February 17, 2012

Solar Flare 2.0 post Dark Ascension


For several months now I have been using Black-Blue Control since I have become more accustomed to how the deck operates and personally, I thought UB's ability to catch up with UW spirit decks, Delver of Secrets and Moorland Haunt made it a viable option for me in FNMs where I finished top 3 in several occasions. However, I always had deck pieces for Solar Flare and I have watched the deck rise into popularity and now see it disappearing in standard.

I was quite sad that it was removed from the Competitive decks list and that nobody were running them (in my local store, only my friend Irvin runs the deck) anymore. You barely even see the deck perform in the recent top 8s in magic online. What drove it into extinction? Many say that the current meta game made it impossible for flare to catch up. Its relatively slow nature and late game strategy became overrun by fast Delver decks, Humans and now Spirits that are emerging into the action with the recent Pro Tour Dark Ascension's top 8 decks featuring mostly UW variants and Kessig decks. But for me, Solar Flare is still a very strong deck; it's just that we need to give it the right weapons to compete in the current meta game. I will discuss my takes on the deck techs of the Solar Flare deck that I will run in this week's FNM.

Ratchet Bomb:

Most of us already know the power of ratchet bomb. It can kill tokens, flipped cards and effectively kills Hexproof creatures and other nonland permanents. Usually, it is just how we use Ratchet Bomb that dictates how effective it is in giving us a victory. Currently, we usually end up popping the Ratchet Bomb to deal with multiple tokens. But I say, just if we have the luxury to do so, given the matchup with UW or BW tokens, we wait for the charge counter to be 2 and destroy Honor of the Pure and Intangible Virtue instead. Why? Because solar flare has other cards to deal with the tokens like Elesh Norn, Day of Judgement or Black Suns's Zenith.

Massacre Wurm:

Grave Titan is really far more better than this but given the current meta game, grave titan can just be bounced or removed (although the zombies it leaves behind it still great). When you need to deal with tokens and other aggro decks, Massacre Wurm is a great choice since it actually gets the job done once it enters the battlefield.

Sideboard: Revoke Existence over Curse of Death's Hold

Indeed Curse of Death's Hold is a very strong card in the format, no doubt about it, I used that card in the main deck in my UB deck for so long. But in my battles with UW, once your opponent plays honor of the pure or intangible virtue, your Curse pretty much lost its value. And white decks pretty much expect all black decks to run curse, so you are pretty sure that they will board in oblivion rings and enchantment destroyers to deal with it and usually, you are forced to tap out in the fifth turn anyway to drop this card early. With enchantment removals like Revoke Existence, you can deal with the enchantments that pump up creatures and , again, the creatures are not a porblem for flare. Just let your other cards deal with them if you have the luxury to do so.

Sideboard: Surgical Extraction over Nihil Spellbomb

Although Nihil Spellbomb works better with Sun TItan, this is just my opinion and my personal preference, Surgical Extraction gives you the advantage to look at the hand and library of your opponent to check what he/she sided in from the sideboard to deal with your deck. 2nd reason is, both of them can deal with the Snapcaster Mage target or flashback cards but Extraction prevents the opponents from using that card that you hate very much again by removing the extra copies in the deck and hand. Of course, the drawing ability of spellbomb is definitely card advantage but in recent decks, only a few cards have graveyard interaction and those are the cards you want to remove, not the entire graveyard except of course if you are fighting against Solar Flare, but then again, oops, nobody runs Solar Flare anymore :D

Hmm, I think the article is very long already, I will just give you my full list and let us discuss and learn from the experiences that we gather while using Solar Flare.

3 DarkSlick Shores
4 Drowned Catacomb
3 Glacial Fortress
3 Isolated Chapel
3 Swamp
4 Plains
2 Island
1 Evolving Wilds
2 Ghost Quarter

3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Phantasmal Image
2 Sun Titan
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Massacre Wurm

2 Tragic Slip
2 Doom Blade
1 Go for the Throat
2 Day of Judgement
1 Black Sun's Zenith
4 Forbidden Alchemy
3 Think Twice
2 Ratchet Bomb
2 Unburial Rites
4 Mana Leak
1 Dissipate
2 Oblivion Ring

3 Surgical Extraction
3 Revoke Existence
2 Negate
3 Timely Reinforcements
1 White Sun's Zenith
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Geth's Verdict
1 Tragic Slip

Enjoy! Thank you for your time reading my entry.

Update: Solar Flare FNM Results Feb 2012

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