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No Oko? No Problem!


Hello, everyone! Another week has gone by and Oko, Thief of Crowns is still a dominant force in Standard. We still have a couple more weeks until the next Banned and Restricted announcement on November 18, so Oko is safe for now. In the meantime, I'll keep searching for decks that don't feature Oko that look fun and competitive. I found a few this week that recently went 5-0 on Magic Online (MTGO), so let's get started.

Temur Reclamation

The first deck I have for you wants to win the game with a giant Explosion. Let's take a look at the deck:

Escape to the Wilds
The goal of this deck is to keep the battlefield clear enough that you can stabilize once you have enough lands in play to cast a gigantic Explosion for the win. To keep the battlefield clear of opposing creatures you have a few tools at your disposal. The Stomp side of Bonecrusher Giant can be used to pick off troublesome creatures. If those creatures happen to have a toughness greater than two, you can combine Stomp with Flame Sweep to get rid of a swath of smaller creatures and one larger one. You also have Aether Gust as an option that can remove Red or Green permanents, regardless of their size. This can also be a good way to force an opponent to put their copy of Oko, Thief of Crowns on the bottom of their library.

The key to casting a substantially large Explosion is Wilderness Reclamation. Having a copy of this Enchantment in play allows you to double the mana you can produce each turn. If you have multiple copies of it in play, you'll be able to cast a huge Explosion with ease. This deck also has ways to get multiple lands in play each turn as well. Growth Spiral is a great way to play an additional land as well as draw an additional card. Drawing extra cards helps you find your Expansion // Explosion faster. Escape to the Wilds is a bit on the expensive side, but it also allows you to play an additional card as well as expanding your hand size until the end of the next turn.

Expansion // Explosion might allow you to get the victory in your first game, but in Game 2, your opponent will know what to expect and can sideboard for it. You have some sideboard tech too that you can use to shake things up. Brazen Borrower can be used to disrupt your opponent's strategy and also acts as an evasive threat. You also have access to Niv-Mizzet, Parun, which combines nicely with all of the spells that allow you to draw additional cards. As you can see, both the sideboarded and non-sideboarded versions of this deck can allow you to win the match without ever attacking with one of your creatures.

Jund Aristocats

The next deck I have for you puts a legendary creature from one of the new Brawl decks to good use. Let's take a look at it:

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King gets a +1/+1 counter whenever you sacrifice a permanent. You also draw a card when this happens. In this deck, you'll be able to place a lot of +1/+1 counters on Korvold and draw a bunch of cards as well. However, Korvold isn't the only payoff for sacrificing permanents. Mayhem Devil deals one point of damage to any target whenever a permanent is sacrificed. This triggers when you sacrifice something as well as when your opponent sacrifices something. Against an opponent playing Fabled Passage, they might decide to hold off on finding a basic land until after they're able to deal with Mayhem Devil, so they don't have to take additional damage. If so, use that hesitation to your benefit and press your attack.

This deck utilizes the combination of Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven to set up a loop of sacrifices that can dish out quite a bit of damage if you have a copy or two of Mayhem Devil on the battlefield. If you're not familiar with the combo, you'll want to get a copy (or multiple copies, preferably) of both Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven on the battlefield. You can then sacrifice the Cauldron Familiar with the activated ability of Witch's Oven, creating a Food token in the process. Next, you can sacrifice the newly created Food token to return the Cauldron Familiar from your graveyard to the battlefield (draining your opponent of one life with its enter-the-battlefield (ETB) ability). Do this as often as you can to trigger Mayhem Devil and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King.

As I mentioned before, your opponent might not want to use their Fabled Passage if your battlefield is set up. This deck also happens to play a few copies of Fabled Passage, and you shouldn't hesitate to use them whenever it's beneficial for you. You also have a full playset of Gilded Goose in this deck. When you use Gilded Goose to create a mana of any color, you also need to sacrifice a Food token, which helps your agenda. Finally, you have Angrath's Rampage, which you can use to force your opponent to sacrifice an artifact, creature, or planeswalker they have in play, which will also trigger Mayhem Devil.

Orzhov Control

The final deck I have for you likes to control the game. Let's take a look at it:

Doom Foretold
This deck has a lot of tools in it that help to keep your opponent's side of the battlefield clear of threats. Oath of Kaya can take out any threat that has a toughness of three or less, and it gains you three life to boot. It also makes attacking any of your planeswalkers less appealing. The Swift End adventure of Murderous Rider can take care of any creature your opponent has in play, regardless of its toughness, and all for a meager two points of your life total. It can also destroy an opposing planeswalker, which can come in handy. You can use Cast Off, the adventure for Realm-Cloaked Giant, as a board wipe the majority of the time. Cavalier of Dawn is a late game play that destroys any nonland permanent your opponent has in play. This is a great way to destroy a troublesome enchantment, like Doom Foretold.

I have a love-hate relationship with Doom Foretold. When I have it in my decks, I love it, as it can use it as a way to clean up an opponent's battlefield with minimal cost to me. In a deck like this one, you'll likely have a spare copy of Golden Egg that you won't mind sacrificing. The decision can be much tougher for your opponent. Having played against this card a lot on Magic Arena, since I'm usually found playing an aggressive deck, it can be devastating to sacrifice a creature each turn knowing that the opportunity for me to win quickly is slipping further and further away.

I mentioned a few ways to deal with an opponent's threats earlier, but I didn't mention all of them. This deck includes Kaya's Wrath, another sweeper that can possibly net you a few points of life. Legion's End is a great card to play against decks using low-cost mana accelerators like Gilded Goose and Paradise Druid. Mortify is removal for any creature or any enchantment your opponent has in play. Finally, The Elderspell is a great way to take out any number of planeswalkers in play (both your opponent's as well as your own). Use it to set up Liliana, Dreadhorde General's ultimate -9 loyalty ability if possible, crippling your opponent in the process.

Wrapping Up

With only a couple of weeks until our next banned and restricted announcement, it is good to see that there are still decks that can go 5-0 on MTGO that don't rely on Oko, Thief of Crowns. If Oko does get banned, Standard has the opportunity to become a fertile ground for new creations. While I'm hopeful for a ban, I'm not going to be holding my breath for it. That's why you can count on me to keep searching for fun, creative Standard decks for you every week.

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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