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By: Rasparthe, R.A. Sparthe
Nov 23 2008 7:30am
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It is interesting to discover that there are many, many Magic players out there that are a great deal smarter than Richard S Fuld Jr. Who? Richard S Fuld Jr. He is the man who flew the one of the largest investment banks right into the side of a mountain like a drunken, narcoleptic pilot. MTGO players aren’t investing in junk equities, garbage commercial paper and near-criminal mortgage derivatives. They are investing in dual lands from MED2 or Orim’s Chant or Moxes. Force of Will may soon cost more than a barrel of oil. Those investments haven’t lost forty percent of their value in the last six months. Richard S Fuld Jr might have a net worth of close to one billion dollars but who is smarter?

So what sort of advise would I give Mr. Fuld now?  Well if he is following Alara Block Constructed he had best be buying Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Sarkham Vol.  The Block scene has degenerated into only two Shards monkey-stomping all over the others.  Actually, that isn't exactly true since someone would have to be playing Grixis Shard for the aforementioned stomping to take place.  Nevertheless, three Block Constructed tournaments were run this past week.  Jund, Bant, and their hybrid decks took 21 of the 24 possible placings.  The other three spots were taken by Esper decks.

latheknight - 1st Place - Nov 15

 


              24 Lands

Arcane Sanctum
Bant Panorama
Forest
Island
Jungle Shrine
Plains
Seaside Citadel

            19 Creatures

Battlegrace Angel
Knight of the White Orchid
Rafiq of the Many
Rhox War Monk
Sigiled Paladin

 


             

           17 Other Spells

Bant Charm
Courier's Capsule
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Oblivion Ring
Sigil of Distinction

 

               Sideboard

Dispeller's Capsule
Naturalize
Relic of Progenitus
Stoic Angel

The most successful Bant list are very aggressive and depend heavily on their Exalted creatures.  This deck tries to minimize the impact of Bant wrecking ball cards like Jund Charm and Infest by running only seven cards that die to the sweepers.  One of the biggest strength of this deck is its lifelink creatures.  They ensure that this deck is in the game no matter how close you get to zero life.  A single Rhox War Monk, beefed up by Battlegrace Angel, can make eight point swings in life.  It simply gets ridiculous if you add a Rafiq of the Many or a second Angel.  It is interesting to see there are no less than twelve artifact kill cards in this list and that isn't even including the Relics.

leprechaun01 - 4th place - Nov 15


           

           24 Lands

Crumbling Necropolis
Forest
Jungle Shrine
Mountain
Savage Lands
Swamp

         15 Creatures

Broodmate Dragon
Caldera Hellion
Elvish Visionary
Mycoloth
Skullmulcher
Sprouting Thrinax

 


           

         21 Other Spells

Blightning
Bone Splinters
Dragon Fodder
Goblin Assault
Resounding Thunder
Sarkhan Vol

            Sideboard

Caldera Hellion
Hissing Iguanar
Jund Charm
Magma Spray
Mycoloth
Naturalize
Skullmulcher

 
This is a fairly typical Jund deck. There are just as many variations as in the Bant Shard but they run a fairly consistent formula. They are much more controlling than the aggressive Bant decks and some even run less creatures than typical draft deck. This particular deck runs some disruption, a good deal of removal, and four copies of Dragon Fodder and three Goblin Assaults to generate some early pressure and feed for the always hungry Devour creatures.  Sarkhan Vol provides the pump for an army of tokens or just steals your opponents best creature but it mostly the lethal blow is delivered by the tough to remove Broodmate Dragon and his token friends.
 
Does it mean we are doomed to a two-horse race until the next set is released and spices up the format again?  Play Bant or Jund or just don't play?  It doesn't seem likely.  We have not seen any type of traditional draw-and-go control deck.  This may be a result of the quality of the counter spells.  Cancel is, of course, solid.  After that, there isn't much to look to.  Spell Snip is no Force Spike or Mana Leak.  Punish Ignorance, although powerful, seems just to color demanding to see serious play.  The other counters have many targeting restrictions.  The biggest disapointment is Scourglass.  It might just make the list as worst Wrath of God variant yet.  Allowing a full attack phase for any type of Alpha-Kamikazee strike your opponent can mount.  The end result amounts to control players forced to board or hand control, which, in Shards of Alara, is mostly done at sorcery speed.
 
It is not to say a serious control deck won't appear but for now it appears that success in the format likely means turning creatures sideways and heading for the red zone.
 
So what is on the horizon?  What is the next big deck?  With all the Tri-lands, the Panoramas, and Obilesks there is a plethora of color fixing.  I would imagine we will start to see hybrid decks, quite possibly of Bant and Jund, that run four or even all five colors for the best cards in each deck.  These hybrids have already seen some success.
 
alucard_999 - 2nd Place - Nov 15

 

            24 Lands

Crumbling Necropolis
Forest
Island
Jungle Shrine
Mountain
Naya Panorama
Plains
Seaside Citadel

            23 Creatures

Akrasan Squire
Battlegrace Angel
Druid of the Anima
Feral Hydra
Ranger of Eos
Rhox War Monk
Steward of Valeron
Wild Nacatl
Woolly Thoctar
 

 

             14 Other Spells

Ajani Vengeant
Bant Charm
Cancel
Hindering Light
Naya Charm
Sarkhan Vol
Sigil of Distinction
 

                  Sideboard

Cancel
Feral Hydra
Hindering Light
Magma Spray
Naturalize
Oblivion Ring
Resounding Silence
Sigil Blessing
Swerve
Titanic Ultimatum
 

 
This isn't too heavy into four colors.  Red was added to gain the utility of Ajani Vengeant and Sarkhan Vol in a Bant deck.  I expect to see some decks with much heavier commitment to off-Shard colors for some of the better spells that can be gained with minimal pain.  Perhaps even a true five-color.  The other reason I found this deck so interesting was that it looks like it might be the first steps to Planeswalker Control deck.  Naya provides all the colors needed for three separate Planeswalkers.  Will we see something on this front?  Only time will tell.  Which, funny enough, is what they say when one inquires if the Grixis developers will be allowed to design any further cards.
 
As usual, the full deck lists for this week can be found here for November 13, November 14, and November 15