Just in case your FNM is looking a little dreary this time of year, I’m here to save the day with a little holiday spice. Don’t let your Black Friday be filled with boring old Standard decks that every opponent has seen and tested against many times. Kick it up a notch.
Ordeal #8 (Bant Auras)
Holy cow! What’s the ordeal with that deck list? The ordeals are exactly what I’m talking about actually. Anytime you have cards that have a profound impact on limited formats, I recommend taking a serious look at them for their constructed applications. That’s exactly what I have done here.
Here's the ordeal through which I arrived at the list.
On the Road
As I was finishing up a recent journey out in the east coast region of the U.S., I found myself with a plethora of time at my disposal due to a car of sleepy Magic players. My love for driving is seldom rivaled by anyone in my play group so this is not an uncommon sight for a Saturday or Sunday night.
After a long grueling weekend of intense mental competition, what’s better than analyzing the format and trying to find a weakness to exploit? Based on my prior experience, I’d have to argue that nothing is better. After those long weekends, often all I want is to play more.
So there I was, just jamming away to some music. With no conversation to be had I was left to think through the available card pool. I spent my time desperately trying to find the sprouting of a new idea to grab hold of.
Right before the idea hit me, I had been reminiscing about how great Theros Limited was and how I’d played almost as much of it as I had Standard in the last month or two. There is a lot of interaction between players in this limited format except for times when someone has an early and unanswered ordeal.
I wondered about ordeals for a moment. Two of them was nutty because they trigger each other much earlier and you get their spell effect as well as buff your creature. The idea of two ordeals spurred a line of thought that I was not expecting. Could that idea be transferred into a solid Standard deck?
After the auras deck from last Standard season and Boggles in Modern, players are starting to take the idea of an enchantment Voltron more seriously. If you think it through, the idea is solid. Basically, your opponent can never target your creature, so the more auras you put on it the more your opponent can’t handle what you’re doing. If a giant untargetable monster was not enough, it most likely has lifelink so they can’t race you either.
Filling the Gaps
Was this really going to work though? We only have Gladecover Scout and Witchstalker left as decent hexproof creatures, but there are a couple other ones that are okay. Voice of Resurgence, for example, is a solid threat and if they kill it and the enchantments on it, you still receive a creature in return.
There are a couple of decent auras like Unflinching Courage and Ethereal Armor, but the deck was still lacking something. Could ordeals really be the solution? Ordeal of Heliod seemed a likely inclusion, but the green one was underwhelming at best.
At this point, I was already considering playing some temples for the filtering effect, but they could also help me work in a third color. What could a third color even offer? After a moment of thought, it hit me. Ordeal of Thassa!
Now that was exactly what this deck was looking for. Not only did it give you the ability to have double ordeal draws, but it also drew cards so you would always be putting pressure on your opponent. Adding blue just for this one enchantment may seem like a bit much, but the only real drawback is that you are now required to take some damage from your lands.
That cost is well worth how much the blue ordeal brings to the deck. You would be surprised how often the card reads like this:
Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control, then draw two cards.
Tons of decks would play that card if it existed and often that is how good it is in this deck. The combination you need to pull off the change of text is any creature and two ordeals.
For example, turn one Gladecover Scout, turn two ordeal, turn three ordeal and trigger both of them. That’s either 20 life, 10 life and two cards, or four cards in addition to giving your creature three +1/+1 counters!
Strengths and Weaknesses
Obviously that’s one of the deck’s most powerful draws, but it happens with relative frequency. Even if you have to wait until turn four to play your two ordeals on your Witchstalker, no big deal because you will trigger them both on turn five!
Despite having some powerful lines of play, there are occasionally consistency issues. As with any deck like this, you need a healthy mix of lands, creatures, and enchantments. If you draw some of each, you will be golden, but there are times when you draw too many of one type and not enough of another.
Also, despite Favored Hoplite adding much-needed consistency and power to the deck, any type of black removal will deal with him swiftly, so be careful about going all in on that creature against any deck with black mana. Sometimes it's your only option, but overall, the risk is worth the reward. Against any non-black deck, Hoplite plus ordeal is going to be hard to deal with.
A note about Ajani, Caller of the Pride. You may have noticed this planeswalker in the deck and not given him a second thought. He pairs well with an aggressive deck so he seems like an easy inclusion. That was not the case for me however.
The main reason he found a home in the deck was because of his synergy with the ordeals. Ordeals don't care where the +1/+1 counters come from. As long as you have three counters, it will trigger and the spell ability will go onto the stack. So with one creature, one ordeal and Ajani, you can trigger the ordeal on the second attack.
As it stands now, the sideboard is up in the air. My main thought is what to do against Esper Control. I think that matchup may be the worst by a large margin. You can play all the hexproof creatures you want and all the enchantments you desire, but in the end, they just wipe the board with Supreme Verdict.
It's possible that three or four Mending Touch plus just as many Mistcutter Hydras would be enough to take down the most popular control deck of the format. This deck may need a more transformational sideboard strategy. It's possible you might bring in Rootborn Defenses, Fleecemane Lion, Advent of the Wurm, as well as the Mistcutter Hydras.
One card I know will make the sideboard will be Rapid Hybridization. That removal spell will help you deal with Master of Waves, Desecration Demon, or whatever problematic creature your opponent has in their deck. Here is what I would go with based on my limited testing so far.
Overall this is a solid deck with a focused gameplan. Be careful about your mulligans and sideboard cautiously as well.
Not many opponents will be able to handle your hexproof army that is ready with battle enchantments. Most aggro decks can't handle all the lifegain and most midrange decks can't handle the inability to target your dudes. All you need to worry about are decks like Esper.
Hope this ordeal was worth your time. If you find yourself showing your opponent what the ordeal is, post some feedback about your thoughts on the deck.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the #8 ordeal Force!
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