5. Self-Inflicted Wound
It seemed like only last month Glare of Heresy was the best sideboard card around. Removing Mastery of the Unseen and such and such—oh, those halcyon days. But the numbers of Glares dropped precipitously among the top tables this weekend—most commonly replaced by this workhorse.
Likely cause? It hits cards from seven of the eight decks in the Top 8, and it also removes Dragonlord Ojutai without targeting it. All of this, while also draining for two life. Semifinalist (17) Brad Nelson played three in his sideboard, and said it was one of his keys to success in all games two and three.
If it’s good enough for Player of the Year, it’s good enough for me.
4. Dragonlord Ojutai
Everyone talks about the Dragons of Tarkir breakout star, Dragonlord Ojutai, in the context of Esper Dragons. The control deck that made the lord famous is surely strong, as shown by its great simultaneous performance this weekend at Grand Prix Sao Paulo. But here in Toronto, a big fat zero Esper Dragons deck made the Top 8—hated out by decks prepared for it.
So why then is Ojutai still in the Top 5 Cards? Because the standout Megamorph deck, Bant Megamorph, basically plays white for Dragonlord Ojutai. Sure it also gets to play Mastery of the Unseen, but c’mon, we all know the real draw of White is a 5/4 flying, hexproof that draws you cards for five mana.
Even when the lord’s marquee deck doesn’t perform, Ojutai stays on top.
3. Fleecemane Lion
There was a big to-do about having 25 copies of a higher card on this list in the Top 8. But no one mentioned seemed to mention the 27 Fleecemane Lions. Whenever people talk about the division among Aggro, Midrange, and Control getting fuzzy, this lion is a big part. It’s the mythical girlfriend of Art Alexakis who really is “everything to everyone.”
Fleecemane Lion a 3/3 for two, so aggressive strategies like it just fine; then in a more reactive build, once it’s on the board with five land, you can just threaten to use the monstrosity ability while still holding up mana for kill spells. Once it gets that counter, it becomes very difficult to remove, and when the game gets to that “grindy” state, have an indestructible, un-targetable 4/4 can help eke out board advantage when it’s needed the most.
This card is one of the older cards Standard, so everyone’s used to it—but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.
2. Stormbreath Dragon
The reemergence of this beast happened as a confluence of events. As the Esper Dragons deck looked better and better, decks kept skewing to play more and more cards that help that match-up—sometimes things like Dragonlord's Prerogative. But Big Stormy don’t care about that stuff.
Every time you’re thinking of shaving your Hero's Downfalls because “Abzan Charm” will work fine—think about this guy. Every time you say, “Foul-Tongue Invocation will almost always remove Dragonlord Ojutai,” remember the friends Stormbreath hangs with.
All weekend players constantly asked their opponent, with a huge sigh in their voices, “Is it Stormbreath? Am I dead?” That feeling is part of the reason finalist Edgar Magalhaes piloted a Mardu Dragons deck—quite similar to the one Hall of Famer Ben Stark played—to the finish he did.
1. Den Protector
Everybody knew about it before this weekend. Everybody knew Den Protector was the bee’s knees. But it still came up huge. There were 25 copies in the Top 8, spread across five different archetypes. If you are playing Green, it’s likely your deck would benefit from the card people are calling “Maternal Witness.”
Just ask champion Lucas Siow. His deck might be the one people remember as the deck that taught the world Den Protector doesn’t need Deathmist Raptor to be good. Just returning a kill spell, or a recurring a single threat can be more than enough. And don’t forget that she has an evasion ability too. It seems silly, but get a few counters on that with an Abzan Charm, and you’ll be sneaking in damage you never thought possible.