Raise Your Standards – Top Decks from Two Recent Tournaments

raise-your-standards

Hello and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.  This week we’re going to take a look at some decklists from last weekend’s Star City Games tournaments, as well as a deck from a recent MTGO Standard PTQ (Pro Tour Qualifier) which shows a bit of innovation.

SCG Invitational

First off, we’ll take a look at some decks from the Top 8 of the Star City Games Invitational, which took place on December 1st.  The winner of that tournament was Eli Kassis who was playing Temur Energy.  Let’s take a look at his deck.

 

Temur Energy – (by Eli Kassis)

PlaneswalkersBristling Hydra

Creatures

Spells

LandsVizier of Many Faces

Sideboard

 

While much of this deck is the typical stock version of Temur Energy, there is one card that’s in the main deck that I find interesting.  That card is Vizier of Many Faces.  My guess is that Eli anticipated playing a lot of mirror matches and came prepared to do so, even in game one.  Vizier of Many Faces is a great card to play when you’re behind, as it can catch you up immediately by copying whatever creature your opponent has that is giving them an advantage.  Or, if you’re already in control of the game, you can always play it to get even further ahead.  It’s a great card to have if you’re facing down The Scarab God (or possibly even Carnage Tyrant once Rivals of Ixalan releases).

Coming in second place at the Invitational was Sam Black.  Let’s take a look at his version of Four-Color Energy.

 

Four-Color Energy – (by Sam Black)

PlaneswalkersThe Scarab God

Creatures

Spells

LandsVraska, Relic Seeker

Sideboard

 

Sam’s deck has two less sources of blue mana than Eli’s deck has, and in game one that blue mana is only needed for Whirler Virtuoso.  But by losing out on some of the versatility of blue, the deck makes up for it by adding black mana for some powerful cards in The Scarab God and Vraska, Relic Seeker.

While both of these Energy decks are playing 22 lands, it’s interesting to see the comparison of mana that those lands can produce.  Eli’s has 14 sources of red mana, 14 sources of green mana, and 14 sources of blue mana.  His mana base is perfectly balanced.  Sam has 13 sources of red mana, 15 sources of green mana, 12 sources of blue mana, and 6 sources of black mana.  It seems pretty clear to me that by adding the black to his deck, Sam’s mana base isn’t as sound as Eli’s is, which makes the possibility of having mana problems a little more likely.  Still, this is a very solid deck.

Moving on, the next deck we’ll take a look at is the third place deck piloted by Austin Collins.  Let’s take a look at his Ramunap Red deck.

 

Ramunap Red – (by Austin Collins)

CreaturesHazoret the Fervent

Spells

LandsRamunap Ruins

Sideboard

 

This is a fairly typical build of the Ramunap Red deck that people have been playing lately.  It opts to play small, fast threats to quickly win game one.  Then, after sideboarding, some of the smaller threats get taken out to make room for bigger ones, namely Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance.  Also in the sideboard are certain cards to bring in against specific decks.  Rampaging Ferocidon comes in against token decks.  Aethersphere Harvester and Pia Nalaar can both come in against decks that have flying creatures that are worrisome, such as the Grixis Thopters deck that’s been seeing play lately.

Next up, we’ll take a look at the eighth place Treasure Red deck played by Rio Trevathan.

 

Treasure Red – (by Rio Trevathan)

PlaneswalkersGlorybringer

Creatures

Spells

LandsChandra, Torch of Defiance

Sideboard

 

Here’s the other red deck being played in Standard.  It doesn’t attempt to win the game so quickly and is a little more akin to the Big Red decks from a few years ago.  It still wants to get threats out early, but if the game doesn’t end until the mid-game when it’s larger threats can come out and play, that’s okay too.

Star City Games Classic

Moving over to the Star City Games Classic tournament from December 3rd, the first deck I want to take a look at is the third place deck by Andrew Jessup.  It’s called Mono-Black Aggro.

 

Mono-Black Aggro – (by Andrew Jessup)

CreaturesRuin Raider

Spells

LandsKey to the City

Sideboard

 

This is an aggro deck I can get behind!  It’s got creatures that come back from the graveyard, flying vehicles, and a way to make sure you can push through the final points of damage needed to KO your opponent.  It looks like a blast to play!

The next deck we’ll take a look at was played by David Mather.  Let’s take a look at the fifth place deck, U/W Gift.

 

U/W Gift – (by David Mather)

CreaturesGod-Pharaoh's Gift

Spells

LandsRefurbish

Sideboard

 

This deck opts to forego playing Gate to the Afterlife and only runs God-Pharaoh’s Gift.  It’s looking to find a way to discard the God-Pharaoh’s Gift into the graveyard and then Refurbish it onto the battlefield.  Once that’s accomplished, you’ll be looking for an Angel of Invention to either play or reanimate, which should hopefully grant you a victory.

The final Star City Games Classic deck we’ll be looking at today came in sixth place.  Let’s take a look at Esper Approach.

Esper Approach – (by Joe Stempo)

CreaturesApproach of the Second Sun

Spells

LandsSettle the Wreckage

Sideboard

 

The plan in game one is to act as a traditional control deck until you can find and cast Approach of the Second Sun a couple of times.  For sideboarded games, you usually want to board in some of your creatures, since your opponent likely boarded out some creature removal that they found to be useless in game one.  Or you can be sneaky and act like you’re boarding in creatures, while keeping your deck creatureless for game two, since most people know that the creatures usually come in after sideboarding.

One Last Deck

Before I leave you for today, I wanted to bring you a deck that I thought looked especially spicy.  It’s a deck that went 5-0 in a MTGO league.  Let’s take a look at Grixis Midrange.

 

Grixis Midrange – (by dunewyn)

PlaneswalkersNicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh

Creatures

Spells

LandsVizier of Tumbling Sands

Sideboard

 

I love that this deck has ways of dealing with just about anything your opponent plays.  Plus, it’s playing some of the best threats in Standard today.  How can you go wrong with a deck that’s playing both Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh and The Scarab God?

Wrapping Up

Standard is in a weird place right now.  The metagame is pretty solved and it’s nearly universally agreed that Temur Energy is the best deck in the format, with Ramunap Red running a close second.  There’s quite a few Tier 1.5 decks that can do well occasionally, but there’s very little innovation happening.  We’re in the lull in between set releases, so I don’t expect much to change until January.

But, as always, I’ll be keeping my eyes open on the off chance that innovation takes place.  I’m also planning on playing different formats this month just to freshen things up a bit.  This weekend is the Unstable release.  I’m planning on catching a draft, and from what I’ve seen, the set looks amazing.  Be sure to come back next week for the next installment of Raise Your Standards.  I’ll see you then!

Mike Likes

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Mike Likes

Mike Likes

Mike started playing Magic back in 1994, but gave it up at the end of 1995. He came back to the game during the Lorwyn block and has been playing ever since. Around this time, he opened and ran his own comic & game store, while also raising his newborn daughter. After 8 years, he sold his business and moved to Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. With the debut of Kaladesh, his entire family became regular Magic players. He now has hopes of competing alongside his wife and daughter at a Grand Prix or similar event in the future. #MTGDad

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