Your mission should you choose to accept it: Build the best Xenagos, God of Revels deck.
As with any set, some cards stick out more than others in terms of power level and Constructed playability.
There were some that looked over the spoiler and didn’t make it past Bile Blight or Drown in Sorrow because they have been smashing tournaments with Mono-Black Devotion. Others set out right away to incorporating Fated Retribution into their uber-controlling decks. For me, the card that has burned a hole in my brain is Xenagos, God of Revels.
There are many reasons why the community should be brewing with the Gruul god. Here are a few.
The main reason I am drawn to this new god is because it resonates with past experiences I’ve had. The first major tournament I top-eighted was States 2008 right after Shards of Alara was just released. The main card I used to succeed at that event was Sarkhan Vol.
Every time I think of Xenagos, my thoughts go immediately to my favorite planeswalker Sarkhan. Because I was successful and had so much fun with a card of similar design, I was immediately drawn to Xenagos.
It’s good to be able to identify this because sometimes we are drawn to cards that aren’t quite good enough and it results in poor performances until we give up on playing a card. Maybe you have had fun with similar cards to this one and are drawn to it as well, or maybe you identified it as potentially powerful, but either way, we all agree it’s a top ten Born of the Gods card.
Xenagos is strong no matter when you play him. If you have a solid board presence, he will strengthen your position. If not, he helps you set up your next turns. If you are behind, he doesn’t necessarily help you catch up, but he does have the possibility to win from out of nowhere. In the upcoming months, I think there will be many surprise-you’re-dead moments with Xenagos.
Finally, sometimes he will be a creature. The problem is, most of the time you need three other creatures to turn him on. No matter what position you are in the game, doubling the power of your creature is no joke.
Finally, with Fated Retribution most likely dominating games, it is no longer safe to put all your eggs in a basket filled with planeswalkers. Invest in gods against your control opponents because they only have so many Detention Spheres.
3. Has a Home
One important factor for any card is whether or not there is a competitive deck that can support it. Just being a good card is not enough sometimes. Over the years there have been plenty of cards that were amazing but never saw any play because there was not a good enough deck that wanted them.
Some cards are powerful enough to generate decks built around them, but most cards are not. With Xenagos, he is strong enough to build around, but we may not have to. Red-Green Monsters is an established deck in the metagame and many players are slotting him right into that deck.
Building Around Xenagos
Looking to build with Xenagos, my initial reaction is to just jam him into the Green-Red Monsters deck and start playing some games. The deck is an established archetype with reasonable matchups across the board. By adding another powerful dimension to the deck, the overall power of the deck should increase as well.
For some cards, this logic is solid and will take you far in Magic. Basically, if you can identify a card that is not being played in a proven strategy players will not know how to play against you and you will get free wins from them making poor decisions.
This is often the thought process I follow. Either I am building my own deck that attacks the existing metagame by targeting a weakness or I am upgrading a known deck with some new cards to make it play in an unexpected way. Your opponent cannot play around a card they don’t know you have in your deck.
Here is an example of this in action.
As you can see, many of the card choices are fairly expected at this point, but a couple new cards do appear. With Xenagos, God of Revels in the deck I’m more excited about hard-casting Ghor-Clan Rampager than ever before. Just in case you are having a hard time drawing your Rampagers there is a copy of Nylea, God of the Hunt to give your enormous creatures trample.
The other update this deck gets is Courser of Kruphix. Much of the community is catching on quickly to how good this card is. I especially like the synergy between Temple of Abandon, Courser of Kruphix, and Domri Rade. Those three together give this deck a lot of value and help you find your more powerful cards.
Adding more power to an already powerful deck definitely seems like the way to go, but what if we are approaching the situation from the wrong angle? What if there is a more powerful Xenagos deck out there? What kind of Mission Impossible would this be if they solved the mystery within the first scene? I guess we should keep checking under other rocks.
Any deck similar to Mono-Green Devotion I call by the nickname Avalanche. The reason for this nickname is that once the deck gets going it is hard to slow down. If they land a Garruk, you will find yourself buried under a mountain of card advantage and unable to catch up.
This version can bury you just like every other greedy devotion deck but it provides more sources of card advantage with Domri Rade and Courser of Kruphix. This version of a Xenagos deck provides a more solid late game plan than Green-Red Monsters, but to do so, it loses some of its most powerful sequences.
One interaction I especially like is casting Burning Tree Emissary into Xenagos with five mana. This play seems especially great against Supreme Verdict decks because you are following up their board sweeper with a 4/4 haste creature and a hard-to-deal-with god.
Although similar to Red-Green Monsters, this version is quite different. Is it different enough to be the most powerful Xenagos deck though? What about if we step further away from green and have Xenagos as a splash with the green mana instead of the red? That might look something like this.
Now that is a different take on Xenagos. This is a deck that I've played quite a bit over the course of the season so far. One problem this deck had was getting through the defenses of giant creatures. Ghor-Clan Rampager solves that problem and Chandra, Pyromaster provides back up on the task. Think about teaming up Chandra and Xenagos to force through your giant attacker.
Making Boros Reckoner a 6/6 seems like a powerful line of play. In fact, pumping up any of the creatures in this deck seems difficult for your opponent to deal with. Whether it's 4/4 first striking Ash Zealots or 8/5 to 12/1 Frostburn Weirds, Xenagos is a powerful addition to this deck. He does push it more towards a midrange strategy, but this deck was almost there anyway.
No matter which way you try to use Xenagos, God of Revels, he is a powerful midrange tool for many decks. I'm sure there are even more Xenagos strategies out there as well. Once we Journey to Nyx, there may be an entire deck dedicated to Xenagos. Only time will tell how much impact he has on the metagame.
As one of my favorite cards in the set, I will certainly be brewing with him in the weeks to come. My obsession with this new god didn't stop with Standard either. I've been brewing with him as my new general in Commander. If there is interest to see my Xenagos Commander decklist, post in the comments below and I will try to get the first version going for next week.
That's all for me for this week, I hope you enjoyed entering the brewing world with me once more.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Xenagos Force!
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