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Last night my Magic club had Two-Headed Giant Sealed. I brought my brother along, and we opened great bombs. Reaper of the Abyss, Bloodline Keeper, Drogskol Reaver, Mondronen Shaman, Fiend of the Shadows, and Manor Gargoyle seemed like awesome pulls, but in three matches we only got to play one of them once and it died the next turn. After the first match win, I got flooded in my second and third game and my partner didn’t have enough mana to play his bombs. We dropped after 1-2.
Highlight of the night was the foil Sanctuary Cat. That thing is money.
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I was planning on doing a series of “Building Around…” articles for Dark Ascension cards, like the one I did for Geralf’s Messanger, but with my busy schedule in the past week I just haven’t really gotten around to it. I might do a few more this weekend or next week, but I might write about other things instead. We’ll have to see.
Today I’m just going to show you my new RUWb Control decklist. You can see the visual representation by expanding the uploaded image, or by going to the deck’s tappedout page.
The deck follows in the footsteps of Gerry T’s 5 Color Control. Basically, you want to spend the first few turns doing things that control decks normally do: drawing and filtering cards, slowing aggro strategies, and possibly ramping. Unlike traditional control decks, this deck also wants to throw cards into the graveyard. The cards in the graveyard all either have flashback (8 cards), can be given flashback by Snapcaster Mage (13), can be returned to the battlefield by Unburial Rites (3), or can be returned by Sun Titan (10, plus all of my lands). This makes every discard and mill in the deck very valuable.
So what cards are we going to use to load up the grave? The first is the best card in Standard: Desperate Ravings. Yeah that’s right, best card in Standard. It draws you two cards twice. The random discard is pretty negligible to most of the decks it’s played in. Seriously, don’t play control if you dont want to pack 4 of these. Next is Faithless Looting. This card is also extremely powerful. You can find exactly what you want with a couple of activations of this, and if you’re lucky you can set yourself up for a huge turn 4 Unburial Rites. Unfortunately, the card disadvantage provided makes me only want to play 2. The last is Thought Scour. It’s been a bit under the radar, but I think we’ll see a ton of deck start to play this. It’s an instant and it draws the equivalent of about about 1.5 cards in the right deck. Even in U/W Delver, it’ll help to make Runechanter’s Pike and Moorland Haunt much better.
During the midgame, we’ll want to slow down our opponents enough to give us a bit more time. The deck features a varied removal suite, which is easy to use with all of the filtering and drawing going on. 2 Galvanic Blasts are good for getting rid of early threats. Maybe these should be Gut Shots, but I just hate using that card against the token matchup. Tragic Slip could make a good replacement too, but we’re not likely to have a turn one untapped mana source. 1 Ratchet Bomb in the maindeck is awesome because with Sun Titan, the tokens just don’t stand a chance. 1 Pacifism is there for a similar reason, being returned by our titan. But instead of hitting tokens, Pacifism can enchant creatures with hexproof, because it isn’t targeting anything. 1 Burning Oil and 1 Revoke Existence are great for dealing with specific threats. 3 Mana Leaks, 3 Oblivion Rings, a Dissipate, and 2 Day of Judgments are pretty standard as far as control suites go.
As for the end game, we’ve got creatures that give us a ton of value. As explained earlier, the 2 Sun Titans can solve a problematic situation the turn he is played, and if he gets to attack he’s just doing more work. 2 Phantasmal Images are there for early game defenses, and to be brought back by Sun Titan, of course. The deck only plays one Snapcaster Mage, which may be too low. The problem with him is that he is rather mana intensive for a counterspell or a removal spell, which is all he can do in this deck. We would rather be spending our time playing our draw spells in a deck like this. Still, one of them is a nice extra counterspell removal spell, or titan target in the mid to late game. Last up is Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. In a meta of Geists, Delvers, tokens, and Inkmoths, Elesh Norn reigns supreme. She is great to bring back with Unburial Rites.
The sideboard contains a lot of 1- and 2-ofs, mostly because of all of the filtering we have in our decks. We have a Galvanic Blast, a Mana Leak, a Ratchet Bomb, a Burning Oil, 2 Revoke Existence, a Dissipate, an Oblivion Ring, and a Day of Judgment, for when the amount we have in our deck isn’t enough. The other six spots are for cards that we don’t need in every matchup, but they are cards that are very good against certain decks. Our 2 Mental Missteps are great against any deck with a lot of one-drops, like Delver or RDW. Nihil Spellbomb is good against any deck that cares about the graveyard, especially since it can be retrieved by Sun Titan and allow me to draw more cards. I’m still considering it for the maindeck. Timely Reinforcements buys me an extra turn to find and play a sweeper against the aggressive decks. White Sun’s Zenith and Curse of Echoes are phenomenal against other control decks. WSZ allows me to generate a wincon at the end of my opponent’s turn, or create blockers against a titan swing. Our curse stops all counterspells (except for Psychic Barrier and sometimes Mana Leak) and it also makes any draw spell a symmetric effect.
One card I considered playing against once DKA is in full swing is Grafdigger’s Cage. Would it be annoying? Of course it would. But it’s surely beatable. I’ve got Oblivion Rings, Revoke Existence, and Ratchet Bomb. On top of that, Sun Titan can bring back more ways to deal with it. I’m pretty sure that Nihil Spellbomb is more threatening than the cage is.
So that’s it. This weekend we’ll see some new decks at the Star City Games Open, and I’ll let you guys know what I think about the new meta.
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I’ve been building a few decks with our newly spoiled Dark Ascension cards, and I want to share them with you guys. The first one that I want to show off is centered around Geralf’s Messanger. Here he is:
Obviously, he can be very powerful if he’s not dealt with. Assuming he dies, he’ll do 4 direct damage and account for 7 points of damage across two creatures. That’s pretty powerful, even if he is a beat weak to cards like Oblivion Ring or Celestial Purge.
So what kind of deck can utilize this guy the best? His cost is restrictive, so the deck is going to be mostly black. Mono black midrange decks aren’t bad. They’ve got plenty of removal, and great cards like Phyrexian Obliterator and Lashwrithe to get some big damage in. The deck might not be aggressive enough to make him work out well though. Instead, we’re going to try out a Standard tribal zombie deck, which has plenty of new cards to play with.
Read more after the jump!
Our first inclusion is, of course, 4 Geralf’s Messanger. He’ll be at the top of our curve, with a few other 3 drops. Diregraf Captain is another new card from DKA which should be a great three drop or this deck. It buffs all of our creatures, and should deal a nice bit of damage if he’s not removed right away. The Captain is UB, meaning we’ll need to splash, but that’s not really a big deal. Unbreathing Hoard is kinda of cool, but I don’t think I would want to play too many here. Cemetary Reaper can also pump up creatures, but his ability isn’t that great in the known Standard environment. We also have the option of playing Sword of War and Peace, to get in for some quick unblocked damage.
Our one drops are going to be Gravecrawler and Diregraf Ghoul, two one drops with 2 power. Both are very important to begin to game aggressively. Fume Spitter could also be good, as he can be used to kill a lot of relevant creatures in Standard, and he can also be used to remove the +1/+1 counter from Geralf’s Messanger to give him another trigger of undying.
Our two drops aren’t great, but we’ve got a few options. Black Cat is pretty good any deck running sweepers. Highborn Ghoul is good for getting some damage through on a gunked up board, especially if he’s holding some equipment. Phantasmal Image could be used, but I don’t think too many is a good thing.
We could play creatures with higher cmcs, but I think we want to keep the deck as aggressive as possible. Skinrender is a good zombie 2 for 1 and Phyrexian Obliterator is awesome against RDW. They could be decent sideboard options.
As for noncreature spells, we’ve got a bit more options to choose from. We’ll probably want 8-12 removal spells, some card advantage spells, and possibly some counterspells. The best removal spells we’ve got are Smallpox, Tragic Slip, Go for the Throat, Doom Blade, Geth’s Verdict, and Vapor Snag. Snag isn’t a removal spell, strictly speaking, but it does offer a big tempo boost that can allow our creatures to crash in for some big damage. Traditionally, a UB deck will want to play Forbidden Alchemy or Think Twice so that it doesn’t run out of gas if games go long, but for this deck I like Ghoulcaller’s Chant. It gives me two creatures for the price of one, and bringing back Messenger and another creature can be game changing. Mana Leak can be useful too, but we’ll probably be tapping out pretty often, so I don’t know if it’s what we want here.
Sum this all together, and here’s what the final product looks like:
Overall, I think the deck looks fun to play. It’s both aggressive and resilient, which is important against all of the aggro hate in Standard. If anyone has a favorite DKA card that they’d like to see a good decklist for, send me a message and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for reading!
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Over on mtgsalvation, there’s a Top 10 DKA thread, just as there is with every new set. I posted my thoughts there, and I figured I would share the list with you guys as well.
1. Tragic Slip- It kills tons of relevant cards on turn 1, and kills everything else later in the game.
2. Lingering Souls- Reminds me of Squadron Hawks.
3. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad- Good in all formats except Vintage. It gains life, makes tokens, buffs them, and has a relevant ultimate.
4. Burning Oil- Incinerate is good against aggressive decks, and this is the same thing with flashback. Sure, I can’t stop big threats with this, but 2 for one against Delver is pretty nice.
5. Huntmaster of the Fells- He costs 4, makes tokens, gains life, and destroys things. (It sounds like I’m talking about Sorin…)
6. Thought Scour- Fills the grave and cantrips. Better Mental Note.
7. Faithless Looting- Fills the grave and filters. Better Careful Study.
8. Falkenrath Aristocrat- A 4/1 flying haste for 4 isn’t bad, and one that is hard to kill is even better.
9. Hellrider- He attacks for 4 when he comes down. The only reason I have him below Artistocrat is because he’s not evasive.
10. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben- Good in everything from Standard to Legacy. It’s not for every deck, but there should be something in ever format for her.
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I know there aren’t a ton of awesome spirits right now, but Drogskol Captain is amazing. An evasive lord that grants the tribe hexproof is just so sick. I’ve got to work on a Spirit list.
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