The first week of Shadows Over Innistrad standard competition is officially in the books! It was definitely an exciting inaugural week, both for those who watched the Star City Games Standard Open and for myself!
While the SCG Open was taken down by Jim Davis and his team’s Bant Collected Company deck, I was able to make it to the finals of a local PPTQ ( only to be vanquished in the finals!).
The new standard metagame is only beginning to take shape, and I’ve got a deck and some information on going forward into our newest evolving format.
The tournament was five rounds and held at Dave’s Darts and Billiards in Casper, WY. The deck I piloted in the event was a U/W midrange featuring quite a few cards from the new set.
4x Prairie Stream
4x Port Town
4x Meandering River
2x Westvale Abbey
4x Consul’s Lieutenant
4x Knight of the White Orchid
4x Reflector Mage
4x Archangel of Tithes
3x Dragonlord Ojutai
2x Archangel Avacyn
4x Declaration in Stone
4x Stasis Snare
4x Always Watching
3x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2x Secure the Wastes
1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
2x Ojutai’s Command
2x Fate Forgotten
2x Stratus Dancer
2x Hallowed Moonlight
This deck had a lot of eyes on it in the days leading up to the weekend’s events. It definitely over-performed and I’m very glad in my choices. I played it to a 3-2 record in the swiss, and then through the top 8, becoming dispatched in the finals.
Round one – I was paired against Aaron, who was playing an incredibly interesting Bant Enchantment deck. It was definitely not in my mind during the conceptual building of my deck, and I was vastly underprepared for the matchup. While admittedly succumbing to more mana-flood than anything in our first game, the enchantment deck quickly put out a Herald of the Pantheon and ramped out a Sigil of the Empty Throne, followed by many Oaths and other problematic enchantments. I found a Declaration in Stone to clear his massive field of 4/4 angel tokens, but his advantage was too great and I couldn’t keep up. This was my first actual match playing the deck, so it had to go up from here! 0-1
Round two I found myself paired against local player, and coworker, Daniel White. Due to the weeks leading up to the event, I knew Dan was on a Jund midrange deck he had been developing. We often bounce ideas off each other for new decks and strategies. I was excited to play the matchup, but knew he had both more practice with his build and is a very skilled player.
In our first game, Dan kept a bit of a loose hand, dependent on a good draw, and his Sylvan Advocate. My Reflector Mage set him back on tempo enough to quickly seal the game with the great Ojutai + Always Watching combo. In our next game, Dan got the early advantage of quickly turning on delirium and killing both my only creature and my sideboarded Jace, Unraveler of Secrets with his To the Slaughter. I can’t remember how the rest of that game played out, but it was certainly not pretty for me. In game three, I was able to both play an Archangel Avacyn and a Dragonlord Ojutai with little resistance. Dan sequenced his removal incorrectly here, playing a Clip Wings while I could sacrifice the archangel, then not being able to kill my hexproof dragon with his Sinister Concoction. Lucky break for me. 1-1
For the third round, I played Kyle, on a very cool Mardu midrange brew. His deck featured Nahiri, the Harbinger to enable a slew of delirium cards. Unfortunately he had some mana problems in game one, and quickly was overtaken by Always Watching and an army of vigilant first strikers. The match seemed heavily in my favor, with my flyers and efficiency far outmatching his answers. 2-1
After beginning the climb up from the first round loss, I was feeling good. I started to get a real handle for the deck and it’s many interactions.
This round I was paired against Lance and his G/W tokens deck. This deck was very similar to the other deck I had in mind for the tournament and I was happy to play against it. He came out quickly with Sylvan Advocate into Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Sometimes you don’t draw the “right half of your deck” and these games were certainly the case. Where Lance had a slew of planeswalkers and tokens, I had a Stasis Snare, etc.
This was the first match where I felt truly outclassed, but it could definitely have been helped by some more informed sideboard choices on my end. I’d like to say the Lance and I have some mutual friends from Laramie, where he’s from, and he is always absolutely great to hang with and play against. A very skillful and courteous player. 2-2
The final round pairings went up and I was feeling pretty down on my luck. I had all but lost hope of the top 8. My tiebreakers were the best of my point division, but I wasn’t thinking a 3-2 would make it in. However as the round began, Lance from the previous round passed my table.
“Good luck, you got a win and in,” he said. This reignited the spark, and on I went!
My final round opponent was Andy, playing a G/W Midrange deck, with Avacyns and the like. We went back and forth, seemingly evenly matched. His deck was better set up for defending with early beaters and Dromoka’s Command while setting up for the huge Archangel Avacyn. The breaking point of the match came when I was able to chip in for a few damage here and there with my early army of first strikers, putting Andy to 7. At the end of his following turn, I flashed in an Avacyn of my own. I untapped, and attacked for lethal with my new angel and a Knight of the White Orchid, who were both pumped by my Always Watching. Andy had to block the ground creature, and take 5 from Avacyn, going to 2 life. He untapped, and my Avacyn transformed from my Knight dying, killing him and cementing my top 8 spot! 3-2
In the Quarterfinals, I faced the first place deck in the swiss. This deck was incredibly similar to the Mono White Humans deck I showcased in my article a few weeks back and I was very acquainted with it. My first strikers were more than able to dispatch his small guys, and I took the match.
My Semifinal opponent was good friend, Cameron Patey. He’s a very good player, and one who I learned a lot from when I first started playing over ten years ago.
He was playing a B/R Dragons deck. In our first game, I was able to control his board with a few declarations and quickly assemble the Always Watching + Dragonlord Ojutai combo. Unfortunately in game 2, Cameron had to mulligan to 5, keeping a rough hand. He hung in, eventually getting close to taking over with a Dragonlord Kolaghan but repeated Reflector Mage and flying beats is too much. On to the finals!
Sadly I couldn’t keep the good luck rolling, because my final match was against Lance, from round four, again. It was another quick affair, with him taking the match 2-0.
This is only the third PPTQ I’ve played. I made the top 8 of the first with Jeskai Black last season, and missed out on another top 8 with the same deck, due to a hasty deck registration costing me a match. Making a finals appearance was great, especially for the first week of the new standard season.
Moving forward I think the U/W Midrange deck is a great choice. The metagame seems to be going towards both the quick white aggro decks, and the white based midrange decks featuring lots of good removal and Sorin, Grim Nemesis. The quick first strikers in my deck were very useful at applying pressure on the aggro deck while being able to keep my life total high enough until I could stabilize with an Archangel of Tithes.
Against the more removal heavy black/white decks, the Ojutai combo along with some countermagic is close to unbeatable. Just watch out for their Edict effects and try to keep another creature handy, or make a quick token with Westvale Abbey.
The deck is in very useful colors for sideboard cards, and it should definitely be tuned for what you’re expecting. I wasn’t sure what I’d see at this tournament so I had a little of everything. The only real problems I had with the deck were very wide swarms of quick non-tokens that couldn’t be dealt with by Declaration in Stone and with Planeswalkers. The maindeck Negates helped, but if you don’t counter them, then the only way to remove them is with flyers.
Keep an eye on these few things, and I believe this deck is a great starting point for the new Standard season. Thanks for reading!
© 2016, Jesse Jayne. All rights reserved.