Tag Archives: soldiers

Deck Spotlight: Mono White Soldiers

Hello Everyone, and I’m happy to say that I’m fast approaching a glut of magic tournaments. The first Saturday in November is a PTQ, then comes the 2009s (aka provincials) and another PTQ is scheduled for the winter, but a date has not been pinned down.

What does this all mean? It means that most of my spare time is now going to be devoted to becoming better at sealed deck and Standard, which means (hopefully) more frequent articles about my findings.

Today I’ve decided to write about my favourite deck for Standard, which only became a real deck after M10, and my best Standard performance is always with this deck. Maybe it’s just me, but I love the idea of getting 9 power worth of guys for 6 mana. Add on to that one of the best pump effects the game has ever seen, and you’re looking at a pretty solid deck.

The deck, if you’re wondering, is Mono White Soldiers.

I began playing this deck shortly after M10, and I’m pleased to say that it’s still a very strong contender in the new Standard. The funny thing about the deck is that the only cards it really lost in rotation were cads that weren’t actually soldiers. I’m talking about Spectral Procession, Figure of Destiny, and Windbrisk Heights. Obviously this deck loses a lot of potential for the “god hand”, but it still has a very solid game plan, even with aggro’s nemesis Day of Judgment running around.

Lets start off with the decklist that I’ve been running lately.

Mono-White Soldiers

While some of the card choices are obvious, there are a fair few that aren’t so much.

The most controversial card as a four of is actually Captain of the Watch. Many people think that a weenie deck shouldn’t play something so expensive, but I find that the quantity and quality of tokens you produce is much more important than sheer speed. This does not mean that this deck is not an aggro deck, it very much is,it just has a more developed curve than perhaps traditional white weenie. Rather than dropping a bunch of small guys on turns 1-4, and then petering out, this deck keeps going, with it’s late drops supplementing the early drops. With cards like Pyroclasm and Day of Judgment available to wipe the board, it is of the utmost importance to have a play that will more or less put you back where you were after they Wrath. The Captain is the perfect card for this, because it demands yet another immediate answer after they wrath.

We also have a few other cards that really shine after a board wipe. Conquerors Pledge is simply amazing, and it wins so many games that soldiers otherwise couldn’t. Note that I’ve never kicked a pledge, even in my games against Turbo Fog, because soldiers already applies so much pressure that you shouldn’t ever hit 12 land. Pledge is greatly amplified when you have a pump effect out, and makes games just disgusting. I’m considering a fourth copy because they work so well, but I haven’t decided yet.

Super Tech Tip: Playing against Jund? Be very careful as to what token they target with Maelstrom Pulse. Conquerors Pledge produces Kor Soldiers, while Elspeth and co. produce garden variety Soldiers. For this reason, make sure you have different types of tokens, and you don’t short change yourself.

Back pre-Zendikar, this deck had 2-3 Ranger of Eos, and it was great for both card advantage and getting back into the game. However, he was able to search for Figure of Destiny, which was often a much better target than Elite Vanguard. Thus, I cut the Rangers down to 1 and added in the random Baneslayer Angel. It randomly wins games, and is one more great topdeck you can draw into. Note that I only have 1, and I haven’t really considered any more, even if I could get them.

In pre-Zendikar standard, the deck played a full set of Harms Way, and was able to blow out most decks with it. Unfortunately, due to the rising threat of Baneslayer Angel and Vampire Nocturnus, It has been necessary to have at least some spot removal in the main deck.

Elspeth is a card that I feel has gotten more powerful with rotation. There is now almost no chance of her getting countered, and the impact she has on the board is just amazing. I actually find myself getting more value out of pumping an existing soldier and swinging in for usually 5+ points of damage than I do from making another soldier. However, it depends greatly on the game state.

Super Tech Tip: When playing against vampires, don’t be afraid to just run out Elspeth or Ajani when they have a Vampire Hexmage out. Simply announce that you wish to retain priority, use an ability, and let them die. The fact that you get rid of a 2/1 first striker (and a potential 4/2 with Nocturnus), is actually quite important in the vampire matchup, and getting an ability off is quite nice. Note that Elspeths are generally more valuable than Ajanis, so if you fear a Hexmage, it’s generally better to let the cat die off first. Of course, If you already have a sizable army, you could very well wish to do it the other way around for more rounds of pumping, but normally Elspeth should be conserved.

Brave the Elements is one of my favourite cards from Zendikar. It enables a sense of assurance that you can deal with whatever your opponent throws at you, whether they be removal spells of blockers, you can save your guys for the small price of one mana. This is another card I’m considering playing more of in the mainboard, it’s just that good.

With the loss of Windbrisk Heights, I looked to see what other non-basics couls spice up the deck’s mana base. I could play fetchlands, but see little positive benefit to me, whereas vampires can use them to trigger the effects of Bloodghast and Vampire Nocturnus. However we have no such effects here. With cards like Black Knight and Malakir Bloodwitch running around, it is crucial that we have some form of answer. Gargoyle Castle is good at stopping a late-game Knight, and it also chumping a Bloodwitch. If you can get an Ajani counter onto the gargoyle, all the better for the long haul.

Emeria, the Sky Ruin is for the long games against control decks. Being able to recur Captain of the Watch every turn is prety good. It also gives you something to aim for when you keep drawing plains. I’m tempted to drop it down to one, but then you run the risk of not drawing it in the matchups where you need it most.

Vampires is probably this decks worst matchup, while Jund is actually quite good both pre and post board. Cards like Kazandu Blademaster are just great at blocking Bloodbraid Elf, and your guys quickly get so strong that they even force them to chump with Broodmate Dragon. Here’s what I generally board against Jund.

In:
2 Path to Exile
3 Celestial Purge
2 Ethersworn Canonist

Out:
2 Harm’s Way
1 Ranger of Eos
2 Elite Vanguard
2 Ajani Goldmane

Against Vampires we have a great deal of cards we bring in. We must simplify the board state as much as possible so that we don’t take too much damage from a resolved Nocturnus. This means making lots of one for one trades in the early game, and eventually out-aggroing them. Thus, White Knights and Kazandu Blademaster are serving double duty on both offense and defense, and you have to out aggro them. If they don’t have board slots targeted at white weenie, your job becomes infinitely easier.

In:
2 Path to Exile
3 Celestial Purge
2 Brave the Elements
4 White Knight

Out:
2 Harm’s Way
1 Ranger of Eos
4 Elite Vanguard
3 Captain of the Watch
1 Veteran Armorsmith

In the mirror match, you have to be faster than your opponent, and make profitable trades. Thus a full set of Harms Way is needed, as well as Brave the Elements are the best things you can possibly have, but your opponent will have them also, so it becomes a very skill-intensive match.

In:
2 Harm’s Way
2 Brave the Elements

Out:
2 Path to Exile
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Elite Vanguard

These are the 3 decks that have been doing well at my local store, and I believe that white weenie is extremely powerful because few people see it coming. It’s favourable matchup against Jund is one of the most attractive things about it, and it has a good shot against Vampires after board.

Oh, and you auto-win against turbo fog as I found out last FNM. Just play out enough guys to win, and conserve your hand. Emeria shines, and no matter how many Wrath effects they have you still win.

What decks have you guys been playing lately? Is there anything awesome and fun you think I should take to FNM? Sound off in the comments, through my email (zak -AT- power9pro.com), or via my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Cheers,

Zak

New Directions for Standard Post M10

—Authour’s Note–

I wrote this last Monday, but changed and edited it into the below version. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my graphics just the way I wanted, but any later and this article might become irrelevant.  Enjoy!

As I write this, I’m in the car coming back from a camping trip with my family to the Rocky Mountains, so I’m sorry If I haven’t returned anyone’s emails, comments, or twitter updates, and I promise that I will get to them as soon as I possibly can. Also, I have not seen any decklists for post-M10 lists, so forgive me if I miss some crazy new deck.

Well, M10 has been released for about a week and a half at the time of writing, I’m eager to start playing some more standard, in preparation for Magic Game Day in August. I really wanted to play a new deck that was made possible after Magic: 2010. I developed a list of decks that I thought would be tournament viable. In no particular order, here they are:

Suicide Black
Uw Merfolk
GB(w?) The Rock
Rg Aggro
W Soldiers

I thought that M10 would make a nice stage for Suicide Black to make its return. For those of you who don’t know, Suicide Black is a deck that was originally bent on a turn one Dark Ritual into a Hypnotic Specter. This almost immediately demands an answer from the opponent, lest they risk losing their most important cards. Obviously, a turn-one specter is not a possibility in modern Standard, but the concept of attacking the opponents hand and board position simultaneously is still possible of winning games. I’ve been testing a deck like this that uses a playset of Thoughtseize, Duress, Bitterblossom, Black Knight, and Hypnotic Specter to apply early pressure on the opponent, and provide minimal opportunities for answers. I also use Child of Night and Tendrils of Corruption to mitigate the life loss. Unfortunately, the deck lacks an answer to a Chameleon Colossus, aside from a few Mutavaults and Gargoyle Castles, which can be trouble.

Magic 2010 sees the resurgence of new tribal “lords” which give pump effects to their specific tribes. The one that I’m mostly happy about is Merfolk Soverign, which makes Uw Fish a viable archetype. Although it’s no Lord of Atlantis, it still makes your Silvergill Adepts stronger, which is really what merfolk is all about. This combined with my new favourite card Sleep make for a deadly onslaught of merfolk. Backed up by proper countermagic, even a few merfolk should be able to win the game with the eight tap effects that the deck should run (Cryptic Command and Sleep). After playtesting Merfolk for a bit, it seems like a solid archetype that would definitely be powerful enough to take on a PTQ. It also has great sideboard potential, able to play Flashfreeze, Meddling Mage, Pithing Needle, and Safe Passage based on the deck it’s facing. The deck’s tribal interactions are just icing on the cake, so I highly reccommend playing a Merfolk deck at your next standard tournament.

One card that I’m a huge fan of from M10 is Cudgel Troll. It provides an excellent beater, and now Terror and Incinerate have been ousted from standard in favour of Lightning Bolt and Doom Blade, which allow for the possibly of regeneration. Thus, I believe that a creature that pretty much only dies to Path to Exile is a valuable asset, assuming you have enough green mana. Black Knight is also a card that provides a distinct advantage against many decks, and coupled with Great Sable Stag, this deck just pumps out threats that are hard to deal with. This is another deck that will make use of the newly-reprinted Duress, and although an overall slower deck, I think that it will prove to be quite viable.

With the reprints of both Ball Lightning and Lightning Bolt, red decks have a lot to smile about these days. I envision a red-green build that only splashes green for cards like Bloodbraid Elf, which promise to result on more damage being produced. Just the thought of cascading an elf into a Ball Lightning for 9 points of damage got my inner red mage excited. Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot more than that happening with this deck, as the quality of fast burn isn’t enough to support the deck. I haven’t tested this deck at all though, nor do I have a full List for it, so I would peruse Gatherer a bit more before calling it completely out of contention. Due to the red decks inherent low land count, it demands a large quantity of spells, and if a deck is forced into playing either more land than warranted, or sub-par spells, it will not be powerful enough to be a mainstream contender. That, and the fact that the whole deck does to Burrenton Forge-Tender makes it the deck that I’m least sure of in the post-M10 Standard.

If an aggressive red deck is what I’m least certain of, then I’m putting most of my money on a mono-white soldiers build to dominate the top tables at tournaments. I’ve found that the building of this deck in particular is extremely similar to the building of Faeries. This is because there are some cards that are automatic four-ofs, while others are extremely debatable. However, although many slots can differ, the decks may have a very similar play experience. Cards like Captain of the Watch will be played, because of the sheer power they have to change the game. The new white sorcery Harms Way has a great place in this deck, easily mitigating the potential devastation caused by Volcanic Fallout. The plethora of pump effects make it a more stable tokens build, as making all your guys X/3 is not that difficult.

Without the presence of wrath of god, your army becomes near-impossible to deal with once 3 toughness is reached. Thus, your opponent becomes forced into either wasting spot removal or making unfavourable combat decisions in order to get rid of your threats. Unlike current Kithkin decks, your main pump effects (Honor of the Pure and Veteran Armorsmith) don’t die to a board sweeper before turn 5, so that your tokens will continue to be powerful as the game progresses. The funny thing about this deck is that the longer your opponent staves you off, the stronger your army becomes. Between multiple pump effects and activations of Ajani Goldmane, it’s not uncommon to have 4/4 tokens coming out of Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Captain of the Watch. Eventually, it just proves to be too much for any deck to handle.

I’ve already built 2 of these decks, and next week I’d like to give you some testing results from their matchups. As always, any questions or concerns can be emailed to me at zak -at- power9pro.com, or through my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Cheers,

Zak