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Mad Fencing Skills

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Born of the Gods is finally Standard-legal, and a variety of new decks are starting to appear, using many of the most powerful new cards from the set. One card that I haven't seen find a home just yet is Hero of Iroas. With a decent 2/2 body to start out with, heroic to grow larger, and the ability to make all Auras cheaper to cast, the Hero seems to be begging for a resurgence of the Bant Hexproof decks we saw last year.

Unfortunately, most of the old tools are gone now that Innistrad and M13 have left Standard. Invisible Stalker, Rancor, Spectral Flight, and others have all disappeared, taking away most of the core pieces of the deck. Therefore, this new Aura deck needed to be built from the ground up.

There are only three cheap creatures with hexproof in the current format. Sylvan Caryatid has defender, leaving only Gladecover Scout and Witchstalker. Both are green creatures, but green seems to offer little else for the deck, with Unflinching Courage as the only compelling Aura.

White still has Ethereal Armor to offer, but, strangely, red has most of the powerful Auras this time around. In fact, I ended up ditching green entirely in favor of a more streamlined Boros deck.

The Creatures

Fiendslayer Paladin
Fiendslayer Paladin has lifelink built in, making it almost impossible for your opponent to race you, even with an army of chump-blockers. More importantly, it can't be targeted by black or red spells your opponents control. The Paladin's immunity to most removal makes it a prime target for Auras. It's not quite hexproof, but against many decks, it might as well be.

Hero of Iroas's ability to reduce the cost of Auras is huge in this deck. Even if you're not suiting up the Hero, which is often the best choice if you have one of the other options available, the ability lets you cast up to twice as many Auras in one turn as you would otherwise be able to.

Fencing Ace can win games at lightning speed thanks to double strike. Every Aura you enchant it with packs twice the punch, making it easy to take out half your opponent's life total in one chunk.

Unlike Fiendslayer Paladin, Fencing Ace and Hero of Iroas have no built-in protection. Therefore, you'll need a way to stop your opponent from killing them and a pile of Auras along with them.

Gods Willing is perfect for this job, giving your creature protection from whatever removal spell your opponent is using (most likely black) and allowing you to scry 1. It can make some of your Auras fall off if you choose red or white, but, fortunately, there are few removal spells in those colors being played right now, especially when you take into account the fact that burn spells often won't work thanks to Ethereal Armor, Pursuit of Flight, and Hero of Iroas's heroic ability.

I wasn't quite satisfied with four copies, so I also included two Brave the Elements as numbers five and six. Although it doesn't scry, all the creatures in the deck are white, so it provides the same protection against removal spells as Gods Willing.

The Auras

Ethereal Armor
Ethereal Armor is absurdly good in this type of deck. It often gives a creature upward of +3/+3 for just 1 mana, and first strike makes the creature much harder to kill, especially if your opponent would have to block with multiple creatures.

Madcap Skills gives an extra 3 power for 2 mana, and it makes blocking harder as well. On the turn you cast it, it will often prevent blocking entirely, and even late into the game, it prevents your opponent from throwing away one small creature to prevent the damage.

Pursuit of Flight's +2/+2 is reasonable for 2 mana, and although without blue in the deck you can't give the creature flying, it's among the more efficient ways to boost your creature's power.

Thunderous Might takes advantage of the other red Auras to consistently grant an extra 2 or 3 power. You can bring it even higher depending on what you draw, but 2 mana for 2 power is just fine in this deck.

Although by removing green you lose access to Unflinching Courage, Gift of Orzhova definitely helps make up for that. It does provide 1 less power, but you still gain lifelink, and flying is comparable to trample for pushing damage through. It may occasionally be worse when your opponent buys a turn by blocking with Nightveil Specter, but it does allow you to fly right over Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Pack Rat.

Playtesting

R/G Monsters – Game 1

Hero of Iroas
I lost the roll and kept a hand of Fencing Ace, Hero of Iroas, Madcap Skills, Ethereal Armor, Thunderous Might, Mountain, and Temple of Triumph. My opponent started off with Stomping Ground, and I drew another Fencing Ace. I played my Temple, keeping a Plains on top, and passed the turn.

My opponent cast Sylvan Caryatid and passed back. I drew my Plains, played it, and cast Hero of Iroas. I ended my turn.

My opponent cast Polukranos, World Eater and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played it, and cast Ethereal Armor, Madcap Skills, and Thunderous Might on the Hero. I hit my opponent with the 13/8 and passed the turn.

My opponent hit me for 5 with Polukranos and then cast Elvish Mystic and Xenagos, the Reveler, making a Satyr token. He ended his turn. I drew Thunderous Might and attacked for 13 again. My opponent blocked with Elvish Mystic and the token, and I cast two Fencing Aces before passing the turn.

My opponent hit me for 5 with Polukranos again, and he then made a token with Xenagos and cast Stormbreath Dragon. He ended his turn. I cast Thunderous Might on a Fencing Ace, and my opponent was unable to block both lethal creatures.

Game 2

Fencing Ace
I kept a hand of two Plains, a Mountain, two Fencing Ace, Gift of Orzhova, and Thunderous Might. My opponent played a Temple and passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and passed back.

My opponent played a Forest and ended his turn. I drew Madcap Skills and cast Fencing Ace before passing the turn.

My opponent cast Courser of Kruphix, revealing a Ghor-Clan Rampager. He ended his turn. I drew Pursuit of Flight and cast Madcap Skills on the Ace. I attacked for 8 and ended my turn.

My opponent played Mutavault, gaining 1 life, and then cast Domri Rade. He made his Courser fight my Ace, killing both creatures. He then passed the turn. I drew Ethereal Armor, cast Fencing Ace, and enchanted it with Pursuit of Flight. I ended my turn.

My opponent used Domri Rade's +1 ability and missed, and he then cast Polukranos and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain and enchanted my creature with Ethereal Armor and Gift of Orzhova, making it a 7/7 and allowing me to attack for lethal damage in the air.

Wrap-Up

This deck is incredibly fast, and if low-removal decks like R/G Monsters and Mono-Blue prove to be popular in the new format, it's set up to do some serious damage. If you want to prey on the lack of removal at your Friday Night Magic, or if you just want to show off your Madcap Skills, give this deck a try.


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