It seems hard to believe that after all this time pairing Innistrad block with newly printed Return to Ravnica sets that players would still be innovating in this format.
There are more playable cards in each set now than ever before. Going forward, unless Wizards has a major change in philosophy, Standard will continue to be ripe for brewing. Even if you think you have exhausted all of your creative resources, there are still more possibilities. Even if all you do is change two card slots in a major deck, that could take the deck to the next level.
Take Jund for example. This deck has been a powerhouse for most of the time since Return to Ravnica was introduced to the format. When M14 becomes legal though, the legend rule change might shake things up more than expected. What if someone decided to play both Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed and Garruk, Primal Hunter in Jund because the new rule lets you upgrade (or downgrade) your planeswalkers. That would be a major innovation! I still have no clue whether or not that is good enough, but the possibility has intrigued me since I heard about the rules change.
Before I get to M14 next week, I have some adventure filled deck lists to share with you.
One Combo Out, One Combo In
Until this week, I thought that I'd played every version of Aristocrats. It's no secret that I like some aristocratic action. Whether it be RWB, GWB, or changing up the card selection in one of those versions, I've battled many opponents with all different versions of the decks.
This week I have been working on Angel of Glory's Rise and I thought, what if I put it into an Aristocrats shell? It would be great. I can aggro some opponents out with a fast curve, and then if the game goes late get that angel online to finish them off. This line of thought brought to you by the committee to bring down the Jund menace. Currently I'm the only member, but you're welcome to join.
Seriously though, I cannot seem to beat Jund. No matter what deck I decide to play, even if the Jund match up is decent, I have been failing to beat that deck all season. Humans Reanimator is the best deck to fight against Jund, but it's wildly inconsistent. This was my attempt to streamline that deck. Take a look.
This deck turned out to be sweet. There are plenty of possible aggressive draws involving Champion of the Parish, but you can also play a more midrange game with Fiend Hunter and Falkenrath Aristocrat. The ability to make a turn three 5/5 flyer is still present so you will get some free wins with that interaction.
What I like best is that Faithless Looting smooths your draws when you are uncertain what your plan to go for. Often it's not a good idea to go all in on the reanimation plan. Try to kill them with any other line of play first and then use the Angel combo as a back-up late game plan.
You don't fill your graveyard as much with this version as the full-on combo deck did, so keep that in mind when you are trying to reanimate. Unburial Rites can just be used for value as well to return whichever creature you need for the situation you've found yourself in.
Interestingly, lands are in important resource in this deck. Often you have the choice to discard them when you loot. This leads to a decision tree where you need to balance the need for aggression with the ability to hard cast Angel in the late game. It's a delicate balance, so tread lightly.
Looks Can be Deceiving
Don't skip over this deck list or you will miss some intricate differences. Can you spot the stand-out cards that differ from every other deck list?
UWR Aggro Control
If I hadn't given you a heads up, you may have skipped right over this deck. After all, it's just UWR right? Did you see the maindeck Boros Charms though!?
My goal here was to focus on how impressed I have been with Geist of Saint Traft lately. Obviously this is a multi-format powerhouse and one of the best three-cost creatures in the game, but from my perspective, this legendary creature has taken a drastic dip in play. After playing with him again in the Izzet Blitz deck, I saw how unprepared my opponents were and how easily he closed games. There are 16 ways to protect your Geist in this deck and that's not counting Snapcaster Mage!
Unlike many of the other versions of UWR running around the format, this is an aggro-control deck. The way this deck plays is very similar to the Modern deck I modeled it after. You have some early aggression that's backed up by counters and burn. This deck gives you many ways to win as well as the ability to interact with your opponent's game plan. On top of the pile of burn, you have a ton of interactions that can win the game for you seemingly out of nowhere. Here's a short list.
Boros Reckoner + [Card]Harvest Pyre/[Card] is usually ten or more damage!
End of turn Restoration Angel, then play Aurelia on your turn for twelve damage!
There are tons of different lines of play and many different avenues that will lead you to victory. Choose wisely.
Going Deep into the Graveyard
While playing with Izzet Blitz, I took note of the insane amount of cards you can see with both Faithless Looting and Izzet Charm. Although I chose to cut Izzet Charm, I replaced it with a split spell that's even better. Once you have all those cards in the graveyard, you can gain such an advantage especially if some of them have flashback. When you are discarding cards that flashback, you are ending up with more cards instead of down a card like typical looting effects would normally leave you. Dive into this crazy deck list with me!
Loot your way to victory
Wow, is that a crazy mana base or what! Despite it being a four-color mana base, it is reasonably consistent. You have twelve sources of your main colors, blue and red, and eight of white and black. With your ability to filter through cards, you gain even more consistency. On top of your four color craziness, you can still cast Boros Reckoner every time you have three mana, which is only a little mind blowing.
What's the point of this pile? I'm not saying this deck is going to win the next Grand Prix or anything, but you do have many routes to victory. It is completely feasible to kill your opponent from twenty by casting Harvest Pyre on your Boros Reckoner. Sometimes you have that many cards in your graveyard.
You also have the powerful Angel of Despair replacement that you can reanimate to decimate your opponents field. There are also a number of cards in the deck specifically designed to slow down your opponent until you can find and assemble a combo. Usually you won't kill your opponent with one of the combos, just give you the opportunity to defeat them. There is not as much graveyard hate as you think there is in the format right now and this deck is designed to take advantage of that fact. Plus, milling yourself is pretty fun sometimes.
That's all for me this week guys. Hopefully this article is proof that you should never stop trying to work on a format. Even when you are coming down the final stretch of a format's life, there are still new ideas to try. M14 seems poised to shake up the format a bit, but only time will tell how much of an impact these new core set cards will have. Next week I'll break down the new cards and tell you all about the great ones as well as the hidden gems you might not have considered.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Creative Force!
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