With the Magic World Championship about to begin, the whole Magic community it sitting up and taking note of who plays which deck and any new additions to the standard and extended tournament scene. This year I didn’t get a chance to go to any national qualifiers, let alone nationals or worlds, but I’ve spent some time looking at both extended and standard, and in this article I’d like to discuss what decks I would play at worlds and why.
First off, standard. Metagaming at a big tournament like Worlds is a very difficult thing to do, but not impossible. We have recent information from Richmond and other sources, showing [card]Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle[/card] and [card]Jace The Mind Sculptor[/card] based control decks are the majority of the field. Some people would then approach this meta by altering a few cards in the main deck or sideboard, but largely keeping with one of the accepted tier one archetypes. The problem here, is that you are one of these archetypes that everyone is gunning for. Taking a walk out of left field, where I spend a lot of my magic deck building time, you can approach things with the unexpected, using a deck built specifically with the best decks of the metagame in it’s crosshairs.
Here’s a deck I designed and have been playing for some time now:
4 [card]Vampire Hexmage[/card]
4 [card]Liliana’s Specter[/card]
4 [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]
4 [card]Gatekeeper of Malakir[/card]
4 [card]Sign in Blood[/card]
3 [card]Sadistic Sacrament[/card]
4 [card]Doom Blade[/card]
2 [card]Mimic Vat[/card]
3 [card]Bojuka Bog[/card]
1 [card]Mimic Vat[/card]
4 [card]Marsh Casualties[/card]
3 [card]Grasp of Darkness[/card]
3 [card]Consuming Vapors[/card]
As you can see, a very monoblack deck indeed. The recent versions of this deck I’ve played have swapped the sideboard Mimic Vat for a Gatekeeper of Malakir in the main deck, but I feel this version is the most profitable and has had better testing results.
The aim of the main deck is to flatten control and ramp decks. Sadistic Sacrament against Valakut removes their namesake card and effectively 30 points of burn with it, making it a very pleasant match up indeed. Against Eldrazi Green, the same card can hit all their curve topping Eldrazi, leaving them at the mercy of your Doom Blades and Wurmcoil Engines. For the control match up, the Sacrament and Memoricides can take out Frost Titan’s leaving your Vampire Hexmage and Mimic Vat to clear up any stray planeswalkers. Duress seals the deal by punching through a counter wall to stick anything you need.
Other features of the main deck that deserve mentioning are the Wurmcoil Engines, Bojuka Bog, and the Liliana’s Specter lock. Wurmcoil Engines for me, are one of the best creatures around, sure they don’t dodge Doom Blades like a [card]Grave Titan[/card] does, but against [card]Day Of Judgment[/card] it comes out on top, and even if it does get Doom Bladed, you’ve still got six power on the attack. Most importantly though, lifelink is incredibly vital, allowing you to come back from a near death position and claw your way back into the game. Even more crucially though, it lets you play your main deck as an anti-control and anti-ramp deck, without completely punting the aggro match up.
About the Specter lock, Liliana’s Specter is an excellent tool at shifting those last cards from a Valakut player’s hand, those cards which tend to be a [card]Summoning Trap[/card] or [card]Primeval Titan[/card], as well as having evasion to fly over ground troops and drop planeswalkers left right and centre. The real power of the Specter though, comes when paired with Mimic Vat, giving you a soft lock on the game by forcing discard as soon as they draw for their turn.
I’ve mentioned the main deck plan, and obviously it’s not geared to aggro match ups, sure it does run eight removal spells and Wurmcoil Engines, but it’s not exactly black’s best way of dealing with the aggro match up. This is where the sideboard comes into play, fourteen removal spells and another Mimic Vat. This allows you to cast a removal spell virtually every turn after the first, and then capitalize on all these dieing creatures with your Mimic Vats. I’ve found it nearly impossible to lose post sideboard against Elves and Fauna Shaman based aggro decks. Marsh Casualties is my sweeper of choice, since it gets you early value against Boros and Elves, and then it’s one sided nature later on lets you carry on attacking with things like Gatekeeper.
The reason I would play this deck, is that it’s got a solid game plan against the top decks of the format, and has an unknown edge of uncertainty for your opponent, whilst you can probably name every card in their deck. The Sadistic Solution knows how it wants to approach each match up, and has the ability to do so effectively.
What about Extended? Extended is largely an unknown entity, sure we can look at what is seeing play online, and look back to winning standard of yesteryear, but in terms of metagaming, it’s not an easy thing to do. So instead, I’d build something that seems to have all of it’s bases covered, and have a plan against aggro, combo and control match ups.
Here’s something I’ve been fine tuning for a while:
4 [card]Wall of Omens[/card]
4 [card]Kitchen Finks[/card]
4 [card]Fulminator Mage[/card]
2 [card]Sun Titan[/card]
2 [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card]
3 [card]Sylvok Lifestaff[/card]
1 [card]Mimic Vat[/card]
1 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
3 [card]Day of Judgment[/card]
3 [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]
4 [card]Marsh Flats[/card]
2 [card]Fetid Heath[/card]
2 [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]
3 [card]Arcane Sanctum[/card]
2 [card]Mimic Vat[/card]
2 [card]Vampire Hexmage[/card]
3 [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]
1 [card]Day of Judgment[/card]
2 [card]Path To Exile[/card]
So, what is this deck all about? It’s a black and white midrange deck, that uses many of the best cards in the format, and generates a lot of card advantage for itself.
Where to start? Sylvok Lifestaff is usually the card that attracts the most attention from people, generally considered a â€œJankâ€ card, most players wouldn’t look twice at it, however surrounded by the right selection of cards, it becomes an absolute workhorse. Equipped to a Bitterblossom or Elspeth token, it happily lets you go into force field mode against aggro decks and keep your life topped up, but when you need to switch to aggression, it does double the power of these tokens, making them much more formidable against planeswalkers and quicker to clock an opponent. When attached to a Kitchen Finks, it gives any aggro player an impossible obstacle, allowing each finks to gain you up to ten life during it’s lifespan.
What else does the deck have going on? Mimic Vat and Sun Titan both make Fulminator Mage a near lock on the game as their manabase collapses from repeated land destruction, and removal wise, we have some great catch alls like Day of Judgement, Oblivion Ring, and Thoughtseize to help smooth things along. Wall of Omens slows down an opponent’s attack, blocking [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] and [card]Sprouting Thrinax[/card] all day long, whilst coming back to draw you more cards later on, courtesy of Sun Titan. Other than that, the deck speaks for itself.
But why play this? Extended is currently a very unknown entity, we know people will play solid decks of yesteryear, which means Faeries, Jund, and Reveillark will be some of the main contenders, but black-white tokens, five colour control, Pyromancer’s’ ascension and various burn decks are all worth consideration. Life gain within this deck, and it’s defensive capabilities mean that aggro and burn should not be a problem for it, since it seems to have all kinds of answers ready. I briefly touched upon Jund earlier, and Wall of Omens’ ability to block their core attackers for lengthy periods of time, as for [card]Reveillark[/card], Mimic Vat is an amazing powerhouse, snatching up their namesake card beautifully. The plan for control decks is quite well structured, more discard to back up Thoughtseize, Fulminator to keep their manabase down, and lots of must answer threats like Sun Titan, Bitterblossom and Elspeth. Zealous Persecution can take the slack in the Faeries, Combo Elves and Black-White tokens match up, whilst again, your discard, Oblivion ring and Hexmages can cause some problems for the Pyromancer’s Ascension players.
This deck seems to cover all the bases nicely, and has effective plans against most of the field, however in an unknown metagame it’s hardly a sure-fire thing, and the sideboard will obviously get more fine tuned after worlds where the metagame becomes apparent. However I’d feel happy to bring this to the table and be confidant that I could keep pace with whatever was thrown at me, and no doubt I’ll be playing this or something similar during the Extended Pro Tour Qualifier season.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.