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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


It's week two of a new Standard format, Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir is right around the corner, and we've got all kinds of cool new toys to play with. This is one of the most exciting times of the Magic year, when everything is new and no one knows what's going to break out next. This week we've got five decks from Standard, Modern, and Legacy featuring breakout cards from Khans of Tarkir. Will you sleeve one up for your next big event?

Heroic is a mechanic that has come close to breaking through in Constructed a few times in the last year. Stanislav Cifka took Red-White Heroic to a Top 8 Finish at Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, Jared Boetcher took 9th at that Pro Tour with a Blue-White take on the same mechanic. Greg Hatch even tried to make Jeskai Heroic a thing in Standard with Trait Doctoring and Hidden Strings. Aggro master Tom "The Boss" Ross thinks that a few new cards from Khans of Tarkir may have pushed Heroic over the edge into playability. Let's see what he's got brewing:

Three cards make all the difference. Flooded Strand, Defiant Strike, and Seeker of the Way are the only changes to this deck from its Block Constructed incarnation, but they change everything.

One of the biggest issues with this style of deck is mana constraints. You have White and double-White creatures you need to cast alongside your Blue spells and Blue-White creatures all in a timely fashion. If you stumble on your spells, your opponent gets enough breathing room to start leveraging Hero's Downfall and Murderous Cut to battle through your heroes and start stabilizing the board. Flooded Strand goes a long way towards making sure you can sequence your lands to cast all of your spells on time.

Seeker of the Way is a great new addition for two reasons. First, it's easy to cast. Second, it's yet another creature that enables you to have enormous "combo" turns where you cash in your Ordea of Thassa and cast some Gods Willing and other cheap instants to punch through for huge chunks of damage to close out the game with prowess. Not only that, but the lifelink ability makes it much more realistic for you to suit him up with Ordeals and race much more effectively against Red- or Black-based aggressive decks.

Last, the innocuous Defiant Strike. It may not look like it, but this is exactly the kind of effect that this deck is looking for. It's a cheap instant that targets, pumps a creature, and draws a card. This gives you free heroic and prowess triggers, a small bonus, and doesn't cost a card from you. What more could you want? Between Stratus Walk, Ordeal of Thassa, and Defiant Strike plus all your scry effects, it gets pretty easy to tear through your deck for the card you need to force through the last few points.

Last week we talked about Jeskai Ascendancy making waves in Modern. It might not be capable of the same kind of degeneracy in Standard, but Joseph Scalco might have come pretty close. It turns out that tokens plus convoke and Jeskai Ascendancy gets pretty dumb pretty fast. Let's take a look at Joseph's Jeskai Tokens:

There are a lot of really cool things going on here. Not only do you get to cast some of the most powerful cards in the new Standard - Goblin Rabblemaster and Brimaz, King of Oreskos - but you get to do stupidly busted things with them when you find a Jeskai Ascendancy.

Just imagine attacking with a few tokens, blowing your opponent out with Jeskai Charm, pumping and untapping your team with Ascendancy. Now it's totally reasonable for you to cast a Stoke the Flames in combat or Triplicate Spirits post combat. That's a super powerful interaction, and there's got to be more where that came from.

Right now, you've got to play some awkward cards to make sure you have enough pieces. Hordeling Burst and Monastery Swiftspear don't seem like the kind of cards that you really want to play, but they let you create huge swings with Jeskai Ascendancy. You need a critical mass of tokens so that you can go off with Defiant Strike and Ascendancy, but it seems like there ought to be a more efficient and synergistic way to get it done. This is a deck to keep your eye on, because it's already got a number of powerful things going on. If the right pieces fall into play, this could be an incredible Standard powerhouse.

The first week of Standard, most people were expecting a few different things. Black Hero's Downfall decks, Green Nykthos decks, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Abzan midrange. There's one card that's pretty insane against almost all of those strategies, and Ross Merriam found it: Doomwake Giant. Let's take a look at Ross's Green-Black Constellation/Devotion deck.

At this point we're mostly familiar with the Green devotion engine. Polukranos and other awesome double-Green cards are the backbone that let you set up degenerate turns with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. The big difference is that now we have Genesis Hydra and Hornet Queen in a format without Lifebane Zombie, Pack Rat, or Supreme Verdict. This means that you've got more time to set up your engine and sculpt your hand and board instead of constantly being under pressure to either do something degenerate or scoop up your cards.

What this deck is trying to do is set up enormous Doomwake Giant turns where you can sweep your opponent's board and start getting in for massive amounts of damage. Doomwake Giant is especially good during these first few weeks of the format because people tend to start with aggressive decks featuring Goblin Rabblemaster and Black one-drops. This means that Doomwake Giant is the five-drop that can stabilize your board and break open stalls all on its own, whether you're playing against aggro or midrange.

This weekend we saw plenty of builds featuring Xenagos and Sarkhan, but it seems to me that Doomwake Giant is definitely the place to be for the first few weeks.

Treasure Cruise is one of the most exciting cards to come out Khans of Tarkir, particularly for eternal formats. There's been plenty of talk about how this card fits into Legacy build featuring Delver of Secrets or Shardless Agent, but what about Modern? Sure, we don't get the density of cantrips and cheap spells, but we've still got Gitaxian Probe and fetchlands, right? Caleb Durward thinks he might have found a place to start with Treasure Cruise:

Blue-Red Delver of Secrets has been a fringe deck in Modern for most of a year now. Various builds with Young Pyromancer and Spellstutter Sprite have cycled in and out of playability, but the deck has just been a little too underpowered. There weren't quite enough awesome threats and you didn't have a Brainstorm effect to make sure you had enough gas to close out the game. To that end, Thoughtscour into Treasure Cruise seems pretty awesome, and this is a great shell to do it in.

There's a weird tension between Treasure Cruise and Snapcaster Mage, but I'm sure we can get over it. THe combination of cheap instants and Phyrexian mana give you a great way to stock your graveyard and Treasure Cruise gives you a cheap way to restock and keep pace with the combo and control decks of the format. I'm a little distressed at the lack of cheap countermagic, but Monastery Swiftspear may just let you aggro opponents out instead.

I don't know if this is the home for the Thoughtscour/Treasure Cruise combo, but that combination is way too powerful not to see play and I'm excited to see where it ends up.

Carsten Kotter called it. We knew Treasure Cruise was playable, but most of us were talking about one or two copies. This is week one of Khans of Tarkir cards being legal, and both Treasure Cruise and Monastery Swiftspear have both won a large Legacy event as four-ofs in the hands of Bob Huang. Is Treasure Cruise the future of Legacy? It certainly seems like it for now.

This is an incredible shell for Treasure Cruise. All the cheap cantrips and interactive spells help keep you ahead of your opponent while your Delvers, Swiftspears, and Pyromancers chip in for a few points every turn. Once you start running out of gas, Treasure Cruise only costs one or two and lets you refuel to find extra Force of Wills and Lightning Bolts to close out the game.

This is an obvious home for this type of effect. You play lots of cheap cards and want to chain together plenty of spells and cards to find key instants and sorceries and trigger both Young Pyromancer and Monastery Swiftspear. What surprises me a little bit is that there aren't a few powerful singletons or higher casting cost cards. When you're drawing three cards at a time, it's pretty easy to cantrip into powerful singletons when you need them or to hit enough lands to cast late game threats. It's distinctly possible that this is just worse than more burn and counterspells, but it's worth considering.

What's terrifying is that this is a week one deck. We haven't even begun to explore what cards like Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time can do, and they're already good enough to take down large events. The future of Legacy is here, and it's going to involve these powerful delve spells.

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