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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


As the Fate Reforged spoilers continue rolling in, we shift our attention away from formats like Standard and towards the kinds of crazy brews that are only possible in eternal formats. We've still got a fun new Standard deck for you, but the focus this week is on Modern, Legacy, and Commander. This we've got everything from Stasis to Kiln Fiend, and I can't wait to get started.

Our first deck is a fun Standard number from Sam Black based on his Red-White Tokens deck from Worlds. Sam took the pieces that he liked from that deck and added some additional colors to help fight powerful cards like Doomwake Giant and Hornet Queen. In the end we get this strange amalgamation of Heliod's Pilgrim plus Chained to the Rocks, Eidolon of Blossoms, and Wingmate Roc. Let's take a look at Sam Black's Naya Constellation:

This deck does a lot of really interesting things. Chain to the Rocks is one of the most efficient and powerful removal spells in the format and combines with Heliod's Pilgrim to create a Flametongue Kavu-style effect, which is pretty tough to argue with in a format like Standard. Making Green the primary color gives you access to handful of very powerful cards, including the acceleration and fixing of Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid as well as both Eidolon of Blossoms and Courser of Kruphix to generate cards as the game goes long.

What's interesting to me is the cards that are splashed off of the Red and Black mana in Sam's deck. Red is necessary to make the Chained to the Rocks engine function, but both Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker and Ashcloud Phoenix make the cut as Red cards that Sam is excited to play. I like Ashcloud Phoenix[/card] as a way to grind out card advantage and damage against the more attrition-oriented decks in Standard. Sarkhan is an interesting choice over Stormbreath Dragon as a way to fight through large creatures that is more capable of pressing an advantage than playing defense. Doomwake Giant and Murderous Cut are also interesting as efficient answers to the giant creatures and swarms of tokens that characterize this format.

Perhaps most important is Sam's choice of win condition: Wingmate Roc. Wingmate Roc is one of the most efficient and resilient threats in Standard, and does a fantastic job of pressuring players, playing defense and fighting opposing Elspeths and Sarkhans. All of the pieces of this deck are put together very deliberately, and I love seeing just how much thought went into each slot. I don't know if this is a natural evolution from the other Green-Black-based Constellation decks, but I love the Heliod's Pilgrim engine and can't wait to see if this takes off.

Treasure Cruise has completely changed how Modern is played. In many senses, the format has become more polarized. There are aggressive decks that try to minimize interaction by ending the game as quickly as possible, tempo decks that use Treasure Cruise to stay ahead, and Dig Through Time decks that try to assemble their two-card combo plus disruption. This deck is a new take on an aggressive Red strategy that tries to close out games as quickly as possible and punish opponents who are durdling around with cantrips and Jesaki Ascendancy. This is Aryaroohi's take on Mono-Red Heroic:

This deck does a lot of really interesting things, but most of them come down to killing your opponent on turn three. You'd be shocked at how many ways there are to accomplish that. The easy ones involve Kiln Fiend, a pump spell, and Assault Strobe. Ten power, double strike, game over. You can accomplish similar things with Monastery Swiftspear and Satyr Hoplite, albeit a little slower and split over more turns.

The problem with this style of deck over something like Infect is that this is very vulnerable to removal spells. Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile can easily set you back multiple turns and open you up to a combo kill. That's why effects like Gitaxian Probe are so important, so you know what effects you're trying to play around. Apostle's Blessing does great work out of the sideboard, but not being able to play Vines of the Vastwood is an enormous loss when you shift to base Red instead of Green. in preboarded games, your best plan to beat removal is to set up hits with Become Immense as a follow-up to removal spells to keep up the pressure.

As long as they play Magic for long enough, everyone tries to make Stasis work eventually. It's a powerful effect that doesn't ask especially much from you to break the symmetry. Just untap or bounce some lands, or bounce your Stasis. Add something like Frozen Aether or Daze and suddenly the lock is much harder. This week we've got a new-ish take on Stasis built by FATPOW that I'm excited to see in action. Let's take a closer look:

This deck does a lot of really cool things and combines quite a few interesting lock pieces. You've got the "traditional" Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger, and Green Sun's Zenith to help set up your Stasis lock. Particularly in conjunction with Noble Hierarch, these effects let you continue to hit your land drops and pay for Stasis each turn while setting up for your bigger spells like Garruk. But that's not all they do in this deck. Here we've also got Exploration and Azusa, Lost but Seeking to power up Horn of Greed. This lets you tear through your deck and actually generate large amounts of mana, even under a Stasis. Eventually you'll find your Derevei, Empyrial Tactician and just beat down while keeping your Stasis paid for.

The other interesting piece of this deck is Equipoise, which does all kinds of strange things. If you're afraid of creatures like hate bears, you can hold back some of your creatures and phase out the most problematic of the bunch. You can bounce all of your lands and phase out your opponent's Counterspell mana. There are a lot of small, subtle interactions like exiling Ensnaring Bridge and other disruption pieces that make this a powerful card for beating other decks that are designed to go long. I'm not certain that Stasis will ever be good in Legacy again, but this is a new and exciting take, and that's always something I'm glad to pay attention to.

In keeping with our previous take on Red-Green turbo aggro, Caleb Durward's got a new brew that may just send UR Delver packing. Forget Treasure Cruise and Young Pyromancer. You're just dead on two or three with startling regularity. Let's take a look at Caleb's new take on Berserk:

This deck effectively runs the same kind of engine as the Infect deck popularized by Tom Ross. Invigorate, Berserk, and Vines of the Vastwood are the backbone of the deck, and you use them to pump enormous, resilient creatures like Silhana Ledgewalker and Kiln Fiend to get your opponent dead as quickly as possible. The key difference between this deck and Infect? Infect is going to be a little faster because it doesn't care about life and has more space for disruption in the combo mirrors. This deck is more resilient to removal spells because a full five of your threats have hexproof, but gives up the ability to play a long game with Brainstorms and Pendelhaven to grind out damage.

What you get in exchange is more resilient and mana-efficient threats that can close out games almost as quickly. Monastery Swiftspear and Kiln Fiend even get pumped whether you're targeting them or not, which is a huge upgrade over the infect deck where you have to go all in on one creature at some point or another. Is this the new hyperaggro deck that's going to take Legacy by storm? I don't think so, but I'd certainly love to see some Kiln Fiends turning sideways in a Legacy match.

Our Commander deck for the week features a newer variant of the format designed for quick games and heads-up play: Tiny Leaders. The rules are pretty straightforward. 25 life, 50 card, singleton decks with Commanders. But every card you play must have converted mana cost three or less. That creates an interesting dynamic very different than the Commander format we are all familiar with. When you can't go over the top with expensive spells like Tooth and Nail or Insurrection, you end up with a format that is much more aggressive and dynamic rather than focusing so much on ramp effects and giant spells. This week Eric Levine took a closer look at the format, and this is one of his tentative lists:

Storm in the traditional sense isn't really a thing in Commander. Sure, you can storm off and kill one player pretty easily, but it's hard to kill a table without going infinite, which is really just an infinite combo deck rather than a storm deck. When you've only got one opponent though, it's much easier to put together the requisite number of spells to Brainfreeze them out. That's exactly what Eric is trying to do with this Animar deck. Cheap creatures that generate mana, cantrips, and other engine cards that help you chain card drawing into rituals into a Cloudstone Curio to go infinite with Cloud of Faeries or a Grinning Ignus to go infinite with Animar.

This deck shows off just a little of what is possible in a format like Tiny Leaders, and Eric's article is has a handful of other lists, as well as a link to the official rules and some discussion of what the format is like. This seems like a really interesting and fast-paced version of Commander for people who have trouble getting large groups together or who just want a little more of a competitive edge to their casual games.

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