Vicious Rumors

Esports Updates

Yet another update to WotC’s esports plan was released this week. The major points are as follows:

  • Three Mythic Invitationals in 2020.
  • Mythic Qualifier or Mythic Point Challenge every month.
  • Qualifiers and Challenges will be only one day, down from two.
  • Tabletop stuff I won’t go into here.

There is way more narrative surrounding these points, so if any of this affects you, please click the link above to fill in the details.

What’s missing completely, are Mythic Championships. WotC announced back in August that the 2020 system will differ significantly from what we saw this year. Gone are Mythic Championships. They will be replaced with Mythic Invitationals for Arena, and Players Tours for tabletop play. All of which leads to the World Championships. This should be a net positive for Arena players as it offers more opportunities with less time commitment to qualify for the big money tournaments.

Theros Beyond Death Previews

Last Friday, after my article was published, they released previews for several cards. Most of the cards previewed so far have been White.

The other colors showed off a few cards too.

Non Booster Previews

Also, this week we had one ten card preview for the upcoming set from WotC themselves. All of the cards are big splashy creatures with fun or interesting mechanics that look to be aimed at more casual play.

The bad news (maybe?) is that you won’t be able to get any of these cards from booster packs. These cards are part of an ongoing initiative by WotC to add cards to the game without making them available in normal boosters. It started with the Planeswalker deck specific cards, which never really saw any play in Standard. Last year it moved to Buy-a-Box promo cards like Firesong and Sunspeaker and Nexus of Fate, the later of which has seen considerable play in Standard. And then finally this year, they released the Brawl decks, and Korvold has broken into the top deck of Standard.

The good news for us Arena players is that if these cards don’t see Standard play, they won’t be mucking up our collections. Maybe we’ll want a few of these for Brawl, in which case we’ll only need one copy.

Some people are very upset with this change. While I agree that increasing the complexity of how to get each card in paper isn’t great for consumers, I don’t think this affects Arena in the same way.

More previews are coming next week, with the large push starting December 30th.

Historic Artisan Event

Starting today is the Historic Artisan Event. Entry is 2,500 Gold or 500 Gems. You can play as much as you want, but your first 5 wins will get you card styles for Wildgrowth Walker, Guttersnipe, Cast Down, Curious Obsession, and Militia Bugler.

Banned in the format are:

  • Persistent Petitioners
  • Cauldron Familiar
  • Cavalcade of Calamity
  • Gates Ablaze

I’m not exactly sure what to expect with this event. The most obvious answer is Mono Blue Tempo, since it only loses Tempest Djinn. But, maybe that’s not the best deck. Much has changed since the days where it was on top. There will most certainly be decks capable of casting Disfigure turn 1, and lack of turn 1 removal was a major factor in what propped this deck up earlier this year.

Folio of Fancies

Since I’ve been neglecting best of one decks for a while, I figured I would showcase a few that are very competitive at the upper end of the ladder. Earlier this week, released their top 5 Bo1 Standard decks from the first half of the month. Let’s take a look at a few of them that haven’t had any time to shine on the Mythic Championship stage.

Bo1 Rakdos Knights

(67.4% win rate)

3 Gutterbones (RNA) 76
4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105
4 Fervent Champion (ELD) 124
4 Blacklance Paragon (ELD) 79
4 Stormfist Crusader (ELD) 203
3 Drill Bit (RNA) 73
4 Rotting Regisaur (M20) 111
3 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115
3 Spawn of Mayhem (RNA) 85
3 Embercleave (ELD) 120
9 Swamp (ELD) 259
9 Mountain (ELD) 265
2 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
4 Blood Crypt (RNA) 245
1 Tournament Grounds (ELD) 248

I played a deck very similar to this in the early days of the format, during the Field of the Dead hayday. The deck ran very well in that meta, but once Oko took over, it was pushed to the side.

This is a simple aggro deck that uses the best creatures in red and black to lay down a lot of damage fast, then finish off the opponent with pings from Stormfist Crusader and Spawn of Mayhem. Or, you could put an Embercleave on Rotting Regisaur and put through some serious damage.

It’s difficult to argue with the win rate being reported. Over 2/3 win rate is fairly ridiculous, and I would recommend either playing this deck, or meta-gaming against it, because once people find out about it, this is all you’ll see.

Bo1 Mono Green

(62.2% win rate)

4 Pelt Collector (GRN) 141
4 Growth-Chamber Guardian (RNA) 128
3 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171
3 Voracious Hydra (M20) 200
4 Lovestruck Beast (ELD) 165
3 Thrashing Brontodon (M20) 197
3 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig (ELD) 185
4 Questing Beast (ELD) 171
3 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger (M20) 199
3 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169
2 The Great Henge (ELD) 161
22 Forest (ELD) 268
2 Castle Garenbrig (ELD) 240

It’s hard to believe that the third best win rate on the ladder is still over 60%, but here we are. There is so much grinding power in this Bo1 Mono Green deck, it’s easy to see why it can win games.

The creatures are generally difficult to pick off, have a two for one component, or end up getting huge. The planeswalkers are two of the best in Standard. One has broken decks built around her, the other is just a value engine, and they’re both easy to cast. The Great Henge is just a ridiculous card, and I expect to see a lot more of it for the next two years.

Experimental Frenzy

[Historic Artisan] Mono Blue

4 Curious Obsession (RIX) 35
4 Pteramander (RNA) 47 
4 Siren Stormtamer (XLN) 79
4 Spectral Sailor (M20) 76
3 Chart a Course (XLN) 48
2 Negate (RIX) 44
3 Quench (RNA) 48
3 Merfolk Trickster (DAR) 56
3 Dive Down (XLN) 53
2 Spell Pierce (XLN) 81
2 Essence Capture (RNA) 37
2 Essence Scatter (M19) 54
3 Wizard's Retort (DAR) 75
20 Island (ANA) 62 
1 Mystic Sanctuary (ELD) 247 

Guess who’s back? It’s the most miserable deck to play against! Mono Blue Tempo. With Historic Artisan starting in mere hours, I knew it was time to put together a Mono Blue list. The only thing it’s missing from the deck that terrorized Standard for the better part of a year, is Tempest Djinn.

Land an evasive creature early. Put a Curious Obsession on it, especially if you have a counterspell in hand to protect it. Then just ride one of the best card advantage engines to victory. You can eventually Adapt a Pteramander to increase your clock. There’s a reason this deck won a Pro Tour, and I think it might be the best deck in the Historic Artisan format. Time will tell.

[Historic Artisan] Dinosaurs

3 Raptor Hatchling (XLN) 155
4 Otepec Huntmaster (XLN) 153
4 Forerunner of the Empire (RIX) 102
3 Needletooth Raptor (RIX) 107
3 Charging Monstrosaur (XLN) 138
3 Lightning Strike (XLN) 149
3 Thrashing Brontodon (RIX) 148
3 Savage Stomp (XLN) 205
3 Ranging Raptors (XLN) 201
2 Raging Regisaur (RIX) 168
2 Raging Swordtooth (XLN) 226
3 Shock (M20) 160
10 Forest (RIX) 196 
10 Mountain (XLN) 272
4 Rugged Highlands (M20) 250 

My love for the dinosaurs of Ixalan is no secret. I just can’t get enough of these things. The little kid in me just loves everything about the big toothy lizards and their Enrage mechanic. If you’re looking for something a bit more Timmy than Spike to play in this event, check out this list.

To really get it going, drop a Forerunner of the Empire into any of the other Dinos, especially Needletooth Raptor. If you have a Ranging Raptor out you can continue to search up lands. Raging Regisaur cleans up your opponent’s small creatures, and Raging Swordtooth can sometimes be a board wipe. Dinosaurs are just good fun to play.

Settle the Wreckage

There wasn’t much news this week, and we’re not quite into full preview season. We know next to nothing about the upcoming set, but the cards we’ve seen have been decent.

The Bo3 Standard meta is about the same place it was last week, with Jund, Simic Flash, Jeskai Fires, and Golgari Food more or less being Tier 1. Without major tournaments coming up I expect it to continue to move slowly. Looking into the Bo1 meta has been a bit more eye-opening. It seems like the formats are starting to diverge a bit, and I think that’s a good thing. I know I don’t always have time to enjoy a bunch of Best of 3 matches and would rather get several Best of 1 games in.

I haven’t had enough of a chance to play Historic this week to see anything new. The games I have played with Azorius control have me really believing that deck can go the distance. I’ll find out next week as I get a chance to push my rank over Christmas break.

Speaking of Christmas, I want to take this chance to wish you all a happy holiday season, whichever form of it you celebrate!

I will be back next week with This Year in Arena 2019!

Until then, Happy Holidays!
<3 Hank

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