Organ donor to the stars – the deck that didn’t get there

Given that I’ve recently pushed for players to prepare for events, it’s with some embarrassment that I have to admit that I was not especially prepared for the Standard portion of the SCG Open Series event in San Jose last week. I’d prepped for the Legacy portion in late December, then things came up, as they tend to do, and I found myself without time to do the requisite testing for Standard.
But hey, you’re not going to not go, right?
As you can see in my round one feature match, there were issues. Even so, some of you wanted to see the deck list, so I’m including it in the extended entry below…along with some notes about how I might take what turns out to be a reasonable enough structural base for a deck and improve it.
I’ll also explain the title of this post.


First off, here’s the deck list:
No Touch

35 Spells:
Explore
Fauna Shaman
Journey to Nowhere
Lotus Cobra
Squadron Hawk
Stoneforge Mystic
Sword of Body and Mind
Leyline of Sanctity
Vengevine
Baneslayer Angel
Sunblast Angel
25 Lands:
Razorverge Thicket
Marsh Flats
Verdant Catacombs
Forest
Plains
Stirring Wildwood
Tectonic Edge
15 Sideboard:
Celestial Purge
Obstinate Baloth
Gideon Jura
Summoning Trap
Sunblast Angel
Wurmcoil Engine

Where the deck came from
So, how did I end up playing this G/W aggro deck?
First of all, despite the lack of a relevant TFR article from me (as I said, I’ve been busy), my ongoing survey of the Standard metagame suggested I’d be facing primarily a mix of Valakut, U/B Control, and Boros. Given this, I wanted to be able to disrupt the acceleration and big plays of Valakut, as well as beat the Jaces out of U/B. In the past, I’ve relied on Mana Leak or other countermagic for this role, and the Standard deck I had sleeved up and hanging around prior to the event was effectively Bant for this reason.
But I was no longer happy with those spells. For one thing, they mess with your tempo as an aggro deck. Sure, you can cast a clutch counter that stops their big play…but sometimes you also find that your Mana Leak just loses to a Spell Pierce…or that you lose your leak to a Duress or Inquisition.
With all that in mind, I tried various W/B/G builds, with the idea that I’d have access to disruption in the form of Duresses and Inquisitions of my own, as well as a broader range of instant-speed removal. However, this messed with the deck’s mana progression, and, as people have often noticed, you can’t control the top of your opponent’s deck, so the Duresses and Inquisitions weren’t good enough.
So then I thought…what if I just ran G/W, with no accouterments?
The basic flow of the deck felt quite sound, with no one drops, instead relying on a quad of Fauna Shamans and another set of Explores to accelerate the deck early on. I tried running some planeswalkers in there, but they weren’t especially helpful, either.
At the end of the day, I decided to go with an especially wacky metagame gambit and push Leyline of Sanctity, which I figured would be in the sideboard primarily against Valakut, into the main deck. The upshot here would be to drastically enhance game one against Valakut, while also disrupting the early game for U/B Control, which has, as U/W Control players have noted, many cards that target the opponent.
How did that work out?
Not so well. My first matchup, the feature match, was against U/R/G Jace (aka RUG Control), a deck that I was expecting would be a fairly modest part of the metagame. Game one looked pretty reasonable for me…until I didn’t quite kill my opponent, and his Jace dug up some answers to let him regain control.
Game two I was never in, as his early play featured multiple Lotus Cobras, an Oracle, and all the other things that let one end up with a panoply of lands by turn three or four.
In round two, I took down a U/W Control deck in a match that went more as I expected. I accelerated into Vengevines, and while he was trying to figure out how to deal with my Vines, I started sticking Baneslayers and went to town.
In round three, I drew with Eldrazi Green, which was somewhat frustrating since it was my fault for not conceding a game two that was clearly slipping away from me. We went into extra turns with me being in a position to not lose — I had significant life gain from an active Baneslayer — and within reach of victory. I had extra turns 1, 3, and 5, which is always handy when you need to engineer a win. Unfortunately, although also awesomely, my opponent was able to hard cast Emrakul with his fourth turn, stealing turn five from me and thus stealing my opportunity to win.
I bow to the awesomeness of that play. But yeah, that was my fault for not winning it.
With that draw in the bag, I was an unwholesome 1-1-1, but that still left me with a shot at moneying.
Round four saw me face down a W/B/G Oracle deck. I placed it as some form of Junk at first, but then those Oracles showed up. Before I even saw those Oracles, however, I figured the smart money was on stifling my opponent’s game plan by nailing their Lotus Cobras. In both games, I hit an early Cobra with Journey to Nowhere, and that really did the job against my opponent, who was unable to dig out in time before I flooded him with Vengevines.
Okay, so 2-1-1.
Round five was against U/G Wave, where I lost 1-2. Shucks.
My final round before dropping came against a Naya Shaman build, where I was not competitive and those Leylines were once again basically pointless.
What happened?
Well, clearly the metagame gamble on those Leylines was a big miss.
More to the point, however, the deck just had trouble finishing. If I’d had a better, more decisive finish, I think I would have been well-positioned to win that first game against my RUG opponent in round one, my Eldrazi opponent, and that final Wave deck.
Of course, I wouldn’t have faced those exact decks had I won round one, but the point stands. There were games where I was in spitting distance of winning, didn’t quite do it in time, and the opponent’s deck pulled ahead.
What would work instead?
Maybe this…
Sunblasting

35 Spells:
Birds of Paradise
Explore
Fauna Shaman
Journey to Nowhere
Lotus Cobra
Squadron Hawk
Stoneforge Mystic
Sword of Body and Mind
Vengevine
Baneslayer Angel
Gideon Jura
Sunblast Angel
25 Lands:
Razorverge Thicket
Marsh Flats
Verdant Catacombs
Forest
Plains
Stirring Wildwood
Tectonic Edge
15 Sideboard:
Celestial Purge
Tajuru Preserver
Kor Sanctifiers
Obstinate Baloth
Summoning Trap
Wurmcoil Engine

The basic idea behind this refit is that Leyline is not as generally useful as many of our other maindeck possibilities, and even in the Valakut matchup our preference is simply to use Edges to keep Valakut out of the picture while we attempt to blow through their plant tokens and other problematic elements with Gideon, Sword of Body and Mind, and those Sunblast Angels.
Incidentally, Sunblast has been a real winner in my Fauna Shaman decks of late. EOT pitch some card, search up and windmill Sunblast, kill their entire team. It’s that good.
That organ donor thing
While we were all waiting for the player meeting on Sunday, Michael Hetrick asked around the table if anyone had a Stoneforge Mystic. I still had my Standard deck on me, so I loaned him the Mystic.
And at least one card from my Standard deck made it into a top eight. 🙂

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