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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


The Theros previews have started slowly rolling in, but we've still got some time to explore Magic 2014. This week we've got five decks from Standard, Modern, Commander, and even Legacy featuring some Magic 2014 goodness. Let's take a look at some of the awesome decks that came out this week!

Lifebane Zombies isn't just for midrange decks! Various aggressive B/x Zombie decks have started putting up reasonable results on Magic Online. Is the dynamic duo of Geralf's Messenger and Gravecrawler enough to grind out the control decks of the format? Let's take a look at his list from a Magic Online Daily Event and find out:

Not much has changed from the Zombie decks we saw at the beginning of the format, but Lifebane Zombie is enough. This three drop makes it easier for you to fight through Huntmaster of the Fells and Thragtusk or attack past Lingering Souls tokens. Geralf's Messenger is a giant beating, and Gravecrawler's value is going up as people move away from Pillar of Flame and towards Supreme Verdict.

The biggest deck that held kind of deck back was Unburial Rites decks that could just cast Thragtusk and Angel of Serenity until you died. Scavenging Ooze has pushed those decks out of the format, but now you have to contend with your Gravecrawlers and Messengers getting eating.

The important thing to notice about this deck is how clumped the deck is at the 3-drop slot. Because you want to play Geralf's Messenger or Lifebane Zombie on turn three, it makes it difficult to play cards like Liliana of the Veil, even out of the sideboard. As powerful as Mark of Mutiny may be, it's just too awkward to run more than two when your hand can already get clogged with threes and fours.

Ever since Voice of Resurgence was printed and Sam Pardee won Grand Prix Portland, Melira Pod has been one of the most popular decks in the format. So what does someone have to do to make Melira Pod even sweeter? what's different about this Melira Birthing Pod Deck? Malavi took second in the Magic Online Championship Series last week by adding another combo.

Fundamentally, this deck is a creature-based deck. You play some guys, attack and block, and eventually something happens. Either you find a Gavony Township or a Birthing Pod, and you attack or combo your opponent to death. The power of this deck is in its flexibility; both of your plans are powerful and very capable of winning games.

Your first combo is Melira, Sylvok Outcast, a Persist creature, and a sacrifice outlet. In this case, Kitchen Finks and Viscera Seer or Murderous Redcap and Cartel Aristocrat. These combinations let you gain infinite life or deal infinite damage. The second combo most builds play is notably missing here. Phyrexian Metamorph plus Reveillark and a sacrifice outlet lets you infinitely rebuy any two-power creatures in your graveyard. You copy Reveillark with Phyrexian Metamorph, sacrifice the Metamorph, and rebuy the Metamorph and any other creature. Metamorph copies Reveillark again, and you repeat the process.

The last combo, the one that Malavi added, is Archangel of Thune plus Spike Feeder. You can remove a counter from Spike Feeder to gain two life, and when you do Archangel of Thune replaces the counter pumps your team. Adding this combo gives you another pseudo Gavony Township, as well as a curve-topping bomb against aggressive decks, and another infinite life combo to go for if your opponent isn't prepared for it. It's important to note that, because Spike Feeder starts with two counters, your opponent is going to need two removal spells to fight through the combo. If they only have one, you can just combo off again in response to it.

We've seen a couple of Time Warp decks be incredibly successful in the last few years of Standard. When we saw Time Warp in Magic 2010, there were a few Turboland and Time Sieve decks that saw extended success, but it has been quite awhile since we've seen a deck that can consistently string together extra turns. Farfishere is looking to change that, because he built a sweet Time Warp deck. for Modern:

This deck is awesome. A deck in Modern that can realistically cast Time Stretch is one that I'm excited about. Serum Visions are great for setting up Temporal Mastery, which lets you jumpstart your engine. What exactly is that engine? Well, we want to resolve an Extraplanar Lens, and use that to let us cast multiple spells per turn. The best thing about Extraplanar Lens is that once you start taking extra turns, you don't have to worry about your opponent interacting with your Lenses. Ideally you're going to win the fight over the first Time Warp and leave them tapped out for all the other turns your going to take.

Howling Mine lets you chain together Time Warps and hit your land drops until you find your win condition - the deck's one-of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Not only is Emrakul on-theme, but he ends games in a hurry.

The only thing that really concerns me about this deck is your ability to fight through counterspells or cards like Karn Liberated. I'm not sure how realistic it is for you to try to combo on turn four, which is the critical turn in Modern. Cards like Gitaxian Probe might make it easier to "go off" in control matchups by letting you see which counterspells you need to play around, which may be worth it if you see a lot of those matchups. I don't know if there's a reasonable way to make your fast combo matchups more reasonable, but Leyline of Sanctity has to be your best sideboard card by a huge margin. It does absolutely everything.

Legacy is in an interesting place right now, especially online. Spell-based combo and tempo decks are dominating the format. When Lightning Bolt and Dark Ritual are at a high, that's when Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is most valuable. The biggest issue with Thalia decks is that they're fundamentally fair and can't just kill their opponent. So what if we could take a White-based hate deck and add a combo kill? That's exactly what PA_Rude has done with unique take on Maverick he took to 3-1 in a Legacy Daily Event.

This deck is pretty awesome. It combines some of the best hate cards in the format, with the protection of Mother of Runes and an efficient threat in the form of Knight of the Reliquary. Knight of the Reliquary pulls a ton of weight in this deck, acting as a repeatable tutor for Wasteland to keep your opponent Thalia-locked, but also letting you tutor up both Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage.

For anyone who's unfamiliar with this combo, it's something that became possible with the Magic 2014 rules change. Once you have both Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage in play, you copy the Dark Depths, and then choose to keep the one with zero Ice Counters on it. Then Marit Lage comes out to eat your opponent's face.

My biggest issue with this deck is that you're so dependent on Thalia to protect yourself from the most powerful decks in the format. If you're going to be that all-in on Thalia, you could at least play some number of Cavern of Souls, since naming Human would make Mother of Runes, Dark Confidant, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Knight of the Reliquary uncounterable, which is a big deal against Daze decks of all varieties. Beyond that, I think the deck could do with a few more hand disruption spells as backup for Thalia.

All told, I think this deck is very well positioned. You have some of the best tools against the combo and tempo decks, an a powerful, proactive gameplan that is difficult to disrupt. This strategy has been successful before, and it may well be time for Maverick to rise again!

Last weekend, Adam Styborski went to Gen Con and shared just a few of the awesome things that went down with those of us who couldn't make it. If you haven't already check out his photo diary of the best four days of gaming. Adam built a special Commander deck for the occassion and got some awesome games in at GenCon, and he's been kind enough to share his Kaervek, the Merciless deck so we can take a look at it. So let's get started:

Kaervek - Commander | Adam Styborski

I haven't gotten to play too many games of Commander with Adam, but you can tell that this is one of his decks. This deck has a straightforward, no-nonsense gameplan that's just going to get you dead. Period. Adam is a master at finding the right balance between threatening and vulnerable; the sweet spot where you don't draw too much attention to yourself, good or bad. This lets him conserve his life total, and that's all you want to do early on - you want to sit back and develop your mana; pick off key creatures and fire off sweepers when you need to. Then Kaervek resolves, and everything changes.

Now your opponents are going to be paying life for every one of their spells. Their blockers will get burned out of the way, damage will get forced through, and suddenly they can't cast spells anymore for fear of dying to Kaervek, the Merciless . You see, people often undervalue their life total as a resource and trade it for things like cards and mana. The last point is the only one that matters, right? Here's the thing: now your spells cost life as well as mana.

Beacuse of the immense pressure that Kaervek puts on opponent's life totals, I'm especially impressed by the cards with the "punisher" mechanic in this deck. Things like Killing Wave and Temporal Extortion give your opponents choices, but Adam's gone out of his way to make sure both options are bad. What do you do when the Kaervek deck fires off a Killing Wave for seven? Do you pay life and hope no one plays spells? Do give up your creatures and try not to get burned out? What about Temporal Extortion? Can he deal ten points to you if he takes an extra turn? What about seven? How much life do you need to save so you can cast your Batterskull before it's too late?

I really like this deck because it applies pressure in a whole new way. You're not restricting your opponent's ability to play powerful creatures or spells. You're not really stopping anyone from playing their game. Everyone gets to do what their decks are built to do, but if they don't manage their life totals properly, Kaervek is just going to kill them. It doesn't matter how far ahead they are if the other players cast gigantic spells and you get to burn them out. You get to go bigger and bigger over the course of the game, while everyone else starts to get restricted by their life total. That seems like quite the Painful Quandary to me.

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