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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week

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This week we've got an interesting variety of decks spanning all of Magic's most popular constructed formats. In Standard we'll look at a deck that pushes for consistency using the new Yisan, the Wanderer Bard from Magic 2015. In Modern and Legacy, we've got a pair of glass-cannon decks that try to end the game in the first few turns using Niv Magus Elemental and Spawnwrithe respectively. It's the end of days in Vintage, with an exciting take on the most complicated card in Magic. Last, we've got more Rats than your opponents can possibly handle in Commander. Another week, five more decks. Let's get started.


One of the most quietly exciting cards from Magic 2015 is Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. It's not a proven competitive staple like Chord of Calling and doesn't have as obvious a home as something like Sign in Blood. That said, Yisan is a powerful engine card reminiscent of Birthing Pod. It might take awhile to find the best way to power Yisan, but Conley Woods might have found a great place to start:

Look at all the awesome singletons! You've got four Yisan and four Chord of Calling to help you resolve consistency issues and make sure you have access to whichever bomby creature you're looking for whenever you need it. But what about Disciple of Deceit? This guy is a little bit less consistent as a tutor, but convoke makes his inspired trigger a lot more reliable. The idea here is pretty straightforward, if a bit extreme. When you've got twelve cards that let you tutor for whatever creature you want, you can afford to play a ton of high-variance singletons in the hopes that you can always find the one you want.

The key there is that your tutors minimize downside of high variance cards. Things like Polukranos can only be so bad. Things like Pharika and Phyrexian Revoker, on the other hand, can be pretty blank sometimes. That doesn't matter as much when you have this much card selection.

One of the most exciting things about the Yisan plus Chord of Calling core is that you have multiple ways to find back-up Yisans. Reclamation Sage shuts off things like Detention Sphere and Kiora's Follower gives you a chance to get multiple Yisan activations to race up the chain. Once you have Yisan at two counters or enough creatures for Chord, you can tutor up a second copy of Yisan and keep the one that isn't being targeted.

It's always exciting to see which build-around-me cards have what it takes to shake up the Standard metagame. Yisan definitely has the potential to break out given the right supporting cast, and I'm excited to find what that shell looks like.


Forget interacting with your opponents. Games get so much more complicated when you give your opponents time to do things; why not just kill them instead? This week Gerry Thomspson took a break from more conventional Modern decks and experimented with an old friend. Does Nivmagus Elemental have what it takes now that Deathrite Shaman and Bloodbraid Elf have left the Modern format?

The plan for this deck hasn't changed much since Gerry premiered the deck at Pro Tour , but some of the supporting cast has. Your primary gameplan is to stick an early Nivmagus Elemental or Kiln Fiend and one-shot your opponent on turn two or three with Assault Strobe or Tainted Strike.

How? It only takes three spells to get Kiln Fiend up to ten double-striking or infect damage. Nivmagus Elemental, on the other hand, might need more help. This guy is one-drop that gives you a real chance at turn two kills, but is much more dependent on Ground Rift. Chaining one or two free spells into Ground Rift allows you to exile all the excess copies and still Falter any stray mana creatures or Deceiver Exarchs that have gotten in the way.

This deck is somewhat of a glass cannon, but looks like a blast to play. Sure, you just lose to Black-Green decks packed with removal like Abrupt Decay. You're also a full turn faster than the turn four decks that don't want to interact, like Scapeshift or Storm. You lose to people who are trying to beat you, but have some absolutely unbeatable draws that will leave your opponents wondering what just hit them.


We've seen a couple of different takes on Ancient Tomb plus Chalice of the Void decks in Legacy over the years. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas decks. Blood Moon stompy decks. Sea Drake stompy decks. Even Exalted Angel stompy was a thing when Goblins was popular enough. It's been a long time since we've seen a Green-based prison deck in the same vein as Trinity Green, so I'm excited to take a look at Beast Stompy:

Most popular decks in Legacy are very soft to Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere, both of which are cards this deck can easily plan on turn one using some combination of Sol Lands and Chrome Mox or Elvish Spirit Guide. If that plan doesn't work out, you're still more than capable of casting cards like Thragtusk and Garruk Wildspeaker on turn two; cards that go way over the top of what most of Legacy is trying to do right now. Even weaker draws can involve things like turn one Spawnwrithe, which can quickly grow out of control and end a game before it really starts.

Traditionally, the problem with Ancient Tomb stompy decks has been that they are high variance. You either crush people within the first three turns of the game, or you're just never going to do anything. This deck has the unique capability of minimizing those issues through the use of Sylvan Library and Horizon Canopy to give you some amount of card selection and additional looks at your powerful top end cards like Umezawa's Jitte.

If you're looking for a unique and powerful deck, this certainly delivers. Sometimes. As with most Chalice of the Void decks, there's a ton of variance depending on the die roll and opening hands, but this deck has a few tools to help combat that. All told, this looks like a fun change of pace from the style of decks I'm used to seeing in Legacy.


When people talk about cards that are difficult to play with, it's almost always in reference to some busted Blue card. Snapcaster Mage, Cryptic Command, or Gifts Ungiven all give you a ton of flexibility and are certainly difficult to play correctly. But what's the single hardest card to play with in all of Magic? A strong case can be made for Doomsday. As long as you can figure out what the pile is supposed to look like, you can tutor up exactly what you need. It'd better be enough though, because that's all you're ever going to get.

We've seen Doomsday crop up from time to time in Legacy, but it's not especially common in Vintage because the restricted cards are plentiful and powerful enough that you don't need an engine like Doomsday. That didn't stop Shaun McLaren from putting together a Vintage take on the most intricate and decision-intensive style of Combo in all of Magic

This deck is exciting because it's a combination of two really interesting decks. The first is a Fastbond plus Gush Storm deck that turns Gushes into Dark Ritual plus Sign in Blood. Eventually you chain together enough cantrips to find Yawgmoth's Wil to rebuy your Gushes and Storm off. The second deck is a Laboratory Maniac Doomsday deck, where the goal is to resolve a Doomsday and find some way to cantrip through your entire deck that turn. It turns out that Gush makes that pretty easy.

It's pretty easy to imagine piles like Gush, Gush, Fastbond, Flusterstorm, Laboratory Maniac being very difficult to fight through if your opponents don't know what the Doomsday pile looks like. It's also easy to imagine making more space for disruption in the piles if you already have a Gush or cantrip to start the pile.

The interesting thing is that this deck has two completely different angles to attack from. The cards that your opponent is going to use to fight Laboratory Maniac and Doomsday are largely different from the ways that they would fight Gush and Tendrils of Agony. This means that you've got very real opportunities to just get people by killing them two different ways. You could go even deeper on this plan and sideboard different Doomsday kills, generally involving Shelldock Isle and Emrakul or Tinker for Blightsteel Colossus plus Time Walk.


One of the most fundamental rules of Commander is that you only get to play with one copy of any given card. There are only two cards that break this rule: Shadowborn Apostle and Relentless Rats. If you've been playing Commander for awhile, odds are you've seen at least one of your friends or opponents try a wacky take on these two deckbuilding oddities. I guarantee you've never seen a deck like scatteredsun's:

Relentless Rats plus Phenax. There are a ton of interesting things going on in this deck, but in the end it boils down to milling your opponents out by casting a bunch of enormous Relentless Rats. One of the cooler things you can do is mill yourself a bunch first, with the intent of hitting a Patriarch's Bidding and dumping all of your rats back into play to one-shot one or more players. I don't think anyone could be actually upset by that kind of combo-kill.

The gameplan of this deck is unique and exciting. But what's most interesting is the supporting cast. Things like Coat of Arms and Opposition give you backup plans that are good enough to fight through stalled boards and give you alternate paths to victory. Something like Intruder Alarm makes it much easier for you to combo off, especially in conjunction with something like Marrow-Gnawer. Pack Rat even makes it's Commander debut here as a Relentless Rats engine all its own; who needs cards besides Pack Rats and Phenax? I know I certainly don't.

This deck is an exciting reminder that cards don't always have to be played a particular way. Relentless Rats don't have to be about attacking. Phenax doesn't have to mill your opponents from the beginning. Magic is flexible, and creativity is rewarded; especially in Commander.


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