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5 Decks You Can’t Miss This Week


Another week means another five decks that approach formats just a little differently. This week we've got two awesome takes on Junk that are doing something completely different than any other deck in Standard. Then we'll head into Modern to look at interesting takes on tribal aggro and Pyromancer Ascension. Finally, we'll head over to Legacy and check out Stanislav Cifka's new take on Omniscience. We've got plenty of ground to cover, so let's get started!

One of the decks to beat around this time last year was Junk Reanimator. Your gameplan was to Mulch and Grisly Salvage your way into Unburial Rites, Thragtusk, and Angel of Serenity, with some amount of Restoration Angel shenanigans to buy you enough time to start chaining together fatties. That strategy died down when Scavenging Ooze was printed and then Unburial Rites rotated. But that doesn't mean that the strategy has died, especially now that Scavenging Ooze isn't seeing a ton of play. Let's take a look at jnwaller's new take on reanimation in Standard:

This deck is trying to do a lot of things, but fundamentally it's very similar to the Junk Reanimator decks of last year. You've got Obzedat's Aid and Whip of Erebos as your reanimation spells and Grisly Salvage and Commune with the Gods to stock up your graveyard. Stocking your graveyard lets Deathrite Shaman function as a second mana creature, in addition to Sylvan Caryatid.

Just like the other Junk decks had Restoration Angel and Thragtusk as their midgame, you've got Polukranos, World Eater and Reaper of the Wilds, and that leads into your late game of Ashen Rider, Obzedat, and Angel of Serenity. The big problem with this deck is that you can't mill a reanimation spell anymore. Whip of Erebos and Obzedat's Aid are both fine, but having to naturally hit one to start cheating creatures is asking a lot.

I think there's a lot of potential here for anyone who wants to continue exploring the archetype. Whip of Erebos plus Obzedat, Ghost Council is incredibly powerful - Ashen Rider is no slouch either. Reaper of the Wilds may want to be Desecration Demon or Shadowborn Demon, but only more testing can determine that. This shell is capable of some very powerful plays, and could be pretty sweet if you can find the right supporting cast.

Let's take a look at our second Junk deck of the week. This time, instead of abusing the graveyard, mcclama is looking to revive the tried-and-true strategy of combining hexproof creatures with powerful auras. We've seen a few takes on this strategy already this Standard season, but all of those decks were very aggressive. Mcclama's take is much more midrangey, focusing on setting up powerful turn fours and fives instead of threes and fours. Let's take a look at this new approach to hexproof:

There are a lot of things that I like about this approach. The whole play is to stick a resilient creature, and then build a Baneslayer Angel, just like every other hexproof deck. The difference is that this build is better at building multiple enormous creatures, finding key creatures and enchantments, and grinding out longer games against midrange decks.

Commune with Gods does a ton of work. It helps you find the appropriate creature for a given matchup, or digs for another lifelink enchantment or even the Ethereal Armor you need to swing the race in your favor. That's really what's awesome about this deck. You can still win games by suiting up a Gladecover Scout early, but you aren't just throwing your cards at your opponent and seeing if they die. You can build multiple lifelinking creatures, and make them as enormous as you need to in order to ensure that you don't lose the race.

If a deck is playing Pyromancer Ascension, what are you expecting to play against? Would you ever consider that you're playing against anything besides Past in Flames combo? Probably not. That's when MildMongrel uses his active Ascension to Electrolyze, Cryptic Command, and Snapcaster Mage you into submission. He's not comboing off with Pyromancer Ascension, he's just looking to value you to death by doubling up on with awesome blue and red spells. Let's take a look at his take on Ascension Control:

This deck does everything. Twice. All you're looking to do is cantrip into Pyromancer Ascension, get it active, and just start generating cards, tempo, and mana. One Electrolyze is usually pretty powerful. How abusurd is it when you start killing Tarmogoyfs and drawing two cards? How about locking your opponent out with Cryptic Command by bouncing your own Snapcaster Mages? And how quickly do they die when your Lightning Bolt plus Snapcaster Mage Lightning Bolt deals twelve instead of six?

On top of all of that, you've still got a combo in here. If you ever have two active Pyromancer Ascensions and can't kill your opponent on the spot, you can combo Manamorphose and Remand to generate all the mana and cards you could possibly need. Cast Manamorphose, let your copies resolve, then cast Remand. The first copy to resolve can return your Manamorphose to your hand, while the second returns your Remand. Repeat until you find the Lightning Bolts you need to close out the game.

I think this deck is awesome. It does almost everything I want a Magic deck to do: plays efficient answers, generates infinite value, and combos off if necessary. On top of all of that, you play a ton of basics and have access to both Vedalken Shackles and Blood Moon, just in case your main deck isn't hateful enough. Splinter Twin may be the more efficient combo-control deck, but this is way more awesome.

Merfolk is really the only tribal deck that's gained any traction in Modern. We've seen occasional attempts at Elves and Slivers, but the format is really pretty hostile to all but the most resilient tribes. Lightning Bolt, Pyroclasm, Wurmcoil Engine, and Splinter Twin are all cards that are pretty unfriendly to tribal strategies, after all, so you need to be fast and have enough interaction to make sure you get an extra turn to get in the last few points. Or, you could just throw a bunch of Goblins at your opponent's face:

All we're missing here are some Dragon Fodders and Krenko's Commands. There have been a few attempts at building a blisteringly fast Goblins deck, but this is the first one I've seen in awhile. The idea is really pretty straightforward. You make some Goblins, pump them up with Goblin Wardriver, give them haste with Goblin Chieftain, and then start throwing them at your opponent's face with Goblin Grenade. Just imagine curving Foundry Street Denizen into Mogg War Marshal into Legion Loyalist plus Goblin Bushwhacker. That's fifteen damage by turn three, which is nothing to scoff at.

The problem with decks like this is that you're all-in all the time. You're probably dead to Supreme Verdict, Lightning Helix, or Deathrite Shaman. If you ever let up the pressure, you're probably dead to any of the combo decks, and will give your opponents opportunities to resolve Wurmcoil Engine, Elesh Norn, or Batterskull, none of which you can ever beat. Asthenic has approached this problem by giving his deck more of a top end. Magma Jet helps you scry into lands for your Thundermaw Hellkite to try to steal games. It's possible that it would be better to just play more one drops, so that you can apply pressure more consistently. If you're in the market for more one drops, Frenzied Goblin and Goblin Arsonist are aggressive enough and not completely embarrassing to play.

I think this is a perfectly reasonable choice if you expect to play against a lot of turn four decks. Fundamentally, this deck is a lot like Affinity or Hexproof. It's a very linear, hyperaggressive deck that can't beat a lot of cards, but if your opponents everstumble, you can just run them over with Goblins. The question is really just whether you think Goblins is too vulnerable to incidental hate like Pyroclasm to be worth playing.

Our last deck is an interesting take on Show and Tell combo built by Stanislav Cifka. This build isn't mono-Blue or Blue-Red like most of the other builds we've seen this year. Instead, Stanislav is touching Black for more interactive elements like Duress. On top of that, Stanislav has a very interesting mechanism of actually killing his opponents that improves his ability to assemble the combo through disruption. Let's take a look at his UB Omnitell deck:

On the surface, this seems like a pretty traditional Show and Tell deck. The differences are subtle, but important. Splashing Black lets Stanislav cut his Dazes and Gitaxian Probe for cards that do things: Duress and Thoughtseize. Stanislav isn't looking to combo on turn two, though his deck is certainly capable. He wants to trade a few discard spells, scupt his hand with cantrips, Intuitions, andGifts Ungiven, and combo off once he's depleted you of all of your resources.

The really interesting thing about Stanislav's deck is what he can do once Omniscience resolves. Sure, he can just Griselbrand or Emrakul you to death, but that's boring. Instead of cobbling together Enter the Infinite and Cunning Wish into Release the Ants, He can chain Intuition and Gifts Ungiven together until he finds the missing Emrakul or until you're forced to give him one.

How? Gifts Ungiven for Gifts Ungiven, Intuition, Emrakul, and a cantrip. You can't give him Emrakul or you're dead, so the best you can do is give him Intuition and the cantrip. Emrakul shuffles his graveyard back in, and he casts Intuition for Gifts Ungiven, Gifts Ungiven, and Emrakul. It's the same decision, you have to give him Gifts. Stanislav's deck can repeat this loop ad nauseam until it can safely cantrip into Emrakul and kill you despite your best efforts.

On top of all of that, Gifts Ungiven is just awesome at assembling your combo through disruption. You can trade a bunch of discard and counterspells, and use Gifts to refuel, or you can just cast an end of turn Gifts Ungiven. If it resolves, you can get a pile of disruption or combo pieces and force through the combo. If it doesn't resolve, now you've got an opening to jam your Show and Tell. It doesn't take much to sell me on a Gifts Ungiven deck, but I certainly think that Stanislav's deck has game, particularly in the combo-heavy field on Magic Online

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