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DeQuan Watson

    Many readers have gathered a lot of information about me through my writings.  For those of you that haven't though, this should tell you a little more. 

    I'm 25 years old and I own my own business. Well, more accurately I own a game store.  The Game Closet, my store, is one of the premiere places to play in the Texas.  I play Magic on a pretty regular basis.  I help people build decks and teach the game to people multiple times a week.  Owning a store is neat, because it gives me another perspective to write my articles from.  I can usually tell what the average player likes and can judge some of the tendencies of the average player a little better.  Of course, owning a store means I have knowledge of a lot of games and not just Magic.  I also find out my fair share of insider information on the industry.  But having other resources to pull from makes for more informative writings.

    However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as well.  I myself have
played on the Pro Tour.  I have multiple Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour Qualifiers.  I also have made Day Two at two Grand Prix tournaments.  I have also been invited to the Event horizons Invitational.  These are not stellar achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my head on straight when talking about the game. I also spend lots of time each week talking to, e-mailing, or chatting with top level players.  I get to see their perspective on a lot of things as well.  Between the two, I think I get a good sense of balance of the game.

    Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the sake of the game itself.  I like the time, the competition, and the general interaction of players.  I plan to be playing it until it fades away...if it ever does.


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The Dragon's Den

Big Decks in Standard
By DeQuan Watson - February 29, 2008

Some days gamers really amaze me.  When there are one or two big decks in a format, they will complain that something needs to be banned.  Maybe they'll even complain about the format being stale and boring. 
Other times, we have a situation like the current standard format where there are a lot of different decks being played.  That's when we get players talking about your matchups being a coinflip.  Some will even complain that it's a format that can't be prepared for.  I completely disagree.
I think this type of environment generally favors the creative deck builders and those players that do a lot of preparation.  A good sideboard is very important.  Those that are the most prepared will likely have the best sideboards.  Don't forget that the bulk of your tournament games are played post-sideboard.
I've been heavily reviewing the standard tournament scene over the past three weeks or so.  All signs point to me playing in Pro Tour Hollywood, so I want to be a current on my standard facts as possible.  I figured, while I'm at it, I can detail out the format for those of you that can't take the time to find the info yourself.  You can thank me later :)
The most popular decks in the format appear to be:
Blue/White Reveillark
Green/Black Aggro Control (Sometimes Elf Heavy)
Red/Green Aggro (Sometimes Warrior Heavy)
Red/Green Mana Ramp
Blue/Black Faeries
Obviously, these aren't all of the best decks.  These are the decks you absolutely have to be prepared for though.  Each of these decks has made an appearance in the latest Top 8 lists from Standard events around the world.  I have yet to see a Top 8 from the past few weeks that didn't include at least to variants of any decks in that list. 
Now, just knowing the decks are out there doesn't do you any good.  You need to know how to prepare for them.  Let's go deck by deck and break them down a little to see what we can do.
Blue/White Reveillark
4 Aven Riftwatcher
4 Body Double
3 Mirror Entity
4 Mulldrifter
4 Reveillark
4 Riftwing Cloudskate
2 Venser, Shaper Savant
3 Momentary Blink
4 Wrath of God
4 Mind Stone
Obvious land choices.
Pros:  This deck is able to slow the tempo of the game down drastically. It can also win by attacking and doesn't need to combo as much as the list would get you to think at first glance. 
Cons:  It can get really bogged down sometimes.  Games are also slow.  This can lead to time issues.
Strategy to combat this deck:  You'll need to find a good mix cards that can apply pressure, but at the same time not overcommit.  That can be hard to do.  Deal with Mirror Entity as quickly as you can, or it can get out of control fast.  Mana destruction can be ke yin this match as well.  This deck is very mana intensive.  Also, graveyard removal can get cards like Body Double and Reveillark from going nuts on you as well.
Green/Black Aggro Control (Sometimes Elf Heavy)
Because these list vary so much I'll just give you a list of key cards that most of them play:
Imperious Perfect
Wren's Run Vanquisher
Chameleon Colossus
Profane Command
Garruk Wildspeaker
Pros: This deck has a lot of balance to it.  It can be super aggressive and snag an early win.  Though, if it has to get into a stalemate or standoff it's very likely to hold it own and pull through as well.
Cons: Several cards can end up fighting for mana, so the deck has to run a little more than it prefers.  It can also be expensive to build.  There isn't a lot of evasion within it's creature lineup.
Strategy to combat this deck: Two cards to keep your eye on are Imperious Perfect and Chameleon Colossus.  Save some cards to deal with those problems.  Don't be overly intimidated by Wren's Run Vanquisher.  Just commit to it and kill it quickly so it doesn't become a bother or focus later in your match.  If they are playing the elf version kill the Bramblewood Paragon quickly as the trample it provides is very problematic.
Green/Red Aggro
Again, a list of spells:
Countryside Crusher
Mogg War Marshal
Mogg Fanatic
Pros:  Easy to play.  Produces a lot of damage over the early turns that can be hard to keep up with.
Cons: It doesn't have a lot surprises.  If the game goes long, it loses it's advantage.
Strategy to combat this deck:  The best plan is to fight them threat for threat.  Don't let them get the jump on you and try to drag the game out.  Get them to overcommit and sweep their board whenever possible.  Protection from Red can be a huge boon in this matchup as well.
Green/Red Mana Ramp
Key cards:
Chameleon Colossus
Siege-Gang Commander
Rampant Growth
Into the North
Pros:  This deck has a lot of versatility.  The deck list is also very flexible. This can allow you to be well prepared for most metagames.
Cons:  You obviously need your mana.  The spells in this deck are expensive.  Sometimes you feel like you're putting a lot of eggs into one basket
Strategy to combat this deck:  When convenient, attack the mana base.  Also, be aware that this deck has started to evolve into playing black for cards like Extirpate in the sideboard.  It can also run surprise board sweepers like Bogardan Hellkite.
Blue/Black Faeries 
Key Cards:
Mistbind Clique
Spellstutter Sprite
Cryptic Command
Sower of Temptation
Scion of Oona
Pros:  With so many creatures having powerful abilities and having Flash, you get to leave a ton of options open on your opponents turn.  Flying on all your creatures makes them hard to block as well.
Cons:  Your creatures are small, so they don't want to get into fistfights. 
Strategy to combat this deck:  Deal with every threat as quickly as possible.  it may not seem like it, but Faeries is definitely a "strength in numbers" kind of deck.  Be careful how you attack, because Flash creature can make combat ugly.
Key Cards:
Goldmeadow Harrier
Goldmeadow Stalwart
Kinsblade Borderguard
Knight of Meadowgrain
Wizened Cenn
Griffon Guide
Oblivion Ring
Ajani Goldmane
Pros:  It's quick and has some neat tricks available to it.  It's also easy to play and relatively cheap to build.
Cons: It's still standard White Weenie, which means any big creatures or mass removal can lead to a long hard day.
Strategy to combat this deck:  Try to match them threat for threat.  Also be aware that this deck has started splashing green for Gaddock Teeg, who happens to be a Kithkin Advisor.  The Harrier can be problematic long term, if not dealt with properly. 
I'm sure you could spend pages talking about each of these decks.  This article should be considered more of a primer.  With so many players coming back to the game (or just getting into the game), articles like this can be used as a jumpstart to your Standard preparations.
Until next time,
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com


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