A couple weeks ago, before Zac Elsik managed to win Grand Prix Oklahoma City with Lantern Control, there was another pretty unique list that managed to win a Grand Prix Trial for the event. The list was played by Christopher Gooch and contained some of the coolest fliers with haste and vigilance that are available in the format, most notably Mantis Rider and Lightning Angel as I'm not really sure there are any others. The deck was also unique in the fact that it contained all four copies of Honor of the Pure, a card that not only kept the fliers out of the range of popular removal such as Lightning Bolts, but also worked well in conjunction with the two maindeck copies of Timely Reinforcements.
But perhaps you should take a look at the deck yourself...
Another interesting inclusion was that of Disrupting Shoal. This isn't the first time we've seen it in Modern, but it isn't all that common. While Chris just barely missed Day 2 by one round, the deck definitely seemed to have some play to it. Let's see if I can come up with a record that backs that statement up.
Jeskai haste vs. Scapeshift
Jeskai haste vs. RG Tron
Jeskai haste vs. Jeskai Ascendancy Combo
Jeskai haste vs. Abzan Midrange
I gotta say, while the three power fliers might seem underwhelming at first, they do a lot of hard work, especially in conjunction with things like Lightning Bolt, Honor of the Pure, and Snapcaster Mage. The biggest card I was suspicious about was the Honor of the Pure, but a lot of times it straight increases your clock by a full turn or more. Instead of our creatures dealing three damage over seven turns (21), they now only have to deal four damage over five turns (20). That's not even considering when your opponents have taken damage from their lands. Even more beneficial, as I mentioned, is the fact that Honor of the Pure moves Mantis Rider out of Lightning Bolt range and Lightning Angel out of Flame Slash range. Finally, our two maindeck Timely Reinforcements are also incredibly well-paired with Honor of the Pure. While I can definitely see the arguments against the card, there are definitely arguments for it as well.
Disrupting Shoal was one of the most interesting - and suspect - inclusions in the deck, I think. It's so hard to want to two-for-one yourself with a card that only hard counters specific spells; we're rarely-if-ever casting it with actual mana. That being said, however, there are a lot of cards that we're able to counter by exiling our blue cards on curve, including Path to Exile, most of the trump cards in Affinity, Oblivion Stone, Scapeshift, Splinter Twin, etc. My problem with this is that it not only requires you to have the relevant blue card in your hand, it requires us to keep it there which is often preventing us from putting pressure on the opponent.
Gitaxian Probe is another card that I'm not a huge fan of outside of combo decks or decks that can take direct advantage of it (i.e. decks with Tarmogoyf, or prowess creatures). In here I would much rather it be another card that we can use to combat some of the more oppressive things in the format, such as Mana Leak or Lightning Helix. Ah, Lightning Helix: a card that actually has a ton of mileage in a deck like this as every point of burn is usually important, the life gain is important, and three damage is basically an extra hit from any of our creatures. Another thing I was tempted to consider was the inclusions of either Stormbreath Dragon or Thundermaw Hellkite. While I know it sounds crazy, I wonder if one Aurelia, the Warleader would actually be insane here. Who knows?
This was a solid tempo deck and I felt like was able to win matches against even the most unfair decks in the format, which was surprising. One thing I would do, however, is tighten up the sideboard to include more ways to deal with artifacts/enchantments or some of the main decks in the format. Another Stony Silence would be amazing, for example. I'll be back on Thursday with some more Standard, which will be one of the last hurrahs before rotation. In the meantime you can check out my podcast, Freshly Brewed, with Ali Aintrazi. You can subscribe through iTunes or help us out over on our Patreon. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
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Freshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)