Thursday, March 23, 2023

Against the Odds: Monument to Perfection (Standard)

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Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 368 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had another Phyrexia Standard Against the Odds poll, and Monument to Perfection crushed the competition. As such, we’re heading to Standard today to see if we can get a bunch of lands with different names on the battlefield and turn Monument into the biggest, most poisonous toxic threat in Standard! What are the odds of winning with Monument to Perfection? Let’s get to the video and find out in today’sΒ Against the Odds; then, we’ll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Monument to Perfection

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The Deck

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Monument to Perfection is an interesting card. In the early game, it’s basically a Journeyer’s Kite that can snag Spheres along with basic lands. Then, in the late game, if we can get a massive nine basics or Spheres on the battlefield with different names, we can turn it into the closest thing to a Standard-legal Blightsteel Colossus as a 9/9 indestructible toxic 9 creature. Of course, getting nine differently named lands from a relatively small pool of lands on the battlefield isn’t easy. It seems like Wizards was perhaps a bit skittish because of how overpowered Field of the Dead ended up being in Standard and went out of its way to make sure that winning with Monument to Perfection would take a lot of work, not just because of all the lands it needs to become a creature but also because it only deals nine poison counters, which means it takes two attacks to actually win the game, even if we do manage to make it into a creature.

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So, how do we actually get nine differently named Spheres or basics on the battlefield? Well, step one is playing as many different spheres and basics as possible. We actually have every single Standard-legal sphere and basic land in our deck. Most of them are just to support Monument to Perfection (along with helping us cast our spells), although The Mycosynth Gardens is actually super sweet with Monument to Perfection. If our opponent goes to kill our Monument, we can use The Mycosynth Gardens to become a copy of it, or, if things go well, we can get two Monument to Perfections on the battlefield at once, which lets us win with a single attack if both connect.

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Of course, even with Monument to Perfection‘s ability to tutor up lands, we’re going to need some help to actually get nine different Spheres and basics on the battlefield. As such, we have a ton of rampβ€”mostly ramp that can find nonbasic lands to help up our sphere count. While it’s still going to take a while to get the right lands on the battlefield, these ramp spells greatly speed up the process.

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We’ve also got a bunch of removal and sweepers to help keep us alive while we are getting enough lands on the battlefield to try winning with Monument to Perfection attacks. Burn Down the House and Depopulate are especially important because, along with keeping the board clean early in the game, they are also great once we have Monument to Perfection in creature form. One of the issues with Monument to Perfection is that even once it becomes a creature, it’s still just a 9/9 with no evasion, which means opponents can chump block it for days. However, Monument is also indestructible, which is huge because it means we can use Burn Down the House or Depopulate to sweep away our opponent’s blockers and hopefully get in a clean attack or two with Monument to Perfection to poison our opponent out of the game!

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Last but not, we have Atraxa to refill our hand and help find Monument to Perfection. Because we need to play all five colors (so we have all five differently named basics) to support Monument to Perfection and we need to ramp a bunch to get enough lands to turn Monument on, it felt wrong to leave out Atraxa. While I was a little bit worried we’d win with Atraxa rather than Monument, in practice, Atraxa pretty much always dies, so it’s mostly just a huge card-draw spell that helps make sure we have enough lands, ramp, and Monument to Perfections to close out the game.

The Matchups

The real question, matchup-wise, is how many answers our opponent has to Monument to Perfection. One thing we learned during our matches is that a 9/9 indestructible artifact creature still dies to a lot of cards in Standard. Edicts like Sheoldred’s Edict and Liliana of the Veil are a problem, as are exile-based removal spells like The Wandering Emperor and Ossification. In our perfect world, we’ll mostly play against decks that can’t interact with Monumentβ€”doing a ton of work to turn it into a creature only to watch it die is especially painful.

The Odds

Record-wise, Monument to Perfection wasn’t great. We went 3-6 with the deck overall, good for just a 33% match-win percentage. While our plan did work and we did get some sweet Monument to Perfection wins, it turns out that it takes a lot of work to turn Monument to Perfection into a creature. And even once it becomes a creature, it is far from guaranteed to win the game. In all honesty, I think Wizards played it a bit too safe with Monument, maybe out of fear of creating another Field of the Dead. I really wish that it had toxic 10. It is so hard to turn it into a creature, and even once it is a creature, there are still a lot of answers in the format, so I think it would be fair even if it could one-shot kill the opponent with poison counters. Basically, we got some really cool Monument to Perfection wins, but overall, the card is just too much work to be really competitive in Standard.

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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