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5 Decks You Can’t Miss This Week


Modern bannings and Born of the Gods hype mean that this is an exciting week here on 5 Decks. This week we've got a pair of interesting decks for new Standard as well as two Modern decks which may be better positioned in a world without Deathrite Shaman. Last, we'll find out what a budget combo deck looks like in Legacy. We've got plenty of ground to cover, so let's get started!

Initially, many people found Courser of Kruphix to be one of the more exciting new toys from Born of the Gods. But since the card was first spoiled, the hype has died down a little. This week Michael Jacob wrote an article about how Courser of Kruphix compares to his favorite card, Oracle of Mul Daya. Is Courser the real deal? One thing's for sure, Michael Jacob is determined to find out if this is the piece Green decks have been missing in Theros Standard.

One of the biggest problems with the Green-based Nykthos decks is that they're either unbeatable or don't do anything. Either you play a Polukranos on turn three and activate it for a billion on the following turn with some amount of Burning-Tree Emissary and Voyaging Satyr shenanigans, or you just cast mana creatures, get your one threat killed, and just die a few turns later.

Courser of Kruphix gives you a way to bridge the gap from your early game to the midgame. You have another three-drop beside Domri Rade that you're excited to cast on turn two off of a mana creature, and it's one that blocks well, helps you hit lands to cast your threats on time, and even increases the quality of the average card you're going to draw.

Not only that, but Courser plays very well with your planeswalkers like Domri Rade and Chandra, Pyromaster. Being able to control the top card of your deck is a big deal for this deck, and the additional information is much appreciated and allows the pilot to make better decisions about the direction to push the game in.

So is Courser of Kruphix the real deal? Michael Jacob seems to think so, and even if this isn't the right shell for the card, I'm excited to find out what this Centaur can do.

Our second Standard deck this week comes from none other than Sam Black. Sam builds an awful lot of very interesting, innovative decks, and seems to truly excel at solving new formats. In the last few years, Sam's decks have put up incredible performances at every level of competition, so it's always exciting to see what he's brewing up. This time, Sam's got a a fresh take on heroic that tries to push the mechanic as far as it will go:

The backbone of this deck is Meletis Astronomer, and the goal of the deck is to cast creatures early, suit them up with enchantments, and aggro your opponent out before they can stabilize. The deck has 18 ways to trigger heroic for Meletis Astronomer and Hero Of Iroas, and 24 enchantments to hit off of Meletis Astronomer.

The interesting thing about this deck is that, because so many of your auras are bestow creatures, you're infinitely more resilient to Supreme Verdict than other takes on hexproof in this format have been. The card advantage engine of bestow plus Meletis Astronomer gives you a ton of raw power; all of your enchantments let you dig into other enchantments, bestow creatures, and even Ethereal Armor to really pile on the pressure.

If Mono-Black Devotion continues to be one of the better decks in the format, I have a difficult time imagining this deck being a top tier choice. That said, it looks like a blast to play, and will certainly take some opponents off guard.

Going rogue can be a huge advantage heading into a big tournament, especially in a format like Modern where games are so interactive. Because both you and your opponent have to make so many choices, and each decision matter so much, you can gain a huge advantage whenever you entice your opponent into making a mistake. That's exactly the kind of advantage that Jon Johnson's Heartbeat of Spring combo deck has in the current Modern format:

We've seen quite a few Heartbeat combo decks over the years, from the Standard combo with Drift of Phantasms and Weird Harvest to the Extended monster with Mind's Desire, Gifts Ungiven, and Fact or Fiction. Throughout all of these iterations, the basic premise of the deck remains the same: cast Heartbeat of Spring, untap your lands a bunch, cast a billion spells that eventually end the game.

The advantage here is that you get to look an awful lot like Scapeshift or a similar combo deck, but when your opponents cast Thoughtseize or have to decide if your card is worth a counterspell, they have much less information to work with than they might if you played a mainstream combo deck. It's always very possible that your opponents mess up the math when they're trying to figure out exactly how much mana they're allowing you to have or how many outs you might have. Maybe you can trick them into countering Urban Evolution so you can resolve Blue Sun's Zenith. There are a lot of things that you can get away with when your opponent can't guess what's in your deck.

Not only that, but this deck is very consistent and resilient. Every card is either a mana source, ramp spell, or card drawing except for one of your win conditions: Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Explore and Urban Evolution are especially powerful in this deck because they help you get use out of the extra lands you end up drawing, and power up your subsequent Early Harvests even more.

With Deathrite Shaman gone, the interactive decks are frequently going to be a full turn slower with their disruption, giving you the extra turn that a deck like this needs to really have enough mana to combo off. With Splinter Twin and Birthing Pod being the premier combo decks of the format right now, maybe it's time for spells to make a comeback.

Speaking of Splinter Twin, what happens when you cut all the durdly Blue cards for powerful White creatures? Martin Juza recently wrote an article about the Red-White Value Twin deck that he played in Grand Prix Antwerp, and it looks like a new, interesting take on midrange. Let's take a look at what this brew can do:

This deck is awesome. It's every good about the Splinter Twin decks that play Blue, except that you don't have to play counterspells, don't have to focus on the combo, and get to play better cards at several points along the curve.

If you're playing Blue-Red Twin and get Thoughtseizes, it's easy for your opponent to take the combo piece you only have one copy of and start beating you down from there. What do they do when you have Splinter Twin, Restoration Angel, and Blade Splicer? Can they beat multiple first striking Golems? If not, they have to take Blade Splicer, because both Restoration Angel and Splinter Twin let you get a ton of value off of that Splicer. If they don't take Splinter Twin, they're opening themselves up to you ripping Village Bell-Ringer and just killing them. And besides, do they really want you to have a Restoration Angel either?

This deck is much better than Blue-Red Twin in a fair format, one where you're looking to play an interactive game of Magic. This deck is better equipped to grind out long games where you can't reliably assemble your combo. If Modern is a format defined by creatures and disruption, this is Splinter Twin deck you want to play, because your cards are just better on their own. However, if the format shifts towards unfair decks, then the tempo you can gain by using Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch to tap lands or other key permanents is a huge advantage.

Lion's Eye Diamond and Show and Tell. These two cards are huge entry barriers if you're looking to play combo in Legacy, as there are very few good combo decks that don't want to play some number of one or both of these cards. Is it possible to build a combo deck that can compete with the rest of the format without breaking the bank? Drpeppergod seems to think so, and has put up some good results with his Black-Red Storm Deck:

This deck does not want to play interactive Magic. You're not looking to tear your opponents hand apart. You don't want to trade counterspells or discard. You don't care about creatures. All you want to do is throw your hand at your opponent and see if they're dead.

Your deck is literally just a pile of card drawing, rituals, and win conditions. All you're looking to do is piece together enough rituals to chain Sign in Bloods until you find more rituals and Past in Flames. If your past in flames resolves, then you repeat until you put together a lethal Tendrils of Agony. If your opponent has Force of Will, then I guess you just weren't winning that one.

What I like most about this deck is that it has multiple Tendrils of Agony in the main deck. There are an awful lot of times playing Ad Nauseam where you put yourself in a position where you have to naturally find Tendrils of Agony, and that's certainly a lot easier with four copies than just the one. I don't know that four is the correct number, but I really like that you can fire off a smaller Tendrils to buy yourself a few extra turns to kill your opponent, or that you can just naturally kill people with a hand full of rituals and no other gas.

Is this deck going to break the format? Definitely not. But it's certainly a place to start if you're looking for a budget way to play Storm-based combo in one of Magic's most expensive formats.

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