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Five Decks You'll Play This Weekend


Welcome to Gathering Magic's weekly quintet of Magic Online you should be aware of this weekend, whether you're playing a major online event, going to a Grand Prix, or hitting Friday Night Magic. In an era of big data, Magic Online provides some of the biggest data, so even a quick-and-dirty snapshot of recent activity gets you ahead of the competition. This week, with Pro Tour Magic Origins coming up, we'll get the first glimpse of its metagame with a peek at how Modern is receiving the new set.

Vanc Ouver, Man! Vanc Ouver!

Vancouver is one of my favorite cities, in large part for the Next Music from Tokyo concert series. It's as unbeatable as the decks that 4–0'd at least twice this week (Bold = won a Daily):

  • Goblins: 3 (2 wins)
  • Esper Dragons: 2 (won 2)
  • Abzan Aggro: 2
  • Black-Red Dragons: 2
  • Jund, Mardu Dragons, Red Aggro, and White-Blue Heroic each won a Daily in their only 4-0 appearances

Magic Origins entered the card pool on Friday, so Dailies from there forward are more relevant to this weekend than the ones before it. As the pool fills, there's an inherent advantage to reprints—like Goblin Piledriver:

Because of the date, it's hard to know whether TheBaartol owned more than one Goblin Glory Chaser or Subterranean Scout or whether the one-ofs were strategic in quantity. But Subterranean Scout is all kinds of good with Goblin Piledriver, and Goblin Glory Chaser seems better in the abstract than Frenzied Goblin. (Sunday's winning list had three Goblin Glory Chasers and no Subterranean Scouts; it also had Monastery Swiftspears.)

This seems to be an obvious contender for major camera time this weekend. Red aggro's been a deck in the format for a while, and the Goblin variant was good off-and-on. Now that Goblin Rabblemaster has Goblin Piledriver for a few months, making as many attacking Goblins as possible is the priority, relegating Monastery Swiftspear and Zurgo Bellstriker at least until Magic 2015 rotates out.

The only trouble is that everybody knows this deck is coming. How seriously they take it, and how fast this deck can be with more Magic Origins cards, will make a big difference in the deck's performance this weekend.

This next deck from the same Daily went 3–1 with far more Magic Origins cards, and it's definitely ready for Goblins:

The biggest new-stuff deck to come out of StarCityGames Chicago, this deck centers around the inevitability of Thopter Spy Network and the ease of finding an artifact to trigger it (Darksteel Citadel, Hangarback Walker, and Hangarback Walker's tokens). As the lovechild of Myr Sire and Chronomaton, Hangarback Walker took some time to evaluate, but it provides several potential types of value, and a deck with seventeen instants can maximize the Chronomaton half.

Of the other new cards, Artificer's Epiphany provides instant card-draw at a nice spot on the curve, Clash of Wills is the type of counterspell that loves a twenty-seven-land deck, Send to Sleep is attempting to be the new Feeling of Dread, Swift Reckoning is cheap, barely conditional removal, and Hallowed Moonlight might genuinely be a main-deck card now due to tokens, Deathmist Raptor, Rally the Ancestors, and Collected Company. The sideboard feels experimental; testing around the world this week is confirming which of the new cards is ready for prime time.

Saturday's Daily winner showcased everybody's new favorite Civic Wayfinder:

Almost all these cards have long Standard resumes in Rock-style grindy value; Abzan's been the main khan for the archetype, but Kolaghan's Command with Satyr Wayfinder and new Gather the Pack allow for the delve style of game that Modern Jund has been running since the printing of Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Usually, the trouble with decks like this is ensuring the first few turns go smoothly, which is why Courser of Kruphix has been so good. Nissa, Vastwood Seer joins the party as extra consistency that's also a serviceable late-game draw. Given the quality of the late-game threats, that consistency is vital against the parade of aggressive red and Abzan decks that have inhabited the format of late.

I can't leave this deck without mentioning the singleton Pyxis of Pandemonium. With control decks generally off the Perilous Vault plan, Pyxis of Pandemonium is hard to interact with and can result in a sizable permanent advantage for this deck, like a Warp World in extreme slow motion. Given that the card was spoiled by casual maven, GatheringMagic alum, and Canadian Bruce Richard, it would be fantastic if the card saw some feature match glory in Vancouver.

One Spicy Metaball

They told me I was going to be a star. They told me I would be outstanding in my field. So I decided to be a starfield, like this 3–1 deck from Sunday:

The Eidolon of Blossoms/Doomwake Giant shell got many toys from Magic Origins, including Herald of the Pantheon, Starfield of Nyx, and the returning Sigil of the Empty Throne. Nylea's Presence and Courser of Kruphix glue the greedy mana base together (Negate in the sideboard adds a fourth color), and as robust as the new cards are, it seems worth it. This version is main-decked against aggro/burn, with Nyx-Fleece Ram and Herald of the Pantheon promising a fair amount of life-gain; should more be necessary, nonenchantment Wall of Essence can threaten it enough to dissuade a weenie rush. I suspect the Pro Tour metagame won't be sufficiently defined for this deck's choices to be right going forward, and Back to Nature's a card, but it appears that the synergies are real. If things break right, this could be a major player on the weekend.


Have you ever seen a deck and thought that only the worst kind of person would play it? In Saturday's Dailies, a 3–1 deck showed it was literally true:

In the normal line of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben/Aether Vial decks, there are only three new cards, but they're upgrades for the archetype. Vryn Wingmare isn't just a consolation-prize Thalia; it's an on-curve second Thalia, and running Aether Vial into those two on the first three turns breaks several opponents' backs. Archangel of Tithes in the sideboard has an undefined role in the current metagame, but it slows down token strategies (Splinter Twin slows way down with the Archangel out) and can punch the white weenie army through Abzan-style ground stalls. This deck might be the only one that wants Archangel of Tithes and Vryn Wingmare, but it's had intermittent success over the last year, and maybe the new cards are enough to shake up the metagame.


Last Standard season started promising but grew stale, and early returns indicate that Magic Origins has enough juice to make this Pro Tour fun to watch. Every new set, there's a gap between the hyped cards and the ones that shift the metagame, and more often than not, Pro Tours are more fun to watch the bigger that gap is. Here's hoping for a lot of innovation this weekend.

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