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Valuable Lessons – Junk in Post-Theros Standard

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to travel across the Atlantic to Dublin, Ireland for Pro Tour Theros. I had won a Standard PTQ with Aristocrats and I was excited to prove myself on the game’s biggest stage. Brad Nelson put me in touch with Gerry Thompson and Brian Braun-Duin. BBD and myself were convinced that [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card] was the most powerful card in the format. We spent the last few weeks tweaking our Junk deck to perfection.

In the 15th round, I found myself in a win-and-in situation playing for Top 8 of the Pro Tour. A series of unfortunate events unfolded and I ultimately ended up in 29th place. I was aiming for Top 25 at the beginning of the Pro Tour, and going from one game away from Top 8 to not even finishing in the Top 25 was very upsetting to say the least. That being said, I’m proud of myself for making it that far and I feel that I played some of the best Magic of my life on Day 2.

Enough emotional rambling! Let’s talk about my Standard deck!

A breakdown of the deck I played at the Pro Tour and the cards therein can be found here. At one point in that interview I say that I would add a Swamp, but I actually meant to say Forest. After a few days of traveling/moping/running through the entire tournament hundreds of times in my head, I’ve made some real, tangible changes with actual reasoning.

[draft]Underworld Connections[/draft] [card]Underworld Connections[/card] isn’t where we want to be. The card was strong in testing, but the actual decks that people were playing require us to affect the battlefield each turn. Going forward these should be changed.

[draft]Vraska the Unseen[/draft] [card]Vraska the Unseen[/card] was great against Esper, UW, GW, and green devotion decks, but the card was too clunky against a lot of the decks that ended up being big hits at Pro Tour Theros.

[draft]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/draft] [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card] is every bit as good as we initially theorized. In fact, I wish I had played four copies of the card so I could have drawn it more consistently. We need to close games quickly once we have control in a lot of matchups, especially against blue devotion. Yes, we might draw multiple copies of a legend, but it’s hard to lose when you have an Obzedat blinking in and out of the game.

Here’s the list I would play going forward:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Reaper of the Wilds
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Polukranos, the World Eater
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Hero’s Downfall
2 Ultimate Price
4 Thoughtseize
4 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Temple Garden
3 Temple of Silence
3 Golgari Guildgate
3 Forest
3 Swamp
2 Plains
Sideboard:
2 Pithing Needle
3 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Doom Blade
3 Centaur Healer
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
3 Lifebane Zombie[/deck]

There’s no unwinnable matchups. The deck is solid. You can lose to it. It’s hard to play at times. It’s the best. Unfortunately, it’s weak against [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card], but [card]Thoughtseize[/card] and [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card] solve that problem to a degree. This list helped me nearly Top 8 Pro Tour Theros, and I’m confident you will be able to crush people with it. Let’s talk about all the decks we so thoroughly crush.

Esper or UW Control

We apply a lot of pressure and we’re fairly resistant to their [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. [card]Thoughtseize[/card] and [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] are huge here and often win games by themselves. People often try to go the grindy route here, but you should really be jamming an [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card] the exact moment you know it’s going to resolve. Don’t attack with Obzedat into [card]Azorius Charm[/card] mana, letting it blink and applying pressure with your other cards is good enough. Just smash them for 5 whenever they tap all their mana. It’s pretty easy to play around their defenses and get them dead before [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] matters. If they get to the point where their [card]Aetherling[/card] is protected and they’re resolving planeswalkers or [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], then it’s pretty impossible to win. Feel free to concede the game so you don’t get a draw, which can be an issue in this matchup.

Out

[draft]2 Scavenging Ooze
1 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Ultimate Price[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Pithing Needle
3 Mistcutter Hydra[/draft]

Mono-Blue Devotion

This matchup is all about being efficient with your mana. Try to cast as many of your spells in as few turns, while taking as little damage from your lands as possible. It’s a different puzzle every time, but most reasonable draws are well positioned against the blue deck. In post-sideboarded games we’re able to bring in [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card] and apply a lot of pressure. We want to be casting [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card] on a key turn in terms of damage. For example, if the opponent is at 12 life and you have six mana available, then it might be worth it to wait for another land so the Hydra is a two-turn clock by itself.

Out

[draft]4 Voice of Resurgence
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Thoughtseize
2 Reaper of the Wilds[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Doom Blade
3 Centaur Healer[/draft]

Aggressive Red

Again, it’s all about being mana efficient early without taking too much damage. Once you get to blinking [card obzedat, ghost council]Obzedat[/card] it becomes pretty easy to lock the game up. Just play ultra defensive and you should get there with a little more than half of your draws.

Out

[draft]4 Thoughtseize
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Centaur Healer
2 Doom Blade[/draft]

Green/Red or Naya

[card]Reaper of the Wilds[/card] is a dominant force in these matchups. Try to stick the [card]Reaper of the Wilds[/card] at the earliest possible moment. Once you untap with [card]Reaper of the Wilds[/card] in play you can just stack your deck and draw near perfect for the remainder of the game. They’re going to try to assassinate you with Dragons, so it’s usually worth leaving mana open for a [card]Doom Blade[/card] or [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] unless you’re going to cast an [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card] that leaves you with 5 or more life.

Out

[draft]4 Thoughtseize
1 Voice of Resurgence[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Doom Blade
3 Lifebane Zombie[/draft]

Red/Black Control

Just cast [card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card] and watch them squirm around for a turn or three before they die. These matchups are incredibly easy. They can become more difficult if the player happens to be splashing white for [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card], but those decks are a dying breed in a format that’s being pushed to play more [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]s.

Out

[draft]2 Scavenging Ooze
1 Polukranos, World Eater[/draft]

In

[draft]1 Pithing Needle
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/draft]

Mono-Green Devotion

Again, [card]Reaper of the Wilds[/card] in conjunction with removal spells is very powerful in a matchup like this. Just pick apart their devotion with removal spells and watch their game plan fall apart.

Out

[draft]4 Thoughtseize
1 Voice of Resurgence[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Doom Blade
3 Lifebane Zombie[/draft]

Black/White Midrange

[card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] can pose some major problems for us, but it does the same thing to them. We definitely want all our [card blood baron of vizkopa]Blood Barons[/card] and [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card]s to battle over Blood Baron advantage.

Out

[draft]1 Ultimate Price
4 Abrupt Decay[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
3 Lifebane Zombie[/draft]

This should be enough information for you to go forth and destroy people with a Junk midrange deck. It’s definitely a great deck for an unknown field and I can confidently tell you that it’s a wrecking ball. Next week, I will have even more information and I’ll be sure to bring you the very best that Standard has to offer.

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