That special time of the week again! Driving out to Elmvale on a magical Friday night to jam some cardboard crack with my friends! This week I had something a little special in place for the folks at Jack’s on Queen. For the past month or so I’ve been ranting and raving over the Snow-Mentals deck, but through multiple play time online I discovered something, it’s pretty darn bad. However, I made a miraculous discovery whilst rummaging through my brother’s card collection for goodies. It was an old deck box, a deck box that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I flipped it open and what did I see staring back at me? The eyes of a combo deck, a combo deck so despised that people just scoop at the sheer sight of the namesake of the deck….AD NAUSEAM…
Now for those of you ‘modern virgins’ out there let me give you a crash course on how the deck works. The namesake of the deck Ad Nauseam was printed in Shards of Alara and it didn’t see much play in its’ standard day, but in modern, with cards like Angel’s Grace and Phyrexian Unlife, this allows one to draw their entire library. Once you have your entire deck in your hand, you discard three copies of Simian Spirit Guide and cast Lightning Storm, at this point you ditch all the land in your hand to OTK (One turn kill) your opponent.
Round 1; Loss in 3 vs Mono-Blue Fairies
You want to know what is the worst possible match up for a combo deck? A deck with literally all of the answers. Game one I got countered every play I made, it was a nightmare. Game two was hilarious. So the deck runs twenty lands and I didn’t realize it, stupid me. Lightning Storm deals a base of three points plus x where x is the number of charge counters on it. GUESS WHAT GUYS, AT THE CURRENT POINT AT WHICH I AM WRITING THIS BLOG I REALIZED I WAS READING LIGHTNING STORM WRONG!!! I thought that you ditched one land to add one counter, APPARENTLY IT ADDS TWO COUNTERS. THIS WILL BE RELEVANT LATER. I managed to combo off game two and take it. Game three I just got completely countered out.
Round 2; Win in 3 vs Mardu Burn
Playing against my good ol’ pal in round two. I think I’ve got a pretty decent match up against burn as I can drop Phyrexian Unlife and force my opponent to do an additional eleven points of damage to me. Game one I did as such, dropped Unlife and managed to combo off. Game two I never had such luck and was brutally beaten by a gang of Goblin Guides and Monastery Swiftspears. Game three I stuck an Unlife and took my opponent down after they took a mulligan to six. I was able to capitalize on the lack of burn and combo kill!
Round 3; Loss in 3 vs Super Friends
So this is where the freak out in round one comes in. So not only did I cast Ad Nauseam before Angel’s Grace, which isn’t allowed, I also didn’t read Lightning Storm properly. I thought the card quite mediocre, to my understanding, discarding a land merely added one charge counter to the spell, while in reality it adds two. So when I realized the deck only ran twenty land I thought I could only play three lands and had to keep the other seventeen in my hand. Regardless, I took my opponent to three, even after discarding seventeen lands. Game two I managed to win, some how, I can’t even remember. What I do remember is game three. On my opponent’s turn four he played Doubling Season. He had Leyline of Sanctity out so I could not throw a storm at his face, so I dropped Laboratory Maniac and passed the turn back. If I were to untap, I had the Ad Nauseam/Angel’s Grace combo in my hand, but alas it was not meant to be. My opponent cast Jace, Architect of Thought and since Doubling Season also doubles planeswalker loyalty as they enter, he ulted immediately. My opponent went through my deck and played a copy of my Unlife, he went through his and played a second Jace. He then ulted again and cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn from his library, and I scooped. He would have taken an extra turn off of the cast trigger, and then annihilator six would have wiped my board.
Round 4; Bye
I hate having byes. I come to play Magic, and when an odd number of players show up, there is nothing one can do. I just walked around and spectated other matches until the round was over.
Now if I knew how the deck was supposed to work I probably would have done much better. But considering the entire night I was refusing to play lands so that I had enough damage to kill for sure restricting my ability to play. I also desperately need a couple copies of Pact of Negation and a single Slaughter Pact, to ensure that my combo actually goes off, and to deal with little pests like Spell Skite
Ban Hammer Time
Ok, so can we talk about the Felidar Guardian in the room? The current standard competitive meta is the most boring thing. Standard as a whole right now is revolving around three primary decks; G/B Constrictor, Copy Cat, and Mardu Vehicles. Each of these lists has their own strengths and weaknesses, however the dominance of these decks has pushed every other tier two or lower deck to the nether regions of competitive play. Now let us talk about the whole MORE BANS situation. WotC announced that they were going to be doing bans a week after a new standard set prereleases, and five weeks after every Pro Tour.
Last time the ban hammer took a swing it took out Emrakul, the Promised End, Smuggler’s Copter, and the most hated card in standard history Reflector Mage. The reasoning behind the bans were as follows; “Emrakul faced too little resistance and ended games too easily. She was the world-ending, all-powerful monster she was in the story, which was too much for Standard.” this is a direct quote from their Restricted and Banned Announcement on January 9th, 2017. This is a valid statement and Emrakul was a little too strong. “Simply put, Smuggler’s Copter is too efficient and shows up in too many decks, diminishing the format’s diversity.” another direct quote. You want to know what other card is too efficient and shows up in too many decks? Walking Ballista and Heart of Kiran. Now the thing that kills me is in the article, WotC states that Reflector Mage combos too well with Collected Company. But having one of your creatures bounced is hardly game ending, you want to know what is game ending? The combination of Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian. WotC has even stated that this was an oversight in R&D and that they had no intention of printing an infinite turn four kill in standard, nevermind the same block. But saying sorry with no intentions of a fix? Why bother saying sorry at all?
However, there is something in the article that slightly irks me. WotC says that they have no intention of banning anything because they deem a three-deck format as “healthy”. They go on to say that they saw the “rise of Temur Tower” at GP Utrecht and how it will join the “upper echelon”. If one does a simple google of ‘GP Utrecht top 32 deck lists’ one will find that only three copies of Temur Tower were in the top 32, as opposed to thirteen copies of Mardu Vehicles, nine copies of G/B, and three copies of Copy Cat. At GP Barcelona there was one copy of Temur Tower in the top 32, but was crushed by nine Copy Cats, twelve Vehicles, and six assorted G/B lists. I would prefer to call Temur Tower a ‘blip’ on the standard radar compared to these commanding giants. For example, there were more copies of Aetherworks Marvel decks in the top 32 at GP Barcelona than Temur Tower lists. Even taking a quick skim of the top 32 lists from GP New Jersey this past weekend, one can see only three Temur Tower lists made top 32.
Well that’s plenty salt for one post. I hope y’all can agree to some extent that something in standard needs to change. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time, stay salty my friends.