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Best Standard Magic Decks: Week of 1/9/17

Updated on January 8, 2017

I missed writing an article last week because of the New Year and I started a new job. I am thinking about doing these articles every other week, depends on how involved work and life mix becomes.

So the upcoming Aether Revolt is looming heavily on the horizon and has been all the talk for just about everyone, everywhere. Just about every YouTube channel that talks about Magic is rambling on and on about Aether Revolt. One channel discusses all the cards of one color; another discusses an exclusive card that no one else can share; and another oooh's and aaah's about this mythic card or that Planeswalker. Personally, I think there are a few interesting cards but overall, I'm not terribly impressed. I guess we'll just have to wait for it to release and see what all is in it to be sure.

Just today, I decided to participate in Preliminary Pro-Tour Qualifier. I went into it with a Black-Red Aggro deck that I had very high hopes for. Well, my hopes were quickly extinguished when I finished 1-4; I wasn't in last place at least. Of the five decks I played against, there was two B/G Delirium decks, a R/W Vehicles, a R/W Burn-Midrange, and a U/W Flash-Emerge. Both of the Delirium decks were pretty standard net deck types that you might see. The Vehicles deck was also very comparable to standard decks of this type. The burn-midrange was very common in that it was just a bunch of white creatures that almost all had lifelink and then simple burn spells. It was the Flash-Emerge that I found most enticing. It had Flash elements by way of Avacyn Archangel, Stasis Snare, Reflector Mage, and Spell Queller. But it also had Emerge in the form of Elder Deep-Fiend, Matter Reshaper, and a few other beefy critters. It was without a doubt one of those "where did that come from" kind of decks.

Orzhov Aggro

Orzhov is another color combination that quite frankly you seldom see together, most notably when it's just black and white together. One of the more popular black and white decks that I see is Death & Taxes which can be found in various iterations in nearly every format. This black and white deck is purely aggressive.

Gonti, Lord of Luxury is one of my favorites. He's a modest 2/3 with deathtouch, but he allows you to look at the top four cards of your opponents library. Then you get to pick one of them and place it face down in exile. As long as it's in exile you essentially own it and can cast it at any time with any color of mana. Not gonna lie, that is really sneaky and cool. The only other black creature in this deck is Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. I had forgotten about him until I happened to face against him earlier today, then I remembered how impacting he can be. A 3/4 with lifelink for four mana which is great and all. But when he's around, whenever a non-token creature your opponent controls dies, it gets exiled and you put a 2/2 zombie token into play. In addition to that, you can also spend three mana and sacrifice a vampire or zombie to put a +1/+1 counter on Kalitas. I could very easily see an entire deck built specifically around him.

Having an Archangel Avacyn in play when you sack a zombie to pump up Kalitas, and she transforms into Avacyn, the Purifier which is a potent attacker. Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade by themselves are pretty tough, but heaven forbid the two of them get to meld, and watch out folks! Brisela, Voice of Nightmares is a 9/10 with flying, first strike, vigilance, likelink, and your opponent can't cast spells that cost 3 or less. Once Brisela comes into play, let's be honest, the game is pretty much over. Selfless Spirit is around to make all your critters indestructible when it's needed and Thraben Inspector is the best common in the Standard format right now. Thalia's Lancers is exactly what a deck like this needs because it puts a pretty solid creature into play but it also allowed you to search for a Legendary card and put it into play, and there are more than a few options in this deck.

Acrobatic Maneuver is a handy blink spell which I think instinctively a lot of people don't see the sense in. However, it allows you to treat one of your creatures as if it has been hit with a reset button. Say for example, you want that Archangel to be indestructible again, her and all her friends. Anguished Unmaking is a powerful instant which lets you exile target permanent at the cost of three mana and 3 life. Another removal spell is Declaration in Stone which exiles a creature and all other creatures with the same name. Granted, your opponent will get to a clue for each creature removed, but totally worth it. Grasp of Darkness is good if taking out a mid-size creature and Stasis Snare is lovely to suspend just about anything.

Liliana, the Last Hope must be in a romantic relationship with Kalitas. The two of them work together so well, it's quite scary. The only card in this deck that doesn't really fit is the Looter Scooter, I mean Smuggler's Copter. If it wasn't for the fact that the Copter can fit into almost any current Standard deck, then it would not be here at all. But since it's so cheap, so powerful, and so commonly seen, of course it makes an appearance here. Shambling Vent and Westvale Abbey are here too just in case you needed just a little bit more creatures to dominate your opponent.

Creatures (19)
1 Archangel Avacyn
2 Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
1 Bruna, the Fading Light
2 Gisela, the Broken Blade
4 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3 Selfless Spirit
1 Thalia's Lancers
4 Thraben Inspector

Spells (7)
2 Acrobatic Maneuver
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Declaration in Stone
3 Grasp of Darkness
2 Stasis Snare

Planeswalker (2)
2 Liliana, the Last Hope

Artifacts (4)
4 Smuggler's Copter

Lands (26)
4 Concealed Courtyard
9 Plains
4 Shambling Vent
8 Swamp
1 Westvale Abbey

Sideboard
1 Aerial Responder
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Declaration in Stone
2 Descend upon the Sinful
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Grasp of Darkness
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
1 Sorin, Grim Nemesis
3 Transgress the Mind

Competitive tournament play is not for everyone. Just like myself earlier today, I had a deck that I thought would be strong mostly because it play-tested very well. But when faced against some very good decks, it folded faster than a linen shirt at the dry cleaner.

My point is that Magic is a game. You don't have to spend a fortune, you don't have to meticulously study, and you certainly don't have to stress out if you don't win. Many of the folks who end up in the top echelon of the Magic community are people who have been playing for a long time and play a lot; I mean, a lot.

Build decks, explore combinations, be creative, and most importantly, just have fun.

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