Holiday Constructed Extravaganza

Hey everyone!

Were in the holiday season and that means Aether Revolt spoilers! On top of that Grand Prix Louisville is on the horizon which means some more Legacy brews. I also want to share my experiences at a Team Constructed event at BC Comix in Fenton, MI.

Legacy

Jeskai Stoneblade

I talked about this deck a couple weeks ago. Jeskai was impressive and the logic was sound for adding queller. If you play early creatures that must die then the coast is clear when it’s time to counter something with Spell Queller. I went 2-1 at a local Legacy event with the deck, losing to Dredge, and things felt smooth.


This is one of my frontrunners for Grand Prix Louisville now. One of my biggest complaints about Delver decks was that it was bad when your turn one play died to Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares. Thanks to building around Spell Queller I’m now indifferent to Delver dying.

I took this theory a step further. What happens when I play Noble Hierarch and Deathrite Shaman instead of Delver?


This deck is better against fair decks because there are eight ways to cast True-Name Nemesis on turn two. Unfortunately it’s weaker to Miracles because mana creatures require you to overextend into Terminus.

It’s nice to be able to hardcast Batterskull even with Daze and Wasteland in your deck. I like this deck more than Maverick because it has a similar matchup profile except you play with Brainstorm and Force of WIll.

Overall Jeskai Delver is more of my style, but I think there’s something here.

Esper Stoneblade

I did some soul searching and decided Spell Queller is not the way to go in Esper Stoneblade. This deck is near and dear to my heart. If there was another early creature that demanded a removal spell I would say it makes the cut. Here’s my current list:


This is easily the most fun I’ve had playing Legacy in some time. I think this deck has the highest power level of the various Stoneblade decks I have built so far. It has a conservative mana base with 22 lands, 4 basics, and 11 fetches. Eldrazi is a good matchup because of Liliana, True-Name, and Baleful Strix.

I’m pulling the trigger on the third Zealous Persecution in the board. It’s lights out for Maverick, Death and Taxes, and Elves. It’s also quite solid versus Infect. This is typically a sideboard card and the most people have is two copies. Go for gold and add the third. Toxic Deluge is worse because it kills your own True-Name.

Miracles

Since Joe Lossett won the SCG Player’s Championship, I thought I would also revisit Miracles.


I like that this version plays so many threats. Venser is also super fun to play when you compare it to clunky Council’s Judgment. This build was under the radar, but Joe’s win will put it in the limelight.

In addition to Wizard Miracles, I’m also interested in experimenting with maindeck Back to Basics.


Two matchups I would rather not face is Lands and Eldrazi. The thing these two decks have in common is they would rather not face Back to Basics. I also get the added edge in Delver matchups where they play no more than two basic lands. When the opponent sees you’re playing Miracles they stop playing around Wasteland. It’s common to see Blood Moon, Back to Basics, and From the Ashes in the board, but rarely is it in the main.

It’s a Blue card to pitch to Force of Will and is a 3-drop for Counterbalance if it’s not good in the matchup. I can also cast it to trigger Monastery Mentor. My mana base needed changing to support this crippling spell. I’m down to a Tundra and Volcanic Island for non-basics. Since I don’t want the extra utility land I went down to 21 lands. Ponder helps find my lands which works well with Monastery Mentor. I don’t care for legendary creatures since Karakas doesn’t work with the overall strategy of keeping non-basic lands at bay.

I really hate playing against Cavern of Souls with Counterbalance and this version has a nice answer to it.

Team Constructed

Two weeks ago I had a great time teaming with Stu Parnes and Brian Demars at BC Comix. Here’s the Team RIW Hobbies breakdown:

Stu Parnes: Standard: B/G Delirium
Me: Modern: Jeskai Flash (of course)
Brian Demars: Legacy: U/W Miracles

There were 14 teams, 4 rounds of swiss, and then a cut to top 4. We were the first seed as the only undefeated team and split the finals.

Here’s our match breakdown:

Top 4 Round 4 Round3 Round 2 Round 1 Player
U/R Control Mardu Vehicles G/W Humans Naya Aetherworks Aetherflux Combo Stu
Merfolk Bant Eldrazi Grixis Control Infect Burn Kyle
Oops All Spells Eldrazi Miracles Miracles Mirror Infect Brian

This is a pretty diverse set of matchups. I was happy with how things played out because helping teammates with different formats requires quickly shifting to different metagames.

I don’t see a lot of this format, but it’s easy to get three friends together to play. This is because multi-format team events don’t have the unified deck construction rule. It can be awkward to find players from your area that specialize in specific Modern decks that don’t overlap, but easy to find someone that plays Modern and even Legacy. For this reason I think it’s a great event to run at even the LGS-level.

My favorite PTQ format was back in 2006: Team Unified Standard. I was lucky to have enough cards to build everyone a deck to play on my team, but attendance was low due to logistical issues. Since there are three formats things are much more simple.

I got rewarded for being familiar with Stu’s Delirium deck and Brian’s Miracles. Since we were seated in format order, I was in the middle with Modern. That meant I could help out the most. I tried my best not to be dead weight for game decisions.

My Modern deck doesn’t change much from week to week, but there is usually a small tweak.


My individual record with the deck was 4-1 losing to Merfolk in the top 4. His draws were quite good both games, but this matchup could use some work. This doesn’t mean I want something dedicated to beating Merfolk because the deck isn’t very popular. It might mean a third Cryptic Command in the sideboard for Merfolk, Bant Eldrazi, GB/x, and Blue mirrors over the Runed Halo. It’s important to play “zone defense” with Modern sideboard cards. You can feel the urge to add dedicated hate cards when you lose to a specific deck, but the chances of playing against any one archetype is unlikely.

I added a second Logic Knot to the maindeck and I wasn’t disappointed. If you don’t play this card in U/W decks consider you should consider it. When I had a single fetch land in my opener it was basically Mana Leak early and Counterspell late. I moved the Negate to the board because I want plenty of hard counters against Tron and Scapeshift. I feel invincible when the game goes late and I hate a Logic Knot in hand. It’s rare that I feel that inevitability with a card that also works so well early.

Aether Revolt Spoilers

The inner spike in me causes massive eye rolling whenever I see a Deploy the Gatewatch deck during spoiler season. Time will tell how impactful the new set will be, but it takes a lot to dethrone Smuggler’s Copter, Gideon, and Emrakul.

Artifacts continue to be pushed in this set so some of the fringe strategies like Metalwork Colossus will get a boost. Will these decks make it to tier 1 or will they continue to strike when the time is right? Part of WOTC’s design philosophy is to purposefully create a tier 2 deck that gets enough boost in a following set.

I’m writing this article on Monday and there aren’t any new spoilers other than the sweet new Masterpieces. I don’t typically think these are especially interesting, but I’m excited for Engineered Explosives and Pithing Needle.

Frontier

I’ve heard a lot of buzz surrounding this new format. What is it exactly?

It’s a non-rotating Constructed format where sets from Magic 2015 and onward are legal.

  • Magic 2015
  • Khans of Tarkir
  • Fate Reforged
  • Dragons of Tarkir
  • Magic Origins
  • Battle for Zendikar
  • Oath of the Gatewatch
  • Shadows over Innistrad
  • Eldritch Moon
  • Kaladesh

I think this is a cool idea, but we don’t need another non-rotating format. As the number of sets increase it gets closer to Modern. It would be neat if it was an alternative to Standard because most players just can’t get excited about that format even though I think it’s fun.

At the moment Standard becomes stale when the rotation is as long as it is. There was a drop in casual Standard players when WOTC put the rotations in hyperdrive because it was too expensive to keep up despite coverage being more interesting. They’re between a rock and a hard place. I think making Standard a larger rotating pool of expansions could alleviate this stress. It could be argued that a dominant deck would stay at the top for longer and that’s true. There are enough cards to create linear decks to beat the good stuff which can cause shifts.

WOTC would never nix Standard and replace it with a non-rotating format because it wouldn’t sell as many packs. This could be a realistic alternative. Maybe it’s closer to another failed format — Overextended. Are three blocks legal enough to keep things fresh while still making the newest sets relevant? I think this is possible.

Pat Chapin brought up the fetchland issue with a non-rotating format with Khans Block. I actually had a lot of fun playing Khans Standard, but I remember having to remind my opponents to play quickly because the 12 fetchland mana base was so time-consuming. Modern and Legacy are already known for these mana bases and I would like Frontier to have its own identity.

There’s also an issue with format proliferation. When there are too many competitive formats they default to PTQ seasons which reduces the amount of play time. I remember when I started playing PTQs we had Block Constructed, Extended, and Standard. Block and Extended were not played at the casual level. Even if we can strike a balance between Modern, Standard, and Frontier there’s going to be some cannibalization. I have the time and incentive to know what’s happening in each format, but most players don’t.

Magic players love to complain about anything. At the moment there is clamor for Frontier, but there will be flaws. The real question is if Modern, Standard, or both need fixing. I have a ton of Magic cards so I don’t have to plan for three months when I want to build a new deck, but that’s a reality for most players. I don’t think sweeping reform should be taken lightly.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

That’s all I have this week.

Thanks for reading,
Kyle


Pre-Order Aether Revolt at CoolStuffInc.com today!

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