Hexproof strategies are no stranger to constructed formats with the Bogles deck in Modern a prime example of how the archetype can shine. It is based around having a creature on board with Hexproof to make him untargetable by your opponents removal while you load it up with cheap auras to grow it into a killing machine. It is a highly effective strategy especially when the meta is high in spot removal and low in sweepers.
Naya Hexproof runs up the curve with its three main threats coming in the Hexproof creatures found in Standard. The first comes as a one drop in Gladecover Scout which is simply a 1/1 Hexproof ready to get loaded with gear immediately. Next two drop Bassara Tower Archer not only provides an extra point of power with its Hexproof body but also comes with Reach enabling you to block pesky fliers which is extremely necessary for this deck. We then find at the three drop spot Witchstalker clocking in at 3/3 Hexproof and also the added bonus of growing even larger if your opponent casts a Blue or Black spell on your turn. We also have a pair of Voice of Resurgence for extra value that while are not Hexproof do ensure you have a beater on the table and if your opponent casts a spell on your turn will give you additional free creatures. Joining the party we have Naya Hexproof’s only planeswalker with Ajani, Caller of the Pride which will be used for its first two abilities to work on pumping up your Hexproof creatures to finish off the opponent before they can assemble a proper defense. Then we get to the array of auras in Naya Hexproof which while normally are rather clunky due to you opening yourself to an easy two for one against removal are instead rather powerful in combination with your creatures. Starting with one cost Ethereal Armor this one plays strong with the rest of the enchantments by scaling up with each additional aura you play as well as providing First Strike. Next, for just two mana Madcap Skills not only adds three power but also forces the opponent to double block if they want to block at all which can often lead you to blowing out a simple chump block with your additional pumps. Then falling into the three drop slot Unflinching Courage pushes the deck over the top by granting both Trample AND Lifelink along with a +2/+2 stat bonus as well. To add even more value to Ethereal Armor the deck runs a trio of Chained to the Rocks with 8 shocklands that count as Mountains to clear the way of any troublesome blockers or threatening offensive troops. The deck is rounded up by two trios of charms for their added versatility. Boros Charm provides a way to head shot the opponent for four in a pinch, save your army from an impending sweeper or even grant a creature Double Strike to send in a final blow. And from Selesnya Charm we find a pump with Trample which could also be the final nail in the coffin, a way to remove high powered creatures even if they are indestructible, and in a pinch provide another body be it necessary to block or useful on the beatdown.
Another weekend of SCG Standard has passed and sitting at the top of the heap we find a successful jumble of acceleration into monstrous beasts and powerful planeswalkers. What we find there is essentially the GR Monsters shell that’s been prevalent in Standard for quite a while, but dipping into White for additional planeswalkers and some removal options. And judging by the popularity of this archetype in the Theros Block format it looks like it has quite a future ahead.
It is no stranger that the most prevelant duo of Green mana dorks both in Standard and Block is Sylvan Caryatid into Courser of Kruphix. This not only fixes your mana and even effectively draws you additional cards but also gains you vital life points which are so crucial in this aggressive metagame. The downside is that Courser provides your opponent with nearly perfect information which can foil you bluff when playing off the top of your deck. As an additional accelerent there is also Voyaging Satyr which won’t help if you are missing a color but will still allow you to gain extra mana. All of that goes towards powering out some monstrous fatties quickly so you can activate their Monstrosity abilities and close out games quickly. The two we find in the deck are Polukranos, World Eater which also acts as much needed removal in this deck and also the hasty flier Stormbreath Dragon which peeled off the top is often the recipie for certain doom. If those monsters are the meat of the deck we then find the fine wine pairing in the foursome of planeswalker to accompany them. The main player is party animal himself Xenagos, the Reveler who not only brings his satyr buddies with him but also helps acheive Monstrosity fast with his ramping ability. Next to join the party is Ajani, Mentor of Heroes who has a dual purpose between pumping up your creatures and digging into your deck to find more threats, but also when protected can threaten its ultimate to bolster a diminishing life total. There is also a major contribution from Elspeth, Sun’s Champion with her legion of soldiers following her, but be wary of her second ability as your bombs tend to be destroyed as well as the opponents. And why not a misers Chandra, Pyromaster as well to add a little card advantage to the deck and her first ability helps slip your big boys past their chump blockers handily. The rest of the deck is rounded out by some varied pieces of removal. There is Keening Apparition which is able to destroy any enchantment the opponent presents to the board such as Chained to the Rocks or even Underworld Connections. As a great sweeper Mizzium Mortars is able to be overloaded to deal four damage to all the opponents creatures and cast aside any would be blockers for your giant monsters. Then the last piece of the puzzle comes with the flexible Selesnya Charm that can either pump and grant Trample to a creature to rampage for a win, exile a creature that has power greater then five, or even add another threat to the board with a vigilant knight token.
So here we find that the GR Monsters deck which has already been a force in Standard continues to have room to grow and adapt as it proves it is a major player in Standard. What really interests me with this list is that the core of the deck is all from Theros Block and will undoubtedly continue to be a force into the next rotation of Standard. If you are looking for a deck to invest in as a long term prospect then this is undoubtedly the one.
The deck works on a very strong a linear path up the mana curve from one to three in an effort to clog the board with beaters. We start it off with Dryad Militant and Soldier of the Pantheon that both unchecked can start to swipe chunks off the opponents life total. Next are the Selesnya two drops with Voice of Resurgence which is amazing against control decks or removal in general and Fleecemane Lion which given the chance will turn into a Monstrous beast which opponents will be having fits to try and remove. Then we have continued profit in three drops from Boros Reckoner which can attack into small blockers and still push through damage or act as a brick wall against attackers and Loxodon Smiter which is basically a great 4/4 for three with some added value. The sole four drop creature in the deck is Ghor-Clan Rampager but it will most often be used for its Bloodrush ability to pump an attacking creature to push through extra damage to finish off the opponent. Moving over to the spells in the deck we start first with the ever useful Brave the Elements which with almost every creature being White, Ghor-Clan Rampager is the only exception, will be a key tool enabling alpha strike pushes past defenses to destroy the opponent or a way to ensure your creatures survive to fight through removal or as blockers against a flurry of attackers. The deck also sports two different charms with multiple useful modes to take advantage of. Selesnya Charm is capable of either giving a creature a boost with Trample to push for a kill, can exile a large creature as long as it has power of 5 or more, or is able to put a 2/2 Knight token onto the battlefield which is also White to take advantage of Brave the Elements as well. The other charm is Boros Charm which can be used as direct damage to scorch your enemy, is able to save all your permanents from destruction in a pinch, or will grant Double Strike to one of your creatures if you need it to deal a final blow to take you on a path to victory. The deck also takes advantage of the new mana fixing land Mana Confluence in order to smoothly run a three color manabase using a bare minimum of into play tapped lands.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Now here’s a pretty wild looking deck. With a very strong curve of Soldier into Voice into Reckoner into Advent it has some serious beef out of the gate. Backed up with Satyr and Fleecemane with an Ooze for utility it has a very aggressive creature package. Using Chandra as a source of card advantage it also helps to slip by any nuisance blockers. Finally it is rounded out with a removal package of Chained to the Rocks & Lightning Strike, which doubles as reach to hit the dome, and Mizzium as a sweeper. The Charm is there for some real utility that can either push through some lethal damage with trample or surprise an alpha strike with a knight…but most important may be the exile mode as a way to deal with pesky Gods.
Welcome everyone to this edition of “My top cards from Standard” pt.1 for Dragon’s Maze.
We see a diverse meta starting to form with the exciting new release of Dragon’s Maze and decks have evolved a lot since my last Top cards from Gatecrash. It’s a small set, but it has a lot of powerful multicolored cards adding tools to decks like Jund, Bant, Junk, and Grixis. Although we see a few two colored decks, three colored decks are preferred as we can see with the results put up so far. We’ll take a closer look at some of the top cards I’ve found for Standard and I’ve pulled up some of this weekends top decks to see them in action. There are more cards then just these that will get played in standard, but this is already quite a lot to look at. I’ll be continuing in part 2.
Sire of insanity: This guy makes coming out the gates strong really pay off, and especially if you’re ahead you can really lock the win once your opponent discard their hand. An especially good tool versus control decks. We see him in almost all Jund builds right now.
Putrefy: Great removal and easier to cast then Murder that can’t be regenerated with the added option of removing artifacts instead like Staff of Nin or Rakdos Keyrune for instance. Another great tool for Jund that’s also in some Junk sideboards.
2nd Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Gaze of Granite: Finally a decent sweeper for Jund and BUG, kind of like a new Pernicious deed that you need to pay for all up front. It’s starting to see some play in some Jund sideboards like this one:
6th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Deadbridge Chant: I’ve heard a few people wanting to brew with this card. For now we’ve seen copies in Jund sideboards like this next list. They want to abuse it by exiling their graveyard to make sure that they always recur the same spell, like a Rakdos’s Return for instance, each turn. This is a sick card and I’d love to see more decks abusing it.
4th Place at StarCityGames.com Classic on 5/12/2013
Voice of resurgence: This badboy 2-drop should see a lot of play in this standard meta coming up and those to follow. Will it become on par or even better than others like Tarmogoyf, Dark confidant, Stoneforge mystic and Snapcaster Mage? Only time will tell.
First off two versions of Junk Reanimator, one from Ali Aintrazi with an Angel of Serenity plan using 4 Voice of Resurgence in it’s sideboard in the list right below. The other reanimator uses Immortal Servitude as tech using all 2 drops including Voice of Resurgence.
Next we have two Bant versions: Bant Auras and Bant Flash. Replacing an old favorite one-drop Delver of Secrets with Voice of Resurgence in Bant Auras in the third list. Combining Geist of Saint Traft and Invisible Stalker with Voice of Resurgence in the auras deck makes opponents options awkward when trying to answer your auras. Bant Flash however is also keeping it in its sideboard with the fourth list. You will see further below that Bant Auras and Bant Flash are also using other Dragon’s Maze cards that had high expectations.
9th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
2nd Place at StarCityGames.com Classic on 5/12/2013
Unflinching Courage: This new Loxodon Warhammer style aura is quite powerful. When played at the right time you can take over a game even in limited. We find it here in Bant Auras as an easier to cast replacement to Gift of Orzhova. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see another version of Naya blitz using it in it’s side.
4th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Advent of the Wurm: This Awesome 5/5 4-drop is one of my favorite new cards from Dragon’s Maze, except you’re summoning this badboy at instant speed. It allows you to abuse cards like Augur of Bolas and Snapcaster mage like in this Bant Flash list. Who said Sphinx’s revelation was dead yet? I also added a sweet G/W Token list with Advent of the Wurm and Voice of Resurgence.
7th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Renounce the Guilds: Interesting new removal tool we see in Bant control’s sideboard, the only permanent you might lose is your Wurm token. This is good against Planeswalkers like Ral Zarek or used like Devour Flesh against Geist of Saint-Traft .
17th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Viashino Firstblade: It’s an aggressive 3-drop as a 4/4 when it comes out with haste. This can get hard to manage when you’re facing a deck like this Naya Blitz version.
5th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed: I imagine this guy must be a beast against decks like Bant Auras and Bant Flash, making it awkward to remove anything once he’s on the board especially if you’re behind at all. This next Naya list went on to win 1st place.
1st Place at StarCityGames.com Classic on 5/12/2013
We see another version of the Naya Blitz list here with 4 Frontline Medic in the main instead of Viashino Firstblade. He also opted for 3 Unflinching Courage in the side, the new Loxodon Warhammer-style aura from Dragon’s Maze.
8th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Sin Collector: This is a weaker Duress on a stick. We see him in some of the new Junk Reanimator lists. Also used in The Aristocrats deck where he makes a good sacrifice to Falkenrath Aristocrat since he’s human.
12th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Profit // Loss: Can be used as a combat trick for all of your creatures or a sweeper against opponents opposing Falkenrath Aristocrat, their Invisible Stalker or if you prefer take out all there dorks like Arbor Elf and Avacyn’s Pilgrim. You can always fuse it for best results with that all out swing. We see The Aristocrats with one in the sideboard.
Wear // Tear: This versatile fuse card is an answer for artifacts like Staff of Nin or if you prefer to remove an enchantment like Unflinching Courage you can too. This is the second fuse card we’ve found in an Aristocrats deck like this one:
13th Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013
Ral Zarek: The newest Planeswalker in the roster which has neat abilities. His first one can be used to tap an opponents blocker or a land to screw up his answers, then it gets interesting where you can untap a land to ramp up or a permanent to get his effect a second time, like Izzet Staticaster in this next Grixis Control list. Ral Zarek’s second ability is probably one of the most played cards in Magic a Lightning Bolt with two bolts before he croaks. His ultimate ability with an average of 2.5 Time Walk each time will get you so far ahead it will be hard for opponents to recoup, but not impossible.
Far // Away: Another great split card. In this current meta I believe you want to use Far against Bant Auras to bounce an enchanted creature and then Away against his Geist of Saint Traft. Here’s the Grixis Control deck using it in sideboard probably for exactly that.
83rd Place at StarCityGames.com Standard Open on 5/12/2013