Crime Harvest

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That sounds like a Batman graphic novel title.
As i’ve been considering Standard decks, it occurred to me to return to the retrace mechanic, which saw a ton of play in the recent Extended season, and which I used to decent effect in a previous Standard deck. Although Standard lacks the card advantage juggernaut that is Life from the Loam, there’s still an opportunity to use (if not abuse) the retrace mechanic in the appropriate deck.
Click through to the extended entry for the Crime Harvest deck list and some commentary.

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Lead with Thoughtseize

On Saturday, I played in a Standard tournament at Superstars, using an updated version of Ahura. The update was solely to the sideboard, swapping out one Muse and the Infests for three Hallowed Burial and a Pithing Needle.
In round one, I played against a black-green Elves build and took game one on the back of the ever-helpful Battlegrace Angel, ending the game on 34 life. In addition to that mountain of life gain, I’d been retracing Raven’s Crimes repeatedly to decimate my opponents hand, which certainly motivated his sideboarding for game two.
In game two, my first-turn play was Thoughtseize. I saw this:
Gilt-leaf Palace
Llanowar Wastes
Bramblewood Paragon
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Hm.
My second-turn play was Tidehollow Sculler (or, as I said, “I have a workaround”). I saw this:
Llanowar Wastes
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Hm, again.
I followed that second-turn Sculler with a third-turn Sculler and a fourth-turn Sculler, eventually ending up with three Scullers, each with an associated RFGed Liege.
I found that entire game pleasingly ridiculous.

Stoic Muse

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One of the things I did on coming back into Magic after my long hiatus (my collection has a mild hiccup between Ice Age and Time Spiral) was go back through the coverage archives, first video and then text, and read about the recent history of the game. I’ve talked before about my favorite events in the archives, and among them is the top eight of Worlds 2005. I enjoy it because it includes a number of highly interactive matches, and that’s the kind of Magic I like to play — thus my proclivity for playing mid-range, grind-out-a-win-style decks.
Seedborn Muse appeared as a one-of in the sideboard of Mori’s Ghazi-Glare deck in that top eight, and that really caught my attention. Offering the possibility of tapping out on your turn and then Glaring the opposition down on their turn — or of untapping under a Hokori — the Seedborn is an enticingly powerful engine card. Also, it turns out you can accidentally win a free game off of Frank Karsten if everyone misses the interaction between Yosei and Muse. Oops.
The upshot of all this is that I’ve been wanting to use the Muse in a deck where it’s actually a good idea, yet have been disappointed at how often it just isn’t a good choice. However, I think the build I’m going to highlight below represents an instance of proper Muse use in a deck that has a chance to compete with the little blue people and all those technicolor mana bases.
Click through to the extended for a deck list and explanation.

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Superstars Standard $1K — 11th place

Today I went to the Superstars November Standard Championship, vying along with 42 or so other players for the $1K prize pool. I brought my white-black disruptive control deck that I’ve named “Ahura”, for which you can find a deck list here. I had a good time and did reasonably well, ending up at 4-2 but missing the top eight on tie breaks and coming in at 11th.
Overall, I think the Ahura build is quite solid, and it fairly cleanly beat the matchups I’d given some thought to ahead of time — Faeries and Lark, while suffering against Merfolk and Tokens.
The take-home message today is that an active Battlegrace Angel is ridiculous.
The full tournament report is in the extended entry.

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In the intersection, a deck

How do you design a deck? Build a core, then look at matchups and try to shore them up with cards from the sideboard?
Last year, Zaiem Beg addressed the topic of sideboarding, discussing the approach of designing a deck for each matchup, then bringing these decks together in a combined core and sideboard. In effect, the goal here is to pick out your likely matchups, then design a number of ideal versions of your deck, each suited to a given matchup. In the current environment, one might want to design to beat Faeries, Five-color Control, Kithkin, Red Deck Wins, and Reveillark.
That’s what I did here:
AhuraBreakdown.jpg
Click here to see the full spreadsheet in a separate window
Go to the extended entry to see where I went from there.

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Gatherer update — Standard, Extended, Alara

Gatherer, the official Magic database, has just been updated. The updates bring the “Standard” and “Extended” menu options in line with the cards and sets that are legal in each format (and, indeed, the Top is not in the Extended search). There is now also a Shards of Alara Block option. They’ve also rearranged Gatherer — before, it was all the block options in one place, with the individual sets below. Now, the sets in each block are grouped with their block option.
Click here for Gatherer
Click here for Standard on Gatherer
Click here for Extended on Gatherer
Fun facts from these two searches:
There are 1,486 cards currently legal in Standard
There are 5,036 cards currently legal in Extended

Cruel Hollow

As the third in my series of decks featuring specific Shards (here are deck one and deck two), I’m taking a look at Grixis.
At first, I didn’t have any really exciting ideas, as red-black-blue is not a color wedge I normally use. Once I hit on the idea of centering my effort on Cruel Ultimatum, the idea of using a Hideaway land followed immediately after. And with that, we had…
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Cruel Hollow
Click through to the extended for decklist and commentary.

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Chocolate Frosted Jund Bombs

Both as a way to process the newest set, and by way of coming up with ideas for the upcoming States (and possibly local tournaments, as it looks like I now have a venue that holds regular Standard tournies), I’ve decided to build one deck for each of the Shards. I’m not trying to push too hard — or to avoid — cards from Shards of Alara. Rather, I’m going to try and build the decks and just see how many of the new cards I end up using. With that in mind, here’s the first one:
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Chocolate Frosted Jund Bombs
Click through to the extended for decklist and commentary.

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