Running up to this event I've been more excited than for any Pro Tour I can remember. Dragons brought a load of new interesting cards into the format and the possibilities seemed crazy. While there have been a couple off Standard tournaments since release no-one was really breaking new ground, the super teams trying to break the format saved all of their best for the Pro Tour. Everyone new that the format was still very undiscovered, a paradise for brewers and deckbuilders everywhere. Let's have a look at what's made it big in Brussels:
I think the biggest story coming out of the Swiss is the success of blue control decks, either Blue/Black, Blue/White or Esper and that's the majority of what I'd like to discuss today. These decks got a bunch of new tools from Dragons of Tarkir, I'll just run you through the list of new Toys they have to play with:
This guys been seeing more and more play since release, in both UW and Esper control and then even in other decks as a high quality finisher. It protects itself until you find a way to protect it and can start swinging in to gain card advantage and finish off your opponent. The clock this guy lays down is very real, and the pressure it applies against other slow decks is great as it both hits them and draws you cards while only being exposed to removal when you want it to be.
Not seeing a lot of play straight after coming out, we saw it as a one of in Reid Dukes Sultai Reanimator deck from the Invitational a few weeks ago. While it wasn't played by a lot of the control decks this weekend Shota Yasooka played two copies main deck and it really did some work. In the top 8 we saw him play one to steal a Surrak the Hunt Caller, giving it haste to attack for lethal. Its immune to a lot of the cheap removal in the format, allowing it to stabilize by itself against a lot of aggro decks, but then also does a huge job in the midrange and control decks stealing planeswalkers or powerful creatures while providing a big flying blocker with deathtouch they have to get around.
This ones a tricky one. There were 3 UB control decks in the top 8, one splashing white for Ojutai. Of these Andre Ohlschwager was the only one to play 4 copies of Anticipate in his main deck; both Andrew Sullivan and Shota Yasooka choosing not to play the card at all. Its a very good magic card, but a lot of the time in the control decks we've seen you just need raw card advantage to pull you ahead or stabilize and you need to be casting Bile Blights and Ultimate Prices early in the game. It does a good job of smoothing out your draws though, and will almost always give you a good card for the situation out of the 3 you see. Taking land off of it is completely fine early game so don't be afraid to.
Foul Tongue Invocation
This is the first of the 'dragon reveal' cycle that I'm going to talk about, and these cards really broke out in a big way at the Pro Tour. Firstly its an instant speed edict effect which the format was lacking, helping out against decks like UW/x Heroic with all of their protection spells or Abzan Aggro with its plethora of hard to handle creatures like Rakshasa Deathdealer of Fleecemane Lion. The life gain is super relevant though helping you buy more time to get to late game where you can start casting Dig Through Times, Perilous Vaults and Crux of Fates. Especially against Mono Red or RG aggro decks where they're playing Hordeling Outbursts and Dragon Fodder the life gain helps this card still be relevant even if they have plenty of 1/1s to sacrifice.
I just mentioned how the Dragon Reveal cycle has proved to be very good, and this is arguably the best. Counterspell is back! Kinda. If your opponents playing on curve this is a virtual counterspell, and if they want to pay around it they give you more time to just find the dragon to turn it into an actual counterspell. This card might be one of the most defining in the new standard format (and tilting people's great too).
This dragon was far from the most hyped up from Dragons of Tarkir (which is fair given the cycle of mythic Dragonlords), but it proved to be a all-star in Shota's deck. With all the 'dragon reveal' cards it gives you an incentive to play a bunch more dragons and you can't really jam 4 copies of Silumgar (either) without making the deck real clunky. It does a reasonable job of protecting itself from removal making your opponent really commit to dealing with it, and the Dungeon Geist ability helps you stabilize vs aggro decks trying to run you over.
As far as mirror breakers go this is a damn good one. While 6 mana for 4 cards is a tad underwhelming against a lot of the field in a control mirror this card is insane. With the ability to make it uncounterable revealing a Dragon, its just an 'I win the game' card against other control decks where you just want more cards than your opponent. Again, a six mana draw spell isn't exactly what you want against Mono Red or Abzan Aggro but playing a couple in your 75 seems like a good idea.
I can't really talk about decks from the Pro Tour without discussing the winning deck right? So here's Martin Dangs RG aggro list:
4 Foundry Street Denizen
1 Frenzied Goblin
2 Goblin Rabblemaster
1 Lightning Berserker
4 Monastery Swiftspear
3 Zurgo Bellstriker
4 Dragon Fodder
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Atarka's Command
1 Become Immense
4 Lightning Strike
4 Stoke the Flames
4 Wild Slash
4 Mana Confluence
1 Temple of Abandon
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Goblin Rabblemaster, 4 Eidolon of the Great Revel, 1 Goblin Heelcutter, 1 Destructive Revelry, 2 Hall of Triumph, 4 Roast, 1 Scouring Sands
It looks like a fairly typical mono red deck splashing green for 4 copies of Atarka's Command and a Become Immense main deck. This kind of deck really preys on the slower decks in the format, as you can see from his top 8 matches. The two new cards that I'd like to focus on from the deck are Atarka's Command and Zurgo Bellstriker. Command is excellent in this deck (Dang described it as 'the best card') going to the dome, pumping your team or stopping the life gain from a Siege Rhino or Nyleas Disciple the card just does everything you want, and is the real reason you're splashing green in your otherwise Mono Red deck.
Zurgo is another important card. It gives you a 2 power 1 drop on turn 1 and also allows you to play it as a threat without commiting to the board later. Traditionally this deck has fantastic game 1s, and then post board the opponent brings in their Anger of the Gods and Drown in Sorrows and you have a much tougher time winning games 2 and 3. Now because of all the Dash creatures in the deck it really allows you to play into these with impunity. Going 1 drop into T2 dash guy and their Drown in Sorrow is just a one for one removal spell. Dangs deck looks to be really well positioned going forward, and definitely one to look out for.
Once again that's it for me for now, thanks for reading and I hope I've given you some kind of insight into the new control cards from Dragons of Tarkir and they're functions in decks going forwards.