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Much Abrew: Party Time? (Standard)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. One of the most interesting aspects of Kaldheim is that it offers a bunch of new support for Zendikar Rising's party mechanic, but in the forms of changelings (which have the ability to fill in for any missing party member) and some solid party-tribe members, like Harald, King of Skemfar and Jaspera Sentinel. On release weekend, HippoxDragon took a party list to a solid finish on Magic Online, so today, we're going to give the new and improved five-color Abzan party list a try! Do the changelings and new additions mean that it's finally time for party payoffs like Tazri, Beacon of Unity and Coveted Prize to shine in Standard, or will the restriction of needing four creatures (of specific tribes) on the battlefield be too much to overcome? Let's find out by throwing a party in Kaldheim Standard and seeing if anyone shows up! 

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Much Abrew: Party Time?

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Discussion

  • Apparently, it's still not party time. Today's deck felt a bit like being the little kid who invites all of their school friends to their birthday party, watches the front door in horror for two hours waiting for a knock while no one shows up, and then finally decides to eat the entire birthday cake by themselves to feel better. We ended up going 1-3 in our video matches, but Party Time? was even worse than that. I couldn't believe that the deck was really as bad as its record suggested, so I played a bunch more matches and proceeded to lose every single one, putting the total record at 1-8. (Why only four matches in the video, you ask? I figured I'd save you the suffering of sitting through another blowout!)
  • Let's start with the good news: Party Time? did some really sweet and explosive things. Thanks to Masked Vandal joining Tajuru Paragon in the "all party-creature types" two-drop slots, it's pretty easy for the deck to play a Tazri, Beacon of Unity on Turn 3. Sadly, as a 4/6, Tazri can't attack through a Lovestruck Beast, but it can block it (at least, until Embercleave or Showdown of the Skalds shows up). And if Tazri sticks on the battlefield, our five-color Abzan mana base does allow it to draw us a bunch of cards. Similarly, Coveted Prize is a legitimately broken card if we can get a full party, allowing us to not just tutor up anything for a single mana but also cast something up to 4 CMC for free, which means it's basically a tutor and a ritual all in one!
  • The bad news is that despite the changelings and other new additions, the party mechanic itself is still very inconsistent. Those Turn 3 Tazri draws? Often fizzled by something as simple as Bonecrusher Giant or Bloodchief's Thirst, and a Turn 4 or 5 Tazri, Beacon of Unity isn't nearly as powerful. Coveted Prize takes this to the extreme. If we are just a single party member short, it turns into a Demonic Tutor, which might sound decent, but considering the power level of most of our creatures, it really isn't. Without the "cast something for free" mode, Coveted Prize is fairly disappointing. 
  • On its face, it seems like adding changelings to the deck should make assembling a party more consistent, and while I think it does to some extent, the biggest problem with party is that it's just not all that easy to keep any four creatures on the battlefield in some matchups. Even if every single creature in our deck were a changeling, so that any four creatures would equal a full party, it seems like we'd still have consistency issues, especially against removal-heavy control and midrange decks. 
  • Another weird aspect of the deck is that it has essentially zero removal, outside of a single Binding the Old Gods, to tutor up with Coveted Prize. This sometimes left us in a position where we were able to flood the board with creatures but, thanks to cards like Lovestruck Beast cluttering up the battlefield, still not get in enough damage to close out the game. While the more creatures the better when it comes to assembling a full party, finding room for a touch of removal to get blockers out of the way could be helpful.
  • While I have no doubt that Party Time? is better now than it was before Kaldheim, it still felt wildly inconsistent. We had some games where we absolutely crushed our opponent because we were able to set up a full party and go off with Tazri, Beacon of Unity and / or Coveted Prize, but we also had a lot of games where we ended up a party member short or had all of our early drops killed and didn't do much of anything. Unfortunately, the latter outnumbered the former, so even though we played some three-game matches where we had one super sweet game, in the end, it was hard to chain together enough good draws in a row to actually win matches. 
  • So, should you Party Time? in Kaldheim Standard? I would say no, at least not with the build we played today. While the deck probably can be upgraded a bit with some removal, the party mechanic's biggest flaw is still that it's just not that easy to keep four creatures on the battlefield in Standard. Add in that getting the creature types right requires playing some cards that aren't all that powerful unless they have friends, and I think we'll probably have to wait for another set or two to throw a party in Standard (although I'm still holding out hope that things will come together somehow once we get the Dungeons and Dragons set this summer and we'll have a party deck because the payoffs themselves are quite strong—they are just difficult and inconsistent to set up). 

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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