I agree with Seth's sentiment of wanting some extra filtering or card draw to help when you don't have Looting, as I outlined in my previous post considering 1x Discovery for a similar role. However, Burn is thriving right now and in general I'd prefer to make the Burn matchup better instead of worse as Seth has with more lifeloss and only 2 copies of Brutality/Helix in the 75. Furthermore many of the top decks are fairly aggressive outside of UWx Control, so I'd need to see some more games and hear a bit more thoughts on Night's Whisper before I get on board. I also think that running only one Dreadbore has slowly moved from "meta/style preference" to "probably just incorrect". Everything else looks pretty solid / stock to me.
It is a common observation that Mardu's performance is dramatically improved for the games that you draw Faithless Looting. Games without Looting tend to run clunkier -- we can get stuck on 2 lands, we might draw into worse cards like late game discard / a pointless Moon / target-less spot removal, our Revelers come down slower, and so forth all contributing to lost games. Our deck certainly benefits from a little extra grease and all of the other past options in Mardu colors have been lackluster.
Enter Discovery, a 2-CMC black filtering cantrip. It's not Preordain -- the extra mana is a lot! -- it can't help us keep 1-land hands and we'd have to take T2 "off" to cast it so it’s mostly useful in the mid game onwards. From that standpoint it's tempting to dismiss Discovery outright. On the other hand Surveil has good synergy with our Flashback spells / Reveler (the ceiling would be to Surveil two Souls into the yard), it's a better immediate topdeck than late-game Looting, and I think our deck benefits from some "grease" enough that this might be worth trying, perhaps as a 1-of supplement to the standard playset of Looting.
Cutting Blood Moon in the current meta makes total sense to me. The only matchups where I am interested in it are vs. Mono G Tron and Valakut.
Stony Silence is better than Blood Moon vs Tron anyways. I wasn't interested in running Stony before since we already have lots of artifact destruction and Affinity was a good matchup, but with Affinity's move to Hardened Scales and the rise of KCI over Storm I think it makes sense to adopt 3x Stony SB as standard. But yes, as you saw in my report cutting Moon vs Valakut hurts. I think I'm just going to settle for that being a poorer matchup.
Now, if you want to reliably cast Stony on T2 you need 13+ white sources, which means reworking the mana a bit. Once you've cut the Moons and reworked your mana to reliably hit white T2, Path and Helix start to look pretty reasonable.
Can someone post the newest list Gerry Thompson has posted on sag premium? I would like to know what he took in for the additional slots in the main and if he still sticks to the land destruction sideboard plan.
The gist of the article is that the format's speeding up and one way to keep up is by running the full 8x 1-drop discard spells and 2x Rabblemaster in the main. Gerry feels that Moon is too slow / fragile right now and suggests SB Molten Rains instead.
I'm thinking about trying out a version of the list without moons and without mainboard planeswalkers, instead playing 2x Monastery Mentor and 2x Lightning Helix (in addition to the Brutalities).
A couple of reasons: I think Mentor fits our plan far better than Rabblemaster, who is essentially just a 3 drop dumb aggro creature. Mentor can build a profitable defensive board state and can also turn the screws quickly when required. Lightning Helix gives us more non creature reach to help us push through against stalled boards and keeps our life total healthy against humans/ burn/ bridgevine etc.
I adore Monastery Mentor but I'm not convinced that Mentor deserves a spot over Rabblemaster in the 75. The short answer is that Mentor's still just too slow and resource-hungry.
White mana availability is only half the problem with Mentor, the other issue being that Mentor is 3 CMC and requires a steady stream of cheap (ideally free) cantrips to consistently perform well -- think turbo-xerox build like Jeskai Ascension Storm or Mox Mentor. We do have Looting and a bunch of 1 CMC interactive spells, but by the time we would cast Mentor (T4?) we've typically emptied a lot of those cheap spells and are looking to refuel with Reveler or flashback Looting.
I've found that the deck already excels at disrupting the opponent and then setting up a defensive board presence. The biggest issue is that Mardu can fail to close the game out before the opponent can dig their way out of your initial disruption. That's where Rabblemaster fits in as a consistent ~3 turn clock that requires zero investment and comes with few strings attached. Mentor requires 4+ spells in hand to keep up with Rabblemaster, and if your hand isn't stocked you're going to be at a big disadvantage against combo decks, Tron, and potentially others.
In terms of additional mainboard threats I'm currently happy with Hazoret. I've been tuning a moonless Mardu build for a few weeks and took it out last night to a ~20 person local event:
R1 vs Grixis Shadow G1 I had the opponent pegged on UW Control from their last several months of play and kept a hand without hard removal. They cleared my board and swung in with TBR'd Shadow for lethal.
G2 was similar, I mulled down but couldn't get a hand with Bridge or hard removal but kept one with Thoughtseize, Kommand, Souls, and Nahiri aiming to grind. Took Tasigur with Seize and saw a hand full of cantrips. Got two spirits out but opponent ended up drawing into multiple Shadows and Kozilek's Return to clear my board and swing in for lethal before I could stabilize with Nahiri. 0-2.
R2 vs Burn Super close games. Mainboard Brutality and Helix were very helpful as you can expect and heavier white wasn’t a problem for life loss during mana fetching. Got sloppy G1 and swung with all spirits allowing opponent to fade a Goblin Guide off the top for lethal. Tightened up my play G2/3. Hazoret won game 3, dealing 12 damage in two turns before they could find the last burn spell for lethal. The matchup felt more favored than traditional Mardu G1 and about the same postboard, giving a small but appreciable improvement overall. 2-1.
R3 vs Jeskai Control
I was initially worried about the lack of Moon here. Turned out to not be an issue, as the full 8 discard spells and increased threats really helped get under the opponent and the matchup felt pretty easy. 2-0.
R4 vs Scapeshift
G1 Mulled to a bad 4 and had a non game
G2 Kept a 5 with 2x Inquisition and Looting, stripped their hand but didn't draw into a threat fast enough to prevent them from killing me ~T7 with natural Valakut. 0-2.
So how did the lack of Blood Moon affect me? It would theoretically be at least OK on the play vs Grixis Shadow and Burn while being great vs Jeskai and Scapeshift. In practice, mainboard Helix was better than MB Moon vs Burn, and the additional discard / threats offset the loss of Moon vs Jeskai. Against Grixis Shadow I was under enough early pressure backed up by Stubborn Denial that I'm not sure I would've gotten Moon down early enough to make a difference. Finally, against Scapeshift it would've helped quite a bit, but the matchup is relatively poor even with Moon so I'm not sure the game would've gone differently. In summary, even with these all being traditionally good matchups for Moon I'm not sure that I missed it so far.
Despite the 2-2 finish I will keep testing this approach as it seems promising to me. Having 31 spells in the main felt awesome with Reveler. I will say that even if you are unconvinced on cutting Moon running 8 discard spells and 1-2 additional threats in the main is where I want to be right now.
Minor question -- what were you planning to do with 3x Surgical Extraction vs Tron? My impression was that this card is mostly dead without Molten Rain / Fulminator to set up the Tron land extraction. You could extract a threat like O-Stone or Wurmcoil but unless they have another copy in hand you're mostly just paying 2 life and going down a card to fuel Pyro / Reveler. Given that you won both of your games with a few points of reach even Bolt or Brutality seem better than Surgical here, no?
Hey guys, sorry for the long post but I wanted to talk through an idea…
Two commonly stated weaknesses of Mardu are its low threat count and the increasing liability of graveyard reliance. Goblin Rabblemaster out of the side (or possibly the main) is a solid way to address both. However, while Goblin Rabblemaster helps you turn the corner and race combo decks, it’s also a 3 CMC creature that dies to Bolt and can’t really fill a defensive role of helping you stabilize.
One approach is to run 4c Pyro with Goyf / Flayers and possibly Traverse, but increasing our graveyard reliance doesn’t seem like a smart strategy right now. Another classic approach is to add Death’s Shadow to Mardu. This usually starts an optimization chain where you add Street Wraith and Temur Battle Rage (TBR) to enable Shadow, and next thing you know it’s so much easier to cast Gurmag Angler than Reveler that you might as well cut Reveler. You wind up with a list like the one described in this (excellent) write-up here.
I think nirvana6109's list is a very sensible and well-focused approach, but I don't love how susceptible Angler is to both GY hate and bounce effects. Plus, I'm a Reveler addict and Pyro is one of our most flexible non-graveyard-reliant threats... so I'd like to hew a bit closer to base Mardu Pyromancer if possible. Instead of Mardu Shadow, what about Mardu Pyromancer with Shadow: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1273042#paper *Note this list is purely hypothetical and the SB, especially, is completely untuned.
Here we could replace Street Wraith as an enabler with something like 2x Night’s Whisper and 1x Noxious Revival, which both have synergies with Mardu’s gind plan and as life-losing instants/sorceries enable Shadow, Pyro, and Reveler. From there we adopt a heavier fetch-shock manabase over Cliffs (although unlike most Shadow lists we keep 4x basics). Lastly, we run Dismember over Push.
The goal would be to aim for a relatively defensive stock Mardu Pyro playstyle but with the added benefit of stabilizing behind and turning the corner with large Shadows. It’s not uncommon for our life totals to dip relatively low before stabilizing, why not turn that into more upside? Plus we get to play the full set of Thoughtseize. Occasionally it would even be possible to line up aggressive starts with fetch-shocks, Thoughtseize, Revival, and Dismember etc. in G1 against decks that we need to race.
If you have a Shadow in your opener but not enough life-loss we are better equipped than most lists to Loot the Shadow away and grab it back later with Kommand or Noxious Revival. Conversely, if you don't have a Shadow in your opener, the deck still has 4 basics so that you can fetch up a less painful start and play more like traditional Mardu. Ideally this would add another dimension to Mardu's role flexibility, but it might just be less consistent, I'm not sure.
To recap, potential upsides:
+Having both Shadow and Pyro as mainboard threats that don’t fold to graveyard hate, even against the rare G1 Leyline.
+Having both Shadow and Reveler as threats large enough to survive Anger of the Gods
+Potential for more aggressive G1s against combo decks / Tron
+Stabilize against aggressive decks with large Shadows
+Potential to fetch conservatively and play fairly close to stock Mardu
+More consistent access to white mana
-Fetch-shock manabase and Night’s Whisper are poor against aggressive decks
-Not going all-in on enabling Shadow dilutes payoff and increases variance
-Is Shadow useful enough without TBR? Might need 1+ copies somewhere in the 75
-Fetch-shock plan and need to cram in more sorceries + instants to offset addition of Shadow likely precludes Blood Moon from the main -- but wouldn’t necessarily have to due to the 4x basics
-Increases the deck’s vulnerability to spot removal
-Shadow lowers the value of Collective Brutality’s drain mode, making it less attractive for the main
Anyone tried something like this? Does it look worth exploring or perhaps too unfocused?