June 24th, 2012
So, people are complaining a lot about the current state of Standard—not that this is news, everybody always complains about Standard. Frankly, I think the Standard environment is actually pretty good. Yes, there’s a lot of Delver, but it’s not like Delver is unbeatable or expensive. However, I think there’s a lot of space left in the current meta for new stuff, and every once in a while, I see an idea that, even if not really the best deck, looks like so much fun to play that I just have to go for it.
This is one of those decks. I would love to take credit for the design, but that wouldn’t be right, since I didn’t really design it. I first noticed it in one of Frank Lepore’s columns. I didn’t actually watch the videos, but I threw it together since I got a second Tamiyo for Father’s Day (do I have the best kids, or what?) I figured why not? I tweaked the sideboard some and only had 2 Caverns to it since my son had two in his deck for our FLGS’s Sunday afternoon Standard. Here’s the list:
This deck is so much fun to play it’s insane. Really, build it and try it out!
Anyway, four rounds cut to top 8.
Round 1: Alan, playing RUG Delver
Build with Huntmasters, Mayor of Avabruck, the usual Delver-Snapcaster-Ponder-Snag package, and some burn. Pretty fun deck, actually. Game 1 didn’t go very well for me, just not able to draw what I needed; mostly I drew land. And not enough action. Game 2 went mostly my way; I think I got hit with a non-flipped Delver once and ramped into an early pair of Restoration Angels and also got a Venser out. Game 3 was the really interesting one. I put down mana dorks on both of the first two turns with a Frost Titan in hand while he got a Delver on turn 1 and got it flipped. After my second mana dork, he cast Arc Trail on his third turn. Ugh. I took multiple Delver hits, but on my turn 6 I got a Frost Titan (protected by a Cavern). Of course, at this point I was at 6 life, but he had only three land, a Cavern of his own and two Sulfur Falls. I tapped down his Delver. He got a Snapcaster out but could not Snag the Titan. He followed with two more Delvers and I came back with a Bird and… Acidic Slime for one of his Falls. His Delvers did not flip, he got me down to 3, and I followed with Venser. He was at 7 after taking two hits from my Frosty, so I actually used Venser’s -1 to make my team unblockable for the win.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games
Round 2: Jon playing UB Control
I have to admit that I had no idea what he was playing in Game 1, as all he did was cast an early Ratchet Bomb, which killed I don’t even remember what, then a Black Sun for 3 after I had a Frost Titan out. I blinked the Frosty with Venser, beat for 6 more, and that was it. Game 2 was the better one. He got an early Bloodline Keeper against my Restoration Angel and Acidic Slime, then he got Jace and started milling. He managed to chump for a long time with vampire tokens but I managed to draw an Oblivion Ring for Jace and beat him down to 9 but then he got Karn. I actually ignored Karn and beat him, with a nice Cloudshift to blink a Blade Splicer to get an extra token in for lethal the following turn.
2-0 matches, 4-1 games
Round 3: Jake, playing Frites
Yes, folks, Frites is still in the format; don’t ask me how in a world full of Delver-bearing countermagic. Both being 2-0 we could probably draw in, so I offered the draw but he decided he’d rather play, which was cool. I lost the roll and game 1 was pretty dumb from my end. I got down a turn 2 Blade Splicer, which he ignored completely because he managed to Unburial a Griselbrand on like turn 4. I had no answer to that and he just beat my head in. Game 2 was one of the most drawn-out games I think I’ve ever played. I got an early Venser but he came back with Elesh Norn, which I chumped and saved my Restoration Angel with a Cloudshift. I then held him off a turn with a Stonehorn Dignitary. He came back with Sheoldred, and I sacc’d my Angel, then played a Mimic Vat. I blinked the Stonehorn with Venser and then on my upkeep sacrificed the Stonehorn to Sheoldred trigger, then put the Stonehorn under the Vat and cast a Frost Titan. Now, at the time, I only had six land, and he was able to kill Venser with a Slagstorm. However, he had no way to get through my ability to produce a Stonehorn every turn. I had nothing in my hand. He generated a Griselbrand to go with his Sheoldred and several spirit tokens. I couldn’t cast anything, though, so we just went a few turns where he cast fatties but couldn’t swing with anything. He activated Griselbrand once, but then realized that would only get him milled out faster. He said he didn’t think he had any artifact removal in his deck since he didn’t see any artifacts in the first game; why he didn’t scoop at that point I’m not sure. I finally drew something I could cast and put an O Ring on Sheoldred to exile Griselbrand. He came back with another Sheoldred and more spirits. I eventually drew another spell I could actually cast—I think a mana dork—to get rid of Sheoldred. Eventually I was able to get out two more Frost Titans and exile/tap enough of his spirits and mana dorks so that I could swing in for the win. This all took a very long time, though, and we only had a few minutes left, so we decided not to start a third game.
2-0-1 matches, 5-2 games
Round 4: Brandon, playing Solar Flare
We were first and second in the standings, so we decided to draw in. We played a few games for fun, which we split, probably with a slight edge to him, though we didn’t sideboard—it was definitely close.
2-0-2 matches, 5-2 games
Quarterfinals: Festus, playing Esper Control
I’m not entirely clear on exactly what the difference is between Esper Control and Solar Flare these days, but I’m going with what these two guys called their own decks. Game 1 I finally won a die roll, and cast a mana dork on turn 1. He played a Glacial Fortress. My turn 2 was was a Rampant Growth and another mana dork. He played a land and a Ratchet Bomb and put a counter on it to threaten my mana dorks. I played Slime to kill one of his lands. He untapped his one land, failing to draw another, and blew the ratchet bomb. I untapped, drew a land, attacked with Slime, played my fourth land, and blinked the Slime with Restoration Angel, destroying his only land. He scooped. I have to say I don’t really remember the first couple turns of game 2 (I know I had a mana dork), but that he tapped out his turn 4 and that left me free to cast Slime on my turn 4 for his only source of black. He tapped out to Day, and then Tamiyo came for a visit and tapped one of his lands. He came back with an Isolated Chapel, which then became Tamiyo’s target. I got a Thalia, which made life difficult for him, and for five of the next six turns I was able to get in with Thalia and keep him off black. At one point during that stretch he did actually drew a Swamp and tried to Go for Thalia’s throat, but I Cloudshifted her in response. I eventually got another Slime and then was able to Cloudshift that. (Incidentally, I should have ultimated Tamiyo once I had that Cloudshift but instead just kept him off black with her +1.) I sent in my pair of 2-power guys to bring him to 4. He finally killed Thalia and I got in for 2 with Slime to get him to 2, and followed that with… my third Slime. He extended his hand, clearly extremely frustrated. There’s a reason that WotC R&D doesn’t really want land destruction to be seriously viable—it’s no fun to lose that way. I would have felt bad but I owed Festus one from a previous top 8, so we’re even now.
3-0-2 matches, 7-2 games
Everyone wanted to go home as it was getting on to dinnertime, so we drew out the top 4. Both Jake and Brandon were also in the top 4, the fourth being someone playing UWr Delver. I had played him for multiple games before the tournament actually started and we determined that I was a heavy favorite in that matchup. Three-color Delver is very finicky about lands. Mostly I didn’t want to play Jake because that matchup is very bad in game 1 and still not all that great after sideboarding.
Comments on the Deck
• This deck is outrageously fun to play, partly because it’s so outside the current metagame, and partly because it is just as goofy as the decklist looks. I’m not suggesting that it’s a Tier 1 deck for a PTQ or a GP or anything, but it’s no slouch and has amazing abilities. I know the sample size in this tournament isn’t large, but I played an unusually high (for me) number of games before and between rounds, and the deck is actually much better than I thought it would be. It’s definitely better than it looks from looking at the decklist, while still being as fun as the list looks. Sleeve it up and play it, it’s a blast. Note, however, that it can be kind of annoying to play against. I guess it’s fun if you’re a griefer, which apparently I am.
• Cloudshift is amazing. Do not play less than 4 of them! I thought about cutting one for a Dismember main, but decided not to, and that was definitely the right decision. I might consider cutting down to 3 Rampant Growth for a removal spell or a main deck Thalia or something, but I’m not sure.
• The sideboard probably isn’t right, particularly if you think there’s any chance you’ll run into Frites. It probably needs a couple Grafdigger’s Cages in the sideboard, which would also be useful in the Delver matchup (though Misstep and Thalia are very good there.) I would cut the Metamorph, Dungeon Geists, and probably the Sphinx for two Cages and maybe a third Thalia.
• Tamiyo is a little weird in this deck, in that there’s really only one card you expect to be able to get back with her emblem, which is of course Cloudshift. More than once I had her with enough counters to ultimate and just didn’t bother. Probably wrong.
• Thrun doesn’t seem to fit with the deck in that he’s not a good blink target, but I would definitely not cut him. He’s a beatstick and is very good in the land of Delvers because he forces the Delver player to be proactive, making them more likely to tap out, which makes your other trumps (Venser, Slime) that much better. It’s important that Resto Angel cannot trade with Thrun. Sword of Feast and Famine is out of favor now because of the Delver mirrors, which helps make Thrun more effective.