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New Year, New Brews


Hello, everyone! As we head into the new year, we get closer to the release of Theros Beyond Death. Before you know it, the prerelease will be upon us, but until then there's still a little time left to explore our current Standard format. With that being said, let's take a look at the fun and competitive decks I have for you this week.

Abzan Wolves

The first deck I have for you this week is a tribal deck that can go toe-to-toe with any opponent. Let's take a look at it:

Nightpack Ambusher
Nightpack Ambusher is no stranger to Standard decks. It's been a part of the Simic Flash deck as well as some of the Big Green Stompy decks. The fact that it pumps all of your Wolves and also has the ability to create Wolves of its own makes it a threat that must be killed quickly. If you manage to get multiple copies into play, your lupine army can quickly overwhelm your opponent. You won't always be able to utilize Nightpack Ambusher's ability to create Wolf creature tokens since this deck isn't set up to play cards outside of your turn very often, but the +1/+1 bonus makes Nightpack Ambusher a valuable creature to play.

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman offers another way to create Wolf tokens, two at a time, that help fuel Garruk's -6 loyalty ability that will give all of your creatures +3/+3 and trample. This is yet another way that you can win games quickly with this deck. Hopefully, you'll already have Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves on the battlefield when you activate Garruk's 0 loyalty ability, since Tolsimir gives you three points of life whenever a Wolf enters the battlefield under your control. That wolf will also fight another creature you don't control, so you have the ability to deal with creatures much larger than normal Wolves can typically deal with.

This deck also features Gilded Goose and Savvy Hunter that have the ability to create Food tokens. These Food tokens can be used in conjunction with Wicked Wolf to create an indestructible Wolf capable of blocking nearly any creature your opponent attacks with. When the time is right, you can send Wicked Wolf to attack, likely with a handful of +1/+1 counters on it, for a bunch of damage.

Simic Hydras

The next deck I have for you is another tribal deck featuring Hydras. If you're a fan of playing large creatures, then this deck is for you. Let's take a look at it:

Gargos, Vicious Watcher
This deck features twelve Hydras that all have special abilities. Voracious Hydra is the easiest to cast, but it's also one of the most versatile. Its first ability allows you to double the number of +1/+1 counters on it, which can allow you to have the largest creature on the battlefield with ease. Be careful using this ability when playing against decks that you know have targeted creature destruction spells or spells that will bounce Voracious Hydra back to your hand. Its other ability allows Voracious Hydra to fight an opponent's creature when your Hydra enters the battlefield, so it can act as a great source of removal.

This deck also plays a few copies of the legendary Hydra, Gargos, Vicious Watcher. Once you get Gargos onto the battlefield, it will become much easier to get an army of Hydras onto the battlefield thanks to the cost reduction Gargos offers. It also offers another means of creature removal since Gargos will fight an opponent's creature whenever one of your own creatures is targeted by a spell. I wish there were a couple of copies of spells like Giant Growth that you could use to trigger this ability, but as it is it's an effective way to make your opponent think twice before destroying one of your creatures with a targeted spell.

The final Hydra I want to discuss is Bioessence Hydra. Since the number of +1/+1 counters on Bioessence Hydra is directly affected by the amount of loyalty counters on planeswalkers you control, you'll likely want to keep Bioessence Hydra in your hand until you have at least one planeswalker in play. If you're hurting for creatures, you can certainly cast Bioessence Hydra knowing that it will still have the potential to grow in the future, but I wouldn't do this unless I needed a blocker and blocking wouldn't automatically kill my 4/4.

Big Red Chandra

The final deck I have for you isn't exactly a tribal deck, but has the potential to attack with a bunch of Dragons. Let's take a look at the deck:

Chandra, Awakened Inferno
As I mentioned earlier, this deck has the potential to attack with a horde of Dragons. This is done with the +1 loyalty ability of Sarkhan the Masterless. Sarkhan also has the ability to create a 4/4 Dragon token, but at quite a high cost to his loyalty. To attack with a true horde of Dragons, you'll need to have more of your other planeswalkers in play.

Chandra, Awakened Inferno can be a very frustrating planeswalker to play against. With her +2 loyalty ability, you'll be able to create an emblem that will deal one point of damage to your opponent during their upkeep. You can do this turn after turn to increase the amount of damage your opponent will take each turn, and doing this will also increase Chandra's loyalty, making her more difficult to deal with.

The other Chandra in this deck, Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, has a couple of great abilities you can use. Her top 0 loyalty ability allows you to add a loyalty counter to each Red planeswalker you have in play. If you use this when you have Chandra, Awakened Inferno in play, you'll easily be able to get the six-mana planeswalker's loyalty into double digits in no time. This ability can also allow you to create Dragon tokens with Sarkhan the Masterless much easier. Chandra, Acolyte of Flame also has her -2 loyalty ability that you can use to cast any instant or sorcery from your graveyard that costs three or less mana. This can be a great way to finish off games when your opponent stabilizes with just a few points of life.

Wrapping Up

With just a few weeks left until the next prerelease, it's now the time to take chances and try out new decks that you can use in the new Standard environment. What are you planning to play once Theros Beyond Death releases?

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below or email me directly at mikelikesmtg@gmail.com. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

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