“Quasiduplicate my Risen Reef” and other key plays from Mythic Championship VII

Mythic Championship VII is in the books!

And, despite some missing aggro decks, the tournament did not disappoint in terms of cool decks and the best players winning.

Here are some of the best ones:

Simic Flash was the Deck of the Tournament

Three superstar players of the Pro Tour… Onetime Player of the Year Brad Nelson, former World Champion Seth Manfield, and the hottest player in the world Javier Dominguez all made Top 8 with their Simic Ramp Flash deck.

This build of Simic Flash incorporates some elements of Ramp decks. So while it has some of the Brazen Borrower / Nightpack Ambusher action we’re used to from Simic Flash decks… It is also a Paradise Druid-driven main phase deck.

The big payoffs to this wonderful new take are Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Hydroid Krasis like so many of the successful decks of the previous format. 

One of the best features of Simic Flash? An utterly dominating matchup against the popular Jeskai Fires of Invention strategy.

Simic Ramp, or… What was That About Quasiduplicate Again?

Quasiduplicate

Andrea Megucci played a novel new Simic Ramp deck that kind of went the other direction from the successful Simic Flash players.

Mengucci had the Nissa / Krasis action (of course)… But pushed the engine to an unbelievable degree.

He went with Leafkin Druid over Paradise Druid… Because it’s an Elemental. Do you know what else is an Elemental? Risen Reef. And Cavalier of Thorns, fo course.

When you Quasiduplicate a Risen Reef, you get a second copy of Risen Reef. Both –that is, both cards — trigger! You get the trigger from the old Risen Reef because the incoming token is an Elemental; and you get the trigger from the new one because it’s a Risen Reef.

Then when you Jump-Start Quasiduplicate, you now get three triggers!

Cool, huh?

Yes, Mengucci made the biggest Hydroids.

How about the Champ? Jund Sacrifice…

Patrick is a huge fan of Piotr GÅ‚ogowski’s build of Jund Sacrifice. Not only did this strategy eliminate all three superstars with their Simic Flash decks in the Top 8, Glogowski took a subtle and effective route to replacing Once Upon a Time.

Beanstalk Giant

Beanstalk Giant does everything in this deck! It gets you to Casualties of War a turn more quickly in the mirror (spoiler! The Champ played all four copies of Casualties of War)… It finds your solo Mountain for the red splash, and it can win the game with its seven drop mode a few turns later.

Plus some hot tech that didn’t make the Mythic Championship at all, like…

Niv-Mizzet, Parun
The Solution to Simic?
Vivien’s Arkbow

Not sure what deck would want to sleeve up an Arkbow? You can find out right here:

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Three More Cards Join the Pioneer Ban List

If someone asked you to pick three cards to ban in Pioneer this week, would you have picked the right ones?

Mike says he could have picked Smuggler’s Copter and Once Upon a Time.

Patrick is sure he would have picked Field of the Dead.

So what do we think about the bans… And more importantly what’s next for Pioneer?

At Least Smuggler’s Copter was Fun

Smuggler's Copter
Smuggler’s Copter used to be the best card in Pioneer

Was Smuggler’s Copter the best card in Pioneer? Strong, very strong, maybe.

But there has to be a best card, right?

Patrick empathizes with the choice because the Mono-Black deck was too good. Smuggler’s Copter was so good it made Night Market Lookout playable!

The problem is that — at least around the Mono-Black deck — Smuggler’s Copter will be replaced with Pack Rat. Or…

Guess which card is really fun, and guess which card is really not fun?

Simic StOmPy Might Have Been Too Repetitive

With Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, and Gilded Goose all at the one, Simic StOmPy could play a hyper-reliable first couple of turns.

If it wasn’t Steel Leaf Champion it was Lovestruck Beast. If it wasn’t a five power beater on the second turn, it was Oko, Thief of Crowns.

This deck — which won last weekend’s Pioneer PTQ on MTGO — was arguably the most beat up archetype by this week’s bans. Not only did it lose the Copter… It lost Once Upon a Time!

Speaking of which… 10 one mana accelerators, 12 or more insane three mana plays, and Once Upon a Time? Yeah… Probably a bit too repetitive.

Is the Big Winner Mutavault?

Mutavault was already a good card in the best deck (Mono-Black).

With a projected move from Smuggler’s Copter to Pack Rat… What does that say about Mutavault?

Hint: It’s also a Rat.

But on top of that? Field of the Dead being banned in Pioneer is also great for Mutavault.

Because: There will be far fewer 2/2 Zombie tokens holding off Mutavaults!

Or What About Castle Garenbrig?

This card is going to have some good setup from Hour of Promise.

Hour of Promise will, in turn, get lift from Nissa’s Pilgrimage and especially — new tech alert — Natural Connection.

What does one do with a “free” six-on-five (or even six-on-four)? I’m thinking… More Ramp?

Oblivion Sower
The Sower is on-brand for Ramp, both ways

… And loads more!

Three more cards join the Pioneer ban list. Long live Pioneer!

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Casualties of War is Where You Want to Be

Casualties of War can destroy an enchantment… Or pretty much anything else

Jeskai Fires Does Away with the “Fancy”

Now that Oko, Thief of Crowns has been banned in Standard, Jeskai decks with Fires of Invention have positioned themselves among the top strategies. These decks have been present since Throne of Eldraine debuted… But were overshadowed by Simic and Sultai Oko decks.

The new-ish technology for Jeskai Fires?

Sphinx of Foresight.

This strategy is simply no longer interested in “fancy” Silver Bullet Magic around Fae of Wishes. It’s all about using Sphinx of Foresight for greater consistency + maximizing the likelihood of getting Fires of Invention on the battlefield as quickly as possible (ideally turn four).

This deck is like two different decks: It’s optimized to drop Melokus and Keigas assuming Fires of Invention is on the battlefield… But it’s a clunky control deck without Fires.

Conventiently for Fires players, “enchantment” is a tricky permanent to remove once on the battlefield. Which brings us to…

Casualties of War Might be the Best Top End in Cat Food Decks

Cat Food seems to have survived as a possible archetype choice. Oko was a great source of Food… But it turns out that Witch’s Oven has a lot of things it can do still.

Cauldron Familiar and Gilded Goose still open up the Cat Food decks, but they are divided as to what they should be doing deeper in a game… Everything from Garruk, Cursed Huntsman to Liliana, Dreadhorde General.

… But can we recommend 4x Casualties of War?

First off, Casualties of War is simply the most devastating card for the mirror. Artifact. Creature. Enchantment. Land. Planeswalker.

Most Cat Food decks play all those kinds of permanents. Witch’s Oven is a great artifact to blow up… But if you have to settle for a Food token, that might not be that bad… At least as long as you can nab some of the other stuff.

There are no shortage of creatures. Massacre Girl cost the opponent five mana, and some maniacs are even summoning Feasting Troll King! Trail of Crumbs is an ideal enchantment to destroy; but like we intimated before, Fires of Invention (not in the mirror, presumably) has a singular position in this format, and Casualties of War can help you destroy that with value.

Everyone’s got lands. Lots of folks have Planeswalkers. Punish them, any and all!

Also in this Podcast: Why You Should Play 4x Gadwick, the Wizened

… And in a variety of color combinations!

Find out why now:

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Oko, Thief of Crowns is Finally Banned in Standard

Oko, Thief of Crowns was banned in Standard (and Brawl!) this week

We all knew Oko, Thief of Crowns had to Go

Standard was not, in many players’ estimations, in a healthy place.

Oko — along with some of his buddies, many of which are still legal — ushered in an era of unprecedented dominance. Six of the eight decks playing the single elimination rounds at Mythic Championship VI were Oko decks; and all eight were on Once Upon a Time.

There were alternatives to banning the best Planeswalker in recent memory, though. Unfortunately, any effort to keep Oko alive would have necessitated banning an enormous swath of [probably] innocent bystanders.

“A lot of innocent Planeswalkers and Geese would have to be sacrificed,” says Mike.

Here he’s talking about Gilded Goose and Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Nissa’s main offense is just being green. Arguably not even in the best [pre-bans] deck.

Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer ate the Ban Hammer too

Once Upon a Time…
This card was legal in Standard

Veil of Summer was even more ubiquitous than Oko! Almost all the Oko decks played it (or even played four), and non-Oko decks also did. For example, Gruul beatdown or Gruul Adventures decks.

Where to go next? one of the big jokes is that losing four copies of Once Upon a Time means that you might have to add as many as four lands to your deck!

You’ll just have to listen to this week’s podcast to find out!

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Wow these Mythic Championship VI Decks

Mythic Championship VI decks were rife with Oko, Thief of Crowns

To Begin With, Mythic Championship VI was “the most lopsided, the most homogeneous, Pro Tour in history”

Right before coverage started, Pro Tour Historian Emeritus Brian David-Marshall called up Mike.

He asked: “What was the percentage of Rebel decks at ‘Pro Tour Rebels’?”

“Pro Tour Rebels” was of course Pro Tour New York 2000… The first and last song of Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero in Masques Block; famous for an overwhelming representation by one archetype (the aforementioned “Rebels”)… Despite being won by a Mono-Blue Rising Waters deck.

Forty-three percent.

To give you a frame of reference, Mythic Championship VI featured…

  • Over 70% Oko, Thief of Crowns,
  • Nearly that many Gilded Goose, and
  • A whopping 75.76% Once Upon a Time!

The top decks were Simic Food, Sultai Food, and Bant Food. Differences among them were not super pronounced; but if you weren’t one of them… You mostly got trounced. For its part, Simic was first, second, and third in this tournament when the dust settled!

All eight decks in the Top 8 — including one dissenting Golgari build and one Selesnya — packed not only Once Upon a Time but Veil of Summer.

Mythic Championship VI was, as Patrick says, “the most lopsided, most homogeneous, Pro Tour in history.”

Despite the Best Mythic Championship VI Decks Being Known, the Format Managed to Break!

Now despite the convergence around the core Food strategy, largely topping up on Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Hydroid Krasis, a dissenting Food — rather Cat Food — deck emerged and distinguished itself.

Somehow, amidst a Caw-Blade like line in the sand at this Pro Tour, Sultai Sacrifice managed to perform even better than its cousins. Trading in a Cauldron Familiar + Witch’s Oven for the default top end, Sultai Sacrifice performed even better than the three main Food decks against other Food decks… And absolutely murdered everyone else.

Playing an important event this weekend? Patrick heartily recommends Sultai Sacrifice!

In Other News, Veil of Summer was Banned in Pioneer This Week…

Basically, we think this is great.

Permission was already terrible in Pioneer; and Veil of Summer made it even worse. It also sets a great precedent for Standard…

What’s Next for Standard After Mythic Championship VI?

Clearly, if we are looking for any kind of a playable, balanced, format at all, Oko, Thief of Crowns has got to go.

The question is… Will anything else?

There are a lot of heavily played cards in Standard… But most of them don’t deserve a ban. Gilded Goose is just a fun creature; banning it would make Standard worse. Nissa, Who Shakes the World is a perfectly balanced, fair — if powerful — card… That just happens to be in the same colors as these broken Throne of Eldraine spells. Wicked Wolf? Come on!

The cards that have to be banned are Oko, and…

Once Upon a Time is an option. Michael doesn’t think this is going to happen in Standard, but maybe Once Upon a Time will become a thing of the past in Pioneer.

Veil of Summer, though? It’s already been banned in Pioneer. Why not Standard? The rate on Veil of Summer is just too good. It’s a permission spell, and an anti-permission spell. It’s a cantrip Dispel… But more flexible. You can just burn it to draw a card! Perhaps least civil of all, think about the poor Thought Erasure people. Oftentimes they have to play Thought Erasure to fix their hands… And then Veil happens?

Exactly.

We won’t know entirely what will be banned in Standard until next week; but it sure is fun to speculate. Listen now (but make sure to check back next week!):

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Fallout from the First Pioneer PTQ

Felidar Guardian
Felidar Guardian is one of three cards banned after the first Pioneer PTQ

First Up… The Pioneer Banned List

In light of the first Pioneer PTQ (and other events) our overlords in Renton, WA started taking the ban-hammer to the available cards in this new format. They plan to update us every Monday. The first one was a riot!

  • Felidar Guardian – There are lots of good reasons to ban the Copy Cat. It is a key card in one of the two most prevalent (and successful) Pioneer archetypes to date. But maybe more than that, with four toughness, Felidar Guardian is really tough for some decks to deal with (for example a Red Deck where Shock-plus Wild Slash is the default burn spell)
  • Oath of Nissa – Oath of Nissa was a key early spell in a number of archetypes. This card was a four-of in both of the most popular Pioneer decks (Copy Cat and Mono-Green Devotion). It made the Devotion deck really — really — consistent (especially because of its ability to help hunt up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
  • Leyline of Abundance – Maybe not the most offensive card to anyone’s sensibilities, Leyline of Abundance just contributed to extraordinary explosiveness from the green mana acceleration decks and provided two essentially unearned green pips for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Patrick notes that there is a long and storied tradition of banning (or just restricting) weird cards so that the card R&D wants to be good can remain in the format. This time it was Leyline of Abundance that bit the bullet.

An Energy Sub-Theme from the Pioneer PTQ?

One curious jumping-off point might be BARONVONFONZ’s four-color Copy Cat deck from the PTQ.

Yes, Felidar Guardian is no longer going to bother anyone (at least not in Pioneer) but it is interesting to think about BARONVONFONZ’s approach and technology.

Our speculation is that the Energy sub-theme was there largely to power up Harnessed Lightning; which can deal four damage to an opposing Felidar Guardian. The deck already had Oath of Chandra to go along with the typical Oath of Nissa set.

Losing Oath of Nissa makes casting Planeswalkers in up to four different colors more challenging. To what degree does Attune with Aether keep a “Temur Planeswalkers” deck alive? Might Traverse the Ulvenwald make a reasonable replacement for Oath of Nissa here?

Mike is skeptical, especially given what’s left in Pioneer…

Not a Single Card was Banned from Wilderness Reclamation

The big winner from the first winner-take-all PTQ event was obviously TROLLINGSARUMAN with Wilderness Reclamation.

This deck is highly reminiscent of the recent Standard deck… But upgraded with Dig Through Time as an additional awesome card to play on your own end step. Not for nothing, this particular awesome card is helpful in finding the “real” signature big blue instant of the deck: Nexus of Fate.

Given the shakeups elsewhere, Wilderness Reclamation combo might be the right place to start. After all, it did rip through a room full of Mono-Green Devotion packing Leyline of Abundance and Felidar Guardian with… um… actual Felidar Guardians. How might it fare against theoretically weaker opponents?

Check it all out in this week’s episode:

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It’s the Pioneer Decklists Podcast!

What is Pioneer?

Magic was born in 1993.

Modern, one of the game’s most beloved formats, takes cards that were legal from 2003 on… So chops off Magic’s first ten years.

Now Pioneer does the same, but starting in 2013. It eliminates Magic’s first twenty years.

It’s the Wild, Wild West.

Pioneer is great, or at least exciting for now because it’s such a wide open universe. There have been lots and lots of bans in Standard over the last six years… But none of those bans have hit Pioneer (yet). It’s like Sam Black said… If you’re not trying to get a card banned, you’re not trying hard enough.

Is Goblin Chainwhirler Good Enough for Pioneer Red Decks?

Goblin Chainwhirler
Goblin Chainwhirler

There have been a number of viable Red Decks over the last six years. Multiple won Pro Tours, even! (Back when we had such a thing.)

Tiny creature decks with Atarka’s Command were great.

There were lean and flexible decks with Eidolon of the Great Revel and Abbot of Keral Keep.

There were fast threats like Earthshaker Khenra. Big and busted ones like Hazoret the Fervent.

We know the Pioneer Red Deck will be less uniform and efficient than the Modern Red Deck. It has to be, right? There will be no Lighting Bolt, for one thing. Will the ever-impressive (in Standard) threat Goblin Chainwhirler make the cut?

Spoiler: Might that creature be great if people are playing 8-12 one drop mana accelerators a la Llanowar Elves?

What Will be the Role of Dig Through Time in Pioneer?

Dig Through Time
Dig Through Time

Patrick loves the idea of Dig Through Time being powered up by Wilderness Reclamation.

Wilderness Reclamation

If all you do is resolve a Wilderness Reclamation, you can start casting Dig Through Time the next turn, even if you haven’t put a lot of cards in your graveyard.

But of course you can set up to put cards in your graveyard! Growth Spiral is going to be in a class by itself. But Opt will be great… and so will cycling cards like Hieroglyphic Illumination an Censor.

Censor, in particular, is interesting: There are so many busted things to do in Pioneer… But none of them are permission spells! Censor does double duty here. It’s not much worse than Quench (even if it feels worse, when it happens to you). Its Plan B is so good to help find Wilderness Reclamation and resolve Dig Though Time.

It’s Probably Going to be a Treasure Cruise Deck…

At least until they ban Treasure Cruise.

Format is wild

New ideas are flowing.

All our takes on the first couple of Pioneer tournament results here:

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Once Upon a Time (and more!) in Modern

Once Upon a Time there was this sick card called Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time in Amulet Titan

The powerful Throne of Eldraine instant provides great stability to the explosive — but sometimes inconsistent — Amulet Titan deck.

This card can help set up a first-turn Sakura-Tribe Scout, find a particular land (say green source), or of course ensure that you have Primeval Titan as soon as you have the mana to play it.

But that’s not all from Throne of Eldraine! Castle Garenbrig makes an appearance here, and even comes into play tapped sometimes (to help net mana with Amulet of Vigor). Another recent addition [with the superpower of entering the battlefield tapped] is Field of the Dead.

Field of the Dead is a “one-card combo” in the land rich Amulet Titan deck, a powerful tool for long games.

Once Upon a Time in Selesnya

The “Devoted Devastation” version of Selesnya makes abusive use of Once Upon a Time to find the Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies infinite combo. The new instant is just one of many Tutors in this deck, though…

  • Eladamri’s Call
  • ‘Eldrich Evolution
  • Finale of Devastation
  • (and of course this card)

The deck can be fast.

That isn’t even the only Selesnya deck performing! In Selesnya Eldrazi Once Upon a Time teams up with Ancient Stirrings to assemble mana acceleration [lands] and ensure action.

Once Upon a Time can find Stoneforge Mystic, which is a big game for a deck with so much upside potential on the mana. Remember, Once Upon a Time can also help get you a first turn mana accelerator or Eldrazi Temple! Or one of the big guys later, of course.

The Best of the Rest

Urza Outcome versus Urza Ascendency: Fight!

Why would you want to cast Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Oh, and what (if anything) is getting emergency banned in Standard?

All that and more is one click away!

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The Evolution of Fires of Invention

Fires of Invention is a rule-breaking card that’s already re-writing its own rules!

Fires of Invention – Week Two

We looked at a Jeskai Planeswalker deck last week that used the Fae of Wishes / Fires of Invention engine last week. Mike thought the combo was cool… But might be more funny than good.

One week in, and the combo is playing alongside Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead!

One of the key differences given the shift in archetype is that the Golos version wants to keep playing its lands. Previously, a deck that topped up on five or six mana might not have an incentive to play additional lands. After all… It’s not using lands to cast any spells. That would allow a Jeskai Planeswlker deck to use excess lands to bounce Fae of Wishes for more and more uses of front-side Adventure, Granted.

Fae of Wishes gives you a dump for mana you’re not otherwise using, as well as something to do with excess lands.

But in a Field of the Dead deck, you actually want to keep playing lands! That’s how you get more and more 2/2 Zombie tokens (especially in the mirror match or pseudo-mirror).

Check Out this Cool Fires of Invention Play Pattern…

All the Golos / Field of the Dead Ramp decks are capable of big and powerful plays. But there’s big… And then there’s Big. What about this? [With Fires of Invention already on the battlefield]:

  1. Play Granted for 0 mana. Go and get Planar Cleansing.
  2. Fire off Planar Cleansing. You’ve now spent nine mana worth of cards but haven’t actually tapped any lands. You’ve also just destroyed your own Fires of Invention.
  3. Hard-cast Hydroid Krasis! This is a great use of lands you weren’t otherwise going to tap and you simultaneously unlocked your ability to cast more than two cards in one turn. If you’re really lucky, your giant Hydroid Krasis might have just given you another copy of Fires of Invention. At the very least, you have the biggest — if not only — creature in play and probably a whole new hand.

Limitations and Opportunities of the Fires of Invention Sideboard

The joke about Fae of Wishes / Fires of Invention setsups is that, while they can access a great many options to win Game One… They tend not to be able to sideboard very much. The deck that finished second at last weekend’s Open, for instance, had fourteen distinct sideboard cards… Most of which stayed in the sideboard in between games. Sure, you might want to shave a Deafening Clarion or three… But most of the time? You don’t sideboard much with this archetype.

Another subtle area of opportunity for the archetype is that much of the sideboard is constructed as if you already had both Fae of Wishes and Fires of Invention already in play. So… Tons of sweepers. Tons of cards that are difficult if not impossible to cast the old fashioned way.

Patrick in particular believes that the deck might get a little better if it had access to more cards that assumed Fae of Wishes, but not necessarily the powerful red enchantment.

The Best of the Rest…

This week’s podcasts includes but is not limited to…

  • Other Golos decks
  • Fun tricks with Kenrith, the Returned King
  • Teferi or Oko?
  • Infinite aggro

… And, honestly? Quite a bit more. What are you waiting for?

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In for Doom Foretold Esper

Believe it or not, Patrick thinks Doom Foretold is better than The Abyss!

Doom Foretold has drawn some tall comparisons…

  • Is it kind of like a Smokestack? Sure… The same total casting cost, but in this case it can’t manascrew an opponent the way Smokestack did. Still, the comparison is apt.
  • How about The Abyss? Doom Foretold has some different limitations, but it can at least act like The Abyss… And incidentally, it’s more flexible against more types of permanents.
  • When you lose your Doom Foretold, it’s also like a mini-Cruel Ultimatum. A little of this, a little of that; your opponent loses a little something more… Payoff!

There are multiple possible homes for this card; Michael is toying with the idea of putting it in a deck with creatures like District Guide that produce cardboard. Patrick would try it in an Orzhov Knights deck for all the obvious synergies.

But most of all, Doom Foretold is an enchantment for Esper, allowing that strategy to win with Dance of the Manse. Teammates like Wishclaw Talisman and Golden Egg can also help fill out the 4/4 line.

Doom Foretold is increasingly good against increasingly good cards

By contrast, it seems to be less effective against fast Red Deck creatures.

But if you are up against Planeswalkers? Few of them have very good answers to this enchantment. What will Teferi, Time Raveler do? Bounce it?

You’ll probably just re-play the Doom Foretold and eat their hapless Teferi.

Generally speaking, the more, and expensive, cards in the opponent’s deck, the more Doom Foretold can punish them.

The Best of the Rest

With tons to talk about driven by the early MTGO results, we couldn’t focus on just one card. How about…

  • The ferocious Red Deck with Cavalcade of Calamity.
  • “The Patrick Chapin All-Stars” … Basically all his favorite cards from the last couple of weeks, all in one deck.
  • Cauldron Familiar + Witch’s Oven. Boom. (aka “the best Forcefield ever”)
  • Jeskai with Fae of Wishes… Is it more funny or just flat-out good?
  • An actual Simic Flash deck with Wildborn Preserver

What are you waiting for?

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