A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about reprints from Return to Ravnica block that could be reasonable for reprint. In this case I suggested Augur of Bolas would be awesome and lo and behold I look like a genius when the card does indeed show up in War of the Spark.
Augur is a fantastic card as it relates to Standard. The major concerns of some of these decks is how easily they get run over by the prominent White Red aggro decks. Not only is it a nice road block against some of the more aggressive decks, it generally provides card selection and advantage. There’s the famous joke that Augur looks at the bottom three cards of your library, but there are quite a few ways to mitigate that. Mostly it involves building your deck in a certain way, making sure that if you brick it’s not going to be devastating. Part of the reason Augur was so good previously was even if you missed you have some fantastic ways to catch up: Sphinx's Revelation and Restoration Angel. While there isn’t anything quite like that in this format it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything high impact to find. Worst case scenario we can use Teferi's Time Twist to blink it out a bunch.
Imagine a scenario playing Izzet Drakes. While the deck is powerful, you need a good mix of the right spells in certain situations. Drawing Spell Pierce and Dive Down against Mono-White or Blue can look downright embarrassing, and on the other side of the coin drawing Beacon Bolt and Shock against Nexus is not ideal. Standard is in a great place where you’ll generally be able to figure out the kind of deck your opponent is playing in the first turn or two. In the mid to late game you’re more likely to find cards you need to make sure the late game can be favorable. It’s likely with Augur in the deck you’ll need to change the spells available for selection. The original tempo decks had Sphinx's Revelation to find and while we don’t have quite the same level of spell, Chemister's Insight or Expansion // Explosion can do a good job of picking up the slack.
This time around Augur won't have the same impact, but I think it stacks up quite well in the format. I’m sure I’ll miss Restoration Angel to blink Augur and gain max value but I’ll get over it.
Let’s take a look at how Izzet Drakes might look with Augur.
Izzet Drakes | War Standard | Rudy Briskza
- Instants (16)
- 1 Expansion // Explosion
- 2 Chemister's Insight
- 2 Spell Pierce
- 3 Dive Down
- 4 Opt
- 4 Shock
This is a rough list, but I think it strikes a good balance between what you need to defeat aggro decks and have game against the control and combo decks. Post board we have options to help carve through any difficult matchup. I expect this to play out a little smoother than the normal Drakes games of past thanks to Augur’s ability to find cantrips, which also helps fuel land drops.
Augur even has the capability to spawn new decks in the format. It helped create control decks during its original tenure in Standard as well and will again this time around. For Esper Control it’s a fantastic way to create a road block and ensure you’re hitting removal. Getting the bonus life off Kaya's Wrath is a big plus. There are a ton of new tools for Esper in the new set, but I’m not going to delve into them quite yet and instead just lay out a base of what the new shell could look like.
Esper Control | War Standard | Rudy Briksza
- Creatures (4)
- 4 Augur of Bolas
- Instants (16)
- 1 Liliana's Triumph
- 2 Cast Down
- 3 Chemister's Insight
- 3 Mortify
- 3 Vraska's Contempt
- 4 Absorb
- Enchantments (2)
- 2 Search for Azcanta
Esper has been one of the premier decks in the format, but it has often had to rely on Teferi alone in order to end the game. While Augur is slow, it provides a clean way to win after a Teferi Emblem. The best part about Augur is helping find pieces you need to stay in the game. The issue with Esper and some of the other decks I’ll be covering is trying to build in such a way to cover all bases as to not concede any particular game. As I mentioned previously, Augur is going to be great at shuffling through the deck and finding the right cards for any situation and I’m excited for these decks to get a boost in power level.
Even moving past these two decks we have more options for Blue decks itching for something new. Until this point, the best source of virtual card advantage was the Explore creatures. Now we’re open to new decks like a Grixis Midrange. These Nicol Bolas strategies now have a roadblock to help save on mana and protect themselves from getting stuck with the wrong half of their deck. I can’t wait to find a Thought Erasure off Augur of Bolas. That’s going to feel fantastic.
Recently, the Simic Nexus deck has become the premier combo variant for those wanting to abuse Wilderness Reclamation. While I’m unsure Augur is the answer to solve the deck’s woes, it still works wonders for the deck’s ability to pull its plan together. Not being able to grab Reclamation off Augur raises some questions about how good the merfolk will end up actually being in the deck, though.
Simic Nexus | War Standard | Rudy Briksza
- Instants (23)
- 1 Blink of an Eye
- 3 Root Snare
- 3 Sinister Sabotage
- 4 Chemister's Insight
- 4 Growth Spiral
- 4 Nexus of Fate
- 4 Opt
Having a cheap way to find your important pieces in the mid game or during the end game is something the Nexus decks really needed. Augur is a bit awkward, but I think the power level is high enough that we can make some use out of it.
A different deck I could be convinced to explore is one based around Invade the City and Thud. It’s fairly easy to build your graveyard up with Augur and all the cantrips around and could potentially even play all the mill cards to tear through your library and utilize Arclight Phoenix and this ‘combo’ to take people out of nowhere. I know the Grixis Mill deck saw some very low play here and there and Invade the City could help take if to the next level. As you can tell I’m pretty excited about such an innocuous reprint and can’t wait for the full set to really get to work battling.