Sadly, no Conley Woods concontion this time around. He didn’t do very well. I guess the list would be available somewhere, and I bet its interesting, but from what I heard, the land base was just less than 20 mountains, which would seem like some sort of monored heroic deck.
But plenty of great stuff around.
I’m not here for the decks that are best. I’m here for the decks I found most intriguing and creative.
Mardu Planeswalker by Team Revolution
Some players from the once-French team played this deck. There have been plenty of planeswalkers decks lately, but this is a new mix of colors. Chandra is the key here bringing card advantage with her 0 ability, while Elspeth and Sarkhan are the actual wincons (although Chandra can win on her own too, but its just not very likely). Plenty of removal and disruption, including Crackling Doom to get rid of those pesky Prognostic Sphinxes.
Also, note the three copies of Evolving Wilds in the manabase.
This is what some of the Japanese players came up with. This is one of those decks the coverage likes to call great draft decks. And sure, this is the first time I’ve seen Vanguard of Brimaz in a constructed deck. The deck itself has a pretty interesting approach to the format. Since everyone is going to be playing big, efficient creatures, such as Siege Rhino and a lot of removal, to get through, you need to go wide, instead of big. Enough attackers and some of them will get through. Plenty of token generation and plenty of ways to make those tokens big.
Pretty transformational sideboard as well, able to go bigger against Anger of the Gods.
Plenty of these decks around, but this one (played by Tzu-Ching Kuo) was my favorite. Feels like some of the other decks have forgotten all the great cards from the previous sets. Reaper of the Wilds has three abilites, all of which are great in this environment. Also, See the Unwritten. Why isn’t that card played more? Also, in the format where every midrange deck plays a bunchload of removal, this one has a couple in the sideboard.
Makahito Mihara had a pretty similar deck, but exchanged the white for a black-green Constellation theme.
After Randy Buehler rightly brought up the fact that the so-called Jeskai Tempo is not actually a Tempo deck, the deck became known as Jeskai Wins (among other titles), which I find to be a pretty good name, since we’re talking about taking the classic RDW (Red Deck Wins) strategy and using three colors to do it. Sort of.
Brad Nelson didn’t think he’d need three colors and went with two instead. I don’t find this quite as nice as the Jeskai Tokens I’ll list later on, but its different enough to be mentioned. Prowess seems to be very good.
Once again, pretty transformational sideboard, including an extra land to make it work.
I’m already very tired of this archetype after playing against it twice (once in Standard and once in Modern). Still, this version by Lee Shi Tian has a couple of additions I’m willing to tip my hat to. Especially Nissa, Worldwaker, who didn’t get much love overall despite being extremely powerful.
Once again, a very transformational sideboard. Lee Shi Tian hopes that you’ll wreck your maindeck to disrupt the combo, but he’ll beat you with Big Knux instead.
Jeskai Tokens (or Kung Fu Tokens)
My actual favorite deck from the Pro Tour was actually this one. Sadly, it didn’t do very well, but here’s a video deck tech anyhow:
The idea is to make tokens with spells and then give those tokens +1/+1 until end of turn, preferably numerous times, with Jeskai Ascendancy.
EDIT: The One I Forgot – Running with Scissors
Another deck that didn’t do very well, but was still exhibited in a deck tech is this blue-white artifacts deck, which does its best to get Ensoul Artifact online. Since that’s a bit fragile, there’s other stuff in there as well.
What did we learn from all this? Apparently white is the big thing right now. Each of these decks at least splashes it. Red seems to be very good too, even if the Abzan decks stay away from it.
All in all, even if Randy Buehler did say this is the biggest rotation ever, this seemed pretty lame. Although there were new archetypes, quite a few teams and people came to pretty much the same conclusions and in the end, Jeskai Wins and Abzan Midrange dominated. I guess that’s what we’ll be seeing for the next year or so.
Well, at least there was quite a bit of room to maneuver within those archetypes and some of the decks were quite different. Some of the Abzan decks didn’t even play Siege Rhino.
The next question is how do you beat these? Lifegain is good against Jeskai Wins, as its quite dependent on the ability to do damage constantly. I’d guess Jeskai decks will fizzle out in Standard, but reappear every so often, when everyone has stopped hating them out.
So, what about the Abzan? That’s going to be a bit harder, because of the variety. Otherwise this would be easy. You either go a little bigger or much smaller. That’s the key to these creature battles. Abzan decks just sometimes happen to have plenty of two-drops, sometimes they don’t have pretty much anything before Siege Rhino.