Crucible of Words – Magic 2012 in Standard by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales


This week, we have a lot of results to look over. With a Star City Games open and Japanese Nationals, there are a lot of lists to look at in prepping for UK nationals and upcoming standard PTQ’s.

Firstly, let’s look at the top 16 from star city:

4 Caw-Blade
2 Tempered Steel
1 Jund
2 Valakut
1 Vampires
2 UW Control
1 Pyro-Twin
1 Grixis Twin
1 RUG Pod Twin
1 Puresteel Aggro

As we can see, UW creature based strategies are pretty big, choosing to race the expected high number of Valakut decks, but posing a solid clock and backing it up with disruption from Sword of Feast and Famine and counterspells. Steel and Vamps are other decks that attempt to race the Primeval Titan clock, and rounding out, we have Twin, different builds, attempting different things. The Twin combo is able to race Valakut and by playing lots of control spells, can keep them at bay for a while. Lastly, we have a rather nice rogue build, Jund:

2 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Wurmcoil Engine
3 Grave Titan
4 Grim Lavamancer
4 Lotus Cobra
3 Dismember
1 Go For The Throat
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Despise
1 Duress
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Memoricide
3 Garruk, Primal Hunter
3 Forest
1 Mountain
4 Swamp
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Copperline Gorge
4 Lavaclaw Reaches
1 Marsh Flats
4 Raging Ravine
4 Verdant Catacombs

2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of Cliffs
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Dismember
1 Go For The Throat
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Duress
2 Memoricide
2 Pyroclasm
1 Liliana Vess

What this deck does is rather like a classic rock deck. It has a big of ramp, some excellent creatures and some disruption to back it up. By attacking the hand of a Valakut player, you can buy enough time to drop scary clocks like Grave Titan and put the game away quickly. The six drop guys here importantly dodge Dismember, making them less vulnerable to removal than they have been in the past due to Dismember’s popularity. Ramping into Garruk, Primal Hunter is a really nice way to dominate a board, an endless stream of decent sized creatures will ends games, as will his draw ability. Post Day of Judgment he kicks out lethal damage in one turn, a wonderful win condition even better on turn three from a Lotus Cobra. Phyrexian Revoker is a good addition, stopping Deceiver Exarch from tapping with a Splinter Twin attached, or nerfing a Planeswalker are viable options with this guy. I think this deck looks pretty solid all round, but its lack of three drops makes it open to bad draws if it doesn’t find and stick a cobra.

So, what about Japanese Nationals:

3 Valakut(7-1)(7-1)(7-1)
2 Tempered Steel(8-0)(6-2)
1 UB Control(6-1-1)
1 Tezzeret(7-0-1)
1 GW Aggro(7-1)

These are the top 8 decklists, because nationals is a mix of draft, I’ve put each deck’s standard record in brackets. As you can see, they all had a good record, Valakut unsurprisingly being the most consistent, and Steel having both the best and the worst standard records out of the top 8 players. Whilst there are other lists that did well in the standard portion, it’s usually the top 8 lists most people focus on, in terms of what to expect in the metagame coming up.

Obviously the UK metagame is different, but these events do have an impact. It was obvious Valakut was always going to be a big deck, and this suggests it will continue to be, UW Caw-Blade decks will obviously attract many players. The real eye opener here though, is the Steel deck, which seems to have crossed over from block rather well. This deck reminds me in some ways of Kuldotha Red, which runs many of the same cards, except steel has a stronger pool of creatures and better pump effects instead of burn spells. Steel will obviously be popular off the back of these results and block, and you should always have a plan to beat them, however my fear for the Steel deck, is that like Kuldotha Red, there are very effective ways of dealing with it. It feels like a deck that is very strong when unexpected, but can be hated out effectively, much like Twin decks, which will be another big part of the metagame.

However, because the UK seems to have a slant towards aggro deck, you should expect to see RDW at every tournament, despite its results it maintains popular here in the UK. UB control however, is often under-represented here, UW always being the more popular choice of control deck ever since faeries left standard.

So, where does this leave us in terms of what to play for upcoming events? It seems that there is no clear answer to what is the best deck, or what you should be running and there is use in hating out one specific deck. It seems that you can either play a deck so heavily focused on winning early; you can kill your opponent before they react, or you can a deck with a solid game plan and ways of interacting with those faster decks. The Jund deck is a good example of this, it doesn’t need to a specific deck or list, it needs certain things to cope with parts of the metagame, but how you stick them together and win is up to you really. Whether you go for control spells backing up creatures, or disruption into titans, the format is surprisingly open, allowing for a lot of functioning decks to be viable.

Now, for a bonus deck-tech:


3 Zombie Infestation
4 Treasure Hunt
4 Contested Warzone
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Magosi, the Waterveil
4 Halimar Depths
4 Tectonic Edge
4 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Khalni Garden
4 Mash Flats
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Swamp
5 Island
4 Drowned Catacomb

4 Calcite Snapper
4 Bloodghast
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Consecrated Sphinx

I won’t talk about this deck for too long, but it’s something I put together as soon as the spoiler hit for Magic2012. The basic deck is to mulligan to find Treasure Hunt, then cast it on turn four and drop a Zombie Infestation to make many zombies. If you fizzle and hit another Treasure Hunt, you can go off the following turn. The manabase gives you ways of interacting with your opponent and Contested Warzone speeds up the clock along with Creeping Tar Pit to finish.

Sideboard wise, you need to combat control decks, and it’s pretty obvious how that does so. This deck is by no means a PTQ winning list, but it’s good fun for FNM level and I thought it was worth sharing with you all.


Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.



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