the moment it appeared.

… But with Omnath join Uro?

We think so.

Among other reasons, banning Uro does very little to curb the dominance Omnath has already shown in Standard. Few decks play a full load of Cultivates and Beanstalk Giants. If all you did was cut Uro, making room for other three mana ramp cards might arguably make them more consistent at producing Omnath!

Uro might get an extra land into play, but it’s not great at fixing colors.

The Kitchen Sink

While Omnath is dominating a lot of Magic: The Gathering conversations right now, we did have a little time to go over how badly Mike missed on Sea Gate Restoration, some Pioneer talk, the newest Craterhoof Behemoth implementation, and even the hot new Modern tech!

It’s like Death’s Shadow 5-8

Check it out here!

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The Modal Double-Faced Episode!

Modal Double-Faced Topic #1: The 2020 Mythic Invitational!

Part One is a quick-ish review of the 2020 Mythic Invitational / Top 8 decks.

No doubt this tournament was stacked with DIs and absolute masters.

Spoiler! Our favorite deck from a Historic Top 8 that was largely Standard decks with one or two overpowered additions:

Mono-Black Gift played by Matt Nass

Part Two is a longer explorations of… You guessed it! Some more standouts from the still-emerging Zendikar Rising. Cards like…

The Two Sides of Valakut Exploration

Valakut Exploration can be played several different ways
  • Valakut Exploration as an Outpost Siege – In some ways, this card is a faster source of incremental card advantage. A little Outpost Siege, a wee bit Experimental Frenzy or one of the many card-drawing editions of Chandra… Valakut Exploration comes down a turn earlier and can give you some extra card oomph.
  • Valakut Exploration in Gruul Ramp – How about playing this card with Radha, Heart of Keld or Dyrad of Ilsyan Grove? The ability to draw extra cards and play extra lands — gaining extra advantages from either side — may make this three mana enchantment a main-deck option.

How to Think About Kazandu Mammoth

What a Gnarled Mass!

Kazandu Mammoth is arguably… Just a little bit better than our preview card, Murasa Brute. Sure, it’s not a Warrior, but this Elephant has options before you play it, and extra punching power after.

  • Is Kazandu Mammoth a kind of Woolly Thoctar with cycling?
  • Patrick thinks of this card, somewhat as one with Forestcycling 1? You can certainly “pay” G [by putting Kazandu Valley into play tapped] to “get” a “Forest”.
  • Michael likes it on the battlefield (unsurprising). Sometimes it dies to any old deal three; others it hits for nine.

Legitimately Exciting is… Swarm Shambler!

Swarm Shamber is great on turn one… But can go long

While this card is probably not good enough for your Gruul Ramp deck… It’s more than good enough for your Gruul beatdown deck, your Selesnya beatdown deck, or as a mirror-breaker for Mono-Green.

The synergies with Hardened Scales in larger formats are obvious. It’s going to be great with any kind of a Winding Constrictor; Standard just happens to have one, and a persistent source of +1/+1 counters to boot.

Not quite a Scavenging Ooze, maybe; but what can you really ask for from your one-drop?

What if Murasa Sproutling Were Actually Good?

… And here’s ANOTHER nice 3/3 for three

Using a Murasa Sproutling to pick up another Murasa Sproutling is kind of a chain in and of itself.

The question is if Standard will be a place where 3/3 creatures for three are good enough; or certainly 3/3 creatures for five (no matter what advantages they generate).

There are certainly kicker-matters things that we want to try. Roost of Drakes is up there. Tajuru Paragon even more. Though Patrick really has to explain Sea Gate Stormcaller to his co-host.

This plus Into the Roil now? If you’ve got nine mana to burn, the other player is in trouble!

Just imagine all that were going to be good enough!

Or imagine with us:

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Taking a Look at the Full Zendikar Rising Spoiler

Is Maddening Cacophony from Zendikar Rising even good? How about great?

Maddening Cacophony

Maddening Cacophony is definitely not Mike’s favorite blue card from Zendikar Rising.

But is it good? Great? Archetype defining even?

Things to note:

  • Maddening Cacophony doesn’t target. Good in group games, sure; but it can also anchor a Mill deck against an opponent with Leyline of Sanctity on the battlefield.
  • Eight cards for two mana isn’t that bad.
  • You can Mill out an opponent using only Maddening Cacophonies. The card rounds up; so it can take out the last card.

While Mike isn’t excited by this one, Patrick points out that there might be a critical mass of Mill in Modern that is too fast for interaction. This card can be helpful, with or without being kicked.

How interested are you in Ondu Inversion from Zendikar Rising?

Front side
Back side

On the one hand… Mike doesn’t want to play either side.

On the other hand… He could see this being a four-of in Standard.

Macro / interesting discussion: Will modal double-faced cards change how mana bases have been built for the past twenty-plus years?

Is Nighthawk Scavenger the best card in Zendikar Rising?

Nighthawk Scavenger

Nighthawk Scavenger is only smaller than Vampire Nighthawk if they have nothing in their graveyard at all.

Sometimes people put cards in their graveyards for you (e.g. Fabled Passage).

But if you actually try? A little hand destruction and creature removal? Nighthawk Scavenger can easily jump to 3-5 power… The true, evasive, racing love child of Vampire Nighthawk and Tarmogoyf.

Prediction: This will get played even in Legacy! Standard and Pioneer for sure.

Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats is just Questing Beast

Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats

I mean… Look at it!

Listen to our first drive bty the full Zendikar spoiler now!

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Zendikar Rising Exclusive Preview – Murasa Brute!

Thanks to Wizards for letting us preview
Murasa Brute!

Murasa Brute – More Than Meets the Immediate Eye

Is Murasa Brute “just” a 3/3 vanilla for three mana? With no rules text?

Patrick argues that that doesn’t just cover what’s really going on with this card… There is actually some hidden rules text!

First off, Murasa Brute is a little bit better than onetime tournament Role Player Gnarled Mass (a card Mike was once famous for advocating). But unlike Gnarled Mass at 1GG… Murasa Brute is a little less restrictive to cast.

But besides that, it’s also a Troll Warrior.

With Zendikar Rising, being a Warrior can help you out in building your Party. So you might just have a little more incentive to consider a creature like this one.

Now that said…

Tajuru Paragon can Help You Fill Your Party

Tajuru Paragon is also a Warrior
(as well as a Cleric, Rogue, Wizard… and Elf)

Tajuru Paragon is a three power creature for only two mana. A 3/2 for two (with a lot of potential types), this card has a heck of a fail state.

It can help get your beat on early… While filling any slot in your Party. In addition, a late game Paragon can dig up other Clerics, Rogues, Warriors… Or Wizards.

What about nabbing a Fae of Wishes or Gadwick, the Wizened?

Snowballing card advantage is quite a possibility!

Maybe he’s friends with Red Decks; enabling Wizard’s Lightning or buddying up with a Rogue like Robber of the Rich.

A Rollicking Discussion of Legion Angel

… And all our initial thoughts on Zendikar Rising

Check it all out now:

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Sneaking in Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow

Have You Met Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow yet?

Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow
from Commander 2018

If you’re saying to yourself anything from…

“Wait a minute… Wasn’t Shadowmage Infiltrator already a tournament quality card?”

to:

“I really hope I flip over Force of Will… More than usual, I mean.”

to:

“Baleful Strix is getting in unblocked for Ninjutsu most of the time, am I right?”

… You may have just read Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow.

This card is just one of the many “fan fictional” Commander tools that have muscled their way, all linking arms, into this sweet Legacy deck:

Have you read Retrofitter Foundry?

Retrofitter Foundry
also from Commander 2018

Pretty nice Kjeldoran Outpost, right?

You’re probably making 1/1 Servos most of the time; but don’t be surprised if you cash in an Ornithopter for a 4/4 — on turn one — some of the time. Ornithopter costs 0, the Foundry costs 1, the activation costs no mana to tap, etc. etc.

Speaking of Ornithopter…

Can you imagine playing that turn one, alongside Changeling Outcast maybe?

Changeling Countcast
from Modern Horizons

As a Changeling, Changeling Outcast is also a Ninja.

That means that if you play it and Ornithopter on turn one, you can swing with both on turn two, pick up the Ornithopter only, and hit with both the Outcast — again, a Ninja — and the Ninja you just played.

Which might be Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow; and might be Ingenious Infiltrator… Either way, you’re drawing two and smashing face.

So Many Sweet Decks…

  • A 5-0 Niv-Mizzet deck that sometimes just whiffs
  • Removal for days!
  • The return of Pteramander to Standard
  • … And new life breathed into a twenty-year-old two-card combo, at eighty cards!

Oh Yeah, Field of the Dead got banned again.

Hour of Promise
But at least we have Hour of Promise in Historic

Field of the Dead was probably too good anyway. The card has insane rate and represents inevitability against most midrange and control decks.

Hour of Promise might have just accelerated a ban in Historic. Either way, it happed this week.

More, much more in this week’s podcast!

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Shark Typhoon in StoneBlade (and much more Modern)

Shark Typhoon is everything to everyone (well, lots of decks)

Shark Typhoon in Modern StoneBlade

Check out Kogamo’s build of StoneBlade; a recent 5-0 deck list:

“The kind of deck Kenji would play,” according to Patrick (and, let’s be honest, Kenji himself), this deck combines the original core strategy of Azorius StoneBlade with recent standout Shark Typhoon.

If you think back to the original Caw-Blade days, that deck ran four copies of Stoneforge Mystic and four copies of Squadron Hawk… And kind of called it a day on creatures. Shark Typhoon isn’t quite Squadron Hawk — meaning it can’t un-mulligan you early — but the Typhoon does a great impression of “flying threat + card advantage” … and can be much bigger than 1/1.

Michael thinks this deck could do with a certain better-than-all Planeswalker (and would probably add a little more Mystic Sanctuary action)… But all agree this is an interesting direction to take a long-standing archetype.

A Surprising Amount of Time Spent on Red Decks

We spent an unusual amount of time on Red Decks (and in fact various black discard and Death’s Shadow builds) this episode. Some assorted thoughts from the podcast:

  • Mike disapproves of splashing for Wild Nacatl. That just turns on their removal, according to the Red Deck aficionado.
  • Instead of Skullcrack, try Bonecrusher Giant. Bonecrusher Giant can do the same kind of work against Kor Firewalker, but leaves a 4/3 body that can matter. Anyway, Mike hates Skullcrack.
  • Think carefully about Shard Volley versus Lava Dart. For the same mana — and additional Mountain sacrifice — Shard Volley does one more point of damage, but can be very awkward to cast. Lava Dart does two instead of three, but is great at turning on Skewer the Critics, pumping Prowess creatures, and sandbagging resources for long-term play. Unlike Shard Volley, it is never really “awkward” to cast.

So Many More Modern Decks!

  • Do black discard decks want to kill opponents with creatures or The Rack?
  • What colors should you supplement your Death’s Shadow strategy? Who might you want to Unearth?
  • How do “Utopia Sprawl” people do it?
  • New(er) set evolutions in Transmogrify and Elementals deck lists! Spoiler: “Voice of Resurgence is a surprisingly powerful Elemental”
  • … and (believe it or not), much more!

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Let’s Talk About Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is dominating new Standard

The Best Card in… the Best Deck?

Last week, Michael and Patrick made their predictions on what might be the best deck once the bans of Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi, Time Raveler settled.

Would it be Temur Adventures?

Mono-Black Beatdown?

It turns out “the best deck” wasn’t just neither of those… It wasn’t particularly close.

Sultai Ramp (really a big Sultai Midrange deck) took five — count ’em five — of the Top 8 slots in last weekend’s huge 1,000+ player Red Bull tournament. In fact, it took all four slots in the Top 4; and obviously with all those accolades, the title.

One of the biggest reasons?

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath might be the best card [left] in Standard, and Sultai probably breaks that card the most. Not only can it go straight to five for Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Sultai has a powerful end game table-snapper in Casualties of War.

Extinction Event

Extinction Event is one of the cards that makes the Sultai archetype. Unlike some other black-splashed sweepers, Extinction Event 1) costs only a single black mana, and 2) can deal with creatures larger than two toughness or three casting cost.

Subtly, because it is an “exile” rather than “destroy” effect, this sweeper can sweep away an opposing Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath… Permanently.

Finally, Sultai is one of the best possible choices in a world where Mono-Green is a top deck. With Casualties of War capable of destroying a big creature, a Vivien or Nissa, and The Great Henge all in one big move… The deck is also super capable of defending itself early with Aether Gust, Noxious Grasp, or any number of less fancy answers.

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath in Temur Elementals

While Uro might have been at its best last weekend in Sultai, the powerful threat / card drawing spell / accelerator / life gain engine [all-in-one], that wasn’t its only successful home.

Look for a new Temur deck topping up on Genesis Wave and Terror of the Peaks to challenge for Standard’s top spot.

You Know What’s Weird About Uro?

… That there are so many Simic decks that don’t play it!

Temur Adventures with one Cultivate?

Simic Aggro with Wolfwillow Haven instead?

Flash decks that… sideboard the mighty Titan?

Michael Flores and Pro Tour Champion Patrick Chapin puzzle through the emerging Standard (including all these weird omissions) in this week’s episode!

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