THE MANA DORK—Mantis Riders on the Storm

The Mana Dork

Today, I’m going to talk about an amazingly foolish decision.

Fool's Demise

Not too long ago, we had Oath of the Gatewatch Game Day at A Muse N Games. A pair of Standard tournaments, celebrating the release of the new set and all the sweet new Eldrazi Reflector Mages Reflector Mages naming Eldrazi Reflector Mages naming everything you ever loved cards in OGW, and how they mix with the rest of the current Standard environment.

Standard is in a bit of a strange place lately. Right now, the fetchlands from Khans of Tarkir exist in the format alongside the “battle lands” / “tango lands” from Battle for Zendikar. Since the battlelands have basic land types, they can be fetched by the fetchlands, making it extremely easy to make decks with three or four colours in them.

However.

When Shadows over Innistrad comes out in April, Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged will rotate out of Standard, taking with them the fetchlands, along with current format staples like Monastery Swiftspear and Arbalest Pachyderm. Standard will essentially be reshaped.

So how do you prepare for it? Do you build a deck with all of your four-colour fixing and Trebuchet Ungulates, and have one last great hurrah of all the colours? Or do you cut yourself down to two colours, and prepare for rotation now?

If you’re me, you just play sweet Mantis Riders and frickin’ go for it.

Here’s what I showed up to the 12 PM Game Day tournament with:

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About half of you are shaking your heads right now, and I just want you to know, you’re perfectly correct to do so. This is not an optimized list by any stretch.

I figured Mantis Riders would be pretty well-positioned—they fly over Mangonel Ceratomorphs and various Eldrazi, they do something the turn they enter the battlefield, and they block beautifully in a pinch. Combined with Pacifism, Valorous Stance, and Seeker of the Way, I figured including white was justifiable.

What I’m missing here is the correct mana base. If I had Flooded Strands, Prairie Streams, Shivan Reefs, and Battlefield Forges instead of most of my basic lands, it would have been easier to find the coloured mana I needed in time to cast relevant spells.

Instead, I… didn’t. And I placed 17th of 19 for my troubles. Womp womp (was the sound my face made when it was punched in by Onager Dicerii).

In between the tournaments, after Store Czar Brian became the third person to tell me I should switch to a two-colour deck, I decided to just go for it. No testing, no proven decklists. Foolish, right?

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The above deck was the result.

It’s now 4 PM. I’ve got four Stormchaser Mages and two Abbots of Keral Keep. It’s two thousand miles to Chicago, it’s dark, and I’m wearing sunglasses. Hit it.

Abbot of Keral Keep

The first thing I learned was that you should never play a land and then cast Abbot of Keral Keep on turn two. What you want to do instead is cast Abbot on turn three, and keep your land in hand. If Abbot finds a land, play it. Free land drop. If Abbot finds a one-mana cantrip like Slip Through Space or Expedite, play the land in your hand, play the cantrip, and swing for a whole bunch of damage.

The second thing I learned was that Holy Crap had I hamstrung myself by going three colours earlier in the day.

The third thing I learned was that paying one red mana for a Titan’s Strength to turn Monastery Swiftspear into a 5/3 on turn two, and also scrying, feels really good.

The fourth thing I learned was that I don’t need Mantis Riders to go around Ballistae Megafauna if I’ve got a sufficiently large Stormchaser Mage.

The fifth thing I learned, thanks to my Round Four opponent, is that eating a bunch of Remorseless Punishments with no cards in hand and no creatures on the board means you lose.

But here’s the thing—that Round Four match was for placement in the Top 8. If I had one, I’d have top-8’ed OGW Game Day, and fulfilled one of my New Year’s Magic Resolutions.

So close. And yet so far.

Now I can’t wait for Shadows over Innistrad Game Day. You could say I’m… delirious with impatience.

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games, and is also going to have that Doors song in his head all day now. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column on getting into Magic.