Silvestri Says – Journey 2.0

Instead of sticking to a handful of cards, this week I want to look at some current Standard archetypes and what they gain from Journey to Nyx. While I won’t be going deep, you know what authors to read for that, I want to take a look at some of the niche decks from the format and have some of the most room to grow. Really we could sum up the next two weeks of decks as, Mana Confluence: Not the hero we deserved but the hero we needed.

Mono-Black Control

What it Gains:

Mono-Black Control didn’t really need more tools to remain a top dog in the format so we aren’t looking too hard here. So while Journey didn’t bring anything that’d automatically be added to the deck MBC got more tools because… fairness.

Brain Maggot is probably the best of the three for Standard, since overloading control decks with discard and winning with Erebos, God of the Dead or Underworld Connections is the go-to plan for MBC players. Against removal light decks or ones that don’t want to keep heavy removal in post-board, it’s yet another freeroll for the MBC player. Are they going to bring in even more discard against you or maybe a few more giants to rumble with? They get a lot of the benefits from sideboarding “what-ifs?” against their opponents. Silence the Believers is very unlikely to be good enough for maindeck play. In Block, I suspect it’ll have a much larger impact due to the lack of hard removal outside of Gild and the fact that it can scale up. In current Standard the only real upside for it is the instant speed which makes it an easier sell against big creature decks than Gild. Of course big creature decks are already dying out and we may have seen the end of them with the exception of Dredge.

I mentioned one new potential plan: simply bringing the beats for post-board games and that may be the most useful of the new options. Going up to eight Demons that end the game by themselves can put a lot of pressure against a deck that probably only has enough removal to beat one. Playing Master into Desecration Demon is a great way to force a deck like Burn or Mono-U to just shrug their shoulders and ask themselves if they can beat a million power on turn four.

Does it want an overhaul? No

Mono-Black Aggro

What it Gains:

Owen’s take on Mono-Black Aggro

Mono-Black Aggro gets some nice additions and Gnarled Scarhide gives the aggro plan a legitimate reason to exist. It now has a real nut draw instead of just playing a 2-power creature every turn. Now we can play multiple 2-power guys every turn! Doesn’t sound impressive, but when your extra 2/1s can be converted to heroic triggers or an extra 2 points of damage it helps out significantly.

Master of the Feast is one of the most talked about cards from Journey to Nyx and I have to say the rate on this thing is very intriguing. I’ve been burnt on plenty of these kinds of cards before, but evasion and immunity to Doom Blade gives me hope. Master adds another card that gives you some reach toward the late-game which was my second issue with MBA.

So assuming we want a straightforward beatdown build you could go with Owen or Jacob Wilson’s take, or we could splash and go a little spicier.

Does it want an overhaul? Possibly.

As I said above I’m quite interested in BW and BR builds as Rakdos has already seen some high-level success and BW was lacking a mana-fixer, which Mana Confluence corrects. Of course since people love Golgari decks I can’t leave that off either. Plus it may actually be good this time:

Getting a real 2-drop to go along with Pain Seer is a nice bonus and your sideboard options open up dramatically. You can try and grind out similar creature decks and Golgari Charm only seems to be getting better with every set that’s released. Mistcutter Hydra may not make the biggest impact here, but it remains a valid threat against control and Mono-Blue.

Dredge

What it Gains:

It gained a real mana base compared to the slapdash pile of wood, moss, and rotting flesh they used to make the last set of lands with. I cannot stress how much the Dredge deck needed a mana overhaul as that was the primary way it lost. Just gaining the scry land would’ve been sufficient, but netting two playable lands is a huge boon.

Kruphix’s Insight is an interesting enabler that doesn’t quite hit everything you’d want, but digs very deep and still nets you Nighthowler. Considering Nighthowler is the best card in the deck and you often had to take mana producers with other enablers, that makes Insight worth considering.

What I’m afraid of is that I simply made the deck too much about the journey and not enough about the Nyx destination. Like in writing, your goal should be to accomplish what you want without using a ton of resources. Instead, this deck is desperately trying to make a point, and laying it on real thick by overkilling on the enablers and only a scant number of cards that win the game. By making it overly laborious, much like this paragraph, I’m actually diminishing the effectiveness of it.

And thus we’ve all learned a valuable lesson.

Does the deck need an overhaul? The Dredge deck itself doesn’t, but it does make variants a lot more interesting.

You’ll notice the above deck lacks Nemesis of Mortals and that’s because even getting it at the Tarmogoyf rate just isn’t that good against most decks. Either they’re so far ahead they don’t care or it dies to Doom Blade, Detention Sphere, and so on. You can absorb hits from Nemesis of Mortals without any real caution, where Nighthowler or Jarad are typically two-shot kills. Instead we may want to go with a deck with more sheer power:

This is essentially just an updated Theros Block build with Obzedat’s Aid. Why do I think a Block deck could compete? The raw power is high, and against slower decks you have an excellent end-game backed by eight discard spells. The mana also wasn’t really there before and Journey cleared that right up.

Of course, a lot of this deck’s viability fully depends on how the metagame shapes up. If aggressive decks do receive their time in the sun, then the massive life buffer the deck enjoys in Block goes away. If we end up with mostly MBC, Esper, Jund, and slow decks backed by a relatively slow Burn and Mono-Black Aggro as the aggro part of the format, then it lines up great.

RG Aggro

What it Gains:

As with the above, the biggest issue I had with RG aggressive decks was the mana base. Not only did it makes casting dual-colored 2-drops a crapshoot, but it made mulligans extremely painful as current aggro decks really need the maximum amount of resources available. Having to mulligan to six because of mana issues and eating a Thoughtseize is almost game over for most aggressive decks unless they happened to hit a whole lot of perfects in their draw step.

My other major issue with the deck was a weakness to Lifebane Zombie and while I can’t completely remove that, I can remove the reliance on heavier green creatures now. Realistically the only things that can be snagged now are Fanatic of Xenagos and Ghor-Clan Rampager, two cards that can race Lifebane on the play. So let’s take a look at how I want the RG deck to look:

Clearly the deck is bare-bones with the exception of Pyrewild Shaman. I tried to stick within the realm of reality for this one and it features one of the most aggressive curves in the format. Seven bloodrush creatures, a Madcap Skills and Chandra make Prophetic Flamespeaker a dangerous threat. What’s also nice is that by simply threatening the pump, you can force opponents to react. Unless they simply don’t fear the 2 damage and double Chandra bonus, if they react and take out your Firespeaker it leaves them open to any of your other creatures dealing pump damage.

What this deck also benefits from is full use of Firefist Striker, which is invaluable for getting by roadblocks like Nightveil Specter, Desecration Demon, and others. The curve works out very well, and combined with the pump it can force very awkward blocks. While we lack the Flinthoof Boar equivalent to go into the deck, I think Mogis’s Warhound is just good enough as a bestow to make up for the absence of a haste 3-drop.

Time will tell, but Tom Ross has already showcased that RG can succeed, and with better mana I think the future looks good for it.

Next week we’ll be back with Hexproof, Burn, and a few of our other favorites. You deicide! By the way, did you know Elspeth won?

Josh Silvestri
Email me at: josh.silvestri@gmail.com

P.S. If you’re interested in practicing Sealed before your prerelease, I recommend Keith Pardee’s Sealed generator.

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