This week and next we bring you Edubious’ Standard Streaming Adventures on Wednesday, instead of our regularly scheduled EDH IMHO articles – Editor
Week 2: Black-Red Hazoret
You can find my stream at twitch.tv/edubious and you can read all about the Week 1 League and a bunch of other great content over at StrictlyAverageMTG.com
For my 2nd trip out in the Standard Competitive Leagues, I decided to take an iteration of my first deck. I really like the position that Mono-Red Hazoret is in, but it feels like it could use juuust a little bit more oomph. I added a black splash in to give me access to Unlicensed Disintegration. A creature removal spell that ALSO damages the opponent? Sign me up. Having access to black mana means that I can also run Scrapheap Scrounger in the place of Firebrand Archer to up the artifact count. I had added the Archer into the original red list as my personal spice to make up for the range that was missing from the extra “free damage” after Ramunap Ruins was banned. Sadly, it proved too slow, incredibly underwhelming, and simply got outclassed by what other 2-drops are doing in this format.
Now, without further ado, I give you the edubious Standard League Streaming Adventure, Volume 2!
Match 1: vs UB Control (0-2)
I got off to a pretty solid start, but did get tripped up with only a single red mana source. Being stuck on mana, I decided to crack my Bomat Courier in response to a Vraska’s Contempt. After my opponent Essence Scattered a Scrapheap Scrounger and used a 2nd Vraska’s Contempt, I was starting to feel the pressure of inevitability. I deployed a couple more hasty threats only to get a Torrential Gearhulk into flashback Contempt to essentially wipe my board. When my opponent followed up that play with a copy of The Scarab God into another Gearhulk to flashback the other Vraska’s Contempt, this one was in the bag.
Because this is pretty much a port from my mono-red list, the sideboard cards and thus the sideboard strategy against control is pretty much the same from last week. Bring in the two copies of Glorybringer, the extra Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Vance’s Blasting Cannons to give the long game some extra reach. Also bring in Vraska’s Contempt to deal with The Scarab God and the extra copy of Abrade to deal with the Torrential Gearhulks. Because they are so creature light I took out the Shocks and Moment of Cravings. I also took out the Soul-Scar Mages because they just get outclassed too quickly.
Game 2 did not go very well for me either. With another mull to 6 and keeping a slow hand, my opponent just had every answer to everything I put out. It also didn’t help that I drew into 2 copies of Unlicensed Disintegration and an Abrade in the first 3 turns against a deck that doesn’t deploy creatures all that often. My opponent landed a copy of The Scarab God and was able to start reanimating all of MY OWN creatures to beat me down.
Match 2: vs UB Control (0-2)
This matchup highlights the effectiveness of a deck like UB Control. Even though I had a pretty strong starting hand AND my opponent got stuck on 3 lands until turn 7, they were still able to deal with all of my threats, and using spells like Vraska’s Contempt and Moment of Craving, gain enough life to get out of reach of my deck. Your opponent down to 5 life, knowing they GAINED 6 off the removal spells that were also taking your win conditions off the board is a very frustrating place to be. I also made some severe misplays due to not being totally familiar with my deck. There were several occasions where I should have recurred the Scrapheap Scroungers out of my graveyard but didn’t, and that gave my opponent fuel for his The Scarab God once he landed one.
Sideboarding is the same as from match 1 so I’ll save you the details and move on to game 2. This time I got off to a pretty quick start, but again thanks to some severe misplays and a never ending stream of answers in the form of murder and permission from my opponent, my advantage very quickly dried up and two Torrential Gearhulks and a The Scarab God later, I was toast.
Match 3: vs Sultai Energy (2-1)
Game 1 got off to a pretty slow start for me. A mull to 6 left me with a couple lands, a couple removal spells and a Glorybringer. After drawing a couple more lands I was flooding out, but still applying pressure. Hadana’s Climb is a REAL card though, and a late-game Walking Ballista put my opponent over the top.
Sideboarding against the Energy decks is always tricky. Are they going to stay on the Bristling Hydra plan, or will they switch it up? Are they bringing in extra removal to slow you down, or extra creatures to try and make themselves faster? I decided to go into this thinking they would stay on the Bristling Hydra plan while bringing in extra removal. I sided out a copy of Moment of Craving, a Magma Spray, both copies of Shock, and the copy of Aethersphere Harvester. I brought in Vraska’s Contempt and an Abrade to get my removal a bit bigger, 2 copies of Glorybringer, a Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and an Angrath, the Flame-Chained to give me a long game edge since their creatures can quickly outclass mine. You’ll notice those counts don’t match. Well, I couldn’t quite decide what else to cut, so I went with 61 cards for game 2.
No changes to the deck (yes, still running 61 cards) and we shuffled up for game 3. I got off to a terribly slow start and thought my opponent was going to quickly outclass me. His ability to deploy threats every other turn while alternating with removal for my own threats meant I was on the back foot. Luckily I was able to get a Glorybringer online to remove a few of his guys, then dropped Hazoret the Fervent to give me reach and power through his pair of Bristling Hydras. The big game sideboard cards helped me close this one out.
Match 4: vs Mono-Red Hazoret (1-2)
Game 1 was a red mage’s dream. Let’s just say if this were a full match at a Grand Prix, there would be PLENTY of time for lunch. We both landed a flurry of early threats and pressure, used removal spells where we had to and the match was over on turn 6. Being on the play, I had an advantage in game 1 thanks to a turn 4 Chandra, Torch of Defiance. My opponent attacked her for 5 damage on turn 5 which gave me a comfortable enough life total to take a gamble and swing with the team to get them down to 6 life, holding a Lightning Strike in hand. My turn 6 draw was another copy of Lightning Strike for lethal!
Just recently being a Mono-Red Hazoret pilot, I figured I knew how to beat the deck pretty well and sideboarded accordingly. I brought in 2 Glorybringers, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Angrath, the Flame-Chained to give me big-game, the extra copy of Aethersphere Harvester for the lifelink, and the 2 copies of Chandra’s Defeat, because red. I took out 2 Shocks, an Unlicensed Disintegration, and the full 4 copies of Scrapheap Scrounger. Not being able to block an aggro onslaught is a pretty big liability and the last think I want to top deck in a war of attrition is a dead card.
Game 2 again started off in typical red fashion. Fast cheap creatures trading chip shots at each other’s life totals. Except I found myself mana screwed and got stuck on 2 lands until turn 6 when I drew…a Canyon Slough. That’s not going to help bring me back, so I scooped and went to game 3.
For game 3, I realized that not bringing in the Vraska’s Contempt to both gain me some life AND deal with a Hazoret the Fervent was a pretty big mistake. I brought that in, opting to take out an Earthshaker Khenra. I chose to start off with a tapped Canyon Slough rather than the Mountain I had in my opener so that I could have access to black mana on turn 2 for the Moment of Craving I had in hand. The game slowly progressed with both of us being stuck on 3 mana until turn 7. I could 1-for-1 his threats, but there was always that pesky Thopter token from Pia Nalaar holding back my Bomat Courier. I didn’t want attack into the token because I didn’t want to have to crack the Courier. I was holding a Chandra, Torch of Defiance, a Hazoret the Fervent, and a Glorybringer in hand. All I needed to do was draw into a land or two. Eventually I did, and was able to deploy all of my threats, attacking my opponent down to 3 life while I sat pretty at 11. The problem was that I didn’t have enough mana to take care of the token from Rekindling Phoenix after killing her with an exterted Glorybringer and my opponent was able to slam down a 2nd copy of Glorybringer on his side of the board and swing for 12 on the crackback.
Match 5: vs WB Vampires (0-2)
This deck is fast, wide, and can get big. AAAND it would seem just about every spell in the deck gains them life! Radiant Destiny is a real card and it gives a deck like BW Vampires a major advantage against red strategies. Achieving the City’s Blessing on Turn 4, my opponent was able to overwhelm my meager forces as I also managed to flood out, unable to get under 2 cards in hand for Hazoret the Fervent.
Never having played this matchup and not really knowing what to do, I brought in Vraska’s Contempt to deal with some potential late game big Vampire and a Blazing Volley which was my idea of tech in case I ran into a tokens deck. 1 damage to each creature isn’t going to do much to a bunch of buffed up dudes (and/or dude-ettes…I don’t presume to know these Vamps). I also brought in Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Angrath, the Flame-Chained mostly for funsies. In reality they are probably too slow and I should have been trying to get faster. Out went the 2 copies of Shock and all 4 Scrapheap Scroungers.
Game 2 I felt like I was starting off strong. Threats and removal was keeping my opponent off pressuring my own life total. And then came the Authority of the Consuls. What a beating that card is. You’re telling me that red decks can’t have Rampaging Ferocidon anymore because “it single handedly negates the tokens strategy”, but the tokens decks can have THIS? REALLY!?!?! THIS!!! My opponent also followed that play up with a Radiant Destiny and it was quickly lights out for me.
My biggest takeaway from this week’s league is “just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” I decided to fire up this league during my flight to Hong Kong. Streaming from an airplane presents a plethora of challenges that make for terrible content. I’m not even going to bother posting the recordings OR the playbacks because of it. The airplane wifi was very spotty, causing severe lag and several dropped connections. The stream recording had to start and stop several times. It would also have been pretty rude if I were to be constantly talking in such close quarters, especially on a red-eye flight when everyone in their right mind is sleeping (notice I was awake playing Magic Online…what does that say about me?). So you don’t get any of my real-time thoughts and analysis of the game state. Plus, airplanes are hella noisy. The background whirring of the jet engines makes even watching the replay for just the game action unbearable.
Beyond the issues with the stream and the recordings and the spotty internet connections, there is also the “should you” question of ruining your decks consistency, game plan, and most importantly the mana base by adding another color. I can say that I rarely felt like my deck was beating itself with the mono-red version, but with as much mana issues that I faced during this go-round, I seriously question whether the added reach of extremely powerful spells like Vraska’s Contempt and Angrath, the Flame-Chained were worth it. Also adding in an extra suite of creature removal in the main deck while the meta is seemingly dominated by control decks is probably not the greatest deck building decision.
As for the state of standard, it appears there is a major shift towards blue, and more specifically, control versions of blue decks at hand. Red strategies are still quite viable, and at the end of the week, I think this Black-Red version of the aggro deck can be VERY powerful. It has early threats, a very strong suite of removal options, and some of the format’s most powerful finishers. But it needs the right meta, and even then, the right matchups.
1x Aethersphere Harvester
2x Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1x Blazing Volley
2x Chandra’s Defeat
1x Magma Spray
2x Harsh Mentor
1x Pia Nalaar
1x Aethersphere Harvester
1x Vraska’s Contempt
1x Vance’s Blasting Cannons
1x Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1x Angrath, the Flame-Chained
Eric has been an avid Magic fan and player since re-discovering the game in 2012. He is a Red mage at heart but likes to confuse himself with the varying decision trees presented by mid-range and control decks from time to time.
Eric plays mostly casually with his 9-year-old daughter, but manages to get out for every prerelease and a few FNM’s and GP’s every year.
Please reach out to me on twitter @edubious
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