In the aftermath of SCG Open Dallas Fort Worth, tons of decks showed up in the top 64 and the popular gauntlets were very well represented as we expect they would. Look at the breakdown below!
- 27 Energy variants which include Temur Energy/Aggro, Sultai, 4-Color, Pummler, GB and Dynavolt Towers (42%)
- 19 Ramunap Red (29%)
- 9 Approach (14%)
- 3 Esper Gifts (4.5%)
- 1 U/B Grixis Control (1.5%)
- 1 Esper Control (1.5%)
- 1 Grixis Control (1.5%)
- 1 Grixis Improvise (1.5%)
- 1 Mardu Vehicles (1.5)
- 1 RG Dinosaur (1.5)
- 1 WG Vampires (1.5)
27 out of 64 decks were energy variants. That’s 42%. Amazing!
We can say that most of the pre-Ixalan decks are still very strong especially the Energy variants and Ramunap Red which did not lose anything significant after rotation.
Approach remains to be the prominent control deck with people playing less copies of Lost Legacy. There are a lot of 1-ofs in the top 64 with a very interesting WG vampires list, and only one Dinosaur variant.
Looking at these figures, I want to believe that Solemnity may find its way into the mainboard to address an energy-heavy meta.
Solemnity deprives anyone from getting energy counters and creatures cannot get +1/+1 counters. This hoses down Winding Constrictor and cards with ‘explore’. Cards like Treasure Map and Merfolk Branchwalker are not as effective when we have Solemnity in play.
The problem with Solemnity though is that it’s very specific to hosing down certain mechanics that’s why it’s always a sideboard candidate. It was played heavily by Jonathan Job’s Mono-white Eldrazi and in his feature match where he played Solemnity on turn 3 on the play against Temur Energy, it was extremely backbreaking for his opponent. Longtusk Cubs, Bristling Hydra, and Rishkar were less effective and it rendered Walking Ballista dead and stuck in his opponent’s hand.
But what if we play a deck that benefits from Solemnity? What if we play cards that are bad because they get counters? Let’s travel back to Amonkhet.
Imagine playing these bad boys and disregarding their ill effects? A 2-mana 4/4, and 3-mana 5/4s and 5/5s? Sign me up please! I brewed this deck up and it showed great promise using Nest of Scarabs, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and Obelisk Spider to leverage on the -1/-1 counters being thrown around.
It was a great concept in the beginning but while playtesting, if we can’t get a Hapatra to stick, or a Nest of Scarab to resolve, we can’t establish any kind of board presence. I needed a Hapatra to stick on turn 2, Fatal Push a blocker next turn to get Hapatra through to make a 1/1 snake, then play either an Exemplar of Strength or Channeler Initiate and dump the neg counters to the snake, trigger Hapatra and re-create the snake and snowball from there. Unfortunately Hapatra dies to almost every kind of removal in standard: Fatal Push, Shock, Harness Lightning, Lightning Strike, Magma Spray, Slash of Talons to name a few.
Solemnity simplifies this equation by eliminating the consequence and play the creature for its true power, period. It’s also more difficult to remove because there’s not much enchantment hate. So here’s my Abzan Solemnity list.
4 Exemplar of Strength
4 Channeler Initiate
4 Defiant Greatmaw
4 Plague Belcher
4 Ammit Eternal
4 Bone Picker
3 Hapatra’s Mark
4 Fatal Push
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Blooming Marsh
3 Concealed Courtyard
1 Scattered Groves
2 Lost Legacy
3 Nest of Scarabs
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Authority of the Consul
Our percentage of winning against an Energy deck is significantly hired thanks to Solemnity. We have Ammit Eternal and Defiant Greatmaw to cushion ourselves on the -1/-1 counters if we don’t draw into Solemnity. Hapatra’s Mark is preferred over Blossoming Defense because it helps clean our creatures from the neg counters and block profitably.
Bone Picker is the only non-coherent creature in the deck but one that serves a good purpose. With so much natural death happening with our deck either by dumping excessive numbers of neg counters on a creature or from combat, we can always cast Bone Picker for one. Similarly how BG Aggro decks play a Walking Ballista for zero, and cast 2 Bone Pickers back to back on turn 2, we can also do the same.
Turn 2 Exemplar or Channeler into turn 3 Push something then play 2 Pickers is obnoxious. We can also cast the pickers post combat once creatures trade-off, it’s a great way to bounce back with very few mana.
Don’t forget the natural cleaning ability of Ammit Eternal as well. He’s a great target to dump our neg counters then have him hit the player to remove everything.
As for sideboards, Duress comes in against Sweepers. Nest of Scarabs is great against decks that are beaten by tons of chump blockers. Lost Legacy against Approach or even Dinosaurs to surgically extract their Carnage Tyrant. Authority of the Consul against Ramunap Red.
Our Ramunap Red match-up shouldn’t be extremely problematic in game 1 because our creatures are relative huge if we can get Solemnity out early. Hapatra’s Mark and Fatal Push are both great in this match, while post board we can bring Authority for more hate.
Instead of playing Crook of Condemnation or Scavenger Grounds, I chose to play Scrapheap Scrounger in the deck because he can eat whatever Scarab Gods want to take, he’s great at taking in the neg-counters and just get himself back from the graveyard – a win-win I must say on a 3/2 body.
The deck might not be define the meta but it’s a creative way to deal with the dominance of energy decks. Share your ideas on how to exploit Solemnity at the comments below!
See you tomorrow!