New Perspectives: Big Magic, Small Towns

8 min read

Hello! My name is Aaron Beck and I’m another long time player of Magic: the Gathering. It’s been my favorite hobby since I cracked my first pack. The most enjoyable part of the game for me has always been the competitive aspect, so I consider myself a Spike through and through. Despite the many towns I’ve moved between, Magic has been one of the few constants in my life. Though I attend college in Moorhead, much of the time that I’ve been able to devote to the game since moving from the Twin Cities area has been in various small towns of Minnesota during the summer.

Every time I’ve moved away from the Fargo-Moorhead area I have to adjust to an entirely different scene of Magic, where some things are more acceptable, and others far less. I am, however, fortunate enough to finally have a WPN store within reasonable distance of my hometown, Ulitma Gaming in Perham. I’m back to being a Friday Night Warrior!

Grinding season has begun!

Being that the tournaments would be in a smaller area with a relatively new community, I initially thought about sleeving up a tier one deck to try and crush the Amonkhet Game Day. I would get some kicks out of that, but somehow didn’t feel right.

I wanted to try out a crazy deck that caught my attention: [mtg_card]New Perspectives[/mtg_card]. Something that fascinates me as a player is creating a game of Magic that isn’t “normal” and combo decks generally do a fantastic job of that. I can without a doubt say that this is one of the strangest, janky-est, and funnest decks I’ve sleeved up based on a Panic! At The Disco song.

♪Stop there and let me correct it, I wanna live a life from a New Perspective♪

The goal of this deck is to resolve a New Perspectives, after which it is very hard, but not impossible, to fizzle out. Drawing three cards will typically get our hand size up to seven, which then allows us to pay nothing to cycle. When half of our deck has cycling, finding the other key components becomes like clockwork. The deck tries to ramp into it as early as turn five with [mtg_card]Weirding Wood[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Shefet Monitor[/mtg_card], both of which become essential pieces to the puzzle.

The combination of [mtg_card]Vizier of the Tumbling Sands[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Shadow of the Grave[/mtg_card] is the engine that generates both mana and cards. Every Vizier we have past the first generates us two additional mana with Shadow of the Grave by untapping the land that is enchanted by Weirding Wood.

Shefet Monitor also can allow us to generate additional mana as long as we still have basic lands to grab. Getting every other card we’ve cycled back is just gravy after the first Shadow. Eventually, we’ll get an enormous pool of mana to cast our win conditions.

There are some other key role playing cards in the deck; namely [mtg_card]Traverse the Ulvenwald[/mtg_card]. Traverse allows us to smooth out the many colors of mana we need in the first few turns, and then later to tutor for a Vizier of the Tumbling Sands when comboing.

Getting delirium isn’t always easy, so it is often correct to play an early Traverse, and cycle Cast Out/lands aggressively. The thirty-six cards that cycle in our deck (Weirding Wood being an honorable mention) also help to dig for New Perspectives. It isn’t impossible to win without it, just much, much harder.

The optimal line is cycling to fuel delirium and finding New Perspectives in the early turns, and then casting Weirding Wood on either turn three or four, being sure to crack the clue before going off. Cycling a Shefet Monitor can also allow a turn five New Perspectives.

Once we start going off, the first card to cycle is Shefet Monitor to grab lands out of our deck and minimize our dead draws. If we have two Monitors, cycle the first and resolve the search trigger, then cycle the other. This allows us to grab both lands before drawing a card from either Monitor.

Following that, we want to dig for all of your Viziers by cycling or casting Traverse with delirium. Once all four are found, we’ll burn through every Shadow of the Grave on only them to build up mana, at least two of which needs to be white. Doing this helps us to not lose to our empty library, although sometimes it’s close. After all this, we should finally be able to cast Approach of the Second Sun twice!

Strange solar patterns on Amonkhet

As with most combo decks, I highly recommend goldfishing this combo endlessly before taking it to an event. This will help to not fizzle and execute the combo faster, which helps both players. Don’t be that guy that takes 10+ minutes off the clock just to go through the motions.

Research plays a large role in my choices. This archetype hasn’t seen great success at high levels, which makes the process more difficult. Lists that I looked at included Saffron Olive’s and the deck tech from Pro Tour Amonkhet, which was a little suspect as it didn’t have a listed sideboard.

After trying both versions, the former was much more consistent with Traverse the Ulvenwald. Being limited to switching cards that cycle, I swapped out all copies of [mtg_card]Renewed Faith[/mtg_card] for [mtg_card]Censor[/mtg_card]. My thought process is that it should “gain” much more life than Renewed Faith would by being able to keep a threat off the board.

Here’s the list I eventually sleeved up:

[d title=”New Perspectives by Aaron Beck, 1st Amonkhet Game Day”]
1 Fetid Pool
4 Sheltered Thicket
4 Irrigated Farmland
4 Scattered Groves
2 Fortified Village
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Swamp
5 Forest

1 Sphinx of the Final Word
4 Vizier of Tumbling Sands
4 Shefet Monitor

4 New Perspectives
4 Cast Out
3 Weirding Wood

1 Approach of the Second Sun
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald

4 Shadow of the Grave
4 Censor
4 Haze of Pollen

2 Dispel
3 Negate
4 Drake Haven
2 Torrential Gearhulk
3 Radiant Flames
1 Mountain

For those of you wanting to try this deck out I would suggest cutting a Sheltered Thicket for another Fetid Pools, as I found myself wanting to have additional access to blue mana earlier because of Censor.

The tournament itself was a motley of established and not-so-established decks, with 20 players in total. The matches I played were as follows:

  • 2-0 vs. W/B Zombies, where my opponent didn’t have [mtg_card]Lost Legacy[/mtg_card].
  • 2-0 vs. U/B Cycling, where I won by attacking with [mtg_card]Sphinx of the Final Word[/mtg_card].
  • 2-1 vs. B/G Eldrazi (3rd place), where I played a turn 6 New Perspectives and fizzled.
  • 2-1 vs. Esper Panharmonicon, where I played [mtg_card]Haze of Pollen[/mtg_card] until I could combo.
  • 2-1 vs. Temur Energy Aggro (2nd place), where he smacked with a surprise [mtg_card]Elder-Deep Fiend[/mtg_card].

Thoughts Moving Forward:

Haze of Pollen was the card I would sideboard out the most, followed by Sphinx of the Final Word against non-blue opponents. This deck suffers as any combo deck does by easily becoming too reactive with its sideboarding. I wouldn’t shave more than one copy of cards like Cast Out or Traverse the Ulvenwald.

What I found most often is that I would overload on counters and Torrential Gearhulk against blue. When facing black, I’d board in some number of [mtg_card]Drake Haven[/mtg_card] and Gearhulks in anticipation of Lost Legacy. I never felt that I needed the full set of Havens, so one or two of those slots could be opened up.  Mountain + [mtg_card]Radiant Flames[/mtg_card] was also a house against Zombies.

[mtg_card]Kefnet the Mindful[/mtg_card] seems like a great card to bring in against slower matchups like UR Control. No such deck exists in my meta currently, so it isn’t necessary but I look forward to trying it out.

Overall the Game Day that I played in was a fantastic experience with more interactive matches than I expected. New Perspectives is an incredibly challenging deck to play perfectly and I’m going to have it sleeved for the foreseeable future.

Getting a free playmat was pure gravy. The religious suicide art is pretty humorous to me. I can’t wait to see what new cyclers will get introduced in Hour of Devastation and the arrival of the God-Pharoah!

♪Stop there and let me correct it, I wanna live a life from a New Perspective♪

After the event, I had some reflections on what small town Magic really is, and what it’s meant to me over the years. Small town gaming does have some similarities with their more populated counterparts – you’ll still find the Spikes trying to take down every tournament, the guy who seemingly has everything, the Commander crowd, and players just learning the ropes.

Some things however, are missing. The collective card pool is much lower, meaning getting access to certain cards (read: chase mythics) becomes incredibly difficult. Decks that people bring to Friday Night Magic don’t change as often as they might otherwise. Less fluidity of decks generally means you’ll know what a player will show up with for the next week. Card availability is honestly the biggest bottleneck in a lot of cases if you’re trying to keep it local.

More like relentlessly looking for this card.

What helps greatly is that Wizards has been doing a good job of making cards that are powerful in their own shells. This fantastic variety of viable options create unusual, but interesting decks that can reasonably compete. Being more familiar with your deck is just as important as playing a good list.

I feel that anything is a possible winner and it has widened my scope of what I consider to be having fun in Magic. These days I find much more enjoyment from seeing how more off-the-wall decks can do. [Editor note: my first memory of Aaron was watching him furiously mill his opponents out with [mtg_card]Sphinx’s Tutelage[/mtg_card] – good times.]

Understanding is a matter of perspective.

Thanks for reading, I hope you got some enjoyment from it, and as always, thanks for supporting the site. Blah blah blah, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to us on YouTube.

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