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Bored of Standard and Modern? Try These Brews!

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Both Standard and Modern are in a weird spot right now.

Scapeshift
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord

Standard is in its usual prerotation lull period, where we know that upheaval is coming and therefore don't want to get too invested, but there's an odd twist - Core Set 2020 made some old cards really good again, but in a few months those cards won't be playable anymore. Field of the Dead will no longer have Scapeshift, Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord will no longer have Ixalan's Vampires, Marauding Raptor will no longer have Ixalan's Dinosaurs, and so on. It feels very odd that all of the big new Standard decks of the moment currently rely on cards that are going away very soon.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

On the Modern side of things everyone is basically just sitting around waiting for Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis to be banned. There is zero doubt in my mind it will be, after putting up unheard of numbers at Mythic Championship IV despite Leyline of the Void being the most commonly played card in the room, the only question is when. The issue is that everyone playing Modern is just in limbo right now; you can't be exactly sure what you want your deck to look like or how your new deck is going to perform in the warped Hogaak metagame, but players also aren't playing Hogaak as much as they 'should' be because nobody wants to invest in a deck that is going to be banned.

Purgatory

So we've got the two biggest formats in Magic slogging along in a form of purgatory. What are we supposed to do? Not play Magic? Go outside and do something else? Psssh!

Today I've got two exciting decks for each format, which can hopefully hold you over until we leave the rotation/ban-based purgatory we are in. All four of these decks are relatively safe from rotation in Standard and likely to improve in a post-Hogaak world in Modern. There's still fun to be had!


All Chandra, all the time.

There are quite the array of powerful planeswalkers concentrated in Red, and with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame and Chandra, Awakened Inferno joining the party we get to a point where we can build a mono-colored Superfriends-style deck.

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Chandra, Fire Artisan
Chandra, Awakened Inferno

All three Chandras are card advantage engines with upside, with Fire Artisan providing raw card advantage, Acolyte of Flame providing planeswalker removal and Snapcaster Mage-like access to your graveyard, and Awakened Inferno killing things, sweeping the board, and providing an unstoppable win condition. Chandra's Regulator further compounds how much you can do each turn, while also providing red with atypical card selection.

Sarkhan the Masterless
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

However the best planeswalker in the deck is actually Sarkhan the Masterless, who allows you to turn the corner and kill very quickly. Typically planeswalker decks get stuck in the midgame, where they get a board full of planeswalkers but don't actually kill their opponent who has a chance to go over the top of them with big effects like Nexus of Fate, Mass Manipulation, Scapeshift, or Command the Dreadhorde. Sarkhan kills very quickly. Your other planeswalkers help mount your defenses and shore up your other weaknesses.

Chandra's Triumph
Lava Coil
Jaya's Immolating Inferno

Otherwise you've got a bunch of removal spells headlined by the underrated Chandra's Triumph to plow the road for your planeswalkers while also keeping your opponent's planeswalkers in check. You also get a lot of value out of your lands by staying one color, allowing full playsets of Interplanar Beacon and Mobilized District which help to keep you alive and turn the corner respectively.

You'll be saying "lets light it up!" in no time!


Our next deck is built around a strange but powerful card from Core Set 2020, Kethis, the Hidden Hand.

Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Kethis, the Hidden Hand is a lot of power in a somewhat difficult to use package. Three colors is a lot, and Kethis demands you play with many legends in your deck or he doesn't do much. Thankfully, many of the most powerful cards in Standard are legendary multicolored planeswalkers!

Teferi, Time Raveler
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
Vraska, Golgari Queen

Getting to play an array of powerful planeswalkers is great, and Kethis not only reduces their mana costs but also makes extra use of them when they bite the dust. Teferi is great for keeping the board clear, while Tamiyo helps to fill the graveyard for Kethis. Because the deck is mostly non-creature based anyway, we get to play a lot of interaction and fuel up with Narset as well. In fact, the deck borrows a lot of its midrange core from Esper Control, which is a good pedigree to jump off from.

Urza's Ruinous Blast
Yawgmoth's Vile Offering

Aside from the more standard interaction of things like Tyrant's Scorn, Thought Erasure, and Oath of Kaya (which is amazing with Kethis), we also get a pair of game-ending legendary sorceries. Urza's Ruinous Blast mops up huge boards while leaving almost all of your stuff untouched, and can be bought back for more with Kethis or Tamiyo. Against decks less interested in going wide Yawgmoth's Vile Offering is a blowout, offering all of the power of The Eldest Reborn in one shot.

Hero of Precinct One

There's a fear that we are too midrangey against over the top decks like Scapeshift, so we get a sweet sideboard plan of Hero of Precinct One when we need to apply pressure. Most of the cards in the deck are naturally multicolored, and your opponent's should be boarding out a lot of their removal after seeing so few creatures in Game 1.

This one's a blast.

Modern


Moving on to Modern, we tackle the under-loved Snow theme that got a big shot in the arm from Modern Horizons. While all the fuss has been about Hogaak, there are a number of great new tools for fair decks as well.

Ice-Fang Coatl
On Thin Ice
Abominable Treefolk

While it wasn't an expected theme in Modern Horizons, there is quite the package of good snow cards available. Ice-Fang Coatl is perhaps the most powerful on rate, comparing favorably to Baleful Strix in Legacy, but that's not all. On Thin Ice does a nice Path to Exile impression, but is also a snow permanent to help out our other snow-matters cards. Perhaps the most surprising is Abominable Treefolk, which looks like a Limited card but hits very hard when you get to construct your deck completely. It also dodges a good amount of removal spells and blockers in the format. As far as payoffs go, Marit Lage's Slumber and Dead of Winter are both game-altering effects. And last but not least, perhaps the most important snow card of all, Arcum's Astrolabe does everything you could ever want.

Ohran Viper
Boreal Druid
Scrying Sheets

Add these to the small package of good snow cards we already had in Modern and things start to come together quite nicely. Ohran Viper is a great offensive threat that also plays great defense, while Boreal Druid is a nice cog. Scrying Sheets is one of our biggest payoffs, providing never ending card advantage at very little cost.

Teferi, Time Raveler
Force of Negation
Spreading Seas

Throw in some of the best interactive elements in Modern and you've got quite the midrange package, with tools to handle almost everything. Force of Negation is going to be a very important card in the post-Hogaak world and this deck makes great use of it. Playing four colors also gives you access to a bunch of great sideboard options.

This deck is a blast; look for an updated version in my video this coming Monday right here on CoolStuffInc.com!


Our last deck of the day comes from a random 5-0 list I saved on my desktop a while back and didn't save the deck-builder's name and it's a weird one.

The "Dice Factory" shell has been around for a while in numerous forms, sometimes with numerous colors for things like Ancient Stirrings or Whir of Invention. This one eschews all of that for a very straightforward colorless build with some straightforward payoffs. At its core however, is an odd mana engine:

Surge Node
Everflowing Chalice
Coretapper

Surge Node? Everflowing Chalice? Coretapper? What's going on here?

The basic goal of the early game is to use Surge Node and Core Tapper to add lots of counters to Everflowing Chalice and Astral Cornucopia, often both played for zero mana to start. By adding counters every turn you get to make a very large amount of mana very fast, which fuels your endgame. Mox Opal stands in as well as even more broken mana acceleration.

Karn, the Great Creator
Mystic Forge
Inventors' Fair

Once you've got a ton of mana, Karn, the Great Creator lets you go find Mycosynth Lattice or Liquimetal Coating for the lock down, or other artifact pieces as needed. Mystic Forge also creates quite the engine similar to Experimental Frenzy, further helping you get what you need online, while Inventors' Fair is a free value way to also get what you need. In the end you kill them Walking Ballista or Karn activations after they are locked out.

Chalice of the Void
Ensnaring Bridge

The deck also contains some prison elements for defense. With all the charge counter shenanigans happening this is probably the best Chalice of the Void deck ever, and hiding behind Ensnaring Bridge while you do your Mystic Forge thing also feels great. You get some more value from your lands and sideboard but the core of the deck is fairly straightforward.

This deck is wild and creates some crazy game states. It's also surprisingly good! You get to do your thing pretty quickly and Chalice of the Void and Ensnaring Bridge are huge problems for some decks. Just make sure you've got enough dice with you!

There's Always Something Fun

It can be discouraging when formats feel stale or dead, but there's always something fun to be done. It can often just require thinking outside the box.

It can also be refreshing to dip your toes into a different format as well. Used to playing Standard? Why not give Cube draft a shot? Modern player? You could learn a lot from playing Core Set 2020 Limited. Being able to play all different types of formats is a great way to grow and learn as a Magic player, as it helps to develop your overall Magic IQ.

Besides, what are you going to do, not play Magic?