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On the Alert


Hello, everyone! As you may know, I enjoy playing decks in Standard that are both innovative and fun. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy winning and there's no better feeling than winning with a deck that plays in ways your opponent might not be ready for. This week I have a few decks for you that all attempt to capitalize on the card High Alert in order to win games. Let's get started.

Artifact High Alert

The first deck would have fit in nicely with the artifact decks that I wrote about last week. Let's take a look at the deck:

Crashing Drawbridge
All of the decks I have for you this week feature High Alert. It allows you to play a different game than your opponent will be expecting since your creatures will have a high toughness and be able to deal out a high amount of damage as well. One of the key cards in this deck will be Crashing Drawbridge. Thanks to its activated ability to give all of your creatures haste, you'll be able to win games out of the blue if you have a copy of High Alert in play. You can also allow creatures with an ability that requires them to tap to use those abilities right away. This will allow you to gain +1/+1 counters with Steel Overseer right away, or allow Emry, Lurker of the Loch to tap to be able to cast an artifact spell from your graveyard. This can allow you to gain a battlefield advantage that your opponent might have trouble dealing with.

Steel Overseer can potentially put multiple +1/+1 counters on much of your team in a single turn a couple of different ways. Thanks to its "ETB" (Enters the Battlefield) ability, Corridor Monitor can allow you to untap a Steel Overseer that you've already tapped this turn. You can also use the activated ability on High Alert each turn to untap any target creature, provided that you have the mana to use this ability. By placing these +1/+1 counters, you'll be able to grow your artifact creatures large enough that you'll never have to worry about them being destroyed by a single burn spell.

One final card I'd like to mention that does a lot of work in this deck is The Birth of Meletis. When you play it, you'll be able to search your library for a Plains card to put into your hand. This allows you to have the necessary mana needed to cast High Alert. Chapter Two of The Birth of Meletis provides you with a 0/4 Wall artifact creature token, which is basically as good as a 4/4 with High Alert on the battlefield. The final chapter of The Birth of Meletis provides you with two points of life, which you might need considering that this deck is a little soft to creatures with flying.

Huatli High Alert

The next deck I have for you adds in a bit of redundancy thanks to the static ability of Huatli. Let's take a look at it:

Huatli, the Sun's Heart
Huatli, the Sun's Heart has a static ability that acts as backup copy of High Alert. While it lacks some of the additional features of High Alert, by being able to deal combat damage equal to that creature's toughness, you'll be able to slow down an opponent's attacks. Even though Huatli doesn't offer a way for your creatures with defender to attack, if you're able to get even a single copy of Azorius Knight-Arbiter onto the battlefield, your opponent's days are numbered. Huatli can also keep you in the game longer with her -3 loyalty ability, which will usually grant you between four or five points of life.

This deck also runs a full playset of Teyo, the Shieldmage. Teyo's static ability give you, the player, hexproof. This makes you immune to any direct damage spells your opponent might send at you directly. While it doesn't provide hexproof to your creatures, because of their high toughness it will usually take a couple of burn spells to destroy any of them. Teyo also has the ability to create a 0/3 Wall creature token that you can use. In general, I wouldn't use this ability unless I knew my opponent wasn't playing any spells that could target me directly, or unless I had a copy of High Alert in play allowing me to take the offensive. I consider having hexproof to be pretty valuable and would rather force my opponent to find a way to deal with Teyo over having a 0/3 defender.

As you can see, this deck runs four copies of Wall of Mist and Wall of Runes. Both of these creatures have defender, which helps you slow down an opponent's momentum, but doesn't allow you to turn that momentum around easily. You'll really need to have a copy of High Alert in play to take the offensive. However, creatures with defender can still help out considerably by helping to cast spells with convoke. Keep that in mind when casting Conclave Tribunal. You can use your mana to cast as many creatures as you can, and still tap them for convoke to pay for the cost of Conclave Tribunal. You'll be advancing your plans by growing your forces and hindering your opponent by taking away one of their key nonland permanents.

Constellation Defenders

The final deck I have for you this week combines some of the best cards from Theros Beyond Death that have constellation with High Alert, our key enchantment spell for these decks. Let's take a look at the deck:

Setessan Champion
Here's another deck that offers the possibility of playing Huatli, the Sun's Heart as a means of dealing additional damage. The difference with this deck is that there are no creature spells in this deck that are defenders. That makes it possible for this deck to play a bit more offensively than the previous deck. With the ability to deal combat damage based on your toughness, Tower Defense becomes your most important pump spell. For the low, low price of 2 mana, you'll be able to pump your whole team, giving them all a +0/+5 bonus. Not only will that bonus make it much more difficult for your opponent to block and kill any of your creatures, but it also allows you to deal an additional five points of combat damage for each attacking creature. You'll often be able to attack into a fair number of potential blockers, destroying many of them should they choose to block. Alternatively, if your opponent doesn't realize you have this spell, they might choose not to block, especially if you've made it seem that they can kill you on the attack back. In that case, you can simply deal five additional points of damage directly to the opponent per attacking creature.

This deck doesn't simply rely on the damage bonus that High Alert offers, though. It also has a constellation theme, which offers multiple routes to victory. You could simply cast Setessan Champion followed by some enchantment spells as a means of growing this Warrior large enough to destroy your opponent's life total. Alternatively, you could attempt to create an army of Pegasus creature tokens with Archon of Sun's Grace. You can then use those tokens to fly over your opponent's team, evasively attacking them for the victory. Finally, you could choose to enchant a creature with All That Glitters, creating a large creature that you can use to pummel your opponent with.

While this deck shares some similarities with the previous two decks, it feels better suited to play at a tournament at your FLGS (friendly local game store). The first two decks don't have as many routes to victory as this deck has, but I believe they still have potential. If you're a newer player, you could always start with one of the first two decklists and then progress to this deck as you become more skilled. Or if you're feeling adventurous, you could just dive right in with this deck. While it's a little more skill intensive to play, I don't think it's too difficult for anyone to pick up.

Wrapping Up

High Alert is one of my favorite cards to play because it allows you an advantage if you've built your deck with it in mind. As you can see, there are many different ways you can play a deck with High Alert in it, and all can be successful.

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!

- Mike Likes

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