August 14, 2015

Days of Future Future: Magic Origins

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It's time once again for Days of Future Future, the time when I revisit some of our Future Future League Standard testing focusing on cards from Magic Origins.

As always when reading a Future Future League article, keep in mind that many of these decks are not tuned. They are also full of cards that were stronger than they are now, and often are missing real-world cards that were changed later in development. They are also reacting to a slightly different metagame than what the real world has come up with, so don't expect to take these to your local tournament and demolish it. The goal of every deck isn't to be the strongest deck in the environment, it's to try and learn something. While we do occasionally hold tournaments that give us an idea of what the strongest deck is, we have found that getting a feel for what is possible and how good the individual cards are leads to a better Standard environment.

I'm sharing these decks to help give some insights into what we were thinking, and maybe show off some cool cards that haven't made it into the real world just yet. This isn't an exhaustive list of all of the decks we are playing, but rather a peek to some of the decks that I have something interesting to talk about.

One other thing to note—you may see some reprint cards here that are no longer in Magic Origins. That's because a big part of getting a core set correct is managing the reprints, and often we swapped things out, so when you see a card like Merfolk Looter, it was because we had not yet come to the final design on Jace and had it in the set.

With that disclaimer out of the way, on to the decks.


When we working on Magic Origins, one of the first goals was to blow out a few of the themes in Theros and give them more time to shine. The goal was to do that with exciting cards that had possibilities just out of combinations with Theros cards, but also played up many of Theros's themes. The first of these was Starfield of Nyx to give the Constellation decks another chance to shine.

Constellation

Non-green devotion decks also fell pretty far during the last year, so we made sure to include cards that would support both black and blue devotion. The first of which was mono-black:

We also wanted to give mono-blue some help, and having a strong UU card was a good shot at that:

While white didn't have a lot of devotion rewards, there were a lot of reasons to get a ton of mana in white, so Nykthos plus Knight of the White Orchid and Archangel of Tithes was interesting to give your white deck a big top end.

While we didn't want to pump up green devotion too much, we did spend some time testing with Khalni Hydra in Magic Origins. We cut it, not because it was too powerful, but instead because we felt that Gaea's Revenge did better things for the metagame, and because we wanted a different green mythic rare. The goal of this deck was to accelerate using cards like Khalni Hydra to activate Shaman of Forgotten Ways to Biorhythm, then attack for lethal.

Beyond just the decks that played up Theros, we also had some themes from Magic 2015 that could use some work. The first was blue-red artifacts. When we decided to do Origins, Chandra's homeworld was discussed, and the artifact theme overlapped well with many of the cards in M15. We had to be careful to not push things too far, as a combination of Shrapnel Blast and Ensoul Artifact can make for some pretty aggressive draws, but we felt it was worth taking a few risks for a deck that we thought players would enjoy in Standard.

I also fought for the inclusion of Goblin Piledriver in Origins because I thought it was a great card for both Standard and Modern.

While neither Tarkir nor Theros had Elves, there were a lot of very attractive cards in M15 that we could pull from.

Developing Magic Origins, and sets for Standard in general, is about more than just calling out strategies from old sets; we also went out of our way to develop some new build-around cards and strategies that could create fun decks.

The first of these is Demonic Pact. The goal for this card is to finish the game quickly, or have ways to either bounce or destroy your own pact to get out of it.

Abzan Demonic Pact

Another card that was very exciting and hard to figure out how to make the best use of was Day's Undoing. Drawing seven is great, but since you end your turn, you need to do something to break parity. The goal of this deck was to have a fast burn deck that tries to burn through your resources faster than your opponent, then use Day's Undoing to get your cards back.

The blue-red aggressive artifact deck wasn't the only one that existed. One that was a little less about burning your opponent out quickly also existed. It even used Tomb of the Spirit Dragon along with Thopter tokens to gain life and race your opponent.

Rally the Ancestors was a card that was hard to use before Origins, but getting access to the Hangarback Walker, and cards like Fleshbag Marauder and Siege Rhino, lets you get some really exciting combos. Nantuko Husk helps make sure they go back to your graveyard in the end.

Rally the Ancestors

Beyond just brand new decks, we also updated some of our classic decks with Origins cards, much in the same way that many people do when sets some out.

Jace was the obvious addition to white-blue control, allowing players to flash back either Dig Through Time, Last Breath, or often flip him and then End Hostilities, and threaten to flash it back if your opponent rebuilds quickly.

White-Blue Control

We also had some Dragon Control decks that got to use the powerful burn spell in Exquisite Firecraft to ensure that opposing Dragonlord Ojutais stayed dead.

Our Sultai aggressive graveyard decks also got a nice tool in Graveblade Marauder, which gave them some extra punch-through power and a great blocker in the early game.

That's it for this week. There are a lot of other decks we tried out, but ultimately I didn't have room to post them all. I hope you enjoyed this look into our FFL, and I look forward to coming back with this article series after Battle for Zendikar comes out with a new rotation.

Until next time,

Sam (@samstod)



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