M14 Standard Prepwork

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Mutavault is coming for you!

In my Top 10 review of M14 last week, I stated that Mutavault was the best card in M14. That fact was solidified for me over the last week. Between my own brief testing, articles from other writers and testing videos, I can assure you we'll see lots of Mutavault through the next year.

The mana in Standard is good enough right now to support colorless lands. Now you need to decide if you should be playing a man land or a utility land. There are some decks that still want Kessig Wolf Run or Gavony Township, but many would rather have another threat.

Another underrepresented quality of Mutavault is its synergy with tribal decks. Its a strong reason to explore all available tribes in the upcoming months before Theros.

The other topic that has been hot on Twitter this past week is how much Mutavault will cost you to purchase if you are interested in picking them up. The current price for the land is set at $14-15, but where will it go from there?

It is my opinion that this is the lowest it will be. Sure, in a month it may be a couple dollars less than that, but I think this is the bottom for the rare. Either way, investing in your copies now is a solid plan. If the card hits $20+ in the fall, you can't complain about it anymore though. Even if it dips in the short term, your investment is solid long-term. As for me, I will get my set quickly and maybe an extra one for later.

Key New Decks

There are some important new decks you'll want to be aware of for any Standard event you attend in the near future. M14 brings a lot of brand new playable cards to the format.

Although many of the cards provide updates to current strategies, some of them give new dimensions to the deck and some are powerful and interesting enough to build new decks around.

The most obvious updates are to Jund Midrange and Bant Hexproof. Scavenging Ooze, Fierce Witchstalker and Gladecover Scout are all solid cards worth considering in those two decks respectively. I expect both of those decks to see a considerable amount of play so watch out for them.

For the most part, they will just be better versions of the same powerful decks. Neither of these decks are adding any broken cards, rather they are becoming more resilient and consistent. If your deck was weak to either of these decks before, it will be worse now.

Building with Necromancer

Even with preexisting decks getting sweet updates, there are a couple potent new strategies you need to be aware of. The first card you will run into is none other than my favorite card in the set!

Let me tell you, this card is way better than people are giving it credit for. While Pillar of Flame is a one-card answer, your opponent won't be able to send their killing flames at all of your creatures. In this case, costing three mana is a benefit because of when it comes down in your curve.

Think about it this way. What if all of your creatures could be better Doomed Travelers? Now think about Doomed Traveler with Xathrid Necromancer. That's right, not only do you get the 1/1 as normal, you also get a 2/2! When you have two Necromancers, the effect stacks leaving your opponent with very few ways to win the game.

Take a look at what a normal B/W Humans deck might look like utilizing the new Rotlung Reanimator.

What I like about this deck is that it's full of powerful synergy. What I'm unsure of is whether or not this deck is better than Junk Aristocrats. The two are quite similar in terms of how they play, but which is better? Only time, testing, and tournaments will provide our answer.

Another part of the deck I don't like is the lack of sacrifice outlets. There really are not good options for this part of the strategy in either black or white. Either they are not powerful enough (Bloodthrone Vampire), or they cost too much (Maw of the Obzedat). We could branch out into another color but most players would find that too risky.

Overhyped Hydras?

The next card to consider is the most-talked-about card in the set.

You cannot argue that this card offers an unparalleled power level if allowed to live. Some strategies may just fold when their opponent casts this monster. My question has been, will it survive? Statistically, there will be times the hydra is allowed to attack, but I wonder how often that will be.

As a side note, its nice to finally see Wizards print a hydra creature that truly exemplifies the power of the mythical beast.

The best way to ensure the hydra gets to attack is to give it haste. There are actually quite a bit of options that fill this role. Here is the list: Lightning Mauler, Hellraiser Goblin, Consuming Fervor, Ogre Battledriver and Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch.

Some of these options are better than others. Take a look at one possible build.

New Fires
by Adam Yurchick

This is one of the deck ideas I have been working on, but Adam had made much more progress over at than I had. Other than the name, I didn't change anything about the deck.

If this is a strategy you are interested in exploring, make sure to check out his thorough article on the deck and the process of how he got to this list. To sum it up, hydra with haste is sick. If you are on the opposing side of the match, make sure to save your removal for that one specific card otherwise your defeat will be quick.

It is uncertain to me whether this version is good enough to succeed, but the theory is solid. This is at the very least a great starting point for the strategy.

Deck in Progress

For my next number, I have something brand new up my sleeve. I thought that I wouldn't be the only one trying to do something broken with the new M14 cards, but I haven't seen any other authors talking about this concept yet. There have been a small number of decks, like the one above, which have included the new card in question, but many fewer than I anticipated. The card?

That's right, one of the new hyped planeswalkers! New Garruk seems so amazing to me that I can't understand why more writers aren't brewing with him. Yes he costs six mana, but he certainly packs a punch.

I like him quite a bit in the Fires deck to refuel your hand, but my mission has been to break that second ability. Take a look at my current idea on how to do just that.

G/R Ramp

This combo-esque midrange aggro deck is a work in progress, but hopefully it will get the gears turning for you. If you have any suggestions for the deck, post in the comments.

The general idea is to use your sick mana generation capabilities to ramp out a Garruk or Craterhoof. You can also use that pile of mana to Bonfire your opponent to death. It is fully possible that a combination of this G/R Ramp deck and the Fires deck above should be considered as well. The point is, we have just the right number of elves to ramp quickly into something.

The final deck I want to share with you today is my current pet project. As I have said a million times, Xathrid Necromancer is my favorite new card. It is so much fun to play with and it reminds me of when I first started playing back in Onslaught.

Above, when I talked about B/W Humans, I identified some weaknesses with the strategy. My main problem was there is only one sac outlet if you stick to two colors. When I think about playing that deck, I want to be able to sac all my creatures and kill my opponent. I want my Blood Artist to turn into a Delayed Blast Fireball! This is my crazy attempt to do so.

The first thing you should notice is that either I am completely nuts for running that mana base or I'm a genius. Normally I wouldn't be so arrogant, but I put a ton of effort and time into designing this three-color mana base that can support the format's best new land.

I'm here to tell you that it is just as consistent as any other three color deck in the format! With Cavern of Souls, it actually may be a little bit better. Cavern naming either human or vampire is all you need most of the time to smooth out your draw.

Fiend Hunter did not originally start in the deck. Well, he did, but I was using him as a proxy for Banisher Priest. As it turns out, you can't do the trick of sacrifice the Banisher Priest with his trigger on the stack to permanently remove a creature from the game. This is an interaction that comes up often enough because with your eight sac outlets as well as Necromancer to give you a creature anyway, this trick gets you out of many sticky situations.

For now, I am trying Fiend Hunter because he is synergistic with the deck as well as a removal spell. It's possible that this aggro deck doesn't need a 1/3 to fill this role though. When your opponent taps out for anything other than a Thragtusk, this is a great way to negate their whole turn and keep getting damage in.

This deck has so many intricacies that every game is like finding a new way the deck can win. Here are the main ways.

First you have the crazy two or three Champion of the Parish aggro draws that just beat some opponents before they can get set up. Second, you have the ability to combo and make a 5/5 flyer on turn three. After that there are the double Necromancer draws where you can just sac your board to make more 2/2s than your opponent can block to survive.

Finally, with A-Blood Artist and Necromancer, you usually only need to do about ten damage to your opponent before you can sacrifice your board to kill them. Don't forget that all of your humans give +1/+1 counters to your Falkenrath too. Sometimes, just sacrificing your board to make a huge flying vampire is all you need to win.


As for the sideboard, although it may seem all over the place, there is a plan for every card. My focus was on three particular matchups. I wanted a bunch of cards to bring in against Jund that would fill diverse rolls. Here's what I plan to bring in for that matchup as well as most control matchups.

Since I believe that Bant Hexproof was the deck that improved the most with M14, I wanted a plethora of removal that would actually work against them as well. It's possible that I even want a few more cards for that match. I think the cards are obvious for that match but here they are.

The main reason the Curse of Death's Hold are in the board is for the mirror and most other aggro decks. The Doom Blade is applicable in many matches and could change to something else if needed. I really just wanted another answer to Kalonian Hydra, in case that is an issue.

Now, consider yourself prepared for the new Standard environment, or as prepared as you can be. Feel free to comment on this or other decks below!

Until Next Time,

Unleash the M14 Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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