Feasting Troll King Snacks on Standard

Feasting Troll King is Finally a Winning Strategy in Standard!

Feasting Troll King

“Three eggs is not much of a feast.”

… But it’s very topical!

We hope you feasted this week 😉

Feasting Troll King is at the top end of a Mono-Green deck that has many of the same trappings we’ve seen already… Lovestruck Beast… The Great Henge… But it rules the mid-game with Trail of Crumbs and the Food tokens from Gilded Goose.

Along for the ride will be several other Food cards, like Witch’s Oven, Trail of Crumbs, and Wicked Wolf.

Green Deck Battle! Mono-Green or Gruul Aggro?

After a little thought, Mike switched his allegiance from Mono-Green to Gruul heads up. Why?

  1. The mana is just too good. A nice array of Modal Double-Faced lands give Gruul great flexibility over Mono-Green, with relatively low deck building costs.
  2. Gruul has most of the good tools from Mono-Green. Down to The Great Henge.
  3. But really? It’s Embercleave! The creature selection in Gruul shows a powerful upgrade over the 1/1 creatures of Mono-Red.

So Many Copies of Mazemind Tome

Mazemind Tome

It’s everywhere!

(or at least lots of places)

  • Blink it with Yorion!
  • Smooth out your mana early
  • Grab a few life points
  • Play two, side in the other two
  • Bring it in with some Duress to handle Control decks. Actually… It’s a little more nuanced than that.

… All this and lots more!

Listen now to hear us pick apart Abzan Midrange and heap praise on the new dominant player in the metagame: Dimir Control

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What You Need to Know About the 2019 MOCS Decks

The 2019 MOCS Decks played cards from… Core Set 2021

Conclave Mentor from Core Set 2021

Conclave Mentor is a newer card that helped revitalize some already powerful decks and combos for the 2019 MOCS decks.

Champion Michael Jacob played a variety of +1/+1 counter-based cards, including Scavenging Ooze; Walking Ballista; and centerpiece combo pieces Spike Feeder; and Heliod, Sun-Crowned.

While “fair” compared to an infinite combo, we thought it would be fun to point the card out, for all the reasons.

The MOCS Decks showcased both Modern and Pioneer

… And showed off awesome innovation in both formats!

In Modern, “Oops All Spells” seems faster than ever. Cutting down to 60 cards (from 77 or even 80), the Modern version is a singleminded killer.

Tuning elements include adding Shatterskull Smashing for even more early untapped land, and as many as three copies of Leyline of Sanctity… Main deck!

In Pioneer, Michael Jacob combined fair and unfair elements to produce a beautifully tuned champion. Big elements included Oath of Nissa and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx for setup and engine… But sometimes topped up on a “mere” Elder Gargaroth. From the same set, Llanowar Visionary makes a surprise — but highly appropriate — appearance.

“I like how it can down-shift.”

-Mike

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Are Modern Decks Completely Busted?

So is This What U/R Modern Decks Looks Like These Days?

Okay let’s look at the creature base of a blue-red deck.

  • One copy of Brazen Borrower? Okay, that makes sense.
  • The Maximum Number of Snapcaster Mages? Of course! Also these guys make sense together; seeing as they all have Flash.
  • Oh, and ALL FOUR COPIES of Emrakul the Aeons Torn!
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Wow so that’s kind of ridiculous.

Michael likes to think about this deck as a blue-red Flash deck. Bounce your thing. Get in for two or three. Hassle with some card advantage. You know, how you do with a Flash deck.

But then!

The opponent taps their mana main phase to handle your hasslers.

So it’s Boom! Head Shot!

Through the Breach

Through the Breach into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn get’s em. Good.

I mean, what is a blue deck going to do if you just cast Through the Breach? They kind of have to counter it, right? Whether or not you actually have the Emrakul.

One of the cool, synergistic, bits about this deck is that you can buy a lost Through the Breach back with Snapcaster Mage.

Patrick describes this blue-red as “a Splinter Twin deck” which of course warms Mike’s heart. But it’s not a Splinter Twin deck that actually wins the game. Unless the opponent does a lot to themselves with shock lands you still have to lace together the last four or five with Lightning Bolt and Snapcaster Mage, but that’s not so big a deal after Annihilator 6 has had its way with the opponent’s battlefield.

So What in Zendikar Rising is Making Affinity’s Modern Deck?

Surprisingly, it’s not one, but two different Modal Double-Faced lands that make the deck:

Kazuul’s Fury // Kazuul’s Cliffs makes red… But this Affinity is all over all the Fling combos. Either side is okay.

The real gold comes from Timbercrown Pathway // Cragcrown Pathway. Affinity really wants to play Hardened Scales to take advantage of all those +1/+1 counters. When you already want green mana on turn one, some of these Modal Double-Faced cards start making more sense.

The big incentive to red as a splash color? Alpine Moon in the sideboard.

Balustrade Spy Innovates Modern Decks

So we recently talked about Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer “Oops, All Spells” decks in Pioneer.

They’re powerful, but mostly cute at 77 cards, in Pioneer.

The Modern version is a beautifully tuned killer. It could be a problem, in fact.

But one thing’s for sure, Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer are gorgeously tuned in Modern.

  • In addition to consistently flipping over all your copies of Creeping Chill, this deck will put four Vengevines into your graveyard.
  • A combination of Sword of the Meek and Narcomoeba will set up your Salvage Titan… Putting those Vengevines onto the battlefield.
  • You’ve already brained the opponent with four copies of free Lightning Helix. Now sixteen hasty Elementals are going to come a coming!

To top it off, if you accidentally draw one of the cards you would rather have in your graveyard… It even plays one copy of Phantasmagorian to “fix” your “hand” … Err… Whatever the opposite of your hand is.

But that’s not all!

In case you were planning to beat it with dedicated graveyard hate, it sideboards into Goblin Charbelcher.

And So Many More Awesome Modern Decks…

  • The Tron deck that Patrick calls “a thing of beauty”
  • The Death and Taxes deck that Mike — somehow — calls the deck of the week
  • “You can fit a lot of themes when you’re 80 cards…”
  • And… The “secret weapon” for the format!

Find out if Modern is, in fact, completely busted right now:

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Aetherworks Marvel is the Biggest Game in Kaladesh Remastered

Remember Aetherworks Marvel?

Aetherworks Marvel…
coming to a Historic near you!

Aetherworks Marvel is going to shake up Historic.

But it’s important to realize that this card’s mischief is highly contingent on what Energy cards get printed alongside it.

But don’t worry about that! Staples like Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot and Aether Hub are going to be ready to power up that Energy.

So What are You Going to Do with Your Aetherworks Marvel?

The “traditional” approach is to get powerful permanents onto the battlefield. Some examples include Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.

Ugin, in particular, seems like a great hit [for four mana]. In particular, you can use Ugin’s “minus” ability and leave your Marvel!

But the “new” approach might be even more exciting. Modal Double-Faced lands are amazing includes. Almost any of them can potentially be useful (because they allow you to play untapped mana while reducing the number of potential “misses” with your Aetherworks Marvel)… But the blue and green versions are simply awesome.

Your’re playing Rogue Refiner anyway, aren’t you?

Remember: Turntimber Symbiosis is taking the place of a Forest

Turntimber Symbiosis is a card that might come up if you didn’t hit Ulamog in your top six cards. Now you have another seven to find the powerful Eldrazi. And even if you miss the giant monster, an extra big Rogue Refiner (that powers your Energy and provides card advantage) isn’t the worst.

… But Turntimber Symbiosis is nowehere near as exciting as:

Hit this with Marvel? How can you lose?

It’s crazy how little Mike liked Sea Gate Restoration out of the gate, relative to how pervasive the card has already proven, especially in combo decks. This is card that is essentially taking the place of an Island. It’s going to be awfully hard to lose if you resolve this with a turn four Aetherworks Marvel.

“Emeria’s Call is clearly not very good. Doesn’t matter.”

-Mike

The Best of the Rest…

… Awaits:

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We Have Reached the Main Deck Ox of Agonas Stage

Ox of Agonas is Filling Out a Main Deck Near You!

How about that for a main deck card

Ox of Agonas is a reasonably established sideboard card… But seeing this in the main deck of Mono-Red Beatdown indicates a heretofore unheard-of level of metagame bias.

It’s not that Mono-Red can’t plausibly play, say, one five drop. But we don’t know that it should be this five drop. (Like Terror of the Peaks might make more sense.) The Mono-Red Beatdown deck doesn’t consistently get to five mana in the first place… So this is a card played in anticipation of being milled by Ruin Crab or one of its buddies. The plan is not to play it for five, but rather to play it for two.

We see multiple copies of the same in Temur Ramp… But that’s at least an archetype that can get to five (often early after a Cultivate).

Weird maybe, but probably good. What’s not good though…

Who Do You Even Want Shatterskull Smashing Against?

Shatterskull Smashing

Shatterskull Smashing, despite being played typically as a three-of or even four-of in Mono-Red, doesn’t seem good to us at all.

It is the DEFINITION of bad spell and bad land. As a spell, this card doesn’t sit great in a deck that, again, doesn’t get an awful lot of lands onto the battlefield. But its the role as a land that really stings.

All the Mono-Red Aggro decks play four copies of Castle Embereth. Just one Mountain will turn every copy of Castle Embereth you draw “on” for the rest of the game. But what if your first “Mountain” (read: untapped source of red) is a Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass? You’re twice bitten, right? First by the three life you’re forced to invest to get down what is probably a kind of ratty one drop; and then later every time you want to play a Castle Embereth.

This card is increasingly a liability if Mono-Red establishes itself as a top contender. More mirror matches means more opportunities to start the opponent on a free Lava Spike. Ouch!

Totally reasonable in Ramp decks, though.

Speaking of Ratty One Drops…

Welcome to the one, Fireblade Charger

This card might not look like much, but it’s got nice synergies with Torbran, Castle Embereth, and surprisingly, Embercleave. We envision quite a surprise when the opponent sweeps your board but leaves the ‘cleave.

Way better than that red Steppe Lynx, anyway :/

You Probably Won’t Believe this Yasharn, Implacable Earth deck!

Go ahead. Mike didn’t know what it did initially, either:

Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Seriously, how great is a four mana / draw two that leaves a 4/4 body? This card is nutso on rate!

… And it even has another line of text!

Sorry, Enchantments-Aristocrats mirror; bigger sorry, Doom Foretold. This Boar is keeping your bacon right where it is!

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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 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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