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Standard Shards

Hello everyone. This week we'll be taking a look at some decks that have recently gone 5-0 in a Constructed League on Magic Online (MTGO) that are all in different shards. For those of you who are not aware, a shard is a grouping of three colors of mana that consists of one color alongside its two ally colors on the Magic color wheel. I have one deck from each of the five shards to show you, so let's get started.

Bant

We'll begin by taking a look at from the Bant shard, which is comprised of Green, White, and Blue mana. Let's take a look at the Bant Approach.


So, the basic plan for this deck is to control the battlefield using your counter spells and exiling enchantments while ramping your mana up with ramp spells. Utilize card drawing in order to find an Approach of the Second Sun and try to win with it ASAP. Let's look at some specific cards and how they help this plan.

Thaumatic Compass is a wonderful tool to have in play. It can help you find your five basic lands quickly, which is important so that you are not drawing them needlessly. Speaking of your lands, there are a number of lands in the deck that you can cycle in order to draw another card. While these lands can be helpful in getting you the required colors of mana you need, you're better off holding them for as long as possible so that you can cycle them after you've played Approach of the Second Sun so you can draw to it as quickly as possible.

Ipnu Rivulet is another card that can help a lot in getting down to your Approach once it's been cast. It's also a desert and can be searched for when you play Hour of Promise. It's probably your best target to get as one of the two lands you get to put onto the battlefield, and you'll likely also want to get another desert to ensure you have the three needed, either on your battlefield or in your graveyard, to create the two zombie tokens. They can be valuable blockers for you when you're attempting to cast Approach for the second time.

Esper

The next shard we'll take a look at is Esper, which combines White, Blue, and Black mana. The deck I have for you is Esper Midrange.


While I've labeled this deck as a midrange deck, I could certainly see this playing out more like a control deck. It has numerous ways for you to deal with an opponent’s threats, both before they enter the battlefield (Gonti, Lord of Luxury) or after (Hostage Taker and Profane Procession).

And once you have a few creatures in the graveyard, The Scarab God can join the party and help you seize victory. I really like the interaction that The Scarab God has with your Walking Ballista. In the early game, you can cast the Ballista and use it as an attacker or blocker, making sure to ping your opponent or their creatures with its +1/+1 counters when it dies. The when The Scarab God brings it back from the graveyard, it becomes a 4/4 zombie, but it also has the ability to add +1/+1 counters to itself. Don't forget to use up all of your available mana doing this at the end of each of your opponent’s turns.

Another fun thing you can do is gain life with the Temple of Aclazotz by sacrificing your opponent's creatures that you've gained control of either by Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Hostage Taker, or Profane Procession (assuming you've transformed it into Tomb of the Dusk Rose). Then use The Scarab God to bring them back and sacrifice them again if you need to.

Grixis

Moving around the color wheel we get to Grixis, which is made of Blue, Black, and Red mana. Let's take a look at Grixis Energy.


When Temur Energy left, Grixis Energy stepped in to fill its place. This deck plays all of the Standard Energy cards: Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Whirler Virtuoso, Harnessed Lightning, and Confiscation Coup. These cards, along with Aether Hub, provide this deck with all of the Energy it needs to be able to control the game.

Alongside this Energy shell you have a swath of important removal spells in the likes of Vraska's Contempt, Abrade, Magma Spray, and Commit // Memory. These removal spells allow you control the battlefield and provide fodder for you to bring back with The Scarab God.

This version also plays a couple of copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. This powerful planeswalker provides an additional means of creature removal in her -3 loyalty ability. She also provides a way to gain card advantage or the last few points of damage needed to finish off your opponent with her first +1 loyalty ability. And while it's not likely to happen, if you manage to ultimate her, the -7 loyalty ability can quickly bring the game to an end.

Jund

As we near the final stop on our color wheel train, we reach Jund which is made up of Black, Red, and Green mana. Let's take a look at Jund Control.


Jund decks have traditionally been comprised of the best creatures and spells in the Jund colors, and this deck epitomizes that. Just take a look at the creatures and you will see that they are definitely the cream of the crop. Carnage Tyrant is a total beast on the ground that puts its Trample to good use. Glorybringer can be exerted to act as additional removal in addition to being an evasive threat. Rekindling Phoenix requires your opponent to exile it or use multiple removal spells in order to keep it from returning from the dead.

There's not a lot more to say about this deck. It's not subtle; it requires little finesse to play; and looks like an absolute blast. If you enjoy bringing a Sherman Tank to a knife fight, this is the deck for you.

Naya

Our final shard is Naya, which is made of Red, Green, and White mana. The deck I have for you is Naya Dinosaur Ramp. Let's take a look at it.


This deck has one thing on its mind and that is playing big threats as soon as possible. Note that you only have 5 cards that directly interact with your opponent, 2 copies of Settle the Wreckage and 3 copies of Fumigate. So you need to make sure the cards in your starting hand give you something to do other than just ramp your mana, otherwise you might find yourself too far behind once things get rolling.

Once you're able to cast it, Zacama, Primal Calamity should be able to act as a catch-up feature for you, providing you with ways to regain life or destroy your opponent's creatures. Or it might enable you to dome your opponent for the final damage needed for you to win. However, reaching 9 mana is a lot, so even if you only manage to put Zacama onto the battlefield via the damage trigger from Gishath, Sun's Avatar, you should still be able to reap Zacama's benefits on the following turn.

One thing I really love about the sideboard is the 2 copies of Approach of the Second Sun. By sideboarding them in, your opponent probably won't see them coming and since you're already a ramp deck you might be able to quickly get a victory out of the Blue.

Wrapping Up

So we've reached the end of another week's article. Which shard deck was your favorite? Let me know by leaving a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And be sure to join me here again next week when we'll take a look at more innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!


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