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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week

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With Worlds ongoing and Eternal Weekend in the books, we've got all kinds of exciting new technology to review this week. It turns out that Magic Origins has been an incredibly impactful set on every format from Standard all the way back to Vintage. This week we'll start in Standard with one deck that almost made the cut at Pro Tour Magic Origins and one that will be battling on the Sunday stage at Worlds. Then we'll move to Modern to see yet another new take on Elves featuring Magic Origins technology, and a new twist on a Legacy classic. Last, we'll explore one of the awesome decks that ended up just outside of the Top 8 at Vintage Champs. Let's get started:


Pyromancer's Goggles was one of the coolest cards to come out of Magic Origins, and one that I assumed would have effectively no impact on Constructed formats, as it is a card that is enormously expensive and generally won't affect the board the turn you cast it. It turns out that Team ChannelFireball almost played a Goggles deck at Pro Tour Magic Origins, and this week Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa shared their tentative list, designed by Alexander Hayne:

This deck is very similar to Andrew Cuneo's Sphinx's Tutelage deck, except that it takes a much more controlling stance, looking to win the late game by valuing opponents out by doubling up on Magmatic Insight and Tormented Voice rather than milling them out with Sphinx's Tutelage.

The engine of the deck is largely the same, the cheap Red filtering effects let you find the combination of efficient answers you need to keep the game under control while setting you up to Treasure Cruise early on. Once you resolve Goggles, you start netting cards on your cantrips, and one-for-one removal spells like Roast start becoming enormously powerful two-for-ones.

This deck is especially interesting because of its inclusion of Mage-Ring Network, which does a substantial amount of work here. Not only does it help ramp out a Goggles a turn ahead of time, but it also helps you play Ugin with counterspells up and sets up your win condition, Crater's Claws. Your goal is to cast claws for a large amount off of Mage-Ring Networks and copy it several times with Pyromancer's Goggles to beat out any countermagic or substantial lifegain.


Standard is an interesting format at Worlds this year. When it comes at the tail end of the Swiss rounds and each match is worth a Pro Point, many players are going to be looking for a consistent deck that has game against a huge portion of the field. This kind of logic led to a full third of the field to be flavors of Abzan, another third Jeskai, and a substantial portion of the remaining players running Esper Dragons. Not Sam Black. He showed up to worlds with a crazy brew powered by Magic Origins that we'd heard rumblings of, but seen little movement on. Here is his take on Mono-White Devotion:

http://magic.wizards.com/en/events/coverage/2015wc/standard-decklists-2015-08-28

This deck is awesome in a format defined by creatures because so many of yours just outclass what other decks are trying to do. Knight of the White Orchid is particularly powerful as a way to steal the play back from opponents, help hit your land drops more consistently, and get on the board more quickly. The card is deceptively powerful, despite being a card that hasn't really found a home yet. Similarly, as the format shifts more and more towards creature-based strategies, Archangel of Tithes becomes an incredible force, effectively halting your opponents offense while also letting you attack back freely.

Just as important is the fact that Archangel gives you access to a full three White mana symbols, powering up Sam's Nykthoses and allowing all kinds of degenerate craziness. The best part about this deck is that it has a substantial amount of resiliency to sweepers in the form of Mastery of the Unseen and Hangarback Walker. These are powerful spells for you to invest your huge quantities of Nykthos mana into, and provide a way to grind through cards like Den Protector, Deathmist Raptor, and End Hostilities.

The top of the curve is a format classic, Wingmate Roc. This powerful creature has fallen out of favor, but as Elspeth has started rising in popularity again, Wingmate Roc is a natural foil to that card while also providing card advantage against Hero's Downfall decks and lifegain against Mono-Red. Wingmate Roc occupies an interesting space in this metagame where it is a solid roleplayer in many matchups, but just doesn't has a home. Sam's deck has changed that, and may just be the perfect balance of aggression and top end for this Standard metagame.


Elves has been a deck that has been evolving rather quickly on Magic Online in the wake of Magic Origins. One of the coolest innovations that we've seen over recent weeks is the shift from a value-based aggressive deck with Collected Company to a more combotastic build featuring Summoner's Pact and Evolutionary Leap. Here's Chris VanMeter's take on Evolutionary Elves:

More recent builds have been using Nettle Sentinel plus Heritage Druid as a way to eke additional activations out of Ezuri, Renegade Leader or to help chain Chord of Callings and Collected Companys together with Eternal Witness. This deck seeks to remind us that this is actually a degenerate mana engine that can win the game as early as turn two. In fact, this deck leans hard enough on this mana engine that four copies of Summoner's Pact are here to help you assemble a critical mass of the pieces early on in the game.

Here's the way that the deck wants to curve out: start with a turn one Heritage Druid, follow up with a pair of Nettle Sentinels on turn two. This lets you generate three mana, which you can use to cast Evolutionary Leap and another one-drop. When your Nettle Sentinels untap, you can use them plus your new one drop to generate three more mana, and activate Evolutionary Leap sacrificing your random one-drop. This will net you a new creature to play which lets you repeat the loop, netting mana along every iteration.

Eventually, you hit the point where you can use Cloudstone Curio to actually go infinite if you can find it, by alternatively bouncing something like Elvish Visionary and a random one-drop, potentially gaining infinite life off of Essence Warden. Eventually, you chain through your deck until you find and cast Emrakul. The best part? You can actually sacrifice Emrakul to recycle your deck and take infinite turns, which is something that other Elf decks have never been able to do.

That's not the only angle this deck has though. You can also just value your opponent out with Evolutionary Leap. Suddenly their removal spells are much worse and you have access to an infinite stream of chump blockers. The combination of Evolutionary Leap and Emrakul also allows you to - very slowly - recycle powerful silver bullets like Reclamation Sage or Spellskite. This deck has a lot of angles and is monstrously explosive, so if you don't have a plan for it now, you'd better think about packing Pyroclasms.


One of the coolest decks to come out of Legacy Champs at Eternal Weekend was this cool update to an uncommon archetype by Chris Rowland. Chris played a Cloudpost plus Primeval Titan deck that is very similar to other twelve post decks that we've seen before, the difference being that he has opted for additional monsters and borrowed a powerful element from a top-tier archetype:

The first change that Chris made was to cut two Vesuvas from his deck to make space for additional copies of Cavern of Souls and Tundra. This allows him to play four copies of Terminus, which is a card that is critical to beating up on fast creature decks, which can give this deck trouble, since Glimmerpost has a hard time keeping up with swarms. This is an important keep of technology that gives you a way to interact cheaply with Delver of Secrets to try to force through your enormous monsters.

On the topic of enormous monsters, Chris added additional copies of Candelabra of Tawnos which help cast some of your monsters ahead of curve. The monsters in question are a little different here than we're used to seeing. Generally, this deck focuses on giant creatures of the Eldrazi variety. Chris has elected to go with something a little less traditional, but enormously high impact against strategies that rely on the combat step: Platinum Emperion. This is a card that can be cast relatively easily by turn four, turn three if a Candelabra was involved.

All told, this is an exciting innovation that adds another dimension of interaction to the deck, which is something that it desperately needed as the format has shifted back towards Wastelands and other resource denial strategies.


Legacy isn't the only format that saw some exciting innovations though; Vintage saw all kinds of crazy things, from Dragonlord Dromoka in the Brian Kelly's winning Oath of Druids deck to Hangarback Walker in most of the successful Mishra's Workshop decks. Those weren't the only exciting innovations though. Long-time Vintage expert Steve Menendian quietly put up a Top 25 performance with a deck he said was incredible, missing Top 8 largely due to a pair of draws he picked up early. Let's look at his interesting Pyromancer Storm deck:

This deck is really cool for a number of reasons. First, Fastbond plus Gush is just one of the most fun things you can do in Magic. More importantly, Steve has combined two disparate strategies into something which occupies an interesting space in the metagame. There have always been Blue-Red-based Young Pyromancer Gush decks, sometimes overlapping with Blue-White [card]Monastery Mentor builds. There have also been Sultai Tendrils of Agony decks which leaned on Fastbond plus Gush over Dark Ritual to set up a lethal Yawgmoth's Will.

These two strategies had matchups that varied widely, with the combo deck being weaker against other, controlling Blue decks, while the Young Pyromancer deck is weaker against the bigger creatures and mana denial plan of Workshops. By going the full four colors and combining these strategies, Steve has ensured that he has access to the tools to put up a real fight in most of the big matchups in Vintage. You can sit back and value your opponents to death with Young Pyromancer plus countermagic, or you can just GushBond into Tendrils of Agony.

One of the most interesting innovations in this build is the inclusion of multiple copies of Regrowth over something like Snapcaster Mage. This card does a few interesting things in this deck that aren't available in either of the pure Pyromancer or Gush variants. Firstly, it gives you additional copies of Fastbond, which is a card that is difficult to resolve due to the ubiquity of Mental Misstep. Additionally, since you're playing a giant pile of tutors to enable the Tendrils of Agony kill, you can get additional copies of powerful, gamebreaking effects, like Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Hurkyl's Recall, or even Gush. The flexibility of this card makes it fantastic when you're playing a fair game, and once you're going off with Gush, the extra mana isn't especially important.

All told, this is an interesting deck that is able to shift roles with relative fluidity in most of its matchups, which is a powerful place to be in Vintage. Particularly exciting is the plethora of sideboard options when you have not only four colors, but two unique strategies which you can utilize to improve your position after boarding. It will be interesting to see if this style of deck catches on, and what the evolution of fair and unfair components looks like.


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