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Awww Snap!

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Mike Radecki
Mike Radecki

About Mike Radecki

Mike started playing Magic during Mirage and quit shortly after Counterspell was announced as not being reprinted in 8th Edition. He started up again during Zendikar and has been working towards winning PTQs on a tight budget. Mike has been a long time member of Blackborder, originally joining in 2003 and promptly returning once he started Magic again in 2009. Mike is a proud father of two girls and a devoted husband of 12 years... Which is why he's on a budget.

Awww Snap!

Much to my dismay Innistrad prices have been bouncing around and making certain deck lists 'unbudget friendly'. For example, somebody decided to tell everyone that Stromkirk Noble was waaayyy better than first expected. I was hoping to break that news to you guys, but I cut my losses and promptly dumped the two I had in my binder at $13 a piece (although now it's down to a reasonable $8). Liliana of the Veil shattered new price records for fastest to $75+ only to drop back down to a cozy $40. On the other side of the Planeswalker spectrum Garruk fell off the high horse and tanked to $22, which I am honestly glad he did since he's the most gimmicky Planeswalker ever.

Market complaining aside, I've got some more Standard for you guys and a big thanks for stepping up and submitting decks for Deck Check. Was the Galvanoth list that bad?!!? Since I got a few submissions and since a couple of them were about decks I was going to write about, I'm going to make this a Deck Check episode. I'll also (finally) give you my top 10 deck-builder must haves from Innistrad. So let's snap in and get building.

A Token of Your Impending Doom.

Intangible Virtue sparked a lot of deck-builder's creativity and some really good G/W Token lists came out of it. It also showed how deep and diverse the card pool is by having multiple lists base off most of the same token generators but using different methods for the kill. Some lists forgo the anthem effects to provide better topdecks and just rely on Overrun or Triumph of the Hordes to put their army over the top. I feel that the anthem effects are just too powerful to ignore and a deck can be built to minimize awful topdecking scenarios. Here's a list crazzyivan240 submitted to me:

crazzyivan240s GW Tokens

Tags: 
White
Green

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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3.57143
Average: 3.6 (7 votes)

A couple things jump out when you look at the list: ramp, token generation (lack of), and removal. The ramp is absolutely not necessary as there are plenty of ways to stall the board to eventually wipe it clean. Day of Judgment is a key piece to help tokens, it's also the reason ramp isn't worth it. The deck can drop cheap anthems and blockers as necessary until it can overcome or wipe then recover. Taking out the mana dorks will also help the topdecks in the mid-late game as they are never welcome when you're staring down a Wurmcoil Engine and aren't affected by any of the anthem effects (aside from Battle Cry). Divine Reckoning isn't a card anyone wants in a main deck as it's never going to nuke the creature you really need dead.

Midnight Haunting, Shrine of Loyal Legions, Master's Call, a White Sun's Zenith for good measure and some Elspeth Tirel (if possible) make for excellent sources of Tokens. Geist-Honored Monk seems slow but would make for an ok substitute to Elspeth if cost is a problem. Doomed Traveler and Hero of Bladehold should be the only true creatures in the deck. Timely Reinforcements should be in the side as 75% of the time you should have the creature advantage and therefore it won't be generating tokens.

Gavony Township activation and Beast Within are the only green in the deck (although SB options make the splash worthwhile) Garruk, Primal Hunter will fit fine in the deck if you have one, I just didn't include it because it carries a $25 price tag. Oblivion Ring also works great in the Beast Within slot but I chose to include it to give the deck a little more green and in the worst case you can use it to nuke one of your 1/1 tokens to make it a 3/3.

So let's take all that and see how it looks redone:

Deck Check Wg Tokens

Tags: 
White
Colors
Artifact4
Green2
Land24
White30
Converted Mana Cost
14
212
310
48
52
Type
Artifact4
Basic Land12
Creature8
Enchantment8
Instant10
Land12
Planeswalker2
Sorcery4

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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4.166665
Average: 4.2 (6 votes)

Another Angle:

Now I said earlier that there is more than one approach to the deck and ramp isn't a bad choice if built around correctly. Day of Judgment goes out and Overrun comes in as the strategy is to now... err...Overrun your opponent with tokens. Mana Dorks can now be useful to power out turn 3 Heroes and help produce the mana for an Overrun as well as swing in with a resolved Overrun. Now with Day of Judgment not fitting in there needs to be room for more spot removal, namely Oblivion Ring and Beast Within (sadly clogging the 3 drop spot).

So in order to run Birds of Paradise and Avacyn's Pilgrim we'll be cutting the anthem cards down since they lose a bit of value with the increase of non-token creatures. Blade Splicers make their way back as they work extra nice with Overrun. Let's take a look at an Overrun Token list:

Deck Check Token Overrun

Tags: 
White
Green
Colors
Artifact3
Green12
Land24
White21
Converted Mana Cost
112
23
313
44
54
Type
Artifact3
Basic Land16
Creature20
Enchantment3
Instant6
Land8
Planeswalker2
Sorcery2

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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4.2
Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

If I had to choose, I'd take the anthem version over the Overrun version. It's stable and doesn't rely too much on one card to get to 20. W/g Tokens is on the forefront of becoming a top tier deck so, whether you play it or not, it's sure to make an appearance at local FNMs.

Here's to Snap...

I got a submission from tier1 asking for help on a Burning Vengeance list he built after seeing some deck vids from SCG Indy. I had to look it up myself after working the weekend and missing out on all the new Standard coverage. The lists reminded me of my U/R counter burn experiments I tried back in INV/ODD Standard when flashback first came around (Firebolt wut!!!). I quickly put together a list and tested it out with my teammate Chris and was instantly hooked. Let's first look at tier1's list:

UR VENGEANCE(needs tweaks)

Tags: 
Blue
Red
Colors
Blue19
Land7
Red17
Converted Mana Cost
16
215
315
Type
Enchantment4
Instant25
Land7
Sorcery7

well i played this deck at my locals yesterday got wrecked went 1-2 would like to get some improvements and tips on this would be very much appreciated.

sideboard was half created at the time looking for new improvements etc 

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4
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A great start as all the core elements of the deck are there. Aside from an alternate win condition and a quick mana fix, all the deck needs are a few tweaks. The lack of Snapcaster Mage is also a sore spot to the deck. While I totally understand not being able to drop $120 on four Snapcasters, he really does a lot for the deck as both a flashback machine and a beater to sneak some quick damage in. Luckily, there is a budget alternative in Delver of Secrets and while he may not produce card advantage a potential turn two 3/2 flier goes a long way. I do recommend eventually investing in them as the card is amazing and will hold its value long into the future (see Dark Confidant).

Enough Snapcaster love. The deck plays out draw-go style burning dudes and countering threats until you can stick a couple Burning Vengeance then flashbacking spells with a vengeance. It's quite fun once you get the deck rolling and you'd be amazed at how fast the damage stacks up. The amount of dig in the deck is immense and finding spells to cast is an easy feat.

Retooling the list above I'll break it down:

Burn

4x Incinerate
3x Geistflame
3x Burning Vengeance
1x Devil's Play

Not a lot is needed as the Vengeance turns any flashback spell into a Shock. Geistflame is flat out amazing in the current format as it hits Inkmoth's, Nobles, opposing Snapcasters and a whole bunch of other quick drop goodness. Not to mention flashing one back with two Burning Vengeance on the board turns it into a better Pyrotechnics.

Counters

4x Mana Leak
3x Dissipate

Dissipate is amazing in the current format as it's a square kick in the junk to Solar Flare when you counter their Unburial Rites with it. I've heard so many players cry when I exile key spells, it's a great feeling :)

Dig

4x Ponder
4x Forbidden Alchemy
4x Think Twice
2x Desperate Ravings

By far the backbone of the deck. It may seem like a lot, but once you've played the deck you'll understand why the numbers are so high. It enables you to fill your grave while at the same time finding those much needed answers. Forbidden Alchemy is such an amazing spell, something blue has been wanting for a while now and it fits perfect in this deck.

#Winning

4x Snapcaster Mage or Delver of Secrets
2x Wurmcoil Engine or Frost Titan

While a creatureless build would be optimal, it's just not possible given the current list of U/R flashback cards. Not to mention the utility Snapcaster offers. Delver in its place works as early pressure and gets some much needed damage through in order to put your opponent into Devil's Play range. Wurmcoil/Frosty are there to fall back on if your Vengeance gets counter or removed.

As for the mana, it's not too difficult. I just have one word of advice: don't fall into the Shimmering Grotto trap. Sure it fixes mana, but it ties up two lands just to make a single color. Unless you're playing a three color deck and splashing a fourth for a flashback cost, stay away from the Grotto! In the list below I included green sources to flashback Ancient Grudges that would normally be in the sideboard. Let's take a look at the list completed:

Deck Check UR Vengeance

Tags: 
Blue
Red
Colors
Artifact2
Blue23
Land22
Red13
Converted Mana Cost
18
218
310
62
Type
Artifact Creature2
Basic Land14
Creature4
Enchantment3
Instant24
Land8
Sorcery5

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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4
Average: 4 (6 votes)

I'll say it one last time: Delver of Secrets can be put in the Snapcaster slot. That aside, I got to play the deck at last FNM. I went 2-2 due to lack of deck play time and some mana issues. Having played the deck in a tournament environment I can say there will be some tweaks that need to be ironed out. First, I wanted to flashback Forbidden Alchemy on its own a bunch of times, so the inclusion of some Drowned Catacombs will be needed. On mana, I don't think 22 lands cut it, it should be 23-24. Finally, 4 Vengeance are a must as most games I won I relied on two.

Another Angle:

It is possible to play the deck without Burning Vengeance. In that case though, revisions need to be made in order to win. The deck will have to rely on big dudes to get the job done. Frost Titan is a must and maybe a Wurmcoil Engine and an Inferno Titan for back up. A version like this would also be less dependent on Snapcaster. Here's a quick list as a starting point if you are interested.

Deck Check UR Counterburn

Tags: 
Blue
Red
Colors
Blue24
Land24
Red12
Converted Mana Cost
111
212
39
64
Type
Basic Land16
Creature8
Instant24
Land8
Sorcery4

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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3.375
Average: 3.4 (8 votes)

Either way you go, they are fun decks and are bound to be around for a while as they are easy to build and capable of stealing wins. This is one I'll be playing at the FNM level for some time to come. Trade me your Snapcasters ;)

Tap Down and Out

Last deck is a bit out of the ordinary. Doesn't make it bad but rather makes it interesting. bloodgiggle submitted a U/W tap down deck that was well thought out and looks like it can give most decks a run for it's money.

bloodgiggles Tapper Chaos

Tags: 
White
Blue
Colors
Blue16
Land22
White22
Converted Mana Cost
16
216
312
44
Type
Basic Land14
Creature18
Instant20
Land8

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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4
Average: 4 (8 votes)

Looks solid! Mana should be upped to 24 lands because the tappers are going to use a lot of mana to keep the opponent's dudes tapped down. Moorland Haunt would work as a two of since there is a good density of creatures in the deck. I'd also suggest a pair of Frost Titans as they are the mother of all tap down creatures and also a solid finisher alongside the Heroes. I don't see Champion contributing too much as a two of so they should go in place of the Titans. Lastly, Cancel needs to be Dissipate as it's clearly better in a format where spells in the grave can make a difference. I love the concept of this deck and I plan on sleeving it up and testing it out during the next round of deck testing with my team. Here's the list with my recommendations:

Deck Check Tapper Chaos

Tags: 
White
Blue
Colors
Blue17
Land24
White19
Converted Mana Cost
14
215
311
44
62
Type
Basic Land14
Creature18
Instant18
Land10

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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0
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4.4
Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

Again, thanks to everyone that submitted a list! I don't know if it was my whining or bad combo decks, but keep those submissions coming! You can use the Contact Me feature to submit a deck to Deck Check. Remember to check your email because that's where my replies will go.

Innistrad Top Ten List

I really wish I hadn't gotten sick right as I was writing the last edition as I wanted to put this list up then. I would have looked like such a guy in the know :P. At any rate, because I like to do it and no matter how irrelevant it is at this point (Mythics and Snapcaster aside) here it is:

10. Innistrad Mana Lands

For the next two years these lands are going to be needed in every other deck you want to build. Also, they will dip and spike in value and if you play it right you can come out on top of a few trades (Seachrome Coast for example, trade them now!).

Stromkirk Noble
Versions:
Innistrad (Foil)

9. Heartless Summoning

Darkhorse pick. I've been tinkering with a B/W build and it's capable of doing some amazing things. The ability to summon some large guys real fast offsets the downside to this card quickly.

8. Nevermore

Meddling Mage more durable. Not being a creature has its ups and downs. Harder to remove, but doesn't pull double duty. Shutting out key spells is going to be huge in the upcoming Standard as more and more decks are relying on key cards to pull out wins.

7. Unburial Rites

Already put to good use in Solar Flare its applications should be obvious at this point. Just being able to recur threats multiple times is good enough on its own but this card works amazingly well with Liliana of the Veil.

6. Dissipate

It's better than Cancel and Stoic Rebuttal. Exiling stuff is awesome, especially when it's an opponent's Unburial Rites targeting Sheoldred.

5. Mindshrieker

I feel this guy is going to find his niche soon. He's got the potential, just needs the right list to make him shine.

4. Mayor of Avabruck

This guy can pull double duty. Offering up boosts for your guys and flipping to help you better your board state few green cards can accomplish both. For sure he's going to be in a lot of lists for some time to come.

3. Mentor of the Meek

White Weenie always wanted a source of card advantage and now that it's here it's shunned as being 'too slow'. Time will tell if I'm right or not, but I think it's just what a creature heavy deck wants.

2. Forbidden Alchemy

Such a great dig spell, one of the best to show up in Standard for a while. It goes four deep and your more than likely be able to find what you are looking for all the while putting creatures or flashback cards in the grave.

1. Stromkirk Noble

A great one drop and when paired with Stromblood Berserker it makes red a real scary color to play against. He quickly becomes a must answer threat that makes any slow deck shake in its boots.

Super Bonus Time!!!

I wrote this article well over a week ago thinking my deadline was earlier than it actually was. Since I have a week to spare and a lot of you asked for my thoughts on a B/R Vamps list I'll go ahead and share them with you. Sadly though, I don't feel that Vamps have the tools they need to be the deck they want to be: a fast aggressive beat down deck. If Innistrad and Zendikar were in the same Standard, Vamps would be a force with dudes like Pulse Tracker and Highborn hanging out with Rakish Heir, Stromkirk Noble and Vampire Interloper. Alas, it is not so and M12 along with Scars block offer nothing in terms of aggressive Vamps.

But Mike, what about the bigger Vamps!!! Unfortunately, they lack evasion and the ones that do fly aren't aggressively costed. That means they come out late and can't hang with the Titan crew. Falkenrath Marauders can get big fast, but only if they are left unchecked and the odds of that happening in a Doom Blade filled environment are slim at best. However, a list can be brewed and this is the direction I would go if you are hell-bent on playing a Vamps list:

Bloodhall Boys

Tags: 
Black
Red

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Awww Snap!

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4.142855
Average: 4.1 (7 votes)

Bloodline Keeper
Versions:
Innistrad (Foil)

Alright, the Stormblood Berserker isn't a Vamp, but he's too good to say no to in a red aggro deck. The build is your classic aggro beatdown core: Tons of dudes and the removal to help them connect. Bloodhall is a great fallback if you get stalled out on the board. Not 100% sold on Rakish Heir either, I think Adaptive Automaton might work better in that slot. 23 lands is doable if you want to sneak in a third Bloodline Keeper. Other than that, there's no depth to the deck.

Playing it is just as linear, stick dudes kill threats, and fall back on Bloodhall if needed. The deck really wants a Sign in Blood type spell so if you are feeling daring give Tezzeret's Gambit a run in the Dismember slot. Bump in the Night looks funny, but a Lava Spike can give you that extra reach you may need to cap off a stubborn opponent. Hopefully Dark Ascension will fill the void in the Vamp department and give the tribe some much needed one and two drops.

Next time we'll get cracking on Modern lists for the upcoming Winter PTQ season. Until then, submit your Deck Check lists to me using the Contact Me feature. I look forward to your thoughts!

-Mike Radecki

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4.57143
Average: 4.6 (7 votes)
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