Five Decks You Can’t Miss This Week
Day One of Pro Tour Gatecrash is in the books, and that can only mean one thing: we've got some sweet decks from the floor of the Pro Tour and the week leading up to it. This week we're going to focus on Standard, the format featured on the Pro Tour and the one that has been most affected by the addition of Gatecrash. Let's take a look.
Tomoharu Saito's Twitter feed was an awesome source for Standard tech this week. Last week he posted an awesome Gruul aggro deck that was able to use Burning-Tree Emissary and Rancor to get an edge in the aggressive mirrors. This week he broke it again with this awesome Naya beatdown deck:
I like this my new deck. but sidebord is not sure. twitter.com/TomoharuSaito/…
— TomoharuSaito (@TomoharuSaito) February 9, 2013
Naya Aggro - Standard | Tomoharu Saito
This deck brings the beatdowns and it brings them hard. Your creatures are bigger than the other aggro decks at just about every stage of the game, and your curve is much more efficient. On top of that, you have the most absurd nut draws possible, largely thanks to Burning-Tree Emissary. Sure, we can just cast an Emissary into a Flinthoof Boar. If we're lucky, maybe we can chain some Emissaries first. Or we can start with Gyre Sage and then drop our Emissary and Boar for double evolve. We can Restoration Angel our Emissary to let us cast a Mizzium Mortars or to drop another creature on the cheap. The utility of Burning-Tree Emissary is not to be underestimated in this deck.
The second exciting thing about this build is Domri Rade. You play 28 creatures in this deck, so Domri's +1 will hit just under half the time. That said, he applies unique pressure to other controlling and midrangey decks. If they don't kill him or you, they're going to lose to all the creatures your drawing or to the Akroma's Memorial emblem that follows. Even if you can't just +1 repeatedly, your creatures are all absolutely gigantic, so the Prey Upon ability is awesome for controlling the board and making sure you can get your creatures through.
This deck is awesome because it can have absurdly explosive aggressive starts, generally powered by Burning-Tree Emissary and Gyre Sage. Those cards also enable you to accelerate into the middle turns of the game where your deck is most powerful, and make sure that you start casting your bombs before you lose to Hellrider or before your opponent gets to start casting Sphinx's Revelation.
Ever since Travis Woo unveiled his Omniscience/Door to Nothingness monstrosity, the deck has seen play as a way to go over the top of the control decks of the format. They can gain all the life they want off of their Thragtusk and Sphinx's Revelation, you're just going to Door them anyway, right?
The biggest weakness of the deck has always been it's aggro matchup. They just kill you before you get to start casting Increasing Ambition and Gilded Lotus. James Ashe found a Gatecrash gem that may just change all of that:
Unexpected Results - Standard | James Ashe, 7th Place StarCityGames Classic 2/10
Let's just take a second to appreciate how absurd Unexpected Results can be in this kind of deck. You Farseek on turn into an Unexpected Results on turn three. You shuffle, your opponent cuts, and then you flip an Omniscience into play. Seems fair. Even if you're not lucky enough to hit Omniscience, are there really that many cards that you'd be unhappy to flip into play?
All this deck wants to do is ramp into bomby things. Unexpected Results is a repeatable Explore at its very worst, and at its best you win the game when you cast it. Everywhere in the middle it's just super efficient. I'll gladly take a Thragtusk or Urban Evolution for 2UG.
Only time will tell if Unexpected Results and Urban Evolution make this deck a real player instead of a really sweet fringe deck. I certainly hope to see people playing the Unexpected Results lottery, if only for the epic stories of turn 3 Griselbrands and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalkers.
Our next deck is a little different. It's not nearly as explosive as Saito's Naya deck and doesn't go as big as James' Omniscience deck, but it's definitely sweet. Thomas McVeigh won a Grand Prix Trial on-site at Grand Prix London with this BUG deck that takes undying to another level:
BUG Aggro - Standard | Thomas McVeigh, Winner Grand Prix Trial, Grand Prix London
The shell of this deck is pretty straightforward and powerful. Aggressive and resilient creatures backed by countermagic and removal is usually a recipe for success. Duskmantle Seer and Dreg Mangler give you additional reach, which is something the BUG color combination generally lacks.
The exciting piece of this deck is Zameck Guildmage. Guildmage is an absurdly powerful engine in this deck, and goes a long way towards letting you grind out other decks. With undying creatures, Zameck Guildmage is a repeatable source of card drawing that also lets them undie again. It also lets you remove counters from your Experiment One to continue evolving him with your undying Strangleroot Geists.
It's difficult to say whether this deck will be able to compete in a format as polarized as this one. It's difficult to compete with both Hellrider and Sphinx's Revelation, but Zameck Guidmage may be able to do it. It might even be possible to take this in a more controlling direction, just using the Guildmage/undying engine to block and draw cards until you can bring your Thragtusks to bear.
Our last Standard deck for this week is a deck from Pro Tour Gatecrash built and piloted by non other than Conley Woods himself. Conley did a video deck tech on site at the Pro Tour, so why don't I let him introduce his deck:
Mono Black Control - Standard | Conley Woods, Pro Tour Gatecrash
It really seems as though many players thought that the metagame at the Pro Tour would swing away from the aggressive decks that defined the early weeks of the format and back towards the midrange and control decks that we saw throughout Return to Ravnica Standard. Conley's deck seems awesome against all of those decks.
Griselbrand and Staff of Nin are very reasonable ways to go over the top of the Sphinx's Revelation decks, while Mutilate and other black removal put you in a great spot against the Boros Reckoner decks.
I think that the biggest issue with this kind of deck is the lack of efficient lifegain. Vampire Nighthawk and Crypt Ghast are both very fragile, while Griselbrand can be too expensive to make a difference. Gloom Surgeon is one of the cards in the deck that best fills this void. It's very difficult for the Red-based aggro decks to kill without spending a turn to Searing Spear the Gloom Surgeon, which buys you time to resolve your Nighthawks and Griselbrands.
Last, we've got another Commander deck featuring one of the new Gatecrash legends. This time we're taking a look at a prison-based Obzedat, Ghost Council deck. My first impression of Obzedat was that he was just worse than Ghost Council of Orzhova for Commander. The original Ghost Council is a very cheap sacrifice outlet which is easy to abuse, while Obzedat is basically just a beater, right? Capitacom proved me wrong with an awesome take on Obzedat that takes advantage of the timing on Obzedat's blink effect.
Obzedat Stax - Commander| capitacom
The first thing to note about Obzedat is that he is a very resilient win condition for a control deck. He's only ever going to be in play on your turn, so he is only vulnerable to spot removal. To that end, most decks would run something like Lightning Greaves. The issue with this is that Obzedat leaves play every turn, so there will be an opening when you move to re-equip. To that end, capitacom found an awesome gem, Righteous War. Most of the spot removal in Commander is White or Black, and so with this, Obzedat is all but impossible to kill.
Next, capitacom takes advantage of the timing on Obzedat's ability. He triggers on your upkeep before returning to play. This means that you can play cards like Call to the Grave and The Abyss and never have to destroy Obzedat. You just stack your triggers so that you sacrifice or destroy a creature before Obzedat returns to play. If you wanted to go even deeper on this, you could add pieces like Smokestack and Descent into Madness
In many ways, Black and White are defined by their sweepers in Commander, and capitacom's deck certainly doesn't skimp on the Wraths. However, he goes a step further by including cards like Torpor Orb and Meekstone to help control the board without having to pull the trigger on a sweeper. The beauty of this is that his primary win conditions are Obzedat, Ghost Council, Sun Titan, and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobyte. All of these cards have vigilance of one sort or another and don't require "Enters the Battlefield" triggers , and so they don't care about these kinds of effects.
All in all, this is a very powerful and interesting take on a Commander I had written off. I'm super excited to see where this build goes with further development, and it's certainly one that I'll be considering tinkering with.