I'm back today with some more brews! These brews are a little different though. They've been tested by a group of Magic players that I playtest with. These decks are more refined then your normal brews and wouldn't take as long to tweak to an optimal build depending on the metagame. If you didn't notice, the title of this article is a play on words for the decks I will be going over today. The decks are going to be Mardu Aristocrats, Five-Color Bring to Light, Temur See the Unwritten, and Abzan Ramp with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. So buckle in and get ready for awesomeness!
The first deck we'll be going over is Mardu Aristocrats. I know there has been a lot of whisperers of an aristocrats build coming back to the top and people are excited. I wasn't a huge aristocrat player but Robert Wright and Chirayu Patel were and this is the list they tested against our gauntlet.
This deck did really well. While Zulaport Cutthroat is no Blood Artist he can still kill an opponent out of nowhere just like Blood Artist. The deck has a lot of synergy and is pretty aggressive overall. With a Cutthroat out and a sacrifice outlet on the battlefield like Nantuko Husk or Butcher of the Horde, you can really start doing work with all of your creatures. Hangarback Walker pulls a double shift in this deck as it's just a great card by itself but it's also amazing when you need creatures to sacrifice.
Smothering Abomination is not only an aggressive flier it's also a great way to draw a bunch of cards. With no Lighting Strike in sight it is actually very hard to kill. If you get to draw three or more cards from it and it's still alive it's extremely hard to lose from that point. The card can be clunky at times so I like only playing two. Robert and Chirayu did an amazing job coming up with this masterpiece. While I know the format isn't fleshed out yet, I believe an Aristocrats build will be successful and Mardu could be the one. Only time will tell.
In my last article people were complaining about no See the Unwritten deck. Well folks, we can't have all the brews in one article! That would just be mass Overload! Darryl Donaldson is responsible for the shell of this list but after testing it I tweaked a couple cards.
The original list had Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Omnath, Locus of Rage, and Natural Connection. As I was playtesting I learned that I didn't really care at all for Natural Connection in this deck and Ulamog wasn't that great when we weren't casting it. Not to mention it's very hard to cast. Omnath was fine, but the deck isn't overloaded on lands and sometimes you can't take full advantage when you untap with him. I tried a couple of Bane of Bala Ged and just wanted more and more. The card is good at battling against Siege Rhino and it survives Languish. If you untap with Bane of Bala Ged you will get your value immediately, unlike Omnath if you have no more lands. In some games Bane will have haste from Surrak or Temur Ascendancy and can easily end the game on the spot. Casting See the Unwritten and getting a Surrak and Bane of Bala Ged or Dragonlord Atarka is extremely devastating to any opponent.
Woodland Wanderer is surprisingly powerful and, even though we aren't playing four colors, we can still give him four counters with the help from Shaman of Forgotten Ways or Sarkhan Unbroken. A 6/6 with vigilance and trample does a lot of work. The only time it's not that great is when you have to grab it with a See the Unwritten, otherwise Woodland Wanderer does a lot of the legwork in reducing your opponent's life total to zero and maintaining your own.
Greenwarden of Murasa is fantastic here since if you hit it off a See the Unwritten you just get See the Unwritten right back and can do it again next this turn if you have enough mana or do it on the following turn. The fact that he can regrow something else when it dies is just icing on the cake, delicious.
When I first saw Kiora, Master of Depths I thought she was the weakest of the three new planeswalkers. Now I'm not so sure. She is like a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx when you have a Whisperer of the Wilds out or Shaman of Forgotten Ways. Unlike Nykthos though she can also be a better Satyr Wayfinder, getting you not only a land but also a creature! Kiora does a lot of work in this deck and she really shines here. I was quite surprised and I think you'll be pleasantly pleased.
The next deck that did well in testing was Abzan Ramp!
It shouldn't come to anyone's surprise that this deck is pretty good. It's hard to go wrong when you're playing Siege Rhino, right? Talk about power creep. Sometimes Siege Rhino was just enough to kill an opponent, especially when you're not playing against another Siege Rhino deck. Catacomb Sifter fits the curve nicely and ramps you a little bit while filtering your draws when your creatures die. It's also a decent card against aggro decks allowing you stay at a healthy life total until you can deploy a bomb. Speaking of aggro decks you'd think that a ramp deck would auto scoop to an aggro deck. Well, that's not the case here. I'm not saying you will Crush aggro decks by any means but Catacomb Sifter, Hangarback Walker, and Siege Rhino are cheap enough and happen to be very good against the aggro decks. They can usually buy you enough time to deploy a Dragonlord Dromoka or Ugin, in which case it's not looking too bright for your opponent.
The deck lacks some removal but Brood Butcher is nice. It can act as a machine gun that you can sacrifice your Hangarback Walker and friends too to Shrink and kill your opponent's board. Hangarback Walker is fantastic and not only works well with Brood Butcher but plays very well with Tomb of the Spirit Dragon and can patiently gain you some much needed life in some matchups. You also have devoid creatures and Scion tokens in case Hangarback Walker is absent.
Another thing I'd like to briefly mention is Oblivion Sower. That card was really good. I didn't know the exile and get lands ability happened when you cast it. I was in for a Rude Awakening when I countered the creature just to have my opponent get three lands off the top of my deck anyway. It's also a 5/8 and blocks any ground creature for days, including a 6/6 Woodland Wanderer.
Unlike the Temur deck this one is very resilient to Radiant Flames and Languish. Almost making them dead cards against you, where against Temur those cards could potentially spell game over if played at the right time. Temur was a little quicker but this deck could grind you out slowly with its monstrous creatures and spells.
Five-Color Bring to Light
The last deck I want to go over wasn't in the gauntlet but it was instead posted on a Facebook thread on my wall by Lars Westergaard Birch. How can I say no to a five-color deck? The list looked pretty legit and I liked where he was going with it. I made a few modifications but overall the deck's goal and game play are the same.
So exciting! I was a huge player of Unexpected Results and I enjoyed it. Bring to Light is similar in some ways but drastically different in others. We've never had a tutor quite like Bring to Light and your opponent should be worried when you cast it. It allows you to play a toolbox of spells if you wish or just play good cards with a few bullets. The latter is what I think to be better for Standard. I mean what's better than casting Siege Rhino? Yup...casting more Siege Rhinos!
The big bullets in this deck are Anafenza, the Foremost, Languish, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Crux of Fate, Whisperwood Elemental, Dragonlord Ojutai, and Gilt-Leaf Winnower. If you don't need any bullets you can always get more Rhinos! All these bullets could very easily turn the game around. Anafenza can stop your Rally opponent from going "off." Whisperwood is a nightmare to deal with for a control player. Languish can clean up a board very well and leave Siege Rhinos behind. A well timed Crux of Fate can spell disaster against any dragon deck. So many choices, and they are all yours to make!
The sideboard has a few more bullets in Tragic Arrogance, Wingmate Roc, Ugin's Insight, Silumgar's Command, and Ojutai's Command. Just make sure you don't ever get Radiant Flames with Bring to Light since that won't do anything except give you a bigger graveyard. Keep in mind that Jace, Vryn's Prodigy can attack! While that's never really relevant anywhere, it is when you have Wingmate Roc in your deck. You can also just scry a bunch and refuel or give your opponent a bad board with Tragic Arrogance.
The more cards that get printed the better this cards gets, and that's exciting, especially for a blue/green lover like myself!
I hope you're pleased with at least one of these decks. I tried listening to see what people wanted and it seemed like an Aristocrats deck and a See the Unwritten deck were what people sought the most. So sleeve one of these bad boys up and start jamming some games!
I'll be going to the Open in Indianapolis this weekend, probably with one of these decks. If you're going make sure to stop me and say hi. I always love meeting you guys and gals. Also check out Freshly Brewed, a podcast where Frank and I discuss many things Magic with a lot of fun banter. You can also follow us @FreshBrewedMTG.
Wish me luck!
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