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The last month for me has been all about Standard PTQ's. I have been constantly trying to tackle the format and overcome its obstacles. I have been on the rogue side more often than not, but I also tried a version of Delver like so many other players. If you have been following my journey you may know this already but for those of you who may have missed out, here’s a recap.
Early on in the season I was working with Zombies and trying to tweak it to be more consistent and powerful. I did not find a great way to do this and eventually ended up setting the deck aside. I think my decklists ended up a good deal better than the majority of the ones I have seen so if you are still playing Zombies, take a look.
When the Zombie deck did not pan out, I decided to come at the format from a different angle. It was at this time that I began trying to exploit “the Blue Package” in Snapcaster Mage, Mana Leak, Ponder, and Vapor Snag. That combination of cards is so good that it can easily fit in a number of strategies. We are most familiar with it in the Delver deck but it is good other places as well. My early work with that idea quickly led me to developing a Blue-Green Wolf Run deck that nearly led me to a PTQ top eight.
After my near miss and a shift in the format, I tried my hand at Delver with Lingering Souls as an edge in the mirror. That project ended quickly with an 0-2 drop from my second PTQ. Since I did not like the deck either, it was easy to step away from Delver.
I revamped my Wolf Run deck for the Star City 5k in Columbus, but the Restoration Angel tech in Delver proved to be much better against my deck than it seemed at first. My record was 3-2 drop and both losses were to Delver variations. They were both close matches and if either my opponents had been slightly less lucky, I would have won the match. Even though a 50-50 match against the best deck seemed decent, especially considering how I smashed basically any other deck, I still put the deck down.
The Next Battleground
The reason I am so concerned with the state of the format right now is because this weekend is the World Magic Cup Qualifier (WMCQ) in Maryland. This is the third and final qualifier for the U.S. and I'm part of a group going to the event. Most of my preparation for this event has been deck building and trying to find something that will consistently beat Delver. I honestly expect close to fifty percent of the field to be playing a version of Delver. Maybe that is not realistic, but at this point, I would be surprised to see any less.
I have tried many different things like Mono-Green Dungrove and various aggressive strategies but none of them perform up to the level that I am comfortable with. I have come up with several viable decks, but none of them are up to winning an event. With the WMCQ, it is like a PTQ in that only first place matters. For this event, I need to pick a deck that is capable of winning the event entirely.
Since picking a deck is no easy task, I have let myself be distracted from my quest to qualify. The main format that has distracted me is Cube Draft. Some might call Cube “real” magic. You are looking at packs with the best cards in Magic and trying to decide which of these awesome cards is the better. It’s like drafting where every card is a first pick.
Playing and thinking about Cube Draft brings you back to the heart of Magic. In my opinion, drafting Cube is comparable to practicing the basics of the game. I think everyone should draft a Cube because it will make you a better player. It will help you evaluate cards more efficiently, play tighter and raise your overall skill level.
Though I may have been practicing the basics of the game, I am still left with no deck for the weekend. I don’t want to leave you hanging so I’ll show you a tentative list I'm working on. Take a look.
Black mana in Wolf Run is nothing new, but it is something we have not seen in quite some time. I doubt I would play any more black cards in the main or sideboard, but adding some additional complexity to your mana base seems worthwhile for Doom Blade.
Doom Blade is positioned to be one of the best cards in Standard at the moment and not many players realize it. It answers Restoration Angel from Delver, titans in the mirror, and Wolfir Silverheart from the myriad decks trying to abuse him. These situations and many more all add up to Doom Blade wrecking a lot of game plans.
Doom Blade versus Go for the Throat in an interesting debate right now. Doom Blade can kill Solemn Simulacrum, Blade Splicer tokens, Wurmcoil Engine and Porcelain Legionnaire. Go for the Throat can kill zombies (although they will come back) and Batterskull tokens.
I think Doom Blade is a little better because zombies' additional abilities make killing them less valuable. But it is close and I would not blame anyone for choosing Go for the Throat.
I hope that Wednesday the 20th we will have some good news about bannings. If that does not happen, there are still other strategies to pursue.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could look forward to a metagame not dominated by Delver? We could finally get excited about Magic 2013 and a new Standard format. I hope that day comes, truly.
Next week, I’ll be back with my tales from the WMCQ and maybe some Magic 2013 cards to start talking about.
Until Next Time,
Unleash your competitive Force!
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