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Sacrificing to Win it All

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Recently a good friend of mine, Alex Stratton, came out of his lamp to prove he's a genie and won his MCQ. With a trip to Barcelona in his future, we can safely assume at a minimum his deck is a real contender. Let's walk through the list created by Florida Magic stalwart John Cuvelier and break it down to see what's good with it.


Mayhem Devil
Once again we're seeing a deck pop up in Standard that relies on a bunch of synergies. The centerpiece of this deck is certainly Mayhem Devil but what is excellent about the deck is that it only exemplifies what is already happening. When players are trying to Fog you out of the game and you can drain them repeatedly with Judith and Mayhem Devil. If you're in a midrange mirror then you can use Mayhem Devil plus Bontu to "Scapeshift" your opponent out. Bontu being able to sacrifice permanents means that even with an empty board you'll be able to draw a few cards to run back into any game.

Rix Maadi Reveler has struggled to find a home in Standard. Being able to trigger Spectacle at will is something that helps push this over the top. The deck looks like it needs a mass of spells in order to operate at brutal efficiency and being able to expend resources and refuel at a moment's notice with Rix Maadi helps push this deck into firm higher tiers. In the early turns, Rix Maadi can help fix your land drops and ensure you're going to play smoothly for the rest of your game.

Plaguecrafter is one of the most incredible cards to be premiered with this list. While it ended up falling short for quite some time, it was something initially considered Modern playable. In this deck it ensures synergies will always be exploited (especially with Mayhem Devil) but also helps make use of the way folks are building their decks. With Esper Control and Nexus leaning on only Planeswalkers and impactful cards Plaguecrafter is fantastic for either shutting down one side or the other. Against Bant you can force opponents to choose between falling too far behind on board or trying to move forward with any game plan. When this deck is able to press its plan it looks phenomenal. One of the keys to that happens to be Plaguecrafter. While the base of the deck looks like Mayhem Devil I would say that overall Plaguecrafter letting you push your game plan while impeding your opponents and giving an incredible body leans you more toward victory.

Plaguecrafter
This aggressive deck has an excellent Esper matchup as long as you can dodge a Cry of the Carnarium. Being an aggressive strategy that doesn't fold to Kaya's Wrath is an incredible way to break through into the format; and post board you're able to bury a control opponent by picking them apart with discard and planeswalkers while applying pressure.

Against the Bant deck I imagine Priest of Forgotten Gods is able to apply pressure from multiple angles and make getting into combat awkward for your opponent. Once you fall behind, a Judith will make attacking and blocking a nightmare. They can't just sit around building a board to work through it, either, because they'll just to lose to Mayhem Devil plus Bontu.

I'd imagine Red is likely one of the most difficult matchups. Trying to leverage a bunch of mopey creatures against the efficient and brutal machine that is Red sounds like a nightmare. Their Frenzy's are also going to be significantly better than yours will ever be. Because of this I'd rather focus on other matchups and hope your Moment of Cravings line up well.

Alex was even kind enough to provide a sideboard guide. While I've mentioned this in the past, it bears repeating; use the guide as a base and not the be all end all. Magic is very fluid and locking into one plan leaves you vulnerable to being exploited.

Sideboarding

Red on Play:

Red on Draw:

Esper Control:

Esper Hero on Play:

On Draw:

Mono White on Play:

On Draw:

I'd also like to try and discuss some tips and tricks that could make your life a bit easier while trying to get some reps in with the deck.

Goldfish with the deck. There are a ton of triggers and making sure you nail all of them are vital to making sure you win games. As it is often with Aristocrats style decks you won't always run an opponent over and you'll need to squeeze out every point of value you can. Missing a trigger or a point here and there will add up.

Dreadhorde Butcher also triggers off hitting Planeswalkers. Most cards in this range generally don't but Butcher is an exception to the rule.

Priest of Forgotten Gods can target yourself in addition to the opponent. So if you need to trigger your Judith alongside Mayhem Devil and the Priest, you can add yourself in the mix.

Mayhem Devil has quite some relevant text attached to it since it triggers off BOTH players. Considering that some players will have cards like Blast Zone, Fanatical Firebrand, Liliana, Dreadhorde General, Angrath's Rampage, or even the Memorials will all hurt your opponent. Be sure to be aware of these as quite often every point matters.

Although after seeing this list in action a bit I don't believe Frenzy is the way forward. Instead I'd prefer Chandra as it helps you draw cards without locking your hand out (so it plays well with Priest) and offers another way to find your Scapeshift combo and finish someone off. In Standard being able to double spell will always be an incredible way to dominate opponents who stumble and Chandra is more efficient in regards to this endeavor.