Modern season (if you want to call it a season; I've been playing Modern for the past month) has officially ended this past weekend with Grand Prix Charlotte, and Standard season will start soon. Unfortunately I have barely begun testing for Standard, due to my next event, #SCGATL, not being for another couple of weeks. I am not currently caught up on Standard to the point where I'm comfortable sharing my thoughts on the format, but I can say that I am really excited to tackle it. It looks sweet!
Here are a few decklists that have caught my eye over the past few weeks, though I haven't had time to test them yet.
G/W Tokens is my front-runner going into this week. I will probably start with Michael Majors's list. I love the decision to play two maindeck Evolutionary Leap and am eager to see how the maindeck Tragic Arrogance worked out. Evolutionary Leap is very potent in an Archangel Avacyn deck, both for the ability to flip the powerful legendary creature at will and the ability to sift through your deck to find a constant stream of Angels as needed. This deck is a very safe choice, and one that plays well to my skillset. The main drawback to the deck is that it is a known quantity and has had a pretty big target on its head most of the Standard format, and I don't see any reason why that should change any time soon.
If there's one thing I learned from playing Jund over the past couple of weeks, it's that Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet doesn't mess around. The black legendary creature from Oath of the Gatewatch is very powerful and will quickly put a close game away if left unchecked. All you need to do is put a bunch of removal spells in your deck alongside him. That is basically the core of what this deck is trying to do. Kill stuff; play Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet; kill more stuff; win the game. If the metagame is full of decks weak to Kalitas, this looks like a great option.
- 4 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 4 Eldrazi Displacer
- 4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Loam Dryad
- 3 Reality Smasher
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 1 Sylvan Advocate
This deck has all the cool stuff I like about Four-Color Rite with none of the things I don't. The Brood Monitor combo is not a part of the deck anymore. Instead, Reality Smasher has become a maindeck inclusion. In the limited number of games I played with Four-Color Rite, I ended up bringing Reality Smasher in against nearly every deck, so I am definitely behind this switch in gameplan philosophy. My favorite thing about Four-Color Rite was its ability to take over a game with Reflector Mage and Eldrazi Displacer, and this deck is set up better to leverage that interaction into a quick clock. We lose Catacomb Sifter, which stinks, but we can replace it with Eldrazi Skyspawner, so Cryptolith Rite stays powerful. Finally, without Black being a relevant color in the deck, the mana is set up just a little bit better.
- 1 Den Protector
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 4 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Ulvenwald Hydra
- 1 World Breaker
- 1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
I'm really excited to see how this deck plays out. I really liked the black-based Seasons Past deck The Pantheon brought to Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, but the deck seemed to be in need of something. I think Sam has found that something in the form of great green creatures and less of a dependence on Languish.
I'm a big fan of the playset of Tireless Trackers and Sylvan Advocate in a deck that plans on casting Explosive Vegetation. Tracker turns Explosive Vegetation into a card advantage powerhouse, and a turn 4 "Veggies" allows for some very aggressive starts with Advocate, setting up its power boost a couple of turns early. Ulvenwald Hydra being able to get a Mirrorpool is a really cool interaction as well.
Standard is full to bursting with awesome decks that allow you to do pretty much whatever you like, and I can't wait to get back to learning the nuances of the format. I can't remember the last time I've disliked a Standard format; Wizards has been doing a very good job with Standard lately. Keep up the good work!
On to Legacy!
I was lucky enough to get to pilot one of my old favorites, U/G Enchantress, in the #SCGINDY Legacy Classic. While the tournament itself didn't go great for me, I think the deck has potential in the format. It is quite cheap compared to the price of most decks in the Legacy metagame, and it's one of the most fun decks I've ever played. The list had a couple of things that could have been better (Vessel of Nascency is not good at all, if you were curious), but I think that, if built correctly, it would be a decent choice for an upcoming Legacy event and a fun entry-level option into the format.
This is what I would register if I had a Legacy event tomorrow.
If you were like me when I first saw this deck, you might be wondering what the heck this deck actually does. Let's start with the engine.
This deck uses the Enchantress card advantage engine. With an "Enchantress" effect on the battlefield, all of your ramp spells and interaction pieces turn into cantrips. You will quickly draw more Enchantresses, which turbocharges your development, snowballing your battlefield advantage out of control.
Enchantress decks are very good at ramping. Wild Growth and Utopia Sprawl are sort of like Elvish Mystics with haste, which is great! They become even better when you start putting Enchantresses or Cloudstone Curios on the battlefield and they turn into draw engines too. Since you are a Green Sun's Zenith deck, you have access to Dryad Arbor as an additional ramp spell.
These three cards are how you win the game. Crazy, right?!
Let's start with Cloud of Faeries. The innocuous little two-drop is usually a Dark Ritual effect of sorts in this deck because your Wild Growths make your lands tap for multiple mana. The cool part about Cloud of Faeries is that, because it's a permanent, you can bounce it back to your hand and recast it to Ritual again. This can be done with Seal of Removal for a one-time mana boost or repeatedly with Cloudstone Curio and Words of Wind to make an arbitrarily large amount of mana.
With Cloudstone Curio on the battlefield, you are able to bounce a Cloud of Faeries every time you cast a creature. When you have two copies of Cloud of Faeries, you can use them to bounce each other back and forth as often as you'd like. Each time you cast a Cloud of Faeries, you generate one mana from the Wild Growth. From there, it is easy to draw your entire deck. With one Enchantress effect on the battlefield, you can draw a card when you cast any enchantment in your deck and use the Cloudstone Curio to bounce any enchantment you have on the battlefield. Keep bouncing the enchantments back and forth until you draw Words of Wind. If you have two lands that make at least five mana, then you can do a Cloudstone Curio loop with an Argothian Enchantress and a Cloud of Faeries. The two spells collectively cost four mana, so each iteration will once again net one mana, allowing you to go arbitrarily large.
So Words of Wind looks pretty atrocious. How do we win the game with this one? Well, it's actually pretty beautiful.
Words of Wind is another card that allows you to make infinite mana with Cloud of Faeries. The requirements to set up the loop are a little higher, though. In order to set up the Words of Wind loop, you need:
3 Wild Growth effects
2 Enchantress effects
2 one-drop enchantments
Step 1: Tap your two lands to make five mana.
Step 2: Cast a one-drop enchantment (leaving four mana in the pool). Let's say it's an Elephant Grass, because that's my favorite.
Step 3: With two Enchantress triggers on the stack, activate your Words of Wind twice (two mana left in the pool), making each player bounce any two permanents of their choice to their hands. We will be choosing Cloud of Faeries and another Elephant Grass.
Step 4: Cast Cloud of Faeries (no mana left in pool). Untap your two lands that make five mana.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4. Each time you execute the loop, your opponent will have to pick up two of his or her permanents. By the end, your opponent's whole battlefield will be in his or her hand. With a third Enchantress effect on the battlefield, you will be able to draw your whole deck, and with a fourth Wild Growth effect, you will be able to make arbitrarily large amounts of mana.
From here (and this is my favorite part), your win condition is attacking with Cloud of Faeries and Eternal Witness. Your opponent will never be able to untap with a permanent on the battlefield for the rest of the game, and because we have been able to draw our whole deck, we'll have access to a Mindbreak Trap that we can recur with Eternal Witness in case they try any funny business.
We can't be decked because we have access to Green Sun's Zenith, and if you feel there are too many Enchantresses on the battlefield, it's easy to bounce them back to your hand with either Cloudstone Curio or Words of Wind.
While the requirements to combo off may seem unreasonably high, keep in mind that the deck snowballs its gameplan pretty quickly. It is easy to start cutting through your deck like butter with efficient card draw engines and mana ramp engines, and before you know it, you will quickly have all the resources you need to put the game away.
The original version of U/G Enchantress did not have Cloudstone Curio in it. Instead the deck was based around a bulk rare from Onslaught. However, once Cloudstone Curio was tested out, it was pretty clear that Curio was the more efficient way to go arbitrarily large.
While U/G Enchantress has the same card advantage and mana engines as its more popular Selesnya cousin, G/W Enchantress is a prison deck in essence. This deck is looking to combo you out of the game after a small amount of disruption like Seal of Removal and Elephant Grass.
If you're looking for something a little different for your next Legacy event, I would recommend giving U/G Enchantress a try. However, I think the deck still needs a bit of work before being taken into a high-stakes Legacy tournament like a Grand Prix or Open. The deck is perfect for a local event, though, and I promise you will have a lot of fun once you figure out how all the pieces move.