Battling For Zendikar

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Playing Magic has come to a somewhat abrupt halt, but I can still write about it right? God gave me two hands and a brain. They function sometimes…. but for this article I just wanted to touch on a few things I see past all of the shiny things Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) has brought us. Everyone loves the prospect of casting huge unbeatable creatures! Casting See the Unwritten and netting two awesome creatures is living the dream, but that dream requires a lot of things to fall in your favor. Without Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid the green ramp decks of the past don’t have the tools to stop the fast starts the red decks are bringing.

What I am bringing to the table today is a few outside of the box aggressive decks. Everyone knows how to build a mono red decks. These lists will simply be ideas for decks. There won’t be 60-75 cards but a simple list of cards and theories behind them.

Red Green LANDFALL

Every time I think about this deck I see promise. Something about this deck idea keeps drawing me back. Here is what I feel are the mandatory cards in the deck:

Scythe LeopardSnapping GnarlidUndergrowth ChampionAkoum FirebirdAtarka’s Command

Atarka's Command

Atarka’s Command

The thing that really gets me about this list is Atarka’s Command. Everyone read, “…you may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield..” and shrugged it off pretty easily. But, now it could be the best mode in this deck. Two mana to bolt your opponent, trigger landfall, and/or give your team +1/+1? Seems fine. I have dreams of three fetchlands, Scythe Leopard, basic Forest, Snapping Gnarlid, and Atarka’s Command. That’s four land and a three spell hand that I am salivating over. That’s a turn two attack for 3 (Wild Nacatl anyone?) play a two drop. Untap play a fetch trigger landfall. Attack, Atarka’s Command to bolt your opponent and play a land. Crack both of your fetches and deal 14 damage with only 3 spells. 17 total damage on turn three. The Undergrowth Champion gaining permanent buffs from your land drops and the Akoum Firebird giving you access to a longer game seem awesome.

Cards that I am considering as filler for the deck:

Monastery SwiftspearLightning BerserkerDragonmaster OutcastAbbot of Keral KeepDen Protector
Makindi SliderunnerAKOUM STONEWAKERTunneling GeopedeDeathmist RaptorScab-Clan Berserker
Goblin HeelcutterGrove RumblerWild SlashTitan’s StrengthMight of the Masses
Dragon FodderSwell of GrowthHordeling OutburstExquisite FirecraftNissa, Vastwood Seer
Nissa, Sage Animist

This deck wants to be aggressive in my opinion. Berserker works well with extra lands Abbot helps find more spells and lands. Nissa finds you a land for your landfall Berserker helps keep non creature spells at bay. Heelcutter helping to push damage. Tokens and burn spells seem fine as well.

This next deck is an archetype that never quite took off. There are many powerful cards but a few factors really held the deck back. One of those factors still hasn’t gone away. But I don’t believe it to be as prominent as it was before.

TEMUR

I solemnly swear, that Savage Knuckleblade is the truth. I mean have you read the text box? No? That’s fine. Everyone keeps getting lost in Trample, When Siege Rhino enters the battlefield, each opponent loses 3 life and you gain 3 life. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We got it. It’s pretty good, but you’ve had your time in the limelight. It’s time for a 3 mana 4/4 with a possible haste, +2/+2, and the ability to dodge removal and wraths? Sign me up. The other cards I am pretty excited are Crater’s Claws and Stubborn Denial. We currently live in a world where the wrath effects cost 5 or are conditional. Those work very well for us when we have a 1 mana hard Counterspell. Everyone is playing spells that cost a million mana? Hello Disdainful Stroke. People trying to play little red creatures? Hello Radiant Flames and Feed the Clan. Everyone trying to play control? Well we have more efficient creatures, counterspells, and Planeswalkers. This in my opinion is one of the harder decks to build but if you found the correct build, I believe that this is where you want to be.

Cards that I am locked into playing:

Rattleclaw MysticSavage KnucklebladeSurrak, The Hunt CallerStubborn DenialTemur Charm
Disdainful StrokeCrater’s ClawsKiora, Master of the DepthsSarkhan, the DragonspeakerSarkhan Unbroken

These are your bread and butter. The main ingredients to your deck. Things you cannot live without. But do we want to be more aggressive or more midrange?

If I were to choose the more aggressive line I would consider:

Heir of the WildsFrost WalkerAvatar of the ResoluteAbbot of Keral KeepDragon Whisperer
Harbinger of the TidesFlamewake PhoenixBounding KrasisYasova DragonclawScab-Clan Berserker
Shaman of the Great HuntSurrak, the Hunt CallerAvaricious DragonIcefall RegentHooting Mandrills
Hordeling OutburstExquisite FirecraftCollected Company

If I were to shift more to a midrange build I would include:

Beastcaller SavantStratus DancerAkoum FirebirdWoodland WandererGreenwarden of Murasa
Omnath, Locus of RageDragonlord AtarkaWhisperwood ElementalShaman of Forgotten WaysDen Protector
Deathmist RaptorAshcloud PhoenixSurrak DragonclawSagu MaulerGaea’s Revenge
Jace, Vryn’s ProdigyNissa, Vastwood SeerPia and Kiran NalaarWoodland BellowerDig Through Time

As you can see there are a large number of cards I would love to put into a deck. Some that would honestly fit into both lists. Akoum Firebird and Ashcloud Phoenix I really believe fit into both. I believe I still sideboard Gaea’s Revenge in both lists.

This would be my first draft of an aggressive list:

Now these numbers are just a first draft but I believe that this deck looks pretty good. With some testing and finalization of numbers you could have a very good deck on your hands.

As I write this other combinations are flowing into my mind.

Dragonlord Ojutai and Sandstone Bridge or Kiora, Master of Depths.

A U/G Collected Company deck featuring: Harbinger of the Tides, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Bounding Krasis, Deathmist Raptor, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Stratus Dancer, and Kiora, Master of Depths could be really sweet.

Siege Rhino +71 other cards is going to be good still. Mantis Rider plus burn spells is also still going to be good. Mono Red is going to be good. Seriously people were trying to avoid being #basic right now. 

Note: this article was written while sipping a pumpkin spice coffee chilling with an Ugg on one foot and a Croc on the other.

Thanks for reading again guys hope you enjoy the article and we can finally put Savage Knuckleblade on the top of the podium where he belongs!

Stay hungry and humble!
-JP-

Preparing for the SCG Invitational Part 1: Standard

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Hello again everyone,

I have been qualified for a Star City Games Invitational for a few months now. I am super excited for this because it will be another step for me in my path to become a great Magic player. August 28th-30th they will be hosting the Invitational and the Open Series in Edison New Jersey. I elected to not go to Columbus for the Season 3 Invitational because it was a bit outside of my reach distance wise and I wasn’t super comfortable in Modern.

This upcoming Invitational is Standard/Legacy and to be honest I don’t really feel that up to Legacy either but the hands of the Jund gods have always been on my shoulder when playing because I’ve cashed both of the Legacy Opens that I have attended with Punishing Jund. One was the system of old where I believe it was only 9 rounds and the second was on the new two day system. Both of the formats have been pretty hostile to my favorite of the “fair” decks. The delver decks jamming Treasure Cruise or the current Omni-Tell decks where they cheat in Omniscience to chain Dig Through Time into a free Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. When all I’m doing is casting a 3/4 Tarmogoyf

Sometimes you can feel a bit behind the curve, I will get lucky and catch my unfair opponents off guard and earn some wins. I think being such a favorable matchup they will keep hands that are much more loose than they should be thinking that this will be a bye for them but then Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, and Surgical Extraction will leave them will only six cards that will win the game and some cards in hand that don’t do anything.

I will talk more about Legacy later. But for now lets get to Standard;

This is not a traditional list by any means. It has an Arashin Cleric and a Soulfire Grand Master in the sideboard that should actually be two Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. The reasoning behind it is that A. I don’t want to spend 17 tickets on a card that will be rotating soon and B. that the substitutes I have in the sideboard line up really well versus Mono Red and Mono Black aggressive decks which are bad matchups for this deck.

I really like this deck and online I have well above a 50% win ratio with my last three events giving me a 10-0 record. (6-0 in two Standard 5-3-2-2 and 4-0 in a Standard Daily). I believe it is well positioned and boasts the best removal spells backed up by Thoughtseize and Stormbreath Dragon.

I love Anger of the Gods right now. It lines up very well versus a lot of decks. Megamorph, Mono Red, GR Devotion, Various Jeskai decks. And in combination with Soulfire Grand Master you can gain a lot of life and prolong the game for quite a few turns.

What I am playing in paper magic is Abzan Megamorph.

I placed 32nd in the Sunday Super Series at Grand Prix Providence with this deck after a poor showing with Mardu Dragons in the main event. This deck is very strong. Everyone has been putting all of their chips into Elspeth, Sun’s Champion as of late but I am still a strong advocate of Whisperwood Elemental. The card is very strong, plays very well with your Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector, and is cheaper than Elspeth. Now clearly I am not saying that you shouldn’t play Elspeth, the card is clearly good but I like a diverse threat base and this deck delivers. You are effectively playing 5 Sorin, 5 Elspeth, 8 Abzan Charm. I do like the looks of the lists playing Satyr Wayfinder as a way to fuel your Den Protectors and fill the yard with Raptors.

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Hidden Dragonslayer - Dragons of Tarkir

Hidden Dragonslayer – Dragons of Tarkir

This is a list that a friend of mine played to a top 4 at a Regional Pro Tour Qualifier, so it is very good. We have both played the exact same 75 since that day and the deck has performed very well but the metagame has been shifting and I believe that in some way we should be as well.

I am not sure of what the changes should be at this time and we have about two months before the Invitational so I have some time to prepare and figure out what my 75 should look like but at this time I am not sure what deck I should play let alone what a 75 configuration should look like.

Another card that isn’t seeing play anymore that I believe to be a bit weird is Sidisi, Undead Vizier. It seems like it could be very good at providing value in a Megamorph deck. You have access to Satyr Wayfinder, Deathmist Raptor, and Elspeth tokens as fodder to sacrifice to the exploit. The only thing that I believe is holding it back is the fact that it costs 5 and your opponent can respond to the exploit trigger. So it comes down the turn you would like to play your Den Protector face down. I’m not sure about it but it seems like it could be a good one of in a list to help tutor for the correct card or to just find a Den Protector and start your value engine.

Another card that has been sidelined that I consider to be pretty good is Hidden Dragonslayer. It doesn’t generate the same value that your Den Protector does but it does have lifelink against the aggressive decks. It can be played early to trade with red creatures or can be flipped up to kill Siege Rhino/Anafenza, the Foremost and the extra morph creature helps you get back your Deathmist Raptors.

The things that I feel about this deck can change are the mainboard Sorin, Solemn Visitor and the sideboarded Foul-Tongue Invocation. Sorin is a great one of and is another value card. He gains life versus aggressive decks and he generates creatures against control and his ultimate is such a beating versus most decks.

The Foul-Tongue is great versus Esper Dragons and Thunderbreak Regent. You can rid the field of hexproof threats and you don’t have to take 3 damage from the target ability on Thunderbreak.

I am starting to see less and less Mono Red decks so its possible that we can start to cut back on the Bile Blight in the mainboard. I always seem to find the Mono Red players in any given room so maybe that isn’t correct. This will change with Goblin Piledriver coming out with Origins.

I am going to continue to put in work with both of these decks. I feel like Standard is my stronger of the two points. So once I lock in a list I will be pretty comfortable playing it.

Legacy however is a very different monster. I enjoy playing Punishing Jund. It is a deck I know quite a bit about. I know how to sideboard and play the deck and that is a big pro. The cons however are always staring me in the face and smiling like they know something that I don’t.

Stay hungry and focused, but most of all stay humble -JP-

Pokemon XY Flashfire Super Tournament Recap!

Hey everyone! We had a Super Tournament on 6/28/14.

Here is the decklists!

Here is the feature match videos!