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!
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 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
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!
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?
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!
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
“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”
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 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!
The “bad” news (if you’re a fan of metagame diversity)… Growth Spiral represented about 70% of the Players Tour Finals.
The “good” news then? It only represented 50% of the Top 8!
While Growth Spiral appeared in a variety of decks in the Swiss, including Bant Control and others; in the Top 8, it showed up in essentially two [related] archetypes:
Temur Reclamation – A Wilderness Reclamation deck that starts on the aforementioned Growth Spiral and utilizes its mana engine to make a large Expansion // Explosion or Shark Typhoon. Power, speed, and card advantage… Plus a variety of generally good cards and room for tons of main deck interaction.
Four-color Reclamation – A variation on the above, but adding white for particularly Teferi, Time Raveler. The while splash ups land counts to as high as 30/60 including Raugrin Triome. Those Plains give Four-color Reclamation some improved tools, for example Dovin’s Veto over Negate. Solar Blaze over Storm’s Wrath helps this deck keep its Teferi in play while defending itself.
These two decks made up about half the Players Tour Finals field, but still won over 50% of their matches, collectively.
A Hall of Fame Performance for Azorius
Raphael Levy was one of only three Azorius competitors in the Players Tour Finals. His 80-card deck played one Yorion, Sky Nomad in the sideboard as its Companion… and two in the main deck!
A study in synergy, this deck packs a ton of enchantments that Yorion can blink — like Omen of the Sea, Omen of the Sun, or The Birth of Meletis… And crossed over with Archon of Sun’s Grace for even more flying creatures; even more enchantment synergy.
Most creature decks did not perform well at the Players Tour Finals; and they really would not want to contend with this deck’s Shatter the Sky.
Two Creature Decks That Did Perform…
… Are Mono-Black Aggro and Mardu Winota.
Only one copy of either archetype was played in the tournament; both won 77% of their matches. Both made Top 8.
Mono-Black Aggro today is extremely biased. Playing cards like Hunted Nightmare, it assumes that there won’t be many opposing creatures to interact with on the ground.
A 4/5 creature for only three mana, Hunted Nightmare is a very efficient beatdown creature if no one is getting deathtouch. Regardless, it’s got great stats-to-casting cost numbers; and is hard to block.
Mono Black is biased beyond even this card… With both main deck Duress and Kitesail Freebooter, it can be flat-out bad against opposing creature dense decks.
Example: Michael Jacobs’s Mardu Winota deck plays almost all creatures and only 4 Raise the Alarm for non-creature spells!
Among this deck’s hits are Basri’s Lieutenant, Lazotep Reaver, and Woe Strider… The coolest Woe Striders in history mind you. That 0/1 Goat is there to rumble in The Red Zone.
But which deck did we really dislike?
Pretty easy way to find out 🙂
Check out “Let’s Talk About the Players Tour Finals” here and now!
Historic is basically all the cards that are legal on Magic: The Gathering Arena.
We’re gaga for this “whole new format”!
Historic is not just brand-new, it’s gotten an even fresher coat of paint due to the recent release of Jumpstart.
Let’s dig in to some of the cool new decks.
Fire Prophecy in Naya Tinker Tokens
One of Historic’s distinct decks is “Naya” Tinker Tokens. It’s really a Boros deck with a pair of Craterhoof Behemoths. Craterhoof Behemoth is not only the only green card in the seventy-five… It’s also the only creature!
The deck has plenty of token producers… Legion’s Landing from Ixalan gets the party started, but there is no shortage of great token producers in red or white.
Theoretically you go wide with any number of Vampires, Dinosaurs, Goblins, or Human Soldiers. Then bam! Turn four you can hit one with a Transmogrify (or turn five sub in Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast) and you’ve got that Craterhoof Behemoth.
At 5GGG this isn’t the kind of card you can really cast with red or white mana, so cheating the Beast into play is the only way to go.
So what’s up with Fire Prophecy?
Fire Prophecy serves two functions in this deck. If you draw your Craterhoof Behemoth, it can conveniently get it out of your hand and beck into your library where you can safely “Tinker” it up. In addition, it does exactly three damage, which is important against this deck’s greatest enemy.
Phyrexian Tower in Rakdos Sacrifice
Rakdos Sacrifice isn’t just one of the best decks in Standard… It’s arguably the best deck in Historic, too!
The deck has all the same incentives as the Standard version — Witch’s Oven plus Cauldron Familiar in particular — but gets a huge upgrade in the mana department. In addition to Dragonskull Summit to fix your colors, this deck exploits the Urza’s Saga classic Phyrexian Tower as an extra sacrifice outlet… And one that doesn’t cost you a spell slot.
What are you setting up with these sources of “sacrifice” text?
If Rakdos Sacrifice has Mayhem Devil on the battlefield — as long as they have any source of “sacrifice” — this deck can keep Naya Tinker Tokens pinned. Mayhem Devil can kill a token in response to targeting it with Transmogrify or Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast, preventing Craterhoof Behemoth from making its mischief.
… Not to mention the fact that a persistent source of dealing one damage is just fantastic against 1/1 token creatures, anyway.
Go Go Goblins!
Another deck that might just be the best in the format is Goblins. Both Mono-Red Goblins and Rakdos splashing for Call of the Death-Dweller pack a ton of power and synergy in a tight offensive package.
In a deck of [almost] all Goblins, Muxus, Goblin Grandee is a one-card army.