It's time. Let's get to brewing. These are the places I'm starting. More testing is to be done, as that's the process. Let's do it.
Get Rich and Kill Them Trying
- 2 Noxious Gearhulk
- 3 Contraband Kingpin
- 3 Deadeye Plunderers
- 1 Herald of Anguish
- 1 Marionette Master
- 3 Syndicate Trafficker
- 1 The Scarab God
The idea here should be clear: make ten Treasures, win the game. We have a fair amount of removal to help us with that, and we can easily run a sideboard plan of Bontu's Last Reckoning and more Walk the Plank if needed. Being able to cast Bontu's Last Reckoning without tapping any lands is something that appeals to me greatly.
One thing I really wanted to do with this deck was ensure that we could win without Revel in Riches. As it stands the deck has plenty of ways to win the game without needing to accumulate Treasure, but as some of those are singletons, this build might suffer from a consistency problem. Contraband Kingpin should help there.
I considered both Sailor of Means and Dire Fleet Hoarder as speed bumps for the deck, and they may yet find a home in the sideboard, but ultimately I think Syndicate Trafficker (resilient, potential game-winner) and Contraband Kingpin (small lifegain, deck filtering) will serve us better. Marionette Master is a card that I have mentioned before as being poised for a spike in gameplay, and I can see it being incredible here with only a few Treasures on the battlefield. When it's a base 4/4 creature, it gets even more exciting...
Vampire Horses with Reflections
- 4 Aerial Responder
- 3 Crested Sunmare
- 4 Gifted Aetherborn
- 4 Glory-Bound Initiate
- 1 Sanctum Seeker
- 3 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
- 1 Vona, Butcher of Magan
The interaction between Mirage Mirror and Crested Sunmare has interested me for a while. In response to removal, just copy your Horse and both are indestructible. With the printing of all these neat token makers that make Vampires with lifelink, we get more of a chance to make ourselves some Horse tokens as well.
The great thing about this build is that we are not playing any cards that haven't seen at least some play before. While an Aethersphere Harvester might be an idea (possibly in the sideboard) and we might have gone too deep on the lifelink, we didn't have to play something like Scrounger of Souls to fill out the ranks.
Mavren Fein and Legion's Landing must do some heavy lifting in this deck, the former helping the latter transform. Once you have a token-making land online, the deck becomes far more resilient and you are in a solid position. I'm not sure how viable it is to rely on a card as fragile as Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle in a deck with no real way to protect him, which explains some of the redundancy.
If aggro isn't as prevalent, we might want to consider Hidden Stockpile over Authority of the Consuls. Also, this deck just rolls over to a Rampaging Ferocidon, so a sideboard plan for that little pain in the rear should be part of your strategy.
Another Infinite Combo?
The interaction between Bellowing Aegisaur and Walking Ballista is exciting, but ultimately we are going to push our Dino too hard and it will shuffle off this mortal coil. Or will it? If we can either make the Aegisaur indestructible or have two on the battlefield, we can continue pinging away to our heart's content. Unless you have a second Walking Ballista (ideally) or some other creatures on the battlefield, though, the combo doesn't actually get you anywhere.
Mirage Mirror plays a lot of roles in this deck.
It can copy a Bellowing Aegisaur to let you combo off, or become your opponent's evasive creature to receive all those lovely counters and kill your opponent. Once it has a +1/+1 counter you can even turn it into a Walking Ballista to allow you to win without a combat step. I only included two because we cannot find it with Commune with Dinosaurs and it might be a little clunky on its own.
There's a way to build this deck with Winding Constrictor, which enables us to combo off with no other creatures and no attack step, but I think that version is less of a combo deck and more of a B/G Constrictor deck with Bellowing Aegisaur. We probably lose Commune in that deck, which takes away a lot of our consistency, and the deck is less fun that way.
Is running seven protection spells too many? Do we need more creatures to improve our odds of being able to win once the pieces are in place? I feel like this combo is flexible enough to slide in to a few different archetypes, but this is where I would start I think.
Wait, They Reprinted Gaea's Cradle?
- 3 Walking Ballista
- 4 Angel of Invention
- 4 Drover of the Mighty
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 3 Ranging Raptors
- 3 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
- 2 Tishana, Voice of Thunder
There's no way I could ignore the ability to play Gaea's Cradle again. It's one of the most powerful lands ever printed, and we have some great options in Standard to use all that mana. We do have to jump through a couple of hoops to actually get to the point where we have Cradle, but once it happens, it's actually a better version than the original, as it taps for G even with zero creatures on the battlefield.
So how do we get to that point? Conveniently we have Sram's Expertise, which not only provides three quarters of the requirement to transform Growing Rites of Itlimoc but also allows us to cast the Growing Rites for free. The deck is built to be able to do a few powerful things on the back of the Expertise, including Rishkar to make more mana and Legion's Landing to provide us with a different powerful land option. With six permanents in the deck that can become lands, we may well find ourselves flooded, so it might be correct to drop a land or two in favor of another way to go wide.
One option I did consider was Gideon, Martial Paragon. Although it does not make tokens like our recently rotated Ally of Zendikar, he does untap our team to allow for more mana-making mayhem. If we can combine Gideon with a Nissa ultimate to animate Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun...okay, let's calm down a little here.
Tishana, Voice of Thunder is an exciting option for the top-end. Although she does nothing to help rescue us when things are going poorly, she is a great option for slamming the door shut. The fact that she isn't great in some cases is why we only have two here. If we wanted to cut blue entirely, I could see replacing Nissa and Tishana with some copies of Gideon, Martial Paragon. I could also see adding red instead of blue for Regisaur Alpha and Gishath, Sun's Avatar...but they don't draw you crazy numbers of cards.
It's Cocoa Pebbles All Over Again!
- 4 Filigree Familiar
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Scrap Trawler
- 2 Treasure Keeper
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 2 Deadeye Plunderers
- 3 Marionette Master
- 4 Syndicate Trafficker
I'll start by saying that it's very possible that this deck wants and needs Unlicensed Disintegration somewhere. Be that as it may, this is a fun place to start with a Makeshift Munitions deck that wants to win with two or three turns of massive damage. Marionette Master has some great synergies with the deck, making each activation of the Munitions a real gut punch.
Scrap Trawler is the engine that really keeps this deck running, and as such it might be better to run a couple of Whir of Inventions somewhere. I also considered Tezzeret, Master of Metal as a way to dig to our artifacts, but it has the drawback of not finding any of our other great cards. I really want to play that card some time, though. Similarly, Saheeli Rai might come out of mourning for her kitty and make a showing in this list.
Deadeye Plunderers might be too cute. While it does make a lot of artifacts to sacrifice, it does still cost five mana. If we were to build this as an Esper deck with a red splash just for Makeshift Munitions, thereby giving us access to Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession, I'd be more inclined to up the count. Okay, I need to try that.
- 4 Metallic Mimic
- 4 Deeproot Champion
- 2 Herald of Secret Streams
- 4 Kumena's Speaker
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 2 River Sneak
Let's annoy the heck out of people! Tempo decks are often very fun to play when they work and infuriating to play against. This list allows us to both make a lot of large unblockable Merfolk while at the same time keeping our opponents off-balance. Deeproot Waters is a ridiculous card that is only made better by Metallic Mimic, although Mimic will not trigger Deeproot Waters when cast. I based this list loosely off a more creature-centric plan from Corbin Hosler, who knows more about Merfolk than any human probably should.
There is a good chance that Perilous Voyage should be Select for Inspection. Although sorcery speed and the tapped requirement are a little annoying, it is only one mana and it allows us to scry. This deck certainly looks like one that could flood out pretty easily, and that filtering might be crucial. That said, I love the way this list looks and it feels good to plan a blue aggressive deck.
If Select for Inspection would be a good fit, it's very likely that Jace, Cunning Castaway would be a better one. Card filtering, continued pressure and another distraction for the opponent make a heady combo. Corbin had Skysovereign, Consul Flagship in his deck and I will admit to being intrigued, but I am a little concerned about creature density for being able to crew it.
The Mardu Menace
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 3 Glorybringer
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
- 3 Veteran Motorist
- 2 Captain Lannery Storm
- 2 Depala, Pilot Exemplar
Conqueror's Galleon is an absurd card in any midrange deck that can crew it. The value it provides is unmatched in the format, especially when you consider that it's a land. Crew 4 is a steep cost. but that's why I included Depala, Pilot Exemplar. Her Anthem effect allows both Veteran Motorist and Toolcraft Exemplar to crew the Galleon, and really we only need that to happen once before we are in control.
Captain Lannery Storm is a bit of a "maybe" card here. Her Treasure-making helps turn on Unlicensed Disintegration and Toolcraft Exemplar, and we can sacrifice those Treasures to pump her enough to crew a Heart of Kiran or even Conqueror's Galleon solo. I am more than a little concerned about her vulnerability and might relegate her to the sideboard as a result, but the potential is there.
Huatli, Warrior Poet is the card that makes me actually want to play a tweaked Tier 1 deck and not just brew a list around Conqueror's Galleon. Much like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, she just dominates any battlefield where you are at parity or slightly ahead, but is not as terrible when you are behind. The Dinosaurs can crew a Heart of Kiran or a Skysovereign, Consul Flagship to recover after a sweeper, which allows us to keep applying pressure. Plus, she rides Dinosaurs and writes poetry. She's one bad mama jamma.
Spells, You Say?
It was really, really hard to avoid putting Primal Amulet in this deck, trust me. Maybe I will brew that one up someday.
This is not a new concept, but it does use some new-ish cards to make the deck hum. Prowess continues to be a mechanic that can get out of hand, especially on cheap creatures, and we have plenty of cheap spells in Standard right now to capitalize. Although we miss Bedlam Reveler a lot, Vance's Blasting Cannons makes a great tag team partner for Chandra, Torch of Defiance to give us access to more cards each turn. As most of our spells are cheap and more than a few are cantrips, transforming the Cannons is trivial. I might be interested in some number of Eternal of Harsh Truths just to keep that card train rolling, but that opens the very real question of what we cut.
I would love to find a way to add green for Deeproot Champion, which feels right at home here. The problem there is that green offers little else to the gameplan. Shapers' Sanctuary has potential but ultimately won't draw us enough cards to help.
More to Explore
We've just barely scratched the surface, friends. As card availability stops being a problem and people have a better idea of what they need to attack, we will see more brews popping up. I have a few more ideas (Green Stompy, black aggro, Big Red) but they aren't coalescing into a full 60 just yet. For example, I know the green deck wants Rhonas's Last Stand, Merfolk Branchwalker Old-Growth Dryads, and Narnam Renegade...but that's as far as I've gone. If you have ideas for this or other decks, please share them!
That's all we have for today, folks. As always, thanks for stopping by the LAB – where Lansdell's Always Brewing. I am taking this month off from travel, which should mean more time to test my brews...unless I end up playing Canadian Nationals. Until next time...Brew On!