'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house,
Not a Magic Player was stirring, not even a mouse;
The five rows were placed by the chimney with care,
In hopes that new cards soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of running hot danc'd in their heads,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Magical Christmasland right over there,
There were combos and four-of’s of all your best cards,
And only your opponents’ strategy was falling in shards,
Curving out was no longer a dream,
And your opponent just needed one more land it would seem,
You tore through the competition, so lively and quick,
Leaving your opponent saying, “Man that’s so sick,”
More rapid than eagles the spectators they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and cheered your name,
There were whispers among the crowd about how far you would go,
But you paused the match to say, “I’ll be the next pro,”
"To the top of the standings! to the top eight!
"Now win the event, you don’t have to wait!"
How did you come up with the deck, they will say,
Conley Woods has nothing on me today,
As you crush it in the final round,
Screams of exultation resound.
He sprung to his friends, to his team gave a whistle,
And to him they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere they walked out of sight-
Happy Pro Tour to all, and to all a good night.
Magical Xmasland is a wonderful place filled with everything working out in our favor and games that play out exactly the way we have theorized. Some of us have been fortunate enough to reside there, if only for a short while. Being in that place is the perfect storm of the universe conspiring on your behalf.
The times I've experienced it have been under the following circumstances: relatively few mulligans and mana issues, some number of free wins due to my opponent having issues, few or zero mistakes in my play, and battling with a powerful, unexpected deck usually of my own design.
This past summer crushing the TCG Platinum event with BWR Humans and only falling in the finals to extreme mulligans was the closest I've come to to Magical Xmasland. After all, destroying the field with a deck featuring Increasing Devotion must be a dream.
It's fun to take a walk through Magical Xmasland once in a while, but sometimes we're oblivious to the fact that we are strolling there. Often times, the brewers of the world only recognize we ended up in a fairy tale land when looking back through the rearview mirror upon the sequence of events that landed you there.
Over the past month, in an effort to be interesting and fresh with Standard, I found myself in places I did not intend to be. This discovery can come as quite a shock when you reflect on having said things like "it seems like I come so close to winning," or "everytime I try to get the right combination of cards in play, my opponent always has the answer." These words, or ones similar to them, are dangerous to your success so beware.
Take a look at the decks I tried that ended up being too good to be true.
The BUG Prophet
by Mike Lanigan
BUG Midrange has been a pet deck of mine that I have been tinkering with, but it doesn't ever seem to quite work out. All of the elements are there to beat essentially every deck in the format, but the matchups against them are not as easy as my theory suggested.
It may be that Prophet of Kruphix and Prime Speaker Zegana are not powerful or consistent enough to be good. Against many decks I found Prime Speaker to be extremely subpar, but against others she was an all-star.
If I were going to continue my work on this deck, I would look towards Kibler's Golgari Midrange deck. There might be alterations I'd make even to that list, like adding Nightveil Specter, but the deck might be better off without blue.
by Mike Lanigan
Anytime you sleeve up auras in your deck, you have to know that you are asking to get blown out by the right sequence of cards. Sometimes your opponent will crush you with seemingly no effort at all because you drew too many creatures and not enough auras or vice versa. If you are drawing hot though, it may seem as if nothing in the universe can stop you.
All-in decks like this can obliterate opponents and leave you feeling unstoppable, but at the same time, can also leave you in a pile on the floor utterly defeated. These sentiments were my exact feelings after playing with the deck through a couple local events.
R/b Devotion Aggro
by Mike Lanigan
Same great Mono-Red Devotion, but with a lower curve! To top it off, after you curve out on turn four you can make your opponent discard their hand with Rakdos's Return. One aspect of the deck that is an upgrade from the original version of red devotion is that mana from Burning-Tree Emissary can actually cast other cards in your deck. R/b Devotion Aggro is like Red Deck Wins that can also generate a huge Delayed Blast Fireball to finish your opponent.
by Mike Lanigan
Sick of your opponent killing all of your creatures? Start sacrificing them for benefit! This deck is built to maximize the impact of Xathrid Necromancer. Your strategy hinges on this one card so use those Thoughtseizes to protect it.
Sacrificing your board for the Blood Bairn kill is the best way to win with this deck, but saccing everything to Barrage of Expendables is also satisfying.
With Xathrid Necromancer, you can sacrifice your creatures twice for double the damage! Don't tell anyone, but when you have two Xathrid Necromancers in play, they both trigger and you get two zombies for each human that dies. They will never see it coming, until the zombie hoard overwhelms them.
Big Black Devotion
by Mike Lanigan
Now that's devotion. I have actually seen players attempt this strategy outside Magical Xmasland, but we all know what happens. Sure Abhorrent Overlord is busted with a sick Nykthos draw, but the other nine out of ten times it sits in your hand rotting away or turns into a Pack Rat just like every other card in your hand.
Same dominating Mono-Black Devotion, more powerful, but much less consistent. Noticing the drastic inconsistency in your deck is a great way to realize you are in a fantasy world, but it's rather hard to except that fact because we dwell on how epic those times the strategy actually worked.
In reality, this version is not as good as the stock list you can copy from anywhere around the internet. If you want to have a fun happy time and crush a couple players with a giant army of flyers though, this is the deck for you!
by Mike Lanigan
Have you ever thought to yourself, man I wish lifegain was actually good? Have you tried to develop your own lifegain deck and gain so much life your opponents could never catch up, but failed everytime?
Well search no more, because have I got the deck for you!
Not only does Nylea's Disciple gain you nearly ten life every time you cast it, but it also makes your Blood Baron of Vizkopa into a 10/10 flying monster! With this patented lifegain strategy, you can win every game with Blood Baron of Vizkopa flying over your opponent's army to victory or Archangel of Thune making your army enormous.
All of your cards are strong on their own, so don't worry about drawing too many lifegain cards (like that could ever happen), and not enough big finishers. There are even a couple removal spells to disrupt your opponent and Garruk, Caller of Beasts to draw more lifegain dudes.
In all seriousness for a moment, I did actually want to play a deck like this at FNM. Luckily fate had it that we were sold out of Archangel of Thune and I did not succumb to the desire. Sure would be fun when it works though.
Archangel of Thune might actually be a real card if it finds a home in a deck somewhere. The M14 angel might die to every black removal spell in sight, but even if it hits once, any opponent is in serious trouble.
by Mike Lanigan
Finally on our tour around the wild world of Magical Xmasland, we have a deck so many players wish was still good, Junk Reanimator. This deck is so vastly unsuccessful that it took me an hour to find a good list to start from.
The deck is not actually bad, it's just not the tier-one monstrosity like its predecessor from last season. The real problem with this strategy is you cannot keep up with the devotion decks flooding the board with permanents and overwhelming you. There is not room in a deck like this for enough removal to keep the devotion in check and also carry out your own game plan. You can do one or the other but not both.
In this version I attempted to do both by including Shadowborn Demon and Angel of Serenity to slow down your opponent's board development. Considering how close to playable this strategy is, I would keep it in mind in the future when a larger card pool is available in Standard.
Thanks for joining me in Magical Xmasland today. Maybe you saw a glimmer of what could be and will turn one of these ideas into a tournament-caliber deck. There are always new and interesting options available to you. Explore every nook and cranny.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Magical Xmasland Force!
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