Insider: Quebec City Brings Some New Standard Lists (Finally)

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Dark Jeskai, at least the name for the deck isn't half-bad. If it's going to make up half of a Top 8, I much prefer it to a name like "Aristocrats" without their namesake. More on that line of complaining later.

There's plenty to be happy about with the Top 8 of GP: Quebec City. Serious competition faced off to bring us a few truly interesting lists for Standard. If you're not into flipped Jaces, read on--there's something for everyone in this recap.

There's finally an Eldrazi Ramp deck.

Jake Mondello brought R/G Eldrazi to a T8 performance and someone in Wizards is thanking their dark gods for it. The ramp strategy has been entirely absent from high-level Magic, even when we just had R/G Atarka Ramp last season. Seeing as how Eldrazi are the theme of the set, their absence was palpable.

Jake's deck utilizes land search spells and combines them with Hedron Archive and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods for true ramp.


The latter card, Shrine, is only fifty cents right now. It's a great speculation target at that price. Though Jake's deck has Hangarback Walkers in it to make it expensive, it provides an alternative deck strategy for people who don't want to turn a Jace over or summon a Siege Rhino. That alone makes it worth speculating on.

Shrine is a lynchpin card for the deck (even though I hate it). Sanctum of Ugin is also about the same price and is a 4-of as well. I really admire Jake for making the most of his colorless land slots, running ten of them. He's got so much land search that all he needs is a single basic Forest to fix his colors.

Also, how gutsy is it to run a single Mountain to cast all your Red spells?

There's a great deal of expensive fat monsters in this deck, but I think the best play is to target those cheap lands. People want to cast Ulamog, after all.

Your weekly Dark Jeskai update.

The decks have basically standardized on their creature base. A full four Mantis Riders join Jace. Past that, a pair of Soulfire Grand Masters and a single Dragonmaster Outcast show up.

Thanks to Ojutai's Command and Kolaghan's Command, you're set to recycle your creatures over and over. The threat density doesn't matter as much when Ojutai can just pull back a burnt-out Soulfire Grand Master, for example.

That's why variations on the creature base are interesting to me. Edgar Magalhaes' list runs three copies of Pia and Kiran Nalaar in the main deck. That parental duo summons up a diverse group of attackers. In the mirror, the two Thopters can overload an opponent by sacrificing them to kill creatures.

They also put a lot of pressure on guys like Gideon, who have a hard time dealing with the fliers. Pia and Kiran are really cheap right now and may represent an intelligent next-level strategy for beating the mirror.

I find it very interesting that nobody ran regular Jeskai. In the Pro Tour last week, the deck that made it to the finals had all the hallmarks of a Jeskai deck but also ran four Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and four Hangarback Walker. Only Magalhaes' deck has four Hangarbacks, which obviously also play well with Pia and Kiran. Some of the other Jeskai decks run singleton bombs like Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker or Dragonlord Silumgar to break through, but none play four non-Jace Planeswalkers.

Gideon is taking a well-deserved vacation.

After running rampant last week, Gideon is nowhere to be found.

Seriously, only the Abzan deck is running him! That's a far cry from what we saw previously, but then again - there's less Abzan and no G/W Megamorph in the Top 8. He's dropped by $2 in the last week down to $40, even after such a conclusive Pro Tour performance.

The best explanation for me is that Dark Jeskai is probably the best deck and its manabase has an awful time trying to pay his colored casting costs. We'll still see him in other white-based decks. Those decks just need a good week to catch and kill the Dark Jeskai decks.

Maynard's Rally deck is yet another metagame angle.

Pascal Maynard came with an interesting Rally the Ancestors deck.

He jammed U/B Aristocrats together with the insane Catacomb Sifter/Grim Haruspex engine to get the best of both decks. While he's not going to make an ocean of tokens, he's still got a ton of great value creatures to eat with is Husk.

It's interesting that he chose to go with Jace over Liliana. The former makes Rally better, but Liliana provides a meaningful alternate win condition if someone saves a removal spell for the Nantuko Husk (or has a sweeper). Of course, Rally the Ancestors provides a potent buy-back for the deck if it gets swept away. Rally is hovering at about a dollar if you want to buy them.

Maynard's deck is ambitious and I don't believe we'll see widespread adoption or success with the deck, but it's a good alternative for people who have the Jaces and the fetchlands but do not want to play a fair game anymore.

Quick Hits

  • No Atarka Red this week, despite a great showing from PV last week.
  • Reid Duke's Esper Control deck is the latest attempt to play a wait-and-see game in Standard. He skips out on Dragons entirely, opting for Clash of Wills over Silumgar's Scorn and a set of Jaces over giant Dragons.
  • Shambling Vent rarely gets activated, but it makes a big difference in Abzan. If it manages to get two +1/+1 tokens from the Charm, all the better. This will be a hot Standard card for a very long time.
  • In the SCG Premiere IQ, three Ramp decks made the T8. While this is a softer field, it's worth paying attention to. The manabases all had the four Shrine/Sanctum combination discussed above.

If it happens next week, you'll read about it here!



2 thoughts on “Insider: Quebec City Brings Some New Standard Lists (Finally)

  1. “The best explanation for me is that Dark Jeskai is probably the best deck and its manabase has an awful time trying to pay his colored casting cost.”

    Less so than it looks, now. One notable thing that stuck out to me is that Finkel & co look to have settled the debate on Dark Jeskai manabases, with all four top 8 finishers playing 4-5 trilands. One way where the trilands demonstrate their power in particular is setting up early mana. The usual “best start” of Sunken Hollow into Plains, Mountain can cast Mantis or Doom turn three but needs a minimum of two more lands to provide doubles in your main colors. With Trilands, though, Monastery into Plains, Mountain, then turn four Sunken Hollow turns on doubles on all three main colors, offering a lot more flexibility for the following land drops.

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