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Going Out on Top

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Hello, everyone! There's only a few weeks left of our current Standard format. Last week, we took a look at a few decks that survive rotation intact. This week, we come back to decks that will be good for the next couple of weeks and then will rotate out of existence. Let's get started with the first deck.

Artificers

The first deck I have for you takes a relatively obscure creature type and shows everyone just how powerful it can be. Let's take a look at the deck:


Sai, Master Thopterist
Artificers abound in this deck, making and being buffed by artifact creatures left and right. Sai, Master Thopterist has always been a pet card of mine since it was released back in Core Set 2019. He makes a 1/1 Thopter token every time you cast an artifact spell, regardless of whether it successfully resolves or not. That can amount to quite a large number of evasive attackers in just a short period of time. Combine that with the activated ability of Steel Overseer that puts a +1/+1 counter on each artifact creature you control and you'll be able to deal lethal damage quickly if your Thopters go unanswered. Tezzeret, Artifice Master gets in on the action too by creating Thopters of his own that add to your threat level.

In addition to Thopters, this deck also has the ability to make a fair number of 3/3 Golem tokens as well. Masterful Replication allows you to create two Golem tokens at once, even though it's a little expensive to cast. Master Splicer also brings along a 3/3 Golem when it enters the battlefield. It also gives your Golems a +1/+1 bonus, turning them in to difficult-to-kill threats. You can also use Quasiduplicate to create even more Golems, which puts even more pressure on your opponent.

There are two copies of Icon of Ancestry included in this deck. When you play your first copy, you'll want to choose Artificer as your creature type of choice. That will enable you to be able to find additional Artificers from your deck by using the activated ability of Icon of Ancestry, which keeps your game plan moving. It also boosts your Artificers by +1/+1, making them more difficult to kill and allowing the fragile Master Splicer the ability to stay alive in the event someone sneezes on him. If you happen to play the second copy of Icon of Ancestry, you might have to make a choice between naming Thopter or Golem, and this will be based entirely on the amount of each type of creature you have on the battlefield. Alternatively, you can always choose Artificer again, which will never be a bad choice.

Rakdos Aristocrats

The next deck I have for you hits you both on the battlefield and from the graveyard. Let's take a look at the deck:


Judith, the Scourge Diva
Judith, the Scourge Diva not only boosts your other creatures by giving them a +1/+0 bonus, but she also deals one point of damage to any target whenever a nontoken creature you control dies. Therefore, she makes it easier for your creatures to kill an opposing blocker, while also dying themselves and allowing Judith to deal a point of damage. Dreadhorde Butcher is another creature you have that you really won't mind dying. While it has the potential to grow in size throughout the game, don't be afraid to attack into threats that are twice as big as the Butcher is. Your opponent will either take the damage and your Dreadhorde Butcher will get a +1/+1 counter, or they'll be forced to block, taking the damage from the Butcher as regular combat damage and then potentially taking that same amount of damage again when it dies, losing their big blocker in the process. Alternatively, you can choose to deal that "death" damage directly to your opponent and hasten their doom.

Mayhem Devil keeps the damage flowing by dealing a point of damage to any target whenever any player sacrifices a permanent they control. While this deck doesn't have a ton of ways to sacrifice its own creatures, there are a couple of nice ones. The first is Priest of the Forgotten Gods. By sacrificing two other creatures, you're able to cause your opponent to lose two points of life and sacrifice one of their creatures. When you have a single copy of Mayhem Devil on the battlefield, that adds up to five points of life your opponent can potentially lose with a single activation of Priest of the Forgotten Gods. That damage can add up quickly.

The other easy way to sacrifice your own creatures comes from the second 0 loyalty ability of Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. With this, Chandra creates two 1/1 Elemental creature tokens. You can use them to attack your opponent if they're short on blockers, or if you have a copy of Mayhem Devil in play, you can simply choose for them to stand by idly, waiting for the next end step so they can be sacrificed. You'll want to be careful when using this loyalty ability of Chandra's when you have the recently unbanned Rampaging Ferocidon on the battlefield, though, as it is indiscriminating when dealing out damage as new creatures come into play.

Jeskai Superfriends

The final deck I have for you this week has the potential to continue being a threat after rotation happens. Let's take a look at it:


Sarkhan the Masterless
As I mentioned earlier, this deck nearly survives rotation unscathed. It will lose two copies of Clifftop Retreat and one Sulfur Falls, but the mana base survives otherwise intact. All of the other cards in the deck remain in Standard after rotation happens, making this deck a strong choice to play.

This deck plays one of my favorite Planeswalkers in Standard today, Sarkhan the Masterless. With Sarkhan's +1 loyalty ability, you'll turn all of the Planeswalkers you have in play into 4/4 Dragons with flying. This makes it worthwhile for you to keep your Planeswalkers on the battlefield for as long as possible. Simply attacking with these 4/4 Dragons can usually be enough to win the game, but you can get additional value if you cast Deafening Clarion after turning all of your Planeswalkers into Dragons. You'll end up dealing three points of damage to each of your Dragons, leaving them with one point of toughness remaining, but you'll be able to gain a huge amount of life thanks to the lifelink Deafening Clarion provides.

If you're like me and usually enjoy playing aggressive decks, you might want to consider playing this deck as a way to dip your toe into the cool waters of control decks. While it's not a full-out control deck that attempts to keep your opponent from playing any threats, it has the tools to do so. Use your Shocks to keep an opponent's small creatures off the battlefield. Eliminate their larger threats with Lava Coil, or send them to the Prison Realm. You even have a copy of Dovin's Veto to counter their most important noncreature spell. The key is that there's not a lot of these spells in the deck, so you'll have to rely on your Planeswalkers and their abilities to maintain some semblance of control. Then turn the corner and become full-on aggro by attacking with your Dragons/Planeswalkers for lethal damage.

Wrapping Up

Our current Standard environment still offers a lot of choices when considering what deck you should play. Even though I'm very excited for the Throne of Eldraine cards that are currently being previewed, I'm a little sad to see the lifespan of so many cool decks cut short by rotation. Such is the circle of life in Magic decks.

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