Going for the Gold: Pro Tour Amonkhet + Standard Moving Forward
Pro Tour Amonkhet has come and gone, and man was it a doozy! But I have to gloat...
I pretty much predicted the Pro Tour metagame accurately in my last article. That was awesome!
As you can see, 73% of the decks that were played on day one were the big three that I mentioned... so what did I play?
What the hell is Temur Dragons you say?
I'm glad you asked because I went 2-4 in Limited on the back of some pretty subpar draws, so I'd rather focus on Standard for this article!
Myself, Vidianto Wijaya, Mike Brierley, Robert Lombardi and William Blondon all played this list at the Pro Tour. Vidi kind of cheated and added a Chandra, Flamecaller when I was sleeping, but apparently I was half-awake and nonsensical. That brings me to my first aside:
Please, oh please Wizards, can you bring back the morning scramble by allowing us to submit our decklists at the player meeting?
Most of the time, players are scrambling to submit a decklist until super late the night before but then they wake up and wish they had made a few last changes now that they've gotten the chance to sleep on it, but wait... it's too late!
Getting back to Standard however, we had an 80% conversion rate with everyone but Blondon making Day Two. Blondon actually went 1-2 in Limited and 2-3 in Standard so the deck wasn't that bad for him either!
4 Harnessed Lightning - one of the best Red cards in the format, and a big payoff for playing the energy archetype. I've used it to kill Torrential Gearhulks just like I've used it to kill Toolcraft Exemplar. The flexibility of this card is unreal and is a testament to its power.
3 Magma Spray - do you remember my last article where I called out that Mardu Vehicles and Zombies would be two of the top three decks? This card is very good against the persistent threats (Scrapheap Scrounger, Relentless Dead, Dread Wanderer) that they play, and on occasion can prevent you from being run over on the draw.
4 Glorybringer - the latest and shiniest new creature in Standard. Not only does this come out of nowhere and kill a creature, but I had an occasion where I killed an Avacyn and a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar at the same time. No other card in Standard can do what it does and it ends a game very quickly. It adds a lot of tempo advantage and was one of the main reasons that I chose to play this deck on the weekend.
4 Bristling Hydra - this may not be a new card, but it functions very similarly to a hexproof dragon in this deck and Rob Lombardi often affectionately called it Bristling Dragon. Against Mardu, playing this early was critical to our matchup advantage, since their cards don't line up well against it. Against control decks this is a must counter, as there's no way to remove it from the game once you resolve it, making it a very resilient threat.
4 Whirler Virtuoso - This card is a RUG mirror breaker, as it consistently shows that it's no slouch. Many of my games last weekend were won on the back of Whirler Virtuoso pumping out multiple Thopters. I wouldn't play a RUG energy deck without four of this card.
4 Rogue Refiner - Not only does this card replace itself, but it's great at trading with bigger creatures and providing extra energy that can be used by other cards.
4 Elder Deep-Fiend - The wild card in the deck, and a card I wasn't so sure about. It allows you to push through for lethal damage and works very well with the sideboarded Kozilek's Returns.
Mana Acceleration / Fixing:
4 Servant of the Conduit - A staple in energy decks, this allows us to cast our 4+ drop cards ahead of schedule.
4 Channeler Initiate - I consider this to be the 5th - 8th Servant of the Conduit, as casting our high drop cards are very crucial. It also has an additional bonus that it can turn into a 3/4 creature, which is very good against Zombies and Mardu.
Note: Do not give your Bristling Hydra hexproof and then cast this card giving it the three counters, because it won't stop it. Rob Lombardi learned that the hard way ;).
4 Attune with Aether - Gives us 2 energy and fixes our mana, what's not to love?
3 Kozilek's Return - the best sideboard card of the weekend as Zombies showed up in full force. In all my matchups against the undead menace, I used the one-two punch of Return and Elder Deep-Fiend to deliver the KO.
4 Negate - Aetherworks Marvel? No. Fumigate? No. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar? No. This card is just so flexible and counters the relevant non-creature spells that can make life difficult for us.
1 Magma Spray - See explanation above. Really needed out of the sideboard for the Zombies and Mardu matchup.
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance - An extra threat that lines up really well against Glorybringer and is rarely played on an open board (when an opponent can cast the aforementioned card).
1 Release the Gremlins & 1 Manglehorn - A split option for the Mardu and Aetherworks Marvel matchup.
2 Lifecrafter's Bestiary - A great card against control/non-Marvel mid-range decks. Probably not needed in the future as it's still less effective than a Bristling Hydra.
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship - A fifth copy of Glorybringer that's less susceptible to creature removal.
I went 7-3, Mike Brierley went 8-2, and both Rob Lombardi and Vidianto Wijaya went 5-5.
I think the deck is great, but it lacks the card advantage and filtering to ensure that you draw the right parts of your deck. You tend to win the games where you draw the top end and enough lands, however drawing a bunch of two drops and a lot of land is a recipe for disaster.
One neat thing about this deck is that it looks like a Marvel deck at first glance, so most of your opponents will board appropriately. I can't tell you how many times I got Dispossessed and feigned that I boarded out the Marvels during the tournament.
Vs Zombies: Extremely Positive
Vs Mardu: Extremely Positive
Vs Marvel: Even
Vs Control: Terrible
GP Montreal is this weekend and if you're tired of spinning the wheels on Marvel and want to pick up a sweet new deck, let me suggest this one. I would however, make the following changes to my Pro Tour list:
Let me know if you have any questions about the deck. Post in the comments below or tweet at me (@SammyTMTG). And, if you want to keep up with my articles and happenings, please make sure you hit the follow button for Twitter @ SammyTMTG. I’ll see you next week for a return to my article series on improving your magical skills! Wish me luck at GP Montreal.