Leading up to this PT weekend, I spent my time brewing decks, discarding them, and going back to Boros Angels. In my opinion, Boros Angels is the strongest deck in the format when your draw lines up right. Adanto Vanguard into History of Benalia into Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice is an insane curve and I have been trying to figure out the right supporting cast for these cards. If you’ve read my last couple of posts, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of Tocatli Honor Guard and Lava Coil, which were obvious includes in my list. I’ll share the list that I registered for the event, and then go over some of the unique choices I made.
Deafening Clarion is a great way to catch up if your hand is top heavy, and is really cute with Adanto Vanguard’s indestructibility. The Karn, Scion of Urza might look strange in such an aggressive deck, but I felt like a key weakness in the deck is running out of steam if you draw too many lands or run out of resources against control decks. The maindeck Karn, Scion of Urza gives us a way to refuel, and combos nicely with the three Treasure Maps in the sideboard. Invoke the Divine is sweet against white decks because it takes care of Conclave Tribunal or Ixalan’s Binding, and Huatli, Warrior Poet does her best Gideon, Ally of Zendikar impression in grindy or control matchups.
Illustrated by Chris Rahn
I showed up to the PPTQ with 39 of my closest friends, which meant six rounds of Standard. The event space also had some cupcakes leftover from a previous event, so hey, free sugar to start off the tournament.
Round 1: Golgari Midrange
Tocatli Honor Guard and Rekindling Phoenix were huge in this matchup, keeping his creatures at bay and providing a relevant clock. The games were grindy.
Round 2: Grixis Midrange
In Game 1 my opponent cast a Nicol Bolas into my board of Tocatli Honor Guard, Adanto Vanguard, Knight of Grace. It did nothing when it entered the battlefield thanks to Tocatli Honor Guard, and then my Lava Coil took out Bolas, clearing the way for a big attack. A few turns later, my Lyra Dawnbringer and Adanto Vanguard blanked my opponent’s Cast Downs and I scraped out a win.
In Game 2 I brought in Treasure Maps which let me grind my opponent out. Combining the maps with Karn, Scion of Urza pumped out big construct tokens, which gave me the win.
Round 3: Mono-Red Monstrosaur
There’s not much to report about this match – I stumbled and bumbled a bit, and my opponent curved red creatures into bigger red creatures with removal backup. The round was over in 15 minutes. Charging Monstrosaur made sure I was super dead in both games.
Round 4: Mono-Blue Tempo
This match boiled down to me drawing Deafening Clarion when my opponent didn’t have counterspells. I was able to Ixalan’s Binding a Curious Obsession, shutting off his card draw engine and giving me a shot to claw back into the game. Adanto Vanguard was able to attack with abandon, and I took down the match when my opponent missed lands for a few too many turns.
Round 5: Selesnya Midrange
This match was definitely the highlight of the day, and honestly the first two games were largely unimportant. Game 1 my opponent got off to a first start and beat me soundly, while Game 2 I did the same, sending this win-and-in match to Game 3.
I got off to a slow start in Game 3, while my opponent curved creatures into double Venerated Loxodon. I was holding a Settle the Wreckage and tried to entice my opponent to make a big attack. He wasn’t buying it, and I was forced to start chump-blocking with knight tokens from History of Benalia, aggressively using my life total as a resource to find a way back into the game. Turns gets called and my opponent makes the attack I was waiting for – leaving behind a board of small creatures and attacking with his three largest threats. I confidently Settle the Wreckage, and then untap, attack with my knight, and cash in my Deafening Clarion to clean up the board. The end result is an empty board, I have a few more cards in hand and feel good about my spot, but it’s turn five of turns, so we settle for the draw.
Staying Alive starts playing in my head as I take my quick break and prepare for yet another win-and-in.
Round 6: Abzan Mythics
This was a more midrange-y tokens deck. I saw Llanowar Elves, History of Benalia, Vraska, Golgari Queen, Vraska, Relic Seeker, Trostani Discordant, Assassin’s Trophy, and Vraska’s Contempt. Just the classic goodstuff deck.
Game 1 I kept a hand with Lava Coil, History of Benalia, Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice, and three lands (two Mountain, one Plains). I never draw a second land and die pretty quickly.
Game 2 I keep a more aggressive hand that looks great if I can find a third land on curve. Unfortunately, I have more land troubles, get stuck on two lands for a few turns, and then get stuck on three as well. I made a game out of it though, as my opponent almost flooded to the point of letting me claw my way back in. It wasn’t meant to be, though, as he had two March of the Multitudes on the back of a Vraska, Golgari Queen to help keep the cards flowing.
While I wasn’t able to crack into the Top 8 this time, I feel really good about how my deck fared. I assembled the Karn + Treasure Map combo in a few post-sideboard games, and it definitely gave the deck the grind I was looking for. Overall, the sideboard had a couple too many pieces of interaction for control decks, and I’d look to retool the sideboard on a week to week basis depending on the expectations of your local meta.
After giving some thought to the PT meta, I would expect a slight uptick in white weenie decks, but overall the PT meta was extremely healthy and I wouldn’t think that much would fluctuate just due to the PT results. If anything, Adanto Vanguard reminded everyone how great he is, and I’d expect Baffling End and Seal Aways to go up a bit in white decks, and Moment of Craving and Golden Demise in black decks. Otherwise, I’d still expect a healthy meta at any PPTQ or other similar event this weekend.
As for me, I’m going to work on my Angels deck. It feels so powerful when it goes off, and I do think that you can use the flex slots to give the deck an advantage against a wide variety of decks. I’ll start with something like this:
Adanto Vanguard and Tocatli Honor Guard are still the two-drops that you want to be playing (remember that Tocatli Honor Guard turns off Trostani Discordant and Venerated Loxodon!). The maindeck Dire Fleet Daredevil may look weird, but a 2/1 with First Strike is relevant against the weenie decks, and its ability is relevant against all the other decks, and moving the one copy to the main frees up a sideboard slot. I was very impressed with Invoke the Divine last weekend, and I’m happy to try out the second copy in the sideboard. It might be too much, but I’m willing to take the risk. Baffling end and the third Deafening Clarion join the sideboard as ways to keep up in aggro matchups.
Illustrated by Titus Lunter
The other deck I’m looking at is a bit of a brew, or it’s a riff on Golgari, depending on how you look at it. Several months ago, the Winding Constrictor + Hadana’s Climb deck rose in popularity on the back of how powerful Hadana’s Climb was, especially with Walking Ballista and Bristling Hydra. Although those cards have all rotated out of Standard, we still have Hadana’s Climb, and we picked up Vine Mare and Chamber Sentry. The explore creatures naturally pick up +1/+1 counters, and Wildgrowth Walker is one of the premier creatures with all of these aggressive decks running around. I’m going to test this list this week and see where we get:
I am having a blast brewing and tuning decks in this format. It is far from being solved, and it feels like there are too many deck ideas that I just don’t have time to build and test them all. I’m hoping that the Hadana’s Climb deck tests well, but if not, expect me to show up next weekend with my angels.