Hello everyone! I got some “good” news to share.
I will soon move to a new company and I am hopeful that I will get back a bit more time to do the things I miss doing, one of those being Magic. I also picked up a new hobby called reading (I never really liked doing this) and focus on starting my little family.
But enough about me, more about Magic! Let’s head on to the previous I shared yesterday in the TFA’s Facebook page.
A lot of people liked this, and has send me plenty of suggestions on how they would take this shell forward. But for those who are seeing this for the first time, let me quickly summarize the main cogs in this engine.
First, the card that inspired me to build the deck was Vivid Revival. I opened 4 copies through the packs that I won from daily quests and started to hate the card for wasting my time. As I sifted through my card lot in Arena, which is how I come up with new articles, I came across this card again and convinced myself to give it a second chance. What intrigued me greatly was the last sentence in its text box
“Exile Vivid Revival.”
Why would WotC’s R&D include that line of text? Was it to control this card’s abusive tendencies? Was it to stop a potential degenerate synergy with cards on the next sets? Were there cards currently legal that could recur it otherwise and break the format? Whatever the reason may be, in my limited appreciation of recent Standard, WotC has been very careful in making cards overly powerful. F*ck you Aetherworks Marvel.
While Vivid Revival tickled my curiousity, I went through all the multicolored cards that had Green in Standard and sorted them out by density and usability. I found out that Sultai and Abzan had the better pool compared to Bant and Naya had the worst (I’m sorry Regisaur Alpha). I took Abzan over Sultai because Krasis is expensive on paper.
Next step: I visited Goldfish and MTGTOP8 to check if there was a way to make a 5 mana sorcery playable in today’s meta.
Mono Red, Mono Blue, and White Weenies act as the speedometer of Standard. If your deck cannot keep up or slow them down, then you are better off playing something else. This speed test is not easy to overcome because all these 3 decks have innovated to stay ahead.
Mono Red has Nitrous tanks thanks to Lightning Strikes, Wizard’s Lightning, and the newest addition to the Bolt family, Skewer the Critics. Mono Blue has the game’s best transmission allowing it to change gears between aggro, tempo and control. White Weenie (or Wet Weenies) on the other hand have both the American muscle to grow big thanks to Ascend, History of Benalia, and Benalish Marshall coupled with that Japanese 10-second car mindset by flooding the board quickly with 3 dozen 1-drops behind Pride of Conquerors.
Thankfully we have creatures that gain us life in the Abzan shell and they both are pretty good against the 3 Mono-Aggro decks. Knight of Autumn can break Legion’s Landing, History of Benalia, Curious Obsession and Experimental Frenzy or gain us 4 life, enough to soak up initial Risk Factors or Skewers. Basilica Bell-Haunt attacks the hand, gains us 3, and comes with a 4 toughness body that needs 2 removal spells to deal with outside Lava Coil. The best part is that both are retrievable with Vivid Revival. Vona, Butcher of Magan was a card I had in the pool so I threw him in for fun but it was amazing to see him do a lot of work if he survives a couple of turns. Against the aggro decks that have dumped their ammo early on, or traded up during combat might find Vona taking over the game if left unanswered.
For the midrange match-ups like Sultai or any BGx variants, the Drake decks, the Merfolks, the occasional Dinosaur, Afterlife, Judith based decks, we want to come prepared.
Kaya’s Wrath does a good job with sweeping the board early, but comes in handy as well if we get overrun or face hexproof creatures like Nullhide Ferox and Carnage Tyrant. Mortify is a good 1-for-1 removal and helps take down Search for Azcanta, Wilderness Reclamation, Ixalan’s Binding and Experimental Frenzy efficiently without taking additional slots. My other favorite card I’ve been trying to find a shell for is Ethereal Absolution. Against creature based decks, this card can win us the game either through a massive air force, or by forcing the opponent to keep committing to the board to punch through damage only to find himself susceptible to a blowout thanks to Kaya’s Wrath. After the smoke clears, Ethereal will have more corpses to convert into Spirits.
The only permanent I dread if left unanswered is Teferi, Ral or Vivien Reid. And apparently these three Planeswalkers are tucked inside any deck that supports their colors. This made me commit a handful of card slots to take them out specifically. Assassin’s Trophy is now looking to be a 2-mana remove anything with lesser drawbacks as people now play more and more shocks and fetches to feed their hunger for more color diversity. It’s not particularly good against the mono and dual colored decks but I’d rather ramp them than let their Walkers run loose. Walker. Run. Get it?
What pushed the envelop in my deck design was to aspire for a fourth color. I was on the fence of picking Red or Blue. Red simply for Angrath and maybe a Banefire on the side. With Blue, it was definitely for Teferi. Comparing both Walkers, I felt that Teferi had the better late game plan and was more devastating to retrieve with Vivid Revival rather than Angrath. The lack of mana fixing drove me to include Chromatic Lantern into the mix. It helps us get the right colors early, ramps us, and opens more options for the sideboard.
The most prevalent feedback I received from you guys was the absence of Hero of Precinct One. In a shell full of multicolored spells, why not play the best creature in your colors to maximize the synergy. I will blame this oversight of mine to my frustrations of finding Hero a different shell outside Esper. My apologies Nick Price, but I think you have your own apologies to make.
I also received feedback that I should cut the Chromatic Lantern entirely and just adjust the mana base to produce blue naturally. This way I can free up 4 slots for something else. The point made here is that putting the Lanterns in don’t necessarily improve my chances of drawing them as compared if they are just blue producing lands. Next point made was that if Chromatic is blown before I draw the Teferi, then its useless. Lastly, drawing 2 Chromatic Lanterns feel really bad. So I took these inputs and adjusted my mana base in my second rendition. Don’t worry, the Lantern is still in the deck.
So how does the new version look like? Here you go!
Biggest changes is now we see the full playset of Hero of Precinct One in the sideboard. This comes in against control decks that side in more removal. Hero can lure out the hate and save our Knights and Haunts. If Hero goes unanswered, we might steal the game.
Some minor changes is now we have 4 copies of Kaya’s Wrath in the main to make sure we draw our panic button every game. Ethereal Absolution went down from 2 copies to 1 to make room for this.
Find // Finality got the cut as well to close the list with 2 new creatures: Seraph of the Scales. A 4/3 flier for 4 mana is a very good investment these days and she leaves 2 bodies behind to buy us time if she does get killed. The Vigilance can be good late game to attack in the air and still block profitably against anything thanks to Death touch. Retrieving Seraph with Vivid Revival is also gas and the 1/1 spirits gets pumped with Ethereal Absolution as well so that’s not so bad.
In the side, we lost Cry of the Carnarium and Kaya, Orzhov Usurper to make room for Hero of Precinct One. This will require a good amount of testing if indeed Hero out-values Cry against Arclight decks.
That’s it for today’s LENGTHY post. I hope you enjoyed it. I haven’t had this much fun writing and brewing!
Talk to you all very soon!