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Standard Oddities and Innovations


Hello everyone. This week I have a couple of innovative decks for you followed by a remembrance of a friend that left us way too soon. We'll get started in our usual way by taking a look at the first deck I have for you.

Orzhov Anti-Aggro

Our first deck this week is an Orzhov deck that is a great choice to play if aggro decks are running rampant in your area. Let's take a look at it.

Against an aggro deck, your best bet is lifegain and board wipes. And this deck has both of those. Fountain of Renewal acts as a continuous way to gain life every turn. As an aggro player myself, I can tell you just how frustrating it can be to see my opponent gaining small bits of life every turn and getting farther and farther away from being able to be dealt game-ending damage with burn spells. Plus, if the game goes extra-long, you have the option of sacrificing Fountain of Renewal to draw a card.

As far as board wipes go, this deck has them in spades. Ritual of Soot, Settle the Wreckage, and Cleansing Nova all do a great job of keeping the battlefield clear. There will be a point where you'll need to carefully decide whether it's worth destroying any tokens you've made by playing one of these cards in order to get rid of your opponent's creatures. Luckily you do have spot removal as well as a copy of Profane Procession that you can use. And once you have the City's Blessing, Golden Demise is another possible one-sided board wipe you have access to.

Once you've cleaned your opponent out of attackers, how does this deck win? You can make Construct tokens with Karn, Scion of Urza. Or with Dawn of Hope, you can create an army of 1/1 Soldier tokens with lifelink. Better yet, use Divine Visitation in conjunction with Karn, Scion of Urza or Dawn of Hope to create a host of Angel tokens. And if you want to be extra annoying, bring along a bell to ring whenever a new Angel is created (every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings).

Treasure Storm

The final deck I have for you this week is a Grixis deck that hopes to win by accumulating the biggest treasure horde. Let's take a look at the deck.

The goal of this deck is to get Thousand-Year Storm into play as quickly as possible. This will allow you to get extra bang for your buck with your burn spells. You can use those spells (and the copies created with Thousand-Year Storm) to destroy your opponent's creatures in play, and if you have a Revel in Riches in play you'll get a Treasure token for each creature you destroy. You can use those Treasure tokens as a way to cast Brass's Bounty which might create enough Treasure tokens that you can win the game on the spot during your next upkeep (thanks to Revel in Riches).

Alternatively, you can use Karn, Scion of Urza to create a few Construct tokens. Those tokens can grow quite large as you accumulate Treasure tokens through normal game play. If you find that the Constructs aren't able to get through to damage your opponent, there's also a couple of copies of Banefire in the deck that can be cast for absurd amounts thanks to those Treasure tokens you may have lying around.

Wrapping Up

As we approach the Holiday season, less and less tournaments will be happening and it might become a little more difficult to find innovation. Fear not, loyal readers, for it is my duty to search out the innovation wherever it is hiding. Join me again here next week as I continue the search.

- Mike Likes

In Remembrance

This past week, my local gaming community was shocked to learn of the passing of one of our own. Jonathan (Mike) Oswalt, Sr. was one of the co-owners of the local game store I frequent the most (J&J Games in Marshfield, WI). He was only 47 years old.

I met Jon around six years ago, shortly after I moved to Wisconsin with my family. He and I were among a small group of players that were a little older than the majority. Even though we grew up in different areas of the country, we had enough things in common that allowed us to talk for many hours. It was during those discussions that I learned of his desire to run his own game store alongside his son, Jon, Jr., and eventually pass it down to him. I remember one road trip to an SCG Regional where he picked my brain about the ins-and-outs of running a business. I was so happy for him when he announced that he was taking over a local hobby store whose owner was retiring and would be reopening it as his own shop.

I also remember the times we play-tested decks with each other in our attempt at getting better at this game we both love. His influence is a big part of my love for Red aggressive decks. I always loved playing against him in a tournament because I knew our games would be fast and brutal.

Now that he's gone, I'm sure the shop will feel a bit more empty when I stop by for Friday Night Magic this week. It's going to feel odd and perhaps a little bit sad. But even though Jon isn't physically with us any more, I'm sure his presence will still be felt.

For those of us who have ever lost a friend in our gaming community, I offer the following poem entitled "The Empty Chair". I first encountered it while reading an issue of one of my favorite comic books, Knights of the Dinner Table, and it has seen publication numerous times when another gamer has fallen. Even though it references role-playing games a little more than Magic, I think its message still holds true.

The Empty Chair - Eulogy for a Gamer

There is an empty chair,

at the table this day.

A hallowed place where,

a friend once played.

The roll of his dice,

my ears long to hear.

Or perhaps it would suffice,

if he should suddenly appear.

With character sheet in hand,

and a bag of Cheeze-doodles to share.

All his friends would stand,

as he sat in the empty chair.

I hear his voice a-callin',

and it ties my heart in a knot.

For he cries, "Though a comrade has fallen,

You must play for those who cannot."

We conquered worlds on the run,

he and I in the name of fun.

And as others may come and go,

I make both friend and foe.

But what I long for most,

is our past now long a ghost.

Rest in peace, my friend.