From the Brewing Board – Catching Up

A brewer’s mind is oftentimes as much a curse as a blessing, if not more so. Nascent formats present such a fertile and accommodating ground in which to brew that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. I look at spoiler lists and my brain goes off in multiple directions, each as exciting as (and probably further-fetched than) the last. Not one of the ideas is complete, my mind preferring instead to dart off on yet another tangent with yet another combo or interaction. Thank goodness for Tomoharu Saito.

Two years ago I never would have expected that I’d be writing that sentence, and yet here we are. Tomoharu-sama has for the past few sets been tweeting immaculately laid-out decks brewed around cards from the newest expansion, either takes on old staples or completely new archetypes. Alexander Hayne so respected the man’s judgement that he picked up a Saito list blind and won a GP with it. For all the talk of Josh Utter-Leyton, Sam Black, Patrick Chapin and Brad Nelson it might actually be Saito who is the best deckbuilder on earth.

Donald Sterling’s Nightmare

The first was just an update on my Angry Black Men list, adding the obvious ([card]Gnarled Scarhide[/card]), the probable ([card]Brain Maggot[/card]) and the “might not even be good” ([card]Master of the Feast[/card]) to that list. Now running 12 bestow creatures, the deck had the ability to go tall against control to hedge bets against a [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] while being able to go wide against other decks. The version I played had the ability to side into a more attrition-based aggro deck, siding out some of the one-drops for more removal against decks like Monsters where a 2/1 isn’t impressing anybody.

As the list is neither innovative nor particularly interesting I won’t spend too much time talking about it, but you can see it below. [card]Master of the Feasts[/card] turned out to be slightly better than I expected. I am not yet sure if he should be taken out against control, especially with all the discard we are running for that matchup ([card]Duress[/card], [card]Thoughtseize[/card] AND [card]Brain Maggot[/card] stay in), but every time I cast him I was impressed with his beatdownitude. It is SO a word!

[deck title= Angry Black Men – Chris Lansdell]
4 Mutavault
18 Swamp
4 Tormented Hero
4 Rakdos Cackler
3 Gnarled Scarhide
4 Spiteful Returned
4 Pain Seer
2 Brain Maggot
4 Herald of Torment
3 Master of the Feast
1 Lifebane Zombie
1 Mogis’s Marauder
[Other Spells]
4 Hero’s Downfall
3 Thoughtseize
2 Ultimate Price
[/Other Spells]
2 Erebos, God of the Dead
2 Dark Betrayal
3 Duress
2 Lifebane Zombie
1 Whip of Erebos
2 Doom Blade
2 Bile Blight
1 Gild

Riddle Me This

If you tell me there’s a combo deck in Standard, at some point I’m going to try it. Decks that go off the reserve to win in ways for which your opponent has no answers are right up my alley. When I saw Saito post a deck that won by casting [card]Riddle of Lightning[/card] or [card]Blast of Genius[/card] to dome people with [card]Worldspine Wurm[/card], I got an intense happy feeling in multiple parts of my body. Probably best not to say too much more on that front.

[deck title=Saito Big Burning – Tomoharu Saito]
4 Temple of Mystery
2 Temple of Abandon
4 Temple of Epiphany
4 Breeding Pool
2 Stomping Ground
4 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Island
4 Worldspine Wurm
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix
[Other Spells]
4 Perigrination
4 Riddle of Lightning
4 Blast of Genius
4 Enter the Infinite
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
[/Other Spells]
1 Opportunity
2 Negate
2 Agoraphobia
2 Prognostic Sphinx
2 Gainsay
4 Mizzium Mortars
2 Unravel the Aether

Second-guessing a guy with five Pro Tour top 8s is generally a bad plan, but Saito’s version of the deck contained 8 cards we’ll probably never cast in [card]Enter the Infinite[/card] and [card]Worldspine Wurm[/card]. Although they definitely hit harder than anything else in Standard off a Riddle or a Blast, they have next to no utility when you DON’T hit the combo pieces.

In their place I needed something expensive that I could either cast cheaply or reliably expect to cast late in the game. Split cards fit both criteria AND provide the large hit on the combo. With two of my colours decided I knew [card]Turn // Burn[/card] was going to be in there, but that only hits for 5. Left with a choice between [card]Catch // Release[/card] and [card]Breaking // Entering[/card] I chose the latter, compromising a point of damage for the ability to sometimes reanimate a sweet target from either deck. When I’m discarding to [card]Blast of Genius[/card], that could be valuable. With that in mind my other pick for a big card was [card]Tromokratis[/card]. A powerful creature with a big mana cost was exactly what I wanted.

While I was in UR and playing with the top of the deck, I figured [card]Keranos, God of Storms[/card] and [card]Stormchaser Chimera[/card] in the deck. Both cards are personal favourites and I didn’t think I was likely to find a better deck for either of them. I also figured a couple copies of [card]Dictate of the Twin Gods[/card] couldn’t go amiss, turning most of my Riddle and Blast hits into game-enders.

Sadly I have misplaced the exact decklist for this one, but I know it ran [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] and [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] for the early game as well as [card]Izzet Charm[/card] for utility. It was a ton of fun to play and ended up going 3-2, losing to Gu Devotion (fat things are hard to kill) and RW Burn (I hate that deck). I was surprisingly able to beat mono-black devotion twice, which was sweet.

[card]Tromokratis[/card] was definitely not the right call. [card]Griselbrand[/card] would have been sweet, but of course he’s long gone from Standard. A Primordial or perhaps [card]Utvara Hellkite[/card] would have been a better idea, the Hellkite particularly working well with the [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card]s I added at the last minute.

Back to the Grind

Articles have been a little scarce recently, what with having a new podcast to get off the ground and doing some freelance editing work, my day job being a nightmare and a new relationship that took up (voluntarily, I might add) a lot of my time. Though none of those things has gone away, I am now managing my time far better and hopefully can get back to writing these articles on a regular basis. I am still playing and still brewing and I love both just as much as I always have.

Recent decks have included a BUG Walkers list that actually did cast a turn 2 [card]Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver[/card]. Playing Kiora, Ashiok and Vraska in the same deck may sound ambitious but it was very powerful and incredibly fun to play. I won multiple games against mono-black by casting [card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/card]…which is not in the list. I love Ashiok so much. I also tried to make constellation and [card]Immortal Servitude[/card] work together, but I think I went too heavy on the combo plan and not heavy enough on stopping my opponent from killing me.

I’ve had some ideas for Modern too. The first is a red/green good stuff deck that makes uses of [card]Burning-Tree Shaman[/card] (NOT Emissary) and possibly main deck [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] to really attack the meta from a different angle. Good quality efficient creatures backed with light removal could be just the thing this format needs. I feel that Shaman is really well-placed in a format that is full of activated abilities, and if I am attacking with beefy creatures early his pings will be very relevant. The second idea is still in progress but revolves around [card]Heartless Summoning[/card] and [card]Myr Retriever[/card] making a very, very high storm count. Not entirely sure what the best shell for that combo might be, but I’m going to find out!

With M15 around the corner and looking like a heck of a shake-up set I am taking a break from brewing articles in the next couple of weeks. I have an article about GP Washington DC coming up, as well as one on a fun new format. Until next time…Brew On!

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