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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week: #PTOrigins Edition


Pro Tour weekends are among the most exciting of the Magic year. We have all kinds of shiny new toys, we think we've figured them out, and now the best magicians in the world are going to show us just how much we've missed. What cards and interactions did we overlook? What exciting stories are going to emerge over the course of a weekend? What can we expect to see? This week we've got five decks that feature some of the most interesting cards and interactions from Magic Origins. We have two takes on Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, a sweet Demonic Pact brew, a Sphinx's Tutelage deck, and finally a fresh take on Thopter Spy Network. Let's get started.

Going into this weekend, many people expect Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to be the big story of the weekend. Jace has been the breakout card from Magic Origins over the last few weeks, as he is relatively easy to flip as early as turn three, allowing you to sculpt your hand and put a Planeswalker into play early on in the game. One of the decks which is best capable of taking advantage of Jace is this twist on an old favorite. Let's look at how Jace slots into Jeskai Tokens:

Forget Soulfire Grand Master. Even with Ojutai's Command helping out, it just costs way too much for that card to begin generating value. Instead, An_Actual_Potato is playing Jace. On the surface, Jace is just a sweet looter effect that plays nicely with Jeskai Ascendancy to provide an unbelievable amount of selection. But he actually does a lot more than that. This deck draws tons of cards off of Treasure Cruise, and Jace gives you selection in addition to raw card advantage, stocks your graveyard for delve, and gives you incredible longevity by allowing you to flashback token generators, Treasure Cruises, and burn spells.

The best part? If your opponent tries to kill your Jace, you can cast an instant to gain an activation and try to flip Jace in response to the removal spell. Beyond that, this deck has not changed substantially, but that's not really a problem. Jeskai Tokens is still enormously explosive and resilient. It is more than capable of crushing opponents as early as turn four, but the incredible card selection backed by Treasure Cruise makes you more than capable of grinding out longer games as well. The biggest question for this deck is how prevalent effects like Languish and Perilous Vault are. If sweepers are big, this deck may not be good, but if people are trying to play fair, midrangey Magic, this is a deck that verges on the unfair.

Another card that has a lot of people scratching their heads in Demonic Pact. This card is super powerful, and is more than capable of taking over a game if it is left unchecked. The ability to gain life and stabilize the board against aggro while also generating card advantage in control matchups is not something to be overlooked. The problem is finding a shell that can take advantage of the upsides of the Pact while avoiding losing to the fourth Pact trigger. We've seen a couple of interesting takes on Demonic Pact, but this takes seems like the most straightforward.

On its surface, this deck may look a little strange, but it's effectively a variant on Abzan Control. We've still got Courser of Kruphix backed by removal and Siege Rhino. The difference is that, instead of playing a bunch of Planeswalkers, Mulldrifter is playing Demonic Pact. This generates the same kind of card advantage while giving you the ability to drain your opponent out with Pacts and Rhinos. The problem is finding a way to avoid dying to your own pact without playing a bunch of bad cards like Disperse.

Mulldrifter's answer is a Woodland Bellower package. This card isnt something that many people thought about in Abzan, but is shockingly powerful looking at it in this deck. Ignoring Demonic Pact for the moment, the ability to play a 6/5 and tutor up Reclamation Sage or Courser of Kruphix is great, but that's only the beginning. You can also tutor for Nissa, Vastwood Seer and get a 6/5 plus a Planeswalker. With Demonic Pact in the mix, you can find Invasive Species to reset the pact and continue valuing your opponent out of the game.

Standard has become a format that is increasingly defined by Creatures. When the format pushes too far towards decks that cannot meaningfully interact outside of the combat step, it opens up the door for Fog decks. We've seen a few iterations on this style of deck over the last few years, but the most recent builds featured a Maze's End engine during Return to Ravnica Standard. What does a Fog deck look like with Magic Origins?

This deck attacks the metagame from a very narrow, albeit powerful angle. If you only play against midrangey creature decks, this strategy is all but unbeatable. All you have to do is use Dictate of Kruphix, Jace, and Anticipate to hit your land drops while Radiant Fountain gives you a safe buffer on your life total. At some point you can find an opportunity to stick a Sphinx's Tutelage, and then you really get to start eating away at your opponent's library.

The power of this deck is in it's ability to chain together looting effects and Treasure Cruises to find Winds of Qal Sisma and Defend the Hearth to protect your life total. At some point you can Aetherspouts for maximum value, lock down the board, and find additional copies of Sphinx's Tutelage and Dictate of Kruphix. When things start going south, you have Day's Undoing to recycle all of your Fogs and reset your Sphinx's Tutelage clock. At some point, you will assemble enough enchantments that you'll be able to mill your opponent out before they can mount a substantial offense.

This is the kind of deck that absolutely dominates decks that are dependent on the combat step. Something like Heroic or Green-Red Dragons is not going to have a great time against this style of control deck. However, if you square off against a deck packing Dissolve and Silumgar's Scorn, it's going to be much more difficult for this deck to steal games, since you only have Jace and Sphinx's Tutelage as cards that actively effect the outcome of a game. Do you like watching people squirm in their seats as a game tips inevitably in your favor? This is a deck that can do that, but only if your metagame call is spot-on.

One of the decks that gained the most out of Magic Origins is Sultai Control. This is the shell that is perhaps best able to combine the values engines that are Jace and Den Protector with the raw power of the Blue and Black cards in the format. We haven't seen a ton of this deck in the weeks leading up to Magic Origins, but maybe this new set provides exactly what the deck needs to break out again:

This is a deck that is packed with powerful cards and cute interactions. The strength of this deck is that you have a pile of super efficient and broad answers backed by proactive card advantage engines. Forget Courser of Kruphix, Satyr Wayfinder does a much better job of helping you hit land drops while setting up Jace and Dig Through Time and providing a speedbump against aggressive opponents.

The real power of this deck is its ability to have much more proactive nut draws than other control decks. You can lead off with a Thoughtseize, and quickly use either Jace or Den Protector to continue ripping your opponents hand apart while applying pressure for them to find a way to interact. Alternatively, you can sit back behind countermagic and removal until you assemble enough lands to start jamming powerful Planeswalkers like Garruk and Ugin until your opponent is dead. Dig Through Time helps to make sure you have access to your top end when you need it without cluttering up your deck with an excess of five- and six-drops, while Den Protector ensures that you can cast those few bomb over and over again until your opponent runs out of ways to fight back.

Sultai is a deck that is packed with powerful cards and interactions, and may be one of the decks in the format with the most play to it. This is also a deck with enormous opportunities for customization due to the sheer depth of playable cards in these three colors. That means that if you call the metagame correctly and build your deck appropriately, this deck will always have a strong chance of putting up great results.

Our last deck is a new take on a card that took everyone by surprise last weekend: Thopter Spy Network. This card is certainly no Bitterblossom, but it does a pretty reasonable impression, and provides incentive to play some of the other Artifacts-matter cards from Magic Origins. Jeff Hoogland showed us what the card was capable of in a Blue-White control shell, but last weekend Jim Davis showed us a new twist on the archetype, featuring Black instead of White.

The strength of this deck over the White version is in the flexibility of removal spells and efficiency of win conditions. Suddenly you aren't hoping that you draw your Valorous Stance and Last Breath at the right times, you just have Hero's Downfall and Ultimate Price. With Languish and Crux of Fate in the format, you don't even have to give up access to sweepers to gain the premiere spot removal spells.

The downside is that you no longer have access to Elspeth, Sun's Champion as a way to stabilize the board and win the game, but instead you have access to Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Ashiok is a card that is very capable of ending games before they really get started against other midrangey and control decks without losing too much value against more aggressive decks. Additionally, it can be valuable that Ashiok only costs three, making it easier to pick fights in counterspell-oriented matchups.

The cards that make this deck are Hangarback Walker and Thopter Spy Network. These are the cards that let you straddle the line between midrange and pure control, and give you the opportunities to both stall out the board and get more aggressive when necessary. The big questions are whether Thopter Spy Network can really compete with Dragonlord Ojutai and whether Artificer's Epiphany and Spy Network are worth sticking to two colors to squeeze Darksteel Citadel into your manabase. This weekend we'll find out what the face of control looks like in Magic Origins Standard, but I certainly hope we'll see plenty of Thopters.

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