Jarad, Golgari Heartbreaker
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord is a great build-around card that many players were itching to use when it was first revealed. Although undoubtedly powerful in Commander, it has so far failed to live up to its potential in Standard. Here's the deck I put together to drain your opponent's life total without draining your bank account:
Wolfir Silverheart not only gives you an 8-power creature for only 5 mana, it gives a second creature +4/+4 as well. Sacrificing one of these to Jarad will often be the method by which your opponents meet their doom. Since Wolfir Silverheart has the opportunity to pair up whenever a new creature enters the battlefield, you can sacrifice small creatures to Jarad one after another, with each receiving a power boost from tag-teaming with the Wolf.
Desecration Demon provides another high-powered creature to sacrifice as well as an evasive threat that can push in some damage the normal way. While the Demon can often be kept under control if your opponent can sacrifice creatures for a few turns while he or she ends the game, in this deck, that extra power can be used for more than just attacking. Even if your opponent can keep tapping Desecration Demon indefinitely, each +1/+1 counter means another life lost when you sacrifice it to Jarad.
Borderland Ranger helps fix your mana to make sure you can cast Jarad and it also ensures that you continue to hit your land drops, allowing you to potentially cast a creature and activate Jarad in the same turn later in the game. It provides an early defense, allowing you to trade with smaller creatures or chump-block larger ones, and it gives you a creature to pair up with Wolfir Silverheart.
Arbor Elf accelerates your mana as early as turn two and provides another body for Wolfir Silverheart to pair with. Although it can only give you green mana unless you have an Overgrown Tomb or two you can throw in the deck, support from other cards such as Farseek and Borderland Ranger should ensure you don't have too much trouble assembling Jarad's restrictive mana cost.
Rancor can be used to repeatedly give some extra power to whatever creature is about to be sacrificed to Jarad. It also gives your creatures trample, allowing your giant creatures to deal some damage by attacking as well.
Undying Evil is normally used to thwart removal spells in Limited, but in this deck, it serves a far greater purpose. It lets you sacrifice your Wolfir Silverheart at the end of your opponent's turn to make him lose 8 life, only to have it come right back to the battlefield, ready to be sacrificed for another 9 life on your turn. This card will catch most people off guard, and it will almost assuredly net you some free wins over the course of a tournament.
Ultimate Price is the current 2-mana removal spell, following in the footsteps of cards such as Doom Blade and Go for the Throat. Although somewhat more restrictive than its predecessors, it still does the job most of the time in the current Standard environment, getting rid of threats such as Sublime Archangel, Wolfir Silverheart, and Angel of Serenity.
Tormod's Crypt provides a solid foil to reanimator decks while also potentially helping to hamper the Runechanter's Pike decks that have been gaining popularity if you feel that you need an extra way to slow them down. It exiles the entire graveyard, giving you the opportunity to deal with multiple potential problem cards in one shot, and it doesn't require any mana, allowing you to tap out for Lich Lords and Silverhearts as needed.
Sever the Bloodline is devastating against tokens, and it also provides you with a more robust removal spell when you need it, either against decks full of multicolored creatures or decks such as reanimator against which you'd rather not be putting threats back in the graveyard.
Duress helps you disrupt control decks, often by stopping the opponent from being able to disrupt you. You can remove counterspells and removal that might otherwise pose a threat to your game plan, and you can make sure Sphinx's Revelation never sees the light of day.
Crushing Vines is a very solid sideboard card against the W/U decks playing Runechanter's Pike. It destroys not only the Pike, but many of the creatures that wield it as well, such as the ever-present Restoration Angel.
Bant Control – Game 1
My opponent played a Glacial Fortress and passed back. I drew Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and cast Rancor on my Desecration Demon. I attacked, and my opponent cast Azorius Charm to put the Demon on top of my library. I played a Swamp, cast another Arbor Elf, and passed the turn.
My opponent paid 2 life to play a Temple Garden untapped, then cast Garruk, Primal Hunter. He activated the +1 ability to make a Beast token and ended his turn. I drew my Desecration Demon, played a Swamp, and cast it. I enchanted it with Rancor again and passed the turn.
My opponent activated Jace's −2 again, revealing two lands and a Supreme Verdict. I put the Verdict by itself, and my opponent took it. He cast the Verdict, and I saved Jarad with Undying Evil, bringing him back as a 6/6. My opponent paid 2 life to put a Temple Garden onto the battlefield untapped and cast another Jace, Architect of Thought. He activated the +1 ability on each of his planeswalkers and passed the turn. I drew Desecration Demon, enchanted Jarad with Rancor, and attacked Garruk. Jace's ability shrunk the Lich Lord's power by 1, and the Beast token sacrificed itself to save its master. Garruk took 4 trample damage, dropping to 2 counters. I cast my Demon and ended my turn.
My opponent activated Jace's −2, choosing Farseek and Sunpetal Grove over a Hinterland Harbor. He played the Sunpetal Grove, then cast Farseek and Borderland Ranger, finding a Hallowed Fountain and an Island, respectively. He made another Beast with Garruk and passed the turn. I drew a Forest, played it, and went straight to combat. My opponent sacrificed his Borderland Ranger to tap the Demon and put a +1/+1 counter on it, and Jarad attacked for 8. The Beast token soaked up 3 damage, and my opponent dropped to 11. I passed the turn.
My opponent played a land and cast Supreme Verdict, and I sacrificed my Desecration Demon to drop him to 4. He activated Jace's −2, choosing an Azorius Charm over Borderland Ranger and Sunpetal Grove, made another Beast with Garruk, and ended his turn. I drew Farseek and sacrificed a Forest and Swamp to bring Jarad back from the grave, floating the 2 mana to help me cast him. I cast Farseek, finding a Swamp, and ended my turn.
My opponent played a land and activated both +1 abilities again before passing the turn. I drew Wolfir Silverheart and cast it, pairing it with Jarad. I ended my turn.
My opponent used Garruk's ultimate ability for thirteen 6/6 Wurm tokens, then passed back to me. I drew a Swamp, played Rancor on Wolfir Silverheart, and sacrificed it to make my opponent lose 10 life. Unfortunately, he had a Sphinx's Revelation for 10 in response, and I died to a baker's dozen of giant Wurms.
I drew Desecration Demon, played a Swamp, and cast Farseek for another one. I ended my turn. My opponent played a Hinterland Harbor and cast a Farseek of his own, fetching a Temple Garden. He passed the turn.
I drew a Forest and attacked with the Demon. My opponent took 6, and I played the Forest before ending my turn. My opponent played a Glacial Fortress and cast Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. He tapped down my Desecration Demon and passed the turn.
I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast Wolfir Silverheart, pairing it with the Demon and passing back. My opponent tapped down the Silverheart with Tamiyo, then played another Glacial Fortress and ended his turn.
I drew a Borderland Ranger and attacked with the Demon, which was blocked by a flashed-in Restoration Angel. With no untapped creatures to attack with, I skipped combat and cast a Borderland Ranger, searching up a Forest, which I played before passing the turn. My opponent put another counter on his Tamiyo to keep Desecration Demon tapped down, then played a tapped Hallowed Fountain and ended his turn.
I drew an Arbor Elf and cast Rancor on my Wolfir Silverheart. My opponent countered it with Dissipate. I moved to combat, and my opponent sacrificed his Thragtusk to tap the Demon. I attacked with my other two creatures, and Thragtusk's token blocked the Silverheart. My opponent took 2 from Borderland Ranger, and I passed the turn. My opponent put a Temple Garden onto the battlefield tapped and passed back.
I drew Sever the Bloodline and attacked with my three creatures. My opponent flashed in Restoration Angel to block the Demon and dropped to 5 from the other creatures. I cast Arbor Elf and ended my turn. My opponent drew his card and conceded.
My opponent played a Sunpetal Grove and passed the turn, and I sacrificed Evolving Wilds for a Forest during his end step. On my turn, I drew another Rancor, played a Swamp, and cast Borderland Ranger. I searched up a Forest and ended my turn.
My opponent played a Sunpetal Grove and ended his turn. I drew a Forest, played it, and cast Rancor on the Ranger. I attacked for 4, and my opponent put the Ranger on top of my library with Azorius Charm. I passed the turn.
My opponent played a tapped Temple Garden, made another Beast, and passed back. I drew Evolving Wilds, played a Forest, and cast Borderland Ranger. I paired it with Wolfir Silverheart and searched up a Swamp. I cast Rancor on the Silverheart and attacked Garruk for 10. My opponent played a Snapcaster Mage and flashed back Azorius Charm, putting the Silverheart on top of my library. I ended my turn.
My opponent played a Hinterland Harbor and cast Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. He tapped down my Borderland Ranger and attacked for 8 with his creatures. He made another Beast token with Garruk and ended his turn. I drew my Silverheart, played a Swamp, and cast it again, pairing it with Borderland Ranger. I then ended my turn.
My opponent tapped down my Wolfir with Tamiyo and attacked me down to 1 life. He used Garruk's ultimate ability to make seven 6/6 Wurm tokens, and I conceded.
Because of the low threat density in this deck, it's more vulnerable than I would like to non-destructive removal such as Azorius Charm. It can also struggle to close out games without Jarad, especially if your opponent has a fair number of creatures. Undying Evil proved to be more situational than I had anticipated, although it was a blowout when it did work. Going forward, I would look into ways to make the deck's Plan B more solid, perhaps with a few more threats capable of closing out a game. Although this deck definitely has some room for improvement, it's a solid starting point if you've been itching to toy with Jarad in Standard.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.