How could this happen? An infinite combo that wins on Turn 4 is the stuff of Modern. Not only that—Wizards missed this combo entirely during development of Aether Revolt, as Sam Stoddard admitted in a recent column. So you’d think Copy Cat is a sure bet, right?
Nope. 6 decks in the Top 8 were Vehicle decks, joined by an Energy deck and a Delirium deck. Copy Cat was nowhere to be found in the finals. People were able to prepare for a sorcery-speed combo that includes a Planeswalker who can be directly attacked, and Copy Cat’s results suffered accordingly.
It just goes to show—plan for the metagame, folks. Run disruption. Run answers for the decks you plan to face. Strong cards do not make a strong deck. You need a strong strategy first, composed of threats and answers that you’ve carefully chosen from across the 1,400+ cards currently legal in Standard.
For Aether Revolt Game Day, I’m going to buy one of the set’s Planeswalker Decks and compete with it.
I will use only the cards from the Planeswalker Deck and the two boosters it comes with. I’ll document any changes I make, as well as my match-ups and what happens in each game, to the best of my ability. I’ll then share it in the next edition of this column. The only element of mystery I’ll allow for now is whether I’m buying the Ajani deck or the Tezzeret deck.
I’m doing this because I want Magic to be better. Especially for new players.
I believe that while Planeswalker decks are exciting and cool, they can — and should — be more competitive out of the box.
Let’s look at the decks. The Tezzeret deck is built around the Improvise mechanic, and has you spamming out several cheap artifacts in order to bring down the cost of high-CMC finishers like Wind-Kin Raiders, Fen Hauler, and Barricade Breaker. The Ajani deck uses a low-to-the-ground aggressive strategy that features several Revolt cards and some synergies with +1/+1 counters to swarm down an opponent’s life total.
They have some exciting, unique cards and are very much capable of stealing games, but neither of them have much in common with decks from the Top 8 of the Pro Tour. You’re expected to do lots and lots of work on a Planeswalker Deck to make it viable for competitive Standard play.
Why does this have to be the case?
The Commander decks in recent years show that Wizards can make some truly excellent pre-constructed products. Not only that, but for many years, Wizards released Event Decks which could easily hold their own in competitive play, even if they weren’t Tier 1 strategies. They even built a Modern Event Deck, with staples like Path to Exile, Inquisition of Kozilek, and four copies of good lands like Isolated Chapel and Caves of Koilos.
Why are they not building introductory products like this for Standard, their flagship format?
I bought my fair share of pre-constructed decks when I was a young Magic player, and played my fair share of games—but if you had given me something with the power level of an Event Deck, even if I had had to save an extra week or two of my allowance for it, I would have been frothing at the mouth and begging all my friends to play.
I want every new player to have that feeling.
So between you and me, I think we can—and should—push for Planeswalker Decks to be much closer to Event Decks, and I plan on using my experience this weekend to show why.
THERE IS ALSO FREE GAME DAY THIS WEEKEND IF YOU PREFER A DIFFERENT KIND OF CARDBOARD
Magic isn’t the only thing happening at the store this weekend—make sure you come by and check out Free Game Day on Sunday at noon, where we’re opening up our demo library for anyone to come by and learn some new games! Admission is free and we’ll have store employees on hand if you have any questions, so come on down!
(And if you’re a Dicemasters person, fret not—the bi-weekly Dicemasters event is Saturday at 2 PM!)
See you at the store!
Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games and has a lot of experience being a new player. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column about all things Magic!