The name is still a work in progress. If you were watching Worlds on September 22nd you might have seen me piloting this “rogue” deck in standard. Up the Beanstalk is a card that’s a build around card in many other formats right now. When I began working on the deck with Brent Vos in our testing house we thought it was viable in standard as well. Seeing as I am writing this article before Worlds took place I hope I am not writing this as the fool and instead as the victor, but you already know of course.
Check out what we are working with to start:
Franks and Beans – Eli Kassis
This deck went through a lot of iterations. In its current form it is Orzhov control with a double splash. It has been a Bant deck and at one point we splashed Red for some planeswalkers. We tried out the Golgari Turtle idea, and even had some copies of Tamiyo action for a while. Ultimately, we reached the same conclusion that everyone reaches when they play Standard: just play a bunch of Sheoldreds.
So obviously Up the Beanstalk is the build around card. We actually only have about 14 ways to trigger it. Almost a quarter of our deck isn’t small, but we look at the card as a two-mana draw one immediately. You’ll likely draw an additional copy at some early point. Then in late games which this deck encourages we get one or two more draws. So, for two-mana we pull off the old Into the Story Rogues trick and get a cheap draw four. If you play eternal formats, you won’t be excited by that, but temper your expectations with Standard for a bit and imagine how overpowered that might be.
The math on the deck was absurd to develop. We even had the unassailable Frank Karsten’s help with developing the mana base after we had this absurd assembly of cards. It’s worth noting that I was a part of Team Channelfireball: Reid Duke, Gabriel Nassif, Seth Manfield, Sam Pardee, Jakub Toth, Brent Vos, Jim Davis, Andrej Strasky, and Toffel comprised our team. Double colored spells were tricky and kind of pushed the deck constraints into a specific direction. So Orzhov kind of won out in the end because it had most of the cards, we wanted that were powerful enough to work around.
We all arrived to the Worlds testing house the weekend before deck submission. Wednesday at Noon was the submission deadline Wotc gave us. We started working on Up the Beanstalk on Monday morning and after two hard days of tuning and testing 100+ games in-house. We finally ended up where we ended up on the list. The man hours when you multiply the number of people involved in the process gets kind of absurd. Ideally, we didn’t make a wrong turn along the way and built something beautiful. A lot of my fellow teammates either lost faith or chickened out, defaulting to the consistent Mono-White Weenies or 5c Ramp shells that they knew were going to be consistent.
In case it is not clear, we want to cast lots of Leyline Bindings. With a Chrome Shark out, we get a free 6/6 incubator. With a Beanstalk out we get to draw an additional card. With a sideboarded Elesh Norn we get to hit two targets. There’s value everywhere when we draw that card. Having a domain mana base is tricky. We had a couple Field of Ruins in for awhile to answer opposing copies of Mirrex, but ultimately they had to go to facilitate better mana to be able to cast all of our spells.
There’re 27 lands and 13 of them are Triomes that come into play tapped. The remaining 14 lands had to come into play untapped to not lose too many games to being too slow. While Chrome Shark and Leyline Binding are the quickest ways to abuse value in the deck, having a Sheoldred with a Beanstalk and gaining lots of extra life, drawing cards and answering permanents is a nice feeling. Herd Migration being mana consistency and also a good top end was a nice way to round out the deck as well. When you cannot guarantee that you can play all your spells on time or that your mana to spell ratio will be consistent. It’s important that the spells you do play get to be powerful so that they can hold their own.
This deck is built for an open decklist metagame, if you were wondering why there are a lot of single copies of cards. This is a high-level strategy that makes the opponent’s memorization of your own decklist more difficult. In addition, these cards are typically harder to play around or account for during games. This means they can be the difference between a win or a loss as well. This deck is not an easy deck to just pickup and play. There are a vast number of triggers that cannot be missed. There are developmental strategies for victory that need to be internalized. The ways in which your opponents might counter your lines also need to be known into order to come up with counter plays for those plans.
Remember that ultimately, we are an Orzhov control deck. Lunging for their throat usually opens you up to clunkier later turns. Start by disrupting them, work up a bunch of card advantage and bury them with this route.
Good luck out there and if you enjoy the deck and come up with any cool tech as the format evolves. Reach out to me and share the goods please!