Of Introductions, Spoilers and Standard

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Greetings, dear reader. It’s entirely possible that you have no idea who I am. I would argue that your anonymity makes this relationship fair, but for the sake of maintaining your readership I’ll tell you a little bit about myself.

My name is Ryan Overturf. And I’m a grinder.

I don’t think that it’s anything to be ashamed of, really. Some of my best friends are grinders. However, it happens that not everybody can appreciate this lifestyle. For those of us who do, it is our lifeblood. We breathe Magic. Zvi Mowshowitz once famously stated that his hobbies were Magic, and thinking about Magic. If you have this in common with Zvi, then I think we’ll get along splendidly.

If you do recognize my name, it is most likely from my recent SCG Legacy Open win.

The trophy was actually for "best dressed".

This was probably my most impressive tournament finish, but my resume also includes a couple Grand Prix top 64s, a Pro Tour top 100 and an invitational top 32 (missed top 16 on breakers, but hey, I’m not bitter).

I will grant that this is not overly impressive, but I still believe I have a lot to offer the community as a writer. I have a background in comedy and I spent the last four years of my life doing little other than writing, but that’s not what I’m alluding to.

What I want you to know, dear reader, is that I am excited about Magic, and, as such, excited to write about Magic. As I’m sure an intelligent (and handsome and/or beautiful) individual such as yourself already knows, the best work is the product of a happy worker.

Do you know that feeling when you ask your friend how they feel about a card choice in one of their decks and they shrug? Or perhaps when you ask about a certain play and they’re too busy life-tilting to hear you?

I find this behavior repulsive. I plan to talk your ear off (er… type your eye off?) about every card choice that I make in every deck that I play and I plan to let you know every mistake I feel cost me a match.

Why? Because deck building for me is the closest thing to Christmas morning that I experience these days, and playing a tournament is just like taking my new bike for a spin. Often times I end up with scraped knees, but I generally have a good ride. Either way, being the man-child that I am, I feel the need to tell every one of my exploits.

Spoiler Alert

Remember when Magic was about interaction and not just taking five?

Speaking of Christmas, as I write this we are very deep in previews for Avacyn Restored. As far as the Miracle mechanic goes, I could not be less excited. I believe that it’s too random for constructed and that it will make a lot of limited games miserable.

There are, however, a few cards that have piqued my interest.

[card Tamiyo, the Moon Sage]Tamiyo[/card] is clearly a powerful card, especially in tandem with Lingering Souls.

Gristelbrand is the stones in EDH, which is something that not everybody can appreciate, but that excites me nonetheless. The card also has some seriously potential for Legacy. I don't know that he's good enough for Reanimator, but he is a complete house in Sneak and Show. Imagine Sneak Attacking this guy in, gaining and drawing seven. It's not exactly my kind of deck, but this interaction is clearly powerful.

I’m certain that sometime in the next year I will develop an undying hatred for [card Sigarda, Host of Herons]Sigarda[/card], but my opinions on all of these cards listed so far are pretty speculative.

One card that is undeniably going to shake up Magic is Cavern of Souls.

The game, the franchise, the truth, etc...

It’s very easy to hate Cavern of Souls. It makes cards like Huntmaster of the Fells and Primeval Titan considerably more powerful, and severely impacts a player’s ability to interact with these cards.

That said, I am very happy to see something printed that will inhibit the power of [card Delver of Secrets]Delver[/card] decks. Delver mirrors are pretty miserable and not terribly skill intensive. The deck has very few complex interactions, and if you’re playing Gitaxian Probe you really don’t even need to think much about how you play your Mana Leaks.

While I am happy to see Delver go, I am not exactly excited to see Primeval Titan rise. It is my belief that immediately after the release of Avacyn Restored we will see a major surge in the popularity and results of [card Kessig Wolf Run]Wolf Run[/card] variants. Much like Delver mirrors, ramp mirrors boil down to drawing well more than anything.

Very often the first resolved Titan wins the game. I remember watching the finals of Pro Tour Dark Ascension and walking away after Kibler managed to steal a game on the draw against Paulo. I was convinced that there was no way that more than one game would be won on the draw in such a mirror. It’s certainly more likely in a match where there is a greater disparity in decklist and/or play skill between players, but it was not meant to be on that day.

As I’m sure you’ve already deduced, dear reader, I have no desire to play Titan mirrors. I’m sure it is possible that a good control deck could be brewed to beat ramp without relying on counterspells, but building such a deck is the type of task I would only set out on when the metagame is better developed.

As for now my inclination is to play a deck that is fast enough to race or ignore a Titan. I would love to deliver a decklist, but am not confident enough in anything I’ve brewed up to publish a list just yet. I will instead submit a short list of conclusions I have reached while brewing.

Decks to Ponder


One of my first thoughts when deciding that I wanted to play a fast deck was to look at Mono-Red. Shrine of Burning Rage is a hell of a card, and there are a number of powerful options for this archetype. Ultimately what steered me away from exploring Mono-Red too deeply is the existence of Timely Reinforcements. Shrine and [card Koth of the Hammer]Koth[/card] are really the only exciting cards that this deck has to offer, and Timely generally mitigates two of any other card in the deck along with being comparable in power to the aforementioned cards.

Closest thing to Bitterblossom this side of standard.

BW Tokens

After that I looked at BW Tokens.

The deck is capable of doing some very explosive things and can outclass other creature-based strategies entirely with Intangible Virtue.

What I don’t like about the deck is the inability to draw cards or to tutor for anything.

Much like Mono-Red, there is a massive disparity between your best cards and your worst. Lingering Souls and Hero of Bladehold can destroy an unprepared opponent, but Doomed Traveler is nothing short of miserable without a crusade effect. Even with one he can be pretty underwhelming.

One card that I’ve been surprised not to see in token lists that have sprung up so far is Shrine of Loyal Legions. I played four Shrines in Tempered Steel last year and the card was always very good - even when I didn’t draw Tempered Steel. It generates an entire Wrath-worthy army all on its own and, in many instances, is actually just more powerful than its “red” counterpart.

I wouldn’t be excited to sleeve up tokens, but if I did I would almost definitely be playing Shrine.


I’m currently looking at various tribes and trying to develop a non-ramp Cavern of Souls deck. It seems to me that Cavern works very well as a mana-fixer in a nearly mono-color build with a splash for creatures in a second color. RG and GW humans have some interesting options, but I’m only just beginning to test these sorts of decks.

Of course, there is a non-zero chance that there is something else on the spoiler that causes me to rethink these findings. More likely, there could still be yet another card in Avacyn Restored that inspires a whole new deck. Either way, it’s probably for the best to cease my rambling on all things speculative for now.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my first article here at Quiet Speculation, and I hope that you’re excited for more. I know I am.

3 thoughts on “Of Introductions, Spoilers and Standard

  1. I had the same impression about Sigarda, Host of Herons and immediately started building a Griselbrand EDH deck upon seeing the demon on the spoiler. I've known a few people who love tribal decks, and I'm happy for them to get a card like Cavern of Souls to play with. I'm the one who likes to wrath away all those elves, goblins, and humans though so I'm going to hope the card isn't as powerful as it seems. I don't think control will fall out of favor like some suggest, but instead will have to fight ramp decks in new ways. Mana leak wasn't good against the tribal decks of standard anyway. We'll see. Great article, keep 'em coming!

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