Ever since Bryan Gottlieb put out a challenge on the GAM Podcast EP91 (now Arena Decklists Podcast) I've made a habit of brewing 50 decks each set before digital release. Because of the Early Access event on MTG Arena this window has gotten pretty small, but luckily Wizards has invited me again so I can test some of these out early! This article is probably going up shortly before my stream on Wednesday, so I want to talk about the five lists I think have the most promise and we can see how well they stand up to testing over the course of today.
This is one of the wildest ones I've brewed, but of all the wild piles I think this is one of the ones that has the most promise. I built this archetype last set but Theros Beyond Death has some excellent new cards to fix the deck's issues. Emry, Lurker of the Loch got a great new synergy piece in Traveler's Amulet, and together they fix this deck's previously questionable mana.
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath may seem a bit odd here, but it works very well with the self-mill aspects of the deck and gives it a bit more life gain and stability to ensure that you can get the engine going. Uro is also a recursive large creature so that opponents have a harder time stranding The Great Henge in your hand.
While I wouldn't be surprised if this deck doesn't pan out, it's still going to be a fun deck and hopefully people pick it up and tune it. There's a lot of promise here if grinding is the right thing to do in this format.
Better mana, a better board wipe, and better card draw mean that Azorius Control gets a huge shot in the arm. No longer do we need to play a huge swath of tapped lands, and no longer will we need to play Gadwick, the Wizened. A leaner defensive suite and smoother mana allow the deck to return to its draw-go roots and play a singleton Dream Trawler as the win condition.
Omen of the Sea, Thirst for Meaning and Thassa's Intervention are much more flexible card draw options that allow Azorius Control to play a more reactive game. The enchantment package of Banishing Light, The Birth of Meletis and Omen of the Sea overlaps with the card draw suite in an incredibly synergistic way, and Teferi, Time Raveler allows the deck to rebuy Omen of the Sea and The Birth of Meletis for a ton of value.
These packages also let Azorius Control cut down on lands while still consistently playing a land every turn and allow the deck to play more answer cards. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but all the card draw in the world can't save you if they have more threats than you can answer over the course of a drawn-out game. This may be the most boring of these five brews, but boring gets the job done.
I've been trying to make Temur Fires work for a while, but Theros Beyond Death gave us two of the most powerful upgrades for this archetype yet: Storm's Wrath and Destiny Spinner.
The number one draw to green over white in the Fires archetype is Growth Spiral. Getting to jump ahead a turn is incredibly powerful, and only Growth Spiral and Arboreal Grazer can jump you to four mana a turn early while also making sure you have four lands. The drawback was that without white the only sweeper available was Flame Sweep, which was often too small to matter. Storm's Wrath lines up with the Fires of Invention turn to clear the way for your five-mana Cavaliers turn, and conveniently doesn't kill either Cavalier. Cleaning up planeswalkers is icing on the cake.
Destiny Spinner is important for a different reason. The biggest predators to Fires decks are the Flash decks. Countermagic is the biggest hurdle when your entire deck is high-cost, high-impact cards. Tithe Taker was included in Jeskai shells as a way to combat this, but Destiny Spinner does that job even better. Your opponents can no longer counter your Fires of Invention or any of your threats, and that's an incredibly powerful effect that is likely to swing the matchup.
Temur Fires is fairly linear and will survive or die on the viability of fast Cavaliers, but when the metagame is right, Temur Fires is going to rack up the wins. Being the fastest Fires deck likely means that Temur Fires becomes a check on the format, stopping it from getting too goldfish-heavy by being one of the fastest goldfish decks.
This may look like a classic 20/20/20 list, but it's actually a very resilient and potent engine deck. There's a lot of card draw, a lot of recursive elements, and a lot of good protection here. Mana requirements aren't harsh, and the curve is low. This set of traits is usually a recipe for success.
This list was built around realizing that Dawn Evangel, Alseid of Life's Bounty and a loaded enchantment creature (which can even be Dawn Evangel) makes it very hard for your opponent to interact with or stop you. Bronzehide Lion plus Dawn Evangel are similarly hard to interact with, and Karametra's Blessing is the biggest, baddest Blossoming Defense you've ever seen.
With all that recursion and protection we want a way to actually advance our game plan, and The First Iroan Games and Setessan Champion give us both a ton of cards and a ton of power and toughness. Warbriar Blessing is the only removal in the deck, and should maybe have more copies, but Angelic Gift jumps a large threat into the air and cantrips, so I wanted access to a few copies.
This deck has a lot of promise and will definitely feature in my stream today, there's just no way that All That Glitters and enchantment creatures isn't a powerful combo. I think this archetype will be able to succeed in most metagames, tuning the Aura and protection suite to tackle the metagame at hand.
Mono-Black Devotion looks stacked. Unbelievably stacked. Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Bolas's Citadel are a match made in heaven. Witch's Oven works with not only Cauldron Familiar, but also Nightmare Shepherd and the huge number of 4 toughness creatures in this deck. Doubling the triggers on Gray Merchant or Yarok's Fenlurker is going to grind the opponent into dust, while maintaining your devotion with those Nightmare copies. Erebos, Bleak-Hearted is another sacrifice outlet that also just draws you a ton of cards.
There's so much synergy in this deck, and the overlap is what really makes it tick. Many synergy decks can run into a problem where you draw the wrong half of your deck, but with so much redundancy and so much card advantage it's going to be difficult to fizzle out. The biggest concern is something going over the top of you or wiping out your board and denying the ability to rebuild, so Fires in particular is a concern.
Theros Beyond Death looks like it'll have a solid impact on Standard, and I can't wait to dive into this new format. I'll be live all day on Twitch playing these and many of my other brews! If you want to check out the full 50 decks, I have them in a Twitter thread.
Don't worry, my regularly scheduled metagame reports will return next week with the digital release of Theros Beyond Death this weekend. I'll be playing plenty of Magic as the set releases, and while I'm not Q'd for this round of Regional Pro Tours I will be doing my best to keep you all prepared! The RPTs are Pioneer, not Standard, so I'll leave you with a bonus list for THB Pioneer:
Adam "yoman5" Hernandez is a streamer, brewer and competitive player with a keen sense for what makes a deck tick. He writes about changes in Standard and Pioneer and the art of deckbuilding.
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