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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


The rest of the world may be heading into a holiday lull, but Magic technology never stops evolving. This week we have five awesome decks from across Standard, Modern, and Vintage featuring new and exciting interactions. We’ll start by finding out what Pyromancer's Goggles and Eldrazi Skyspawner have to offer in Standard. Then we’ll head to Modern to see what the newest builds of Nivmagus Elemental aggro and Death Cloud Midrange look like. Lastly, we’ll find out what Magic Origins has to offer Magic’s oldest and most degenerate format. Let’s get started.

Double Up

One of the most interesting cards to come out of Magic Origins was Pyromancer's Goggles. The ability to double up on Red spells, particularly Tormenting Voice and Magmatic Insight, is really interesting, but has, until now, been largely unrealized in Standard. Adrian Sullivan has been exploring an interesting take on midrange featuring the powerful creature-base of Abzan backed by Pyromancer's Goggles and awesome Red spells:

At its core, Adrian’s new brew is an Abzan deck along the lines of Dark Jeskai. All the best Abzan cards — Siege Rhino, Den Protector, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang — backed by powerful Red removal like Crackling Doom and Crater's Claws against big creatures and Wild Slash and Fiery Impulse against aggressive creatures. You even have Kolaghan's Command to help grind out value against the other midrange decks.

These Red cards become powerful in conjunction with Pyromancer's Goggles. This engine helps you go bigger than all the other midrange decks and lock up the game against the aggressive decks in the format. In conjunction with Kolaghan's Command and Tormenting Voice, Goggles becomes an absurd card advantage engine, letting you filter through your deck and start recycling Rhinos and Den Protectors to whittle down your opponent’s life total as the game goes on.

This is especially valuable given the inclusion of Soulfire Grand Master over something like Hangarback Walker as the two-drop of choice. Soulfire Grand Master gives you an even more absurd late game, since you can not only rebuy powerful spells with Den Protector, you can also buy them back with Soulfire Grand Master turn after turn.

Tokens Take to the Skies

We’ve seen a couple of takes on Esper Tokens since the inception of this Standard format, but recently we’ve seen a bit of an evolution of the archetype. The combination of Sorin, Solemn Visitor, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and tokens is obviously powerful, but iamd3vastat1on is building on that base with a few very interesting picks:

The backbone of this deck hasn’t changed since the deck first broke out. The key is the use of Gideon, Sorin, and Secure the Wastes as a mechanism to overwhelm your opponent in combat. This, combined with cheap removal like Murderous Cut as well as card advantage via Painful Truths and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, creates a powerful base for the deck; but the deck needs a better way to bridge the mid-game and late-game so your Planeswalkers are safe.

This deck achieves this with the combination of Eldrazi Skyspawner and Wingmate Roc. Eldrazi Skyspawner is an awesome, if unassuming card. Multiple blockers makes it good against aggro, multiple bodies play well with Gideon and Sorin, and an evasive threat is a great way to turn on raid for Wingmate Roc.

Wingmate Roc is exciting because it is a powerful threat, a card advantage engine, and helps to turn the race in your favor against aggressive decks. Wingmate Roc does everything this deck wants, but was difficult to turn on without the inclusion of the innocuous Eldrazi Skyspawner. If you’re looking for a deck with a solid curve, an awesome top end, and the maximum amount of the most powerful cards in Standard, this seems like a great place to start.

Revamping Nivmagus Combo

There are a lot of fast decks in Modern. Burn and Affinity can easily present lethal on turn three. Amulet Bloom and Infect can kill on turn two. But there’s another fast aggro-combo deck which never really took off. Arlysk seems to think it might be time for Nivmagus Elemental to make a comeback:

This deck debuted at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, and focused on two cards: Nivmagus Elemental and Kiln Fiend. Both of these cards want you to cast a lot of spells and can present huge damage early on in the game, particularly in conjunction with Assault Strobe. However, the low density of threats made the deck enormously fragile. Cards like Death's Shadow sort of helped with that problem, but are much worse than the primary threats in the deck. Fortunately, this deck has received plenty of upgrades with recent sets.

Monastery Swiftspear is another pseudo-Kiln Fiend, and Abbot of Keral Keep helps provide consistent access to a prowess threat while also helping grind out longer games. This increased consistency means you can apply pressure without going all in, and use creature-based pressure to force your opponent to cast their removal proactively and open up opportunities to combo off.

Speaking of the combo, Become Immense changes things for this deck. Suddenly, you’re less reliant on comboing Ground Rift and Nivmagus Elemental to kill opponents; instead you can use prowess and Become Immense to deal huge chunks of damage, or end games with Temur Battle Rage. Most importantly, the shift to Green allows the deck to play Vines of the Vastwood, which pulls double duty as both a protection spell and a pump spell, providing even more consistency. Considering fragility and consistency were the biggest problems facing this archetype, it may be time to give Nivmagus Elemental another chance in the spotlight.

Death Clouds and Demons

B/G midrange decks have been a staple archetype in Modern since the format’s inception. However, these decks focus on trading resources efficiently, which makes them vulnerable to decks which can go bigger, whether with a Splinter Twin- or Scapeshift-esque combo or just powerful top-end cards like Ajani Vengeant, Sphinx's Revelation, or Cruel Ultimatum. In short, you can lose games to powerful top-decks. Here’s osmanozguney’s take on a Green-Black deck with a few game-ending haymakers:

The Death Cloud variants of B/G have always had the same kind of game-plan: trade resources, develop your mana, and resolve Death Cloud with a Planeswalker in play. That game-plan has always been fine, if a little clunky, but osmanozguney has a few interesting inclusions which make that plan a little better. Utopia Sprawl is a great ramp spell, particularly in conjunction with Garruk Wildspeaker, but also allows you to maximize your resources post Death Cloud if you can keep the enchanted land.

Part of the reason this deck is exciting in the current Modern format is because it’s received a couple of exciting additions from recent sets. Tasigur, the Golden Fang is an incredible threat in a Death Cloud deck, since you can very easily cast a large Death Cloud and follow up with Tasigur on the same turn. Similarly, Ob Nixilis Reignited is a powerful Planeswalker who can protect himself and then help you pull ahead on resources post-Death Cloud. Perhaps most interesting is the inclusion of Dark Petition which lets you maximize singletons across the 75. This flex slot functions as additional copies of powerful sideboard cards, Death Cloud, or just awesome top end threats.

In a format increasingly focused on Midrange decks and fast, linear strategies, this seems like a great place to be in the format. You have the same ability to trade resources early against aggressive strategies, but have a more powerful top end and access to game-ending haymakers. You give up some of your game against the fastest decks in the format, but receive huge edges against anything trying to play a medium to long game since you can limit outs by denying the cards or mana necessary to fight back.

Petition for a Turn One Kill

Many people mistakenly believe Vintage is all about trading turn one kills. Many decks try to win the game with the likes of Lodestone Golem, Monastery Mentor, or Jace, the Mind Sculptor on turns four or later. That doesn’t mean decks can’t kill on the first turn. This week, we’re taking a look at a newer variant of one of the decks which can most commonly kill on the earliest turns of the game. This is Dark Petition Storm:

This particular take on Storm is exciting for a few reasons, the first of which is it plays a lot of the cards in Vintage which are the most fun to go off with: Gush plus Fastbond and fast mana plus Necropotence or Yawgmoth's Bargain. Even the ability to dump a bunch of fast mana rocks into play and then cast draw sevens is enormously powerful and a lot of fun.

The power of this deck relative to other fast combo decks is two-fold. Firstly, this deck has a lot of staying power. Between Gush, Gifts Ungiven, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, there are a lot of ways to grind out card advantage and recover from early game disruption. All of these card advantage engines give you the ability to assemble the critical mass of resources you need to be able to storm your opponent out with Yawgmoth's Will and Tendrils of Agony.

The second important tool in this deck is the namesake: Dark Petition. This card hasn’t really caught on in many other formats, but has exciting applications in Vintage. Vintage is the format with the highest density of fast mana and free spells. This means not only can you consistently cast a 5 mana card early on in the game, but you can do it with spell mastery. This makes Dark Petition a pseudo unrestricted Demonic Tutor, which is so powerful some variants are running as many as four copies of the card.

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