This week I have several wacky brews I'd like to share with you. Standard is far from stale and M15 introduces plenty of new decks for the next few months that previously could not compete for one reason or another. Many of the wacky decks I'm sharing with you today can only be played until rotation, as this three-month window provides a narrow opportunity to try out some brews that you'll never again be able to try. So if you want to bring something new to FNM this weekend, I have all sorts of craziness for you to choose from today.
You like planeswalker? I got planeswalkers.
The basis of this deck was to see how good The Chain Veil is. As it turns out, the card was atrocious. I also originally had Axebane Guardian to combine with Sylvan Caryatid to ramp up to Garruk, Apex Predator. The guardians underperformed, so I cut them for more removal spells. I also moved Thoughtseize from the main into the board.
While The Chain Veil proved lackluster, the core of the deck was strong. Nissa in particular over-performed. It's possible that cutting blue and/or red from the deck will make it better, but you'd basically be replacing those shock lands with basic forests to power Nissa's untap ability. So the cost has more to do with taking damage than it does with color fixing.
You have four Ultimate Price, three Hero's Downfall, and four Detention Sphere to deal with creatures, in addition to blocking with Sylvan Caryatid or neutralizing the threat with one of the many planeswalker abilities that aim to neutralize opposing threats.
In the board you have various anti-control measures in the form of hand disruption and counter-magic. And you also get some life gain against burn and a few more removal spells.
Maybe walkers aren't your thing. Instead, what about a heroic theme that feels like a combo deck with no strings attached?
Ok, there are strings attached, but they are hidden!
This deck is high variance, offering unbeatable nut draws one game and then do-nothing draws the next. If you're ok with getting run over by your own draws a couple times throughout the tournament in exchange for a couple epic games that make for great storytelling, then this deck is perfect for you!
The idea is to play out some creatures and start going crazy with heroic triggers. Take the following draw as an example:
- Turn 1: Sacred Foundry, Akroan Crusader.- Turn 2: Hallowed Fountain, Phalanx Leader. End step (or in response to a removal spell) convoke Ephemeral Shields targeting Akroan Crusader, making a token.- Turn 3: Land, cast Hidden Strings targeting Crusader and a land, ciphering it onto the Crusader. Tap both untapped lands to cast two Coordinated Assaults on the Crusader and the Leader, resolving the Crusader trigger first each time. Then attack with your 3/3 Akroan Crusader, 3/3 Phalanx Leader, three 1/1 haste Soldier Tokens, and one 2/2 Soldier Token. Resolve the six points of first strike damage, playing the ciphered Hidden Strings to target the Phalanx Leader and whatever else. This gives the four Soldier Tokens an additional +1/+1 counter before they deal their 15 points of regular damage. That's 21 damage on turn three!
There are various other combinations of cards that lead to lethal attacks in early turns. Boros Charm serves a dual purpose of targeting a Phalanx Leader to trigger heroic while granting double strike or making your creatures indestructible in the face of mass removal. It can also sometimes deal four to the opponent if you just get an aggressive creature draw and multiple charms. Obelisk of Urd is also a Backup Plan that can be convoked into play early if you go crazy with a pair of Akroan Crusaders.
Ok, was that one a little too wild for your taste? This next one is a bit less flashy and more consistent but can offer some comparably powerful nut draws.
This deck originated from an experience of my opponent casting turn one Thoughtseize, turn two Pack Rat. If you haven't experienced this yet, it's quite the feeling! The opponent essentially makes zero decisions, does nothing the whole game but make Pack Rats, and you are left with the most desperate sense of hopelessness. It's the basis of the most successful deck in Standard, so my thinking was why not double the chances of getting Pack Rat? Hence Chord of Calling.
There are some synergies in this list. Pain Seer is a great creature to convoke with Chord of Calling since it taps him, allowing you to trigger his inspired ability on the ensuing turn. Satyr Wayfinder works well with Whip of Erebos, filling up the yard for it, and also for Deathrite Shaman. Whip is in general a good card that helps us race the aggro decks and obliterate the burn decks.
Some games you won't want to chord for Pack Rat but instead for a Polukranos or Lifebane Zombie, or simply an Elvish Mystic or Deathrite Shaman . Post-board you gain access to a much larger toolbox of options in addition to specific answers to problem cards or strategies.
Out of the board, Reclamation Sage is pretty much for anything with targets. Scavenging Ooze is primarily for Dredge but also comes in against burn. Varolz is a resilient threat vs heavy removal decks. Phyrexian Revoker stops walkers and other important activated abilities. Brindle Boar is against burn and works great with whip. Duress is for burn and control, Doom Blade is for dragons and green dudes and blue dudes, and Golgari Charm is a sort of all-purpose card that regenerates from Supreme Verdict, destroys a Detention Sphere, or wrecks an entire board of one-toughness dorks. You'll know when to bring in Abrupt Decay.
Ok so Chord of Calling is pretty sweet, but if you're into toolboxes, I have another sweet toolbox deck for you!
This is a pseudo-aggressive junk list that uses Heliod's Pilgrim as its value engine.
You curve out with the usual suspects: Elvish Mystic, Fleecemane Lion, and Voice of Resurgence. You also have Cartel Aristocrat since he holds auras especially well, as does Witchstalker. Advent of the Wurm is something to do on the opponent's end step when you don't need to use your removal spell on anything, or it can blow out an attacker midcombat.
The Pilgrim toolbox includes: Pacifism, Underworld Connections, Unflinching Courage, and Raised by Wolves. Pacifism is for times when you need to stop an attacker or blocker. Arrest post-board does basically the same while also stopping a creature with an important activated ability. Underworld Connections is against control or midrange decks, or just later in the game when drawing cards is especially good. Unflinching Courage is great against creature decks and burn. Ordeal of Heliod also comes in against these decks. Raised by Wolves is the big game aura to fetch. My favorite target for it is Witchstalker, not only because he has hexproof but also because he is a wolf and hence counts himself in the Raised by Wolves bonus. And aside from the strategic advantages of targeting him, you get style points for flavor. I mean, come on, the wolf is Raised by Wolves!
Some additional bullets in the board include: Debtor's Pulpit for Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Stormbreath Dragon, Holy Mantle to break through creature defenses, Viper's Kiss for Master of Waves and other one-toughness creatures, Mortal Obstinacy for problematic enchantments, including Detention Sphere and Courser of Kruphix, and a second copy of Underworld Connections for the matchups where you want one even after the first one dies.
While walkers, crazy heroic combo decks, and toolbox strategies are great, they're admittedly not for everyone. No worries, I still got you covered! If you're an aggro play that likes to punch fast and punch hard, check out this Naya Soldiers list!
This one is among the more tuned lists in today's article. It's similar to the Naya Aggro deck that made Top 8 of the SCG Open this weekend in Baltimore, except it has a soldier theme with a bigger finish.
What is that big finish, you ask?
- Turn 1: Elvish Mystic.- Turn 2: Preeminent Captain.- Turn 3: Play a third land, attack with Captain, putting Spark Trooper onto the battlefield attacking. Ghor-Clan Rampager the Spark Trooper, then give it double strike with Boros Charm. That's a 20-point Drain Life on turn three! (in addition to the Captain's two damage)
Aside from this mondo combo kill, the deck as a whole is potent, aggressive, and hard to combat. The soldier package includes: Preeminent Captain, Loxodon Smiter, Viashino Firstblade, and Spark Trooper. That's 16 soldiers, averaging four-points of power each when put onto the battlefield attacking with the Preeminent Captain. You also have Ghor-Clan Rampager to punch through damage and you have Boros Charm and Brave the Elements to finish off an opponent or to protect your team from mass removal.
The deck is necessarily removal light due to the linear needs of the deck (i.e. the need to run a high density of soldiers). You have access to Foundry Champion if you want that, though that makes the deck a bit more reliant on Preeminent Captain and so I left those in the board for matchups without a lot of removal.
Alright, I got one more deck to share with you today. If you really want to be "that crazy mage" at FNM that everyone is talking about by the end of the night, this is what you should play:
Would it really be a wacky brews article without a Shadowborn Apostle deck?
This is similar to the classic Shadowborn Apostle deck (all apostles and swamps and 2 demons) but hedges a bit by offering some alternate plans, making the deck not as all-in. Xathrid Necromancer helps against removal, and when you get to six apostles and sacrifice them all, you not only get the demon but also 6 zombies. Obelisk of Urd can name humans or zombies, depending on which side of the Necromancer you plan to be on. And the Sign in Bloods are to help draw into more apostles after diluting the deck with these alternate plans.
Post-board you have some wiggle room. If you draw Pack Rat, you can be a Thoughtseize > Pack Rat deck, just like black devotion. So instead of being a deck consisting entirely of Shadowborn Apostles, you become a deck entirely consisting of Pack Rats. Yay, Magic is fun!
You can also board in Mogis's Marauder against non-black opponents that plan to block your 3/3 humans (from Obelisk of Urd) and more Sign in Bloods to help draw your apostles more consistently after further diluting the apostle theme with all these non-apostle cards.Conclusions
Standard is by no means a stale format. M15 offers several new cards that make for sweet wacky decks that could not exist until now. While everyone else continues to play the same boring decks they've been playing all year, eagerly awaiting rotation, you could be the mage in the room playing a deck no one else has ever seen before! And now is the perfect time to play a crazy deck because you only have a couple months until half the format rotates out and we restart afresh.
Hopefully one of these decks stands out to you and makes your next Standard tournament that much more enjoyable.
Craig Wescoe@Nacatls4Life on twitter