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Give the Gift of Standard


Welcome back everyone. When Amonkhet was released, Gate to the Afterlife had a lot of people wondering what God-Pharaoh's Gift was and just how good it would be. Once Hour of Devastation released, we found out. Since then, God-Pharaoh's Gift decks have been a force to be reckoned with. This week I have for you five different God-Pharaoh's Gift decks that have all gone 5-0 recently in a Magic Online League.

W/U Gift

We'll begin by looking at the build that's in the colors where God-Pharaoh's Gift first saw tournament play, uw.

This deck usually attempts to dump a God-Pharaoh's Gift into their graveyard so it can be brought back to the battlefield via Refurbish. You can also use cards like Chart a Course or Strategic Planning to discard creatures that you can bring back with God-Pharaoh's Gift right away once you have it online.

One especially good creature to return to the battlefield with God-Pharaoh's Gift is Angel of Invention. Having a 4/4 with flying, vigilance, and lifelink that also boosts all of your other creatures and brings two Servos along with it seems like a good deal. Or you could opt to not choose the Servos and put two +1/+1 counters on this angel instead, making it an even larger beater and defender to boot. And if you happen to have Lyra Dawnbringer on the battlefield, this will get an additional +1/+1 (even though the additional granting of lifelink is irrelevant).

U/R Celebrant Gift

The next version of a God-Pharaoh's Gift deck to do well was ur in colors and featured Combat Celebrant, a card that hadn't seen any tournament play previously. Let's take a look at a recent version of this deck.

This ur version plays a different game than the uw version did. This deck usually wants to play Gate to the Afterlife as its way of getting God-Pharaoh's Gift into play. While it still has a single copy of Cathartic Reunion that can be used to put some creatures into your graveyard, the majority of your creatures will go there through natural game-play. Chump blocking or trading are a couple of ways for this to happen, but you also have other ways like Skirk Prospector that can allow for some explosive turns if you happen to have a few Goblins in play.

This deck also uses Combat Celebrant as a way to gain multiple combat phases in a given turn and hit your opponent with a massive alpha strike. And remember, with each combat you have in a turn, you can use the power of God-Pharaoh's Gift to bring back an additional creature from your graveyard. This can quickly snowball out of control for your opponent.

Mono-Red Celebrant Gift

The next step along the evolutionary path for the God-Pharaoh's Gift decks was to become Mono-Red. Let's take a look at an example of this style of deck.

This deck is a hybrid of the ur Celebrant Gift deck and a typical Hazo-Red (Mono-Red Aggro) deck. It loses the Blue cards, while adding additional Red threats, such as Hazoret the Fervent. This deck also plays another card that saw no love for much of its life in Standard, Rowdy Crew. Because of the prominence of so many creatures in this deck, it can be fairly trivial for Rowdy Crew to enter the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it. And those creatures that were discarded become targets for God-Pharaoh's Gift to return later on.

U/G Gift

The next couple of God-Pharaoh's Gift decks I have for you have just started seeing positive results. The first one we'll look at is the ug version.

The ug version attempts to utilize creatures that provide +1/+1 counters in its attempt to 'go bigger' than other God-Pharaoh's Gift decks. Many of the low converted mana cost (CMC) creatures help smooth out your mana production, either by directly producing mana like Llanowar Elves, or by helping to ensure you hit your land drops by exploring like Merfolk Branchwalker or Jadelight Ranger. Also remember when you explore, you have the option to put a non-land card back on top of your library or into your graveyard. Much of the time, choosing to put a creature into your graveyard will be the correct choice, so that it can be returned with God-Pharaoh's Gift later on.

Everything about this deck screams value to me. Your creatures have ways to become larger than your opponents' on their own; you have ways to help find your God-Pharaoh's Gift engine (Trophy Mage can tutor up Gate to the Afterlife to your hand which puts you on the path for the Gift); and you have a couple of ways to interact with your opponent (Thrashing Brontodon and Warkite Marauder). I believe the addition of Hinterland Harbor from Dominaria is the piece that was missing for this deck to be able to break out.

Temur Celebrant Gift

The final deck I have for you today is Temur Celebrant Gift. Let's take a look at it.

The Temur version takes Combat Celebrant and mixes it with a large part of the ug deck to become a deck that gets bigger and hits harder than the others. It combines the +1/+1 strategy of the ug version with the extra combat phases that Combat Celebrant provides. Does this mean that the ug version is inferior to this build? It's hard to say, but as long as the mana base in this deck can manage the single Red mana needed to cast Combat Celebrant, then it very well could be. However, remember that no mana is needed to return a copy of a creature to the battlefield with God-Pharaoh's Gift, so if this deck can manage to explore the Combat Celebrants to the graveyard consistently, it could become the new dominant version. Only time (and more testing) will tell.

Wrapping Up

I think it's clear to see that God-Pharaoh's Gift is still a powerful threat in Standard. In my opinion, these are just a handful of decks that can be built around this powerful card. I think there could possibly be a bg version of the deck just waiting to be discovered that takes advantage of Saproling creation. What do you think? Are there other builds just waiting to be discovered? And which version is your favorite? You can let me know by leaving a comment below or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at 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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