I finally got a chance to play a little Standard this week and I went 2-2 at a local tournament. Sometimes losing before a big weekend can be good, though. After a mediocre performance I find myself doing two things: First, I question my metagame knowledge. Second, I identify where I need to tweak my deck.

I got blown out in two of my losses, which prompted those moments when you say, “Boros Charm and Pyschic Spiral are cards.” The next question I invariably ask is how to play around those cards without diluting my deck too much. It’s important to learn from your losses but not so much that you lose the consistency of your build.

What did I notice from my night of Standard?

I didn’t get paired vs Junk Reanimator once. That’s a good sign, but it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Junk is out. There were plenty of Junk decks being played. Many were being piloted in a sloppy manner, though. The Angel of Serenity mirror (no matter what the deck) demands practice. There was a lot of going to time—in fact, one match went 40 minutes past time. That’s really terrible. Wizards was so worried about making Standard a place for interaction that they seem to have muddled the mixture. The level of interaction can sometimes be too damn high. Though when there is a popular deck you can bet that not everyone knows how to run it.

What does this mean for me?

Well, I like to durdle, but I don’t like to go to time. So I practice with my deck and learn my outs and plays, most importantly how to deal with common tough situations. Also it’s important to win game one. If you are being slow played then you can at least rest assured your opponent’s incompetence won’t cost you a match. It also helps to have a plan your opponent can’t bounce back from. That was my folly in the case of Psychic Spiral. I was firmly winning, but my opponent came from behind and took the win. In my two major losses that night both cards were played twice.

I’ve taken the time to tweak my deck toward a meta that is already prepared for the stock Esper Control deck.

Esper Control

75 cards, 15 sideboard

3 Isolated Chapel
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Ghost Quarter
1 Island
3 Godless Shrine
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Watery Grave
3 Nephalia Drownyard
4 Hallowed Fountain
27 lands

3 Augur of Bolas
2 Restoration Angel
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Obzedat, Ghost Council
8 creatures

2 Tribute to Hunger
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Ultimate Price
1 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Planar Cleansing
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Terminus
3 Think Twice
4 Azorius Charm
4 Dissipate
25 other spells

2 Evil Twin
2 Syncopate
4 Appetite for Brains
2 Negate
3 Purify the Grave
2 Rest in Peace
15 sideboard cards

I’ve added in Ghost Quarter, and a full suite of Dissipates. I’m sticking with Planar Cleansing over Detention Sphere. One Ghost Dad and a singleton Jace. I actually won two games on Monday with Ghost Dad, you have to play with him to understand how good he is. I dropped one Sphinx’s Revelation and two Supreme Verdict for two Terminus.

How have I addressed my problematic matchups?

Terminus hedges the bets vs Boros Charm, which is a blow out against Planar Cleansing. I was ready to wipe the board and start the game over but got totally bonked over the head two turns in a row, instead. There’s a good chance that won’t be a normal thing on turn six, but sometimes they’re gonna have it. You just have to deal with it. That’s Magic, after all. Dispel in the board with Appetite for Brains can be an answer for Psychic Spiral and Appetite can also be tech vs Angel of Serenity for Reanimator. Evil Twin in the board does quite a bit of work as well. Remember you can kill an Angel after it targets but before the effect resolves, and if your opponent wants to still put the cards under the now dead Angel, they are gone forever. Ultimate Price, Evil Twin, and Victim of the Night can stop the Angel Loop.

Going into this weekend I expect a huge amount of aggro, as well as Naya/Jund Midrange. If you’re working with the graveyard, now’s the time to switch from Junk Reanimator to Junk midrange. Just seeing those colors is likely to get your opponent to sideboard incorrectly and stick them with dead cards in their hand. Deathrite Shaman is doing serious work this week, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some BUG monstrosity sneak in.

Doesn’t look like I’ll be playing in anything big this week, and that seriously upsets me. I’ll be focusing on Modern and Legacy in this coming week. Now that I own four Wasteland AND four Force of Will, Legacy is a format I can play at least somewhat competitively at Twenty Sided Store’s Legacy Mondays, so that’s pretty exciting.

Until next week, don’t get blown out. And hold your Counters ’til it counts.

Zac Clark, Durdle Magus

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