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Wait...Black in Standard Again?!

OK, so last week was met with pretty good response.  That's great, because I like to build decks, and you like seeing new decks.  This can be the start of a beautiful relationship (just don't tell my fiancee).
 
Anyway, personal love interests aside, I think Standard (Type 2) tournament play has an extremely bright future.  My original thought process was that Goblin Sharpshooter and Disciple of the Vault should have been banned right along with Skullclamp.  Personally, I don't think that I be too upset if either of them got banned tomorrow.  However, after much playtesting, I must admit that I am starting to agree more and more with WotC's decision.  Affinity Ravager and Goblins are both good decks still.  This just opens the field to a few more decks.
 
Oh, don't sit here and think that last statement isn't true.  Many store owners and dealers that I've spoken with are much happier these days.  Why?  Because the format is wide open.  This has led to a lot of singles moving.  More accurately, a wider variety of singles are being sold.  A month ago, dealers needed large supplies of Oxidize, Electrostatic Bolt, and Goblin Piledrivers.  Now cards like Silver Knight, Decree of Pain, and even Ravenous Baloth are on the move again.  Players are even needing to purchase Swamps and Islands to complete some of their decks.  That's right...I said it...Swamps and Islands are actually lands that get to see tournament play again on the major scene.
 
Fifth Dawn had brought a lot more decks to the forefront.  Obviously green has acquired a lot with the multicolored stuff.  There are some neat artifacts in the set.  Black got some neat creatures.  White got some interesting spells.  Blue got a ton of good stuff.  Red got some serious damage spells.  Everything is fun to play all over again.  Is Ravager still good....defintiely.  But it is now less likely to get the insanely "lucky" draws.
 
All that being said...I'm not sure how much I like the change to my new article formatting.  I lose some pretty interesting pieces.  I know that I want to keep doing good and bad play of the week.  I might occasionally do a "Spotlight On" to replace my recommended card of the week.  And my play tip of the week is probably going to only appear every other week or every third week.  With me posting decks and other information, there should be plenty to absorb here on a weekly basis.
 
So Hot Momma was a pretty fast deck we covered last week.  Maybe that wasn't for everyone.  So this week I will cover a slower deck that more control oriented.  I want to spend a little more time explaining card choices than matchups.  I know that the matchups are really important to some people.  However, right now, it's how to even say what the good versions of each deck are going to look like.  With that limited knowledge, giving you a guideline for the matchups doesn't seem that helpful, considering there is a good chance for the guidelines to be incorrect.  I'll leave that up to the testing in your local metagame.
 
Anyway, here is a a black control style deck to consider.
 
 
Ace
 
22 Swamp
3 Stalking Stones
2 Plunge Into Darkness
3 Decree of Pain
1 Visara, the Dreadful
4 Diabolic Tutor
1 Royal Assassin
3 Guardian Idol
4 Barter in Blood
3 Consume Spirit
2 Death Cloud
3 Mind Sludge
3 Dark Banishing
3 Echoing Decay
2 Extraplanar Lens
1 Persecute
 
Sideboard (tentative):
2 Pulse of the Dross
2 Aether Snap
3 Withered Wretch
2 Terror
3 Oblivon Stone
2 Infest
1 Scrabbling Claws
 
So this may not be the most optimal version of monoblack control right now.  However, in early playing, the deck looks pretty neat and stable.  The mana draws are decent, which is a huge start for any deck.  Also, the removal spells compliment the few creature you do have well.  But let us go over the individual card selections.
 
Swamps are the obvious must have.  Hard to cast black spells reliably without him.  Stalking Stones on the other hand may not be so obvious.  I almost went with Blinkmouth Nexus, but as it turns out, they aren't any better than he stones.  You can keep creature out of the way long enough for the Stalking Stones to do their dirty work late in the game, so it's a non-issue.  Also, the stones are larger than the nexus without extra help.  The tradeoff is that you give up flight, which is totally acceptable.
 
Plunge into Darkness seems like it might possibly be one of the best black cards in Fifth Dawn.  I like it a lot.  It lets you sacrifice creatures for life if need be, or you can just pay some life to try and draw into what you need.  This card could just as well be Night's Whisper though and I'd be fine with that.  Night's Whisper is a damn good card as well, which could easily fill this slot.  Decree of Pain can help draw some cards as well.  You just get the added benefit of being able to take down a creature or two with it.
 
Diabolic Tutor is still one of the best black cards in the format.  The ability to search out ANY cards from your deck is pretty powerful.  It also lets you save space in the deck to add a few more cards.  You can get away with more cards having one or two copies, because of this card.  You're rarely upset to draw one of these.
 
Guardian Idol is the new card that I think should appear in most serious control decks.  It's overall versatility remains to be seen.  However, it helps with the mana situation in this deck a lot.  Have a two casting cost mana producer allows for a lot of things to happen early on turn three.  It also doubles as a creature.  Since it activates to become a creature, you can keep it from getting nailed by your mass removal spells.
 
There are a horde of removal cards outside of Decree of Pain in the deck.  Barter in Blood, Consume Spirit, Death Cloud, Dark Banishing, and Echoing Decay make up this section of the deck.  The reason Echoing Decay made the cut instead of Terror simply comes down to the metagame being played right now.  There is a chance you can kill multiple goblins with it.  You can also kill most of the Affinity Ravager deck creatures with it (whereas Terror would do nothing).  Death Cloud and Consume Spirit can double up as finishers for the later part of the game.  It's always good to have a clean up crew you can topdeck for the win.  Extraplanar Lens is also hiding out to help some of these expensive spells along.
 
I felt that having some form of discard was needed and I couldn't truly settle on spells that fit well, but were still good against most of the metagame decks.  So I went with three Mind Sludge and one Persecute.  These seem to fit well without any major problems.  With some control decks starting to rear their ugly heads again, discard is going to be an important game element sometimes.
 
The creature choices aren't amazing, but there also aren't very many of them.  Honestly, there are only two TRUE creatures in the deck; Visara, the Dreadful and Royal Assassin.  Visara, is a late game closer if things get tight, but can also put your opponent's attackers on ice for a little while.  Royal Assassin seems like a forgotten card that is really good in the format right now.  When a creatures is tapped, he can off them.  This helps with big Ravager creatures that just got some counters on them.  Also, when you think about it, most decks aren't playing direct creature kill, so this little guy's life expectancy is a bit longer than normal these days.  Don't forget though that you do get Stalking Stones and Guardian Idol to use as creatures if you need them.  You are not without help. 
 
The sideboard is a jumble of cards to help in control matchups and the heavy beatdown match.  Outside of those, you just have to experiment with what you need and add it in there.  This is one of the few times getting to play Aether Snap is good.  You can wipe out Ravager decks and Sunburst based decks with this card.  You just gotta love the ability to remove counters.  All of the extra creature kill will be good against decks like White Weenie and Goblins though. 
 
This deck should hold you over until next week at least.  I have an idea.  Why don't you guys write me and let me know what type of deck I should post?  You can be as vague as you want or as specific as you want.  Be aware though that there's a lower chance me working on a deck if it's too specific.  For example...asking for a Red/Blue beatdown deck is going to be a lot more likely of appearing than a Red/Blue beatdown deck with Card Alpha, Card Omega, and Card Beta in it.  I also want to hear more of what you think about these decks.  Do you enjoy me posting rogue decks.  Do you want me to post more traditional stuff.  What ideas are you liking or disliking?
 
With that business done, I want to take a moment to remind all of you players out there to not overthink yourselves when playing.  I've watch players do this all week for some reason.  Games are won on the little plays.  People keep working about trick plays or special things they can do when activating cards.  The truth is, those little tricks only come in handy once every 50 games or so (if even that often), so why worry about them.  Concentrate on the situation at hand.  Don't cloud your head with lots of outside thoughts.  If you hit a critical juncture in the game, you need to be able to observe all the small possibilities and be confident in your decision.  After all, if you haven't looked at the small stuff, how can you truly know the implications of your next play?  Sound simple, but I've watched players through games away by convincing themselves that things are a certain way when hey aren't.  Or players have even created scenarios in their heads of how things should play out and then they don't.  Don't overthink yourself.
 
 
Well, that looks like all the damage I can to here this week.  I have no clue what type of deck I want to tackle next.  I think it might be one more new one while I wait for the metagame to shakedown a little bit.  Things are still too volatile to try and tackle one of the big dogs at the moment.  Besides this is more fun.
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn on IRC
PowrDragn on City of Heroes - Champion server
powrdragn at pojo dot com
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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