Brewing for Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze Part 2

For those of you who have not read the first part of this article I suggest you check it out here!

 

Hello again! In today’s portion of my article I’m going to take a peek at a few more RTR/GTC decklists that have been achieving success online and then follow up with a few brews I’ve been thinking about for the post Dragon’s Maze format. On to the deck lists!

 

Five Colour Control:

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Here’s a list that in the last week has posted a 4-0 record in a daily event and a 1st place finish in a premiere event on Magic Online. It has clearly been designed to prey on Esper Control, the most popular deck in the format. This deck combats conventional Esper on a few different fronts. It plans to win Sphinx’s Revelation wars by main-decking two copies of dispel and having access to two copies of Rakdos’s Return to either pre-empt a revelation or force the opponent to discard a full grip post-revelation. It gains further card advantage against Esper by completely blanking the opponent’s removal spells (by virtue of running no maindeck creatures,) and by fighting the Jace war with much more powerful answers than the Esper deck has (ie. 1 Vraska, 2 Rakdos’s Return vs. 3 Detention Sphere.) Lastly, this deck runs a surprise win condition in Psychic Spiral, providing it with a strategic advantage against opponents that aren’t familiar with the strategy. If the PT Dragon’s Maze metagame is as saturated with control decks as the current format is then a deck like this could perform extremely well.

 Azorius Guildgate
 Dimir Guildgate
 Godless Shrine
 Hallowed Fountain
 Island
 Orzhov Guildgate
 Plains
 Stomping Ground
 Swamp
 Watery Grave


27 lands


0 creatures

 Azorius Charm
 Devour Flesh
 Dispel
 Jace, Architect of Thought
 Prophetic Prism
 Psychic Spiral
 Psychic Strike
 Rakdos’s Return
 Sphinx’s Revelation
 Supreme Verdict
 Vraska the Unseen


33 other spells

Sideboard

 Angel of Serenity
 Azorius Charm
 Detention Sphere
 Dimir Charm
 Dispel
 Obzedat, Ghost Council
 Psychic Spiral
 Underworld Connections

What changes post-Dragon’s Maze?

Like traditional esper, this deck gets access to Far//Away, Warped Physique, and Renounce the Guilds, as well the the anti-revelation duo of Council of the Absolute and Notion Thief. A card I forgot to mention in the first half of the article is Render Silent. I’m not sure if the increased difficulty of casting this card is really worth the awkward mana cost, but it’s at least something to be aware of. It may be better suited to a straight blue-white deck.  This deck also potentially gains a copy or two of Ral Zarek on the splash as another non-creature threat in control mirrors that serves double duty as a walking removal spell.

On the other side of the coin, this deck is hurt mostly by the unknown metagame that approaches. This strategy, though having game against everything, is very much a metagame deck. This deck is also hurt by the same cards that are well positioned against traditional control strategies, in particular Notion Thief, Council of the Absolute, Sire of Insanity, Voice of Resurgence and Advent of the Wurm. I believe that this deck will be a solid choice a month down the road if the metagame continues to revolve around Sphinx’s Revelation despite the hate that has been introduced in Dragon’s Maze, but it’s a bit of a gamble going into a new format in the dark.

Not Quite Blitz

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This is a deck that has clearly been inspired by the Standard format’s Naya Blitz, though it lacks many of the cards that make the strategy truly formidable. This deck contends with mono red for the title of best aggressive deck in the format, boasting more and better 1-drops, slightly better use of Burning-Tree Emissary, and 4 maindeck answers to Supreme Verdict (as well as the ability to sometimes regenerate Experiment One), but suffering from a weaker and more painful manabase. I prefer the versatility of this list to the mono red version, mostly because of Boros Charm and Ghor-Clan Rampager, though both aggressive strategies have their merits.

 Forest
 Mountain
 Plains
 Sacred Foundry
 Stomping Ground
 Temple Garden


20 lands

 Boros Elite
 Boros Reckoner
 Brushstrider
 Burning-Tree Emissary
 Dryad Militant
 Experiment One
 Firefist Striker
 Ghor-Clan Rampager
 Gore-House Chainwalker
 Rakdos Cackler


36 creatures

 Boros Charm


4 other spells

 Frontline Medic
 Mizzium Mortars
 Mugging
 Selesnya Charm
 Skullcrack

What changes?

Not much. Dragon’s Maze is a fairly weak set in general and offers next to nothing for aggressive strategies. It is possible that this deck might wish to sacrifice a small amount of consistency for power by replacing its weakest 4 cards (being perhaps 2 Brush Strider and 2 Boros Elite) for 4 copies of Voice of Resurgence, but otherwise I don’t think the main deck is going anywhere. The sideboard gets a little more action with access to Unflinching Courage (AKA Armadillo Cloak) for creature matchups, as well as the removal spells Wear//Tear and Renounce the Guilds.

Like the other aggressive strategies this deck is potentially negatively impacted by the improvement of midrange decks in the format because of cards like Advent of the Wurm and Voice of Resurgence. Unflinching Courage is also an excellent tool against aggressive decks. It remains to be seen whether these aggressive strategies will be able to get consistently underneath midrange and control strategies in the format or if this just simply isn’t a format for aggro decks.

Speaking of midrange decks…

Big Naya:

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The midrange complement to the previous deck, this deck positions itself to prey on aggressive strategies and attempts to win the control matchups with a sideboard full of Boros Charms and Assemble the Legions. In a vacuum this sort of strategy seems reasonable, but when you examine the top tables in this format they are consistently full of Sphinx’s Revelation decks at the moment. Regardless, this deck is a good model for what a midrange deck should look like in this format.

 Boros Guildgate
 Forest
 Gruul Guildgate
 Mountain
 Plains
 Sacred Foundry
 Selesnya Guildgate
 Stomping Ground
 Temple Garden


24 lands

 Angel of Serenity
 Aurelia, the Warleader
 Boros Reckoner
 Centaur Healer
 Deadbridge Goliath
 Experiment One
 Gyre Sage
 Keening Apparition
 Loxodon Smiter


27 creatures

 Domri Rade
 Mizzium Mortars
 Selesnya Charm


9 other spells

Sideboard

 Assemble the Legion
 Aurelia, the Warleader
 Boros Charm
 Keening Apparition
 Mizzium Mortars
 Selesnya Charm
 Skullcrack


15 sideboard cards

What changes?

This deck gets the Selesnya duo of Voice of Resurgence and Advent of the Wurm and is quite happy about it. In the sideboard, like small naya, it gets access to Wear//Tear, Unflinching Courage, and Renounce the Guilds. This deck’s position in the metagame will likely be strengthened by Dragon’s Maze, not only because it gains some powerful maindeck threats, but also because the format is gaining such powerful hate cards for Sphinx’s Revelation decks (Council, Thief, Sire) which may serve to weaken the position of blue decks. The question that needs to be answered is: will this deck be able to out-midrange other midrange strategies or will a more powerful midrange deck arise?

I think that provides a fairly well-rounded snapshot of what’s going on in the current RTR Block Constructed format. On to step 3: Brewing.

I’m not going to promise that any of these lists will win the Pro Tour, but they should serve as an informative starting point to players who are attending the PT or are intent on playing block constructed on Magic Online.

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I am of the opinion that Advent of the Wurm is going to be one of the defining cards of this format. My friend Lucas Siow who recently won yet another PTQ expressed the opinion the other day that the best decks of previous block constructed formats have all revolved around powerful 4-drops (Falkenrath Aristocrat, Hero of Bladehold, Jace TMS, Bloodbraid Elf, etc.) Four of the biggest contenders for the honour of best 4-drop in the format are Jace, Architect of Thought , Supreme Verdict, Advent of the Wurm and Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice. Of those cards, Advent of the Wurm is the only card that is formidable both offensively and defensively and of those cards Advent of the Wurm is the only one that screams “build around me!” So, let’s start with Selesnya.

Selesnya Populate

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7 Plains

7 Forest

4 Selesnya Guildgate

4 Temple Garden

1 Grove of the Guardian

3 Rootborn Defenses

2 Growing Ranks

4 Voice of Resurgence

4 Selesnya Charm

4 Call of the Conclave

4 Gyre Sage

4 Loxodon Smiter

2 Wayfaring Temple

4 Advent of the Wurm

2 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

2 Scion of Vhitu-Ghazi

2 Armada Wurm

Sideboard:

1 Rootborn Defenses

1 Growing Ranks

3 Arrest

1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

1 Collective Blessing

3 Sundering Growth

3 Unflinching Courage

1 Pithing Needle

1 Aerial Predation

This is a first attempt at a fairly aggressive Selesnya midrange populate deck. You can push the token generation really far with cards like Wake the Reflections, Slime Moulding, Alive//Well, and Wayfaring Temple, but none of those cards are very good when things aren’t going well for you. My approach is to play a synergistic good cards deck rather than put all my eggs in one basket. Depending on the number of Supreme Verdict decks it may be right to run the full 4 Rootborn Defenses in the main deck. It is also conceivable that a turn 1 Experiment One is good enough in this deck that it’s worth including despite it being a weaker draw at any other point. Speaking of evolve creatures, this deck is very good at growing Gyre Sage, which will allow for some fairly aggressive openings including Advent of the Wurm, Scion of Vhitu-Ghazi, and Armada Wurm.

This iteration of Selesnya sort of plays the middle-ground in terms of what is possible for the archetype. It could get substantially lower to the ground with cards like Boros Elite, Dryad Militant, and Experiment One, with Advent of the Wurm serving as a curve topper, or it could slow down even more to accommodate Angel of Serenity and/or 3-4 copies of Armada Wurm. The deck needs to strike a balance such that it’s JUST aggressive enough to beat Sphinx’s Revelation decks, but slow enough that it is well positioned against opposing midrange strategies.

Another take on Advent of the Wurm is to be slower than everyone and play Bant Control, but what would this look like? To get a sense of this deck I began with Paul Rietzl and Matt Sperling’s Standard Zegana Bant deck, since the majority of the cards belong to RTR block and I know from experience that the deck is quite well rounded.

Compared to the Standard version of the deck we lose Restoration Angel, Thragtusk, Farseek, and the one-of Garruk, Primal Hunter. Restoration Angel is fairly painlessly replaced by Advent of the Wurm, a card which interacts quite favourably with Prime Speaker Zegana, and Farseek is replaced with an extra land and Voice of Resurgance. Voice may not “replace” Farseek very well, but it’s a very good card against a variety of strategies and fills the curve appropriately. Thragtusk and Garruk are slightly more difficult to replace. We get 2 copies of Deadbridge Goliath, 1 copy of Scion of Vitu-Ghaze, and a pair of Jace, Architect of Thought instead in an attempt to preserve Zegana’s potency and replace lost card advantage from Thragtusk and Garruk.

While this deck doesn’t push for value with its tokens the way that the Selesnya list can it includes a very high density of good cards and is much more versatile in terms of the roles it can adopt in a given match. I’m not sure if this approach is superior to the other Sphinx’s Revelation decks that might be available, but it seems like a fairly powerful strategy in a vacuum.

Zegana Bant

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4 Temple Garden

4 Breeding Pool

4 Hallowed fountain

1 Simic Guildgate

2 Selesnya Guildgate

1 Azorius Guildgate

4 Plains

3 Forest

3 Island

4 Azorius Charm

2 Detention Sphere

2 Supreme Verdict

3 Sphinx’s Revelation

2 Selesnya Charm

4 Voice of Resurgence

4 Loxodon Smiter

2 Deadbridge Goliath

4 Advent of the Wurm

2 Jace, Architect of Thought

1 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi

2 Prime Speaker Zegana

2 Angel of Serenity

Sideboard:

2 Cancel

2 Jace, Architect of Thought

2 Dispel

2 Council of the Absolute

2 Supreme Verdict

1 Detention Sphere

1 Keening Apparition

2 Dramatic Rescue

1 Selesnya Charm

I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. It looks like I’m going to have to write a Part 3, because I’ve hardly scratched the surface. I haven’t even found a home for Sire of Insanity yet! If you have any comments, questions, suggestions or deck ideas please let me know!

Thanks for tuning in!

Glenn McIelwain

_GMac_ on modo

@glennmcielwain on twitter

6mtg, magic the gathering, pro tour, PTDGM, RTR block constructed, brewing,