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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


Now we're a few weeks in to new formats with Journey into Nyx, and the brewing is beginning in earnest. This week we've got another five awesome decks ranging from Theros Block to Commander featuring all kinds of goodness from Magic's most recent set. Prophetic Flamespeaker, Athreos, King Macar, and more - let's see what Journey into Nyx has to offer:

Did you catch the coverage of the Pro Tour last week? Are you now an aficionado of all things Theros Block Constructed? Then you don't want to miss this awesome article by Raphael Levy detailing the deck he took to a 22nd place finish at the Pro Tour. After all, there's only one thing more fun than beating your opponent with your cards, and that's beating them with theirs.

Unlike many of the other decks we saw at the top tables of Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, this deck is not just about jamming the post powerful cards. Instead, this is a synergy deck that needs multiple pieces to come together before it begins to do powerful things. Once you hit a critical mass of pieces though, the game is effectively over.

The key to this deck is the interaction between inspired creatures and Springleaf Drum. Pain Seer nets more cards. Daring Thief trades your Brain Maggots for their Courser of Kruphix. King Macar, the Gold-Cursed locks out creature-based decks one turn at a time.

The coolest thing about this deck is the kind of nonsense that Daring Thief can pull off in this Block format. Trade Ashiok for Elspeth, Brain Maggots for heroic creatures that have been suited up with Ordeals and whatnot. Try to steal Prognostic Sphinx if your opponent can't keep enough cards in their hand. The options are limitless, and it's this kind of flexibility that gives this deck game against most of the field.

Besides, how much fun is it to kill your opponent with their own cards? That's the kind of game I want to play.

Is it time for combo to return to Standard? Eric Hawkins and Gerry Thompson seem to think so, and this new list that Gerry recently put out does not mess around. Who would have known that Athreos would enable this kind of absurdity? Let's look at GerryT's Immortal Servitude combo deck.

So how does this deck work? Well, there are a ton of moving pieces, but the premise is pretty simple. You can grind people out with humans plus Xathrid Necromancer, utilizing some of your sacrifice outlets to generate value for your Zombies and make combat an absolute nightmare. Purphoros and Athreos give you additional reach, making it difficult for your opponent to grind you out with Supreme Verdicts and large creatures unless they also have repeatable lifegain.

Your other plan is way sweeter. Use Satyr Wayfinder to stock your graveyard with all manner of nonsense. Then you can Immortal Servitude your combo into play. If you dump enough guys into play, Purphoros can put your opponent into the Athreos lock, where they have to give you your creatures. Then Cartel Aristocrat or Varolz lets you cycle your copies of Burning-Tree Emissary until your opponent is dead.

Of course, there are a billion different permutations of creatures you can have in these situations. A combination of Purphoros or Athreos, Xathrid Necromancer, and a sacrifice outlet will almost always be good enough to end the game, but how you get there will be the puzzle. This deck probably isn't ready for the top tables yet, but it's exciting to see that these kinds of things are possible in the current Standard format.

Speaking of innovations, rememberthat Green-Black Nighthowler deck that Ari Lax took to a 15th place finish at Grand Prix Cincinatti? Last weekend we saw a new spin on that archetype do well in Georgia, featuring an Eidolon of Blossoms package and Nyxweaver to get the engines revving. Let's take a look at Michael Platt's take on graveyard-based strategies in Standard:

The gameplan is still pretty similar. Use Satyr Wayfinder and Commune with the Gods to stock your graveyard, then start doing unfair things. The difference is that you can generate combo-tastic turns utilizing Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Eidolon of Blossoms instead of being all-in on Nighthowler to win your games.

Your goal is to find a turn where you can trigger Strength from the Fallen a bunch of times, preferably with a Nylea, God of the Hunt in play. You can even use Nyxweaver as a pseudo-tutor, tearing through your deck early and rebuying anything you had to toss early to a Commune with the Gods.

I don't know if this is the most powerful shell for Eidolon of Blossoms, but I do know that we've seen a ton of different variants utilizing Eidolon plus Nykthos. This interaction is absurdly powerful, and I'm excited to see what deck gives it the best home.

Prophetic Flamespeaker is one of the most aggressively-costed cards we've seen since Snapcaster Mage and Liliana of the Veil. Objectively, the card is absurdly powerful, threatening to take over games in just a turn if left uncontested. The problem is finding a home for the card. Recently, we've seen a few takes on Prophetic Flamespeaker in Modern, and this week Caleb Durward takes some time to run through the card's potential in every format. Here's a Modern take on Flamespeaker Jund:

What's there to say about the Jund shell in Modern anymore? Great removal, good discard, efficient creatures, and powerful manlands. You get to play an enormous pile of the best cards in Modern and outplay people with your interactive elements. The big question: what does Prophetic Flamespeaker add to the deck?

A few months ago, Chandra, Pyromaster was the awesome new technology in Jund. She could eat mana creatures or robots, and provided a powerful card advantage engine as the game went long. Chandra has only gotten better now that Courser of Kruphix is a mainstay of Modern Jund decks, though it doesn't make an appearance here.

Prophetic Flamespeaker fits right in to the Chandra/Courser slots as a more aggressive way to push the game towards a conclusion. Sure, it's vulnerable to Lightning Bolt, but it's a creature like Dark Confidant that threatens to end the game if it isn't dealt with immediately. Your opponent can only have so many removal spells or blockers, and this deck is better suited than most to force its Flamespeaker through.

I don't know if this more aggressive take on Jund is better than the builds featuring Anger of the Gods plus Courser of Kruphix championed by Willy Edel, but I sure am excited to see someone get hit by a Flamespeaker suited up with a Sword of Feast and Famine

Now that we've had some time to settle in and see what these new Legends are capable of, I think it's time to get back to featuring Commanders from Journey into Nyx. Let's pick back up with a take on the most hyped god from the new set: Athreos. Here's Nthrof's take on the attrition-y, graveyard-based god:

[Cardlist title=Athreos Attrition - Commander | Nthrof]

I'm excited about this deck because it's different than a lot of the other graveyard decks. You have no use for cards like Bloodghast and Reassembling Skeleton; they'll just end up back in your hand every time. You're not looking to play a super long game, because Athreos isn't good at going over the top of the Green decks in Commander.

Instead, you're looking to play a more midrangey game, where you jam powerful effects and aggressive creatures. Your goal is to get at least one opponent to the point that they can't pay for Athreos and then ride that advantage to victory. As soon as one player can't or won't pay, you can start revving the attrition engine and make sure you maintain your advantage throughout the remaining turns of the game.

There are two interesting questions for Athreos. How do you keep devotion up? What sacrifice outlets are good enough if you're just dealing three damage instead of getting your guy back? I'm most excited about cards like Hell's Caretaker[/card] and Debtor's Knell which contribute to both parts of your plan, giving you additional attrition resources while powering up your devotion to Athreos. Similarly, cards like Teysa and Vish Khal give you powerful sacrifice outlets that are themselves good Commanders for this style of deck, and they're right at home with Athreos at the helm.

I haven't had a chance to play with or against Athreos just yet, but this deck makes me excited to see what Athreos builds begin to look like. This is more aggressive than a lot of other Black-based graveyard decks, which is something I like to see. Less durdling, less removal, less life gained. More action, more games, more fun. Seems like a good place to be to me.

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