5 Decks You Can’t Miss This Week
Magic 2014 is on the horizon, about to shake things up yet again, but we're still not done with Dragon's Maze. Getting tired of Red-Green, Jund, and Deathblade? Let's take a look at some of the sweeter things you can do in your favorite formats:
Delver of Secrets and Ponder dominated the previous Standard format, but ever since the rotation we haven't had the critical mass of cantrips and card selection necessary to make Delver a real card. A number of people have tried to make spell-based tempo decks function, usually as part of a Delver shell, but to minimal success. Pobby has a new take on this deck that relies a little less on flipping Delvers early. Here's the list he took to 3-1 in a Standard Daily Event:
BUG Tempo - Standard | Pobby, 3-1 Standard Daily Event
I love me a Quirion Dryad, so it should be no surprise that I'm super excited about this list. You have a critical mass of creatures that start getting in for damage early in Delver of Secrets, Quirion Dryad, and Deathrite Shaman. With a full 22 cheap instants and sorceries in your deck it shouldn't be too hard to start generating damage early on.
Deathrite Shaman even has the additional benefit of shutting off opposing Snapcaster Mage and Unburial Rites decks, which make up a significant portion of the metagame. Additionally, Snapcaster Mage is actually just busted with Qurion Dryad, since you get to grow your Dryad twice off of a Snapcaster Maged Unsummon or some such.
Vapor Snag seems like an absolutely huge loss for this style of deck, but I'm excited to see if something like this can catch on for the last few months of Standard. I for one would certainly like to see Quirion Dryad make a comeback!
Let's head into Modern for our next deck and take a look at the evolution of one of the first dominant decks of the format: Naya Pod. This deck is built around the interaction between Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Restoration, as well as the ability to Birthing Pod Kitchen Finks into Restoration Angel to reset your Kitchen Finks. In recent events, Melira, Sylvok Outcast-based Birthing Pod decks have been the preferred choice because of their disruption suite, but Ari Lax seems to prefer the Kiki-Jiki builds:
4c Birthing Pod - Modern | Ari Lax (armlx), 4-0 Standard Daily Event
First thing's first, Domri Rade is a big deal. This is exactly the kind of card this deck wants in place of Chord of Calling. Chord helps you win games where you're ahead on the board and only missing one combo piece. Those are games you can win just by going on the beatdown anyway. You need help in the games where your opponent curves out with removal spells or sweepers and you need to rebuild or fight through their hate creatures, and Domri Rade does all of those things all while coming down on turn two.
The second important things to notice is the Blue splash, which has become all but standard in these decks. Deceiver Exarch and Phantasmal Image are absolutely huge for this deck because they make Birthing Pod a one-card combo. The most common sequence, for example, is to Pod a two-drop into [card}Deceiver Exarch[/card], untap your Pod, Pod a one-drop into Phantasmal Image to copy exarch and untap your pod, then Pod your Image into Restoration Angel to flicker Exarch and untap pod, then pod Angel into Kiki-Jiki for the kill. Oh, by the way, you can do this as early as turn three.
The most important card these Birthing Pod archetypes have gained recently is Voice of Resurgence. Not only does this guy give you an additional layer of protection when you try to combo on your turn, he's also an absolutely stellar creatures to Pod away to really let you get your beat down on.
The biggest advantage of this four-color Pod deck over Melira Pod is that you have a more focused gameplan, and that makes your Birthing Pods much more powerful. The issue is that you lose a lot of your ability to play a grindy, fair game against attrition-based decks. Both of these archetypes are very fun and very powerful and you can't go wrong with either one.
If you play any amount of Pauper on Magic Online, you're familiar with Cloudpost decks. These decks use the Cloudpost/Glimmerpost engine to do unfair things very early on in the game, usually involving Temporal Fissure or Capsize. This week we're going to take a look at a different Cloudpost deck that got a huge boost with Modern Masters. Let's take a look at adamperkins and his Rebel Post deck:
Rebel Post - Pauper | adamperkins, Pauper Daily Event
Bound in Silence is an innocuous looking card that recently became a common in Modern Masters. This is a huge deal for this style of deck. All you want to do is untap with a Rebel searcher and then start leveraging your Cloudpost engine into additional creatures to start developing a board presence and grinding the game out. Bound in Silence gives you a way to shut down large creatures and find opportunities to get aggressive and end the game before you run out of Aven Riftwatchers.
The choice of equipment in this deck is very interesting and says a lot about where the Pauper format is right now. Normally, you might expect to see Sylvok Lifestaff in a deck like this, since you have lots of small creatures, some with vanishing, and you expect to trade quite a bit against aggressive decks.
However, that extra one power doesn't do very much in a format dominated by Temporal Fissure, Nivix Cyclops, and Myr Enforcer, so the extra power on Bonesplitter gives you more opportunities to trade up and end games before things get out of hand.
Magic 2014 is bringing with it a few changes to the rules that affect Legendary permanents. The most exciting interaction to come out of this change thus far is between Dark Depths and Thespian Stage. This Land-based has capture the imagination of Legacy players, and they're already brewing up shells to fit this combo into. Let's take a look at bruizar's take featuring Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas:
UB Dark Depths - Legacy | bruizar
The way this combo works is by copying Dark Depths with Thespian Stage. Under the old rules, you would lose both of your copies of Dark Depths. Instead, the new rules let you choose one to keep in play, and if you choose the copy with no Ice Counters, suddenly you have a Marit Lage token.
Many people want to try to fit this into a Life from the Loam shell with Wasteland, Living Wish, and Crop Rotation to give you as much redundancy and speed as possible. Bruizar has headed in a more controlling direction, fitting this into a Counterbalance/Sensei's Divining Top deck that features six Planeswalkers.
The exciting thing about this deck is that you're not really dependent on your combo. You can just curve disruption into Jace, the Mind Sculptor and shut your opponent out of the game that way. Or, you can Tezzeret into Expedition Map and threaten an instant speed Marit Lage for the rest of the game. You have a very dynamic and flexible gameplan that can create oportunities to force through your combo or planeswalkers and just end the game, which seems like a good place to be in Legacy right now.
There's a certain stigma attached to Blue Commander decks. The combination of fast mana, artifact synergies, countermagic, and card drawing can lead to some pretty degenerate games and interactions. But not all Blue decks are unfair or unfun. There are plenty of takes on Sakashima the Impostor or Talrand, Sky Summoner that are fun and interactive. Personally though, I've always enjoyed Meloku the Clouded Mirror, and have found him to be pretty underrepresented relative to his power. Meloku may not let you combo off or end the game in a flurry of countermagic and card-drawing, but he his very flexible and powerful, and I'm excited to start exploring a tempo-oriented take on the Legendary Moonfolk.
Meloku Tempo - Commander | Carlos
I'm very excited about this deck for a number of reasons. I'm excited to try to play a tempo-oriented deck in a format that's all about value an giant creatures. I'm interested to see whether resilient threats backed by cheap interactive spells and card drawing can get there against some of the more powerful late-game decks. Why Meloku over something like Talrand? I like that Meloku forces you into making decisions each turn about how many tokens you can afford to make. This forces you to think about your mana curve a lot more and makes each of your choices more meaningful.
Essentially what this deck wants to do is to lay low and resolve a Meloku. From there you can generate moderately-sized squads of tokens and start getting in for damage. All you really want to do is use your interactive elements to keep your guys alive and the board from getting out of hand. Then eventually you start dropping anthems and apply a huge amount of pressure over a small number of turns.
The key to this deck is making sure that you can continue to develop your mana while putting tokens into play at the end of each turn cycle. Thawing Glaciers is probably the most important card in the deck for that purpose. Because of the Oracle wording on Thawing Glaciers, it doesn't return itself to your hand until the end of the turn, leaving you a chance to bounce it with Meloku instead. We've even got cards like Thespian's Stage and Deserted Temple to push this interaction further and generate additional lands. Going even deeper than that, there are the Explorer's Scope and Druidic Satchel effects that combine well with your Brainstorms to get ahead on lands.
This seems like a fun skeleton that gets to play with sweet cards like Distant Melody and Konda's Banner. I like that this is a Blue deck that has a relatively proactive gameplan, and I like that you can use Gravitational Shift and company to turn the corner hard and just start killing players. This seems like an interesting take on an archetype that is quite common in 60 card formats, and I'm excited to give it a try in Commander.