As some of you may know, I am part of a team called Team Bolas. The team is based out of North Carolina with only North Carolina members. We've been working pretty diligently on Standard since Shadows over Innistrad was fully spoiled, and today I'm going over some of the best decks that we have been championing. I will not talk about the Bant Company deck since I imagine everyone will be doing so this coming week in anticipation for Pro Tour Barcelona. Instead I will talk about some of the team members and what they have had success with.
Being on Team Bolas is a way to improve for me. I don't actually chase results in Magic (and it shows). I just strive to keep getting better and hope that results will follow. Bolas is a great way to push myself.
Emma's favorite format is anything mental magic. Emma started playing Magic in 2003 and gravitates towards decks that are aggressive in nature but can also play a tempo role, like Infect and Rally the Ancestors. It would make sense that she played W/U Humans at her first big event. She even happened to finish in the top 16.
Emma has been championing this deck the past two weekends and she really likes her list. The deck is great at applying pressure and out-tempoing your opponents with things like Reflector Mage, Knight of the White Orchid, and Archangel of Tithes. It capitalizes on its tempo by playing Declaration in Stone to force the opponent to waste time and mana in order to get "value" out of their creature that was just killed.
W/U Humans has been a staple of the format ever since Baltimore, but you can construct it different ways. Some lists run only one- and two-drop creatures. Some splash green instead of white. Some even go bigger with maindeck Dragonlord Ojutai. This archetype is here to stay, but nobody has figured out if one list is superior to the other or not.
Being on Team Bolas is a way to force myself to put as much effort into the game as I should. Without a team, it's easy to put off testing and ignore your faults.
John's favorite format is Standard and his favorite way to win is to grind his opponents to dust. He has been seen playing W/U Planar Cleansing Control, Golgari Constellation, Mardu Green, Drownyard Bant, and Golgari Delirium in Standard. Speaking of Golgari Delirium, this is the list you can see John playing and continuously tweaking and adjusting week in and week out.
This has been one of my favorite decks the team has come up with. It's a toolbox deck that can attack any format as long as you know what to expect. The only problem is when the format is wide open and when the dust hasn't settled so you aren't exactly sure what your bullets should be. John top 64ed the SCG Invitational last weekend with his list. He continuously would say he could've won many of the matches he lost but he just couldn't figure out the most optimal line at the time. This deck is not easy to pick up and just pilot, however I feel like it will be a very rewarding deck for people who are good at solving formats and people who are good at seeing all the possible options and lines they can take once the game starts progressing into the mid/late game. I wish I had played this deck last weekend. I would suggest testing this deck out at an FNM or with your friends before you take it to a bigger event.
Being on a team gives me the chance to be good and improve myself. Without the team members I play with I wouldn't travel as much, if at all, and I wouldn't have such good players to look up to and learn from. I can see myself improving every weekend and while I'm not doing quite as well as I want to, I am doing better every month at these events. Being on Team Bolas is great — I've made some great friends and I'm continuing to get better at the game we all love to play.
Trent is easily the "baby" when it comes to playing Magic. He started playing casually when Journey into Nyx was on the shelves and just recently began to play competitively. Trent currently gravitates to aggressive strategies or combo strategies. However, you can see him playing a control deck from time to time. In fact, this past weekend he sleeved up Shawn Soorani's Esper list with very minor changes on my part and top 64ed the Open in Baltimore.
This deck was made to combat any aggressive strategies or decks using creatures to win. It's basically a Planeswalker control deck, which are usually known as Superfriends. The object of the deck is to land Planeswalkers and keep them alive as you counter relevant spells and clear the board of any creatures. Silumgar's Command and Quarantine Field are a good way to get rid of opposing Planeswalkers. Silumgar's Command can even be used to bounce pesky permanents like Pyromancer's Goggles so you can counter them on the way back down.
The only thing I might add to this list is a couple more board wipes and I'd like to test out a single Ob Nixilis Reignited and / or Jace, Unravler of Secrets. This deck will struggle against things like Fevered Dreams and Pyromancer's Goggles if they resolve but otherwise you should be fine. I'd currently rather play a list like this than a Dragon control shell.
[Team Bolas] gives me people to test with and help me get better as a player. I can also help them get better too. Having people to root for me and for me to root for is a great feeling and one that I really enjoy. And of course, let's not forget the trips themselves.
Speaking of Pyromancer's Goggles, Geoff Mullin also took his Dragon Goggles list to a 20th place finish last weekend. He started playing competively around Lorwyn and loves to play combo or control decks.
Based on Todd Anderson's list, Geoff removed Thing in the Ice for Thunderbreak Regent and cut some other cards for Draconic Roar. This deck is a blast to play, especially when you get Pyromancer's Goggles going. What's more fun than copying Tormenting Voice or Fall of the Titans? Winning a million bucks! But since winning a million bucks isn't very realistic, let's just stick with casting Pyromancer's Goggles and burning our opponents out. I would highly recommend this deck to anyone that wants to win, durdle around, and have fun while playing Magic. There isn't a better deck at doing all these things than this one.
Team Bolas was my chance to walk through the door of competitive Magic. I also love that most people on the team are already familiar with each other. My favorite decks are ones that put my opponent under the gun or attack from a weird angle or include a hard to deal with combo. I like to put enough pressure on my opponents so that they're forced to make bad decisions or they have a tough time interacting with my cards because they weren't prepared to play against my strategy.
He started playing more seriously at the beginning of 2014, grinding local tournaments for glory and cash. As time went on he found that he wanted more than that.
In Legacy, there are tons of decision trees, and in most matchups it is crucial to navigate them correctly. Dalton quite literally showed his prowess in legacy last week by coming in third place at the Legacy Classic with U/R Prowess.
While I'm not a fan of these types of strategies, I've learned a lot about them because of Dalton. These decks are good at being the aggressor and making you stumble with their removal and countermagic. By doing this they are able to constantly out-tempo their opponents and kill them quickly. This deck isn't your normal run of the mill aggro deck though.
Usually aggro decks will fold to Storm and other combo decks. U/R Prowess does not do this. It has enough interaction to disrupt the opponent while attacking their life total. People will sometimes make the mistake of trying to kill the Prowess creatures on their opponent's turn and get punished by not only getting their spell countered but also growing the creature they were just trying to kill. If you like legacy and love the tempo strategies, U/R Prowess is pretty good against most of the decks in the format. It's reminiscent of U/B Fairies in Lorwyn Standard.
Well ladies and gentlemen, that's all I have for you today. Maybe this will spark more people to create teams and to travel together to events. We all love Magic and having a team is a great way to improve yourself, meet new people, make new friends, and travel to places you've never been. Don't worry about being number one and about your results. Just work on improving and the rest will follow in time.
As always, thanks for tuning in.