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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


Last weekend, Pro Tour Born of the Gods put a spotlight on the Modern format - particularly how much the format changed in the absence of Deathrite Shaman. But just because we were focused in on Modern doesn't mean that other formats stopped evolving. This week we've got five awesome decks starting with Ephara and Maze's End in Standard, [card]Restore Balance in Modern, and Tidehollow Sculler in Legacy. Last but certainly not least, I'm most excited to see someone playing my favorite Legend, Toshiro Umezawa, in Commander.

Thassa, God of the Sea is one of the most powerful cards in Blue-based devotion decks because it is a cheap, powerful, and resilient threat. With the addition of Born of the Gods, the creature-based devotion decks have a few more sweet gods to play with. Ephara, God of the Polis seems like a very powerful way for Blue Devotion strategies to grind through the Mono-Black matchup and give you the chance to splash for the most flexible removal spell in the format: Detention Sphere. What does a UW-based devotion deck look like? Let's take a look at _Soku_'s list from Magic Online.

This deck has a lot of powerful things going on. You've traded the consistency of the Mono-Blue mana base for the power of Detention Sphere and Ephara, God of the Polis This seems like an awesome way to fight through a format packed with Underworld Connections and Sphinx's Revelation. Now the Blue decks have not only Thassa and Master of Waves as powerful game-ending threats but also Ephara as a grindy threat that wins long games.

What happens when Standard starts to slow down? Removal and devotion based decks are the most powerful strategies in the format and the metagame is defined by cards like Sphinx's Revelation and Underworld Connections? You either try to get aggressive and sneak underneath, or you go bigger. Corrado has decided to go bigger by trying to break Maze's End in Standard:

More Fogs. More Supreme Verdicts. More Lands. In a format where everyone is prepared to battle against creatures, a land-based strategy seems particularly well-positioned. It's possible that Fated Retribution and other sweepers may be better than Merciless Eviction, or that Kiora, the Crashing Wave and Urban Evolution deserve more slots.

I like that Bow of Nylea lets you recycle your Fogs and card advantage engines, which may mean that Divination or Sphinx's Revelation can be powerful components of the strategy. Perhaps even Into the Wilds, since it can pair up with the shuffle effect you get off of Maze's End to gain additional card selection.

Restore Balance has been a reasonable Modern strategy since the format first began, but has lived in the shadow of Living End for some time now. Alfonso Barcelona Cabeza brought a unique take on Restore Balance to Pro Tour Born of the Gods; one that has caught quite a bit of attention because of its ability to win fair games when Restore Balance isn't an effective plan. Let's take a look:

Cascading into suspend cards with zero casting-cost is nothing new. Living End and Hypergenesis have been the more common choices, but Restore Balance has had its moments in the limelight. The deck plays a large number of Borderposts, Simian Spirit Guides and Greater Gargadons so that it can break the symmetry of Restore Balance. You can even do cute things like fail to find lands with your Arid Mesa to keep your land count low.

The real change to this deck is that, instead of using Durkwood Baloth and Keldon Halberdiers as a win condition, you use powerful planeswalkers, Thassa, God of the Sea and Vendilion Clique. Vendilion Clique in particular is awesome because you can float a bunch of mana beforehand, cast your Violent Outburst on your opponent's upkeep or end step, and then still be able to get a Vendilion Clique into play.

This gives you a powerful backup plan which is almost as capable of stealing games as your Restore Balance plan.

For the last few months, Deathrite Shaman has powered three- and four-colored Brainstorm aggressive decks. The problem with these strategies is that they are increasingly vulnerable to things like Wasteland and Show and Tell. As Wasteland-based Delver of Secrets decks have become increasingly popular, it's become much more difficult to rely on Deathrite Shaman to fix a manabase that is vulnerable to Wasteland. So what are you supposed to do if you still want to cast Dark Confidant and Stoneforge Mystic in the same shell? Segal has tried cutting some colors.

What I like most about this deck is that it is a more proactive strategy in a format that has become increasingly fast. Thoughtseize and Tidehollow Sculler seem largely better than cards like Force of Will and Meddling Mage when combo decks are getting faster and more resilient to countermagic.

The thing that I like most about this decklist is that it has multiple maindeck answers to True-Name Nemesis. not only are you able to overload the removal spells of the UWR Delver decks with your large number of powerful two-drops, you're also able to answer the card that they lean on to trump most of their midrange matchups. Because of its combination of stable manabase, proactive disruption, and abundance of powerful two-drops, I think this strategy is well positioned in the current Legacy metagame, and I'm curious to see if more of this strategy will begin to show up.

Mono-Black Commander. Most of the time, this means an enormous pile of tutors, sweepers, and big mana combos involves Cabal Coffers. With Commanders like Geth, Lord of the Vault, Erebos, God of the Dead, and Maga, Traitor to Mortals, it's no wonder that Black has a reputation for being a big mana, card advantage color. This deck by IBSPathfinder is just a little different, which is why I'm excited about it. Instead of going big, IBSPathfinder is going small. A lot. Instead of casting Decree of Pain, he's teaming up with Toshiro Umezawa to double up on Go for the Throat and other powerful instants.

[Cardlist title=Toshiro Midrange - Commander | IBSPathfinder]

I love that this deck is just a powerful combination of the sweetest Instants that Black has to offer. Moonlight Bargain frequently doesn't make the cut in Black decks, since they're packed with Ancient Craving and Diabolic Revelation. Here, it's awesome. Card advantage, a way to stock your graveyard, and even an Instant for Toshiro!

One of the especially sweet interactions with this deck is that you can cast spells with buyback out of your graveyard. You can Slaughter something early on, and then buy it back later on in the game. Same goes for Corpse Dance and any other buyback cards you decide to play with.

There are so many obscure, powerful instants in Magic that I'm excited to see get an opportunity to be a powerful part of a cohesive whole. How much better is Fated Retribution when you can reliably cast it twice? How many tribal decks can realistically beat double Tsabo's Decree? There are a number of very powerful things that this shell enables you to do that you can't do anywhere else, and there's no telling what other kinds of awesome instants are hiding in the depths of old Magic sets.

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