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New Standard Brews from the Arena MCQ


It's me, it's CGB and today we are checking out new decks from the MTG Arena Mythic Championship Qualifier.

One of the amazing things about Arena is that is brings people together from all across the world to compete on a level playing field (as long as the player has access to decent internet and a computer that can handle cat animation spams). Where you and I may see a stale meta infested with Vampire and Scapeshift decks, there could be a mage out there somewhere smashing the Mythic ranks with a brew that has never been posted on Twitter. I picture this mysterious warrior living almost off-the-grid in some corner of the world like Alaska or New Zealand. When they play in the Arena MCQ they could have the best deck in the format, and nobody knows it but them.

At the time I am writing this, the Arena MCQ is into day two and the top 128 players are battling to see who makes it to the Mythic Championship. Decklists from day one have been published, and here are my favorite brews that are headed into battle today.

Stanislav Cifka and Ondrej Strasky have had a huge impact on the Standard metagame this year. The two are roommates and Strasky has altered the face of Standard by streaming new decks. Within days of Strasky streaming Four-Color Command the Dreadhorde and Bant Scapeshift, the decks became Standard staples. This time Cifka and Strasky kept a trick up their sleeves, saving this spicy number for the Arena MCQ.

Do you see the combo? I had to stare at the deck for a while asking myself "what does this deck do?"

Kethis, the Hidden Hand
Mox Amber

When you activate the ability of Kethis, the Hidden Hand to play legendary cards from your graveyard, you can play a Mox Amber for free. If you have one Mox Amber in your graveyard and one in your hand, you can tap the Mox Amber in play for mana and then cast the Mox Amber from your graveyard. Use the legend rule to send the tapped Mox Amber in play back to the graveyard, keeping the freshly cast untapped Mox Amber in play. Tap that Mox Amber for mana, then cast the Mox Amber from the graveyard. This creates infinite Black, White or Green mana assuming you still have Kethis, the Hidden Hand in play. If you control a Diligent Excavator, the loop creates a lot of mill triggers to use on yourself or your opponent. Once you have two Fblthp, the Lost, you can draw your entire deck. Once you have two copies of Oath of Kaya, you can target the opponent's face until they die.

A wrinkle in the plan is that you need to activate Kethis, the Hidden Hand to give the legendary cards in your graveyard the ability each time they come back to the graveyard. For example, if you activate Kethis, the Hidden Hand to give a Mox Amber in your graveyard the ability to be cast from the graveyard, it loses that ability after it is cast from the graveyard. When that Mox Amber returns to the graveyard as in the loops described above, you will need to exile two other legendary cards from your graveyard to make the Mox Amber castable from the graveyard again this turn.

In a perfect world you can go off on turn three:

Turn one - land, go.

Turn two - Diligent Excavator, go. (please don't kill it!)

Turn three - Kethis, the Hidden Hand, mill two cards to your graveyard with Diligent Excavator. Play Mox Amber, mill two cards to your graveyard with Diligent Excavator. At this point you need another Mox Amber in your hand or graveyard, and you will need two legendary cards in your graveyard besides the Mox Amber to exile with Kethis, the Hidden Hand. If you had good self-mills with Diligent Excavator, you can mill yourself and burn the opponent out then and there, but you will likely need to resolve another Diligent Excavator to have enough legendary cards in your yard to mill the entire deck.

The deck is a fabulous brain workout, and I have been trying it out against Sparky on MTG Arena to get the hang of it before I subject my ladder opponents to what is sure to be a lot of roping (slow play).

I could write about this deck all day, but there are some other sweet lists that deserve credit as well.

Quasiduplicate on Risen Reef is the stuff janky dreams are made of, so I needed to salute this build. This deck has a proactive gameplan with a lot of creatures, and it doesn't rely on Wilderness Reclamation for mana, so this Nexus of Fate deck isn't as vulnerable to Teferi, Time Raveler as your traditional Simic Nexus build. Three copies of Selective Snare in the sideboard caught my eye. I love that EBBITTEN found a way to sweep up Vampires and Zombie tokens from Field of the Dead while staying in the Simic colors.

Hulk no need combo, Hulk smash! If taking all the turns and milling yourself and your opponent for a bazillion don't excite you, let's look at some good old Stompy-esq beatdown. What jumps off the page to me are four Vivien, Arkbow Ranger and four Vine Mare. Scapeshift players won't be blocking that with a horde of zombies! This deck actually has a dense amount of hexproof going on between Barkhide Troll, Paradise Druid, Vine Mare and Nullhide Ferox in the sideboard. If that isn't enough, Veil of Summer can guard your creatures from removal in the matchups where you need it the most (Esper, Grixis, Black removal decks).

But what if you want a brew that interacts with your opponent in a midrangy sort-of way?

Subscribers to my YouTube channel know how much I love Kaalia, Zenith Seeker. Part of it is the leg tattoo. Most of it is that I love the low chance that I may draw an angel, a demon and a dragon out of my top six cards. I love how THORNINTHECROWN keeps the dream alive with one copy of Skarrgan Hellkite and one copy of Demonlord Belzenlok. Dear THORNINTHECROWN, if you are out there, did you ever do it? Did you ever pull off the perfect Kaalia, Zenith Seeker trigger in this event and pull a demon, a dragon and an angel? I will honestly sleep better at night knowing the answer to this question.

While these four brews caught my eye for this article, there are many more interesting lists from the MCQ at https://magic.wizards.com/en/esports/mcqw/2019/mcv-decklists-1 and https://magic.wizards.com/en/esports/mcqw/2019/mcv-decklists-2. Sure, there are lots of Orzhov: B/W Vampire lists and there is an unusual amount of twenty-nine land piles masquerading as zombie decks, but there is also plenty of originality and new technology at work. God bless the brewers who keep late-season eight set Standard interesting.