Tuesday, 19 November 2013

STD DEKTEK: Boros Initiative "COMBO"

Ah, Theros. You’ve breathed new life into the dusty bones of a stale format that was once dominated by Thragtusks. Now instead, we get to be dominated by our mono black / blue / red overlords. I don’t know which one is worse yet, but I get the feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of Nykthos in the next few months. Esper decks are also well positioned due to the flexibility of Hero’s Downfall / Detention Sphere, and the strength of Supreme Verdict and Thoughtseize. Joining it as a “deck to beat” is mono B with its infinite removal spells and powerful finishers like Desecration Demon.

Can any kind of fast aggressive deck deal with these game plans? How should an aggro deck match up against these two grindy control decks? Is there even hope to win before your team eats a Supreme Verdict or your opponent recovers off a Grey Merchant?

I answer with a new deck I’ve been championing: Boros Initiative Combo.

Here is the list I’ve been brewing with:


2 Rakdos Cackler
4 Firedrinker Satyr
4 Magma Jet

3 Legions Initiative
4 Ash Zealot
4 Frostburn Wyrd
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Chandras Phoenix
1 Hammer of Purphoros
1 Chandra, Pyromaster

2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
4 Fanatic of Mogis

4 Sacred Foundary
4 Temple of Triumph
2 Boros Guildgate
13 Mountain


There is nothing worse than overextending your board into an opposing Supreme Verdict. Legions Initiative solves the Supreme Verdict problem while still allowing you to pressure your opponent because of the power boost it gives your team. Only Reckoner benefits from the +1 to toughness, but let’s face the facts… it’s all about power for this deck anyways. As long as you’re able to keep RW up, you can safely roll out threats secure in the knowledge that you won’t lose your entire team.

Initiative is also very important for the “combo” aspect of the deck, as it plays nice with both Purphoros and Fanatic of Mogic. Sometime having an Initiative in play, 6 mana and a Fanatic in hand is just game over. You play Fanatic, opponent takes chroma damage. You blink your team with Initiative, opponent takes chroma damage a second time. When you’ve probably already done a good amount of damage in the first few turns with Ash Zealot & friends, you’ve probably got them dead after the double chroma damage because of the high devotion to red in your permanents. Initiative also combos with Purphoros, as when your dudes come back into play, each one will deal another 2 damage. When you have both a Fanatic AND Purphoros in play it’s easy to blink and deal 10+ damage out of nowhere with a top decked Initiative.


Picture this magical Christmasland (but entirely possible) scenario:

You’ve got Ash Zealot, Frostburn Weird, Legions Initiative and Purphoros in play and the game is stalled, but it looks like your opponent is about to take control. You’ve got 6 lands in play. You draw Fanatic and play it. Opponent takes 2 from Purphoros, then another 7 from chroma damage (9 so far). You use the last 2 mana to blink your team, and come combat phase opponent takes another 6 from Purphoros (3 creatures) and then 6 more from chroma (1 less than last time since Initiative is no longer in play). That’s 9 + 6 + 6 = 21 damage out of nowhere AND you could still attack w / Purphoros since your team has haste!!


23 lands seems right since you often want to be able to play a threat and leave up RW for Initiative should you need to pop it. Let’s take a look at the curve:

1 – 6
2 – 15
3 – 9
4 – 7

So far it’s fairly consistent because of the 8 sources of scry in the deck. I’m not a huge fan of Magma Jet overall, but in a deck like this one that want to dig to a “combo” piece or revive a fallen Chandra’s Phoenix it does the job. Mortars can come in out of the sideboard if it needs to deal with Smiter / Bloodbaron etc. I miss not having 8 1 drops, but we’ve got a backup plan for those matches that they’re normally best in (control) and they don’t add much chroma on their own or effect the board as much as our other cards.

(Note: I used to hate Firedrinker Satyr but he’s starting to grow on me. Being able to attack into annoying “walls” like Omenspeaker and Sylvan Caryatid make him kinda good I guess?)

You’ve probably noticed a lack of Nykthos? No error there. I tested quite a few games with it and because of both the low curve and the fact that we really, REALLY need reliable colored mana for Zealot, Weird & Reckoner having a hand with Nykthos in it actually ends up working to our detriment. Even when you CAN chroma for a ton of mana, what are you going to spend it on by that point? Our curve ends at 4, and there are no X spells to dispose of our extra mana. For these reasons I cut it, and I have no regrets. If I were to move into a more midrange style build that used Stormbreath Dragon I’d definitely think about including 1 or 2 because I’d probably be removing some of the lower end RR stuff to make the room anyways.


Some of the options I’m debating include:

-          Wear / Tear: Kills Enchantments AND Artifacts. All-star vs. Mono B since it can take out a Whip AND an underworld connections all in one card!
-          Mizzium Mortars: Comes in vs. Creature based decks. Can kill tough threats like Stormbreath Dragon, Bloodbaron and Loxodon Smiter, as well as sometimes overloading and killing a team.
-          Assemble the Legion: Basically kills control on its own if it resolves and they have no Detention Sphere. Combos with Purphoros as well!
-          Elspeth, Sun’s Champion: Bring it in vs control / midrange decks? Unsure if it’s high CC would be welcome in the deck but it’s too powerful to not use in some capacity.
-          Glare of Heresy: Really, really good against a huge portion of the field relying on W spells like Elspeth and Detention Sphere. Also good vs the mono W deck (obv).
-          Burning Earth: Again, very good vs control and other 3 color decks with greedy manabases.
-          Hammer of Purphoros: May as well go Hammer Time against control and keep a steady stream of attackers / Purphoros activations.


Fast aggressive decks are the bane of slow decks and decks that require setup everywhere. Sure if Esper is given lots of time it will stabilize with Sphinx’s Revelations, or mono Black will recover all its life with a Grey Merchant, but at the same time this deck is well positioned to beat both of these boogeymen. With the popularity of these two decks on the rise this deck has a good game plan to beat them.

Against Esper your fast start keeps them backpedaling until they are within “reach” of your finishers. You can often do so much damage to them in the first few turns that even a supreme verdict or Revelation won’t save them. Esper and Mono B also have a lot of spot removal, but paying BB1 to Hero’s Downfall a Frostburn Weird doesn’t seem like a very good deal. Mono B in particular has a tough time against this deck as without an Erebus in play it’s 1 for 1 trades for tiny little people really sets them back. Both of those decks also use Thoughtseize… and we are more than happy to trade one of our spells for a card n their hand and a free 2 damage.

It's important to remember that you don't have to attack with this deck. You can literally just stall,  build a board presence, then combo out to win.


I hope you guys enjoy this deck. I’m posting this article even before I get to play it in any kind of “official” constructed event, but so far in testing it’s had game against all comers (except sometimes mono G… their guys just get too big!). You need to know when to shift your strategy from being the beatdown deck, to being the control deck in your matches, and I think that’s what’s going to be the hardest part to master as you’ve got two completely different game plans.

Playing this deck made me wonder about the potential to make a more midrange version of Boros featuring Anger of the Gods and other controlish elements. In fact, I built a “Big Boros” deck and played it last week to a 4-1 finish at FNM. Since I already had this article written I figured I’d still post it for your viewing pleasure as it is an unexplored archetype and one of the only “combo” decks I can think of ATM.

(I’ll try to get my “Big Boros” decklist up later this week.)

Enjoy burning face and be sure to wear your hot gloves when you handle those Fanatics! :)

Carl Szalich

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Re-Evaluating My Theros Specs

Now that the metagame has evolved a little I figure it’s as good a time as any to take a look back at how things have been going with my picks and give a little update on what I’ve been specking on lately.


I managed to buy 18x copies of Master of Waves @ $6 before they spiked, and managed to move all but 8 when they hit their peak of $25 a few weeks ago. In retrospect I should have bought more, but I’m still happy with the huge profits it’s netted and have a couple more that I can still out at their stabilized price of around $15 which is still almost triple.

Got in on Underworld Connections @ $1 each and bought 12x of them. They’re up to a solid $3 now. Again, should have bought more as I saw them as 4x in the insanely popular mono-B builds but I was late getting in on them so had to struggle to find ANY at a price I was happy with. Hey, $12 is still $12! That’s like, 2x $5 footlongs! lol

I also tried picking up an uncommon at $0.25… Fanatics of Mogis. When he started to show up in mono-R decks I managed to snag 25 of these for $0.25 each. I’m outing them @ $4 per playset so have been rewarded handsomely. Dump uncommons soon tho, as the more Theros opened, the more of them there will be!

I’ve invested in 40x Legions Initiative because I found them @ only $2.50 each and SCG had them for $5 with ebay auctions closing around $16 (now $4 on SCG… ouch… hoping I can still win on these! Break out darn you… BREAK OUT! Lol). My thinking was that with Boros and mono-R being real decks that people may adopt them into their boards / main as a way to combat Esper, and they also “combo” with a Mogis Fanatic and/or Purphoros in play. Hasn’t panned out yet, BUT a Boros deck DID just win the recent SCG Open (no, it has none main / board) so I’m holding onto hope that I didn’t just burn $100.

Here’s that Boros list for reference:

Daxos of Meletis… oh Daxos, how I need you to succeed! I’m up to around 50 of the little Azorious legend that could. Let’s hope he does some heavy lifting soon as right now I seem to be the only one playing him. Like, THE only ONE. If I were to ask who’s tried him out in a crowded room full of magic players my answer would be the sound of crickets chirping haha.


I wanted to see how I was doing so far on my buys, so I’m going to compare my old article and my buy in / predictions to todays price on SCG since that’s the price guide I’d been using initially to reference.

Card: Boon Satyr
Bought in at: $0.99
Predicted: $3-5
Currently: $4

Obviously this was one of my best calls considering it went up to $7 for a while and I moved out all my extra copies at that price. Since it’s a rare I didn’t want to hold it for too long as the more pack of Theros that get opened the less desirable rares become because of the quantity opened. The card still sees play in a ton of decks so I think my prediction of $3 is probably the floor for this guy since he’s proven himself worthy.

Card: Hammer of Purphoros
Bought in at: $1.50
Predicted: $3-5
Currently: $1.50

The card is seeing a lot of play as predicted, but isn’t a 4x and the supply is starting to outweigh the demand. I already moved a bunch of these at $3, and while I don’t see them as going to bulk, I’m glad I ditched mine while they were more than I paid for them. No regrets on this one, as it will continue to see play (at least in sideboards) as long as control continues to dominate.

Card: Spear of Heliod
Bought in at: $1.50
Predicted: $3-5
Currently: $2

Another rare being outpaced by the amount opened. Surprising that it’s worth more than the Hammer when hammer is putting up more results, but this effect is probably more desirable. SCG is still priced higher than what I paid and I’m having no trouble moving them so although my prediction was off (again) it was still a fine buy. If mono-W or more Boros continue to rise in popularity the Spear will rise as well.

Card: Daxos of Meletis
Bought in at: $2.25 (then again @ 1.50)
Predicted: $4-6
Currently: $1

Noooooooo Daxos, why??? I thought we could be friends and dominate standard together while sipping punch and playing croquet. Instead you’ve become my first “real” loss so far. I’ve got hope D-Man, so don’t worry, I’m not about to abandon you. You can stay in my little shoebox of specs for a good, long while. At least you’ll always be great in commander if nothing else! L

Card: Colossus of Akros
Bought in at: $0.50
Predicted: $2-3… in a year or 2.
Currently: $0.50

No surprise here. The card has no standard appeal and was purchased for commander purposes. In retrospect I should not have made cash purchases on them (now I’m down $4 oh noes!) since everyone just wants to dump them as throw ins. Oh well.

Card: Heliod, God of the Sun
Bought in at: $9
Predicted: $15+
Currently: $8

I’m a little surprised here, but just don’t think the time has been right for him… YET. I’m totally willing to continue to sit on mine for a while and wait for them to pay out. Worst case scenario it becomes casual trade fodder but again, I’m still hopeful as he’s the only god to NOT have performed in a competitive capacity.

Card: Akroan Horse
Bought in at: $0.50
Predicted: $0? LOL
Currently: $0.50

I haven’t lost all my money on these yet??
… Oh wait, I’ll never be able to move them at almost ANY price.

Card: Arbor Colossus
Bought in at: $0.75
Predicted: $0.25-1
Currently: $1

I had a good feeling about this guy and although he’s narrow because of his GGG CC, he’s seeing play! Who would have imagined that a big dumb undercosted monster could have a place in standard? I guess I did! I’m still thinking he has room to grow, especially since most decks that run B have 4x Desecration Demons main and this guy is more than happy to eat them and become 9/9 J.

Card: Ember Swallower
Bought in at: $0.50
Predicted: $0.25-1
Currently: $0.50

For a guy that’s actually seeing play in a bunch of decks he sure hasn’t picked up in price. The fact he’s both a promo as well as in an intro deck is obviously quite detrimental to his value. He’s still very tradeable and liquid albeit his low dollar value.

Card: Hundred Handed One
Bought in at: $0.50
Predicted: $0.25-1
Currently: $0.50


So I’ve had a few really good hits (Master of Waves / Boon Satyr / Underworld Connections) and a few losers (Heliod / Daxos / Anything that cost me $0.50), but overall I’m still ahead because of my big gains. As I’ve been saying for a while now the window is closing on Theros RARES as they are starting to be opened en mass and Magic Online redemption will cause a further influx of cards into the market.

Until next time spec LONG and spec HARD. (Sexual connotations implied :P)

Carl Szalich

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

STD DEKTEK - "No Durdle" Esper

I’ve always been a far of Esper. Last season I was obsessed with Obzedat, and my love for the necrotic gang of ghouls hasn’t faded. Sure, I play mostly midrange decks, but it’s always nice to have some form of (quasi) control in your arsenal for those pesky mono-U decks and their infinite threats. While we’re at it, having answers to indestructible gods is also pretty good these days. And say! Aren’t Planeswalkers pretty darn decent? May as well run a couple since I’ve been told they’re OP. Hmmm… by that logic if I’M playing planeswalkers, I’ll bet OTHER people are as well… Hero’s Downfall all the shiny things!

Esper seems to have the tools to take down any deck in the format with a combination of card advantage, efficient removal, and life gain. Most of the lists I see run some number of permission spells (counters) as well as 4 Jace AoT, 2 Elspeth SC and an Aetherling. I call those “durdle” builds because they do nothing except try to resolve one of their meager 3x threats and then ride it to victory. They “durdle” around wasting everyones time then just plop out an Elspeth and try to call it a game.


Sure they’re powerful, but eugh, I find playing them tedious and kinda boring for both myself and my opponent (not that I care about my pesky opponent… they’re just a roadblock to my inevitable victory and need to be ground in to the earth asap so I can move onto crushing the next hapless chump who comes my way! lol). So to spice things up a little I’ve been playing a modified build to a T8 at games day (40+ people) and a cool 2nd at a 30+ person FNM 2 weeks ago (opened a Deathrite Shaman in my price packs! Score!)

Here it is:


2 Thoughtseize
4 Azorious Charm
3 Omen Speaker
1 Far/Away
4 Detention Sphere
3 Hero’s Downfall
1 Daxos of Meletis
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Supreme Verdict
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Aetherling
1 Elspeth, Suns Champion

4 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Watery Grave
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Temple of Silence
3 Island
2 Plains
1 Swamp


2 Daxos of Meletis
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Pithing Needle
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Thoughtseize
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Doom Blade
3 Negate
2 Ultimate Price


The main differences are the lack of counterspells and the additional threats. Although many Esper decks have started gravitating towards running 2x Blood Baron main, this takes it to the next level by including the anti-control all-stars that are Obzedat and Daxos as well as the card filtering guru known as Omenspeaker. Let’s break it down by theoretical matchup archetype.


Instead of relying on a few Doomblade & Co. we get Omenspeaker, which is surprisingly relevant in the aggro matchup. Their Precinct Captains and Ash Zealot don’t look so hot when you’ve got a 1/3 to block them all night long. Even if they get burnt out, you’ve still gotten to scry which hopefully put you closer to a Supreme Verdict or one of your other removal spells AND they’ve had to use a card from hand to deal with it and allow their team to keep swinging. Afterall, 3 damage from a Lightning Strike to Omenspeaker is still 3 damage less that’s dealt to you.

The deck also runs a 1x of Daxos of Meletis which I’m unsure as to why more decks aren’t adopting. In the aggro matchup, he gains you life, can block a creature in a pinch, and can use their own removal against them. I play 2x more in my board because aggro decks tend to take out their removal game 2 vs Esper which lets Daxos run rampant. (He’s also amazing vs control as you’ll see in the control writeup).

My boarding typically looks like this:

-1 Elspeth
-1 Aetherlng
-1 Jace, Architect of Thought
-2 Thoughtseize
-1 Supreme Verdict
+2 Daxos of Meletis
+1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
+2 Doomblade
+1 Ultimate Price
Basically we’re lowering our curve so that we can make it to late game where all of our “bigger threats” (Obzedat & Blood Baron) just auto-win the matchup. Conveniently, both of those threats also gain life, which is exactly what the aggro matchup hates to see. We’re getting more main deck instant speed removal bringing our “kill all the things” count up to 18!! I take out one Supreme Verdict because I’m replacing it with spot removal that’s a lot faster, as I expect we can’t just chill and relax until T4 in the matchup as by then they could have landed a very high chroma Fanatic of Mogis and we’re dead to their follow-up grip of burn and Chandras Phoenix.


-3 Omenspeaker
-4 Supreme Verdict
+1 Thoughtseize
+2 Daxos of Meletis
+1 Sphinx’s Revelation
+3 Negate

I MAY also choose to bring in the 2nd Elspeth or Obzedat in this match depending on how I’m feeling.

I LOVE slipping in the 2x bonus Daxos for G2-3 vs control because as I’d alluded to above they normally take out a lot of their removal and are left with basically Hero’s Downfall and Detention Sphere to deal with him. Believe me when I say there is no better feeling than playing Daxos T3, swinging T4 and revealing a Jace off your opponents deck.

“Soooo… I guess I’ll gain 4 life and play your Jace? Totally fair.”

You also get a 3rd Thoughtseize, 4th Sphinx and some permission in the form of Negate. Your main deck is already (arguably) a more favorable matchup because of your additional threats. Obzedat and Blood Baron dodge almost all the removal out of opposing Esper decks in different ways, so are both very frustrating to deal with. I like to play 1x Far/Away right now (and may increase the count to 2x) because it’s one of the only ways we CAN deal with a Blood Baron post board.


So if you’re a far of Esper style control decks, but want a few more lines of play than holding up counterspells and waiting to EoT Revelation to find one of your (very) few threats, give this build a try. You’ve got an improved game vs. Aggro game 1 (and let’s face it, a good curve out from an aggro deck is Espers number one worry) and more threats than a standard Esper deck. You’ve also got a few lines of play that they won’t see coming like Daxos out of the board (and main!).

Speaking of Daxos: Even if you DO love permission, at least try running Daxos of Meletis a few rounds to test him out. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think the guy is a house! I need more people to test with him so that I can know for sure tho, so sleeve him up and get playing!

I’ve got a couple other “newish” decks that take an “old” archetype and mess around with it in my arsenal. I’ll try and post a couple little articles like this one in the near future to showcase them once I’ve had a chance to run them through a tournament.

Carl Szalich

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Theros Speculation: Good, Bad, & Ugly Decisions...

Hello everyone, welcome back!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, but finally feel as though there are a few things worth discussing now that Theros pre-releases are behind us and the set is due out next week.

PICKS: Hits and Misses

Well let’s talk speculating for a bit since it’s something that I enjoy almost as much as playing. Ah yes, my heart sometimes longs for the good old days when FNM was all that I yearned for, but now the thrill of playing mini-stock market with spoilers is my new love. Unfortunately, I only get to do this 4 times a year and I’ve been slacking lately, but sometimes is still better than never I guess.

A general tip about my speculating technique: I typically look for the near “penny stocks” of the set that I think have room to grow, so if a card is already $5+ I’m less likely to buy in. Sure they go up (and down) like everything else, but if I “hit” on a cheaper rare, I’ve typically bought in a much higher quantity, and invested much less capital to begin with. I try to invest in cards that I feel are at least “sure things” for the dollar or three I’m putting in so that even if they don’t necessarily increase in value, they don’t really have any room to fall any further.

I’ve organized the list into 3 sections: “Confident” / “Unsure” / “Why did I buy these”. I’ll give you my rationale as to why I think / thought they were good buys so that you can see my train of thought. I’ve also listed the quantity and price that I bought in at as well as my prediction to where the price will go and what Star City Games (SCG) is presently selling them for.

So with that said, here is my present portfolio of cheap Theros stuff for your evaluation:

Magic costs a lot of money. We're gonna have to earn it.”


Well after a meal, there's nothing like a quiet speculation.
12x Boon Satyr @ 0.99
When I first read this guy I did a double take. He trades with Loxodon Smiters and their ilk for the same CC but is mono color, has flash, AND can be a combat trick? Sign me up. I see him as being a major roleplayer in the new standard.
Prediction: $3-$5 / SCG Price: $3 (Winning)

12x Hammer of Purphoros @ 1.50
There will be a deck called “Stop… Hammertime!” that will run this as a 3-4 of. The haste is nice, but being able to recover from board sweep with an army of 3/3’s for the low low price of a crummy land that you don’t need anymore? Priceless.
Prediction: $3-5 / SCG Price: $3 (Winning)

8x Spear of Heliod @ 1.49
A glorious anthem that has built in removal? Strong. Aggressive decks will love this as it boosts their team and protects your poor little planeswalker body from fatties. I can certainly see almost every commander deck loving it as well since starting at higher life = can take more hits = more activations possible.
Prediction: $3-5 / SCG Price: $3 (Winning)

12x Daxos of Meletis @ 2.25
This guy really impressed me at the pre-release, and a few friends have been calling it the “kill it immediately or die to it card” of the set. It basically reads as “unblockable, life gain, card draw” and is reasonably costed. Could it be the new Geist?? The fact that it’s a rare will keep its price down, but I can see it as a 3-4x in U/W control AND U/W aggro… basically anything that’s U/W/X as well. If we can get a better manabase playing this T2 off an elf would be ridiculous!
Prediction: $4-6 / SCG Price: $4 (Winning)


If we cut down my percentage... cigar?Liable to interfere with my predictions.
8x Colossus of Akros @ 0.49
Strictly commander material, but fits into any deck. Hard to go wrong with a 10/10 indestructible blocker for 8 that becomes a frackin’ 20/20 trampler for an additional 10.
Prediction: $2-3… in a year or two. / SCG Price: $0.49 (Stable)

2x Heliod, God of the Sun @ 8.93
A lot of people are saying this guy’s the worst god in the block… yet he’s the only one that can singlehandedly (as opposed to hundred handedly) win a game without any outside assistance. Sure, you can scry in U, draw cards in B, deal damage in R, and pump in G, but NONE of those will actually produce a win on their own, they all require cards to be played or drawn in order to “get there”. When Heliod comes down you get infinite blockers and sources of damage. No counterspell to play on opponents EoT? Make a dude instead. Win. He costs more $ than I normally like to spend but I feel he’s undervalued for what he does. Notable that he’s also gone up a few days this past week, has casual appeal, and is the 2nd lowest priced of the gods ATM.
Prediction: $15+ / SCG Price: $12 OOS (Winning)

The way I figure... there's really not too much future with a sawed-off Minotaur like you.

8x Akroan Horse @ 0.49
Seemed like it could be a good finisher in a control deck or something? IDK. At $0.5 it wasn’t a big risk, does provide a body every turn (with quasi-haste!) and can threaten to overwhelm your opponent if they don’t deal with it. Meh, I can prob trade them to someone with similar thoughts in a worst case scenario, but infinite tokens can’t be THAT bad… can they? (Did I mention only $0.5 each?)
Predicton: $0.25-$1 / SCG Price: $0.49 (Stable)

8x Arbor Colossus @ 0.75
I was thinking that if mono-green devotion became a thing that this big guy could do something. I’m not writing it off yet, as a 6/6 for 5 that next turn destroys a flyer and becomes 9/9 is still pretty good. I wish I’d been able to get him at 0.5 but spoilers were just starting to come out and I could combine shipping so I got greedy. Anyways, it will be good for commander because of its large buttox and ability to deal with flyers. If there is more green based devotion that gets printed, it could get even better. Right now not sure if it’s playable…
Prediction: $0.25-$1 / SCG Price: $0.75 (Stable)

8x Ember Swallower @ 0.49
Didn’t know this guy would be the red promo card for pre-release before I bought him. Again, I think it has potential as if you make it to 7 lands vs control you’ll probably win. A 4/5 for 4 isn’t bad either way, so again there is still hope for it.
Prediction: $0.25-$1 / SCG Price: $0.49 (Stable)

12x Hundred-Handed One @ 0.51
First: How good would this guy be in bed? Ladies look out! That’s 100x the pleassuurreeee!! :P
3/5 vigilance for 4 isn’t terrible, and can block the plethora of 4/X creatures they’ve released without fear. His monstrous cost is somewhat reasonable and gives you a nice fat blocker that can realistically hold the fort while you do… stuff I guess?
Prediction: $0.25-$1 / SCG Price: $0.99 (Winning)

… So far so good! Looks like I’m at least stable (4/10) on all my picks with most of them in the winning factory (6/10)! Let’s see how they hold up once they become standard legal and have some results to back them up. Hmmm I’m thinking I should get a few more Heliod as he seems to already be up 33% and is OOS on SCG. That’s why this kind of data is so important!

(*FOLLOW-UP: Just went in on 4x more Heliod @ $9 each. I’d move him to the “CONFIDENT” section now, but am leaving him in his original position from when this was written*)
“You see, in this world there's two kinds of creatures, my friend:
Those with monstrous, and those who dig.
You dig.”

A Note About Monstrous

Monstrous creatures in general just seem like value when they are already (kinda) playable on their own, and have the opportunity to get better if not dealt with. Of those that I’ve selected (Arbor Colossus, Ember Swallower, Hundred Handed One) none of them are awful in a vacuum. They are all reasonably costed creatures with a decent upside if you’ve got nothing better to do with your mana. If they relied on being good solely based on being monstrous, I would not have picked any up at all. You can’t rely on getting monstrous, and you still want every card to have a board presence of their own when you play them without having to sink more mana into them to be effective.

Hey Carl! You Know What You Are?

Just A Dirty Son-Of-A *Wa-Wa-Waaaaaaaa*

And there you have it. A few of my picks, shared with you, good reader. Nothing is ever certain, and it will be interesting for me (us?) to revisit this page in a month to see if my predictions have still held true. I always like to come back to these articles as they are like an irreversible timestamp that shows how I did with my set speculations. When I look at the articles I used to write for Quiet Speculation I’ve done very well (with the exception of Hellion Crucible… damn that card!) and hope to continue to do so.

Do YOU have any tips / picks that you’d like to point out / share? POST and let’s discuss!

Carl Szalich

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

STD DEKTEK – Bant Wurm


I gazed lovingly into the beady eyes of the wurm, and it stared back at me with a satisfied expression on its face and a burnt out cigarette clutched between its lips. I leaned in on my dragon-kin mistress and whispered seductively in its ear hole thingy:

“Do you want to watch ‘The Notebook’ tonight, honey?” The violent thrashing of its tail signaled that she was unwilling to cry herself to sleep, and that a romantic comedy was more up her alley.

“Well what do YOU want to do then, my dove?” The wurm smiled a tooth grin and darted out of the $50 per night motel room before I could react. I called after her, but she was out of my view before I could stop her. Was she trying to escape me? Was my performance not up to par?

“Baby nooooooooooooo!” I lamented, but she was gone. All gone. I had nothing left to remember our magical, passionate weekend together except for a broken scale, a pool of slime, and a huge bill for the mini bar.

Deflated, I collapsed in a heap on the dirty, sweaty blankets that were so pristine the night before. I bunched them up in my fists, buried my face in them and sobbed... Oh how I sobbed for the loss of my baby! Then just as the day looked its darkest, I saw something shining in the distance, closing in on me fast. The scene was something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon: A huge corona of dust advancing on the hapless Bugs Bunny. Fight or flight response active, for a minute I was frozen in place, unsure of what to do. I squinted into the sunlight… and could it be? YES! It was my lovely wurm, returned to me with presents hanging from its maw!

The corpse of a knight in full armor! How sweet!
A collection of artifacts, including a Winter Orb! Useful!!
And the piece-de-resistance: A groupon for a weekend in Niagara Falls! WOWZA!!!

My heart melted as wurm coiled me up in her serpentine form and dragged me back into our room to fornicate.

  I like Advent of the Wurm THAT MUCH!


Dragons Maze gave everyone a few new toys, but my favorite colors (G/W) seemed to really get a boost. Advent of the Wurm & Voice of Resurgence are just as incredible as my sexual prowess (Mrs. Wurm can attest to the validity of my claims) and demand to be used in every deck I build from now until rotation.

Looking at the Bant colors I see a few things that really jump out at me:

Thragtusk + Snapcaster Mage + Restoration Angel (Things to Blink)
Snapcaster + Sphinx’s Revelation + Advent of the Wurm (Snapcaster Goodness)
Snapcaster + Restoration Angel + Advent of the Wurm (Flash Creatures)
… And Voice of Resurgence is just insane, is it not?

I guess that means that each of the above is getting a slot or 4, and will look something like this as a skeleton:

4 Thragtusk
3 Restoration Angel
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Advent of the Wurm
4 Voice of Resurgence


The deck basically built itself to within 10-15 cards or so, and it then becomes a decision on how much / which removal / utility creatures to include along with my cream of the crop.

Well, Snapcaster isn’t that great without something to flashback, so we’d better add some more spells. We’re light on removal and conveniently in the colors of the best charms (IMHO), and unsummon plays nice with Snappy for a T3 Snap + play.

X Unsummon
X Selesnya Charm
X Azorious Charm

Now it looks like I’m doing nothing for the first few turns like a control deck that plays creatures, but without an endgame. Aggro will crush me if I don’t have some way to stem the bleeding before hitting 5 for Tusk, so I’m going to need some other way to stabilize. “Daddy Fat Stacks” is always ready to rumble and is undercosted for the beef he brings to the table.

X Loxodon Smiter


Creatures (19)

4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Loxodon Smiter
3 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk

It’s beautiful. A pile of the best creatures in standard just decided to have a party and invite everyone!

Snapper is busy chugging 40s and reminiscing the days of Vapor Snag.
Tusk and Voice are having a heated debate about politics over crumpets and tea.
Smiter and Angel are off breeding in a smoke filled back room.

… Reminds me of high school! :)

Spells (16)

3 Unsummon
3 Selesnya Charm
3 Azorious Charm
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Advent of the Wurm

16 spells should give me enough to reliably have Snapcaster meat. I was initially debating trying to squeeze in a Runechanters Pike, up my spell count and run Thoughtscour but the reliability of other choices vs. the cute pike trick won out after testing. T3 pike with no spells in your bin and no bodies onboard is not as good as T3 Smiter with all the aGgro running around. The situational goodness of pike loses to the consistency of fat.

Lands (25)

1 Moorland Haunt
1 Gavony Township
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Breeding Pool
3 Hinterland Harbor
4 Temple Garden
4 Sunpetal Grove

These aren’t the lands you’re looking for. Move along.

Sideboard (15)

3 Rest in Peace (C)
4 Centaur Healer (A)
1 Sphinx’s Revelation (B)
3 Supreme Verdict (A)
2 Jace, Architect of Thought (B)
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter (B)

(A)   = Aggro Package
      (B)   = Control Package
      (C)   = Graveyard Hate

I’m still looking to write that article on how to design a sideboard, but until I do, it’s bush league, baby!

The (supreme) verdict is still out on whether to run Rest in Peace or Tormods Crypt. RiP hurts our deck as well because it blanks Snapcaster, but it’s a more permanent solution than Crypt that prevents them from rebuilding their graveyard.

Jace, Garruk, and the final Sphinx’s Revelation come in against control so that we can also experience the joys of card draw and recover after they wrath the board. Notably absent is counter magic… I don’t feel it’s needed as we’re normally better off playing a threat or just answering theirs with our lucky charms.

The aggro match is only OK, but substituting elephants for Centaur Healers really helps. The addition of 3x Supreme Verdict also lets us play more like a control deck and bumps our removal spells up to 12.


Nope! Instead I converted a cardboard box into a mobile home and decided to hang out under a bridge. :S

I got the chance to try this list last Friday to a disappointing result: 2-2. I don’t think it was so much the deck that failed me, but more the draws. Even with 25 lands main I mulliganed almost every game and STILL didn’t get up to 4 mana consistently.

When it was working, it still felt very underpowered. Sure sometimes you’d get the surprise Wurm blocker and others you’d get to flash it back with a Snapper, but when you weren’t doing that, well, you really weren’t doing much. Could be that I didn’t really make it to 5 mana often enough to experience the joy of dropping Tusks and playing more than one spell a turn.

Even sphinx’s revelation felt dead in my hands with or without the mana to cast it. It just feels too slow right now in such a fast meta. Against blitz decks your T5 sphinx for 2 isn’t very impressive, and midrange decks have their own CA in the form of Garruk and Prime Speaker Zegana. I almost feel that Garruk, Primal Hunter would be a better choice than sphinx because it still draws cards BUT can also generate blockers when you need them. Even Jace, Architect of thought seems better here. For 4cc you can hurt agro (-1 attack) OR draw cards like Sphinx. You don’t directly gain life with this plan, but in a way you do by reducing attackers power.

When I managed to hit the mythical 4 mana mark Advent of the Wurm performed just as I’d hoped, so at least I can’t blame him/her/it for my failure.


It is also unfortunate that I had to end the illicit love affair I’d been having with wurm. She was cute, sure, but kinda bitchy and snobbish. If it didn’t say “Prada”, she wouldn’t wear it. If it couldn’t somehow be related to celebrity gossip, she didn’t want to hear about it. It was always “her way or the highway”, so the highway I chose!

That’s right brothers! High five! :)

… Fine, I admit it! She broke up with me, OK?! There. Are you happy now? When I couldn’t even muster the 4 mana to cast her and placate her unquenchable lust for 4/4 she just up and left without a goodbye or a note.

Typical woman.
(Just don’t tell her I said that!)


Carl Szalich
@psilence6k on Twitter