Five Decks You Can’t Miss This Week
Welcome back! Now that we've had some time to play with Gatecrash, let's take a look at the impact it's had on our favorite constructed formats. We've got five awesome decks this week, two from Standard, two from Modern, and the last of our Gatecrash Commander decks. Let's take a look:
This Standard format has been more or less defined by various three and four color midrange decks. We've seen Jund, Naya, Bant, and various combinations of four colors between those. Gatecrash brings with it all kinds of new opportunities just because the mana for some of these decks gets so much better with the addition of five new shocklands. One such example is Damaja's RUG midrange deck, splashing white for awesome cards out of the sideboard and Restoration Angel in the main deck. Here's the list he used to 4-0 a Standard Daily Event:
RUG Midrange - Standard | Damaja, 4-0 Standard Daily Event
I'll be honest, Yeva, Nature's Herald is what made this deck jump out at me. Who plays around that card in this format? And once you resolve it, what exactly is your opponent supposed to do? I hear that instant speed Thragtusks are pretty unfair. If we want to head off for Magical Christmas Land, how about flashing in Prime Speaker Zegana? Seems good.
Speaking of Zegana, she's the other exciting piece of technology out of this deck. Other midrange decks have to choose between their Thragtusk and Sphinx's Revelation. You get to cast a giant creature and refuel, and rebuy Zegana with Restoration Angel later. Card for card, this deck is just more powerful than all of the other midrangey decks in the format. You may be ground out by Nephalia Drownyard, but I can't imagine you consistently losing to another Thragtusk deck.
The thing is, you haven't even given up too much of your aggro match up. You still have Thragtusk and have added the Izzet Staticaster plus Nightshade Peddler combo to keep the board under control. You'll still get run over from time to time, but you've definitely got game against the aggro decks of the format.
Midrange isn't your thing? Looking to bring the beatdowns? Take a look at PauloCabral_Br's take on a Green aggro deck splashing black for Dreg Mangler and a few removal spells. Paulo managed to 4-0 a Standard Daily Event earlier this week, and has put up a few 3-1 finishes as well with comparable lists. Check it out:
Gb Aggro- Standard | PauloCabral_Br, 4-0 Standard Daily Event
This deck has a couple of aggressive creatures, backed by a few removal spells and pump spells. Pretty standard for Green aggro decks. There are a few important interactions with the format though. First and foremost, Dryad Militant. This buys you time against Snapcaster Mage decks and shuts off Think Twice and Unburial Rites, all on a 2/1 for for one. There's not much more you could ask from a card in this format.
Next let's take a look at Wandering Wolf. This card doesn't seem like much on its own. Sure, it's a sweet combo with Rancor, but is that worth it on its own? The key here is that pump spells are very good in this format. They let you counter Pillar of Flame and Searing Spear, sometimes while pushing through extra damage, and let you push your tempo advantage against other creature decks. Let's get back to Wandering Wolf. Wandering Wolf turns your Giant Growths into Lava Spike, helping you force through the last few points of damage on stalled boards.
You've even got the Predator Ooze plus Ulvenwald Tracker interaction to take over creature mirrors. Considering that Searing Spear is the premiere removal spell of the format, Predator Ooze is going to be pretty tough to answer. He doesn't match up especially well against Boros Reckoner, but what does?
The best part about this deck is that it's very, very cheap for a standard deck. You could pretty easily cut out the Black splash if dual lands are out of your budget, and the rest of the deck is very easy to pick up. If you're looking to ease your way into Standard, this may be the deck for you!
Let's take a look at a few Modern decks. With the banning of Bloodbraid Elf, most people expected the format to slow down. Generally speaking, that's what we've seen. Some Jund lists are adopting aggressive creatures like Putrid Leech and Bloodhall Ooze to keep up the pressure, but Supreme Verdict and Cryptic Command are making a comeback.
Along with those other four casting cost blue spells, Gifts Ungiven is making a triumphant return to Modern. I'm not going to pretend to be impartial here; Gifts is my favorite card by a significant margin, and I'm super excited to see it putting up results. Here's a pretty typical take on the Modern Gifts Rock deck, built and played by The_Sheriff in a Modern Daily Event:
Gifts Rock - Modern | The_Sheriff, 4-0 Modern Daily Event
Plan A is to Gifts Ungiven for Unburial Rites and a fatty like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobyte, failing to find two more cards. Both go to your graveyard, you reanimate a fatty that locks your opponent out of the game. Easy, right?
So what happens when that won't work? There's no end to the flexibility of Gifts Ungiven piles in this deck. Control mirrors? get Life from the Loam, Tectonic Edge, Raven's Crime, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Grind out a mana and card advantage and worry about winning later.
Affinity? let's try Engineered Explosives, Academy Ruins, Ghost Quarter, and Life from the Loam. Explosives will sweep their board away while Ghost Quarter keep them off of their various Nexus manlands.
You even have the Liliana of the Veil and Lingering Souls plan that helps Jund grind out other decks in the mid game. The difference is that you have a better long game with Gifts Ungiven as a tutor and card advantage engine. Snapcaster Mage is an awesome addition to the Gifts deck, and adds a ton of flexibility to the piles. This deck is very good at leveraging the power of one- and two-ofs, which is a huge asset against a metagame as diverse as Modern.
This next deck is Modern legal, but was built for a Modern variant supported by Gatherling.com where all Modern-legal commons and uncommons are playable. Brief aside: the player-run events are a great way to start competing on Magic Online without investing hundreds in digital cards. You can build reasonable a deck and get started for under $20, and they have an awesome community that's more than happy to help the new players.
I picked this deck in particular because it's a very fast, if inconsistent combo deck that doesn't have to be all in. ztrman took this explosive deck to a 2-2 finish, but there's plenty of room to improve. Let's take a look:
Blistercoil Combo - Modern | ztrman, 2-2 Player Run Modern Event
So how does this deck work? You can combo off as early as turn two with Blistercoil Weird plus Paradise Mantle. Once you've assembled that, your cantrips effectively pay for themselves while pumping Blistercoil Weird. Gitaxian Probe becomes a ritual, and you chain cantrips until your Weird is lethal or until you find enough Probes and spells to Grapeshot your opponent to death.
As is, this deck is explosives but fragile. The shell is very powerful, and may be a good complement to the Niv Magius Elemental combo deck that shows up from time to time. If you added Delver of Secrets or Kiln Fiend to this shell, increased the land count, and considered adding some disruption or reach, it's entirely reasonable that you could have an aggro back up plan.
Over the last four weeks we've taken a look at Commander decks featuring four of the new Gatecrash Legends. The only one left is Aurelia, the Warleader, and that's what we're going to look at this week. The awesome thing about Aurelia is that she does something very powerful and generic. A free Relentless Assault on a an efficient creature isn't exactly hard to take advantage of; that means that there are any number of powerful things you can do with it.
I decided to feature Kamotz's take on Aurelia because he shows off a number of awesome interactions that really pile on the pressure. If you're lo0king to get people dead, this may be the deck for you:
Aurelia Aggro - Commander | Kamotz
The exciting thing about Kamotz's deck is the number of things that trigger when creatures attack. Hero of Bladehold. Hellrider. Sword of Fire and Ice and friends. This deck is built around maximizing the number of attackers you can put together and the amount of damage you can do.
Godo, Band Warlord and Aggravated Assault are great secondary copies of Aurelia and interact incredibly well with the rest of your deck. Gratuitous Violence and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight let you crank up the damage ad start killing multiple players in one turn.
Generally, the biggest concern about playing a deck like this is that you fold to a Wrath of God since you have to invest so many cards to generate threatening amounts of damage in a 40 life format. Kamotz handles this by using Planeswalkers to generate card advantage, and using creatures that either threaten enough damage on their own or rebuild your board advantage after a sweeper.
I mean, if someone casts an Inferno Titan, you don't really want to spend a Wrath of God on just that. But are you really going to let them untap and cast Aurelia, the Warleader to go with that Titan? That's the power of this style of deck. All the cards are threatening enough on their own, and absolutely devastating in conjunction with one another.