After the big event, looking back at what was done is inevitable.
What's more fun, though, is to look forward, to take in a format, and start playing Magic again, without any concerns about big stakes, but focusing instead on joy.
Now, I enjoy winning, so for me, Magic-joy does involve a bit of winning, of course. But, when there isn't a major tournament being prepared for, the lack of that pressure - especially when the clock gets shorter and shorter - really makes for the chance to take some time and simply enjoy the pleasure of the play of a deck.
Joy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Here are the three decks I was having the most fun playing.
Number Three: White Weenie
I first talked about this deck a while back, saying that the appeal was simple - it's fun to go fast.
Since then, I've shifted a few thing around on this deck, and I suppose it's fair to say that I'm now playing Azorius, but only barely.
Embracing Blue was based on something simple: getting beaten by Fog.
It doesn't take very much countermagic to make this be something you can fight. While there are occasional games you are punished for this, it isn't much, and the payoff feels worth it.
The biggest "strange" card that I'm playing is Silverbeak Griffin. Frankly, I've really liked the card a great deal, but for curve considerations, I can't play any more than I've already put in the deck. Just a simple 2/2 flier can be a real pain for the early game for Curious Obsession decks, and while it isn't the best rate against decks where you're unofficially playing double-solitaire, it isn't bad either. Lately, with the increase in Kraul Harpooner, it might have begun to bring with it a bit of trouble, but it isn't excessive.
Here's where I'm at.
(Barely) Azorius Aggro | Allegiance Standard | Adrian Sullivan
- Creatures (27)
- 2 Adanto Vanguard
- 2 Silverbeak Griffin
- 3 Snubhorn Sentry
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 4 Dauntless Bodyguard
- 4 Skymarcher Aspirant
- 4 Tithe Taker
- 4 Venerated Loxodon
- Instants (3)
- 3 Unbreakable Formation
One of my saddest changes to this deck was the sideboard - cutting the singleton Settle the Wreckage made a single tear fall down my cheek, but it seemed a luxury I couldn't afford. In the Mon-White build, you can rest assured that it is in there!
Number Two: George
I know, I'm basically one of the only people that calls this deck "George", but I can't help it - I'm old, and that's what this deck used to be called.
Everyone has been talking about this deck since Alexander Hayne published his list that he used to storm the Mythic ladder. Since, it obviously continues to be the talk of the town after Autumn Burchett's win with it, especially after such an impressive semi-final victory over Reid Duke in the mirror match.
For my part, my Cleveland collaborator, Zvi Mowshowitz, was eventually convinced to play it by Madison-New York connection Gaudenis Vidugiris, and while I didn't join Zvi on that ride, since Cleveland, I've been playing a great deal more of the deck again.
Here's where I'm at with my version:
Mono-Blue Aggro ("George") | Allegiance Standard | Adrian Sullivan
- Creatures (19)
- 1 Surge Mare
- 2 Mist-Cloaked Herald
- 4 Merfolk Trickster
- 4 Pteramander
- 4 Siren Stormtamer
- 4 Tempest Djinn
- Sorceries (1)
- 1 Entrancing Melody
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Curious Obsession
- Lands (20)
- 20 Island
This list is an amalgamation of a lot of lists, but it leans pretty heavily on the top performing lists at Cleveland. This is a pretty explored archetype at this point, and there really isn't much divergence to work with.
One of the big one is splitting the difference between Autumn's and Reid's counts on Harold, the Mist-Cloaked Herald. As the format has developed, unblockable has felt more and more relevant, and I've wanted to make sure that I had at least some number of these little Merfolk.
There are good reasons to like it. Adding more 1-drops is very effective at helping to create the most powerful draws and not being a flier is a huge boon in the deck as people work harder to fight against flying. I would play more, but there is only so much real estate and everything else feels like it has earned its home.
Perhaps the biggest departure is Chart a Course, which I've cut for Surge Mare. I absolutely love Surge Mare, and I've found that the first copy never gets in the way of the function of the deck. When you are able to ride it with Curious Obsession, some games that felt unwinnable can completely turn around. Chart has always been a card I don't much care for, and replacing it with Surge Mare (supplemented by the 20th land that I've generally always wanted) has worked out so well I keep looking for room for the fourth copy in the sideboard.
Number One - Bolas Control
Finding this deck was an absolute surprise, and I've been playing it close to non-stop on stream - though I'm on a short break due to technical difficulties - with quite positive results.
First, here is the list, which I found from the top finishes on Magic Online:
Grixis Control | Allegiance Standard | TedPanic, 5-0 Competitive Standard League
- Planeswalkers (2)
- 2 Angrath, the Flame-Chained
- Instants (14)
- 2 Carnival // Carnage
- 2 Chemister's Insight
- 2 Moment of Craving
- 2 Negate
- 2 Vraska's Contempt
- 4 Cast Down
- Lands (25)
- 2 Island
- 3 Swamp
- 2 Dragonskull Summit
- 2 Sulfur Falls
- 4 Blood Crypt
- 4 Drowned Catacomb
- 4 Steam Vents
- 4 Watery Grave
This list scratched an itch that I'd been looking to scratch for a long time: a deck with main deck Thief of Sanity.
At the very beginning of the Guilds of Ravnica Standard, I was trying to find a deck that would feel strong that ran main deck Thief. Working in collaboration with a number of my usual suspects, I tried numerous approaches, basically imagining a deck that would have a great game at grinding the opponent down, with Thief of Sanity in the mix to just steal games.
Well, TedPanic took the cake with this list, doing something I hadn't considered once: running Duress in the main.
This shouldn't be so wild to me, but it is. Back in the day, we used to run main Duress all the time, but that was an era where spells were incredibly potent.
Well, where are we if not in that moment again? Duress is at its least useful against the most aggressive of decks, but even then, you still have a large enough concentration of targets that it is worthwhile. When you take into account how it can help protect Thief of Sanity and create stolen games, where the Thief has destroyed any semblance of fairness.
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is basically an excellent card right now in most matchups, only really being lackluster versus Esper Control. Bolas is, if you have the mana, an incredibly efficient and large Ravenous Rats, and that is enough to be formidable.
This deck has really shined versus most of the field. White Aggro can be very close, and Red Aggro is a problem matchup, but most other decks feel like they are at a disadvantage versus Nicol Bolas and friends, especially Sultai, which just feels overpowered on the grind.
If you're looking for something fun, powerful, and new, Bolas Control is my number one deck in Standard right now!
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