Three Formats for MOCS QP
With the starting of another set of Magic Online Championship Series, I’ve dived back fully into multiple formats this past week (including Legacy, Standard, Modern, and even Sealed, though most people do not find that interesting to discuss).
A few brief words on Standard: For this weekend, I would be considering Esper or Bant control:
There are quite a few innovations in this list. Notably, there are no real creatures in this list to win the game with. Nearly every game will come down to decking the opponent with Nephalia Drownyard (four!) or Jace, Memory Adept. Everything else in the deck helps you survive or pull ahead on cards. Having six Wrath effects (four Terminus and two Supreme Verdict) means the matchup against any sort of G/W deck is very good—you can Wrath a bunch and deck the opponent.
The lack of Lingering Souls is another major innovation—I believe it doesn’t really help you do anything in this type of deck. If you do wish to play Lingering Souls, you should probably include some number of Forbidden Alchemy and/or Thought Scour and Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. By that point, you’re at a completely different deck (not necessarily a bad one, but one that is at great odds with your current strategy).
This particular Bant list was played by Gainsay (Andrew Cuneo) to a MTGO Premier Event Top 4 finish recently. Cuneo knows his control decks very well, and this is no exception. There’s not much change from the recent Bant lists to this one (mostly shaving a Dissipate for a second Jace, Architect of Thought).
His plan in a lot of boarded games is to kill people with Jace, Memory Adept backed up by Negate or Dispel for blue mirrors. Rebuke is sort of like a fifth Azorius Charm, but having the option to outright kill a Thundermaw Hellkite or similarly sized creature that is attacking you is nice.
I played this list last weekend at a Pro Tour Qualifier near Richmond, Virginia, and I went 5–2. Notably, I lost to Storm (which I think is more than a fine matchup, especially post-board), but Game 1 doesn’t seem like the best, especially since I put him on Splinter Twin and tapped out for Blade Splicer on turn three. I also lost to a W/U mirror due to flooding out in Game 1 (which normally isn’t a problem, but I never drew a Sphinx's Revelation) and then being stuck on three lands in Game 2 (a death knell for most W/U mirrors).
Going forward, I still think W/U control is more than fine, but you definitely want the fourth Meddling Mage (sideboarded) and potentially another land in the main deck. Snapcaster Mage was sort of disappointing again since it doesn’t actually do that much except serve as extra Cryptic Commands or Path to Exiles here.
Steve Nagy and I hammered out a Jund list for him to play at the same PTQ, and I’ve played with it some this past week (after making some changes), and it seems quite strong again. Note that I think the white splash for Lingering Souls is mostly bad now:
Liliana of the Veil’s stock is back up on the rise (due to Slippery Bogles and R/G Tron resurging as decks). Besides that, five discard spells seems right to me at the moment, and cutting white from your deck means you take far less damage from your lands, which is always a plus.
In the sideboard, I wanted to try a few different cards. For instance, I wanted to try Sword of Light and Shadow alongside Batterskull since it has applications in a lot of matchups, but overall, it might just be worse than a second Batterskull. Golgari Charm is a sweet card that Steve Nagy turned me onto (kills Splinter Twin, kills multiple mana guys from Naya/MeliraPod).
Jund broke out in yet another format, which actually isn’t surprising at all (if you looked at where the format was going) since Jund is inherently advantaged against B/U/G variants.
"Jund by Pat Cox"
For those of you who play a lot of Modern, the main deck looks very close to the old three-colored Jund deck. Reid Duke did a lot of work on the deck last week before the Grand Prix, and I suppose he gave the list to Pat Cox and Josh Ravitz alike. The main differences are: better mana (since you have eleven very good fetch lands, which allows you to play a basic Mountain), and Hymn to Tourach is one of the best discard spells ever printed. Running three Bloodbraid Elf may seem a bit strange, but Legacy is a much faster format, so you don’t want to clog your hand with 4-drops.
Sylvan Library is the fifth Dark Confidant, and the sideboard solidifies Jund’s disruptive role in a lot of matchups (Duress/Hymn to Tourach against combo and control, Umezawa's Jitte against aggressive decks, and so forth).
I don’t really like this deck, but it is certainly well-positioned against Jund. I found it not to be as good at grinding people out as B/U/G variants are, and it’s not as good at disrupting people as B/U/G either. However, Stoneforge Mystic is a very reliable way to stall aggressive decks (fetching Batterskull usually).
The only thing non-standard here is his sideboarding Geist of Saint Traft (against combo decks and W/U mirrors, I would imagine), which is still a very powerful card when your opponent can’t interact with it. Of note, if you are B/U/G or Jund, you absolutely want to board in at least one Engineered Plague, if not two, against Esper—Engineered Plague on Spirits makes it much tougher for Esper to beat you.
Matt Nass also switched to Elves.
Matt Nass already had one Grand Prix win with Elf combo (GP: Oakland), so it is not surprising he would choose to play Elves again. This Elves combo list is a bit different than ones we have seen in the past due to its ability to just win via Natural Order for Craterhoof Behemoth. In post-boarded games, I would imagine his plan is to fetch Progenitus (against a B/U/G or Jund deck while trying to play around sacrificial effects) and attack twice with it.
The rest of the Top 8 was rounded out by R/U/G Delver (Ryan Pesch), another Jund (Josh Ravitz), B/U/G Delver (in the very capable hands of Legacy aficionado Dan Signorini), Esper Stoneforge (Donnie Peck), and W/U Miracles with Rest In Peace/Helm of Obedience combo (Andrew Ohlschwager).
To conclude: I’m currently playing Bant (in Standard), Jund (in Modern) and Jund / Shardless B/U/G (in Legacy).
As usual, I welcome any comments here or on Twitter @jkyu06.
Thanks for reading.