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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


Now that we've had some time to see the fallout from Pro Tour Magic 2015, it's time to see how the most popular constructed formats have started to shift. This week we're focusing in on Standard, Modern, and Legacy with five decks that show off strategies that are unique in their current metagame. From Ensoul Artifact in Standard to Higure, the Still Wind in Legacy, these are five decks you just can't miss.

One of the biggest differences between this standard format and other pervious formats it he lack of a two mana ramp spell like Rampant Growth or Farseek. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't ramp options or that players are stuck to casting their spells on curve. It just means that we have to be more creative. It also means that opponents may not be prepared to fight against five- or six-drops that get cheated into play a few turns early. Conley Woods almost played a deck built on this premise at the Pro Tour in Portland. Let's take a look at Generator Jund:

First and foremost: Generator Servant plus Master of Cruelties. Suddenly you could put your opponent to one life on turn three; they might just be dead on the spot. That's a hugely powerful interaction, particularly on the decks in the format that rely on their life total as a resource. Beyond that, the combination of first strike and deathtouch is incredible in creature matchups where players are relying on their larger creatures to dominate the board. Master of Cruelties doesn't care of its an Advent of the Wurm or an enormous Pack Rat - it's just dead.

The other thing that this gets to do is use the combination of Satyr Hedonist and Generator Servant to Dark Ritual out enormous, game-ending threats like Garruk, Apex Predator or Rakdos's Return. You can even use Liliana of the Veil to set up your powerful singleton effects or Master of Cruelties combo turns.

Your average draws aren't going to be efficient enough to consistently keep up against top tier strategies in Standard, but your best draws are more than capable of going toe to toe with just about anything. This seems like an incredibly fun deck to jam at a smaller event like FNM. Who doesn't want to play matches where Master of Cruelties is hitting the table?

In a format where one of the premier aggro decks doesn't really do anything until Thassa, God of the Sea or Master of Waves hits the board, there has to be a way to sneak in underneath and get more aggressive. This week Todd Anderson takes a look at a new, explosive aggressive deck that combines elements of Mono-Blue Devotion with powerful new effects from Magic 2015, This is Blue-Black [car]Ensoul Artifact[/card]:

Low curve, cheap creatures, and just a handful of super-powerful payoff cards. The critical idea here is that you want to flood the board for Military Intelligence and use your extra cards to pile on the pressure. Ensoul Artifact and Illusory Angel are your heavy hitters and reward you for playing cards like Ornithopter and Springleaf Drum. These cards, combined with Military Intelligence, allow you to apply a huge amount of pressure early on without giving up the lategame too easily.

One of the most interesting cards in this deck is Disciple of Deceit, which gives you access to all sorts of interesting effects in the midgame if you so desire. If you want to turn an Illusory Angel into a Hall of Triumph, Disciple can do that. No artifacts? Turn that Ensoul Artifact into an Ultimate Price. You can even tutor up a Daring Thief to start comboing off with Springleaf Drum.

All told, this deck looks like it has a lot of potential. There are a lot of powerful interactions that you can force your opponents to deal with, and the combination of pressure and card advantage and selection is one that is traditionally very difficult to beat. If this deck is tuned appropriately, it just might be a real competitor in this Standard environment.

Modern is a format where you are traditionally rewarded for choosing a strategy and committing to it hard. The format is deep enough that linear strategies that involve combining things like artifacts and auras are very powerful and can be difficult to beat. Even so, we've seen a fair share of "good stuff" midrange decks crop up from time to time. Never one quite like this though. Yohdla04's take on Modern is much more tempo-centric, and is more reminiscent of the UWR Flash decks of Standard past than of anything in contemporary Modern. Let's take a look at Yohdla04's Four-Color Midrange deck.

It's hard to overstate just how good Tarmogoyf is in Modern. Tarmogoyf is the card that singlehandedly allows disruptive creature strategies to race against all of the busted combo decks in the format; the card that forces aggressive decks to pump the brakes and give you time to stabilize. Tarmogoyf puts so much strain on opposing Path to Exiles that sometimes the right answer is just playing Tarmogoyfs of your own.

That's basically what yohdla04 has done here. He's taken a reasonable shell for UWR Flash, including the Restoration Angel/Vendilion Clique/Blade Splicer engine, and added Tarmogoyf in place of Wall of Omens. The effect that this has on the way you can play your matchups is subtle, but seems critically important. Suddenly, you can have a threat in play when you start playing draw-go. Suddenly, Tarmogoyf forces people to interact with you and give you opportunities to get them with your myriad of tricksy instants.

I don't know that the additional stress on your manabase is worth it, but I do know that there are tangible upsides to adding Tarmogoyf to a midrangey tempo deck like UWR. The question is whether Tarmogoyf is better than Celestial Colonnade and company. There's only one way to find out.

Traditionally, Life from the Loam decks in Legacy have been Bant-based. This gives you access to Brainstorm, Intuition, Tolaria West and some combination of Enlightened Tutor, Porphyry Nodes and Moat. What happens when you cut the late-game prison cards like Glacial Chasm and Maze of Ith for more proactive cards? Some people have started building Dark Depths combo decks focusing on Living Wish and Vampire Hexmage, but that shell gives up the natural card advantage generated by Life from the Loam. What if we tried to be more proactive than the Glacial Chasm decks, but less all-in than the combo builds? That's the question that Pdingo is trying to answer with his Four-Color Loam deck:

There are a lot of things that I really like going on in this deck. First off, Life from the Loam is fantastic at setting up the Grove of the Burnwillows plus Punishing Fire combination, and the whole thing is fantastic with Young Pyromancer. Additionally, cards like Intuition, Brainstorm, and Dack Fayden pair naturally with Life from the Loam to give you a mechanism of turning excess lands into real resources that you can win the game with. On top of all of that, you get to actually play disruptive cards like Cabal Therapy and Force of Will for the combo matchups, which are traditionally abysmal for Life from the Loam decks.

The whole deck is powered by Life from the Loam enabling you to hit your land drops and Deathrite Shaman having an enormous graveyard to use as a resource. This means that you can generate enough mana to really leverage Young Pyromancer to get aggressive or sit back and protect your Planeswalkers.

It can't be overstated how busted Intuition is in this deck. The card just does absolutely everything. Dark Depths, Thespian's Stage, and Life from the Loam. Wasteland and Life from the Loam. Punishing Fire, Grove of the Burnwillows, and Life from the Loam. You can even go for triple Cabal Therapy. If you really need to strip away your opponent's hand.

The thing that I like most about this deck is that it has the tools to beat just about anything. It also has the card advantage and velocity to make sure that you can find the missing pieces when you need them. You have a ton of meaningful decisions to make about what resources are important and how to sequence your spells to maximize your ability to shut your opponent down. Powerful engines, flexible gameplay, and plenty of awesome Life from the Loam shenanigans? Where do I sign up?

Is it possible to kill your opponents with old-fashioned value in Legacy? SevenintheQueue is certainly going to try with his interesting take on Shardless Agent. What's better than one cascading Grizzly Bear? Let's find out how many times we can spin the wheel and hit extra cards. This is Imperial Ninja.

Now that I've seen this, I don't know if I can live with myself until I bounce a Shardess Agent to put in Higure and tutor up a Ninja of the Deep Hours. This deck has the removal and countermagic to ensure that creatures are getting through unblocked, and from there you can just bury your opponent in free cards from Eternal Witness and Shardless Agent. You even have access to Imperial Recruiter to tutor up whatever pieces of the value engine you're missing.

The problem with a deck like this is that it lacks the density of interactive spell that's necessary to beat the haymakers of the format. You have enough removal and value to fight against Delver of Secrets and Stoneforge Mystic, but this deck can't realistically beat something like Show and Tell or Entreat the Angels. Four Force of Will only goes so far, and you really don't want to be Eternal Witnessing Force of Wills.

That said, value is value, and I would be ecstatic to see a fun, flavorful card like Ninja of the Deep Hours be a thing in Legacy.

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