ThoughtSeizing the Opportunity - Rise of the Eldrazi and Standard?

I’m back and it seems like I’m just in time for Rise of the Eldrazi, bringing with it some of the biggest, baddest, and most awe-inspiring monsters we’re ever seen. As a large set, it brings more cards to the table than your typical third set, so let’s jump right in! What’s there that will make an impact on Legacy or Vintage and what will be left for the kitchen tables? There’s only one way to find out.

Colorless
Right of the bat, we have the big guys. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth was the first card spoiled and received a lot of hype from people like Evan Erwin (who has been known to hype every single card he got the exclusive spoiler for, so make of that what you will) and I feel really bad for the people that ordered him as soon as they could, and probably lost a lot of money. Legacy isn’t a format where you’re going to be casting a 12-mana guy, so it doesn’t really matter what his converted mana cost is. When you’re only really concerned about his stats, Kozilek turned out to be quite pathetic …

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn – He’s huge. With protection from colored spells, once he hits the board, your opponent will basically have one turn to deal with him or lose. That said, Iona, Shield of Emeria can give them even less time, winning the game almost immediately. He would be better than Progenitus if only he were green, so it remains to be seen if there is a reasonable way to cheat him into play. There’s certainly options like Show and Tell, Necromancy in response to the graveyard trigger, Defense of the Heart and others, there are probably more consistent ways to cheat big dorks into play – Reanimator, for instance. At some point, it becomes irrelevant HOW big the monster is, exactly, as it will generally overpower any opposition quite handily.

The new Swords?
White
Gideon Jura – There’s a chance that he could be playable in white Stax, but Elspeth, Knight Errand costs one mana less and, similar to the case with huge Eldrazi, it doesn’t really matter what you win the game with once you’ve established control.

Linvala, Keeper of Silence – Unfortunately, creatures in Legacy aren’t usually good for their activated abilities, though she can definitely stop a lot of Zoo shenanigans. There isn’t really a (good) deck that wants her – or can afford her, for that matter – however.

Oust – A very interesting card, this is more similar in function to Swords to Plowshares, the de facto best removal in the format, than it may seem. It’s no instant and the creature isn’t removed from the game entirely, but the purpose is quite similar – a cheap removal spell for any creature without shroud at the cost of some life. There’s no card disadvantage that Path to Exile represents and the fact that they’ll draw the card again in two turns can actually be very good when you consider that the Kird Ape you needed to take out on turn one is going to be much less impressive on turn three, when it might have been a much scarier Knight of the Reliquary or Fireblast.
Student of Warfare – If Death and Taxes still wants a cheap beater, she might get the nod over Serra Avenger, but part of the reason why that card was good was flying. Does UW tempo want a beater that doesn’t disrupt? I doubt it.

Wall of Omens - Wall of Blossoms, the green version of this card, sees some play in Aluren and Survival decks, but that’s because the color fit is perfect. It’s a powerful tool against Zoo, however, so maybe a deck like UW Standstill could find a place for it. If there’s a viable Standstill deck, that is.


Blue
Coralhelm Commander – A relatively cheap Merfolk that can turn into a lord with some mana could be an interesting fit, but the deck is tight enough that other lords are already being omitted.

Deprive – I don’t think this card is interesting for formats that the actual Counterspell still is legal in, but I’m glad to see that Wizards decided to print this card.

Sea Gate Oracle – Aluren decks are currently using Raven Familiar and this guy can stick around without echo if you cast him before going off, but he digs one card fewer, which is probably too big a drawback.

See Beyond – Unlike Treasure Hunt, it doesn’t force you to play many lands, but Brainstorm is probably just miles better. It can shuffle by itself, so that’s something.

Surrakar Spellblade – Another in the line of blue 3-drops that draw cards, he might have potential in Vintage. It remains to be seen which of the three provides the biggest benefit – the ability to draw more cards from Exalted, tutoring from your opponent’s library or simply drawing a ton of cards if you’re doing anything else in the game.

Unified Will – Wizards keep printing these situational counterspells that never see play anywhere. Why, Wizards, why?

Thoughtseize this ain't.
Black
Arrogant Bloodlord – While I don’t agree with the people that run Phyrexian Negator in black suicide-type decks, I think this card is a good replacement. He’s a full turn slower, of course, but his drawback is nearly irrelevant except against Noble Hierarch.

Contaminated Ground – I think this is the closest we’ll get to a reprint of Sinkhole. Could a tag-team be worth it?

Inquisition of Kozilek – Although this card looks like the nuts in a format that mostly stands on one- and two-drops, the simple fact that Thoughtseize can take anything is worth the two life you’re losing every time you cast it. Inquisition could be strong, but the times when you really would have wanted to take that Force of Will or Siege-Gang Commander will happen. That said, it will probably replace Duress as the fifth Thoughtseize in heavily black decks.

Red
Devastating Summons – This is the type of effect I always pay attention to when a new set comes out. Similar to Devastating Dreams in both name and appearance, it has a cheap (mana)-cost for its effect. The drawback is big, sure, but that’s what some of the most powerful cards in Eternal formats are all about.

Flame Slash – At four damage for one mana, this card could be viable in mono red burn against Zoo. But then again, the simple fact that Zoo outraces burn tells you something about the latter deck.

Forked Bolt – Another interesting possibility for Ichorid decks, it remains to be seen if there are enough problematic X/1 hate-creatures seeing play for this to have potential. It’s no Nature’s Claim, of course, and its sorcery-speed probably keeps it from making any splashes, but it’s an interesting effect nonetheless.

Tuktuk the Explorer – This little guy could be a cute sideboard option for mono red burn decks against Zoo.

Green
Realms Uncharted – Any card that looks so similar to Gifts Ungiven deserves a good, hard look, but the restriction here might just be too big. There certainly are a ton of awesome lands in Eternal formats (just look at Lands.dec!), but that deck has better options in Intuition and the actual Gifts Ungiven.

Rise of the Eldrazi definitely brings a lot of potential goodies for a set designed to make slow, 15-turn Limited games possible. I think that Oust, Inquisition of Kozilek and Devastating Summons are the most promising, while Emrakul, the Aeons torn could find a home, as long as there’s a consistent enough way of getting him into play. This set is no Worldwake with its fancy Nature’s Claim and Lodestone Golem to shake up Vintage or Bojuka Bog and Loam Lion as tweaks for Legacy, but it holds its own. The Slovene Vintage League will continue this year (I ended up fifth in last season’s finals, for those who care) and I can’t wait to see what – if any – changes this new set will bring.


Standard?

With Nationals coming up in a little more than two months, I’ve decided to focus a bit more on Standard and Limited in the following months. I’ve also already made plans to attend Pro Tour Amsterdam, which means I will soon be grinding PTQs for the first time in my life. I’m looking forward to a lot of Rise of the Eldrazi limited, which looks like a ton of fun, but not so much towards buying four Jace, the Mind Sculptor. That just might turn out to be necessary, however, as I don’t really appreciate the random factor of Cascade.

I’m currently testing – don’t laugh – Standard Dredge. For those unfamiliar with the concept (and I’m sure there’s quite a few of you out there), it’s basically a combo deck that revolves around cycling lots of Architects of Will and Monstrous Carabid, filling up your own graveyard with Hedron Crab and Tome Scour and then killing your opponent with a ton of Unearth guys. The vital card, however, is Crypt of Agadeem, which can easily produce upwards of eight mana per activation. Fatestitcher makes an appearance, much like in Vintage Dredge, to give you another shot at your powerful land.

Standard Dredge, as suggested by Mitja BosničMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Hedron Crab
4 Rotting Rats
4 Dregscape Zombie
2 Fatestitcher
4 Viscera Dragger
4 Architects of Will
4 Monstrous Carabid
4 Extractor Demon

4 Tome Scour
4 Grim Discovery
3 Ponder

3 Swamp
4 Island
3 Verdant Catacombs
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Misty Rainforest
4 Crypt Of Agadeem



I’ve already spoken about this version in the forums, but the idea here is to make the deck as consistent as possible. The three Ponder help here, as do the Dregscape Zombies that replaced Sedraxis Specter. I’ve simply found that the ability to play a cheap chump blocker and Unearthing multiple creatures in the turn you go off is much more valuable than the additional point damage you might do. I’ve also increased the number of basic lands, as being able to fetch for one in the later turns has proven invaluable, as well as not getting stuck and early Drowned Catacomb.

Before you ignore the deck as just another random Tier 2.5 deck, here’s the deal: you basically can’t lose against UW Control, simply because you can consistently kill them on turn five. The only other really important matchup – Jund – has to be tested more, but from the games I’ve played, it doesn’t look too bad. In my opinion, if the Jund matchup can be brought approximately to 50-50, then the deck deserves some consideration. Obviously, the RDW matchup is terrible and you basically need a turn two Blister Beetle to have a shot against Mythic, but every deck will have good and bad matchups.

Other than this deck, I really like the look of UW control, especially with Wall of Omens in Rise of the Eldrazi. That card stops just about everything except for Putrid Leech, which can be contained by the numerous removal spells now available to white. Domestication, especially on turn three off an Everflowing Chalice also seems like good times. It doesn’t look like RoE will be spawning any new archetypes any time soon, so it basically remains a task of figuring out which of the decks is the best, refining it and playtesting the hell out of it. Or just playing Jund and hoping for the best Cascade in the room …


This guy will totally bash your face in on turn 24.
Triple Rise of the Eldrazi draft also appears to be a wacky format, probably similar to M10 Limited, but with more – and bigger – bombs. It should be interesting enough trying to figure out whether to pick Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Wall of Omens, or Student of Warfare. I suspect that Corpsehatch will be an easy first pick, but also that I’ll spend my first six turns building up to an Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and then get blown out by Traitorous Instinct + Bloodthrone Vampire. Oh well. There’s enough common removal in the set to make sure it’s not just a slog to see who gets to bash with their Eldrazi first, rendering their opponent unable to cast anything, slowly succumbing to the Annihilator on a stick.

Considering that it will also be the format for Nationals and PT Amsterdam (or will that be M11?), it’s also important to get as much practice in with it as I can, a duty I’ll be only too happy to perform. This means that my articles in the future could well be focused more on Limited and Standard and I’m sure I won’t be able to resist writing something about Extended once the Pro Tour draws closer, but if you’re only here for Legacy and Vintage – don’t despair! There’ll be plenty for everyone.


Some interesting reads

If you’re still reading this schizophrenic, confused and mostly useless article, you obviously love my amazing writing style and are going to send me your playsets of Baneslayer Angel right after you’re done reading. Well, it’s either that or you have way too much time on your hand. If it’s the former, please contact me for my address. If it’s the latter, look no further, because I’d like to point out several interesting, informative and intellectually challenging articles I’ve come across recently.

Magic and Your Social Life by Gavin Verhey – You remember Gavin, don’t you? He used to write for MTGSalvation before being lured to SCG by the devil himself (or so they say). I’ve always enjoyed his articles, but he’s really been doing an awesome job lately. Plenty of other writers, especially those who write Premium Articles, seem to churn out tournament report after tournament report, with the occasional deck tech or sideboarding primer thrown in. Gavin does that too, but around every other article he writes is about other aspects of the game. From experiencing his first Pro Tour to card power, he never ceases to amaze me with his writing proves. Check out his articles, you won’t be sorry!

Play The Game, See The World – Alexander West talks about "the other" aspect of travelling around the world, playing the game we all love – the travelling itself. Going places is expensive and it’s a terrible waste that players, once they’ve arrived to some interesting, far-away place, will spend their time in a ho(s)tel room, playtesting for the upcoming tournament. I guess it makes sense if you’re a professional player that lives off his winnings and appearance fees, but the rest of us don’t have that luxury. If you’re going to playtest (and you should!), do it at home or at a friend’s place. It’s cheaper and more comfortable. But once you’re abroad, take a few days off and enjoy the place! It’s likely you’re never going to see it again.

Guess Who’s in Houston by Conley Woods – If you haven’t heard of Conley Woods or seen a deck tech by him, you’re probably playing the wrong game. Off-the-chart, entertaining and powerful is the name of the game where Conley’s decks are concerned, so playing them is great. Reading articles about him designing one of these decks, explaining how and why the cards were included/excluded and a tournament report, explaining in-game decisions and strategy is amazing. He is also one of the hosts of Monday Night Magic, a podcast with over 200 episodes under its belt.

New Grixis Control with RoE by Tine Rus - Tine Rus is a fellow Slovenian player that made a splash in Pro Tour Valencia Top 8 with an innovative Gifts Ungiven rock deck. He outlines a possible deck for the upcoming T2 season in this article.

That’s it from me; I hope you liked reading another of my articles after a bit of a break from them. I’d be glad to hear from you in the forums or via personal message. And remember, Thoughtseize it!

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