Decks. Decks are the most important element of Magic articles. Sure, we can talk about finance, card suggestions, metagames, alternate formats, and strategy. But it all boils down to the deck you build and play. What you assemble says something about you. From tournament enthusiasts who want the purring engine to a kitchen-table player happy to discover a new Centaur lord (Pheres-Band Warchief), decks are the ultimate expressions of our Magic personality.
That's why I love new cards so much. They have untapped deck potential. Below, I have four decks that were suggested to me after checking out the Journey into Nyx visual spoiler. Which Journey into Nyx cards have inspired your creative onslaught?
So, let's take a look at these four decks and see what we can uncover!
Combo Priest ? Casual | Abe Sargent
- Lands (24)
- 24 Plains
This is one of those quirky combo decks, built around Tethmos High Priest. I wanted a particularly clunky version of this combo, which you can find a variety of ways to strengthen. The goal is simple. Ready?
- Control a Tethmos High Priest, Phyrexian Altar, and enough Crystals/Medallions to go off.
- Target it with a buyback spell the cost of which has been reduced to . We have six spells in the deck.
- Use the Tethmos trigger to bring back a Perilous Myr or a Myr Sire.
- Sacrifice the newly returned Myr to the Altar for.
- Put the Myr's death trigger on the stack and resolve.
- Repeat as needed, either by making thousands of 1/1 tokens or by slaying everyone at the table.
Yes, that's a bit wonky. But it's also awesome! After that framework has been built, there is virtually no room for anything else. The only things I tossed in are a quartet of Gold Myr and a duet of Eternal Dragons. (All added for mana-making and searching purposes.) It's one of those fun, breezy decks that has a lot of pieces and little way to find or protect them.
Draco Goes Boom! ? Casual | Abe Sargent
- Creatures (18)
- 2 Dakra Mystic
- 2 Sindbad
- 4 Spellbound Dragon
- 4 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
- 4 Stormchaser Chimera
- 2 Draco
- Spells (16)
- 2 Long-Term Plans
- 4 Riddle of Lightning
- 2 Erratic Explosion
- 4 Interpret the Signs
- 2 Soothsaying
- 2 Crystal Ball
Erratic Explosion and Draco were printed, a deck arose that used them together to dole out 16 damage to someone. Due to early attacks, burn, and pain lands, opponents had often taken at least 4 damage in the metagame. The Explosion typically won the game if you could hit for 16 damage. I thought about that deck idea when I looked at this. Riddle of Lightning is a very nice card from Future Sight that was reprinted here. The Riddle does a better Explosion impression—it's an instant and uses the scry to set up the big boom. Of course, for that enhancement, you have to pay 2 extra mana. That’s usually the way of these things.
We already have a shell of blue and red cards that either help you stack your deck (Magma Jet) or can use it (Erratic Mutation). So these colors are particularly good with stuff like Riddle of Lightning and Interpret the Signs. My initial set of cards were a pair of Dracos and some Signs, Riddles, and Explosions.
From there, I added a few other cards that fit the bill. I chose Stormchaser Chimera over Stormcaller of Keranos as a scry engine. It's a bigger threat in the red zone, and it gives us an adjunct winning condition for when we want to swing and smash. For similar reasons, check out Spellbound Dragon, which can be lethal if you discard that Draco (if you drew it accidentally, for example). I wanted a little more power, so I added Sphinx of Jwar Isle as well.
After the hitters were included, I tossed in a few other creatures that support the theme. Dakra Mystic and Sindbad can use your knowledge of your deck in order to use their abilities with better reliability. Our fun little kitchen-table deck was almost full, so I tossed in a few support cards with Soothsaying (which seems like a missed opportunity for a reprint in Theros block) as well as Crystal Ball and Long-Term Plans (which sets up Draco three down to get ready to blow stuff up—or something else if needed).
The Wake of Giants ? Casual | Abe Sargent
- Spells (20)
- 2 Diabolic Tutor
- 4 Ambition's Cost
- 2 Illness in the Ranks
- 4 Paralyze
- 4 Thrull Retainer
- 4 Cloudstone Curio
- Lands (24)
- 24 Swamp
I adore some of these fun constellation cards, and I knew I would build a deck around one of them. I think Doomwake Giant was a great choice because a lot of people are probably heading to other colors for their constellation decks, and you don't often see a mono-black enchantment deck. Grim Guardian will also play a nice role as an enchantment engine alongside our Giant friend.
Cloudstone Curio. Then, play an enchantment and bounce another to your hand—ideally one that costs just 1 mana. You won't have infinite replays, but you should have enough mana to trigger the Giant four or five times. That's enough to clean most battlefields of unsightly opposition. You can also rack up Guardian triggers if you prefer.
The first obvious choice for a 1-drop is Gnarled Scarhide. You'll never have a better 1-drop creature that counts as an enchantment, too. Not being able to block won't be too stressful, as we hope to kill (or tap) a lot of blockers and swing on it. Another nice 1-drop is a throwback in Paralyze. When it arrives, it taps the creature down, and it won't untap until some mana is spent. You can obviously see the value of bouncing and replaying it in this deck. I also added in Thrull Retainer and Illness in the Ranks.
After that, it was simply a matter of adding in a few more cards and calling it. They may cost 2 mana, but since it is an enchantment, Spiteful Returned doesn't suck in here. You can still use it a few times with the ol' Curio. After that, I included a pair of Tutors—to find either a Curio or a constellation trigger—and a quartet of Ambition's Costs, which has always been a solid, reliable card to include for card-draw. Of course, you can sub in any number of enchantments that you wish. Maybe Tortured Existence is your preference over Illness in the Ranks or some such. (Or maybe you'll run Crystal Chimes.) Anyway, mono-black enchantment decks are cool.
Standard Legal Counters ? Casual | Abe Sargent
- Creatures (18)
- 2 Archangel of Thune
- 2 Deadbridge Goliath
- 2 Fabled Hero
- 2 Gyre Sage
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Chronicler of Heroes
- 4 Kalonian Hydra
I really dug the Heroes duo of cards in this set for Selesnya decks. The problem is that we have a long litany of tricks to pull from: Triskelion, Spike Feeder, Mindless Automaton, Fertilid, and so forth. It can be hard to figure out just what to include. I also wanted a reason to run Ajani and Solidarity instead of stuff like Doubling Season. I figured that being Standard-legal would be a nice way to limit my choices and empower the goods from Journey into Nyx.
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and Solidarity of Heroes), I began to look for places where +1/+1 counters mattered in the Selesnya colors. Well, the first option was clearly Kalonian Hydra. Since it doubles counters as well as Solidarity, it seemed to be a perfect fit for my Standard deck. Everybody's making counters!
Where do you go from there? Well, since some of these cards want counters to already be on stuff, let’s look at things that either come with counters or can make them on their own. For example, let's take Scavenging Ooze. We can drop it early, exile some stuff, give it some counters to prime the pump, and then explode into a beater of significant proportions. Other options include the mana-making Gyre Sage (to fuel a giant Solidarity!), Archangel of Thune, and Deadbridge Goliath with scavenge built in.
Now that I had my baseline of creatures, I looked for some other tricks. The other Standard version of Ajani (Ajani, Caller of the Pride) works great in this deck. I especially look forward to double-striking and flying a huge en-countered creature for game. Another fun trick is Reap What Is Sown, which can trickle out a lot of counters as a nice combat trick or prepare for more counter growth. Death's Presence seemed to treat all of my creatures like pseudo-Arcbound creatures with modular. That's a fun enchantment to roll mid- to late-game to change things up. And finally, I liked Fabled Hero enough to add a couple to smooth out the deck. The Hero can gain a heroic trigger off the Reap and Solidarity, and cards like the Ajanis, Goliaths, and Angels pump them nicely as well. The result is another fun deck to add to your Standard collection. If you want to mine stuff outside of it, anything from Gavony Township to Forgotten Ancient seem to be interesting additions.
What did you think? Did anything tickle your deck-building fancy? Let me know!
See you next week,