Jul 13, 20172462 views

The Bug Lords of Amonkhet - - Massdrop East/West : Article #25

Looking over the Hour of Devastation spoiler and articles after, I've noticed a subset of cards appears to be repeatedly looked over: the three Insect Gods. The reason is simple. They suffer from tough competition in the high end threat slots. This is a format with Glorybringer, Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Verdurous Gearhulk, and Torrential Gearhulk among many other five and six cost options. How good do new cards have to be to replace those? This has happened many times before. Typically, it turns out the new cards are pretty good. They just don't look as good in the exact same shell as the old ones. They might not even look better in a different shell. The key is figuring out why you would want to be playing the new Gods, and work from there.


Going in full story appearance order, we have The Scorpion God up first. Sadly, The Scorpion God is probably the most uninspiring of the group. This is probably because it draws the most direct comparison to Glorybringer. You are already a red deck, why are you waiting a turn to maybe get more out of your threat when it can immediately kill a creature and fly over ground blockers? The other uninspiring part of The Scorpion God is the fact its abilities aren't synergistic. Let's sink a bunch of mana into killing everything, then... draw cards that we can cast with that mana? Typically cards like this or Olivia Voldaren are built so they are better to use than your spells. Then it dies and comes back, so you have another thing to instead of casting the spells you already aren't using? None of this makes sense. So, let's ignore all of that. What does The Scorpion God have that Glorybringer doesn't? Why is this the card I want to play? “When The Scorpion God dies, return it to its owner's hand at the beginning of the next end step.” That I can work with. The Scorpion God outshines Glorybringer when not dying is important. Glorybringer is definitely a creature that dies. It dies to Harnessed Lightning, Grasp of Darkness, and more. If you try to put Glorybringer in a deck light on creatures, they are just going to have one of those and kill it. If you cast Hour of Devastation, it is just going to die.
I think you see where this is going. 2 The Scorpion God 2 Goblin Dark-Dwellers 1 Linvala, the Preserver 3 Nahiri, the Harbinger 2 Sorin, Grim Nemesis 2 Hour of Devastation 2 Sweltering Suns 3 Abrade 4 Cast Out 2 Blessed Alliance 3 Live Fast 3 Fatal Push 2 Magma Spray 3 Doomfall 4 Aether Hub 3 Inspiring Vantage 2 Concealed Courtyard 3 Shambling Vent 1 Needle Spires 3 Canyon Slough 4 Foreboding Ruins 3 Mountain 3 Swamp Sideboard: 1 Doomfall 2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury 1 Magma Spray 1 Sweltering Suns 1 Hour of Devastation 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 3 Dreamstealer 3 Lay Bare the Heart 1 Ob Nixilis Reignited I will admit up front that I might be stretching things a little too far. A pure B/R deck that was very similar went 5-0 in a League this week, and that deck with The Scorpion God over Glorybringer is what I'm looking for. (http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/competitive-standard-constructed-league-2017-07-12) I opted to splash white because I like the life gain and flexibility it offers. The life gain buffer offered by Blessed Alliance, Sorin, Grim Nemesis, and Linvala, the Preserver helps offset the slower three color mana and the recursive Live Fasts. It's unfortunate Goblin Dark-Dwellers is very good and fueling Aether Hub is important, otherwise I would be all over upgrading Live Fast to Painful Truths. The mana is based off old Jeskai Control mana bases I played that were.... fine. Not amazing, but fine. You are going to have to figure out how to get away with an extra turn sometimes due to a tapped land, but your slew of cheap removal should help with that. On the flexibility side, one of the things I was concerned with for The Scorpion God was losing it to Stasis Snare or other exile removal. White offers answers to enchantments that may be holding your keystone threat back. Cast Out is the most flexible, but Nahiri, the Harbinger is another great card that serves the same purpose. Remember that Nahiri immediately +2's to have six loyalty, enough to survive opposing Hour of Devastations.
You yourself are playing the namesake sweeper, but that's why this list is avoiding traditionally exciting Planeswalkers like Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Liliana, the Last Hope that die to the five damage. I'm more interested in not losing to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. These inexpensive planeswalkers are often hard to establish without blockers or mana ramp to get them out ahead of curve. Nahiri, the Harbinger is a notable exception due to how much buffer +2 loyalty a turn offers. The sideboard is largely trying to turn around your entire deck against control or combo strategies. This is a constant struggle for these black and red control decks, where there isn't an answer that is quite as universal as a Disallow. The high number of Doomfalls tries to bring a little bit of that to the table. The threat of Dreamstalker is specifically selected to both be good against removal, curve out well with a discard spell, and run away with the game if unanswered. Chandra, Torch of Defiance doesn't quite get underneath counter magic or Hour of Devastation fast enough to do what I want there.

The Locust God is next up. Glorybringer wasn't the card it went heads up against. Instead the comparison was Torrential Gearhulk, which may be an even steeper hill to climb. Unlike Glorybringer, dying isn't a concern for Torrential Gearhulks. Most of the time they killed something or drew cards anyways, often leading to the next Gearhulk or a giant Pull from Tomorrow in the near future. The Locust God doesn't have flash. It's only a 4/4 and not a 5/6. I can't imagine playing The Locust God until four Torrential Gearhulks are in my blue control deck.
So what if I wasn't playing a blue control deck? What if I just wanted The Locust God as a big unkillable threat in a deck that was barely blue? 2 Glorybringer 4 Rogue Refiner 2 Servant of the Conduit 2 Elder Deep-Fiend 1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow 1 World Breaker 1 Tireless Tracker 1 The Locust God 2 Champion of Wits 2 Vessel of Nascency 2 Abrade 4 Harnessed Lightning 2 Grapple with the Past 3 Kozilek's Return 2 Sheltered Thicket 4 Aether Hub 2 Spirebluff Canal 4 Botanical Sanctum 1 Sanctum of Ugin 3 Evolving Wilds 3 Forest 2 Mountain 2 Island 2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance 4 Traverse the Ulvenwald 2 Strategic Planning Sideboard: 1 Manglehorn 1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow 2 Tireless Tracker 1 Glorybringer 1 Goblin Dark-Dwellers 2 Magma Spray 2 Negate 2 Jace's Defeat 1 Abrade 1 Kozilek's Return 1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance This deck isn't anything too new, but it is quite fancy. The gist is you are trying to assemble some game state where an Elder Deep-Fiend wins the game. You either need to be using Kozilek's Return to wipe the board, assembling multiple bodies to chain into multiple 5/6's off Traverse the Ulvenwald, or just chipping in enough damage early to make the one turn Elder Deep-Fiend buys you count for lethal. The later part was some of my favorite games with the deck, though sadly Cut//Ribbons had to be replaced with the definitely better Abrade making the burn them out plan a little harder.
Streamer Brennan Dicandio has been working on this deck since before Hour of Devastation, and the Locust God seems like a strong Traverse the Ulvenwald searchable finisher. Brennan currently has Goblin Dark-Dwellers in that high end threat slot, but I wonder if the staying power of The Locust God might give the deck a little more late game power. It takes over in ways Worldbreaker doesn't, giving you a bit more variety in your actual game enders.
It's possible that more Champion of Wits is in order if you are including The Locust God. Having ways to turbo charge your draw power the turn after you resolve The Locust God is key to making enough Insect tokens to matter, and both the front side and the Eternalize curve out nicely to do that. The other nice curve out with The Locust God is hitting your seventh land and using the Insect token as Emerge fodder for Elder Deep-Fiend. You don't need the full boost, just a small one

The last is The Scarab God. This is by far the one I am most excited to try out. Getting a four mana 4/4 every turn after casting it is a big game breaker in both card quantity and quality, even without considering the abilities of the cards you are copying or the scry and drain trigger. Unlike The Scorpion God, it is hard to think of many scenarios where I spend follow up mana on this card and it doesn't have a large impact.
Despite The Scarab God triggering off of Zombies you control, I don't think it is an actual Zombies card. Splashing only serves to disrupt your early curve in that deck, and it is already five drop heavy. The immediate and wider impact of Liliana's Mastery is definitely better, and lists weren't even unanimously playing four of that card.
If you start laying out a U/B Control deck with The Scarab God, you run into a problem. The card is great, but you need creatures of your own to make it actually good. You can't just count on them having something. What creatures are you even playing in this deck? Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Gifted Aetherborn? The black and blue creatures aren't quite there. Green on the other hand....
4 Grim Flayer 1 Walking Ballista 2 Tireless Tracker 2 Champion of Wits 2 Mindwrack Demon 2 The Scarab God 2 Ishkanah, Grafwidow 1 Noxious Gearhulk 4 Vessel of Nascency 1 Dead Weight 2 Grapple with the Past 1 Hour of Glory 3 Fatal Push 3 Evolving Wilds 2 Hissing Quagmire 2 Lumbering Falls 3 Swamp 2 Island 2 Fetid Pools 4 Forest 4 Blooming Marsh 1 Botanical Sanctum 1 Liliana, Death's Majesty 1 Liliana, the Last Hope 4 Traverse the Ulvenwald 2 Strategic Planning 2 Never//Return

Sideboard: 2 Negate 2 Jace's Defeat 2 Manglehorn 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 2 Lay Bare the Heart 1 Doomfall 2 Yahenni's Expertise 1 Nissa, Vital Force 1 Grasp of Darkness
In a delirium shell, The Scarab God is always going to have something to return. Many of these things provide additional card advantage to amplify the impact. Sadly Ishkanah, Grafwidow is turned into a full time Zombie by The Scarab God, but if I ever execute that play I'm not sure I care too much about losing a future point of damage on my Spider drains. I think the second Champion of Wits might be too many, but I want to try it and make sure the right number isn't zero first. The Eternalize part of the card as a pay off for early Vessel of Nascency activations seems very powerful, and like most G/B midrange decks a draw two, discard two is really going to help you turn your hand of varied cards into all things that matter.
At some point in putting this together I had Channeler Initiate in my list. I couldn't justify four, and I then found myself wondering why I even wanted to spend another card on non-interaction. If you can trim in the right spots there might be a place for two or three of this card to help speed up some of the four and five cost plays. Don't just put Servant of the Conduit in there, there's no energy.
One big concern I have about this list is the card Elder Deep-Fiend. The only answer in it right now is Hour of Glory, and it's hard to play too many of a four cost removal spell. You could replace Never//Return with Murder, but that is a massive downgrade. Maybe the answer is maindeck Doomfall, allowing you to rip the Eldrazi from your opponent's hand before this even becomes an issue. A subtle gain of blue mana is getting the right balance of instants and sorceries to maintain delirium post-sideboard. This is a very easy way to lose sideboarded games with decks like these, as suddenly you have very low odds of hitting an early 4/4 Grim Flayer or preventing your turn four Mindwrack Demon from damaging you. The counter magic as instants compared to only discard as sorceries in standard G/B lists helps a lot against control or combo where instant removal like Fatal Push is bad. The Liliana split in the maindeck is partly to let you leave in a planeswalker against decks where Liliana, Death's Majesty might be too slow, and the sideboard Nissa, Vital Force lets you have an extra weird card type when Noxious Gearhulk or Death Weight might need a trim.
Overall, the Gods of Hour of Devastation might be the biggest challenge of the set. It's very possible that they aren't good enough.... but that just doesn't seem right. These three cards are too efficient and awesome for that.

We had an exciting reveal of two Amonkhet masterpieces , check out the video here: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1482/scouting-report-massdrop-east-west-on-2-amonkhet-masterpieces
If you are curious about our team, check out our intro: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1117/announcing-team-massdrop-east-west or, read our previous weekly articles:
1. How to Prepare for an MtG Pro Tour by Ben Weitz (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1158/how-to-prepare-for-an-mt-g-pro-tour)
2. Approaching New Magic Drafts by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1193/approaching-new-magic-drafts)
3. Constructed Testing for Pro Tour Aether Revolt by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1213/recap-of-constructed-testing-for-massdrop-east-west-for-pro-tour-aether-revolt)
4. Breaking into Eternal Formats - Case Study: GP Louisville by Jon Stern (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1240/breaking-into-eternal-formats-case-study-gp-louisville-massdrop-east-west-article-4)
5. In Good Company - Top 8 at GP Vancouver by Eric Severson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1285/in-good-company-top-8-at-gp-vancouver)
6. Adapting to Full Block Kaladesh Limited by Jiachen Tao (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1323/adapting-to-full-block-kaladesh-limited-massdrop-east-west-article-6)
7. Sorry My Felidar Guardian Ate My Homework by Mark Jacobson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1364/sorry-my-felidar-guardian-ate-my-homework-massdrop-east-west-article-7)
8. Taking a Mardu Vacation - Top 8 in New Jersey and Heading to an Eternal Extravaganza by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1401/taking-a-mardu-vacation-top-8-in-new-jersey-and-heading-to-an-eternal-extravaganza-massdrop-east-wes)
9. A Guide to the Grind by Pascal Maynard (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1448/a-guide-to-the-grind-massdrop-east-west-article-9)
10. Asking Aggro-vating Questions by Timothy Wu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1493/asking-aggro-vating-questions-massdrop-east-west-article-10)
11. The Meat and Potatoes of Jund by Paul Dean (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1534/the-meat-and-potatoes-of-jund)
12. Hidden Values in Magic: The Gathering for Kids and Parents by Scott Lipp (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1572/hidden-values-in-magic-the-gathering-for-kids-and-parents-massdrop-east-west-article-12)
13. The Importance of Preparation in Competitive Magic: The Gathering by Ricky Chin (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1606/the-importance-of-preparation-in-competitive-magic-the-gathering-massdrop-east-west-article-13)
14. How to Find Amonkhet's Star Players by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1643/how-to-find-amonkhets-star-players-massdrop-east-west-article-14)
15. Top is No Longer on Top by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1692/top-is-no-longer-on-top-massdrop-east-west-article-15)
16. Casual Multiplayer Fun by JC Tao (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1731/casual-multiplayer-fun-bang-magic)
17. Monoblack Zombies at Pro Tour Amonkhet by Eric Severson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1764/monoblack-zombies-at-pro-tour-amonkhet)
18. To Puzzle or to Puzzleknot by Paul Dean (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1793/to-puzzle-or-to-puzzleknot)
19. The Evolution of Vehicle Aggro Decks by Ricky Chin (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1822/the-evolution-of-vehicle-aggro-decks-massdrop-east-west-article-19)
20. Putting down My beloved Bant Eldrazi by Ben Weitz (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1863/putting-down-my-beloved-bant-eldrazi-massdrop-east-west-article-20)
21. Breaching into Grand Prix: Las Vegas by Scott Lipp (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1895/breaching-into-grand-prix)
22. Tim’s Top Ten Tips for Team Trips by Timothy Wu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1934/tims-top-ten-tips-for-team-trios-massdrop-east-west-article-22)
23. Breaking Through to the Next Level by Jon Stern (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1983/breaking-through-to-the-next-level-massdrop-east-west-article-23)
24. Teaching New Dogs New Tricks by Mark Jacobson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/2005/teaching-new-dogs-new-tricks-massdrop-east-west-article-24)
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