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Happily Ever After

When Ever After was first previewed, I was convinced that we’d see a plethora of reanimation decks in Standard trying to cheat giant monsters onto the battlefield. At the very least, I figured we’d see people trying to eke extra value out of Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Unfortunately, that never really happened. Despite people utilizing Grapple with the Past and Vessel of Nascency to stockpile their graveyard, emerge strategies were always just a little better than Reanimation. With the addition of Gearhulks and Liliana, Death's Majesty to the mix, perhaps it’s time to revisit the reanimation strategy:

Liliana, Death's Majesty
One of the most shocking things to me about this deck is the sheer number of ways there are to get cards into your graveyard. Champion of Wits has proven its worth in Constructed, but Strategic Planning is new and Oath of Jace is a card we’ve rarely seen show up. The idea here is that you can use efficient removal to keep the board under control while you stock your graveyard and dig for a reanimation spell. Yahenni's Expertise in particular is critical, because it sweeps the board while letting you cast a looting effect.

Then the idea is that you can use Liliana, Death's Majesty or Ever After to re-buy a giant threat or two and take over the game from there. The choice of threats is one of the most interesting aspects of this deck. Noxious Gearhulk is, generally, one of the most powerful things you can be doing. Ishkanah, Grafwidow is great when you’re behind, while Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is a necessary card against Zombies. Two of the most interesting cards are The Scarab God and Demon of Dark Schemes, each of which can allow you to chain reanimation effects to pull pretty far ahead of your opponent. You’ve even got Razaketh, the Foulblooded to let you sacrifice creatures and re-buy their effects while tutoring up Ever After to swing the board heavily into your favor.

There’s not much time left for this Standard format, but if you want to spend it smashing people’s faces with giant monsters, this seems like a really fun deck to explore. The combination of efficient removal and powerful haymakers is great. Not only are your giant monsters powerful, but you can reasonably cast most of them and you have a ton of card selection to help ensure that you have the right ones for whatever your opponent is playing.

The Shape of Etherium

In recent months, a new card has started rising to prominence in Eternal formats: Breya, Etherium Shaper. To me, this seems like it’s largely been happening through competitive Commander leagues. Perhaps due in part to Breya’s success in that format, people have started exploring what she can do in other formats. The most recent successful build I’ve seen in this one by QBTurtle:

Breya, Etherium Shaper
Don’t let the colors distract you. This is effectively a Jund deck. The idea is that you want to trade resources with your opponent as efficiently as possible. With that in mind, you’ll notice that you’re playing all the cheapest interaction in the format. Lightning Bolt. Swords to Plowshares. Thoughtseize. Snapcaster Mage to buy it all back. All you want to do is make sure your opponent can’t combo off early, and that you get the chance to utilize all your one-for-ones.

Of course, staying at parity on cards isn’t really what you want to do for a long game. That’s where the value engines come in. Baleful Strix is absurd against most fair decks, since it nets you a card and either trades with a creature or demands a removal spell. Snapcaster Mage lets you continue trading cards and get a body out of the deal. Kolaghan's Command lets you do it all over again. All that and we haven’t even gotten to Breya.

Breya plays a similar role to Lingering Souls in traditional Epser control decks. The difference is that you can get extra value out of Breya’s tokens besides using them as blockers or a clock. You can turn them into extra reach or removal spells, or use them to keep your life total out of Lightning Bolt Range. You can even eat spare Baleful Strix and additional copies of Breya for extra value.

If you want to value your opponent to death, Breya seems like a great way to do it in the current format. Thopters seem like they should be at a premium since they attack in Baleful Strix fairly well, as well as pressuring Planeswalkers more effectively than most other threats in the format. This seems like an exciting new way to attack the format, and one that could be well-positioned if combo is on the decline.

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