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The Dragon's Den
Re-assessing the format...

By DeQuan Watson - 4.14.05

Well, we all got tired of seeing Ravager, and now it's gone.  I guess we need to be careful what we wish for.  When Ravager was around, we at least knew what decks to prepare for and such.  But since the departure of the big bad wolf, the lemmings have come out of the woodwork to play.  So now we have a VERY diverse field.
Don't get me wrong though.  I like this a LOT.  This definitely favors the good deck builders.  This leaves a lot of room for creativity.  Don't go kidding yourself that all the good decks in the format have been found or figured out.  This is absolutely untrue.  There are a lot of ideas popping up with regularity lately that are pretty damn good.  So I'd expect Regionals to be a great event this year with lots of diversity.
I also know that many of you don't possess the time (or in some cases, the skill) to figure out the popular decks.  There's nothing wrong with that.  That's why guys like me are here.  I want to give a quick general update of the Standard format as things stand.  I want to give everyone a quick view of what's out there and what cards to look out for.  And as an added bonus I'll give you a few tips on each deck.
                                This is deck that is simply referred to as Death Cloud
Main Deck
2 Kokusho, the Evening Star
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Eternal Witness
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
3 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Kodama of the North Tree

3 Death Cloud
4 Diabolic Tutor
4 Echoing Decay
4 Kodama's Reach
3 Night's Whisper
1 Rude Awakening

13 Forest
10 Swamp
2 Honden of Night's Reach
3 Karstoderm
4 Naturalize
3 Persecute
3 Terror
This deck is fun to play.  It has some big fatties that can help you force the issue.  Cards like Death Cloud can not only bail you out of bad situations, it can be used as a finisher to end the game.  There aren't any real tricky cards in the deck.  All of the cards in the main deck have their obvious uses.  The sideboard is pretty straightforward as well except for Honden of Night's Reach.  That card is generally there to slow down the control decks.  Each turn you will be ripping a card from their hand, and that's huge.  The best way to beat this deck is to pressure them early while they are setting up their mana and such.  Also, when the deck slips up late game and doesn't draw a pressure card, you need to take advantage. 
            This deck is one we call Big Red (or Ponza)
Main Deck
3 Arc-Slogger
2 Kumano, Master Yamabushi
4 Slith Firewalker
4 Solemn Simulacrum
3 Furnace Whelp

2 Chrome Mox
4 Demolish
1 Fireball
4 Molten Rain
3 Seething Song
4 Stone Rain
3 Shock

17 Mountain
1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
4 Stalking Stones
4 Boil
3 Grab the Reins
2 Sowing Salt
2 Pulse of the Forge
4 Pyroclasm
This is the preferred deck of many tournament players right now.  It has good main deck disruption.  Land destruction can be a very powerful.  Also, having just that little bit of direct damage can be huge.  Cards like Seething Song can help you cast multiple spells in a turn or simply help you quick play one of your two big fatties in the deck.  Just be selective in what you are killing.  It's easy to get carried away and careless with this type of deck.  Weenie decks give this type of deck fits.  Pyroclasm is an absolute must have in the sideboard if you want to have a chance.
                And speaking of weenies...here's White Weenie
Main Deck
4 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
4 Lantern Kami
2 Leonin Shikari
4 Leonin Skyhunter
2 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
3 Savannah Lions
3 Skyhunter Skirmisher
2 Suntail Hawk
2 Hokori, Dust Drinker
2 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
4 Glorious Anthem
3 Mask of Memory
4 Umezawa's Jitte

20 Plains
2 Karma
3 Arrest
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
3 Sword of Light and Shadow
4 Terashi's Grasp
2 Wrath of God
This is the deck that we all know and love.  The deck that just won't go away.  The deck can be so bothersome that it has to worry about facing itself in the mirror match.  That's mainly what the Sword of Light and Shadow in the sideboard is for.  Terashi's Grasp may look a little strange to have in the sideboard, but it is a good answer for artifacts.  You can support it well even with a low mana base.  This was a surprise deck for a little while.  Unfortunately, people are starting to take this deck seriously.  With the combat tricks and quick equipment things you can do, this deck isn't brainless anymore.
                     And guess what...Tooth and Nail
Main Deck
1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Duplicant
3 Eternal Witness
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Leonin Abunas
2 Platinum Angel
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Sundering Titan

3 Oblivion Stone
3 Plow Under
2 Rampant Growth
4 Reap and Sow
3 Sensei's Divining Top
4 Sylvan Scrying
4 Tooth and Nail

1 City of Brass
10 Forest
4 Urza's Mine
4 Urza's Power Plant
4 Urza's Tower
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
3 Cranial Extraction
1 Mephidross Vampire
4 Naturalize
1 Plow Under
2 Rude Awakening
1 Sundering Titan
1 Swamp
1 Triskelion
If I'm listing popular decks in the format, I MUST list this one.  I don't prefer it personally.  It is too prone to drawing dead when you need a threat.  It also has a huge bulls eye painted on it right now.  Players are gunning for this deck.  All of that is beside the point though, the deck still manages to find a way to trudge through tournament after tournament.  There isn't much else to say about this deck that hasn't already been said.
                     And finally....MonoBlue Control
Main Deck
2 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
3 Thieving Magpie

2 Bribery
3 Condescend
4 Echoing Truth
4 Hinder
4 Mana Leak
4 Serum Visions
3 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Vedalken Shackles

20 Island
4 Stalking Stones
2 Blinkmoth Nexus
3 Annul
2 Bribery
3 Jushi Apprentice
3 Quash
3 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Time Stop
The last deck that I wanted to cover was this one.  People assumed it would be good with the banning of the Big Bad Wolf that was Ravager.  Well, those people were correct in their assumption.  This is a very difficult deck to play.  You don't have a lot of ways to win, so each one is crucial.  This doesn't seem to be a large problem.  It's just a situation that you have to be aware of.  The way to deal with this deck is mainly to force the deck to react to you.  Don't let them pile up spell counters.  Make them play them.  Keep casting spells until you are able to force through what you want.
Well, that's it for now.  Obviously, this is by no means all of the decks in the format.  These are just some of the more popular ones.  Put this info to good use.  Go have some fun.  And may your next tournament be a winner for you.
Until next time,
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
at Pojo dot com

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