The Nasty Nine from the Coldsnap – Time Spiral Standard

For the first rotation in Standard PDC history, I wrote an article about the nine nastiest cards left to us after Kamigawa took leave. I thought it’d be nice to do the same for this rotation, too. You’ll see the Standard format has matured quite a bit in a year.

Skred is still relevant because there are still creatures with toughness greater than 3 that need killing. Aurochs Herd hasn’t been around very much ever since Terror made its return, but the next card sure has…
Initially, we weren’t sure how Ephemeron would do as a replacement for Shimmering Glasskite. Time has shown this Illusion fatty to be a great finisher for blue-based decks.
Suspend has proven to be an excellent mechanic that provides synergies and strategy without dominating or limiting the format. That said, this creature is to be expected at any Standard PDC tourney, and your deck must have an answer for it.
This card should be all over the place. Standard PDC is wanting for consistent regulars who play control, however, and consequentally we don’t see much of this card.
I’m not complaining from a personal standpoint, but it does seem that Standard PDC’s Wrath of God should be a more common sight. With the threat of Dreamspore Rock on the horizon, Martyr of Ashes sings a seductive song…
On the other side of the spectrum is this card, a virtual Wrath of God by his own right. Like Martyr, he requires a certain condition to be met before he’s useful — in this case, a steady supply of Saproling fodder. Luckily, the format still has solid cards that provide this very condition. His synergy with another of the Nasty Nine is the crux of a deck we’re all shaking in our boots about.

This card, which I am jokingly asking to be banned, single-handedly nullifies red-based aggro. Just when I thought the world was safe for the red mage, this jerkwad shows up in highly synergistic decks and reminds me that Wizards hates me. There are two cards in this very same block that help exploit Aven to the lifegaining-stratospheric fullest. Blah. Metagame shaper? You bet.
Double tutoring action in one card? I really don’t need to say more, but I will. This card also happens to be smack-dab in the middle of a color trio that has access to a bounty of card advantage in the form of Flashback spells — Think Twice and Strangling Soot being the other two. I was joking with Eegag back in the days of Orzhov Blink –> Red Sun –> Mystic Blink –> Mystic Sun that any WBur decks using all 16 of those Flashback spells (including the unnamed #1 of the Nasty Nine) should just be referred to as “Flashback Stew.”
The power of these Flashback spells, and especially Mystical Teachings’ ability to fetch the silver bullet at instant-speed, proves just how important card advantage is in Standard Pauper. “It wins games.”
Sprout Swarm is a great target for Mystical Teachings. This card has Buyback, another insanely good mechanic that produces endless card advantage. This card also has Convoke, which is “fixed Affinity,” which means that eventually you can cast this spell for free, and not lose it from your hand. Card advantage! Best of all: it produces creature tokens. This is a disgustingly sick card. In a format without Wrath, in a metagame where red-based control is seldom seen, this card is going to wreck havoc on all who cross its path (and they will be many). Its namesake deck, Spore Cry, won countless events in the previous Standard environment, and even took the top spot in a Future Extended tournament. This card showed up prominently in both Standard events’ Worlds’ 1st place finishing decks.
It’s stoppable. That is a good thing, however, because it MUST BE STOPPED.
Like Sprout Swarm and Mystical Teachings, Grim Harvest also makes players turn to cards like Faerie Teachings and Martyr of Bones as answers to the threat of ungodly card advantage. Grim Harvest, left alone, is endlessly recurrable, and doesn’t tie up draws (though it does eat up a lot of mana). We’ve already seen its power in several archetypes, including its namesake Harvester, perhaps Standard PDC’s first attempt at a metagame deck (against the dominant archetype, Orzhov). This card fits in a deck nicely with two amigos from the Nasty Nine — Deathspore Thallid and Sprout Swarm — to produce one hell of a devistating effect.
Grim Harvest is another reason why pure aggro can’t win. Removal spells don’t really permanently answer the threats packed by a black mage. They’ll just pop back up out of the graveyard, endlessly, until their job is done.
I’ve already written an entire article on this one card, so there’s not a whole lot more I can say about it. If reading that article doesn’t convince you that this is the #1 most threatening and format-shaping card left to us from our old Standard, then nothing will. Just don’t show up to SPDC 4.01 and have all your removal countered and say I didn’t try to warn you.

My last piece of advice is this: just because a card is from Lorwyn doesn’t mean it’s good. It will take the format a while to absorb the new set fully. Meanwhile, we know what we must do. We must curb the influence — or live within it — of those cards listed above. If you can’t handle them, you’re not cut out for this Standard environment.
Hang on, Paupers, it’s going to be a fun ride from here on out until the next rotation in Fall 2008. I’m looking forward to it, all starting tomorrow at SPDC 4.00!

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