Instead of opening with a salvo of my thoughts on the Silver Showcase, I'll instead point you to Brian Braun-Duin's column from last week. Originally submitted at quarter after four in the morning on Friday, Brian woke up in time to go over some of the edits and even give a little pushback on some notes, and I think he ended up with a thoughtful, nuanced piece he should be proud of. I don't agree with all of his premises—it's not obvious that professional Magic is important for the overall Magic brand at all, for example—but he turned his frustration at the original announcement into something far more even-handed and eloquent.
M19 has a definite life-gain theme, so players are going in on Lich's Mastery because it's cheap right now and if the life-gain cards in M19 end up being good, the price tag on Lich's Mastery has plenty of room to shoot up. It's as close to a free roll as it gets.
Chart a Course got a fair bit of attention during Ixalan preview season. Since then, it has rounded out as an excellent card-churning option in God-Pharaoh's Gift as well as an often-abandoned source of velocity in U/B Midrange builds that's more often than not rendered obsolete by Champion of Wits anyway. God-Pharaoh's Gift has been getting more and more attention from Standard players looking for an option that completely snuffs out Goblin Chainwhirler decks, but I think the reason Chart a Course hit the Top 10 this week and the comparable Strategic Planning didn't is because Chart a Course isn't rotating out of Standard in the fall.
Like Chart a Course vs. Strategic Planning, Abrade is the superior card to Lightning Strike, but since Lightning Strike isn't rotating out of Standard in the fall, more players are picking theirs up. Also, just like Chart a Course and Strategic Planning, Lightning Strike and Abrade are so close in terms of overall quality that you're not really missing one for the other. Plus, in the case of Lightning Strike, zapping people in the face is sweet.
Blossoming Defense. https://t.co/hStn4k6uYY— jon corpora (@feb31st) June 27, 2018
It's not an auto-include in every Brawl deck, but there are a couple archetypes that warrant the inclusion of a expensive rock that spits out lots and lots of mana.
I will never stop patting myself on the back for being right about this card being absolutely bonkers during Kaladesh preview season. It's a joy to play with; really, really good against control decks without being egregious against anything else. It's certainly not at its best in aggressive mirrors, but it can facilitate a damage race, which—SPOILER ALERT—you should just race in aggro mirrors more often than you currently do anyway.
When Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks rotate out of Standard, Shalai, Voice of Plenty and Lyra Dawnbringer will be a one-two punch that Standard will find tough to deal with. Right now, though, I'm just not buying the hype on the W/G Midrange deck. On paper, it looks like it absolutely annihilates red decks, but that's just not how the games play out. We desperately wanted this deck to be good, but it did not take many practice games for my RPTQ team to abandon the white-green deck entirely. Shalai, Voice of Plenty has four toughness, which is a problem when the deck you're aimed at beating has Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Glorybringer, Rekindling Phoenix, and the almighty combo of Lightning Strike plus Goblin Chainwhirler.
After rotation, Shalai, Voice of Plenty will be great, but at the moment, it's a trap. Don't fall into the trap.
Now that Shadowborn Apostle's floating around four bucks, savvy players are trying to find the next one. The hope is that Rat Colony's it (it's not).
In the comments section for last week's Top Sellers, readers kindly pointed out a combo that's been making the rounds on reddit that featured Arcane Adaptation in addition to Walking Ballista and Liliana, Untouched by Death. It seemed sweet, so I made a video about the combo. Enjoy:
Last week I discussed how Standard may look like it's warped around Goblin Chainwhirler when in reality it's warped around Bomat Courier. That conclusion deserves a more in-depth explanation.
Right now, the top-tier Standard decks fall into only a few buckets:
Goblin Chainwhirler decks
Llanowar Elves decks
For the most part, these decks have risen to the top of the heap because they invalidate Bomat Courier. The red decks have Goblin Chainwhirler, U/B Midrange has Fatal Push and a myriad of ways to stay even on cards, and Llanowar Elves decks either gum up the ground or close out the game with unblockable 5/4s for three before Bomat Courier's slow, plodding card advantage engine can come alive. Disallow decks traditionally have the hardest time beating Bomat Courier, but recent control iterations have yielded an Esper Control deck that packs Fatal Push, leaving W/U Control as the only decent archetype that truly struggles against a Bomat Courier.
It's tempting to look at these decks and say that they also invalidate Goblin Chainwhirler, but that's not totally true. Stock U/B Midrange decklists play eight maindeck creatures with one toughness—four Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, four Champion of Wits—because they either generate an advantage when they enter the battlefield or their potential upside if their opponent doesn't have a Goblin Chainwhirler is enormous. U/B Midrange is willing to let itself get "blown out" by a Goblin Chainwhirler, but it has a plethora of solutions to a Bomat Courier that all come down before it can get out of control. That's an important distinction.
Bomat Courier was never meant to warp Standard. It was introduced into a Standard format where Thraben Inspector saw play far and wide, rendering Bomat Courier completely irrelevant. Additionally, a whole slew of cards got banned to get us in a spot where a Raging Goblin (albeit a very good one) dictates what decks can and can't see play. The card plays a little funky—face-down cards in exile are pretty awkward—but it creates a lot of interesting tension and in-game decisions on both sides of the battlefield. It very quickly became one of my favorite cards ever. I'll miss it.
See you next week.