“Alas, poor Spellsnare! I knew them, Horatio, a website of infinite worth, of most excellent fancy.”
As I alluded to in some of my more recent articles, a big change is approaching for me and my life, as my wife and I take an extended trip to Japan and then permanently relocate on the West (Best) Coast. Seattle is the shinning (grey and damp) star that signifies my place of birth, and NYC, while wonderful and grand, was never truly my home. The siren song of the Pacific could never be fully resisted. Plus I wanna buy a house y’all and NYC is dumb expensive!
The important thing to note behind all that self inflating grandstanding is that change is on the horizon and that unfortunately means my time writing for Spellsnare.com is coming to an end (or maybe just a summer abroad hiatus). It has been an absolute pleasure annoying and bewildering you all with my absurdly heightened levels of enthusiasm and hyperbole. Hopefully my bold claims and advice never steered you wrong, but if it did, at the very least I hope it entertained you.
How does one commemorate what a distinct privilege it was to share my magical musings with y’all? One last bit of Standard metagame advice? Sideboarding for Grixis Death’s Shadow in Modern? I know you wanted one last goofy tournament report for me, but life reared it’s ugly head and I was not able to play in one last NYC PPTQ (much to my chagrin). So what’s a brother to write about in his Spellsnare.com Swan Song?
LETS GET ON THE HYPE CHOO CHOO AND TALK FUN STUFF!
Emrakul, the Promised End is gone.
Reflector Mage is gone.
Smuggler’s Copter is gone.
Felidar Guardian is gone.
Aetherworks Marvel is gone.
2017 has been a rough year for Standard and we’ve seen Wizards take an aggressive approach toward banning troublesome cards. Aetherworks Marvel, in many ways, seemed like the last truly busted thing in Standard, so with its demise hopefully Standard will fall into a healthy and staple place until September comes and we rotate the garbage pile that was Battle for Zendikar block.
So what should you be on the look out for as Hour of Devastation spoilers start popping off? Well allow me to reiterate my last article’s points about Mardu and B/G Constrictor being the default best decks again. Let’s look for goodies that slot into those archetypes, or possibly spell their doom.
This whole cycle of color hosers is pretty powerful (sans for the garbage green one) and this white one in particular’s existence might change how often your opponent just makes Knight tokens and emblems. The fact that your opponent can never expose their Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to his defeat while they just churn out tokens and bash with Heart of Kiran and Scrapheap Scrounger speaks to the limitations of Gideon’s Defeat, and might spell its doom. Gideons.dec needs a lot more white creatures to help someone justify sticking this in their sideboard. Maybe some busted new white mythic will change that, but for now I think Gideon’s Defeat looks worse than it first appears to be. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar’s flexible abilities strand this card in your hand. Pass!
Chandra’s Defeat on the other hand is more interesting! Temur Energy has been a growing archetype and if it continues to be a role player, I could see wanting one of these in my sideboard for sure. 1 Red mana to kill a Whirler Virtuoso (preferably with the energy trigger on the stack), Glorybringer, or Chandra, Torch of Defiance is lot of value at instant speed. If even more red creatures start to see play in this banned-into-oblivion Standard format, it could even be a common option.
Jace’s Defeat is strictly a better Gainsay and if control mirrors become a thing it will certainly see sideboard play. 2 mana is a low cost for something that can answer Torrential Gearhulk, Disallow, or Pull from Tomorrow.
Nissa’s Defeat is stanky and I don’t even wanna look at its embarrassing text. Land destruction in this day and age of Magic? Get out!
Liliana’s Defeat is my best bet for a member of this cycle that will see immediate sideboard play and will be significantly metagame impactful. Fatal Push is one of the best and more important cards in the B/G Constrictor mirror, and Defeat’s low cost allows you to break serve. The fact that Wizards made Liliana’s Defeat a sorcery whereas the other two Defeat removal spells are instants I think speaks to the power level of this card. Let’s say I’m on the play, and lead with my turn 2 Winding Constrictor. You match it or play a Grim Flayer, maybe a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Guess what? I kill your 2 drop for 1 measly mana and drop my 2/2 Walking Ballista. Do you like tempo? Cuz it’s all mine!
Plus this little removal spell answers a wide variety of expected boarded-in haymakers. Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Noxious Gearhulk, and Ob Nixilis Reignited are all defeated along with Liliana. I’m not saying this card is gonna be a four-of in any sideboard or even necessarily see mainboard play, but its existence should drastically alter the way B/G mirrors play out.
The big baddy of Amonkhet block, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh is pretty dope and does a whole lot of stuff, but it’s not entirely clear where he could fit into the metagame. Torrential Gearhulk plays a lot better with the draw-go aspect of most of the current Control decks, and the big tap-out planeswalker might need a completely new archetype to facilitate him. The card is powerful though and if I was looking to build around him, I’d fully expect him to be my finisher. His -4 doming fools for 7 is a fast way to close out a game.
Samut, the Tested on the other hand is neither dope nor powerful. The R/G Planeswalker looks like wet cardboard covered in day-old pasta sauce. Not a fan. Her +1 requires an aggressive curve and doesn’t play well from behind at all. Her -2 deals a minuscule 2 damage (which kills pretty much nothing in modern Magic) and although it can be split between two targets, it is just too underpowered. Hard pass on Samut.
Ramunap Excavator reminds me of Courser of Kruphix and pleasant memories immediately start rushing back. The Cruicible of Worlds stapled to a body means a lot with cycling lands in Standard. The idea of aggressively cycling lands in the early turns when you don’t need to cast removal and then gaining value from playing them from the graveyard sounds exactly like my kind of durdling midrange deck. A 2/3 body isn’t as good as a 2/4 that gains life, but Courser of Kruphix was a format defining card after all. I’m keeping my eye on this Naga Cleric for sure. Fingers crossed I get to durdle!
The spoilers are early so we haven’t seen a ton, but those are the main cards that excite or horrify me. Feel free to comment below and heap piles of praise on me, and maybe also what Hour of Devastation cards got you excited. It has been an absolute pleasure Spellsnare.com, and I hope to return when I’m settled in Seattle! Until then!
Austin Clarke Mansell
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It’s been a real pleasure getting to read your articles every week, learning from you, and trying my absolute best to get the references you throw in your articles (I got the one this week 🙂 ). Your mix of humor and analysis has made your articles truly unique, and we’ll hold down the fort in NYC for you (east coast, beast coast). Hope that Japan is a great experience and that we get to read more of your articles when you’re settled in Seattle.