When Ben Ronaldson and I sat down to do a little work for English Nationals, little did I know I'd be writing about the effect that work would have on US Nationals. Inspired in part by Antonino De Rosa's Osaka realization that Deep Analysis was as strong a card drawing engine as lower-level constructed formats have seen in a long time, Ben built a blue-green madness/flashback deck that would eventually be played by Hampton Court's three best known players, he, John Ormerod and I. In the constructed portion of Nationals, we went 16-0-2.
Blue-green as a color combination is nothing new to this environment, with both Mike Turian and Pat Chapin playing their own variations on the color theme into the top 8 of Grand Prix Milwaukee last month, but bounce-fueled tempo and the Opposition/Squirrel's Nest combo provide the engine for those decks. The English deck, called Deep Dog, features cards that provide the controller opportunities for madness like Wild Mongel, Merfolk Looter, Aquamoeba and Careful Study while at the same time allowing the exploitation of two powerful Flashback cards: Deep Analysis and Roar of the Wurm. The aggression created by the deck's speed is back by Circular Logic and Couterspell.
Deep Dog is not without its weaknesses. With no bounce or permanent destruction in the main deck, the resolution of Ensnaring Bridge or Worship before sideboarding essentially end the game, but with the metagame forming around Psychatog, Trenches and Squirrel/Opposition, these cards aren't expected to make much of an appearance, making Deep Dog a solid metagame choice. Against Trenches, the first game is usually a lopsided affair, with only the full conversion sideboard of Flametongue Kavu, Meddling Mage and Lightning Angel creating issues. Against 'Tog, the first game is approximately 65% in favor of the Dog, with huge creatures running into Psychatog continually draining the blue-black mage's resources and Upheaval usually ineffective. Against Squirrel-Opposition variants, especially those with Flametongue Kavus, the first game can be difficult, but the Temporal Springs for enchanted lands help turn the tide after sideboarding.
One of the deck's strengths is the lack of a really weak match up. 6/6 creatures for four have a way of dominating games against decks without control, while the four main deck Analyses at least keep the deck in the game against control decks. The Temporal Springs in the sideboard cover every contingency situation, while Unnatural selection is the ideal card for the mirror match.
Amongst those players running Deep Dog today are Zvi Mowshowitz, Scott Johns, Dan Clegg, Eric Froehlich, Brian Hegstad, Scott McCord and even Mike Long, the biggest name to run the three color version of the deck, which includes mystic Enforcer as a way of circumventing Flamtongue dominance while at the same time providing the best evasive clock in the format. Ronaldson says he probably wouldn't run the deck in today's expected metagame, but with that many top players running it, it's hard to argue.
by Ben Ronaldson