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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


Magic Origins is here, and Standard will never be the same. We saw some of the expected players make a big statement during the opening weekend: Nissa, Languish, and the like. We also saw a lot of unexpected cards make a big statement, like Jace and Hangarback Walker. Many players weren't especially excited about Magic Origins, and thought it wouldn't shake things up especially much. This past weekend proved them wrong. Let's take a look:

Perhaps the most exciting deck of the weekend was built by Matthew Tickal. Matthew combined a giant pile of value creatures with the graveyard engine of Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector and Rally the Ancestors. The result? A wacky combo deck that took opponents off guard and turned heads all weekend. Let's take a look at Matthew's 5-Color Rally.

This deck is sweet. There are so many small, awesome things going on that it's hard to know where to start. Satyr Wayfinder, Jace, and Nissa's Revelation team up to stall the early game and stock your graveyard with all kinds of awesome goodies. Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor are a tried and true dynamic duo, but adding Grix Haruspex and Nantuko Husk to the mix gives you another way to generate a ton of power and cards while you attrition your opponent out with megamorphs.

Jace is the key to this deck, as his creature side helps you dig into copies of Rally the Ancestors, while his Planeswalker side lets you flashback copies that you might have milled over. Once you find a Rally, you're off to the races! Rally for three gets back all kinds of value creatures, including Nantuko Husk and Grim Haruspex. If you have a Husk in play to start with, you can sacrifice all your guys, draw a billion cards, and attack with a huge Nantuko Husk with intimidate courtesy of Mogis's Marauder. If that's not an option, you can Chord of Calling up Liliana to generate a board full of Zombies and set up both a lethal attack and an awesome Rally the Ancestors on the following turn.

This is a deck with a lot of powerful synergies, but which is reasonably easy to hate out. Your beatdown plan isn't super efficient or consistent, which will lead to issues against decks with sufficient countermagic. Similarly, this deck can't beat or interact with Anafenza, the Foremost. This means that, while the deck is powerful, it is fragile, and can be hated out if opponents are prepared. That said, we're seeing an awful lot of midrange and ramp decks, and very few Anafenza or Dissolve decks right now, which means that it may be a perfect time to be playing an awesome graveyard combo deck.

But what about control decks in the world of Magic Origins? Going in to this weekend, many players thought that Nissa was the new, exciting tool for Abzan control. Little did we know that Jeff Hoogland had his eye on a crazy Blue-White control deck with a proactive plan for taking over a game. I hope you like thopters, because this brew is all about Thopter Spy Network.

Ever since Dragons of Tarkir, Blue-White decks have been all about Dragonlord Ojutai as a five drop that generates damage, cards, and is a huge roadblock against more aggressive strategies. This has, at times, warped the format towards answers to an active Ojutai, like Foul-Tongued Invocation. Jeff's answer to this? Thopter Spy Network. This is a card that is reminiscent of a strange combination of Bitterblossom and Bident of Thassa. If you can keep an artifact in play, you get an unending stream of Thopters which can stabilize the board or get aggressive and put you even further ahead on cards.

The secret to this deck is that Darksteel Citadel gives you consistent access to an artifact for both Thopter Spy Network and Artificer's Epiphany. Sure, you have to give up on cards like Haven of the Spirit Dragon, and splashes become substantially less free, but now you have an engine that will win the game if it goes long enough. This is particularly true in conjunction with Hangarback Walker, which is an awesome curve-topper in this deck. It scales up as games go long, you don't mind sweeping it away if your opponent's board is getting out of control, and it turns on Thopter Spy Network, even if your opponent has a removal spell.

I don't know if this is the kind of deck that can continue to be good as the format continues to develop, but it's exactly the kind of deck I love to play. Infinite flying blockers forces opponents to overcommit into End Hostilities, and the threat of you drawing an extra card whenever you hit with your Thopters forces opponents to consider trading removal spells with your Spy Network. These small advantages compound shockingly quickly into an unwinnable gamestate for your opponent. All that's left is to peck away at their life total one Thopter at a time.

Jeff's control deck isn't the only way to try to abuse Artifacts in the new Standard. This week Ryan Bushard unveiled a sweet little number featuring Chief Engineer as the focal point ramping up to awesome cards like Bident of Thassa and Pyromancer's Goggles. Interested yet? Let's take a closer look:

The combination of token generators and Chief Engineer allow you to ramp out your payoff artifacts super early in the game, which can lead to some super degenerate gamestates. An early Bident lets you start chump attacking your tokens in to draw a few extra cards. Hopefully you find more token generators, which lets you keep chaining together free cards and more tokens until you reach a critical mass and can "combo" off. How? Pyromancer's Goggles.

This card lets you start really pulling ahead by doubling up on Magmatic Insight and other token generation spells to pull ahead on cards, as well as allowing you to steal games by doubling up on Stoke the Flames and Shrapnel Blast to deal the full twenty without even entering combat.

This is a deck that is enormously weak to sweepers unless you hit an early Bident of Thassa, but could be awesome if people are trying to durdle around with control and midrange decks. It's not hard to imagine curving out ahead of your opponents, sneaking in a Bident or Goggles, and then just burying them in extra cards and enormous burn spells. I don't know if this deck has the resiliency or consistency necessary to keep up with the rest of Standard, but it's doing awesome things, and I can't wait to see if it develops into a real player.

At this point, the top tier of Modern strategies is reasonably well-defined. There's still room to explore, but strategies like Scapeshift and Splinter Twin have had thousands of hours invested in tuning, tweaking, and optimizing them over the last few years. It's hard to overcome the sheer weight of numbers and collective work of the hivemind when you're just one person trying to break a format. So what's a brewer to do? Start smashing things together, obviously.

This is not the first time we've seen a crazy Summoning Trap deck, but it may be the first time that we've seen Primeval Titan and Kiki-Jiki teaming up. This deck combines the strategy of assembling Kiki-Jiki plus Restoration Angel with Primeval Titan plus Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in a really interesting way. The first thing that this deck can do is just use value creatures in conjunction with Wood Elves and Sakura-Tribe Elder to ramp up to Primeval Titan a turn or two ahead of schedule. And if your opponent decides to Remand one of your ramp spells? That's when the real fun starts.

Suddenly, you have the ability to Summoning Trap into Primeval Titan. If that happens, now Kiki-Jiki and Restoration Angel threaten to let you get two or more Titan triggers on your next turn, likely ending the game on the spot. Alternatively, you can hit Eternal Witness to rebuy your trap. This gives you another chance at Primeval Titan, but could also find Restoration Angel or Kiki-Jiki to re-trigger Eternal Witness and let you try again. Suddenly, not only do you have the chance to hit Primeval Titan, but you can also just chain creatures that rebuy Summoning Trap until you assemble Kiki-Jiki plus Restoration Angel to end the game on the spot.

This is a really interesting deck that attacks from a number of interesting angles. You can value your opponent out with mana ramp and Valakuts. You can go over the top with Primeval Titan or the Kiki-Jiki combo. You can also just end games on turn two or three when your opponent decides to use a counterspell. The combination of explosive potential, value creatures, and game ending combos means that this deckis attacking on multiple axes, and will be enormously difficult to disrupt. You can always be raced by decks like Burn, Tron, and Poison, but if you're expecting to see a lot of midrangey creature decks or control decks, this mashup may be an awesome choice for your next Modern event.

Show and Tell has been one of the dominant combo strategies in Legacy for the past several years. During that time, there have been a number of cool variants, with the primary split being between Sneak Attack and Omniscience, but also including various splashes for Pyroblasts or Thoughtseize, or staying pure blue to max out on redundancy. The problem is that this strategy has been increasingly easy to hate out with the rise of cards like Flusterstorm, Containment Priest, Meddling Mage. So what's the solution? Carsten Kotter has a sweet new take on Show and Tell which sidesteps the hate. Let's take a look:

The addition of Young Pyromancer to the maindeck does so much for this deck in a format that is both diverse and hostile to Show and Tell. Now you have a proactive gameplan that synergizes with the giant pile of cantrips this deck already wanted to be playing. Not only that, but now you get hand disruption in Cabal Therapy to strip away Force of Will and other disruption. This addition opens up all kinds of sweet angles of attack.

First, you can just stick a Pyromancer and force your opponent to tap out to deal with it. When they do, that's when you get to resolve Show and Tell. Alternatively, you get to play a little bit of a shell game, where you can board in or our your combo depending on what strategy you showed them in the previous game. More importantly, in matchups where the combo is bad, you can board into a Young Pyromancer control deck and just win going long with Dig Through Times.

This is not something completely gamebreaking, but it is a powerful evolution of a known strategy to gain new ways to interact with the format. It's a question of balancing power, flexibility, and consistency. This is a deck that has substantial consistency and flexibility, but at the cost of some of the raw speed and power of other Show and Tell variants. If that's something you're on board with, the Young Pyromancer plan seems absolutely incredible right now.

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