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Insider: Brewing Origins

Mike-Lanigan QS Magic the Gathering MTG

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The sun is shining today for the first time in a while, the animals are out and going about their business, and the fresh air is blowing through your hair. Summer may have greeted us already, but the summer fun is just about to begin.

We were given a brilliant gift this past weekend with Magic Origins and it surpassed my highest expectations. The Limited format can be brutally fast but it’s a ton of fun. There are so many interesting things you can do in the format and many mouth-watering new treats to try.

Last week I detailed my Top 10 list for the set and after playing with and against some of the cards on the list, I can’t wait to see them impact Standard. My main focus this week will be on decks you will almost certainly see at your events this weekend.

First up is the G/B Elves deck that I mentioned in last week’s article, with some key changes.

First of all, it’s important to note that no matter what version of this deck you are playing, there isn’t a list of possible options. The majority of elves legal in Standard came from Magic Origins so we don’t have a huge list of possibilities like we do with some decks, like Jeskai Aggro for example. So, we will need to examine each successful deck carefully because while the changes may seem minimal, they can allow the deck to play dramatically different. That is certainly the case with the changes I’ll be suggesting today.

After spending some time with the new cards, I don’t think that Thornbow Archer is the type of threat we are looking for. With eight one-cost mana accelerants, we are looking to accelerate rather than start attacking quickly. If we get more elves in future sets, we may need to revisit the amazing elven archer, but as for now, I think he’s best on the sidelines.

The other major change is the exclusion of Collected Company. For many, I think this direction will be met with skepticism, but I think it’s essential for the deck to be a real contender.

There are many reasons that our green card advantage spell doesn’t belong in this deck. The first is to make room for Chord of Calling. Even though these two powerful green spells aren’t at odds with each other, there isn’t really enough room in this deck for both strategies. Without the other reasons on this list, we could probably find room for both cards in this list, but let’s move on and talk more about why it doesn’t belong.

Magic Origins has given us a whole competitive deck within this one set, but we do have to abide by the constraints it has given us as well. One of those constraints is that some of the most powerful cards in the archetype cost four mana. Both of these four costs are essential to success in my eyes. Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen and Sylvan Messenger offer extremely important things to this deck. The elves are in dire need of a power boost and we do need card advantage to survive against the proficient removal spells legal in the format.

We can’t have both of these cards in the deck while we are playing Collected Company though. They don’t work well together because you can’t grab them when you cast Company and there’s no way a deck with tons of four-drops will work out well.

For Elves to be successful, I think we need to focus on Chord of Calling rather than Collected Company. This allows us to run some silver bullets, but more importantly, it helps us find Shaman of the Pack more reliably. As our most threatening weapon, we want to get as many Shamans into play every game as possible. Occasionally Company will help with this, but Chord can always assist with this line of play.

I’m still not certain that Hero's Downfall belongs in this deck and that spot is my biggest uncertainty moving forward, but I’m excited to try out this version. It’s explosive, has lots of card advantage, tutor spells, and a potency that is rarely seen with tribal decks in Standard. Let me know in the comments what you think of Collected Company vs. Chord of Calling.

Up next we have another deck where making any small changes has a huge impact on how the deck plays. One change that is huge for this deck is the addition of Collected Company. By this point, everyone knows that green mana is typically found splashing around these islands, but not enough spotlight shines on this addition.

Unlike with Elves, Collected Company is at its best in this deck. One of the most important cards in the deck is Shorecrasher Elemental. The triple blue spell wasn’t enough on its own to revitalize the archetype, but it is still one of your ideal hits from Company. To add to that, we now have two other cards that are amazing when you get them with Company. Both Harbinger of the Tides and Bounding Krasis are new additions to the deck from Magic Origins and they are excellent cards for your Company.

I couldn’t have asked for anything better than Harbinger of the Tides. Not only is the double blue critical for our devotion strategy, but its ability is exactly what I’ve thought the deck needed to make its comeback. Mono-Blue Devotion is like Rocky. He’s never out and even when he seems like he’s down, he gets back up and keeps fighting. This version of the deck does exactly that.

I love that even if this deck falls behind, it has tools to help it get back into the game and these two new creatures are a huge part of that. In one of my sealed pools, I was lucky enough to have both of these cards and they over-performed all event for me. I expect that to be the same in Standard.

One of the biggest traps this deck has fallen into is Silumgar Sorcerer. This comment may catch a lot of flak, but I feel strongly about this topic. I agree that the card is good, but this deck is not its home. The last thing you want to be doing with this deck is sacrificing your own resources to slow your opponent down. This deck wins by snowballing and flooding the board with threats your opponent can’t deal with. Sorcerer is the opposite of that strategy.

The part about this creature countering something your opponent is trying to do is important though and luckily we have a new card to play from Origins.

Unlike Silumgar Sorcerer, our innocent looking Clash of Wills can counter anything our opponent is trying to do to disrupt our strategy. Sorcerer only prevents creatures from hitting the board and while that is helpful, Clash of Wills is the real truth and in the future we will likely look back fondly on a time before it was in the format.

When a two-mana counter exists in the format, it puts a constraint on the format that many players are unprepared for. Now we have two. As long as you are playing dragons, you can play Silumgar's Scorn as well as our new X counter. This counter fits perfectly into the latest iteration of our friendly blue aggro deck because we have so many things to do at instant speed, our opponents won’t know what to play around. You could be leaving mana open for a number of different effects and they can’t anticipate them all. This makes Clash of Wills a potent tool for this deck.

Finally, our last innocent hero that needs mention is Faerie Miscreant. In the past, we have played a long list of unassuming one-cost flyers in this deck to enable the devotion strategy. I’ve come to terms with the fact that we will never get a card like Cloudfin Raptor to add powerful aggressive lines to the deck. The need for some number of one-costs exists though.

With the inclusion of green mana into the deck, we don’t have room for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and that makes Hypnotic Siren much worse. Another reason to play Faerie Miscreant is because occasionally they will allow us to draw additional cards. This may seem like a small change, swapping one-mana flyers, but again, little changes like this optimize the deck and help make it the sharpest weapon to defeat our foes.

The last deck I want to discuss is close to a version that recently ended in 6th place at SCG Baltimore. Even before Origins, this Goblins deck was able to be successful. Now that we have Goblin Piledriver, I think this deck can really take off. I’m not convinced that this is the best version of the deck, but I think it’s close.

I removed Monastery Swiftspear from the original version for the differently powerful Goblin Glory Chaser. After seeing this card in action, I remembered how great the menace ability was on Stormblood Berserker. The difference between two and three power is enormous but I think two power is strong enough that we will be chasing glory in Standard.

My largest alteration to the deck is cutting down on the spell count to make room for one of my favorite cards for the archetype, Subterranean Scout. Everything about this card is amazing in this tribal deck. You can play it on turn two to trigger renown, which is great. More goblins is never a bad thing and having every creature in the deck synergizing with the tribal strategy is marvelous.

The hidden gem with this card is in its ability to make your Goblin Rabblemaster and Goblin Piledriver into ninjas that sneak over and destroy any unsuspecting opponent. No more throwing pawns in the way of our powerful warriors because with the Subterranean Scout, we can sneak right under their defenses for maximum damage. This doesn’t work if you have an Obelisk of Urd in play, but if that’s the case, you are likely winning that game anyway.

Wrap Up

What else are we likely to see in week one of the Origins metagame? It seems likely that players will be bringing a lot of new cards to battle, but typically players go with what works. That means Abzan Aggro and Abzan Midrange will still be all over the place, as well as all the various Megamorph decks.

I think we are likely to see players adopt Nissa, Vastwood Seer into any and all of these decks. She plays well with all of these green midrange strategies and provides another way to take over the late game. Our new green planeswalker seems innocent at first, but seeing her in action once is all you’ll need to adopt her into your green deck.

Uncertainty surrounds Languish. Players need to decide if that card is maindeck-worthy or not. The unique four-mana sweeper is excellent against the three decks I have suggested as new additions to the metagame, however playing it maindeck will leave you with a dead card in some matchups. Results will tell us how this situation pans out, but my inclination is that it will become a potent sideboard card and a one- or two-of in Siege Rhino decks so their finishers can live through it.

There are two other decks that are a big question mark for me. The main issue in my mind is that although I’ve spent some time brewing decks focused on artifacts and enchantments, I haven’t ended up with any decks worthy of playtesting. There are lots of versions written down in my notebook but none of them seemed good enough to test out.

My initial theory based on this work is that these decks don’t have enough tools to impact the metagame. This is almost certainly the case with U/R Artifacts. It seems like we are missing one or two cards to make that deck work.

As far as where enchantments stand, I really thought the dynamic duo of Sigil of the Empty Throne and Starfield of Nyx would be such a great team that they would force their way into the meta. That is still possible, but I’m not sure what that deck would look like. We could definitely slip a couple copies of each card into Abzan Constellation and that would probably be alright, but there may be a more dedicated enchantment deck out there too.

Unlike the past couple of sets, Magic Origins looks to have tons of impactful cards for Standard. There are plenty of cards I didn’t talk about that could impact the format as well. Although I won’t be able to play Magic this weekend, I’m excited to watch some coverage and break down the results next week.

Until next time,
Unleash the Origins Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

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