An early player in the Standard metagame thanks to a victory in the first MTGO PTQ, God-Pharaoh's Gift was quickly suppressed by the emergence of Ramunap Red and the proliferation of Abrade, but it appears as though the format may be circling back around.
Ramunap Red has had a target on it for so long that we're seeing it reduce in numbers and midrange decks like B/G Constrictor and Temur Energy have been impressive in recent tournaments. The powerful engine of God-Pharaoh's Gift is excellent at overwhelming midrange decks in card advantage, and the midrange decks give you enough time to set up that engine.
But Red decks are still going to be an issue, which means the God-Pharaoh's Gift deck needed to evolve to compete in a large tournament. This list featuring a red splash is a good step in that evolution. Insolent Neonate gives you another cheap creature to block for life, filter through your deck, and set up an early activation of Gate to the Afterlife.
Cathartic Reunion gives you another way to stock the graveyard early while digging for key pieces, and having it replace Refurbish makes the deck significantly more flexible. Last, the sideboard copies of Chandra's Defeat give the deck a powerful cheap removal spell in the matchup that can answer anything from Falkenrath Gorger and Ahn-Crop Crasher to Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Glorybringer. With few slots for direct removal, having that kind of versatility is invaluable.
Normally I'd fear that the gains from adding better cards are offset by having a worse manabase, but Inspiring Vantage, Spirebluff Canal, and Aether Hub alleviate that concern, both from the perspective of hitting your colors consistently and not stumbling with lands entering the battlefield tapped. Red is the perfect splash color for a U/W deck…and just so conveniently has cards you want to splash.
With Standard changing week to week, I don't know how long the window for this deck will be open, so if you're a fan of engine decks like this, you'd better hop on now. And if you're not, you should be looking for your artifact removal again.
- 2 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Angel of Invention
- 4 Champion of Wits
- 3 Glint-Nest Crane
- 4 Insolent Neonate
- 4 Minister of Inquiries
- 3 Trophy Mage