When testing for a Pro Tour the goal is always to find a great deck that nobody else has found. Unfortunately, this isn't easy, and oftentimes brews end up failing. I want to talk about two decks we found in testing that are certainly competitive and off the radar completely, but not quite ready to take to the Pro Tour – but that doesn't mean there couldn't be further innovations to put them over the top.
A card that is just itching to have a deck built around it. Having played plenty of Dominaria limited, I have seen how busted this can be when you have instants and sorceries to bring back with it. Why couldn't that same power level translate to Standard? It turns out that many decks have trouble answering this enchantment, especially in game one. After looking at both Blue-Red Conjecture and Blue-Black Conjecture respectively, the blue-black version is the one we put the most work into.
Black still has a lot of the best removal spells in the format, and the ability to have a transformational sideboard plan. Here is where the list is at as of right now:
To build around The Mirari Conjecture, you want a deck chalk full of instants and sorceries, which is exactly what you see here. Since you aren't pressuring the opponent's life total, it becomes necessary to have a ton of removal. The fact is the deck really needs to answer every single threat your opponent presents, which isn't an easy task. Vraska's Contempt has gone down in popularity as base black strategies have seen less play. However, it is still quite strong in a format with lots of red aggressive decks. There are very few cards that effectively answer a creature or planeswalker in the format.
Vraska's Contempt also helping to buffer your life total is quite relevant – it's the perfect removal spell for four mana. For the early turns, Fatal Push is the obvious premium removal spell, but after that we are getting creative. Fungal Infection may raise some eyebrows, but it can be really sweet. The deck wants lots of cheap interaction, and there are a fair amount of one-toughness creatures in the format. The Saproling can be relevant or serve as a chump blocker to soak up some damage.
The turn when The Mirari Conjecture hits its third chapter is when you can take over the game. That is a turn where the deck wants to be able to play a bunch of spells in the same turn and bury the opponent in card advantage. Opt is another cheap card that helps smooth out the deck and becomes actual card advantage when you are able to copy it. The deck needs a critical amount of card draw effects to churn through its library while effectively using its mana. Divination is a simple form of card advantage and the spell provides a key sorcery to give the deck targets to return.
Most of the time you can cast a card draw spell on turn three and then end up drawing another four cards when copying it later. Blink of an Eye is also a form of card draw, though its main use is as a tempo play early. The gameplan is to survive until turn seven, which is when The Mirari Conjecture hits its third chapter and the deck starts to make some crazy plays. Blink of an Eye also resets Conjecture if you want to bounce it back to your hand.
So how does the deck actually win? Mastermind's Acquisition can find you win conditions out of the sideboard. Torment of Hailfire late in the game is the most common way to close things out, though The Scarab God is an alternative option. It is true that this plan is very soft to countermagic on your win conditions in game one, so you will have a very difficult time against a deck like White-Blue Control in the first game. However, the deck devotes most of the sideboard to being able to transform into a deck with a better matchup against control after sideboard.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is tough to beat for decks that will inevitably be siding out removal spells. Duress, Negate and Lost Legacy help to clear the way for your high-impact spells like Conjecture to hit the battlefield. Discard plus card advantage is definitely a reasonable approach to take to trying to beat control decks, though having a very bad game one does make the matchup something you want to avoid.
This is a very cool deck, but in the end it was abandoned because it can be quite fragile to specific disruption like countermagic, discard and enchantment removal. It is actually capable of doing some extremely powerful stuff, though.
The other brew I want to talk about is one that actually plays creatures! We have seen prowess decks see plenty of play even in formats like Modern, and there happen to be plenty of options in Standard. Here is a look at Blue-Red Wizard Prowess:
The deck can make these cheap creatures very large. Chart a Course and Opt help you keep cast spells as the game goes long – uou always want to have at least one noncreature spell to continuously trigger Riddleform. While Riddleform helps with prowess, it is essentially a creature that has a scry ability that is relevant late. This deck plays out really well when it draws the right ratio of mana and spells, and Riddleform help makes sure you do that.
Soul-Scar Mage is probably the best creature in the deck because it is a one-mana prowess threat. Its ability also comes up all the time since you have plenty of burn spells that can shrink opposing larger creatures. Soul-Scar Mage is actually much more impactful in this deck than it is in red aggressive strategies. Ghitu Lavarunner plays the role of a sort-of Goblin Guide, and once you get a couple spells in the graveyard it can catch the opponent off guard. It can occasionally be awkward when you don't have a good spot to unload burn early on, but normally it is very strong.
The other one-drop is both a Pirate and a Wizard – Siren Stormtamer protects your larger creatures and straight-up counters Settle the Wreckage, which is a big game against White-Blue Control.
Spellweaver Eternal is one of the weaker creatures because it dies to Goblin Chainwhirler, but it fits the bill of both being a Wizards and having prowess, so there are some in the list. You really just need to be able to untap with one prowess creature to allow the deck to do its thing. Adeliz, the Cinder Glade essentially has prowess itself, while also providing that effect to your other creatures. Three mana is a lot in a deck with such a low curve, but this card is a must-answer.
This deck closes games out fast, as it is a burn deck. The deck plays more burn spells that can go to the face than any other Standard deck I'm aware of. Wizard's Lightning is essentially Lightning Bolt, which is a pretty darn good card. There are very few decks that have life gain in them right now, so having lots of burn means even if the opponent deals with your creature threats you can still topdeck burn to finish off games. This plan is especially strong against control decks that can't put a fast clock on you.
The sideboard provides a variety of options, and I'm not sure that it is configured correctly. Certainly you want some number of counters, as that is one of the big advantages to playing a blue aggressive deck. The countermagic allows you to protect early threats more easily from opposing removal. The mix between Spell Pierce and Negate is up for debate, but the fact that Spell Pierce is only one mana versus two can certainly be relevant.
The deck wants to have game when opponents board in a ton of removal – most decks will try to kill your creatures on sight so going slightly bigger with alternative threats makes sense. The planeswalkers provide that additional angle of attack to make life difficult for the opponent. Hazoret the Fervent is also a strong option against the red decks, as this is still a low-curve deck that can dump its hand quickly when it wants to.
This is a deck I thought I was going to take to the Pro Tour for about a day of testing, and was super excited to do so. In the end though, the mana base felt a little bit inconsistent and I got scared that it just wasn't going to be good enough. Clearly the cards by themselves are underpowered, but they do work really well together. I hope we do get a chance to see someone do well with this strategy at the Pro Tour!
Thanks for reading,