Hexproof
Heading Into States

Joshua Vanderwall | 10 Oct 2012 16:00
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This weekend, October 13th and 14th, the annual State and Provincial Championships will be getting underway. Here we'll start seeing the newest innovations including Return to Ravnica and excluding the Scars block and the Titans. I'm not sure what to expect, and I don't think anybody else is too sure either, but I've been putting some work into my own little brew leading up to the tournament and, assuming I make it in to Atomic Empire on Sunday for the event, we'll see how it holds up against an uncertain field.

The post-rotation meta is always wide open, with breakout decks waiting to be discovered, and a new "best deck" poised to strike. I'm expecting to see Selesnya builds and plenty of Zombies, but I'm hoping to take people a little off-guard with my three-color Tokens deck. I've basically constructed a Black and White tokens shell, splashing Green lightly to allow inclusion of three Parallel Lives and a single Garruk Relentless. Shocklands, reprinted in Return to Ravnica, have allowed the Green splash without actually disturbing the mana base. Specifically, Overgrown Tomb is a simple swap for Swamps, while Temple Garden trades out for Plains. Since these dual lands count toward making my Isolated Chapels come into play untapped, it doesn't negatively impact the mana in any way, and Parallel Lives, in most situations, can end games.

In my build, I've foregone the typical creatures that you see in Tokens, like Doomed Traveler and Champion of the Parish in favor of more token producers. I've got a pair of Cathar's Crusade in case the games go long, which allow me to easily take over the board with just one or two other spells. Despite being in Selesnya colors, I don't actually utilize the Populate mechanic at all here outside of the sideboard, as Populating seems to favor larger creature tokens, which I'm not trying to create. Here we're just swarming the board with 1/1s, pumping them with Cathars' Crusade or Intangible Virtue, and swinging in for the kill.

Since my creatures are all just little guys, I've included a plethora of removal to help keep my opponents off their creature plans. Though much of the time I can simply activate Vault of the Archangel to turn my token swarms into Deathtouching Murder machines, I want to keep the options open for utility creatures that won't be attacking or blocking. The last thing I want to do with this deck is to stall out the board completely, keeping my opponent off attacks, while being unable to swing in myself. In these situations, the deck's only real option is to get lucky enough to pull a Cathars' Crusade to go over the top.

One big tweak I'm considering for the build is the inclusion of some number of Gavony Townships. I think one or two would be appropriate, but I'm not sure what to replace them with. I already have two colorless lands in Vault of the Archangel, so I don't want to go too heavily into non-colored mana sources. At the same time, giving me something to do with my mana later in the game, plus being more proactive than Vault, which is primarily useful for dissuading attacks and blocks, may prove to be crucial. On top of Township, I'm also contemplating Vraska the Unseen as a 1-of addition to the deck. If nothing else, she is a great piece of unconditional removal. Her ultimate ability, especially with the likes of Parallel Lives sitting around, is just icing on the cake.

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That brings me to my next issue. Blue White Control is going to be a nightmare. With Supreme Verdict replacing Day of Judgment and Detention Sphere acting as a 3-mana Sever the Bloodline, swarming the board with spirit tokens just doesn't seem as solid a plan as it used to against control. Heaven forbid they play Esper colors, where they can actually run both Detention Sphere and Sever. Not to mention, Jace, Architect of Thought's plus ability, which neuters my entire board, barring +1/+1 counters or an intangible Virtue in play. On top of that, the new Detain mechanic is going to force me to overextend frequently in order to get any significant damage through, and that's going to put me in a bad position for the Spheres. Another big thing to watch out for is Curse of Death's Hold, which will largely shut this deck down.

Then we've got the sideboard, which basically transforms the deck into a more creature-heavy build with plenty of life gain to thwart more aggressive decks. The idea here is to convince my opponent during game one that they don't want to be playing removal against me, only to bring in the juiciest removal targets for game two. Bloodline Keeper can easily take over a game if it's not taken care of promptly, and Thragtusk and Centaur Healer both slow down an aggressive opponent, both with the life gain and the larger-sized bodies. Sundering Growth will clear out pesky enchantments, like Curse of Death's Hold, while occasionally furthering my board, assuming it didn't get entirely wiped out when Curse landed. Finally, a couple extra pieces of removal round out the sideboard, because it's hard to have too much removal.

Are you playing in States? What kind of decks do you expect to see? Would you like to share your build, or are you keeping it close to the chest until the event?

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