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By: Arnnaria, Sean Costales
Apr 17 2008 11:04am
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Welcome to Pure Standard!

Opening Arguments:

Arnnaria: “Right now the landscape of Standard is wide and powerful.  The “best deck” is a midrange strategy that seeks to cast some early drops and then disrupt the opponent from playing any late game spells.  This deck is known as Faeries and it’s fast and deadly.  But what happened to our old standby that usually dominates the precedings: where has control gone?  Sure Faeries runs Spellstutter Sprites, Cryptic Commands, and Rune Snags – but this does not a control build make.  Where have all the Damnations and Wrath of Gods gone; the spells that punish the opponent for overplaying their hand?  Right now control is dead, and as we get more and more Shadowmoor spoilers, it looks like this sad fact is not going to change anytime soon. 

“What is a metagame without control?  A metagame without control is a chaotic one.  Decks can afford to play high casting cost spells without worry that their investment is going to get countered or mass removal’ed away.  If anyone remembers the early days of Onslaught Block Constructed, Silvos and Rorix ruled the boards.  Without having to worry about control, a deck like red/green big mana can afford to tap out to cast an eight casting cost fatty in Bogardan Hellkite without a hint of reprisal.  In fact, the only reason red/green mana is so good right now is because there is no control deck to punish some of the ridiculous plays it makes.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I seek to prove to you before this trial is over that green/red big mana only exists because control does not exist!  It’s existence as a deck is solely based on the fact that the control archetype is dead.  Let me call my first witness, Mr. Siege-Gang Commander.” 

Bailiff: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” 

SCG: “Yes, sir.” 

Bailiff: “State your name and occupation for the record.” 

SCG: “My name is Sylvester.  I’m a goblin.” 

Bailiff: “Goblin is your race, yes, but what is your class?” 

Sylvester GC: “I’m currently unemployed, as of Tenth Edition.” 

Arnnaria: “Sir, you claim to be unemployed, but you do have a job, do you not?” 

Sylvester GC: “Yes, I run a gambling parlor.” 

Arnnaria: “An illegal gambling parlor, I might add.  And how has business been lately?” 

Sylvester GC: “Booming!  There hasn’t been a lot of police presence on the street recently; I don’t have to worry about my customers being Wrath of God’ed or Damnation’ed away.” 

Arnnaria:  “So this is a recent occurrence.  Can you remember the last time business was this good?” 

Sylvester GC: “Back in 2002-2003; Onslaught Block.  I had a big crew back then.  Goblin Warchief fronted me some money so the business didn’t cost as much, and I could come into play with my buddies AND attack the same turn.  Those were good times for the goblin mob.” 

Arnnaria: “But Goblin Warchief was soon brought up on racqueteering and prostitution charges.  The family fell apart and you were charged with operating a gambling parlor.  You spent some time and jail but were recently released on good behavior for Tenth Edition.  Apparently jail hasn’t changed you.  Why are you testifying against R.G. Big Mana today?” 

Sylvester GC: “The District Attorney cut me a deal.  He said if I spilled the beans on working for R.G., I could get placed in a nice Mono-Red Deck for a couple of months before I rotate out of Standard.  I’ve heard some nice things about what Shadowmoor is doing for red.” 

Arnnaria: “Thank you for your testimony, Sylvester.  You may step down now.  The next witness I’d like to call is Bogardan Hellkite.” 

Bailiff: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” 

Bogardan Hellkite deals 5 damage to Bailiff!

Bogardan Hellkite: “Whoops, sorry about that!” 

Arnnaria: “Don’t worry, I don’t even think he had a name.” 

BH: “Sorry.” 

Arnnaria: “State your name and occupation for the record.” 
BH: “I’m a dragon.  We don’t have occupations.”


Arnnaria: “Niv-Mizzet is a wizard…” 

BH: “Niv-Mizzet is a fool!” 

Arnnaria: “So, how often do you, an eight-mana creature, get play?” 

BH: “Well, eight mana isn’t too hard to hit when you run Into the North, Wall of Roots, and Garruk Wildspeaker.  I see play more often than you think.  Without any counters running around, you don’t have to worry about your eight mana investment?” 

Arnnaria: “And what if the opponent is playing counters, like Faeries, for example?” 

BH: “That’s the beauty of it.  I have flash, so if your opponent is playing blue all you have to do is wait for them to tap out.  Then I come into play at instant speed so no counters are going to stop me.  The only one you have to worry about is Cryptic Command; no Faerie player is going to have enough Fae out to counter me with a Spellstutter Sprite” 

Arnnaria: “And if they don’t tap out?” 

BH: “If they don’t tap out, they’re going to lose to not being able to play their spells.  G.R. Big Mana has a bunch of offensive threats.  If they don’t tap out to stop the offensive threats, they’re going to lose to Treetop Villages  and Siege-Gang Commanders attacking for the win.”

Arnnaria: “Tell me about your partner in crime.” 

BH: “Are you talking about Cloudthresher?” 

Arnnaria: “Yes, the other baddy that takes down Faeries.” 

BH: “Unfortunately he can’t be here too.  He’s busy with his own trial: Wydwen, the Biting Gale versus Cloudthresher.  It’s a civil tort.  But everything I said about me having flash applies to Cloudthresher as well.  There’s just no way to stop us when the opponent taps out, and the opponent has to tap out eventually.” 

Arnnaria: “Thank you Bogardan Hellkite, you’ve been most helpful.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I would like to present Exhibit A: a standard Standard decklist of G.R. Big Mana.”



Arnnaria: “As you can see, the deck mazimizes some of the most efficient red removal out there.  With your snow mana base, you can take down any creature for a single red mana.  Incinerate adds to the damage by being an efficient three damage for two mana.  But the keystone and crux of the deck is my final witness: Ms. Holly Harmonize.” 

Burnt bailiff: “..." 

Arnnaria: “You’re still alive?” 

Burnt Bailiff: “Barely holding on here.  A welding jar kept me alive.” 

Arnnaria: “So much for myr bailiffs…” 

Burnt Bailiff: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?” 

Holly Harmonize: “I do.” 

Arnnaria: “Holly, what’s your purpose in G.R. Big Mana?” 

HH: “Well the deck can run out of steam pretty fast, setting up the mana base with Into the North and Wall of Roots.  Holding off any offensive with Skred and Incinerate.  It isn’t uncommon to have a low hand count, like three or four, by turn four or five.  My job is to refill the hand with threats and keep the beats coming.” 

Arnnaria: “And you can do your job because control isn’t a factor in the current metagame?” 

HH: “Absolutely.  If control was a factor out there, I would be countered every time I got played.  But right now, the only thing you have to worry about is a Rune Snag or the occasional Spellstutter Sprite denying you your three cards.” 

Arnnaria: “But even then, you’d still might get through.” 

HH: “That’s true.  Carlos Romao figured out in Worlds 2002 that it is more advantageous to save your counters for threats instead of your opponent’s card draw.  Of course, back then it was about the Psychatog mirror match and whether or not you should let your opponents resolve a Fact or Fiction.  Romao saved his counters for the game-breaking spells of Psychatog and Upheaval. But the idea is still the same: a lot of top players let your card draw through and save the counters for late game threats.” 

Arnnaria: “This strategy might not be advantageous against G.R. Big Mana though, as most of the late game threats, save Siege-Gang Commander, have flash.” 

HH: “True, Carlos’s strategy might not apply here, but it’s still something to think about if you’re playing the Fae.” 

Arnnaria: “Thank you Holly.  You’ve been most helpful.” 

Closing arguments

Arnnaria: “You’ve seen the witnesses, the decklist, and heard my opening arguments.  Now, members of the jury, its time to do some soul-searching and ask yourself this question: would G.R. Big Mana be any good if the current metagame had a viable control deck?  That is the question you will have to ask yourself when you reflect on what you’ve seen here today.  If you come back with a “guilty” verdict, you will be in fact saying that the only reason G.R. Big Mana is any good is due to the absence of a viable control deck in the format.  If you come back with a “not guilty” verdict, you will be stating that the deck is just a good deck, and would still see a high level of play, and the absence of control is a plus, but not a mitigating factor in its dominance.  Ladies and gentlement of the jury, the decision is in your hands.” 

Sean Costales

Arnnaria on Magic Online


by MirrorMage at Thu, 04/17/2008 - 16:25
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I give this article the "Gonna Fly Now" seal of approval.

You rock sir. 

Nice Article ./.....BUT by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 04/17/2008 - 18:02
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Why no sulfurous blast in the maindeck?  The card is 10 times better than Incinerate right now.
Are you studying law? 
by Arnnaria at Thu, 04/17/2008 - 20:11
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Not studying law.  Just been watching too much Law and Order recently.     

by 420gabriel (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 00:35
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Great article. IMO bigmana isnt that good even with a lack of control decks though. The deck is very slow and has a lot of weaknesses. Examples being weenie rushes, rdw, tempo decks. Even if that deck had 4 sulf blast instead of incin it would still be hurting bad vs kithkin or elves.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 04/17/2008 - 11:45
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Control doesn't mean "a deck full of counterspells"

by Shardfenix (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 04/17/2008 - 11:50
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man have a lot of time on your hands but a great article for reminded me of harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.  Although i think R/G big mana would exist with control i mean you have to remember it was born out of TSP Block and there were a decent amount of various control decks in that format..i mean UBr Void, Teachings, U/G shifter could be made with a controllish build