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Surprise surprise, a girl won Starcitygames Nashville 5K. Well, maybe it is a surprise. It is  the first time I have seen a girl win, or even mentioned, at a major Magic tournament.

We did have a grandma play in the Zendikar pre-release at my “local” shop. That was strange.

Anyway, congratulations to Kali and her interesting brew, Eldrazi Green. Check it out here. AntQueen

I like what I see. The deck works by throwing out lots of creatures quickly, then sealing the deal with Eldrazi Monument. The drawback of the artifact is obviously skirted by the mob of creatures you can power out, what with all of the Elves, thier mana and Ant Queen. If the monument doesn’t show, the creatures can eventually get out of control well enough on their own, using Garruk to power them to a victory.

Several little packages work together in this deck.  The elves don’t do anything crazy like the combo in last block, but they do work well together as basic creatures, drawing a few cards, making a little G and getting a little boost from thier “lord”. The Nissa Revane package is pretty annoying too. I played against her plenty at the pre-release and various sealed games, and I can only imagine what it is like with a full compliment of Nissa’s Chosen and the life-gaining power of a few other kinds of elves as well. Ant Queen is a beast, especially with Garruk, the monument and all of the mana floating around in this deck. Master of the Wild Hunt is interesting too. I he isn’t dealt with relatively soon, his dogs can take care of all sorts of threats. I think Great Sable Stag is a nod to Jund.

The other decks break down like so:

2 Five Color Cascade
3 Eldrazi
1 Jund Aggro
1 Lotus Jund
1 Emeria Aggro

Check the decks out here, along with the rest of the pack.

The Emeria Aggro deck is worth a look, though it seems to have a few too many 2/2’s in the mix. The Five Color Cascade decks are interesting too; I find it hard to believe decks cramed with so much cascade could lose. Perhaps there is too much of a good thing.

What I also find interesting is the lack of Vampires at all, and how few Jund and Boros Bushwhacker decks are in the top 8 slots.

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Woolly

Big and dumb can be pretty dangerous.

 One of my favorite decks is Naya Zoo. Yeah, it is a tier 2, at the moment,  but I think the deck has the potential to break into the top tier.

I’ve been playing Naya Zoo for quite some time now, and it seems pretty solid. That being said, I cannot say much about how it matches up in today’s metagame. I haven’t played consistently enough against the same sort of decks you would see at a major tournament.

What I can tell you is what the deck does well. It plays cheap and powerful or cheap and potentially powerful creatures and turns them sideways. Yes, it is a beatdown deck. However, it has a few tricks. Naya Zoo generates card advantage with cascade and Ranger of Eos, a pretty nice trick with all of the removal out there. It also has a bit of removal too, for things like those pesky Baneslayer Angels.

As much as a dumb monster deck as Naya Zoo is, you cannot just throw things out there without thinking and expect to win. I know this from experience. Naya Zoo still requires brains. I would have to say 50% of my losses with this deck were due to user error.

Here is a build I went 5-2 with last Friday.

Naya Zoo

 
Creatures
3 Scute Mob
4 Wild Nacatl
3 Woolly Thoctar
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
3 Enlisted Wurm Planeswalkers
2 Ajani Vengeant

  

Instants
4 Path to Exile
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Naya Charm

Lands
2 Mountain
4 Plains
4 Forest
4 Jungle Shrine
4 Arid Mesa
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Sideboard
3 Qasali Pridemage
3 Dauntless Escort
3 Volcanic Fallout
3 Great Sable Stag
3 Journey to Nowhere

Again, I can’t say a whole lot about the matchups. I only played a few decks what I would consider “mainstream”. However, I can briefly discuss some of the cards  and how they perform.  

Scute Mob: Some say he’s great, others say he sucks, but his board presence is undeniable. He has to be answered eventually, or he will quickly get out of hand. Yes, all removal kills him, but you only paid one G. Maybe he’s a 1/1, maybe he’s a 9/9.  

Knight of the Reliquary: The best trick with her is to blow up a plains and then look for an Arid Mesa. You can figure out what to do next. Not only does this help her grow by 2 each turn, but it helps to thin your deck out too. Block and do it before damage is dealt.  She can be a lot of work, and I would suggest boarding her out in control matchups where the chances of your hard work paying off are minimal. Against other creature decks with little removal, she’s a superstar.

Enlisted Wurm: Cascade is insane, and to keep up with something like Jund, you need to be able to “cheat” in as many free monsters and spells as possible. Not only can the wurm do that, but he has a solid body as well.

Naya Charm: I only saw this a few times, but it was a monster each time I did. All of the charm’s abilities are pretty relevant. The least useful ability is the 3 damage. The charm’s other two abilities are what really makes it shine. In a standoff situation, it will win you the game. It also counts as “extra copies” of spells or creatures already in the graveyard.

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood: Sometimes, 4/4 Nacatls are really useful. The extra point of power and toughness can sometimes make a huge difference.

Sideboard: Was terrible, except for the Journey to Nowhere. Sometimes a little extra removal is necessary against those big finishers.

After Friday, I made a few slight changes to the mainboard, and quite a few changes to the sideboard. Here’s the new makeup.

Naya Zoo Two

Creatures
3 Scute Mob
4 Wild Nacatl
3 Woolly Thoctar
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
3 Enlisted Wurm 

 Instants
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Naya Charm

Lands
2 Mountain
4 Plains
4 Forest
4 Jungle Shrine
4 Arid Mesa
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Sideboard
3 Captured Sunlight
2 Luminarch Ascension
2 Uril the Miststalker
2 Volcanic Fallout
3 Dauntless Escort
3 Journey to Nowhere

Ajani sucked in all of my games. If I saw him, that was. Even in control matchups, there was always a sphinx or sodding Baneslayer Angel flying over my head to kill him if I didn’t have a path. However, an extra bolt or Naya Charm would have won me a few games, so I added them in.

Sideboard 2

Naya does horribly against the stupid mono-red decks out there. They burn your creatures, hit you with earthquake a few times and then Spire Barrage you to death. I wished for some Captured Sunlight, which I had in the original sideboard but took out. It will also help you get back some of your burned monsters. Uril the Miststalker should be great in removal-heavy matchups, and as an added bonus, bigger than anything Jund has. The Luminarch Ascensions should help with control matchups.

Here are a few tips on how to play Naya Zoo.

Your deck is best at 5 + lands. Never keep a hand with less than 3 lands in it. I am willing to bet I’ve lost most of the games I’ve tried it with fewer.

Unless you really need guys on the field, use Bloodbraid Elf and Enlisted Wurm as if they were removal; cast them when there’s something you need to get rid of. Cascading into a path when you don’t need it sucks, and being able to get a free one and a monster is great.

Scute Mob should be dropped on turn one, if you have it in your opening hand. They’ll have to get rid of it eventually, and even if you only get in for a couple points before you have to hold it back or it gets removed.

In a control match-up, play Ranger of Eos whenever they don’t have the mana to counter, even if you don’t think you need the guys. You will. Playing a Bloodbraid Elf or Enlisted Wurm into a counterspell is okay. They’ll have to choose.

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Last week I played Naya Zoo again at the “local” FNM. This time, I went 2-3 before dropping out before the sixth round. Boo!

I learned a few things though, most importantly:

1.I have problems with the Reveillark match up. Games are always close, and I think I can win.
2.Preeminent Captain works with all soldiers, not just Kithkin. Read all unfamiliar cards carefully!
3.
I keep hands I have no business keeping.

On the drive home, I thought a bit about my losses and how to improve my game. I also gave a bit of thought to the cards in my deck and how they related to my “local” meta.

The Naya Zoo deck I was playing is straight from the Internet. It looks like this, give or take a few cards:

 
Land
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Wooded Bastion
5 Plains
5 MountainCreatures
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Woolly Thoctar
4 Great Sable Stag
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
Other Spells
4 Volcanic Fallout
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
Sideboard
4 Ethersworn Canonist
4 Stillmoon Cavalier
2 Gaddock Teeg
3 Harm’s Way
2 Burrenton Forge-Tender

I like to netdeck for several reasons. If you get lists from major events, you know the decks have been tried in a competitive environment. Usually there is a lot of information on how a deck works and how to handle certain match-ups. Also, you can learn a lot about certain deck archetypes and card synergy by looking at decks that have been successful.

The trick is to remember the deck you are looking at online has been tailored to a certain metagam. It may have even been devised to break a certain type of deck. Naya Zoo is a good example; it was designed to counter the recent flood of 5CC, and is pretty efficient against the fae as well. Zoo does fairly well against other decks in the meta such as Kithkin and Jund, but some of the card choices don’t seem to be very useful in some cases.

For example, Great Sable Stag is fantastic in the 5cc and Faerie Matchup. It is okay in the Jund match up and not so hot against Jund, Kithkin, or other creature decks. However, if your local metagame doesn’t have a lot of 5cc or Faeries, is it worth keeping him in?

I found in my “local” meta, that alot of people are playing creature decks and not alot of control. The control decks I have seen are things like Time Sieve and Reveillark. The stag doesn’t help me too much here. So should I switch cards in a tried and tested deck?

Sable StagFinks

If something doesn’t work in your metagame, yes. I’ve been on the fence about the stag; the great card that he is, he just doesn’t seem to help too much in my “local” match ups. I feel something like Kitchen Finks would be a better card choice. It blocks twice as many little white guys.   

Another card I’ve been thinking of changing out, or at least reducing the number of, is Volcanic Fallout. The card is great, but it has often been very ineffectual against the many white weenie games I’ve faced. Often, they’re beyond fallout range by the time I draw the card or have the mana to play it. Perhaps a few Oblivion Rings or Flame Javelin might work a bit better on those 3/3 Wizened Cenn’s or that 4/4 Captain of the Watch.

Changing a sideboard card or two if you never see the deck they’re intended to combat isn’t a bad idea either.

Of course, these are just examples of a few cards that might be . Totally redesigning a tried and true deck isn’t a good idea. If the deck you are “copying” has a good track record, the cards have a lot of synergy the way they are. It can be easy to look at where you’ve had problems with the deck and automatically assume it is the cards. Sometimes problems come from not understanding how a deck works in certain matchups, or how to fully utilize a certain card. Always try to figure out where you might have made the wrong play or board choices before assuming the cards are jinxing you.

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Right now it seems the metagame is full of contenders: 5cc, Kithkin, Elves, various Jund decks, Time Sieve, Faeries and even the occasional Merfolk and Doran decks make a good showing. However, while these current favorites duke it out, another deck seems to be lurking in the background, picking up victories but not quite making it into the spotlight.

Naya Zoo.

The Naya deck is known by many names: Naya Zoo, Naya Aggro, the Naya Solution, Kowal Zoo. I’m not exactly sure who came up with the idea. Some say it was Brian Kowal and other say it was Jacob Van Lunen. What I do know is the basic list for each players version looks like this.

Naya

Creatures
4Figure of Destiny
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Great Sable Stag
4 Woolly Thoctar
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Ranger of Eos
Instants
4 Lightining Bolt
4 Path to Exile
4 Volcanic Fallout
Lands
5 Mountain
5 Plains
4 Rootbound Craig
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Wooded Bastion

Woolly

The smell under your porch.

Now the sideboards tend to look different. Most have a few copies of Gaddok Teeg, and a few Burrenton Forge Tenders, Ethersworn Cannonist and Harms Way, but then some versions have Stillmoon Cavalier and a couple copies of Banefire. 

What makes the deck neat is that it is easy enough to play, but has plenty of little tricks. Naya is basically an aggressive creature deck, but it can easily play a bit of control. The creatures are either too big to die from sweepers or have the potential to be, and Bloodbraid Elf plus Ranger of Eos generates some wicked “card advantage”, putting guys on the table after a Hallowed Burial.  The stag and cascade make countering everything difficult, as does the low casting cost of the decks threats. Volcanic fallout helps keep the board clear of chump blockers.

The sideboard has plenty of options too. Against Elves, Ethersworn Cannonist makes sure they can’t play thier entire deck on you. Harms way and Stillmoon Cavalier help with Kithkin. Naya doesn’t really need a lot of help against control.

I had the pleasure of playing this deck myself last Friday, returning to Magic after a several month hiatus. I’m not the most experienced player and I was a bit rusty, but I easily hit the top 8 in a 30 man tournament. My version was a tad bit different. I had Kitchen Finks in place of the stag, which I had in the sideboard. I  didn’t have volcanic fallout, so I used Pyroclasm instead. I also fudged with the creature numbers and included 2 Enlisted Wurm.  My mana base also included such hits as Ancient Zuggurat because I don’t have any M10 lands yet.

Here’s a brief description of how things went.

Match 1: Elves
We traded early blows. I had a figure and a cat, he had a few elves he didn’t want to block with. An early Burrenton Forge Tender (!) made things a little interesting but it hit the road when I drew path. I wasn’t sure how the combo worked, but I knew it involved Heritiage Druid. I bolted the sucker as soon as I saw him and then wiped the board with a Pyroclasm next turn. Another elf and Regal Force came down on his side of the table. I had a blocker and a bolt for the frog when it attacked and a Wooly Thoctar and a Bloobraid Elf on my side caused him to scoop. The second game didn’t last too long, as he didn’t play an elf until third turn and I drew into three Bloodbraid Elves and had the mana to play them.
1-0

Match 2: Lark BS
This match was a pain in the ass. My early guys sat around staring at two Knight of the White Lotus and anything bigger got pathed/countered. I began to get in some beats when I drew Bloodbraid Elf and cascaded into a  bolt, but a Revillark on his side ruined my fun. I had a hand full of guys, so I continued to attack, forcing the lark block and allowing him to get his knights back. The two first strikers were utter dicks, able to double block whatever I had or take them single handed. I was able to power up a figure of destiny, but predictably, it got pathed. Two more larks dropped onto the board and I was done. Game two played out pretty much the same way, except I was able to get in during the early game. I had the advantage for awhile, and even dropped a Stillmoon Cavalier on the field. It looked as thought I might be able to sneak in, but then he dropped one of his own and a few mulldrifters. Glen Elendra Archmage kept me from bolting/pathing/pyroclasming, thought I sure tried. I didn’t have the mana to make the cavalier big enough to kill all of the blue blockers and he couldn’t get through to me without absolutely loosing his guards, so we just faced off until time ran out.
1-1-0

Match3: Red Jank
I was a little worried about red, but I was thinking “hey, I’ve got kitchen finks and removal”. My fears turned out to be unfounded when he played things like Taurean Mauler, Hissing Iguanar and Inner-Flame Acolyte.
2-1-0

Match4: Kithkin
The first match was over quick, with several knights of Meadowgrain and a Wizened Cenn the only creatures he managed to field. All he was able to draw into was a Honor the Pure and lands,so I overwhelmed him. The second match was a little tougher. A first turn Burrenton Forge Tender got pathed, but it allowed him to play Spectral Procession on the second turn. Luckily, I had the Pyroclasm. An Honor the Pure came down next turn with a Stalwart, followed by a Wizened Cenn the turn after. I was able to hold off the onslaught until I was able to slowly gain the field advantage with a Ranger of Eos and Stillmoon Cavalier.
3-1-0

Match 5: Planeswalker 5cc
These games were a blur because it seemed to take forever and was very unexciting. His game plan seemed to stall me out with counters and removal until he could bring in creatures with Garruk or Polymorph a sheep token (yes, sheep token, from Springjack Pasture) into Progenitus, the only creature in his deck. I was smart enough to know what he was up to and simply saved the removal for his morph targets. The “card advantage” I got from bloodbraid and the ranger kept my board full and the pressure on. The only real excitement in either game was when he got close enough to 7 counters on Ajani V to make me think I was about to lose my lands. However, he chose to helix a creature instead.
4-1-0

Match6: Top 8: Kithkin (same player)
The grudge match. I was glad to get a chance to play this guy again because his deck screwed him over and I enjoyed the prospect of playing one of the better players. The first game was much like our earlier match; he drew few creatures and I quickly overwhelmed him. The second game was an epic struggle however. We both traded creatures, but he got the early advantage on me with a few timely Harm’s Way. I had to block with everything I had to keep myself alive, but luckily drew into three rangers to keep my board full. Our forces were evenly matched, but he managed to draw into not one, but two Stillmoon Cavaliers. Things looked bad but I still had a chance to draw into a bolt or Pyroclasm; until he played a ranger and searched out two forge-tenders. I was basically screwed by then. Game three was a reversal of fortune. I was stuck at three lands, defending with a few weak figures and a measly Nacatl. A kitchen Finks came to my rescue, but was pathed. Two Knights of Meadowgrain plus a cenn and Honor the Pure was too much by the time I hit four mana.
4-1-1

I find Naya to be positioned quite well, with very few weaknesses. Kithkin might be a problem, but I don’t think it is a bad matchup at all. The deck seemed to handle quite well and had a short learning curve.

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It looks as though the printing of Cemetery Reaper in the upcoming M10 core set has got some people thinking a Zombie deck might, uh, rise in the standard ranks. Some of these ideas can be found at the Starcity Games forums here. I have been thinking about Zombies for a while too, and when I saw the Reaper I also started to think of the synergy between the new “lord” and the the rest of the shambling masses.

However, making a viable rouge deck is pretty tough. I don’t like to play something that has no chance of winning. So, when I sat down and put my Zombie ideas to paper, it became clear, as it always does with sudden ideas, that making a viable zombie deck isn’t as easy as it might seem.

Does this mean it is impossible, though? Maybe.

First, zombies won’t win a battle with any of the other creatures decks in the meta; at least not in a stand-up-fight. Zombies would have to be sneaky, or find a way to deal with monsters bigger than they are.

Second, removal is everwhere. Zombies will bite it to almost every sweeper unless there is something powering them up, and very few of them can survive  spot removal or burn. Zombies would have to be able to weather the storm somehow, or more likely, quickly re-populate the board after a wipe.

Third, the actually good zombies are in every frickin’ color, meaning if I threw them all in, it would be a 5C zombie deck. Not going to happen. I had to look at the spells and zombies in each color and decide which best complimented each other.

Zombies do have a few things going for them.  Surpisingly, there are quite a few good zombie cards out there. Secondly, if constructed  and played right, a Zombie deck can be quite resilient. The zombie “lords” also play very well together. Finally, some very nice spells are avaliable for all zombie color choices.   

So I looked at the zombies and looked at the different combinations. I also had to figure out how zombies could win in this unstable meta. I assumed Mono-White, Mono-Red, Jund, 5CB, Elves, Faeries and Fog decks will be popular.

Here are some preliminary ideas I came up with:

Jund Zombies by Colin Merry

Creatures
4 Grixis Grimblade
4 Putrid Leech
4 Death Baron
4 Cemetery Reaper
4 Shambling Corpse
4 Chameleon Colossus

Spells
3 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Blightning
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Thoughtseize

Land (tentative)
4 Savage Land
4 Reflecting Pool
2 Graven Carins
2 Twilight Mire
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Swamp
2 Mountain
2 Forest

Sideboard (tentative)
2 Thoughtseize
3 Thought Hemorrhage
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
2 Banefire
1 Maelstrom Pulse
4 More things

The straight-forward Zombie beatdown deck. I had to cheat and put Chameleon Colossus in there, but the deck runs green and he is amazing.  The removal, Lightning Bolt especially, helps with the early threats or the creatures that will be a problem later (ie. Figure of Destiny, other “lords”) and should buy the deck some time to establish itself. Thoughtseize and Malestrom pulse will have to deal with power-boosting enchantments and planeswalkers. The direct damage aspect of Blightning and L-Bolt should help deal with the last few points of damage, should the board stagnate.

I didn’t like Death Baron at first, but he’s the only real way Zombies will be able to deal with the more powerful creatures out there aside from the removal. He might also be good at ending stalemates, as you can continually send in a guy with deathtouch to eliminate a blocker, then make the dead critter rise from the grave for you with the Reaper.

The Jund Zombies could use some fine tuning, but I barely put that one down before another idea, one I was a bit more excited about, came to mind.

Esper Zombies by Colin Merry

Creatures
4 Tidehollow Sculler
4 Grixis Grimblade*
4 Death Baron
4 Lich Lord of Unx
4 Cemetery Reaper

Spells
4 Thoughtseize
4 Ajani Goldmane
2 Esper Charm
2 Path to Exile
3 Agony Warp
1 Sleep

Land (tentative)
4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fetid Heath
2 Sunken Ruins
2 Swamp
2 Plains
3 Islands

Sideboard
1 Esper Charm
3 Deathmark
1 Path to Exile
2 Reveillark
2 Necromancer’s Covenant
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
3 Zombie Outlander

Esper Zombies operate a bit differently than Jund Zombies. Esper Zombies are all about stealing the opponents early game thunder and then setting up a situation where they can win without attacking. They can also power up much like a token deck, but with the right conditions, you can field and entire army without even playing another card.

Lich Lord of Unx is the centerpiece of this deck. He can make guys without restrictions, for less than the Reaper, and his second ability does quite a bit. It robs the opponent of resources, it makes them lose life in the process and it also feeds Cemetery Reaper. 

Two “lords” and Ajani help give this deck the same advantages of a Mono-White/Token deck, albiet a little slower. The hand disruption and removal is again key to letting Zombies get set up. Esper Charm is there mostly to deal with any power-boosting enchantments that slip through and can provide (dis)card advantage. Sleep is just kinda neat.

VedalkenGhoul

The other Pudrid Leech?

Again, these are just preliminary ideas. I can see lots of other ways Zombies can be built using these colors or other combinations. However, I feel it is not a good idea to try for more than three colors. I’m not even sure how these mana-base options will work.

*A quick note about Grixis Grimblade. I don’t know how much I like this guy, especially since deathtouch isn’t such a great abilty for him. A 3/2 should kill most things his size, and Death Baron helps by giving everybody deathtouch. I don’t wonder if there is a better option, but I’m not sure what. Zombie Outlander could be good if green decks are popular; Elves, Doran, 4/5CB and such. I also think about the Vedalken Ghoul sometimes. A 1/1 for UB sounds like total crap, but his ability is interesting. He might just be able to creep in there and do enough pinpricks to make him worthwhile if the opponent doesn’t want to lose four life on turn 3 or 4.  Like Putrid Leech, people may not want to block him. If he is killed by removal, the opponent had to use a removal on a stupid 1/1 instead of one of your lords. If he gets enough boosts, or deathtouch, he might even be able to kill a blocker and make the opponent lose life.

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In my last post, I wrote about the M1o cards I thought would be absolute winners in standard. This time, I want to mention a few cards I believe might have the potential to make an impact in the format if the right opportunities present themselves.

Harm’s WayHarm's Way
What makes this card good is the ability to hit the opponent with the prevented 2 damage and the lack of restrictions on what kind of damage can be mitigated. The economical cost is nice too. Harm’s Way can potentially invalidate a spell and punish the opponent for playing it in the first place. However, out of the several decks which could play this, I just don’t see any free space.

Silence
This card has three purposes; 1) keeping your opponent from doing something to upset a guaranteed win during your next turn, 2) keeping a combo from being interrupted, or 3) interrupting a combo. Purpose 2 and 3 depend on any decent combos showing up in the meta, and 1 isn’t relevant enough to put four copies of a card in a deck.

Planar Cleansing
The new Wrath of God costs two more, but it sweeps two more things from the board. Planar Clensing card could be devastating against Kithkin or B/W Token decks, effectively resetting their board to turn one. The question is, will the meta accommodate a six-casting cost sweeper?

Elvish Archdruid
Dynamite in Elf decks either ramping up to big fat creatures or comboing out, but nothing else comes to mind.

Sleep
Sleep could be good in Faeries, I think, if used against decks which can effectively stall late game Fae into Bitterblossom death. Sleep could potentially give you two alpha strikes, or at least one without fear of retribution. I don’ t know if Faeries actually needs this though. 

Haunting Echoes
Under the right circumstances, Haunting Echoes can be devastating. Even if it only manages to tear two or three cards from a deck, that’s still two or three options gone forever.   I could see this being added to something like Sanity Grinding or some other mill deck, though again, I don’ t know if it is necessary, or just neat.  The casting cost is pretty gnarly though, and it doesn’t hit the hand like Thought Hemorrhage.

Gargoyle Castle
This is the closest thing to a “manland” standard will have access to, though unfortunately it doesn’t retain their invulnerability to sweepers. However, the 3/4 permanent flying gargoyle might just be good enough to see the castle getting some play. Nice back-up win condition for control decks.

Darksteel Colossus
The colossus with be a favorite target of Sphinx Summoner and Master Transmuter for quite a while after m10 hits standard. I don’ t know if artifacts will actually be a good choice, but the allure of the 11/11 indestructable trample will have people thinkin’ it might be.

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So with all my good cards (Maelstrom Pulse) tied up in my brother’s Jund Mid-Range deck, I’ve been waffling on several options for FNM.

I’ve played a few games with B/W Tokens. After all, what could be easier than Bitterblossom, Spec Pro, Ajani, WIN. I like the deck enough, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to “get there” . There are plenty of times when my opponent drops something utterly horrible and I am stuck thinking “Shit, I hope I draw one of my paths.”.

B/W Tokens is still insanely good, so I’m guessing the problem is on my end. Specifically, I rely way too much on either 1.) having the advantage, or 2.) having an answer. My combat tactics start to fizzle when both sides of the board are clutterd up with doods. Bad player, I know. I have to work on this.

I’ve decided to do this by playing Faeries. Faeries, while once insanely powerful, is now merely good. I don’t think there is a deck in the meta right now quite like Faeries when it comes to punishing  mediocre to bad players. If you are going to play this deck, you had better be on the top of your game.

Perfect.

Faeries is actually on the rise again, if you haven’t noticed. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about Faerie strategy because other people have done it so much better, like in this article by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, or the myriad of other Faerie related articles on Starcity Games and other Magic sites. Seriously, there are a billion of em’. 

puppetclique

Alright, who put the dick on the scarecrow?

 The core deck, is of course, still the same; with some give or take when it comes to Thoughtseize, Loxodon Warhammer and the number of Scion of Oona to include. Some decks even run Peppersmoke mainboard for the mirror or B/W Tokens. However, Faeries has picked up a few bits of new technology to keep up in today’s meta. Most of these are sideboard choices, but they can make a big difference in game two.

 

Puppeteer Clique: The “other” clique grabs things out of the opponent’s graveyard like Kitchen Finks, Anathemancer and Broodmate Dragon. Just remember, you get to keep the finks (I think) and the dragon token. Stealing a cascade critter does not equal playing it, so don’t expect too much if your clique plays grab-ass with a Bloodbraid Elf.

Flashfreeze: Everything people  play these days has either red or green in it. Why did it take so long for people to figure this one out?

Deathmark: Remember what I just said about green? Well, white is a close third. Beefy spec pro token BEGONE!

Plumeveil: Not so new, but still tasty against the horde of Jund-Aggro.

Snakeform: Chameleon Colossus.

If Faeries isn’t your thing, and neither is anything else at the top of the heap, check out this neat Elemental deck by Manuel Bucher.

Elementals, by Manuel Bucher, as seen on Starcity Games

Maindeck:

Artifacts
1 Springleaf Drum

Creatures
4 Bloom Tender
3 Cloudthresher
4 Flamekin Harbinger
1 Fulminator Mage
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
4 Mulldrifter
2 Ranger Of Eos
4 Reveillark
1 Shriekmaw
4 Smokebraider
2 Soul Warden

Legendary Creatures
4 Horde Of Notions

Tribal Instants
1 Nameless Inversion

Basic Lands
1 Forest
1 Island
2 Mountain

Lands
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Primal Beyond
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Grove

Sideboard:

3 Pithing Needle
1 Burrenton Forge-tender
1 Cloudthresher
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Shriekmaw
1 Tar Fiend
1 Wispmare
1 Eyes Of The Wisent
1 Shields Of Velis Vel

Check out Bucher’s article on his the deck here.

To me, it looks like this deck is alot of fun to play. It might not necessarily be the best, but at least you’ll have a good time. It reminds me alot of the Elemental deck Kyle Sanchez came up with at the beginning of the year. I did play that one for awhile and it was pretty good. I don’t see why this one wouldn’t be.  

Besides, now is the time to get your “damage on the stack” Fulminator Mage tricks in while you can.

Speaking of the new M10 rules, here is an interesting perspective on them in this Satarcity Games article by Oliver Ruel.

Cascade, now there’s something that dumbs down Magic. Play a card, get a free spell. The only skill involved there is making sure you have all sorts of good stuff with the right mana cost in your deck. Considering the cheapest playable cascade card right now is Bloodbraid Elf at four mana, that means anything three and under is fair game. I’m not going to start naming them off (Maelstrom Pulse), but there are a bunch.

I haven’t had a chance to play cascade yet, but I’ve been told it feels like cheating. It kind of looks like cheating too. Yes, I will play a 5/5 and get a free pulse to blow up your Faerie tokens with. Good day sir!

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