Hello and welcome back to another week of Standard! As I mentioned last week, our attention has turned to Grand Prix Denver, which is coming up in a few weeks and happens to be in my backyard. I wanted to focus in on a deck so that I could tune small details of the list to get to a near perfect 75 before Denver, something that rarely happens when you are constantly brewing something new.
Last week I showed off an initial list and some games with Mono-Black Eldrazi and this week I wanted to take the process a step further, breaking down the deck and each individual card in much greater detail than last week. I did this in greatest detail in the video, so if you have time definitely check that out, but a more brief breakdown can be found below.
Last week our list was rough around the edges, but every deck needs to start somewhere. Since that point, the metagame has gotten a little more aggressive and I have learned things about our deck, leading to a few changes for this week.
I definitely recommend checking out the video if you are interested in this list. With that said, here are some notes on every card in the deck.
Scrapheap Scrounger, 4 Main/0 Side: An aggressively costed threat that happens to synergize with many of elements of the deck, including Smuggler's Copter and Ruins of Oran-Rief.
Bearer of Silence, 4 Main/0 Side: Very rarely will you run this out without its edict kicker, although the need for a crew or a hyper-aggressive draw may warrant it. This is primarily used to control aggressive and midrange decks, especially after other removal has begun the process. Keep in mind that the trigger happens upon cast, so it is uncounterable outside of Summary Dismissal.
Wasteland Strangler, 4 Main/0 Side: I have had copies of this in the sideboard before and I can see ending up there again, but with the current state of the metagame, I think skewing the list toward beating aggro is safer. This provides the deck with a somewhat reliable two-for-one that synergizes with everything and can be cast off of Corrupted Crossroads, as a bonus.
Matter Reshaper, 4 Main/0 Side: A rather generic creature in the shell of this deck, but it offers enough utility and rate that it makes sense. Another card with synergy beyond just its text box, making it an easy include.
Thought-Knot Seer, 4 Main/0 Side: Another default four-of for this list. Thought-Knot Seer is basically never bad and is a threat against every match up. This tops off our hand disruption package and cleans up anything we left behind with our Transgress the Mind, Harsh Scrutiny, and Collective Brutality. Especially important is the ability to get an extra counter on this and protect from the likes of Grasp of Darkness and all of the Chandras in Standard.
Reality Smasher, 3 Main/1 Side: The closer of the deck. Often we begin to take over a game but our window of opportunity is small as we don't have hard ways to prevent top decks as the game drags on. To Remedy this, 5/5 trample haste creatures do a pretty good job of pouncing on weakness and securing a W.
Smuggler's Copter, 4 Main/0 Side: Arguably the best card in Standard, or at least the most popular. This fits in well into our aggressive shell as it also lends itself to being useful and pitching extra lands or Scroungers. Importantly, Copter may be the best card at answering opposing Copters too, which is a bonus. Keep in mind that Oran-Rief can work on this if you happen to crew it up on the turn you cast it.
Key to the City, 1 Main/1 Side: This used to have more of a role in the main deck, but I am worried about its lackluster performance against most aggro decks, which I suspect are gaining in popularity.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, 1 Main, 0 Side: A new addition that I am excited to try. The idea is that this is a little more controlling than Reality Smasher. It fits our goals much better to draw one copy of this and one copy of Reality Smasher most of the time.
Harsh Scrutiny, 2 Main/1 Side: Our deck is designed to punish opposing hands by picking off key cards while we string into the next disruptive spell. Harsh Scrutiny is the cheapest of these with a nice scry bonus, even if it is the most narrow of the group. Plan your hand disruption out immediately so that you don't whiff with later spells.
Transgress the Mind, 4 Main/0 Side: Transgress is one of these such spells. If I am sloppy and Harsh Scrutiny away an opposing expensive creature instead of the cheap one and then have nothing left for Transgress to clean up, I am going to be severely disadvantaged. Generally Transgress on turn two is better than a creature or Copter, but that rule doesn't hold true often enough to blindly follow it.
Collective Brutality, 2 Main/0 Side: Another card that strips someone of their tools. This is the most likely card to whiff on the opposing hand, but it comes with a bunch of other options to keep the card relevant. Our deck takes advantage of all of these modes as well.
Ruins of Oran-Rief, 4 Main/0Side: In my opinion, this is the reason to play this deck so for anyone considering cutting it or cutting back on it, please reconsider. This will put you over the top of any other midrange deck as the game goes long. Synergies with Scrapheap Scrounger are especially noteworthy and provide you all sorts of surprise damage on your opponent's end step.
Corrupted Crossroads, 4 Main/0 Side: A colorless source that casts most of our black cards. Pretty easy to include a playset here.
Aether Hub, 4 Main/0 Side: This is essentially in the same boat as Crossroads, although with this we can also fire off turn one Harsh Scrutiny or cast our walkers post-board.
Crumbling Vestige, 4 Main/0 Side: If one of our colorless/black land hybrids get trimmed, it would be here as the loss of control when you get the black mana can be crucial in tripping you up. Usually, this land works out fine and I am happy to draw it, but if we want one or two more Swamps, this is a prime candidate for the swap.
Blighted Fen, 1 Main/0 Side: There is room for maybe one or two colorless utility lands. I have found Fen to compliment the deck the most, but you can try Sea Gate Wreckage or a Swamp here too.
Flaying Tendrils, 0 Main/3 Side: Possibly the most crucial sideboard card as it turns entire match ups around and allows you to assume the control role. Usually when this comes in, your aggression goes down and you focus on longer games with more incremental advantages.
Warping Wail, 0 Main/1 Side: Basically another version of Collective Brutality out of the sideboard. Especially important against any deck heavy on sorcery speed removal or combo elements.
Spatial Contortion, 0 Main/1 Side: A tool against opposing Smuggler's Copters, aggro and creature lands. I prefer diversity in my removal spells to help against a wider range of opponents after sideboarding.
Pick the Brain, 0 Main/1 Side: Essentially your fifth copy of Transgress the Mind. You may occasionally meet the delirium kicker, but it is hardly an essential requirement before casting this.
Distended Mindbender, 0 Main/2 Side: Another key card in our transition into a control deck. This has value against combo and control and really cements our hand disruption tactic. We have a plethora of sacrifice fodder to this and casting it with emerge should be common. Be careful to note that Corrupted Crossroads cannot pay for the black in the cost.
Pilgrim's Eye, 0 Main/1 Side: This is basically just a 24th land in disguise that also synergizes well with Distended Mindbender. Bring this in when you morph into control.
Titan's Presence, 0 Main/1 Side: Another one-off removal spell that covers many of the things Spatial Contortion does and them some. I think this is one of the more likely cards to get cut before next week, but it has been fine at times.
Liliana, the Last Hope, 0 Main/1 Side: Great against control and any decks with enough one toughness creatures to pick off. Double black in the cost is rough which usually means you will want to bring in Pilgrim's Eye when you bring in either Walker.
Ob Nixilis Reignited, 0 Main/1 Side: Essentially the same purpose as Liliana but with a wider range of decks against which it is effective. The concerns about the mana cost remain the same, however.
Next week we will be back to break down individual match ups and smooth out our sideboard to be prepared for them all. Until then, thanks for reading!