Innovating Near Rotation: What’s Your Angle?

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As we get closer to Standard rotating, players spend less time developing new decks. By this point in the season, everyone usually has a deck or two they're used to. More time goes into tweaking existing decks than trying to build something completely new. This is quite understandable.

For those of us unsatisfied with where the format is, this is the perfect time to innovate. There are more players bringing the best decks to each event and fewer bringing rogue decks. When this happens it is much easier to build a deck to beat the expected field.

The three big archetypes you need to prepare for are Delver, Zombies, and Green-based aggro (Monogreen, Green-Red, and Naya with or with out Birthing Pod). That may seem like a diverse array of decks but they are all just aggressive strategies that try to win the game as fast as possible. They have a weakness in common which we can exploit. They all have a hard time beating a wrath effect.

Last weekend, Reid Duke won the Standard porting of Starcity Games DC with a deck similar to what I was advocating earlier in the season, Wolf Run Blue. For my perspective on the deck take a look at these two articles here and here. Reid's deck went in a different direction than mine with the main difference being four copies of Temporal Mastery. This is the list he ran.

Wolf Run Blue by Reid Duke
2nd Place in Starcity Games Open D.C.

Reid's angle was to kill his opponents' creatures with Bonfire of the Damned, play a titan, then follow up with Temporal Mastery to close the game.

One main point in the decks favor was how unexpected it was. No one saw this deck coming or knew how to play against it. He beat some extremely good opponents throughout the course of this event and playing a rogue deck helped him accomplish that feat.

Wolf Run Blue is still a great choice right now so if you are still eager to cast your Primeval Titans, this is the deck for you.

The Brews

As I mentioned above, a large part of the format is creature-based aggressive strategies. We can exploit this by building a control deck designed to fight against those decks.

I have two new decks to talk about today. Both of them may need some tweaks but they are quite good at what they do.

Updating Solar Flare

The first deck is basically an Esper Control/Solar Flare hybrid deck. The funny part is that I didn't arrive at this list by starting with either of those decks. I started this deck with four Terminus and three Day of Judgment and developed the deck from there.

Solar Flare Esper Control

This is not your typical Esper Control deck and it plays much differently. The spells you want to cast in the early game are Aerial Responder, Phantasmal Image and Lingering Souls. Think Twice and Thought Scour are in the deck to set up Terminus as an instant so they should be saved for the midgame. Aerial Responder also helps with this. Don't be afraid to use your [card Snapcaster Mage]Snapcaster[/card] on turn three to flash back Aerial Responder either.

[card Sorin, Lord of Innistrad]Sorin[/card] may seem a bit out of place but his role is important. The best time to play him is as follow up to one of your wrath effects but he also acts as a pseudo-finisher by pumping your tokens to lethal range. Ideally you want to set up an instant speed Terminus on your opponents turn and then play Sorin on your turn, a sequence that will win you most games.

On the note of this not being a typical control deck, there are no Mana Leaks. Cavern of Souls keeps making Mana Leak worse and worse. The only countermagic I would suggest is Negate in the sideboard or possibly Mental Misstep.

In my article last week I mentioned the power of Terminus right now. This deck abuses that power quite well and with Day of Judgment for back up, your opponent will have a hard time keeping creatures on the board.

This deck plays out much differently than you may be used to. For example, even if you can miracle a Terminus, if you have two Phantasmal Images in play, it may be better to look for a Day of Judgment so you put them in your graveyard rather than on the bottom of your library. Little things like that can drastically improve how well the deck plays.

Finally, this deck wins a lot of games by flashing back a bunch of Lingering Souls late in the game. If you have done a good job clearing the board for most of the game, a couple spirit tokens can easily put it away.

Naya Trading Post Control

If you thought that last deck was rogue, prepare yourself for this crazy little number.

Naya Trading Post Control

The primary objective of this deck is to kill absolutely everything your opponent plays. After that, it should be fairly easy to wrap up the game with both halves of Devils Play and some Staff of Nin activations.

Speaking of the staff, I think it is one of the most underrated cards from Magic 2013. If you had to play against it in a sealed event, then you caught a glimpse of how powerful it can be. Six mana is a lot, but drawing an extra card per turn should not be underestimated. With your removal keeping the board clear, the staff begins to limit your opponents options since they can no longer rely on any creature with one toughness.

Balduvian Trading Post gives you a variety of options each game but mostly it functions as a draw engine with the wellsprings.

Only three creatures may seem like a risk, but this deck harkens back to the classic control decks of Magic history that used to kill with as many (or fewer) win conditions. By playing no other creatures, you shut down your opponent's removal and obtain some virtual card advantage.

This deck is well-positioned to take down the format. It's possible that Terminus belongs in it as well, but as you can tell from this and last week's article, my perspective on the card may be a little skewed. The biggest question I have is about the inclusion of Pillar of Flame. Considering the plethora of other removal in the deck, I'm not certain it's necessary. If it were to come out, more artifacts may be a good idea to further support Balduvian Trading Post.

Both of these control decks are designed for one specific purpose: to defeat the creature decks dominating Standard right now. My schedule is extremely busy in the next month so I am not certain how much time I will have to play Standard. If you test out these decks or have suggestions, please post them in the comments below.

I know these decks are not your typical fare, but that is intentional. With so many cards legal in Standard, now is the time to innovate. Do not let the lull between rotation drag you down; use this time to be on the cutting edge.

Until next time,

Unleash the Rogue Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

14 thoughts on “Innovating Near Rotation: What’s Your Angle?

  1. I play a lot of esper control and I found one of my best changes was removing the fast lands for buddy lands and basics. Drawing a fast land on turn 6 when you should be dropping a Titan is crippling wheras not having the mana on T1 is rarely a problem. With more basics you’re often getting your T1 mana anyways.

    I would drop the 5 fast lands for 2 glacial caverns 2 drowned catacombs and an island. And cut 2 swamps for 2 more islands. It’s been very effective for me.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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