Last time we left off I told you I was gonna work on some new decks. Well, I did that but I also happened to come across a very sweet deck while playing at the local 1k tournament. After the second round whispers of this "rogue" deck quickly spread in the room. I had a friend come up to me and tell me he got blown out by a card called Shape the Sands. He seemed a little annoyed about losing to a hardly playable draft card. I was just intrigued, I wanted to know why he was playing such a card. "Oh, and he's also playing Assault Formation."
Wait… What? Assault Formation?!
I was super curious now and so happy to hear that his deck was doing well. During the next round I sat across from Christo Scoggins and I got to witness him beat a Bant Heroic player. I didn't get to see much, but I did hear " Prophet of Kruphix?" I turned to look. Not only is he playing Assault Formation but he was also playing Prophet of Kruphix?! What a madman! A Scientist! An American hero! It's rare to find people that actually play rogue decks at competitive events, especially if no new set has come out yet. I'm sure everyone felt like the majority of the meta had been solved, then BAM!!! Christo is here jamming this sweet Assault Formation home brew.
I love what Wizards has done with Standard. It's so awesome to look at a format and not have one utter deck completely dominate everything, and I hope this trend continues. No more are the days of Affinity, Fairies, Jund, and Stoneforge Mystic. Now we live in a format where for two to three weeks Esper Dragons was king. But just because you're king doesn't mean your throne can't be stripped away, and stripped away it was. People are now playing decks that are favored against Esper Dragons. And you even have some players that are trying to next level by preying on the decks that beat Esper Dragons. This is one of the healthiest Standards of all time and I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am. Besides price of cards, it's actually very good time to be a Magic player. You have good control decks, good aggro decks, and good midrange decks. You can literally play almost anything you want to. It's beautiful.
Before I give you the decklist I have another little excerpt. Christo reminded me of when I first played my rogue deck at a big tournament and how nervous I was to do so. I had decided to play Sanity Grinding in a world that was being dominated by fairies. Now my deck wasn't favored against the fae, but it was favored against all the other decks that were preying on it at the time: token decks. BW and GW tokens were both very popular and they did a good job of combating the fae menace. I was still told by all my friends not to do this, to not play this silly deck, but for whatever reason, that day I was confident. Until I sat down for round one.
I was so nervous but I was also very focused and resolved. See, when you play a deck you built on your own, you know most of the ins and outs of the deck. And if the deck is extremely out of left field, your opponents aren't going to know how to combat you. They've tested against the popular decks, not this new deck. And you'll catch many people off guard. And that's what happened when I cast Sanity Grinding for the first time in the tournament and copied it twice with double Twin Cast. It was a great feeling for me! Later though I was walking past my opponent and overheard him talking to his circle of friends about how he played "a noob with a dumb deck." How he couldn't believe he lost to such garbage. I was a little disappointed but I didn't let it get to me. But for people that lose to new or rogue decks and complain about how awful the deck and/or player was, please, just shut up.
Magic is a wonderful adventure. It's a game we all love. It's what has bound me to some of the best friends I've ever had in my entire life. Don't make fun of or bash your fellow player for trying something new or experimenting. We should be doing the opposite, we should be embracing change and new ideas. In fact Magic is all about change, the reason it's so popular is because of change. Every several months we get a rotation or a new set full of new cards and new mechanics. It's almost like we play a different game after each rotation. And that boys and girls is what keeps Magic so fresh and alive. It doesn't get dull because we get new things to try out and play with. So stop bashing people that want to try something new, and stop being such a child if you lose to it.
I ended up Top 8ing this 131 player PTQ in Richmond and while I didn't win, it felt amazing to do well with something I had made. And that's where it all started for me, just gathering enough courage to finally play a deck that I had made in a large tournament.
Alright, I'm done with my rant/story. Now let me show you this Assault Formation deck!
I love what this deck is trying to do but to me it seems a little unfocused. But I like to play a deck and analyze it before I start making changes to try and get a feel for it, especially if it did well at a tournament. So let's analyze the cards one by one.
Dragon's Eye Savants: One of the better defenders that we have access to. We have to reveal one of our cards to unmorph it, but we get to see what our opponent is up to and can see how the next couple of turns might play out. It's also a sweet one to unmorph in response to a Bile Blight.
Hornet Nest: A fine card. It's great against Abzan aggro style decks, but isn't so great against decks that don't really attack or just have dragons as a threat. Luckily we have all-star Shape the Sands to block those pesky dragons. And make many a hornet.
Stratus Dancer: A card usually more designated to the sideboard, but what a surprise and blowout it can be in the maindeck. Especially when you have so many other morphs. It's also a very powerful clock. Three power is the perfect amount of power to subtly kill your opponents. They won't know they're dying until they are in the single digits then think, "Man, that thing is going to kill me."
Deathmist Raptor: A card that works very well with other morphs. And your opponent might be thinking, "Whatever, I'll just block your 2/2 morphed Dragon's Eye Savants with my Courser of Kruphix or Ojutai." Then get completely blown out when you unmorph the Raptor.
Wall of Frost: A solid wall that does a little more than just block creatures. It also punishes them by not allowing them to attack the following turn. Kinda like a pseudo Fog.
Master of Waves: This card I like a lot! Now not only do we win with just Assault Formation. We can also win with Master of Waves. It's hard to Remove or walls without actual removal, so we should have a decent amount of devotion. I'm honestly fine just making two or three tokens with this guy.
Profaner of the Dead: Almost always a one-sided Evacuation. In many cases this will be a huge tempo swing. Probably enough to hopefully put you back in the game or just allow your walls to bash in for a lot of damage. After that, if they are still alive your creatures will basically become The Abyss.
Prophet of Kruphix: Prophet looks suspect in this deck but let's look at all it can do. If we look closer, Prophet can allow for some huge blowout potential. You can cast this then counter your opponent's sorcery and instants with Stratus Dancer. You can flash in a raptor as a removal spell and get it back later when you unmorph a future creature. You can block that huge creature with Hornet Nest and get yourself an army of hornets. You can also bounce all your opponent's creatures at end of turn with Profaner of the Dead for an insane swing. Also works pretty well with Bident of Thassa, especially if you have a couple of walls and an Assault Formation.
Winds of Qal Sisma: This one seriously looks suspect. I find it hard to run this card without things like Dictate of Kruphix or another way to draw more cards. It's just an awful top deck and I don't feel like it really carries its weight here. I could be wrong though. Maybe it's just used so you can alpha strike with your team then Fog the attack back. But I feel like if I'm attacking with 6/6s and 7/7s I should be fine. But again I want to test the whole list before I make any changes.
Assault Formation: Here it is boys and girls. The namesake itself. This is the reason we are playing all these walls. So we can stall long enough to drop it and bash our opponent's faces in. Unlike some other enchantments, having multiple of this card doesn't do anything. I actually like how Christo decided to run three of these instead of four since you really want one every game, but no more really, unless they have enchantment removal. I could see playing another win condition in the sideboard or the fourth formation for cards like Dromoka's Command (a.k.a. Fun Police.)
Negate: I assume creatures aren't your biggest threat when you're running a lot of walls and Defenders. A solid card to have.
Ranger's Guile: I feel like this is basically another Negate that costs one less, but I don't really like it here. I feel like another Negate might be a little better. I guess it is nice to play Prophet turn six though and hold this for that removal spell so you can have all your things untap. Again, not sold on this card but I'll try it when I play this deck.
Shape the Sands: "Dragons in flight seldom expect company until they're being blocked by a Hornet Nest." That's the flavor text of the card, right? Something like that. It also makes sure you get that full value from the nest, even when blocking creatures that have trample like Siege Rhino.
Bident of Thassa: I love Ophidian effects and this card is no different. It works very well with Deathmist Raptor on the offensive or defensive. Also works well with Prophet and Master of Waves. I can get behind this card.
AEtherspouts: A nice singleton since your opponent will usually have to amass an army of creatures before trying to bash through your walls for some damage. Instead you'll just gain a massive tempo swing.All the sideboard cards look fine. Clever Impersonator is very sweet, especially with prophet. I can see why you'd want Ainok Survivalist over Reclamation Sage since it works better with all your morphs and pairs well with Deathmist Raptor.
All in all this deck looks very sweet. Congratulations again to Christo Scoggins. I'm gonna be working on this deck and trying to make it better. I'm thinking about adding some black to the deck. These are the cards that I can currently think of for the deck:
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Phenax, God of Deception
Embodiment of Spring
Commune with the Gods
Dig Through Time
Wall of Mulch
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Thassa, God of the Sea
Courser of Kruphix
Kiora, the Crashing Wave
Those are all the ones that I can think of at the moment. If you have any other ones or have any questions, feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below. Hopefully I can give you a list later down the road with a very good version.
Also, fellow TCGplayer Columnist and Editor Frank Lepore and I have started a podcast called Freshly Brewed where we discuss all the rogue delights you can think of. You can find the podcast here or on iTunes in the coming days. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
Thanks and keep brewing,