Cook’s Kitchen – Post Rotation Standard
First things first, this article marks one year of writing for Jupiter Games. They’ve been great to me, fantastic really. I couldn’t ask for a better store to write for, very flexible with me and the ridiculous times I turn in articles. Not to mention, they pay me pretty well. I guess what I’m saying is I’m thankful they continue to let me write here. It’s interesting to look back and see what I wrote when I first started a year ago compared to now. I’ll be the first to say I’m not the greatest writer, but I believe I’ve had some hits along the way. Now my thoughts on Post Rotation Standard:
This card is going to be crucial in the new Standard format post rotation with Scars of Mirrodin block leaving. Why? Zombies! The walking dead are going to be everywhere in the new format including on your television screen Sunday, October 14th! Seriously, I can’t wait for that show to come back! But yes, Magic, Zombies is going to be the new Delver. This means playing cards that are great against Zombies. Pillar of Flame is great against Zombies because it kills them dead and removes them from the game, as I said in an earlier article, “It’s the double-tap.” What’s great about Pillar of Flame is that it isn’t a dead “hoser” at times, unlike Celestial Purge. Although, Pillar isn’t always as effective. Pillar of Flame reliably kills every creature in Zombies aside from Lotleth Troll, which can become larger or regenerate, and Dreg Mangler. What will likely kill these two menaces comes from the sideboard:
It’s just a slightly larger Pillar of Flame at the additional cost of two mana. That part I’m not too excited about. I really wish it was incinerate with the kicker of removing, but beggars can’t be choosers. Annihilating Fire is playable enough at the moment to warrant a few sideboard slots to devote to beating the Zombie decks. If the opponent taps out to play Lotleth Troll on turn two they would have to discard three creature cards in order to keep the troll alive against an Annihilating Fire. If they decide to do this there’s other options of removing the troll from the battlefield. Annihilating Fire is perfect against Dreg Mangler not allowing the scavenging to happen.
If you haven’t noticed it by now, red is the color to play post rotation – here’s another reason why. Meet the “New” Bonfire of the Damned. In terms of raw power, I don’t think that Mortars is better in a vacuum than Bonfire, but it is in practical use. Mortars isn’t bad when it’s drawn in the opening seven or off a cantrip because of its efficient mana cost, but then later in the game it has a Bonfire like effect. The additional bonus of being able to play Mortars from the hand for cheap is what is going to make Mizzium Mortars more playable over Bonfire in the new format.
Well as you can see, I believe red is where it’s at in current standard. This doesn’t mean other colors aren’t viable options, I just want the best available tools to beat Zombies. Why am I not playing Zombies? It’s going to be over-hyped in the initial weeks of the format and everyone is going to be out to get them. I don’t plan on losing to specific hate cards put in for the deck I’m playing. I’ll probably end up finding the pieces I’m missing in a month or so and try it out then after the hate has died down a bit. But for now, no Zombies!
I’ve looked at three archetypes for the new standard, the first being “American” Delver (UWR). The reason I chose this deck as my first deck to try out in the new format is because I’d be transitioning from a similar deck. The most enticing thing about this deck is that Geist of Saint Traft is absolutely ridiculous! With Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph both leaving Standard, there are not too many cards that see play that kill Giest of Saint Traft. Mizzium Mortars when overloaded, Lilliana of the Veil, Tribute to Hunger, and maybe Bonfire if it’s still a niche card in ramp decks. Geist is going to continue to be good, I think that it may need some help from Spectral Flight however. The problem with Geist is that it just can’t swing through in this format. Quick, fast cards such as Gut Shot and Vapor Snag no longer exist, meaning that the Delver decks are required to play fairly. Geist doesn’t thrive when its opponent’s creatures stay on the battlefield. This is why I’m recommending Spectral Flight. Being able to swing over the top is going to be a huge advantage.
The problem with these UWR Delver decks is that they have a real tough time against anything midrange. This new format is has a bunch of Zombies and midrange decks. Delver now plays four Pillar of Flame in the main deck which is great against Zombies, but there aren’t any cards that currently fix Delver’s problems against midrange decks or Thragtusk. Thragrusk is a real problem for these decks because it’s larger than the amount of damage that Izzet Charm deals and it creates a beast when Cyclonic Rift bounces it. The only real option is to Mizzium Mortars Thragtusk and deal with the beast afterwards. However, at that point they’ve already gained five life and just created a two for one.
If you can’t beat them, join them. Seriously, I don’t know why I tried so many things before just going green for Thragtusk – this creature is just phenomenal. It beats Delver decks alone and is great against Zombies. It takes away the tempo the undead created in the opening of the game, is incredibly difficult for them to kill, and is at worst a two for one. Realistically, Thragtusk will kill three or four Zombies before leaving the battlefield. I am sold on Thragtusk. Well being red and green at this point means playing Huntmaster of the Fells – which serves a very similar purpose to Thragtusk. The big difference is that it starts smaller but does have its benefits. The benefits really come from when it flips in the zombies match-up, blockers are essential when it comes to defeating zombies. Unflipped Huntmasters aren’t going to get the job done.
At this point, I am not sure what I want to use for my third color. Naya is appealing because of the synergies between Restoration Angel and Thragtusk, but… then I saw Brian Braun-Duin’s RUG list. I knew it was in the direction of where I’d like to go but not entirely. Below is my current list of RUG for Post Rotation Standard:
There were some things I didn’t care for in Brian’s list, such as Jace, Architect of Thought, Brimstone Volley, Essence Scatter and some of the numbers.
I’m just not a fan of the new Jace, I wrote about this in my Return to Ravnica spoiler articles. The minus two ability to mini-Fact or Fiction isn’t worth the other two abilities being next to useless. I’m opting to run a Garruk Relentless along with the fourth Snapcaster Mage in those slots. These cards actually do something. Brimstone Volley, I actually really like this card, just not in this deck. In order to run Volley, you need a really aggressive deck that doesn’t mind trading threats. This is not that deck. This deck has twelve creatures that are all pretty valuable to the game plan. I’m opting for a main deck Flames of the Firebrand in its place. Flames is an over-costed Arc Trail and I’m fine with that – I love Arc Trail. Having the answer to a few mana generating creatures or the option to kill a Diredraf Ghoul and a Rakdos Shred-Freak. This card is going to slow down the opponents enough to land a Thragtusk in order to stabilize. Last individual card I didn’t care for was main deck Essence Scatter. I think this card is just too narrow in a brand new metagame, not everything is going to be creature based. I want the option of interacting with my opponents. I believe the real reason for its presence was that Essence Scatter can counterspell a turn two Lotleth Troll, but the deck has enough cards that answer that menace.
Sleep out of the sideboard is my own tech, it’s an answer to Thragtusk mirrors or can tap down Lotleth Trolls and whatever zombies they might control. Sleep holds them down just long enough to swing for lethal or long enough to stabilize.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource