Hey everyone! I feel as though introductions are in order. I’m Cody Burton, I live in small town Ohio with my future wife and my daughter. I live and love Magic: the Gathering, and am always trying to do things to better the community. I feel that as Magic players we often get a bad name, and I constantly strive to change that. I play in many Opens, Grand Prixs, and PTQs and hopefully one day I will make a name for myself the way several of my friends have.
I play a ton of Magic Online and I’ve been enjoying a week of Vintage draft (while not so much loving 25 dollar drafts). However, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, I guess. I’m sure everyone knew of the Invitational this weekend, and I’ll talk more about that later in the article, right now I want to hit on a few sweet things from Standard, and the future of the format.
Core Set 2015 is coming soon and Standard will be rotating a few months following. Return to Ravnica block will be no more, and gone will be the [c]Supreme Verdict[/c]s, [c]Sphinx’s Revelation[/c]s, [c]Jace, Architect of Thought[/c]s, [c]Aetherling[/c]s, and many, many more cards. Standard will once again go back to being a small set format, where we have access to a core set, a block, and the first set of a new block. Rotation also means other things as well. Cards dropping and increasing in price, new cards coming in, speculation on them, and sweet new brews. It also brings about one of my former favorite tournaments.
States used to be a tournament scene where deck-builders could showcase their standard brews right after a new set launched, and pit them against many other decks. As no deck is refined during States, it makes for a lot of fun and interesting situations. I remember playing against a [c]Prototype Portal[/c] deck at States one year! If that wasn’t unique, what is? However, nowadays States isn’t the same. With both Star City Games and TCGPlayer having their own fall AND spring states championships, it took away a lot of what the event meant to many players, while offering four times as many tournaments.
I have checked up on the Core 2015 spoilers and only a few interested me:
I think all of the avatars will be sweet. The titans were great, and I think the trend will continue.
I feel as though there will be a new Garruk, since the card spoiled as a box topper [c]In Garruk’s Wake[/c] is black. It might be sweet to get another black/green planeswalker in Standard that can be relevant.
[c]Goblin Rabblemaker[/c] seems sweet in many formats, hopefully goblins can become a force in Standard again!
[c]Ulcerate[/c] is probably one of the best kill spells in a while. I’d say it’s a worse [c]Dismember[/c] but a better [c]Vendetta[/c].
[c]Inferno Fist[/c] looks like it’ll be a 4-of in a future Tom Ross deck.
[c]Military Intelligence[/c] looks like it might be fine in a future [c]Master of Waves[/c] deck. It does offer quite a bit of staying power, especially combined with cards like Thassa, and Ephara.
[c]Waste Not[/c] was designed by players, and is super powerful, although I’m not quite sure how great it will be in Standard, it’ll definitely be something worth playing in a deck like Pox.
[c]Sign in Blood[/c] is coming back, and so is [c]Terra Stomper[/c]! Black decks will have a draw spell, and Green decks will have TWO great threats against control with [c]Mistcutter Hydra[/c].
Things I think that they’ll need in standard though post rotation: Some sort of “wrath” effect. Cards like [c]Terra Stomper[/c], and [c]Mistcutter Hydra[/c] are too good against control decks and the control decks need help to win against those. [c]Mana Leak[/c] should definitely be printed. It’s been a long time since Standard has had a good 2 mana counterspell. It’s time for its return!
As for the block that will be coming in, Khans of Tarkir will hopefully be awesome. I’ve been a bit let down with Standard as of late. The format is very dull and not skill intensive. You play bad draft cards because of their mana cost colors, not their ability to be great. There isn’t any good draw spells for a decent mana cost either, no good counterspells, and midrange decks have too many good cards. Hopefully over the next two sets that’ll change, and all will be right in Standard!
On to the Invitational
This last weekend was the Star City Games Invitational. I believe it’s the highest EV tournament you can play in, although I might be wrong. It was also the largest Invitational. I believe there were approximately 450 players at the event, and while you could go x-6 before and cash, that wasn’t the option this time. For those who don’t know what the Invitational is, it’s a tournament you have to have enough SCG points to qualify to play in. It consists of 8 rounds of Standard, 8 rounds of Legacy and a cut to top 8. The rounds are split with 4 of Standard followed by 4 of Legacy each day, and top 8 is best 3 games of 5 all being Standard. First place prize is a whopping $10,000 and your likeness on a future SCG token! If that doesn’t shout awesome I don’t know what does.
Last week Tom Ross wrote about Boss Sligh, a super fast Mono-Red deck that takes advantages of stumbles and applies a ton of early pressure. His winning deck list was:
[d title=”Boss Sligh”]
4 Akroan Crusader
4 Ash Zealot
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Legion Loyalist
4 Rakdos Cackler
2 Rubblebelt Maaka
4 Dragon Mantle
4 Madcap Skills
2 Lightning Strike
4 Titan’s Strength
1 Blinding Flare
2 Eidolon of the Great Revel
1 Lightning Strike
2 Magma Spray
1 Searing Blood
1 Harness by Force
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Peak Eruption
1 Seismic Stomp
He defeated Ben Friedman in the finals playing a fairly stock Black/White Midrange deck:
[d title=”Black White Midrange”]
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple of Silence
1 Orzhov Guildgate
4 Desecration Demon
4 Lifebane Zombie
4 Pack Rat
2 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
2 Banishing Light
3 Underworld Connections
3 Devour Flesh
2 Hero’s Downfall
2 Ultimate Price
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Read the bones
2 Sin Collector
1 Banishing Light
1 Underworld Connections
1 Bile Blight
2 Doom Blade
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Erebos, God of the Dead
The fact the he managed to write about both his Standard AND Legacy deck and play the exact list (almost) to a victory implies his intimate knowledge with the deck. He played just 17 lands with an average mana cost being around 1.2 or so. It certainly seems like an under-powered deck and one that should lose to wraths, but that’s just not the case. Cards like Dragon’s Mantle and Madcap Skills allow you to race the faster decks, while only having 1-2 creatures in play against control. This way you don’t overextend and can still push through insane amounts of damage at such a speed.
The other decks that rounded out the top 8 were very traditional, minus the black/red devotion deck that hasn’t been seen in a while. You have your Jund Monsters that has been performing well lately, your Blue/White Control, and your B/W Midrange decks. Standard is pretty stale right now, as you can pretty much predict the top 8 of a tournament before it happens. It’s had strong contenders since PT Theros, and those decks will continue to be strong for quite some time.
As for the Legacy portion of the event, Ross played a Blue/Green Infect deck he’s been perfecting for quite some time. The deck is really strong, and has some super fast draws, including a turn 2 kill off of Glistener Elf, Invigorate, and Berserk. I would have to say he’s the infect master, as he’s been playing the deck in all formats he can legally play it in. I won’t break the deck down too much, but I do think the deck is super awesome and I would definitely play it if I owned [c]Noble Hierarch[/c]s.
A few other sweet things happened in the world of Standard this last weekend as well, Frank Lepore of TCGPlayer.com won the Orlando TCGPlayer 5k, while his girlfriend Melissa had to look on after losing in top 4. Imagine that split in the finals! He played a super cool Bant Superfriends deck with 2 main deck [c]Rapid Hybridization[/c]’s. What this card does is pretty sweet. It’s a removal spell that deals with [c]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/c], [c]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/c], [c]Stormbreath Dragon[/c], [c]Polukranos, World Eater[/c], [c]Master of Waves[/c], and MANY more. Usually you’re not too worried about a 3/3, but those creatures are all hosers against you, so having a plan for them is great. It also kills a [c]Pack Rat[/c] on the draw which is notable.
This weekend, we have the Open series going to Las Vegas! For deck selection, I would try to steer away from Boss Sleigh. The cat’s out of the bag now, and other decks will be ready for it. Jund Monsters is still probably the best deck in Standard, and has a ton of different options and directions it could go to make it a meta-gamed deck. If you’re forcing Boss Sleigh, I’d probably keep the exact list he had. It’s a very straight forward list and he’s tuned it for a while. I don’t think anyone can improve much on it, but I’m open to suggestions. I’m a huge fan of good old control. How do you beat a devotion deck? Take away its devotion. I actually really like the lists that have moved away from [c]Detention Sphere[/c] and more towards [c]Planar Cleansing[/c]. It certainly does everything you want for 6 mana.
However, whatever deck you sleeve up, either for FNM, or the Pro Tour, always make it a deck you love.
Until next week, happy spell-slinging!
Cburton8223 on MTGO