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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


Pro Tour Magic Origins is in the books, and now we have an exciting new Standard format to explore. Magic Origins has proven to be an enormously impactful set for Standard, and Magic Online has shown us that there's plenty more to explore. And Standard is just the beginning; there's plenty of new technology for eternal formats as well. This week we'll start with three sweet Standard brews featuring new Magic Origins goodness, and move on to a crazy Return to the Ranks brew in Modern and a deck featuring Jace, Vryn's Prodigy in Legacy. Let's get started.

Right now, Standard is all about playing to the board. If you can develop a strong board presence, you can frequently go wider or bigger than opponents and overwhelm them with powerful and resilient threats. At Pro Tour Magic Origins, Ken Yukuhiro had an interesting take on this strategy featuring a full four Hardened Scaless.

This. Deck. Is. Sweet. There are so many cool, subtle interactions that opponents are going to have an enormously difficult time planning for or playing around. Hardened Scales does incredible work with both Managorged Hydra and Hangarback Walker. These two threats get out of hand incredibly quickly, and both play very well with Avatar of the Resolute and Abzan Falconer.

On top of that, the spells and tricks in this deck are very well-positioned in this format. Dromoka's Command is fantastic with Hardened Scales and enormous creatures, but is also a great effect to have access to as the format has shifted towards enchantments like Ensoul Artifact and Eidolon of the Great Revel. Lastly, Citadel Siege allows you to jump start your Hangarback Walkers in the late game or force them through to deal the last few points.

Elves got a lot of support from Magic Origins, but didn't really show up in force at the Pro Tour. Was that due to players expecting a substantial number of Languish and Crux of Fate? Or because the overall power level just isn't up to par with the rest of Standard. MrTopDeck is trying to change all that::

This is a deck that's all about swarming the board. Eleven one-drops make it easy to turn on Dwynen's Elite. Additionally, there are 32 Elves for the Sylvan Messengers to hit, which allows you to chain Messengers and Elvish Visionarys into the key cards for this style of deck. Once you've swarmed the board, there are two directions that this deck can go in. The first is to use Chord of Calling to tutor up a Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen and bring the aggression. Alternatively, you can use Collected Company, Messengers, and Chords to find Shaman of the Pack to whittle away at your opponents life total outside of combat.

This deck does a lot of cool things in this format. Firstly, your ability to consistently access Dwynen is an enormous boon against Mono-Red, as one attack step is usually going to deal enough damage and gain enough life to close out the game. Similarly, you have maindeck Reclamation Sage to beat up on Ensoul Artifact decks. Your ability to churn through your deck to find these powerful, matchup-specific cards is an enormous boon - as long as you predict the metagame correctly.

Who says that Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact has to be the Blue deck to beat? Thassa, God of the Sea is going to be coming back in a big way if FranzK has anything to say about it. Let's take a look at the exciting new toys that Magic Origins has given Mono-Blue Devotion:

A big problem for this style of deck has been the loss of cards like Tidebinder Mage and Nightveil Specter. Even without their potentially game-breaking effects, these cards gave you the density of Blue mana symbols that you needed to just end games with Master of Waves or turn on Thassa, God of the Sea. With the addition of Shorecrasher Elemental and Harbinger of the Tides, this archetype is finally approaching a critical mass of Creatures with two Blue mana symbols in their casting costs. Similarly, Faerie Miscreant gives you an additional evasive one-drop for Bident of Thassa, but to some extent mitigates the effect of drawing an excess of bad one-drops in the mid-game.

Over the last year, this shell has proven that it is powerful enough to define a Standard format. While Mindreaver is no Frostburn Weird, Mono-Blue was always all about the power Master of Waves and Thassa backed by underpowered Blue beaters. Treasure Cruise and Silumgar Sorcerer are exciting additions to the get that give you additional ways to overwhelm opponents if you get behind on the board. Are the tools here? Is it time for this deck to make a comeback? If there was ever a time for Master of Waves to break out again, it's when Mono-Red is at an all-time high.

Recently, we've seen an exciting take on Nantuko Husk break out in Standard. The combination of Collected Company, value creatures, and Rally the Ancestors is a pretty huge constraint on the format as it stands. We've seen similar decks in the past, featuring Cartel Aristocrat, Blood Artist, and Skirsdag High Priest, but no one has made a real effort to port the decks to Modern. At least until now:

It turns out that when you open this strategy up to the Modern cardpool you get a lot of pretty sweet cards. Let's start with the switch from Rally the Ancestors to Return to the Ranks. Rally is an instant, but convoke allows you to start comboing off with the token generation of Abzan Ascendancy, Voice of Resurgence, and Doomed Traveler. Perhaps most excitingly, Viscera Seer helps you dig towards your combo elements and even set up Collected Company.

Additionally, the cards you get to sacrifice are way better in Modern. Just imagine sacrificing Tidehollow Sculler in response to its trigger with a Liliana, Heretical Healer or Abzan Ascendancy in play! This deck instead opts to be more aggressive with Voice of Resurgence and the like, but there is certainly potential for a more combo-oriented deck featuring Eternal Witness if so inclined. Eternal Witness can return Return to the Ranks, and be sacrificed along with other creatures to generate Spirit tokens off of Abzan Ascendancy to recast Return to the Ranks. At that point you can strip your opponent's hand and kill them with Blood Artist triggers. Additionally, it's possible that Faith's Reward could function as an instant-speed version of Return to the Ranks, although less powerful due to the lack of convoke.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is easily the most exciting card out of Magic Origins for eternal formats, as the combination of fetchlands and cheap cantrips makes it easy to flip Jace early, making him an effective two-mana Planeswalker. There are a lot of potential homes for a Planeswalker that can protect players from early Delver of Secrets while providing the value of flashing back Abrupt Decay and Brainstorms when the board is stable. KENXKEN took a different approach, adding Jace to a combo deck to provide additional resiliency. Here's what he tried:

Jace does a lot of cool things in this deck. First and foremost, he's a looter, which allows you to get your giant monsters into the graveyard to cheat them back into play. The additional benefit of Jace is that he is a creature that your opponents are going to want to kill early, which means that you can use excess reanimation effects targeting Jace to attrition out your opponents removal and countermagic. If Jace sticks and flips, you then get to flashback reanimate effects.

Jace doesn't do a lot to reduce the density of this combo deck, since he contributes to your primary plan of dumping a monster, but he also adds an exciting new dimension to the deck, the ability to attrition out opponents with a powerful Planeswalker. This certainly is not the only application for Jace, but it is a straightforward and versatile one that I hope catches on quickly.

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