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A Format for Everyone

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Hey everyone!

I’ve been playing my fair share of formats lately as there are fewer events to focus on with Aether Revolt spoilers. This means I can bust out my Legacy cards in preparation for Grand Prix Louisville. Standard and Modern have not been forgotten as they are quite fun as well.

Legacy

For Legacy I’ll share my updated Esper Stoneblade list. It’s been awhile since I looked at Legacy so it has changed a tad. The biggest improvement to U/W midrange decks is Spell Queller.


Spell Queller works with the hand disruption. I don’t want to play too many copies because it’s soft to opposing Swords to Plowshares. Stoneforge Mystic works well with Queller since she has a big target on her head. You can also draw out removal spells with Baleful Strix; some decks need to deal with it eventually which reduces the amount of removal available for Spell Queller.

I have tried versions of this deck with three Liliana of the Veil or three Jace, the Mind Sculptor and it was too many slow Planeswalkers that get pressured against tempo decks. Spell Queller ties the room together because I now get to play with exactly the amount of each threat. I needed another unique card that is good in the mid-game to get me to this point. It’s also blue which lets me pitch it to Force of Will.

I played a version of this deck at the last American Legacy GP and 11-4 was a respectable record. It fits my playstyle and that’s very important in Legacy. If you like to play Brainstorm, but Miracles and Delver aren’t for you give this deck a try.

The best home for Spell Queller decks involve tempo as well as plenty of creatures to absorb removal before it enters the battlefield. Stoneforge Mystic is the best, but what about Delver of Secrets, too?


Delver of Secrets and Stoneforge are the threats that will let you know if Spell Queller is safe to cast. If your early creatures survive you know the coast is clear.

I’m trying a Stifle plan in the board. Most Delver decks don’t do this, but I want to see how it performs. The logic is that the tempo plan is worse on the draw so I can side this in whenever I know I’ll be going first. There are also combo decks that don’t want to get stifled so it has other applications, too.

I’m going to try this at a couple Legacy events to prepare for Grand Prix Louisville. There will likely be some updates because I think this deck has promise.

Modern

The RPTQ in Columbus was my last chance to win a plane ticket to Dublin and compete in Pro Tour Aether Revolt. There were 63 people which meant 6 rounds and cut to top 8. I needed to go either 5-1 or 4-0-2 to guarantee top 8.

Here was my weapon:


I swapped the third Restoration Angel for a Logic Knot. This seems like a small change, but it did a lot for my deck. Previously I needed three Negates against the big mana decks which are typically harder matchups, but nothing else in the sideboard could be cut. I also couldn’t maindeck three Negates because that’s just too wild. Logic Knot is great against big mana strategies, but is also never dead in other matchups. This meant I could fit the third Rest in Peace, second Izzet Staticaster, and second Runed Halo in the board. I need all of these cards against Dredge to be competitive.

Here is a round summary:

Infect: 2-0 — This is a skill-testing matchup, but one I typically win. The couple times I lost were against strong players.

Elves: 2-0 — Izzet Staticaster is great.

Dredge: 2-1 — I conceded this matchup at SCG Columbus, but I quickly realized it was winnable. Grafdigger's Cage isn’t good enough. Rest in Peace is able to win the game even if it doesn’t come down on turn two as long as there are enough Blade Splicers in play to hold off their swarm of threats.

Bant Eldrazi: 1-2 — A close matchup. I drew a lot of lands in the first two games. There were questionable plays made by me in Game 3. I definitely had a chance of winning. I died on turn five of extra turns to a top-decked Reality Smasher. He was at 3 life and I had Celestial Colonnade and four other lands; very close game.

Affinity: 2-0 — My best matchup by far. Blade Splicer locked down Etched Champion and I traded 1-for-1 with everything else.

G/W Tron: 1-2 — This was my second win-and-in. If I left up a White mana after Cryptic Command I could path my Snapcaster Mage to have 6 mana for Snap + Cryptic the following turn for Thragtusk. I didn’t do that and bricked on my sixth land. My reasoning was that I could fire off a Lightning Bolt had I drawn it off Cryptic Command. Died on turn four of extra turns in Game 3.

As it turns out I would have been in 8th place if either of my losses went to a draw, but that was unlikely given the large turnout. This was overall a great showing for my deck because two of the more questionable matchups I lost to were very close. If I had played better in certain spots I would have won both matches. I’m still convinced this is the best deck to play for this reason. Nearly every other Modern deck has bad matchups and nothing can be done about it.

Jeskai Control Sideboard Guide Update

Here are some side-boarding notes for the deck:

Dredge:

Rest in Peace
I typically concede the first game after turn one to conceal information. Showing them White mana means they are very likely to be ready for Rest in Peace. They will default to boarding in Disenchant effects because it stops both RIP and Grafdigger's Cage. It’s a small edge to concede so early, but Game 1 is atrocious so I take what I can get. In order to win the match you have to win both post-board games.

Blade Splicer plays a key role as it blocks both Prized Amalgam and Bloodghast. I need to have a good board presence in the mid game in case I don’t get an early Rest in Peace in play. Speaking of RIP, it’s helpful to cast it on turn three to hold up Spell Pierce or Dispel against Nature's Claim.

Snapcaster Mage is bad because of Rest in Peace, but also because it’s bad at fighting in combat and you don’t have many good spells to flash back. Izzet Staticaster is the better 3 drop because it shoots down Bloodghasts and Narcomoebas. If you blink it with Restoration Angel then pinging twice means killing Stinkweed Imp.

It’s hard to win the matchup with just 2 RIPs in your board. I don’t think it’s a coincidence the first time I beat dredge is when I added the third copy. It was in play both games I won unsurprisingly.

Affinity:

Don’t board Stony Silence because this matchup is so good. If you must, it’s because you’re afraid of Tron and Lantern Control. Negate counters Cranial Plating, Ghirapur Aether Grid, and Galvanic Blast so it’s not that bad.

They typically try to poison you with Inkmoth Nexus in the mid game. Let them, because it’s hard to deal the final point so make sure to stop the actual damage sources first. You can comfortably go up to 9 infect and then deal with the creature land.

Burn

Spell Queller
The object of the matchup is to be able to Spell Queller a card and not have it immediately die to Searing Blaze. For this reason I have a bunch of 1-mana counters after board; Queller should be cast at times where they can’t blaze it with landfall or you have a cheap counter represented. Blade Splicer can block and the token is a target for Searing Blaze without losing the blocker for Goblin Guide and Monastery Swiftspear. You can’t counter everything so it’s still important to have a clock.

Serum Visions gets cut because it’s key to leave up Blue mana for counters. Don’t be afraid to scry lands you don’t really need to the top in the face of Goblin Guide.

When the guide attacks there are times to sac a fetch land in response to the trigger and sometimes it’s right to wait until after. If you want to draw a spell sac your land before revealing the top card. This allows you to draw a nonland next turn unless there are two lands on top of the deck. When you need a land sacrifice it after because it will be clear if a spell is on top after the guide trigger resolves. It also leaves one extra land in your deck to reveal.

Cryptic Command is too awkward to hold up because burn opponents fire off spells at the end of your turn. It’s important to have more versatile counters.

Runed Halo seems fine against Burn on the surface, but it’s only really good when you name Eidolon of the Great Revel and there’s one in play. If you name something like Lava Spike they may not draw any copies so it’s a gamble. Rift Bolt on suspend can target a creature instead. Double White is also tricky because I typically have to aggressively search for the Mountain off Scalding Tarn to kill early Goblin Guide and Monastery Swiftspear. It’s not that you get mana screwed against Burn, but you’re encouraged to get basics early. This also makes the Cryptic Commands and Serum Visions worse, too.

Grixis Control

Bant Eldrazi

Tron

It’s important to play like a fish deck. The burn spells combined with flash creatures need to close the game before they inevitably take over the game with bombs.

Bogles

This deck is hard to interact with. The seven burn spells go to the face most of the time as this matchup is a race. Cryptic Command and Celestial Colonnade are critical at turning the corner. I’ve seen some players with a single copy of Blessed Alliance. Don’t do this because every other deck it’s good against is a great matchup. It’s the same reason I don’t play Stony Silence as the reality of the card is it’s quite narrow for matchups you need to address.

R/G Scapeshift

There will be a critical turn where they try and force Through the Breach at the end of turn and follow it up with Primeval Titan. Aggressively counter their land searching spells, but only with things that can’t stop Primeval Titan.

Jund

Be careful about casting Serum Visions on turn one. If either player has a sac land then a turn two Tarmogoyf won’t die to Lightning Bolt because instant will be the third type added to the graveyard. The goal is to make sure Liliana doesn’t come down on an empty board in the midgame. Blade Splicer is the best card in the matchup. Their early hand disruption has taken splicer from me in literally every situation I’ve seen so far. It’s scarier for them than Snapcaster Mage which says something.

Abzan Midrange

They play less early threats than Jund that line up well against the burn spells. Clique is worse because of Lingering Souls. Lucky for us most Abzan decks are starting to play Dark Confidant so the Izzet Staticaster has more things it can kill. It might be right to play the second one, too.

Standard

We’re quickly coming to a lame duck format with Aether Revolt on the horizon. The current format has been shaken up thanks to R/G Aetherworks dethroning B/G Delirium. Just when you think the format is stale things change.

I still think this Standard format is useful due to the new program: Standard Showdown. I won a pack last weekend that had a foil Spirebluff Canal. My friend, Slambo, got an expedition Steam Vents. If you hate value, this tournament series isn’t for you, but otherwise go nuts.

The RG/x Aetherworks deck being good has a lot of implications on the format:

  • RG/x is good against U/W Flash which makes it much less appealing to play.
  • RG/x is good against Delirium making the current top dog in Standard unclear.
  • Aggressive White decks are fast enough to race RG/x Aetherworks making them rise in popularity.
  • R/G Energy is another aggro deck capable of beating RG/x Aetherworks. I think this deck will become more popular in the near future.
  • Since there are more aggressive decks in the format you can build Delirium to prey on them.
  • U/W Flash is weak to aggressive White decks, but strong against R/G Energy. It seems like they don’t have many good matchups as Gideon is no longer as relevant with less Delirium.
  • RG/x Aetherworks is still a solid deck, but the metagame is quickly adapting. We have beaten an Aetherworks metagame before, but this is certainly a better than the glass cannon version from the last Pro Tour.
  • This fragmentation we’re starting to see means less bad matchups for Jeskai Control. Ari Lax seems to think the deck is great and I agree. That deck is good at countering Aetherworks Marvel and blowing up creatures. Delirium wasn’t a great matchup, but everything else seemed good.

All of these things lead me to believe that B/G Delirium is still the best deck. I learned that there are competitive decks capable of consistently beating Delirium so it can be the wrong choice from time to time.

The version I want to play respects creature decks and has some tools to fight Marvel in the board. There aren’t any maindeck concessions to the mirror as it is less popular.


There aren’t a ton of updates here, but I found sideboarding Scrapheap Scrounger to be great. Aetherworks Marvel decks ask you to present an early threat and attack their hand early. Nearly every B/G sideboard has hand disruption, but they don’t have additional early threats. The scrounger can be milled for value and is an artifact. If Grim Flayer is the key to beating non-interactive decks I want more spells that resemble the effect he has on the battlefield.

Aether Revolt

There aren’t a ton of new cards that haven’t been discussed so I’ll keep this brief.

Dark Intimations

Who doesn’t love Cruel Ultimatum? It was my favorite card in Standard and it served me well. I can rebuy a Chandra, Torch of Defiance on curve for value or a Torrential Gearhulk in the late game. There’s going to be a deck with this card featured.

Disallow

I’ve heard this is good against Emrakul, but I think it’s more important to exile her against Delirium strategies. I may be underrating this card, but the exile effect from Void Shatter and Spell Shrivel is not to be overlooked.

Heart of Kiran

I can’t see this card replacing Smuggler's Copter, but it’s not a bad supplement. It dodges some removal that shot down the copter. Still dies to Grasp of Darkness, but hits hard.

Yahenni’s Expertise

It seems B/G Delirium is able to play a slower game like the original version that had Languish. I like that you can slowroll a Grim Flayer only to cast it after the expertise resolves with the second effect.

Scrap Trawler

I like this card in a deck with Smuggler's Copter and Scrapheap Scrounger. It’s great when aggressive creatures can help build card advantage, too. This card will be underrated at first, but see some Standard play.

That’s all I have for this week. Expect a lot of buzz for Standard in the near future with Aether Revolt spoilers coming out over the holiday break. I’m looking forward to it!

Thanks for reading,

—Kyle


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