Before we get started you should know that I'm fully aware that the plural of "chief" isn't "chieves."
In case you're wondering about the name, a few weeks ago Melissa and I were drafting Khans of Tarkir and she asked, "How come the plurals of things like knife and thief all have a "v" in them, yet the plural of chief isn't chieve?" It actually made a lot of sense. Thief, thieves. Loaf, Loaves. Chief...chiefs?
Well, I nearly lost it, it sounded so funny, and ever since then we've kind of been calling them chieves, correct English be damned! It also sounds a lot like "geez" and lends itself to a ton of (perhaps not so) comical puns ("AskChieves.com"), as you may notice in the videos. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This is the list I'm referring to.
When the two chieves were first revealed, Chief of the Edge and Chief of the Scale, I wondered if they would see any Constructed play; they are two mana "lords" afterall. I guess I wasn't the only one wondering this.
Of course Magic Online user Azren, who went 3-1 with the list, also has some unconventional choices. I couldn't help but wonder why we were using the "gainlands" (Jungle Hollow, Scoured Barrens) over the arguably better scry lands (Temple of Malady, Temple of Silence). It seemed a little...off. We also didn't have any pain lands which seemed like they could benefit the deck greatly.
Nevertheless, I figured Azren knew what he was doing; the deck seemed pretty streamlined and well thought out, so my best bet seemed to hop into the queues and get a feel for the deck myself.
Chieves vs. UW Heroic, Match 1
Chieves vs. UW Heroic, Match 2
Chieves vs. UW Heroic, Match 3
Chieves vs. Jeskai Tempo
Wow, that's a lot of UW Heroic decks. I guess after it was showcased last weekend pretty much everyone wants to play the deck and earn pick up their free wins, Gods Willing. (That's a little heroic humor there.) Another thing that deck has going for it is that it's incredibly cheap to build. We managed a winning record against it, so it would seem we're not that terribly favored against it.
So, I'm going to let you guys in on a little secret that I discovered. I played a match with the deck on stream last night, and near the end we realized something fairly comical. After examining every card in the deck and wondering about some of the more unorthodox choices (as we did above) we realized that...well...this was a Khans of Tarkir Block Constructed deck!
Yeah, I know...crazy, right? So I imagine the pilot accidentally (or, heck, maybe intentionally) entered a Standard queue with their Block deck and managed to go 3-1 with it anyway. I think that's actually a testament to the deck's potential more than anything else, but now that we know that, the sky is pretty much the limit for updates since we now know that a lot of the card choices were chosen based on a restriction to Khans of Tarkir and not for their strategic value.
This makes sense why the only removal in the maindeck was Murderous Cut. Azren couldn't actually consider things like Hero's Downfall and Banishing Light, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't if we plan on playing this deck in Standard. I would definitely consider adding two of them in some combination, perhaps removing a Murderous Cut or two.
One thing I wasn't sure of was why there was no Heir of the Wilds in the deck. While I get that we have very (and I mean very) little green in the maindeck, it's one of the best creatures you could ask for if you were playing warriors. It made more sense to me after I realized that we didn't have access to painlands, however. I think if we added some number of painlands to the deck we would be in much better shape, especially since hitting our one and two-drops is so important to the deck.
I would definitely consider adding some number of Gods Willing to the deck, considering we have essentially eight "lords" in the deck. Killing Chief of the Scale makes combat pretty unfavorable for us since it allows our opponent to make some very profitable blocks where all of our creatures will end up with -0/-1 at the end of combat. Something like Gods Willing will prevent this.
I love Raiders' Spoils a lot. It pumps all of our creatures, regardless of whether or not they're warriors, and it even lets us draw some much needed cards. The problem for me was that I never found myself able to draw cards from it. I think the life gain and the additional +1/+1 from Rush of Battle might be significantly more relevant. I would definitely consider adding two Rush of Battle to the deck, or even one Rush of Battle and a third Sorin, Solemn Visitor; I'm not sure which combination is better yet. Sorin rarely ended up surviving past his first activation unless we were way, way ahead.
We could also begin to consider cards like Glare of Heresy in the sideboard for cards like Oblivion Ring, opposing Sorin, Solemn Visitors, and Mantis Rider. As you can see, once we open the deck up for Standard considerations, we have a ton more options to take a look at, and if I was impressed with how this Block deck performed for me against the entire Theros block, maybe there's some hope for it when we're able to add those Theros cards to our own pool. I'm not sure how the deck would fare against something like GB Devotion, but all of our creatures typically end up having three or four power, which is kind of a magic number against them. Maybe we'll see.
That's all we have for this week. Thanks for reading and I hope you guys can appreciate this deck, despite realizing it was actually a Block deck; the synergy is definitely tangible, and I think the deck did an awesome job of showing off how powerful Abzan Ascendancy can be. I'm actually considering brewing with that card a little more if I can find a way to do so. I'll catch you on Monday!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV