Jason’s Archives: Writing the Second Half Twice

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Greetings, Spectators!

Does anyone even remember why I call this "Jason's Archives?" At this point it's become almost vestigial; a title I've always used so I continue to, despite it losing its contextual significance. It's the appendix of article titles, but I'm fond of it and you guys really can't do a thing to stop me.

On the topic of "things you can't stop me from doing," I'm going to spend the whole time talking about coverage, with one small exception. Let's get going because I want to get this done in time to watch the Blackhawks embarrass the Wings at the Joe in front of a sold out crowd.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

Wizards pulled something I consider a dick move.

Shut up, Corbin Dallas

This ain't your daddy's Dark Confidant. Specifically, they managed to combine an iconic card art, based on the likeness of an Invitational winner and turn it into utter steaming garbage by using an artist whose art I like. I like Sriracha, and I like a banana split on a hot summer day, but this is like I decided to mix Sriracha and a banana split and while I was mixing them in a bowl, a dog did awful things in my mouth.

In my view, it's a silly idea to alter an invitational winner's card's art if you reprint it. Add to that the fact that Voidmage Prodigy was reprinted with alternate art (also a picture of Kai) and they didn't dare alter the art on [card Shadowmage Infiltrator]Johnny Magic[/card] when he saw a reprint and you have a slighting of Bob Maher that reminds us of the time they cast Gender Bender on Chris Pikula. To quote to great philosopher Carl Brutanunanulewski, "I don't remember always being this old and black."

To cast Sowing Salt on top of Stab Wound, Wizards made Bob Maher himself write the article announcing the new fugly art. To my mind, that's akin to your wife making you give her paramour a ride home after you catch the two of them in bed. What's wrong, Wizards? Firing him and burning down his house didn't seem like enough of a dick move?

Maybe, but if they had kept Bob's art the same, we'd be talking about how Chris Pikula was slighted, not how Chris Pikula and Bob Maher were slighted -- a conversation that takes more than twice as long. I say damned if you do, less damned if you don't.

Who the Hell is Rob Castellon?

Some people don't watch coverage. They check the Top 8 of the PT, see it's super stacked and then look at the decklists. Since this was a Block PT they pay even less attention to even the decklists. Those people missed. The hell. Out.

I loved him in Ratatouille

We were treated to an interview with Rob Castellon where we learned some staggering facts about the man.

  • He's a Level 2 Judge
  • He was asked to judge a PTQ but forgot to confirm, so he decided to play the event. He won.
  • He went 8-0 on Day 1
  • He referred to his deck as "Deadbride Chant Control". Not bad for a "glorified Staff of Nim" (your words, not mine or his)
  • He hates EDH. We learned this when he said so in an interview. An interview with Sheldon Menery.
  • He's much more ripe for memery than that crazy fundy Chuck Norris

Rob fell in the Top 8, but we spent the whole weekend in awe of a relative unknown (outside of everyone who interacted with him in his judging, which is most of us) entering the Top 8 tied with Craig Wescoe, the event's winner.

He was the Cinderella story of the weekend, and with that inspiring tale, coupled with production value that increases with each event, Magic PT coverage is actually a legitimate spectacle. I spent much of the weekend glued to it.

We'll talk a bit about decks later, but I'd be remiss if I didn't get Rob talk out of the way up top.

I got your financial relevance right here.


 If You Support It, They Will Come

366 players played in Michigan's Spring States competition. Not bad for a weekend that had other state competitions, the PT and an SCG event, and oh yea, it was Game Day.

Try having states be a TCG Player 5K. That gets butts in seats.

While we're on the subject of the (inferior) PA states, one my friends took it down.

76 players or not, they still played an absurd seven rounds before cut top Top 8. 76 players or not, Josh was still X-1 on the day. I don't have a list, but I imagine it's still that silly Jund list that splashes Aurelia's Fury and Lingering Souls (he just told me on Twitter it's just Jund colored but I still don't have a list). Way to grind, Josh.

Something Awesome Happened and That Wasn't the Best Part

Casting Notion Thief isn't that exciting in Standard. It can be exciting if you cast it in response to your opponent using Jace, the Mind Sculptor's "brainstorm".

It's even more exciting on camera at an SCG Open. People react like they've just seen the Crane Kick at the end of "The Karate Kid".

Skip to 12:27:30. NSFW- balls-punching

I didn't think it was as great as most people did, because while this is an epic blowout, it's literally the only utility for Notion Thief I considered acceptable. It was fun to watch, sure, but I don't think it was the best part.

Go back and watch the judge's reaction.

I've roomed with Jeph Foster a few times at various events and he is excellent value. I was delighted to wake up this morning and find this all over Facebook.

Sure, watching someone get blown out by a Notion Thief is good. But you have to admit that seeing a friend turned into a meme is better.

Didn't You Just Do Event Coverage?

I know, right? It sure feels that way, but now I'm going to do the boring decklist recaps only half of you read.

PT Dragon's Maze Decks

This was a PT that involved Block decks. Instead of talking about the Block metagame, which I consider somewhat irrelevant, let's look at specific cards and interactions because those could translate to Standard post-rotation. That's not always the case -- Innistrad block saw the banning of Intangible Virtue after all, a card not even good enough to play in more than one or two decks in Standard.

Advent of the Wurm is great in Block, and was featured in PT winner Craig Wescoe's deck, among many others. It's a combat trick, it's an efficient dude, it's a token to populate -- this card underwhelmed me at first but I bought a few since my co-host MarcelMTG was so excited. I'm glad I did -- Advent trades around $10 before events start. If you can still buy in around $5 still, don't miss the opportunity.

Ætherling has people talking. I think what they're saying is wrong, though. I don't care how exciting Ætherling is, and it's certainly exciting, control finishers don't end up worth a million bucks when they're two-ofs and not mythic. Ætherling features almost exclusively in heavy control decks where it competes for slots with planeswalkers. I don't think buying in at $5 is correct. I just don't see it becoming very expensive unless Standard starts to look a lot like Block did, with lots of Esper control. If Ætherling manages to translate to midrange a bit better and get played a bit more than a two-of, be prepared to buy in quickly, but I'm not holding my breath.

Voice of Resurgence is obviously nutty in Block. It's Modern-playable and I can't imagine it won't get played in Standard. It's trading at an absurd $40, but Jace, Architect of Thought was $50 and now it's $10 so let's have some perspective.

Speaking of Jace, SCG cranked the price to $15 this weekend. This could be a Block bump, but expect him to do more work after rotation.

I see a lot of Assemble the Legion. I've always liked this card. I will continue to like it, and continue to have a few hundred copies, waiting for it to hit $5 or so. Expect this to do work soon. Expect Ratchet Bomb to be pretty useless against it.

I can't believe how much Blood Baron of Vizkopa is going for. I saw Divinity of Pride but a lot of people saw Baneslayer Angel. This card is artificially high, but I don't expect it to go down, rather I expect rotation to make the card better and therefore likely to retain much of its value. This card does work. Its static ability isn't super-relevant outside of EDH, but a pseudo-evasive lifelinker is strong.

Varolz, the Scar-Striped may be the maze runner most likely to be worth money. These went up to $6 this weekend. I think Ruric Thar, the Unbowed has potential, too. We have a lot of Sphinx's Revelation legality to deal with.

With a lot of Naya Humans' cards rotating, expect Precinct Captain to finally get the play it should have been getting. A lot of UW control decks played this as the only creature. It kills bigger creatures, punishes slow control draws and builds an army. This guy does work, and with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Silverblade Paladin and Champion of the Parish all rotating, expect White Weenie to need recruits.

Civic Saber is going to spike from five to six cents.

Alms Beast is bulk. You can't lose if you go deep on bulk rares. Rob Castellon did work with this guy and I think we may finally have a format with fewer chump blockers where Alms Beast backed by removal will get the job done in a few swings.

Sire of Insanity is still insane, and expect to see it paired with Deadbridge Chant. It's quite good.

Let's take the Block cards with a grain of salt. They won't all hit, but some will be role players moving forward. I'd like it if Scion of Vitu-Ghazi got there. I couldn't convince anyone how good it was with Séance, but Armada Wurm, [card Trostani, Selesnyas Voice]Trostani[/card] and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage are all stupid with tokens and now we have Advent of the Wurm on the team.

As savage as it was to populate a token copy of Armada Wurm with Trostani, thus gaining 20 life and keeping 15 power of creatures permanently, a lack of imagination won the day and Seance's ship has all but sailed. Expect GW Populate to be a player, however, and expect fringe cards like Rootborn Defenses to do more work. Once again, Block isn't always the best indicator (nearly every Block deck was splashing red for Blasphemous Act a bit over a year ago) but expect to see good cards to still be good going forward.

SCG Nashville

I am not even bothering with a clever title. I hate playing in Nashville. The city is fine, but they can't seem to find a decent venue with onsite parking and as funny as it would be for Ryan Bushard's heart to explode because he had to walk two miles in 70 degree heat with a 40 pound bag, no it actually wouldn't. The last time we went to an event at Opreyland I thought he might actually die. No SCG Open is worth it, especially since we won't be selling any cards.

SCG Nashville decks

Can I just ignore the seven decks that aren't this one? I'd sure like to. This is a pile of good stuff. This decks loses all of its pressure to rotation, but I think there are equivalent threats that can easily be slotted in. I don't know what they are, but that's not really my job anyway. The other Top 8 decks bore me, but this is a fun brew, it clearly was good enough since it made Top 8 and it could show what a control deck might look like going forward, albeit with fewer creatures as the [card Restoration Angel]Resto[/card]-[card Thragtusk]Tusk[/card] package rotates along with [card Huntmaster of the Fells]Huntmaster[/card].

This deck isn't the worst, either and it shows that Desecration Demon might be viable. I've started targeting Demon as it's practically bottomed out at bulk at this point. In a format with fewer creatures and more spells, expect Demon to do work if you can keep it alive. Rakdos, Lord of Riots may be the better 6/6 for four, but Desecration Demon is mono-colored and therefore more flexible. Disciple of Bolas never really caught on, which sucks because we may be about to lose it. Granted, fewer creatures makes sacrifice effects worse, but I feel like Disciple never got a chance.

The rest of the Top 8 we could have actually guessed. 2 +/-1 Reanimator decks? Affirmative! 2 +/-1 Naya decks? Roger! 2 +/-1 Jund decks? Right again! 2 +/-1 metagame brews? Right again. This is getting too predictable to be exciting. The lists haven't changed much, either, besides the decks I already mentioned.

This could be a weird rotation, though. It's mid-May and people are asking me for [card Olivia Voldaren]Olivia[/card], Thragtusk, [card Falkenrath Aristocrat]Falkenrath[/card] and [card Thundermaw Hellkite]Thundermaw[/card] -- stuff I dumped a while ago because it seems like it's too close to rotation to pick it up. People seem like they are going to play these cards up until the last second and prices haven't gone down ahead of rotation the way I'd expected. You may have longer than ever before to dump cards because more people than ever are playing this children's game. Trade accordingly -- you may not want to avoid format staples for another week or two, although you should probably trade for Legacy and Modern cards. I am.

Legacy isn't dead yet. In addition to Justin Uppal getting curb-stomped by event winner Lauren Nolan's Notion Thief, the event featured the return of Natural Order to the Top 8.

No Show and Tell decks in the Top 8?

I'll probably use this a lot

Finally, stupid Show and Tell is banished from the Top 8. How many Rug Delver decks? That'd be a big fat goose egg.

Pet deck of the week goes to Tezzerator. The deck is Tier 3 and I don't think it's correct to move on Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, but it's fun to see some familiar faces in the Top 8 we haven't seen in a while.

Lots of Blade decks in the Top 8 here. I can't credit Dragon's Maze too much since there aren't a ton of Dragon's Maze cards being used and we've seen no new archetypes with this card pool (it revolutionized Modern, though, so I imagine Wizards is going to stop creating cards for Legacy). Blade decks are making use of Notion Thief, though, and when you do get to do the only thing it's good for (pants someone who just brainstormed) you'll be hard-pressed to lose that game. No finance opportunity here, it will never be more than a one-of. Grab Japanese foils, I guess.

Let's talk about NO Bant again. I don't have much, I just wanted to point out that Knight of the Reliquary decks can still get there. I may sound like a blasphemer but I think Natural Order into Keeper of Progenitus is much more brutal than Sneak Attack into [card Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]Emrakul[/card]. I've seen plenty of people shrug off that Sneak Attack from the Flying Spaghetti Monster and come back to win the game. Progenitus has to be raced and that pretty much ends the list of options.

Two ANT decks? I was surprised until I remembered Adam Prosak wasn't at the PT. This is a fluke, but this deck has always been a real thing. Any given Sunday, right?

The bottom half of the Top 16 contains the usual suspects we expect in the Top 8. I like Reanimator, but I like to jam four copies of Chancellor of the Annex. It's much better than you think. I'd like for this tech to catch on, but I can't see how to get it out there, short of actually sleeving up a deck, which I don't see happening anytime soon.

I think if Legacy gets new cards, it will be by accident. Legacy is going to stop changing as rapidly as it has been, so while investments will stabilize with a less dynamic metagame, the overall health of the format being in question casts a shadow on these cards as investments. If you can trade format staples into collectible cards like duals and power, you may want to do so. I wouldn't have money tied up in Show and Tells if I have the choice between those and Force of Will.

I'm Done

I never know how to end these things. Some weeks I can think of a way to relate the outro to something I said earlier, but this week I think I'll just leave you all hanging. Life is full of disappointment folks, and it's best you learned that now. Besides, no matter how bad your weekend went, at least no one cast Notion Thief on your Brainstorm.

26 thoughts on “Jason’s Archives: Writing the Second Half Twice

  1. Great article. And I love the new meme. I agree with Chancellor of the Annex too (I used to run it in my reanimator build), nothing like an uncounterable force spike/daze to let you turn 1. Another great Reanimator traget….Frost Titan…I’ve won the mirror with that guy THROUGH a re-animated Iona naming black…cause good Ol’ Frosty is castable.

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