A Deck for Every Format

There are so many awesome things in Magic right now that I had a hard time pinning down what exactly I wanted to write about this week. I have been playing more Magic than I have in a long time thanks to all my Twitch streams, and I have been having a blast with a ton of different decks while doing so. Today, instead of the deep dives I often do into a single decklist, I am going to give you all the highlights of my favorite deck in each of Magic’s major Constructed formats currently.

Legacy — Land Nauseam

At the start of December, I did a deep dive into this archetype that you can find here. The iteration of the deck that I talked about there was fairly close to what someone else had originally given me. I was still new to the deck, so I did not want to stray too far from the core ideas it had.

Since then I have tried a few different things, and I am currently playing the following decklist that I am very happy with:


While the core of the deck is still the same as before — two combos and the ability to play Chalice of the Void — there are a few key differences here.

First, I have removed the Grapeshot from the main deck that previously served as a “win condition”. While it made executing the combo faster, in almost every situation where we drew our deck with Ad Nauseam, the Grapeshot was redundant because we could have just as easily Cunning Wished for Lightning Storm to kill them. Sure, there are corner cases where they gain a lot of life or our Cunning Wishes get Surgically Extracted, but these are edge cases and not worth playing around by putting an awkward card like Grapeshot in our main deck.

Speaking of awkward cards in our main deck, I cut all of the Urza’s and Mishra’s Baubles that the previously decklist had. While these replaced themselves for “free” they were often clunky to cycle through since they do not draw a card immediately and lost us games when we found what were effectively do-nothings when we needed action. Plus, with the removal of Grapeshot, we no longer needed them to generate lethal storm count.

The last main deck cut was the singleton copy of Ad Nauseam. While having it allowed us random combo draws for three less mana than Cunning Wish for Ad Nauseam, it came at the cost of adding five converted mana cost to our deck. I think having a slightly cheaper spell-based combo draw in our deck was not worth the extra converted mana cost that Ad Nauseam took up.

All of these cuts allowed me space to add additional copies of Dark Depths as well as three copies of Vampire Hexmage, since I trimmed seven total converted mana cost from the deck. This allows us more consistent access to our faster combo, while still leaving us a toolbox and alternative combo kill with Cunning Wish.

I also had room to add a few new utility cards that we can search up with Tolaria West to help us in different spots:

Walking Ballista

Slaughter Pact is just a playable removal spell that does not have a converted mana cost. It can take annoying hate bears off the table or kill a flipped Delver of Secrets. Pact of Negation has been especially awesome in this deck. When we combo with Ad Nauseam we kill them in the same turn, so Pact of Negation effectively becomes a 1 card Force of Will. We also often play out extra mana ahead of schedule thanks to Moxen and Ancient Tomb, so we can often play Pact of Negation “the honest way” against other combo decks when their draws come together faster than ours.

Walking Ballista might seem like an odd inclusion, but much like Slaughter Pact, it is simply a removal spell that does not have a converted mana cost. Decks with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben were some of this deck’s hardest matchups, and I think Walking Ballista goes a long way to improving those matchups; possibly even to the point of making them favorable.

If you are looking for something sweet and different to play in Legacy, I would highly recommend giving this deck a try. It has a very fun, dynamic gameplan that keeps your opponent on their toes, since they never know which angle you are going to attack them from.

Modern — Cobra Kiki Chord

A few weeks back, I wrote about a newer combo deck in Modern that was playing old Standard all-stars Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai. While this deck was a lot of fun, it just was not the same as grinding people out with a more value-oriented {W}{G} creature combo deck. Specifically, the lack of instant speed threats really made the deck feel less fun to me while playing it.

This got me thinking — what if I took the powerful Lotus Cobra + Renegade Rallier shell and shoved it into one of my favorite decks of all time? After doing just that, I have here to share with you the latest evolution of Kiki Chord:


In addition to Lotus Cobra and Renegade Rallier producing silly amounts of mana in this deck, they also help solve one of the issues this archetype has always had — a lack of pressure. Instead of zero power Wall of Roots and Wall of Omens, we now have two and 3 power creatures to pair with our Restoration Angels to apply a real amount of pressure in games where we are not comboing.

While I do not think this deck is “tier 1” in Modern, I think it is reasonably competitive. Any game you do not just get run out of you have a real chance and get to be fairly interactive in. Restoration Angel is also a fantastically fun Magic card to cast, and I would highly recommend blinking a Renegade Rallier in response to removal at least once if you have not done it before.

Standard — Grixis Removal

The hammer fell on Monday, and with it went the Standard neighborhood we knew. Regardless of how you feel about the bannings, the fact remains that we finally have a new Standard format to tackle, and I am kind of looking forward to it, personally. While many people are interested in jamming tribal synergies in the new format, I have always enjoyed playing a more controlling deck whenever possible.

My starting point for the new format is going to be updating the control deck I played for a bit before Temur took over the format:


With thirteen pieces of main deck removal, eight counter spells, and a suite of Torrential Gearhulks to flash them all back — most opponents should have a hard time building a board against us. Outside of The Scarab God and Search for Azcanta, the entire main deck is instant speed as well, which is something I thoroughly enjoy.

Out of the sideboard we have some answers to specific problems. Lost Legacy snags Approach of the Second Sun out of our opponents’ deck and Bontu’s Last Reckoning can clean up pesky hexproof creatures. We also have a pseudo transformational sideboard plan, bringing in Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Whirler Virtuoso against other control decks to apply pressure and generate additional card advantage for us.

Wrapping Up

I am interested to hear in the comments below if you enjoy articles like this. Do you prefer broader “quick hits” that cover a wider range of topics or are you more a fan of the more focused deep dive style pieces that I have more focused on in the past?

At any rate I hope you found some of the decks here interesting, and if you have any suggestions for any of them, let me know those below as well!

Cheers,
—Jeff Hoogland


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