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By: Arnnaria, Sean Costales
Apr 10 2008 1:15am
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Welcome to Pure Standard! 

Last week I gave a challenge to build and play a Mono Black Deck in a Standard Premier Event.  A couple of people responded to the challenge and played the deck with some success.  Mono Black isn’t a tier one deck, but given the right matches, it can go the distance.  This week we’ll look over some of the decks that were played in the first challenge for Pure Standard. 

Fourth Place: Mono Black Snow Control

Player: Blade

13th in Event # 1167974


Blade played a good version of Mono Black Control.  The addition of snow lands and a whopping four Scrying Sheets gives him major card advantage over any other deck.  The rest of the deck is filled with the control suite: Damnation, Shriekmaw, Thoughtseize.  The best metagame choice this deck runs is the four Rain of Tears.  There are so many Treetop Villages and Mutavaults out there that this is a perfect metagame choice.  Blade had a respectable 3-3 record and comes into fourth place with his control deck. 

Third Place: Rogues

Player: Walkerdog

12th in Event # 1166053


The ever loquacious Walkerdog commented on the tournament and this is what he had to say:  “For starters, I just want to say that "sucky" in the subject line is in reference to how bad mono-colored is right now.  Freaking mono-green elves seems cute until you realize they really have no removal.  Monofreakingblack is much the same.  How do I ever counter a spell?  What about opponent’s drops artifacts/enchantments?  So, I run monofreakingblack Rogues, cards and list thanks to TheTestament.  Lost 1-2 to BR Goblins due to my stunning lack of topdeck skills.  Beat faeries 2-1.  Lost to Faeries 1-2 including a game three where my opponent only had ONE play that could keep him alive for three turns in a row... and of course he had the cards in-hand.  Beat Faeries 2-1.  Lost to Reveillark in an even stupid series of miraculous topdecks... I can't find a damage spell for five turns in a row and lose to his string of rips for five turns.  I hate Standard, where's my Classic?  Or at least a two color deck.  Beat Burn.dec 2-0.  Game one he misclicked on turn two and conceded.  Game two he scooped to lethal on turn 5-6.  Neither game did he pressure me much, although game onr MIGHT have been close.”

Second Place: Necro’d Necropotence

Player: Javasci

11th in Event # 1166573


Javasci, the humble classic player, has a penchant for combo orientated decks.  This deck which he titles “Necro’d Necropotence” is no exception.  Javasci eschews the “normal” means of dealing damage to the opponent and runs no creatures whatsoever.  What’s a monoblack deck without Korlash, Heir to Blackblade or (Shirekmaw)?  The deck controls the opponent for the start of the game by not allowing any creatures through.  Then, it drops a (Colfenor’s Plans) or a Phyrexian Etchings and wins through sheer card advantage.  All it needs is a couple of Soul Spike, Consume Spirit or Profane Command to the dome to win the game.  This seems like a much better long game plan than Knoll Storm, and it doesn’t run out of cards like the former has the problem of doing.  If you are a combo player I highly recommend testing this deck out.  Javasci took his inspiration from Mike Flores’s (here: discussion of Necropotence when building his decklist.

First Place: Rogues

Player: Walkerdog

10th in Event # 1168183

Walkerdog tweaked his deck after coming into a respectable 12th place.  Here’s what he had to say about his tournament experience: “Lost round one to faeries.  Adding blue to this deck makes it so much better.  The cards available to black are nice, no doubt, but the problem is that synergy just isn't quite there compared to the benefits of multi-colors.  Beat Fae round two.  Beat RDW CLOSE GAMES in round three.  Beat Reveillark in round four, didn't have the combo, just the ridic 187 creatures, three blinks, wraths, deserts, counters, and Crovax.  Lost to Fae in round five, as this deck just doesn't have quite the speed and synergy (and card advantage) that they do.  Beat RG warriors in a lucksack game three in round six. 

“The one drop rogues were DI better than Stinkdrinker Bandit, which sucked.  The fear guys are better than flying guys (as fear can get past Reveillark's team and flying can't).

Peppersmoke was MVP, as faeries are everywhere, and they have a really hard time with you being able to kill 1/2 their men with just B open.  The one (Gemstone Cavern)s got me a win versus Reveillark game one that I wouldn't have had otherwise (turn one Bitterblossom was too much for him).  The sideboard was 10 out of 15 correct, pretty decent for me. I would cut the Marsh Flitter and four Festercreep for... probably Terror or even Deathmark or something.  Maybe Cruel Edict for fighting Chameleon Colossus.

“Honestly, what you SHOULD be running (if you want to win) is Faeries with a SB of three extra counters or removal, four Extirpate, four earwig, four Peppersmoke.

"If you can't beat Fae, don't bother PEing at the moment.”

And as for the Challenge itself…

The first one of anything is going to have its own faults and failures.  The Mono Black Standard Challenge had a few faults that I’m going to outline here.  First and foresmost, scoring this event based solely on how well you placed in a particular tournament is not an effective strategy to test how well a deck did.  One contestant came in at a respectable 15th place in his 60+ member tournament, but he didn’t win a single match!  Javasci, our runner up, made 11th place in a 24 member tournament.  (The server crashed before the event fired.  The event fired during the crash, with only 24 members in the queue.  The tournament started with only 24 members). 

So how do we score the next challenge?  This is a decision that should be up to the people.  If I had to make the decision now I would say that the next challenge should be scored by the number of points earned by a contestant.  Of course, this could lead to another form of cheating in the contest: bribery.  A wiley contestant could ask their late-round opponent’s to concede the match in their favor for a ticket or two.  While this is a possibility I don’t like, it is an unavoidable consequence for a good way to evaluate contestants in a challenge.  What do you all think? 

I also think that the next challenge should have a bigger prize.  If you are going to invest in a deck AND pony up six tickets to enter a challenge (or multiple challenges), you should be expecting a pretty big reward.  However, the prize in this situation is donated by a noble benefactor.  This time around it was djdark01 and MTGOTraders.  The next time it could be you!  If you are interested in seeing a challenge run and you have a good idea at what would make a good prize, let me know.  Send me an e-mail or post in the comments section below.

So for now, congratulations to all the contestants that entered this round!  Hopefully we’ll see more of these challenges in the future, but that is solely up to you.  Have a good week rest from Magic Online.  Next time I’ll see you from Version 3! 

Sean Costales

Arnnaria on Magic Online


my thoughts by Porter (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 04/10/2008 - 21:36
Porter (Unregistered)'s picture

First off, I would like to say that I think this kind of "side action" added to MTGO is very fun. The idea of the mono-black build was good, i think it really will bring out the deck-building abilities and play styles of a player in this format. No, mono-black will not be a tier-one deck, but that's kinda the point isn't it? I had built a deck to play in this format, but sadly with only the few days open with enrty possibilities and the fact that I live on the other side of the world (PE times are not always favourable) I was not able to participate.

As for future "challenges" how about not only budget, but put some real restrictions on here, maybe pauper? this might make it impossible to winn even a single game, much less a round though, but it could be altered, pauper + Xmount of uncommons, i dont know. Prizing for this could be simple and relatively cheap. 4 x common set of your choice, again just an idea. How about one of the weaker tribe decks, knights, druids, archers, where a certain % of the cards have to be from that tribe.

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Thanks! by walkerdog at Sat, 04/12/2008 - 00:28
walkerdog's picture

I'm glad to see I won, and congrats to the other participants.  I agree that the scoring system was flawed but their will be complaints no matter WHAT scoring system is chosen I think.  Honestly, I think a pure "points-based" system from the tournament's points would maybe be the best plan, although I dunno about using TBs from diff tournies... I think adding playoffs in the event of ties in points would be pretty exciting (in my mind at least).  Thanks again everyone!

I thought about that too by Arnnaria at Thu, 04/10/2008 - 10:42
Arnnaria's picture

I thought about that idea too.  A "budget" challenge article.


The only thing I need now is participants and a prize.  Anyone else be interested in this idea?  What would be a good prize to offer? 

Scoring by Blade (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 04/10/2008 - 09:36
Blade (Unregistered)'s picture

Definitely by points instead of rank. I achieved that 15th place in a 7 round tourney by losing everything but 6th round, where I got a bye, and just refusing to drop. This way it is just too random how many players with more points than you will drop after missing T8 (in that tourney for example, two guys with more points dropped even after the last round). Just think of the irony that I only placed two positions better by playing 3-3 after a strong 3-1 start.

And the bribery issue would be not much different than how it is now. But as I wrote in the original comments, 5-2 is most likely a greater achievement than 3-0-2 (which basically is 3-1-1 anyway, because you are free to play and lose one round there and will reach T8 anyway).

I think the good thing about the contest is that all three deck types were build and played. Maybe you could plan to add a summary section at the end where you sum up the results compared to the meta and what conclusions players interested in the contest matter and decks should draw. And try to give the whole recap a bit more structure, the comments under the decks vary wildly in usefulness.

Agree with Jamura by one million words at Thu, 04/10/2008 - 09:28
one million words's picture

I like the idea of scoring based on 3 for a win, 1 for a draw.  It definately gives anyone who makes T8 an advantage, since they will be playing at least one extra round, and hopefully three. 

Congrats to Walkerdog! by MirrorMage at Thu, 04/10/2008 - 04:47
MirrorMage's picture

Arn, this came to me a few hours ago. Instead of a bigger prize as an incentive, how about the same scope of prize, but a cheaper deck?

This may mean sacrificing the "Mono" part of the challenge, but I think the idea of top eighting an event with a budget deck would be brilliant and might be easier for many people to do!

Congrats walker!  

Scoring by jamuraa at Thu, 04/10/2008 - 02:19
jamuraa's picture

My suggestion for scoring on the next contest would be to use the DCI point system - so a win gets 3 points, a loss 0 points, and a draw 1 point.  This would make it easier for big tourneys to win.  Or possibly a modified version (1 point for a round loss?).  It would make it easier because smaller tournaments have less games.   Ties can be solved by.. tiebreakers of the actual PE that they were in I would suggest.  It's hard to come up with a good across-the-board one though, especially with the variability of decks and such.