As you’ve no doubt already seen, Canadian and ManaDeprived writer Jon Stern took down GP Atlantic City this past weekend with the brand new Bant Auras deck. KYT has already published a short news post here about it, and you can no doubt expect a tournament from Jon soon, so we won’t spend too much time on this GP. The deck basically Voltrons up a hexproof creature and then looks to end the game in rapid fashion. This is essentially another variation on the “creature combo” decks that we’ve seen popping up in various formats recently – Infect, the Niv-Magus Elemental deck from Pro Tour: Return to Ravnica, the new “Slippery Bogle” deck in Modern and Jon Finkle’s deck from Pro Tour: Avacyn Restored (the precursor to Stern’s deck).
The other interesting “new” deck is Brad Nelson’s “Pedal to the Metal” Jund deck that combined Izzet Staticaster and Nightshade Peddler to machine-gun down opposing creatures. While it isn’t a brand-new deck, most people assumed this was more of a cute FNM deck than a solid competitor, but Brad’s high finish should certainly give naysayers pause. Rounding out the top 8 was UWR Flash, Mono Red, 2 Jund Midrange, Esper Control, and an additional copy of the Bant Aura deck, piloted by finalist Josh Utter-Leyton. While the deck took both top spots, these style decks tend not to stand up to hate. Moving forward, Esper Control seems well-positioned, particularly against this Aura deck. If you like glacially slow control decks, and milling people out three cards at a time with Nephalia Drownyard sounds like your thing, you should definitely check this deck out. Of course, with Gatecrash just on the horizon, that could all change very quickly!
But Atlantic City wasn’t the only GP this past weekend! Ken Yukihiro won GP Singapore, dispatching Ravnica baddie Pack Rats in both games 2 and 3 with his aggressive Rakdos deck. In what was apparently the theme of the weekend, Yukihiro also suited his creatures up with multiple auras – in this case Pursuit of Flight – and crushed his opponents.
The Standard Open at SCG San Diego looked like what we’ve come to expect from Standard, though Joe Losset won the event with the Human Reanimator deck from GP Nagoya a few weeks ago. Incidentally, the Nightshade Peddler deck also took the 3rd and 9th spots, for anyone that thought only Brad Nelson could win with it. We also see Mark Herberholz in 7th with the UW Geist deck that Matt Nass played at the Invitational. He changed one Geist to a Runechanter’s Pike, giving him a “bomb” to draw into off of Sphinx’s Revelation, but otherwise it is the same deck. If you are interested in playing UW Geist, watch Mark’s replays once SCG uploads them, as he demonstrates masterful skill in utilizing all of his resources every turn to win some seemingly unwinnable games. Jax Remito finished in 8th at this tournament, with a near-identical Esper Control deck to the one at Atlantic City, lending more credence to Esper as a powerful emerging force in the Standard metagame.
Meanwhile, some exciting times were had during the Legacy Open! Tomb of Urami won a match, and Tony Murata’s 12-post deck took down the entire event.
If you’re unfamiliar with 12-post, it plays Cloudpost to create massive amounts of mana, using Vesuva to essentially double the number of Cloudposts (8) and has Glimmerpost as additional Locus lands (12!). You also have Expedition Map to search for additional Posts, or Eye of Ugin to tutor for Emrakul. If Emrakul isn’t the right Eldrazi for the job, maybe Kozilek or Ulamog is more to your liking, and you can always go for good, old-fashioned Primeval Titan beatdown. While Cloudposts create a ton of mana, maybe they feel a little slow? Well, you have Candelabra of Tawnos to change that! How about a turn 3 Kozilek? That seems fair, right? Unlike with Show and Tell and other “cheat your monster into play” strategies, since you are actually casting the Eldrazi, you get all of their cast triggers…which means that Karakas + Emrakul = infinite turns, as Tony demonstrated to several unhappy opponents over the course of the tournament. In the quarterfinals, Tony’s opponent led with the dreaded turn 1 Sensei’s Divining Top, turn 2 Counterbalance start…and Tony cast an Ulamog on turn 3. Good luck with the blind flip on that one! The deck destroys blue control decks, as it has a much faster clock, while also having inevitability due to Eye of Ugin and the reshuffle clause on Emrakul. You can counter Emrakul, sure…but they still get their extra turn, so they will just tutor for and recast him again before your next turn. Tony dispatched Counterbalance, Stoneblade, and RUG Delver in the top 8, so if you’re looking for a way to show those pesky blue decks what for, 12-post might just be the deck for you! Just keep in mind that it isn’t uncommon for the deck to do nothing until turn 3 or 4 (although that play will be completely ridiculous), so you are quite vulnerable to aggressive strategies or faster combo decks.
Meanwhile, continuing the trend of new Reanimator takes, after last week’s version that overloaded on Reanimation targets, this time Ross Roemer went with less is more, playing 2+1 (Iona, Inkwell Leviathan, and Terastodon in the board), but combining his deck with the Dark Depths/Vampire Hexmage combo, letting him make a 20/20 on turn 2. It makes the deck difficult to sideboard against, as graveyard hate only solves half of the problem, and things that can kill Marit Lage most likely cannot kill Iona or Inkwell Leviathan. He even has Helm of Obedience and Leyline of the Void in his sideboard, to further confuse his opponents, and to take advantage of any copies of Rest in Peace that his opponent might have “against” him. Of course, his best win condition is Tomb of Urami. If you like to live on the edge, and Armageddoning yourself to create a 5/5 flier sounds like your idea of a good time, Ross has just the deck for you.
The rest of the top 8 is rounded out by format regulars Stoneblade, Counterbalance (with Rest in Peace/Helm), RUG Delver, Jund, and Dredge (spitting in the eye of Deathrite Shaman!), and TES, Elves!, and Sneak & Show coming in at 9th, 12th, and 14th respectively. Interestingly, no BUG decks of any kind appeared anywhere near the top rankings, though whether that is due to the format shifting or due to regional preferences remains to be seen.
Finally, while this column doesn’t usually cover PTQ results, a new UWR deck won back-to-back Modern Magic Online PTQs this past weekend. It is essentially an update of the old UWR Delver deck, cutting the bad cards (Delver) for more burn, more disruption, and more Flash threats. Krazykirby/Larry Swasey won the Saturday PTQ, gave Brandon Large the deck for the Sunday event, and Large proceeded to crush as well. The only change from Saturday to Sunday was a Sword of Fire and Ice becoming a third Electrolyze. Going forward, Large said he’d change the two Izzet Charms into Restoration Angels. The deck seems incredibly powerful – while it can easily execute its primary game plan of attacking with Geist and burning blockers out of the way, it can easily play a Faeries game and sit back on flash creatures, counterspells, and removal. If you enjoy the current UW Flash decks, here is their Modern incarnation – enjoy playing with Lightning Bolt instead of Searing Spear! The deck has gotten a ton of attention in the wake of its success, but you might have one more week before it really catches on, so good luck!