Recently, SCG's been running Standard Opens the two weeks between the latest set's release and the Pro Tour. Before the SCG Tour started doing this, Pro Tour metagames were totally unexplored, a place for the world's best players to dictate the terms of how Standard would unfold. Because the SCG Tour gets so much attention, the constructed portions of Pro Tours are more or less steered by a handful of SCG Tour grinders. They now establish the rules of engagement, at the very least, by giving players testing for the Pro Tour a contextual battleground to solve.
It's rare for SCG grinders to "break it," but the day after the release of Eldritch Moon, Devin Koepke went out and won the Columbus Open with what would end up being the best deck of Eldritch Moon Standard:
Honestly, though, it doesn't matter if they break it or not. What matters is that the SCG Opens before the Pro Tour are big Standard tournaments with large purses that get a lot of eyeballs on them. The result is that everyone qualified for the Pro Tour without a testing team of Hall of Famers and Platinum pros* now have a baseline, or at the very least, a deck that's been proven over two weekends of play.
*This is the vast majority of players. It's easy to forget that when teams like CFB Pantheon et al. get the bulk of the coverage. It's nothing against them, but covering superteams to the exclusion of everyone else can give fans a very skewed idea of what the PT is like.
Whether or not you think the decks are good or whether the SCG grinders deserve to lay the groundwork for Kaladesh Standard is irrelevant. This is just the way it is, now and for the foreseeable future. That makes this weekend's slate of action really important. Monday's edition of Super Sellers is guaranteed to bear this out. Today's Super Sellers will be the last piece of sales data based on pure speculation of what Kaladesh Standard will be. LEGGO.
Inventor's Apprentice and Toolcraft Exemplar round out the Top 15. This is a pretty far fall from Monday's column, where Toolcraft Exemplar was the best-seller, but seeing these two cards lumped together makes sense: they're aggressive, and the rate on their stats is fantastic unless you're running them alongside artifacts.
Madcap Experiment feels an awful lot like Spoils of the Vault or Demonic Consultation; getting burned by it will definitely happen, but that's just the cost of doing business with such a powerful effect. Inventors' Fair is a strong card that will see plenty of play across multiple decks now that artifacts are more powerful than they've been since Scars of Mirrodin block.
I finally thought of a way to win with this card. All you need is Sacred Ground, Rogue Elephant, Horned Kavu, Landslide, Manabond, lots of Taigas, Stomping Grounds, and Cinder Glades. Oh, and some way to make a ton of mana. Pretty sure I broke it though.
Blossoming Defense was pegged by our pros as the best green Kaladesh card for Modern. It slots right into Modern Infect decks as a cheaper alternative to Vines of Vastwood that scales down just fine (+2/+2 for G instead of +4/+4 for GG) AND also works against Spellskite in a way that Vines of Vastwood doesn't.
UPDATE (3:29 PM): It actually doesn't work. Writing about new cards is the WORST.
On my desk at work, I have about 20 or so a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvZ42zhtnhY">gold-bordered decks from the 90's/early 2000s. A coworker built a program that randomly generates two decks, and we battle them against each other on lunch sometimes (Affinity is not particularly fun to play against). The decks are almost 20 years old, and are truly relics from a different era. The gameplans between these Standard decks and the decks of today are barely recognizable; Standard of yesteryear is about two linear decks with focused gameplans fighting each other, while today's Standard is a hodgepodge of midrange mirrors. There are few linears that exist in Standard (although Cryptolith Rites might be primed for a resurgence thanks to the absence of Dromoka's Command and Languish, HINT HINT), but for the most part, milquetoast midrange durdlefests rules the day. I don't miss Affinity, I don't miss Grim Monolith, I don't miss Rishadan Port, and I don't miss unintuitive combos (oddly, Static Orb + Opposition is one of the more intuitive combos out of all the decks), but hitting a Wasteland activation with a sideboarded Teferi's Response feels really freakin' great. Midrange mirrors can make for solid gameplay, but it's getting a little repetitive. I'm hoping Kaladesh speeds things up a bit.
I touched on this last week, but I'm super pumped to get embarrassed when I cast Fumigate to destroy two creatures and gain three life, only to watch my opponent untap with two vehicles and a creature-land under their control and totally clown on me. I'm ready for this. I'm excited for this.
Now THIS is what I'm talking about. Metalwork Colossus is the classic high upside-high downside dilemma incarnate. 10/10s for two are great! 10/10s for 11, not so much. I'm personally low on it just because it has no evasion, and unlike Tarmogoyf, it's not the kind of thing you run out on turn two and watch it grow — if you're not bringing this back from the graveyard somehow, you're playing it pretty late. So I'm off it, but it's certainly got high upside. A card to watch this weekend.
I got this card at the prerelease! I hope its Super Sellers debut here means it's Constructed-playable, because having this thing in play feels great. It's no Wingmate Roc, but Aetherstorm Roc is quite high on my Roc Power Rankings, outranking both Skymark Roc AND Steeple Roc. Very impressive.
INT. MAGIC R&D ROOM - DAY
Our heroes, DESIGNER 1 and DESIGNER 2, are hard at work making the latest MAGIC set.
Looks like we got the results from the focus group.
What's it say?
It says (flips through pamphlet) that people miss playing with Soul Warden.
They also miss... Kismet? What the hell?
Wow. Who did we poll to get THOSE results?
Says here we polled the back tables of a Modern PPTQ.
Hoo boy. Alright, well, let's give the people what they want, I guess.
I will never miss an opportunity to post this video:
I really hope Bristling Hydra ends up being awesome. It's a great rate for its size and it counters the first spot removal spell that gets pointed at it. I'm definitely in for this.
This card is baffling to me. It lives in a set where vehicles occupy the design space equipment usually occupies, so it's not like Electrostatic Pummeler's reliably getting big. Activating it more than once in a turn is a big game, but there are better things to do with six energy than make a 4/4. The upsides are that it's a colorless source of a lot of energy. It's a worse rate on that energy than, say, Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, but it's also a potential sink for energy in a pinch. I'm not a fan of this card for Constructed, and I left it on my bench at the prerelease.
In our Kaladesh review of artifacts and lands, Craig Wescoe noted that Aether Hub will act similarly to Evolving Wilds as a role-player in Standard manabases. I like this analogy; not every deck will want to play Aether Hub, but in the decks that do want it, it's going to be fantastic. You've come a long way, Tendo Ice Bridge.
See you Monday.