May 06 2016 Friday at 11:13 AM

Steam and XB1 tournament decklists - revelations and reactions

The new meta starts now.


Anyone can share what they ran into on ladder, and that itself is dictated by many things.  Did that player run Fevered Visions/Tutelage because they just wanted a laugh?  Is four color walkers a deck you play for fun or a deck you grind to 40 with?  Are your opponents trying to win or just playing cards they like?  The question takes a different context when you are given to proposition of choosing sixty cards and battling them against other players for prizes and glory.  It’s not the same as brewing a list with the reward of rank 40 and some in-game gold to spend on...well….maybe more cards someday, and annoying-to-look-at foils.


Before I get too deep into things, I will answer the question a lot of you have asked me - yes, I bowed out of the event.  I have been given a great opportunity to do something awesome for the business I own and run, and it requires me to be on the road for the second half of this month.  I’d likely have to concede two or three rounds of the event, and I have no desire to bring my XB1 with me for many reasons.  So sadly I have dropped out, and for those of you who enjoy my Twitch and/or YouTube channels, things will be very quiet on those channels later this month.  I am still a proud sponsor of the XB1 Fight Club and I will strive to make time for articles, analysis, and hopefully I will catch some matches live.


I also have some dogs in the fight - Kryder is running the Abzan list I likely would have run in Steam Showdown, and Insert_Witty_Name is running something very close to my Esper deck in XB1, which is the other deck that sparred with Esper for the selection.  I look forward to seeing how these creations do.  Now let’s get into the info.


Steam Showdown Decklists - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/tournament/steamshowdown

XB1 Fight Club Decklists - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/tournament/xboxonefightclub


Breaking down into archetypes is never perfect, as many creations straddle the lines of what one should be considered.  Using a method as scientifically fallible as “my gut”, here is how I would break our meta’s down -


Steam Showdown -

4 Fevered Tutelage

6 Superfriends (aka Four Color Walkers, I’ll stick to Superfriends for less words)

1 Mardu Control

4 Bant Midrange

4 Temur Ramp (3 Geistblast spell combo ramp, one traditional ramp)

1 Blue White Control

1 Red Aggro

1 White Midrange

2 White Aggro

3 Abzan (Always skipping between Ramp, Midrange and Control)

1 Green/White Midrange

1 4 Color Allies

1 Black/Green Delerium

1 Red/Blue Prowess


Control - 6

Aggro - 4

Ramp - 4

Midrange - 16


Now that is one midrangey battle!  Traditional Magic lore says that Midrange beats Aggro, Control beats Midrange, Ramp Beats Midrange.  The great thing about Midrange despite some disadvantages is the idea you have the best of both worlds - controlling removal vs aggro and power-plays against Ramp, value-plays against control.  Looking at the sheer amount of midrange, it is hard to tell who beat their deck to do what.  Most builds have the same things in common - powerful planeswalkers, decently-costed creatures and well-priced removal.  This makes most games about who has the best endgame, which is why I love my Abzan Ever After pile.  It will be fun and interesting to watch so many players play the “I have a Walker, now you have a Walker, now I have another Walker” game, and it will be more interesting to see who can navigate these waters to victory.


For whatever skepticism Anguished Unmaking has drawn, it serves as a way to break this tit for tat tennis match and start getting ahead without relying on creatures, and I think it deserves to be a two-ofs in most decks.  Those with the card will be favored in midrange and control battles so long as they draw it.  Choosing targets for Unmaking, now that will be an exercise as well.  I found that so many of my Abzan vs Superfriends games came down to either casting multiple Unmakings (using Greenwarden and Ever After on Greenwarden) or Ever After/Pulse of Murasa on Ayli and getting over 30 life to get the Unmaking effect multiple times.  Directly exiling Walkers and maintaining the ability to do so is a good roadmap to victory.


Where does that leave Aggro, Control and Ramp?  I like mono-colored aggro for punishing 4 color mana-bases, and perhaps some three-color mana-bases will be punished too, but I find the center doesn’t hold for long.  A few Languishes on curve will eventually catch them, and this deck is less resilient than a tokens strategy to sweepers.  Sure, you can try to voltron a creature out of Languish range, but that plays into Unmaking and Declaration in Stone, damned if you don’t and damned if you do.  Eventually, these decks will falter based on their reliance on creatures.  Red Aggro at least has burn or hastey stuff to finish the job.  White will hit a wall at some point unless the pilots get very lucky.


Ramp is odd.  Geistramp will likely win or lose by its own terms.  Either it will have the mix of land, ramp, and business spells it needs, or it will look anemic and die a sad death.  Non-Blue midrange and control decks will do little to mess with Geistramp’s big spell plans, and that favors Geistramp.  Still, this is a deck that can and will lose to itself and some bad draws, so there is more luck in the equation than I like, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a copy of this deck make top eight.


Control is poorly represented here.  For some reason, the Esper mages never showed up.  Carrying the torch is BBB, who I have a fondness for because I enjoy his content, but the truth is that I have no idea why he plays control decks.  These decks require a lot of patience and perseverance.  BBB has shown me that his game is lacking in both areas, and I hope he reads this, gets riled and rises to the occasion, because I think Blue Control of the Esper or Azorius variety is decently positioned.


What I am more concerned about is Fevered Tutelage.  This is a deck I never got to really work for me, yet four copies with serious deviations on card choices are entering the field.  I suppose what truly matters is how this deck matches up with Superfriends.  When I look at the lists and compare them, I struggle to see how the Tutelage player is favored without an unanswered turn three Visions, and don’t forget that Superfriends can almost always Call of the Gatewatch for Nahiri and put an end to that nonsense on turn four.  Once I look past my initial skepticism, I see that the Fevered Tutelage decks are attacking the format from a different angle, and that can be a very good thing with the right pairings.  While Superfriends and other midrange decks are focused on the battlefield and card advantage, Fevered Tutelage and Geistramp are focused on cards in library or reducing the life total directly to zero without any interaction with the battlefield, and with so few counterspells in the format to stop them this could be a winning line in battles with midrange.  I also suspect that Geistramp will have a hard time with the mill matchup, and it could make for some very entertaining races to the bottom!


Let’s look at the key deck’s in the field for Steam-


Kryder's Abzan

 

Creature(18)  

2x Elvish Visionary  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

2x Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim  

1x Fleshbag Marauder  

1x Reclamation Sage  

2x Tireless Tracker  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

1x Gilt-Leaf Winnower  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x Woodland Bellower  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

Instant(7)  

3x Grasp of Darkness  

2x Pulse of Murasa  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

Sorcery(7)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

1x Languish  

2x Planar Outburst  

2x Ever After  

Planeswalker(3)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

Land(25)  

2x Shambling Vent  

3x Plains  

3x Swamp  

1x Hissing Quagmire  

2x Canopy Vista  

4x Forest  

2x Isolated Chapel  

2x Woodland Cemetery  

2x Sunpetal Grove  

4x Evolving Wilds


Tooting my own horn, I like this deck because it can take over the game in a variety of ways and has lategame staying power thanks to Greenwarden, Pulse, Ever After and cards like Avacyn and Tireless Tracker.  In the midrange battle, someone runs out of things to do first and it likely isn’t you.  I don’t recommend running a more rampy version of the deck as the big payoff spells for Ramp in these colors are creatures, and most creatures die to the variety of sweepers, spot removal and critters that kill stuff like Fleshbag and Gilt-leaf.  Eventually you get to a place where the opponent’s ramp spells fetch irrelevant cards (more lands), this list’s cards generate more relevant cards and threats.  I made a video about this deck and threw it on YouTube, you can check it out here -


https://youtu.be/ls4wp6F8bS8


WeCoexist's Mono-White Humans

 

Creature(26)  

3x Expedition Envoy  

1x Kytheon, Hero of Akros  

3x Anointer of Champions  

3x Consul's Lieutenant  

2x Hanweir Militia Captain  

4x Topan Freeblade  

2x Knight of the White Orchid  

2x Thalia's Lieutenant  

2x Bygone Bishop  

2x Kytheon's Irregulars  

1x Archangel of Tithes  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

Instant(4)  

2x Enshrouding Mist  

2x Make a Stand  

Sorcery(2)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

Enchantment(5)  

3x Nimbus Wings  

2x Always Watching  

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

Land(22)  

20x Plains  

2x Westvale Abbey  

 

One of the interesting shifts in the meta this season has been the death of Twin Bolt.  This innocent little common used to be an oppressive force on any deck that ran multiple 2/1 creatures.  Now that the card has taken an indefinite hiatus from competitive play, decks like this White Humans deck can play in the big sandbox with the cool kids.  This deck can, and will, beat up on decks relying on Languish by casting Nimbus Wings on Topan, Bishop or Irregulars, but it then has to draw spot removal.  It feels like an interesting game of poker - is your opponent packing Grasp of Darkness of Languish?  Read it right, easy win.  Read it wrong, certain doom.  This deck is also reliant on hitting the sweet spot with lands.  Too many feels like an unwinnable situation, too few limits your plays and gives the opponent time to put a board together.  As I said, I think a deck like this will need a run of good fortune to make top eight, and mostly in the form of bad luck on the opponent’s part.  Too many tapped lands?  Death by 2/1’s!  I am not into adding colorless to this deck, there is already too much pressure on curving out and adding more and more lands, especially brown lands, reduces your ability to cast stuff early while giving you only a modest power bump late (when compared to things other decks do at the same mana slot).  I’d rather get em’ dead!


WrightJustice's Bant Tempo-meets-midrange thing


Creature(26)  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Duskwatch Recruiter  

1x Deathcap Cultivator  

3x Skyrider Elf  

2x Bygone Bishop  

2x Tireless Tracker  

3x Reflector Mage  

3x Bounding Krasis  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

3x Whirler Rogue  

2x Woodland Wanderer  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x Woodland Bellower  

Instant(3)  

3x Essence Flux  

Sorcery(2)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

Enchantment(2)  

2x Always Watching  

Planeswalker(2)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Kiora, Master of the Depths  

Land(25)  

2x Prairie Stream  

3x Plains  

3x Island  

2x Lumbering Falls  

2x Canopy Vista  

3x Forest  

2x Sunpetal Grove  

2x Hinterland Harbor  

2x Glacial Fortress  

4x Evolving Wilds  

 

Bant is a shard that got four entries in Steam and zero on XB1, which I find interesting.  At first glance it appears to be the evolution of Simic Tempo, and when it curves out beautifully it certainly feels like that.  I don’t consider the deck a sure-thing to curve into mutch, many games will start on turn three, and the deck tends to play from behind.  I always tried to find ways to use the extra slots in the deck to shore that weakness up by adding more basics, Lambhold Pacifist, more removal and such.  Here we see Essence Flux, Kiora and Whirler Rogue, which don’t address the weakness in my eyes.  Still, I find this approach more reliable than adding colorless for Thought-Knot and Smasher, as I believe the mana is taxed enough as it is.  There is a huge difference between getting to cast your two and three drops on curve and off curve, or not at all.


thekryan's Fevered Tutelage

Creature(2)  

2x Thing in the Ice   

Instant(23)  

3x Lightning Axe  

4x Just the Wind  

3x Artificer's Epiphany  

3x Broken Concentration  

2x Fiery Temper  

1x Kozilek's Return  

3x Comparative Analysis  

2x Countermand  

2x Confirm Suspicions  

Sorcery(4)  

2x Radiant Flames  

1x Pore Over the Pages  

1x Rise from the Tides  

Enchantment(5)  

3x Sphinx's Tutlelage  

2x Fevered Visions  

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller  

Artifact(2)  

2x Brain in a Jar  

Land(23)  

9x Island  

1x Wandering Fumarole  

1x Swamp  

6x Mountain  

2x Sulfur Falls  

4x Evolving Wilds  


There is a lot of disagreement among the four players running this deck as to how to build it, and there are a lot of bipolar card choices going on.  I find this list the most interesting, but even then some of the numbers boggle my mind.  Radiant Flames and Brain in a Jar don’t go together, and I question how good Flames is in a midrangy world.  Two Fiery Temper with three Lightning Axe also feels weird.  Brain in a Jar + Epiphany isn’t a combo when you have a madness card in hand either.  Just a lot of inner deck conflict.  Still, there is something deeply appealing to several players about teaming up Visions and Tutelage.  Is one of these lists better than others?  Let’s hope to solve the riddle.  And 23 lands.  Really?  One in six games your decks just won’t get to cast all those beautiful three drops on time.  Only one player, Dream Maker, saw this as a problem and went to 25.  You just can’t keep two land hands with these numbers and expect to get there unless you have cards like Oath of Nissa or Sylvan Ranger in your deck, and these aren’t those colors.


joly's 4 Color Walkers

 

Creature(15)  

4x Sylvan Ranger  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Tireless Tracker  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

2x Woodland Wanderer  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

Instant(2)  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

Sorcery(6)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

2x Radiant Flames  

2x Planar Outburst  

Enchantment(4)  

2x Oath of Nissa  

2x Oath of Chandra  

Planeswalker(7)  

1x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Nahiri, the Harbinger  

1x Arlinn Kord  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

Land(26)  

2x Plains  

2x Shambling Vent  

2x Swamp  

2x Needle Spires  

2x Cinder Glade  

2x Mountain  

2x Forest  

2x Hissing Quagmire  

2x Canopy Vista  

1x Woodland Cemetery  

2x Sunpetal Grove  

1x Rootbound Crag  

4x Evolving Wilds  

 

The big bad boogeyman, Superfriends got sleeved up by six Showdown combatants, making it the most popular deck in the field.  I predicted this, but I am shocked by the cards in the decks that do and don’t get the nod.  Planar Outburst and the lack-thereof surprises me the most.  In my experience, the ability to wipe the field to protect your Walkers or make a 4/4 to hasty-attack another Walker has been huge in the mirror match and against other decks.  Very few Outbursts made the cut here, with Languish and Flames being far more common.  Neither Flames nor Languish strike me as impressive in the mirror or against other midrange, ramp and Tutelage decks, while Outburst isn’t a completely dead card and can sometimes swing a game.  For that reason, joly’s list is the one I like.  I also find his Oath of Nissa and Chandra selection to line up with my point of view, as I have become pretty disenchanted with Oath of Gideon and Call the Gatewatch.  Still, those Sylvan Rangers, did nobody try going down to three or two?  It just seems like most of these decks are overloaded with mana fix that will be weak midgame and lategame draws, especially those with Explosive Vegetation, and I expect more threat-dense decks to back up my reasoning in the mirror matches.  Also, the only thing Nissa, Voice of Zendikar ever did for me in this deck was prevent me from casting Nissa, Vastwood Seer.  Pick your Nissa already!


spaunshadie's Geistramp


Creature(6)  

2x Jaddi Offshoot  

2x Thing in the Ice  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

1x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger  

Instant(5)  

2x Fall of the Titans  

3x Geistblast  

Sorcery(23)  

3x Rolling Thunder  

3x Pieces of the Puzzle  

2x Radiant Flames  

4x Nissa's Pilgrimage  

4x Explosive Vegetation  

3x Pore Over the Pages  

1x Crush of Tentacles  

1x Part the Waterveil  

2x Nissa's Renewal  

Planeswalker(2)  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller

Land(24)  

4x Island  

4x Mountain  

12x Forest  

4x Evolving Wilds  

 

I’ve mentioned this deck some already.  Nobody ran this in XB1, and that is probably a good thing as there are a lot more Spell Shrivels and Scatter to the Winds over there.  Geistramp doesn’t fold to counters, a very spell-dense draw can overcome them, but it sure doesn’t enjoy the experience.  I’ve said some words on this already - the deck plays Solitaire, it attacks from a new and different axis, and it goes way over the top of midrangy Superfriends decks if it doesn’t trip over it’s own two feet.  I like the deck less with twelve copies of Tutelage lurking in the field.  If someone makes top eight with this deck, it will be the result of good pairings and great draws.


The Rogue’s Gallery -


Red Aggro - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/decklist/details/2813dd99-ec61-4746-ba5c-c596133b62d4


I’ll have to see Bonded Construct work before I can give it a stamp of approval.  I don’t hate the idea of this deck in this environment full of three and four color decks.  I like 18 lands, it is an aggressive win-big or lose-big choice that I think is good for aggro decks in swiss tournaments.


Mardu Control - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/decklist/details/2d5af979-e35a-4c28-81ea-095eeb9ae040


I am not a fan of Oath of Gideon, Westvale Abbey, Mire’s Malice or Oblivion Strike, and I find Ulamog very ambitions.  


UR Aggro - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/decklist/details/bbae6d25-5861-4f10-88d4-30ecf8a1f239

This list feels very all-or-nothing, and there aren’t many decks that lack removal for Mage-Ring’s and Prowlers.  If this deck makes it to top eight, it will need some help from the opponent.  Hey, sometimes they just don’t draw any removal and you goldfish win!


GB Delerium-

http://www.magicduelshelper.com/decklist/details/166e7327-6c27-4578-b27a-1fe652b145a5

I couldn’t make Delerium work as a deck type.  This deck will have to prove it’s ability to me before I take it too seriously.  I don’t see how some Delirium-powered critters will compete in the midgame with the spamming of planeswalkers or Tutelages.  


UW Control - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/decklist/details/fbb253d7-45cf-4c1b-a28e-f73081f14a76

4x Expose Evil just has me scratching my head.  I would put the card as a two-of in tempo decks, in control it just seems strange.  I guess BBB has convinced himself he needs a way to survive his epic mana floods, but I suspect one could do much better.  I get that it works with Epiphany, but couldn’t we play Alchemist Vial for an overall cheaper effect?  The amount of tempo in this control deck feels odd to me.  I also can’t get my head around what we are sacrificing to Angelic Purge.  I want to like blue control in this field, I just don’t know if I can get behind this list.


4C Allies - http://www.magicduelshelper.com/decklist/details/aed67cb9-3d38-4107-8276-6025ea79932b

I have actually seen this deck in action and I am aware of how explosive it can be.  If midrangy opponents tap out for Languish, Radiant Flames or Walkers but leave themselves dead to Infuse, it can be a very good deck, and some people may be surprised by what happens to them.  This is a darkhorse candidate for top eight, but I could just as easily be very wrong about it.


In all, the Steam Showdown is a field dedicated to midrange.  I like decks that attack from a different axis, either Tutelage or Ramp, but I don’t love many of the lists.  Midrange decks that focus on grinding instead of ramping feel favored to me, so I like the decks that cut the Vegetations for more threats and removal.  All in all, I find the field to be too focused on ramp and mana fixing as opposed to threat density, and Tutelage decks and Geistramp may be able to take advantage of that.  I don’t love the position of aggro decks or traditional ramp, and I think a more focused counterspell-based control list would be in decent shape.  


That is a lot of words on the Steam Showdown, let’s get into Fight Club.  The honest truth, it is now Friday morning, I had to set the article aside and come back, and the only thing between me and a matinee of Civil War is finishing this post, so if I am briefer with regard to XB1 don’t think anything of it besides the fact that I am hungry for some popcorn!


XB1 Meta -

4 Esper Control

2 Simic Ramp

1 Blue/Black Control

1 Blue/White Spirits Aggro

5 Superfriends

1 Blue/White/Eldrazi Aggro

1 Green Ramp

2 Blue/Red Aggro (Prowess)

1 Black/White Aggro (Heirloom)

3 Abzan

1 Red/Green Ramp

1 Blue/Red Eldrazi Aggro

1 Jund Treason


6 Aggro

9 Midrange

4 Ramp

5 Control


It is still a midrangey format, but it isn’t as lopsided.  There is some very different stuff going on which is great to see.  I know I want to try several of these different-looking lists.  Superfriends once again takes the spot of enemy number one, but Esper Control is right behind it.  I’ll be curious to see if Blue-based control is truly back in the meta or if they meet a similar end to the Esper decks of the last major XB1 tournament.

Here the major meta-battle will be Superfriends vs Esper Control, and it will also be interesting to see how Ramp gets into the battle.  We have some interesting lists with Green Eldrazi, Simic and Red/Green showing up.  I don’t like the way any of these are built to battle Esper very much.  Where did Gaea’s Revenge go?  I am also curious to see what the Abzan mages do.


Key decks in the XB1 Fight Club -


InFaMoUsGeMiNi's Esper Control


Creature(8)  

2x Thing in the Ice  

1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x Linvala, the Preserver  

 

Instant(13)  

1x Dispel  

2x Disperse  

3x Telling Time  

3x Grasp of Darkness  

2x Scatter to the Winds  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

 

Sorcery(7)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

1x Read the Bones  

2x Languish  

2x Planar Outburst  

 

Enchantment(2)  

2x Oath of Jace  

 

Planeswalker(4)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

 

Land(26)  

2x Shambling Vent  

2x Prairie Stream  

2x Plains  

4x Island  

2x Sunken Hollow  

3x Swamp  

2x Drowned Catacomb  

2x Isolated Chapel  

2x Glacial Fortress  

1x Wastes  

4x Evolving Wilds  

 

Gemini’s decks always have weird spice to them, and this one is no different.  Thought-Knot is the only use of colorless mana, and he only has 1 Wastes and 4 Evolving Wilds for access, so there will be times when it really messes up his draws.  Dispel is very Duels narrow and Disperse is a tempo play, I am a fan of neither but Gemini makes it work.  The deck is both reasonably proactive and bipolar with a rare and mythic creature base and four sweepers.  The deck won’t sit back and do nothing for very long, it gets about killing the opponent faster than the average control build.


For a more traditional take on Esper with plenty of counters and sweepers, here is Witty’s list -


Mr_E_Nigma_Solver Esper Control


Creature(2)  

1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

 

Instant(22)  

2x Celestial Flare  

2x Telling Time  

3x Horribly Awry  

2x Grasp of Darkness  

2x Scatter to the Winds  

4x Spell Shrivel  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

3x Comparative Analysis  

2x Confirm Suspicions  

 

Sorcery(6)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

2x Languish  

2x Planar Outburst  

 

Planeswalker(4)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

 

Land(26)  

3x Plains  

2x Shambling Vent  

2x Prairie Stream  

2x Sunken Hollow  

5x Island  

2x Swamp  

2x Isolated Chapel  

2x Glacial Fortress  

2x Drowned Catacomb  

4x Evolving Wilds  

 

It is also interesting that divinevert created a very similar list even though these two players didn’t prepare together for the event.  I would prefer cheap spot removal to Comparative Analysis, as four mana draw-twos have never been my style, and the Surge ability isn’t realistic without five or six open mana.  I also love Archangel Avacyn, but not here.  There is no use made of her second ability, leaving you a 4/4 flying flash indestructable for one turn.  That is nice, but it makes for narrow removal.  At best maybe she can pick off a Gideon, but otherwise I feel like you turning on your opponent’s otherwise dead removal spells.  That at least lays out my thought process for not including Avacyn in Esper, I will be interested to see how she fares in the upcoming games.


Flayer’s Simic Ramp

 

Creature(13)  

2x Thing in the Ice  

1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  

3x Bounding Krasis  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

1x Alhammarret, High Arbiter  

1x Kozilek, the Great Distortion  

1x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger  

 

Instant(10)  

4x Fog  

3x Telling Time  

1x Scatter to the Winds  

2x Natural Connection  

 

Sorcery(12)  

2x Displacement Wave  

4x Explosive Vegetation  

3x Pore Over the Pages  

1x Crush of Tentacles  

1x Part the Waterveil  

1x Nissa's Renewal  

 

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

 

Land(24)  

7x Island  

6x Forest  

2x Lumbering Falls  

2x Hinterland Harbor  

4x Evolving Wilds  

3x Wastes  

 

I find this deck so frickin’ weird, AND I want to play it.  Fog is tough for me to get over.  I suspect you need it against the XB1 meta’s hoard of random bears, but I don’t know how it will work out in this meta.  Decks with plenty of planeswalkers likely won’t care much, as they still get their activations, ramp decks keep ramping, Esper keeps controlling.  The only place they have a serious role is against the aggro builds, and I can see Fog being a real pain-in-the-butt for Prowess aggro.  Is that enough to justify four slots in an archetype that is traditionally prone to mana flood?  I am also curious to see how Alhammarret and Thought-Knot pay off in this deck.  Note that Donachaid is running a very similar list.  I am not big on Scatter’s in this type of deck, as they don’t do enough in my opinion to support the ramp plan, but I find the inclusion of From Beyond to likely be important.  Neither deck is threat-light per say, but any time you can combine ramping with a potential future threat I call that a win.  Also, where is Kiora?  I guess everyone’s most hated planeswalker isn’t even good enough for a blue/green ramp deck now.  She likely needs a hug.


TibalTown95's Dimir Madness Zombie Control Combo Thing


Creature(4)  

2x Thing in the Ice  

1x Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

 

Instant(11)  

3x Grasp of Darkness  

4x Artificer's Epiphany  

4x Catalog  

 

Sorcery(16)  

3x Nagging Thoughts  

3x Murderous Compulsion  

2x Languish  

1x Oblivion Strike  

2x Pore Over the Pages  

2x From Under the Floorboards  

3x Rise from the Tides  

 

Planeswalker(2)  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

 

Artifact(2)  

2x Brain in a Jar  

 

Land(25)  

9x Island  

2x Sunken Hollow  

8x Swamp  

2x Drowned Catacomb  

2x Westvale Abbey  

2x Drownyard Temple  

 

Peepy Squeeps doesn’t disappoint when it comes to brews.  I am a bit eager to try this deck as well.  Some things that jump out at me are three Rise from the Tides, could it trim to two?  Maybe there is just nothing better to put in.  4 Epiphany, 4 Catalog, no Pieces of the Puzzle.  For me, I found Pieces very important, to the point I warped the deck around it because it only finds Sorceries, and I eventually was running my Dimir Reanimator as Sorcery.dec.  The Epiphany/Catalog route never got explored, and perhaps it should have.  There are no sweepers except flipping Thing in the Ice, and that makes me worried about board states that become bigger than zombies can handle.  Murderous Compulsion may also be less effective if savvy opponents see it coming, but I guess Brain in a Jar can help disguise it.  I am very curious to see how this stacks up in the field.


Black Barney's Blue/White Spirits

 

Creature(26)  

3x Erdwal Illuminator  

2x Dimensional Infiltrator  

2x Rattlechains  

2x Bygone Bishop  

2x Eldrazi Displacer  

4x Eldrazi Skyspawner  

3x Reflector Mage  

3x Whirler Rogue  

3x Thunderclap Wyvern  

1x Hixus, Prison Warden  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

 

Instant(4)  

4x Expose Evil  

 

Sorcery(2)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

 

Enchantment(2)  

2x Always Watching  

 

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

 

Land(25)  

2x Prairie Stream  

8x Plains  

8x Island  

2x Glacial Fortress  

3x Foundry of the Consuls  

2x Westvale Abbey  

 

Black Barney returns with another deck full of flying aggressive things.  Hixus?  I mean, I guess  it is a 4/4 flash followup to a board wipe, but why not Make a Stand or a counterspell and prevent your team from dying?  I think that putting one, just one, Spell Shrivel in a deck like this would play so many cool mind games with opponents and turn the public decklist rule into an advantage, but alas, Barney shall counter nothing.  I am curious if this is the best home for Displacer and Reflector Mage, flying is an underrepresented keyword and he will have his chances to pick of planeswalkers or fly over ramp creatures.  Again with the Expose Evil...I just can’t get behind that as a four-of, although I like it better here with the Illuminator combo.  Sometimes, at least SOMETIMES, you’d rather have a Disperse.  At least do a 3/1 or 2/2 split or something.


MTGDuelsThrowaway’s Superfriends

Creature(12)  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim  

2x Wall of Resurgence  

2x Tireless Tracker  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

 

Instant(3)  

3x Grasp of Darkness  

 

Sorcery(8)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

2x Call the Gatewatch  

2x Languish  

2x Planar Outburst  

 

Enchantment(4)  

2x Oath of Nissa  

2x Oath of Gideon  

 

Planeswalker(7)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Nahiri, the Harbinger  

1x Arlinn Kord  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

 

Land(26)  

5x Plains  

1x Shambling Vent  

2x Smoldering Marsh  

5x Swamp  

2x Cinder Glade  

1x Mountain  

2x Forest  

1x Hissing Quagmire  

2x Canopy Vista  

2x Woodland Cemetery  

2x Isolated Chapel  

1x Evolving Wilds


Someone actually did it.  Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and no Blue sources, just trying to do it all with Oath of Nissa.  I am sure we will all be watching like hawks to see if it costs him, and if the Reclamation Sages that chang likes to mock take out his Oath to strand his Jace.  I love the Outbursts as mentioned above.  The deck has a clear direction, it is a Black/White controlish deck with other splash colors, and it is well reflected in the mana base.  Grasp of Darkness is premium removal in this format, a really fantastic cards, and it is potentially a big payoff for this type of deck construction.  I am curious to see how his manabase fairs in the event as I believe he is the only Superfriends list without Sylvan Ranger, something I applaud and agree with.  However, I’d want more Evolving Wilds in the base to bail the deck out if all the green sources get shuffled to the bottom.  Stainless can be a bitch like that.  I don’t share the love for Oath of Gideon or Call of the Gatewatch, and I would swap some number of those for Anguished Unmaking.  I think this deck can afford the life, it has Ayli + Wall of Resurgence after all, and Kalitas for good measure.  While I understand that three life is a major cost, getting to directly exile giant monsters and planeswalkers isn’t an effect you can easily replicate with other cards, and maintaining a creature-centered board presence is tough with all the sweepers in the format, and that is why I value Unmaking pretty highly, especially against midrange and control.


DJ0045’s Blue/White Eldrazi Humans

 

Creature(26)  

3x Expedition Envoy  

1x Kytheon, Hero of Akros  

3x Consul's Lieutenant  

2x Thalia's Lieutenant  

2x Knight of the White Orchid  

2x Eldrazi Displacer  

2x Bygone Bishop  

3x Reflector Mage  

1x Archangel of Tithes  

2x Kytheon's Irregulars  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

2x Reality Smasher  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

 

Instant(2)  

2x Reprisal  

 

Sorcery(2)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

 

Enchantment(2)  

2x Always Watching  

 

Planeswalker(2)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets  

 

Land(26)  

2x Prairie Stream  

13x Plains  

2x Glacial Fortress  

4x Crumbling Vestige  

2x Westvale Abbey  

3x Foundry of the Consuls  

 

This is another deck I’ll want to see in action.  I never got the mana to work right on a consistent basis with decks like these, and I stuck to White Humans or Blue Eldrazi.  This deck wants to be very aggressive, have it’s Reflector Mages and Reality Smashers too, and I don’t know if that will all come together.  Eight white sources, including four one-offs, and five brown lands is scary for me.  That said, DJ at least recognizes the issues and isn’t running something stupid like 22 lands with such ambitious mana requirements.  He has a full 26 lands, making the brown lands more like a lategame micro plan of their own.  The card I am just not sure about is Reprisal.  Sometimes it will catch a Wanderer, but I fear it will be a mulligan most of the time.  I’d want a couple more dorks, perhaps Militia Captain.  Live by the humans, die by the humans.


TarquinSoze’s Green Ramp

 

Creature(27)  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

3x Duskwatch Recruiter  

2x Tireless Tracker  

2x Matter Reshaper  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

2x Walker of the Wastes  

2x Reality Smasher  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

1x Ulvenwald Hydra  

1x Oblivion Sower  

2x Endbringer  

2x Birthing Hulk  

1x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger  

1x Kozilek, the Great Distortion  

 

Instant(4)  

3x Spatial Contortion  

1x Titan's Presence  

 

Sorcery(7)  

3x Ruin in Their Wake  

2x Nissa's Pilgrimage  

2x Explosive Vegetation  

 

Land(22)  

10x Forest  

8x Wastes  

4x Evolving Wilds  


Something went wrong here.  This deck really wants Gaea’s Revenge in a field with this much Esper.  Otherwise, you have a bunch of big elephants that die too easily.  I really dislike Matter Reshaper in this deck, it isn’t a grindy value deck, it is a go over the top deck.  I can appreciate that Duskwatch and Tracker offer a grindy element, but I feel the goal got lost somewhere.  You need to play big awesome things earlier than expected and ride that combination of tempo and power to victory!  There are 22 lands and nine-ish Ramp spells, I’d like to see at least two more lands and one more ramp spell to ensure the Magic happens consistently.  I am happy that someone ran Green Eldrazi Ramp, as I want to see how it pairs with Superfriends and Esper.


Self_Induced’s Izzet Prowess Aggro

 

Creature(14)  

2x Thing in the Ice  

4x Mage-Ring Bully  

3x Stormchaser Mage  

3x Jhessian Thief  

2x Jori En, Ruin Diver  

 

Instant(15)  

4x Titan's Strength  

4x Rush of Adrenaline  

4x Fiery Impulse  

3x Telling Time  

 

Sorcery(8)  

4x Slip Through Space  

4x Clutch of Currents  

 

Enchantment(2)  

2x Fevered Visions  

 

Land(21)  

7x Island  

2x Wandering Fumarole  

7x Mountain  

2x Sulfur Falls  

3x Highland Lake  

 

Now this is a prowess build I can get behind.  Fevered Visions, 21 lands, Rush of Adrenaline, this deck knows what it is here to do.  I eventually shied away from prowess as I found it to be too reliant on bad creatures like Mage-Ring, so while I think this build is close to as good as you can do with prowess, I don’t think that prowess is quite good enough.  Too much removal and too many midrange decks for prowess to flourish in my opinion, and the addition of decent removal spells to our card pool really hurt this deck.  Still, sometimes they don’t draw removal, and sometimes you draw double Fevered Visions and removal doesn’t matter.  The deck is too much of a gamble for my taste, but don’t take it lightly.


Tsh1rt’s Heirloom Aggro

 

Creature(16)  

2x Relic Seeker  

2x Hanweir Militia Captain  

3x Heir of Falkenrath  

2x Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim  

3x Pious Evangel  

1x Liliana, Heretical Healer  

2x Elusive Tormentor  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

 

Instant(4)  

2x Dazzling Reflection  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

 

Sorcery(8)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

4x Alms of the Vein  

2x Planar Outburst  

 

Enchantment(2)  

2x Always Watching  

 

Planeswalker(3)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

 

Artifact(3)  

3x Neglected Heirloom  

 

Land(24)  

2x Shambling Vent  

9x Plains  

9x Swamp  

2x Isolated Chapel  

2x Westvale Abbey  

 

Well, somebody went for it.  Good luck.  Sixteen creatures is a very low number for a deck that does nothing without them.  And what are we running instead?  Alms from the Vein?  Dazzling Reflection?  And what are we sacrificing to transform Pios Evangel?  I see a hot mess, Sh1rt will have to prove me wrong.  If I woke up tomorrow and had to make this a deck, Planar Outburst, Alms and Reflection would be gone without much thought, and I’d find more creatures to take their place.  What about Bygone Bishop?  Drana’s Emissary?  These cards aren’t miracle workers but I think they are upgrades.  Anyway, moving on…


The Lockhammer’s Abzan Ever After


Creature(22)  

3x Sylvan Ranger  

2x Duskwatch Recruiter  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim  

3x Fleshbag Marauder  

1x Liliana, Heretical Healer  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

1x Gravedigger  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

1x Gilt-Leaf Winnower  

1x Archangel Avacyn  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

1x Gaea's Revenge  

 

Instant(3)  

1x Grasp of Darkness  

2x Anguished Unmaking  

 

Sorcery(8)  

2x Declaration in Stone  

2x Languish  

2x Planar Outburst  

2x Ever After  

 

Planeswalker(3)  

1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar  

1x Ob Nixilis Reignited  

1x Sorin, Grim Nemesis  

 

Land(24)  

2x Shambling Vent  

2x Plains  

2x Swamp  

2x Hissing Quagmire  

2x Forest  

2x Canopy Vista  

2x Woodland Cemetery  

2x Sunpetal Grove  

2x Isolated Chapel  

1x Warped Landscape  

4x Evolving Wilds  

1x Westvale Abbey  

 

I am a fan of the creature toolbox, Ever After, and the lack of ramp spells.  I really want less Fleshbags (too many people still love Sylvan Ranger), less sweepers (you have 22 creatures!), more visionaries and maybe a one-of Evo Leap (I can’t believe Hammer isn’t using his favorite card!).  I strongly prefer Pulse of Murasa to Gravedigger as the instant speed life gain comes up a lot, and helps get Ayli to ultimate mode.  And Tireless Tracker, I would much prefer that to Recruiter, who will sometimes whiff.  I also think that running Warped Landscape and Westvale Abbey is a tad greedy, the mana is pretty strained as it is without a ton of colored sources that enter the battlefield untapped and a plethora of two-drops in the deck.


theghost502 Red/Green Ramp

 

Creature(17)  

3x Jaddi Offshoot  

2x Sylvan Advocate  

2x Deathcap Cultivator  

2x Tireless Tracker  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

2x Mina and Denn, Wildborn  

1x Ulvenwald Hydra  

1x Greenwarden of Murasa  

1x Woodland Bellower  

1x Oran-Rief Hydra  

1x Omnath, Locus of Rage  

 

Instant(2)  

2x Pulse of Murasa  

 

Sorcery(12)  

2x Rolling Thunder  

3x Devour in Flames  

3x Explosive Vegetation  

2x Chandra's Ignition  

2x Nissa's Renewal  

 

Enchantment(3)  

3x Retreat to Kazandu  

 

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Chandra, Flamecaller  

 

Land(26)  

2x Cinder Glade  

5x Mountain  

9x Forest  

2x Rootbound Crag  

2x Timber Gorge  

4x Evolving Wilds  

2x Drownyard Temple  

 

I would call this more of a landfall combo deck.  I have worked with Mina/Denn and I have been very impressed, especially in conjunction with Jaddi, Retreat and Omnath, but also with the absent Gaea’s Revenge, trample is an awesome keyword to toss onto an 8/5.  I struggle to get past a lack of Ulamog in a deck that can probably get there if it wants too, and I would likely run one instead of a Pulse of Murasa, just because Ulamog is that good and gives the deck outs to various levels of ridiculousness.  Still, I see the logic behind the exclusion.  I am not saying you should toss in a bunch of From Beyonds, I’d just make space for one little Ulamog.  I also don’t get the Drownyard Temples.  How do they end up in the graveyard?  I don’t see any way to sacrifice a land or a Molten Vortex combo, so what gives?  Anyway, I would pull out Pulse of Murasa’s and add Gaea’s Revenge and Ulamog because I don’t think this build will be favored vs Esper, otherwise I like the concept and look forward to seeing how it goes.


Izzet Eldrazi Aggro - AbaShoppeR   

 

Creature(31)  

2x Eldrazi Mimic  

4x Eldrazi Skyspawner  

2x Eldrazi Obligator  

3x Vile Aggregate  

4x Nettle Drone  

2x Matter Reshaper  

4x Gravity Negator  

2x Thought-Knot Seer  

3x Walker of the Wastes  

2x Reality Smasher  

2x Drowner of Hope  

1x Oblivion Sower  

 

Instant(3)  

1x Warping Wail  

2x Brutal Expulsion  

 

Sorcery(2)  

2x Chandra's Ignition  

 

Land(24)  

6x Island  

2x Wandering Fumarole  

6x Mountain  

3x Foundry of the Consuls  

2x Westvale Abbey  

5x Wastes  

 

What is up with that curve?  Doesn’t anyone use two and three drops anymore?   I think this deck will be too slow against pretty much everything with a curve like that.


-Hawksfire’s Jund Treason

 

Creature(21)  

3x Carrier Thrall  

4x Sylvan Ranger  

3x Fleshbag Marauder  

1x Deadbridge Shaman  

1x Liliana, Heretical Healer  

1x Nissa, Vastwood Seer  

1x Olivia, Mobilized for War  

1x Erebos's Titan  

1x Blazing Hellhound  

1x Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet  

1x Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen  

2x Gilt-Leaf Winnower  

1x Conclave Naturalists  

 

Instant(4)  

2x Fiery Impulse  

2x Twin Bolt  

 

Sorcery(9)  

3x Bone Splinters  

4x Act of Treason  

2x Languish  

 

Enchantment(2)  

2x Evolutionary Leap  

 

Planeswalker(1)  

1x Arlinn Kord  

 

Land(23)  

2x Smoldering Marsh  

4x Swamp  

2x Mountain  

1x Cinder Glade  

4x Forest  

2x Dragonskull Summit  

2x Rootbound Crag  

2x Woodland Cemetery  

4x Evolving Wilds  

 

I felt that Treason effects were bad last season, and I feel they are worse this season.  You can’t make a planeswalker get treasonous.  Dwynen?  Erebos’s Titan in a three color deck?  I can’t get behind that, the pilot will have to prove me wrong.


I think I’ll try to drop another post with predictions for the top eight of both events.  I want to take a day or two to let the meta and decklists soak in, while I got many things right off-the-cuff last time, I had a lot of things wrong too.  Maybe I’ll drop the old grade-school A-F scale grades as well, let me know if that is something you want to see.  Later all, off to an epic cinematic adventure called Civil War!



<3 CGB


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