Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Brewing in a Post SOM Standard

I have a confession to make: I am not a very good deck builder. I'm good at making small adjustments and finding new tech for existing archetypes, but I suck when it comes to building a deck from scratch. Nevertheless, every year at the beginning of the rotation, I try to homebrew a standard deck thinking I could be the one who could break the format. I pretty much fail every single time. Scars of Mirrodin is officially out and legal for Standard, which means it was time for me get brewing. Of course, I had to start with my three favorite cards in the set:

The first thing I brewed up was a rather pathetic attempt at an Artifact Based Mono Red Control deck. You can view the rough draft here. The main problem with the deck is that it just doesn't do much. It has a couple of randomly explosive plays, but for the most part the deck is pretty slow. It was also just bad at being a control deck. Ratchet Bomb is actually rather awkward and easy to play around. All is Dust wasn't quite fast enough to be a good sweeper, and it was easy for the opponent to recover from on top of that. I think Mimic Vat has a lot of potential, but it just didn't work in this deck. The only way for me to kill larger creatures is Brittle Effigy, and that card exiles so the dead creature can't even be imprinted onto the vat. When I tested the deck, it very poorly against Elves and Valakut Ramp ... like could barely win any games poorly. The only deck it really did good against was U/W Control, but that can mostly be attributed to how amazing Koth is against control decks. I had to go back to the drawing board.

Well what was actually good about this deck? Koth and Wurmcoil engines are champions, and the phoenix is actually a bit better than I thought it was going to be. Brittle Effigy is surprisingly amazing. It makes it easier for me to have metalcraft, kills Baneslayers and Titans, and exiles annoying creatures like Vengevine and opposing Wurmcoil Engines. Sometimes this deck would get randomly explosive starts like playing a turn 4 Wurmcoil Engine off a turn three Koth. I knew that if I wanted this deck to be competive, I had to concentrate on making its explosive starts consistant.

The first thing I wanted to do was give the deck another amazing four drop. I contemplated using the Masticore, but I didn't run enough creatures to abuse his ability. I decided that I was going to test out Lodestone Golem, since its big and buys me a couple of turns against the ramp decks. I then decided that I needed Iron Myrs in my deck, so I could consistently cast my four drops on turn three. Destructive Force replaced All is Dust as the deck's main sweeper of choice. The revised deck list can be found here.

These kinds of plays now happen all of the time:

T2: Iron Myr.
T3: Koth. Untap a Mountain to leave up for a bolt.
T4: Use Koth to Destructive Force. Then play a mountain and proceed to kill them with said mountain as they struggle to do anything.


T2: Iron Myr.
T3 Everflowing Chalice (2 counters)
T4: Wurmcoil Engine 


T2: Everflowing Chalice (1 counter)
T3: Koth. Untap Mountain to leave up for a bolt.
T4: Wurmcoil Engine.

Even this is a strong opening:

T2: Iron Myr.
T3: Lodestone Golem

Preliminary testing has shown that deck is doing much better against the Tier 1 Ramp decks, much better against Elves, and is still good against U/W Control. Lodestone Golem has been amazing. A turn 3 Lodestone Golem slows the ramp decks down by at least two turns, which gives me plenty of time to play more bombs and apply pressure. They also let me randomly steal games against opponents who miss their early land drops. The sideboard still needs a lot of work, but ultimately I think I may actually be onto something.