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Hive Got a Feeling

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Slivers are back, and many players are curious to see if they'll work out in Standard. With most decks using red, green, and white to gain access to all the best Slivers, I wondered how the deck would fare without green. Losing access to Predatory Sliver is significant, but there are no other green Slivers I'd regret cutting. The two-colored mana base also makes the deck easy to build on a budget and makes Burning Earth ineffective against you. Here's the list I put together.

Striking Sliver
Striking Sliver is the only option for the 1-drop slot, and having a creature on turn one can really help jumpstart your game plan. Its ability isn't too bad either, especially on the defensive. You can block one large creature with several smaller ones and take it down before it deals damage. It also makes you creatures difficult to deal with in combat once you land a Battle Sliver.

Sentinel Sliver leaves something to be desired when compared to Predatory Sliver, but a 2/2 with vigilance for 2 mana isn't bad, and with first strike from Striking Sliver, you have something comparable to Elite Inquisitor. The combination of vigilance and first strike on all your creatures is fairly valuable, allowing you to attack and still threaten a deadly block.

Steelform Sliver makes your creatures a bit tougher, but it mostly just provides another body to gain abilities from your other Slivers. It is marginally better than Sliver Construct, however, so it's in for now.

Hive Stirrings gives you two Slivers with one card. That may not seems much better than a 2/2 at first, but once you throw down one of your 5-mana creatures, having multiple creatures starts looking really nice.

Blur Sliver is where things really start getting good. A 2/2 with haste for 3 mana isn't great, but giving all your other creatures haste for as long as it’s on the battlefield certainly is. This allows you to surprise your opponent not only with the new ability you're giving to all your creatures, but with an extra attacker as well.

Bonescythe Sliver
Bonescythe Sliver is quite powerful, especially when combined with Battle Sliver. It doubles the offensive power of your creatures and makes them much harder to kill through combat. This and Battle Sliver alone constitutes 18 damage if left unchecked. Additionally, like other Slivers, its effect applies immediately, allowing you to surprise your opponent with twice as much damage.

I've already mentioned how well Battle Sliver combines with Bonescythe Sliver or Striking Sliver, but it's quite good on its own as well. You can usually expect to have around four creatures on the battlefield by the time Battle Sliver hits the board on turn five, meaning that for your 5 mana, you're potentially dealing an extra 8 damage immediately. This guy, with the help of the other 5-drop, makes tiny Slivers like Hive Stirrings and Striking Sliver much more relevant.

Thorncaster Sliver is the reason I want to try a Sliver deck in the first place. It's a bit smaller, slower, and more expensive than Hellrider, but the ability to hit creatures with its ability is absolutely huge. You can still slam some extra damage at your opponent if you want, but now you also have the option of clearing out all your opponent's creatures before he or she has a chance to block. Hellrider's primary drawback has always been the fact that your opponent can block and kill it and/or your other creatures, limiting your ability to continue to put out damage. Thorncaster Sliver avoids that problem by allowing you to direct the various 1-damage triggers wherever you like, easily killing off multiple creatures in one swing.

Searing Spear is simply a solid removal spell, enabling you to kill aggressive creatures like Flinthoof Boar or Hellrider, remove more lasting threats such as Olivia Voldaren and Huntmaster of the Fells, or deal the last few points of damage to your opponent. You can even combine it with Thorncaster Sliver to kill off larger creatures.

The Sideboard

Boros Charm
Boros Charm helps your team to survive spells that would wipe it out, such as Supreme Verdict and Bonfire of the Damned. Against decks of the Supreme Verdict variety, it can also be a valuable tool for finishing off your opponent quickly before he can draw into a Sphinx's Revelation or other defense.

Celestial Flare has quickly become one of my favorite sideboard cards, giving you a real defense against the aurafied creatures of Bant Hexproof. Although the deck seems to be dwindling in numbers recently, I would be surprised to not see a few representatives in a given tournament.

Rest in Peace continues to do an exemplary job of crushing W/B Humans decks, shutting off Blood Artist, Xathrid Necromancer, and Skirsdag High Priest. In other words, the card shuts off just about every reason the deck is good in the first place. It also does a decent job of slowing down Junk Rites, which has begun to pop up once again.

Oblivion Ring helps you take down planeswalkers as well as larger threats such as Thundermaw Hellkite. Getting rid of Garruk, Caller of Beasts quickly can be critical—you never know when your opponent might draw a Craterhoof Behemoth and smash your face in. As far as Thundermaw, well, he does a pretty good job of smashing your face in all on his own.

Pillar of Flame goes the opposite direction, giving your removal package a bit more bite against aggressive decks. It's also an extremely effective tool for killing Arbor Elf, which can do a great deal of work toward slowing down your opponent long enough for you to win the game.

Playtesting

Gruul Aggro – Game 1

Domri Rade
I lost the roll and kept a hand of two Mountains, a Plains, two Striking Slivers, Sentinel Sliver, and Thorncaster Sliver. My opponent started off with a Forest, and I drew another Thorncaster Sliver. I played my Mountain, cast Striking Sliver, and passed the turn.

He played a Mountain, cast Flinthoof Boar, and passed back. I drew a Mountain, played my Plains, and cast Sentinel Sliver.

I ended my turn, and my opponent cast Domri Rade, activating his +1 ability and failing to find a creature. He passed the turn. I drew another Mountain, played it, and cast Striking Sliver. I ended my turn.

My opponent played a Mountain and cast Hellrider. He used Domri Rade to make it fight Sentinel Sliver and then attacked with Flinthoof Boar. I dropped to 16, and he passed the turn. I drew Steelform Sliver, cast it, and then played my Mountain and passed back.

My opponent activated Domri Rade, grabbing Ghor-Clan Rampager. He attacked with both creatures, and I took the damage, dropping to 8. He cast Elvish Mystic and passed the turn. I drew Steelform Sliver, played a Mountain, and cast Thorncaster Sliver. I attacked Domri Rade with all three creatures, killing Hellrider with the damage from Thorncaster. Elvish Mystic blocked Steelform Sliver, and Domri dropped to 1 counter.

My opponent activated Domri Rade, grabbing a Hellrider. He cast Mizzium Mortars to kill Thorncaster Sliver, and then cast Strangleroot Geist and dropped me to 4. He passed the turn, and I drew a Plains and conceded.

Game 2

Thorncaster Sliver
I kept a hand of two Mountains, a Plains, Striking Sliver, Hive Stirrings, and two Thorncaster Slivers. I played my Mountain, cast Striking Sliver, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest and cast Arbor Elf before passing back.

I drew a Plains, played it, and attacked for 1. I ended my turn, and my opponent played a Mountain and cast Domri Rade, using his +1 to grab a Ghor-Clan Rampager.

I drew Bonescythe Sliver, played my Plains, and attacked Domri for 1. I cast Hive Stirrings and then passed the turn. My opponent used Domri's +1 again, grabbing Scavenging Ooze, and he then played a Forest and cast Ghor-Clan Rampager.

He ended his turn, and I drew a Mountain. I played it and cast Bonescythe Sliver. I ended my turn. My opponent used Domri's −2 to make his Rampager fight my Bonescythe Sliver. He cast Scavenging Ooze and Arbor Elf and then passed the turn.

I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Thorncaster Sliver. I ended my turn, and my opponent exiled Bonescythe Sliver to put a counter on Scavenging Ooze. He used Domri's +1 again, missing this time, and then cast two copies of Strangleroot Geist. He attacked with everything, and I blocked Scavenging Ooze with Thorncaster and Striking Slivers, and I blocked the Geists with a token each. I took 4 from the Rampager, and the Geists came back with a +1/+1 counter. He ended his turn.

I drew Hive Stirrings, played a Mountain, and cast Thorncaster Sliver. I attacked with my other four creatures, sending 3 damage at Domri and using the 8 damage from Thorncaster triggers to kill both Strangleroot Geists and both Arbor Elves as well as deal 2 to my opponent. My opponent dropped me to 12 with Ghor-Clan Rampager and passed the turn.

I drew Blur Sliver, cast it, and cast Hive Stirrings. I attacked with everything and killed my opponent with 16 damage from Thorncaster triggers.

Game 3

Striking Sliver
I kept a hand of Boros Guildgate, Plains, two Searing Spears, Hive Stirrings, Blur Sliver, and Thorncaster Sliver. My opponent started off with a Forest, and I drew Bonescythe Sliver. I played my Guildgate and passed the turn.

My opponent played a Mountain and cast Scavenging Ooze before passing back. I drew Striking Sliver, cast it, played my Plains, and ended my turn.

My opponent cast Flinthoof Boar, gave it haste, and attacked with both creatures for 5. I took the damage, and he passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and cast Blur Sliver. I ended my turn.

My opponent cast Domri Rade, used his +1, failing to find anything, and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Bonescythe Sliver. I ended my turn.

My opponent paid 2 life for a Stomping Ground and cast Hellrider. He used Domri's −2 to make Hellrider fight my Bonescythe Sliver and then passed the turn. I drew Oblivion Ring and passed the turn.

My opponent played a Stomping Ground tapped and cast a second Hellrider. He used Domri's +1, grabbing a Flinthoof Boar, and then moved to combat. I killed both Hellriders with Searing Spear, and he ended his turn. I drew Evolving Wilds and played it, sacrificing it for a Mountain. I exiled Domri Rade with Oblivion Ring and passed the turn.

My opponent cast Thundermaw Hellkite and hit me for 5 in the air before passing back. I drew Sentinel Sliver, cast it, and made two tokens with Hive Stirrings. I ended my turn.

My opponent dropped me to 5 with the Hellkite and then cast Flinthoof Boar and passed the turn. I drew Blur Sliver, cast Thorncaster Sliver, and attacked with everything except Thorncaster, killing the Hellkite with the 5 damage. My opponent blocked and killed Striking Sliver, Blur Sliver, and Sentinel Sliver. On his turn, he cast attacked with everything. I blocked Scavenging Ooze and a Flinthoof Boar with my tokens, but my opponent had Ghor-Clan Rampager for the win.

Wrap-Up

This may not be the best aggro deck in Standard, but Thorncaster Sliver certainly packs a big punch if you can get it working. If you enjoy playing with Slivers or if you're looking for a fun aggro deck that will survive rotation unscathed, give this one a try.

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