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Spreading Cheese – (untitled)

Hey everyone. Today I’ll talk about both Standard and Legacy. This week is a bit of a slow week for me, as I’m on the final steps of the awesome thing I’ve been talking about for a month or so now, so bear with me. Anyway, I’m terrible at writing intro paragraphs, so I’ll just jump in already.

So, Standard first. What should one play in Standard right now? Caw Blade with red splash.

Ok, now it’s Legacy’s turn. Just kidding. Of course I’m not going to just mention Caw Blade and move on. You guys probably realize that there are other decks in the format, for example RUG. I for one have never been a fan of RUG, it’s an amazing deck, but I just hate red. It’s my least favorite color, and I can’t justify playing it except for metagaming reasons or combo decks. I just end up being unhappy when I play red. So I looked at the next closest choice, BUG. Well, alright, I realize that it’s bad against both Swords, but I have a game plan.

First of all, let’s take a look at the most recent list that placed 9th at the SCG Open at Edison. Now, when I look at that list, there are several things that BUG me (ha ha). In a format riddled with Swords, Mystics, Hawks among other costing-less-than-or-equal-to-three threats; playing anything less than 4 Inquisitions is completely unacceptable. Another thing is that while Sorin Markov is good, the tutoring of Liliana Vess and her interaction with Jace is pretty strong, you can have any answer you want at any given time. If I were to play BUG, I’d do the following:

-1 Duress
-1 Sorin Markov
-1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
-1 Avenger of Zendikar
+1 Inquisition
+3 Liliana Vess

The key strategy here is that you will try to take care of Swords/Mystics in the early game with discard, and then you can force your way through with Liliana + Jace, you can destroy swords with Acidic Slime, and can afford to cut one Avenger because it’s tutorable by Liliana when you’re ready. Now, I haven’t tested this at all, but the ‘grab a bullet’ strategy seems solid in my opinion.

While we’re on the subject of BUG, let’s also think about Genesis Wave. Remember Mike Flores’s UG Wave deck? It kind of died down because of the uprising of the counterspell decks like UB, UW etc. There aren’t that many counterspell decks right now, only Caw Blade. and even then, they don’t have as many counterspells as Caw-Go. Anyway, that list looks alright, but Frost Titan by itself is pretty dead in the current format.

What I’m proposing is something different. Add black for Ob Nixilis, The Fallen.

Yes, I know, many of you have forgotten that card exists. He’s like Valakut but better! If you hit him off of a Wave, you’re probably winning, especially if you hit multiples (yes, they die due to the legend rule but not before draining). You don’t even care about attacking with him (thus the Swords don’t matter), and if you’re playing against Valakut where they bolt him in response to your non-lethal drain, you can crack fetches in response to protect him from the bolt. So I’d cut some lands from that list to add Verdant Catacombs, and cut Frost Titans for Ob Nixilis. I know, this isn’t a super optimal build in the broad sense because it’s less resilient (Ob Nix dies way easier than Frosty, and there’s also the legend rule), but this is more like a combo deck.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, instead of adding black to that deck, you can add white for Admonition Angel. That’s just evil, because you pretty much exile everything they have after a resolved Wave. The only problem is you have less fetchlands, and the triple white on the angel is a bit harder. But it’s entirely legitimate.

I believe one of those three decks I just described should be good enough to try. No? I’m testing a UB deck, and the initial results against Caw-Blade seemed good, but I don’t know how it operates against other decks, so I’ll hold off on that for now. The above decks are modifications on tried and true archetypes, whereas my UB build will be something different.

By the way, here’s the weekly metal plug: The Bridal Procession – Flesh to Flesh (for fans of Behemoth)

Now let’s talk Legacy. Did anyone watch Alix Hatfield’s finals game against Eli Kassis? Here are the decklists for those who are curious. That was such a great game, the commentators kept saying it was skill, but there was also quite a bit of luck involved, which made it even more interesting to watch.

I have something to say about the comments made by Gavin Verhey and Jacob Van Lunen. It’s pretty clear they have never seen or played that deck before. I can excuse that, especially in Legacy, as it’s nearly impossible to play and master every single deck, but some of their comments were slightly disappointing, considering they’d seen Alix play earlier in the day. Now, there is no way that I can deny Alix made the most optimal play at each step, but the guys have to realize that he didn’t have many plays either. At each step, thanks to Eli’s crazy amounts of discard spells, he had at most 2 spells he could cast to respond, and the only two serious decisions he made were to hide some spells with a Brainstorm, and the Ponder he cast in game 3 that resulted in him topdecking a Time Spiral. The Brainstorm play requires some thinking, but the Ponder was just Alix looking at his top 3 cards, not seeing the Spiral he needs to win, and then shuffling and topdecking like a champion. Gavin and JVL kept saying how insanely skilled Alix’s plays were, and in general High Tide decks do require a reasonably high level of skill, but in this case Alix didn’t have any real options. He just cast the only spells he could cast to not lose the game, and he did it right without doing anything stupid. Other than that, after you know the deck, it just plays itself. Believe me, because High Tide was the first Legacy deck I built and played, and it’s the deck I’ve played the most. As I said, Alix’s playing was top notch, but the way the commentators kept saying how insanely skilled his plays were just made the commentators look uninformed. It was a really fun game to watch muted though. Definitely one of the best games of Magic I have watched.

Anyway, now that I got my rant out there, let’s think about this a little bit. Legacy players tend to be really touchy-feely about combo decks, and since a combo deck just won a major tournament with a very impressive finals match (albeit extremely lucky—you have to admit that Alix would have lost if either: he didn’t topdeck the Time Spiral, his draws off of the Spirals weren’t supremely optimal, or Eli wasn’t mana screwed for the first few turns), we can expect to see ridiculous amounts of hate for combo deck in general, and especially for this particular deck. What makes High Tide special is that it can also run counterspells, so it’s not as easy to hate, but we all saw how discard spells cripple the deck. Also, it’s really hard for the deck to go off with less than four lands.

Taking this into consideration, and the fact that there are other decks in the format, I propose a black-based disruption deck. For example you can play Pox (look at the last few pages of this thread for lists and the first page for explanations), but that deck has bad late game, so I’m not sure. Part of me wants to make a DredgePox build, but I don’t think it would work. Maybe Pox-Reanimator? Nah. Dredge is good against High Tide, because there isn’t room for Dredge hate in the board. So you can wing it, and Dredge is well-posed in general in this metagame. Just make sure anyone isn’t running Extirpate against High Tide decks, that would be pretty bad for Dredge. Another option is adding a set of Verdicts (you also run Hymns, obviously) and maybe Tidehollow Sculler to the disruption toolbox of Junk. Vindicating Islands also seems like a solid play.

Honestly, I don’t know if Time Spiral will push the deck into a format breaker. The deck is really good, but it’s difficult to put together thanks to Candelabras, and it’s a headache to play. Add to that the fact that most people just don’t like combo, I don’t know how it will play out. It’s too early to tell. But expect to see some hate for it, and prepare to play against it.

That’s all I’ve got this week, but stay tuned next week for some awesome content!

P.S. For questions, comments, feedback, send an e-mail to me at Spreading.Cheese [at] gmail [dot] com or follow me on twitter @nayon7
P.P.S: Want more metal? I also write at http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com, so metalheads can check out my writings about metal on there under the name Nayon.

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