While thinking about Standard for the first time with Ixalan, I discovered a budget mono-black Panharmonicon deck. Neat, finally a deck I'm interested enough in trying out to get my feet wet, resulting in my standard procedure 0-3 so I can move on!

Panharmonicon is a card that I wanted to make work for a few Standard Pro Tours. It's usually best to test out brews at the beginning of fresh Standard formats to see what's up and discover the metagame. Overall, Panharmonicon is the type of card that provides a ton of power, and can completely dominate midrange games. If you fall behind a bit, it can also catch you back up in a big way. If we move to streamline the deck without the budget constraint, it also makes sense to play The Scarab God, and with that mash of Blue-Black Midrange with Panharmonicon, this is what you get.

Blue-Black Midrange became quite popular in the middle of last season after famous Magic Online grinder Jaberwocki was 5-0ing multiple leagues with the deck. The idea of the deck was that The Scarab God is completely busted, so a streamlined deck with a great curve and perfect mana could win a lot of games against the somewhat clunkier Energy decks of the format.

Ravenous Chupacabra gives us a more consistent ability to stabilize with creatures than Hostage Taker, and together provide an overwhelming amount of value and comeback potential. Dusk Legion Zealot is also a reasonable card with Panharmonicon that adds a bit of consistency alongside Champion of Wits.

We are essentially preboarded to win midrange matchups, and our entire sideboard is devoted to fight against aggressive strategies and the occasional control deck. Banewhip Punisher is the most abnormal card, but I have found that it can act as a huge speedbump for aggro decks by killing Bomat Courier, Adorned Pouncer, a Legion's Landing token or Toolcraft Exemplar. It's quite hard for aggro to beat you in a slow way so the quick board control is important, and against some other midrange decks Banewhip still acts as an Impale of sorts.

The deck performed quite well, almost too well in the five rounds we played. The list ran quite smooth and demonstrated you can stabilize early but also overpower most other decks late-game. The heavy anti-aggressive sideboard worked out quite well, and the deck was quite reasonable when siding out Panharmonicon. If it wasn't for a super bad keep we likely could have managed a 5-0!

Panharmonicon is obviously sweet, but many of the games it's an unneeded risk as it does nothing on its own. Even games where it does powerful things leave you with lingering thoughts if you actually needed it versus any other card you could have played instead. Realistically, it could even be a two-of main deck or even a sideboard card in this strategy to combat midrange. Of course, we played against a multitude of aggro decks, but it's not that great against control either, which leaves it as a card we want in less than half of our matchups. Blue-Black Midrange is still a strong core, and the ability to play Hostage Taker and Chupacabra now gives you some insane redundancy, allowing you to play The Scarab God on cleaner battlefields more often.

This deck was still a blast and can be fun either the Panharmonious way, or the not so Panharmonious way.

Thanks for reading,

- Steve Rubin.