VARIATIONS ON STANDARD: MONSTERS

Posted in NEWS on March 22, 2014

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for DailyMTG.com, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

In the last part of our Variations series, we'll explore the RGx Monsters archetype, where two viable versions of the deck have emerged.

Unless you ask Brian Kibler. Then there's only one.

But for the moment, while people keep playing with and winning with both flavors, we'll keep exploring the fork in the road that is the divide between RG Monsters and Jund Monsters.

First, lists! These are both grinder winners from this weekend.

In terms of genealogy, the Gruul version came first and the black splash didn't really happen until we were gifted with Temple of Abandon, and with good reason.

"There are a lot of good mana fixing tools, especially in midrange decks that are focused on 3-6 mana spells," Kibler said. "The Temples offer fixing and a lot of fixing and consistency. You even see mono colored decks playing Temples."


Looks a lot like RG Monsters, doesn't it?

 

So Temple of Malice, paired with the already printed Temple of Abandon, gave the green red version 8 reasons to splash and go bigger. Coupled with already wanting to play Sylvan Caryatid, the mana actually turned out to be pretty easy.

 

And the upside?

"Black removal gives tools against the mirror," Kibler said. "If you play a Polukranos mirror, the deck with Dreadbore and Doom Blade will win. All else being equal, black gives an edge."

Black also gives access to a bevy of sideboard cards, including Rakdos's Return, Sire of Insanity, and Golgari Charm, giving it so many more tools in a midrange/control environment.

The black splash does slow down the deck a touch, as Reaper of the Wilds typically steps in for Ghor-Clan Rampager, giving the deck more resilience but less reach, a tradeoff Kibler seems happy to make. Flesh & Blood is another powerful tool, one Brad Nelson was splashing in original versions of the deck, even though he was often happy enough just getting the Gruul half.


Actually is RG Monsters.

 

Chris VanMeter, who reached 7-0 with Jund Monsters, supports Kibler's assessment. He liked the green red version before, but felt he gained a ton by adding black.

 

There are, Kibler acknowledged, some arguments against the black splash. It's weaker against the Burn decks, he admitted, and the resurgence of Boros decks is worth some pause. As he said when he discussed the 12-Temples approach in the UWx Control decks, lands coming into play tapped is a real cost in certain matchups.

"People view the splash as free, but it's not," Kibler acknowledged.

It isn't, VanMeter acknowledged, but it's pretty close. "The format's just not that aggressive," he said.

But that doesn't mean he wasn't pretty resolute that Jund was vastly superior to the Green Red version.

"In my mind, it's not a choice. Jund is just better."