While I've been working on Sultai strategies a lot recently, I wanted to try some new, fun, and exciting archetypes in time for Grand Prix Miami. The first deck I worked on was Waste Not. I was taking a break from Magic when M15 came out, and that set had many exciting cards, but the two that I liked the most were Waste Not and Aggressive Mining. I decided to focus on the former because I felt like it was easier to build around Waste Not--especially after I saw Dark Deal. The fact is, not many decks in Standard can beat a Waste Not into a Dark Deal. You just generate so much value from a play like that. In fact, that interaction is what got me brewing the Waste Not strategy. This is the current list I've been working on:
It's still a work in progress, but it's very powerful and extremely fun. You really want to get Waste Not onto the battlefield in order to start your advantage engine. Waste Not draws you cards, provides gas, and supplies you creatures to win the game. It literally does everything, but it needs some help to function. Thoughtseize is obviously a very powerful card, but it's even stronger in this deck with a resolved Waste Not by either cantripping or giving you a 2/2 zombie. I even try to hold onto Thoughtseize if possible until I have a Waste Not in play to get extra value out it.
We also have an inspire package in the deck that works extremely well. Pain Seer is the weakest inspire creature in the deck, and that's saying something. Don't get me wrong, I love drawing extra cards, but what I love more is tutoring for the card I want, and that's exactly what Disciple of Deceit does. Among many things, Disciple of Deceit allows you to turn your lategame Springleaf Drums into Thoughtseize/Dakra Mystic or lets you turn Pain Seer or additional copies of itself into Waste Not. But the best interaction is turning a Mind Rot into a Dark Deal for the mega combo with Waste Not.
Another card that functions really well in this deck is Dakra Mystic. It allows you to manipulate your draws and be a mini but controlled Howling Mine. A cool trick to do with the Mystic is to use her ability when you untap with Disciple of Deceit to see if you want to transmute the card that's on top of your library into something you need (this also works with Pain Seer if you stack your triggers correctly). She also works very well against Courser of Kruphix by controlling what your opponent draws. One thing I do is wait until their draw step to see what they draw, and if they have a land on top, I just use the Mystic's ability to make them draw the land instead of playing it for free with Courser. If they have something important? Just mill it. The card is also very good at fueling your Mind Rots and Dark Deals lategame by activating her at end of turn, then again in your main phase just to follow it up with a Mind Rot. You get extra cards, while your opponent bins the cards they drew, and if you have Waste Not out, it's even more value.
Springleaf Drum accelerates you a little and gives all your inspire creatures pseudo-haste by allowing you to tap them the turn they enter the battlefield. King Macar can't attack into a Courser of Kruphix or Rakshasa Deathdealer, but he can still exile them with Springleaf Drum without having to attack. Empty the Pits is a very nice way to just wrap things up lategame or to dump all your mana into if you get your combo going with Waste Not.
The sideboard is in the air, but I can give you a good idea of what I've been messing with.
Master of the Feast is a nice surprise against many decks, and its drawback isn't that huge in this deck, which is very nice. It may be correct to play it in the maindeck over Ashiok, Hero's Downfall, and an Empty the Pits. The reason I'm not doing that right now is because Valorous Stance is very popular, but if you don't expect to see many, I'd try starting some.
This Waste Not deck is extremely fun and has lots of room for growth and adaptation. You could even play Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Ugin in the maindeck if you really want to spice things up. Transmuting an Ugin into a Treasure Cruise early can help make it to the midgame, and doing the opposite gives you a huge leg up in the lategame. The only problem is if you get Ugin, you're all in on that plan since it wipes your whole board in the process of using the second ability, so be careful.
Remember - Disciple of Deceit makes your deck into a toolbox if you so wish. Maybe you want a Fascination in the maindeck to tutor for? Dissolve? Daring Thief? Dictate of Kruphix or Monastery Siege? Well it can be done if you so wish, as the deck can adapt and change to almost anything.
One last thing: The reason why I decided to play Mind Rot over Rakshasa's Secret is because I didn't want to mill my bullets like Empty the Pits, King Macar, or Ashiok. I wanted them to be in my deck in case I wanted to tutor for them, and I didn't feel like the one extra zombie from Empty the Pits was worth it.
Moving on to this Bant deck I've been working on… I don't know what to call it. Turbo Fog? I don't really play that many fogs. Bant control? Does control play Howling Mine? Bant Midrange? I dunno, it has three Gods in it, so I'm just gonna call it Bant Gods.
- 2 Hornet Nest
- 1 Resolute Archangel
- 1 Heliod, God of the Sun
- 1 Kruphix, God of Horizons
- 1 Thassa, God of the Sea
What a crazy deck this one has been. And it's been just as fun to play as the Waste Not deck. I've had more success with this deck than the Waste Not deck, but again, this deck is also a work in progress, but I really, really like it, and I'll most likely be playing some version of this deck at my next Standard event.
Bant Gods can function as a control deck if it doesn't get one of its nine blue enchantments because it still runs 27 land and plays countermagic along with removal spells. It's probably pretty glaring that this list isn't running Dig Through Time or Treasure Cruise. I just found I'd rather have the turn 3 play of one of the blue enchantments instead of those cards, and they often times draw me just as many cards as the spells do.
One thing the enchantments do that Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise don't is turn on Thassa and Kruphix, which is pretty huge when you're playing the Gods. Thassa is the best God of the three, as it filters your draws and is really cheap to play, Kruphix allows you to "tap out" for things like Resolute Archangel or Fated Retribution while still having mana open for countermagic, and Heliod works very well in combination with Kruphix by allowing you to make an army all at once on one of your opponent's end steps. Don't forget that Heliod's tokens work very well with Bow of Nylea, basically making them unblockable due to deathtouch.
Monastery Siege is a very good card in this deck. I usually only have one or two on Khans for the looting aspect and the rest on Dragons to make things like burn and removal cost a lot. You'd think burn decks would kill you since you're giving them extra cards with Dictate of Kruphix, but that's not the case at all if you set your sieges to Dragons once you get your Howling Mines going. Stoke the Flames doesn't look so appealing when it costs eight mana to cast. It allows you to buy enough time to gain life from Bow of Nylea, counter lethal burn, or just shut them out of the game by resetting your life total with Resolute Archangel.
Citadel Siege is almost always set to Dragons in this deck. If you're going off with Heliod, you have the option of making your creatures bigger if you so wish, but Dragons is always a safe bet. The card also does very well against control because it's kinda hard for Pearl Lake Ancient to get past that and forces the opponent to focus on planeswalkers like Ashiok or Ugin to kill you. U/B Control does have access to Perilous Vault, which is good against this deck if it resolves, so hope it doesn't show up in large numbers.
Just like the Waste Not deck, this deck is open to changes. It may be correct to run a couple of End Hostilities maindeck, depending on the metagame. I didn't want to run any planeswalkers because I always wanted Hero's Downfall to be awful against me, and I never really found myself needing them. Decks are bound to leave Downfall in against me after game 1 even if they didn't see a planeswalker because it's too risky not to leave a couple in and to just get steamrolled by a Kiora or Elspeth. Sagu Mauler is a good option for the sideboard against decks like control and Abzan, but End Hostilities and Hornet Nest has been performing better in those matchups. Grindclock has been more than enough against the control decks since their trump to beat all trumps, Ugin, can't remove it.
I've had a lot of fun playing both of these decks, and I hope you do as well. I'd like to say thanks to Chad Himes for allowing me to build and test these decks for you on Magic Online. If it wasn't for him, these decks wouldn't be at all tuned, and they'd be extremely rough lists.
Good luck in Miami!