This week is the perfect time to look at some of the potential archetypes to revamp with Magic Origins. The number of potentially playable cards is pretty high for a core set and while the majority will fail to make an impact, this is better than the traditional weak set with 10-12 good cards, five of which are obviously pushed on power level. I’m looking forward to seeing Theros block leave the building so there’s more room for these cards to work.
I’ll start with the most obvious of all the potential decks coming out of Magic Origins so far. There’s already an established red deck and better still, it runs a number of Goblin generators. Between Dragon Fodder, Hordeling Outburst, and Goblin Rabblemaster, the groundwork was already in place for a high synergy Tribal deck. In fact, Bobby Birmingham already took up that challenge and made Top 8 of the Baltimore Open this past weekend with a pre-Origins Goblins list utilizing Obelisk of Urd.
So what does Origins bring? Obviously Goblin Piledriver, which is the primary reason to look at Goblins over the traditional red deck. It makes Bobby’s concession to run the full set of Frenzied Goblin, into a very sensible choice. You want to get through with a 3-power Piledriver swing on turn three, and more down the line. Frenzied works toward this goal without relying entirely on burn spells.
Goblin Glory Chaser also provides another 1-drop Goblin option in case you want to go deep on Goblins over the other 1-drops. While it goes well with Goblin Piledriver and Goblin Rabblemaster, it should be noted that the card is usually weaker than the other 1-drops around. Half the current red 1-drops have haste, and while menace is solid, Glory Chaser needs to connect in the first place before gaining evasion. I would recommend trying the card to see if the synergies with Obelisk and other Goblins outweigh the drawbacks. Otherwise it’s a quick swap back over to Monastery Swiftspear as the other 1-drop of choice.
For my first iterations, here’s the two builds I’d try:
Atarka’s Command Goblins
The first is a natural extension of the Goblin theme with the only exception being Foundry Street Denizen for the obvious synergy with token makers. It also maxes out on Obelisk despite being a clunky draw simply because you always want one against opposing midrange decks. A big reason you have any chance against the larger on-curve creatures is because you can build up a swarm and either force them to trade or simply alpha strike for the win. The Command variation is less all-in and instead is just taking advantage of Goblin Piledriver, but that may be weaker since you run worse 1-drops to get a solid 2.
Even if Goblin Piledriver and friends aren’t enough to replace the mainstream red builds, it would be very surprising not to see a red deck given all the cards that survive rotation. You may downgrade in some areas, but even without knowing Battle for Zendikar and the rest of Origins, there’s a full shell already.
All right, we’ve been here before when Shorecrasher Elemental came out. That wasn’t enough to make it happen. In fact, barring Tidebinder Mage and another decent UU creature walking through the door in Origins, you’ll need to get your Merfolk on in Modern. Well, we ended up with something pretty sweet for the 2-drop issue.
This card is excellent, it may not have the raw stats to fight against the midrange onslaught in Standard, but the ability more than makes up for it. Not only does it let you build tempo, but it actually has late-game value in swinging races as a Venser, Shaper Savant impersonator. In Modern and Legacy obviously the lords and Aether Vial give any fish a ton more value and this could be what Merfolk needs to make the jump from fringe competitor to tournament mainstay in Modern. For Standard? Well…
Blue Devotion is presumably the home for this card if there’s going to be any real demand for Harbinger. The problem is that the deck is basically jamming a ton of bad cards to take advantage of Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves. The issue with that is that Master of Waves isn’t particularly good in this format and Thassa probably isn’t enough justification to run the deck. We need to explore other options, and Collected Company may be enough of a power level booster to justify it.
Thassa is still one of the most powerful cards around and can out-muscle a whole lot of creatures in this format. Collected Company goes a long way toward keeping the gas flowing, which the original blue versions had serious issues with. There’s also the possibility of going into a third color for Savage Knuckleblade or Dragonlord Ojutai. Nick Peternell, who made Top 4 of SCG Portland with UG Devotion, posted an interesting tri-color version on Reddit.
Of course that’s not the only Collected Company shell you could try.
Previously there was a GW half-devotion half-Collected-Company aggressive deck that was pretty popular on Magic Online. It had some decent results here and there in the real world, but never really took off despite being pretty budget-friendly at the time. Now with flip ‘walkers and a host of reasonable white cards, there are some great reasons to reexamine the concept.
Originally Kytheon, Hero of Akros was going to be in the deck, but the more I built it out, the less I wanted a bunch of Savannah Lions regardless of the payoff. Nissa provides a more useful ability, since you have Mastery and Warden as mana sinks, and she’s got a ton of raw power when she flips. Knight of the White Orchid is a huge game, as one of the most obnoxious aspects of the original deck was being behind on the draw. There was really no way to claw back and regain all the lost tempo against an Abzan Aggro player when you fell behind early, and even Abzan Control could freeroll a few free draws off the slower starts. Knight as a 2-drop gets you right back into it and potentially helps Nissa flip toward the late-game.
Alternatively if our dinosaur overlords have escaped the island by the time this article goes up, then you should probably stick with the Deathmist Raptor set and just cut 2-3 cards for some Nissa. Seriously, Nissa is the best of the five, even though I think three of them are good enough to see play immediately. I assumed Gideon would be, but the hate for a Savannah Lion in this format is strong.
Next time we’ll look at the current top tier and see what (if anything) they gain from Magic Origins. I’d also like to extend a thank you to everyone who left thoughts and suggestions on the PPTQ article last week. I plan on revisiting the topic in the future and it has allowed me to get a better read on overall program instead of just my home region.