This week I was looking forward to taking a look at a deck that was somewhat talked about but largely flew under the Pro Tour radar despite the pilot making the Top 64.
The deck I'm referring to is none other than Ken Yukihiro's GW Hardened Scales list that managed to turn something of a bulk, unplayable rare into an incredibly strong addition to a green/white aggro deck.
This is the list that Yukihiro registered for the event…
As I mentioned on Monday, this week I planned on having a special guest for my Standard videos. With the Pro Tour taking place a mere three hours away in Vancouver, our own Craig Wescoe decided to remain in the Seattle area for an extra week following the event!
As such, you'll be enjoying commentary from not only myself, but from the Platinum Pro with a penchant for white weenies himself. It was no mere coincidence that I chose a deck that was white-based and aggressive. Hope you guys enjoy!
The first thing I would like to mention is that I think the deck is better than these results, or the results it put up at the Pro Tour...or at least I think it can be. The first match I played with the deck I ended up winning, so my final record is closer to 2-3. That being said, I do think the deck could use some changes.
The first thing I would do is cut Honored Hierarch. I wanted this card to be good, I really did, but it's just so terrible. It's nowhere close to a 2/2 for one mana, and it's nowhere close to something like a Birds of Paradise or a Noble Hierarch. It's a one-drop that's trying too hard to be two different things, so it fails at being either. Heck, I even think Servant of the Scale was better.
One thing Craig and I considered was adding something as simple as Fleecemane Lion. After we monstrous it with a Hardened Scales in play it's even immune to Languish! Ainok Guide was another suggestion as it comes into play as a 3/3 or larger and could even allow us to cut a land or two. Meanwhile, all megamorph creatures (Ainok Survivalist, Den Protector) would flip up with an additional counter as well. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit would be a little rougher on the mana, but you can imagine how bolster would benefit something like Hardened Scales.
One thing to remember is that Hardened Scales doesn't double the amount of counters that are added; it just adds an additional counter each time counters are added.
The rest of the creatures in the deck all managed to pull their weight extremely well, from Avatar of the Resolute, to Managorger Hydra, to Hangarback Walker. If you haven't played with Hangarback Walker yet, geez, find a way to; it's actually just the best and gives every deck a way to work around spot removal. If you can produce colored mana you can now add a resilient, overpowered threat to your deck that scales ridiculously well.
One thing to realize is that the Turbo Fog deck we faced is much, much better against decks with two or fewer colors. This is because there is a much greater number of matching colors that Sphinx's Tutelage can hit, and will therefore mill a greater number of cards with. While I don't think Turbo Fog is going to be running rampant any time soon, it is worth pointing that out as this fact should have definitely contributed to our loss, especially considering 24 of our cards - nearly half of our deck - are green. The matchup gets even worse when you consider we don't have any additional enchantment removal in the sideboard.
Speaking of which, one thing I think the deck definitely wants, perhaps in the sideboard, is a few more ways to deal with enchantments and artifacts. With things like Courser of Kruphix, Sphinx's Tutelage, Demonic Pact, and Hangarback Walker popping up everywhere, it might benefit us to carry around a handful of Unravel the AEther or Revoke Existence in order to efficiently combat them; these even manage to Remove a Hangarback Walker for good!
Considering that both Ken Yukihiro and Yuuya Watanabe piloted the deck at the Pro Tour to some unflattering results, it might need a few more tweaks before it's ready for prime time, but I think they can definitely be made. Regardless of our own record, the deck was pretty fun to play and not very expensive to put together.
Standard seems really sweet right now and I have at least four decks in the queue that I want to test. After playing with the card a fair bit, one thing is for sure: I want to be playing Demonic Pact for as long as it's legal. Great, now I sound like Ali. I'll be back on Monday with some more Modern! In the meantime, be sure and check out my podcast, Freshly Brewed, with the aforementioned Ali Aintrazi and be sure to subscribe through iTunes. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
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