Strixhaven Standard Set Review with Ali Aintrazi
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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


With Grand Prix Vegas in the rearview, it's finally time to return to some good, old-fasioned Constructed Magic. Instead of cracking packs and hoping to see a Tarmogoyf smiling back at you, it's time to head back to Standard, Modern, and your other favorite Constructed formats. This week, we've got five decks from across Standard, Modern, and Legacy featuring all kinds of crazy interactions. We'll start in Standard with a super efficient Dragon Devotion deck and an exciting brew from the mad genius himself, Shota Yasooka. Then we'll head in to Modern where we have both a Poison Control deck and a super proactive take on Death Cloud. Finally, we'll head to Legacy where we'll take a look at resolving the most protected and specific Magus of the Moons you've ever seen. Let's get started:

We're all familiar with the Deathmist Raptor plus Den Protector shell that's taken over Standard over the last few weeks. We've also all seen the various combotastic takes on Jeskai Ascendancy that have cropped up over the last year. But what happens when we mash those two distinct strategies together? That's the question that Shota Yasooka, the mad scientist himself, asked going in to Grand Prix Shanghai. Here's the list he ended up with:

This deck works exactly as you'd expect. You have the ability to combo people out with Jeskai Ascendancy, tapping and untapping mana creatures and using Retraction Helix to loot through your deck for Altar of the Brood by cycling Tormod's Crypt. However, Deathmist Raptor gives you the additional option of just grinding people out with deathtouching megamorphs.

The exciting thing, though, is that these plans fit together shockingly well. Taigam's Scheming and Commune with the Gods find Jeskai Ascendancy and stock the graveyard with Deathmist Raptors to begin grinding away with. Jeskai Ascendancy also lets you loot away your Raptors for value and profit, or lets you apply quick pressures by casting Dig Through Times to pump your team.

Obviously the mana is a little awkward, and the deck is a little inconsistent due to the huge variety of roles cards are trying to fill. But the concept is powerful, and the ability to attack from multiple angles should not be underestimated. While control decks are busy tapping out to deal with your raptor offense, you'll be able to find opportunities to force through the combo finish. That's the thought at least.

It's hard to say if this hybrid build is the best direction to take this deck in, but it's certainly peaked my interest.

Of course, if Combo isn't your game, maybe you'd rather be slamming Dragons? If that's the case, then you'll want to take a look at this super aggressive Dragons deck that Josh Utter-Leyton played in this week's Standard Super League:

The thing to pay attention to with this deck is the Creatures. Not only are there a million of them. Hasty dragons. Recursive Phoenixes. Each one is a super-efficient threat in its own right. Even Ire Shaman helps you apply pressure, beat down and generate some value along the way to keep your way clear. The best part about this deck is that you get to curve out with these powerful creatures and then use Nykthos to activate all of their abilities to keep the pressure on.

You even get access to both Draconic Roar and Crater's Claws as mana efficient answers that can also deal the last few points of damage. This is a deck that is super aggressive, and more than capable of stealing games with timely Dragons and Generator Servant[/ard]s to provide haste to the less angry creatures on your team. As people are beginning to metagame against the smaller Red decks in the format, this might be a strong alternative that goes quite a bit bigger and can overwhelm opponents with the quality of its threats rather than raw mana efficiency.

[card]Arbor Elf plus Utopia Sprawl is the combination that is taking over Modern Magic. Is it any wonder, really? This engine gives you the ability o generate four mana on turn two; enough for something like a Garruk Wildspeaker or Gifts Ungiven. It's also enough to power out an obscene Death Cloud that can decimate your opponent's board presence and set your up to demolish them as the game goes super long. Let's take a look at how MagicDevil666 built his take on this classic Modern archetype.

This deck is very similar to Jund and Abzan in that you're just trying to trade resources more efficiently than your opponents. The difference is that this deck has a way to go over the top with Death Cloud and ensure that opponents don't have more resources than you do. This is especially true if you combine the Arbor Elf engine with and X spell. Suddenly, you have the capability of casting Death Cloud for X = three or more without any trouble at all.

The best part? Death Cloud doesn't hit Planeswalkers. That means that you can set up a board state where you are the only one who has a permanent in play. Whether that permanent is a Thragtusk or a Garruk Wildspeaker, it's going to be tough for your opponent to win from that position.

That's not the only way to play control though.

There are few things that I look forward to more than Chris Lansdell brew. Whether the cards can stand on their own or the deck can keep up with the rest of the format, I know that the deck is going to be one of a kind, and that it's going to do something truly awesome. This controlling take on infect is no different:

This isn't the first time we've seen discard and Runechanter's Pike powering up infect creatures. This is the first time we've seen Beseech the Queen powering the engine up. Now you aren't reliant on bad cards like Howltooth Hollow, and instead you can just tutor up the right threat or answer for the situation. Since the curve is so low and we aren't worried about splash colors, this deck gets to play with the closest thing we've seen to Demonic Tutor in a very long time.

The best part? you even get to play cards that are effective as singletons. Things like Geth's Verdict are super powerful in a format where people are trying to get there with Apostle's Blessing and Vines of Vastwood to protect key creatures. You can find sweepers, Planeswalkers, or even the singleton Kessig Wolf Run in case the games go long. Either way, you'll be able to grind your opponent into the ground and bury them in a pile of poison damage.

Finally, we get to my favorite deck of the bunch. Legacy is a format where people are Greedy with their land count, with their colors, and even their mana curve. There are few cards that punish people for playing "normal" Legacy more than Blood Moon. At least until Bahra put together this awesome twist on Death and Taxes, that is:

What's so exciting about this? Not only does this deck have Imperial Recruiter in it to make sure you find the appropriate hate bears in various matchups, but it also has access to Magus of the Moon, which changes a lot of things. Normally, Magus is just worse than Blood Moon an overwhelming majority of the time. That's not necessarily the case here.

This Death and Taxes shell gives this deck access to both Cavern of Souls and Mother of Runes. The only thing better than a Blood Moon is one that's uncounterable, comes with a body to beat down, and can be protected from the first Abrupt Decay. Keep in mind, some opponents are only going to get one chance to answer Blood Moon for many, many turns, by floating colored mana before Blood Moon Resolves.

Once you have a Magus in play, it's all over but the crying. After all, it's hard for your opponent to fight over your mana denial and anemic beats when they've run out of time, resources, and tricks. You can just grind away at their creature base until your opponents make a mistake, allowing you to resolve a powerful threat that takes over the board and threatens to end the game in short order.

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