FNM Promo for March 2014

banisher priestDo you prefer the male or female banisher?

I really like the playable FNM promos. As you will see with next month’s FNM promo, they are not all so great. We also had Grisly Salvage and Dimir Charm that most people were not too fond of. I think we can all agree however that this one is really nice. I wonder why Fiend Hunter never got the FNM treatment when he was Standard legal?

With all the new White Weenie stuff we got from Born of the Gods, it’s very possible that people will start dusting off their little Banisher Priests and start casting them again. Brimaz will probably see to this.

Remember that you can only get these in March 2014, which is still quite some time from now. Go to your local brick and mortar store FNM events for a chance to win them either randomly or by finishing in the Top 2.

FNM_logo

White Weenie

white weenie

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

The current metagame in Theros Standard is comprised of several UW/x control decks or as we refer to them ‘ Sphinx’s Revelation decks’ and Devotion decks. All colors are represented in the devotion shell, but one: White. There have been a few lists here and there with Angel of Serenity and Boros Reckoners, but nothing really solid. At one point when Theros was just released there was even a certain ‘Sphere of Safetydeck. There are a few good white noncreature permanents to try a controlish build but not enough to really glue it all together into a consistent deck. The other devotion decks are aggro to midrange, with monoblack devotion being a sort of control deck at times. The white deck has to go to its roots and play the weenie role. While it’s not immensely popular right now, it does win its fair share of games and may get much better when Born of the Gods is spoiled.

White Weenie

Standard Format


Creatures: 28

Boros Elite
Dryad Militant
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
Precinct Captain
4 Imposing Sovereign
4 Daring Skyjek
4 Banisher Priest

Enchantments: 2

Spear of Heliod

Instants: 4

Brave the Elements

Planeswalkers: 4

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

 





Lands: 24


4 Mutavault
18 Plains


Sideboard

2 Keening Apparition
3 Last Breath
3 Fiendslayer Paladin
2 Glare of Heresy
Celestial Flare
1 Gideon, Champion of Justice
2 Rootborn Defenses

Weenies?

The creatures in this deck are referred to as weenies, but don’t confuse this term in meaning they are not tough. A lot of them pack quite a punch. Of course you have your ‘stats matter’ creatures, such as Dryad Militant. Let’s face it: with Snapcaster Mage gone, this card is basically a vanilla 2/1 that can be played in either Green or White decks. That’s just fine with us – we weren’t really looking to utilize its ability against the dire Spellheart Chimera. We also have a 3/1 for two mana in Daring Skyjek. Reminiscent of Future Sight’s Blade of the Sixth Pride with an actual ability. Having this be a 3/1 flier is very nice as the rest of this deck’s creatures don’t exactly have great forms of evasion (read : none). Pounding down your opponent’s life total early on with him is good too and even maybe having it trade with a more mana-intensive creature can be fine later one (but we aim to avoid trades in this deck).

soldier of the pantheonMake sure not to miss the lifegain triggers

Soldier of the Pantheon is our other 2/1 for a mere 1 white mana and his ability can be extremely relevant. Just to list a few creatures he can attack past: Boros Reckoner, Nightveil Specter, Burning-Tree Emissary, Loxodon Smiter, Fleecemane Lion, Voice of Resurgence, etc. You get the point I suppose. It’s more or less ‘evasive’. While you may be focused on bringing the beatdown, you’ll want to remember that you can gain quite a bit of life with his other ability as well. It might not seem like a ton, but it can really give you the edge when you’re racing against another aggressive deck like Monored Devotion.

The 2CMC+ Drops

While our one drops are all about bringing the aggro, the majority of 2-drops are there to give us some board presence. Whether you’re making extra 1/1 tokens with Precinct Captain, exiling an opposing creature with Banisher Priest or slowing your opponent down by a turn with Imposing Sovereign, you are advancing your board state.

imposing sovereignFinally seeing some play

There is an interesting point on having both Banisher Priest and Imposing Sovereign in play. While in most normal situations your opponent can simply use a removal spell such as ‘Doom Blade‘ on your Banisher Priest in order to retrieve his exiled creature, he cannot during your attack step and then hope to be able to block with it. The creature he will get back will returned tapped and thus unable to block. It’s rather obvious, yes, but it’s extremely relevant to be aware of too. Of course I don’t need to explain that it’s somewhat risky to attack in a similar scenario without having Imposing Sovereign in play on your end. In this case, we probably want to make sure we keep a single white mana up for the eventual Brave the Elements we will need to counteract this nasty surprise.

Banisher Priest is pretty sweet but you shouldn’t just play it whenever you can either. If you would lose one of your creatures in combat but then still manage to inflict a lot of damage to your opponent, you probably want to keep it in hand if you anticipate a larger blocker, board wipe or even an opposing Banisher Priest in the future. I have seen many players moan about how their opponent just drew the right card to recover and now they lost a chunk of their board presence. Truth is: their opponent was probably waiting for the right time to play his card as well. If you used your Banisher Priest on Monoblue’s 0/1 Cloudfin Raptor just because your really wanted to get in for the extra 2 damage, then don’t go complaining when you hit a brick wall in his following play of Frostburn Weird, Nightveil Specter or game-changing Master of Waves.

banisher priestYou don’t run 8 of them, so don’t play as if you did

Just because this is a white aggro deck does not give you the excuse to play sloppily. You need to make sure you make optimal plays, good attacks and pressure your opponent whenever possible. Throwing in an extra attacker which is going to get freely killed is terrible. I’ve seen this often and it makes me wonder if people understand combat. If your opponent is going to take the same amount of damage because X number of creatures will most likely go unblocked then what is the point of also attacking with an extra creature that will get blocked and just die. Note that this is different than actually trying to push through extra damage.

I had come up with these example scenarios, but it’s like 3 AM, so I’ll keep it simple. But basically doing something like attacking with an extra Dryad Militant which you know will get blocked, die and not trade is usually bad if the creature your opponent used to block it was not originally going to be blocking anyhow.

Finally, Precinct Captain makes life very difficult for those decks that choose to not play any mass removal . Granted that monoblack devotion can’t really do that right now, not without a support color (green for Golgari Charm or White for Merciless Eviction). Once you start churning out those tokens with Precinct Captain you should be really making life difficult for those decks. You can also just flat out ignore Desecration Demon as well. He’s probably on of the best WW costed weenies of all time. Sure cards like Ratchet Bomb can hurt, but no one is really playing that right now. Also, it’s probably going to just take out a small wave of tokens, once. I even started to run Illness in the Ranks sideboard in my own monoblack deck against White Weenie (and Orzhov Weenie) and so far it’s been hit or miss.

precinct captain

Non-creatures?

While a lot of decks play tons of creatures they still sometimes need the odd support cards for removal, pump spells and other utility. Spear of Heliod does its best Glorious Anthem impersonation here,only it can’t stack (since it’s Legendary). This is also the reason the deck packs two; we never ever want to draw more than one per game but we do want to at least draw one. I realize that it also has another ability, but the odds that you will be utilizing it are slim. If you find yourself needing it, it may be because

A) it’s a really grindy and tight game.

B) you are on the defensive (not where you want to be with this deck)

C) you randomly killed a Guttersnipe after it resolved its triggered ability. Congrats!

ajani caller of the prideWhat? and aggressive planeswalker?

Ajani, Caller of the Pride has not seen much play recently but he is truly at his best in this deck. He boosts your little guys so they can become more battle ready against your opponents slightly bigger threats. He also allows you to go in for the killing blow with his flying/double-strike ability. If you find yourself needing his ultimate, well… good luck!

Spear of Heliod

spear of heliod art

“Spear! Spear! Spear! ” – some random wrestling announcer, somewhere

While Heliod does not make an appearance in this deck, his legendary weapon sure does. It’s still a Glorious Anthem with a random upside. You probably won’t be activating it often, but it’s there. The downside? Legendary! Yeah …

brave the elementsDoes quite a few things rather well

This little beast of a card is back in force to make white weenie a more legitimate contender. Whether it’s protecting one of your guys from a removal, making profitable blocks or making sure your dudes go in unblocked – it’s pretty damn good. Remember to leave that lone white mana up in order to make many opponents think twice before casting something they may regret. You often only need to lower your opponent’s life total to just under 10 life so that you can cast Brave the Elements and win in one big swing. Nowadays decks are very mono-colored that you probably only need protection from a single color to let your whole team through. Remember however: it doesn’t do anything for your Mutavaults.

Sideboard Plan

While the sideboard may seem all over the place, that’s because well … it is. It’s a bit of a mess but the cards do serve their purpose well. Keening Apparition is not something we are accustomed to seeing in most 60-card decks at all. It deals with: Detention Spheres, Bident of Thassa and Underworld Connections.That’s just a few things I came up with right off the top of my head, but there’s more. You definitely want to side these in against Esper and UW Control variants. They can be brought in to answer a Detention Sphere that’s already in play or simply played pre-emptively. I prefer to just hold them in hand and cast them as pseudo-Disenchants. However, if it’s Detention Sphere that you fear … there’s always : Glare of Heresy.

glare of heresySo much hate !

Glare of Heresy also doubles as removal for cards like Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Voice of Resurgence and Boros Reckoner (just to name a few). It’s a really good card in the mirror (duh!) as well as versus Esper. You might even get to hit some more random stuff with it (Loxodon Smiter ?) as well.

Fiendslayer Paladin is no stranger to White Weenie deck sideboards. He basically gives you a good edge against Red Devotion decks as well as doing a good job at dodging Monoblack Devotion removal spells (just watch out for Devour Flesh). Don’t forget that he only can’t be targeted by red/black spells, so don’t have him randomly die to a Boros Reckoner damage redirection effect or commit him to a board that would still end up dead to Anger of the Gods.

The presence of Last Breath in Standard sideboards sure has been increasing as of late. This can be attributed to creatures like Nightveil Specter, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Pack Rats and a few other devotion enablers. In a format where cards like Doom Blade, Ultimate Price and co. have a somewhat tough time of hitting their mark, you might have an easier time sniping things with Last Breath (or Orzhov Charm if you splash Black).

last breath shadowmoorI much prefer the Shadowmoor artwork to the Theros one and the Mercadian Masques one

Celestial Flare is also no stranger to the White deck sideboard party. It does pretty well against things with Hexproof and protection from white. Of course the catch is that they more or less have to be the only creature attacking/blocking. It’s not the best solution against Blood Baron of Vizkopa, but we’ll take it. Don’t forget to keep your Imposing Sovereigns in the deck though, as they slow down the Bloodbaron quite well ( a turn is still a turn).

At the other end of the spectrum, we run Rootborn Defenses. Yes, it’s obviously to save our army from something like a Supreme Verdict. We will rarely get the Populate benefit from it, unless we already have Precinct Captain soldier tokens in play. It’s not as awesome as Brave the Elements is, but even Brave the Elements does not save us from a total board wipe such as Supreme Verdict.

Gideon ?

gideon championYou were expecting someone else?

I think this is more of a wildcard versus control decks that anything else. You at least get a 5/5 that can keep attacking them every turn on an empty board and is fairly safe from removal (not counting Detention Sphere). It’s probably better off as a third Keening Apparition or something, but it’s always fun to give more play time to the underused planeswalkers, no?

If anything, the White Weenie deck will over time teach you how to play a tight game of aggro. When to attack, trade, block and protect your creatures. It’s all going to be combat damage, so no lucky top-decked burn spell or Gray Merchant of Asphodel here! Try it out at your local FNM or whatever other day of the week your store holds Standard constructed events. You might be pleasantly surprised.

One Drop of Servitude

one drop deck

by Steve DDT Giannopoulos

While the banner doesn’t really reflect it, this is basically a classic White Weenie deck. There is no real replacement for Honor of the Pure, which was a staple in these kinds of decks previously. The deck needs to rely more on its creature synergies rather than a massive boost. It wins rather quickly, rivalling even the ‘Naya Blitz’ deck that’s been gaining a lot of popularity as of late. It was even talked about briefly at Grand Prix Quebec when they asked Top 8 participant Tzu Ching Kuo what was the strangest deck he faced.

His answer:

Monowhite weenie. I got killed on turn four.

The deck mentioned here is the one I will reveal shortly. It was played by a team of local players captained by Charles Trottier. Charles mentioned the deck to me a week or so prior to the event, but I was not able to attend. We did however discuss possible improvement to it, this lead to two major changes.

1) Rally the Peasants > Righteous Charge

Obviously, right? We hardly ever care about the toughness boost. The instant speed is obviously better than the sorcery speed. The flashback, while improbable, was easy to splash for.

2) Mentor of the Meek maindeck

While it lessens the 1-drop threat density slightly it does allow you to recovery extremely well mid to late game. Its value is increased with Doomed Traveller and the only creature that does not trigger its ability is Lyev Skyknight.

Here’s the list:

One Drop of Servitude

Lands (19)

2 Cavern of Souls
4 Glacial Fortress
Plains
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Sacred Foundry

Creatures

4 Wingcrafter
4 Boros Elite
4 Champion of the Parish
4 War Falcon
4 Doomed Traveler
2 Selfless Cathar
2 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
4 Dryad Militant
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Lyev Skyknight
2 Mentor of the Meek

Spells (4)

2 Rally the Peasants
2 Immortal Servitude

Sideboard

4 Boros Reckoner
2 Riders of Gavony
1 Rally the Peasants
2 Immortal Servitude
3 Knight of Glory
2 Angel of Jubilation

1 Slayers’s Stronghold

 

The first thing to note is the 19 lands. It seems too low for a regular Standard deck but we are playing a really low curve and only have 6 3-drops and 2 ‘4 drops’. We never need to ‘curve out’ and can easily just play multiple 1-drops as soon as possible and just keep swinging.

Some of the cards you may not even recognize unless you have drafted a lot, but they are the real deal. Selfless Cathar and Wingcrafter might seem like a joke. They are anything but.

 

wingcrafter

Laugh until you realize he is responsible for your downfall

This guy is just awesome! He does so much more than people think. For starters, he is a human which is good times with Champion of the Parish. He acts as a Kitesail since he gives flying and also attacks himself (thuse equaling the +1 Attack bonus granted by Kitesail. He basically allows you to race the other aggressive decks in the air (something they don’t do at all).

You can get starts such as:

Turn 1  Champion of the Parish

Turn 2 Wingcrafter (pair) , trigger Champion of the Parish

                  Boros Elite , trigger Champion of the Parish

                  Attack for 3

Turn 3 Attack for a lot 7 if you played nothing else

                  Attack for much more if you got more humans in play

Turn 4 Probably Win?

It’s not an uncommons scenario, but it goes to show that even when your other small guys are not necessarily pushing through damage your Wingcrafter is allowing you to constantly swing with a Champion of the Parish.

This however is not the only flying threat. You have War Falcon and Lyev Skyknight as well to take to the air with. Pretty much every human in the deck except for Selfless Cathar, Wingcrafter and Mikaeus, the Lunarch. Two of those are not even 4-ofs so the odds are in your favor. A lot of opponents will sometimes waste their removal on one of your non-soldier non-knight cards even if you only have one soldier/knight. They just assume your War Falcon can always attack for some reason. Granted, when you see 4+ creatures on the battlefield you are not exactly focused on any one of them in particular.

war falcon

Now you too can command falcons to do your bidding

Lyev Skyknight also does his fair share of the ‘flying beatdown’. He can even ‘save’ one of your guys if he detains a Liliana of the Veil. Or he can assist the aggro by detaining Jace, Architect of Thought and preventing his +1 ability from happening next turn (something that is rather effective versus our weenie horde.

Another small detail is that it allows us to mitigate some of the opposing life-gain from cards such as Thragtusk by detaining them for a turn. We get to blank their blocker and basically make their cards read: ” 5 mana : Gain 5 life”

lyev skyknight

Your friendly neighborhood one-shot Pacifism

The other non-human in the deck is Dryad Militant. While it is a direct upgrade over Elite Vanguard, save its creature types, we would have almost preferred the Elite Vanguard. However, since it was not reprinted in M13 we do not get to make that choice. Her ability will maybe mess with the possbility of flashing back a Rally the Peasants, but that is very unlikely. She’s probably the 1-drop you want to play on turn 1 unless you have Champion of the Parish or War Falcon in hand. Also, if you have no actual white mana except for Cavern of Souls, it can get awkward. This too is rather unlikely.

 

‘Boosters’

Not the booster pack variety, but the cards that allow you to pump more damage.

Mikaeus, the Lunarch

mikaeus the lunarch

Rise my humans, Riiiiiiiise!

This guy can be a great play on any turn pas the first one. Sometimes you have to play in ways that are not ‘correct’. One of them being that you would cast creatures without haste pre-combat (a big no-no under normal circumstances). In this case though, we want the Mikaeus effect to affect the greatest number of creatures.

He usually doesn’t stick around very long, which is why it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have two of these in our opening hand. It’s very rare that we activate the ability to pump himself but it’s sometimes the correct play if their are too many creatures on the battlefield and you would be losing some guys by just going on the attack. This way you can alternate between both his abilities to keep boosting your team. It’s not rocket science but you just need to evaluate if activating the first ability is sometimes worth it.

Another smallish detail about him is that you do get to reanimate him when you cast an Immortal Servitude for X =1 . While this means that he dies as soon as he enters the battlefield, he will indeed trigger Champion of the Parish‘s ability once. This is rather important to remember in a deck that aims to deal as much damage as possible.

selfless cathar

This little guy is what I would qualify as the most ‘filler’ card in the deck. It does have a couple of uses. It costs one mana for starters, so Immortal Servitude can pop it back into play. Its main role is that it basically does a Glorious Charge but is also a creature. It’s a turn faster than Mikaeus for when you need that boost right away.

rally the peasants

Appropriate for something that is almost a ‘peasant deck’

This late addition to the deck proved to be potentially the most explosive. When you can deal an extra 6-12 damage, you definitely don’t ignore it. On the following turn it can mean casting it back for another damage boost. At that point, the game should probably be over.

Relevant still, is the ability to cast it on defense. You don’t want to be in that position, but it’s nice knowing you have that option. You get to kill their bigger guys with your smaller ones and then keep some of your to strike back.

Before we get to the other creatures in the deck,, let’s get to the card that lends its name to it.

immortal banner

No doubt your favorite white weenies in skeleton form

This is one of the cards behind the whole deck concept. It is the reason we max out on 1 drop creatures. It allows us to recover from disastrous situations, usually after a Supreme Verdict. If your opponent is trying to mill you out, this can also be rather awesome against them (of course with only 2 copies maindeck, it’s rather unlikely).

I played against a few decks casually trying this out in a Standard rats deck, only there are not enough to make it worthwhile. It’s pretty obvious you want to use it for X =1 to maximize its efficiency. I guess it will only get better as Standard evolves with DragonMaze.

We get a small amount of come into play abilities when we reanimate for one. Nothing major just Champion of the Parish triggers and Wingcrafter pairings to resolve.

I like the art on this and the quote from Teysa is pretty nice. It actually looks like a movie poster now that I think about it.

I wanted to do the same banner but with a small credits roll at the bottom half of it.

“One Drop of Servitude”

Produced by ………….. Immortal Servitude

Directed by ……………. Wingcrafter 

Executive Producer . Rally the Peasants

CAST ……………………..

                                                   Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

                                                   Mikaeus, the Lunarch

                                                   Doomed Traveler

                                                   Boros Elite

and so on  …….

Let’s get back to the card choices.

boros elite

This guy is usually found in Boros builds, but he’s pretty spicy in this deck as well. We get to sometimes give him flying and get to be attacking with him by turn with a couple of his friends for 3. He’s obviously great in multiples and we don’t mind having one of our other guys trade in combat if it means Boros Elite can get to hit for 3. Being a one-drop also qualifies him for the deck.

doomed traveler

Another one drop! Human and Soldier. So far so good… He dies and keeps the attack going. He’s one of the cards we don’t mind attacking with alongside Boros Elite as he will just turn into another creature anyways. This will allow us to repeat our attack next turn.

He can also get our Mentor of the Meek to trigger 2 times, giving us insane amounts of value.

thalia

This card is just good. I’m not going to use any arguments to try and convince you, just that it slows down the control decks for an extra turn. Supreme verdict costs 5 instead, they need to wait to cast their Ultimate Price and even their Farseeks may become uncastable if they kept a 2 land hand. We only play 3 and sometimes I wish it was less. Getting 2 of these in hand is about one of the worst draws you can have, otherwise it’s all around great.

mentor of the meek

Con: not a 1-drop. Pro: Just awesome!

He gets to be our drawing engine for when we’re running low on gas. He triggers Champion of the Parish‘s ability and allows our War Falcon to attack as well. There is also the improbable situation where you cast Immortal Servitude and use the extra mana to draw a couple of cards. In my experience with this deck you will max out at 5 mana and 6 is just unfortunate (unless you cast and recast Rally the Peasants).

I often said that I wish my nickname was Mentor of the Meek, but it’s hard to top DDT. I kid I kid!

Sideboard

boros reckoner

The funny thing about this guy is that the playset is almost as expensive as the deck itself. I’m exaggerating of course, but it’s just funny to think that you have 100-120$ in your sideboard that you sometimes get to play. For those on a smaller budget I would just recommend cutting it for something like Fiend Hunter.

He’s sided in versus the other aggressive decks and hopefully gets to 2 for 1 your opponent’s creatures. Also he can be fully cast off of all white mana even though everyone is used to seeing him in mostly red decks.

knight of glory

Here comes the hate!

A definite sideboard card that hates on Jund and Zombie decks. If he follows a turn 1 War Falcon, he can allow us to attack in the air for 3 while holding down the fort against black creatures. Same scenario with Wingcrafter only less damage.

angel of jubilation

Here is an ‘odd’ inclusion if there ever was one. One part Honor of the Pure and one part random hate. I guess it prevents a flipped Garruk Relentless, Cartel Aristocrat and Undercity Informer (from the Humanimator deck) from activating their effects.

It can also let us survive things like a very random Curse of Death’s Hold (don’t laugh, it happened to me).

riders of gavony

Where you expecting something else? These guys always appear in some capacity in human-themed Standard decks. They allow you to keep attacking versus other creature decks (usually naming ‘Beast’ for Thragtusk and sometimes ‘Wizard’ for Boros Reckoner. It’s also rather handy if you find yourself getting manhandled by Olivia Voldaren.

That about wraps it up for this article! Be sure to chec back regularly for more.

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