Attacking creatures you control have double strike
This card is not out of the question when considered purely on rate. A 2/3 for four mana isn’t anything to write home about, but — even without wide-going teammates or buff spells — it is essentially a 4/3 on offense. And of course you only play Blade Historian with teammates.
This is a card that really makes our old pal Alpine Houndmaster look good. You were already in red and white, right? One Alpine Houndmaster gives you plenty of material to give double strike to, and this is a red-white card that can in fact magnify the power buffs on the Houndmaster or Igneous Cur.
Blade Historian is Basically a Seven Drop Human
The real gas for Blade Historian is in the old Agent of Treachery role. Play Winota on your fourth turn, swing with some Dogs, make the Strixhaven Human Cleric, and hit really really hard.
Again, all these cards are already in red and white; so unlike with Agent of Treachery, you don’t have to bend on colors or anything. In fact, you can just cast either four on four to set up a high impact attack.
To that end, you can also not cast one of your big four creatures on that critical turn. If the opponent is holding back a key removal spell, you might be better off showing them Showdown of the Skalds for a similarly powerful play that doesn’t play into a removal-heavy hand.
Target player draws two cards, then discards two cards
Target player creates a Treasure token
Destroy target artifact
The Command is already showing up in multiple kinds of decks. Welcome to Standard, Strixhaven! Whether a new addition to Temur Adventures or backing one of many brand spanking new Izzet — sorry Prismari — u-r decks, this card is surprising no one with its contribution.
Prismari Command draws and discards two cards
One style of Prismari in Standard is focused on drawing and discarding cards. The Royal Scions and Teferi, Master of Time power the engine of the archetype. On the one hand it’s boosting this two drop enchantment:
At the same time, it generates extra cards by playing with Escape. Ox of Agonas and Phoenix of Ash give it additional paths to card advantage.
Or… Make a Treasure token!
The other new Izzet build plays a ton of cards that make a Treasure token. Consider Magma Opus:
This card can make a Treasure token on turn two. Consequently, you can play a four mana spell on turn three! A Torrent Sculptor appreciates its total casting cost. So does a Draconic Intervention. Galazeth Prismari will just replace the Treasure on the spot!
Our Command might not be as fast at producing a Treasure to Ramp. But it’s certainly on plan!
There is a lot going on here! What kind of opponents does this deck murder? Where does it struggle?All in good time… But what kind of deck is Mono-Blue Snow?
Snow as a Delver Deck
Ascendant Spirit is a great way to start the game for a Mono-Blue deck. This deck plays eight one mana creatures, which makes it a little challenging to categorize… But the presence of this one means that it can play a potentially aggressive game.
Using your one mana on turn one to get a body on the battlefield just allows for a wildly different kind of game than one where you have to invest the mana later.
Mono-Blue Snow as Jushi Blue
Supplementing Ascendant Spirit at the one is Frost Augur. Mono-Blue Snow utilizes this creature like an cheaper Jushi Apprentice. Yes, it has one less toughness. Yes, it’s card draw is a lot less consistent than just always drawing a card.
But it’s half the mana to get on the battlefield, and two-thirds less to operate! Regardless, a 1/2 for one mana is a nice body for slowing down opposing offense.
At the high end of the curve is Icebreaker Kraken. “High end” being a little misleading given that you will often spend very little mana for this alleged twelve drop.
But imagine you have six lands in play… That’s six remaining, for an 8/8! MichaelJ used to take control of the battlefield by making a 5/5 for six. The 2021 version of Keiga, the Tide Star is actually 60% bigger. And by Keiga, we mean Yosei.
Check out the chatter on this exciting new deck, including detailed matchups and brewing new tools here:
Were you perhaps asking after Valkmira, Protector’s Shield?
To be fair, we are in fact talking about a modal double-faced card. But I wasn’t in fact talking about the Legendary Artifact mode on Reidane, God of the Worthy. Certainly there are applications (and things can go comically wrong for certain opponents going wide)… But I was really just thinking about the range of damage that the front-side can do.
Reidane, God of the Worthy is great going multiple directions
So this creature is a 2/3 flyer for three mana… with vigilance to boot!
That’s… Not bad. It’s got a little less deathtouch and lifelink than a onetime best 2/3 flyer for three mana ever; but vigilance can give you a nice measure of offense-defense.
But what’s so devastating about this card?
Snow lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped.
What an awesome way to race! Both your fellow mono-white aggro decks and the current incarnation of the Red Deck play 20+ snow lands. How else are they going to turn on Faceless Haven? Power up Frost Bite?
Noncreature spells your opponents cast with converted mana cost 4 or greater cost 2 more to cast.
While Michael’s perspective on this card is — perhaps predictably — as a Red Deck foil, Patrick thinks this card is mostly there to keep opponents off of being able to cast Emergent Ultimatum and other Ramp-driven nonsense.
In fact, it’s good in both cases!
How do you fight Reidane, God of the Worthy?
Not well, in all likelihood.
If you go low, trying to handle it one-on-one, you run the risk of a Selfless Savior or Alseid of Life’s Bounty keeping it around.
How about sweeping up all the white creatures at once? What? With your four-or-more-mana Wrath of God effect?
That awesome Emergent Ultimatum list!
Sweet Standard singletons
The return of Improbable Alliance to Boros Cycling
Feasting Troll King is Finally a Winning Strategy in Standard!
“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?
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.
Gruul has most of the good tools from Mono-Green. Down to The Great Henge.
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
(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
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, 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…
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:
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!
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?
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 — 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
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 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
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.
With Dimir untouched by the bans, Dimir has risen in Standard popularity… This strategy preys on Dimir’s “Milling” offense and small creatures
With Modal Double-Faced lands, the mana in this deck is solid… Competitive, even, with a one-color Embercleave deck like Mono-Red
Speaking of which, it has dorks to carry an Embercleave (if that is your jam)
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!
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 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!