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5 Decks You Can’t Miss This Week


Another week means another five decks that do things a little differently. With Born of the Gods on the horizon, we're focusing on Eternal formats until we see how Standard starts to shake out. This week we'll start in Modern with two different takes on tribal Blue decks, then head into Legacy for a true True-Name Nemesis slayer. Finally, we'll take a look at two different Commander decks this week: a budget take on Scion of the Ur-Dragon as well as a new deck for the new god Ephara, God of the Polis. Let's get started!

When you think of tribal in Modern, odds are you think of Merfolk. Somtimes there's the odd deck featuring Slivers or Elves, but Modern isn't really a tribal format. Right after the initial bannings, Mono-Blue Faeries was a thing for awhile, featuring the power of Cryptic Command, Mistbind Clique, and Vedalken Shackles. Is it time for a tempo-based control tribal deck to come back to the top tables of Modern events? Let's take a look at DerrickJones's new take on Blue-Red Faeries:

This deck captures a lot of the strengths of Faeries decks of old, but updates and streamlines the strategy for the current Modern metagame. The terrifying thing about faeries is that they can have almost anything, and you have to try to play around all of it. What exactly are you afraid of when they pass with four mana up? Cryptic Command? Mistbind Clique? It could just be Vendilion Clique, Scion of Oona, or Spellstutter Sprite. Now with the red splash, you might even get blown out by Electrolyze or Lightning Bolt.

One of the most interesting new inclusions to this deck is Thundermaw Hellkite. One of the problems with Faeries recently has been that removal is just too efficient, and makes it difficult for you to really turn the corner and start getting your opponent dead. Lingering Souls has made that especially difficult when your plan revolves primarily around X/1's and Scion of Oona. Those sound like problems that Thundermaw Hellkite was custom-made to solve. Hasty five drops backed by Mistbind Cliques and Snapcaster Maged Lightning Bolts certainly get your opponent dead quickly.

It's possible that removal is still too efficient for this deck to function effectively. Terminate and Abrupt Decay are awfully good Magic cards, after all. However, if you're expecting to play against control and aggro rather than midrange, then the combination of flash threats and cheap interactive elements should give you plenty of game.

But what about Merfolk? They've had limited success in Modern as long as Supreme Verdict hasn't been seeing significant play. The problem is that a lot of decks can just go over the top of your swarm of Fish, so unless you're islandwalking over for tons of damage, you can run out of steam and just die. xMiMx has tried to solve that problem by swapping out some of his lords for something completely different. Let's check out his take on Merfolk with a Grand Architect package:

There are a lot of interesting things going on here that most Merfolk lists are missing out on. Firstly, Grand Architect and Master of Waves. xMiMx has cut all of the Lord of Atlantises and Master of the Pearl Tridents for Grand Architect, the full set of Master of Waves and a package of artifact threats that he can jam into play with Master of Waves.

The interesting thing about this is it means that your Aether Vials don't always stop at two. You're not interested in vialing in Lords and Phantasmal Images - instead you want to threaten ten power of Elementals on your opponent's end step.

The shift that sort of ties these things together is the inclusion of Nykthos, Shrine to Nix. This gives you another reasonable way to cast the Wurmcoil Engines and other artifact threats into play without Grand Architect.

I don't know if this plan is really what you want to be doing, but it's certainly interesting. If you're looking to aggro out combo and control decks, the the Lord build is probably better most of the time. However, if you're looking to grind out games against midrangey decks like Jund, then this version has a more powerful top end and has more resilient threats.

Over the last few weeks, we've seen a small revolution in Legacy. Suddenly there are all manner of Life from the Loam decks featuring the Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage combination. The problem is that the deck is a little weak to True-Name Nemesis, unless you can use Punishing Fire to clear the way for Liliana of the Veil. What happens when you give up on the black splash for Liliana, Raven's Crime, and Entomb and opt instead for a more traditional build of Lands? Let's take a look:

This is pretty interesting. You've got the traditional Lands suite, minus the Rishadan Ports. Instead, you've got Thespian's Stages to copy critical lands like Maze of Ith, and Glacial Chasm, and Grove of the Burnwillows.

The interesting thing about this deck is that you get to cut Blue altogether. You don't need Tolaria West, Intuition, or Academy Ruins any more because you have Dark Depths to win instead of Creeping Tar Pit or Mindslaver.

This lets you play a card that Delver of Secrets decks just cannot beat: Porphyry Nodes. Given enough time hiding behind Glacial Chasm, Porphyry Nodes will eat their entire board, including True-Name Nemesis.

This deck has had to give up more of its combo matchup to make room for the Punishing Fire engine. In previous iterations you could Tolaria West for Chalice of the Void before sideboarding. Now you are much more reliant on Chalices and Thorn of Amethyst out of the sideboard.

However, if you mostly expect to play against fair decks, this seems pretty difficult to beat. Deathrite Shaman might get you once in awhile, but you're playing an awful lot of Punishing Fires for that to be the case. Your combo is difficult to disrupt and you have better control elements than the Golgari and Jund builds of this deck. Is this the next evolution of Dark Depths combo in Legacy?

If you've been playing Commander for very long, you've seen a Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck. You know, the ones that try to one-shot people with Dragon Tyrant and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. These decks tend to play only the very best dragons, and a pile of ways to recycle them back into your deck and use Nicol Bolas and his like over and over. Zirilan's take on Scion has a little bit of that going on, but there's plenty more to see:

[Cardlist Title=Mortal Combat Dragon Dredgery - Commander | Zirlan of the Claw]

I think it's really interesting how Zirilan is playing a ton of Dragons just to power Mortal Combat. As far as fragile win conditions go, that's a pretty awesome goal to set. And in the meantime, you get to play with some really awesome dragons. Forget Skittles and Nicol Bolas, Let's cheat in Numot and hit a pair of problematic lands, then rebuy Numot with Teneb. When you make the Dragon toolbox bigger, you increase the potential for all kinds of sweet interactions.

I like this deck most because it isn't a trying to one-shot people with Scion of the Ur-Dragon, but it's also not an unfair graveyard combo deck. Zirilan utilizes the graveyard as a resource, certainly, but it's for cards like Grim Flowering and Boneyard Wurm instead of Dread Return and the like.

You get a little bit of recursion with Bow of Nylea to recur your critical Dragons if you really need a Horde-Smelter Dragon or Nicol Bolas, but beyond that this is a pretty honest deck that just wants to find out what kind of awesome interactions you get when you combine powerful dragons and see what happens.

Our last deck is an interesting take on one of the new gods from Born of the Gods: Ephara, God of the Polis. I really liked Ephara when I first saw her and was very much hoping that someone would find something awesome to do with her. I'm not sure what the best Ephara deck will end up looking like, but I know that Antis is on the right track:

[Cardlist title=Ephara Control - Commander | Antis]

  • Ephara Triggers (0)
  • Recursion (0)
  • Control Elements (0)
  • Card Selection (0)
  • Utility (0)

Creatures, tokens, and flash combine with Ephara to give this Blue-White control deck the ability to stay ahead on cards throughout the entire game for minimal investment. Creatures like Stonecloaker are especially awesome because they effectively mean you can draw extra cards every turn while generating value by messing with graveyards or rebuying value creatures.

The trick to building Ephara is going to be finding the appropriate combination of control spells, mana development, and enablers so that you can generate enough mana to keep the gamestate under control while staying ahead on cards. One of the most interesting things about Antis's build is that he eschews cards like Sacred Mesa and Mobilization in favor of tricks like Ghostway and Ghostly Flicker. These cards force you to keep investing mana into making dorky creatures to draw cards, where instead you could be flashing in Restoration Angels and generating board advantage and card advantage at the same time.

Antis did not provide a manabase with this deck, but I think we can do a pretty good job of imagining what one would look like. A pile of dual lands, Terramorphic Expanses and other fetchlands, backed by Manlands and Reliquary Tower. Speaking of, Reliquary Tower almost makes it worth it to run Weathered Wayfarer, Tolaria West, and Expedition Map on its own. That combined with powerful late-game lands like Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Mistveil Plains means you probably want a decent amount of non-basic land tutors in your build.

This may not be perfect, but it's a great place to start with one of the most promising new deities in Born of the Gods.

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