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Ten Decks You Might Have Missed


For every major tournament, the Top 8 decks (rightfully) get most of the press. But in the era of mixed formats, incredible Constructed decks are often overlooked thanks to poor to middling Draft performances by the deck’s pilots. Just one bad Draft can sink an otherwise promising archetype.

That’s why, after a Pro Tour, my favorite thing to read (and my least favorite to type up when I’m doing coverage) is the Top Decks list that records all of the decks that went at least 6–4 over the ten Constructed rounds. Often, a hidden gem—or even the next best deck—can be found lurking.

For example, Pro Tour Gatecrash actually had the first version of Human Reanimator that ended up making the finals of Grand Prix Quebec City the following week, being a big deal for a bit and then falling to waves of graveyard hate.

So, in light of Pro Tour Theros and Grand Prix Louisville (though more so the Pro Tour; Grand Prix decklists only go down to sixteenth place), let’s take a look at ten decks you might have missed.

With Anger of the Gods, Warleader's Helix, and the core of W/U control, R/W/U control has been much discussed but rarely actually played. The deck seems inferior to Esper control since Doom Blade and Thoughtseize are so very good right now, but if the format turns to a point where Anger of the Gods because the actual business, this might be an option.

A number of players, including Nico Bohny and Rodrigo Borba, played lists almost exactly like Richard Bland’s, meaning this archetype has some legs. Willy Edel even played a more midrangey version with Gray Merchant of Asphodel and put up a good result. Abrupt Decay is an excellent way to attack Underworld Connections and Detention Sphere, and the sideboard looks to have a ton of angles covered.

One week before winning Grand Prix Louisville, Brian Braun-Duin was doing plenty of winning with this Junk decklist played by both him and Jacob Van Lunen. I’ve talked before about how Junk can attack the metagame, and their take isn’t far off what my own was when I updated my list the following week (scroll to the bottom of the article). The biggest difference is the use of Reaper of the Wilds, who, it should be noted, doesn’t die to much of the format’s most important removal.

Chris Pikula nearly took a similar list to a Top 25 finish but ended up finishing just outside on tiebreakers. The deck is straightforward and pretty brutal, simply killing things and beating down with Demons and Dragons. “Kill all of the things,” is a pretty relevant strategy in Standard right now, and a deck like this might just be well-positioned. It does, however, look like it might be weak to mono-black devotion.

This is mostly here to demonstrate that a few people actually made W/B/R midrange work and that . . .  Alms Beast! It’s easier to cast than Desecration Demon in a three-colored deck, Alms Beast is also just giant. And with the amount of removal in this deck, its drawback is often nonexistent.

The next three decks are all somewhat related because, while the mono-blue devotion list was the breakout deck of the Pro Tour, the versions you saw in the Top 8 (which were incredibly close, despite some key differences) were not the only versions around. To wit:

The key differences to notice here are: main-decked Claustrophobia and Dissolve, just three Thassas, and four Vaporkin.

Vaporkin was actually a very popular choice for this Pro Tour. You just didn’t see it because none of the Vaporkin lists made Top 8. However, a whopping ten players posted winning records in Standard with Vaporkin in their lists, and all of them played four copies. I’m actually kind of inclined to agree with the choice even though players have shied away from it.

It’s less good if you’re moving away from Bident of Thassa and toward Jace, Architect of Thought (despite the above decklist), but it’s a surprisingly effective attacker. It’s certainly a more inspiring main-deck choice than Omenspeaker (now that mono-red is less popular), and in my limited testing with it, it was generally better than Judge's Familiar, not that you’re choosing between those two.

Kyle Schreiner played something of a fusion between W/U control and blue devotion, somehow melding Master of Waves as a finisher with Supreme Verdict as a way to control the board. If Thassa/Master of Waves strategies need to slow down for any reason—probably because some of the crappy creatures aren’t cutting it anymore—this is certainly a direction to pursue.

This is another direction as well. Players have started looking at splashing in the devotion lists, and though I don’t necessarily recommend it, you are able to do some exciting things. Lyev Skyknight is actually a very good card, and curving Vaporkin into a Skynight can put some decks under a pretty quick clock. Lavinia of the Tenth is cute, but it’s also a monster in the virtual mirror.

This is a Master of Waves deck of a very different ilk. Essentially, it’s a U/B control deck, and Yasooka—always a deck-builder to watch—used Master of Waves as a finisher/board staller in a pure control shell, building his devotion count with cards such as Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Prognostic Sphinx (and, of course, Jace). This is among the best decklists I’ve seen that combines both Doom Blade and Master of Waves, two cards that are shaping up to be pillars of the format.

There was really only one decklist of note from Grand Prix Louisville outside the Top 8, and it’s a bit of a sad story . . .

As I understand it, Justin Herrell had either zero or one bye and was in third place and tied for the point lead with Sam Black and Brad Nelson at 37 points going into the last round. Paired against Sam Black, the two could have safely drawn into the Top 8, but instead, they played for seeding. Sam ended up winning, and Herrell ended up in . . . ninth place.

As a result, the Top 8 was just a bit less diverse without Herrell’s take on white weenie. Much of the deck is par for the course, but of note is that he’s playing four copies of limited all-star Daring Skyjek as well as four copies of Judge's Familiar and Banisher Priest. Notice also that Boros Reckoner, an auto-include in most lists, is relegated to the sideboard.

The deck seems soft to Supreme Verdict and Doom Blade, but since Grand Prix Louisville basically was Grand Prix Doom Blade and Supreme Verdict, that analysis might just not be correct. I’m no expert on white weenie decks, but this one seems like the ideal place to start if that’s your bag.

And if it’s not your bag? Standard seems wide open for innovation. Pick one of these lists, pick a pet card, or pick anything you like, and start brewing. It’s going to be an interesting season.

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