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And Now Begins the Fall


With the rush of the Pro Tour finally fading and the format firmly cemented for a few weeks, you would expect little shakeup, and for the most part, you would be right. This past weekend saw a few major events. While Abzan continues to be the boogeyman, it is not exactly filling out every top spot, so there is certainly still variety among the field.

Nissa, Worldwaker
Once the format begins to stagnate like that, it is usually a good indicator that prices are about to finally sink, and over the past few weeks, we have begun to see that as supply finally catches up with demand. Now is the time to get out of anything you believe isn’t seeing much play and is still valuable.

My friend mentioned Nissa, Worldwaker to me yesterday as a great example of a card that still holds onto a hefty price tag with very little play to back it up. I really like Nissa and feel she is worth the money, but the truth is she is not great in this meta; for now, I have to suggest moving out of them. I posted a while back how much I thought this card could be a player, but the reality is Abzan just does not need the boost from the ’board, and in most matchups, there are just better options. Nissa will be back—and we can hope she’ll do so with a vengeance—but for now, it is probably time to get her in the mail.

I am not going to spend all week discussing particular cards you should be moving since most of that ties into the lists I have been posting these past few weeks anyway. Instead, I want to talk a little bit more in depth on two different decks this week that have flown below the radar thus far, over shadowed by Abzan and Jeskai.

I featured this deck a few weeks ago and talked about some of the key cards that had some room to grow. I still cannot comprehend how Chained to the Rocks is nearly bulk when it is seeing as much, if not more, play than cards such as Utter End, but on that subject, I digress. Instead of talking about the cards I have already covered, I had a few interesting calls to make regarding this deck.

Caves of Koilos
Hordeling Outburst seems to be a very tame card at first—until you play against it in a strategy like this one or tokens. The card is certainly not Lingering Souls, but I also do not believe it will just fall off the face of the earth when these two decks fall out of favor. There are a multitude of strategies that could use such an efficient token producer, and right now, given how much product is being opened, these are in the range of bulk for an uncommon. I like these down the road for casual value anyway, but I can see them easily being $1 or $2 while they are in Standard.

Caves of Koilos seems to be an off-the-wall pick until you look at the decks it is in and how well they are doing. Among the reprinted pain lands, this is among the cheapest and is seeing more play than some of the others. I do not expect this to be the price of Llanowar Wastes given the popularity of Abzan, but as long as both tribes are represented at the top tables, expect to see Caves in a number of lists.

On the topic of mana bases, it is important to begin to note when decks that may feature a four-of for a land fall off in popularity. Overall, a cycle has a floor, usually based on how playable the cards are. The more difficult part seems to be identifying the ceiling and when each will rise or fall. With Temple of Malady and Temple of Epiphany being so popular right now, I can see merits to trading out of any extra copies you may have and picking up a play set of some of the cheaper lands. Usually, as the format adjusts and each color combination has its day in the sun, the prices will also follow suit.

The other deck I want to talk about is also the deck I am going to be starting with online. I also have Abzan built to grind the easy value, but when the format first erupted, I picked up my copies of Jeskai Ascendancy, and given how complex the deck is with triggers, I grew bored quickly. It is time to bust the original shell back out and dust off the Sylvan Caryatids. For the record, I started with this list and have made no changes thus far.

So before I make any major changes, I am going to spend the week testing this version, and this version alone, and then, at the beginning of next week, I’ll see what I want to move around based on my results. I have some early assumptions about how I want to build the deck, and one of the key parts to me is the same issue I had with Burning Anger in the list originally; Altar of the Brood is not needed with Twinflame in the deck. I understand that it does let you combo with a different line, but with the games I have played already, I find that line is rarely if ever needed in a situation in which you may have a chance to win. On top of that, it has a weakness to cards such as Bow of Nylea, and it gives your opponent an untap step to kill you. I may be wrong here, and please let me know your thoughts as I begin testing.

The major issue I have found—and heard from many others—is that this deck does not have a real sideboard; there are technically fifteen cards there, but you could honestly have just five, and the result would be about the same. This tells me that I want some sort of transformational sideboard option if I can find a way to make that work.

At the beginning of the season, I joked Ascendancy combo played like Dredge decks, and the more I have played the deck, the more I find that initial statement true. Similar to Dredge, this deck will keep people honest through its life in Standard and will force people to be prepared or else watch it take down a tournament. Not often do we find a combo deck in Standard that has consistency and speed, so I inevitably settled myself, as a Johnny, on this deck.


Anthousa, Setessan Hero
Anthousa, Setessan Hero is one card I saw on coverage, and I really like the way that player was approaching the difficult matches. The idea is to have a number of cards in your sideboard that your opponent is not prepared for and then to ’board out most or all of the combo to create dead space in your opponent’s deck. This means that even if you are an underpowered version of another deck, the hope is that your opponent is also at a disadvantage holding onto cards that are no longer relevant.

I want to find eight to ten sideboard spots similar to Anthousa that can take over games on their own—and quickly. For now, I will be playing with the current ’board, but beyond the Swan Songs and Erase, the rest is all on the chopping block for now.

I am curious on which build of the combo you prefer if you have tested the matchup—and why. I am getting back into playing Standard, and I am interested in every build of this deck until I can settle on what I find most consistent and resistant to hate. Check back in next week after I finally get some real testing in with the deck and figure out how in the world to play this pile online without timing myself out.

Ryan Bushard


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