MTG Arena Standard Decks to Try Post Teferi Ban
Boy has MTG Arena changed a lot this year! The meta has swung wildly to and fro, with one deck ultimately dominating everything. Before we know it, that deck gets banned out in some way or another. In Physical Magic, this can cost players a lot of money. If you spent $600 on a deck, and now $400 of it is suddenly invalid, that’s got to be frustrating. That’s another talk for another day. Today we’re talking about standard MTG Arena decks post-Teferi ban.
Teferi, Time Raveler, Wilderness Reclamation, Cauldron Familiar and Growth Spiral were banned from Standard. What does this mean? It means that it’s a whole new world for MTG Arena’s standard meta! This is the first time I’ve felt comfortable playing Standard in months, which is no mean feat. If you want to learn more about the bans, we’ve got you covered.
Historic wasn’t impacted quite as hard, but it did lose Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi, Time Raveler, and that’s enough for me. Perhaps if WOTC had done more work to future proof the game, or spent more time in R&D, these situations would not have happened. The link above goes into greater detail on that for you. However, the meta is still shaping up! We have no real idea of what will be on top in the competitive scene until the next major PT happens. In the meantime, we can look at some decks that are powerful and probably deserve a shot.
I’ve seen some wild decks though! Some are predictable, like Gruul Aggro. Then there’s wacky nonsense like Izzet Riddleform decks that take advantage of tons of instants, The Royal Scions and Mirrormade. From there, we have also seen what Rakdos Aggro has evolved into. Trust us, Rakdos is still very strong.
These aren’t unstoppable, world-breaking will always win all the time decks, I can promise you. But they are a lot of fun, offer some overwhelming power, and do something other than wait people out with Wilderness Reclamation and Teferi. Mana Ramp can very much still happen in a lot of ways. Don’t worry that those high-cost Ugins won’t ever see play again, because nothing is further from the truth.
We’ll be updating this as we discover more tech/get battered by interesting content, so keep your eyes here for plenty of awesome MTG Arena decks post-Teferi ban! Perhaps the most fitting way to start the deck is to show that Simic is still powerful despite the loss of Growth Spiral.
Mighty Mutatin’ Power Monsters (Simic Ramp/Mutate – Midrange/Aggro)
Sure, Growth Spiral is gone, gone forever. The original version of this deck ran Paradise Druid as another option for mana, but I had another thought. How about instead, we use Sea-Dasher Octopus for card draw? This gives us potentially far more mana. We already have Arboreal Grazer to play extra lands, and as a fun turn-2 Mutate option. We’re also going to use Migratory Greathorn for a similar purpose. Technically this isn’t Simic, but I’ll go into that soon.
I honestly thought about putting an Ugin into this deck. Maybe just one, but we’ll see how it goes from here. Let’s talk about this deck. I listed it as Midrange and Aggro. Why? Because it can go very fast and win out of nowhere. You’re more likely to see the more midrange plays. But I have seen this deck have 7 or 8 mana by turn 4 or so, and we’re ready to win. The obvious danger for this deck is stacking all of your mutate options onto one creature. Your opponent just has to destroy that one option. A lot of Mutate decks rely on having one creature out, and that’s all you need to win. Auspicious Starrix, after a few mutations, can do some vile things while that’s neat. So, what’s our end game? We aren’t running a single non-creature spell, after all.
We want to hit them in the face so hard that their brain turns into mush from trying to figure out all the numbers! Mutate’s best thing is that there’s almost no wrong card to pick to Mutate onto!
What Is Mutate?
For those of you not aware, Mutate is a new MTG keyword. It lets you cast a creature as a Mutation. You attach the Mutation creation on the top or bottom of non-human you picked (that’s important. Humans can’t Mutate).
Whichever creature is on top takes on the stats/casting cost relevant for combat, spells, and effects. You also gain whatever keywords and text featured on both creatures. If you cast Migratory Greathorn as a Mutation onto Arboreal Grazer and put the Greathorn on top, you now have a ¾ with Reach, and anytime it mutates, you can search your library for a Basic Land.
One of the other more potent things about Mutate is that the abilities stack. Stack? Let’s use Arboreal Grazer as an example again. First, we Mutate Parcelbeast onto it to make it a 2/4 that can look at the top card of our library. Then we give it Migratory Greathorn to shift it to a ¾. This adds “Whenever this creature mutates, search your library for a basic land, and put it into play tapped.” Every time we Mutate after this point, this will trigger again.
Then we cast Gemrazer to destroy a target artifact or enchantment an opponent controls each time we Mutate. This can also turn our Grazer into a 4/4 with Reach and Trample (but we already had Reach). That’s 4 Mutations. We follow up with Auspicious Starrix. Now, whenever we Mutate, we exile cards from the top of our library until we exile X permanents. Those permanents come into play! Then all we have to do is constantly Mutate this creature with cheap ones like Parcel Beast or Gemrazer.
Now, it just stacks up more and more. This is also how we get repeated permanents into play, like our End-Raze Forerunners and an Ilhuna, Apex of Wishes. We can mutate that too, though! That card is the reason this is technically not a Simic Deck. Illuna, Apex of Wishes is a Red/Green/Blue Legend with Flying and Trample. But when you mutate it, exile cards from your library until exile a nonland, and then put that into play or your hand.
Here’s where my deck differs from the earlier build I saw. We include Sea-Dasher Octopus as another great way of getting cards in hand. It’s a normally 3-cost creature but mutates for 2 (1 blue). It also has Flash so that you can do it during your opponent’s turn. Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card. You can stack this effect too! We always need more card draw.
Our last Mutate creature is Pouncing Shoreshark, which has Flash and is a 4/3. This means we can Mutate during the other player’s turn and stop whatever nonsense they had going on. In response to their attack, you can flash this in and Mutate it. Whenever this creature Mutates, you may return a creature an opponent controls to its owner’s hand. No more attacking! No more annoying token creature like an 11/11 Flying Shark!
That’s what makes this deck so potent. Our effects trigger over and over each time a creature mutates. But what if we want to do this a little faster? Migratory Greathorn and Arboreal Grazer are fantastic for getting more land in play. But we also have the Pollywog Symbiote as a way to make creatures cheaper. Each creature spell we cast that has Mutate costs 1 colorless less. Plus, whenever we cast a creature spell that has Mutate, we draw a card then discard a card. I’m less thrilled about the discard, if we have no cards in hand, anyway.
The hardest part of this deck is if you stick to just one creature and Mutate it into the Heavens, or once you use Starrix if you start Mutating those creatures too. Once that chain has started, you’re free to use your Mutations on other creatures if you need to. You just have to keep an eye on how the game state is going. If the other player has no way to counter-act you (board wipe, individual creature removal), the world is your oyster.
Our big game-winning move is to hit a huge Starrix Mutate, preferably pulling 6 or 7 permanents. This should lead to at least one (but hopefully both) of our End-Raze Forerunners. That will give our attackers +2/+2, Vigilance, and Trample until end of turn. So then you swing with surety and safety. This deck is also strong against heavy artifact/enchantment decks. I’ve seen a lot of UW Auras, White Artifacts, and decks of this ilk. Simply stack Gemrazer early and start spamming Mutates. Every time you do, you can destroy an artifact or enchantment. It’s so powerful, and with the right targets, your opponent’s moves will crumble under the weight of your monstrous force.
4 Pollywog Symbiote (IKO) 63
4 Auspicious Starrix (IKO) 144
2 Pouncing Shoreshark (IKO) 64
4 Parcelbeast (IKO) 199
3 Migratory Greathorn (IKO) 165
4 Gemrazer (IKO) 155
4 Sea-Dasher Octopus (IKO) 66
3 Illuna, Apex of Wishes (IKO) 190
2 End-Raze Forerunners (RNA) 124
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
2 Fabled Passage (M21) 246
11 Forest (UST) 216
2 Castle Garenbrig (ELD) 240
6 Island (UST) 213
1 Castle Vantress (ELD) 242
4 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149
I love this deck. Out of the various decks to come back to MTG Arena post-Teferi ban, this is one of my favorites. It’s one I wanted to play earlier, but constantly got held back by Teferi’s counterplay removal. We were no longer able to risk playing creatures because we had no way to stop the other player from slowing the game to a crawl. However, now we can do wild things like drop 10 permanents into play at once! That’s the best part about this deck: Everything we have is permanent! You don’t have to stress about losing a key instant or sorcery because we don’t run any!
Those kinds of cards are for chumps, anyway. From there, you fill your hand with cards, use the newly found lands to mutate even more things, and make triggers pop off! This is another deck with a variety of ways to play it, but this is my personal favorite. Here’s another that I run, now that I’ve taken a bit of a break and come back to this. This version does run Paradise Druid along with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon! Take a peek! They play more or less the same.
The difference is we also run Stonecoil Serpent as a potential Mutate target. Since it has Reach, Trample, and Protection from Multi-colored in it, we’re reasonably safe from most threats. If it’s the top creature in the Mutation pile, it’s also safe from Ugin’s -X ability.
3 Pouncing Shoreshark
3 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
3 Temple of Mystery
3 Stonecoil Serpent
3 Sea-Dasher Octopus
4 Pollywog Symbiote
4 Paradise Druid
4 Migratory Greathorn
2 Illuna, Apex of Wishes
2 Gilded Goose
2 Castle Vantress
3 Castle Garenbrig
4 Breeding Pool
4 Auspicious Starrix
1 Shifting Ceratops
1 Sea-Dasher Octopus
1 Pouncing Shoreshark
1 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
3 Elder Gargaroth
2 Destiny Spinner
1 Wicked Wolf
1 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate
Stomping Time! (Gruul Aggro/Midrange)
I have two Gruul decks here, but I’m going to focus on the one I use the most personally. The alternate also runs Rhythm of the Wild, Scavenging Ooze and Elder Gargaroth. Sadly, I don’t have a playset of Gargaroths, so that deck has to wait. It’s fundamentally similar. That’s the great thing about Gruul, it never really changes. It’s still going to be “hit the other player in the face until they melt.” But thanks to new cards like Terror of the Peaks, we don’t necessarily have to fight the player’s face!
There are plenty of new, ridiculous things we can do, and lots of fun tech/combos in this deck. We have ways to stop your opponent from playing Enchantments/Artifacts, thanks to Mutations you might be familiar with from the last deck. We’ve got mana ramp (sort of)! Fast, hard-hitting creatures! Radha, Heart of Keld for sudden bursts of damage! We can even destroy lands, sort of! My favorite thing to do if the other player has no answers/removal is the mid-game Terror of the Peaks/Stonecoil Serpent combo, which I’ll get into soon enough.
We can even make our creatures cost less, thanks to Marauding Raptor and our Companion of choice, Umori, the Collector. It’s a very flexible deck that also pounds people into rubbish. If I had to, I’d remove one or two cards to put Embercleave in. Why? Because it’s Embercleave! It’s amazing! Perhaps if you’re feeling confident, remove one or two of your Mutators (Gemrazer and Migratory Greathorn) if you must.
We’ve got a few other things in the sideboard too if you’re feeling frisky and want to run them mainboard instead. Klothys, God of Destiny is a contender to go in the mainboard. The free damage/mana is always positive. You really can’t go wrong.
How Does It Work?
This is a deck that’s all about getting high amounts of damage on the board very fast. So the best possible start we could have is Arboreal Grazer on turn 1, so turn 3 we have 3 lands. Then we mutate the Grazer with Migratory Greathorn to get yet another basic land from our deck, or Gemrazer if we just want to beat face with a 4/4 on turn 2.
Our best damage is likely going to come from an early Questing Beast. It’s so strong and somehow has stuck it out without seeing any kind of ban. Why? Because it’s powerful, ludicrously so, but is also a Mythic Rare. I still think Questing Beast is entirely too bloated with powers. It’s a 4/4 with Vigilance, Deathtouch, and Haste. Creatures of Power 2 or less can’t block it.
Combat damage you dole out can’t be prevented, and on top of that, whenever it deals combat damage to an opponent, that damage also gets applied to a planeswalker that player controls. The point about this deck is that we want to haul out tons of damage as fast as possible. Our big early-mid game damage comes from the Questing Beast and Shifting Ceratops. This is a card that’s going away in about a month, so let’s use it while we can. It’s a 5/4 that can’t be countered and has Protection from Blue. As blue is incredibly prolific right now, having this means we can freely harm those players. You can also tap 1 green to give it either Reach/Haste/Trample. That means if you have 1 free green when you cast it, you can swing immediately. Most of this deck is in the 4-drop range, so we have to ask ourselves, “How can we cast stuff faster?”
The answer comes from two places. The first is the Marauding Raptor. It deals 2 damage to any creature of yours that comes into play, but it also makes them cost 1 colorless less. But each time that 2 damage pops off on a turn, it also gives the Marauding Raptor +2/+0 until end of turn. Avoid putting two of these into play at once, so you don’t accidentally kill your creatures.
Next is our companion: Umori, the Collector. It takes us about two turns to cast him unless it’s mid-game and we have 6 mana lying about. When we cast this, we pick a card type. Spells of that type cost 1 less colorless mana to cast. If we get both of these, creatures cost 2 less to play! That makes Questing Beast and Shifting Ceratops 2 green mana each. So we can, in theory, drop easily 13 damage in one swing if we’ve also mutated an Arboreal Grazer.
Radha, Heart of Keld technically helps us mana ramp too. She can look at the top card of your deck at any time, and lands from the top of your deck can be played. This makes your Arboreal Grazers useful even longer. Tap 1 green, drop it, and play that land off the top of your deck (and another if possible). Plus, she has an ability that gives her +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of lands you control (for 6 mana – 1 red, 1 green). She’s the reason I want to put Embercleave in the deck for the late game bomb.
Here’s another thought for your Mutations though: Consider Stonecoil Serpent. It’s a 0/0! So when you transform it into a 4/4 with Gemrazer, it becomes a 4/4. When Stonecoil Serpent is cast, it gains X +1/+1 counters, based on how much mana you tap. That means those +1/+1 counters transfer over to the new creature!
End-Raze Forerunners is great for our late game, we have tons of creatures out and want to win option. Remember, it gives our creatures +2/+2 and Vigilance/Trample until end of turn. If you can combine this with Radha’s ability (though it is expensive to do), it’s serious damage. But what if we want just to put an army of creatures out and whittle someone down?
If the other player has no board wipe, here’s a fun trick to use: Terror of the Peaks and Stonecoil Serpent! Terror of the Peaks is a 5/4 flyer for 5 mana. Spells that target it of your opponents cost 3 life more to cast. Whenever one of your creatures comes into play, that creature’s power is dealt to any target.
Consider you spend 10 mana on Stonecoil Serpent. It comes into play as a 10/10, and immediately deals 10 damage to any target. Just ping the other player with it! End-Raze Forerunner would deal 7 damage, Ravager Wurm does 5, and so on. It’s an incredibly powerful combo, and if you want to force the other player to be aggressive when they can’t afford to, it’s a fun combo.
1 Umori, the Collector (IKO) 231
4 Questing Beast (ELD) 171
1 Ravager Wurm (RNA) 200
2 Terror of the Peaks (M21) 164
4 Temple of Abandon (THB) 244
4 Stonecoil Serpent (ELD) 235
4 Stomping Ground (RNA) 259
4 Shifting Ceratops (M20) 194
1 Radha, Heart of Keld (M21) 224
6 Mountain (UST) 215
4 Migratory Greathorn (IKO) 165
4 Marauding Raptor (M20) 150
4 Gemrazer (IKO) 155
10 Forest (UST) 216
2 End-Raze Forerunners (RNA) 124
2 Castle Garenbrig (ELD) 240
4 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149
1 Umori, the Collector (IKO) 231
3 Thrashing Brontodon (M21) 209
1 Klothys, God of Destiny (THB) 220
4 Bonecrusher Giant (ELD) 115
2 Oakhame Adversary (ELD) 167
2 Voracious Hydra (M20) 200
This is a very easy deck to pilot, and I get way more wins than losses with it. It’s very straight forward: you play creatures, and hit the other player with them. Conversely, I want to discuss the alternate strategy, Gruul Gargaroth briefly. This deck uses Rhythm of the Wild to make our creatures uncounterable and gives each creature Riot upon cast. This lets you give them +1/+1 or Haste. One of the downsides of Elder Gargaroth is that you have to pay 5 to cast him, and then wait to use him. When it attacks or blocks you can (choose one):
- Create a 3/3 Green Beast creature token
- Gain 3 life
- Draw a card
You combine Rhythm and him to start stamping on people’s faces. It also uses Gilded Goose, Paradise Druid, and Scavenging Ooze for mana ramp and to manage the enemy player’s graveyard. Other than that, they play virtually identical. You want to put your big mean jerks into play and rapidly punch the other player until they submit. I just really want to find a spot for Embercleave, and that’s the only real hurdle we’re coming up with now. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s wildly satisfying to play either deck.
4 Bonecrusher Giant
1 Castle Embereth
1 Castle Garenbrig
4 Elder Gargaroth
2 Fabled Passage
4 Gilded Goose
2 Heroic Intervention
4 Paradise Druid
3 Questing Beast
3 Radha, Heart of Keld
4 Rhythm of the Wild
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
3 Terror of the Peaks
Sultai Ramp Still Wins (Sultai Midrange)
This deck is proof that we didn’t need Growth Spiral and Wilderness Reclamation to win with Sultai Ramp. It’s not as fast now, because Cultivate is a 3-drop. But in theory, we can turn 2 Cultivate, and turn 3 Nissa, Hydroid, or turn 4 Casualties of War. This is a pretty solid mid-range/control deck, and it has a very sound win-rate. However, I’ve had pretty poor luck with it today, full disclosure. Being out-sped, or taking nine turns in a row where I draw land and have no spells in hand? That’s a pretty bad look.
That kind of thing happens in card games. It’s important to try and not get wound up over it. This is a Superfriends deck. Who are our friends? Teferi, Karn, Nissa, and Ugin! They band together to be absolute jerks to everyone that happens to come across our field of dominance. It might not always feel amazing, but it can stomp its way across the meta. It can even beat RDW with time and patience! They drop all those annoying 1-drop or 2-drop minions, and before they know it, Extinction Event takes center stage and makes them all disappear!
I was torn between featuring this next or Dimir Etrata/Thief, but that will probably show up before. The deck will feel very similar to previous Sultai Midrange decks, except no Teferi, Time Raveler, or Growth Spiral to make it feel impossible to battle against. Sure, I loved completely locking down the board so the other player couldn’t stop me from dropping Nissa, Ugin, et cetera. However, it did completely ruin the state of the game, making it virtually impossible to enjoy.
How Does It Work?
As always, let’s ask ourselves a question: What is the name of the game here? What are we aiming to do with this win? This is one of those MTG Arena decks post-Teferi ban that has a few fun win conditions. The first, the other player simply gives up out of frustration. They can’t break past the control we have of the board. All planeswalkers in play, proccing abilities every turn. We pluck all of the key artifacts from our sideboard (God-Pharaoh’s Statue, Grafdigger’s Cage, Shadowspear) and laugh as the other player slowly crumbles.
We can win by simply letting the Statue ping the other player for 1 every turn until they lose. But that’s not realistic. More than likely, we’re going to mana ramp, Hydroid Krasis, give it a Shadowspear, and swing for tons of damage. Or we make Nissa, Who Shakes the World’s 3/3 lands indestructible with her ultimate ability. We pop Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, as early as possible, and start ramping his loyalty. His -10 unreal.
How to Move Fast?
The real caveat is, “How do we get there fast enough without Growth Spiral?” The answer is pretty simple. If we can start with Arboreal Grazer, Cultivate, and at least three lands, we’re set to start. You turn 1 Grazer, so we have 2 lands. Then next turn, cast Cultivate, grab two more lands, put one into play tapped, the other goes to your hand. If you have another Grazer, that means even more lands on turn 3. From there, we could quite possibly drop Casualties of War to slow the other player down more.
That will give us more than enough mana to do most of our nonsense. From there, we want to Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Cultivate as frequently as possible to mana ramp. Nissa, Who Shakes the World, also gives us a ton of mana ramp. She makes every Forest we have tapped for an additional green mana. It will make Ugin and Hydroid much better/faster. That’s how we mana ramp. This strategy will give you way more than enough mana if you get the cards to make it all happen.
Stopping the Other Player
But we need to be able to stop the other player from doing stuff! Right now, Gruul is incredibly popular, and so is a variety of Red/Green Mutation options. So that’s why we have 1 Aether Gust in the Main Board. If you run into several of these decks back to back, it couldn’t hurt to put a second in. That will make the other player put a Red or Green permanent back on the top or bottom of their library. You can use this on creatures, enchantments, planeswalkers. I like this because now the other player has to draw and play that card again. It’s a time-waster.
You also have lots of Black Removal. Eliminate is our early-mid game creature kill. It destroys a planeswalker or creature with a CMC (converted mana cost) of 3 or less. So there are so many things that this stops. One of the other great early game options is Agonizing Remorse. We get to look at the other player’s hand and choose a nonland card to exile. We can instead, if we want, choose a card in their grave to exile. Did the other player drop Uro? Well, exile it so they don’t get to abuse it!
There’s also Extinction Event. It exiles all creatures with an Even or Odd CMC (our choice). It won’t always get rid of everything, depending on what the other player is doing. But it’s especially potent against tokens and RDW. An important thing to remember: 0 CMC (so tokens) counts as Even. So the other player can be caught with their pants around their ankles.
In the mid/late game, Casualties of War is an absolute godsend. For 6 mana (2 black, 2 green), you can choose One or More: Destroy target artifact, creature, enchantment, land, and planeswalker. If they have all of these out, you can pick them and blow them up! Great for when your opponent desperately needs one land in particular. Or if you just want to harass and slow them down. Overall an amazing card with ramp.
Finally, Karn, the Great Creator hides a few powerful artifacts. His -2 lets him go to the sideboard and pull an artifact to put in hand. Grafdigger’s Cage is a 1-drop that prevents players from casting spells from the graveyard/library, and cards in the library/graveyard can’t enter the battlefield. It stops so much. Now players can’t cast spells off the top of their deck or escape things from the grave. If the other player has a ton of cards in the grave and sets up a Cycle win, Soul-Guide Lantern can exile the player’s entire graveyard!
The other major counterplay option the sideboard hides is Sorcerous Spyglass. It lets us look at the other player’s hand. Then we can name a card (even if it’s not in their hand). Activated abilities of sources with that name can’t be played unless it’s a mana ability. Important Note: This can be a land! If the other player is running Gates, you can target Maze’s End. Its ability to let them win is gone! You can also use it on Planeswalkers, as a note.
But How Do We Win?
A few options are available. Pound the other player with lands from Nissa, Who Shakes the World is feasible. Or we can make a gigantic Hydroid Krasis, slap a Shadowspear on it, and just swing until we win. Another very favorable choice is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Just keep hitting the other player for 3 until his -10 is available. Then drop it, draw 7 cards, gain 7 life, and put up to 7 permanent cards from your hand into play. You can use that in conjunction with Karn, the Great Creator to get expensive artifacts like the Statue and Meteor Golem into play for free.
We can also swing with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, until we win. The end game is whatever comes easiest. Ideally, the other player simply gives up. We keep making more 3/3 indestructible lands and killing anything that plays with Ugin, Casualties of War, et cetera. We can also use Teferi, Master of Time’s ultimate: -10: Take Two Extra Turns after this one. So we make a giant Hydroid, make sure it can’t be blocked, and take two turns!
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (M21) 1
3 Zagoth Triome (IKO) 259
3 Karn, the Great Creator (WAR) 1
3 Watery Grave (GRN) 259
3 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath (THB) 229
1 Teferi, Master of Time (M21) 75
1 Aether Gust (M20) 42
2 Agonizing Remorse (THB) 83
3 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149
1 Blast Zone (WAR) 244
4 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246
2 Casualties of War (WAR) 187
4 Cultivate (M21) 177
2 Eliminate (M21) 97
4 Fabled Passage (M21) 246
3 Forest (UST) 216
3 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183
3 Island (UST) 213
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169
4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253
3 Swamp (UST) 214
3 Extinction Event (IKO) 88
1 Aether Gust (M20) 42
1 Casualties of War (WAR) 187
1 Extinction Event (IKO) 88
1 Mystical Dispute (ELD) 58
1 Polukranos, Unchained (THB) 224
1 Scavenging Ooze (M21) 204
1 Shark Typhoon (IKO) 67
1 Thought Distortion (M20) 117
1 Wilt (IKO) 176
1 Shadowspear (THB) 236
1 Soul-Guide Lantern (THB) 237
1 Grafdigger’s Cage (M20) 227
1 God-Pharaoh’s Statue (WAR) 238
1 Sorcerous Spyglass (ELD) 233
1 Meteor Golem (M20) 232
Despite loving the concept of this deck, it hasn’t worked as well for me today than yesterday. When I do these articles, I give them as deep of a run as I humanly can. What stopped me the most? Dimir Flash/Rogues. Oh, that was miserable. They always had a counter waiting, and we now lack Teferi to stop that. This and Mutate was another really hard match-up. If you don’t get to ramp, or do and have none of the lands you need/spells to start moving, it’s going to be frustrating. Sometimes, that just happens.
But I love how flexible this deck is. We have plenty of planeswalkers, all with useful abilities to help us get into a position to win. The long and the short is that Sultai Ramp still works.
Flash! AHHHHHHH! (Dimir Flash Aggro)
“He’ll save every one of us!” Not my words, the words of Queen, from the 1980 Flash Gordon film! This is a deck I’ve come to use in Standard lately, after seeing it show up time and again on the other side of the table. This is one of the decks that didn’t lose much post-Teferi ban in MTG Arena, so it’s going to be one of the decks that sticks around. Now, when Standard rotates in September, we’ll lose some cards, but I feel this is a style of deck that will stick around. Definitely, “only time will tell” situation. Dimir Flash is frustrating.
Quite frankly, any Flash-themed deck is frustrating. Simic Flash, Mono-Blue Flash, and Dimir Flash (Blue/Black). Originally my idea was mostly Rogues, but then I remembered Blacklance Paragon and Gadwick the Wizened were a pair of cards that exist. There’s also Spectral Sailor. Aren’t Pirates just Sea Rogues?
It shifted from being a “Rogue” deck to “We just play a bunch of really annoying stuff on the other player’s turn, whether they like it or not.” Thanks to Teferi being gone, this deck can shine! After all, he completely negated the other player’s ability to cast spells on the opponent’s turn. Now that that’s on the table again, we’re going to make lots of people frustrated with obnoxious nonsense.
How Does It Work?
Two cards inspired this deck (technically three): Cunning Nightbonder and Slitherwisp. There’s also an honorable mention to Brineborn Cutthroat. Cunning Nightbonder makes your spells with Flash cost 1 colorless less, and can no longer be countered. They can still be destroyed (if they’re creatures), but now you can cast safely. It’s conveniently, also a creature with Flash (Human Rogue, 2/2). So the faster we see one of these 2-drops the better. Following up with Slitherwisp is just vile.
Slitherwisp is a 3/2 with Flash, and whenever you cast another spell with Flash, you draw a card and each opponent loses 1 life. The best part about that? It doesn’t have to be on the other player’s turn! Now, Brineborn Cutthroat gets +1/+1 each time you cast a spell on the other player’s turn. It’s still important to do that as often as possible (if you get him). He’s one of our big game-winners. The longer the game goes on, the bigger he’s going to get.
How Do We Control the Game?
We also have Thieve’s Guild Enforcer to slow people down and have a threatening Rogue in play. Whenever a Rogue we control enters play, each opponent mills two cards. Every creature isn’t a Rogue in this deck, so it’s not game-breaking, but it will be annoying. This creature also gets +2/+1 and deathtouch if your opponent has eight or more cards in the grave.
Thieve’s Guild Enforcer also works well with one of our control spells, Drown in the Loch. It either counters a spell/destroys a creature with CMC less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller’s graveyard. The more cards we can get in their grave, the better. Our other control options are limited. Disfigure gives a creature -2/-2, so use it wisely. Brazen Borrower is a creature we can cast as a spell to bounce a nonland permanent back to its owner’s hand, so that Adventure Spell, Petty Theft is wildly powerful. It’s Instant speed too, so it’s a great way to stop a combat attempt or to bounce a token out of the game. Finally, we also have Heartless Act to destroy a creature with no counters on, or simply remove 3 counters from a creature (which would kill it, if reduced to 0/0). Looking at you, Hydroid.
Quite frankly, you don’t have to batter the other player’s HP down to 0, but it’s fun to do. The more we can inflate our Brineborn, the better. He also synergizes with Gadwick, the Wizened. He’s a legendary human wizard with an X next to his 3 blue mana cost. That X means you draw X cards for however much mana you tap. Plus, whenever we cast a blue spell, we tap a nonland permanent the other player controls. So when we’re ready to start harming people, we can.
Flash in a few creatures, lower their life/draw some cards thanks to Slitherwisp! Bounce one of their permanents out of play with Brazen Borrower, then cast it again as a creature! Tap all their defending creatures, and swing for as much damage as you can muster. I’ve had games where I didn’t attack all that much. I just beat them down by Flashing in creatures again and again. After all, we have 28 Flashable creatures in this deck!
We even have one that we can flash in to die as a blocker! Blacklance Paragon is a Knight with Flash that you’ve probably seen in Mardu Knights decks. When he comes into play, a target Knight gains Deathtouch and Lifelink until end of turn. Since they’re the only Knight in the deck, it targets him, unless you already have another in play. It will deal with quite a few threats, thanks to Deathtouch.
The only hard part of this deck, in my opinion, is figuring out the right time to attack. You don’t want to just throw your creatures away, after all. If you can get an early Brineborn and keep beefing him up, you’ll want to try using him. Remember, it dies to removal. It’s a fun deck. You can just keep people from being aggressive by having lands untapped and cards in hand. The other player just assumes (falsely) that you’re loaded with counterplay options!
We don’t have many, but we can use Gadwick to tap anything they could attack or block with. That’s why, if I have Gadwick in play, I set a stop during their First Main Phase. That way, they cast and have to stop and wait to see if I have a reply. I usually do. That way, I can use that time to tap their attacker, freeing me to swing with my 12/11 Brineborn Cutthroats. That’s the secret to success: patience, discipline. You can ping them down constantly with Spectral Sailor if you want. If you have a buffed Thieve’s Guild Enforcer, you can also attack it because most people don’t want to block Deathtouch. Bait them into it!
4 Blacklance Paragon
1 Fabled Passage
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Watery Grave
1 Castle Locthwain
1 Castle Vantress
3 Spectral Sailor
4 Brineborn Cutthroat
4 Brazen Borrower
2 Whisper Agent
2 Cunning Nightbonder
4 Thieves’ Guild Enforcer
3 Gadwick, the Wizened
2 Drown in the Loch
2 Heartless Act
It’s mean, it’s disrespectful. Turn 2 Nightbonder is one of my absolute things to see. That way, we’re freely able to cast our Flash spells! We don’t ever want to attack with the Cunning Nightbonder unless the other player is 100% unable to block or flash something in response. Don’t forget to set stops during the other player’s turn, especially if they are a faster style of aggro, or can hit you way harder. After we get Gadwick, we want to keep some of our blue spells in hand.
Even if it’s a spare Spectral Sailor or Brineborn Cutththroat, we can use those to tap offending creatures/artifacts. You can also re-cast Gadwick to replace your old one if you want more cards in hand. Sadly, he doesn’t have Flash. He’s the only non-Flash/Instant in the whole deck. The more you play on the other player’s turn, the less control they have over the game. There will be games when you get trampled down before you get set up, and that’s fine. But there are good times, too! Like when you make Brineborns so big, the other player just gives up!
Take your time, play as much of your game on the other player’s turn as possible, and batter their face in with Rogues and Pirates.
Mono-Black Devotion is Here Still! (Black Midrange/Combo)
As long as Gray Merchant of Asphodel is going to be in Standard rotation, Mono-Black will exist in some shape or form. This deck is no exception! This deck runs a few combos, and surprisingly, isn’t’ a sacrifice deck! After all, how can Mono-Black sacrifice exist without Cauldron Familiar? Well, first off, it could. But we wanted to look at something different, and arguably, far more annoying. The deck itself runs a pair of really frustrating combos, and one of them is my favorite to come out of the last set or two.
We’re talking about Underworld Dreams and Peer into the Abyss! It’s not the only main weapon we have. This deck is part Discard, Part Combo, Part Aggro. We can do a little bit of everything, but we do it exceptionally well. Mono-Black Discard is pretty awesome either way. We’re still running Rotting Regisaur while we still can. It’s going away in a month, so let’s look at what damage we can do. After all, we aren’t concerned about having to discard creatures. Liliana, Waker of the Dead will bring them back after all.
Do you know what I like the most about this deck? If we cast Peer into the Abyss against a Yorion deck, they are going to explode. The more cards in the deck, the more dangerous we are. We have so much control in this deck, annoying, low-cost creatures, and ways to keep the other player off our backs while we set up. But how would you like to cast Rotting Regisaur, and then make it a flyer/demon 10/9? Yeah, I know you would. I would too! That’s why I built the deck in Arena.
Let’s get started!
How Does It Work?
The ability to draw extra cards has gotten out of hand for far too many decks. We need to make those players consider the consequences of their actions, which come in the form of Underworld Dreams. Since this is a Mono-Black deck, all we need is 3 lands to make this thing kick-off. Getting one out as early as possible is so important, but getting the other two back-to-back would be devastating. Underworld Dreams make the opponent take 1 damage every time they draw a card.
So, if we get 2 or 3 out? That’s 2-3 damage per card drawn. They could die to their turns if we have a good enough defense, or we can get a 1 card we need, and win the game off of its back. Peer into the Abyss is the other half of the combo, and though we’re only running 1, and it’s a 7-cost, it’s worth including. This makes a player draw half of their deck, and lose half their life. Round up each time. If we can make that happen, it’s an easy victory.
However, that’s not always going to happen. We do want to get one or two Underworld Dreams into play. Not just for the damage (but it is nice), but it’s also to set up another combo. Gray Merchant of Asphodel deals damage to an opponent/gives you life equal to your Devotion to Black. Each Underworld Dreams is 3 black, and then we have Ayara, First of Locthwain, another 3. Yarok’s Fenlurkers are 2 Devotion a piece, as well as Murderous Rider. We can then build up our army of creatures, getting as much devotion as possible since Gary (Gray Merchant) deals damage and gives life based on how many black mana symbols we have on permanents, the more, the better. Our other option? Just hit them in the face until they’re dead.
That can start as early as turn 2, thanks to Knight of the Ebon Legion. It’s a ½ that grows by +1/+1 whenever a player loses 4 or more life a turn, and can also buff itself by +3/+3 (and deathtouch) for a turn, for 3 mana. So we drop that early and weaken the other player’s hand with Vicious Rumors (deals 1 damage, each opponent discards a card, mills a card, and we gain 1 life), and then Yarok’s Fenlurker to make them exile a card from their hand too.
Turn 3 rolls around, and we cast Rotting Regisaur. I mean, it’s a 7/6 that makes us discard a card every turn. If we have no cards in hand, we have no fears! From there, we cast Demonic Embrace on it. The best part about that card is even if we discard it, we can still cast it! We just have to pay 3 life, discard a card, and tap the 3 mana it would normally cost. You can stack two if you have the mana, and give the Regisaur +6/+6 and flying.
That’s a third way to win: just hit the other player with tons of damage. Between it, Rankle, Master of Pranks and the Knight of the Ebon Legion, it’s an easy sweep. If our Regisaur dies, we can also bring it back with Call of the Death-Dweller to even give it Deathtouch/Menace! We could use some control options.
I’ll be brief on control choices because we talk about these cards a lot. Murderous Rider as a spell kills a creature/planeswalker and costs us 2 life. Then Extinction Event, but you have to be careful. Try to avoid exiling your cards if you can. It lets you pick Even or Odd, and all creatures with that CMC get exiled. Liliana, Waker of the Dead is also a way to slow the other player down. We can make both players discard, and if the other player can’t, they lose 3 life (+1), or we can use her to kill a creature (Target Creature gets -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of cards in our grave). But her +7 is the big prize. It lets us take a creature from any graveyard and put it into play with haste.
In their way, Yarok’s Fenlurker (exile a card from their hand) and Blacklance Paragon are also control choices. You can Flash in Blacklance, give your Knight of the Ebon Legion Deathtouch/Lifelink, or flash him in on his own, give it to him, and make him a killer blocker. I also love that Call of the Death-Dweller can bring back any of our creatures but Rankle/Gray Merchant. Rankle is typically pretty safe either way, and Gray Merchant doesn’t show up until it’s time to win usually.
2 Vicious Rumors
2 Grasp of Darkness
2 Blacklance Paragon
2 Ayara, First of Locthwain
1 Peer into the Abyss
1 Extinction Event
1 Ritual of Soot
3 Demonic Embrace
2 Liliana, Waker of the Dead
3 Rotting Regisaur
2 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
3 Underworld Dreams
2 Call of the Death-Dweller
4 Yarok’s Fenlurker
2 Rankle, Master of Pranks
3 Castle Locthwain
2 Knight of the Ebon Legion
3 Murderous Rider
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Kaervek, the Spiteful
1 Epic Downfall
1 Pharika’s Libation
1 The Elderspell
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Cry of the Carnarium
This is a great deck because it has so many options. We can win with virtually whatever cards we’re dealt. We have a huge, out-of-nowhere big game-ender (Peer), or we can slowly hammer the other player (Knight). If we get lucky, we can obliterate them with a Giant Zombie Dinosaur (Rotting Regisaur). Also, if we have a ton of black permanents in play, we can play Gary (Gray Merchant) and laugh as the other player’s game just ends. It’s easy to use, safe to utilize, and matchups aren’t that big a deal. The only things I would change maybe slot out a few of our creatures for more spot removal if I don’t draw them reliably.