Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Modern Era

I don't feel particularly ashamed about how terribly the deck in my last article wound up. The thought behind bringing Arcane Melee up yet again was that the Destroy All Monsters tactic might actually be possible with enough recursion.

"No, I don't really have lifegain. But as long as I kill EVERYTHING FOREVER, I won't even lose life in the first place!"


I don't think it can really be done. I wasn't convinced that it could when I wrote the article; I tried to make it pretty clear that it was more of an experiment and I didn't necessarily expect it to work out. But when it went as badly as it did I became pretty disenchanted with Standard. The kind of deck I like to play just isn't the kind of deck you can play. So I'm done with Standard for a while. In a moment, I'll talk to you about my new love. But first, story time!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Forcing Grixis: an (Ostensibly) Comprehensive look at the Standard Metagame and How to Make it Cry

I found myself once again Pondering the viability of Arcane Melee.

Now, usually when it's in my top three, I shuffle it away and hope to draw something else. But something changed in my thinking today.

We are playing in a very grind-y format. What I mean is that the games can and often do take 15 or more turns, and a good deck is prepared for that.

That's not to say that it's a slow format. Watching the aggro decks curve out right now is a scary thing. Turn four kills are all over the place. But that doesn't really mean anything unless your deck can also go toe-to-toe with a couple Thragtusks. You might be able to kill somebody turn four with a Selesnya-Charm'd Loxodon Smiter soulbonded with a Wolfir Silverheart being shot-putted by an Ajani, but your goal isn't just doing twenty damage anymore. Infect is out and life-gain is in. You have to be ready to be able to topdeck to victory.

So what does that mean for a control player?

Well, uh... it means Sphinx's Revelation.

Yes, but, besides that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The In-Between Times: Judging a Book by its Cover

UR Delver was a fun, relatively strong deck that did alright at Friday Night Magic, but wasn't going to change the world any time soon and wasn't all that fun to play (except the look on my opponents' faces as horrible repressed memories bubbled to the surface whenever I flipped a Delver on turn two).

Electrocombo was incredibly fun, but also pretty bad. A much better list popped up in an MTGO Daily Event (here, third deck down). I'm sure the guy came up with his brew independent of my article, but a kid can dream, right?

In any case, I'm kind of stuck on what I want to work on right now. I'm restricted pretty heavily by budget, so I can't really commit to a deck right now to work on. The problem with brewing right now is that the format is so wide open, even the pros are playing insane decks!

Five Color Control is completely viable right now, and decks are going big playing Temporal Masteries and Increasing Ambitions and Door to Nothingness like it's nobody's business. Where does that leave me, the Uniquely Rebellious Teenage Girl Deckbuilder?

I don't know where we go when people are maindecking Omniscience at Star City Games Opens.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

UR Electrocombo: Standard's (Im)Perfect Storm

Before I get started here, I need to make sure we're all on the same page about something: this deck is what we in the business call For Funsies. It's not for winning tournaments, it's more of the Impress Your Friends Dazzle Your Enemies kind of thing. If you're bored, I strongly encourage taking this deck to FNM. You probably (almost definitely) won't win, but you'll have a blast and definitely turn some heads. There are very few moments in many years of playing Magic that top being able to say, as loudly as I could, I'LL CAST EPIC EXPERIMENT FOR 27. I won that match.

I lost all the others, but god dammit did I win that one.

Anyway, enjoy the show!

The Idea

UR Electroburn was the name of the first deck I played at Friday Night Magic this standard season. I liked it because it was a different take on Mono Red aggro and—more importantly—the name was sweetIt was a tough time when I realized Goblin Electromancer kinda sucked and that I had to rename the deck. So finding a new home for him was obviously top priority when I was looking for something crazy to play last week.

Before Return to Ravnica came out, there was a Burn at the Stake combo deck that floated around a bit online. It was pretty awful, but it was cool seeing people that could kill you with one spell if you durdled too much. The thing that made the deck particularly bad was its reliance on Kudoltha Rebirth; you had to run a bunch of do-nothing artifacts like Ichor Wellspring and Mycosynth Wellspring to even cast it, making the one red mana a lot less efficient than it looks.

Once you had some tokens on the board, though, you could use Infernal Plunge and Battle Hymn to produce mana, then cast Past in Flames to do it all again, using Reforge the Soul to refill your hand. By about turn 6 or 7, you could actually just draw your entire deck using that engine, then kill them with Burn at the Stake tapping the 50 tokens you just made.

Post-rotation, we have even fewer sources of creature tokens (Krenko's Command and Thatcher Revolt), and still only two spells that generate mana (Infernal Plunge and Battle Hymn. But Goblin Electromancer actually just takes the power level of the deck and kicks it straight in the balls.

Sticking an Electromancer for a couple turns is no small feat; but if (big IF) you can, you can win on turn 3.