Five Decks You Can’t Miss This Week
Welcome back! Now that we've had some time to play with Gatecrash, let's take a look at the impact it's had on our favorite constructed formats. We've got five awesome decks this week, two from Standard, two from Modern, and the last of our Gatecrash Commander decks. Let's take a look:
Let's start with Legacy. With the addition of Deathrite Shaman to the format, the fair decks have gotten a lot more midrangey. As a consequence of this, the combo decks have gotten a lot more unfair. This can push people to a place where they need more proactive disruption. The first step of this is shifting to discard rather than counterspells. But what if that's not enough? What if you need more permanent-based disruption so that your opponent can't necessarily topdeck their way out of it? Let's take a look at grapplingfarang's 3-1 deck from a Legacy Daily Event:
Tezzeret Combo - Legacy | grapplingfarang, 3-1 Legacy Daily Event
Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, and Chalice of the Void have been showing up in the same decks for a very long time, and for good reason. Chalice of the Void on one is a giant beating against most of the format. It functions as multiple Time Walks against the Brainstorm and] Dark Ritual decks of the format. It buys you time to set Chalice on a higher number that just locks decks out of the game, or to set up additional lock pieces like Tangle Wire and Trinisphere.
Or, in this case, to combo them out yourself. This deck uses the mana acceleration of Mox Opal and Ancient Tomb to resolve early lock pieces or to ramp into Planeswalkers. Then you can either dig for Leyline of the Void and Helm of Obedience to combo your opponent out or you can just resolve more disruption and kill them with a Jace or a Tezzeret.
One of the most exciting cards in this deck is The Abyss. This card seems awesome for the metagame right now. It dodges Abrupt Decay as well as most of the removal available to blue decks. In a world where so many decks want to just resolve a Tarmogoyf and call it a day, The Abyss buys you a ton of time to set up and execute the rest of your gameplan. It even kills Emrakul, the Aeons Torn! It doesn't get much sweeter than that!
One of my favorite creatures of all time is Vengevine. The card creates an incredibly interesting and exciting tension in gameplay and can force you to make decisions that seem incredibly backwards. I know I've certainly gassed up on Squadron Hawks just to discard a pair of Vengevines. I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when people started turning to Vengevine to try to grind out Supreme Verdict decks in Modern. Let's take a look at xMiMx's 4-0 deck from a Modern Daily Event:
Gb Aggro - Modern | PauloCabral_Br, 4-0 Standard Daily Event
This is an interesting take on Burning-Tree Emissary in Modern. Instead of using it exclusively to power out other two drops, now we're using it to double-spell for Vengevine. You still get to play the best removal and reach in the format and are still capable of some very aggressive starts, but you also get access to mana creatures and two of the best turn two plays in the format: Knight of the Reliquary and Blood Moon. Both of these have the potential to just end games from that point.
This deck is built to be a little grindier than the other aggro decks in the format. You can take over the midgame with Domri Rade and Garruk Relentless. You can tutor up Gavony Township with your Knight of the Reliquary and start pumping your mana creatures. You can also just Vengevine your opponent a bunch of times until they die.
You might think that this deck is weak to Path to Exile, since that card is awesome against both Knight of the Reliquary, Vengevine and even Tarmogoyf. To an extent, you're right. But the fact of the matter is that you'll frequently have more threats than they have Paths, and your Planeswalkers won't care about Path to Exile very much.
Our next deck is another interesting take on a known archetype in Modern. Last weekend, Caleb Durward and Joe Bernal took 1st and 2nd at a PTQ in Madison, Wisconson with a unique take on the Splinter Twin Archetype. Let's take a look:
UWR Twin - Modern | Caleb Durward, 2nd Place PTQ Madison, WI
Caleb wrote his own article on the deck which you should check out for more detailed analysis, but we can do a quick rundown here.
The strength of this deck is that you attack from multiple angles. You play the best removal and countermagic in the format to protect yourself from early aggression and protect your important spells. You can force people to either interact with your aggressive creatures or your combo, and they'll just die when they run out of ways to interact.
One of the most subtly powerful cards in the deck is Wall of Omens. Sure, it's just a cantrip for two, but it comes with an 0/4 body in a format where Goblin Guide decks are on the rise, and Wall buys you infinite time against those.
Another cute card that may become increasingly relevant is Village Bell Ringer. Blind Obedience is a card that people are starting to play in UWx decks to buy them an extra turn against Splinter Twin decks. You still get to combo them out, but you have to give them a full turn to interact before you combo on their end step, untap, and attack. Village Bell Ringer avoids this problem neatly, and could become very important if Blind Obedience picks up more steam.
The archetypes in Standard are staying fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, the strategies aren't really following suit. We have a Standard format with almost perfect mana for decks with three or more colors, and that means that one week's tech is in every deck next week. Prime Speaker Zegana was the breakout card over the last week, and now it's becoming a common inclusion in four-color midrange decks.
The deck we have this week comes from a completely different direction, and was put together and discussed by the brewmaster himself, Conley Woods in his article this week. What do Sphinx of the Chimes and Borborygmos Enraged have in common? Let's find out:
Sphinx of Chimes Combo - Standard | Conley Woods
How much work can one Veilborn Ghoul do? Plenty, at least in this deck. You can discard it for free to Faithless Looting and Liliana of the Veil due to your high Swamp count, and you can use it to power up your Sphinx of the Chimes with ease.
Just imagine resolving Unburial Rites on a Sphinx of the Chimes with a pair of Veilborn Ghouls in your hand. Pitch them to draw four cards. One of them was a Swamp? I guess you get to draw four more. This kind of draw engine makes it easy to find any answers you need immediately, or to set up the rest of your combo.
That's right, there's more. Your end game is to reanimate Borborygmos Enraged and use your Veilborn Ghoul/Sphinx of the Chimes engine to fill your hand with lands and go to the dome. Maybe this iteration of the deck is a little too cute, but the Veilborn Ghoul interactions in this deck are powerful and easy to set up, and could certainly be the shell of a new deck.
We've finished our series of decks featuring Gatecrash Legends, but there are always new Commander decks that are doing something unique and interesting. For the next few weeks, I want to take a look at mono-colored lists that are doing something new and exciting. The first color I want to look at is Red.
Red and I don't tend to have a good relationship, especially in Commander. I'm generally not a fan of creatures and attacking, so we just don't mix well. Thanks to Galspanic on MTGSalvation, I think I've found a Red deck I can get excited about. Let's take a look at his Diaochan, Artful Beauty deck:
Diaochan Control - Commander | Galspanic
This deck has one of my favorite attrition engines for mono-colored decks: Crucible of Worlds plus Buried Ruin. Each piece recurs the other, and both are valuable for grinding out long games. If you add Petrified Field to the mix, the engine becomes even harder to disrupt. This kind of interaction should give you an idea of just how slowly this deck plans on winning.
Beyond that, you have some more traditional prison elements. Smokestack plus Krenko, Mob Boss or Goblin Assault; Winter Orb; Ward of Bones. All of these let you slow the game down to a grinding halt and leverage your attrition engines to make sure you're the one with the last threat.
So how does Diaochan, Artful Beauty fit into this plan? Well, she acts as essentially an unconditional removal spell. She's like a Seal of Doom that just sits on the board and encourages people to leave you alone while you get your shields up. It's also worth mentioning that Diaochan interacts very nicely with sacrifice outlets or bounce effects, and I'm surprised not to see more cards like Trading Post or Culling Dais. You choose targets when the ability is activated and sacrifice/bounce Diaochan for value in response if your opponent chooses her as a target. The ability still has a legal target, so it will still kill your target.
Eventually you'll get to a point where you can start killing people with Vicious Shadows or Warstorm Surge, but winning is an afterthought in this style of deck. I like this deck because it's very different than a traditional Red deck. It's not a Goblin- or Equipment-based aggro or combo deck, and it plays a shockingly powerful control and attrition game for a Red deck.