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Challenge-Worthy Standard Decks


Hello everyone. Every week, Magic Online (MTGO) hosts numerous events that you can play in. From these events, you can often get a big-picture view of what are the most popular decks in any format. You can also often find innovative decks that are played in these events. This week, we'll be taking a look at a few such decks form the Standard Challenge that took place on 01/03/2021. Let's get started.

Mardu Yorion

Last week, I showed you a deck using Yorion, Sky Nomad that was Abzan in colors. This week, I have a Mardu version for you. Let's take a look at it.

Even though I call this deck Mardu Yorion, there are very few Red cards in this deck. In the main deck, there are two, and in the sideboard there's only one. However, even though they might be few in number, I do feel that this deck is better as a Mardu deck than it would be as an Orzhov one. Omen of the Forge is a direct damage enchantment that can hit any target. Ruinous Ultimatum, while expensive to cast, destroys all nonland permanents an opponent controls. If you're not able to achieve a victory after casting this spell, you weren't going to win that game anyway. Finally, the sideboarded Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, has seen enough Standard play that you'll likely know just how good it can be.

At its heart, this deck wants to land at least one copy of Archon of Sun's Grace on the battlefield. This will allow you to begin creating 2/2 Pegasus creature tokens whenever you resolve an enchantment. Since Archon of Sun's Grace also provides all of those Pegasus tokens lifelink, you should be able to stabilize your game, even if your opponent has been taking you to the cleaners. Yorion, Sky Nomad plays nicely alongside Archon of Sun's Grace, as Yorion can exile all of your enchantments currently in play when it enters the battlefield. Then, at the beginning of the next end step, all of those enchantments will return to the battlefield, with each one triggering Archon of Sun's Grace constellation ability, creating a 2/2 Pegasus creature token.

One enchantment I want to mention, that hasn't seen much play, is Lithoform Blight. This aura will enchant a land when it comes into play, making that land lose all land types. The land will then only be able to tap for colorless mana unless a point of life is paid. If that happens, the land will produce 1 mana of any color. This can help you out if you happen to have trouble finding a Red mana source. Alternatively, you could play this onto an opponent's land, cutting them off from an important color of mana potentially. While you won't want to do this the majority of the time, it's good to know you can do it if you need to.

Rakdos Midrange

Next, I'd like to take a look at the deck that came in 2nd Place. It's a Rakdos deck that can hold its own against most opponents. Let's take a look at the deck.

Against an opponent that has formidable creatures, this deck is capable of holding its own. With cards like Claim the Firstborn and The Akroan War, you'll be able to steal practically any creature your opponent puts into play against you. Once you steal a creature, you can use it against your opponent when you attack. That will force them to decide whether to block their own creature or not, and you might be able to get them to destroy two of their creatures at once.

If they decide not to block, you'll deal damage to them with their own creature. If you've taken control of their creature with Claim the Firstborn, they'll be expecting to resume control of their creature once your turn is over. Unfortunately for them, there are a number of ways in this deck to sacrifice creatures you control. They include Rankle, Master of Pranks, Woe Strider, and Village Rites. Any of these can be used to sacrifice a creature you've stolen from your opponent, denying them the chance to receive it back.

Even if you're not able to take control of every creature your opponent controls, you have numerous ways of destroying creatures in this deck. Against smaller creatures, the adventure side of Bonecrusher Giant can be used to deal two damage. Shatterskull Summoning can also deal direct damage to up to two creatures an opponent controls. You're only limited on the amount of damage you cause with this spell by the amount of mana you can create. Finally, Heartless Act can destroy any creature, as long as that creature has no counters on it. As you can see, nearly any creature your opponent plays is at risk against this deck.

Dimir Yorion

The final deck I have for you this week is another variant of Yorion, Sky Nomad deck. This one is in Dimir colors. Let's check it out.

At its heart, this is a control deck. It has numerous ways to counter an opponent's spells as they are cast. Essence Scatter can be used to counter your opponent's important creature spells. Negate can be used to counter their important noncreature spells. There are also Jwari Disruption and Neutralize, which you can use to counter any type of spell your opponent casts. For any player of a control deck like this one, you'll need to have some basic knowledge of the other popular decks in the format so you can determine which spells you'll need to counter and which you can allow to resolve.

Since counterspells aren't free, and you have a limited number of them in your deck, there will be times that you won't be able to counter every threat your opponent casts. For those times, this deck packs plenty of creature removal spells. Extinction Event has the potential of wiping your opponent's battlefield clean. The other creature spells you have are targeted removal, taking care of a single creature at a time. These spells include Bloodchief's Thirst, Eliminate, Hagra Mauling, and Heartless Act. With the use of these spells, you should be able to destroy the majority of threats your opponent gets into play.

As you can see, this deck plays no creatures other than Yorion, Sky Nomad. In order to win, you'll want to rely on the help of the planeswalker, Ashiok, Nightmare Muse. By using Ashiok's +1 loyalty ability, you'll create a 2/3 Nightmare creature token that you can use to achieve victory. These tokens force your opponent to exile the top two cards of their library whenever you attack or block with them. Once you hit seven loyalty on Ashiok, you can use Ashiok's ultimate ability to cast up to three of these exiled cards without paying their mana costs. There's no better feeling than defeating opponents with their own cards.

Wrapping Up

We're just a few weeks away from the release of Magic's next expansion, Kaldheim. It's nice to see that there's still innovation happening in Standard as we approach this new release.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below. 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!

-Mike Likes

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