Fran-tic Search: Forbidden Alchemy in Standard

With Innistrad at our doorstep, Magic players have a lot to look forward to. Innistrad is shaping up to be one of the best looking sets for limited in quite a long time. The flavor is just unreal, and I for one am really looking forward to howling every time I transform a werewolf or am beating down with zombie hordes. I’m really sick of Standard at the moment and am looking forward to the new set shaking things up.

One card that has really caught my eye from the new set is [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card]. Essentially the card is similar to [card]Impulse[/card] but that costs 1 more, has flashback and the cards are sent to the graveyard as oppose to the bottom of your library.

First of all, the implications of having an [card]Impulse[/card] is that it allows you to search for different things in different stages of the game depending on what you need at the time. Early in the game you can use it to search for lands, later in the game it can be used to dig for threats and if your opponent has a permanent you need to deal with it can help you find the answer.

Second of all, having flashback is sick value. Even though the flashback cost is a little steep at 7 mana, the fact that you are getting more value from it later is still great. Similarly, [card]Firebolt[/card] was just average at the regular cost, and the flashback cost was somewhat pricey, but that was an amazing card and a Standard and Extended staple, for a large span of time because of the value you got out of it. I believe [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] will be a great card for the same reasons.

Being instant is another key factor in what makes this card great. As an Instant, you can keep your mana up and slow roll it, casting it later on once you have more information and know what you need out of your deck. For example, if your opponent plays a spell you need to counter, you can use [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] to dig for the counter spell needed in response.

The most subtle difference between [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] and [card]Impulse[/card] is that [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] make you discard the cards that you don’t pick as oppose to putting them on the bottom of your library. The fact that you discard the un-picked cards means that you can get additional value out of cards that have graveyard abilities. Cards that gain you additional value once in the graveyard include cards that have flashback like [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] itself, [card]Think Twice[/card], or cards such as [card]Dearly Departed[/card] that give you a bonus for being in the graveyard. Even cards like [card]Unburial Rites[/card] encourage you to dump good creatures into the graveyard.

Here are two deck that benefit from Forbidden Alchemy:

[Deck Title=Francis Toussaint – UB Draw-Go]
[Lands]
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacomb
10 Island
8 Swamps
[/Lands][Creatures]
3 Grave Titan
4 Snapcaster Mage
[/Creatures][Spells]
2 Black Sun’s Zenith
4 Despise
2 Dismember
4 Dissipate
1 Doom Blade
4 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Go for the Throat
4 Mana Leak
4 Think Twice
[/Spells][/Deck]

This is very similar to an old school draw-go deck. The main idea being that you don’t play spells on your turn, you play almost every spell you have on your opponent’s turn, and you try to deal with anything your opponent might throw at you.

Here is a breakdown of a few of the key cards:

[card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] + [card]Think Twice[/card]

[card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] fits like a glove in this deck because it is an Instant, it helps you search for answers and it’s great value. [card]Think Twice[/card] similarly gives you great value, and allows you to keep your mana open and use it on your opponent’s end step.

The main card advantage engine in this deck is [card]Think Twice[/card] and [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card]. This deck showcases [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card]’s ability to gain tons of value with flashback by dumping [card]Think Twice[/card] and other copies of [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] into the graveyard.

[card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]

This is the perfect fit for Tiago Chan’s invitational card. In this deck, [card]Snapcater Mage[/card] can be a [card]Mystic Snake[/card], [card]Nekrataal[/card] with flash or a pseudo [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card]. Not only does it do all of these things, but it’s also great as a surprise blocker for defense or early pressure against other control decks.

[card]Grave Titan[/card]

The black titan fits great in this deck because it is great at putting on pressure if you want to finish off an opponent quickly or can provide lots of blockers on the defense. [card]Grave Titan[/card] may not have flash, but the hope is that by the time you play it, your opponent has been so whittled down that they cannot put up much resistance to the titan.

The second deck is:

[Deck Title=Francis Toussaint – Solar Flare]
[Lands]
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Glacial Fortress
5 Island
4 Isolated Chapel
5 Swamp
[/Lands][Creatures]
4 Grave Titan
2 Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
4 Merfolk Looter
2 Sphinx of Uthuun
[/Creatures][Spells]
1 Doom Blade
4 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Go for the Throat
3 Liliana of the Veil
4 Mana Leak
4 Think Twice
4 Unburial Rites
[/Spells][/Deck]

This is an updated version of an old classic. In Solar Flare’s debut, the plan was to dump fatties like [card]Angel of Despair[/card] in to the graveyard and then recur them with cards like [card]Zombify[/card]. The main cards that validate this strategy again are [card]Unburial Rites[/card] and the cards that enable you to dump fatties in to your graveyard.

Here’s a breakdown of a few of the key cards:

[card]Unburial Rites[/card]

This card is the backbone of the deck and the card that really makes Solar Flare come together again. [card]Zombify[/card] was good enough to make the cut back in the day, and this card is essentially 2 [card]Zombify[/card]s in 1 card. The main targets are [card]Grave Titan[/card], [card]Sphinx of Uthuun[/card] and [card]Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur[/card]. These targets are fairly interchangeable depending on what the format look like. For example, if there are a lot of creature decks, then [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card] could be great, or if there are a lot of burn decks, then you could want [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card].

[card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card]

In this deck [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] gives you the same benefits you gained from the previous UB control deck but you have [card]Unburial Ritual[/card] for additional flashback goodness and you also gain value by being able to dump the fatties in to your graveyard for [card]Unburied Ritual[/card].

[card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]

Liliana makes a good fit in this deck for both her ability to kill creatures, and enable you to discard cards. Liliana enables you to dump fatties in to the graveyard for [card]Unburial Rites[/card] if needed, and can also dump cards with flashback in to the graveyard that you don’t mind discarding.

The Fatties

I chose to include [card]Grave Titan[/card] for the same reasons that it’s strong in the UB control deck. It’s great aggressively, defensively, and it’s always good value.

I decided to go with [card]Sphinx of Uthuun[/card] because it’s always card advantage, it’s a fattie, and it allows you to dump cards in to your graveyard for value in the same way that [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] allows you dump cards in to the graveyard.

[card]Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur[/card] made the cut because of it’s ability to end the game on the spot against opposing control deck if left un-answered.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Hopefully this helped get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to try out both of these standard brews. I have a feeling that they both have potential to be strong standard decks in one form or another. As always, thanks for reading! Enjoy the pre-release this weekend, and happy brewing!

Francis Toussaint

7 thoughts on “Fran-tic Search: Forbidden Alchemy in Standard”

  1. Don’t think Duress is standard legal anymore. Very similar list to what I came up with too btw.

    Reply
  2. Smi77y – Duress is very much illegal in Standard, lol. Gonna get that changed in to the 4th Despise. Yeah, I thought the draw-go list is very intuitive. Sort of built itself. As for the Solar Flare, the cards are definitely there if you look for them, and there are a lot of different directions you can take with the deck.

    Richard – Definitely could go the green route with the deck. I could see there being a sick deck with green in it as well. Make a more creature-heavy, mill yourself type deck with Splinterfright and Boneyard Wurm

    Reply
  3. The first list is one that I think many have been testing right now, and is the best way to go with that archtype. Dissipate is really good, and people seem to put ponder in more lists than Dissipate, which…is kind of sad.

    Reply
  4. The first list definitely feels old-school and familiar but it seems way too slow to consistently have a good game against Tempered Steel decks.

    Reply
  5. the solar flare list seems spot on though I think Elesh norn gets the edge over sphinx as it greatly punishes the aggro decks that will be at states

    Reply

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