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Archive for the ‘Decks of the Week’ Category

So with States nearly upon our US readers, its the perfect time for another review of the online metagame with Decks of the Week. As much as BDM and Randy gushed about the Jund-beating Naya Lightsaber deck from worlds, it seems MTGO did not get the memo as Jund was far, far and away the best deck again this week. Of 457 decks featured in the Decks of the Week, Jund was 220 of them, or 48%. This is beyond Fae level dominance and despite the many pros saying this or that deck beats Jund, the cold hard numbers say Jund is winning more often than not. If you are preparing for online play or for a tournament like states and you want to win, either just play Jund or make damn sure you have a reasonable matchup against it.

Total Decks: 457

Jund: 220

There were so many Jund decks this week I decided to break them down into subtypes. While the basic cards are consistent across all Jund decks, there are several variations in a few key cards. The most popular variant is Siege-Gang Jund at 100 decks, which cuts a few spells to fit in the mighty goblin finisher. In a close second is a more Traditional Jund with 82 decks, the only new card these guys seem to be playing is Borderland Ranger in an effort to fight Goblin Ruinblaster. In descending order of popularity, we also have Master of the Wild Hunt (18 decks), Chandra Nalaar (7), Vampire Nighthawk (4), Lotus Cobra (4), Dragon Broodmother (2), Malakir Bloodwitch (2), and Sedraxis Specter (2) featuring in some slightly innovative Jund decks. All still rely on the power of Bituminous Blast, Bloodbraid Elf and Blightning, however. Rampant Growth is also featuring more and more, and Sprouting Thrinax seems to be taking a dip in popularity.

Example Jund featuring SCG

Pigao (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009

4  Dragonskull Summit
3  Forest
3  Mountain
4  Rootbound Crag
4  Savage Lands
3  Swamp
4  Verdant Catacombs
25 lands

4  Bloodbraid Elf
4  Broodmate Dragon
3  Siege-Gang Commander
4  Sprouting Thrinax
15 creatures

4  Bituminous Blast
4  Blightning
4  Lightning Bolt
3  Maelstrom Pulse
3  Rampant Growth
2  Terminate
20 other spells

Sideboard
4  Goblin Ruinblaster
3  Jund Charm
4  Mind Rot
2  Pyroclasm
2  Terminate
15 sideboard cards

Boros (39) and Mono-Red (35)

The other reason Jund is doing so well is because its two metagame lieutenants here are tearing apart any deck that tries to go bigger and slower than Jund. Both of these decks are lightning fast aggro machines, and if you are looking for an alternative to slinging Bloodbraid Elves one of these two is your best bet. Quenchable Fire is surprisingly playable, as a sort-of Hellspark Elemental that is unblockable and immune to removal. Blue is so scarce in the metagame that this is a surprisingly efficient burn spell.

Example Mono Red Aggro deck

servism (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009

4  Arid Mesa
12  Mountain
4  Scalding Tarn
4  Teetering Peaks
24 lands

4  Ball Lightning
4  Goblin Guide
4  Hell’s Thunder
4  Hellspark Elemental
4  Plated Geopede
20 creatures

4  Burst Lightning
4  Earthquake
1  Elemental Appeal
4  Lightning Bolt
3  Quenchable Fire
16 other spells

Sideboard
3  Dragon’s Claw
1  Elemental Appeal
3  Goblin Bushwhacker
4  Jackal Familiar
3  Manabarbs
1  Mark of Mutiny
15 sideboard cards

Naya Lightsaber (27)

Luke Skywalker to Jund’s Darth Vader, this deck featuring Bloodbraid Elves has turned to the light side rather than the dark and is coming off the back of a world championship win. I suspect its due popularity is held back by the extreme difficulty involved in acquiring 4x Baneslayer Angel at any sort of sane price, but this deck is very powerful and must be respected in considering the metagame. There are a few Baneslayer-less builds doing well this week, I assume due to card availability as why would you cut it?

Example Naya Lightsaber list

_Tachikoma_ (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009

60 cards
4  Arid Mesa
4  Forest
3  Mountain
1  Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
4  Plains
4  Rootbound Crag
4  Sunpetal Grove
24 lands

3  Baneslayer Angel
4  Bloodbraid Elf
4  Noble Hierarch
3  Ranger of Eos
1  Scute Mob
4  Wild Nacatl
4  Woolly Thoctar
23 creatures

2  Ajani Vengeant
2  Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4  Lightning Bolt
1  Naya Charm
4  Path to Exile
13 other spells

Sideboard
1  Ajani Vengeant
4  Celestial Purge
4  Goblin Ruinblaster
4  Great Sable Stag
2  Harm’s Way
15 sideboard cards

The Rest

Past these 3 the metagame diversifies considerably, and because of space considerations I won’t be providing lists, instead I will trust in your ingenuity and ability to find lists yourselves if you want to check out any of these concoctions. Several worlds decks are represented here, as well as the fast-fading Eldrazi Green, the budget deck that could RG Valakut, and the ever present tribal decks like Vampires, Goblins and Soldiers.

RG Valakut: 16
Vampires: 14
Cavaglieri Tokens: 13
Jacerator: 11
Grixis Control: 8
RUW Control: 7
Spread ‘Em: 7
Mono W Control: 7
Dredge: 7
Eldrazi Green: 6
Mono W Aggro: 6
Bant: 5
4C Control: 4
GW Tokens: 4
GWB Cobra: 4
Magical Christmas Land: 3
Summoning Trap: 2
Blightning Beatdown: 2
Grixis Discard: 2
UB Mill: 1
Razer Landfall: 1
Goblins: 1
Soldiers: 1
Esper Stormblade: 1
Open the Vaults: 1

Decklists

Pigao (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Dragonskull Summit
Forest
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Savage Lands
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs


25 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Broodmate Dragon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sprouting Thrinax


15 creatures
Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Lightning Bolt
Maelstrom Pulse
Rampant Growth
Terminate


20 other spells

Sideboard

Goblin Ruinblaster
Jund Charm
Mind Rot
Pyroclasm
Terminate


15 sideboard cards
jerry_cn (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Dragonskull Summit
Forest
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Savage Lands
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs


25 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Broodmate Dragon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sprouting Thrinax


14 creatures
Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Lightning Bolt
Maelstrom Pulse
Rampant Growth
Terminate


21 other spells

Sideboard

Goblin Ruinblaster
Jund Charm
Maelstrom Pulse
Magma Spray
Mind Rot
Pyroclasm


15 sideboard cards
servism (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
12  Mountain
Scalding Tarn
Teetering Peaks


24 lands

Ball Lightning
Goblin Guide
Hell’s Thunder
Hellspark Elemental
Plated Geopede


20 creatures
Burst Lightning
Earthquake
Elemental Appeal
Lightning Bolt
Quenchable Fire


16 other spells

Sideboard

Dragon’s Claw
Elemental Appeal
Goblin Bushwhacker
Jackal Familiar
Manabarbs
Mark of Mutiny


15 sideboard cards
Smang (4-0)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Calad (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Kikiijiki (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Smaland (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
Forest
Jungle Shrine
Misty Rainforest
Mountain
Plains
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove


23 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Knight of the Reliquary
Noble Hierarch
Ranger of Eos
Scute Mob
Wild Nacatl
Woolly Thoctar


26 creatures
Lightning Bolt
Naya Charm
Quenchable Fire


11 other spells

Sideboard

Burst Lightning
Celestial Purge
Eldrazi Monument
Naya Charm
Wall of Reverence


15 sideboard cards
Mini_Gnarls (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


The_Apologist (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
Marsh Flats
Mountain
Plains
Scalding Tarn
Teetering Peaks


24 lands

Elite Vanguard
Emeria Angel
Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Guide
Plated Geopede
Ranger of Eos
Steppe Lynx


24 creatures
Burst Lightning
Lightning Bolt
Path to Exile


12 other spells

Sideboard

Celestial Purge
Earthquake
Harm’s Way
Journey to Nowhere
Manabarbs
Oblivion Ring
Runeflare Trap


15 sideboard cards
Kaitai (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

20  Mountain
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle


24 lands

Ball Lightning
Goblin Guide
Hell’s Thunder
Hellspark Elemental


16 creatures
Banefire
Burst Lightning
Earthquake
Elemental Appeal
Lightning Bolt
Pyroclasm
Spire Barrage


20 other spells

Sideboard

Goblin Ruinblaster
Mark of Mutiny
Punishing Fire
Volcanic Fallout


15 sideboard cards
AbsoluteGrace (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Dragonskull Summit
Forest
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Savage Lands
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs


26 lands

Bloodbraid Elf
Broodmate Dragon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sprouting Thrinax


15 creatures
Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Lightning Bolt
Maelstrom Pulse
Rampant Growth
Terminate


19 other spells

Sideboard

Dragon’s Claw
Goblin Ruinblaster
Maelstrom Pulse
Mind Rot
Terminate


15 sideboard cards
_Tachikoma_ (3-1)
Standard Daily #723658 on 12/01/2009


Main Deck

60 cards

Arid Mesa
Forest
Mountain
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Plains
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove


24 lands

Baneslayer Angel
Bloodbraid Elf
Noble Hierarch
Ranger of Eos
Scute Mob
Wild Nacatl
Woolly Thoctar


23 creatures
Ajani Vengeant
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Lightning Bolt
Naya Charm
Path to Exile


13 other spells

Sideboard

Ajani Vengeant
Celestial Purge
Goblin Ruinblaster
Great Sable Stag
Harm’s Way


15 sideboard cards
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First off a big thankyou to Tom and everyone from Monday Night Magic – they gave me a quick plug near the end of their latest episode and blog views have surged! You can catch them at www.mtgcast.com, I highly recommend listening.

A quick note to owners of foil Crystalline Slivers – they are featured in the Premium Deck Series – Slivers precon, in foil, which will likely tank the value of your cards. If you’re counting on them to fund your retirement, I’d sell them off as soon as possible!

Crystalline Sliver

Also just quickly before going on to our regular Thursday topic, Sphinx of Jwar Isle has doubled in price on starcitygames since last week, up to $4 now. I am feeling pretty happy about the $2.25 I paid for a playset on ebay last week, how about you?

Another Thursday, another pile of decklists from wizards. Jund’s dominance on MTGO is astounding – of 161 decks that made 3-1 or better in standard premier events this week, 72 were Jund, or 44.7% of all 3-1+ decks. This may be a function of how many Jund decks are being played (a lot) but there is no doubt Jund is the deck to beat. Maelstrom Pulse seems to have found its level, stable at around $20, while Verdant Catacombs is rising offline – to around $18 – and slipping online, down to $6.50.

Maelstrom Pulse

Next on the list of most succesful decks is still Boros, way down at 20/161, or a respectable 12.4%. There is not much to say with regard to this deck; most of its cards are commons and uncommons and the 12 fetchlands it plays are holding fairly steady. We have several similarly succesful decks next, with Nissa Revane decks, Green/White aggro, Monored (including one Goblins deck) and Vampires showing up around 8 times each. The more rogue decks include Mike Flores’ GWB Ramp, GR Valakut, UWR Control, Monowhite Control, Warp World combo, Bant, Naya and anti-Jund White Weenie. None of these decks are particularly cheap to build and Boros is still my pick for the budget concious competitive player, but I’ll highlight a few cards that could take off if these decks do.

Nissa Revane: $10

Nissa Revane

Nissa’s price is fair at the moment, but I also think she’s severely underrated. She has a similar sleeper quality about her to Elspeth, who was originally dismissed as irrelevant. Ignore the final ability for the time being, and just think about how much time a free 2/3 each turn, or gaining 4-6 life a turn can buy you against aggro. The only strike against her is her vulnerability, as Lightning Bolt or Blightning both handily take care of her the turn after she comes out. Even in this case she leaves behind a 2/3 which, while not what you want to do with 4 mana, is not terrible. She also pairs extremely well with Eldrazi Monument, giving you an endless stream of dudes to feed to the slumbering god while the rest of your indestructible flying team is protecting her. I could see her closer to $20 next year, depending on how the standard metagame develops. On a related note I can’t believe that Sarkhan Vol is still going for over ten bucks, that guy hasn’t done anything relevant yet!

Siege-Gang Commander, $2.75

Siege-Gang Commander

This guy is constantly bouncing in and out of standard playability – he took a hit with the M10 rules, but he is still a major threat and features in most of the GR Valakut decks and Warp World decks, as well as the single Goblins deck. Honestly you should just grab your playset and hang on to them, because this guy is always going to be in consideration for red decks and especially token decks. He has a lot of irons in the fire, so to speak, and if any one of his decks takes off he will rise in value.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle – $1

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

The molten namesake of a reasonably well represented new deck, GR Valakut, this card is a bargain at the moment. Sure it was the release promo but this is even featuring in extended combo decks with Scapeshift. I guarantee these will rise, especially with another land matters set on the way in Worldwake.

Rogue List of the Week

A couple of lists jumped out at me this week, including a controlling non-Vampire Monoblack list, a Crypt of Agadeem combo list, and this spicy little number from Smaland, who went 3-1. Its not obvious at first what this deck does, but it revolves around the overlooked Runeflare Trap. The rest of the deck is additional burn, plus a lot of bounce and Howling Mine effects to fill the opponent’s hand and trigger the trap cost of Runeflare Trap. Jace, Howling Mine and Time Warp mean this deck isn’t exactly cheap, but it sure looks like fun!

Smaland (3-1)
Standard Daily #650654 on 11/02/2009

Main Deck

60 cards
4  Arid Mesa
8  Island
5  Mountain
4  Scalding Tarn
21 lands

0 creatures

2  Burst Lightning
3  Font of Mythos
4  Howling Mine
3  Into the Roil
3  Jace Beleren
4  Lightning Bolt
4  Ponder
4  Runeflare Trap
3  Spell Pierce
3  Time Warp
4  Unsummon
2  Whiplash Trap
39 other spells

Sideboard

3  Earthquake
3  Flashfreeze
3  Negate
3  Pyroclasm
3  Swerve
15 sideboard cards

Recommendations

Buy: Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Sell: Any old foil slivers whose value depends on their rarity.

Thanks for reading folks, I’d love to hear what you like or don’t like by email, twitter or in the comments.

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One great source for hidden gems is the standard event decklists from magic online. They’re released on Thursday on the mothership as the “Daily Activity”, and even if you don’t play MTGO you can still keep up on the latest tech. Here’s the link to the most recent Decks of the Week:  http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/activity/309

I’ll take a quick look through the lists and see if I can see anything out of the ordinary – Jund, Vampires and Boros Bushwhacker show up in nearly every event, but a rotating guest cast are still able to compete. Note that the prices below are from a respectable online retailer and are only to give an idea of current value. You should be able to find cheaper on ebay or acquire the cards through astute trading.

Speculative Cards:

Jenara, Asura of War – $5

Jenara, Asura of War

Jenara was presold at an astronomical price – twenty dollars each or something silly like that. Lightning Bolt looked to have hammered the final nail in the coffin of her relevance, but she has been showing up in some Bant decks recently and a 3/3 flier for 3 that can grow is certainly nothing to sneeze at. If she sees standard success her price will likely fly back up into the teens, as mythic angels only need the slightest nudge to be super expensive.

Uril, the Miststalker – $3
Uril, the Miststalker

This guy is at bulk mythic prices, but he’s been seeing play in standard and is a popular casual/EDH card. Trollshroud is a strong ability with all the spot removal floating around, and Uril carries a Behemoth Sledge better than anyone. This guy could comfortably top the curve of a Naya deck.

Thornling – $2.50

Thornling

Another underpriced mythic, Thornling is a great buddy to Lotus Cobra and has been seeing maindeck play in both Bant and Naya decks. Could rise in the future.

Elemental Appeal – $2

Elemental Appeal

Ball Lightning is still $5, and these two are very similar cards. If a red deck wins style deck wants one of them it almost certainly wants the other. Ball Lightning may just be riding high on nostalgia, however.

Oracle of Mul Daya – $3

172[1]

Very speculative, but this is showing up in GR Valakut decks. It’s also a pretty unique ability and has future combo potential.

Conqueror’s Pledge – $3

Conqueror's Pledge

Cloudgoat Ranger was a coupla dollar uncommon in its hey day, and it only made four dudes! Last I checked Honor of the Pure, Captain of the Watch, Dauntless Escort, Overrun and Garruk were all in the format – how is this card not busted?

A Deck!

Below is the most interesting decklist I saw in last week’s events, featuring 4 Spreading Seas and 4 Convincing Mirage. Other odd cards to show up include Quenchable Fire and Lightning Reaver, showing that despite the Jund hegemony there is still room for innovation. Innovation and playing really bad looking cards.

Higdur, 3-1
Standard Event #636539 on 10/24/2009
Main Deck
60 cards
4  Arcane Sanctum
3  Drowned Catacomb
4  Glacial Fortress
6  Island
2  Marsh Flats
3  Plains
2  Swamp
24 lands
2  Enigma Sphinx
4  Kathari Remnant
3  Sphinx of Jwar Isle
2  Wall of Denial
11 creatures
4  Convincing Mirage
4  Day of Judgment
3  Deny Reality
1  Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4  Esper Charm
2  Jace Beleren
3  Scepter of Dominance
4  Spreading Seas
25 other spells
Sideboard
2  Baneslayer Angel
4  Celestial Purge
2  Luminarch Ascension
3  Path to Exile
2  Wall of Denial
2  Wall of Reverence
15 sideboard cards

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