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 Game Day, Standard, and the End of Cruel Ultimatum...

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workshoptelescope



Posts : 664
Join date : 2009-11-23
Location : Rochester, MN

PostSubject: Game Day, Standard, and the End of Cruel Ultimatum...   Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:43 pm

so, this really isn't so much a formal theorizing deck clinic of any kind, but more a reflection on my recent experiences with a standard metagame outside our local group*. over the weekend, i went to gameday in burnsville and i played, for what will probably be the last time, a grixis colored control deck, at least one relying on cruel ultimatum as its end game.

the first thing i realized from the weekend is there can be no underestimating the power of tectonic edge in standard. tectonic edge is the sole reason i will probably never sleeve up cruel ultimatum in standard again. for anyone who is looking to play control strategies in this format, i would certainly not stop you from trying to play deck relying on piles of non-basic lands for the mana base, but i do with suggest the possibility that this is probably wrong.

to explain, after kicking the ****, pride, and dignity out of a jund deck in round one (seriously, i don't think i've ever beat a competitive deck so badly before), and getting soundly beat by the mythic bant deck in round two, i faced my first experience with tectonic edge. i played against U/W chalice control in the third round and it was the most demoralizing defeat of the day. game one, he lead off with a plains and passed the turn. turn two, the first of all four tectonic edges came down on his side of the board and i never saw four mana the rest of the game. game two ended much the same.

i finished 2-3 for the day and saw plenty of other decks sporting the land (including buck's eldrazi green deck, a wise choice, i must say). now, tectonic edge's place and utility has its limits and this is really the point i want to explore. personally, i see tectonic edge fitting in three broad categories of standard decks ("broad" qualifying the probability that i am wrong about this): mono colored aggro decks, knight of the reliquary decks (as a one or two of), and chalice-based control decks.

the reasoning for this card being included in mono-colored aggro decks is simple; it doesn't cost those strategies much at all in the way of tempo. while mono-red hasn't really shown itself to be viable (sorry clint, no offense), mono-green, mono-white, and mono-black lists have adopted using tectonic edge. it is good against jund, grixis, naya, and any deck running man-lands (which can sometimes be problematic for aggressive strategies to deal with given how damn big the new man lands are). jund, grixis, naya, or any mid-range decks, really, cry a little inside when they're fourth turn land not only enters the battlefield tapped but is also a non-basic destined to be consumed by a hungry, hungry edge. furthermore, the lower the curve on the aggro deck, the less bothersome ditching a land becomes, especially when the trade off is keeping your established board position and keeping another deck off of theirs (i will admit, however, that sacing a land while holding conqueror's pledge is counter-intuitive but the mono-white lists of late are actually trading the pledge for a stoneforge mystic/equipment plan).

now, "knight of the reliquary decks" really are just two or three midrange decks in standard; bant, naya, G/W. now, these decks benefit less from edge than straight aggro but i can't deny that edge helps the jund matchup for all of them. as a one or two of, edge becomes an easy tutor target for knight of the reliquary and can often become clutch when the situation arises. i can't really say more about it. it works well with the knight. obvious point is obvious. the end.

now, control decks are in a funny place because of tectonic edge (obvious point of obviousness is that losing even one land on the way to victory can often times be critical to said victory). what piques my interest in everflowing chalice/tectaonic edge is this; if control decks can add land manipulation/destruction to their repertoire without the drawback of actually sacrificing a critical land along the way, then it should be added to the toolbox. again regarding man-lands, they have always been the bane of control strategies and the current ones are some of the best ever conceived. now, most of this isn't anything i've set in stone but its definitely stuff i'm trying to sort out here. what makes cruel so unappealing at the moment is a grixis deck really can't afford to either give up a land drop or to play a land that doesn't provide the mana to cast a cruel ultimatum, much less any spells that are mana intensive by either color or cost. so, we throw out cruel ultimatum and there might be some other possibilities.
u/w control lists i've seen have used tectonic edge to their advantage because the loss of a land is never really a detriment to what they are doing. everflowing chalice on turn two allows for a kind of zero sum exchange along the mana curve with tectonic edge. furthermore, there are fewer lands entering the battlefield tapped in most u/w lists i've seen, so the kind of 'control tempo' is easily maintained (e.g. turn 2 chalice, turn 3 day of judgment, turn 4 tectonic edge, opponent's upkeep, kill land, still have mana for counterspells up...). now, i do not advocate the use of tectonic edge in every control build. i really feel like it has remarkable utility in mono colored (of which, i know of exactly zero but could see mono-white, mono-black, or mono-blue being hilariously interesting) or dual color control lists (of which, it seems U/W and what appears to be the rebirth of boat brew are among them) but once you wade into a third color, the utility versus drawback is abysmally low. i don't know that i like the u/w control lists as they are but perhaps there is more than can be done there.

so... long, i know. i'm sorry. moral of the story, if you play in standard, prepare to have your nonbasics blown up... alot.


*apparently, i disregarded my own opening statement about "theorizing"... so maybe the whole thing is full of ****.
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Traetus



Posts : 156
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Age : 28
Location : roch

PostSubject: Re: Game Day, Standard, and the End of Cruel Ultimatum...   Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:40 pm

Quote :
so... long, i know. i'm sorry. moral of the story, if you play in standard, prepare to have your nonbasics blown up... alot.

Agreeed. I have been loving ruinblasters but now any color deck can screw over non-basics.
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Th3 Ra1nman



Posts : 166
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Age : 27
Location : Kassion

PostSubject: Re: Game Day, Standard, and the End of Cruel Ultimatum...   Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:27 am

o well it ends well
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PostSubject: Re: Game Day, Standard, and the End of Cruel Ultimatum...   Today at 5:20 pm

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