This is point in Standard where it becomes increasingly harder to find an interesting and unique deck to pilot for you guys. The best decks in the format are well established and everywhere, and the format is about to rotate, so it's hard to find any groundbreaking strategies before everything changes.

Luckily I can still find an interesting deck here or there and there are still cards like Ashen Rider and Obzedat's Aid in the format to pique my interest. I guess I knew there was something special about the eight mana archon when Goblin decks in Legacy began using him as a four-of in their sideboards to combat things like Show and Tell.

While the following deck doesn't often specialize in hard casting the 5/5 behemoth, it is rarely out of the question, and between the ramp from things like Sylvan Caryatid and Sylvan Primordial, along with the consistent land drops from things like Satyr Wayfinder and Grisly Salvage, getting to eight mana is much more common than you might think.

But what exactly are we talking about? Take a look.

DECKID=1195881

While Magic Online user Sharengan89 managed a Top 16 finish in a Premier Event with the list, another Magic Online user, Ithaqua_, also managed a 4-0 finish with the deck in a Daily Event.

Some of the numbers in the deck struck me as a little odd, but we'll go into that a little more after we play a few games with it. For the most part, Sylvan Primordial has been growing on me more and more over the past few weeks. He's just able to take care of so many different threats, while at the same time, holding off so many others.

Anyway, enough about that. Let's see how the deck performs.

Junk Reanimator vs. Heroic Red

Junk Reanimator vs. Monoblack Devotion

Junk Reanimator vs. Jund Midrange

Junk Reanimator vs. RW Devotion

Man, what a heartbreaking 3-1. We had very little we could do against the RW Devotion list, but thems the breaks I suppose. That's one thing I dislike about Standard right now, and I even took to ranting about it on my Facebook page last night. Basically there are so many decks in the format that have their own version of Hidetsugu's Second Rite, only instead of saying, "If target player has exactly ten lifeā€¦" they say, "If target player has, you know, fifteen or less life, give or take..." I guess I just hate the fact that you could feel like you're at a pretty healthy and stable 12 life, with bigger creatures that are able to block theirs, and they can play one card that deals you nine damage, essentially taking you out of the game on the spot. And this isn't even an extreme Lava Axe that has no other value. No, they even get a decent sized creature out of it! Don't even get me started on if they have a second one. The game is just over without you actually interacting! Yes, Standard is still relatively healthy and no, these interactions don't completely dominate; they just have a way of completely discouraging interaction and making games immensely one-sided.

Anyway, now that I've gotten that little rant out of the way, I thought this deck was awesome, and being able to remove multiple key permanents with Ashen Riders - that have lifelink no less - was incredibly gratifying. During one game that I didn't record I managed to get the same Elspeth, Sun's Champion into play three separate times thanks to three separate Obzedat's Aids.

One card I mentioned being unimpressed with - and I can't believe I'm saying it - was Pack Rat. I never wanted to spend mana to make more Pack Rats unless I was going "all in" on the Pack Rat Strategy. Otherwise I just wanted to have another Lotleth Troll which had a much better chance of helping me survive until I could start reanimating things. Let alone discarding to Lotleth Troll is free, which is a huge boon as it helps us continue to play our two mana spells while getting things into the graveyard; with the Pack Rat we essentially had to use a turn to discard something like a Sylvan Primordial or an Ashen Rider, when those turns could be better used making sure we hit all of our land drops.

Even after having played the deck a good number of times, I'm still immensely impressed with how versatile Obzedat's Aid is. I knew it was awesome when I first saw it spoiled, but I'm super stoked that it's finally getting a little time in the sun. Being able to get back anything from an Elspeth, Sun's Champion, to a Whip of Erebos, to an Obzedat, Ghost Council himself is just huge.

One card that I think will make a great addition to the deck is Banishing Light. This was a card that non-blue white lists didn't currently have access to, and it's great to finally have an "exile any permanent" effect for the white decks that weren't also utilizing blue mana.

Unfortunately neither of the two on-color gods seem to have a real place in the deck. Pharika, God of Affliction doesn't really do anything we want aside from making a couple snakes for us, and Athreos, God of Passage doesn't really have any interest to us. If our Ashen Riders are going to the graveyard, the last thing we're really going to care about is a three point life swing. While I'll give you that it might be nice for our opponent to take three from each of our little nerds going to the graveyard, this isn't really the kind of deck that can take advantage of that sort of thing anyway.

One card that will definitely find a place in the deck is Temple of Malady however. Not really sure how much needs to be said about the card. It's just an obvious inclusion that should help the deck out a ton, considering it's the scry land that can help cast all of the deck's two-drops.

Either way, the deck was a blast, and it's always nice being able to beat some of the top tier decks with a creation like this. I would personally add one Obzedat, Ghost Council to the maindeck, probably in place of one of those Pack Rats, because his interaction with Whip of Erebos is just too good to pass up. If you guys are looking for a fun deck that takes advantage of some of the lesser played rares from the past couple sets, look no further. I actually loved this deck and I can't wait to give it some tweaks and play it a little more. I guess the biggest question is whether or not the deck is better than BG Dredge, but honestly, it's a completely different animal, so just have fun with it. That's all I have for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!

Frank Lepore
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