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Variety Pack


One of the things I really appreciate about Standard, as it is today, is the variety. As recently as Kaldheim Standard we saw a coalescence around a pretty set sixty (if not seventy-five). The Mono-Red Aggro decks, for instance, had very little variation. Three Thanes of Red Fell. Three Rimrock Knights. Maybe 1-2 slots, total.

At least as we see things right now, there is variety... Not just in what kinds of decks you can play, but also intra-archetype, or intra-color combination. That's why I called this article "Variety Pack".

Speaking of *ahem* packs...

I, for one, never thought I'd see the day!

I mean, I thought Alpine Houndmaster might be the best card in M21. So, I certainly thought that card would see some play. But have you looked at the rest of this deck?

Alpine Watchdog
Igneous Cur

Three-ofs Alpine Watchdog and Igneous Cur have several things in common. They cost two. They are three-ofs while Alpine Houndmaster is a four-of. Outside of their built-in combo with that Human Warrior, they are largely unremarkable. Except...




So how does this work? Of course, you want four copies of Alpine Houndmaster. You actually want to draw that. You play the Human Warrior. Maybe on turn two. Merely a 2/2 itself on the battlefield, Alpine Houndmaster is serviceable (it can trade with an incoming Robber of the Rich, for instance) but nothing to write home about... At least until you're on the attack.

I mean, other than the fact that it just dug up two bones Dogs. Being a 2/2 Ancestral Recall for two isn't too shabby. The cards it gets aren't very exciting, other than the fact that there are two more of them. Unless you figure they're Dogs.

Look at all the other Dogs!

Bolt Hound hasn't been burning down too mana metagames, but it's also not far off of dreamy, long-ago, beatdown staples like Suq'Ata Lancer. Selfless Savior is of course plastered across every White aggro deck that can muster a Plains-tap on turn one. So, you know, all of them.

The key?

Pack Leader


I don't know how exciting a Dogs-Tribal beatdown deck would be in the abstract. But Dogs-for-fish held equal, it's a much better card, mana-for-mana than longtime lynchpin Lord of Atlantis.

The reality is, we're not talking about a deck in the abstract. Pack Leader gives you a payoff for your sunk investment in Igneous Cur and Alpine Watchdog.

All together with maybe the most un-fun Legend in Standard: Winota, Joiner of Forces.

Winota needs both Human and non-Human creatures to function; so here we have plenty of non-Humans (the Dogs) to help find the Human portion. Alpine Houndmaster making a mid-combat appearance will trigger another canine Ancestral Recall. Kenrith, the Returned King cheating into play will be every bit as devastating as it ever was.

What's new?

Blade Historian

I really like how Blade Historian ties all these little bits together. Alpine Houndmaster is specifically Red and White. So is Winota. Blade Historian's four R/W hybrid mana is a breeze! While a high impact creature theoretically, its 3 toughness at four mana can be a liability... Except not in this deck. Winona cheats out an indestructible Blade Historian, of course! And wow what a shell for this 2/3 to top up.

So many creatures will be indestructible. With Blade Historian's double strike online, there will be next to no "good" blocks for most opponents. Buffs on Alpine Houndmaster and via Bolt Hound and Pack Leader will all be further magnified. If it comes down to it, Igneous Cur will essentially be pumping for four.

Wild, right?

What's wilder is that a deck like this can so effortlessly coexist with one like this:

Really, really, inventive update on the Mono-White Aggro deck that has been performing at least since the printing of Maul of the Skyclaves.

Kind of tongue-in-cheek I listed the key card as Needleverge Pathway; but only kind of tongue-in-cheek. That's the card that turns Mono-White into such a different take on Boros Aggro than Heredia's Winota build. Which is of course weird because they're both Selfless Savior decks; both equipment decks (if Embercleave versus Maul of the Skyclaves); and both Showdown of the Skalds decks.

So, what's going on here?

RandomOctopus is leaning hard into that Needleverge Pathway for sideboard cards. This is essentially the Mono-White Aggro main deck... Except twelve of fifteen sideboard cards are Red. Shout out to Frost Bite there. I knew Frost Bite was going to be good the second I saw it, but "two-of in the sideboard of White Weenie" was not a use case that immediately jumped to mind.

For main deck, Showdown of the Skalds is obviously an ace for most small creatures decks that can cast it [RandomOctopus can now cast it]; and Bonecrusher Giant is basically the best fair card in Standard. Check and check plus.

But one of two newbies here is Venerable Warsinger. Worth the splash! It seems. Venerable Warsinger has three power naturally, meaning it can recover anything in this deck. Great combo with Maul of the Skyclaves and Showdown of the Skalds, of course (for the games where trample is going to come into play). I have to say that in addition to Ox of Agonas and Phoenix of Ash in the sideboard, I think I like the Warsinger as a kind of pre-sideboarding against Ruin Crab.

Plus, it's me we're talking about. Any old Gnarled Mass am I right?

Venerable Warsinger is a Red and White card that works in RandomOctopus's deck as a kind of card advantage, kind of mana saving, interaction with small creatures. You want to know how much of a variety pack Standard is?

You could say a lot of the same things about this:

I mean, what's smaller than a token creature?

GAME_NIGHT is giving me some real Andrew Cuneo 2001 vibes with this deck. It's got all kinds of token making... Forbidden Friendship, Omen of the Sun, even Lorehold Command (though I think that might be kind of a waste).

The big goal is to combo up your tiny creatures with some mana saving / kind of card advantage Red cards:

Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast

You're going to hit Dream Trawler most of the time in this deck (which is fine), and Velomachus Lorehold once in a while. Which I assume is going to be a riot.

Three things worth noting:

  1. You can upgrade Dream Trawler. This might seem counterintuitive but remember Velomachus Lorehold has haste, and you might just be waiting on Chapter Three of an Elspeth Conquers Death.
  2. If you draw one of your Transmogrify / Lukka targets, it's not the end of the World. Fire Prophecy is about the perfect way to dig yourself out early. It even gets you out from under pressure!
  3. While it doesn't scream "GREEN" this deck has got some. You can pay the iron price on Mythos of Illuna or hard-cast Koma in a sideboarded game.

Bringing it back to our original concept, this four-color Jeskai isn't even what I would consider a popular Lukka / Koma deck!

This seems far more typical to me:

So, on the one hand we have Edgewall Innkeeper in Temur, and all that comes with it. Lovestruck Beast is one of the best cards in Throne of Eldraine... With or without Innkeeper synergies. Bonecrusher Giant is, if anything, even better. I still don't get how Brazen Borrower gets to be a real Magic: The Gathering card.

Like many post Lucky Clover decks, this one supplements its card advantage with The Great Henge, most often a three-to-four combo with the Lovestruck Beast.

So, what's different?

With all these cards that cost 3 mana, ALFREDOTORRES can upgrade any of them into Koma, Cosmos Serpent using Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast. There are three game plans, all of them powerful, featured in a very compelling deck.

Any Gnarled Mass at all, right?

Kazandu Mammoth

Much as Dogs and a Bonecrusher Giant splash in Mono-White can coexist in the current Standard, some quite different takes on Temur Adventures can in Standard as well.

SORRENTO04 skipped the whole Lukka / Koma angle for Alrund's Epiphany (which goes so tightly with Saw it Coming); making very minor alterations to comply with Obosh, the Preypiercer out of the sideboard. Yes, this deck loses Fire Prophecy as a result... But it also doesn't have a real reason to have to shuffle a fatty back in.



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