Day 8: I've seen the land they call the "interweb." It is glorious and just out of reach. Perhaps upon reaching it, I can record games of what is known as "Magic" along with commentary for the world to see and hear! Until then, however...
So basically, an executive from Comcast called me yesterday and said, "to make sure we're on the same page, usually it takes closer to seventy days to run a new line of cable, not seven." Seventy you say! Well I sure am glad it isn't 2015, and people don't rely on the internet for everything from communication with friends and family to work related responsibilities! Over two months is a completely reasonable amount of time to wait for you to run a half-inch thick cable to my house in order for me to look at pictures of cats. Of course they blamed most of it on the fact that Washington is a special case in regards to acquiring the proper permits, but that doesn't really help me any.
But I digress. Needless to say I have not had Comcast internet installed yet, and since they basically have a monopoly in the Kent, Washington area, I had to go with CenturyLink. It's DSL and they didn't get great reviews, but here's hoping it's only temporary ("temporary" being a couple months, it seems).
Enough about that. Let's talk about Standard! In a week and a half we're going to see some brand new decks - or at least some brand new cards altering some tried and true decks. Today I'm going to go over two such decks that I myself am looking forward to playing with. Ready? Let's go!RW Midrange
There was a deck going around before Fate Reforged that was championed by players like Craig Wescoe and Sam Black, that contained all of the best red and white cards in the format. It was kind of a token strategy, and kind of a midrange strategy, and kind of an aggro strategy. In that vein it was very customizable and was pretty powerful. The deck also had access to Chained to the Rocks which is one of the best removal spells in the format right now.
I feel like this deck has the potential to evolve some with some of the cards in Fate Reforged, and I think this is how it might look (or at least something I'm interested in playing) moving forward.
This is essentially 24 creature cards, if we're counting Raise the Alarm and Hordling Outburst as creatures (which we definitely should in this deck). In addition, with Monastery Mentor out, both of those "creatures" are actually making more creatures than they normally would.
Valorous Stance is a huge addition to the deck, and I'm not sure we don't just play the full suite of four. One of the best parts of a deck like this was playing these "must answer" threats like Goblin Rabblemaster and Seeker of the Way. Now we've added even more "must answer" threats to the deck and we can not only protect them with Valorous Stance, but we can also use the Stance as removal on a ton of opposing monsters.
While we're only playing 22 lands with this configuration, we could easily tweak the numbers. Another thing to consider if that our curve technically stops at three mana with Stoke the Flames rarely-if-ever costing the full four mana. I went with a higher number of Mountains than Plains because 1) nothing in the deck costs double white, however Hordeling Outburst, Stoke the Flames, and the ability on Soulfire Grand Master all cost double red, and 2) we want to make sure we have a Mountain consistently because of Chained to the Rocks. Due to having both Soulfire Grand Master and Seeker of the Way, this is a deck that most likely doesn't mind the loss of life from things like Battlefield Forge and Mana Confluence.
The main issue I have with the list as-is is that it only includes eight burn spells. This seems contradictory to one of the most powerful parts of Soulfire Grand Master. While we're probably not going to enable ferocious enough to take advantage of Wild Slash, I would definitely try and find room for a couple of Magma Jets if not a full set (which might be harder to do). If I had to make the cut, I would consider one Raise the Alarm and one Chained to the Rocks. But it might require some testing.Sultai Control
Ah, Sultai Control. This is the deck closest to my heart in the format. Most recently we saw lists running Perilous Vault as a sweeper: something that Sultai decks sorely lacked. Sure, we had access to Extinguish All Hope, but not only does it cost a hefty six mana, it also leaves creatures like opposing Courser of Kruphix and Doomwake Giants on board. This is no bueno when we're trying to reboot, so to speak. Perilous Vault was an alternative, but the biggest problems with the card were that it took nine mana to use and that it killed planeswalkers as well...and planeswalkers can sometimes be the bread and butter of Sultai!
Well, now we have Crux of Fate, which is awesome. It's the five mana sweeper we wanted without leaving behind any troublesome threats (at least it typically shouldn't). The one problem that we have now is that, since our sweepers kills all creatures, we probably want to minimize the number of creatures we include in favor of looking more like a traditional control deck: removal, card drawing, sweepers, and win conditions!
Let's see what a preliminary list might look like.
When we lose Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid the deck almost becomes UB Control. In this case we're only using Sultai Charm and Kiora, the Crashing Wave to gain our Sultai status, but we have other options at our disposal. I actually had four Sylvan Caryatid in the deck, but I couldn't deal with having Crux of Fate in the deck as well. It still might be fine, as by the time you actually end up casting a Crux of Fate, you've gotten plenty of value out of the Caryatid.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is our new win condition along with Pearl Lake Ancient. Both of these are pretty difficult to deal with, especially with Ugin being able to Lightning Bolt as a +2 ability. Your planeswalker essentially starting on nine loyalty means that the ways to get rid of him are pretty limited; basically Banishing Light, Hero's Downfall, and Utter End. I guess Garruk, Apex Predator could also take care of him, but that guy isn't that popular nowadays. (Although adding him as a one-of here isn't out of the realm of possibility.)
The big discussion is whether to add Treasure Cruise or Dig Through Time (and the sad part is that that is the only discussion there is in regards to card drawing). I don't think we're a deck that can fill our graveyard fast enough to take advantage of the one mana cost of Treasure Cruise, which means if we're paying more for the spell, we could probably benefit from the card selection of Dig Through Time. Now I'm not positive one way or the other, but we're a deck that needs very specific answers, and if we're digging for something like a Crux of Fate, we probably really need to hit it.
A card I'm super excited to try out is Supplant Form. Not only is it a solid tempo boost at instant speed, being able to get a copy of the bounced creature is pretty sweet. Bouncing a Polukranos, World Eater or a Doomwake Giant and getting a copy of your own mid-combat seems pretty solid.
The other option for Sultai is making it more planeswalker-based. I'm a big fan of having more win conditions, especially when they're as versatile as planeswalkers often are. I don't think Kiora, the Crashing Wave is that well-positioned right now, but the thing I like about her is that she's a form of card advantage and one of the rare ways we can actually ramp our mana in this format. This is great when our win conditions cost seven and eight mana.
One option for the deck is taking out the two Thoughtseize (which I'm not even too fond of right now; I just happen to think they go well with delve cards) and replace them with one Garruk, Apex Predator and a third Kiora, the Crashing Wave. But again, this is all untested as of yet.
One card I could see playing in the maindeck (that was a pretty popular inclusion in months past) is Drown in Sorrow. I think Fate Reforged gives us more reason than ever with cards like Soulfire Grand Master, Monastery Mentor, and Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest. It also kills all of the tokens that get better with the latter two cards. I think if there was ever a time for Drown in Sorrow to shine, it's going be at the beginning of this Standard format.
I think Crux of Fate and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon give the deck two things that it needed, with Crux of Fate giving us a sweeper that allows our planeswalkers to stick around (a benefit UB doesn't always have) and Ugin playing the role of spot removal, win condition, and last resort sweeper if we need one. I think if we're not going the Villainous Wealth route this is the form the deck is likely to take; we even save ourselves from Collateral Damage by not having to include cards like Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix only to end up killing them off with our sweepers.
Keep in mind, the decks I've presented today are untested and fairly streamlined. They should basically be starting points based on how the format looked before and what cards seem to show potential. Feel free to try them out and tweak numbers at your discretion.
Well, that's about all I have for this week. There are a ton more cards I'm excited about in this format, and I'll be showing a lot of them off to you next week when I go over my Top 10 Fate Reforged Sleepers article on Thursday, so don't miss it. In the mean time, you guys should let me know what cards you're high on that no one is really talking about. Hopefully by Monday I'll have internet and maybe we can get some new videos up soon. Until then, I'll be on my phone, using it as a hotspot, and paying roughly a million dollars for a pittance of data!
Thanks for reading and I'll catch ya next week!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV