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No Omnath? No Problem!


Hello everyone. Recently, Wizards of the Coast announced that they were going to begin publishing a curated list of decks from Magic Arena that won six or more matches in a row during Ranked play by players at Platinum or Mythic ranking. That has brought an influx of interesting decks that don't center on Omnath, Locus of Creation or Adventures. This week, I have a few of these decks to show to you that I find interesting. Let's get started.

Izzet Spells

We get started this week with a deck that features the newest version of Jace. Let's take a look at the deck.

Jace, Mirror Mage is the latest three-mana version of a Jace planeswalker card, and while it isn't blatantly over powerful, it has the potential to swing a lot of games in your favor. His starting loyalty of four is decent, but the thing I like best about him is that he doesn't have a powerful ultimate ability. That means, your opponent will likely not bother with keeping his loyalty in check. That works in your favor, since both of Jace's abilities can help you find the cards you need. His +1 loyalty ability allows you to scry the top two cards of your library, while his 0 loyalty ability offers you card drawing at the cost of loyalty counters. Since these abilities offer either card selection or card drawing, you can gain the upper hand in card advantage. This works especially well when you are able to cast Jace for his kicker cost, creating a mirror image, which allows you to activate each in a single turn.

Moving on from Jace, the remainder of cards in this deck comprise a more typical Izzet Spells decklist. With Sprite Dragon on the battlefield, each noncreature spell you cast makes this tiny Faerie Dragon a little bit bigger. Since many of the noncreature spells in this deck act as either counter magic or creature removal spells, you'll be able to grow Sprite Dragon into a powerful threat in no time. You'll also get additional help from Riddleform. When you cast this enchantment, you'll trigger Sprite Dragon and give it a +1/+1 counter. Then, you'll also turn Riddleform into a 3/3 Sphinx with flying the next time you cast a noncreature spell. This works on your turn and on your opponent's as well, so as long as Riddleform is untapped, you might be able to keep your opponent from attacking due to the threat of activating this card. Riddleform also has an activated ability that allows you to scry, which is often overlooked. Using this ability can help ensure that you have a noncreature spell in hand when you need one.

Mardu Human Knights

The next deck I have for you is one I'm excited to build for Magic Arena. Let's take a look at Mardu Human Knights.

The Knight tribe has been a go-to deck for me ever since Throne of Eldraine was released. It features a lot of synergy and can attack with both speed and ferocity. Fervent Champion starts the party. With both haste and first strike, it can often get through unimpeded for a few rounds of attacks. Plus, its ability to be equipped for a cheaper activation cost makes Fervent Champion the perfect creature to carry Embercleave on subsequent turns after Embercleave enters the battlefield.

There are a lot of impressive 2-drops in this deck. Stormfist Crusader is a creature that brings many things to the table. It provides a means of card drawing, direct damage to your opponent, and a difficult-to-block threat. Blacklance Paragon can be flashed in to provide deathtouch and lifelink to either itself or another Knight you control, creating a surprise blocker for those situations when your opponent attacks with a massive creature. Finally, Worthy Knight can make a mob of Human tokens if it's allowed to remain on the battlefield throughout the game.

Those Human tokens, as well as all of your other creatures, will gain a +1/+1 bonus when you have General Kudro of Drannith in play. You'll also be able to exile a target card from an opponent's graveyard whenever a Human enters the battlefield under your control. This can be a great way to prevent your opponent from playing those creatures that were previously cast as Adventure spells. Since General Kudro of Drannith is a legendary creature, your Human tokens will only be able to benefit from the buff he provides, while your Knights will also receive a buff from each copy of Inspiring Veteran you have on the battlefield. So, if you're extremely lucky, the majority of your Knights can get up to a +5/+5 bonus (each copy of Inspiring Veteran will only get a +4/+4 bonus). Combine this bonus with a well-timed Embercleave, and you can win games very quickly.

Mono-Blue Mill

The final deck I have for you this week is another one I personally want to build. It features an alternate way of winning matches. Let's take a look at it.

To start things off, you'll hope to play a copy of Ruin Crab. This will allow you to mill your opponent of three cards whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control. If you can't play a Ruin Crab, your next best turn one play is Overwhelmed Apprentice. This card mills your opponent of two cards when it enters play, and you scry two. If your starting hand doesn't have either of these cards in it, I would consider taking a mulligan, as you really want to get your opponent to have seven or eight cards in their graveyard relatively quickly.

Teferi's Tutelage is the card that really allows you to start milling. With one copy of it in play, you'll mill your opponent of two cards the turn it enters play. You'll continue milling your opponent's deck of two cards every time you draw a card. Getting multiple copies of this enchantment into play isn't hard to accomplish, and each additional copy mills for another two cards. This can really add up over the course of a few turns, just from the one card you draw at the start of each turn. When you add in the additional cards draw with Opt, Frantic Inventory, and Into the Story, and you'll have your opponent sweating in no time. When you have a ticking clock right in your face like this, it's easy for your opponent to try to rush their threats and make mistakes.

You can really draw a large amount of cards when you play Gadwick, the Wizened. That keeps the mill machine going, as well as refilling your hand. With those additional cards, you'll be able to find counterspells like Anticognition and Jwari Disruption, which you can use to slow down your opponent's momentum. You can also use the adventure side of Brazen Borrower or Unsubstantiate to further disrupt your opponent's plans by returning a powerful attacker of theirs to their hand. With luck, you might be able to counter it the next time they play it. Or, you might want to use Unsubstantiate on your own Overwhelmed Apprentice or Gadwick, the Wizened. This can allow you an additional use of their abilities, which equates to additional milling opportunities.

Wrapping Up

As I was putting the finishing touches on this article, the news broke that Omnath, Locus of Creation, Lucky Clover, and Escape to the Wilds are all banned in Standard (as well as additional banning news for other formats). While I consider this to be great news, as it will allow some creativity to return to Standard, I also consider this to be a bit sad. I'm hopeful that Magic's R&D team can return to the philosophy that creating a balanced Standard format is better for the players as opposed to creating ultra-powerful cards that ultimately break the format and need to be banned.

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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