Between Grand Prix Las Vegas, the release of Commander 2019 and the anticipated updates to the Modern ban list, it was a wild week as players of all types tried to catch up with—or get ahead of—the current trends.
With the Hogaak threat in the rear view mirror, Modern is back to more reasonable decks, like the ones that make an infinitely large Walking Ballista by using Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies.
Giver of Runes is a great opening turn play which then protects your creature-based combo. Against removal-heavy decks, she can even be tutored up with Ranger-Captain of Eos, or fed into Eldritch Evolution to find your other key pieces.
The Modern version of "mom" is also seeing play in some Legacy Death and Taxes lists, where she stands beside Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Phyrexian Revoker and Sanctum Prelate. Your opponent will struggle to cast their own spells, and even when they do, Giver of Runes makes many of them unlikely to hit their intended target.
It's hard to pick a favorite out of the new legendary creatures and themes included in this year's pre-cons, so many players seem to be scooping up all of them.
The decks play well against each other, as The Command Zone recently proved in their latest episode of Game Knights, and The Commander's Quarters has covered all sorts of budget upgrade options for anyone who wants to personalize their own build.
K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth is currently the most valuable of the 400 cards, but Dockside Extortionist is in a close second place, and there could be plenty of other cards just waiting for their chance to shine.
Two copies of Eldrazi Tron made it into the Top 8 at GP Vegas, each giving a sideboard slot to Mystic Forge.
The artifact effectively doubles the number of cards you see each turn, and with sixteen colorless creatures, five colorless planeswalkers and another dozen or so colorless spells, you're almost always able to play something off the top of your deck.
The only downside is that multiple copies of Forge don't stack well, and at five mana with no immediate impact on the board, it's a little slow in some matchups. But when this card is hot, it's HOT, making it a likely member of our Top 10 for a little while longer.
Standard is dominated by two decks at the moment: Bant decks leaning on Scapeshift to create an army of Zombie tokens with Field of the Dead, and White-Black Vampire decks that use Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord to quickly play a swarm of aggressive attackers.
The Vampire deck has taken to including Legion's End as their weapon of choice against the Zombies. Able to wipe out all of them for just a single card, a well-timed Legion's End is often game over for the Scapeshift deck.
And it's not even a dead card in the mirror match. Against other Vampire decks, removing key cards like Adanto Vanguard or Legion Lieutenant can open a path for your own attackers to break through.
Sometimes it's a one-sided board wipe, other times it's a slower, cheaper Murder, but you're almost always happy to see Legion's End show up in your draw step.
Standard isn't the only format feeling the impact of this year's Core Set. Legacy has also picked up some new tools, like this Elf, who gives decks built around Dark Depths another way of searching up their winning land.
The goal is to get Dark Depths in play and then drop a Vampire Hexmage to immediately thaw it out. Elvish Reclaimer helps speed things along by letting you get the frozen monstrosity out of your deck, acting as a redundant copy of the Crop Rotation effect.
He can also get you Thespian's Stage, if you happen to have Dark Depths but no Hexmage for it.
Elvish Reclaimer's 2 toughness also lets it withstand an early ping from Wrenn and Six, another card that's growing popular in the format and is able to kill Dark Confidant, which used to hold this slot in the Dark Depths deck.
Every color offers creatures with abilities that trigger when they enter the battlefield, but it seems some of the best ones in Modern are clustered in white, blue and green. This has lead to a rise in Bant decks that capitalize on hitting those triggers repeatedly, thanks to Soulherder.
Wall of Blossoms, Ice-Fang Coatl, Coiling Oracle and Watcher for Tomorrow all keep the cards flowing, but some versions of the deck also have a built-in infinite loop with Eternal Witness and Time Warp.
The deck is light on removal, but once you start to flicker your creatures with Ephemerate and Soulherders, you'll get so far ahead on value that you'll be able to punch through any board state. Remember, the Soulherder gets bigger every time something is exiled, so Path to Exile and Deputy of Detention get to double as pump spells.
Now that Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Faithless Looting are banned, players will look for the next most broken thing Modern can give them, and looping infinite turns could be high on that list.
A recurring theme to this week's list is that players were anticipating a ban that would shake up Modern. As it turns out they were right, with Hogaak and Faithless Looting both getting removed from the format Monday morning, so anyone who was already trying to move in on another deck looks pretty smart in hindsight.
One way to scratch the itch of "doing something you're not supposed to be able to do in this game" is by using Jeskai Ascendancy to draw through your deck, casting cheap cards that replace themselves, and using Ascendancy triggers to untap Birds of Paradise or Sylvan Caryatid. Unearth a discarded Fatestitcher, and then use it to tap down your opponent's board, before attacking with a hugely inflated creature.
As far as combo decks go, this one is pretty reliable and hard to stop, though still not quite as busted as the graveyard-based strategies everyone was enjoying up until Monday.
It turns out the blood this Demon wants to broker can come from your opponent if you give him a little help sealing the deal.
Amazonian recently streamed a list featuring a three-card combo in Standard. Play your Vilis, and then Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted. Finally, turn one of your opponent's creatures into a copy of Vilis with Metamorphic Alteration.
Then, pass the turn. They'll draw a card and immediately lose life from the passive ability on Ob Nixilis. That life loss will then trigger a card draw from Vilis, and that card draw triggers life loss, and the loop repeats until your opponent is dead.
It's mana intensive, requires three cards, and depends on your opponent having a creature you can enchant, but it's hilarious when it works.
With so many combo decks running around, somebody has to put an end to it, and blue players always seem up to the task.
Gabriel Nasiff experimented with a "greedy big blue" deck and used Archmage's Charm to snatch up opposing one-drops like Noble Hierarch. He also considered taking a Champion of the Parish, but won without it.
Meanwhile, Frank Lepore got his hands dirty with a Sultai Snow Control brew that also found room for the baby Cryptic Command, and used it to counter key cards or draw two fresh ones before doing it again with Snapcaster Mage.
All three modes on the charm are useful, so as control decks continue to refine themselves in response to Monday's format changes, we might see this triple-blue instant make itself at home among our weekly top sellers.
The namesake to a four-color deck that is all over Standard right now, Kethis, the Hidden Hand is the most important part of this combo, and everyone was looking to pick up their copies after seeing it in action.
Kethis and a Diligent Excavator get you started. Target yourself with the Excavator as you play cards like Oath of Kaya, Mox Amber, or Fblthp, the Lost, and fill up your graveyard with more legendary cards. Then, activate Kethis, and start playing those cards out of the graveyard, now targeting your opponent with the Excavator.
You'll be able to burn your opponent out with multiple Oath of Kaya, or grind their deck into dust with Diligent Excavator. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales can help you search for anything you need while also putting more legendary cards into your graveyard, which feeds Kethis, or lets you use Lazav, the Multifarious as an extra copy of the Excavator OR Kethis. It's really hard for opponents to deal with eight copies of each combo piece, especially when they can be played from your own graveyard.
The deck is tricky to pilot and prone to timing out on Magic Arena, as Seth Manfield found out recently, but once you get it rolling, your opponent can't really stop you.