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Going Rogue in Standard


Hello, everyone! The latest round of bans has helped to open up Standard once again, and many decks that were previously unable to compete can once again have a chance at winning. This week I have a few fun and competitive decks for you that I came across while browsing aetherhub.com. Let's get started.

Mardu Angels

The Angel tribe has always had a dedicated following, and for good reason. Building up a host of flying creatures that your opponent will likely have trouble blocking can create some combat steps where your damage output is incredible. Let's take a look at the deck:

Bishop of Wings
I'd like to begin by discussing a couple of very important non-Angel creatures in this deck. Hero of Precinct One has the potential to create a ton of 1/1 Human creature tokens, thanks to the density of multicolored spells in this deck. If you have a copy of Divine Visitation on the battlefield, those 1/1 Humans suddenly become 4/4 Angels with flying and vigilance. Since you'll likely have quite a few Angels on the battlefield that will be good targets for your opponent's removal, Bishop of Wings can turn those destroyed Angels into 1/1 Spirit tokens. Again, with Divine Visitation on the battlefield, those newly created Spirits will become Angels instead, so it becomes very difficult for your opponent to reduce your forces.

One of the key Angels that you'll want to play is Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. Not only does she help pump the stats of one of your creatures, but also her mentor ability can turn your tiny 1/1 creature tokens into decently sized threats. As we've seen in some of the Boros decks, Feather, the Redeemed can win games on her own. While this deck isn't as densely packed with cheap instants to cast to capitalize on her ability to return those spells to your hand, she is still a solid threat.

With Kaalia, Zenith Seeker, you'll be able to find an Angel immediately. When she enters the battlefield, you can find the best Angel from the top six cards of your library and put it into your hand. There are enough Angels in this deck that you should usually be able to find one and won't whiff very often. Finally, Seraph of the Scales has the potential to slow down games since she has the ability to gain deathtouch. You can often stop an opponent from attacking thanks to this ability. One other key point is that she has Afterlife 2, so when she dies you'll create two 1/1 Spirit tokens (or two 4/4 Angel tokens with Divine Visitation on the battlefield).

Orzhov "Drain and Pain"

The next deck I have for you features the popular Cauldron Familiar / Witch's Oven combination (known as Cat/Oven) in it along with other cards to take advantage of creatures entering the battlefield or dying. Let's take a look at it:

Ayara, First of Locthwain
The Cat / Oven combo isn't new, but it has shown itself to be very powerful. By using it, you're able to deal your opponent one point of damage when the Cauldron Familiar enters the battlefield (Pain) while also gaining one point of life for yourself (Drain). With this deck, it's best to do that as often as possible so you can take advantage of the triggers your other creatures will offer.

Ayara, First of Locthwain doubles the pain and drain ability that happens when Cauldron Familiar enters the battlefield. With her on the battlefield, every time you return Cauldron Familiar to the battlefield, your opponent will lose two points of life and you'll gain two points of life. Cruel Celebrant has a similar ability that triggers when a creature you control dies and continues the pain and drain theme. Corpse Knight deals the pain to the opponent, but without the drain. This can still be an effective way of reducing your opponent's life total to zero without even attacking.

As I mentioned earlier, Cruel Celebrant triggers when a creature you control dies. This works especially well with a copy of Teysa Karlov on the battlefield. Teysa causes abilities that happen when a creature dies to trigger a second time, so having a creature die while you have Teysa Karlov and at least one copy of Cruel Celebrant on the battlefield can quickly add up to a lot of life lost by your opponent and an equal amount of life gained by you.

Non-Human Knights

The final deck I have for you features one of my favorite tribes, Knights. Let's take a look at the deck:

Grumgully, the Generous
The impetus for this deck is Grumgully, the Generous. When you have a copy of Grumgully on the battlefield, each other non-Human creature you cast will enter the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it. Since all of the other creatures in this deck are non-Humans, you'll want to get Grumgully on the battlefield as quickly as possible. It's okay to cast a couple of creatures before you have enough mana to cast Grumgully, but if given the chance to cast Grumgully or any other creature in this deck, I'd be casting Grumgully.

A big theme of this deck is that the majority of your creatures are Knights. Weaselback Redcap is a 1 CMC (converted mana cost) creature you can play early. On following turns, you can cast Rimrock Knight, Raging Redcap, and Ogre Errant. All of these creatures are Knights, and each of them can carry a Rosethorn Halberd as soon as it enters the battlefield. While the cost to equip this artifact is quite high, you can immediately attach it to any non-Human creature you have in play. The +2/+1 bonus it offers is phenomenal, considering it only costs 1 mana to play.

The final thing I want to point out with this deck is that all of your creatures are Red. That allows each of them to deal extra damage when you have a copy of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell in play. The extra two points of damage he provides for each Red source that's dealing damage quickly adds up and can end games quickly.

Wrapping Up

Now that Standard has become a much more balanced place, many more decks are viable. The ones I've shown you today are just the tip of the iceberg. I'll have more cool and innovative decks for you again next 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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