Two Extremes of Standard


As I was getting ready to leave for Columbus and the SCG Invitational, I made a decision. I did enjoy playing the BUG Midrange deck that I wrote about previously, but it was a bit too inconsistent and low-powered for my liking. In the end, I’ve just decided to play the deck that I’ve had the best results with-GW Aggro, strangely enough. But first, another new innovation that caught my attention…

Cleansing the Planes

While playing UWx Control, I often found myself cutting Detention Spheres after sideboard against Bg Devotion to give them zero targets for Abrupt Decay, essentially making it a dead card. I would still be able to deal with Underworld Connections using counterspells and enchantment removal. With Abrupt Decay being so well-positioned in Standard, I’ve contemplated cutting Detention Spheres altogether from control.

Jim Davis did exactly that in his top-four finish at SCG Providence, relying on Planar Cleansing as a clean answer to non-creature permanents and creatures at the same time. If I was looking to cast Sphinx’s Revelation this week, I would sleeve up Jim’s deck and replace two Azorius Charms with two Quickens.

Detention Sphere has been such a staple in control for so long that it might seem strange to want to cut them. It’s true that doing this can leave you more vulnerable to a fast Domri Rade or Thoughtseize into Pack Rat, but the benefit is having another Wrath-effect that also answers all the various non-creature permanents that decks will sideboard in against you. Then Abrupt Decay becomes laughably bad. Not having Detention Sphere in the deck also opens up the possibility of Renounce the Guilds as a solution to cards like Obzedat, Ghost Council; Blood Baron of Vizkopa; Fleecemane Lion; and multicolored gods.

Little Kid Aggro

I’m still behind GW “Little Kid” Aggro as the best deck in Standard. The most important card that it gained from Journey into Nyx is Mana Confluence, which helps immensely to reduce those opening hands with only one color of mana and uncastable one-drops. I’ve also been trying out Setessan Tactics and Ajani’s Presence, and I think both cards deserve a spot in the sideboard. But, on the whole, my current list hasn’t changed much since my 8-0 run in the Super Sunday Series Standard event at Grand Prix Philadelphia.

I’ve been hitting a lot of Jund Monsters recently, and the matchup seems good. The +1/+1 on Setessan Tactics and Ajani’s Presence offers a nice way to push through Sylvan Caryatid, if necessary. Black Devotion is still the number one matchup. Control feels a lot more manageable since adopting Fleecemane Lion to replace Call of the Conclave. I’m still a little scared of Burn and Hexproof, hence the increase in Demystify effects (Satyr Firedancer being the primary concern). I’m also down to just two protection from blue creatures, which might need to go up if Master of Waves continues to win tournaments.

As much as I like Jim Davis’s take on blue-white, it looks like it could be easy prey. If control decks of the format are moving toward Divinations and six-mana sorceries and away from Doom Blades, then sign me up for attacking with one- and two-drops.

Delving into Modern Season

Let’s talk Modern a bit – it is Modern PTQ season, after all. Perhaps it has to do more with the Magic Online metagame, but I’ve been playing UR Delver to a lot of success recently in Daily Events.

Even with the lack of good cantrips and free counterspells, this deck almost feels like piloting a Legacy deck. I’m really trying to push this deck’s limits with only 18 lands and 13 creatures to maximize Young Pyromancer and Delver of Secrets. My only real fear while playing Delver is cheap sweeper effects. Pyroclasm is a lot less common than it used to be, but Anger of the Gods and Golgari Charm exist.

I absolutely love Twisted Image right now, and I think Twin decks should be playing at least two copies. There are quite a few zero-power creatures in the format, and they happen to be important creatures to kill. Sometimes you even get to save your creature from a removal spell by boosting its toughness.

Delver seems to work great on Magic Online, but it may not be quite powerful enough to become a force in the format. It really is true that, when it comes to Modern, you should pick a deck and stick to it. That’s going to be my strategy this Modern PTQ season; hopefully it pays off.

Alex Bianchi