Magic (Online) Around the World

Posted in Perilous Research on May 28, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome to Magic Around the World Week here on Magic teaches us a lot: We learn about value and resource management. We learn how to sniff out intentions. We learn how to plan for the best or worst, depending on our situation. When we get really deep into Magic, though, we learn about the world and all the different people that inhabit it. Magic has taken me around the world. I've been to countless cities throughout Asia, Europe, North America, and South America thanks to Magic.

One of the most appealing qualities of Magic is that, even though it's a very complicated social interaction, it can be played quite easily through a language barrier. The first time I sat down to play against a player with whom I couldn't speak was actually at a local card store. My friend pointed out how cool it was that we could communicate with our cards without incident. I hadn't even thought about it. I had conversed so seamlessly with him that the language barrier seemed nonexistent. Magic is a Rosetta Stone that gives us citizenship among Planeswalkers all over the world. It's really quite amazing; One can hop on a flight to the other side of the world, walk into a card store, and play games of Magic with a brand new group of friends right off the bat!

One of the more interesting anthropological facts about Constructed Magic is the popularity of different decks in different regions. These days, the numbers oscillate wildly between the frequency of archetypes and generalized locations around world. For example, we may play in local Legacy tournaments for months to great success, and then head to a Grand Prix in California and find ourselves quickly losing to a pair of Storm opponents. In that situation, "I've never played against Storm before," won't get us our tournament back. Luckily, Magic Online gives us access to the global Magic community. Sure, some might say that Magic Online has its own localized metagame, and that's true, but Magic Online's community has players from around the world, and we're often going to find ourselves playing against a deck we've never seen before. Getting even one or two matches against the strangest decks should give us enough information to stand a fighting chance when it shows up across from us at our next Grand Prix or Pro Tour.

Today we'll be taking a look at the strangest decks that went undefeated in recent Magic Online Standard events to learn what secret weapons might be lurking in the furthest corners of the world!

Let's check out some decks!

Black-Green Cemetery

Dozoria's Black-Green Cemetery

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The first undefeated oddity we'll be taking a look at this week is Dozoria's black-green graveyard-centric deck. The strategy effectively uses the graveyard to put together a long-term engine with Blood-Chin Fanatic and any number of Bloodsoaked Champions. Den Protector helps the deck assemble late-game interactions while applying pressure and helping the Hero's Downfall and Thoughtseize portions of the deck work a little bit harder. This deck combines strong removal and disruption with a great graveyard strategy that foregoes Deathmist Raptor in favor of a bigger top-end with cards like Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Sidisi, Undead Vizier. After having played a couple matches with a similar list, I wholeheartedly believe that this strategy has what it takes to compete with the biggest decks in Standard.

Naya Unwritten

Sheriff2's Naya Unwritten

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See the Unwritten has gone up in value a lot with the printing of the Dragons. The card often presents a game changing effect and it's not unreasonable to find two cards that can both win the game on their own if left to their own devices. See the Unwritten decks performed tremendously well in the most recent Magic Online Standard PTQ, and I'd expect that card to see a lot more play in the coming weeks.


DoubleDrain's Temur

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Temur decks, often with a lot of Planeswalkers, have been experiencing a great deal of success over the last few days. To no one's surprise, Sarkhan Unbroken is a kind-of-absurd card with a very high ceiling in terms of what it can do. The general available setup of Temur cards offers a lot of powerful threats that demand answers. And the hastiness of the deck makes it absolutely ideal for a slugfest.

Sidisi Raptor

Levelerlover's Sidisi Raptor

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I assumed this would have already been a thing by now, but Sidisi Raptor decks didn't have a great showing in the earliest Standard testing. The format has changed a lot since then, though, and it seems like this deck would be very well set up to be a slight favorite against everything except Zurgo Bellstriker decks. The deck still goes bigger than most opponents, and the Deathmist Raptor element is like an even better Torrent Elemental chain against the control decks.

Five-Color Green Dragons

Thage's Five-Color Green Dragons

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Five-Color Green Dragon strategies have been popping up a lot recently, but the deck is still relatively new to the scene. A copy of Five-Color Green Dragons even made the Top 8 of the most recent Magic Online PTQ. The deck is similar to the blue version of the deck but, instead of playing countermagic and card draw, it uses green to ramp and gains access to powerful cards like Den Protector and Courser of Kruphix. The green cards ensure that the deck actually gets to the point where it's casting Dragons, and this version of the deck seems like it has more longevity than its blue counterpart.

Five-Color Blue Dragons

CryingGod's Five-Color Blue Dragons

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Five-Color Blue Dragons has been bouncing around the internet for a bit of time. Mike Flores even used the deck to win a PTQ. The deck has been evolving a lot and one of the most interesting additions seem to be the main deck copies of Encase in Ice, just in case the deck needs to hang on against an aggressive start from the opponent. This version of the deck is tremendously strong, but I've seen the deck lose a lot of games with five lands on the battlefield, and I believe the green version is better at doing what the deck does best.

Jeskai Tokens

Root24's Jeskai Tokens

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Jeskai Tokens was a reasonably popular choice in the earliest weeks of the new Standard format, but the deck has greatly waned in popularity over time. Now, with Drown in Sorrow, Bile Blight, and Anger of the Gods becoming less and less popular, the deck is beginning to experience a bit of a resurgence. Token strategies tend to do well against spot removal spells, and the combo-ish end game plays that can be made with Jeskai Ascendancy make the deck work very hard without many cards in the later stages of the game.

Standard is more exciting than it has been in recent memory. There's tons of room to innovate and experiment with new and exciting decks. This weekend, Magic will see the biggest tournaments and the most participation in the history of the game. What's truly amazing is that each of these players will have a unique strategy going into the tournaments. Stay tuned to for coverage of the biggest Magic events in history!

Knowledge is power!

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