Hexproof
The New Face of Standard

Joshua Vanderwall | 24 Oct 2012 16:00
Hexproof - RSS 2.0
image

Results from States 2012 have been documented at this point, and they show a relatively diverse meta, with no one deck dominating the standings. If you just look at the 1st place decks, you'll see everything from Azorius Aggro, which was making some waves prior to States, to Bant Enchantments, which is an exciting little novelty that probably took a lot of players off guard. You can see the aggregated list of top-performing decks here, which is what we'll be looking at today. This list gives a good perspective of what you might expect to see at your next tournament, as it demonstrates not just the popularity of the decks, but their respective performance based on Top-8 frequency.

Taking it from the top, as I'm writing Bant Control is currently a slight favorite over Jund Midrange. I touched on it briefly last week, but just to recap, Bant Control is sporting tons of sweepers, in four Terminus and four Supreme Verdict, so it's going to be as important as ever not to overextend against the control player. They make things tricky in that regard, however, with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, who taps down your biggest threat every turn, forcing you to run out more creatures for them to sweep away. The threats are slightly more dense than in some other control builds, with four Thragtusk to slow down aggro and provide a follow-up creature after a board wipe, as well as a pair of Angel of Serenity, which I've seen used to devastating effect either clearing out the opponent's creatures, or eventually returning a dead Thragtusk from graveyard to hand for extra life gain. They're also running a pair of Entreat the Angels which will end games when Miracle'd if there's no immediate answer to the angel swarm, and still represents a 4/4 flier for five mana when it's hard cast, which will at least thwart the offensive of smaller airborne critters. Jace, Architect of Thought operates alongside Sphinx's Revelation as a major source of card advantage. Jace also has the added bonus of shutting down any deck trying to swarm you with 1-power creatures. Given the popularity of this deck, alongside the generally solid plan of clearing the board, then gaining life with Thragtusk to stabilize, and then going to town with a 5-power beast, this is definitely a deck that you'll want a plan to take down.

Also vying for the top spot in the list is Jund Midrange, which plays some control elements, but is largely focused on getting threats on the board and punching them through the opponent's defenses. You'll probably notice that this build is also running four Thragtusk, which lends a bit of perspective on his recent $20 price tag. Alongside the beast, we see Strangleroot Geist which allows for some really aggressive openings and Huntmaster of the Fells, who gains you a bit of life, generates an extra body, and can act as removal for smaller creatures if you get to start flipping him. Olivia Voldaren is a bit of a novelty, but judging from her recent price jump, nearly matching Thragtusk, you might expect to see more of her around. Obviously she excels at gunning down little guys and taking control of bigger threats, giving you something to do with your mana when you're topdecking lands. Rounding out the creature base is Wolfir Avenger in this particular build, though it is not necessarily a mainstay for the archetype. Planeswalkers, however, do seem to come up across many of the builds, with some favoring Garruk, Primal Hunter, and others favoring Garruk Relentless and Liliana of the Veil, both of the latter seem to favor the plan to clear the path for creature damage to end the game. There's a touch of ramp with Farseek, though that's likely more for mana fixing than for the ramp. Aside from that, just look for plenty of removal in Abrupt Decay, Bonfire of the Damned, Mizzium Mortars, and plenty of Pillar of Flames to permanently dismantle a Zombie or Strangleroot Geist. You might also see some Sever the Bloodlines, which do a lot of work against Token decks, and have the added bonus of also handling Undying creatures with ease.

image

Interestingly, Selesnya Midrange has caught up to the popularity of BR Zombies, which is pretty exciting for me, as I was anticipating a bit more of a Zombie-dominated format. For Zombies, the obvious inclusion of Blood Crypt helps the mana base significantly. Alongside Dragonskull Summit and Rakdos Guildgate, it gives 12 red sources without interfering with the requisite triple black that allows a turn three Geralf's Messenger. Some other updates to BR Zombies include a massive surge in the amount of direct damage included. Various builds are running three or four each of Brimstone Volley, Bump in the Night, Pillar of Flame, and Searing Spear. We're also seeing another overpowered 1-drop in Rakdos Cackler, as well as some sideboard tech in Dreadbore for unconditional removal, Underworld Connections for card advantage, and Rakdos, Lord of Riots for, frankly, being a 6/6 Flying Trample for four mana.

Now Selesnya Midrange is a whole new brew, featuring a few heavy hitters from Return to Ravnica and some old faces that are getting another shot at the top spots. The deck starts strong with a 3/3 Centaur on turn two, thanks to Call of the Conclave, which should slow down any aggro deck. Selesnya Charm acts as removal for bigger threats, but against a strategy with smaller creatures, it still nets you a 2/2 vigilant token. Interestingly, there's no Populate anywhere in the deck, so you can be sure that the tokens are only played for their efficiency, and not to abuse the new mechanic. Finally, as for spells, there is the essential Rancor, which grants Trample when you have an 8-power Wolfir Silverheart sitting around paired with Silverblade Paladin, and your opponent is sitting on a wall of chump blockers. Again, we see the inclusion of Thragtusk here, which is simply not surprising given how powerful it is. In fact, the most surprising thing is that they're only running three instead of the full four, but I will have to defer to their judgment here. Loxodon Smiter is a great addition from RTR, which gives you an uncounterable threat, as well as some resistance to discard effects, which have come back with a vengeance in the latest set. It's also an ultra-efficient 4/4 for three mana, which is pretty much always good. Finally, we've got a little bit of ramp in Arbor Elf and Avacyn's Pilgrim, which take this deck to the mid game, where it shines, a turn or two ahead of schedule.

Does your current build match one of these archetypes, or are you playing something more under the radar? What kind of decks are you seeing at FNM, and how are you faring against the field?

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on