Zendikar Rising Limited Set Review with MTG Nerd Girl
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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


Seven days. Five decks. This week we focus in on excited new technology in Standard and Modern. With Dragons of Tarkir now on the horizon, we've got just a few more weeks to see what Fate Reforged has to offer these formats before everything gets shaken up again. And this week? We've got some good ones. We'll start by covering all the angles in Standard from combo to midrange to control. Then we'll head into Modern where we see Golgari Grave-Troll rear its combotastic head and a fresh take on an exciting new tribe. Let's get started.

Are you ready to make a deal? Antonino de Rosa's new Standard brew has caught the attention of a lot of notable players including both Frank Karsten and Jacob Wilson. Why? Because the deck uses the combination of Waste Not and Dark Deal in a combotastic way to generate unwinnable gamestates for your opponent as early as turn three. Here's how:

So what happens when everything goes right? You lead with turn two Waste Not and follow up with Dark Deal, generating a ton of cards, creatures, and even mana. Frequently, that will let you cast Tasigur, Gurmag Angler, or even additional discard spells to keep the chain going until you've generating enough board presence and card advantage to bury your opponent. This shell has the potential to combo harder than any other deck we've seen in Standard in quite awhile. The best part? Your gameplan isn't entirely one dimensional and doesn't just lose to itself nearly as often.

There are a giant pile of midrange decks in this format where just Thoughtseize, Mind Rot, and Rakshasa's Secret are completely defensible. Combine that with random Waste Not triggers and you've got a real plan, even if you don't assemble the combo early in the game. Sure, there are aggro decks in the format that are likely to demolish you in the first game. You can still steal games preboard with your combo plan, and after sideboarding you gain access to all manner of sweepers and removal spells to shore up the matchup.

So why has this brew caught so much attention? An awesome combo plan, a reasonable backup plan, and plenty of room for flexible sideboard cards. Is this the real deal? Only time will tell.

Waste Not tries to beat the midrange decks in the format by chaining discard spells in a combo-esque fashion. On the other end of the spectrum, you can try to grind them out with powerful token generators and mana-intensive card advantage engines. That's what Sam Black has been trying to do. Let's take a closer look.

This deck doesn't try to sneak underneath with one-drops or Waste Not. It doesn't go bigger with Dig Through Time, Whip of Erebos, or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Instead, Sam has decided to just make his deck as dense as possible with threats that are capable of winning a game at every phase of the game. Goblin Rabblemaster and Wingmate Roc are more than capable of ending games before they really get started. If that's not enough, you can curve up to Elspeth, Sun's Champion and start activating Mastery of the Unseen. You can generate plenty of value as the game goes wrong, and the sheer density of threats is sure to overwhelm any deck too reliant on one-for-one removal.

The problem? It's hard to trade your threats for resources of your opponents. Outside of removal spells or countermagic, your threats are just outclassed by Siege Rhino and Polukranos. Sam's solution? Dictate of Heliod breaks open ground stalls and threatens an enormous amount of damage in quick fashion. This may not have the most raw power of any deck in Standard, but it punishes bad draws in a big way, and is always capable of threatening to take over the game with powerful threats.

What if you're not interested in being proactive? It's been awhile since we saw a true control deck in Standard. Sure, you can call Abzan a control deck, but it's a little too proactive for my tastes. When I sit down with Blue cards, I want to make sure both my opponent and I are going to be doing a whole lot of nothing for the next thirty minutes. If you're of like mind, this sweet new deck from the mind of Ali Aintrazi may be exactly what you're looking for:

The problem with control in this format is that so many of the threats spiral out of control faster than you can try to contain them. If you fall behind for just a turn, you're often just dead. Maybe not that turn, but certainly in the near future. After all, it's pretty tough to fight threats like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Siege Rhino with one-for-one removal spells and not start falling behind, particularly when your opponents can start resolving Read the Bones and Treasure Cruise to keep up with your Dig Through Times.

How does Ali solve this problem? he ignores what they're trying to do. You want to play to the board? This deck has sweepers and fogs. Planning on sitting back? Sculpting a hand of countermagic. Setting up Thoughtseize into Ugin, the Spirit Dragon? Banishing Light. So what ties this all together? It's Monastery Siege plus Bow of Nylea. This combination lets you power through your deck for the kinds of effects you need and filter away the dead cards for a given matchup. It lets you start recycling the cards that are best in the matchup and actually have a chance of finding them again in conjunction with multiple loots and fetchlands. You can even get proactive with Citadel Siege to preemptively start tapping creatures down. At some point you get to play the guessing game of Dissolve versus Fated Retribution. You even have Resolute Archangel to reset your life total against Stoke the Flames.

This deck does all the kinds of things I enjoy doing most. You get to see a million cards, sculpt your gameplan for turn forty, and play a ton of powerful, reactive cards that just don't fit anywhere else in Standard. I don't know if this deck is real, but I certainly hope so.

When Golgari Grave-Troll was unbanned, there were murmurs of concern. After all, if Dredge becomes a real deck, what does that mean for Modern as a format? Probably nothing good. Pro Tour Fate Reforged and Grand Prix Vancouver both came and went without any breakout performances from Dredge, but in the aftermath Alexander West shared an awesome take on the archetype that looks very different than anything we've seen before:

Until now, most Dredge lists were trying to use Gravecrawler to power Vengevines. That plus Bloodghast beats adds up to twenty life very quickly, but not quite quickly enough. The problem? With all random creatures you have to make space for, it becomes very difficult to make space for engine cards like Faithless Looting and Grisly Salvage. Alex's solution? Cut the package of aggressive creatures. Instead, play a more compact package of Unburial Rites plus game-ending monsters.

The gameplan? Use Wild Guess and Faithless Looting to stock your graveyard full of goodness. Life from the Loam helps you hit lands and fix colors, and can set up a Raven's Crime engine against decks that are going to try to interact with you. You've even got the ability to use Simian Spirit Guide to reanimate a monster a turn ahead of schedule. When Modern is a turn four format, the ability to lock your opponents out on turn three is super powerful.

Not only that, but Alexander has managed to find a bunch of incidental interaction and powerful utility spells that slot right in to the gameplan. Vengeful Pharaoh demolishes tempo decks that are trying to attack with creatures. Gnaw to the Bone is not remotely fair against decks like Burn. Even Golgari Grave-Troll is a completely reasonable threat to dredge back over and over against control opponents.

Is dredge the next big thing? After watching this deck in action, I certainly hope so.

For awhile now, Merfolk has been the premier tribal deck in Modern. We've seen occasional takes on Elves or Goblins, but the fish are the only tribe with enough relevant interaction, evasion, and lords. Until now. Tom Ross has been brewing up a sweet tribal deck that can play all the best interactive spells in modern: Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. The tribe? Vampires.

This deck does a lot of really cool things. You have strong, efficient interaction backed by a reasonable clock. Although, if we're honest, the aggro plan this deck brings is pretty anemic compared to things like Cranial Plating and Goblin Guide. This deck makes up for it by packing a more resilient and synergistic clock that's capable of beating the awesome removal and value engines available in Modern. How? Kalastria Highborn.

This card lets you just run your Bloodghasts and Mutavaults into opposing Tarmogoyfs and still be generating damage. In conjunction with Viscera Seer, you can easily start draining your opponent out from unthinkably high life totals. Once they're below ten, you can set up a turn where Vampire Nocturnus sets up a lethal alpha strike. Fetches even give you extra looks at a Black card!

This is not the most powerful Tribal deck in Modern. But it may be the most interactive and most interesting. it also has a lot of powerful, flexible tools and access to the best interaction in the format. Besides, with our big return to Zendikar in the fall, who knows what awesome new tools the creatures of the night may pick up.

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