As you can see, the full-art, foil promo is better art. I'll also need it for my Dragon collection. This lead to me sitting down on the Saturday night to deck build for the next day's Game Day at Antics.
I've not had a Standard-legal deck in about a year. Not really had any interest in the format in that time, especially since Kaladesh hit none of my flavour buttons. So I started my deck-building by going through my collection and pulling out any interesting Standard-legal cards in Black and Green.
Why these two colours? They are my favourite to play as a combination, and no matter the format usually lead to a Midrange Rock-style deck. It has become a deck of decent solo creatures, disruption, removal and incremental advantage. It's a style of deck I play often, my Modern weapon of choice being Jund. This came from reading the old Five-With-Flores articles, where one about Midrange lead me to learn that it fit my playstyle, and I haven't looked back.
That procedure left me with roughly a Fat Pack (Bundle for you new kids) box full of cards I thought might be playable/interesting/fun. A little more sifting/cutting lead to actually having to make decisions.
- How much land do I want?
- Do I want an Energy package?
- Do I invest heavily in Delirium?
- Do I go more aggro or control?
Here is the answer I can up with
4 x Sylvan Advocate
4 x Tireless Tracker
2 x Verdurous Gearhulk
1 x Ishkanah, Grafwidow
2 x Noxious Gearhulk
1 x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
2 x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
1 x Liliana, the Last Hope
2 x Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 x Liliana, Death's Majesty
4 x Oath of Nissa
2 x Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 x Grasp of Darkness
2 x Transgress the Mind
2 x Ruinous Path
1 x Never (to) Return
4 x Hissing Quagmire
4 x Blooming Marsh
3 x Evolving Wilds
1 x Blighted Fen
6 x Swamp
6 x Forest
1 x Manglehorn
2 x Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1 x Ishkanah, Grafwidow
2 x Transgress the Mind
2 x Pick the Brain
1 x Dispossess
3 x Appetite for the Unnatural
3 x Flaying Tendrils
This is what I settled on by the time I went to bed. I had a slightly different build, but jamming some games on Forge told me I probably needed some more early removal, which meant switching in the Grasp of Darkness'ss. A few more games told me that weakness had been shored up, but I needed to get to bed rather than get more games in.
Some of the choices will look strange. I settled on 24 land out of habit. One of the Basic Lands should probably be another Evolving Wilds, but I could only find three. The Blighted Fen is a pet card. I'll always try and run one while it's in Standard. It's also a potential out to cards like Ulamog.
The 1 Liliana, the Last Hope is because that's all I currently own. It's too good a card to not use, and should potentially be a higher number, but I'm not going to trade for one or more just for this deck. 12 pieces of removal (including Planeswalker abilities and Gearhulks) felt about right. I suspect that's one of those things one gets a feel for as one plays the game more and more.
The Sideboard was a little haphazard. I knew the "popular" decks in the format were Mardu Vehicles and Aetherworks Marvel. However, I had no idea how popular they would be locally. So the board is attempted answers to those decks, and some other cards, again based on what I had immediately available.
The deck ended up being pretty straightforward G/B Rock, with a small Delirium package. Not enough to go all in, but enough to power up some cards in the late game/get to that board state sooner. Ulamog is a surprise card to push over the top, should the game go long enough. The double exile should be enough, even if he then gets Cast Out, or faces similar removal.
The event was 4 rounds with a Top 4 cut. My interest was in making the Top 8, as that's how you won the Dragon. Trueheart Duelist was the participation promo, so that was easy to achieve. With 12 Players, a record of 2-2 (6 points) should Top 8. That meant I could afford 2 losses and still make my goal. Not that I particularly wanted any losses, but it was nice to know an average record would still get me the card.
I thought no more of it and settled down to play my first match. It went great. 2-0 and didn't touch my Sideboard. That's not just the first match, that would be repeated every round during the Swiss. I faced a variety of decks, none of which appeared to be typical builds of any archetype I've read about. The games came down to drawing enough removal, having Planeswalkers stick and beating down with the creatures. So, basically, what the deck is supposed to do.
This left me facing down the Top 4 having already achieved my goal. The semi-final and final went the same way, facing someone I had already faced in the Swiss. My deck continued to do it's job and I was victorious.
This meant I also won this snazzy playmat.
I've since played the deck in an FNM to similar results. One game loss and a final round that ended in a time out. Actually did some sideboarding that day though. This has lead me to want to make some changes to the Sideboard
1 Appetite for the Unnatural becomes 1 Manglehorn
1 Appetite for the Unnatural becomes 1 Dispossess
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow becomes 1 Never (to) Return
To be honest, this is another of those "feeling" things, where I'm having trouble explaining my reasoning. I think I want the Appetite for the Unnaturals swapped out, as a second Manglehorn is probably better in the Mardu Vehicles match-up and the second Dispossess is better against Aetherworks Marvel and Dynavolt Tower. Ishkanah, Grafwidow is coming out because I don't actually see a reason to side it in, so a second Never (to) Return replaces it, giving me extra removal if wanted and a hedge against any emergent Graveyard strategy.
I'll be playing this deck at FNMs for a while, unless other games distract me. It's a great time slot to play the Star Wars LCG. I've got a sweet Lothal Spectres deck to test and hone down from 12 Objective Sets. But it's nice to have a Standard deck I enjoy playing again, after so long. It will be interesting to see what Hour of Devastation brings, especially as I will want a set of that to compliment the Amonkhet set.
Speaking of, as of writing this, I still need two cards. Hopefully I'll be able to track them down/trade for them soon. Then on with the chore of trying to get more of the Invocations.