There may be many gems hidden within the deck lists of Star City Columbus but it’s no secret that Collected Company decks dominated the event. The numbers of this archetype are staggering. Although there are a few different versions of the deck, no archetype should be able to muster three in Top 8, three in 9-16, 11 in 17-32, and 12 in 33-64.
That’s a total of 29 CoCo decks in the Top 64, comprising almost half of the competitive decklists! It's looking like the iconic green instant may be too good for Standard.
My mindset was right on track for this event and I brewed up my own version of the deck filled with Tamiyo, Field Researcher to break the mirror. When I was able to cast her, she played a huge role in my victories. Missing land drops doesn’t help you win the mirror though.
Early in the event, I lost a close game three to eventual Top 8 competitor Dan Jessup. He was running the new powerhouse Spell Queller, just like I was, but he made a change I didn’t have the guts to make.
Dan cut Tireless Tracker for the original star of the show, Bounding Krasis. That card won the match for him because it allowed him not only to play more Magic on my turn but also to do things like untap his creature to kill my Tamiyo that would have won the match. Missing my fourth land drop to lose tempo didn’t help either. Long story short, I had the right deck without the right record to make Day 2.
Instead of discussing what went wrong with my tournament, let’s shine a light on what went right for some other players who navigated a field of Collected Company decks. Rather than joining the CoCo masses, these players chose to try to beat them. For each I'll offer my thoughts on the competitive side before covering financial aspects.
Ali Antrazi is becoming known for his innovative way to build control decks. This time around he’s adding to that reputation with a sweet brew centered around the delirium mechanic. Often control decks run odd numbers of cards, but in this case the reasoning is to enable delirium. With only a few cards with that mechanic, though, it’s no problem if delirium never gets turned on.
Sultai Control is a deck that can disable your game plan in multiple ways and has lots of answers to the questions presented by Standard. It's the type of midrange control deck that I can get behind because there are many ways to win the game. You could just as easily have your Den Protector deal the full twenty as Emrakul, the Promised End finish them off.
The main buzz on the floor of this event was Liliana, the Last Hope. Dealers were buying aggressively and selling high. Sultai Control is just one of many decks I will showcase today that utilized this new planeswalker as part of their strategy. Even with the high she is on right now, I doubt she can climb any higher than her current $27 price tag.
The other mythic rares, Emrakul, the Promised End and Ishkanah, Grafwidow, seemed destined to drop in value. With only a single slot dedicated to these win conditions, their prices won’t be able to hold at their double digit values for long.
So, unless they see play in higher quantities, the low demand for them will dictate a slippery slope of lower and lower prices. I know I’ll be lowering these prices this week and I’m sure lots of other dealers will also.
Bringing Jund back is something players always dream about, but Dorian made it happen with his version at this event. Similar to what makes Sultai successful, this Jund deck poses many of the same problems for the format. Just like many other controlling decks this weekend, we see not only Liliana, the Last Hope but also Oath of Liliana making an appearance.
This card is hard to fully understand until you’ve faced off against it. The best comparison I can make is that it makes each planeswalker you cast into Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. This version may not have many ways to create the extra zombie token but other decks will. The rate on the removal spell is already reasonable, and when you start tacking on free 2/2's it gets out of hand fast.
If you’ve read my other articles recently, you know how amazing I think Oath of Liliana truly is. This tournament has shown that other players put their faith in it too. Under a dollar is a great price for this enchantment if you still want in. Players will follow along with what these controlling decks tried to do this past weekend and adopt this removal spell.
Additionally, I think there is room in the format for another version of this strategy that focuses more on abusing Oath of Lily’s zombies. Get your copies before they go up.
This was the main strategy I was developing before this tournament, but I tried to fit in emerge creatures alongside the delirium cards. That may have been too ambitious of a goal for one deck. This version is much more streamlined and it can present a fast clock with some of its draws.
Don’t forget that Gnarlwood Dryad has deathtouch. That can drastically change your games against this deck. It’s great tempo when you can trade up with your one-drop against their higher-cost creature.
Many players want this strategy to be good and I think they will all be buying their Grim Flayers to try it out.
You’ll note Lily’s presence in this archetype too. Basically if there was black mana in the deck this weekend, Lily generally made an appearance.
The latest version of G/B Rites, this build packs a huge punch with Decimator of the Provinces and Distended Mindbender. There are many versions of this deck floating around and I lost to one of them as well. Not having to rely so heavily on sacrificing all of your creatures once a Zulaport Cutthroat is on the field is a nice upgrade.
Playing against this deck reminds me of Legacy Elves. You don’t have the same power level obviously, but sometimes Decimator makes the team into an army and they come at your life totally suddenly and without warning. Controlling your opponent’s board or defeating them quickly is critical to beat this deck.
The cheap $2.50 price on Distended Mindbender is tempting. However, I think we would need to see a huge surge in popularity for this card to grow. Post-rotation in September, though, this guy seems like a home run. If he drops in price, I think this is an easy double-up in a couple months.
This deck was on no one’s radar for the weekend. If there were going to be angels in play, certainly they would be from the hot new U/W Angels deck. Instead we saw this strange midrange deck that incorporates toolbox elements to make flipping Bruna and Gisela into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares a real possibility.
Who would have thought that Thalia's Lancers would see play outside of Commander? A 4/4 first striker seems great against what the format is spitting out and it avoids Spell Queller with its mana cost. Picking up a play set to trade seems like a great idea. This is another hit bulk rare.
Last up, we have my favorite deck of the weekend, U/W Spirits. Although U/W Flash might be a more appropriate name, I think this deck will pick up quite a bit in the coming weeks. We all love to play the game on our opponent’s turn and this deck does it better than any I’ve seen in a long time.
If you liked U/B Faeries or think that type of deck is your style, this is the list for you. Not only do you have a bunch of counters but it’s possible to play all of your creatures on your opponent’s turn! Rattlechains is a great Magic card and it really enables this deck.
One of the weaknesses of this deck is werewolves. Your draw-go game plan plays exactly into what Duskwatch Recruiter's and Lambholt Pacifist's hands. If you want to play this deck, I would do some serious testing against werewolf-heavy versions of Company to make sure you know how to play the matchup. Remember, just because you can play all of your spells on your opponent’s turn doesn’t mean that you should.
Mono-White or W/R Aggro seem like tough matchups as well, so test a lot if you want to do well with this strategy.
I think all of these spirits are great pickups right now. They’re all still pretty low in cost and the deck is fairly cheap to build right now. Once more players get on board with this strategy, and they will, these cards might double up.
Thanks so much for reading. That’s my time for the day. What do you think about the competitive or financial aspects of these decks? Which ones are going places and which will be forgotten? Is there a card I missed out on from the sea of data flowing from SCG Columbus? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
Unleash the Spirit Force!
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