I never thought I would see the day where a) the week before a new set is released, I'm still finding unique Standard decks, and b) a competitive deck found a way to utilize Rally the Ancestors. I bet half of you don't even know what that card is, so I'll give you a second to hover over it and read it.
I keep getting the card confused with the other two infinite white X spells Immortal Servitude and Return to the Ranks. While this one is similar, they all do somewhat different things. When I first saw Rally I thought it was garbage. Well, that's not entirely true. When I first saw it I thought it was amazing, until I read that the creatures didn't get haste. Then I thought it was junk. I mean, what's the point of having all these creatures if they can't attack and they Disappear during your upkeep?
Well, as it turns out, Magic Online user grindol found a purpose for them after all.
He managed a 4-0 finish with the deck, so I was incredibly curious to see what the deck was all about. He had some other very unique choices in the deck as well, like Mogis's Marauders and the recently missing in action Gray Merchant of Asphodel.
Abzan Rally vs. UB Control
Abzan Rally vs. Red Deck Wins
Abzan Rally vs. Heroic Red
Abzan Rally vs. RW Tempo
Wow, Mountains are certainly in season right now. Luckily so is life gain and we're packing plenty of it. Seriously, the life gain from cards like Siege Rhino and Gray Merchant of Asphodel is no joke, and I was incredibly impressed with the Arashin Clerics in the sideboard. Especially since you can return them all with a Rally the Ancestors. Unlike Lone Missionary, a 1/3 basically blocks everything.
Mogis's Marauders is some of the best tech you can get and works to neutralize one of the biggest disadvantages of Rally by giving all of the creatures that just returned to play both haste and intimidate. This is huge and allows you to basically win on the spot if cards like Siege Rhino and Gray Merchant don't finish the job for you (which they often will).
Speaking of Gray Merchant of Asphodel...wow. This guy hasn't done this much heavy lifting since the days of Monoblack Devotion. Not only did the card act as Siege Rhino five through eight, creating at least a six point life swing most of the time, but do you know how much damage multiple gray Merchants can do when they're all returned to the battlefield at the same time? On an empty board, two gray merchants are causing a 16 point life swing, and the board (or your graveyard) is rarely empty when they're entering play. Often times games were won of the incremental life points that Gray Merchants gained for us and took away from the opponent. As Siege Rhino can attest to, the damage really adds up.
My only real issue with the deck is that, despite how unique Rally the Ancestors makes it, it still has this feel of every other Abzan deck. It feels like every deck has Siege Rhino, Sylvan Caryatid, Satyr Wayfinder, Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Abzan Charm in it. It can get a little repetitive, and it feels like if you want to play a deck in Standard, there's already this preconceived shell that you have to use of about 24 or so cards, not including the mana base. I mean, it's a minor quibble, but I do wish cards like Siege Rhino weren't so ubiquitous.
The only cards from Dragons of Tarkir that I could see adding are basic removal or sideboard cards like Ultimate Price, Surge of Righteousness, or Self-Inflicted Wound, none of which I see as incredibly necessary. It might be nice to have some early answers for cards like Monastery Mentor or Goblin Rabblemaster if we encounter them, but we do have some ways around that.
This was another deck I was thrilled to play. It was fun and it did something unlike anything else that is going on in the format right now. As such an obscure, niche card, I would not mind it if Rally the Ancestors became a legitimate thing in Standard. As for me though, that's about all I have for this week. If you guys are interested, you should definitely tune into my Dragons of Tarkir Preview Stream this afternoon at 1 pm PST where I'll be streaming an exclusive Dragons of Tarkir Draft on my Twitch channel along with some other well-known streamers. I would love it if you guys stopped by to hang out! Thanks for reading and I'll catch you on Monday (or this afternoon)!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on Twitter<FrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoons