TOP 5 CARDS

Posted in GRAND PRIX LOS ANGELES 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 20, 2014

By Event Coverage Staff

Here are the Top 5 cards that emerged out of Grand Prix Los Angeles 2014!

5. Hordeling Outburst

Oh how I wanted to put Butcher of the Horde in this slot. It's so large and imposing. But it would've been a lie. Though the Butcher is an impressive Big Ben, the Hordeling Outburst is what makes it tick. Patrick Dickmann, Valentin Mackl, and Quarterfinalist Brad Nelson all played a Mardu Midrange list that used both these cards to full effect, and all claimed the Hordeling Outburst instrumental to the deck.

As long as you have one token left, you can activate the raid trigger on your Wingmate Roc or, more importantly, give your Butcher of the Horde haste or lifelink. When Hordeling Outburst is paired with the Butcher, it enables the 5/4 to come out of nowhere and swing the board greatly in your favor. Though it's Butcher of the Horde that usually finishes the opponent off, it's Hordeling Outburst that enables it to do so.

Even without its flying friend, Hordeling Outburst gives Jeskai fits. That's why semifinalist Eric Pei played two of them in his Mono-Red "Boss Sligh" deck. The Jeskai deck plays so much one-for-one removal, it has great difficulty removing three 1/1s, and this has been the downfall of many Jeskai players this weekend. Perhaps part of the reason it was absent from the Top 8 entirely.


4. Savage Knuckleblade

We all knew Savage Knuckleblade was good, but it needed a shell. It looks like people here might have found one. Eight Temur decks made it to Day Two, all showcasing the amazing Big Daddy Knucks (or Knucky Thompson for the Boardwalk Empire–inclined). Then Brian Kibler's Top 16 finish solidified the deck's potential.

I mean, just look at the thing! It's a 4/4 for three mana that can have haste, that can become a 6/6, and that can protect itself! How did this card not already win something huge again? Oh yeah, it needed a shell. Kibler's shell just might do it. As he showed, if you can stick a Knuckleblade, and protect it with things like Temur Charm and Stubborn Denial, it's pretty certain you'll emerge victorious.


3. Crater's Claws

And how about casting this thing with your Savage Knuckleblade in play? Crater's Claws was featured not only in the Temur decks, but also in Grand Prix winner Daniel Scheid's Red-Green Monsters list. Any deck that plays red and puts four-power dudes on the battlefield has a use for this. Maybe even decks without red; maybe even decks without four power.

All day, people playing this card won out of nowhere, popping opponents for 10 or 12 to the face. But just as importantly, it could act as a one-mana Shock. As Brian Kibler put it, playing Savage Knuckleblade and Crater's Claws on a Goblin Rabblemaster is a great way to gain back tempo on turn four, and Crater's Claws for 0 was the way he used the card the most.

Then again, it's a great card to have in your deck to finish any ground stall. Abzan matches can clog the board real quick, and Crater's Claws is a great way to go over the top of the entire battlefield.


2. Monastery Swiftspear

Nevermind this monk being a breakout in Legacy. Nevermind this monk getting everyone's deckbuilding engines revving in Modern. Nevermind this monk being called "better than Goblin Guide." Right now, right here in Standard, Monastery Swiftspear is the reason that Mono-Red, and many of the aggressive decks, can get in and finish the job, and it's certainly a big part of why both Eric Pei and Denis Ulanov made it into the Semifinals.

The card basically has Heroic with benefits, also getting pumped by spells that don't target it. The ability is most often used to sneak in extra damage off a Lightning Strike, Stoke the Flames, Coordinated Assault, or Titan's Strength. It can also punish someone trying to call your bluff by blocking with a Fleecemane Lion. However, the prowess ability can also be used defensively.

The Mono-Red decks have problems with Anger of the Gods and Drown in Sorrow. But because both of those powerful board sweepers are sorceries, simply holding the burn spells until your opponents' main phases can help keep the Swiftspear out of the graveyard, and living to see another day.

The card's not as flashy as Goblin Rabblemaster, but the monk is the one who carries the team across the river.


1. Courser of Kruphix

Did you miss Courser of Kruphix from the Top 5 cards? After a time in Standard where you couldn't forget its presence, at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, the format staple was overshadowed by everything shiny and new. Even the Abzan Aggro deck didn't think it needed the card.

Well now it's back in style. It was a centerpiece of Daniel Sheid's winning Red-Green Monsters deck, and quarterfinalist Tamada Ryoichi even jammed three copies in his Abzan Aggro deck. One of the big reasons is the four toughness. Lightning Strike can't kill it. If you want to get rid of the centaur for good, it needs a Hero's Downfall, Stoke the Flames, or something similar. Here's the catch: you don't want to be using cards like that on a 2/4. After all, decks that play the 2/4 also generally play 4/4s, and 4/5s, and 3/4 flyers. Getting rid of Courser is such a pain, you often just have to let it sit there gaining life and cards for your opponent.

The life gain and card advantage that Courser of Kruphix provides is huge when the game goes long. Although Daniel Sheid closed out his games with Crater's Claws and Stormbreath Dragons, it was Courser of Kruphix that ensured he survived long enough to get there.