Drownyard Temple is Too Insane

Drownyard Temple
Drownyard Temple might just be one of the Top 5 cards in Standard. Let’s see…

Drownyard Temple was featured in multiple decks from last week’s Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad Top 8. Let’s see how this card fits into — or even helps define — the metagame.

R/W Eldrazi Goggles by Luis Salvatto

2 Matter Reshaper
2 Pyromancer’s Goggles
4 Thought-Knot Seer

2 Fall of the Titans
3 Fiery Impulse
3 Fiery Temper
3 Lightning Axe
2 Magmatic Insight
1 Nahiri, the Harbinger
4 Tormenting Voice

3 Chandra, Flamecaller
2 Goblin Dark-Dwellers

2 Eldrazi Displacer

4 Battlefield Forge
2 Caves of Koilos
3 Drownyard Temple
8 Mountain
4 Needle Spires
2 Plains
1 Shivan Reef
2 Westvale Abbey

1 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Avacyn’s Judgment
1 Dual Shot
2 Eldrazi Obligator
2 Rending Volley
2 Linvala, the Preserver
2 Hallowed Moonlight
1 Planar Outburst
3 Secure the Wastes

Luis Salvatto played essentially a Big Red deck (splashing for white and colorless cards). You can have played Magmatic Insight and Tormenting Voice in concert with Pyromancer’s Googles for some time… Mike hypothesizes that the “difference that makes the difference” is the printing of Drownyard Temple.

Tons of these cards — Magmatic Insight, Tormenting Voice, and Lightning Axe — all get great with Drownyard Temple; and as such…

“Three copies is indefensible,” says Patrick!

This deck actually wants colorless! There are many lands, like Mountain, one of the two copies of Westvale Abbey, or one of the weird off-color pain lands, that can potentially make room for Drownyard Temple #4.

Speaking of four copies of Drownyard Temple…

Goggles Ramp by Brad Nelson

1 Dragonlord Atarka

2 Hedron Archive
3 Pyromancer’s Goggles

4 Nissa’s Pilgrimage
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald
3 World Breaker

2 Chandra, Flamecaller
3 Fall of the Titans
4 Fiery Impulse
4 Kozilek’s Return
3 Magmatic Insight
4 Tormenting Voice

3 Cinder Glade
4 Drownyard Temple
8 Forest
4 Game Trail
5 Mountain

1 Dragonlord Atarka
3 Den Protector
3 Tireless Tracker
1 Chandra, Flamecaller
2 Draconic Roar
2 Goblin Dark-Dwellers
3 Rwending Volley

Drownyard Temple is even better in Brad’s deck than Luis Salvatto’s! Brad has all the Magmatic Insight-esque interactions and the long-game lock with World Breaker. World Breaker becomes an infinite threat given sufficient time as long as you can keep sacrificing a land… And one land in particular can make that a consistent reality.

We — and a lot of others — have been high on Oath of Nissa since it was printed (which was not that long ago). However Traverse the Ulvenwald is even better in this style of deck than Oath of Nissa! Notably Traverse the Ulvenwald can get either side of the World Breaker / Drownyard Temple combo, graveyard permitting.

Pro Tour Champion and Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin and Resident Genius Mike Flores discuss not only these Drownyard Temple decks but most or all of the Top 8 decks from Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad in “Drownyard Temple is Too Insane”:

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What We Learn from Thraben Inspector

Thraben Inspector
Traben Inspector is the best one-drop. Really!

First let’s look at Max McVety’s Invitational-winning Mono-White Humans deck:

4 Always Watching
1 Archangel of Tithes
4 Consul’s Lieutenant
4 Declaration in Stone
3 Dragon Hunter
3 Gryff’s Boon
4 Knight of the White Orchid
3 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
2 Stasis Snare
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Town Gossipmonger

20 Plains

3 Archangel of Tithes
2 Eerie Interlude
2 Hallowed Moonlight
3 Hanweir Militia Captain
1 Hidden Dragonslayer
3 Silkwrap
1 Stasis Snare

Patrick and Michael opine lovingly on Max’s mana base. He has these amazing lands! They come into play untapped every time. They always make the right color of mana! It is like he has twenty copies of City of Brass that never hurt him!

Max’s deck has a low mana base of “only” twenty basic Plains. This gives him a disproportionate number of good draws in topdeck situations.

In return, he “has” to play a ton of cheap creatures (so he can take advantage of the first turn, where he can slam a one drop with a very high level of regularity).

Mike thinks Kytheon, Hero of Akros is obviously the best (at least it is the most powerful)… Isn’t it weird that there are three Dragon Hunters before the fourth copy of Kytheon?

The truth is, Max’s winning deck list has lots and lots of one drops — over a dozen. The best one is Thraben Inspector. Here’s why:

  • Traben Inspector is a 1/2 for one mana. This deck has lots of 1/1 and 2/1 creatures… The second point of toughness can be important for resisting certain kinds of interactions.
  • Thraben Inspector is a lot like Elvish Visionary (a cross-format Staple). It is a super cheap creature that can draw extra cards… And is in a good tribe [like Elvish Visionary]
  • Thraben Inspector is a great way to use your mana early, and gives you useful things to do with your mana later in the game.

Mono-White Humans is obviously strong, winning such a key tournament… But it’s not the only take.

Check out Tom “The Boss” Ross’s version of Mono-White Humans:

4 Always Watching
3 Anointer of Champions
2 Consul’s Lieutenant
4 Declaration in Stone
4 Dragon Hunter
4 Expedition Envoy
2 Gryff’s Boon
4 Knight of the White Orchid
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Town Gossipmonger
3 Kytheon, Hero of Akros

18 Plains

4 Hanweir Militia Captain
2 Lantern Scout
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Gryff’s Boon
3 Silkwrap
2 Westvale Abbey

Tom’s deck is even more extreme!

Twenty Plains was too many! Welcome to eighteen basic Plains!

Mike is baffled that a deck with even more one drops than Max’s still only plays three copies of Kytheon, Hero of Akros… And Patrick tricks him into falling in love with one of Tom’s unique interactions.

All this and a discussion of the future evolution of G/R Eldrazi in “What We Learn from Thraben Inspector”:

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Are You Always Watching?

Always Watching
Always Watching is a new card from Shadows Over Innistrad that has already contributed to multiple new strategies.

Always Watching is pretty much a Glorious Anthem with upside.

While the new take doesn’t buff token creatures (something Glorious Anthem did well in some decks), the addition of vigilance gives this card tremendous flexibility and play in Standard.


Always Watching with Archangel of Tithes

Archangel of Tithes

Archangel Avacyn might be the hot new Archangel on the block, but don’t count out the Magic Origins mythic rare… Especially with this new enchantment. Archangel of Tithes is awesome at holding off “go wide” attack decks, but at some point you usually have to attack to actually win the game. When combined with our new 1WW, Archangel of Tithes can get both sides of its text box… Attacking though still untapped.

Always Watching with Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai probably didn’t need much help. While the Dragons of Tarkir headliner has been largely on the bench in recent sets, at no point did it stop being a supremely powerful Magic card.

If Dragonlord Ojutai ever had a vulnerability, it was just that it lost hexproof when tapped… And the “Anticipate” ability only ever hit when you hit the opponent. Enter: Always Watching. When you play these two cards together you can get in with Dragonlord Ojutai… But never surrender hexproof.

Oh, and Archangel of Tithes becomes 4/6 and Dragonlord Ojutai is 6/5 when played in concert with Always Watching.


Here’s the thing: Always Watching isn’t even built for midrange control creature decks!

It is actually going to be most effective (probably) with fast creature decks that can take advantage of a “go wide” turn three buff.

MichaelJ and Patrick go over a ton of new decks featuring this card as well as Jim Davis’s Bant Collected Company deck, all from last weekend’s Open… Give it all a listen in “Are You Always Watching”

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Brewing with Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek

Ancestral Vision

Eye of Ugin was banned in Modern this week!

… Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek were un-banned!

The macro storyline here is this: The Eldrazi deck in Modern was too good. It was the best on a number of dimensions, but most folks looking in would identify a deck full of Sol Rings pumping out de facto undercosted threats. Something was going to give (and almost certainly from the mana front).

So the jig was going to be up one way or another. The only question was whether Eldrazi Temple was going to be banned, or the Eye.

Patrick makes a great case that Eye of Ugin was the “right” ban. While both Eldrazi Temple and our card at hand make for “Mox” mana draws for the Eldrazi, Eye of Ugin contributed to non-competitive games from both sides. The obvious one is any game where an Eldrazi player gets say three Eldrazi Mimics in his opening hand with Eye of Ugin… It’s just a ton of free mana on the first turn that can turn into an immediate kill.

… But what about from the other side?

It is also a Legendary Land. The power level of Eye of Ugin makes Eldrazi players want to play lots of copies of this card. So what happens when you only draw Eye of Ugins? Gross, right? Double-edged sword, sure… But if one of the two lands was going to get banned, Eye of Ugin is a good choice because it leads to bad play experiences for both Eldrazi decks’ opponents… And the Eldrazi players themselves (at least sometimes).

Plus: Eye of Ugin creates an Inevitable end game that is simply not desirable for a card that is also a Sol Ring.

The banning of Eye of Ugin did not happen in isolation.

In addition both Sword of the Meek and Ancestral Vision were un-banned. This podcast features lengthy discussions of both cards, their performance in older formats, and a ton of potential brewing ideas.

All this and a “read the card” moment that (hopefully) an official Top Level Podcast fact checker would have caught. Can you find it? Maybe you* can be the official Top Level Podcast fact checker!

All this and Lodestone Golem in “Why Eye of Ugin was Banned”

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* Just kidding. This is not a real position.

Declaration in Stone is Revolutionary

Declaration in Stone
Declaration in Stone

Oh no! Patrick accuses Mike of keeping the true secrets of Declaration in Stone from him [last week]. How was Patrick to know that you could target token creatures???

It turns out Declaration in Stone is nuanced and has a lot of things going on for it. If you target a token — especially if there are lots of tokens of a similar type (say Goblin tokens) — Declaration in Stone is the best. You get to “Maelstrom Pulse” all those tokens and the opponent doesn’t get to draw any cards / investigate no matter how many tokens you smacked down.

Of course it is great against big tokens too!

Some kind of Marit Lage? Whatever 20/20… Declaration in Stone has you covered (and your opponent is still not going to be able to investigate).

But here’s the thing:

It’s not like the normal state of Declaration in Stone against a regular creature [card] is going to be the opponent drawing three or something…

… But that is actually awesome!

If the opponent is drawing lots of cards from a single Declaration in Stone that means that you got “a bunch of zero mana Forks” on your already awesome card that you wanted to play. That means that you are doing it.

And so begins quite a unique episode of Top Level Podcast.

Patrick and Mike go over several cards from the upcoming set Shadows Over Innistrad, from blue bounce spells to weird red Reverberate re-dos, to a variety of red aggro cards. But our hosts also go over some evergreen deck design philosophy. What were the secret best cards of Patrick’s Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx winning deck? What kinds of cards is Mike enthusiastic about? And finally — finally — Patrick cracks the code of a Mike Flores A+

Plus, it turns out that Mike doesn’t know what a werewolf is :/

All this, and an oddly musical opening sequence in “Declaration in Stone is Revolutionary”:

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