This still current (for less than two weeks) Standard has been fun. Granted, I haven’t been able to do the usual attacking the meta from a different angle -thing that usually works for me the best, but the range of playable decks has been awesome and even though I don’t really like playing against decks like those revolving around [scryfall]Approach of the Second Sun[/scryfall], those feel like an important piece of the puzzle as they do keep certain decks from becoming prevalent.
Since this past Friday was the last opportunity for me to play a tournament, I made certain I would be able to participate in the FNM.
Therefore, on Thursday night, at around 11, I found a few moments to finally sit down and think about what I wanted to play. I had played a UB Reanimator deck the previous week in Finnish Nationals, but even though it felt like a good deck, the key parts of the deck would live on after the rotation, so I decided against it. Instead, I went through my collection looking for cards I wanted to play one just that one last time. There’s quite a few cards rotating out, so I won’t try to list all of these, but there’s one that stood above all the others. My favorite card in years.
This is a weirdly wonderful card. It is a 6/6 flier for four in a format where huge chunks of the most played removal doesn’t line up very well with it. But of course, the major draw is the ability. There was a series of videos by MtGGoldfish in which Saffron Olive tried it out in Modern. I was deeply dissatisfied with his approach, which was to mitigate the problem by playing [scryfall]Torpor Orb[/scryfall]. No, you don’t do that. You don’t trt to avoid the ability. You try to make it work for you.
How do you do that? You play burn. Okay, since the burn in Standard isn’t very good at the moment (although I don’t see it getting better either), you can do that only to an extent, but let’s go with that anyhow. Therefore, I came up with this concoction:
4 Forerunner of Slaughter
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Olivia, Mobilized for War
2 Lathnu Hellion
2 Inverter of Truth
2 Dust Stalker
4 Incendiary Flow
2 Collective Defiance
4 Unlicensed Disintegration
2 Cut // Ribbons
4 Smoldering Marsh
4 Foreboding Ruins
4 Canyon Slough
Yes, that’s 26 lands, but I was counting on being able to play everything on curve and everything else is pretty secondary. I could always cycle away the [scryfall]Canyon Slough[/scryfall]s anyhow.
Sideboard was pretty horrendous as I just took the sideboard from the previous week, took out the [scryfall]Negate[/scryfall]s and replaced them with red cards. Didn’t really matter, as I only sided in [scryfall]Fatal Push[/scryfall]es and more [scryfall]Abrade[/scryfall]s. I did have a good package in case I did have to play against those dreaded Approaches in a full set of [scryfall]Doomfall[/(card]s, a couple of [scryfall]Lost Legacy[scryfall]s and a [scryfall]Gonti, Lord of Luxury[/scryfall]. All in all, I was very well prepared… for something.
Now, I haven’t doing very well lately, probably because of the problem mentioned in the beginning of this article about not being able to attack the meta game in the way I like to do, but I have had a lot of fun. Therefore, it was a nice surprise to end up going 4-0. At this point in my Magic-playing career it just shouldn’t feel this good. On the other hand, I haven’t been playing as much as I used to, which has lead me to punt pretty often, but I don’t think I made a serious punt once in these games. Did I make mistakes? Sure, but this is always relative. I didn’t make huge punts I made just last week, in the Nationals of all places.
The end of the last game of the tournament just made it even better. I was way behind. I had been able to keep only on creature on the board. Gladly, that creature was a [scryfall]Glorybringer[/scryfall], which I was able to use to keep [scryfall]Ob Nixilis Reignited[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Nissa, Voice of Zendikar[/scryfall] at bay, but of course my opponent was able to draw some cards and create a lot of tokens with counters on them. I had only one out in my deck: [scryfall]Inverter of Truth[/scryfall]. My graveyard at that point was…
What did I draw? [scryfall]Canyon Slough[/scryfall]. Okay, one more try and there it was… The Inverter himself. I wasn’t out of it yet, but things were suddenly going my direction. I ended up winning on 1 life after my opponent bricked for a couple of turns at the wrong moment. It was just a beautiful send-off for the coolest card they’ve come up with… I don’t even know when.
I even opened a [scryfall]No Mercy[/scryfall] from the prize boosters. Somehow everything was falling into place for that one special tournament. Of couse, I would have rather done well at the Nationals, but you take what you can get. My boy Inverter just delivered with pinpoint accuracy right when I need it to. If Kozilek could feel pride (I don’t know if he can), he probably would.
This leaves us with the future. I’m afraid this Standard is going to be gone and we are going to have to settle back into three-deck formats. I really hate that. I want room for innovation. After all the problems this current format had, it settled into a great place. There were so many things I never got to do. The mana was good, but not too good, so there weren’t those degenerate four-color goodstuff decks. The synergies were good, but there were ways to overcome the Zombie, Energy and various other menaces. There were good, but not prohibitive answers to different strategies.
What’s going to happen next? Who knows. Ixalan feels like a set for casual players with it’s weird populist tribes, hard to trigger double-faced cards and lack of efficient removal. The card pool went down quite a bit, which means that the answers to various things, like [scryfall]Hazoret, the Fervent[/scryfall] also went away. There’s no [scryfall]Grasp of Darkness[/scryfall] or [scryfall]Stasis Snare[/scryfall] anymore. We’re left with chumping and [scryfall]Cast Out[/scryfall], neither really an option anyone would like to take. Most good removal is in red, so that’s just going to be the color. The dinosaurs seem clunky and way too slow to take on the Monored menace and even if they could, then there’s plenty of sweepers in the format that can simply wipe out the whole race like a meteor. Control has so many good tools anyhow that that without Ulamog or [scryfall]Worldbreaker[/scryfall] as the top-end, these ramp decks want have much room to maneuver.
At this point, I’m really not looking forward to it. They even moved the Pro Tour down, which means we don’t get to see the ideas the pros have before that. I feel like WotC is learning all the wrong things right now. They are reacting to things that were caused by other things. They are making changes because the interest in Standard was down in the Spring, but that was because of Marvel-decks. That situation was fixed. Did they stop and see what would happen next before making other sweeping changes? I don’t think so. Different parts of the company seem to communicate very little with each other.
But we’ll see. The new Play Design didn’t have time to take part in this set yet, and probably not couple of next ones either, so we won’t be seeing any benefit from their existence for quite a while. Still, I would hope they did learn something from the beauty that is this current format and be better in the future about all this.