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Moving Forward in Standard


Hello, everyone! Well, the unthinkable happened. Wizards of the Coast (WotC) banned Oko, Thief of Crowns. But they didn't stop there. Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer were also banned in Standard. For once, WotC issued a ban that seems to have taken into account what many people have been saying. They didn't start by banning a single card and seeing what effect it has on the format. Instead, they removed multiple cards in their attempt to bring Standard back to a place where people want to go. I'm confident that Standard will definitely be better thanks to these bans and more diverse decks can see play. Speaking of diverse decks, isn't that usually the focus of this article? This week I have for you a few decks that I think are poised to do very well in the post-ban environment. Let's get started.

Boros Hero

For anyone that has read my articles for a while, it should come as no surprise that the first deck I have for you happens to be in my favorite color combination. Let's take a look at the Boros Hero deck:

Hero of Precinct One
This deck is named after Hero of Precinct One, who creates a 1/1 Human creature token for each multicolored spell you cast. Since this deck features a ton of multicolored spells, if you're able to start the game with a Hero of Precinct One early on, you should be able to create quite a mob of Human tokens to battle for you. Those tokens are great chump blockers if needed, but it's better to hold them back to make one attack with a lot of attacking creatures. That will likely allow you to cast Embercleave for just two Red mana, and equip it to one of your unblocked creatures for a bit of damage. This can be especially devastating in the late game when you're able to cast Chance for Glory and win the game from out of nowhere.

This deck also features Feather, the Redeemed alongside a bunch of cheap Instant spells. Gods Willing gets especially annoying when you cast it turn after turn in order to make one of your creatures unable to be defeated in combat (thanks to protection). Defiant Strike allows for repeated card drawing, as well as providing a small combat bonus. Justice Strike can be used as a means of destroying an opponent's creature that you would otherwise have trouble dealing with. Integrity offers a sizeable boost during combat, and pairs nicely with Embercleave. Finally, if you have enough mana for it, casting Intervention is a great way to gain additional life, making it harder for your opponent to prevail.

One card I really love having alongside Embercleave is Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. Thanks to Aurelia's beginning of combat ability, if she is equipped with Embercleave and you have no other creatures on the battlefield, you can turn her into a 5/6 flyer that has double strike, trample, and vigilance. Her evasiveness will make her very difficult to deal with effectively, and if left unblocked, she can end the game in a couple of turns. Equipping Aurelia with Embercleave is going to be a goal of mine when I test this deck out on Magic Arena.

Dimir Amass

The next deck I have for you is a control deck that wants to amass a Zombie horde as its win-condition. Let's take a look at it:

Dreadhorde Invasion
It's been a while since a deck that features the amass mechanic has been able to compete in Standard, but now could be the time. The goal is to start the game by playing a copy of Dreadhorde Invasion as soon as possible. That will allow you to start growing your Zombie Army each turn. With cards like Enter the God-Eternals and Commence the Endgame, you can grow your Zombie Army token very quickly, allowing its power to become six or greater. Dreadhorde Invasion will then give that token lifelink whenever it attacks, allowing you to stay alive longer as you march toward the endgame. In order to protect your Zombie Army token, you'll want to get a copy of Gleaming Overseer into play, which will give your Zombie tokens hexproof and menace.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a control deck. You want the game to go on long enough that your opponent runs out of resources to use against you. For this to happen, you have a number of spells at your command to make sure your opponent doesn't have the means to thwart your plans. Duress, Toll of the Invasion, and Thought Erasure all target your opponent's hand, removing important pieces from it before your opponent can use them against you. In the event that your opponent does cast something that's too threatening to you, counter it with Drown in the Loch. Be careful, though, as you'll usually want to counter a noncreature spell with this, since there are lots of ways to deal with opposing creatures.

Ritual of Soot can destroy all creatures with a converted mana cost (CMC) of three or less. This, unfortunately, will also destroy your Zombie Army token, but it can be rebuilt if needed. Cry of the Carnarium will give all creatures -2/-2 until the end of the turn. This also includes your creatures, so you might want to play it after your Zombie Army is at least a 3/3. This deck also features targeted removal spells for larger creatures your opponent might play. Drown in the Loch can be used for this if you don't need it to counter some other spell. Enter the God-Eternals both can destroy an opponent's creature as well as grow your Army. Tyrant's Scorn can either destroy an opposing creature or return it to their hand, allowing you the chance to counter it with Drown in the Loch.

Simic Flash

The final deck I have for you this week is a deck that did well before the release of Throne of Eldraine, and is poised to be a contender again. Let's take a look at it:

Brineborn Cutthroat
If you like playing a "Draw, Go" game, this deck is the deck for you. Every card in this deck is specifically included in it to be played on your opponent's turn. All of the creatures have flash. All of the noncreature spells are Instants. There should never be a time when you're tapping for mana on your own turn.

One creature that you'll want to play as quickly as possible is Brineborn Cutthroat. Because of its ability to gain a +1/+1 counter whenever you cast a spell during an opponent's turn, as long as your opponent doesn't have a quick answer to this creature, you should be able to grow it large enough to be able to deal considerable damage with it.

Much like the Dimir Amass deck, this deck is a control deck. You have lots of tools that you can use to counter your opponent's key threats with. Sinister Sabotage and Frilled Mystic can be used to counter any spell your opponent casts, while other counterspells are more subjective. Disdainful Stroke can only counter a spell with a CMC of four or more. Negate can only counter a noncreature spell. Quench is situational and can only counter a spell if your opponent can't (or won't) pay an additional 2 mana. If you use all of these counterspells along with your creature suite to keep the battlefield free from threats, you should be able to outlast your opponent.

Wrapping Up

Now that the latest rounds of bannings have happened, hopefully Standard will be in a place where lots of creative decks can grow and thrive. Gone are the oppressors, and now we are left to rebuild Standard into the innovative place it should be. I'm looking forward to seeing the new decks that rise to the top in the upcoming weeks.

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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