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Best Standard Magic Decks: Week of 11/21/16

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This week brings two decks that I felt tied into the holiday week rather nicely. First, we have a White-Red Vehicles deck because many people will be traveling to share a nice dinner with family. Second will be Black-Blue Zombies because many people slip into a zombie-like food coma after dinner.

White-Red Vehicles

The Star City Games open in Baltimore, MD happened the first weekend of November 2016. The winner of the Standard classic was none other than Reid Duke and he was playing White-Red Vehicles. This deck has appeared in a few versions at several major tournaments since Kaladesh was released.

The obvious component here is once again, Gideon. This handsome Planeswalker is truly a beast. By adding one point to his Planeswalker points, he becomes an indestructible 5/5 Human Soldier Ally. By being an ally he can reap all the benefits of sharing abilities with other allies. For free he can create a 2/2 Knight Ally token and I don't even want to get into his mere four point cost emblem. Clearly, there's a reason his card is going for $25 right now; he's worth it.

Many of the same creatures in this deck also appear in the other popular White-Blue Flash and function in a rather similar manner. Selfless Spirit is intended to be a reactionary tool to defend your other creatures by sacrificing himself to make the rest of them indestructible. Archangel Avacyn is very much the same way, a reactionary response to protect your forces. However, it should be noted that there is a much-reduced number of these two protectors because this deck has more aggression than reaction.

In the game of Magic: the Gathering, to investigate is to create a clue. And a clue allows you to draw a card when you just might need it the most. And there are few other who can investigate better than inspectors, most notably, the Thraben Inspector. He is such a great creature in that he's a one mana, 1/2 creature who can investigate. The other card often found side-by-side with an inspector is Toolcraft Exemplar who gets a bump when other artifacts are in play.

Shifting over to the red creatures, no vehicle deck would be complete without Veteran Motorist. His obvious usefulness is that when he crews a vehicle, that vehicle then gets a +1/+1 and that is small but useful. Depala, Pilot Exemplar is another very common card among vehicle decks because she also gives vehicles +1/+1 while she is crewing it, but she also gives all other Dwarves a +1/+1. Pia Nalaar is present to bring in some 1/1 flying chump blockers with a few other little perks.

Nowadays it would be rather unusual to find a deck in Standard that doesn't have Smuggler's Copter in it. It's cheap, it's strong, it's easy to crew, and it can do a little milling if you need it. Always Watching is a handy enchantment that gives your nontoken creatures vigilance and +1/+1. Harnessed Lightning is your expected creature removal insurance. The other creature removal spell is Stasis Snare, which keeps the creature in play, just suspended in time until a later time. The last thing to note is Needle Spires which can become a 2/1 creature if need be, can be useful in a clutch moment.

Creatures (22)
3 Selfless Spirit
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Veteran Motorist
1 Archangel Avacyn
4 Depala, Pilot Exemplar
2 Pia Nalaar

Planeswalkers (3)
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Lands (24)
6 Mountain
10 Plains
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Needle Spires

Spells (11)
4 Smuggler's Copter
2 Always Watching
3 Stasis Snare
2 Harnessed Lightning

Sideboard
2 Reckless Bushwhacker
1 Stasis Snare
1 Blessed Alliance
4 Galvanic Bombardment
1 Skywhaler's Shot
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Fragmentize

Key Cards of White-Red Vehicles

Black-Blue Zombies

One of the greatest and most popular monsters of all time is without a doubt Zombies. As such, here is a Black-Blue Zombie deck that was used by Steve Rubin at the Star City Games Classic in Columbus.

Seeing as this deck is a black heavy deck, the obvious key card is Liliana, the Last Hope. She can debuff creatures as need be, feed your graveyard then draw from it, and get an emblem that redefines Zombie creature token generation. Haunted Dead is another token generator because every time she enters the battlefield put a 1/1 white Spirit creature token into play. On top of that, play two and discard two cards, you can return her into play from the graveyard. Since we're creating token creatures, Cryptbreaker can do it too, just cheaper than Haunted Dead. The last zombie in this deck is Prized Amalgam and he's the perfect creature to use as discard fuel because the moment a creature hits the battlefield from the graveyard, you can return Prized Amalgam from the graveyard to the battlefield as well.

Scrapheap Scrounger and Smuggler's Copter are both present as the usual suspects. Mindwrack Demon is more often found in Delirium decks but has a presence here to not just feed the graveyard, but also provide solid flying support. Voldaren Pariah is a beefy creature that by itself is a good creature, but when she transforms, she is a true monster.

Key to the City kind of confuses me a little bit because I just don't think it has a real solid presence here. It can make a creature unblockable with a discard and then draw a card when it untaps, but beyond that, I think it's not a great card. I pretty much hate Sinister Concoction because you have to pay one black mana, pay one life, put a card from your library to the graveyard, discard a card, and sacrifice the card itself... to destroy target creature. Really? All that just to take down a creature? You'd be better off just using Murder and paying three mana. Last but not least is Grasp of Darkness which can kill most creatures or at the least make them easier to kill during combat.

Creatures (22)
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Cryptbreaker
4 Haunted Dead
2 Mindwrack Demon
4 Prized Amalgam
4 Voldaren Pariah

Planeswalkers (2)
2 Liliana, the Last Hope

Lands (24)
1 Island
15 Swamp
4 Choked Estuary
4 Sunken Hollow

Spells (12)
2 Key to the City
4 Smuggler's Copter
2 Sinister Concoction
4 Grasp of Darkness

Sideboard
2 Distended Mindbender
1 Dead Weight
1 Murder
1 Negate
2 Spell Shrivel
2 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Collective Brutality
1 Lost Legacy
1 Pick the Brain
1 Ruinous Path

Standard Showdown

Just after Thanksgiving, Wizards of the Coast is introducing a new event at local game stores called Standard Showdown. This event will occur on Saturday's between November 26th and December 17th. This short-lived promotion will be a normal Standard format tournament but the prizes will be quite unique.

Stores will receive 40 prize boosters, ten for each event, and each booster will contain just three cards. One of the cards will be a premium card including special foils from either Zendikar Expeditions or Kaladesh Inventions, not including double-faced cards. The other two cards will be non-premium cards that are either a rare or a mythic rare from any set between Battle for Zendikar through Kaladesh, not including Oath of the Gatewatch. These cards will all be English printing and the odds of a getting an Expeditions or Inventions is roughly 1 in 33 boosters.

Reach out to your local game store and find out where you can get on board to win some terrific prizes!

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