Feasting Troll King Snacks on Standard

Feasting Troll King is Finally a Winning Strategy in Standard!

Feasting Troll King

“Three eggs is not much of a feast.”

… But it’s very topical!

We hope you feasted this week 😉

Feasting Troll King is at the top end of a Mono-Green deck that has many of the same trappings we’ve seen already… Lovestruck Beast… The Great Henge… But it rules the mid-game with Trail of Crumbs and the Food tokens from Gilded Goose.

Along for the ride will be several other Food cards, like Witch’s Oven, Trail of Crumbs, and Wicked Wolf.

Green Deck Battle! Mono-Green or Gruul Aggro?

After a little thought, Mike switched his allegiance from Mono-Green to Gruul heads up. Why?

  1. The mana is just too good. A nice array of Modal Double-Faced lands give Gruul great flexibility over Mono-Green, with relatively low deck building costs.
  2. Gruul has most of the good tools from Mono-Green. Down to The Great Henge.
  3. But really? It’s Embercleave! The creature selection in Gruul shows a powerful upgrade over the 1/1 creatures of Mono-Red.

So Many Copies of Mazemind Tome

Mazemind Tome

It’s everywhere!

(or at least lots of places)

  • Blink it with Yorion!
  • Smooth out your mana early
  • Grab a few life points
  • Play two, side in the other two
  • Bring it in with some Duress to handle Control decks. Actually… It’s a little more nuanced than that.

… All this and lots more!

Listen now to hear us pick apart Abzan Midrange and heap praise on the new dominant player in the metagame: Dimir Control

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We Have Reached the Main Deck Ox of Agonas Stage

Ox of Agonas is Filling Out a Main Deck Near You!

How about that for a main deck card

Ox of Agonas is a reasonably established sideboard card… But seeing this in the main deck of Mono-Red Beatdown indicates a heretofore unheard-of level of metagame bias.

It’s not that Mono-Red can’t plausibly play, say, one five drop. But we don’t know that it should be this five drop. (Like Terror of the Peaks might make more sense.) The Mono-Red Beatdown deck doesn’t consistently get to five mana in the first place… So this is a card played in anticipation of being milled by Ruin Crab or one of its buddies. The plan is not to play it for five, but rather to play it for two.

We see multiple copies of the same in Temur Ramp… But that’s at least an archetype that can get to five (often early after a Cultivate).

Weird maybe, but probably good. What’s not good though…

Who Do You Even Want Shatterskull Smashing Against?

Shatterskull Smashing

Shatterskull Smashing, despite being played typically as a three-of or even four-of in Mono-Red, doesn’t seem good to us at all.

It is the DEFINITION of bad spell and bad land. As a spell, this card doesn’t sit great in a deck that, again, doesn’t get an awful lot of lands onto the battlefield. But its the role as a land that really stings.

All the Mono-Red Aggro decks play four copies of Castle Embereth. Just one Mountain will turn every copy of Castle Embereth you draw “on” for the rest of the game. But what if your first “Mountain” (read: untapped source of red) is a Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass? You’re twice bitten, right? First by the three life you’re forced to invest to get down what is probably a kind of ratty one drop; and then later every time you want to play a Castle Embereth.

This card is increasingly a liability if Mono-Red establishes itself as a top contender. More mirror matches means more opportunities to start the opponent on a free Lava Spike. Ouch!

Totally reasonable in Ramp decks, though.

Speaking of Ratty One Drops…

Welcome to the one, Fireblade Charger

This card might not look like much, but it’s got nice synergies with Torbran, Castle Embereth, and surprisingly, Embercleave. We envision quite a surprise when the opponent sweeps your board but leaves the ‘cleave.

Way better than that red Steppe Lynx, anyway :/

You Probably Won’t Believe this Yasharn, Implacable Earth deck!

Go ahead. Mike didn’t know what it did initially, either:

Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Seriously, how great is a four mana / draw two that leaves a 4/4 body? This card is nutso on rate!

… And it even has another line of text!

Sorry, Enchantments-Aristocrats mirror; bigger sorry, Doom Foretold. This Boar is keeping your bacon right where it is!

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The World According to Ruin Crab

So What’s So Great About Ruin Crab?

Ruin Crab is one of Standard’s key pieces of offense

Now that many of Standard’s most powerful cards have fallen by the wayside — or been banned as it were — the format has a brand new top deck. Or at least pair of top decks.

The newer kid on the block seems to be Dimir Rogues… Which while it plays like eight Rogues… Isn’t 100% Rogues. The last four creature slots belong to (you guessed it) Ruin Crab.

This card has, maybe deceptively, a lot going for it. For one thing, the price is right. At only one mana, you can play it super early, and against the increasingly infrequent Mono-Red beatdown decks, it is an outstanding defender. For its cost, anyway.

Ruin Crab is relatively irresistible. It doesn’t have to rumble in The Red Zone, but it gets along really well with, say, a Fabled Passage.

Subtly, the casting cost has more value even than normal. Dimir Rogues can play a variety of higher impact instants and sorceries while containing all their creatures at one or two mana. The Crab at one makes it a perfect re-buy with Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Some Dimir players are also packing Call of the Death-Dweller.

That Means EVERYONE is Playing Crab Beatdown, Right?

… Well, not quite.

The Crab is good… But it’s not “only”.

Remember this Companion?

Yorion, Sky Nomad

While playing the Crab yourself makes Lurrus of the Dream-Den a great Companion, the so-called limitation on Yorion, Sky Nomad might be an advantage.

Gotta play eighty cards? When your mode opponent is trying to Mill you out with Crab / Landfall triggers, starting with twenty extra cards in your library is much like adding a Renewed Faith to your opening hand against Mono-Red Burn. What is supposed to be a disadvantage becomes an edge against Dimir!

Even in the Dimir sub-metagame, some folks opt for a one-drop Merfolk rather than the Crab:

Merfolk Windrobber:
“faster than a 0/3”

Merfolk Windrobber — with its ability to attack with actual power (sometimes buffed by another Rogue ) is faster on offense if the opponent has 80 starting cards. Some decks play both Ruin Crab and Merfolk Windrobber!

Finally, the Naya decks have bent their mana bases around the Crab’s Milling attack. Logically these decks probably want to max out on Evolving Wilds and play only one Plains and only one Mountain… But the risk of losing one of those basics to a random Mill is so great, Naya decks cut a couple of Evolving Wilds for an extra one of each basic.

Oh, Make Sure You Stay Tuned for the Pioneer Section

Wow.

We’ll let you get to it:

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What Do We Do Now that Escape to the Wilds is Banned?

Why Was Escape to the Wilds Banned in Standard?

Escape to the Wilds…
Banned in Standard!

We all know what just happened.

Patrick and Michael both thought that Omnath, Locus of Creation should have been banned alongside Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath a few weeks ago.

With Omnath not banned, the so-called Omnath-Adventures deck took off mightily in Standard. Patrick argued that the ban to Uro might have actually been a “buff” to Omnath rather than a detriment to its popularity… This seems to have borne out in the most recent ladders and big MTG Arena events.

Omnath ended up joining the skeleton of a deck already chock full of two-for-ones… Three-for-ones (or better!) with Lucky Clover.

Escape to the Wilds was a powerful bridge in Ramp-style Omnath decks, and the previous (Temur) Adventures deck already played the card. It bears mentioning that Escape to the Wilds is a natural three-to-five play following a Cultivate or Beanstalk Giant (or previously Uro), making it a more convenient [if less blatantly powerful] Ramp play than Genesis Ultimatum.

The Two Mana Artifact That Joined Escape to the Wilds on the Banned List This Week…

Lucky Clover

Lucky Clover was a Staple in one of the most celebrated decks from last Spring. It offers tremendous card advantage to a deck that is basically all Adventures.

Why ban it now?

For one thing, the Clover was already part of the too-dominant Omnath-Adventures deck… So that put the strategy over the top of where it once was, as one of multiple viable ones.

But perhaps more importantly, it is difficult to deal with, especially main deck. Compare the card to Edgewall Innkeeper. The Innkeeper is a little 1/1 for G. Powerful? Sure! But also pretty easy to kill. The artifact, on the other hand, requires specialized interaction to get off the battlefield.

Notably, Edgewall Innkeeper was left in Standard. That means that Gruul Adventures decks (and whatever Adventures you might dream up) will remain viable for the foreseeable.

Speaking of Adventures… Bonecrusher Giant is the Best Card in the Format

Bonecrusher Giant

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant was played in almost every deck… Not just every archetype, every deck at last weekend’s de facto World Championships. Only a single Dimir deck didn’t play it.

The card is great with Lucky Clover and Edgewall Innkeeper… Heck, is great in general. It’s about the most punishing card you can run against “fair” … And we predict fair will be on the rise with the broken mana engines largely removed from Standard.

Maybe Bonecrusher Giant should be the next card on the chopping block?

So Where Should You Be Playing Your Stomps-slash-Giants Now?

At least for now, we believe there is a clear best choice in Standard.

  1. With Dimir untouched by the bans, Dimir has risen in Standard popularity… This strategy preys on Dimir’s “Milling” offense and small creatures
  2. With Modal Double-Faced lands, the mana in this deck is solid… Competitive, even, with a one-color Embercleave deck like Mono-Red
  3. Speaking of which, it has dorks to carry an Embercleave (if that is your jam)
  4. Finally, it features the next 6/6 Titan up… Kroxa!

Rakdos seems perfectly poised to be Standard’s next “best” deck. Kroxa itself will be a free card thanks to the opposing Vantress Gargoyle or Soaring Thought-Thief!

… Not to mention your own self-mill and card advantage tools.

It’s big enough to flat-out beat beatdown threats, often even if they’re carrying Embercleaves! And of course, Kroxa can come back from the dead if need be.

Finally, Rakdos even anticipates the mirror with Elspeth’s Nightmare… A card that singlehandedly takes out a two mana creature, gains a little card advantage, and puts a huge hole in the opposing Escape plan.

For more of these Magical thoughts, tune in for “What Do We Do Now That Escape the Wilds is Banned?” now!

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Let’s Talk About Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is dominating new Standard

The Best Card in… the Best Deck?

Last week, Michael and Patrick made their predictions on what might be the best deck once the bans of Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi, Time Raveler settled.

Would it be Temur Adventures?

Mono-Black Beatdown?

It turns out “the best deck” wasn’t just neither of those… It wasn’t particularly close.

Sultai Ramp (really a big Sultai Midrange deck) took five — count ’em five — of the Top 8 slots in last weekend’s huge 1,000+ player Red Bull tournament. In fact, it took all four slots in the Top 4; and obviously with all those accolades, the title.

One of the biggest reasons?

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath might be the best card [left] in Standard, and Sultai probably breaks that card the most. Not only can it go straight to five for Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Sultai has a powerful end game table-snapper in Casualties of War.

Extinction Event

Extinction Event is one of the cards that makes the Sultai archetype. Unlike some other black-splashed sweepers, Extinction Event 1) costs only a single black mana, and 2) can deal with creatures larger than two toughness or three casting cost.

Subtly, because it is an “exile” rather than “destroy” effect, this sweeper can sweep away an opposing Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath… Permanently.

Finally, Sultai is one of the best possible choices in a world where Mono-Green is a top deck. With Casualties of War capable of destroying a big creature, a Vivien or Nissa, and The Great Henge all in one big move… The deck is also super capable of defending itself early with Aether Gust, Noxious Grasp, or any number of less fancy answers.

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath in Temur Elementals

While Uro might have been at its best last weekend in Sultai, the powerful threat / card drawing spell / accelerator / life gain engine [all-in-one], that wasn’t its only successful home.

Look for a new Temur deck topping up on Genesis Wave and Terror of the Peaks to challenge for Standard’s top spot.

You Know What’s Weird About Uro?

… That there are so many Simic decks that don’t play it!

Temur Adventures with one Cultivate?

Simic Aggro with Wolfwillow Haven instead?

Flash decks that… sideboard the mighty Titan?

Michael Flores and Pro Tour Champion Patrick Chapin puzzle through the emerging Standard (including all these weird omissions) in this week’s episode!

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Teferi, Time Raveler BANNED

Teferi, Time Raveler headlines a TON of surprise bans this week!

Teferi, Time Raveler Headlines an Unexpected — but not unwelcome — Series of Bans

There were kind of A LOT of cards banned — or banned and suspended — this week.

In Standard alone…

  • Growth Spiral (probably the best card in Standard) was banned.
  • Wilderness Reclamation was FINALLY banned. This was a card that has been flirting with a ban since its first Pro Tour
  • In a surprising move, Cauldron Familiar [a bookkeeping challenge] was banned as well!

But Teferi, Time Raveler found himself banned not only in Standard and Brawl… But suspended in Historic as well!

So… Cauldron Familiar… Really?

This one was less about format balance and more about player experience in a digital-first world.

Most Importantly: What’s Up Next?

What are the best cards [left] in Standard?

What are the top decks that players should consider with so many of the pillars of the format knocked on their sides?

One easy way to find out:

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Let’s Talk About the Players Tour Finals

Talk of the Players Tour Finals: Growth Spiral

Growth Spiral
Is Growth Spiral the most dominant card in Standard?

The “bad” news (if you’re a fan of metagame diversity)… Growth Spiral represented about 70% of the Players Tour Finals.

The “good” news then? It only represented 50% of the Top 8!

While Growth Spiral appeared in a variety of decks in the Swiss, including Bant Control and others; in the Top 8, it showed up in essentially two [related] archetypes:

  1. Temur Reclamation – A Wilderness Reclamation deck that starts on the aforementioned Growth Spiral and utilizes its mana engine to make a large Expansion // Explosion or Shark Typhoon. Power, speed, and card advantage… Plus a variety of generally good cards and room for tons of main deck interaction.
  2. Four-color Reclamation – A variation on the above, but adding white for particularly Teferi, Time Raveler. The while splash ups land counts to as high as 30/60 including Raugrin Triome. Those Plains give Four-color Reclamation some improved tools, for example Dovin’s Veto over Negate. Solar Blaze over Storm’s Wrath helps this deck keep its Teferi in play while defending itself.

These two decks made up about half the Players Tour Finals field, but still won over 50% of their matches, collectively.

A Hall of Fame Performance for Azorius

Yorion, Sky Nomad defines Standard U/W

Raphael Levy was one of only three Azorius competitors in the Players Tour Finals. His 80-card deck played one Yorion, Sky Nomad in the sideboard as its Companion… and two in the main deck!

A study in synergy, this deck packs a ton of enchantments that Yorion can blink — like Omen of the Sea, Omen of the Sun, or The Birth of Meletis… And crossed over with Archon of Sun’s Grace for even more flying creatures; even more enchantment synergy.

Most creature decks did not perform well at the Players Tour Finals; and they really would not want to contend with this deck’s Shatter the Sky.

Two Creature Decks That Did Perform…

… Are Mono-Black Aggro and Mardu Winota.

Only one copy of either archetype was played in the tournament; both won 77% of their matches. Both made Top 8.

Mono-Black Aggro today is extremely biased. Playing cards like Hunted Nightmare, it assumes that there won’t be many opposing creatures to interact with on the ground.

Hunted Nightmare usually has a pretty big disadvantage. Usually.

A 4/5 creature for only three mana, Hunted Nightmare is a very efficient beatdown creature if no one is getting deathtouch. Regardless, it’s got great stats-to-casting cost numbers; and is hard to block.

Mono Black is biased beyond even this card… With both main deck Duress and Kitesail Freebooter, it can be flat-out bad against opposing creature dense decks.

Example: Michael Jacobs’s Mardu Winota deck plays almost all creatures and only 4 Raise the Alarm for non-creature spells!

Among this deck’s hits are Basri’s Lieutenant, Lazotep Reaver, and Woe Strider… The coolest Woe Striders in history mind you. That 0/1 Goat is there to rumble in The Red Zone.

But which deck did we really dislike?

Pretty easy way to find out 🙂

Check out “Let’s Talk About the Players Tour Finals” here and now!

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Everything Old is New Again in Standard!

New stuff is still new, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Peer into the Abyss:
New, weird, and extremely powerful

Nissa, Who Shakes the World in Mono-Green

Mike is a huge fan of EDEL’s recent innovations in Mono-Green.

At the top end we see The Great Henge AND Nissa, Who Shakes the World!

The Great Henge is an awesome three-four combination with Lovestruck Beast; while — essentially to the surprise of no one — Nissa, Who Shakes the World provides an entirely new dimension to Mono-Green play.

It’s all about hiding behind your creatures until you get to Nissa’s ultimate… Then if you can lose after drawing twenty or so extra cards… Okay, you’re probably not going to lose very many of those games.

Rotting Regisaur in Mono-Black

Aggressive decks are doing well in Standard right now. Not just Mono-Green… But Mono-Black has stormed back with a Vengeance.

One of the main reasons is the return of Rotting Regisaur. Once again the biggest bad in the format, Rotting Regisaur provides a semi-combination with a new card from Core Set 2021:

Rotting Regisaur can discard Demonic Embrace with little penalty

Before you successfully Hellbent yourself, your Rotting Regisaur will often do a little damage to your cards in hand. If you have to discard an action spell… It might as well be Demonic Embrace!

Not only can you cast Demonic Embrace from your graveyard later in the game, but it can also set up a ten-point smash with the Rotting Regisaur that put it there in the first place.

Speaking of older cards, Blacklance Paragon is quietly one of the most effective cards in this archetype… Despite its being a Knights-poor deck

Everything New… Is Also Still New

So up top we teased out the new card Peer into the Abyss.

… But how do you even cast that?

May we suggest a…

Titans’ Nest

Mono-Green blah blah. Mono-Black blah blah. Updates to Rakdos oh sure.

But Peer into the Abyss plus Titan’s Nest in a Yorion, Sky Nomad deck?

In the podcast, friends! Find out more now:

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First Looks at Core Set 2021 Standard

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon the spiciest “new” card from M21?

Patrick is not sold on the three-color Casualties of War deck featuring four copies of…

Adding “new” card Ugin, the Spirit Dragon as spicy at all. A mild spice perhaps?

But third turn Cultivate is not too bad; unless you’ve hit a second turn Cultivate via Arboreal Grazer (in which case third turn is disappointing).

But clearly Mike loves 14 four-ofs with “exactly” the correct number of Islands and Swamps. Discipline!

“Ugin is a great card to Ramp into, you know?”

-Patrick Chapin

A Lesson in Glaring Aegis

Glaring Aegis can affect opposing blockers

Small note for folks interested in beating down with white weenie creatures. Mike has actually played a lot of the White Auras deck with Lurrus of the Dream-Den over the last month or three, and makes a strong argument for four copies of Glaring Aegis (versus three or fewer).

Glaring Aegis is actually one of the only cards in your deck that can interact with the opponent’s side of the battlefield (or for that matter, one of the only cards that you can put into your graveyard).

The theory is that you can put Glaring Aegis on your Alseid of Life’s Bounty, tap one of the opponent’s creatures of color x, and give your attacker protection from color y. Both Alseid and Glaring Aegis go to the graveyard. Now you play the Aegis from your graveyard, tapping another creature, and ultimately getting in for one extra damage.

This is how you get past two colors of defense, exploit your option for Lurrus card advantage, and punch for one more damage.

So now you know!

But what about…

Lurrus of the Dream-Den main deck?

Archfiend’s Vessel

A new build of Rakdos Sacrifice playing multiple copies of Lurrus of the Dream-Den main deck enables you to break Archfiend’s Vessel.

Lurrus and Rakdos Sacrifice were no strangers to one another before, but instead of a now-expensive Companion, Lurrus is promoted to main deck. This lets you aggressively play and trade Archfiend’s Vessel early. It’s a 1/1 lifelink for one mana… Not “bad” at all.

But if you can trade it, or sacrifice it with one of your numerous Cauldron Familiars or Village Rites, main-deck Lurrus lets you play one quickly out of the graveyard. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO LOSE?

… And getting a Deathtouch counter on Mayhem Devil with Call of the Death-Dweller is a heck of a machine gun, itself.

And so many more M21 deck lists…

  • Punching for zero with Primal Might
  • Patrick explains playing Jolrael to Mike (or tries)
  • How to get even more value from Frantic Inventory
  • And more!

Check it out now:

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The Many Faces of Yorion, Sky Nomad

The man — err… Bird Serpent — of the hour:
Yorion, Sky Nomad

Yorion, Sky Nomad has taken over as the most popular and successful Companion in Standard over the course of the last week!

It’s no Lurrus of the Dream-Den in powered formats [yet], but for the low low cost of twenty extra cards in your library, this card can become a reliable source of massive card advantage and synergy.

Tale’s End; with and against Yorion, Sky Nomad

The popularity of Companions makes Tale’s End a versatile tool for Standard

First thing’s first: Tale’s End is a reliable “Essence Scatter” type in a format with so many Companions. Even better, it usually trades favorably on tempo… Two for three; even two for six!

But that’s not all!

Many decks play Legendary permanents other than their Companions… Whether a ubiquitous Planeswalker or Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath in Temur Reclamation, Tale’s End can counter them for two.

You can counter the ability of Priest of Forgotten Gods! What a beating on the battlefield that would be!

Or how about countering a Cycling activation? Trading a permission spell for a card drawing spell has never been completely out of the question, but these days that might also mean depriving the opponent of a specific trigger or the 1/1 token from an Improbable Alliance.

It’s pretty important to stop the Control Magic-type ability on Agent of Treachery in these Yorion decks, too! Don’t sleep on Tale’s End.

Popular Builds with Yorion, Sky Nomad

  • Jeskai – Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast can team up with the token creatures from a variety of sources (Castle Ardenvale, Shark Typhoon, even Omen of the Sun) to upgrade into Agent of Treachery.
  • Arcanist’s Owl – In a non-Lukka build… The Owl can help dig to Fires of Invention or rack up triggers from Archon of Sun’s Grace.
  • Four-color – If you’re already in the market for an Omen of the Sun, what about Calix, Destiny’s Hand for a green splash? The deck is full of all kinds of enchantments, up to and including Fires of Invention, and digging to them is generally welcome. Given all the enchantments, Calix is reliable removal, too.

Yorion combines brilliantly with all these enters the battlefield effects. Omen of the Sea, Omen of the Sun, and even Omen of the Forge represent card advantage coming and going and coming back again!

Load your battlefield up with 187-style permanents and Yorion, Sky Nomad will pay you back, reliably, circa turn five.

Learn all the secrets of the Sky Nomad in this week’s podcast:

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