Standard is slowly starting to stabilize in favor of a few major archetypes, at long last. Naya and Jund seem to be the top competitors, with oddball control decks rounding out most top eights. It’s creature heavy, aggressive decks I’ve seen in play. It’s all ramp and throw down- it’s fun as hell, but I tend to want to play something out of the norm if possible, and there’s a few cards from the Innistrad block I feel were basically looked over. My prototypes for green/white humans wasn’t bad, but couldn’t keep up once Ravnica dropped. The control was simply too heavy, and options to protect my creatures simply too few. There’s a lot of very robust removal out there, including the highly-underrated Death’s Approach. But there’s a card that’s called out to me since Avacyn:
Look, stop and look at that. Whenever you get a creature, the bigger she gets. The bigger she gets, the fewer of your opponent’s creatures can block at all. She’s easy to pump, and she’s cheap- 2.50$ a pop.It may not seem to be a huge advantage, right off the hop. I can see that- dropping a three to cast that’s naked as the day she was made seems like a big investment in what clearly is what I’d call a ‘bullet magnet’. So, you build around her. She is absurdly, stupidly powerful in combination with one other card: Wild Defiance. It’s another cheesy, dollar-and-change rare that no one took a second glance at. Let’s see her in her full glory:
Well…that has an effect on the landscape, doesn’t it?
Suddenly, your creatures are essentially immune to burn. Well, not immune- but your opponent really has to work at it. The average Pillar of Flames, Searing Spear or whatever else doesn’t punch like it used to. Common removal suddenly becomes substantially less effective. In addition, look at that phrasing…it isn’t just ‘opponent controls’. You can throw down a sorcery or instant to pump your own creatures.You target two creatures, and suddenly you have free Giant Growths coming down in addition to the effects of the spell. Now, my evil, devious mind came up with the follow decklist in mind:
The idea is simple- ramp as hard as you can early game in order to drop a Champion they can’t get at. A third turn Wild Defiance and Champion of the Parish might not seem like much, but it really is. Suddenly, everything you do is terrifying- a Gather the Townsfolk gives you a set of buffs to your Champion, and the Travel Preparations buff two creatures by four for a total of potentially eight to the face. It’s a simple matter of using the Charms or flashing back Travel Preparations to buff further if required- suddenly, your 3/3 Champion is a 7/7 from one part of Travel Preparations, and then you can buff her for an additional +6/6. Thirteen, plus whatever you have out…well, that’s nothing to sneeze at. Having the ability to slip a lot of damage by your opponents is rather nice, and having some hexproof and broad-base indestructible to prevent something like a Supreme Verdict from wiping your board helps as well.
An ideal game looks something like this:
First turn: Forest, Pilgrim.
Second turn: Sunpetal, Farseek, Pilgrim.
Third turn: Land, Wild Defiance, Champion of Lambholt
Fourth Turn: Land, Alpha Authority, Champion of the Parish, Gather the Townsfolk (three land available for Rootbound)
Fifth Turn: Double Travel Preparations, swing for the kill.
By my math, after that turn of events, you have a 4/4 Champion of Lambholt, a 3/3 Champion of the Parish, two 1/1 tokens and four different +4/4 buffs to swing around. If a 12/12 Champion of Lambholt doesn’t guarantee a good hit…well then, I can’t help you. You’ve got the Charms for buff and removal, and should you not draw the cards, you’ve got alternate options with the Gavony Township buff. It’s proved moderately effective, and surprisingly cheap to build, too.