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Core Set 2021 Brewing Begins

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Hello everyone. With the Core Set 2021 prerelease taking place last weekend, people got their first real taste of these new cards. The brewing has begun, and this week I have a few new decks for you to try out that have already been doing well on Magic Arena. Let's get started.

Boros Winota Houndmaster

The first deck I have for you features Winota, Joiner of Forces leading a pack of Dogs. Let's take a look at it.


Alpine Houndmaster
Alpine Houndmaster fetches you a copy of Alpine Watchdog and Igneous Cur when the Human Warrior enters the battlefield. That ability allows you to fill your side of the battlefield up so that you can cast Embercleave more quickly. You only need one more creature in addition to the houndmaster and his doggy pals to be able to cast Embercleave for just two Red mana. If you're lucky, you'll have a copy of Haktos the Unscarred in play that you can equip Embercleave to, allowing you to deal 14 points of damage with just one attack. Since Embercleave provides trample, even if Haktos gets blocked, you might force through enough damage for the victory.

Haktos the Unscarred also sports protection from cards with a converted mana cost (CMC) of 2, 3, or 4, which is chosen at random. That protection can allow you to swing in for a ton of damage. Lavabrink Venturer also has protection from your choice of either even or odd CMC cards. If you're hoping to equip Embercleave to Lavabrink Venturer, you'll want to choose odd, since you Embercleave has an even CMC.

In addition to the protection that this deck offers, there are a couple of other creatures that offer protection of a different sort. With Seasoned Hallowblade, you can discard a card to make it indestructible until the end of turn. This is great for those times when you absolutely need to block a large creature, but you don't want your team to be diminished. Selfless Savior, in addition to having one of the most tear-jerking flavor texts on any card in the game, also offers indestructibility for another creature at the cost of sacrificing itself. Remember that both of these cards can be activated on the turn they come into play. Tapping Seasoned Hallowblade is not part of the cost of giving it indestructibility, it's part of the effect.

Izzet Spells

The next deck I have for you is a midrange deck that packs a punch when attacking. Let's take a look at the deck.


Stormwing Entity
This deck features a lot of creatures that have the potential to grow quite large during combat. Both Heartfire Immolator and Stormwing Entity have prowess, giving them a temporary bonus of +1/+1 until the end of the turn for each noncreature spell you cast during that turn. That bonus can allow you to destroy an opponent's large blocker or annoying planeswalker by using Heartfire Immolator's activated ability. Sometimes the act of self-sacrifice can help the team out more than simply being an attacking creature.

Casting noncreature spells doesn't just provide a benefit to your creatures with prowess, though. Sprite Dragon gets a +1/+1 counter for each noncreature spell you cast, regardless of whether that spell resolves or not. That ability can allow you to quickly grow too large for targeted damage spells to destroy Sprite Dragon. You can even cast an instant or two in response to your opponent targeting Sprite Dragon with a damaging spell such as Shock, allowing you to grow in size and remain alive even after taking the two damage.

One often underused creature that this deck includes is Pteramander. While it starts off as a tiny 1/1, simply by playing the same instants and sorceries that you'll play as a means of triggering prowess on your other creatures, you'll reach a point where you can pay Pteramander's adapt cost, making it a 5/5. The fact that you can adapt after declaring Pteramander as a blocker makes it a very difficult creature for your opponent to play around once you can pay the adapt cost. Use this to your advantage when you can, and leave your opponent unsure of whether they'll be able to attack of not.

Selesnya Counters

The final deck I have for you loves the power of +1/+1 counters. Let's take a look at the deck.


Conclave Mentor
If you enjoy putting +1/+1 counters onto your creatures, you might want to check this deck out. It features complete playsets of Chamber Sentry, Stonecoil Serpent, and Ugin's Conjurant. All of these creatures can be cast for any amount of mana, and all of them will gain some amount of +1/+1 counters. You can also cast these creatures after you have a copy or two of Pelt Collector on the battlefield, providing you with even more +1/+1 counters (specifically the ones that Pelt Collector can gain). If you'd like, you can continue the fun by casting Venerated Loxodon, which allows you to give a +1/+1 counter to up to five creatures, provided that you tap those creatures to pay a portion of the mana cost of Venerated Loxodon, thanks to its convoke ability.

You can also add additional +1/+1 counters in other ways. Basri's Solidarity puts a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control. Unbreakable Formation does the same, as long as it is cast during your main phase (preferably your precombat main phase). Once you have all of these counters on your creatures, you can cast Huatli's Raptor. When it enters the battlefield, you'll be able to proliferate, adding an additional +1/+1 counter to any creature that already has one.

If everything I've discussed in the previous two paragraphs sounds fun to you, imagine how fun it will be if you have a copy of Conclave Mentor on the battlefield. Conclave Mentor adds an additional +1/+1 counter whenever you place an amount of +1/+1 counters on a creature you control. That bonus +1/+1 counter from Conclave Mentor also increases for each additional copy of Conclave Mentor you have in play. Therefore, if you have two copies of Conclave Mentor in play, and you cast Stonecoil Serpent, for example, for one mana, you'll end up with three +1/+1 counters on it instead of the usual one. Things can really get out of hand when you cast Basri's Solidarity or Unbreakable Formation while there's a Conclave Mentor under your control.

Wrapping Up

All of the decks I've shared this week were actual decks that have been performing well for people. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for new and exciting decks now that Core Set 2021 has been released. Be sure to let me know if you know of any other decks that you would like to see featured here in an upcoming article.

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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