Taphouse Issue #1

– Alex Sarver –

Hey everybody, welcome to the Taphouse! This is the first article in an ongoing brewfest featuring yours truly, the bearded wonder. I find it only appropriate to begin in the season of Octoberfest. Not only is it my favorite Sam Adams, but also a great time for brewing around standard rotation. A little background on myself, I love brewing, it is by far my favorite part of Magic. I started playing magic casually around the Mercadian Masques and Invasion blocks, then got competitive during Mirrodon. I took a break during Rise of the Eldrazi, but eventually returned to magic and the competitive scene with the release of Theros.

So with the pleasantries out of the way, let us get to why we are here; standard has rotated and nobody knows how the new format will shake out. I’m writing this prior to the SCG Open in Indy this weekend, where the meta will be narrowed down. The next article will cover decks geared more towards a defined format, but the ones included today are what I consider good starting points. So, without further ado, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

Jeskai Dragons

Creatures (17)

  • 4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
  • 3 Soulfire Grand Master
  • 4 Mantis Rider
  • 4 Thunderbreak Regent
  • 2 Dragonlord Ojutai

Planeswalkers (2)

  • 2 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker

Spells (16)

  • 2 Wild Slash
  • 2 Roast
  • 4 Draconic Roar
  • 2 Valorous Stance
  • 1 Exquisite Firecraft
  • 1 Jeskai Charm
  • 2 Ojutai’s Command
  • 2 Dig Through Time

Lands(25)

  • 4 Mystic Monastery
  • 3 Shivan Reef
  • 3 Battlefield Forge
  • 4 Flooded Strand
  • 1 Haven of the Spirit Dragon
  • 1 Prairie Stream
  • 2 Swiftwater Cliffs
  • 2 Island
  • 2 Plains
  • 3 Mountain

Sideboard (15)

  • 1 Radiant Purge
  • 1 Stratus Dancer
  • 2 Tragic Arrogance
  • 2 Arashin Cleric
  • 2 Negate
  • 2 Disdainful Stroke
  • 2 Radiant Flames
  • 2 Brutal Expulsion
  • 1 Fate Forgotten

 

Let’s go over the cards in the deck here:

Creatures:

  • Jace– Merfolk looter is good alone add a planeswalker and it’s a staple, not much more needed.
  • Soulfire Grand Master– Gaining the life back from painlands and getting into buyback loops is nice.
  • Mantis Rider– The reason to play Jeskai, with the majority of instant speed removal and burn rotating answering this card got harder. It’s almost guaranteed one hit and if it lives it’s all downhill for your opponent.
  • Thunderbreak Regent– The main dragon enabler for draconic roar and an all-around value creature.
  • Dragonlord Ojutai– The other dragon enabler and all upside
  • Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker– The stormbreath dragon replacement that can also kill a creature if needed.

 

Spells:

  • Valorous Stance– One of the best removal spells in the new standard and doubles as protection.
  • Draconic Roar– The best instant speed burn spell in the format.
  • Dig through Time– It’s only legal in this format, so you know it’s good.
  • Ojutai’s Command– I love utility on cards and this does everything we want not to mention soulfire loops.
  • Jeskai Charm– Once again utility and the deck is weak to languish so this will potentially keep Thunderbreaks and Ojutai alive.

 

Sideboard:

  • Radiant Flames- Anger of the Gods replacement minus the exile clause however we will take what we can get. Also potentially an obscene amount of lifegain with soulfire.
  • Brutal Expulsion- This card lives up to its brutal name, always a two for one always good and one of the few efficient ways to deal with hangarback.
  • Tragic Arrogance- A board wipe to punish decks for going wide while maintaining our board advantage.
  • Fate Forgotten- The only instant speed removal for both artifact and enchantments so it’s in there.
  • Radiant Purge- A good answer for Mantis Rider, Siege Rhino, Savage Knuckleblade, and Rakshasa Deathdealer; all cards I expect to rise in popularity in the new standard.

 

Ok, so why should you play this deck? In my opinion it is a very strong deck to play at the beginning of the new standard. It punishes people for playing decks that aren’t fully fleshed out or any deck that stumbles early on land drops or mana. Also, I consider it to have some of the best removal. It has good threat density and most creatures are must-answer creatures. The deck also handles the long game well with Soulfire buybacks, Ojutai’s command bringing back creatures, Haven getting back dragons, Dragonlord Ojutai for card advantage, and Dig Through Time finding answers or the burn to close out a game.

The obvious omission here is Silumgar’s Scorn. The deck can definitely be changed to head in the counterspell direction (note: the mana base would need to change to include more blue). Also we will drop Sarkhan for the 3rd Ojutai and a scorn. The 2 slashes will also become 2 scorns and the one firecraft will be the 4th scorn. While this isn’t wrong, I feel it is not optimal for these reasons: I think Sarkhan is good utility, Scorn does not interact with Jace flashback, Scorn is not good without a dragon (especially late game). That being said, there is merit to counterspell, and the scorn version is still very good. This version plays by leaving up more instant speed spells and plays a more “protect the queen” style game.

 

Next, let us move on to the king of midrange (and no I don’t mean Abzan). All hail the new king RUG, or Temur to you young’uns.

 

Rug 49

Creatures (25)

  • 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
  • 3 Shaman of Forgotten Ways
  • 2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
  • 4 Savage Knuckleblade
  • 3 Hangarback Walker
  • 4 Woodland Wanderer
  • 1 Sagu Mauler
  • 1 Surrak Dragonclaw
  • 1 Woodland Bellower
  • 2 Dragonlord Atarka

Planeswalkers (6)

  • 3 Kiora, Master of the Depths
  • 3 Sarkhan Unbroken

Spells (5)

  • 3 Crater’s Claws
  • 2 Brutal Expulsion

Lands (24)

  • 3 Lumbering Falls
  • 4 Frontier Bivouac
  • 4 Wooded Foothills
  • 3 Cinder Glade
  • 2 Yavimaya Coast
  • 1 Shivan Reef
  • 4 Forest
  • 2 Mountain
  • 1 Island

Sideboard (15)

  • 3 Radiant Flames
  • 2 Roar of Challenge
  • 3 Whisperwood Elemental
  • 3 Stubborn Denial
  • 1 Crumble to Dust
  • 1 Ugin’s Insight
  • 2 Roast

 

Card analysis time.

 

Creatures:

  • Rattleclaw Mystic- The best ramp creature for this standard
  • Shaman of the Forgotten Ways- The second best ramp creature and also biorhythm is an extremely likely conclusion to games in this deck.
  • Nissa- Helps guarantee land drops and also a good value walker
  • Savage Knuckleblade- Got extremely good with the change in removal in the new standard and bouncing to dodge sweepers and sorcery speed removal will be a thing.
  • Woodland Wanderer- Sweet baby jesus this card is nasty. With Shaman and Sarkhan it is a 6/6 a lot and pretty much guaranteed to be a 5/5 eating rhinos for breakfast.
  • Surrak Dragonclaw- The flash is good, giving everything trample is better, and uncounterable is just the cherry on top.
  • Woodland Bellower- Fetches up knuckleheads as well as biorhythm. Puts a lot of power in play.

 

Planeswalkers:

  • Kiora- +1 ramps, puts extra counters on hangarback, and helps progress your board state. -2 Finds threats and ensures land drops. Ultimate wins the game as an ultimate should.
  • Sarkhan- he was missing a home but now it’s here.  +1 ramp, fixing, and card advantage all upside all the time. -2 puts a 4/4 flyer in play, what’s not to love. The ultimate doesn’t do much here, but we honestly don’t need it. Sarkhan is really strong in this deck.
  • Nissa– if and when Nissa flips in this deck she is also nothing but advantage. +1 ramps or draws a card -2 puts a 4/4 on the ground. Also the ultimate is relevant in the deck and should win the game.

 

Spells:

  • Crater’s claws- Scalable removal and potential win con. We make a lot of mana and have ferocious most times.
  • Brutal Expulsion- Still brutal. Helps break up stalled board states. Can bounce a blocking creature to trample through. Also bounces the boardwipe to protect our board state.

 

Sideboard:

  • Roar of challenge- Beats midrange mirrors and stalled board states, also sudo board wipe if our creature is big enough.
  • Whisperwood Elemental- Good against wraths and another way to make our creatures uncounterable.
  • Crumble to Dust- Depending on the amount of play manlands see this number may go up or down.
  • Stubborn Denial- We have ferocious a lot and just a good counterspell.
  • Roast- Removal in midrange mirrors. This may change to plummet or a reach creature if flyers are a problem.

 

The reason to play this deck is the power curve. I believe the power curve  in this is second to none. The creatures will outclass anything your opponent plays (mirror matches excluded). I also believe Kiora and Sarkhan Unbroken to be the strongest planeswalkers in standard. Basically, this deck is playing all the best cards, earning it the name RUG 49 (it has 49 maindeck rares and mythics). In a format with questionable removal, a deck with 27 maindeck must answer creatures and planeswalkers is a very viable option. Also, the deck can have a superfriends feel to it. Kiora, Sarkhan, and Nissa all have card advantage abilities to bury your opponent, and the three can put up to 8 power in play by themselves.

 

So for our last brew I’m doing something people have been asking about. Let’s talk about a budget brew. The goal here is to be competitive in order for the player to win prize support to upgrade the deck while still being budget conscious. I will also do a quick cost analysis with some early upgrade options. So the best decks on budgets tend to be aggro. I don’t believe mono red to be as competitive as gruul, so let’s try gruul.

 

Gruul Landfall Aggro

Creatures (25)                                               Price

 

  • 4 Monastery Swiftspear                         13.50
  • 4 Scythe Leopard                                     2.00
  • 4 Snapping Gnarlid                                 .60
  • 4 Makindi Sliderunner                           .60
  • 4 Ire Shaman                                           2.00
  • 2 Subterranean Scout                            .30
  • 3 Shaman of the Great Hunt                4.50

Spells (14)

  • 4 Atarka’s Command                           28.00
  • 2 Sword of the Animist                        6.00
  • 4 Titan’s Strength                                 .60
  • 2 Become Immense                             .60
  • 2 Retreat to Valakut                            .50

 

Lands (21)

  • 4 Evolving Wilds                                 1.00
  • 2 Looming Spires                                .25
  • 7 Forest
  • 8 Mountains

Sideboard (15)

  • 3 Act of Treason                                .40
  • 4 Roast                                               4.70
  • 2 Magmatic Chasm                          .25
  • 2 Titanic Growth                              .25
  • 4 Firemantle Mage                         1.00

Total                                                      84.05

 

The deck comes in just under 85 dollars. It is a straightforward aggro deck, giving you bonuses for playing lands.With sword of the animist in play, you’ll get at least one landfall trigger each turn. We have several pump spells to ensure our opponent is punished for not blocking (either by choice or lack of creatures). You can even pump to push damage with our trampler. Subterranean Scout allows us to make something unblockable, then play land or use the sword to get pumps after it is unblockable. The shaman is there to put counters on our creatures. Ire shaman is also potential card advantage and hard to block. The sideboard is based around being able to push damage through our opponent’s bigger creatures.

The upgrades to be made to the deck overtime would be to jam as many fetchlands as possible. They are used for more landfall triggers as well as fuel for become immense. Also, the Ire Shaman can be upgraded to Abbot of Keral Keep. This deck is surprisingly good. It has a great chance to take down an fnm, and can be upgraded to remain competitive at higher levels.
Well, this concludes our flight at the Taphouse for the time being. Stay tuned, as you’ll be hearing more from me and my latest brews moving forward. As always, check out our social media accounts and podcast.  Also, any feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Enjoy!

 

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