For my second article since taking over Hope Eternal, I would like to talk about… Standard! To make a long story short, I wanted to bring Stasis–Zarek out for Monday Night Legacy at Twenty Sided this week, but sometimes your sibling finishes grad school and you are left with no choice but to go out with your family to a lavish meal that your parents are paying for. I know, it’s completely inconsiderate on all of their parts! I’ll still have a Legacy list towards the end of this article, which if you totally disdain Standard you can jump to by clicking here now (unless this anchor tag doesn’t work, in which case just scroll down like a workingman or -woman).

I played in the TCGPlayer Spring States this past weekend, which you may have already heard about from Matt and Monique’s reports. The plan was to bring Bant Flash to FNM to get a few reps in before States, but I ended up stuck in the office a bit later than expected (gotta pay for those Legacy cards somehow!) and decided to just go home and jam some matches on MODO since it seemed unlikely I would make it to Twenty Sided on time. I wasn’t all that eager to buy playsets of Voice of Resurgence and Advent of the Wurm on MODO, so I decided to finish brewing up a list that had already partially existed in my head since the spoiling of Dragon’s Maze, and play some games with my terrible brew for funsies.

The problem happened when my silly deck kept winning. And continuing to win. And winning some more in spite of the fact that I was probably far from peak piloting condition by the end of the evening. I did not keep track of actual stats, but I finished the night with roughly a hundred-point increase in my Elo rating. This caused a serious dilemma: What if all the winning with this homebrew was the universe’s way of telling me I had to play it tomorrow? I’m not one to take the universe lightly when it tries to send me messages, so I went ahead and sleeved up the deck. I still have made no mention of what this mystery brew is, or even the colors. It is a Grixis deck. It is a control deck. It has a heavy planeswalker component. I guess we could call it Grixis Super Friends, but because I am evil, I present to you Evil Tim’s Super Villains!

The Super Villains (10)
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
3 Liliana of the Veil
3 Ral Zarek
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
0 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker (*siiiiiigh* I wanted it to happen, but it’s pretty win-more)

Evil Henchmen (4)
1 Olivia Voldaren
1 Niv Mizzet, Dracogenius
1 Sire of Insanity
1 Snapcaster Mage

Evil Doomsday Devices (1)
1 Rakdos Keyrune (I guess a mana rock with a 3/1 body doesn’t actually qualify as “doomsday”)

Evil Schemes (20)
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Devour Flesh
1 Dissipate
1 Dreadbore
3 Far // Away
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Searing Spear
2 Syncopate
3 Think Twice
1 Tragic Slip
1 Turn // Burn

Evil Lairs (26)
1 Island
3 Blood Crypt
1 Cavern of Souls
3 Dragonskull Summit
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Nephalia Drownyard
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Watery Grave

Evil Sideboard (15)
1 Appetite for Brains
1 Counterflux
1 Dispel
1 Duress
1 Negate
1 Psychic Spiral
1 Rakdos’s Return
1 Sire of Insanity
2 Slaughter Games
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Turn//Burn
3 Vampire Nighthawk

Note that this is not the actual version that I played over the past week, but rather how I would build the deck now. The original build featured two Sires in the main, but I’ve found myself often siding at least one out—and after reading Monique’s article, I was sold on moving the second copy to the board and bringing the Olivia that was originally in the board into the main. Other minor changes involved slipping a Cavern in there for when you really need to resolve a threat and bringing in the Dreadbore that was previously in the sideboard (though I may want another instant-speed answer, Pillar of Flame, or a fourth Think Twice in that slot).

The idea for this deck came to me when I was going over the spoilers for DGM and thought about how sweet it would be to curve Liliana into Ral into Sire, killing two of their creatures while I curve out, and leaving them with no hand while I have two ‘walkers and a 6/4 on board. That definitely sounds like a Magical Christmas Land scenario, but I happen to keep a summer home in MCL, so I decided to give it a go. I was already pretty well-versed in just how effective, diverse, and efficient the removal/countermagic/disruption suite in a Grixis deck could be from playing a lot of Grixis Seer prior to DGM. The only thing that was really holding Grixis back was the inability to keep up with the card advantage that a Hallowed Fountain deck could generate in those dreaded control-on-control matches. Sire of Insanity does a great job of fixing that problem, as does the large number of playable Grixis-colored ‘walkers we now have access to.

I ended up finishing 4-2 at States, which was good enough for Top 16 (which amounts to a pat on the back). My losses came in round two to Bant Aggro and round three to BR Zombies, both of which were able to overwhelm me with aggression before I could stabilize. I don’t recall if manascrew played much of a role, but I’ve found in my MODO testing that I have trouble with hyper-aggressive starts, such as the dreaded turn two play of Burning Tree–Burning Tree–Burning Tree–Boar–go.

After coming home from King’s Games, my buddy Dustin was at our apartment, so I jammed a couple non-boarded games against his mid-rangey Naya deck and found that his Strangleroot Geists and Huntmasters (which I believe he runs four-apiece) gave me fits. Against a Jund deck, where the creature count is relatively low and the Huntmaster is expected to do a lot of work on its own, it’s usually pretty easy to deal with by fusing Far // Away, but when the Huntmaster is just part of an ever-growing swarm that includes the hasty, undying ghost, a lot of my removal suddenly becomes very ineffective.

If I haven’t scared you away by talking about all of the shortcomings of the deck, it actually puts up pretty solid results, winning approximately 68% of the time in my week of playing it (4-2 at States, 9-4 on MODO two-man queues). I would consider that a pretty successful rate for a wacky homebrew that hasn’t really been put under the microscope and optimized by people who are better at that sort of thing than I am. There were many situations at Kings where a small crowd of people would be watching my board state and “ooooh”-ing and “ahhhh”-ing over the multiple ‘walkers doing their thing under the watchful protection of a Sire of Insanity. It gets even more hilarious when you drop a Tamiyo emblem to go with your Sire, and it actually happens more often than you think (at least it did when I played with two Sires; probably less often with one).

Since you were all such good sports about putting up with my Standard ramblings, here’s a Legacy list:

Enchantments (5)
4 Stasis
1 Frozen AEther

Spells (22)
4 Ancestral Vision
1 Boomerang
4 Brainstorm
2 Chain of Vapor
1 Counterspell
4 Force of Will
2 Ponder
2 Spell Pierce
3 Spell Snare
1 Thwart

Planeswalkers (7)
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Ral Zarek

Lands (24)
6 Island
2 Ancient Tomb
3 Flooded Strand
3 Forsaken City
3 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Volcanic Island

This is a slight tweak of the Adam Prosak list that I posted last week. I wasn’t sold on his idea to run Vedalken Shackles, as it’s somewhat of a nonbo with Stasis, unless you’re getting a creature with vigilance or an important static ability. I also added Forsaken City to help keep Stasis around, and a couple of Ancient Tombs to help cast your expensive spells faster. Thwart seems like a really good counterspell to be playing alongside Stasis, and Frozen AEther is your blue Kismet. It might be a little loose, but I plan to play something like this in the unsanctioned Legacy tournament at the Atrium tonight. I mentioned the event in last week’s installment of Hope Eternal, and posted about the second event, this week, in the comments. In case you missed the details:

601 Lexington Ave (between 53rd and 54th streets). 7pm start time. 15-proxy Legacy—please make your proxies clear. $5 entry (be discreet about money changing hands; we don’t want to get anyone in trouble just in case it might be construed as “gambling”). Wasteland for the winner if we get eight people, and Plateau to the runner-up if we get 16.

“Evil” Tim Akpinar is one of Brooklyn’s finest durdlers. If there’s a top-tier control deck in the meta, you can bet he’s spent a minute taking it apart to see what makes it tick. If it wraths and draws cards, “Evil” Tim Akpinar approves. You can find Tim on Twitter @efil4zaknupome or on MODO under the username ziggy_stardust.

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