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Re-evaluating Mono-Colored Cards in Pioneer - Lucas Bryant

Re-evaluating Mono-Colored Cards in Pioneer

By Lucas Bryant



            The introduction of the Pioneer format reinvigorated Magic: The Gathering’s player base like few other developments in the game’s rich history. Though still in its infancy, the neophyte format has already seen the rise and fall of several powerful strategies, and boasts an incredible diversity in its metagame. Surely, with so many cards to revisit and a competitive environment still developing, it’s easy for certain options to slip through the cracks, unnoticed, and harder still to sift through those options for evaluation. Here, we’ll revisit two mono-colored cards in each color and look at what they offer to players still navigating the brewer’s paradise of the Pioneer format.




Lyra Dawnbringer


            Few creatures are as iconic to Magic players like White’s angels, and many of us can recall the powerhouse that Lyra Dawnbringer was in standards past. Harkening back to the same role as a control finisher that many of her angelic forbears played throughout the history of the game, Lyra can continue this tradition in Pioneer as well, offering both a way to close out a game and provide a hedge against aggro and burn strategies as a way to buffer your life total. But no matter whether she’s a control finisher or a top end for white aggro, there’s no simpler way to put it—Lyra is a 5/5 flying, lifelinking, beatstick, and worthy of consideration for you Pioneer builds.


            Honorable mention: Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants


            Magic Origins’ Languish has proven itself as a popular and powerful choice of board wipe in pioneer, and while go-wide strategies in Standards past could lean on cards like Heroic Intervention or Unbreakable Formation to shore up this weakness, Languish’s stat reduction effect offers no such luxury, making White’s signature “create a small army” strategy incredibly vulnerable to blowout. Luckily though, Core Set 2019’s Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants is worth a second glance for helping these strategies combat Languish and other board-wipes in general. Every one of the Leonin’s abilities helps on this front: his +1 ability helps lift your larger threats above the -4/-4 threshold, the -2 can bring back a creature destroyed by the board wipe, and his -7 ensures that you always have a handful of creatures to swing at your opponent.




Mission Briefing


            In total honesty, Mission Briefing is as close as we’ll ever see to a Snapcaster Mage in pioneer, and allows control and midrange strategies to reuse their best spells to stay in the game. And while it may not provide a body to beat down your opponent with in the way that Snapcaster does, the Surveil 2 effect allows the opportunity to dig for an instant or sorcery that may not have been in your graveyard to begin with, while also filling up your bin to flip a Search for Azcanta, feed your Crackling Drakes, reanimate an Arclight Phoenix, or whatever the case may be. Instant and Sorcery recursion is powerful and seldom offered at the rate of two Blue mana at Instant speed. Mission Briefing is worth a once-over for your Blue-based decks.


            Honorable Mention: Gadwick, the Wizened


            Tapping down your opponent’s nonland permanents whenever you cast a blue spell may seem like a benign effect, but when stapled onto a creature who can refill your hand with blue spells to keep threatening creatures out of the way as he carries you to victory is an extremely satisfying play pattern. In the right deck, Gadwick rewards you for doing what Blue mages want to do by turning all of your cantrips and counterspells into a way of keeping your opponent’s creatures out of the red zone. Combine with Verity Circle for maximum jank. 10/10.




Gifted Aetherborn


            While Black Devotion and Vampires players may not be surprised to see the Aetherborn here, I would argue that this two-drop deserves more play than it sees currently and begs for at least sideboard consideration from every deck that can reliably cast it on turn two. Three toughness on turn two is nothing to scoff at. Coupled with lifelink and deathtouch, Gifted Aetherborn stonewalls early aggressive creatures from Red and/or White aggressive decks, and disincentivizes both attacks and blocks while bolstering your life total. Against burn strategies, this lifegain is invaluable, and if an opponent targets the Aetherborn with a Lightning Strike instead of you, the trusty vampire has still functionally gained you three life. Even outside of the main deck, Gifted Aetherborn is still a side board all-star against these strategies. If you can manage two Black mana in the early game, Gifted Aetherborn awaits your consultation.


            Honorable Mention: Cry of the Carnarium

            Remember when I mentioned how powerful Languish is? Sometimes turn four is too late to start cleaning shop. Cry of the Carnarium is more, great sideboard tech against aggro, downright punishing early overcommitment to the board and condemning your opponent to a period of rebuilding, all the while shutting down dying triggers and possible future graveyard shenanigans by exiling all creatures that would die the turn it was cast. Keep Cry in mind for aggro-heavy metas.




Mizzium Mortars 



            Overload is an Izzet mage’s dream mechanic and allows more utility out of your card selection by letting spells with a single target instead hit multiple targets in exchange for higher mana investment. Though Sorcery speed, four damage for two mana is a necessity in some matchups and is a desirable effect for many strategies, particularly to combat base-Green decks that can churn out large creatures very early. A turn two Mizzium Mortars can kill a turn two Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, and that’s that. But at Sorcery speed, damage that can only hit creatures can be less than stellar in many circumstances. That’s where Overload comes in—be it in Red-based aggro to get beefy creatures out of the way, or in Red-splash control to kill those creatures before they can swing in, Mizzium Mortars can kill those larger threats early, to be sure. But in the late game, Mortars can be a one sided board-wipe, which is worth almost any price, six mana or otherwise. If either solid creature removal in Red or a one-sided board wipe catches your interest, Mizzium Mortars can overload the power of your Pioneer deck.


            Honorable Mention: Sweltering Suns


            In a format where Anger of the Gods is legal, Sweltering Suns may seem like an odd inclusion. The exile clause of Anger of the Gods is nice in a meta where graveyard nonsense is afoot, but one thing that Sweltering Suns has over its Therosian cousin is the ability to replace itself in your hand at instant speed. Cycling is an easy mechanic to overlook. But in a heavy control strategy that looks to wipe the board often and as early as possible, Sweltering Suns is likely a better choice. Two generic mana can draw you a card later in the game when Suns doesn’t do the job, or in matchups where main deck Suns is dead in your hand.




Rhonas, the Indomitable


            Green has had many powerful cards banned out from under it in these early stages of Pioneer’s development. Luckily for us, Green still boast an almost unimaginable amount of three-mana threats to play on turn two off the back of your trusty mana elves. Rhonas does come with the downside of not being unable to attack unless you control another giant idiot, but Green decks are full of absolute lads to ensure that Rhonas can swing in. Incredibly hard to deal with thanks to indestructibility, deathtouch is also nice in that even if your opponent does manage to find a creature bigger than the God of Strength, they’re encouraged not to swing in or else Rhonas simply eats up the attacker. Late game, Rhonas’ activated ability (there’s seriously more text on this card) makes one of your creatures even bigger and give it trample, potentially bringing Rhonas online if he wasn’t already, meaning that Rhonas pairs incredibly well with literally any other creature. Speaking of which…


            Honorable Mention: Nullhide Ferox


            A 6/6 for four mana is already an incredible rate. And if there were no other text on this card, that would be plenty. But the play between Ferox’s other three abilities offers great utility in removal heavy matchups. Consider this: Your opponent wants to kill your Ferox. They pay two generic mana to have it lose its abilities until end of turn, which includes its Hexproof. Your opponent pays three mana and casts Swift End targeting Nullhide Ferox. Because your opponent did you the favor of getting rid of Nullhide’s abilities, you’re free to cast noncreature spells. You cast Blossoming Defense to give Ferox +2/+2 and Hexproof. You still have your beater, now an 8/8, and you opponent has spent five total mana for no effect. Heroic intervention also enables this play pattern. Against control matchups, this taxing effect to remove Hexproof only for you to give it back in response to removal is invaluable to ensuring that your creatures stick around to finish the job. Nullhide Ferox is begging to be tagged into your Green stompy lists.



So what are you brewing with in Pioneer? Share the article with your thoughts or hit me on Twitter to let me know your thoughts or share your lists! If you want to see more articles like this one or on different subjects in Magic: The Gathering, send your support to myself and the Proprietors of Tapstart Games.







Lucas Bryant is a writer, Vorthos, and Tapstart regular. He plays deeply medium cards in both Commander and Pioneer. You can find him on Facebook and as @_entropymage on Twitter.

Winning Pioneer Deck List 11/13/2019

Congratulations to the Nolan Capps for winning the 11/13/2019 Pioneer tournament! Here is his Decklist:


4 Teferi Time Raveler

2 Teferi Hero of Dominaria

3 Supreme Verdict

1 Detaintion Sphere

2 Azorius Charm

1 Sphinx's Revelation

2 Approach of the Second Sun

4 Absorb

2 Doven's Veto

1 Search For Azcanta

2 Opt

2 Glimmer of Genius

1 Hieroglyphic illumination

1 Dig Through Time

1 Treasure Cruise

2 Seal Away

1 Blessed Alliance

2 Temple of Enlightenment

4 Glacial Fortress

2 Hallowed Fountain

4 Mystic Sanctuary

1 Ipnu Rivulet

1 Irrigated Farmland

3 Port Town

1 Fabled Passage

7 Island

3 Plains 



4 Spell Queller

2 Brazen Borrower

2 Doven's Veto

3 Declaration in Stone

2 Rest In Peace

2 Surge of Righteousness


The Two Drop Creatures You Should Play Over Stoneforge Mystic

 The Two Drop Creatures You Should Play Over Stoneforge Mystic Joseph Stargel


Modern has seen a large shake up in the last two weeks which has caused a lot of people to spend their time and money attempting to create the best “ Stoneforge Mystic ”(From here on out referred to as “SFM”) deck they can. I even fell into this with the deck that I am currently playing right now in modern Whirza, I built a version of the deck that was Esper and playing “SFM” instead of goblin engineer that took a more midrange or control approach to its matches. The deck included Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Fatal Push, and Collective Brutality which caused me to have a good win rate against aggressive decks and decks that were trying to fight on the axis of a fair creature based game plan such as Jund, other “SFM” decks, Burn, and the like. However, there were a lot of matches where “SFM” just didn't matter and was not an impaticul Magic card. That got me thinking about the other side of the coin when it comes to the “SFM” unbanning. What decks and strategies got better because of the impact “SFM” is having on the format that will be a good deck choice going forward or for the short term of the modern format where “SFM” is what is all the rage and the card almost everyone wants to put in there deck. That being, what I will be going over in this article , which you probably realized based on the title of this article, is a few of the decks that I believe have gotten significant improvements based on “SFM” being unbanned that don't play “SFM” but I will be doing that but talking about the non-“SFM” two-drop creatures that are central to those decks gameplan.


Sakura Tribe Elder

Sakura Tribe Elder

Ahhh Steve you beautiful snake man you. If you didn't know Sakura Tribe Elder which is affectionately referred to as Steve is the beating heart of Scapeshift or Valakut combo decks. The reason why I believe Scapeshift is in a good spot right now is that with everyone playing “SFM” decks which are generally heavier on reactive cards and removal instead of kill on spot combos or extremely efficient aggressive cards, this is perfect for decks that are similar to Scapeshift that prey on well put together midrange decks being being incredibly linear and efficient at pulling off a combo that does not take place on an axis that is easy for these decks to interact with and that can even win with incidental damage that comes from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and playing lands. There are two other reasons that I think the deck is better right now than it has been recently. Number one, there feels to be an extreme lack of “Blood Moon” floating around in side boards right now. Number two, the deck just a got a pretty good new tool that gives the deck an alternate way to win the game and that also lets it play a pretty consistent midrange game plan in conjunction with “Primeval Titan”  which is “Field of the Dead” which is seeing an insane play rate and win rate alongside the card “ Scapeshift” in Standard.

Eidolon of the Great Revel 

Burn everyone's favorite hated modern deck. Well the burn deck always seems to come around to being on top in new modern formats, I believe this to be because of the staggering efficiency and velocity of the hands that this deck draws. There isn't really a lot to talk about when it comes to Burn in a new metagame other than you prey on your opponent's stumbling and the first few turns and the fact that people are still trying to figure out what the correct size and makeup of the “SFM” package is becomes an even greater boon to your strategy that is already good against even tuned modern midrange decks. I feel like this one is pretty self explanatory, GO FACE, GO FAST, 7x3=21.

Munitions Expert / Goblin Piledriver


This article’s “HOT TAKE” as they say. Goblins is a deck that I have always had a strong love for, that being said I believe this deck could be a legitimate threat in a modern metagame that is dominated by “SFM” decks. This is because of the depth of card advantage that the deck has inherently. Also the fact that the deck puts a large presence on the board with its small bodies that get better and better the more of them that you play. However, the main draw to the deck is that it fights “SFM” strategies on the axis that they are trying to play in a big way, trades very efficiently against their cards and one for ones as well as turning the corner very quickly and killing them over one to two turns one the board is controlled. This is part of the reason the deck at least for its life in Legacy and Standard was very very good at beating the UW based or midrange decks. “Munitions expert” is also a big boon to the Goblins archetype for modern with as much as the popular one for one decks lean on planeswalkers because of the fact that “Munitions Expert” enter the battlefield trigger can also target planeswalkers. This is definitely harder to play and harder to construct correctly choice for current modern but it is a deck that I think is a real contender in modern especially when it comes to tribal creature decks.

Goblin Engineer

“Whirza” the deck I believe is currently the best deck in modern. I know that is a big statement and one that is very subjective in modern. However, this deck has all of the tools in its current configuration to beat all of the decks trying to play a “SFM” gameplan, this is because it has an incredible fast linear draw that is hard to interact with or stop especially in game one, in “Sword of the Meek” and “Thopter Foundry”, which we talked about as being a draw to decks like Scapeshift and Burn, as well as the ability to fight the “SFM” decks on the midrange and trading one for one / card advantage axis that they are trying to play on that we talked about being the draw to decks like Goblins and other synergy based decks. I don't want to go too deep into detail when it comes to Whirza and why I think the deck is the best deck in the format and why you should be playing the “Goblin Engineer” version of the deck and not the “SFM” version of the deck because I am working on a primer for the deck and and in depth dive into the deck and my thoughts of the different versions of the deck and why it is seeing as much success as it is in the current modern landscape. So if that interests you keep and eye out for my in depth look at modern Whirza.

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest article that the wonderful Tapstart Games allows me to represent them with and gives me a platform for me to share the information that I can with the Magic community. I love the atmosphere, ideals, and community that Tapstart Games has built and I am truly honored to represent them and to be a part of their team. Be on the lookout for more articles from me and from the rest of the Tapstart Games Team.



Once Again Thank You, 

Joseph Stargel

Gonti Soulherder Your Face Off!

 Gonti Soulherder you face off! By Dex



Hey all Tapstart enthusiasts, Dex here to talk to you all about a brew that I have been working on. Now before we dive deep into it, the current iteration of the deck is FNM level, meaning you can take it to your local LGS on any nights you can play Modern MTG, and with reasonable skill be successful. Its not fully tuned for high tier competitive level MTG as of yet, but I have had quite a few people ask me about the list so I felt the need to write on it.

 The initial idea for said list has basically two origin points, I personally have been watching a lot of Gabriel Nassif's Bant Soulherder streams and I am infatuated with the concept, most people know me as a mid-range fanatic, so this type of value based deck calls my name. The second point of origin involves a game of 4-player Pack Wars (there will be a brief introduction of that format at the end of the article) where Margaret (Tapstart's awesome Store Manager) controlled a Soulherder, and proceed to out value the rest of the table and win the game. One of Margaret's favorite cards of all time is Gonti, Lord of Luxury, and she is the one who seen the potential value package of playing Gonti in a deck with Soulherder. With those two cards in mind, I thought up a first draft, and been testing it ever since to decent success. Here is the latest iteration of the deck; 


2 Deputy of Detention

3 Gonti, Lord of Luxury

2 Mulldrifter

1 Ravenous Chupacabra

2 Reflector Mage

1 Reveillark

1 Sin Collector

4 Soulherder

4 Watcher for Tomorrow

4 Wall of Omens

1 Vendilion Clique

4 Ephemerate

1 Winds of Abandon

4 Path to Exile

3 Negate

2 Flooded Strand

2 Godless Shrine

2 Hallowed Fountain

2 Island

3 Plains

2 Polluted Delta

4 Field of Ruin

1 Swamp

2 Watery Grave

3 Marsh Flats



2 Lone Missionary

1 Orzhov Pontiff

2 Damping Sphere

2 Rest in Peace

1 Sin Collector

2 Stony Silence 

1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk

1 Teferi, Time Raveler

1 Ashiok, Dream Render

2 Disdainful Stroke



The removal package of 2 Reflector Mage, 1 Ravenous Chupacabra, 4 Path to Exile, and 1 Winds of Abandon can shore up most creature based decks. The initial list played 3 Reflector Mage, but sometimes you just need to kill the creatures instead of bouncing them. The Winds of Abandon may look odd, but Soulherder triggers when a creature is exiled from the battlefield so it is a fifth copy of Path to Exile that in corner cases can also be a board wipe. 2 Deputy of Detentions deal with any planeswalkers your opponent plays when you don't have the ability to attack them down with your creatures. Sin Collector and Vendilion Clique pull duty to control your opponents hand as well as giving you information on what they are doing. Value package of 4 Wall of Omen, 4 Watcher for Tomorrow, and the 2 Mulldrifter gives a nice bit of card advantage. A cool value play that you can do with a Mulldrifter and a copy of Ephemerate is Evoke cast the Mulldrifter, and then with the sacrifice trigger on the stack, Ephemerate the Mulldrifter, you end up with a 2/2 flier and 4 cards in your hand. A 1 of Reveillark pulls reanimation duty to bring back everything but the singleton Vendilion Clique. Gonti, Lord of Luxury is the heart of the deck, he is the reason this version of the deck exist. Taking one of your opponents best cards and using it agaisnt them gives you a nice warm and fuzzy feeling. Some of the more impressive Gonti takes have been:

 Taking a Worldbreaker from a Tron opponent and using it to take him off of tron lands, attacking them for game, and then taking and using an Expedition Map to search up a Field of Ruin to cut them off of tron is a feel good moment.

 Taking a Wren and Six from a Jund opponent and using it to keep their board clear, rebuying Field of Ruin to cut him off of dual colors, as well as using it to ping for lethal.

Stealing and casting a Batterskull from a UW opponent and using it to attack them down to 0 Life.

The current sideboard is more so tuned towards the big mana and aggressive decks, you generally have a good match up versus the mid-range/control decks.

 The 2 Lone Missionary's are for the aggressive match-ups, mostly Burn, but any decks that can put a fast clock on you, they are a good way to buff your life total. Orzhov Pontiff and Cataclysmic Gearhulk are good cards for the creature strategies, and Gearhulk can pull double duty in the control match-up to take care of pesky planeswalkers. Rest in Peace are a hedge for any graveyard based decks that may pop up. Stony Silence hedges against the artifact base decks, and Pontiff can also come into the main in some of these match-ups. Sphere and Disdainful Stroke come in against the Big mana decks, Ashiok also can come into the main against these match-ups, but it is a tad bit slower than the other cards.

And that is the deck, It has been a blast to play, I have had a lot of fun with it and I will continue to test and refine the list so that it can be competitive tournament worthy. If there is enough interest (and the meta-game settles a bit) I will write up a a dedicated sideboard guide. If there are any questions, feel free to comment or message the Tapstart  Facebook page and we will do our best to get them answered for you. Thank you all for reading!!

The Witch is Dead! : How to Approach a Lootingless Modern

 Stoneforge Mystic

 The Witch is Dead! : How to Approach a Lootingless Modern By Robert Benson

Check Rob out on Twitch or on Twitter


Pull the string, and let the confetti rain down! Wizards of the Coast has finally decided to ban Faithless Looting, a card that has plagued Modern for the past two years. No longer will Modern be dominated by graveyard – based strategies, such as Izzet Phoenix, Dredge, and Hogaak, which pressured the rest of the format to maindeck graveyard hate or expect to lose. Faithless Looting will definitely not be missed.

          Alongside the banning of both Faithless Looting and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, Wizards of the Coast finally decided to go through with a highly - anticipated unbanning: Stoneforge Mystic. Everyone’s favorite Kor artificer is finally free, and ready to take modern by storm, especially with the expected resurgence of fair, creature – based strategies. Will Stoneforge Mystic become a dominating force in the Modern format? Only time will tell. However, you would be crazy to think that such a high – profile, largely notorious strategy will be underplayed.

          How can you prepare your deck for the upcoming rush of Stoneforge Mystic decks? Let me show you three simple ways to approach the brand – new, exciting, Modern format!

Strategy One: Big Mana

Decks like Tron and Valakut are notorious for dominating fair formats. These decks excel at preying on decks like Jund and UW/X Midrange, as they produce large quantities of mana very quickly, and can either kill the opponent through a combo finish (Karn, the Great Creator + Mycosynth Lattice, Scapeshift), or through huge, haymaker threats such as Wurmcoil Engine, Primeval Titan, or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. They are notorious for being incredibly linear, and extremely powerful. Break out your Field of Ruins, Ghost Quarters, and Fulminator Mages, because these strategies are destined to make a return.

Strategy Two: Aggressive Combo

          Stoneforge Mystic strategies generally like to play some form of permission or cantrip on Turn 1, followed by a must – answer threat on Turn 2. Aggressive combo decks such as Storm, Whirza, Neobrand, or Amulet Titan can punish fair players by attempting to attack the opponent while they are choked on resources early. These strategies are poised for success if they can effectively punish Stoneforge Mystic players on the turn they look to set – up.

Strategy Three: Kolaghan’s Command

          Ah, Kolaghan’s Command, my old friend, how I missed you so. As Stoneforge Mystic decks prefer to use artifacts and creatures as their primary method of attack, why not play a card that is a GUARANTEED TWO – FOR – ONE against them, every time you cast it? With most strategies attempting to solidify their early – game, why not play a card that not only lets you grind through your opponent’s onslaught of early creatures and artifacts, but then also doubles as a late – game value engine? Decks like Jund and Grixis Control are prime examples of strategies which will utilize this form of hate, and I expect them to be top contenders in the upcoming fair Modern metagame.

Bonus Decklist Time!

As many of you reading know already, I am currently participating in a charity event known as the Modern Streamers League, where the proceeds will go to a charity of the winning team’s choice. For the second half of the league, I was inspired by good friends Katie Rojas and Connor Mcelwee to play a Kolaghan’s Command strategy, similar to the Legacy deck piloted to Top 8 finishes at the SCG Philadelphia Open by Lucas Cruz and Daryl Ayers. You can see my decklist below!





I chose this particular decklist, as it has the potential to out – grind fair decks such as Jund and Stoneblade, while still fending off early attacks from other creature – based strategies. Is this deck a meme, or a future all – star of the Modern format? We’ll find out in a few weeks, but until then, thanks for reading, and God bless.



Back with a Vengeance

Image result for vengevine banner

Back with a Vengeance: TJ Poole Reflects Upon the Resurgence of Vengevine Decks in Modern



          Hogaak Vengevine is a very powerful deck, showing up nearly everywhere in Modern. Its fast, aggressive, storm – like, combomills your opponent out, while still maintaining an alternative win condition of resilient creature beat down. The combination of the twoare proving extremely difficult for the Modern metagame to deal with. This past weekend, 5 of the top 16 decks in the SCG ModernClassic, 3 of the top 8 teams in the SCG Team Modern, and 2 of the top 8 at Magic Fest Dallas were all variations of Vengevine. This isthe list piloted by Tom Ross to a top 8 finish in Dallas:

Main Board

4 Bloodghast

4 Carrion Feeder

4 Gravecrawler

4 Insolent Neonate

4 Stitcher's Supplier

4 Vengevine

4 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

4 Altar of Dementia

1 Darkblast

1 Lightning Axe

4 Faithless Looting

4 Bridge from Below

1 Swamp

4 Blackcleave Cliffs

3 Blood Crypt

4 Bloodstained Mire

2 Overgrown Tomb

4 Polluted Delta



2 Ingot Chewer

4 Leyline of the Void

2 Fatal Push

4 Nature's Claim

3 Thoughtseize




          I'm pretty much known for playing Bogles, but my first deck I ever put a lot of time into was a home-brewed Vengevine list back in2016. It was absolutley great in a local metagame full of control decks. It even took me to a Top 16 at SCG Regionals in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the Modern format became too fast for the deck, and I found myself always one turn too slow, so I eventually switched to Bogles since it was a good meta choice at the time. This is the list I ran back then:


Main Board

4 Bloodghast

4 Gravecrawler

4 Vengevine

4 Lotleth Troll

4 Death's Shadow

4 Birds of Paradise

3 Varolz, The Scar-Striped

4 Faithless Looting

4 Grisley Salvage

3 Kolaghan's Command

2 Collective Brutality

4 Verdant Catacombs

4 Bloodstained Mire

2 Forest

2 Swamp

3 Overgrown Tomb

3 Blood Crypt

2 Stomping Ground



2 Spellskite

2 Jund Charm

2 Golgari Charm

2 Rakdos Charm

2 Terminate

2 Abrubt Decay

3 Crumble to Dust



      This list has a lot of similarities with the current Hogaak list. There is synergy everywhere. It can have fast, combo – oriented turnsinvolving Vengevine recurring from the graveyard, or by using Varolz to scavenge a Death's Shadow onto a creature with some evasionand attacking in. It can also give control decks trouble since it has so many ways to bring back threats. The deck usually did really well wherever I played it, since no one was usually prepared to combat a deck that could be both resilient and aggressive. That's what the new list with Hogaak does. I've been playing it for a few weeks now online and at my local game store, and if someone has an answer to one win condition, you just use a different strategy to win. It's definitely not unheard of to just win by casting 2/1s and attacking every turn.  



         A lot of people are calling for a ban on something from the new list since it's taking up so much of the current meta. The question is: what should be, if anything is? Faithless looting is the card that's been around the longest and people have been wanting it banned for years since it fuels a lot of other graveyard strategies. They could ban Hogaak, but that would mean banning a card that was just released not even a month ago. Alter of Dementia is also a candidate. There are lots of other discard outlets though.  I feel that a ban is unnecessary. The meta will eventually adapt and overcome the new graveyard deck just like it did when I played my homebrew.  Until then I'll be putting the Bogles away and trying to mill my opponent on turn 2.  



The RUG Revival

Robert Benson 


The RUG Revival: How Wrenn and Six Turned Temur Delver from Zero to Hero

            Once feared as the bully deck of Legacy, Temur Delver experienced a huge decline in play with the printing of Deathrite Shaman. For years thereafter, Grixis became the Delver shard of choice, only increasing in popularity with the printing of Gurmag Angler. However, with the simultaneous banning of Gitaxian Probe and Deathrite Shaman, Temur Delver was thought to be back as the de facto best tempo deck of the format, and the ‘goose was loose yet again.

            Within the past year, Legacy has become increasingly more hostile to aggressive manabases, with decks like Death and Taxes, Lands, and Izzet Delver emerging to punish a format full of non-basic lands. Even control decks like Miracles and Stoneblade began to run tech choices like maindeck Back to Basics, to punish players seeking to exploit the near-perfect mana that Legacy has to offer. Temur Delver, unfortunately, became a fringe-playable strategy lost to time…until Modern Horizons. The printing of Wrenn and Six, a new, two-mana, Gruul planeswalker, has completely revolutionized the toolkit that RUG has to work with, providing both a source of land-recursion, as well as a “pinger”, while still threatening to win the game on its own.


Temur Delver has traditionally always been a deck looking to operate as efficiently as possible, while controlling opponents on the axis of resource-denial, through the use of cards like Stifle, Wasteland, and assorted soft – permission spells. Wrenn and Six provides Temur Delver with a way to consistently recur Wastelands, or recur multicolor lands to cast its permission spells. Long gone are the days of sideboarding Life from the Loam, in an attempt to both protect its own manabase, or punish an opponent’s. By utilizing Wrenn and Six’s powerful recursion effect, a skilled RUG Pilot can produce card advantage, and eventually grind his opponent out of the game.

Alternatively, if a card-advantage engine is not enough reasoning to sleeve up Nimble Mongoose this upcoming weekend, then surely a 2-mana “pinger” will be. As an archetype, Temur Delver has always experienced difficulty against chump-style creatures like Baleful Strix, Young Pyromancer, and the assorted repertoire of Death and Taxes creatures. The -1 ability of Wrenn and Six gives Temur Delver the ability to dispatch these annoying blockers, and conserve spells like Tarfire, Lightning Bolt, and Dismember for more justified targets. Notably, Wrenn and Six gives a RUG Pilot a significant advantage in the Delver mirrors as well, as the planeswalker is capable of sniping opposing Delvers on-curve before they are able to flip.

Although an extremely difficult deck to pilot, Temur Delver has become increasingly more well-positioned with the release of Modern Horizons. I hope this brief overview inspires you to step out of your comfort zone, and experience one of the most flavorful color combinations a Delver deck can have. The ‘goose is definitely loose once again!

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Rob Benson Team TSG

Another week, means another Team Tapstart announcement! This week, we'd like to announce our inaugural member, and team captain, Robert James Benson!

Name: Robert James Benson

Hometown: Manalapan, New Jersey

Favorite Format: Legacy

Favorite Deck: Jeskai Control / Show and Tell

Most Memorable Magic Moment: When I won my first SCG Classic, surrounded by my friends and mentors. Still the best day of my life.

Notable Achievements: SCG Standard Regional Championships Top 16, SCG Louisville Modern Classic Top 16, SCG Atlanta Modern Classic Champion, 1 Pro Point