So we had our first large tournament this past weekend with Magic Origins! Exciting right?! So many new and extremely powerful cards from Magic Origins. Everything is up in the air and there is dust everywhere. But the question is, has that dust settled yet? What new decks or strategies has Magic Origins brought for us? I was ready to see some new and exciting decks emerge. Sadly we only have a handful. Nothing new in the Top 8 of the Chicago Open; it was filled with old established archetypes. Either people are too scared to show up with a new deck or the cards in Magic Origins aren't that powerful. I have a feeling it's the latter. Just because we didn't have any new archetypes in the Top 8, doesn't mean people didn't try new decks out. Let's look at some of the brews people brought to the tournament that placed well.
Magic Origins didn't disappoint when it came to Elves and John took advantage of that and built this beauty. Shaman of the Pack is such an amazing Elf that will assuredly be seeing play in many an elf deck from Standard all the way to Legacy. People die a lot just from Siege Rhino draining them for three life. Well this guy can do that and so much more! Keep an eye out for him. This deck also has its own form of card advantage in the form of Collected Company and Sylvan Messenger. Both cards are great at refueling a board that has been wiped or putting a lot more pressure on your opponent. You also have a form of Demonic Tutor in Chord of Calling. I love that he includes a singleton Reclamation Sage to deal with pesky artifacts or enchantments. I think this deck has potential, especially after rotation. A good one to work and keep an eye on!
This deck is pretty exciting! Even though we've had Rally the Ancestors in Standard for a while it feels like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Nantuko Husk push it over the edge. We didn't have a sac outlet before to make sure the creatures brought back with Rally the Ancestors weren't gone forever. With Nantuko Husk you can make sure all the creatures go back to the graveyard after they have their abilities trigger, after you attack with them all thanks to Mogis' Marauder, or after just giving your Nantuko Husk haste and intimidate with Mogis's Marauder and sacrificing all the other creatures to Nantuko Husk to make him huge. Grim Haruspex also works wonders with Nantuko Husk drawing you plenty of gas as you grow your Nantuko Husk. There's a reason the deck is playing the full playset of Husks.
Jace can also make flashbacking those crucial Rally the Ancestors that you milled with Satyr Wayfinder or Gather the Pack easy since he flips almost instantly in this deck. And the other new Planeswalker, Liliana, Heretical Healer will almost always assuredly flip thanks to Nantuko Husk. I feel like this deck can go many different ways. You could try draining them with Gray Merchant and Siege Rhino and have them sacrifice dudes by playing Fleshbag Marauder. You can even play a couple of Abzan Ascendancies to get more value out of sacrificing your creatures and give you more reach.
The sideboard of Cleric of the Forward Order is genius! You can gain so much life from cycling those guys with Rally the Ancestors. Kudos to Matthew for playing this sweet deck and putting it on the map.
Now we have...
I talked about this deck in my last article. James seems to believe the deck is equally powerful and championed the deck. There are no real major differences to these lists besides playing the fourth Treasure Cruise, one less Negate, and going up to 61 cards by adding the third AEtherspouts.
James started off strong, but the wheels ended up falling off sometime or maybe he faced some bad matchups, I'm not really sure. I was however excited that the deck was doing well. I still believe this deck can be a huge contender in the format, but it needs more work and I promise I will work on this strategy eventually. However I've recently been working on a different deck. I love Demonic Pact and when my friend Justin Parnell showed me his list I was sold. We collaborated on the deck together and ended up with this list that I Top 8ed with.
This deck is amazingly powerful and it's absolutely the best Jace, Vryn's Prodigy deck that I've played. I felt like I would've easily won the whole event, but I scooped to Hillary to lock her up for the Invitational. Let's break down the deck card by card.
Erebos's Titan: This card is very powerful in the deck because we are killing a lot of our opponent's creatures. It's indestructible a good amount of the time and puts a very fast clock on our opponent, especially when paired with Demonic Pact. It's also not scared of Siege Rhino and can bash right through him or keep Siege Rhino on defense. Erebos's Titan is also hard for control decks to deal with since they play very few creatures and he will be indestructible the majority of the time. You don't return him to your hand often, but it does occasionally happen when your opponent delves away a creature card or Den Protectors a creature back to their hand. I board out Titan a decent amount of the time when he's not indestructible because they play a lot of creatures or because they're playing Deathmist Raptor. But against decks that kill creatures with burn, he is very good.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang: I don't have to speak too much about this card, we all know the power of Tasigur as basically a black Tarmogoyf that draws you nonland cards. The first Tasigur is always the best and playing only one assures that you don't ever mill another one that your opponent can just give you instead of giving you a better card from his activated ability. You can also tutor him up with Dark Petition.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy: I know some people have had doubts about this card. I'm telling you right now it's amazing and will be a staple in Standard. I believe it to be the best out of all the other flip Planeswalkers and it fits perfectly into this deck. Jace smooths out your draws early on and later in the game. He can start flashbacking so many spells. He basically makes you have so many more options and more copies of the same card. It can be Hero's Downfall four through six, Read the Bones three and four, Thoughtseize five through eight, or whatever else you need it to be. Flashbacking Dark Petition is also very gross, especially since you have spell mastery the majority of the time. Jace is an all-star and I look forward to a new Standard with him.
Hero's Downfall: Against many decks this card is just a Vindicate. It also happens to cost only three mana so you can tutor it up with Dark Petition and play it right away if you have spell mastery. This card is just a very nice tool to have access to in any black midrange/control deck.
Dark Petition: Have you ever played Demonic Tutor? Maybe in Commander? Cube? Or maybe even Vintage? Well, this card does a pretty good imitation of that when you have spell mastery. And let me tell you my friends, Demonic Tutor is as broken as they come. However If you don't have spell mastery it can be very clunky, hopefully you have a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy that can discard it for you only to flash it back when he becomes Jace, Telepath Unbound.
Demonic Pact: Man...this card. It's so absurdly powerful if you take advantage of it. After you use a second ability on this card you're just so far ahead. It can be a Warleader's Helix, Mind Rot, or Divination all for the low, low cost of two colorless and two black mana. I've cast this card many a time without having a Disperse or Void Snare in my hand because you have at least a minimum of five cards to draw an answer to it before it kills you. I should also mention that I still haven't yet lost due to my own Demonic Pact. However there have been games where I know how Liliana feels and now I understand why she's going after the demons that she made a pact with and how scary and powerful that pact can be. This card is sweet and just oozes with flavor.
Bile Blight: Not too much to say about this card. It's just a good removal spell against the small to medium sized guys of the format.
Read the Bones: Usually black midrange decks can't play a card like this because it's just too much life loss against some decks. Thanks to Demonic Pact though we usually have some extra life to spare to dig for some powerful threats or answers, depending on the board state and what we need.
Void Snare: Just a way to bounce pesky permanents and to rebuy your Demonic Pact after you've used its three other modes. I've also rebought an Ugin with Void Snare after wiping a board to put him out of burn range or to reset his loyalty. It can also be played as a tempo card if need me by just bouncing a permanent to buy you some time or give you tempo advantage.
Disperse: A much better Void Snare since its instant speed. It can do all the things Void Snare can and more. It allows you to save an Ugin if your opponent tries to attack it with creatures. Also another good play is to Disperse a strong permanent to your opponent's hand only to have them discard it to Demonic Pact or a Thoughtseize, keep in mind this only works if they have two or less cards in their hand.
Thoughtseize: Arguably the best card in Standard and it also gives your Dark Petition spell mastery relatively easily.
Languish: This could be a Crux of Fate but I like the four mana cost of Languish. It also plays well with Erebos's Titan and is easier to cast than Crux of Fate when you tutor it up with Dark Petition since it's cheaper than Crux.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: Most of the time you win games with Demonic Pact and Erebos's Titan, but sometimes you need that big reset button that is Ugin. He also can exile Demonic Pacts if need be. A very strong and good card to have as a singleton in the maindeck since we also run Dark Petitions.
The sideboard is pretty basic for the most part. The only thing I want to go over is Liliana, Heretical Healer and Fleshbag Marauder. These two cards obviously work very well together since the Marauder allows her to flip instantly. Not only that, but she can buy back a Fleshbag Marauder with her minus ability to make your opponent's sacrifice more creatures. They work very well together and against decks that just play a few big guys and try to kill you, like dragon or heroic decks. I played against two heroic decks and with all the removal, bounce, discard, and Fleshbag Marauders I felt like I was pretty favored which is an awesome feeling against heroic since they usually only lose to themselves. What I mean by that is they don't draw a creature or the right spell to protect their guy and end up dying that way, not because you actually beat them.
I plan on playing this deck a little more and I'll most likely be playing it in Richmond. I'll be playing this or a sweet Starfield of Nyx deck.
The dust hasn't nearly settled from Magic Origins.
Until next time,