This past weekend a decklist found its way into my inbox. I no longer take submissions because I usually don't have too much time to go over decklists these days but this one was kind of out of the blue and caught me at a good time. I was glad I took a look. I was all set to cover a Modern deck today, but considering my other article for the week is our exclusive preview card on Wednesday, I figured I would make today my Standard article, complete with a deck that largely survives rotation.
Ever since Phenax, God of Deception was spoiled I wanted to find a home for the milling god. Two things that initially bothered me were that Phenax could not tap himself without being a creature, and unless creatures had haste, his ability took a turn to get going.
Nevertheless, two brave souls, Kyle Yarborough and Kevin Fricke, managed to find a home for our vagabond god. Take a look at the following list.
They mentioned that the deck mostly survives rotation with the only card leaving the format (other than shocklands) being the Axebane Guardian. Right now they seem to be looking toward Rattleclaw Mystic to take that spot, but something else could easily be spoiled that helps the deck. Did I mention we have an entire wedge devoted to BUG in this block? Similarly we also have a wedge that has access to BG cards and a wedge that has access to UG cards. This means that the potential additions and tweaks to the deck could be numerous.
Anyway, without explaining too much more, take a look at this deck beauty in action.
Phenax BUG vs. Orzhov Control
Phenax BUG vs. Golgari Midrange
Phenax BUG vs. UG...Draft Deck?
Phenax BUG vs. Monoblack Devotion
Oh man, Pack Rats make me sooooo salty! Sorry guys. It's just infuriating to basically solitaire against one card for an entire game, let alone over multiple matches. Thankfully we won't have to deal with it for too much longer. The bigger news is that...guys...I was milling people out! In Standard!
One thing you might notice is that it's somewhat difficult to actually "turn on" Phenax. Despite the fact that it would be cool to do so, this isn't really that big of a deal. We never really needed him, and to be honest, we never really needed Wall of Frost to win either. Seven toughness is huge, but the three and four toughness creatures were doing just fine on their own. Heck, I was even activating Mutavaults solely to mill for two!
Another awesome interaction is with Nissa, Worldwaker. Sure, her abilities are incredibly powerful on their own, but every land she turns into a 4/4 is another four cards we can mill. We can even start using her untap ability for another four cards in addition to that each turn, let alone if we have multiple 4/4 elementals in play.
Prophet of Kruphix is one of the most important cards in the deck, but we can actually function just fine without it. We basically get to use every mill activation twice, and with even two other three toughness creatures in play that's 18 cards a turn hitting the graveyard. In case you weren't aware, this adds up surprisingly quick.
Then of course there's always the other strategy of just attacking with creatures like Polukranos, World Eater, Courser of Kruphix, and 4/4 Nissa lands. It definitely works, but you can tell how effective a deck's mill plan is when the deck would rather tap Polukranos to mill five cards than actually attack. You could even monstrous him for a couple more cards per turn!
Genesis Hydra is one of the sweetest cards in the deck, but we really want to try and wait until we have seven mana to cast him. Three and five mana are the sweet spots in the deck, but the five-drops are much more powerful. Hitting a Prophet of Kruphix of a Phenax, God of Deception is just huge for us.
Dictate of Kruphix was another interesting card. I never wanted to give our opponent free cards, but honestly, the extra cards were often very good for us and helped us during some dry spots. Three seems like the right number here, and the two blue mana can also help contribute to activating Phenax.
As I mentioned, basically the entire deck remains legal post-rotation, which is huge. There could even be some potential gems from Khans of Tarkir that come out and make great additions. I mean, the Sultai clan is a self-mill clan, but maybe they'll help us mill the opponent with a card or two. Who knows?
That's all for today. This week I'll be heading to Wizards of the Coast in Seattle for the Magic Online Community Cup! Make sure to follow us all week at the mothership and on TwitchTV. Thanks for reading, and I'll catch you on Wednesday with our exclusive Khans of Tarkir preview card.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV