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Resolutions and an Early Look at Born of the Gods

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I'm a little late to the party, but it's a new year and it's high time I set some goals for it. There are a few things on my list of resolutions for my private life, but more importantly there are Magical resolutions to discuss.

2013 wasn't a spectacular year for me with regard to MTG. My results consisted of second place at a PTQ and scattered SCG finishes that add up to one Invitational qualification for this year. Along with however many packs and some locally won Legacy/Modern staples, this doesn't add up to a whole lot. It's something, but this year I'm looking for more.

MOCS

While I've been playing on MTGO for a few years and have been aware of the Magic Online Championship series for as long as it has been a thing, it's nothing that I've ever actively pursued. I'd get to ten-ish QPs in a season but never felt the urge to hunt for the rest. There were a number of factors keeping me away, but this year there are more factors pulling me towards it.

Having access to the majority of the Standard card pool (thanks to Mike Hawthorne and Dana Kinsella) combined with an actual interest in this Standard pool has dramatically increased my online playing. Not only have I found a strategy that I really like, but I also feel like the cards already existing in Standard will naturally lend themselves to Standard staying somewhat similar throughout the course of Theros block.

By this I mean that I find it unlikely that cards more powerful than Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Mutavault and Thoughtseize will be printed to completely redefine the format's pillars. Additionally, until M15 I'm expecting the mana to not get much better in Standard, which also drives things toward evolution rather than dramatic restructuring.

To some, this might sound I'm saying the format will stagnate and am for some reason calling this a good thing- but the point I'm trying to make is that with pillars that are unlikely to change it makes actually investing time and money into Standard feel more rewarding- if Devotion continues to be such a powerful mechanic- if the mana of three color decks continues to be difficult and if Thoughtseize remains unbanned then it won't feel like I have to relearn and completely reinvest every time a new set is released.

The other major factor is that QPs are much easier to come by now. Premier events have returned in high frequency and 8-mans pay out 2 QPs to the winner with you still getting one for losing. Additionally, the five round Standard Championship Qualifiers tied to Theros offer two QPs for 4-1 records and four QPs for 5-0ing. They're a bigger time investment with a higher entry fee than Daily events, but a 3-2 record results in basically breaking even. And if ye be brave enough the qualifier tournaments can be multi-queued with dailies.

This all in mind I've already earned 12 QPs for this season. 15 by the end of the season shouldn't cause me too much trouble. I don't know if I'm feeling ambitious enough to hunt for 35 to be able to skip the preliminaries, but we'll see as the end of the season draws closer.

Resolution- Start Grinding the MOCS

PTQs

Nothing could possibly make a person hungrier for a PT invite than finishing second at a PTQ. This year I'm making it a goal to top 8 some PTQs- ideally scoring an invite along the way. Grinding the MOCS will definitely help with this goal. There's the obvious factor that winning a MOCS will land an invite, but the additional playing will absolutely help step up my game. I've been playing a deck that I believe is very good to good results and I can definitely see things breaking my way on any given Saturday this Standard season. Sadly I'm missing the Wisconsin PTQs, but I have a shot in Iowa, North Dakota and here at home.

In order to get the best odds I'll have to start reading up on Modern as well. The Minneapolis PTQ being Modern is incentive enough, and the PTQ season only adds to this. Just picking up some variant of The Rock or just trying to burn people out seem like the safest options, but I've got a lot of time between when I need to know what to do and now.

Resolution- Produce Good PTQ Results/Try to Qualify

Invitationals

Going into the year with only one qualification doesn't feel spectacular. My general loathing of Standard has hindered my results in the past, but I'm looking to change all that this year. If Red Devotion remains viable post-Born of the Gods, which I suspect it will, I believe this will be a good year for me for Standard.

I don't travel as far for Opens as I used to, and only have one Invitational Qualification limits the number of Standard events I can play, but this year I'll be doing something I haven't done for a long time; Invitational Qualifiers.

The last and only time I played in an IQ was not long after the Jace, the Mind Sculptor banning in Standard. It was a Super IQ which meant that I got to split the finals for a fistful of dollars and a Q. I've only seen regular IQs in the area, which pay all the cash and the invite to the winner... So I guess if I'm going to play these I'll have to win them. Good PTQ practice.

Resolution- Grind IQs. Earn More Than One Invitational Qualification

That seems good enough for one year's work. The last thing that I want to talk about is a few Born of the Gods spoilers. There are only a handful of cards spoiled so far, but a few of them are definitely worth looking at.

Kiora's Follower

If the only thing that drew me to this card were that it got to be in the same deck as Burning Tree Emissary and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx that would be reason enough to be excited. Sure, this doesn't look like it does a lot that Voyaging Satyr doesn't, but a few things come to mind. Two Bow of Nylea activations definitely isn't the worst.

The major reason that I'll be keeping an eye on this card is the Inspired mechanic. If there is an aggressively costed U/G creature with Inspire then I don't see how Kiora's Follower wouldn't see play.

Pain Seer

Speaking of Inspired, Pain Seer is a card that has fast become the topic of some debate. First thing's first- this card is definitely not as good as Dark Confidant. Needing an enabler to draw a card the turn that it's played or to draw a card when opposing threats are larger than x/2 is a significant drawback.

That said, calling this card unplayable is ludicrous. As long as Xathrid Necromancer is legal, this card will at the very least flirt with playability. Frontline Medic also lends itself quite well to mitigating Pain Seer's drawback.

Alternatively, this card might even have a home in Black Devotion. Underworld Connections is already the deck's best card in many matchups, so having another arena-like ability is definitely a boon. It is problematic in that there just not be enough room in the deck to support Pain Seer as well as the removal relevant to keep it active, but it's something that's worth exploring.

Dire Flames

Now here's a card that I can really get behind. The biggest weakness to the Red Devotion strategy is the need to maindeck too many removal spells that can't target players (yes, I know that Dire Flames can't either, but killing Planeswalkers is an upgrade as well)- thus weakening the deck's control matchups. I don't think that cutting any Chained to the Rocks from the main is right, but I've wanted to put the fourth Mizzium Mortars on the sideboard for some time. Dire Flames obviously has less blowout potential, but it has major upside against the following cards:

They're not the most played cards, but upside is upside. Additionally, having access to a card that kills Blood Baron of Vizkopa that can also target Jace/Elspeth is a massive boon. Leaving any Mizzium Mortars against Esper feels pretty terrible, but kind of necessary as of now. One or two copies of Dire Flames in the 75 makes the Blood Baron dilemma much easier.

How I would love for this card to deal six damage, but you just can't have it all.

One More Thing

The other thing about Born of the Gods spoilers that is definitely worth discussing is the confirmed absence of the BG and UR scrylands. Most two color decks want access to four scrylands, four Ravnica duals and even a couple guildgates to boot. Not only are scrylands just plainly better than gates, but they're also more or less necessary to fully support two-color decks.

The absence of the BG land will continue to make the green splash in Black Devotion awkward. This is great news for Chained to the Rocks players, as it limits the likely quantities of Abrupt Decays and Golgari Charms in a given tournament. Those cards RW's matchup against Black dramatically worse, and the lack of improvement in the mana department does a lot for the RW deck's relative power-level and longevity in the format.

Interestingly, the BG scryland and all the enchantment hate it brings with it will be released at the same time as the UR scryland, which I believe will ultimately make it less relevant. More Abrupt Decays will certainly make Boros aggro worse, but when the UR scryland is available I find it pretty likely that Fanatic of Mogis decks will be more inclined to play Turn/Burn than Chained to the Rocks. Of course, I'm getting way ahead of myself here. Interesting to think about though.

That's all for me this week. I've got QPs to grind! Good luck to everybody with their own resolutions, and thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf

31 thoughts on “Resolutions and an Early Look at Born of the Gods

  1. Two of the tribute creatures (the Gruul Loxodon Smiter and the phoenix) seem pretty good. So is the Infest with scry 1. I believe the mana for multicolor decks should be a bit better because of more scrylands – Bant for example will have all three.

    1. I am intrigued by the 1RG 3/3 trampler, and the scry 1 Infest will almost assuredly see play.

      The Phoenix was the only one of these spoiled at the time that I wrote this and I think it faces the problem of not having an available home. I think that most of the time a 3/3 haste that keeps coming back or a 5/5 would be a solid four for a red deck, but the competition is steep. In Red Devotion they compete directly with Fanatic of Mogis and Stormbreath Dragon- both of which I’d rather have- and it doesn’t seem conducive to the strategy to cut anything less expensive for them. And if we’re talking about different red decks I don’t see it fitting in monsters either because it’s no Polukranos. Maybe it will find a home, but I’m doubtful.

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