We had some interesting new decks pop up over the weekend. Jund Delirium is picking up heat along with Izzet Burn. We still have Bant Company performing well, so well that it composed six of the top eight players at Grand Prix Rimini, even putting one in first place. However, Grand Prix Portland only had three Bant Company decks in the Top 8, and Jund Delirium won the whole event. Izzet Burn took down the Standard Classic in Syracuse. The most exciting thing I would say that happened this past weekend is that Grixis Demonic Pact top 8ed Grand Prix Portland!
Is Bant Company king of Standard or are these new decks that are popping up going to dethrone it? Let's dive in and talk about these decks and the direction of Standard. How about we start with Robert's Jund Delirium deck that he took to a first place finish?
People have been hyped on Elder Deep-Fiend but they seem to have forgotten about Distended Mindbender. Distended Mindbender is fantastic against all the B/G/x decks popping up. Making them discard two good spells and getting a 5/5 body is pretty absurd. The body is extremely relevant since having five toughness is huge in a world of Languish, Grasp of Darkness, and Radiant Flames. On top of all that Distended Mindbender even triggers Kozilek's Return to wipe the board of most, if not all creatures. If you get to do that, it's basically a 3+ for one. The sky is the limit.
Even though the deck goes big in Distended Mindbender and Emrakul, the Promised End it still has plenty of tools to deal with small creatures. Fiery Impulse, Kozilek's Return, Languish, Liliana, the Last Hope, and To the Slaughter are great ways to keep the board clear. You can even just hold down the fort instead with Ishkana, Grafwidow and her baby spiders until you can play Emrakul, the Promised End and force your opponent's creatures to suicide against yours. This deck is fine to great game one but becomes really good games two and three when it can become more focused on the deck it is up against. The only really bad matchup is probably Izzet Burn but the deck can play a little more discard, ways to gain life, or Orbs of Warding to keep the burn at bay.
I'm sure Santana had to beat plenty of Bant Company decks on the way to the top, so this deck is a great choice if you want to kill creatures, Mind Bend opponents, and cast Emrakul, the Promised End! You can thank Joel Larsson for the initial shell and Santana for adapting it and doing so well with it.
Let's talk about another deck that is slowly getting more and more popular every weekend. This one is based off Pedro Carvalho's deck from the Pro Tour. This deck is looking heavily to punish any player that is just trying to durdle around with spells and Emrakul, the Promised End.
These Izzet Burn decks always look so strange. It doesn't matter what year it is, 1998 or 2016. They play strange creatures and a bunch of spells that either buy time or go straight to the opponent's face. I mean, just look at Thermo-Alchemist. It's a strange card that most people wouldn't even think about playing in their constructed decks, let alone a Grand Prix or Pro Tour. The stars have aligned along with the right cards and the right metagame to make this beauty a constructed powerhouse. Enckels didn't run Thing in the Ice, instead opting for Stormchaser Mage.
Thermo-Alchemist basically makes every red spell deal plus one damage to an opponent. This is very reminiscent of Shrine of Burning Rage. Unlike Shrine of Burning Rage, Thermo-Alchemist is more susceptible to removal, but it can block small creatures where Shrine of Burning Rage couldn't.
The deck doesn't stop there with the burn. Fevered Visions is a nightmare for any B/G/x deck. Alongside Incendiary Flow and Collective Defiance you can easily slam the door shut on your opponent who is trying to fill their graveyard up or has an Ob Nixilis Reignited they can't tick up. If you can consistently beat Bant Company with this deck, then it is also a solid choice. I don't see how the Jund Delirum deck in its current iteration can combat this one effectively. If you wanna burn'em out, then this is the deck for you.
Do you like cats? Maybe your opponent likes cats? What if this cat is going to kill them? Well this next deck is a super spicy one and one I hope isn't a one hit wonder.
No creatures! Just removal, bounce spells, tutors, Demonic Pacts, and donations. This deck should tell you how strong Liliana, the Last Hope is. It's running no creatures but still packs two Liliana, the Last Hope maindeck. It's a great play on turn three since her ultimate will close out a game. Alongside Languish or Grasp of Darkness it allows you to kill five-toughness creatures like Sylvan Advocate.
This deck tries to play Demonic Pact and get full value out of the three modes before returning it to your hand with Disperse, Silumgar's Command, or just donating it away with Harmless Offering forcing your opponent to pick the "you lose the game" mode. It can clean up creatures with its suite of removal or by using the Demonic Pact itself to kill creatures or Planeswalkers while gaining you life in the process.
It's a little scary to play this deck with all the Emrakuls running around in Standard since if you're Mindslavered by Emrakul, the Promised End, your opponent can force you to lose the game. Luckily the deck has a little countermagic in Clash of Wills and Silumgar's Command. After sideboarding it gains a plethora of ways to deal with Emrakul, the Promised End: Infinite Obliteration, Transgress the Mind, and Summary Dismissal are all great ways to combat the Eldrazi Titan from invading your mind. I look forward to sleeving this up before rotation sometime and I suggest you do the same if you enjoy winning, but more importantly, having fun. This deck looks like a blast!
The last list I want to look at is my most recent Sultai Control list that I took to the Standard Classic. So far I've gotten 2nd, 12th, 12th, and 16th with this deck. At least I can say it's pretty consistent and a strong choice if you learn how to play it.
The Sultai deck has a minor delirium package but more importantly, at its heart, it is a Planeswalker deck. You have a total of ten cards that are or can become Planeswalkers to help bury your opponent in card advantage and board control. On top of all, that you also have another win condition with Emrakul, the Promised End. This deck can attack in many different ways, you just have to know your role in the current matchup and take it. I've won games of damage, Planeswalkers, and Emrakul, the Promised End. You usually have some sort of out to any situation if you just play your cards right and play to your outs. That's what makes the deck so powerful: you're never just dead to any one deck.
The newest additions to the deck have been Nissa's Renewal, Alhammarret's Archive, and Pulse of Murasa. I haven't lost a game yet when I've untapped with Alhammarret's Archive. It doesn't impact the board but once it gets going you generate so much value. It works favorably with so many cards in the deck. Jace, Ob Nixilis Reignited, Pulse of Murasa, Nissa's Renewal, and Oath of Jace. Oath of Jace lets you draw six cards and then discard two for just three mana. That's insane! I expected the format to be durdly and that's why I opted to play the card. I would however not play it if you expect Izzet Burn to be big.
While I liked this list it also had some flaws. Cutting Dragonlord Silumgar was a big mistake that I will never do again. Dragonlord Silumgar just threatens to ultimate any of your opponent's Planeswalkers. I thought just the thought that I might have it in my deck would deter my opponent's from trying to ultimate Planeswalkers. I was wrong and lost a match where my opponent was able to do just that. I had Traverse the Ulvenwald in my hand but no Dragonlord Silumgar in the 75 and got rightfully punished. Here's what I'm going to play as of right now.
This version of the deck takes into consideration what the current best decks in the metagame are doing. The main and sideboard are constructed to battle this decks. Your worst matchup, Izzet Burn, is easier to fight with this configuration while not losing to other GBx decks. Keep in mind when you sideboard on how you're sculpting your game plan. For example, against Izzet Burn you want to go low to the ground and fight Fevered Visions by not having a bunch of clunky do-nothing spells. This is how I would sideboard against that deck.
-1 Alhammarret's Archive
-1 Dragonlord Silumgar
-1 Emrakul, the Promised End
-1 Pulse of Murasa
-1 Ruinous Path
-2 Ob Nixilis Reignited
1 Orbs of Warding
1 Tireless Tracker
2 Transgress the Mind
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Display of Dominance
I cut all the big things that don't do much or are just slow in the matchup. Pulse of Murasa gains us life but that's not enough, putting a card in our hand isn't good enough, I need to pressure my opponent or empty my hand. Why do I cut Pulse of Murasa but not Nissa's Renewal? Because Nissa's Renewal allows us to explode in mana and empty our hand incredibly quickly if we need to the following turn.
We bring in Tireless Trackers to pressure our opponent and to draw cards when we want to, on our own terms. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet gains life, and we need that. Duress, Transgress the Mind, and Negate are all great ways to keep the Burn Away. Display of Dominance can act as a Naturalize against a Fevered Visions. Why don't we bring in Summary Dismissal? Sure it can take Fevered Visions of the Stack but it costs so much mana. You can't be holding up four mana turn after turn and it will never counter a Fevered Visions on the play or draw if our opponent has it in their opening hand. Keep things like that in mind when sideboarding.
One last thing you might ask is, why play Display of Dominance over Naturalize? Because it does so much against other matchups. It can destroy Ob Nixilis Reignited, Liliana, the Last Hope, Jace, or even protect our stuff from black removal like Ruinous Path. It even hits the key enchantments in the format: Fevered Visions and Demonic Pact. Sign me up!
Well that's it for today! As always thanks for tuning in and I'll catch you next time.