Day 1 Coverage of Super Sunday Series Championship

Posted in Daily Deck on February 8, 2014

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Six rounds of the first-ever Sunday Super Series are in the books. Three rounds of Born of the Gods draft and three rounds of the first-ever look at Born of the Gods Standard. The additional 165 cards have shaken up both formats. The additional bestow creatures and heroic cards, and the tribute mechanic has changed the dynamic of the limited format. The refrain we've been hearing is that red is now a truly playable color—maybe Magma Jet is no longer a "trap".

In Standard, Mono-Blue Devotion is not performing poorly, it's not even performing at all. It is literally absent from this format. Born of the Gods has been legal for less than 48 hours and the Standard format has already shifted.

Canadian World Magic Cup competitor Andrew Robdrup is the sole player at 6-0. He's basically locked for a Top 8 finish. And coming up behind him is Alabama's Chi Hoi Yim, Beijing player, Tan Gao, and California native, Jesse Thompson are 5-1. Looking at the Top 25 players present, No. 3 Reid Duke is sitting at 3-3, and both No. 13 Makihito Mihara and No. 12 Owen Turtenwald are 4-2.

We've got three more rounds of Born of the Gods Standard tomorrow before culminating in a Modern Masters Top 8 draft. Join us tomorrow at the Wizards of the Coast headquarters in Renton, Washington (virtually, please) for all the action. See you tomorrow!

  • Saturday, 12:15 p.m. – It’s the Community, Stupid

    by Marc Calderaro

  • This inaugural Super Sunday Series is amazing for many reasons. Sure, it's the first release event of Born of the Gods—for both constructed and limited; sure, it's at the fabled Wizards of the Coast headquarters with Ramp;D members just hanging around; sure, there are some huge names like No. 12 Owen Turtenwald, No. 13 Makihito Mihara, and No. 3 Reid Duke. But for me, my favorite part of this event is the personalities outside the top names we're used to hearing about. Many players here are competitive players who are lurching towards their big break; some are defiantly casual players who played in the Sunday Super Series Qualifier because they drove their friends to the Grand Prix; some just like the $20,000 prize pool for roughly 40 players; and some are strong players with amazing stories that we haven't heard enough.

    Covering a few of those categories is Andrew Robdrup—hailing from Kingston, Ontario. He's a grinder who's only played the game for a few years and has already amassed nice finishes. Some will be aware of his name. You might know him as a member of the Canadian World Magic Cup team in 2013 (alongside National Champion, No. 20 Jon Stern). But you might know him from the Spirit Award received at the event. The Spirit Award was given out at the World Magic Cup because last summer, something amazing happened to Andrew Robdrup.

    2013 Canadian World Magic Cup team

    In July, Andrew's house burned down. Though no one was injured, there was a ton of lost property, and many pieces to be picked up. The Canadian Magic community banded together, thanks to the efforts of Level 3 Judge, Jason Wong, and held a fundraiser tournament to help Robdrup's family get back on their feet. The event drew many players, and was a huge success.

    People came from all over, many of whom were barely connected to Andrew. He even told me, "a local player, who didn't even know me that well, donated a box full of dual lands." He said the feeling was incredible. Although there are many irreplaceable things that are lost with the trauma, the community used the tragedy to show what Magic does best—bring people together.

    Andrew said "Pat Chapin once said, and I'll never forget it: 'It's not about Magic, it's about the gathering,' and that's so important to me. That's why I play." And with such a dramatic showing of support, it's hard to disagree. Magic allows competitive players, like Robdrup, to win money and travel all over, but what fun is seeing the world without amazing people to share the experience with. The Spirit Award at the 2013 World Magic Cup was the embodiment of that most important aspect of the game, and it made Robdrup extremely proud.

    Andrew Robdrup

    But don't think Robdrup's charitable love extends to inside the game itself. The Canadian easily cruised through his first round opponent with an aggressive heroic deck with white and blue. He used some new Born of the Gods standouts like Eidolon of Countless Battles and Elite Skirmisher to buttress Phalanx Leader, Battlewise Hoplite, and Fabled Hero from Theros. He paired that with sixteen land and he was off to the races. He's drafted about a dozen times preparing for the event, and that preparation showed in the first round.

    And because the tournament is only nine rounds, every win matters. Though in a Grand Prix setting, you can take two, sometimes three losses and still finish in the Top 8, that's not really true here. It's like a win in the football regular season versus a win in the baseball regular season.

    There are great stories like Andrew Robdrup's all over this Sunday Super Series tournament. I'll be bringing you more, along with the great new Born of the Gods–infused Standard decklists soon. By the way, I've seen all the list, and there are some exciting decks represented here. More to come soon!

  • Quick Hits - What Do You Want to Open in Born of the Gods Limited?

    by Marc Calderaro

  • Reid Duke (No. 4-ranked player, Grand Prix Miami winner): Either a late-game bomb, or removal is really good. I really like opening Bile Blight
    Roberto Gonzales (Pro Tour Gatecrash Top 16) amp; his new friend Andre Girard: Kiora, the Crashing Wave allows you to commit to blue early. So in the later packs you can grab all the Griptide and Journey's End that you see.
    Gavin Verhey (Magic Ramp;D Designer): The Archetypes really allow you to 'go wide' early. The Archetype of Courage is really aggressively costed; you can slam it and move in.
    Colin Miller (Grand Prix Vancouver 2012 Top 8; Grand Prix Vancouver 2014 Top 16): Brimaz, King of Oreskos, please.

  • Saturday, 3:15 p.m. – Born of the Gods Standard Metagame

    by Marc Calderaro

  • The first Standard with Born of the Gods is here. The Theros–block expansion is legal as of yesterday, so this is our first swing at the new format. The breakdown of the archetypes present brings some predicted changes, but also some surprises.

    The first change you'll notice is that there are a grand total of zero, ZERO, Mono-Blue Devotion decks! Going from the most-played archetype in Theros Standard to immediately tied for the least-played. It's tied along with, you know, Gush, Cephalid Breakfast, Friggorid, Blue-Green Madness, and every other deck that exists in the Magic world that is not played in Standard. The big reason for this is Bile Blight. Bile Blight kills everything in the deck that matters. And when combined with Drown in Sorrow, that every black deck will be considering, there are few tricks that Mono-Blue Devotion can use, in its current form, to stay competitive.

    The big winners so far today are Black Devotion and Azorius Control. But with only two decks at the top of the heap, there is certainly room for another deck to complete the Rock-Paper-Scissor format. Will the rise of Brimaz, King of Oreskos make a deck to fill that void? The Legendary Cat Soldier has been on the tips of everyone's' tongues since it was spoiled. Will it live up to the hype? The early thoughts are: yes, duh, why are you asking me?

    Players Drafting

    No. 12 Owen Turtenwald said that the cat gives people "a reason to play white." This sentiment was completely echoed by Ramp;D designer, Gavin Verhey. Who talked about how the creatures survives just about all the removal that matters, and can go in Boros decks, Selesnya decks, and even Mono-White decks. The creature goes in just about every flavor of white deck one can think about. For example, No. 4 Reid Duke, playing Azorius Control, has multiple Brimaz in the sideboard.

    Though the deck has always sided into some amount of creatures, Duke was clear to say "Brimaz is better than Fiendslayer Paladin." Brimaz also finds its way into Selesnya Aggro decks, pairing nicely next to Voice of Resurgence and company. And it's even finding its way into Aaron Lewis' dreadfully awesome Azorius Auras deck. Meletis Astronomer and Ethereal Armor go great together, and Brimaz is just a totally separate and equal threat all on its own.

    Here's the total archetype breakdown.

    Black Devotion (2w, 1g)10
    Azorius Control (1g, 1r)8
    Gruul Monsters3
    Green Devotion2
    Boros Burn (1 Pyro)2
    Dimir Control2
    Orzhov Midrange2
    Esper Control1
    Orzhov Control1
    Junk Reanimator1
    Azorius Auras1
    Bant Midrange Monsters1
    Golgari Midrange1
    Esper Gods1
    Selesnya Brimaz Aggro1
    Mono-Red Aggro1
    Mono-Black Aggro1

    But don’t forget that we’ve already played three rounds of limited. The archetypes at top ten tables look like this:

    Azorius Control5
    Gruul Monsters2
    Black Devotion3
    Azorius Auras1
    Esper Gods1
    Golgari Midrange1
    Mono-Black Aggro1
    Boros Burn1
    Dimir Control1
    Esper Control1
    Orzhov Midrange1
    Orzhov Control1

    So Azorius Control is sticking at the top of the heap for the moment. This is likely due to a less-flashy card that has come in this set—Temple of Enlightenment. This is super-smooth for Azorius Control. It helps the mana and it helps the early-game draws. These control decks in Theros used to play off-color Temples to get better draws early on (and late on), but now the decks can help the mana at the same time.

    Black variations are showing up as well. With better removal, Orzhov, Esper, Dimir and Mono-Black decks are showing up in all stripes. This is a gigantically open field, for everything that doesn't include Master of Waves.

    Which will end of up at the top of the heap after three rounds? We'll have to wait and see.

  • Quick Hits #2 - What Born of the Gods card will shake up Standard?

    by Marc Calderaro

  • Roberto Gonzales (Pro Tour Gatecrash Top 16): Drown in Sorrow makes a lot of decks unplayable.
    Gavin Verhey (Magic Ramp;D Designer) : Brimaz, King of Oreskos makes players say 'I will play white because of this card.
    Josh Fleisch (Pro Tour Tokyo 2001 Top 16): Xenagos, God of Revels opens up a those colors to new avenues. Now Gruul Monsters can play out one threat at a time. That's big.
    Colin Miller (Grand Prix Vancouver 2012 Top 8; Grand Prix Vancouver 2014 Top 16) : Searing Blood. Searing Blood makes red much more attractive.
    Reid Duke (No. 4-ranked player, Grand Prix Miami winner) : Courser of Kruphix." He said this is one of many midrange cards that can open up a deck style that was sorely lacking in Theros Standard.

  • Deck Spotlight – Josh Fleisch’s Bant Midrange

    by Marc Calderaro

  • There are those decks that just looked like you jammed into it every good card within your reach. There might not be amazing synergy among the cards, but you make up for that in raw, independent card power. Josh Fleisch's tri-color deck reeks of that raw-power stench. Before Born of the Gods, playing three colors in anything other than a control deck was very difficult. But with the addition of Temple of Plenty, Temple of Enlightenment and Temple of Malice (2/3s of which are in Fleisch's deck) allows midrange decks to get a bite of the three-flavored apple.

    Josh Fleisch

    Fleisch sees this deck as built around Archangel of Thune. The flier is powerful against almost every creature in the format (besides Stormbreath Dragon, as Fleisch learned last round). "It might be a mistake to not play Supreme Verdict if you're playing white and blue; it depends on how the metagame shapes up." We agreed that in the midrange context, you have to pick either Archangel of Thune or Supreme Verdict, not both. Though those two go side-by-side in the Azorius Control deck—as No. 14 Alex Hayne showed and Grand Prix Vancouver—in the midrange context, Archangel pulls you to play more creatures, and Supreme Verdict pulls you to play fewer. The large number of Temples force you to limit your one-drops (Fleisch is running zero), so playing Sylvan Caryatid or not will probably be the deciding factor.

    Fleisch, who's been playing longer than you have—his first big result was 12th place at Pro Tour Tokyo back in 2001—went the creature (and quasi-creature route) and stuffed the deck to the gills with the best non-one-mana creatures mana can buy, and many of them from Born of the Gods. Courser of Kruphix, Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Ephara, God of the Polis all make important appearances. And out of the sideboard, Fleisch can turn the deck more control-heavy with cards like Kiora, the Crashing Wave and the seven-drop, instant-speed Wrath of God, Fated Retribution.

    Here's the list:

    Josh Fleisch’s Bant Midrange

    Download Arena Decklist

    Fleisch swears there's a lot more synergy than I'm giving it credit for. Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and Prophet of Kruphix both allow immediate triggers of Archangel of Thune to grow the team. And the token creation of Voice of Resurgence, Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Brimaz, King of Oreskos all pair well with the pumping of Archangel and the populate of Trostani.

    Yeah, yeah. Synergy, smin-ergy. Who needs synergy when you're playing the most powerful cards in the format. Try out this deck at home. You'll be extremely happy with your results—though, as Fleisch warns, watch out for "multiple Stormbreath Dragons."

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