Magic Origins is a powerful set that provides a great number of tournament-quality cards to the Standard format. These cards will be added to the current Standard card pool, and they will certainly bring about changes to the metagame. Today I'll discuss some decks that are positioned to attack Standard by taking advantage of new Magic Origins tools.
UB Creatureless Languish Control
Languish will be a key pillar defining the Standard format as long as it's in the card pool. No card will have a larger, more immediate impact on the metagame than Languish. No established archetype has more to gain from Languish than UB Control, which easily incorporates the board sweeper.
Adrian Sullivan has been finding consistent success with UB Control strategies all season, including Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir and the TCGplayer Invitational. I have tuned his most recent version of the deck by incorporating new Magic Origins tools, Languish and Clash of Wills.
I started by replacing two Silence the Believers, AEtherspouts, and Crux of Fate with four Languish. On turn four Languish is much more impactful than Silence the Believers, so it's the most effective way to combat the aggressive decks in the metagame, like Abzan Aggro, Red Deck Wins/Atarka Red, and various forms of hyper-aggressive decks like GW Aggro and Monoblack Aggro. Languish destroys any troublesome Monstrous Fleecemane Lion, and it demands four mana from Rakshasa Deathdealer. Languish is also an effective way to combat Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector. Languish even efficiently deals with Dragonlord Ojutai from Esper Dragons and Ojutai Bant. All of these strategies confront UB control with unique questions to answer, and Languish is a powerful solution. Because Languish destroys such a large percentage of Standard creatures compared to Drown in Sorrow, which has niche applications, it can be comfortably played in the maindeck in any metagame.
Languish lightens the load carried by Perilous Vault. To sweep the board, this archetype typically relied on turn four Perilous Vault being sacrificed on turn five. Languish changes the equation by sweeping on turn four, so it modifies the role and application of Perilous Vault in the archetype. Now, Perilous Vault it will more often be able to be played later in the game, so it can be saved to Remove more robust threats and to create more card advantage and tempo value. Languish also allows an already-resolved Perilous Vault to remain in play longer, creating more opportunities to create tactical advantages.
Another card with great potential in UB control is Clash of Wills, so I cut a Dissipate and a Negate from Adrian's deck for two Clash of Wills; and it's possible the deck wants three. While Clash of Wills may seem very vanilla compared to cards like Condescend, Mana Sink, Syncopate, and Broken Ambitions, it's just as effective as a Counterspell, and that's what counts. It's versatile and powerful, and it's capable of countering a wide variety of spells starting from turn two onward until the end of the game. Clash of Wills allows this archetype to do something it could never do previously - counter a spell on turn two - and adding it to the deck makes it significantly more effective at controlling the game. The single-blue mana cost makes it an easy cast in a deck hungry for black mana.
Also consider that Clash of Wills un-tethers control strategies in general from Silumgar's Scorn, which is nice given that the stock of Dragonlord Ojutai has fallen considerably with the printing of Languish. UB Control will rise as the premier control of the metagame, and perhaps the premier archetype.
UR Day's Undoing Burn
With UB Control poised to take the top spot in the metagame, a possible foil is a burn deck, which plays on a different axis than the control deck. Burn decks focus on direct damage spells that the control player has trouble interacting with, because they have a limited numbers of Counterspells and very little discard. The control player also has loads of expensive cards like Perilous Vault and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, which are ineffective against the small and efficient creature suite of the burn deck. Control decks also wins games very slowly, so the burn deck has plenty of time to draw and cast burn spells. The creatureless control decks require planeswalkers to win, which burn spells can destroy with relative ease. Day's Undoing even stops control's ability to win through decking.
Day's Undoing presents burn strategies with potential for amazing access to cards. It's not card advantage, but burn doesn't play by the rules of attrition. Most of the control cards don't matter, and as long as the burn deck has access to enough cards, it will inevitably win. Taking the most advantage of Day's Undoing requires emptying one's hand quickly, and a deck filled with very cheap burn spells and creatures does just that.
Here's what I had in mind:
This deck combines all of the most efficient and powerful burn spells in Standard with the most aggressive and efficient red creatures. Wild Slash is efficient removal, and it's a cheap burn spell that goes great with Day's Undoing. At two mana, Lightning Strike is the best burn spell, while Magma Jet is great for setting up land drops, clearing away excess lands, and digging for Day's Undoing. Exquisite Firecraft is a powerful Magic Origins addition that quickly finishes off an opponent and destroys Courser of Kruphix. Spell mastery makes Exquisite Firecraft uncounterable, so that's an extra edge against Counterspells and UB Control. Stoke the Flames is a bit expensive at retail cost but the power level makes it worthwhile, and the creature suite can provide a discount.
Zurgo Bellstriker does a fine imitation of Goblin Guide, and it can completely play around Languish if exclusively cast with Dash. Monastery Swiftspear is a great turn-one play in a deck with 25 maindeck noncreature spells to trigger prowess, and on later turns it can be cast alongside burn spells to get in for extra damage immediately which help it to play around Languish. Eidolon of the Great Revel is generally good in burn, but it's particularly poor against Languish, so I have Abbot of Keral Keep in the deck as an additional prowess threat that can generate card advantage. It's especially good from turn three onward as a way to hit land drops, and in the late game it can chain into another spell, potentially another Abbot of Keral Keep or Day's Undoing.
Molten Vortex provides the deck with a way to turn extra lands into extra damage. It's attractive because it's relatively efficient, and trading one mana for two damage is as good a rate as any spell this deck can play. It's also powerful, and it converts extra lands, an otherwise completely dead resource, into the most valuable resource: damage. It's incredibly potent with Day's Undoing, which is likely to find many lands. In general the deck has plenty to do with extra mana and wants to consistently hit land drops, but Day's Undoing gives the deck more lands than it will ever have turns to play. Playing a Molten Vortex gives this deck a mild combo-like potential with the sequence of a Molten Vortex into Day's Undoing. It may be correct to play an additional copy, likely over an Abbot of Keral Keep or Stoke the Flames.
Twelve blue sources is enough to have a blue mana on turn three with around 90% reliability, so it's sufficient for turn three Day's Undoing. Day's Undoing is best later in the game, so one could argue that the deck could make due with less blue sources, but there will be plenty of situations where it will be optimal on turn three, especially in games the burn deck has mulliganed. The deck is hungry for red mana and really doesn't want to play an Island, and the deck doesn't care about its life total against control, so I opted for four Mana Confluence, in the same style as Atarka Red.
The sideboard includes Roast to stop Siege Rhino and large green creatures like Polukranos, World Eater, while Searing Blood harshly punishes small creature decks. Scab-Clan Berserker is an additional tool against control decks, and it's simply excellent against Languish. Outpost Siege provides the burn deck a card advantage engine beyond Day's Undoing. It's great redundancy for overwhelming control decks, but in some matchups the burn will take on the control role, where it will Remove Day's Undoing and rely on the card advantage engine of Outpost Siege to take over the game. Negate allows the deck to further prey on control decks by stopping their key removal spells, and setting them behind in tempo when countering more expensive spells. Cast on a removal spell like Languish, it's a great follow-up to an early creature rush, and it's great at forcing Day's Undoing through an opposing Counterspells.
Erebos's Titan has more synergy with Gray Merchant of Asphodel than anything in Standard since Return to Ravnica block rotated away cards like Nightveil Specter. A four mana 5/5 creature is also quite efficient, nearly reminiscent of Desecration Demon, and conveniently trumping Siege Rhino.
The extra abilities on Erebos's Titan make the card even more attractive. Indestructible when the opponent has no creatures make it quietly absurd against creatureless UB Control decks, and the ability to be returned to play allow it to grind out removal spells plus Den Protector and/or Deathmist Raptor by converting extra lands into a creature.
Here's the deck I built to take advantage of Erebos's Titan and Gray Merchant of Asphodel:
This new breed of Monoblack Devotion is built quite aggressively, which best takes advantage of the life-loss ability of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and the deck is built with attrition in mind. The creature suite is built to Withstand removal spells, with Bloodsoaked Champion, Despoiler of Souls, and Erebos's Titan featuring recursion abilities.
Liliana, Heretical Healer is a decent creature in its own right as a 2/3 lifelink, and it has great synergy with the deck's suite of aggressive, efficient, and expendable creatures that will die to removal spells or combat. When it turns into a planeswalker, the 2/2 Zombie it creates is additional value. Adding some synergy to the deck, Fleshbag Marauder is capable of sacrificing a creature - ideally a cheap, recurrable creature - and triggering Liliana, Heretical Healer to turn into Liliana, Defiant Necromancer. The planeswalker can even immediately recur a Fleshbag Marauder in the graveyard to make the opponent sacrifice another creature.
Thoughtseize provides this deck with the disruption it needs to beat control and midrange opponents and Hero's Downfall is a catch-all removal spell that also stops troublesome removal spells. Sign in Blood provides extra advantage and helps the deck hit land drops, and it's easy to cast in a monoblack deck.
In the sideboard, Duress punishes control and burn spells. Read the Bones provides card advantage against slow, controlling opponents that boil down to attrition. Ultimate Price destroys Green Devotion decks and Stormbreath Dragon decks.
Dictate of Erebos, Whip of Erebos, and Erebos, God of the Dead provide different ways to generate card and board advantage against grindy decks. Whip of Erebos doubles as a life gain source and a recursion engine. Erebos, God of the Dead stops opposing life gain and draws cards. Dictate of Erebos is best in creature mirrors and against opponents with a mix of creatures and removal as a way to control the opposing board.
Some other cards to consider in the deck are Squelching Leeches, which grows very powerful as the game goes on, Grim Haruspex, which has potential to generate card advantage, and Herald of Torment, which is a great aggressive creature that works well when bestowing a creature, best of all Erebos's Titan, and sending them across ground blockers.
Adding a wide selection of excellent cards to the card pool, Magic Origins promises to shift the Standard format towards a new direction. With new cards like Languish, UB Control is poised for greatness, but new archetypes, built on the backs powerful cards like Day's Undoing and Erebos's Titan, Threaten to shake up the established order and make a name for themselves in the days ahead.
What do you think of the decks I shared today? What established archetypes have gained from Magic Origins? What new archetypes might present themselves? Share your ideas in the comments, and ask any questions!