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Against the Odds: Vorpal Sword (Standard 2022)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 300 of Against the Odds. We had another Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Against the Odds poll last week, and in the end, Vorpal Sword for Standard 2022 came out on top. As such, we're heading to post-rotation Standard today to see if we can win some games by chopping off our opponent's head. While Vorpal Sword can be just a sweet aggro equipment, we're playing Against the Odds, which means our main goal is to get to eight mana, activate Vorpal Sword, and kill our opponent with just a single attack. How good is Vorpal Sword in post-rotation Standard? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Vorpal Sword

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The Deck

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Vorpal Sword is a really interesting card. On one hand, it's a solid aggressive equipment costing just one to cast and two to equip to give a creature +2/+0 and deathtouch. But this is Against the Odds. We're not playing Vorpal Sword to be a solid aggro equipment; we're trying to win the game with just a single attack by activating its eight-mana ability. To win the game with one Vorpal Sword, we need three things. First, we obviously need to find a Vorpal Sword. Second, we need to get up to eight mana (which is a lot, even in Standard) to activate its "When equipped creature deals damage to a player, that player lose the game" mode. Third, we need a creature—preferably an evasive creature—to put Vorpal Sword onto to deal combat damage and win the game.

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As far as finding Vorpal Sword, we're mostly planning to draw it naturally, although we do have one copy of Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire to tutor it up in a pinch. Varragoth also gives us a reasonable body on the battlefield. And if we already have a Vorpal Sword, we can always tutor up an evasive creature to wield the sword.

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As far as getting up to eight mana, we have a few options. Ilysian Caryatid and Tangled Florahedron give us some early-game mana dorks. Field Trip snags a Forest from our deck and, if we are really desperate for mana, can also grab Environmental Sciences from our sideboard. Ashaya, Soul of the Wild is mostly in our deck to be a massive threat, although by turning all of our non-token creatures into Forests, it can also help us ramp up to eight mana to activate Vorpal Sword

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So. what are we trying to equip with Vorpal Sword? While we technically can win with any creature, assuming it can get in an unblocked attack, our main goal is to get Vorpal Sword on a creature with trample. Trample and deathtouch (which we get from Vorpal Sword) interact in a really interesting and powerful way. Since deathtouch means that we only need to deal a single point of damage to a creature to kill it, even if our opponent has huge creatures on defense, we usually can win with just a single attack from Ochre Jelly, Gnarled Professor, or Battle Mammoth

For example, let's say we have a Vorpal Sword on a Gnarled Professor, giving us a 7/4 trampling deathtoucher. To not die to the Vorpal Sword, our opponent will need seven blockers (and if they do, all seven will die, which is still absurd value). Even if our opponent somehow manages to have six copies of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on the battlefield, we could still win with a single Gnarled Professor attack since we'd be able to deal one damage to each Emrakul and then put the last point of damage through to our opponent's face to trigger Vorpal Sword for the win.

As far as the individual threats, Battle Mammoth offers a bit of protection from removal by drawing us a card if our opponent targets our stuff. Gnarled Professor offers an on-curve body that also snags a lesson like Necrotic Fumes, Pest Summoning, Mascot Exhibition, or Environmental Sciences from the graveyard. Finally, Ochre Jelly helps us fight through removal by making copies of itself when it dies. Thanks to all of our ramp, it's pretty easy to cast Ochre Jelly for something like seven mana, which gives us a 6/6 trampler. If our opponent manages to kill it, we'll get a 3/3 trampler on the next end step, and if they manage to kill that, we'll end up with a 1/1 trampler. Normally, a 3/3 or 1/1 isn't that exciting, but thanks to Vorpal Sword, even a small trampling creature is a massive threat, making Ochre Jelly perfect for what our deck is trying to do.

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Otherwise, we have some removal to help make sure we can stay alive long enough to find Vorpal Sword and get up to eight mana. Soul Shatter is really important in post-rotation Standard since it is one of the few cards that can kill Goldspan Dragon (perhaps the most powerful and popular threat in the format) without giving the opponent a Treasure token. Binding the Old Gods kills anything and ramps us toward eight mana. Crippling Fear is mostly for aggro, which can be difficult to beat without a sweeper, especially if they are on the play. While Crippling Fear would be the kind of card we'd play in the sideboard in best-of-three and bring in against aggro because it's pretty lacking against midrange and control, since Standard 2022 is only best-of-one, playing a copy or two in the main deck is necessary. 

The Matchups and Odds

All in all, I played over 20 matches with the deck, going 12-9 overall, giving us a 57% match win percentage at mythic on Arena, which is pretty solid for an Against the Odds deck. Matchup-wise, we performed best against aggro and midrange, where we could use our removal and good blockers to slow down the game long enough to get up to eight mana and win with Vorpal Sword. On the other hand, control and decks like Izzet Dragons were tougher since these decks typically have a ton of removal and counters to deal with our Vorpal Sword creature. Since we need to spend eight mana to activate Vorpal Sword before we deal combat damage, getting the equipped creature killed in response to the activation is especially painful because it basically means that we skip our entire turn for nothing, and removal-heavy midrange / control decks are the most likely to have instant-speed removal.

As far as Vorpal Sword itself, it was actually surprisingly impressive. One thing I was worried about when heading into our games is that we'd win some matches but that Vorpal Sword would end up being more of an aggro equipment than a "you win the game" combo piece. Thankfully, this didn't end up happening. We won a bunch of games specifically because of Vorpal Sword, with maybe the best example being the game against GW Lifegain, in which our opponent was a 40 life and had a massive board of huge threats, making it impossible for us to win naturally. But we managed to sneak in one attack with Vorpal Sword on a trampler to steal the win!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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With Historic Horizons being delayed, let's play some more sweet Modern jank next week. What card should we build around? Click here to vote!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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