The metagame is continuously shifting and changing. It evolves so quickly and sporadically. I remember when Esper Dragons was king, and it was king for a decent amount of time. But alas it has been dethroned and other decks are taking its place. Now we see Mardu Dragons being one of the best decks if not the best in this current metagame.
Anger of the Gods is just so good at the moment with many people still trying to ramp up with creatures; it also wipes out powerful but pesky Den Protectors and the recurring Deathmist Raptor. Bile Blight is all but gone from decks; we will see a couple of control variations running a max of two maindeck. You'd think it would be time for Jeskai Ascendancy to reappear with the lack of Bile Blights in the format. You'd be wrong though since people are still playing Anger of the Gods and the dreaded Dromoka's Command, which is almost always just a blowout against Ascendancy decks.
So what decks do I think are favored right now? Well, if I were you I'd dust off my Whip of Erebos Decks. Sure you're weak to Dromoka's Command but at least Dromoka's Command almost never eats your Whip of Erebos, and that's basically all you care about. As long as you got your trusty Whip by your side, you're going to have a hard time losing the game. Here's a list placed first with at a PPTQ.
Pretty straight forward, the deck isn't doing anything too flashy. It just wants to grind out the games and in any long game, this deck will almost assuredly have you beat. The only card this deck fears is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, but our friendly neighborhood ghost is seeing almost no play at the moment. Pharika, God of Affliction isn't anything new to the list but you better imagine she does work against some of the newer cards like Haven of the Spirit Dragon and Den Protector. Pharika isn't a fan of the card Regrowth; she wants to keep things dead.
People seem to have also forgotten about the monogreen queen dragon. Hornet Queen is still alive and kicking, and she'll still tangle with any of these fancy Dragonlords and put them all down. Even mighty Dragonlord Atarka can't kill her and all her bees. Atarka will still leave a token behind, and just one is enough to take down any dragon. Bow down to the rightful Queen, Dragonlords!
I feel like this deck is weak to Heroic decks, but again, they aren't seeing much play. Even so John was ready with Self-Inflicted Wounds and a Merciless Executioner, which can conveniently be bought back with Whip later in the game. The deck also doesn't fold to control decks with six hand disruption spells in the sideboard, a couple of Nissa, Worldwaker and a singleton Soul of Innistrad to make sure your gas tank is always on full. Incase Hornet Queen wasn't enough for those pesky dragons we also have Arbor Colossus who's ready to Swat down dragons like flies. All in all this deck has always been very strong and I believe it's well positioned at the moment, especially since nobody is running Back to Nature anymore.
Everybody has basically just written off Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. And I think it's time to bring him back, especially if Counterspell control is on the decline.
What better way to cast Ugin than a few Frontier Sieges? This is my updated list on Sultai Ramp and just like Golgari Constellation, I believe it to also be well-positioned. Let's break down the deck and talk about the cards.
Warden of the First Tree: I've been liking this card as a singleton. It's just a nice card to draw late in the game when you have Frontier Sieges going or you just have a ton of lands out. He's also not too bad early on; not really what I want to be doing early in the game since I'd rather both players be in top deck mode when I play him, but also not terrible.
Anticipate: Just another thing to do on turn two where we used to just have Sylvan Caryatid. Helps find lands or get you a nice bomb. Could also be Ultimate Price. I switch between the two depending on what I think I'll be facing.
Den Protector: When I first saw this card I almost instantly wrote it off. I thought for five mana I'd rather just cast Restock. I totally didn't register that it has an unblockable ability as well. This card has been seeing more and more play and for good reason. Early on it can ensure you hit your land drops by buying back a fetchland or Anticipate and late game it's just a monster. You'll have a slew of spells to choose from.
Sylvan Caryatid: A fine Utopia Tree, I'd rather play a Farseek affect, but sadly we do not have one. Not much to say, helps you ramp early and sometimes can save you a couple of life points. Late game it's a depressing draw.
Hero's Downfall: I don't like running too much removal in a ramp deck since you don't want to ramp into removal...but Hero's Downfall is one of the best removal spells we have at the moment and I just don't feel safe to not run any.
Courser of Kruphix: A card that is great against control and aggro. Against control it gets under Disdainful Stroke and it's hard to Remove without an actual removal spell. Dodges Bile Blight and Anger of the Gods while subtly drawing you cards whenever you play a land off the top. Against aggro it's a nice way to stem the bleeding while making land drops. If you get two out against an aggressive player it's going to be an uphill battle for them.
Sultai Charm: A good way to keep gas coming by looting. When you loot you also fuel Dig Through Time. Kills Thunderbreak Regent and Stormbreath Dragon and also destroys pesky enchantments or artifacts. All-around a solid card and it's grown on me the more I've played with it.
Frontier Siege: Almost strictly just set to the mana mode. This card does a lot of work early and mid-game, but can fall off late if you don't draw your draw spells. It can Plague Wind with Hornet Queen and kill a creature with Dragonlord Silumgar but I still very rarely set it to the Dragons mode. Almost always safer to go for mana. Don't forget it triggers on both of your main phases!
Kiora, the Crashing Wave: Another ramp spell. She almost always explores when she comes into play so that I get some use out of her. With the slight decline of Hero's Downfalls, she sticks around longer on an empty board.
Liliana Vess: I feel like if your deck wants to play Liliana Vess, it's probably just gonna be one. But man can she do some work. She can tutor you up a bomb, set your Interpret the Signs up, or just slowly start eating your opponents hand away. I've always been happy having her as a one-of in this list.
Interpret the Signs: This card works amazingly well with Frontier Siege and Courser of Kruphix. It's a very nice way to just refill after an opponent has ripped your hand apart or to just bury any player with card advantage. It's basically your Sphinx's Revelation in this deck. And if you're ever tapping mana, you want to be tapping for this instead of Dig Through Time.
Dragonlord Silumgar: A nice Confiscate creature. I think this card is amazing, it might not be best here but he does do work for you. I used to always be envious of Zealous Conscripts and what it could do, but I almost never play red decks. And now I have that ability on a 3/5 flying body with Deathtouch for one more mana. Sign me up!
Hornet Queen: I've already talked a little about this Queen, but it's a shame how many times she just sits on the sidelines now to the Dragonlords when she's almost better than every single one. Even cards that the Dragonlords hate seeing like Valorous Stance and Arbor Colossus she just shrugs off.
Dig Through Time: A staple in almost any blue deck. Don't feel like I have to explain this one, just keep in mind you're running Den Protector!
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: Last but not least, MY BOY EUGENE! Comes down and cleans the battlefield for you then gives you a high five as your opponent is Drowned in his own sorrow. Like a true bro, he's always got your back.
Moving on to the sideboard!
Drown in Sorrow: Mainly for Monored or Atarka red, but it's also good against an opponent running a lot small mana creatures.
Hornet Nest: Good against decks that stick to the ground like Monored and Abzan Aggro. Forces them to Remove it or start losing guys to it. Time is all you need with this deck since it's very hard to go over Ugin.
Arbor Colossus: A very good card in a format of Dragons. Feels nice to have one stick against any dragon player, but especially Mardu Dragons. And with Frontier Siege it's very much possible to cast and activate him in the same turn.
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver: A card that is amazing against control players, especially if they are playing dragons and almost every green deck. If I see an Elvish Mystic I just bring Ashiok right in.
Silumgar, the Drifting Death: Very good against tokens and pretty good against other control decks. Not as good as it used to be because of Foul-Tongue Invocation, but still a solid card against control.
Rakshasa Deathdealer: Another card that was basically unkillable against control but is now weaker due to Foul-Tongue Invocation. It's still a solid card though and provides a very real clock.
Ramp decks are some of my favorite strategies and while this one may not seem like a true ramp deck since it doesn't have things like Explore and Rampant Growth, it still does many big things and backs them up with powerful draw affects. I might dabble in some white to test out Dragonlord Dromoka, but Counterspells seem to be on the decline a little, at least where I'm playing. I just feel like Dromoka is extremely underrated at the moment. Doing work in both the control and aggro matchups.
If you like these types of strategies I highly recommend playing one of these decks, both are very good and do powerful things in their own right.
I've also started a podcast with TCGplayer's own Frank Lepore, in which we talk about brewing decks and cool under-appreciated cards, called Freshly Brewed. We record every Monday and you can find it here or on iTunes or Stitcher.
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If you have any questions feel free to ask or comment below and I'll get to most of you. Thanks for reading guys and gals, much appreciated.
Whip it good,