Selesnya Aggro

selesnya ggro

monkey mealing

I love attacking, putting pressure on my opponents and forcing them to react. Mike Tyson once said: “Everyone has a plan until I punch them in the face.” In Magic it’s the same thing. Everyone wants to take time to set up their game plan, so by putting pressure on their life total it’s not as easy for them to take a lot of early turns to do so. Every experienced Magic player has a plan to deal with an aggressive strategy, so it’s my responsibility as an aggressive player to have a plan to counteract theirs. The issue with linear aggressive decks like “mono red “is that you can’t adjust your strategy very much post sideboard, so if your opponent has a solid sideboard plan for you then there’s not much you can do about it. The last couple of years I have adopted a deck building style that has explosive starts, but has enough sustainability that it can go longer and hang with mid-range decks with similar card quality. Let me show you what I mean with my new Standard Selesnya brew:

selesnya

Selesnya Aggro

Standard Format

Creatures: 25
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Warden of the First Tree
2 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Fleecemane Lion
3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Whisperwood Elemental

Instants: 3
3 Valorous Stance

Enchantments: 3
2 Mastery of the Unseen
1 Banishing Light

Planeswalkers: 5
2 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion





Lands: 24
2 Blossoming Sands
6 Forest
1 Mana Confluence
Plains
4 Temple of Plenty
1 Temple of Malady
4 Windswept Heath

Sideboard:

1 Valorous Stance
1 Banishing Light
3 End Hostilities
2 Reclamation Sage
Glare of Heresy
2 Arbor Colossus
3 Mistcutter Hydra

 

As you can see we are playing the best three aggressive cards in our colours, Warden of the First Tree, Fleecemane Lion, and Brimaz, King of Oreskos. On the other end of the spectrum we have the four best mid to late games cards our colours have to offer in Mastery of the Unseen, Whisperwood Elemental, Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Bridge those cards with some mana ramp and the best removal we have access to and you have the most durable and flexible aggressive deck in the format. The most common question I get asked is “why no four drops?” Although we don’t have any cards that cost four mana, we certainly have lots to do on turn four. You can activate Mystery of the Unseen, level up Warden of the First Tree or just ramp into a 5 or 6 drop. I feel all the cards at 3 and 5 are more important to our deck than anything we have access to at 4. We also have ten 1 or 2 mana cards that perform great in the late game, mana sinks if you will. Let’s get into the cards, and their roles in the deck.

mastery of the unseenThe next Jeskai Ascendancy? perhaps…

The Mana Ramp

4 Elvish Mystic
2 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix

A concession to playing a large number of 5 and 6 mana spells is that you need mana ramp. I found six mana dorks to be the right number in the deck, as we function best with one by turn 2 but we want to avoid flooding on them too often. Although Courser of Kruphix isn’t necessarily mana ramp, he does help us hit our land drops to cast our expensive cards. It’s also nice to be able to see the top card when Mastery of the Unseen is in play so you can fix your draws a little bit if you want.

 

The Removal

3 Valorous Stance
1 Banishing Light

I started with 4 Valorous Stance as the versatility of protecting your guys and killing theirs is so good. I changed one to a single Banishing Light so we had an out to problematic permanents game 1. If you feel like you need one more removal spell main deck then I would cut an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion for the second Banishing Light, but be conscious that you will become more vulnerable to Stormbreath Dragon as a result.

The Bombs

4 Whisperwood Elemental
2 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos

elspeth suns championThe best planeswalker for the longest part of the Standard format

These cards tend to pull you ahead in the mid-game, most midrange games coming down to who draws more Whisperwood Elementals. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes can pull you far ahead if you have established an early board presence by making all your creatures bigger than your opponent’s. Most importantly it will win those grindy games where you are trading card for card with your opponent. Lastly, we come to Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. When I first built the deck she over performed, but now with the all the Whisperwood Elementals being played she is not quite as good. She’s still a necessary evil due to our weakness to Stormbreath Dragon, but I wouldn’t fault you for moving one to the sideboard.

The Soul

4 Warden of the First Tree
2 Mastery of the Unseen
4 Fleecemane Lion

These three cards are the reason the deck wins so much. And that is for one simple reason: they are good at any point of the game. The big thing I learned was if you have other things to play, then do that and don’t sink mana into these cards unless you are afraid of board sweepers. You will start to notice a trend, if you play this way, that your opponents will ignore these three cards to deal with your “bigger” threats. Once your opponent is hellbent, or when you feel there’s a safe opening, you can start investing mana into these three cards. You never want to invest 5 mana into the monstrous ability of Fleecemane Lion when your opponent is representing Lightning Strike and you could do other things with your mana. For Warden of the First Tree there are some scenarios where you spend mana early on leveling it up if you feel it’s safe. Getting it to level 2 then playing an Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and giving it three counters is pretty backbreaking. Also remember that you can activate the third ability of Warden of the First Tree more than once. I have won many games with a 13/13 trampling lifelinker.

warden of the first treeNot to be underestimated

I am not one to have a set sideboarding plan, as not every build or player of an archetype is the same. I do follow four golden rules though:

1. Against control I want constant pressure on the board without overextending.
2. If they are faster than you, lower your curve.
3. If they go wider then you, control them.
4. If they have a problematic card for you, board in all available answers.

I will have a video ready next week to post. If you can’t wait until then check out the archives on my twitch channel.
Until next time,

Monkey Mealing

twitch.tv/monkeymealing
@monkeymealing
http://www.illusionsofgrandeur.ca/

Fate Reforged thus far

ddt face avatar

fate reforged spilers thus far

Well, close to half the set has been spoiled so far and how is it panning out? We get a few dragons and some ‘sort of staples’ returning as well as a really interesting mythic lineup. Speaking of Mythics, let’s get started on those first.

Monastery Mentor

monastery mentro

 

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this card is incredibly powerful. You get the token-making ability of Young Pyromancer with the ability to grow via Prowess. I think initially people didn’t notice that the tokens it makes have prowess as well. This allows you to do some pretty ridiculous things with it, since he basically provides you with a small army pretty often. I do like how Wizards of the Coast is encouraging people to play more non-creature spells with the Prowess mechanic right now. We used to have a Standard format with decklists of  upwards of 20 creatures and sometimes way to close to 30. It just seemed so wrong. Using removal spells for value is downright fun as is playing something like Raise the Alarm to get more bang for your buck.

So far, this is looking to be the card of the set.

 

Soulfire Grandmaster

soulfire grandmaster

 

The ‘other with mythic’ is just about as exciting as the more talked about one. You get your base white 2-drop with an ability (Lifelink, this time) as well as 2 more abilities and its perfectly easy to cast as well. The ‘Instant and Sorcery spells you control have lifelink’ part is downright sweet. Cast some burn spells to kill their creatures and gain some life for it. Not bad at all. Obviously there’s the pretty epic interaction with Blasphemous Act in Commander games. Those factors alone are probably enough for people to like this card, but… we have this last ability which pretty much equates to : value!

You get a pseudo-buyback or Snapcaster Mage-like ability for your spells.It seems to be actually better than Buyback since the card will go back to your hand as you cast it instead of having to wait for it to resolve (which is the case with Buyback). This can basically mean locking out a lot of creatures in Modern games for 5 mana : Lightning Bolt plus 4 mana, repeat. Oh and, Lightning Bolt basically becomes Lightning Helix. In all fairness, however, I’m not sure you’ll have all that free mana in a format that is pretty much about mana efficiency.

The last little tidbit about it is that Tiny Leader players will want to try it out as well. This fast-rising format is going to become a thing very soon, so I urge you to check it  out !

Temporal Trespass

temporal trespass

 

It’s always fun when they print ‘Power’ variants. This one, like Temporal Mastery will definitely try and be broken early on. Like Treasure Cruise, it has a nice little Delve ability, however triple blue will have the more dedicated blue decks trying to make proper use of it. As long as you’re paying somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 mana for it, it’s basically in Time Warp territory (which did see play in Standard).

You do end up exiling the card, like Temporal Mastery so as to prevent ‘abuse’. It also doesn’t give us a one mana discount the next time we cast  another copy of it (unlike Dig through Time). More dedicated control decks like UB Control might run a few copies, so as to potentitally get a ‘quicker’ kill with Pearl Lake Ancient. Also, is that Liliana on the card? It somewhat seems like it, then again … Maybe it’s a new Sultai khan? or maybe Liliana is set to make some kind of appearance later on.

 

Torrent Elemental

torrent elemental

 

This card is all kinds of weird. Casting it from your exile pile makes it similar to Misthollow Griffin. It seems like the D.D. creatures (Different Dimension) in the Yu-Gi-Oh! CCG. Will it be added to Legacy lists alongside Misthollow Griffin in the Food Chain lists? There’s a small possibility. It, like Misthollow Griffin is good exile fodder for longtime Legacy staple Force of Will. It sort of makes all your creatures unblockable, barring your opponent flashing in something like this

I don’t think it will be as good in Standard,even if it does allow you to ‘Delve’ it away and cast it later on. There is one small exception though: BU Control decks would maybe want a creature that sort of survives Perilous Vault and has pretty much the same stats as Prognostic Sphinx. It’s also pretty amusing to have it always come back white Relic of Progenitus‘s first ability if it’s in your graveyard. Also, unlike it’s ‘exiled brother in arms’ it’s not cast from exile – it’s simply put onto the battlefield.

Overall interesting but very fringe card.

 

Brutal Hordechief

brutal hordechief

 

I’m obviously a little saddened that this card is one mana away from being Tiny Leader material. I must brave on however, there’s a bit more ground to cover for today. The creature type is really nice – Orc. I mean there can never be enough, right? Just kidding, I obviously meant warrior. It might be the beginning of a little Mardu warriors deck uprising. Dust off those little Bloodsoaked Champions and start building! Maybe not! It’s actually a decent fit in something like Mardu tokens, allowing your tokens to deal some damage even if blocked by your opponent’s guys. Which brings us to ….

brutal abilityMaster Warcraft, kind of

You can almost consider this guy a finisher in many ways. Make all their creatures block a lowly token and have all your other guys go in unblocked (obviously leeching a life per attacking creature to start off). It allows for nice little interactions if you were to have a deathtouch dude.

All in all, a nice little piece of cardboard for an overlooked color combination outside of Standard.

???

mtg black mythic

Each color seems to have 2 mythics to its name, so why does black only have one so far? Is Liliana going to show up or something? Maybe a multicolored black card will be mythic?

 

Shaman of the Great Hunt

shaman of the great hunt

 

“Weighing in at one red mana and three colorless, at 4 power, 2 toughness with Haste and a couple of good abilites!” Shaman of the Great Hunt! You can’t not like this card or at least appreciate it. Yes, it’s a mythic so it gets that little added touch of coolness to it. It has a decent chance of becoming a 5/3 on the very same turn too. In the same color combination, you could have cast Savage Knuckleblade the previous turn and then dropped this guy to make them into 5-power beasts for the attack step all while drawing 2 cards on turn 5.

This time we get another mythic Orc, a Shaman no less. Neither type is really relevant as of now in Standard though 😦

He’s a solid representation of the Temur color combination: Red for haste, Green for the ‘growth’/+1/+1 counters part and blue for the card-drawing. Shaman of the Great Hunt can sort of rebuild your army that might have died to End Hostilities or Perilous Vault the turn before, by drawing more cards which will hopefully be more threats to cast and by becoming bigger himself. The card draw ability is even sweeter in Commander games, where having a bunch of 4-power or greater creatures won’t necessarily mean the game is necessarily over.

???

mtg black mythic

Same as the second Black mythic. There is none so far. Perhaps a sweet new planeswalker that’s Red/Black?

 

Warden of the First Tree

warden of the first tree

 

At first glance, we can’t help but compare this little guy to Figure of Destiny and rightfully so. He ‘levels up’ at instant speed as opposed to the levelers from Rise of Eldrazi. The big difference with Figure of Destiny is that this little guy can just continuously grow with his last ability. You just keep paying 6 mana once he’s a Spirit and go nuts! In older or more casual formats, you can simply change his creature type and start adding tokens from the get-go.

He’s pretty much an auto-include in Anafenza  Tiny Leader decks and very possibly in Abzan aggro builds in Standard. You just need some kind of way to track his current type other than dice I suppose, since one of his own abilities put counters on him and it may possibly lead to confusing board states. He’s also got that smug little grin that says : “Oh, that’s right!” He knows he’s pretty good and I believe that he will be.The card is just an insane mana sink and it can basically become an attacking Fleecemane Lion as of Turn 2.

 

Whipserwood Elemental

whisperwood ele

 

I really like that the last mythic is a very odd one. You basically get a free 2/2 every time this guy survives at your end step. You then get some End Hostilities protection  as well (mind you, End Hostilities is nowhere near as played in Standard as Supreme Verdict was last year). Of course you really want to play as many creatures as possible if this guy’s in your deck. You get to unmorph them right before they die in order to Manifest more creatures if you activate Whisperwood Elemental’s ability. Is your ‘Manifested’ Elvish Mystic currently better as a 2/2 or do you want to unmorph him for more mana? It’s also neat with Legendary creatures, since you can technically have more than one in play provided it’s Manifested itself into play and decides to only unmorph once its doppelganger is no more.

Despite all the cuteness, he’s basically a decent-sized bodies that makes more creatures over time and potentially a decent b. Not sure if it’s going to be the next Master of the Wild Hunt, but I do know that it’s going to be fun trying to make a deck with it. It’s a card that can appeal to both the casual and competitive players.

More to come

We’ll have a brief overview of more Fate Reforged cards later this week.

fate reforged