This week was a little difficult for me. Not only did I start a brand new Podcast with fellow columnist Ali AIntrazi (Freshly Brewed, also available on iTunes and Stitcher!), but there were also two very compelling decks that I wanted to try out.
The first was piloted by not one but two well-known Japanese pros at Grand Prix Shanghai: Yuuya Watanabe and Makihito Mihara. These names basically need zero introduction, but for the sake of thoroughness, Mihara was inducted into the Magic Hall of Fame during the 2014 class, and Watanabe is a player that I guarantee you will also be inducted one day.
They both piloted the exact same 75 cards and they both made the Top 16. Take a look.
If the deck looks somewhat familiar, it should...and it shouldn't. While the decks are completely different, this one is basically the same concept as Mike Flores' RPTQ winning Monoblue Dragons list. Both lists have a shell of varying colors that typically houses four of the Dragonlords. This time, however, instead of a blue base the Japanese pros opted for Green/Black and the results seemed to have paid off for them.
The other deck that caught my eye was that of TCGplayer Open 5K Milwaukee winner Taylor Atchison. If you remember, I ended up winning a 5k of my own last year with a Bant Superfriends list that had some rather obscure choices, and this one brought back some memories.
Yes, you're seeing things correctly. That is an Ajani Steadfast, three Hidden Dragonslayers, and a Kiora, the Crashing Wave in the maindeck. Not only that, but the deck reads as a veritable who's who of good cards in Standard: Wingmate Roc, Dromoka's Command, Mastery of the Unseen, Courser of Kruphix, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion to name a few.
One thing both decks seem to have in common is that they both have the full suite of Deathmist Raptors and Den Protectors. This is no coincidence. This is one of the most powerful interactions you can be playing right now in Standard and most decks with green are trying to include the pair in their maindeck.
Ultimately, as you may have derived from the title, I think we're going with the Dragon list today because, similar to my pal Brian Kibler, we always want to play with some dragons. But don't despair, Bant fans; I could definitely see myself piloting the Bant list in the near future.
Well, it would appear that Magic Online has struck again. For some reason, after loading the deck, Utter End and Crux of Fate had both disappeared from the sideboard. My trust in the client is clearly too high, as I rarely double check things like this, trusting that it will load and save all 15 cards. From now on I'll have to make sure that I'm a little more vigilant in this area. On the plus side, that Hero's Downfall mix up during the Jeskai Tokens match was all me. I checked the video and it appears that I was confusing the Hero's Downfall and the Drown in Sorrow, as they were both black cards with a 1BB casting cost.
This deck was definitely sweet, but it doesn't take much when you're casting any of four huge dragons. Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor are definitely the real deal as well, but my concern is for how grindy they make games, especially if you start chaining one into the other. At least back in the day with Eternal Witness, when you got an Eternal Witness back, you were only netting a 2/1. Currently in Standard, if you start chaining Den Protectors, not only are you getting much harder to deal with 3/2s, but you're also likely returning a lounge of lizards. (That's the word for a group of lizards.) This ends up becoming quite the uphill battle after a bit. Heck, even getting back a simple Siege Rhino is pretty horrible. I'm not saying either card is broken; I am saying that they make for some very long, drawn out, swingy games though.
One thing I wasn't incredibly sold on was the Foul-Tongue Invocation. I know there are a lot of decks playing them, specifically for the Esper matchup, but unlike Crackling Doom, the cards you're most likely to hit are things like Sylvan Caryatid, Satyr Wayfinder, or a Goblin Token. Unless I'm playing against control, or their only creature is a Siege Rhino for some reason, I feel like I'd often rather have something like a Bile Blight, or another Hero's Downfall. The four life was often great, but when you're facing down five 1/1 and 2/2 creatures, a way to kill multiple of them is almost the same as gaining four life.
One thing that I always tend to dislike is when you have the exact number of basic lands as you do fetch lands that search for those lands. There were definitely times when I drew two basics in the early game, followed by a Windswept Heath and was a little discouraged that every subsequent Heath would be a literal blank. This is circumvented somewhat if you have an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play, but another thing I wasn't thrilled with was the fact that this list is running two of them; especially when we're already base black. In the match where I drew both, any other land would have been much more helpful than the pseudo Lotus Petal in that situation.
I love that decks like this exist actually. The fact that you can play all five dragons (or more accurately four, as Dragonlord Kolaghan rarely sees any love) is pretty sweet. There's a small part of me that's tempted to find room in here to add one Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, but I'm still on the fence about that one.
Anyway, that's about all I have for today! Make sure to check out my podcast that I linked to at the beginning of the article, or head on over to my stream on TwitchTV. The TCGplayer MaxPoint 50,000 Invitational is also coming up in less than three weeks where Marshall Sutcliffe and I will be commentating live all weekend, so get out there and get qualified so I can see ya there. Thanks for reading and I'll catch ya on Monday!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoonsFreshly Brewed Podcast