Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North
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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


This is it. The beginning of a new format. Khans of Tarkir is here and it's time to start brewing. What do the next four months of Magic have in store for us? Here's a sneak peek at a few sweet decks that may just be the next big thing. We'll start in Standard with three awesome takes on the new format featuring Jeskai Ascendancy, Butcher of the Horde, and Villainous Wealth. Then we'll move on into Modern for a new turn two combo deck. Finally, we'll take a look at what one of the new Khans has to offer in Commander. Let's get started.

Our first deck is a Standard take on comboing out with Jeskai Ascendancy built by Shaun McLaren. What follows is one of the oddest assortments of cards that I've ever seen, but the combination is absolutely spectacular and does some truly hilarious things. Is this deck good? Probably not. But it's certainly going to be a great time.

So what's going on here? There's a lot of weird moving pieces, but let's start with the ending. Your goal is to mill your opponent out with Altar of the Brood by using Retraction Helix to bounce free permanents like Ornithopter, Astral Cornucopia and Briber's Purse. You can either combo of with Retraction Helix[/card] on Ornithopter with a Jeskai Ascendancy and a free spell to loot through your entire deck, or Retraction Helix on Midnight Guard with an Ornithopter.

Your backup plans aren't great, but they are plentiful. You've got a few extra slots devoted to the Ensoul Artifact plus Shrapnel Blast beatdown plan, which can certainly get a few opponents here and there. You've also got Daring Thief plus Briber's Purse to let you start trading your Ornithopters and Midnight Guards for real creatures to beat down with.

All in all, this is a cute deck that does some cool things. There are so many fragile, moving pieces that I feel confident saying that this isn't going to dominate the new Standard format, especially with Thoughtseize still hanging around. But it is exactly the kind of deck that it's fun to blindside friends and foes alike with at FNM.

One of the most exciting cards out of Khans of Tarkir is Butcher of the Horde. It wasn't so long ago that Falkenrath Aristocrat was taking down Pro Tours and Grand Prix alongside Gravecrawler and Cartel Aristocrat. Will there be a new take on a Sam Black style of Aristocrats deck? Caleb Durward seems to think so:

Instead of Falkenrath Aristocrat and Gravecrawler, this deck gets Butcher of the Horde and Bloodsoaked Champion. Sure, the rebuy on Champion costing more is a downside, but it's hard to argue that the insane suite of abilities on Butcher of the Horde isn't worth it. You also get a really interesting support cast. Whereas the old Aristocrats deck only had Doomed Traveler and Blood Artist, this deck gets Tymaret, the Murder King and Grim Haruspex. Caleb is only playing a single copy of each of these to start, but these could easily be super powerful in the new format. Finally, you're swarm aggro plan and sacrifice themes are also powered by Goblin Rabblemaster, which is just one of the most powerful cards in the new format.

This take is a little more midrangey than some of the other Mardu builds we've seen so far, which are more focused on Black one drops like Tormented Hero and Gnarled Scarhide. I have to say that I like the shift towards thees and fours over ones and twos. The cheap aggressive creatures are so easily outclassed by Brimaz and Courser of Kruphix that I think it's hard to justify trying to sneak under the powerful three-drops. Instead, Butcher lets you fly over and threaten to end the game in two or three hits, which seems like a much better place to be.

One of the most exciting casual cards out of Khans of Tarkir is the new "Genesis Wave You," Villainous Wealth. There aren't any more Sphinx's Revelations or other effects that let you draw large numbers of cards all at once, but Villainous Wealth can certainly threaten to do the same thing. Travis Woo has never been one to shy away from bomby expensive cards like Omniscience or Genesis Wave, and Villainous Wealth is no different:

THe plan here is pretty straightforward. Auras like Verdant Haven let your lands tap for extra mana. Voygaing Satyr, Kiora's Follower, and Nissa, Worldwaker let you double up on those mana ramp effects to jam enormous threats like Garruk, Apex Predator and Villainous Wealth for large amounts early on in the game.

The question is whether this will be a format where going over the top in that way is powerful enough. If people are planning on playing a bunch of midrangey planeswalkers like Sarkhan, Xenagos, and Elspeth, then this seems like an awesome plan. Not only does Garruk trump most opposing 'Walkers, but you can Villainous Wealth into multiple Planeswalkers to just take over the game.

On the other hand, if the format is more aggressive or controlling, then it might be more difficult to Villainous Wealth into cards that matter. This is a three-color format where it seems like people are going to be playing a lot of powerful fours and fives. If that's the case, this seems like an awesome place to be. Villainous Wealth generates an obscene number of cards and mana; but you need the time to set up and the cards you get to matter.

Earlier this week there were rumblings of a new turn two combo deck in Modern fueled by Khans of Tarkir. Ranjan Pradeep posted a list, and Sam Black ran with it. Who would have thought that Jeskai Ascendancy would be broken so easily?

The idea here is pretty straightforward. You want to play a mana creature into a turn two Jeskai Ascendancy. Then each non-creature spell you play untaps the mana creature and gives it +1/+1. That means that you can chain together cantrips that cost one to draw through your deck until you have a lethal attacker or can generate enough mana to cast a lethal Grapeshot. The engine is held together by Glittering Wish to find answers to hate cards or to act as extra copies of Jeskai Ascendancy, and the suite of cantrips you get to play is just insane.

Cerulean Wisps, Manamorphose, and Gitaxian Probe all generate more mana than they cost while stocking your graveyard for [card]Treasure Cruise to help you find the Grapeshot you're looking for.

Two things are immediately apparent about this deck. First, it's very powerful. Anything that can win on the second turn with such an innocuous combination of cards is going to be busted. Second, the deck is very fragile. There are a lot of pieces that have to not be discarded, countered, or killed in order for your combo to be successful. People already play tons of spot removal for mana creatures thanks to Birthing Pod. People already play Abrupt Decay because of Deceiver Exarch plus Splinter Twin. Counterspells have always been fine in Modern.

The disruption is there. The question is whether this deck is consistently fast enough and resilient enough to beat it. Will Jeskai Ascendancy be the next Blazing Shoal? I have no idea, but I'm very excited to find out.

For me, the most exciting part about a new set is the new Legends. Commander is a format where you can do all kinds of crazy nonsense by building around a powerful, unique Legend and so new additions to that pool are always exciting. Wedge Commanders are especially exciting because the wedges haven't really had identities carved out for themselves just yet. For the longest time, people were stuck playing Planar Chaos Dragons. With Khans of Tarkir, this isn't a problem anymore. Wedges are beginning to be more clearly defined, and they all got an awesome new Commander. This week we're going to take a look at IBSPathfinder's build of Anafenz, the Foremost, the new Abzan Commander that hates graveyards more than anything else:

[Cardlist title= Anafenza's Counter Possy - Commmander| IBSPathfinder]

First off, any deck that hates on graveyards this naturally has to be awesome. Everyone plays out of the graveyard to some extent, whether with Sun Titan or Bloodghast or Anathemancer. The ability to just shut those decks down completely with your three-drop Commander who also happens to be a 4/4 with upside is unbelievable. There are plenty of decks that straight up can't function with an Anafenza in play and will sit around doing nothing while you beat them upside the head with you 4/4.

But Anafenza isn't just a hate bear. She also dishes out a +1/+1 counter to a tapped creature every time she attacks, an IBSPathfinder has some incredible targets. Persist creatures like Woodfall Primus and Twilight Shepherd are obviously insane. Vish Khal and Triskelion can turn into reliable removal. Fertilid lets you generate extra lands every turn. Etched Oracle becomes a draw engine unto itself if you've built your deck around +1/+1 counters, and you'd better believe IBSPathfinder has.

From Forgotten Ancient all the way up to Doubling Season and Hardened Scales, there's no end to the counter shenanigans that this deck is capable of. I hope you brought some extra dice along, because Anafenza and company are going to need them.

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