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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


New Standard. New Modern. New set. We've got our work cut out for us heading into Pro Tour Born of the Gods, but I'm excited to get started. These week we've got a trio of interesting Standard decks featuring cards from Chromanticore to Maze's End. We'll also head into Standard and Legacy to take a look at what's new and exciting in those formats, especially with the unbanning of both Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl in Modern. We've got plenty of ground to cover, so let's go ahead and get started!

What kind of new decks does Kiora, the Crashing Wave make possible in Standard? Adam Barnello has been toying with the idea of Maze's End for awhile, and Kiora gave him the perfect excuse to develop the idea a little further. Is there anything more fun than Fogs, Kiora, and Maze's End? Let's take a look at Adam's list and find out:

This deck seems awesome. There are a ton of powerful interactions going on here that make this a real contender in the current Standard format. When all of the top tier decks are either Sphinx's Revelation control decks or are built around creature-based devotion engines, it's good to be a deck with six sweepers that uses a land as a win condition. This deck seems incredibly well-positioned against the field, and I'm surprised that this deck hasn't gotten more press until now.

What I like most about this deck is how perfectly Kiora plays into everything this deck wants to do. You get extra land drops to get ahead on your Maze's End kill. She fogs a threat every turn, forcing your opponent to overcommit into your sweepers. She even gives you an alternate win condition in case you run into some kind of disruption for your end game.

Aetherize is especially exciting in this new shell, since it's a huge tempo play against any kind of aggressive or creature deck. If they mistakenly use some of their mana before combat, Aetherize can turn into a double Time Walk, which is more than enough time for you to pull ahead on Maze's End.

I kind of miss the Bow of Nylea maindeck as a way to generate value on your Fog turns and increase the density of fog effects and Sphinx's Revelations in your deck as the game goes long, but that's certainly a nitpicky concern. All told, I think this strategy is awesome in the current Standard environment, and hope that we see plenty more of it in the future!

Has Return to Ravnica provided enough mana fixing to make Chromanticore[/card[ playable? Sam Black has set out to determine if the payoff is worth the amount of work you have to put into assembling the correct colors of mana, and his first [card]Chromanticore brew is quite a sight, featuring all manner of graveyard shenanigans to power out the fantastic prismatic Enchantment Creature. Let's take a look at Sam's Chromanticore Ramp deck:

This deck ties together a ton of disparate themes very elegantly, but may be trying to do too many things at once. Satyr Hedonist and Grisly Salvage combo to power up your Deathrite Shamans, Nighthowler, and Shadowborn Demons, and this graveyard element is really the backbone of this deck.

Fundamentally, the plan is to power out enormous Lotleth Trolls, since there are fewer Devour Flesh effects with the newest set and not especially many Azorius Charms running around, so you get more of a chance to move all-in and do something awesome.

I'm not sure that this deck is ready for the spotlight yet, but there are certainly some powerful things going on here, and I'm curious to see where the deck ends up after a few iterations.

Is there anything better than untapping with a bunch of Planeswalkers in play? Some of the most fun, powerful decks in recent Standard formats have been ones which look to establish a Planeswalker advantage over multiple turns, and Brian Braun-Duin thinks it's time for this style of deck to make a comeback. Let's take a look at Brian's take on Bant Walkers:

This deck is very good for similar reasons to Adam Barnello's Maze's End deck. Jace and Kiora are the tag team you need to stabilize the board and force your opponents to overextend into your sweepers. Jace is awesome against small hordes, Kiora is awesome against single threats, and it's hard to lose if these threats go uncontested. If you ever get to stick one of your four casting-cost Planeswalkers and then resolve an Elspeth, it's hard to imagine losing from that position. Elspeth blocks forever while your Planeswalkers threaten to end the game from multiple angles.

Kiora even makes your Sphinx's Revelations better, and lessens the impact of the "enters the battlefield tapped" lands like Temples and Shocklands. The hardest part about playing control in this metagame is getting to the point where your mana is developed enough to deploy answers and Sphinx's Revelations in equal measures to begin taking over the game, and Kiora makes that much easier as well. This little Merfolk just does literally everything a control deck could possibly want, which is hard to argue with.

This deck may not be the best in a field full of other Sphinx's Revelation decks, especially if they are the ones featuring Elixir of Immortality as a win condition. That said, it seems like you should be heavily advantaged against a field of devotion decks, which is what we've come to expect from the last few weeks of Theros Standard.

But what about Modern? What changes with the new banned list? Glenn Jones took this week as an opportunity to explore several possible Wild Nacatl decks, ranging from Counter Cat to Burn to Zoo. What does he think the best home for Modern's most aggressive Cat? Let's take a look at Glenn's Big Zoo deck.

Just kill them dead. This deck is the most efficient big aggro deck you can build in this format, and takes advantage of the banning of Deathrite Shaman in a big way. Suddenly, the Black-based removal decks can't keep up with your stream of one-drops, and will be stuck taking two or more a turn from the one threat they can't find time to remove. Suddenly Knight of the Reliquary is an absolute monster off the top of your deck that will just dominate the board, regardless of what other creatures are in play. Knight even gives you access to cute lands like Horizon Canopy, Bojuka Bog, and Arena to fight off various fringe decks in the metagame.

Ghor-Clan Rampager is perhaps the most interesting card in this deck. This creature lets you destroy opponents who try to Lightning Bolt your Wild Nacatl and can create enormous blowouts in combat. The problem is that it's hard to use proactively, since your opponents can just respond with their Bolt or Path to Exile, and the body is just irrelevant in Modern most of the time. It's too expensive and easily outclassed by Tarmogoyf. Perhaps this could be something like Ranger of Eos or Grim Lavamancer, or even some number of Tribal Flames to go with your Domain mana base.

I like the idea of a Big Zoo deck heading into a format with Bitterblossom. Traditionally, Faeries has struggled against Wild Nacatl decks that come out of the gates and stop the tempo deck from generating enough of a board presence to really capitalize on its Cryptic Commands and Mistbind Cliques. A more aggressive build featuring Geist of Saint Traft and Snapcaster Mage for Tribal Flames may be more powerful in a field full of combo decks, but I like just going big if you anticipate a field of Wild Nacatls.

Caleb Durward's most recent Legacy brew combines a few of my very favorite things: A Life from the Loam toolbox, obscure utility lands, and Thopter Foundry. How does this artifact deck attack the current Legacy metagame? Let's take a look at Caleb's explosive Artifact prison deck:

What can't this deck do? You have game against absolutely every deck in the format, and have a pile of absurd artifact mana to power out your Thopter Foundry combo or other prison pieces. This deck is especially well-positioned against the decks featuring True-Name Nemesis plus Stoneforge Mystic. Against the True-Name Nemesis decks, you can just race with Thopter Foundry or jam an early Humility to turn off all of their creatures.

Traditionally, decks like this are weak against the combo decks of the format, but I don't know that that's necessarily true in this case. Is your opponent trying to Tendrils of Agony you out? It's not inconceivable that you could stick an early Chalice of the Void or gain enough life off of Thopter Foundry plus Sword of the Meek to put the game out of reach. What about an early Griselbrand or Emrakul? Again, it's entirely possible for you to race with Thopter tokens or to just turn off their deck with Humility or Ensnaring Bridge while you crush them with Thopter tokens.

Affinity has been a deck that has been competitive in Legacy at various points over the last few years. This deck takes the strong points of Affinity - the fast mana and explosive draws - but cuts the Myr Enforcers and Frogmites for Thirst for Knowledge and the Thopter-Sword combo. Those seem like upgrades to me, and I can't wait to see what this deck looks like after a little more work.

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