Rogues Part Deux

Hopefully you started with my last article. I’ll be transitioning from there after my experience in the first MPL/Rivals Split Weekend. It can be a mouthful, but when you have the best players in the world, you really have the best testing gauntlet from which to draw the best data.

Here’s what I played:

Overall, the deck was really good. Going 8-4 amongst this crowd felt quite solid. My losses were to Gruul Aggro twice, Rakdos Kroxa, and Crab Rogues. Despite winning both my game ones against Gruul, the sideboarded games felt way behind. Adapting the sideboard plan to adapt with theirs is something to consider for next time. Perhaps adapting the control role, but also finding sleeker answers to threats. The Great Henge is a big problem, but they also board into Klothys, God of Destiny. Klothys is the bigger problem as once it\s resolved we have no way of interacting with it.

Rakdos Kroxa felt designed to beat my deck in game ones. Post-board games were a lot closer, but I still feel disadvantaged here. Finding a solution to this will be important to overturn this matchup. The hope is the Azorious decks don’t diminish or this deck will likely tick back up in numbers. The thought process here is that we need to figure out a way to account for them utilizing their graveyard. Ox of Agonas is so darn good and I am not exactly sure how we play around it without sacrificing too much. Epic Downfall can answer Kroxa or Ox but not until after they’ve gained so much value. Even then it cannot even target Skyclave Shade.

As for the Crab-ish mirror. I’ve long felt that whomever is sleeker on curve tends to be favored. Some have had the reverse opinion of go bigger, but after my performance in those matchups this weekend. I feel confident saying that’s not the way to go. So, to solve this problem at the very least I am going to drum up a version more like this:

Cards that really underperformed on the weekend like Bloodchief’s Thirst can be relegated to the sideboard easily enough. This made room for a more proactive plan with additional one drops. The real key in most games with this deck is resolving an Into the Story and burying the opponent with card advantage. Soon as you start playing that game you unlock the true power of Rogues. Thanks to the additional Crabs we can likely pull that play off more quickly now. The added bonus of having an 0/3 blocker is ironically not too bad either in some matchups.

The big takeaway for most was how good Gruul performed in league play. I opted for a slightly more aggressive route as I haven’t been too fond of Scavenging Ooze in such an aggressive deck. Here’s how I would drum it up for now.

If you want to have a decent Gruul and I think Rogues matchup, then I would consider this bombshell that I was very surprised to find that of the 72 League members no one registered.

If I had to hazard a guess, its\ that there is an inherent flaw in its internal consistency. What I find is many people play too many situational cards just to create synergy. When the overall power level of the deck is probably what needs focusing on. Who wants to be reactive in a proactive rewarding game?

I’m not sure how a deck like this beats the Wicked Wolf green food brews which is the only downside. As always assess your local meta before picking up a deck like this. If you want to trounce the Green Foodies though stick to good ole reliable Rogues and you’ll have a grand ole time. People are still leaning on Arachnid Spider and the newsflash is it’s not actually good. I was even about to qualify Arachnid Spiders’ playability with a “not that good” for posterity, when I reminded myself that it’s really just poop.

As always thanks for stopping by and be sure to like, retweet, and share for visibility if you’re enjoying my content. Heck even if you’re not but you kinda like me and want to see me succeed at things. Thanks all!

Going Rogue

Let’s jump into the list before we discuss this time:

There’s been a lot of ways to build this deck. Common aspects amongst all the lists have been that they are both Blue and Black. They share a similar base of mill aspects and Drown in the Loch. One thing I am doing a little differently here is I am focusing more on the aggressive and controlling elements of the deck. Not as much on the milling aspects.

Ruin Crab has been popping up more and more in a lot of these decks. I felt that it wasn’t quite right for the mirror and with everyone playing 80 cards in their deck nowadays, I wanted to be more focused on doing other things.

I am not exactly in love with Vantress Gargoyle, but there’s a threat density that must exist in a deck like this, to which it does the job as good as any other card available to us in Standard for the moment.

There’s also a lack of recursion from Call to the Death-Dwellers and even only a single copy of Agadeem’s Awakening. This is mostly because Castle Lochthwain is so good and I wanted enough Swamps to increase the likelihood of it coming into play untapped. Also, an unnecessary three damage can certainly cost you in some matchups.

The few one off’s in the deck are mostly to take advantage of open decklists, which is a necessary thing in the more competitive tournaments online nowadays. Although each card likely deserves consideration and inclusion. Any one of them can be drawn at the wrong time and hence the spread to try and diversify repetitive bad draws.

Rogues is extremely powerful in Standard at the moment. Attacking decks on multiple aspects in the format. If you enjoyed playing Delver decks in Legacy, then I think you’ll enjoy playing Rogues in Standard as well.

You’ll want to capitalize on mana utilization, card advantage, long term strategy development. Setting up traps is another important part. You’ll want to know the interactions between spells quite well. Be observant of graveyard size and how it impacts your spells. Proper sequencing can easily be the difference between a win and a loss with Rogues.

That being said it’s a deck with an extremely high skill barrier, so if you are just starting out, it’s actually a great deck to improve your skills on. I wouldn’t be dismayed at not winning with it yet and instead focus on the learning that a deck like this can provide.

Even though Lurrus is the companion, this list has a sweet sideboard plan. I can’t take the credit for it, but I will share how you’ll sometimes convert the deck post-board. Shark Typhoon is the important card that violates the companion mechanic. What I find especially funny is sometimes you’ll board in Shark Typhoon and Lurrus together. This is done when you want to increase the threat density of the deck.

There are other games where you’ll take out your threats altogether, converting into a more Dimir control type of deck. In these setups you’ll often need to resolve a Shark Typhoon instead of cycling them all in order to overcome a massive amount of removal spells that many people sideboard in against Rogues.

These strategies can catch your opponent off guard but be sure to keep changing up the strategy to evolve with everyone else. Otherwise they may see it coming and you get caught without the right resources at the right time.

Against decks like Rakdos that abuse the graveyard already, I have a very sweet sideboard strategy. Like before we are bringing in the Shark Typhoons and trying to resolve one. The other difference is I am typically boarding out the cards that put additional cards into the opponent’s graveyard. This effectively means we are no longer feeding their Ox of Agonis “Hate Card” sideboard plan.

They feed their graveyard enough to funnel our important spells like Drown in the Loch and Into the Story. So, we rely on them to do our “dirty work”, while getting to abuse our spells and then work towards a long-term game plan that involves us controlling the battlefield as well as graveyards.

When you go really threat light it’s important that you do not make several common mistakes. Silundi Vision must stay in. It’s really important that you resolve several Into the Stories for the plan to all come together. We need to find them with Visions quite often in the post-board configuration.

Of course, do not board in Lurrus if you are boarding out all your recursive targets. I assume it doesn’t need to be said, but just in case a three mana 3/2 with lifelink isn’t all that impressive.

Tormod’s Crypt is a special piece of tech I am quite fond/proud of. This card effectively counters a Drown in the Loch by changing your own graveyard size to zero. In addition, it resets their base graveyard requirements on cards like Into the Story while also serving as an answer for Call of the Death-Dwellers or Agadeem’s Awakening. The best part is it costs zero mana, which gives it that Force of Will feeling without having to sacrifice card advantage in the process.

So that’s the meat of it. Don’t go into a tournament cold with this deck. You’ll want to get the ins and outs down pretty well first. If you have Legacy Delver experience, I think it actually ports over quite well, but not enough that you don’t need a few practice matches. Best of luck in your battles and thanks for reading!

The Actual Best Deck in Standard

I’m sure it’s no big surprise, but it’s Omnath Adventures. The deck is putting up the wildest numbers and has a huge skill component. The format is warping around it enough that people are entertaining main deck ways to kill artifacts.

The saddest part is the deck is so powerful with Omnath that it functions well even without a Lucky Clover. Using either Innkeeper to draw lots of cards while landing haymakers or ramping with Omnath and slamming very large Beanstalk Giants. My favorite part of this deck is how I tend to win by using Fling. A lot of nostalgia comes to mind when reprints go that far back.

There’s a lot of changes from list to list, I’ve been running it a particular way that I prefer for several reasons. The early stages of the game are where the most crucial turns lie with Adventures. Granted allows for favorable late stage positions. Also, to combat decks like Rogues that are difficult matchups I’ve added main deck cards like Thundering Rebuke and Mystical Dispute. Both of which are solid against many of the top decks at the moment.

Here’s my take:

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/3463509

I’m thankful for the digital age of copy and paste because registering a 15-card sideboard with every card being a singleton was a nightmare. There are hilarious games where you will grab every available option out of your sideboard. No, not out of necessity of course. The flexibility of your targets and the cheap casting cost all make Granted a more potent weapon.

One of the surprising strengths of a deck like Omnath Adventures, is that with open decklists people have to play around cards you’re not even playing in the main deck. This allows you to gain leverage without using up space. Post board configurations get trickier though as we don’t have a lot of room to make sideboard adjustments. Meanwhile our opponents are almost certainly preparing for the matchup.

Strangely enough the Standard format may just be in disarray enough that prepare as much as they like, we may still be favored in all matchups. At least until someone comes up with a new tactic that works in Standard. With the Grand Prix Finals around the corner some of the best minds in the world are set to tackle just that.

If things don’t change and we see 50%+ numbers of participants playing this deck it’s important to get the mechanics down so you can win the mirrors. Also, so that we play optimally of course in our other matchups. First thing is mana sequencing. It’s important to be able to cast Omnath, Locus of Creation. As early as possible is preferred. To that end we do not want to play out a second copy of Forest or Island in the first four land drops. It’s ideal to be able to add one of each of the four colors by turn four.

Next is card utility. Whenever possible we want to conserve Fabled Passage for a turn following Omnath. This is of course to gain the benefit of the ramp part of Omanth. Beanstalk Giant is another way to make this happen and important to hold back if your plays line up correctly. If you have a Lucky Clover on turn two and a Beanstalk Giant on turn three, then fire away. There’s almost never a good enough reason not to get a turn three double ramp spell.

Sometimes I’ll ramp on turn three with Beanstalk Giant just so I can cast a turn four Escape to the Wilds. This lets us gain a double ramp for subsequent turns in addition to giving us a maximum look at cards with which to craft a game plan against whatever we are facing.

Granted is perhaps the most complex spell in the deck. Knowing what to grab and how best to utilize it will be the difference between winning and losing. Generally speaking, it’s a better strategy to be proactive instead of reactive, but there will always be circumstances where you are forced to be on the back foot. Cards like Stern Dismissal can protect you from an Ember Cleave and force your opponent to take alternative lines which is important to making it to the later stages of the game.

Playing Innkeeper on turn one or not is a crazily complex decision that’s hard to map. With open decklists it gets a lot easier but I generally assess if I can afford to blow it or if it makes more sense to conserve it (which I usually do end up conserving). Sometimes it’s nice to force the opponent to play their spells out of order needing to answer it, so keep that in mind.

Only playing two copies of Brazen Borrower and Lovestruck Beast feels kind of strange, but I am convinced it’s right. Brazen Borrower is more situationally good and most solid when facing a Rogues opponent. Lovestruck Beast dominates on defense against ground aggro decks. These decks are in short supply because of Omnath’s prodigious life-gain ability. Still it’s important to have a few copies to capitalize on Lucky Clover and Edgewall Innkeeper.

Some interesting things to note are I do not play Ugin. Every other list plays Ugin. I have played what I feel is a sufficient number of matches in which Ugin was never Granted for. So, I decided to make additional space and not run the powerhouse card. Sometimes I found trying to force Ugin was incorrect and cost me a game. I’m definitely not saying this is 100% correct and the implied value of open decklists makes you want the card there more, not less. I am going to continue running without however for the short term.

With a Clover out and a Granted spell resolved, my favorite combination of cards to grab is Fling and Primal Might. This forces our opponent to either leave up reaction mana or to have to arrange blocks such that they don’t just die out of nowhere. Frequently you’ll tutor these up and then ignore them for a few turns while the opponent is hyper focused on them. Then you’ll go another route and take full advantage before coming around back to them and pushing through a victory.

Having a land in the sideboard to grab with Granted can come in very handy. Not getting the fourth Fabled Passage in the main deck can be a little rough, but I’ve tried replacing it with alternatives and found them all wanting. Evolving Wilds set you back a mana the turn you go to grab it and sometimes that can be the difference between winning and losing.

The sideboard guide part of this deck is the funniest part. You’re pretty much not going to sideboard! Mystical Dispute and Thundering Rebuke are the main deck flex cards. Which is only four cards of course. In the sideboard if something is doubly redundant. Such as Wilt and Shredded Sails against a deck that you’re only interested in killing an artifact. Then you can bring in one copy. A Thundering Rebuke could come in if you know that Redcap Melee is an even better Granted target. Most of the time you just won’t be making any sideboard changes however.

There are cards like Embereth Shieldbreaker that would be good to have for mirrors, but cutting Granted targets is so hard and costly. Sometimes you just won’t draw the Shieldbreaker because you cannot fit in enough copies and sometimes they won’t have a Lucky Clover anyway to take advantage of the ability. I’ve found it’s best to just focus on being proactive yet again. Last note I’ll make is many people are running a singleton or even two copies of Giant Killer in their list. It’s a nice effect with Edgewall Innkeeper, but I’ve found it poor against the Rogues lists and sometimes a little too mana inefficient to be very effective. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone trying to fit them in, but I didn’t feel it belonged in an ideal list.

Thanks for tuning in as always, jump on the wagon quick before the banhammer talks resume. This deck will get you to Mythic and fast.

Drafting Zendikar 101

If you’re reading this and you don’t play a lot of Limited, every pro will tell you that it’s an important landscape to grasp if you want to up your game in any other format. Take my word for it, they’re all right.

Learning how to maximize your resources by using the least and also developing a knack for finding small niche plays is extremely useful. Plus, it’s one of the most fun ways to play the game. You’re here for the strategy though, let’s dive in.

There are a bunch of overpowered uncommons that if you manage to start off the draft on, you can build your deck around. Relic Amulet and Roost of Drakes are two such uncommons. With Relic you can purposefully draft a heavy number of spells like removal or draw spells. Normally this strategy is quite effective anyway, but Relic Amulet gives it that extra boost to really ensure you win the card advantage game.

With Roost of Drakes of course the cards that say kicker are mostly overpowered anyway. When you start adding on additional 2/2 flyers with each cast, your opponent will be overwhelmed fairly quickly. This strategy works well if you can make it into the late game.

There are a few trap uncommons that appear powerful on the surface. However, they require a great many things to go right that seldom will in a draft. Soaring Thought Thief and Ruin Crab spring to mind. Who doesn’t want to mill out the opponent? It’s hilariously good fun, but not as competitive as we would like. Still if you manage to snag these cards later and it happens to fit into the deck, they are great pickups.

Obviously a great many of the rares and mythics in this set are broken, but you certainly don’t need my help to take and abuse those cards. There are a lot of little things you will need to know if you want to capitalize on the other percentage points to Zendikar Limited. One of which is that double-sided cards are all solid pickups, but very few of them are slam dunk picks.

It’s awesome when you can get away with running 12, 13, or even 14 lands. If you have too many and every land is coming into play tapped you may just get run over. Still I am happy with 5 double-sided cards and 14 lands quite often. This is assuming a normal curve of course. If you build a Red White warriors theme, then you certainly want to avoid coming into play tapped lands as part of your consistency. You certainly won’t turn away from some of the good ones like Akoum Warrior and Kabira Takedown.

If you’re going to draft Red White be careful not to get split on the creature theme. Some cards want a spread of your party. That’s Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizards for those unfamiliar with the new mechanic. Other cards reward you for having a warrior heavy threat density. Try and stick with one side to maximize your deck’s synergy if you can.

In older draft formats it\s easy to point to the weak link color. After doing enough drafts to go from Bronze to Mythic I can safely tell you that I feel like they are pretty well balanced. The WOTC design team did a great job with this set and word on the street is everyone’s enjoying it. I’m going to keep jumping around to important information so forgive my clustered thoughts as I write through a stream of consciousness.

While drafting you generally want to pick cards according to a hierarchy. This starts out with your bomb rares/mythics of course because its unlikely you’ll get a second chance at them. Then removal spells generally follow. Next up are good creatures and while you’re selecting these you want to perform double duty and find the right mix of creatures to complete a good curve. Lastly, we look for tricks to assist in battle or winning via alternative strategies (like mill).

This hierarchy can be changed in an instant if you manage to build a non-traditional draft deck. This can be done with some of the methods listed above or by taking cards of more than two colors and focusing on mana fixing to assist in utilizing the best cards across colors to overpower an opposing deck. There is an abundance of cantrips in this set if one wants to cycle through later picks and try to find the card they build their deck around.

Broken Wings and even Disenchant are fine singletons in many draft decks. There tends to be enough targets to validate an inclusion and can typically hit a very important target for the opponent. Tangled Florahedron and Lotus Cobra are amongst the best ramp spells you can draft in green as the best creatures are in the four-drop column.

Relic Vial is a solid card but typically best used while paired with Black and especially best in a Black White Clerics shell. This shell typically utilizes life gain to give certain creatures a buff to their stats, outpacing opposing aggressive strategies.

Some cards that were surprisingly bad;

-Relic Golem
-Lithoform Engine
-Akoum Hellhound
-Expedition Healer
-Archpriest of iona
-Seafloor Stalker
-Silundi Vision

Some cards that were surprisingly good;
-Skyclave Sentinel
-Cliffhaven Kitesail
-Tajuru Blightblade
-Hagra Constrictor
-Bubble Snare
-Sea Gate Banneret
-Skycleave Squid

As always try to remain open in a draft. Commit to colors as late as possible so you can stay flexible. Try to observe the power level of certain cards being passed and utilize those as signs of what that person may or may not be taking. It’s important to be able to play spells on turn two on if you’re on the draw, but typically okay to start on turn three if you’re on the play.

Utilize the London Mulligan to the fullest extent whenever possible. There are very few reasons you should be keeping a bad seven card hand. Luckily with the double-sided cards in Zendikar you’ll be mulliganing less than ever.

Beware the fixing in Zendikar is very limited and if you want to do a strategy incorporating more than two colors, you’ll find difficulty if you don’t see important cards. Skyclave Relic, Vastwood Surge, Roiling Regrowth, and Reclaim the Wastes are your fixing spells.  One is a rare, two are uncommons, and only Reclaim the Wastes is actually common and can be counted on to appear most consistently.

Always be prepared for the game within a game when it comes to Limited. Lead with weaker creatures early to eat up answers. Try and conserve your answers for the really big threats. Try to be on defense whenever you’re in an attrition stage of the game so you can control the outcomes. Card advantage is extremely important. Try and anticipate your opponent’s actions before they’re done so as to not fall into any traps. Last of all, beware the single untapped island in Zendikar. Chilling Trap and Zulaport Cutthroat are both solid spells and included in many decks.

Thanks for stopping by and see you next time as we return to writing about Standard in time for the Grand Prix Finals!

Zendikar Explored!

Welcome to my version of cherry picking the spoiler list and sharing random thoughts on Mythic level cards. I do consider myself a pretty solid deck builder and have championed some pretty sweet brews in the past that turned into format leading decks (most recently with Dimir Urza that led to a Star City Games Open victory).

But enough about me, let’s divulge. Tazri, Beacon of Unity screams partnership with Winota, Joiner of Forces. These classic Mardu builds lost some key components like Venerated Loxodon, but can make up for it by slamming haymakers and having a more flexible mana base thanks to Zendikar Rising’s fixing ability. I would look for this to be a premiere contender personally.

Jace, Mirror Mage while on the surface is always exciting, I expect this card to be underwhelming. In a bygone era sure it would have made the cut. We are living in a brave new world of powerful spells however and the control mirror eras seem to have passed us by.

Emeria’s Call on the other hand is so flexible that if we do have a control deck thats successful. It’s more likely to be a midrange deck that utilizes this card very nicely. I expect to see a whole lot of this card at first, then less for awhile as people normalize its role to only a few builds.

Sea Gate Restoration fits a similar role as Emeria’s Call. It being an expensive sorcery that only sets up for future plays is pretty limited, but obviously it being a come into play tapped (CIPT) Island makes it almost never bad to consider.

Agadeem’s Awakening I am kind of excited about. It makes for a Collected Company feel in black, but hinges on there being good early plays for a black style aggressive deck. This is mostly because of the triple black cost.

Shatterskull Smashing is a sweet card that will likely see play in older formats as well. The removal component or land component is the kind of flexibility that some Ponza lists or even Legacy Red Stax decks are looking for.

Turntimber Symbiosis is a dream creation for every Amulet player out there. I’m pretty sure they collectively threw a party amidst a pandemic they were so excited. For Standard it could be another cool support vehicle for finding Winota in a strange world where Lotus Cobra makes mana abundant. I have my doubts but we will certainly see.

Sea Gate Stormcaller is a surprising mythic to me. Snapcaster Mage was set at rare and this card paralells that one in many ways except it seems much worse because the presumption is you will be casting a follow up spell. Oh and it doesn’t have flash so you can’t do sweet things at the best time. So yeah pretty much not a fan unless there’s a way to abuse cheap creatures effectively and yet at the same time somehow spells. Very unlikely to me.

Scourge of the Skyclaves pairs with Agadeem’s Awakening I imagine if we have an aggressive black deck present again. The late game kicker ability is a sweet cherry on top, but with Uro not yet banned (I say this because the internet is wishing it into existence) the downside to this card may come at too great a cost. For the record I do not wish Uro banned and certainly not until we see how the format shakes up first. I am a bigger fan of creating cards to combat problems then to outright ban them unless it’s egregious.

Leyline Tyrant certainly seems like a great card for EDH decks. There exists the potential it could be good in some version of Standard, but I am skeptical again. They have given us some of the pieces to have a big red deck, but it feels like it would simply be trumped by any Ramp deck that seems to be the world as we know it nowadays.

Ancient Greenwarden also feels good for casual formats and I always like the ability to play things out of the graveyard, but without a killer abililty like Hexproof, there’s no way this card gets off the ground without it being good in a Genesis Ultimatum list. I hypothesize it would just be overkill in those decks and not stand on its own well enough however. I could easily be super wrong on this one and have that rubbed in my face down the road. I’m willing to take that chance on this guess though.

Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients seems like it was made to assist in other formats. We don’t really have great equipment to abuse, but maybe there will be a janky Colossus Hammer deck that’s fun to play with. Ultimately I do not see it being a Tier 1 deck however. It’s possible this is a second approach within a Winota list but it feels like it doesn’t line up the way you want those decks to.

Nissa of Shadowed Boughs brings the Landfall mechanic to a planeswalker for the first time. Super cool! It pressures planeswalkers well and potentionally acts as a reanimator effect. I am only uncertain on where it will find its home. We are losing some of the Rock Graveyard manipulation cards from old Standard in this rotation. Are we getting something back that’s truly backbreaking? I suppose we will find out.

Omnath, Locus of Creation is super sweet! It hinges on mana manipulation or a format in which people don’t kill the Lotus Cobra first thing. If you can make it work though and I think people will try (Mostly with Genesis Ultimatum again). I believe we will see great things from decks like this in the early weeks. Until people figure out how to combat these methods of decks, Omnath notable can be hard to kill as a 4/4 creature that dodges Eliminate.

Forsaken Monument is one of the cards I am most excited about as a long-time Artifacts player in Modern. I like to think I had a big influence on the Astrolabe and Mox Opal bans in the format. This card screams to be played in Eldrazi decks. I expect I’ll be tinkering with this card for awhile to find a home. I’m actually very excited about the gain life aspect on this one as eternal formats are littered with Mono Red strategies.

Lithoform Engine seems like a gross card if mana is Abundant, but I can see that getting harder and harder to pull off. The four-mana ability strikes me as the most abusable part, but between this being a legend and already having to have something awesome on the table that’s worth spending eight mana on the first time, I just see this as too much investment and not enough return to being consistently worth its time.

I skipped over Drana, the Last Bloodchief, Moraug, Furty of Akoum and Ashaya, Soul of the Wild. My thoughts on these three are that they were primarily created for limited. I can see Moraug being an EDH card as well I suppose, but they strike me as the most underwhelming Mythics in the set.

I’ll cap it off by saying I am excited that Expeditions are back. If we still had live Grand Prix’s and you could open and play with them in Limited. I for one would be more excited about attending an event like that. There’s no busted Sol Ring, but perhaps you could make the most out of a card like Strip Mine or Ancient Tomb.

As always thanks for stopping by, feel free to argue with me on any of my reads. That’s part of the fun!

Exclusive Zendikar Rising Spoiler: Shell Shield

A new set is on the horizon and I am very thankful to the kind folks over at Wizards of the Coast for giving me this free preview and allowing me to be part of the unveiling of a brand-new card! I’m going to tell you all about my expectations for it and a little about why I think it signals great things for this next set.

Behold!

My favorite part of this is that kicker is back. It adds extra levels to games that enhance the experience for those seeking challenging lines of play. Now while this may not be a Standard powerhouse like some rares of mythics tend to be. There have been plenty of decks that utilized these kinds of combat tricks to plenty of success. For instance, look at Autumn Burchett’s Mono-Blue Tempo deck that won Mythic Championship I last year:

Decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1676360

You’d be hard pressed to find a mythic in this deck, but it utilizes powerful multi-card synergy and was obviously good enough to win a Pro Tour. The ability to save your creature from destruction for one mana has been a powerful effect for some time and we’ve seen cards like this being played for many years.

I suppose the original was Healing Salve and Giant Growth. It has certainly evolved over time and given us very powerful spells like Blossoming Defense, Veil of Summer, and Vines of the Vastwood. The first drawback to a card like Shell Shield is the hexproof piece is often the more important element in Constructed play and it only comes from the kicker. This means it’s a two-mana protection spell and those have traditionally been underwhelming. With the exception of cards similar to Shelter because of their two for one profitability thanks to drawing an additional card.

Now the strength of this card is going to be in Limited where the bonus of a +0/+3 is likely more relevant than hexproof. This is typically because creatures clash more often in Limited. Additionally, many cards have been printed that take advantage of a set mechanic. Kind of like how Drake Haven and cycling were bonded together. So too we could see a card that would be a cheap enchantment and maybe it would give some cool bonus like drawing extra cards each time we kicker a spell.

It’s also entirely possibly we could get another rotation of cards like Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake where we want instants to feed, protect, and evade until victory. That’s another scenario where I could see a card like this seeing Constructed play.

Almost makes me long for the days of Block Constructed events where cards like this take on a whole new power level due to limited options. This is a September set and while we are going to lose a bunch of cards in Standard it likely won’t limit our options nearly as much as the old Block Constructed days.

It’s a short article for today because there’s only so much to discuss until we see more of the new set. Check back later though as we continue to evolve the discussion and stay on top of the format each week!