Standard After Hour

Chantelle Campbell Standard

Pro Tour Hour of Devastation has come and gone – and what a whirlwind it was! When we left off before the Pro Tour, there were over ten potentially viable decks putting up numbers. While the limited data from Magic Online showed strong results for aggressive Mono-Red decks, I don’t think anyone could foresee that most of the pro teams would end up on Ramunap Red.

Ramunap Red
Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa | 1st, Pro Tour Hour of Devastation

4 Bomat Courier
4 Falkenrath Gorger
4 Village Messenger
4 Earthshaker Khenra
3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
4 Ahn-Crop Crasher
3 Hazoret the Fervent
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Shock
4 Abrade
14 Mountain
4 Ramunap Ruins
2 Scavenger Grounds
4 Sunscorched Desert

Sideboard:
2 Chandra’s Defeat
1 Oath of Chandra
2 Aethersphere Harvester
2 Pia Nalaar
2 Savage Alliance
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Sand Strangler
2 Glorybringer

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Five copies of this powerful deck (and a black-red version!) made it to the Top 8. Hazoret the Fervent and Ramunap Ruins stood out over the weekend as the true MVPs, with Bomat Courier to provide card advantage and the recursive threat of Earthshaker Khenra. Paulo’s list was built to win mirror matches, as he correctly assessed that most of the other decks would be woefully unprepared for the mono-red onslaught. The Chandra’s Defeats, Pia Nalaars, and Glorybringers in his sideboard make the deck go slightly larger than opponents without sacrificing its speed, while providing efficient answers to opposing threats.

While the deck had some of the highest numbers for day one, it also saw one of the highest conversion rates – 73% of people playing it made Day 2. Many lists were also running Soul-Scar Mage, which will probably see more play going forward, as it offers a way to burn out opposing Hazorets.

The next deck to put up significant results was Mono-Black Zombies. While Zombies had fewer pilots, it put up a 67.9% conversion rate and, notably, has a pretty darn good Ramunap Red matchup. In the online PTQ the day after the Pro Tour, three Mono-Black Zombies lists made their way into the Top 8, with no Ramunap Red decks in sight.

Mono-Black Zombies
Yusuke Sasabe | 8th, Pro Tour Hour of Devastation

4 Cryptbreaker
4 Dread Wanderer
4 Relentless Dead
4 Diregraf Colossus
4 Lord of the Accursed
3 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
4 Dark Salvation
3 Fatal Push
4 Grasp of Darkness
2 Liliana’s Mastery
3 Ifnir Deadlands
19 Swamp
2 Westvale Abbey

Sideboard:
3 Scrapheap Scrounger
3 Transgress the Mind
4 Dispossess
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
2 Never // Return

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We’re seeing some key shifts in Zombies lists to help their game against the Mono-Red menace. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in the main deck is an obvious concession, as well as increasing numbers of Liliana, Skysovereign, and Aethersphere Harvester popping up in sideboards. Some lists are even testing out Essence Extractions and Cartouche of Ambition!

Mono-Black Zombies has one of the most outright favorable match-ups against Mono-Red, but other decks were also able to put up decent results. One B/G Constrictor list squeezed its way into the Top 8 at the Pro Tour, and overall the deck had a spectacular 77.8% conversion rate from Day 1 to Day 2. There were also two B/G lists in the Top 8 of Sunday’s PTQ, and I expect to see much more of it in future Standard tournaments.

B/G Constrictor
Sam Pardee | 4th, Pro Tour Hour of Devastation

2 Liliana, the Last Hope
3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
4 Grim Flayer
4 Walking Ballista
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
4 Winding Constrictor
3 Tireless Tracker
2 Verdurous Gearhulk
1 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
2 Dissenter’s Deliverance
4 Fatal Push
2 Grasp of Darkness
3 Evolving Wilds
1 Hashep Oasis
6 Swamp
5 Forest
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Hissing Quagmire

Sideboard:
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Grasp of Darkness
1 Doomfall
2 Never // Return
2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
3 Dispossess
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
3 Transgress the Mind
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow

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Walking Ballista, Liliana, and Kalitas give this deck legs against both Mono-Red and Zombies. Tireless Tracker can match Cryptbreaker’s card-draw, and some lists are even running Yahenni’s Expertise out of the board to apply additional pressure against more aggressive strategies.

On the next rung of the midrange ladder, R/G Ramp also saw a 62.5% conversion rate from Day 1 to Day 2, even though the deck did not show up in high numbers (24 copies on the first day and 15 copies on the second). In feature matches, the deck seemed to struggle against low-to-the-ground Ramunap Red decks, but I believe it’s easy to make some concessions without losing the advantage this deck has against other midrange strategies. Todd Anderson was able to pilot a more tuned list to 6th place on the following day’s Standard PTQ. 

R/G Ramp
Todd Anderson | 6th, Standard MTGO PTQ | July 29, 2017

2 Chandra, Flamecaller
3 Druid of the Cowl
3 Jaddi Offshoot
3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
3 World Breaker
4 Beneath the Sands
4 Hour of Promise
4 Abrade
1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
4 Kozilek’s Return
4 Natural Connection
4 Cinder Glade
8 Forest
4 Mountain
2 Sanctum of Ugin
3 Sheltered Thicket
4 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods

Sideboard:
1 Jaddi Offshoot
1 Dissenter’s Deliverance
4 Chandra’s Defeat
2 Glorybringer
3 Hour of Devastation
3 Tireless Tracker
1 Void Winnower

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It looks as though this deck is already evolving from the lists we saw at the Pro Tour with the addition of Jaddi Offshoot and Druid of the Cowl. Kozilek’s Return is our sweeper of choice, as opposed to Sweltering Suns, which kills all our X/3’s. The full four Chandra’s Defeat in the board is an interesting addition, as well as moving the full suite of Hour of Devastation from main deck to sideboard. I think cards such as Walking Ballista and Chandra, Flamecaller, will also give this deck some longevity as the Standard season progresses.

Finally, let’s look at U/R Control, which has a 65.5% conversion rate at the Pro Tour. While the deck was decently positioned against the the field, it looks like things went south once players started encountering more Mono-Red: only nine of the nineteen players put up a record of eighteen points or better, and none earned 24 points.

U/R Control
Tomoharu Saito | 21 points, Pro Tour Hour of Devastation

4 Torrential Gearhulk
4 Magma Spray
3 Abrade
3 Censor
2 Essence Scatter
4 Harnessed Lightning
2 Disallow
2 Supreme Will
2 Sweltering Suns
4 Glimmer of Genius
3 Hieroglyphic Illumination
2 Hour of Devastation
4 Aether Hub
7 Island
6 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole

Sideboard:
2 Chandra’s Defeat
2 Dragonmaster Outcast
3 Negate
3 Thing in the Ice
3 Pia Nalaar
2 Glorybringer

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Mono-Red is an impossible match-up for this style of Control (barring unforeseen mulligans), and fast starts from Constrictor and Zombies can also prove problematic. However, I don’t believe this deck will be poorly-positioned forever. As the format progresses and midrange decks edge Mono-Red off the top of the mountain, control decks will typically find their place to shine.

Other decks with potential include Temur Energy and Four-Color Vehicles. Surprisingly, the likely break-out decks of the Pro Tour (W/U Monument and W/U God-Pharaoh’s Gift) woefully under-performed.

I’m going to begin my RPTQ testing by looking at these five decks, but I’m looking forward to what Grand Prix Minneapolis might hold!