I have to be honest. I’m not getting as much playtime as I did before and I have grown a bit detached on the meta scene. I am however beefing up on stream replays from SCG, MTGO celebrities and the recent protour to know what’s in and what’s not.
I really like the GB midrange which Reid Duke piloted in the protour. I think it’s one of the most stable and consistent deck despite the lack of card draw. The amount of exploration that this deck can do allows is to fix its draws, draw the lands they need to get to their mid and late game which is where they are strongest, make creatures attack and trade well, and gain life thanks to the Wildgrowth Walker.
Speaking of the power of the Golgari Midrange mid-through-late game, Ravenous Chupacabra can finish of Lyras, Aurelia, Phoenixes, while Doom Whisperer provides the pressure from the air. Together with Vivien Reid that gives the player a continuous stream of threat and Vraska doing most of the clean-up (or clutter the board with pirates), the deck is super solid.
Removal and Utility is also something the deck is abundant in. This is why I think the deck is very stable. I think the deck has the capacity to win the Protour but I guess it wasn’t time yet.
The combo deck of standard is a bunch of flying creatures feeding off from a deck filled with instants and sorceries. I like how the deck can stall the game long enough to win in 2 turns. Yuuya Watanabe did a splended exhibition of dealing 20 points of damage in Round 6 (or 5) after being reduced to 1 life. The power of chaining spells, dumping Arclight with Tormenting Voice, playing a huge 12-15 power Drakes, then giving it haste with Maximize Velocity.
They have a lot of cheap spells that allow us to chain 3 spells in their mainphase to reanimate several Arclight Phoenixes and start bolting the opponent every turn in the air.
How to dump the bird? Tormenting Voice and Chart a Course provides the much needed cantrip and the discard outlet to throw the Phoenix in the bin to reanimate. I am impressed with this strategy and synergy because it doesn’t feel forced and it’s very potent. The deck is relatively cheap if you have the lands already and most of the pieces are common and uncommon. The Arclight may set you behind a paycheck or two but I think the deck is very strong and extremely competitive in the right match-up.
Craig Wescoe would have won the Protour if he hadn’t decided to skip it. What a time to be alive if you are an advocate of white weenie decks! There are two variants here, the Boros Reinforcement and the more White-heavy aggro deck.
The boros aggro deck that fashions Heroic Intervention attempts to go slightly wider with Legion’s Landing and multiple History of Benalia to amass the highest damage output in the red zone. This deck was the one that took the Protour but I think LSV just got super unlucky with a mulligan to 4 in the 5th game of the Finals. I still think LSV’s approach of incorporating life point advantage into his creature choices gave him the ability to keep swinging and using the life gain to cushion the swing backs.
Even if LSV went to 4 cards in the 5th game in the Finals but drew Plains, Healer’s Hawk, Ajani’s Pridemage, Ajani’s Pridemate and draw a 2nd land in between these turns, he could still win the game. Ajani’s Pridemate when played against decks that don’t have clean removal like Cast Down can grow very fast with a flying life linker or a creature like Leonin Vanguard that gains you life without going into combat. A 3/3 Ajani’s Pridemate can outgrow even a buffed Knight token from History easily if the Healer’s Hawk goes unopposed.
Soul Sister was my first deck in Modern and Ajani’s Pridemate can easily outgrow a turn 2 Lightning Bolt so I think it was a very clever selection. I was rooting for LSV but we all have been beaten by variance and pros are not immune to this.
There is a Jeskai/Izzet control/midrange deck that’s floating around showing great results that fashions Rekindling Phoenix and Niv-Mizzet, and a couple of Ral, Izzet Viceroy and bury the opponent with removal, card advantage and a hard-to-deal with air force. I also like this deck because it is perfect for a creature heavy meta and the Rekindling Phoenix is very difficult to get rid of permanently if you’re not playing Vraska’s Contempt. As an attacker or a resilient blocker, the phoenix buys the time to get Ral or Niv-Mizzet on board and each draw or spell is technically a Gut Shot to anything. If the game goes long, Ral’s emblem can close it out very quickly if needed. Overall, it’s not as glass cannon-y as the Izzet Drakes but it’s also not as explosive, but both are solid choices to take into an event.
The other decks I see that remain popular in mtgtop8 are Mono Red Aggro, Tempest Djinn Aggro, Dinosaurs, Esper/Dimir/Jeskai/Grixis control variants, Tokens and Turbo Fog.
With that quick meta breakdown, I took away several elements in building my Dimir (UB) Mill.
- Standard has very strong and efficient creatures across curves 1 through 5.
- Decks are resilient to attrition with go-wide, reanimator and creature retrieval.
- Late games are centered around big bodies or planeswalkers.
With that said, what am I trying to build? I actually plan to tweak this for the next few weeks in time for the annual Gold Rush tournament hosted by our LGS.
When we say mill, it usually comes with sweepers to stabilize the board and continuously penalize the opponent from committing too much to the board, or give you time to mill them out if they don’t commit enough. Settle is the strongest and cheapest sweeper followed by Cleansing Nova which is a ‘clean’ answer to everything.
Looking at the mill cards we have legal in standard, they reward you for playing a lot of blue spells. Drowned Secrets turns every blue spell into a Millstone activation, while every card you draw from blue spells does exactly the same thanks to Psychic Corrosion. Patient Rebuilding I think is too expensive to build into the deck so I won’t be using that.
To trigger Drowned Secrets and Psychic Corrosion, we need to cast blue spells and we need to draw cards. Thankfully we are in the color that does this best! Chemister’s Insight, Radical Idea and Opt are great draw spells that keep our hands full and helps us find our millers. The Jumpstart is also very useful to pitch excess lands and continuously mill our opponent.
We will also fashion our own planeswalker and it’s BLUE and DRAWS cards. Dropping a Teferi after casting a Settle the Wreckage or Cleansing Nova feels great and if you can keep him alive long enough, you can mill your opponent for a bunch of card and start exiling their lands since our deck is filled with draw spells anyway!
Early control elements against very fast decks is key to wade through the high population of aggro players. Seal Away and Baffling End are efficient answers to Steel Leaf Champions, Legion Warboss, Jadelight Rangers and other early threats which forces the opponent to commit more and attack with more creatures which runs into our Settle or Nova.
Ixalan’s Binding is for opposing Planeswalkers or sitting this down and exiling an opponent’s History of Benalia is still a good way to set our opponent back a bit from overwhelming the board. Here’s how my initial draft looks like.
The sideboard is somewhat transformative with more removal for creature heavy decks. Some Lyra to help with the life total department and Nezahal and History of Benalia for control decks.
The Negate does help with opposing Walkers as well or for enchantment hate. I don’t think we will expect Naturalize-like cards getting included into the sideboard but a Conclave Tribunal or Crushing Canopy is quite popular these days.
That’s it for tonight, gotta run home before the wife calls! Ciao!
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