Raise Your Standards – What to Play at GP Denver

raise-your-standards

Hello and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards.

This past week there were two Grand Prix tournaments and a Star City Games Open that were all Modern tournaments.  While there were some cool decks played in these events, this column is about finding innovations in Standard, so I’ve scoured the MTGO decklists from this past week in an attempt to figure out what is best positioned to do well this weekend at Grand Prix Denver.

At the beginning of the HOU-Standard format, aggressive Ramunap Red was the winner.  Next, at GP Minneapolis, aggro fell to a more midrange Mono-Black Zombies deck.  So, logically the next type of deck to play should be a more controlling deck.  But with traditional control decks being weak to Ramunap Red strategies, I think a different type of control needs to be tried.  That brings us to the five decks I bring to you below.

I’ve made it no secret that I believe the powerful Eldrazi creatures have the opportunity to shine once again before they rotate out of the format due to the Desert cards that were printed in Hour of Devastation.  Last week the decks I presented used the more traditional package of Eldrazi, which is good if you want an aggressive deck, but for control we need a different type of Eldrazi.  Elder Deep-Fiend is best suited for this type of control deck, so three of the five decks I present this week feature this powerful card.  Let’s take a look at the first of these decks.

 

Emerging Visions – (by nzoam93)

CreaturesElder Deep-Fiend

Spells

LandsFevered Visions

Sideboard

 

This deck attempts to keep the board clear of creatures on your opponent’s side with its burn spells.  If that isn’t enough, you can always block with any of your creatures, most of which have ways to return to the battlefield.  It’s also running Fevered Visions as a way to both keep your hand full of threats and answers, but also as a way to deal additional damage to your opponent.

Elder Deep-Fiend is a great way to get extra value out of a blocking creature you have that would die in the combat, as you can declare the creature as a blocker, and then flash in the Elder Deep-Fiend, using the blocking creatures converted mana cost to reduce the Elder Deep-Fiend‘s cost.  You’ll take no damage from the creature that was blocked, and you can tap up to four permanents your opponent controls, most likely creatures your opponent left back to block if you attack.  This can create a huge swing in tempo for you if timed properly.

The next deck I have for you attempts to control the game in a different way.  Let’s take a look at it.

 

Emerging Colossus – (by jonazo)

CreaturesMetalwork Colossus

Spells

Lands

SideboardHaunted Cloak

 

This definitely isn’t a typical control deck, but it does play out like one in many ways.  The object of this deck is to play out various artifacts while trying to manage your opponent’s board with Kozilek’s Return and Battle at the Bridge.  Once you’re able to, cast your Metalwork Colossus in order to nullify your opponent’s likely smaller creatures.  If you happen to find the lone copy of Haunted Cloak (perhaps with Trophy Mage‘s ability), you can begin attacking with impunity.  If your Colossus is ever targeted by removal from your opponent, you can always use Elder Deep-Fiend to emerge from it and then return it to your hand by sacrificing two artifacts.

The final deck featuring Elder Deep-Fiend that I have for you this week is much less controlling than the other two, but it does have some control aspects.  I’ll talk about them after we take a look at the deck.

 

Temur Emerge 2.0 – (by monkeyang)

PlaneswalkersKiora, Master of the Depths

Creatures

Spells

Lands

SideboardUlamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

 

So, actual control is difficult for this deck to achieve.  It has no way to interact with your opponent other than Kozilek’s Return or by fighting an opponent’s creature with the emblem created by the -8 loyalty ability of Kiora, Master of the Depths.  But that doesn’t mean that this is an aggro or mid-range deck.  No, this deck certainly wants the game to go long.  It’s filled with cards that allow you to draw cards, cards that enable delirium, and cards that help you find the necessary lands for the late stages of the game.  As the deck that is least like a control deck, I wouldn’t expect this particular deck to do well at GP Denver, but it had Kiora, Master of the Depths in it, so I wanted to share it.

While I think it’s likely to have a presence at GP Denver, Elder Deep-Fiend isn’t the only way to play a controlling game.  Another way is with the use of Planeswalkers.  The final two decks I have for you this week attempt to do just that.  Let’s take a look at the first one, B/R Control.

 

B/R Planeswalkers – (by tkfrhtlvj)

PlaneswalkersChandra, Flamecaller

Creatures

SpellsGifted Aetherborn

Lands

Sideboard

 

Here’s a deck that seems well suited to keep your opponent’s side of the battlefield clear of threats.  All of the non-creature spells in this deck are capable of removing at least one creature from the field, if not more.  And the creatures in the deck are no slouches either.  I love that The Scorpion God gets a little play in this deck, as I think he’s a bit underrated.  Let’s not forget the Planeswalkers here, as they all have ways to deal with an opponent’s creatures.  This deck wants all of the pieces in play to be on its side of the table, and it won’t take no for an answer.

The final deck I have for you this week is a little bit control and a little bit mid-range.  It’s R/W Control.

 

R/W Planeswalkers – (by Creat1ve)

PlaneswalkersNahiri, the Harbinger

Creatures

Spells

Lands

Sideboard

 

The first thing that stood out to me with this deck is the single copy of Hanweir Battlements in the deck.  Once I saw the four copies of Hanweir Garrison in the sideboard, I realized that this deck can become quite aggressive after game one.  One inclusion this deck has that I love is Nahiri, the Harbinger.  I’ve played against this card a number of times and every time she comes down and activates her -2 loyalty ability to exile my best creature that attacked last turn.  I seem to always forget about this ability every time, no matter how many times I get burned by it.  And that ability is great for combatting huge artifact creatures (like Metalwork Colossus) or annoying enchantments (like Fevered Visions).

While this deck doesn’t have the amount of creature destruction as the previous B/R deck did, there’s still a lot of red burn spells that can keep your opponent creatureless.  What it lacks in quantity of destruction spells is made up by having more threats in the early to mid-game.  Thraben Inspector is a creature that no one likes to have to point a kill spell at, so it serves as a nice chump blocker later in the game.  And Pia Nalaar brings along a Thopter when she enters play which makes targeted removal from your opponent much less effective.  If they happen to play a sweeper, hopefully you’ll have the five mana needed to flash in Archangel Avacyn to provide indestructibility to your team.

As an aggro player myself, I’ll admit that this R/W Planeswalkers deck looks like my favorite of the bunch.  What’s your favorite?  Let me know by leaving a comment below, by contacting me on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or by emailing me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com.

Wrap-Up

So, as we head into Grand Prix Denver, I think we’ll certainly see a rise in the amount of control decks.  It’s the Paper in the Rock v. Scissors v. Paper battle (assuming that aggro is Scissors and Midrange is Rock).  Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of the current metagame?  Let me know your thoughts.  Be sure to join me back here next week as we go over the results of GP Denver and look for more innovations in Standard.  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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