Zendikar Rising Standard Set Review with Ali Aintrazi
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Standard Decks for the Eleventh Hour


Hello everyone. While the previews of Zendikar Rising keep coming, Standard tournaments and FNM's keep happening, so I'm back again this week with a few more decks you can use before rotation happens. Let's get started.

Azorius Auras

We get started this week with a Best-of-1 deck that wins with a giant evasive creature. Let's take a look at the deck.

Let's start by taking a look at the creatures in this deck. All of the creatures in this deck have lifelink, which can allow you to gain a huge advantage. When your life begins going up turn after turn, your opponent can begin to become demoralized, as their chances of victory get farther and farther away. Both Healer's Hawk and Hushbringer also have flying, which can make blocking them very difficult for some decks. Even if your opponent managers to get a blocker in place, you might be able to use the activated ability of Alseid of Life's Bounty to give that creature protection, making it so that your opponent can't block your creature.

While your creatures are pretty small, this deck has sixteen enchantments that you can use to boost your creatures up with. Staggering Insight gives a +1/+1 bonus (along with a redundant lifelink ability), but more importantly allows you to draw a card when the enchanted creature deals combat damage to a player. Keeping cards flowing allows you to continue stacking more and more enchantments on your creatures, giving you additional life and dealing more damage to your opponent. Both Sentinel's Eyes and Sentinel's Mark give the enchanted creature vigilance, which can be very helpful if you need to block your opponent's creatures since this deck doesn't have a lot of creatures in it. Finally, All That Glitters can give a huge boost to any creature it enchants, since you have numerous enchantments in play.

There is one enchantment in this deck that you won't want to play on your own creature. Mystic Subdual can be flashed in to be played onto an opponent's creature. While it gives the enchanted creature a -2/-0 debuff, the more important thing is that the enchanted creature loses all abilities. This can be especially useful against certain creatures. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to play Mystic Subdual, because if you play it as quickly as possible, you might allow your opponent the opportunity to get an even worse creature into play.

Mardu Knights

Our next deck has been a favorite archetype of mine for quite a while. Let's take a look at Mardu Knights.

This deck has the ability to grow out of control very quickly. Worthy Knight creates a 1/1 Human creature token whenever you cast a Knight spell. If you're able to get two or three copies of Worthy Knight into play, the amount of Humans you can create can be staggering. Having all of those creature tokens can allow you to attack into an opposing force of creatures that are much larger than yours are. Alternatively, you can hold the tokens back for chump blocking with.

Stormfist Crusader pulls double duty by dealing a small bit of damage to your opponent during your upkeep, as well as offering you additional cards. It also offers an additional card for your opponent, so there will be times that you might not want to play Stormfist Crusader, but in my experience it's better to get the threat into play than to hold onto it.

That little bit of incidental damage Stormfist Crusader deals each turn can get your opponent's life total low enough for the adventure side of Smitten Swordmaster to win the game for you. With Curry Favor, you'll gain an amount of life equal to the number of Knights you control. Your opponent will lose the same amount of life. This might allow you to defeat your opponent without attacking, and can allow you to win unexpectedly.

Izzet Flash

The final deck I have for you is an Izzet Flash deck that is much more controlling than the previous decks I've shown you. Let's take a look at it.

With this deck, it's okay to end your turn without having played any cards on your turn. However, there will be some exceptions. If you're playing Bonecrusher Giant as a creature, you'll need to play it on your turn. The same goes for Gadwick, the Wizened and Niv-Mizzet, Parun. All of these creatures are worth playing on your turn as they all have unique abilities. Bonecrusher Giant can be difficult for your opponent to destroy, especially if they only have targeted removal spells.

Niv-Mizzet, Parun often will allow you to win the game in a hurry. With Niv-Mizzet on the battlefield, whenever any player casts an instant or sorcery spell, you get to draw a card. Drawing a card triggers the ability on Niv-Mizzet that deals one point of damage to any target. You can use that damage to destroy your opponent's blockers, or deal the damage directly to the opponent instead.

Working hand-in-hand with Niv-Mizzet is Gadwick, the Wizened. If you summon Gadwick after you have Niv-Mizzet, Parun in play, you can deal a tremendous amount of damage since Gadwick draws you cards when he enters the battlefield. When you have this scenario set up, it will often be the correct play to cast a second copy of Gadwick, the Wizened, even when you already have a copy of Gadwick in play. The extra damage you can do will hasten your opponent's defeat.

Wrapping Up

While Zendikar Rising previews are ending this week, I'll have one more week of currently Standard legal decks for you before beginning to bring you decks with these new cards.

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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